I get so tired of sceptics who feel a religious kind of zeal to attack and do away with alternative medicines, almost all of which have absolutely no potential harmful effects. The word of the month (if not longer, I have only been here a while) is ad-hominem… I see it thrown around all over the place by people trying to show off their vocabulary. The truth is that almost all of the abuse comes from sceptics who have this zeal and don’t understand perspective and the fact that there is a world outside science. Also what the hell is CAM ?
CAM = Complimentary and Alternative Medicine
It’s an odd post here. What’s the harm in believing in ghosts or bigfoot? Well, part of it has to do with the fact that they don’t exist, and there is always some implicit harm in believing things without reason, and things which are false. More’s the point, what is the advantage in questioning someone who points out that beliefs are false?
Believing in things without reason usually implies accepting methods of gathering data (e.g., personal testimony as regards cause and effect) that are fallacious. It is never good to accept fallacious or worthless forms of reasoning.
But unlike belief in ghosts or bigfoot, belief in CAM is actually directly harmful. First, it is harmful because many potions and procedures which go under the rubric of CAM are themselves harmful (e.g., colonic irrigation, certain herbal remedies, etc.). Secondly, it is harmful because CAM treatments are sold under false pretenses, as curing or treating diseases which there is no evidence that they can cure or treat. That is false advertising, and material sold by false advertising is a form of cheat, or theft. That itself is a form of damage. Third, it is harmful because people taking CAM treatments are prone to forego treatments that are actually effective at treatment or cure. Certainly, this is not necessarily so; it is always possible that the person taking CAM treatments is also taking effective ones. However, as has been documented on this forum in several threads, people have died or been responsible for the deaths of their children by taking CAM treatments like homeopathy or prayer instead of actually going to a competent doctor for advice and treatment.
Of the various sorts of pseudoscience we deal with on this Forum, CAM is arguably the most pernicious.