Wheatgrass and Autism

Michael Shermer has a short article over at Scietnific American titled “How Anecdotal Evidence Can Undermine Scientific Result.” It touches on both my posts over the last two days. He’s a smart guy. You may know him as the “skeptic” on several History Channel programs; he is also a former Evangelical Christian. I reccomend his books Why Darwin Matters and How We Believe. The first one is short, the second one is longer, but better…

That is all.


4 Responses

  1. Read the article in the paper version of Sci-Am and really liked it. But here’s a though: Anecdotes can undermine science, but without them could we have ever gotten to science? It’s not just rooted in superstition and belief in supernatural things. If it weren’t for that anecdotal part of our brain, before there was science how would our distant loincloth wearing, cave-painting ancestors have avoided the wrong mushrooms, found the right water source, chased the buffalo in just the right way, etc. So is he really just painting anything anecdotally evident with the same brush and discounting it on the basis of a few pieces of crackpot info? Seems to me that the anecdotal versus the scientific is not such a cut and dry dichotomy. Our brains are belief engines as he says. But are all those things they believe in bad.

  2. Good point, and this is a topic Shermer spends a lot of time on in “How We Believe”. He distinguishes between “things we belive are true for the right reasons” (Type 1) and “things we believe are true for the wrong reasons” (Type 2). I don’t have the book in front of me, but its something like that. Anyway Type 2 “hits” are important and you are right that without them, we would have taken far longer to get to where we are today (technologically speaking). What Shermer argues, though, is that once we see that the reasons behind “being right” about something is shown scientifically to be wrong (or at least vanishingly unlikely) then we should drop it…

  3. I work for a company called Sweet Wheat and we get calls in all the time about how wheatgrass has helped children with autism.

  4. you can say that alternative medicine is cheaper too and usually comes from natural sources *,-

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