Thursday, February 11, 2016

#1593: Andre Evans

Complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) is more or less code for bullshit, but though medical bullshit comes in a variety of forms, some utterly idiotic underlying principles tend to show up rather frequently. One of these is vitalism. Another is most explicitly formulated as the Law of Attraction, the idea that if you really wish something hard enough it will come true. One reason why this idea is so popular in altmed is, of course, that it paves the way for victim-blaming: If you tried something and didn’t get well, it’s because you didn’t really adopt the right mindset and didn’t really try hard enough. And the idea that “it only works if you really believe that it will” provides not only room for blaming the victim, but an excellent means for facilitating motivated reasoning in one’s victims.

That doesn’t mean that the practitioners in question don’t really believe their own bullshit. Andre Evans, for instance, even has a “Proof that Your Own Thoughts and Beliefs Can Cause Self-Healing” over at a website called Natural Society (no, you don’t get a link). It’s basically an article crammed with dubiously coherent pseudoscience, anonymous anecdotes and the placebo effects as “evidence” that, if you just think about it hard enough, you can “heal yourself” of virtually anything (no, Evans has not the faintest idea what the placebo effect really is; hint: it’s not that believing that you get well will help make you well).

Says Evans: “The power of the mind is immense. Its influence can literally bend reality to match its perspective […] If you believe something to be true, you will conform the world around you to match this expectation.” At least it will sometimes look that way; it’s called “subjective validation”. And “If you believe that your treatment is helping you, you could actually cause massive self-healing to occur. Assuming a disposition will automatically prejudice your mind, and therefore cause your body to react either positively or negatively.” And that, readers, is a stellar example of appeal to magical thinking.

I admit that I have found no other information about Evans – we’re probably not talking a central figure in the delusion-movement here – but the idea he defends is common and stupid enough to merit him an entry.

Diagnosis: I do suspect, though, that Evans is not alone in thinking that the placebo effect really works that way. It doesn’t. This is amazing bullshit.


  1. so placebo effect is NOT real? I am a rational being, but I leave a section in my belief system open to the possibility that there is more than what science 'proves'. for proof, watch the movie 'sleeper'.

    1. What? No one is denying that the placebo effect is real. But the placebo effect has, contrary to popular belief, little to do with "the magic of positive thinking" (a nice primer on the placebo effect is here.