For 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 âmasterâ of his subject so when he made a pronouncement on the skeptic movement on his blog that skeptics were just âanother cultâ, 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 suchÂ 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 forÂ 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 closeÂ 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 commentatorÂ 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 âevidence based medicineâ 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 âThe Truthâ about Alternative and Complementary. In fact the word truth is in the title of every chapter, âtruth 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 âreasonably probabilityâ not as âTruthâ. 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 âevidenceâ of truthÂ Â has become the mantra of the âSkepticâ 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. â 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 oneâ.
How does one define a cult again:
There are manyÂ articles out there like âSceptical about Skepticsâ 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 skepticsÂ got organisedÂ and set themselves up as the âNightingaleâ superhero’s who would police CAM.Â Its funny I often wonder if I seem as weird to skeptics as they seem to me.
- Last June Jack of Kent summarised the BCA’s decision to sue Simon Singh.
- 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.
- A true skeptic does not reserve their skepticism for alternative and complementary medicine.