Open and Fair Debate (& Alternative Medicine)

Last night I was on Twitter and I had a very interesting converstaion with a fellow twitterer. I won't give that persons name as it is irrelevant to this blog but I will post the tweets here.

The conversation annoyed and bothered me because although I felt I was being fair and open, but was voicing a differing opinion (against Alternative Medicine), I received agressive responses and was mocked by this other person (who I will call XYZ from this point on for simplicity) because I disagree with her.

This 'conversation' started when XYZ sent this general tweet. It was a link from the Respectful Insolence blog.

Why are people so threatened by alternative medicine? - Huffington Post criticized for "anti-vaccine nonsense & quackery": http://is.gd/w9Zj

Fair enough I thought. I voiced my own opinion as follows..

@XYZ I don't think it's fair to say people are threatned by Alt Med just because they discredit it.

I expeced a response, and got one..

@locaoimh Why do they try to discredit it if they are not threatened by it? I'm currently being treated for Pleuritis homeopathically--

This was one half of the response but as I had not noticed the '--' to indicate 'more to come' I responded with the following tweets.

@XYZ They discredit it because it has no scientific evidence to support it and success are no better than placebo.

@XYZ Alt Med is dangerous because it risks doing harm when it purports to being doing good. And it ain't cheep.

@XYZ Why use an alternative to medicine when you can have medicine.


The rest of XYZ's tweet was this..

@locaoimh --by my Eastern medicine doctor, with perfect success. So, forgive me if I find naysayers quite foolish.


And then in response to my tweets..

@locaoimh That is actually untrue. You should research acupuncture and acupressure; you might be surprised.


As one of the main issues with Alternative Medicine is that they have no studies or more importantly, clinical trials to back up the claims, the successes are subjective and anecdotal. People are aware of the success THEY had, but are completely unaware of any failures other have had. Their own success is more than likely due to the placebo effect or often as a result of their body healing itself. The successes of Alt. Med. are coincidental and not corelated.

I replied, in as friendly a way as I could..

@XYZ I'm very happy u have had success. How many people have had none with that same doctor?


The tone changed at this point. I have all too often see it happen (you'd think I'd learn!!) that when someone who holds a belief (and I use that word specifically as Alt. Med. is more based on belief than on science) and that belief is questioned, they respond agressively. I usually attribute this to the fact that they find themselves in a situation where they can't defend the position they have taken but will not concede. I also wonder is it because they have doubts about it themselves and do not like to be faced with them.

@locaoimh That's a terribly ignorant question.I refuse to debate this with someone who calls themself a "flippin idiot" in their own profile

I should have stopped at this point. If someone changes the point of focus from your disagreement and begins to make it personal, not only have they admitted defeat, but have given up the right to respectful deabate. (On a side point my Twitter Bio is this "Reader, Thinker, Flippin Idiot.")

I responded..


@XYZ It's at the heart of Alt Med. People are only aware of their own experience. My profile is humour and irrelevant. ---

@XYZ --- it seems to me that you are the one feeling threatned. But I will drop it now. I can discuss again whenever u like.


XYZ's response was..

@locaoimh I always feel threatened by people who start debates with strangers. If people are only aware of their own experience,--

@locaoimh --why are you even questioning mine? My Doctor has only satisfied patients. Can a traditional MD say so much?


Then she sent a general tweet..

I seem to be a magnet for combative idiots. Either that, or I'm just too flippin' controversial. Which do you think it is?


Again, I should have stopped. But I didn't.

@XYZ I suggest not making public statments if you are threatned by people expressing a different point of view.

@XYZ I will reserve the right to doubt your 100% success rate of ANY doctor.


She responded..

@locaoimh You reserve the right to doubt whatever you wish. However you dont have the right to be rude and obnoxious toward other's opinions


At this point I realised I REALLY needed to stop. At no point was I rude or obnoxious towards her or her opinions. I was simply expressing my disagreement with them. I felt this particular attack was inaccurate and very unfair. I also decided that this person was not prepared to defend her position honorably so I had to stop. I felt that she was completely wrong with those specific comments but also in the wrong in general. If she was not going to be able to enter into mature debate over a statement she publically made, it was pointless to carry on.

I sent 2 more tweets and left it at that.

@XYZ I am simply expressing my opinion. I have not been rude. It was you who made personal comments. This is my final tweet on it.

@XYZ Good evening and I wish you continued good health.


She had the last tweet..

@locaoimh Thank you & likewise.I hope you open your mind to alt medicine one day.You'll realize then, Western medicine's only 1/2 the story


It was a surprising interatction but I suppose not untypical. I accept that it is difficult to have hard felt opinions challenged, but if they are so close to your heart that you cannot bare to have them questioned, I suggest you keep them to yourself!!

On a final point..to XYZ (even though I doubt she will ever see this, not accept it if she does)

I do have an open mind. That's why I have not accepted Alternative Medicine on faith and subjective experience. I prefer to think, and to question.

People often use lables like Eastern or Ancient to convey mystery or wisdom about something. But for me, I want no mystery in my medical cures and trepanning, bloodletting and the use of leeches were all ancient, but none are wise.


http://oytsdy.blogspot.com/

Twitter: http://twitter.com/locaoimh/

Views: 10

Tags: alternative, debate, medicine

Comment by Nick on May 3, 2009 at 3:51am
Acupuncture has actually been shown to perform better than placebo in pretty good studies. Doesn't make magic work though!

I think we should stop calling it "Western Medicine" actually. Because it is not fair to other places that follow rigor. Alternative medicine that have been proved to work has a different name....it's called "medicine" woot!
Comment by Liam on May 3, 2009 at 4:05am
Would you have details of those studies? I'd be interested in reading them.
Comment by Liam on May 3, 2009 at 4:22am
Here is a good article on accupuncture. http://www.csicop.org/si/2003-03/acupuncture.html
My disagreement with XYZ was with Alt. Med. in general and not accupuncture specifically.
Comment by Nick on May 3, 2009 at 5:20am
I don't have a good link about all the studies, this mentions them. Your link was a decent read, Liam.
Comment by Liam on May 3, 2009 at 5:31am
Alt. Med. is BS until clinically proven when as denuvian correctly sez, it becomes medicine. But the attitude I received about my objection and the personal nature is what annoyed me. She is not the first nor will be the last person to use and believe in Alt. Med. but her aggressive reaction was quite telling. She was the one being rude and obnoxious but was projecting(?)/transferring(?) that on to me because I was expressing a different opinion. And expressed in a respectful way (Well I felt so anyway!)

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