What is Wrong With These People!

Okay, I’m ticked.

I’m almost at a loss for words. I’m trying to think about how to describe this video but the words escape me. The following is a shining example of the pathetic and cruel mud-slinging that pseudoscientists stoop too to defend their unscientific medieval beliefs from clean, concise and empirical evidence. Before you watch this video I’d like to give a quick rundown of who the target of this attack is, Yale neurologist and academic Dr. Steven Novella.

For those you who aren’t aware Dr. Steven Novella is the co-founder of the New England Skeptical Society, host of the massively popular podcast ‘The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe’ and author/contributor to many blogs including The Rogues Gallery, Neurologica, Science Based Medicine and TheSkepticBlog. Steven Novella is a long-term opponent of irrational and pseudoscientific beliefs, including but not limited to vaccine denial, homeopathy, health frauds like Kevin Trudeau and creationists. Steven Novella is a true skeptical hero of mine and I look to him as an exemplar of many of the virtues that I believe skeptics should aspire to. To begin with he is unquestionably motivated, he is tremendously passionate, incredibly well researched, eloquent, fair, compassionate, insightful and seems to take great care to avoid letting personal biases and personal attacks distort the clarity of his science based reasoning. Like every human he is capable of making mistakes, and rather than fawning over him like a disciple I instead merely respect, admire and aspire to achieve these same qualities in myself.

So with that in mind, please now take a look at this video by Homeopath John Benneth. The sheer insensitivity and incomprehensibility of the stupid boggles my mind, but please stick with it for at least 3 minutes.

I mean seriously? Accusing Dr Novella of committing a mass-murder by practicing science based medicine? I’m really struggling to put into words just how much I dislike this man. I’d like to write a whole essay on what a moron this guy is but really don’t think he’s worth my time. I usually refrain from personal attacks, particularly ones as harsh as I write here. I like the idea of this blog being a hate-free area that people can feel comfortable reading regardless of their personal beliefs. In this case though, it is the individual and his cruel personal attacks that I am responding too not his belief. Homeopathy is still a medieval, unscientific and discredited form of magic but that’s not the subject here.

What the message is here folks is that unlike leading rationalists and skeptics who make their arguments with evidence, practitioners of pseudoscience often respond to criticisms with hate-filled, vitriolic and personal attacks because lets face it there’s nothing else for them to defend themselves with. If the battle of homeopathy were a scientific one then it would currently be being fought in the papers of peer-reviewed medical journals, not juvenile youtube videos.

To read Dr. Novella’s response to John Benneth’s personal attacks read this entry from the Neurologica blog. In this blog Dr. Novella weaves together a more concise and eloquent response to John Benneth then I could possibly write.

4 Responses to “What is Wrong With These People!”

  1. Try not to let this kind of thing get you angry. Resort to ridicule and laughter instead. It’s a far more appropriate response.

    • Yeah, I get what you mean, anger very rarely helps.

      In this situation however I allowed myself the luxury. Like I said it’s not the scientific argument that I was angry about it’s the personal one. I do certainly agree though, ridicule is often the best response but anger has it’s place too. Anger is an efficient means of expressing outrage, it conveys to others just how passionately you feel about an issue in a short space of time.

      Letting anger influence decision making is of course a bad idea, but as long as it’s just a personal response to something value based it’s often acceptable (to me).

      Anger is never a logical means of countering a scientific argument (see: Appeal to Emotion), but it is a useful means of communication.

      • I like to consider it a victory when my opponents resort to personal attacks. It means that they’re admitting that they’ve got nothing worthwhile to say.

  2. That video is hilarious, surely it must be a joke?

    Homeopaths are frauds and have to resort to attacking because they have nothing else.

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