Fuck Alternative Medicine.

Fuck Alternative Medicine.

I’ve held that in for a long time. For all the things I’ve said about it, there have been dozens that I haven’t, and I no longer feel obligated to tippy-toe around it. Fuck Alternative Medicine, its proponents, practitioners, and profiteers.

I’ve been told that I shouldn’t criticize because it somehow “works”. No, it doesn’t. Even setting aside the fact that not one single modality is capable of producing anything more than placebo effects, and that only in a clinical rather than a research setting, it doesn’t work. It keeps people focused on their problem by making them perform repetitive behaviors and thoughts that keep their attention on the problem. When the problem doesn’t go away, it makes them continue to put thought and effort into focusing on their problem for significantly more time than it would have taken to do something that would actually help solve their problem. So no matter how many qualifiers you put on it, it doesn’t work, so don’t tell me anymore that it does if you don’t want an argument.

I’ve been told that it’s important to its adherents to respect their right to believe in it. Fine. You have the right to believe whatever you want, but when it’s patently ridiculous, shown to have no basis in reality, or tested consistently false, I’m not going to respect your belief. Your right to believe something ridiculous, unreal, and false won’t be compromised, but you’ll have to accept that my disrespect of your belief has nothing to do with disrespect of your right to believe it. If you don’t want me to be disrespectful of your belief, don’t give me the opportunity.

I’ve been told that I’m unsympathetic or even cruel for expressing my disdain of this crap. I’ve been told that it’s so important to people’s senses of self-worth that any negativity I express towards the belief is tantamount to an attack on the person who holds it. Bull. Alcohol, recreational drugs, promiscuity, and any number of things that people do and claim they consciously choose to enjoy have a lot of parallels. If I tell you to lay off the sauce, go to rehab, or quit whatever else it is that’s not doing you any good, I’m not calling you names. If you believe some kind of crazy that sets you apart from other people, and I tell you it’s fake, I’m not calling you crazy. I’m saying this thing you’re doing, this thing you’re believing, is a big minus in your quality of life.

I’ve been told I’m close-minded for not entertaining the possibility of these things working. Well, my time and my neurons are both limited commodities. There are a lot of real things that are worth knowing and learning about, and I’m not going to toss those aside and make space in my schedule and my brain for pondering things that have no rational reason to be considered possible. They didn’t get closed out; they set foot inside and then got kicked out. Mind stays closed after that unless there’s a preponderance of evidence.

I will not pretend that there is even the slightest possibility that something that has no rational reason to work might somehow, someday, turn out to work. If it can’t be tested, it’s because there’s nothing to test. If people push it even though it can’t be tested, they can lie with impunity and pass the onus of its failure onto the consumer – as if he or she didn’t feel bad enough as it was. If you got sick, it’s not because you did or didn’t do something, and if you don’t get better, there had darned well be a reason other than not doing a ritual right or following a protocol to the letter. A doctor can tell you that a treatment or medication works or doesn’t work based on your condition, co-existing conditions, other medications, and work out a best-case plan, and alternatives. An alt-med practitioner can tell you you didn’t believe hard enough, or you must have done something wrong, but can’t even come close to reliably predicting outcomes. They’re making it up as they go along, using anecdotal evidence and confirmation bias to make it look like they know what they’re doing, but they don’t. What they do know is that they can tell people all kinds of crap, cover up failures with hand-waving and excuses, and still get their money.

I will not pretend that a belief should be treated with respect simply because it is held by someone who should be treated with respect. You can love and honor someone and still think they have an idea that’s batshit insane. And I think that the only people who benefit from Alternative Medicine are the people who are selling it – so buying into it is batshit insane. Did I say you were batshit insane? No, I did not. There’s a difference.

I will not feel bad about challenging your cherished belief if I can see the harm it’s doing. If you think I’m being mean for trying to steer you away from something that’s going to hurt you somehow, so be it. Keep it secret from me, or cut me out of your life. I’ll deal with it a lot better than holding my tongue and seeing the very aftermath I anticipated.

I will not pretend that there are possibilities when the overwhelming evidence shows there are not. I don’t take things at face value, and I feel that wishful thinking should just be a party game. Show me consistent, reproducible, predictable results that support your claim, and I’ll gladly admit I was wrong, but don’t ask me to indulge in magical thinking because it feels nicer than reality.

So from now on, I’ll deal with the backlash from speaking my mind, because being uncritical and respectful and sympathetic hasn’t helped. If I’d been forthcoming, either things would have turned out differently, or I’d have been ostracized and not known how they turned out.

I haven’t said it enough in the past, so I’ll be making up for lost time. Fuck Alternative Medicine, up, down, backwards, and sideways.