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11 December 2010 @ 08:52 am
Alternative medicine conference hoists self  
Some readers (do I have more than one left?) may recall the 1996 Sokal Hoax, in which a physicist submitted a patently ridiculous paper to a postmodernist literary journal and had it accepted, thereby demonstrating the journal's lack of objective standards and rationality.

Now it has been done to so-called "alternative medicine." John McLachlan, a professor of medical education in the UK, submitted an abstract for a nonsensical and absurd procedure to the Jerusalem Conference on Integrative Medicine. He was subsequently invited to present his findings at the conference.

The author rightly points out that this is one instance and one conference. But there is already plenty of evidence that practitioners of "alternative medicine" are open to any old nonsense that sounds vaguely plausible, and don't demand objective evidence of claims. Would-be patients beware!

Paper: Integrative medicine and the point of credulity
 
 
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morgan_starfiremorgan_starfire on December 13th, 2010 03:37 pm (UTC)
Oh, please. You've lobbed everything that's labelled "alternative medicine" together -- would you do that with everything that falls under allopathic medicine and tell would-be patients to beware of everything in allopathic medicine?

Do you know anything about clinical standards in any of the fields that get lumped under "alternative medicine"? Do you know anything about evidence-based practices or research in any of those fields?

And yet here you are, blithely saying that b/c this guy was able to get one article into one journal, and thus get himself invited to one conference in one sub-field, the entire field of "alternative" medicine is hogwash.

What hogwash.
Tualhatualha on December 13th, 2010 11:38 pm (UTC)
There's a reason to lump it together. I quote from Tim Minchin:
By definition, 'alternative medicine' has either not been proved to work, or been proved not to work. Do you know what they call 'alternative medicine' that's been proved to work?

Medicine.
If you know of some particular kinds of alternative medicine that pass rigorous tests of efficacy and still aren't recognized as real medicine, by all means, name them.
morgan_starfiremorgan_starfire on December 14th, 2010 02:13 am (UTC)
What bullshit. I am honestly shocked at you. I thought you had more intellectual honesty than that.

I assume that you have respect for scientific method. If that's the case, then go look up some real, honest-to-goodness information and statistics.

Go do your own fucking research into the public health benefits of nurse-midwifery for normal-risk births. Compare the maternal and infant mortality stats for normal-risk births where such births are attended by nurse-midwives -- or well-trained direct-entry midwives -- to normal-risk births attended by medical doctors. Compare the number of interventions and the cascade of interventions. Yes, as recently as the 1970s, nurse-midwifery was considered alternative medicine. In spite of excellent research to the contrary, non-nurse midwifery care for normal-risk birth is considered alternative medicine in many states to this day.

Go do your own fucking research into just when, and under what circumstances, puerperal fever became a widespread problem in the US. "Alternative medicine" practitioners rarely had the problem, b/c they were the ones who understood infection control.

Go do your own fucking research into what treatments are most effective for low back pain -- treatment by an orthopedist, a neurologist, or a chiropractor. I'm trained as a scientist, I used to work in hospital administration and clinical pathology, and I know who I'd rather have treating me.

Go look up the Flexner Report and tell me how pure allopathic medicine. Or the injunction against the AMA for refusing to treat patients referred to them by Doctors of Chiropractic.

Go find out when physical therapy stopped being classified as "alternative medicine," where, when, and why.

If a Doctor of Chiropractic is a doctor of alternative medicine, then I guess so is a Doctor of Osteopathy, a Doctor of Podiatry, a Doctor of Dental Surgery, or a Doctor of Optometry.

That definition of alternative medicine you cited is one of the most circular arguments I've ever read, and it shows a horrible lack of knowledge of the history of the profession of medicine in the US and Europe.

By definition, alternative medicine is anything that doesn't fit into the canon of allopathic medicine -- meaning it got beat out by allopathic medicine economically, or in marketing, or in legal maneuvering. What gets defined as "medicine" rather than "alternative medicine" isn't about science -- it's about power. It's about money, and it's about control in society.

It's also about geography. There are studies we don't hear as much about in the US, b/c no one's excited about them here -- b/c there's no profit in drug companies pursuing certain drug leads, so no reason for them to get excited about them. Same thing with physical therapy techniques. Same thing with dentists in Alaska who would rather patients walked around with infections rather than qualified, experienced allied dental professionals performed extractions. Again, I know who I'd rather treated me.
Tualhatualha on December 14th, 2010 07:06 am (UTC)
ekaterinekaterin24 on December 16th, 2010 01:09 am (UTC)
Both of you have some good points:

Not all of complementary/alternative medicine is good, but then neither is all allopathic medicine. I have IBS partly because of indiscriminate prescriptions of antibiotics messing up my digestive system.


One of my best allopathic doctors (a general practitioner who was the one who finally correctly diagnosed a friend's cancer) encouraged me to use Chinese medicine for my IBS, saying "Chinese medicine has been proven effective for IBS in double-blind clinical trials."


ekaterinekaterin24 on December 16th, 2010 01:09 am (UTC)
Both of you have some good points:

Not all of complementary/alternative medicine is good, but then neither is all allopathic medicine. I have IBS partly because of indiscriminate prescriptions of antibiotics messing up my digestive system.


One of my best allopathic doctors (a general practitioner who was the one who finally correctly diagnosed a friend's cancer) encouraged me to use Chinese medicine for my IBS, saying "Chinese medicine has been proven effective for IBS in double-blind clinical trials."