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The Internet: Home of the Quack

The Internet: Home of the Quack June 19, 2012

So some news article shows that you have a lot of harmless and beneficial microbes living on and in you. Educated people already knew that (there’s been a book called Life on Man out for years).

Some Internet dwellers, however, think that any headline they read there means that this is the New Thing and announce the old news to the world while drawing reckless and dumb conclusions like “Germ theory delusions collapse as new science reveals healthy people carry 10,000 different germ strains at all times

Then we are informed of pseudo-knowledge like this:

The human body is essentially a “germ” factory, but this is not necessarily a bad thing. A new study published as a series of reports in the journals Nature and Public Library of Science (PLoS) debunks the widely believed germ theory, or the belief that all germs are “bad,”

Um. Only an idiot believes all germs are bad. And that’s not what ‘germ theory’ means. Germ theory means that many diseases are caused by microbes and not evil spirits or bad humours or comets, which is, you know, true.

The article then continues:

In essence, this cohort of field experts uncovered something that many of them had never before considered, mainly that not all bacteria is detrimental.

There is something deep in the bone of the semi-educated that feels the need to believe that the expert is a fool. So the semi-educated invents the absolutely mind-numbing falsehood that “experts” have “never before considered” that not all bacteria are detrimental. It’s like a child lecturing his mother in the most condescending tone on the new that Santa is not real.

Or an atheist announcing to a Catholic that Catholics have done bad things, usually with some sort of lofty, “I hate to break it to you” or “You apparently are not aware that…” Yeah. Living in the US keeps you completely shielded from critical remarks about the Catholic faith and comfortably ignorant inside a bubble of downy soft pro-Catholic agitprop 24/7. The people who are swooping into Leah Libresco’s comboxes to announce to her the news that the Catholic Church is absolutely and totally worthless and its entire 2000 year intellectual and spiritual tradition has not one redeeming feature anywhere remind me of nothing so much as the people at the website above, who manage to pass from “not everything about western medical practice is unquestionable” to “GERM THEORY IS A HOAX!” and “IS MODERN MEDICINE FOUNDED ON ERROR?

In the same way, a surprising number of combox atheists take seriously the proposition that Jesus Never Existed and similar quack theories that even quacks like Bart Ehrman roll their eyes at. And it’s all done in that same tone of lofty superiority that renders the stupid impenetrable to the blandishments of common sense. One’s mouth opens and closes and no words come out because you don’t even know where to start. It’s like the proposition that Julius Caesar’s existence was a huge hoax or that Shakespeare was really somebody else of the same name. Never does the wisdom of “Do not cast your pearls before swine” suddenly stand out in such sharp relief than when I encounter such smug folly as the Jesus Never Existed stupidity. How Leah endures it I simply don’t know, but I’m impressed that she can.

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