These Red Flags and their definitions are from the website Science or Not? The examples and comments are mine.
Stressing status and appealing to authority: “People who use this tactic try to convince you by quoting some ‘authority’ who agrees with their claims and pointing to that person’s status, position or qualifications, instead of producing real-world evidence. The tactic is known as the argument from authority.”
I’ll be relying on Jon Kabat-Zinn to illustrate this Red Flag. Kabat-Zinn is a well-known Mindfulness advocate. All examples here are from: Jon Kabat-Zinn, Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness, Kindle Version, Revised Edition 2013; Bantam Books, New York).
Throughout Full Catastrophe Living, Kabat-Zinn uses markers of authority and status to sell his message. Here are some examples (all pages numbers are for Kindle; underlines and comments are mine):
“A recent headline in Science, one of the most prestigious and high-impactscientific journals in the world, read: ‘A Wandering Mind is an Unhappy Mind’. 346
“Norman Cousins, the prominent magazine editor and leading intellectual…” 7846
“…the highly respected television journalist, Bill Moyers, had his own body burden of toxic chemicals tested.” 8759
“…the highly respected economist Jeffrey Sachs has recently made an impassioned and well-argued case in his book The Price of Civilization that mindfulness needs to be at the heart of any attempt to resolve the major problems we face as a country, and, by implication, as a world.” 9275
“The modern terminology for biological wear and tear is allostatic load, a term introduced by Bruce McEwen, a renowned stress researcher at RockefellerUniversity.” 5354
Kabat-Zinn occasionally uses technical terms like “allostatic load” to confer scientific respectability to his assertions. His use of “the modern terminology” is interesting: makes it sound like there is one modern terminology that serves as an authoritative standard.
“Some doctors believe that time stress is a fundamental cause of disease in the present era.” 7811
This is one of those statements that give an aura of authority (“Some doctors”) but which is so vague you don’t know what to make of it. Who are these “doctors”? Are they researchers? Epidemiologists? Medical doctors? Doctors of Theology?
“Pioneering work over more than thirty years by Dr. Dean Ornish and his collaborators…. has consistently demonstrated that by changing your lifestyle [including meditation, yoga, and a mostly vegetarian diet]…you can slow down, stop, and even reverse the progression of severe coronary heart disease as well as early- stage prostate cancer.” 8697
[For a little balance on Dean Ornish, check out: www.scientificamerican.com 2015-4-22 Why Almost Everything Dean Ornish Says about Nutrition Is Wrong]