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New Organization: The Society for Science-Based Medicine

by Daniel Loxton, Jan 06 2014

Our colleagues over at the Science-Based Medicine blog, including Skepticblog’s Steve Novella, have announced the creation of a new advocacy and educational organization, the Society for Science-Based Medicine.

The attempt to confront medical pseudoscience, examine paranormal and supernatural healing claims, and expose outright medical quackery is one of the deepest and oldest of the pillars of scientific skepticism. From homeopathy to psychic surgery, such claims will always remain priorities for skepticism, and for skeptical organizations such as the one I represent, the Skeptics Society. Indeed, I write on medical claims myself, such as in this article or this for our own free eSkeptic newsletter.

But focus is a powerful thing. Just as I frequently advocate disentangling the unique mandate of scientific skepticism from atheism and other parallel rationalist movements, so too is there a clear value in having dedicated, full-time science-based advocacy organizations that discuss medicine and only medicine. The topic is certainly large enough (large enough, indeed, for hundreds of organizations worldwide) complex enough, and sufficiently pressing in ethical urgency to deserve dedicated watchdog efforts.

The Society for Science-Based Medicine describes itself as follows:

A Society for a community of like-minded individuals, both in and out of health care, who support the goals of Science-Based Medicine.

People should not suffer, die, go bankrupt, and lose time and hope because of complementary and alternative pseudo-medicine.

The mission of the Society for Science-Based Medicine includes, but is not limited to,

1. Educating consumers, professionals, business people, legislators, law enforcement personnel, organizations and agencies about Science-Based Medicine.

2. Providing resources and information for information concerning all aspects of Science-Based Medicine.

3. Providing a central resource for communication between individuals and organizations concerned about Science-Based Medicine.

4. Supporting sound consumer health laws for the practice of Science-Base Medicine and opposing legislation that undermines Science-Based Medicine.

5. Encouraging and aiding legal actions in support of the practice of Science-Based Medicine.

I hope you’ll join me in welcoming this important new project, and consider becoming a member. (The Society declares that their “application for Section 501(c)(3) tax exempt status was filed on December 14, 2013, and is now pending before the US IRS.”) This is a sphere in which more serious, high impact allies and efforts are badly needed.

Finally, a hat tip to Sharon Hill, from whose Doubtful News post I learned of the launch of this new organization.

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4 Responses to “New Organization: The Society for Science-Based Medicine”

  1. Brainmatters says:

    I joined! Finally, something to work on that has potential for impact. Blogs and comments are great–and great fun, but have little real world effect on quacks and quackademic medicine that continues apace to infect our most honored institutions.

  2. Trimegistus says:

    Forgive me for my, er, skepticism, but I confess after reading your description of this very admirable-sounding organization, my first thought was “how long before it becomes just another group bashing religion and parroting liberal politics?”

    Note that I think a group like SSBM is important and necessary — I’m just afraid that it will follow the typical path of institutional capture and “mission creep.”

    • DesertBill says:

      Seriously? The ink is barely dry on their charter. Why not give them a chance before bringing the cynicism?

    • …my first thought was “how long before it becomes just another group bashing religion and parroting liberal politics?” … I’m just afraid that it will follow the typical path of institutional capture and “mission creep.”

      Mission drift is a real problem for skeptical organizations, but significant drift seems to me to be quite unlikely in this instance. The people involved, including Steve Novella and Harriet Hall, are quite focused in my opinion. The name and declared scope of the organization seem to define its mission in a crisp, useful way. Also, the Science-Based Medicine blog from which this new organization is growing has run for six years without any large degree of mission drift, so far as I am aware.