Debunking, Debunked: Ayurveda
In Debunking, Debunked the Chopra Library searches for places in public resources where skeptic activists have tried to discredit, or “debunk,” various traditional or mind-body practices, then we check what the actual scientific sources say about the supposedly “debunked” topic. Our goal is to set the record straight, to debunk the debunkers, when people attempt to misrepresent science to the public. When these misrepresentations happen in places of great public trust, like Wikipedia, it is essential to know when there is bias present. Literal lives are at risk when ideology trumps evidence.
“…based on the medical evidence there is, however, nothing in Ayurvedic medicine that is known to be effective at treating disease, and some preparations may be actively harmful…” Wikipedia, Deepak Chopra’s biography. Numerous efforts to edit this statement have been reversed by Wikipedia editors, who insist that Ayurveda is completely ineffective. Attempts to share research to the contrary have been rejected.
Evidence suggests Ayurveda is effective at treating:
The claim was that there was no evidence supporting Ayurveda’s effectiveness for any disease. There were thousands of pieces of evidence supporting its effectiveness for many diseases, five of which are listed above.
Attempted debunking, debunked.
About Debunking, Debunked
There is a tendency, both within science and integrative studies, to assume that scientific skepticism and mind-body practices are mutually exclusive. This assumption is not only incorrect, it is detrimental to mind-body practices, the advancement of science, and the medical progress that evolves from the combination of the two. At the root of this false dichotomy is the corruption of an intellectual philosophy, one that was designed to suspend judgment, not pass it.
skepticism noun (Mirriam Webster Dictionary)
skep·ti·cism | \ ˈskep-tə-ˌsi-zəm \
Definition of skepticism
1: an attitude of doubt or a disposition to incredulity either in general or toward a particular object
2a: the doctrine that true knowledge or knowledge in a particular area is uncertain
2b: the method of suspended judgment, systematic doubt, or criticism characteristic of skeptics
Note that this definition does not require condemnation, refusal to consider new facts, nor a zealous devotion to tradition and orthodoxy. Philosophical skepticism demands the orthodoxy be questioned just as thoroughly as any new approach, with evidence and experience determining what is reliable. The Chopra Library embraces philosophical skepticism, in the belief that rigorous questioning of any topic produces a greater understanding of every topic.
Most in the scientific community share our philosophy. There are some, however, who seem to claim a monopoly on science and skepticism. These individuals, who sometimes refer to themselves as professional skeptics, insist that anything relating to traditional medicines or mind-body dynamics cannot be scientific nor have any evidence behind it. It has traditionally been assumed they represent the scientific consensus, due in part to the fact they have repeatedly declared they do. When evidence emerges that challenges their preconceptions, these skeptics often reject the new evidence in order to preserve their traditional doctrines. Therefore these individuals represent a form of ideological skepticism, based on internal beliefs rather than external facts. This outlook is sometimes referred to as orthodoxy.
Why We Debunk Debunking
The Chopra Library believes that scientific rigor is a vital and potentially life-saving part of critical thinking. To that end we openly discuss and engage with scholars who question and critique integrative medicine, and where there is controversy about topics we strive to represent that.
We at the Chopra Library do not believe in rejecting an idea simply because we do not like it. When orthodox skeptics attempt to make facts fit their beliefs, to “debunk” something by misrepresenting evidence, science suffers. Even worse, people who might benefit from these integrative approaches could be discouraged because of an ideological grudge, and the result is yet more suffering. Therefore we look for misrepresentation and lies in the public sphere, and whenever possible contrast those claims with actual scientific findings.
The Chopra Library is not hostile to philosophical skepticism, critiques on integrative medicine, nor reasoned debates about the evidence. However, we will not hesitate to point out when facts about integrative medicine are being twisted to serve ideological rather than scientific purposes. We firmly feel the stakes are too high to do otherwise.