Making Tough Decisions


Part of being a new skeptic is trying to figure out just what is skeptical and what isn’t. That can mean making some really difficult decisions. These are the kind of decisions that impact the entire direction of your life. Thanks to a conversation I recently had, I made one of those decisions.

For the last six months I have been wrestling with whether or not to finish my master herbalist program with the American College of Healthcare Sciences. I have been working on this program for the last three years. I only had three more courses to go.

And I quit.

I know this sounds insane. Believe me. it sounded insane to me, too.

But then I applied some logic to the situation.

First, once I achieved certification as an herbalist, I only had a few options available to me for income. I had other reasons as well that really bothered me about the school in general.

* One – Open my own shop. This option is prohibitively expensive. There is rent, furnishings, inventory costs, employee costs insurance and so much more

* Two – Health consultations. Offering herbal advice to people in need. With the new healthcare bill looming, I would have starved. Not to mention, I have an ethical dilemma suggesting herbs to people who may or may not have a proper diagnosis from a doctor.

* Three – The school is teaching homeopathy as a viable treatment option. I have given the president of ACHS.edu multiple articles and studies regarding homeopathy’s lack of..well…anything. Yet she gave me the cop out that students need to know what it is.

* Four – The three remaining classes would have cost about $3000. I can find much better uses for that money.

* Five – The school was teaching methods such as mega dosing with vitamins to stave off colds. The evidence shows that this does nothing to shorten the length of a cold. Now that I know what I know about skepticism and science, I can’t morally continue to follow a path that deceives people whether purposefully or unknowingly.

So now I find myself at 43 years old without a career.  I still sell essential oils to cosmetics companies and massage therapists. I love my job. I’ll be taking the opportunity to gently  educate my clients about the lack of efficacy of inhaling scents. I’m also going to be digging into actual studies on a variety of herbs.

It was pointed out to me that I have the unique opportunity to bridge the gap between herbalism and skepticism. Sadly herbs have a great deal of woo attached to them. As a skeptic, it it my self-appointed job to weed out that bad information and spread it to my fellow herbalists.

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5 Comments

  1. Sgerbic said,

    March 23, 2010 at 9:28 am

    Wow, great blog.

  2. jwalker1960 said,

    March 23, 2010 at 6:18 pm

    I’m so proud of you! What a difficult choice to have to make. There are plenty of skeptics out there who have changed careers mid-stream because the realized that they could no longer morally continue doing what they were doing. You are in good company!

  3. Jenea said,

    March 23, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    I am humbled by your integrity! Congratulations, and be sure to reach out to the skeptical community if you need help (connections, ideas) about what to do next!

  4. Myk said,

    March 24, 2010 at 3:24 am

    Congratulations on following your ethical sense, instead of taking the easy path. I think a lot of skeptics face such decision moments, but few are in the position of having invested as much time and money as you have, and it says a lot that you have not allowed cognitive dissonance to sweep you along.

  5. Herbwoman said,

    March 25, 2010 at 10:14 am

    Thanks for the support folks. I have to admit, it’s a pretty scary change. I’m still trying to figure out where I’m going next. And that’s going to be my next blog post so stay tuned 🙂


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