Objectors are not arrogant 1

September 4, 2008

Michael Pittilo of The Robert Gordon University asserts (Letters, 28 August) that academics' objections to alternative medicine degree courses are "arrogant", and he claims, as a fact no less, that such courses are legitimate ipso facto because they have been validated by the universities concerned.

But he has this the wrong way around. Validation of a degree course does not demonstrate that the course is legitimate. To accept that it did would be naive in the extreme. Rather, validation of an inherently pseudoscientific degree course simply demonstrates a flawed validation process.

There are several possible explanations for such failures of validation, including the appointment of self-referential "experts" such as "alternative medicine" practitioners to the validation panel. The intellectually deleterious effects of such appointments are worsened by the exclusion of potentially dissenting (scientific) voices from the process.

The charge of arrogance is best applied to those who would seek to denounce or ignore such voices of academic dissent in order to defend or promote degrees in pseudoscientific nonsense.

Kevin Smith, School of Contemporary Sciences University of Abertay Dundee.

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