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Talk:Ben Goldacre

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From the other side of the pond

Tom, I'm the first to admit that I don't understand the nuances of British journalism (you have Page 3 girls and we don't), regulation, and the delicate democratic balance among media, politics, and interest groups. You know I'm strongly opposed to fringe-ish pseudoscience at CZ.

Nevertheless, this article interested me, and I looked a bit farther. Ignoring the activist blogs, I was fascinated by the issues about the BBC investigating its own science reporting [1]. I'd want to be sure that this article didn't paint Goldacre simply as a wise crusader. The vaccination/MMR matters certainly need coverage, perhaps in their own article -- after all, anti-vaccination comes back to our old friend homeopathy, as well as the autism claims.

I did run across one blog post that simply suggested that Goldacre be called an allopath rather than a physician, to show he was simply an anti-homeopathy propagandist. Ludicrous -- Osler put this to rest, I thought, almost a century ago, but I urge careful and noninflammatory writing here. Let me know how an American Rebel can help. It might even be enough for me to recruit a friend and colleague who carefully qualified as a Son of the American Revolution, and then pointed out that he lives in suburban Toronto, for good historical reason. Howard C. Berkowitz 03:02, 14 August 2010 (UTC)

By the definitions of the homeopaths, Goldacre is definitely an allopath. But that isn't saying much, because all an allopath seems to be is someone who practices non-homeopathic medicine - that is, proper medicine. In my books, calling someone an allopath is a term of honour. If there were a word for not being an astrologer, it would hardly be an insult. I also don't agree that anti-vaccination comes back to homeopathy - the only reason homeopaths go on about vaccination is because they want to confuse people: if homeopathy actually worked, it might work in the same way vaccination works. The difference is that vaccination does work! Homeopathy and homeostasis have a similar relationship: they share syllables, but that is about it. I hope that all the topics that Goldacre covers get their own articles - and part of the point of starting articles like this is to provide the entry-points to start such articles. –Tom Morris 11:17, 14 August 2010 (UTC)
As for regulation of British journalism? The Press Complaints Commission is a total joke. It works as well as self-regulation has worked in the finance market and in the Catholic Church's paedophile scandal! –Tom Morris 11:33, 14 August 2010 (UTC)
We already have an article that explains the use of allopathy and it should be linked. We don't accept the homeopaths setting the rules here, other than in the narrow historical context of the early 19th century when there was, indeed, a confrontation between quackery called allopathy and quackery called homeopathy. The allopathic quackery, in the 1800s and early 1900s, was indeed more dangerous, but this started changing about the time of the Flexner Report.
The vaccination issue is broader than homeopathy. It is unclear if Goldacre raises the solid research that disproved a relationship between thimerosal (and indeed other mercury compounds) and autism; there are non-homeopaths who are also making this invalid point.
Nevertheless, whether this is an entry point or not, the article gives me an unpleasant sense of being too strongly pro-Goldacre. I don't know enough about British controversies to feel comfortable rewriting it, but I would urge that you consider writing in such a manner as not to glorify the "skeptic" position -- let the facts speak for themselves. I've always liked Osler's comment about the homeopathic and allopathic cults being replaced.
If journalistic regulation is a joke, say so, in a non-emotional matter. We don't have the detail on this side of the pond. Howard C. Berkowitz 13:08, 14 August 2010 (UTC)