Discourse


Some of my last few posts have been on contentious issues, such as the thimerosal debate. These have drawn, and will probably continue to draw, comments from people who have very strong feelings on the topic. I view this as a positive thing, because I think strong feelings don’t get felt often enough. (Maybe one reason that’s why they’re so strong.) However, certain ways of expressing feelings are counterproductive both for the person expressing them and for the people who read the comments. These are comments that read:

  • My experience is valid, yours is not
  • You are obviously believing what you’re told
  • Such and such is a quack (_exception: if there’s been a conviction in a court of law, or similar proof, of medical fraud_)
  • You have no intelligence

I think you see what I’m getting at. All of these are statements about another person’s beliefs and experience, which we can never know clearly. If you see me commit a factual error, feel free to call me on it. (It’s been done before many times, and it will happen many more times.) Be careful, though, because what seems like a fact is often an opinion. (And it’s perfectly valid to point out such, or at least ask for proof if I state something as a fact.)

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