Anti-science hysteria is bipartisan

As they say in France,

Les extrêmes se touchent

Far-right evangelicals are anti-science because of their religious beliefs, and as it turns out, the same is true of far-left new agers.

From Phil Plait’s Bad Astronomy:

I used to write for the Huffington Post, an online news and blog collective. It was started by Arianna Huffington during the Bush Era as a response to all the far-right online media. I didn’t agree with a lot of what was on there — I am more centrist — but at the time I thought it was necessary.

Then they started to promote far-left New Age nonsense, and when it came to vaccinations, HuffPo started posting all kinds of opinions that amounted to nothing more than out-and-out health threats. While they do sometimes post a counter-argument, it’s still almost all alt-med, all the time.

Here’s the latest: a doctor named Frank Lipman is telling people not to get vaccinated against Swine Flu. Instead he says you should wash your hands a lot, eat well, and take homeopathic medicine.

Why these charlatans are not stripped of their medical licenses, boggles the mind. And, to those of the left who might claim that this is an isolated case, and your side of the political spectrum is “obviously” more reality-minded than the other, I’d suggest reading Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science
to read more about prevalent new-age nonsense in popular culture. Being non-orthodox in belief, for many people, sadly does not mean embracing rationalism — often it just means being post-modernist.

2 responses to “Anti-science hysteria is bipartisan

  1. From what you post, I’d say Frank Lipman’s advice is pretty sound. I am not an advocate of any and all vaccines for everyone and anyone, and soundly believe homeopathy has its place in medicine.

    Actually, even the H1N1 crisis centre here calls to wash hands frequently, eat well, and not to go out when infected. Not much difference.

    (this is Nathalie from LJ by the way)

    • Hi Nathalie,

      I’m not an advocate of excessive vaccination either — it’s case by case, really. When it comes to flu, given the history of flu pandemics, I think it’d be irresponsible /not/ to vaccinate. Populations at risk (schoolkids, the elderly) are advised to get flu shots for even normal flu, so why not this? The risk, I think, is overstated, and without a mass vaccination program, at-risk populations (again, schoolkids) won’t have herd immunity, vastly increasing the risk of someone to get both H1N1 *and* whatever seasonal flu we get this year.

      For the first few paragraphs, Lipman sounds quite sensible (though probably a bit risk-averse in a penny-pinching way — not wanting to risk something small, he might be risking a greater catastrophe). When it comes to garlic as an antibiotic, antiviral herbal supplements, and fish oil, though, I think that’s when he exposes himself as being rather unscientific. I used to take fish oil myself too, but apart from being a source of vitamin A (which is actually *toxic* in too high a dose), it really does not have any known effect on the immune system.

      Taking herbal remedies in conjunction with sound health advice is one thing (provided, like with fish oil, you don’t overdose), but I feel very, very uneasy about doctors who recommend herbal remedies. They lend the remedies a cloak of legitimacy that is unwarranted, given the lack of scientific evidence.