I would like to say a warm Hello to Lionel R Milgrom, who has greatly cheered me up.
I understand Dr Milgrom is well known commentator on complementary and alternative medicine, and in particular the application of modern scientific research to homeopathy.
What, however, has caught my eye was his response to the Ernst article in the recent British Medical Journal.
(I blogged on the Ernst article here; and the Ernst article is now available in full here - hat tip to both Musicweaver for hosting it and the wonderful Blue Wode for pointing me there.)
The first striking thing for me was his impressive list of qualifications:
"Lionel R Milgrom LCH MARH MRHom BSc MSc PhD CChem FRSC".
He must have taken great care to type each of these out correctly and, indeed, presumably in just the correct order of precedence.
For those of us with mere Arts MAs (and mine was unearned in any case), this is actually all rather intimidating.
Fortunately, the oppressive effect on me of all those qualifications was alleviated by his self-description as a:
"sientist [sic], writer, homeopath".
Well a typo can happen to all of us - there are certainly too many on this Blog - but sometimes a mistake can be revealing, especially when it can be juxtaposed with the careful precision of setting out of all those qualifications in just the right order: the outward assertion of scholarship.
But then I was struck by one of his citations - noticed first by the wise and always alert Le Canard Noir on Twitter.
Dr Milgrom begins one paragraph:
"Much of Dr Singh’s and Prof Ernst’s ire against CAM stems from a particular scientific mind set (logical positivism) which they appear to regard as incontrovertible truth."
Powerful stuff: but can it be substantiated?
It seems so, for there is then a footnote (one of rather many for such a short piece) to:
"Okasha S. Philosophy of science: a very short introduction. Oxford University Press, 2002."
I was astonished.
I laughed, I am afraid to say.
The Oxford "very short introduction" series are crammers, albeit well-written ones.
As an arts undergraduate, they would be the sort of thing one would perhaps use to read into a new subject; but one would not dare cite it in an essay, even in the first term.
Perhaps homeopathy has been taken to heart here, and so the idea may be that a very short introduction to a vast subject is somehow more potent than a major monograph?
If so, perhaps an even more strident opinion would be sourced to an even more diluted authority?
But, in citing a crammer - which would embarrass a first year arts undergraduate - in the British Medical Journal, I am not sure Dr Milgrom has really aided his cause.