Via Kevin, MD, here’s a piece that almost could have been written by me:

CAM exists in an alternate universe from real medicine. It wants to be legitimate but manages to avoid the responsibilities and liability of real medical practice. As most CAM treats nebulous symptoms with equally nebulous modalities, there is no measurable standard for efficacy of any of the treatments. Acupuncturists, for example, diagnose perturbations of “qi,” a mystical life force which apart from serving as the basis for Star Wars has no physiological equivalent and cannot be measured in any way except through the magical powers of its purveyors and the faith of its believers. I imagine it would be impossible to sue your acupuncturist for a bad outcome. There are no bad outcomes just as there are no good outcomes. It’s all highly subjective. If you’re not really treating a disease, you can get away with this and probably why EMTALA does not apply to CAM.


The adherents of CAM are educated enough to realize that their beliefs are ridiculous and try to give them the imprimateur of scientific legitimacy, often with shoddily constructed studies. Every major legitimate study on CAM, however, has found very little to substantiate it even though the researching institutions bend over backwards and contort their data to make the best possible case for it. CAM is currently the darling of the medical elites and to say, with confidence, that it’s bunk would be to lose your politically correct credentials.

Egads! This guy’s trying to outdo me. We can’t have that, now, can we?


  1. #1 #1 Dinosaur
    May 8, 2007

    That’s Panda Bear, Orac. He’s right up there with you in terms of saying-it-so-clearly-why-should-I-even-bother-trying, and with really awesome writing.

  2. #2 Orac
    May 8, 2007

    He also seems to be right up there with me in terms of long-windedness as well. 😉

  3. #3 Nat
    May 8, 2007

    I love your work Orac, but if those two paragraphs were written by you they would be four pages. And there’d be a lot of funny grumpy/cranky jokes.

  4. #4 wanderingprimate
    May 8, 2007

    Just what I’ve been trying to say, only much clearer
    Need to spread the word on this one

    btw Orac, your bloviating rocks…

  5. #5 Jonathan Dobres
    May 9, 2007

    I’ve always been tempted to take one of your posts and see if I could edit it down to something more concise. Crazy, yes, but then I’m the kind of person who tries to summarize psychological research in haiku. Your recent “Bloviations and Pontifications” series might make for a good attempt…

  6. #6 Orac
    May 9, 2007

    Don’t try it. You’ll drive yourself insane.

    I know. I go insane when I have to write short form grants and boil a 15 page first draft down to, say, six pages. I can do it, but it’s painful.

  7. #7 DrFrank
    May 9, 2007

    I know. I go insane when I have to write short form grants and boil a 15 page first draft down to, say, six pages. I can do it, but it’s painful.
    Surely that’s easy – you just remove all scientific evidence, justification and references and then send it to someone who funds CAM 😉

  8. #8 Joe
    May 9, 2007

    @J Dobres, I sometimes have the same urge. When I was a grad student, a professor complained that I emphasized brevity at the expense of clarity and lucidity. Puhlease, I can be clear, or lucid; but being both is just too taxing.

  9. #9 obscurifer
    May 9, 2007

    Orac, maybe you and that guy can be Blog Buddies(TM). I wonder if that means you both have to wear matching sweaters or something.

    BTW, Respectful Insolence is one of the blogs on my daily reading list. Keep up the good work.

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