Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Breast Cancer Denialism?

Well, you’ve heard of Holocaust Denialists and crazy HIV/AIDS Denialists, but now there is a new breed of denialist in town – the Breast Cancer Denialist. According to one such crank, breast cancer is a conspiracy cooked up by the pharmaceutical companies and would be best treated with herbal remedies rather than modern medicines. Apparently, since “…every system of medicine has a treatment for breast cancer,” sick women should seek out “Chinese medicine, Ayurvedic medicine, Tibetan medicine, Western herbalism, American Indian medicine (with all its variations), rainforest herbs / Amazonian medicine, Australian aboriginal medicine, Hawaiian / Pacific islands medicine, etc.” instead of following the recommendations of their doctors. He encourages women to choose any system of treatment except the ones actually proven to work. You had to know that the ever vigilant MarkH of Denialism Blog was prepared to point out the logical fallacy:
One should note that the mere presence of dozens of folk-remedies doesn't mean they are effective, likely the opposite is true. One notes that historically, when treatments for a disease don't work, there are countless treatments for it. Once something efficacious is found, it usually ends up being only one product that eclipses the dozens of ineffective measures previously thrown at a disease.
Really, cancer in any form is a serious disease and it is irresponsible to encourage people to seek out ineffective remedies in place of real medicine that might save them. If people want to supplement the regime prescribed by their oncologist with some other alternative treatment as well, then that is their decision. Yet, it is cruel to suggest that any such treatment could take the place of medical treatments that have actually been subjected to trials and been proven to work.

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