The Skeptic’s Guide to Dismissing Public Claims of Illnesses

When the public starts whining about being sick, here is how to introduce them to science.


A. Make them pay dearly for their anti-science ways. This is all about making the pain of the claim-to-illness so great and so visible that people will be reluctant to bring the illness up, for fear of reprisals and embarrassment.

B. Remove all the mirrors in your house as you will not find that you can look at yourself in them any more. Just part of the job and it goes with the territory.

   ~  The Management

The Skeptics Guide to Dismissing Claims of Illness

The Skeptic’s Guide to Dismissing Public Claims of Illnesses

1.  Tell them it is simply due to a change in methods of diagnosis. Cite another disease which is decreasing in diagnosis (does not matter what it is – and most will not catch on that this is a scientific claim on your part).

“There is no doubt that the number of autism diagnoses has increased in the last two decades, but the evidence strongly suggests this increase in an artifact of how autism diagnoses are made, and not representative of a true increase.” – Steven Novella, Autism Increase Continues to Only Stem from Diagnosis Changes

2.  Tell them that it is all in their heads. Cite ‘Our Deceptive Minds’ and the epidemic prevalence of psychosomatic disorders. Point out psychology blogs and articles from our allies.

“We need broader understanding that the brain is also an organ and can manifest symptoms in a variety of ways. Psychogenic causes are just another item on the differential diagnosis.” – Steven Novella, It’s All in Your Head

3.  Make the sickness out to be a result of weakness of their will, discipline, habits, or character = employ the embarrassment/guilt lever.

“Type 2 [diabetes] is caused by poor eating, lack of exercise and being obese.” – Shelly Hazen, Do Half of American Adults Have Diabetes? The Numbers May Not Be that Clear Cut

4.  Cite the illness to be the result of The Food Babe or Dr. (pick one) stirring everyone up to levels of hysteria in order to sell products. Cite a Kavin Senapathy article as an example of evidence-based science in action. Strawman the idea that they are offering medical treatment advice to horrid diseases, rather than health and prevention or community activism.

“Along with all the pain, fear and sadness, there has been the constant tug of pseudoscientific predators offering nonsensical health advice. To me, Ms. Hari is the epitome of those predators. Not only are they after the pocketbooks of the cancer sufferers, they’re also doing them harm.” – Mark Alsip, Debunking The Food Babe

5.  Make it out to be a matter of manliness or toughing it out. Everyone is suffering, they are just whiny. God allows suffering to teach us what he wants.

“The claws come out and all I hear is how I’m needy and whiny and need to ‘man up’ and etc.” – Dad and Buried

6.  Accuse them of being anti-science. If children are involved, say you understand but accuse anyway, and visibly make sure that they are embarrassed. Make them pay dearly, and use plenty of science sounding words.

7.  Cite the need to celebrate the diversity of all our differences and that everyone is unique. We just need to accept and appreciate those differences, even in ourselves and our children. Cite that they will mess with their kids’ heads.

8.  Accuse the person of being part of a conspiracy theory group. Reframe their argument as a more familiar and radical one.

9.  Enlist the aid of your friends to socially shame the person for bringing up the topic. Track them and troll them.

10.  Report the person to the appropriate Agra or Pharma Public Relations group for monitoring and harassment.

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