• Naturopath and Tu Quoque

    by  • 11/27/2009 • health • 0 Comments

    “A tu quoque argument attempts to discredit the opponent’s position by asserting his failure to act consistently in accordance with that position; it attempts to show that a criticism or objection applies equally to the person making it. It is considered an ad hominem argument, since it focuses on the party itself, rather than its positions.”

    What doesn’t wikipedia know?

    In response to Scott Gavura’s excellent opinion piece at The National Post, Scott Gavura: Naturopathy a prescription for quackery, there is today’s piece by Scott Maniquet, titled Counterpoint: No ‘magic’ involved in naturopathic medicine.

    The National Post has a peculiar comment system, in that you can only comment on a story for about 24 hours after it’s published. Comments are etched in virtual stone at that point, and nobody can easily respond in line with the article.

    Scott M asserts that Naturopathy doesn’t rely on magic, but that it relies on simple, good science. Then he outlines just how dumb science is. It’s a weird path to take, but there you have it; “We’re sciencey, but science is dumb!”

    The only way in which naturopathy as a whole can not rely on magic is if it either discards all of the magic thinking or if it succeeds in redefining the meaning of science.

    I’m just collecting my couple responses to the posts below for posterity… I especially like my tu quoque analogy involving goats…

    Scott G’s piece, with comments enabled, can also be found at Skeptic North

    “The Post is like all mainstream media, on their knees for pharmaceutical advertising contracts”

    I don’t recall seeing any huge pharmaceutical ads in the National Post, but I admit I’m mostly an online reader.

    I do recall seeing plenty of full-page automotive ads from dealers and manufacturers when I read the actual paper.

    The real money wouldn’t seem to be coming from drug companies, so why suck up? They might be better off avoiding running articles critical of cars in an effort to draw more Big Motor money…

    In many papers, I’ve seen an increasing number of herbal supplement half-page ads… maybe Big Herba’s where the money is now, and you’d prefer the NP entertain Afexa (Cold-FX) instead?

    Afexa is traded on the TSX, and is a for-profit corporation that reported 9 months of revenue in June 2009 of $22.5 million. Surely there’s some advertising cash to be had from Big Herba too…


    @quackattack – you say “Every student who graduates from Naturopathic college has been required to take courses equivalent to that of your standard medical school.”

    Well, I checked a ‘reputable’ college selling NDs, and that course list for first year looks very little like a first year med school program… let alone the remaining three years…


    Based on the course descriptions and outlines, it looks like easily half of the first year is based on the pseudo-scientific. You’re taught how to locate things that don’t exist and can’t be shown to exist, right off the start with Asian Medicine Point Location I.

    How are the programs equivalent? Same number of text books?


    @ghall10 – You alude to all this evidence, all this research, all this amazing work that NDs do, but refuse to even attempt to present it. Instead you choose a rather standard response of “Go out there and educate yourself!”

    All that’s missing is a link to mercola.com.


    Progress often faces resistance, but the simple fact that you are facing resistance in your attempts to redefine science does not make your position that of progress.

    You say “Itís not magic, just good science” – perhaps you could define what you classify as science, then, because I believe there’s a basic disconnect right there. Science is something with reproducable ends regardless of who performs the work… anyone burning hydrogen ends up with water vapour – that is science.

    Anyone who takes a remedy from a naturopath has about the same chance of getting better as if they did nothing at all.

    How is that good science?

    You go on about how testing done in the pharmaceutical industry aren’t perfect, and how those tests have their limits. It’s the poor craftsman that blames his tools; you’re building an unstable house, and you’re blaming the ruler for not measuring the way you’d LIKE it to. Again, this is not good science.

    Naturopathic ‘medicine’ is relatively safe, though it is medically empty of benefit as well as direct risk.

    Well, it’s void of obvious risk when your patients are primarily the worried well – those that are employing naturopaths as a prophalactic measure to feel like they’re doing something to maintain their health. The risk element becomes less clear when you look at people who use naturopaths to the exclusion of scientific, proven treatments.

    How do we account for people who used naturopaths, and still ended up in the traditional medical system? How do we count the mortality figures when a person is admitted in ER, and dies? Do we count the fact that they avoided seeking real medical advice for all those years with their worsening condition We know how alt med counts those statistics; they treat them as victims of the Medical Establishment and Big Pharma.


    “Modern medicine doesn’t have much useful to say about our more complex systems…”

    You pointing out that medicine doesn’t know everything about every atom in your body neither invalidates medicine nor validates naturopathy.

    I may as well point at you and say that you don’t know everything about trading commodity futures, therefore, my method of choosing investments based off indepth analysis of goat entrails is worth investigating.

    Non-scientific practices are not validated by the limits of scientific processes.

    Show me a chakra, point to chi, or show me real reproducable results from taking sugar pills; succeed on your own merits, not on the percieved shortcomings of your competition.


    In answer to Scott’s article, many of the students from CCNM showed up to quote official policy, and waved dismissively at homeopathy, claiming that it is but one modality among many that an ND can pull from.

    I wrote a bit about this a while back, as many of us against Naturopathic Prescriptions have, and many of us have done significant research into claims and results. When I wrote my own piece, my primary resources were actual Naturopathic schools and organizations.

    My post was titled “Healing the Natural Way” and can be found at http://tr.im/FXPK

    I quoted the The Canadian Association of Naturopathic “Doctors” who define naturopathic practice, in part, as; “the art and science of disease diagnosis, treatment and prevention using natural therapies including: botanical medicine, clinical nutrition, hydrotherapy, homeopathy, naturopathic manipulation, traditional Chinese medicine / acupuncture, and prevention and lifestyle counselling.[sic]”

    Outside of lifestyle counseling and nutrition, what reproducable, proven methods are open to Naturpaths that don’t involve the laws of infinitesimals? I also relied on the course catalog from SCNM in Arizona to see what other modalities they offer.

    The simple fact of the matter is that no school I have found allows a Naturopath to graduate unless they successfully complete many courses in homeopathy. With SCNM, specifically, there were more Homeopathy classes than there were anatomy and science classes. How can anyone merely dismiss such a significant portion of their training upon graduation? Well, likely they don’t.

    Other programs appear similar, and you can NOT graduate without understanding and relying on homeopathy. You can’t be a naturopath without homeopathy; it’s not optional to become one, and it’s not likely that you’re going to throw it away either. Whether it factors largely in any single ND’s practice is beside the point; it is part of the core world view of the naturopath.

    What else can a naturopath throw away? The courses in TCM? Hydrotherapy? Research that seems to focus on homeopathic Provings according to the catalog? What CAN a naturopath discard and still be considered a naturopath?


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