Skepticism/critical thinking

Worst argument ever?

The host of next week’s Skeptics’ Circle asks: What’s the worst argument you can think of?

I think it’s as good a question to close 2006 up with as any, and certainly there have been a lot of really bad arguments used during the last year. Perhaps if we air some of them, we can be inoculated against their return in 2007. Certainly near the top of the list has to be the argument by many pseudoscientists that “all sides deserve to be heard” about issues like evolution/creationism or certain forms of alternative medicine, like the exceedingly ridiculous pseudoscientific treatment known as homeopathy. Science is not a democracy; it is based on observation, experimentation, and reproducibility. In a strictly literal sense, it is true that “all viewpoints should be heard,” but the way this canard is used by cranks is to imply a false equivalence between their pseudoscience and real science, as if creationism is a scientific viewpoint on par with evolution or homeopathy is a treatment on par with evidence-based medicine when such is not the case. In reality, such pseudoscience should only be considered long enough to determine whether it is the least bit scientifically plausible or not. If, as in the case of, for example, creationism or homeopathy, it fails even the most minimal standards of science, then no further consideration of it need be given until advocates can produce evidence of its validity.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

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