Acupuncture is a pseudoscience

The patent recipes of the “skeptics” and the 2015 Nobel Prize for Medicine

The good will is
no apology
for bad work.

Winston Churchill

We love simple solutions. Who will study the advertising letter more closely that promises profit and wealth or a free long-haul trip? The signs are all too clear: there is a risk of rip-offs - away with it. A more detailed examination of the offer is not necessary.

“Skeptics” are grand masters of simple solutions of this kind. They know the warning signs that point to pseudosciences: Yin Yang, Chi, spirit-like forces, ethers, incompatibility with the laws of nature recognized today, etc. These characteristics make it easy for them to recognize wrong paths and they to distinguish from true knowledge.

The most sophisticated concept that goes in this direction is that of Christian Weymayr's scientability. In his view, for example, homeopathic medicines are not scientifical. Weymayr means that a review of the effectiveness of these agents is unnecessary, since the reasons for what is to be tested contradict the laws of nature. Consequently, a passing of the test should be ruled out from the outset ­(The Homeopathy Lie "- An Interview).

It would be nice if the world could be sorted so easily. Unfortunately this is not the case. The “skeptics” run the risk of stumbling into thought traps with their simple recipes.

The justification patterns of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) are ideally suited for satirical degradation of their recipes. And some “skeptics” devote themselves to this business. I suppose they are largely correct. But not always. Here some examples:

These “skeptics” were very excited when this year's Nobel Prize in Medicine went to the Chinese scientist Youyou Tu, who feels deeply connected to TCM. Since what must not be cannot be, a real egg dance is performed (Does the 2015 Nobel Prize for Medicine go to Traditional Chinese Medicine?). The “skeptic” asks himself, irritated, “And that makes pseudo-medical TCM socially acceptable with a bang?” And he immediately gives himself the answer: “You could even argue that Youyou Tu has shown how inadequate TCM is.” (Edzard Ernst, professor emeritus for alternative medicine)

Bearing in mind the reversal of Churchill's saying - something like this: A questionable approach does not guarantee failure - I venture the following comment.

The (empirical) science has two sides, namely the critical-rational and the creative. Karl Raimund Popper dedicated his main work to - as he later called it - critical rationalism. From there he made the distinction to metaphysics. He did not shed any deeper light on this other side, but he was well aware that on the other side the illusion, speculation, chance, fruitful error, mysticism are at home, and that this side is indispensable for the creative process. Without this page, the critical rationalism of Karl Raimund Popper would be pointless: there would be nothing that could be falsified.

Alexander Fleming's discovery of penicillin is no less worthy just because he owes it to his own sloppiness. And the inventors of the telephone are not scolded just because their performance is ultimately based on a chance find - serendipity.

The critical-rational side of science is good at tidying up and optimizing. But critical rationalism does not really produce anything new. Some of the things that matter are created in a mystical and illusory environment, as even Karl Raimund Popper admits.

Nobody benefits from TCM bashing. Those who persistently get upset about the “mystical and pseudoscientific superstructure of TCM” are not advancing science. The appeal to the spiritual is just a warning sign. One cannot rely on the fact that such ideas will only result in nonsense.

Simple solutions are first and foremost one thing: simple. If you want to be on the safe side, check in detail. And TCM is being critically examined, and indeed from a competent source, by the connoisseurs, as this article in the New York Times suggests:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/11/world/asia/nobel-renews-debate-on-chinese-medicine.html

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