True skepticism is keeping an open mind while at the same time basing one’s beliefs on the evidence. Some scientific theories are proven so thoroughly that any change to them will likely be a refinement. Keeping my mind open leaves room for new discoveries. I’ve been reading Skeptical Inquirer magazine for decades, and it’s a breath of fresh air. One writer, Reynold Spector, has contributed some of the best articles in that magazine. One of the most impressive deals with drugs, both over-the-counter and prescription.

Table 5 and the text above it show drugs that do not work most of the time, and yet are allowed to be marketed as effective. Take loratadine, for example. Or don’t, actually. It’s only 12% more effective than a placebo. I knew that it didn’t work for me, but I had no idea that I was the typical case. It’s rubbish. Bollocks. Pony. Cobblers. You get the idea.

The article says “safe generic drugs yield a 20 to 60 percent response and are cheaper.” This leads me to my least favorite part of the article, because maddeningly, Dr. Spector doesn’t identify those cheap generic drugs that are effective, although he’s likely talking about generic Flonase (it seems to be effective and generic versions are available, although it requires a prescription in the US).

If you’re skeptical of all unsupported claims, and gauge your level of belief based on the amount of evidence, you’re less likely to fall for rubbish. Belief should not be just a yes/no thing. It is perfectly OK to say that you’re pretty certain or that you think something is probably so. Certainty is a product of dogma, not science.


6 thoughts on “Skepticism

  1. Pingback: Skepchick on Weight Stigma | Fatties United!

  2. Pingback: Skeptical Inquirer and Fatties, Part 1 | Fatties United!

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