Complementary and alternative medicine History Hitler Zombie Medicine Politics Quackery

Enough with Radovan Karadzic, already! (Or, the mini-Hitler Zombie dodged)

Enough with Radovan Karadzic, already!

I know schadenfreude can be a fun thing. I’ve even indulged in it myself from time to time. I also know that Radovan Karadzic was a very, very bad man who engaged in ethnic cleansing and genocide in the Balkans wars of the early and mid-1990s. My interest in the Holocaust and Holocaust denial makes it hard not to see the parallels between Karadzic and what Hitler wanted to do.

So, wonder all the people who have forwarded me links to stories revealing that Karadzic had been practicing alternative medicine while he was on the lam all these years, why have I avoided, until now, writing about it?

Here’s why.

As fun as it may be to engage in some fun at the expense of purveyors of alternative medicine (a.k.a. quackery, for the most part) using Karadzic as an example, it’s completely irrelevant to the question of whether any “alternative” remedy or treatment has any scientific basis to support the contention that it works. Mentioning Karadzic as being an alt-med practitioner, while good for some schadenfreude, is really not much more than a weaker form of argumentum ad Nazium (weaker, because Karadzic, although a genocidal leader, was not Hitler and did not manage to kill nearly as many people). In other words, harping on Karadzic as being a a woo-meister on the lam comes across to me as saying, in essence:

Radovan Karadzic is a murderer, ethnic cleanser, and instigator and overseer of genocide.
Karadzic practiced alternative medicine.
Therefore, alternative medicine is bad.

Sure, it’s fun, but it’s completely irrelevant as a criticism of woo. Try comparing the above to this:

Adolf Hitler was a murderer, ethnic cleanser, and instigator and overseer of genocide on a massive scale.
Hitler was a vegetarian.
Therefore, vegetarianism is bad.

See what I mean?

Worse, given my having created the Hitler Zombie, the very embodiment of making fun of overblown Hitler/Nazi analogies, how on earth could I in good conscience engage even in a weaker version of exactly the same sort of “guilt by association” argument?

I just can’t do it, no matter how fun it might have been.

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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