Sorry Jack of Kent I just didn’t get your April fools day joke?

April 5, 2011
By

imbbagesFor many including myself the person who talked most sense regarding the BCA decision to sue the BCA was legal blogger Jack of Kent. He was a “master” of his subject so when he made a pronouncement on the skeptic movement on his blog that skeptics were just “another cult”, I had no reason to think it had anything to do with April Fools day or that Jack was spreading his wings and trying his hand at comedy. To be perfectly honest I dont get what he thinks was funny.

When I was at school, I was the class comedienne, or clown from the teachers perspective. The art of a great practical joke is sowing a seed in someone’s mind and even though they start out being suspicious, they can not help but let their emotions rule over their common sense.

No doubt this is why my announcement last thursday that I had colon cancer was greeted by close friends with such disdain, and by others as a sick April Fools day Joke. I was after all the person who having been bitten by a dog in France, allowed the students of Southlands College convince themselves over a number of days that I had contracted rabies, resulting eventually in me be locked in a room, to prevent me biting anybody and the police being called.

Inviting Linda to France for the evening but only going to Swanage on the ferry. My Gunshot wedding. Convincing a school mate we were going on a double date with a female teacher and letting him ring her door bell only to find I was no longer standing behind him. I was streaking long before it had been done on telly, my kids love the story of me streaking the queue waiting to see the Godfather, only for my friends not to stop the car as arranged and leave me there in nothing but my shoes and socks 20 minutes from home. I would spend hours planning elaborate practical jokes to do on friends and family. This went on all the year round, April 1st I felt was for kids and nerds, a bit like New Years eve parties being for  people who dont get out very often and go mad every New Year.

Jacks joke did not require any skill to convince people, because much of it is very close  to how many see the skeptics, in fact today Jack has attempted to explain his joke. So who is he poking fun at? Is it that he believes that CAM practitioners are half wits and gullible fools which if true the joke would be in as much bad taste as Frankie Boyles joke about Jordan. On the other hand if we believed him because he has been such a insightful serious commentator  in the past, then the joke is on Jack of Kent himself.

Jack adopted a sceptical view of the skeptic movement and pretended it was his for a day to see how his readers would respond. He impressed me for having the courage to ignore the adulation of his skeptic fans to express what I considered a rational view, assuming he had taken the time to read about the principles of “evidence based medicine” and would approach that subject with the same insight as he had analysed the BCA libel suit.

The Trick or Treatment text has been presented by Edzard Ernst and Simon Singh as “The Truth” about Alternative and Complementary. In fact the word truth is in the title of every chapter, “truth is a word I would associate more with lawyers and philosophers, rather than scientists, clinicians or patients.

Who can apply the sharp contrast of true of false to a patients prognosis, Singh or Ernst? I think not, in fact the best an evidence based practitioner could reasonably hope for is defined by Archie Cochrane as “reasonably probability” not as “Truth”. On Thursday I will be given a prognosis which will tell me what happens to an average person who responds in an average way. I wont be given nor do I expect this truth Ernst and the skeptics demand. This unrealistic “evidence” of truth   has become the mantra of the “Skeptic” the way Catholics refer to the virgin Mary. Having read Jacks piece, it was interesting to note why they have their own spelling for the word.

This is how UK Skeptics explain this anomaly. “ Skeptics in the USA, and in many other countries throughout the world, have a stronger identity than we have here in the UK thanks to the input of James Randi, Michael Shermer, and Stephen Barrett, to name but a few. Spelling skeptic the same way as they do helps with continuity, as the skeptic community is a world-wide one”.

How does one define a cult again:

There are many  articles out there like “Sceptical about Skeptics” or http://www.earthlights.org/skeptical.html expressing similar views to those expressed by Jack of Kent in his blogpost. These were written before the skeptics  got organised  and set themselves up as the “Nightingale” superhero’s who would police CAM.  Its funny I often wonder if I seem as weird to skeptics as they seem to me.

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Related posts:

  1. Last June Jack of Kent summarised the BCA’s decision to sue Simon Singh.
  2. Jack of Kent is being naive if he thinks the General Chiropractic Council will tell him what he wants, under The Freedom of Information Act.
  3. A true skeptic does not reserve their skepticism for alternative and complementary medicine.

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  • http://www.chiropracticlive.com Richard Lanigan

    Its a sensible view point. I would enjoy debating with someone like that, I cant believe I have wasted so much time arguing with fanatics over the last twelve months and encouraged others to do the same. 

    There is an amusing debate going on with “scientific” wing of the chiropractic profession and Ernst and the usual suspects on Pulse. http://www.pulsetoday.co.uk/story.asp?storycode=4129401The discussion begs the question who are at the extremes of the chiropractic profession, at one end you have evangelical subluxation chiropractors taking all the flack and then at the other extreme you have “reasonable” evidence based chiropractors who apparently represent the mainstream of the chiropractic profession. It seems strange that this particular view point has no “evangelical extremists” who are unrepresentative of the chiropractic profession., or perhaps like many skeptics these chiropractor dont recognize these characteristics in themselves.

    There is a challenge for the profession to identify the theory of  ”main stream” chiropractic and who practices it and who exactly are at the extremes? 

  • Fedup
  • Fedup

    A comment on a skeptics blog.

    “I disagree with the comparison to the N-word, I think there are very different things going on there, but I do think that ‘woo’ is a word skeptics need to stop using.
    It’s counter to everything we stand for to dismiss someone’s ideas or beliefs with a three letter word. Sure, it may be easier and more shorthand than actually having to talk about the ideas in detail every time, but that’s not what we’re in it for.
    Saying ‘this idea is woo’ or ‘this person is a woo’ closes the door on further discussion or at least implies that it should be closed. It does not invite exactly the sort of debate, exploration and questioning that we are supposed to stand for.
    I don’t think that means that we shouldn’t ridicule demonstrably ridiculous ideas, but we should do so without resorting to lazy name-calling and pidgeonholing.
    Not only that, but it’s just like a self-congratulatory sort of verbal masturbation. What does a non-skeptic care if you say someone is a woo or has woo ideas? Who is ever going to be inspired to think more carefully after hearing that?”

  • Fedup

    Another interesting blog. was this done on April Fools day?

    http://scienceblogs.com/sciencepunk/2010/08/skeptical_about_skeptics.php

  • http://www.chiropracticlive.com Richard Lanigan

    Medicine is very good at removing tumours from a human. What
    humans are not so good at is keeping these cancer cells which are in all of us
    turning rogue. James Cheshunt has put together a body of information, thats out
    there. The chiropractic stuff the leader in the field is Ted Carrick. The
    leaders in this field of wellbeing and cancer you would have to say is Dean
    Ornish and David Servan Schreiber http://www.anticancerbook.com

    The fact is chiropractors have not been very good at getting their message out
    there because chiropractors can not decide on their identity. As I saw last
    Thursday at the inaugural conference of the College of Medicine many medical
    doctors have embraced the ball of holism and the innate healing ability of the
    body  and are going to run with it and get all the credit for changing
    health care while chiropractors will argue amongst themselves about whose
    technique is best and how we should write referral letters to GPs for back
    pain.

  • http://www.chiropractorswarwick.co.uk Stefaan A.L.P. Vossen

    So (as per your logic above) how are phytochemicals addressing the cause of cancer? Sorry to be obnoxious but let’s just keep focus here. People die for bad or inadequate cancer treatment and I think it is irresponsible for anyone to suggest that they should try “other options first”. Other options “aswell as” yes. Boost your chances, yes. Address cause of disease aswell as disease process itself, yes… but to get into an “either or” debate is not only imo silly but dangerous too and all that in the name of what exactly?
    Stefaan

  • Anonymous

    Hi Stefaan,

    This is very interesting. I didn’t know that Chestnut had a system, which flaws are you referring to?

    Does real food and exercise fit into a different spectrum of health care or all of them? I can see that after a very traumatic event exercise might be impossible but that would fit into the emergency spectrum would it not?

    Well I certainly would tell someone with lung cancer to stop smoking, in fact I would tell someone to do so before they have lung cancer…

    You seem to be suggesting that exercise and phytochemicals have no effect whatsoever on cancer, I am assuming that you are not aware of studies that have shown that they are able to reverse established cancer?

    I agree that oncologists are in the business of curing cancer, unfortunately the data seems to suggest that although it is a very good business it is not very successful at curing cancer. If you look at the literature we see a growing body of evidence that cancer is caused by environmental factors and lifestyle choices; and is in fact a response to toxicity and/or deficiency influences. Unfortunately neither chemotherapy, radiation therapy or surgery do anything to change these causes and so therefore are not a cure but a treatment instead.

    Best wishes.

  • http://www.chiropractorswarwick.co.uk Stefaan A.L.P. Vossen

    HI Wellnessdoc,
    yes I have been to James’ seminars.
    All systems have flaws, we can agree about that, but the biggest flaw I think lies in applying methods designed for and usful in one part of the healthcare spectrum to another (homeopathy for HIV or adjustments for cancer for example). The problem is often that the width of the spectrum is poorly defined for a lot of the tools, leading to much confusion, in turn leading to flaws.
    There is one thing I don’t quiet understand. You state that exercise and phytochemical offer protection and offer them as first option. To me, in my own simple mind that reads like telling someone with lung cancer to stop smoking and see how things go.
    On the people making statements re cancer topic: Simon Perry (one of the guys who brought a stack of cases to the GCC) is just in the process of going on a rampage against them for making exactely such claims. When I looked at some of the sites it was apparent that some of the people were indeed just a tad confused and although I am always one to give people the benefit of eth doubt I had to agree that some of the claims were just misleading, stupid or criminal or a combination of all three.
    I think the oncologists are in the business of curing cancers, not trying to prevent them…
    Stefaan

  • Anonymous

    Dear Stefaan,

    Who are all these people making statements about cancer? I think the vast majority rely on the medical system, but maybe I am mistaken.

    I think there are better options in the early stages and there is a large body of evidence that exercise and phytochemicals give enormous protection against cancer. So why not try these options first? The reason that I know about these options is because I read scientific literature on the subject. I’ve got a feeling that you’re going to ask me for some references some of which I will gladly give, but not all due to the time that this would take.

    I am wondering why your amazing oncologist friends do not read these studies too…

    Have you been to a James Chestnut seminar?

    Allopathy as in the practice of conventional medicine, not in the pejorative sense because I am actually grateful for the conventional medical system. However, despite being grateful I also recognise that it has flaws. Perhaps you should read Ulrich Abel’s book “Chemotherapie fortgeschrittener Karzinome. Eine kritische Bestandsaufnahme” also available in English.

    I hope this helps your search for clarification.

  • http://www.chiropractorswarwick.co.uk Stefaan A.L.P. Vossen

    Thank goodness for that. There are far too many people who seem to be making statements about the treatment of cancer, let alone any other disease in which they seem to imply that there are better options which are being suppressed by “big pharma” (usual reason being given that “it” can’t make money out of it). What I still do wonder about is how you know these other, better, non-allopathic treatements whereas the amazing oncologists I have met and worked with over the years do not. Neither do I understand your comment about 5-year survival rate or what James Chestnut has anything to do with it. You see; you speak of alternatives (if I read the implications of “better options” or “lots that can be done without allopathy” (ps what are you implying with the use of the term allopathy? Do you know it is a pejorative term?) correctly, I am understanding you are talking about “either/or” rather than “hand in hand”) whereas James Chestnut discusses the concept of complementing and optimising outcomes which I can understand… would you care to clarify your point further?
    I am just trying to get to the bottom of this as there are lots of people in a position of advisory responsibility making all manner of interesting statements which often end up being quite straightforward upon further questioning.
    Regards,
    Stefaan

  • Anonymous

    Hi Stefaan,

    No, I’m implying that there are better options first.

    Of course in advanced stages allopathy can do a lot to help, but if you catch cancer early enough there is a lot that can be done without allopathy with better long-term results.

    And for all you reading this, no I’m not talking about any kind of adjustment as cancer therapy.

    BTW increasing 5 year survivability with cancer is not a good marker for success if you’re diagnosing the disease earlier and earlier.

    ;)

  • http://welshandgrumpy.blogspot.com/ Colin Jenkins

    I would to know the answer to that too. PS on apricot kernals – I’m sure I read somewhere they were at one point make into a drug – but later taken off the market because not only did it not work – the side effects were horrible…?

  • http://www.chiropractorswarwick.co.uk Stefaan A.L.P. Vossen

    Hi Wellnessdoc,
    I might just be misreading your post here, but are you implying that allopathic strategies for dealing with colon cancer actually do not work?
    Stefaan

  • Anonymous

    Richard, I am very sorry to hear that you have colon cancer. I have grown to respect you a great deal over the years, especially what you are achieving in this forum. I now wish you had stayed a bit longer for the James Chestnut modules. I hope that you have developed a non-allopathic strategy for dealing with it. I would be happy to help support you and guide you with interventions that actually do work…

  • Garland

    I don’t see the joke either. Sounds like a fairly true statement to me. Skeptics are just as biased in their belief system as everyone else and maybe even more so.

  • poopslinger

    Skeptics to me conjur up an image of thick curly hair nerd glasses and possibly hairy palms. I think they should rename themseleves Fanatics and here’s why courtesy of Wikapedia:

    Fanaticism is a belief or behavior involving uncritical zeal, particularly for an extreme religious or political cause or in some cases sports, or with an obsessive enthusiasm for a pastime or hobby. Philosopher George Santayana defines fanaticism as “redoubling your effort when you have forgotten your aim”;[1] according to Winston Churchill, “A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject”. By either description the fanatic displays very strict standards and little tolerance for contrary ideas or opinions.

    In his book “Crazy Talk, Stupid Talk”, Neil Postman states that “the key to all fanatical beliefs is that they are self-confirming….(some beliefs are) fanatical not because they are ‘false’, but because they are expressed in such a way that they can never be shown to be false.”[

    You could argue that Chiropractors are the opposite side of this coin, but at least we get to see 1st hand what exactly chiropractic can do which is more than can be said fof the The Fanatics?Skeptics

  • poopslinger

    Skeptics to me conjur up an image of thick curly hair nerd glasses and possibly hairy palms. I think they should rename themseleves Fanatics and here’s why courtesy of Wikapedia:

    Fanaticism is a belief or behavior involving uncritical zeal, particularly for an extreme religious or political cause or in some cases sports, or with an obsessive enthusiasm for a pastime or hobby. Philosopher George Santayana defines fanaticism as “redoubling your effort when you have forgotten your aim”;[1] according to Winston Churchill, “A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject”. By either description the fanatic displays very strict standards and little tolerance for contrary ideas or opinions.

    In his book “Crazy Talk, Stupid Talk”, Neil Postman states that “the key to all fanatical beliefs is that they are self-confirming….(some beliefs are) fanatical not because they are ‘false’, but because they are expressed in such a way that they can never be shown to be false.”[

    You could argue that Chiropractors are the opposite side of this coin, but at least we get to see 1st hand what exactly chiropractic can do which is more than can be said fof the The Fanatics?Skeptics

  • poopslinger

    Skeptics to me conjur up an image of thick curly hair nerd glasses and possibly hairy palms. I think they should rename themseleves Fanatics and here’s why courtesy of Wikapedia:

    Fanaticism is a belief or behavior involving uncritical zeal, particularly for an extreme religious or political cause or in some cases sports, or with an obsessive enthusiasm for a pastime or hobby. Philosopher George Santayana defines fanaticism as “redoubling your effort when you have forgotten your aim”;[1] according to Winston Churchill, “A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject”. By either description the fanatic displays very strict standards and little tolerance for contrary ideas or opinions.

    In his book “Crazy Talk, Stupid Talk”, Neil Postman states that “the key to all fanatical beliefs is that they are self-confirming….(some beliefs are) fanatical not because they are ‘false’, but because they are expressed in such a way that they can never be shown to be false.”[

    You could argue that Chiropractors are the opposite side of this coin, but at least we get to see 1st hand what exactly chiropractic can do which is more than can be said fof the The Fanatics?Skeptics

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