Monday, August 4, 2008

Stuff Believers Like: #3 Testimonials.....

Faster than a speeding case report. More powerful than a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Able to leap peer review in a single bound. Look! Up on the internet! It's a story. It's an anecdote. It's a testimonial!

Every implausible and unproven quack therapy, from acupuncture to quantum healing, comes bearing testimonials of its effectiveness. They are typically brief, to the point, extremely powerful, and, across the board, absolutely worthless. To anyone with a skeptical filter in place, the use of testimonials is an obvious sign of a complete lack of credible support for one's claims. Yet to the believer there is no introductory phrase more meaningful than "In my experience". And no amount of published contradictory data or number of explanations from critically minded experts can match the effect on believers from just one of the seemingly neverending supply of these uncontrolled, unblinded, and often tall tales.

Sadly even outright harm and suffering, or the complete lack of achieving the claimed benefit, are unable to shake the faith of one who has stepped over the line that seperates blind credulity from a more critical approach to one's health. It is far too easy for them to rationalize away these failures, placing the blame on themselves or the medical community, when the stranger whose gout was cured by taking goat urine supplements is trusted more than the family doctor. Perhaps the believer doesn't realize that the near totality of these testimonials are fabricated, or that many, especially in the case of the many fraudulent cancer cures floating around cyberspace, when investigated are found to be the former words of the now deceased, victims of their disease process, their lack of critical thinking skills, and the bastards profiting off of them.

No comments: