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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Is the University of Toronto promoting quackery and pseudoscience?

There's a conference this Saturday at the University of Toronto on the Scarborough campus. It features presentations by a number of leading homeopaths and naturopaths. You may not be familiar with them so if you want a brief summary of their quackery check out Scott Gavura's post at Science-Based Medicine: Pseudoscience North: What’s happening to the University of Toronto?.

That post documents a number of very troubling things going on at my university.

The conference is organized by an outside a student group who pays to hold the event on the university campus. This is very common and it does not mean the the university endorses the conference. I believe the contract specifies that such an endorsement must not be implied or stated.

The poster contains a prominent sign using the University of Toronto logo and crest. That certainly looks to me like the university is sponsoring and endorsing the event. I am trying to contact Bruce Kidd, Principal of the University of Toronto, Scarborough to clarify the situation.


NickM said...

How dare you oppose academic freedom! [/sarcasm]

Larry Moran said...

I'm not seeking to fire University of Toronto professors who may advocate quackery but I'll not refrain from criticizing them and mocking them. Homeopathy is much closer to astrology than it is to ID.

The issue here is whether the conference is actually sponsored by the university or whether the organizers are lying. Remember the famous Intelligent Design Creationism conference at Cornell a few years ago?

If there are University of Toronto tenured professors who advocate such quackery then I will defend their academic freedom. Is that so difficult to understand?

John Harshman said...

Hey, homeopathy is a controversial issue. Teach the controversy!

What if a tenured professor were teaching a course in pharmacology from a strictly homeopathic perspective? What action, if any, would you take if you were chair of the department, or a colleague in that department?

Anonymous said...

Larry, does you university have alternative medicine courses?

Anonymous said...

So is the healing power of prayer. Why not teach this controversy?

Marcoli said...

I expect they would, provided that they were demonstrated to work in controlled clinical trials. Of course alternative medicine that is demonstrated to work is called 'medicine'.