Are Quacks Fraudsters?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Not necessarily.

In fact, I would sat that most people I have come across are not dishonest in the sense that they are knowingly ripping people off. Most quacks I discuss here genuinely believe what they are are talking about and think they are helping people. As such they are 'good' people.

What most quacks are guilty off, if anything, is a certain carelessness with the truth. They are delusional in that they hold false beliefs. Are they to blame for this? Not necessarily. We all hold delusional beliefs about one thing or another. Where culpability may start to creep in is when obvious canards get repeated in the face of them being shown to be false defenses. Homeopathists appear to be particularly good at this.

However, there are some real thieving gits out there too. People who knowingly are ripping people off. I will try to make this clear when I believe this to be true. However, motives are always are hard thing to fathom.

In he middle, is the quack who does not care about the truth. These are the Quack Bullshitters.

The Philosopher Harry Frankfurt wrote a rather marvelous essay entitled On Bullshit. It is worth quoting him,
It is impossible for someone to lie unless he thinks he knows the truth. Producing bullshit requires no such conviction. A person who lies is thereby responding to the truth, and he is to that extent respectful of it. When an honest man speaks, he says only what he believes to be true; and for the liar, it is correspondingly indispensable that he considers his statements to be false. For the bullshitter, however, all these bets are off: he is neither on the side of the true nor on the side of the false. His eye is not on the facts at all, as the eyes of the honest man and of the liar are, except insofar as they may be pertinent to his interest in getting away with what he says. He does not care whether the things he says describe reality correctly. He just picks them out, or makes them up, to suit his purpose.


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