Monday, February 20, 2012

Excerpts From an Interview of Friends of Science in Medicine's Rob Morrison on The Token Skeptic Podcast

here, I've transcribed from a recent skeptical podcast, which I highly recommend you give a listen to in its complete version, and then I comment:

001. Kylie Sturgess, host of The Token Skeptic Podcast and "philosophy teacher and student of psychology", states in "Episode One Hundred And Six – On Friends Of Science In Medicine – Interview With Dr Rob Morrison" (2012-02-08; vsc 2012-02-19) (for the mp3, click here; saved 2012-02-19) [my notes are within the hard brackets]:

"[the written description states] I’m a student at a university that offers courses in alternative medicine [...e.g.] homeopathy, reflexology, naturopathy and the like [...] this leads me to be concerned that there’s graduates from my school believing that their these courses are fully endorsed by the scientific community at large [...but] recently there’s been a number of scientists and supporters of science who have been voicing their concerns [...called] Friends of Science in Medicine [...which] includes more than 400 prominent scientists, doctors, academics and consumer advocates from Australia and overseas [...they've written about] their concerns about what they called the 'diminishing of the standards applied to the teaching of science in our universities' and 'the increased teaching of pseudoscience' [...she interviews] one of the founding members of Friends of Science in Medicine [...] Dr Rob Morrison [who] is the National Vice-President of the Australian Science Communicators, a patron of National Science Week [in] South Australia and a Freelance Science writer / Broadcaster and Professorial Fellow [at] Flinders University  [...]

[the audio states: RM] we formed Friends of Science in Medicine in December [2011...] to get universities to clean their act up [...as they're offering] things that are called science which patently are not.  They're pseudoscience or at best they're antiscience or nonscience [...] we have sent letters to all the vice-chancellors asking them to affirm their support for science courses being evidence based [...which is, and this may attest to JUST HOW ABSURD THINGS HAVE BECOME GLOBALLY] the definition of science.  It's evidence based and tested [...FSM would like universities] not to prostitute the name of the sciences that they offer [hear hear!...by posing] a lot of these things called health sciences which are anything but [...e.g.] chiropractors, and osteopaths, iridology and reflexology [...] they should not be billed as scientifically valid [...] we don't want to see things offered as scientifically valid which are simply not and which indeed can't be [...e.g.] homeopathy is as crack-pot as you can get [and remember naturopathy in North America claims homeopathy is a science...and other] things which are demonstrably not true and have been shown to be not effective [...e.g.] the most outlandish stuff [...] there's always a mysterious energy involved you can't define and you can't test for [naturopathy has their vital force...either] passing from hands to people or running up and down their spine or zapping about from their iris to their organs [...] this energy that you can't define or detect [...] way-out nonsensical stuff [...host] do you think the university students are encouraged to think this way? [RM] you bet they are [...e.g.] Southern Cross University [...who] protest that their stuff is evidence based but if you go and look at their course on naturopathy,  dead-center you find homeopathy [they are fused...which is] absolutely fanciful.  It's been put to the test and found completely wanting [...and SCU graduates are out practicing] iridology, and reflexology, and acupuncture and everything like that [...] don't tell me that they're not doing it and don't tell me that it's evidence based.  It's not [...it's] pseudoscience under the name of science, particularly under the name of health science [I went to a school false just like that...targeting] some of the most vulnerable people in the country [the ill, and I'd add also the young trying to find an occupation...and he encourages discussion of] what exactly does evidence based mean [...] it all needs to be discussed [...actual science begins with] a factual hypothesis [...then an] explanatory hypothesis [...then] a theory [...but] the trouble is with pseudoscience it goes the other way [...beginning with a] completely fanciful theory of mysterious energies and subluxations [...] that you can't define, or locate, or detect [...that's therein] not testable [ ...or has been tested and is] completely erroneous [...so pseudoscience has]  a theory that explains the facts that don't exist [...working] back to front.  And that's a faith, that's not a science. That's a faith [...] it's absurd that we've just got the Nobel Prize in Australia [...] and a third of them are teaching pseudoscience in their health courses."

Note: I've grabbed here what stood out most for me this morning, though I've slightly reordered the excerpts. The most striking aspect of this all, to me, is the description by Dr. Morrison that pseudoscience is "a faith" or we may even say a "belief system".  And so I'll reiterate an old favorite of mine from, believe it or not, 1889's Popular Science Monthly which states:

"science is never sectarian [...] sectarian teaching begins when you ask a man or a child to assume what can not be proved [or has been disproven!!!], for the sake of keeping within the dogmatic lines that fence round some particular creed."

Now, here in North America (USA and Canada) naturopathy poses itself as science-based when actually based upon a science-ejected sectarian context.  I've written about that for years here on this blog and informed supposed overseeing authorities.  But, the racket continues and I regard this all as a rip-off and a human rights violation of high order.

002. the vision statement of FSM, by the way [saved 2012-02-20] seeks as a goal:

"to reverse the current trend which sees government-funded tertiary institutions offering health care 'science' courses not based on scientific principles nor supported by scientific evidence" including "unproven alternative therapies [...like] homeopathy, iridology, naturopathy, acupuncture and 'energy medicine'" which are "pseudoscientific courses which undermine the credibility of those universities."  

Hear, hear.

And, incidentally, here is a list of FSM's supporters.
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