Accepted Paper:

"Detox" therapies, a thought style developing on the internet  


Kenneth Rochel de Camargo, Jr (Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro)
Elaine Rabello (Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro)
André Mendonça (UERJ)
Claudia Medina Coeli (Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro)

Paper short abstract:

The idea of achieving health through "detox" has developed recently, having the social media as its main surface of emergence. We propose that such conceptions can be understood in Fleckian terms (thought styles and collectives), and as such observed as they unfold over the Internet.

Paper long abstract:

Alternative therapeutic systems have proliferated in the last decades, thriving in an enviroment in which distrust of medicine and science, consumerism, a certain fascination with the "exotic" and a longing for the "natural" go hand in hand. Such systems vary from cultural imports of established therapeutic systems originating outside the "West" to complex constructs made of fragments of scientific discourse and "new age" ideology. Recently such views, especially the latter, have found in the Internet the perfect niche for propagation. In the case in point, the universe of "detox" interventions provide a fascinating example of such complex constructs, with the development of folk versions of patophysiology, diagnostics and therapeutics, centered on the vague category of "toxins". Ranging from the innocuous to the potentially harmful, "detox" systems have become a major business and source of Internet traffic. We propose that this universe can be understood in the terms originally proposed by Fleck; as a mirror reflection of biomedical science, "detox" has a specific thought style and its correspondent thought collective, with core and general experts, educated lay people and a porous interface with the general public. Whereas the privileged means of scientific interaction in the scientific arena is still the scientific article, in this case the Internet, especially the social media, provide the premier medium for the propagation of such ideas. Blogs, Facebook groups and pages, and Pinterest groups are the surfaces of emergence for this kind of discourse, and thus the adequate locus for examining its development and dissemination.

Panel T111
Body, Science and Expertise