One reason I haven’t written about Noakes for 18 months or so – despite his recent interest in climate-change scepticism, and his continued misrepresentation of his critics – is that I thought he was doing enough to demonstrate his epistemic irresponsibility without people like me having to point it out.
As anyone who reads Synapses would know, I’m a proponent of scientific skepticism. What that means is something along the lines of “the practice or project of studying paranormal and pseudoscientific claims through the lens of science and critical scholarship, and then sharing the results with the public“ (from Daniel Loxton’s 2013 essay, “Why is there a skeptical movement?).
Skepticism should not be conflated with hyperskepticism, as Caleb Lack and I argue in our book on critical thinking. So, it doesn’t (necessarily) mean believing in chemtrails, or Big Pharma deliberately poisoning you, or your cellphone making you infertile (it’s a bit of a pity that that one isn’t true, actually).
If you’ve always wanted a career in science, but never got around to studying biology, physics or whatever it is that you’re interested in, don’t fear – being (treated as) an authority is easier than you might think.
First, find a conclusion you like. Let’s say, for example, the claim that sugar is addictive. Then, find a study that supports that conclusion, and publicise it:
In this study, conducted on rats, we are told that sugar is addictive – a line that Prof. Tim Noakes repeats with some regularity. It’s of course more complicated than that, but let’s not be negative – this is a post about how easy science is, after all.
Next, what you need is a way to discredit studies that say things that don’t support your conclusions. Don’t worry about being consistent at this point – it’s fine if you apply one standard to research that supports your conclusion, and another standard to research that doesn’t.
A mouse model shows that eating high-fat diets during pregnancy might ‘program’ your baby to be fat? Rubbish – mice are not women!
@SarahLaats 1. What was exact composition of dietary fat? 2. Mice are not (wo)men. 3. In humans, carbs in pregnancy predispose to obesity
(Some of you might, upon reading confounding studies, be tempted to think that science is complicated, and rarely – if ever – suitable for justifying dogmatism. Eliminate that negativity – there’s no place for it in sciencing!)
Now, what do you do when someone praises you as a lifesaver, but in doing so, also endorses avoiding conventional doctors, seeking out naturopaths, regarding “almost all” drugs as “toxic” and vaccines as “highly dangerous”?
Well, you retweet them, of course (while perhaps reciting your mantra that science is not religion). And if someone calls you out for endorsing vaccine quackery, do not fear – dismiss their question with an insult and an appeal to authority:
Like Ms. Child, I’m also not an expert on immunology. And no, I haven’t read the book, which apparently “needs to be read by everyone with an opinion on vaccination debate”.
But why would one read this book when a cursory Google search results in extensive, well-referenced accounts of (at least) 11 flat-out misrepresentations of data in that book?
Or, when you discover that the only places the author is taken seriously is sites like quack-central Mercola? If you’re still not convinced that you’d be wasting your time reading it, what if you learned that the author is sympathetic to homeopathy?
You’d think of her as a quack herself, I’d wager, and you’d certainly not endorse her as an authority. Unless, of course, you have a conspiracy story to tell about big pharma and the medical establishment colluding to sell you drugs, while hiding “the truth” from you.
But let’s imagine you ignore all that instead. Now, you know that the public are rather upset to hear anti-vaccine messages – after all, didn’t around 170 people get measles just this year (so far) in the USA, mostly thanks to being unvaccinated?
(Maybe, you also think of that pesky HPCSA hearing coming up later this year, and how it might complicate things for you to appear to be supporting a viewpoint that is widely believed to indirectly kill people, especially babies.)
So, let’s just deny that the book is anti-vaccination, instead calling it something more grand, like a “unique historical analysis”.
@danteofdoom@greenorb No. It is a unique historical analysis of disease patterns written by a physician. Best to read it.
I suppose you just hope that people take your word for it. While, perhaps, reciting your mantra that science is not religion, and calling anyone who disagrees with you a “troll”.
If you are happier and healthier on LCHF, great, I’m happy for you. But you can, and should, expect more from those who you take as your authorities on diet and more importantly, the scientific method.
As I’ve said before, I think the jury is out on the diet questions. It’s not out on vaccinations, and hasn’t been for quite some time now.
It’s shamefully irresponsible to suggest otherwise, and disingenuous to pretend that this isn’t what you’re doing in recommending books like those of Humphries.
Noakes is asking “have you read the book?” to anyone challenging him on this on Twitter. You don’t need to read the book – there are many interviews with this author available online, including an outline of the arguments in the book on sites like Mercola’s.
Asking if you’ve read the book is mostly serving Noakes as a way to refuse to contemplate the dereliction of common-sense that is anti-vaccination endorsement on this scale. But even if he refuses to contemplate that, you nevertheless can.
Here’s something else that might interest you, on the author in question, linking to various other strange views she holds.