The ‘truth’ of a story?

I’ve recently picked up on the (to these eyes) highly dubious writings of Laura Bond, via the editorial to the November issue of QuackRag, to which she contributes several articles and where she is provided with a back-scratching hat-tip and a handy plug for her new book. This tome is apparently (though I haven’t read it) woven around an expanded personal anecdote, which would have you believe that her own mother (and others) eschewed chemotherapy and opted for ‘alternatives’, resulting in complete cure of her cancer. This compendium of anecdotes is garnering favourable comments and inevitable stellar reviews. All positive (surprise, surprise) testimonial; no negativity evident.

Yet there is so much frown-inducing statement at Bond’s own website that one is spoilt for choice as to where to start questioning. I very quickly landed on a post entitled ‘Defeating Cancer on the Cheap’, which is an edited extract from the book, and in which she complains about the ‘hefty price tag’ accompanying much ‘holistic medicine’, which saw her mother’s credit card take a ‘battering’ after handing it over to pay for intravenous vitamin C, ozone therapy and far infrared sauna. Is this another ‘untouchable’ family testimonial? Of all the questionable, challengeable and wrong statements in this post (‘Alternative cancer literature abounds with stories of tumours vanishing thanks to visualisation… affirmation… and meditation…’ Yes – of course it does!), one sentence, which kind of encapsulates the philosophy here, particularly caught my eye. It came in response to a comment, which I was surprised and encouraged to read as being of a sceptical bent, ending with the charge:

‘You are misrepresenting the facts, which brings everything you are saying into disrepute.’ [sic]

Bond’s reply, following a couple of doses of quackery endorsement, includes the following sentence:

‘We can argue over the facts forever, but you cannot argue with the truth of a story.

I frowned and, feeling like a mis-comprehending idiot, re-read it:

‘We can argue over the facts forever, but you cannot argue with the truth of a story.

How to interpret this? It is arguable whether or not, say, intravenous vitamin C cures cancer? But statement to the effect that, say, intravenous vitamin C cured a close relative’s cancer is indisputable? You can challenge… unless the statement forms part of an earnest testimonial?

No, no, this won’t do at all. So, as it appeared that Bond is approachable and receptive to sceptical, incredulous, critical comment, I attempted to post the following reaction:

‘Ridiculous statement.

You consider your stories unarguable?’

But, as I write (six days later), my comment is still ‘awaiting moderation’ (despite other comments appearing in the interim).

Laura Bond is, according to her website, a freelance journalist who considers it a string to her bow that she has ‘graduated’ as a ‘health coach’ from an organisation terming itself the ‘Institute for Integrative Nutrition’, which is, to further emphasise credentials, ‘the largest nutrition school in the world’, and allows for the name-dropping of a few appealing authorities, including that quantum of pseudoscience, Deepak Chopra.

Why bother with all those needless years of scientific/medical education, if all you need is a year’s worth of this nutritional schooling combined with unrelenting positive thinking and the selective application of your journalism skills in compiling a bunch of unarguable stories?

Facts are facts; stories are…

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