• Mary wrote a new post, Guest Post: Skeptics Have a PR Problem, on the site Skepchick 5 years, 5 months ago

    ThumbnailEditor’s Note: Today’s guest post, from Jenny Splitter, is a good reminder to step out of your comfortable echo chamber and engage with people instead of lecturing at them. 


    A couple of weeks ago, I […]

    • A lot of honesty there. Us skeptics aren’t immune to confirmation bias. We’re people, and we make all the same social mistakes, leaps of logic, and unscientific assertions as everyone else.

      All we have is an intent to avoid doing so as a central tenet.

    • “All we have is an intent to avoid doing so as a central tenet.”

      YES! And thanks.

    • Hmm. My own take on the whole gluten thing is – OK, we know there is a clear genetic disorder that causes problems. Only… we are only **just now** looking at some oddities that may arise as a result of differences in gut bacteria, so… there *is* a possible vector for additional sensitivity problems, related to the same class of foods, and it thus could be from differences in something for which he have done almost jack all of any kind of real research on. That said… I very, very, very, much doubt that dang near every other person I talk to has a sensitivity problem, but, some days at least, it appears as though that comes close to the number of people trying to give me, or someone else, where I work, advice on how much better they feel, now that they became semi-obsessive over gluten.

      The only good thing about the whole mess is that eventually we are almost certainly going to be able to do targeted gene replacements, and its only going to be the gene-fearful equivalent of anti-vaxers who will still even need gluten free, and other similar things. The rest can just fix the bloody gene(s). So, in the long run, this is all just a bloody temporary irritant, I hope…

      • Your entire first paragraph could describe aspartame just as readily as gluten. The only real difference is that gluten sensitivity has been given credibility (in some cases by those trying to cash in on the fad) while aspartame sensitivity is relegated to the fringes of Natural News.

        It’s all about perspective.

      • The sensitivity might actually be FODMAPS.

        I know a lot of people who have gone gluten free to treat an inflammatory condition of some kind but that could be anything from a person with a diagnosis like Crohn’s to a person who has decided on their own that their pain is caused by inflammation.

    • I love the way that article starts with a leap straight from “we don’t currently have any evidence” to “it is conclusively proved” without any intervening evidence. Then proceeds to talk about skeptics who get their logic wrong.

      But that’s of a piece with a rattle-off-the-usual dismissal of something that the skeptic has decided is annoyingly irrational and therefore beneath their attention. Yes, they make valid points about common fallacies, but they don’t link those to the actual article very well. Or maybe that’s just me writing off what evidence they have based on them being so horribly wrong in their starting premise.

    • What I don’t understand is, why do people even care so much about what other people have chosen for their diets? You don’t actually need gluten to have a healthy diet, so if someone wants to do without it, so what? I think it’s fair enough to point out that gluten sensitivity may not be a thing, but if the person wants to be gluten-free anyway, then … Oh well? And in fact, someone pointed out to me recently that the rise in gluten-free dieters has led to a rise in gluten-free products and gluten-free menu items in restaurants, which is fantastic for people who have celiac disease. People who in the recent past had a hard time finding things they could without destroying their innards, and forget about eating socially — now have a lot more options, which I think is pretty cool. If some of the people popularizing this way of eating don’t actually need to eat that way, I find it hard to care too much.

      • Why should we be okay with psuedoscience? It’s the same mentality that promotes anti-vaxx rhetoric and belief. To allow one form of psuedoscience because it’s “not a big deal” (says whom? and why?) is not okay. It just helps promote yet more anti-intellectualism and lazy thinking.

        Accurate science is necessary, not optional.