Thursday, August 13, 2009

Life U.'s Vitalism Woo Per D.C. & Dr. Hall on Science Per S.I.:

here, I quote from a recent Dynamic Chiropractic article by the President of Life University that describes chiropractic's vitalism [see 001., below]; and, then a recent Skeptical Inquirer article by Dr. Harriet Hall that offers some advice regarding skeptics' engagement with such woo [see 002. & 003., below]:

001.a. Life U. President Riekeman states in "Vitalism Key to Contemporary Health Care Policy" (Dynamic Chiropractic; vol. 27, no. 17):

"vitalism [...] the idea of a spirit that animates and operates the body [...a.k.a.] biological vitalism [...a.k.a.] the body as a self-regulating system [...this] inherent self-maintaining, self organizing and self-healing ability of the body [...a.k.a.] vis medicatrix naturae [...is] the new vitalism [...] a truly vitalistic approach to national health care [is needed...per a] chiropractic approach to health [...] 'vitalism is a good paradigm' [...] vitalism provides the right framework through which chiropractic can provide a truly meaningful contribution [...our] vitalistic wellness philosophy [...] our vitalistic philosophy [...] our vitalistic approach to health."

Note: Life U. defines itself as vitalistic. It is also steeped in subluxation theory. Subluxation theory is not scientifically supported. Upon reflection, vitalism is an archaic superstition. Overall, vitalism and subluxation theory are as scientific as the Tooth Fairy, and she ain't a solution for any kind of dental problem in the same way vitalism and subluxation theory aren't gonna solve real-world health care issues.

Particularly in terms of this blog's mission to discuss naturopathy mainly, a spirit running the body -- vitalism -- is an article of faith / supernaturalism / sectarianism, and such implausible suspensions of the laws of nature do not have scientific support. It is a HUGE logical error to claim that such a sectarian belief is the same thing as the ability of the body to heal and regulate itself, because biology-physiology is scientific and naturalistic and vitalism is the opposite. That is simply a fact. The new vitalism is just old sectarian wine relabeled in vagarity.

001.b. the Life Source Octagon think tank states in "Vis Medicatrix Naturae":

"Vis Medicatrix Naturae [...is] a historic set of presentations and discussions on the new vitalism. Representatives of chiropractic, naturopathy [I'm fascinated by naturopathy's essential vitalism], Asian medicine, ayurveda medicine and homeopathy will discuss vitalism [...e.g. per naturopathy] Vitalistic Philosophy - Naturopathy. Joseph Pizzorno, ND. Past President, Bastyr University and author of Textbook of Natural Medicine [TNM]."

Note: the chapter on vitalism in the TNM is most amusing. One of my favorite errors is the very wrong claim that life defies thermodynamic law. Vis medicatrix naturae is, of course, HUGELY naturopathy's vitalistic premise. I guess chiro. is getting tired of Innate.

002. Dr. Hall states in "Playing by the Rules" (Skeptical Inquirer; 2009-05/06):

"[advice] it is useless for skeptics to argue with someone who doesn’t play by the rules of science and reason. If no amount of evidence will change your opponent’s mind, you are wasting your breath [I so much agree...] science has been a very successful self-correcting group endeavor. It wouldn’t be successful if it didn’t follow a strict set of rules designed to avoid errors [...] if proponents of intelligent design or alternative medicine [like naturopathy,chiropractic, homeopathy] want to play the science game, they ought to play by the rules. If they won’t play by the rules, they effectively take themselves out of the scientific arena and into the metaphysical arena. In that case, it is useless for us to talk to them about science."

Note: regarding vitalism, remember that Bechtel and Richardson state that today vitalism "is often viewed as unfalsifiable, and therefore a pernicious metaphysical doctrine [...and according to Keating in that same article] 'chiropractors are not unique in recognizing a tendency and capacity for self-repair and auto-regulation of human physiology. But we surely stick out like a sore thumb among professions which claim to be scientifically based by our unrelenting commitment to vitalism ['the how that happens' explanation for that self-repair / auto-regulation]. So long as we propound the 'one cause, one cure' rhetoric of Innate, we should expect to be met by ridicule from the wider health science community. Chiropractors can’t have it both ways [nor can NDs!]. Our theories cannot be both dogmatically held vitalistic constructs and be scientific at the same time. The purposiveness, consciousness and rigidity of the Palmers' Innate [naturo. has this as well, as purposeful & intelligent 'vital force'] should be rejected' [hear, hear...and quoting Williams] 'today, vitalism is one of the ideas that form the basis for many pseudoscientific health systems [naturopathy, chiropractic, homeopathy & kind] that claim that illnesses are caused by a disturbance or imbalance of the body's vital force'".

003. what sCAM woomeisters have failed to do according to Dr. Hall, and some advice:

"there’s no point in arguing scientific facts with someone whose worldview is metaphysical [e.g. vitalistic] and nonscientific [e.g. supernaturalistic...] if they won’t play the science game by the rules, we are justified in crying 'foul' and disqualifying them [...] wouldn’t it be refreshing to hear a homeopath [or a chiropractor or a naturopath] say, 'I believe homeopathy [or naturopathy or chiropractic] works based on my personal experience and on nonscientific evidence like testimonials, and I categorically reject the results of any scientific trial that fails to support my beliefs' [a.k.a. 'I'm a health sectarian'...] if they'd say that up front, we wouldn't waste any of our valuable time rehashing scientific evidence [or lack thereof] that they will just ignore. They would be out of the game, permanently. And patients would have a better basis for giving truly informed consent."

Note: yup.

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