Friday, June 27, 2008

Count On It: NewAge Has Got Your Number

A wave of change spread across the intelligentsia, especially in the universities and the literary community, reinforced by the press. This was nicknamed “Political Correctness” or PC by other observers, but it was a new social standard that worked wonders for us. No scientific paper could be published that contained pejorative or negative wording, and almost all popular press reporting became dominated by the same press ethic. The press call it “balance“ or “objective reporting,” and they called reports’ wording of 10-20 years previous to be “biased” or “prejudicial.” And those were sins worse than using four letter words. We were delighted.

We now use words like unorthodox, nonstandard, unconventional, alternative, complementary, and the latest, “integrative.” They produce no emotional reaction. Along with this we invented false dichotomies, which became accepted facts; like holistic vs. reductionist, Western vs. Eastern medicine, linear vs. non-linear thinking. The dichotomies reinforced people’s feelings that these things were opposites, but of equivalent linguistic and scientific value.

Then we had to build a few straw men to show how bad and dangerous medicine was; The Medical Establishment, “cut, burn, and poison,” “cold and impersonal,” Medical Monopoly, Big Pharma, and adopted phrases to use in lobbying like “that‘s just a turf war…” Then we added slogans to replace realistic description like they do in advertising, because they really do work. A. So we made up Metabolic Therapy, Orthomolecular Medicine, treating the whole person, Treating the cause, not just the symptoms, Medicine for the 21st century, and “complementary and alternative medicine (“CAM”) itself. And how about “changing paradigm” we stole from Tomas Kuhn, “emergent methods” and “emergent technologies” - some of our co-borderliners used that one for cold fusion. [One wealthy foundation just constructed “The New Medicine.”]

So, y’see, what we did was ride a changing social and political scene to construct an entirely new thought system for medicine and health (oh, yeah, we also now use “health” instead of “medicine.”) - a new lens through which all our methods and claims would be seen as “good” or at least neutral. Descriptions such as implausible, unproven, disproven, fraudulent, dubious, would be out. Yet we would be free to use terms to describe medical science as removed, intellectual, unapproachable, elitist, and members of the System would to be seen as arrogant, unfeeling, dominating,… well, you get the point. And, quackery, charlatan, irrational, fringe, are no longer linguistically correct (LC.) The cultural relativists, post-modernists, deconstructivists, have paved the way. The educational system, most of the academic, and much of the medical educational system are now etymologically and epistemically correct (ET.)

We are thankful to the popular media - especially the print media for fifteen years of support. Of course, the press would not consider it support, because its members are blind to the problem. Their system of … ethics is different from that of science. And especially of medicine. They adopted a common theme - actually a template for writing about us. First, they are not interested so much in facts as they are in stories - keeping the attention of readers. So they almost always have a human interest story in an article about us. A leukemia cure by modern drugs by a highly educated and skillful clinician is not a story. Now if an insurance company refuses to pay for the treatment because of its expense, that’s a story. Or if a disgruntled patient didn’t get no satisfaction for a set of symptoms that the physician could not fit into a disease category (often just concern over common bothersome though unimportant symptoms) and then went to a chiropractor or acupuncturist and got relief, however temporary or expected on the basis of waiting and time, that’s a story. Or if a medical school forms a department for using some “alternative” treatment, and teaches the techniques to students, that’s a story. Of course, if the teaching is supported by a large grant from a private foundation run by some of our supporters, that would not likely be mentioned because it could be interpreted as biased. (And between you and me, we would not volunteer that information, would we?.)

So now watch the straight-thinkers howl. They still don’t realize what hit them or how and why. Neither do you in the press, sticking to your high-minded principles of “balance“ and “fairness“ while feeding the public our intentional restructuring of the language, and not realizing it at all. While the running dogs of righteousness, the straight-laced, long-faced, mind-constricted, conservative, backward-looking, sexist, xenophobic, old men of medicine stomp and holler, and while deans and congressmen are deaf to their pleas…OoooWeeeh. Have we made it or what?


-- Wallace Sampson, telling how logic got looped with lies, on his Science-Based Medicine blog.