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Quackery Comms and Science Moms

Posted by QED at 10:23am on September 8th 2017

Alternative cancer cures seem more popular than ever before. Anti-vaccination sentiment is resurgent in the UK. Aspirational lifestyle gurus like David Avocado Wolfe, Mike Adams, and Gwyneth Paltrow sell their pseudoscientific messages to a worldwide audience, amassing millions of social media followers along the way. Whichever way we turn, it certainly seems like proponents of quackery have no trouble communicating their ideas to the general public.

Meanwhile, skeptics around the world are working to hold back the tide, writing blogs, hosting podcasts, working with the media to secure responsible and fair coverage of alternative medicine and spreading positive, engaging and approachable information on science.

In this panel, we will explore how the ways in which pseudoscientific ideas past and present have spread, what communication techniques proponents of quackery use, and how the skeptic movement can adapt our approach to communicate better with the public. Our panel will be:

  • David GorskiDavid Gorski – managing editor of Science Based Medicine, a blog examining pseudoscience in medicine, where he has has written prolifically about the antivaccine movement, cancer quackery and integrative medicine.
  • Britt HermesBritt Hermes – blogger and former naturopath who turned whistleblower on the alt-med industry when she realised that the treatments and cures she had been taught to administer were ineffective and potentially harmful.
  • Caroline RanceCaroline Rance – writer and researcher on historic quackery, whose book The Quack Doctor: Historical Remedies for All Your Ills explores how health frauds and quack medicine was marketed and spread throughout the past.
  • Natalie NewellNatalie Newell – director of Science Moms, a new documentary film exploring the work of “science moms” on the front lines of the struggle against bad science, which premieres at QED 2017.
  • Michael MarshallMichael Marshall – Project Director for the Good Thinking Society, whose campaigns against alternative medicine have benefitted greatly from prolific positive coverage in the national media.

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