Far too often things I read on the internet rouse my intellectual suspicion. I have a couple of good friends who tell me I have an exceptionally developed bullshit meter (thank you friends). Figuring out exactly what triggered it and explaining in detail with logic is way harder and takes quite a bit of time. Hours and hours of notes, multiple open tabs on my browser, and talking to myself. This is why I have a really long list of ideas/half written posts. I rarely have that many hours.
I have another friend who occasionally tells me about/sends me links to get my opinion. I think we have a different base of what we believe, but she respects and seeks my opinion anyway (bless her face).
This link on oil pulling was what I woke up to this morning. I am hoping that after I write about it I will be able to more quickly identify my intellectual suspicion triggers. I have only spent an hour down the rabbit hole of internet links associated with oil pulling (small compared to my usual). These are the notes I have taken so far:
(Edit to define oil pulling: oil pulling is swishing oil, generally coconut oil, in one’s mouth for about twenty minutes a day in lieu of brushing one’s teeth. Sometimes as an addition to brushing.)
The first thing I saw that triggered me was talk of toxins. I never understand what the toxins oft cited in alternative medicine are. It inevitably ends up feeling like talk of balancing the humours, which in turns makes me think of blood letting as a common cure. I hope we can agree that bleeding is a terrible and ineffective ‘cure’.
Granted, all that humours stuff is just what toxins talk feels like to me. The fact of the matter is I have never gotten a good explanation of what said toxins are, much less evidence to back up such an explanation. In absence of evidence I am skeptical.
The next trigger came immediately after, a story about her husband’s curing a cavity with oil pulling. Not even pictorial evidence to back up her story (psst: people sometimes lie on the internet). Even if we assume she is being 100% truthful from her perspective, anecdotes are useful tools in demonstrating ideas, but they are not evidence. My first thought at explaining her conclusions being possibly wrong is the difference between correlation and causation. If someone had bad oral hygiene to start with and started paying attention to them every day things would improve just by said attention. It also seems to be personal visual inspection hailing it as a cure. What if the root of the tooth is still rotting deep in the gum where one cannot see it? I could keep going on about this section, but I need to move on.
The third trigger was the assertion “God designed our bodies so incredibly”. Ok, but I am an atheist. I am up front about having an evidence based view of the world. I do not think our bodies were designed, I think they happened.
Fourth trigger is seeming contradictions. At the beginning of the post she says “coconut oil is anti-bacterial, and could pull toxins from your mouth when you swished it in your mouth for 15-20 min” (I guess implying the toxins are bacterial? Why not just call them bacteria?). Later she quotes ““That tooth decay is caused by nutrient deficiencies and not bacteria has been proven in both animal and laboratory experiments published in books and dental journals…”. So far as I can tell these are contradictory statements, correct me if I am missing something. Also, I want citations for this being proven.
Fifth trigger was the fact that she links an affiliated recommended oil, though I am pleased that she puts that info out there. Still, makes the whole post an advert to me, which in turn triggers a wariness.
There were other smaller triggers for me, plus I read a ton of other websites both in support and critically analyzing oil pulling. I am not going to go into all of that or link it all because now I am three hours in and I said I would clean the community garden and my house today. But, for my darling who asked my opinion:
It might help in some small measures, it might not. I doubt it as a new miracle cure for all the claims I have read today. It probably does not hurt (though if I did everything that does not hurt and *might* work I would have no time to write crap like this).
Ps, I am totally not leaving this for a few hours and then editing it as I usually do because I do not feel like it. There may be mistakes and some not completely thought out reasoning. Sorry.