‘Straw Man’ Arguments in Alternative Medicine

The straw men of integrative health and alternative medicine, by Timothy Caulfield (in BMJ)

Here’s the first bit of the commentary:

Debating the value of integrative health and complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) can be a frustrating endeavour. Proponents are often passionate. For many, it is like a religion and, as a result, they usually don’t care about what the science says. But what I find most exasperating is the continued use of numerous logical fallacies, such as the straw man argument. In order to bolster their cause, CAM supporters suggest that skeptics like me hold a host of ridiculous and uninformed positions.

In an effort to put an end to this practice (a man can dream!), below are the four most annoying CAM straw man arguments.

Straw Man #1: We don’t appreciate the placebo effect—A common argument rolled out by CAM proponents, as done in a recent Nature commentary, is that we (and by “we” I mean those who do not enthusiastically support the idea of integrative health) don’t appreciate the nature or value of the placebo effect. Ridiculous. Of course we do….

About Chris MacDonald

I'm a philosopher who teaches at Ryerson University's Ted Rogers School of Management in Toronto, Canada. Most of my scholarly research is on business ethics and healthcare ethics.

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