But the left has its own blind spots and pet causes that contradict the scientific method we’ve all known and loved since Aristotle introduced empiricism in classical Greece.
That’s why the scientific world is bidding “good riddance” to retiring Sen. Tom Harkin, the Iowa Democrat.
The journal Science recently wished him well, calling him a “longtime champion” of biomedical research.
“This is exactly backwards,” say Alex B. Berezow and Hank Campbell, authors of “Science Left Behind,” a remarkable book about dizzy leftist trends. “In reality, Harkin has been one of the leading voices of alternative medicine, up to 95 percent of which is complete nonsense. His insistence upon funding woo (see below), through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) no less, has served to undermine biomedical research. Called the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), this joke of an organization was created — and packed full of woo-loving cronies — by Senator Tom Harkin.”
“Woo,” in the sense used by Berezow and Cambell, is short for “woo woo,” and it means “magical thinking,” the kind of wishful belief that makes one accept anecdotes as evidence and placebo effects as proof.
“As an example of the sheer idiocy that is funded by this organization, $1 million was spent determining if strategically placed magnets relieved chronic pain,” the authors say. “Another $2 million bankrolled an ‘accupressure’ study to determine if pushing on people’s heads caused them to lose weight. And despite the fact that we all love Master Yoda, $350,000 was wasted to study the ‘chi’ life force. Hard to justify, the study is.”
“Echinacea for colds,” the Associated Press reported recently. “Ginkgo biloba for memory. Glucosamine and chondroitin for arthritis. Black cohosh for menopausal hot flashes. Saw palmetto for prostate problems. Shark cartilage for cancer. All proved no better than dummy pills in big studies funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.”
How did Harkin react? He was furious.
“Harkin is not pleased by the results of his pet project, but not because his quack agency has become the poster child for government waste,” the authors say. “Instead, as Michael Specter reports in Denialism, Harkin is upset because the center he helped establish ended up disproving alternative medicine, not validating it as he had hoped. This reveals such a fundamental misunderstanding of the scientific method (the goal of which is to test — not prove — your favorite hypotheses) that one medical doctor referred to Harkin as a public health menace.”
You’ll notice we haven’t even mentioned Harkin’s other pet project — ethanol, a waste of good corn that produces higher, not lower carbon emissions.
Harkin won’t be missed much by real scientists, such as Berezow and Cambell.
“Good riddance, Sen. Harkin,” they say.