Common Misconceptions and Misuses of Science

A list of a few common misconceptions of logic or science that I've heard a lot in discussions about psoriasis.

This page is dedicated to the discussion of some of the common “themes” of logical fallacies, misapplied science, abused science and the like that I’ve found while researching and talking about psoriasis and psoriasis treatments.

If It Works for Just One Person, That Should Be Good Enough

No, it shouldn’t. If a drug works on only a very limited number of people, then many more will feel ripped off, and may even have had serious adverse reactions without benefit of any healing. This is what clinical trials are for, partially: the determination of what percentage of the general psoriatic population will experience at least some amount of clearing. If a treatment works no better than a placebo (or even worse than a placebo), then it should never make it to the market. Many alternative-medicine treatments have no such efficacy data, and the buyer should beware a lot.

It’s Natural, So It’s Safe

One word: Hemlock. It’s a common thought that if Nature provides something, then it must be safe for use. This is so obviously untrue it’s amazing that anyone still makes this appeal in their marketing. Yet many herbalists and others rely on this thought as “proof” of safety, and won’t bother to do any safety testing at all. Don’t take my word for it. Many books on herbs (for example) have warnings included, and a sampling of their information can be found on the Herbal Warnings page on this site. See also the Skeptics’s Dictionary.

They Laughed at Galileo

Yes, they did, but he was right. Many people seem to almost consider ridicule a good thing, comparing themselves to Galileo or other great thinkers of the past whose work was considered absurd in their own times. Some people have taken to quoting or paraphrasing Schopenhauer:

All truth goes through three stages. First it is ridiculed. Then it is violently opposed. Finally it is accepted as self-evident.

The problem with comparisons to Galileo or Schopenhauer’s Three Stages is that neither has any predictive power whatsoever. Both are observations of past events, and nothing more. There are more things that have been ridiculed or violently opposed which are not truth than that are. For example, modern-day Flat Earthers are ridiculed on a regular basis. Should we assume that simply because they are laughed at, they must be correct?

Modern medicine on the whole has already been through the Three Stages, and individual pieces of it constantly go through them all the time. Attempts to apply the Three Stages to certain aspects of modern alternative medicine are nothing more than attempts to turn back the clock. Many of modern medicine’s “truths” are built on the foundations of things like old-fashioned herbalism. Modern medicine is, for the most part, an improvement on the older stuff, and not, as is commonly thought, a completely different replacement (compare willow bark and aspirin).