Take That! (or: WTG Panda)
Panda Bear MD, in the usual humble, roundabout, beating-around-the-bush style of his, has just trashed the whole so-called CAM movement more thoroughly than I could ever hope to.
Unfortunately, I happen to have some pretty good friends who -- through no fault of their own (they live in California) -- happen to hold some pretty strong beliefs on the subject. Equally unfortunately, these friends (ok; it's "friend" singular) was recently invited to a gathering where she was treated quite shamefully. Within the context of trying to "debate" things that are patently ridiculous ("science" is not, or shouldn't be, a matter of "opinion") there's still no excuse for plain old rudeness.
Nevertheless, here's my take on it:
You are welcome to believe that the sun revolves around the earth, but you should not expect a warm welcome at a meeting of professional astronomers, nor are you entitled to whine about their "refusal to listen to opposing viewpoints." (Of course, if they invited you because they like your stories about riding the sun around the earth, they have no right to berate you.)The difference is that in science, you can indeed change people's minds by using their own methods and techniques to prove when you are right. Granted it may take time, but when you're right, you're right; time is on your side and eventually people come around. They have to, if they're really scientists. When I graduated from medical school, no bacteria could possibly live in the extreme acid pH of the stomach. That was proven to be false in 1982. Voila! My opinion was indeed influenced, and now I -- like many other physicians -- prescribe antibiotics for ulcers.
There are some arenas where "opinions" are the issue at hand, such as politics and religion. But things like Holocaust Denial and CAM pull the cloak of "opinion" and "opposing viewpoints" around themselves with an intellectual dishonesty that is nothing less than shameful.