Unworthy attack

November 27, 2008

Richard House's attack on Edzard Ernst was unpleasant to read, consisting almost entirely of ad hominem sneering unworthy of an academic in any "paradigm" (Letters, 20 November). I imagine I am quite as familiar as House is with Kuhn, Feyerabend, Popper et al, and consequently slightly surprised to see such a diverse and often paradoxical set of ideas recommended as an antidote to "positivistic scientism".

I am well aware of - and sometimes sympathetic to - postmodern arguments about the potential limits of "positivism" in scientific knowledge, but I await with interest House's explanation of what an "expanded or ontologically different view about what a valid, sustainable 'science' might consist in" other than anecdote.

Ernst is asking serious and important questions about complementary and alternative medicines, questions that are important whatever paradigm one belongs to, and he deserves a more serious reply than a style of invective that seems to have been cut and pasted from some of the flakier anti-science blogs that infest the internet.

Andrew J. King, The Arts Institute at Bournemouth.

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