top_philosopher

Hoe leuk als je iemand, die zichzelf op Twitter het pseudoniem “topfilosoof” aanmeet, zwart op wit betrapt op een gemiste cruciale denkstap. Deze man – Alan Levinovitz – was in een artikel op Slate.com over het mogelijke placebo of nocebo effect van glutenallergie (boeiend om te lezen) en passant zo dicht bij de waarheid over global warming en climate change dat het eigenlijk een schot voor open goal is. Hij schrijft namelijk:

Occasionally, as with vaccines […], alarmism veers into paranoia, yielding accusations that a shadowy East Asian cabal is paying off scientists and journalists to regurgitate their propaganda. (Ajinmoto Corporation, I await your check!) For a small minority, MSG sensitivity somehow became more than a medical condition, and challenging its physiological basis poses a threat to their very identity. The harmfulness of MSG, a seemingly trivial assertion, took on the importance of a religious doctrine, a fundamental truth to be defended at any cost. But why?

[….]

Not so fast. An important implication of the study is that two-thirds of people who think they are gluten intolerant really aren’t. In light of this, the even-handed Sanghavi suggested that “patients convinced they have gluten intolerance might do well to also accept that their self-diagnosis may be wrong.” Predictably, the comment thread exploded with rebuttals: defensive anecdotes, doctrinal pronouncements about the evils of gluten, and accusations of corporate malfeasance, all of which bear a striking resemblance in tone and content to the rhetoric of anti-MSG advocates. For many, the truth of physiological gluten intolerance has now acquired a quasi-religious status.

[….]

No one likes to be told they are mistaken about the foundation of their most dearly held beliefs. It offended the faithful when Marx suggested that religions are psychological tools meant to placate the masses. Suggesting that gluten intolerance might have a psychological basis threatens a similarly foundational belief, namely that we are rational beings, competent interpreters of reality immune to mass hysteria and self-deception.

[….]

Accepting a psychological explanation of gluten intolerance is especially difficult because food aversions often turn into a way of life. Like religion, avoiding gluten requires personal sacrifice. Gluten intolerance creates communities, which, like religious communities, share stories of suffering and redemption, and share meals made special by the presence of a food taboo. It’s no wonder people take offense at the suggestion that gluten intolerance could be psychological—after all, who wants to have built their way of life on a “mere” trick of the mind?

Thinking that way is a mistake. Reductionist psychological explanations of religious beliefs can be offensive because they deny fundamental religious truths: “You believe in heaven to stave off your fear of death, not because it really exists.” Legitimate psychological explanations of medical conditions, on the other hand, deny no such truths. The question of whether and to what extent MSG and gluten cause physiological reactions is scientific, not religious. When one’s explanation of a medical condition becomes an unquestionable truth, the explanation is no longer scientific.

Dus denk je: dit is mijn man! Deze kerel nodigen we uit op het volgende sceptische congres….. niet dus… want ik heb een trucje uitgehaald…. ik heb een paar woorden uit de eerste gequote alinea gesloopt. Er stond namelijk in het origineel:

Occasionally, as with vaccines and climate change denial, alarmism veers into paranoia, yielding accusations that a shadowy East Asian cabal is paying off scientists and journalists to regurgitate their propaganda. (Ajinmoto Corporation, I await your check!) For a small minority, MSG sensitivity somehow became more than a medical condition, and challenging its physiological basis poses a threat to their very identity. The harmfulness of MSG, a seemingly trivial assertion, took on the importance of a religious doctrine, a fundamental truth to be defended at any cost. But why?

Dat is toch niet te geloven? Climate change denial is tegenwoordig ook al een vorm van alarmisme? Mijn broek zakt af. Ik ben met stomheid geslagen.

levinovitz

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