Another commenter on my earlier post about Louise Hay’s cancer quackery has raised some issues concerning alternative medicine. I responded to her criticisms (or lack of them as the case may be) over on that thread, but I’ll also take the opportunity here to gather a few points about the way proponents of alternative medicine deal with criticism in general.
Responses usually seem to follow a formula: a mix of smokescreen, personal attack and insistence on an entire worldview or ideology — an ideology that is opposed to “western” medicine and must be swallowed whole to be understood. None of this involves the idea of small incremental gains in knowledge or rejection of failed hypotheses. It’s all or nothing, because, well it has to be. There are a whole lot of modalities and treatments for which there is little or no evidence, which must be bolstered by an ideological armoring in order to survive. Criticizing one aspect of it can bring down the whole modality. So any criticism meets an ideological counter-attack on multiple fronts, none of which address the original criticism.
For evidence of this, read the entire comment thread on that post.
This is an attempt to deal with some aspects of that kind of multiple front ideological attack.