Down in the trenches
In this context, for me, the trench is the Alternative Medicine section of Yahoo!Answers.
Why am I doing this? Do I really hate myself that much? Do I really think I can convert anyone?
I’m doing this because I am sick of sitting back on my laurels and pooh-poohing this stuff from my little private Skeptopia. Skeptopia is a land where many skeptics live. It’s a safe place where skeptics get together and pat each other on the back for being so clever. It’s not just here, most of the other skeptic forums and blogs have become Skeptopias. I’ve built my own Skeptopia here so I can talk about how clever I am, and if anyone flames me I can delete their comment and pretend they don’t exist. It gets boring sometimes, ridiculing dumb ideas and patting myself on the back is starting to give me shoulder cramp. In the end, how does it help anyone or change anything if I stay in my safe little world?
I was looking for more information about GNC’s iridology offer and I ran across this section of Yahoo! Answers and it was just the place I think I need to be. It’s not a site people go to in order to find answers refuting alternative medicine claims, it’s a place where they go to have them confirmed or to get advice. There is a lot of bad information going around there, from folk remedies to advice on the best chiropractic schools, but I noticed that there are a few skeptics too. People linking to quackwatch, people giving glib negative answers. All morning, I’ve been researching answers and trying to provide detailed, informed answers to questions by seriously curious people. It’s not the people who are already clearly wrapped up in alternative medicine that I target, it’s the people with serious questions who are just interested in learning more who I think need good information.
I don’t just tell people to go to a doctor. I don’t tell people that they are stupid or that such-and-such is simply nonsense. I try to provide simple explanations of the science involved and I make suggestions that they might be better off looking for other alternatives. Basically, I try to answer the question as best I can without judgment or prejudice
Maybe it doesn’t make a lick of difference. I’ll get back to you once people start rating my answers.