Got woo?

If not, then American Medical Student Association‘s got it for you, all in a nice, compact 15 page pocket manual. True, there’s some standard advice about diet and some useful information about herbal remedies, but there’s the now usual (from AMSA, anyway) credulous treatment of all sorts of woo, including homeopathy, Reiki, fasting, vitamin supplements, reflexology, and naturopathy. All the woo you need to know, all in a little manual you can stuff in the pocket of your labcoat.

(Hat tip, as is usual for AMSA-related woo, to Dr. R.W.)


  1. #1 Brian
    March 15, 2007

    I like their description of homeopathy, in which they state Homeopathy is very cost-effective
    over the long term.

    Why, yes, yes it is.

  2. #2 anonimouse
    March 15, 2007

    Good Lord, did they take this off Dr. Weil’s website or something?

  3. #3 ERV
    March 15, 2007

    So what are you all going to *do* about this, then? Shouldnt *someone* e-mail the AMSA president/HuMed Chair with their/your/our concerns?

    The problem (more than likely) is not going to fix itself, certainly not without *someone* bringing the HuMed Woo to the attention of AMSA leadership.

  4. #4 Orac
    March 15, 2007


    I think you misunderstand. The leadership of AMSA is totally behind the woo. Telling them about it would do no good.

  5. #5 ERV
    March 15, 2007

    Yeah they support it, but theyre just students. Yes, Im ‘just a student’ and I know better, and I know lots of other students know better, but I still think its the responsibility of AMSA members medical elders to at least point out to AMSA leadership that it isnt just warm fluffy drum-circle fun, it really does hurt their patients.

    If they dont listen to reason, then youre in the clear and you can attack them all you want. Hell, I will too as a disgruntled former member. But every year leadership changes and you have a new chance to fight the woo.

  6. #6 Robert W. Donnell
    March 15, 2007

    What I’m trying to do about it is expose it. Judging from the traffic on my blog AMSA knows about it although it doesn’t seem to bother them. The AMSA leadership knows about it and embraces it, I’m sure. The popular media ought to be all over this and their silence is astonishing to me.

  7. #7 Zombie
    March 15, 2007

    I’m disgusted they describe their woo as “humanist medicine” when its irrational and superstitious, and much of it based on religion of some form. I suppose they’re sneakily suggesting “humane” as if conventional medicine were some sort of sadistic torture.

  8. #8 Jon
    March 15, 2007

    Woo represents a huge financial windfall for doctors. These med students are prudently planning for the future. And most of it’s private pay! No pesky paperwork or reimbursement to bother with.

  9. #9 Axolotl
    March 15, 2007

    Orac, did you see that the new issue of Discover magazine has a huge article about GI problems and autism? Discover apparently forgot they are a science magazine, because the article’s stance is that the DAN! doctors and naturopaths are onto something, and evil food additives probably cause autism and everything else. The only cure is homeopathy.

    This was their cover page story….

  10. #10 Justin Moretti
    March 15, 2007

    This is something that really bothers me. It wasn’t that long ago (11 years) that I was a medical student myself, and even less time since I was tutoring the little darlings in pathology (last year, no less). Whether fortunately or not, there is very little room for woo in anatomical pathology, so it’s difficult for me to know from talking to them how much rubbish is actually being pushed into their heads.

    Something I can certainly comment on is (what appears to be) the systematic and progressive (regressive!) withdrawal or watering down of the basic medical sciences – anatomy, physiology, pathology (all branches) – in the interest of either shortening the course (undergraduate, BTW, though the postgrad virus is spreading here in Oz) or putting in “human communication”-type topics.

    None of the little darlings I tutored had actually prosected a human cadaver. Some of them had probably never seen a human cadaver until they watched me do a post-mortem on one. I don’t know what the situation is in the US or elsewhere, but with the underpinnings of the profession being knocked out like this, it’s little wonder that woo gains a foothold.

    The other reason I think it’s on the rise among medical students, certainly here, is that rather than the intake being based strictly and ruthlessly on university entry scores derived from high-school matriculation assessments, it is now based on a subjective interview process which tends to select would-be medical students with a broader outlook. Allegedly this is in the interest of producing a more well-rounded practitioner at the other end, but I think there are unpleasant consequences of the relative weeding out or exclusion (so I hear) of the “straight” high-achieving high-school student who has subspecialised in the mechanistic subjects (maths, physics, chem, biology) and is in a position to tell the woo-meisters where to go.

    That’s my theory, at least.

  11. #11 George Smiley
    March 16, 2007

    Gaak. Just finished the grading for the basic science course that I teach, and gawd forbid that we should confront the premeds therein with actual problems to solve rather than items to memorize that can fit on flash cards. These are the credulous cretins that get in to med school with prodigious feats of memorization but with an apparent Serious Deficit of Mad Analytical Skillz. Ugh. Terrifying. Not all doctors are people like this, but very many people like this manage to become doctors, which may tell us a great deal about AMSA.

  12. #12 Zombie
    March 16, 2007

    I had a physics professor once who was teaching freshman physics. Some of the problems involved some sort of abstract machine intended to illustrate some principle of mechanics. He was trying to help a pre-med student with one of the problems during his office hours, and the pre-med bursts out “This machine is useless! why do we need to learn about this crap?” or something to that effect.

    My professor replies, “This machine have saved many lives.”

    “How so?” demands the pre-med.

    “It keeps incompetents out of medical school.”

    Well, he *claims* he said that, anyway.

  13. #13 Sergey Romanov
    March 16, 2007

    Interesting how they “appropriate” the term “humanistic” (on the title page).

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