Complementary and alternative medicine Medicine Quackery

Question of the day: “Dis-ease”?

I got in somewhat late last night and was tired from the meeting, but there’s been something that’s been bugging me more and more, and Kimball Atwood‘s recent posts about the distortions of language used by “complementary and alternative medicine” advocates brought it to the forefront. I first noticed this particular term being used by alties a few months ago by quantum homeopathic woo-meister supreme Lionel Milgrom, and I’ve been seeing it more and more, particularly in antivaccinationist circles.

I’m talking about the term “dis-ease.”

Believe it or not, I’m not all-knowing about such issues, appearances notwithstanding. Consequently, I thought I’d throw it out for discussion. Where did this term come from? Does anyone know who first started using it? It appears to be a linguistic attempt to redefine disease as being the opposite of “ease” or something like that in a cutesy and, in my not-so-humble opinion, truly idiotic manner. Personally, I like a rejoinder that I saw on a discussion list that goes along the lines of: “Anyone who uses the term ‘dis-ease’ should be ‘dis-membered.'”

One thing’s for sure: If I see anyone using the term “dis-ease” in an article or blog post, it’s about as reliable an indication as I’ve ever yet found that I’m dealing with quackery. Not “alternative” medicine. Not “complementary” medicine. Not “integrative” medicine.


And, no, I’m not “dis-sembling,” either, although “dis-assembling” idiots who routinely use the term “dis-ease” would be a highly tempting “dis-traction.”

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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