Respectful Insolence

Blogging on Peer-Reviewed ResearchRegular readers of this blog know that I have been becoming increasingly disturbed by what I see as the infiltration of non-evidenced-based “alternative” medicine into academic medical centers. Indeed, about a month ago, I went so far as to count the number of medical schools that offer some form of “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) in their curricula. (What a fantastic marketing term for what are in the vast majority of cases therapies without a plausible scientific basis or compelling clinical evidence for efficacy above that of a placebo!) The end result was the Academic Woo Aggregator, a post that, less than a month after its creation, already requires updating to include a few programs of which I’ve become aware that I didn’t know about then. As I’ve said time and time again, I’m all for teaching a critical, evidence-based evaluation of CAM in medical school. After all, lots of people use these therapies, and any good physician should know what they are and what the evidence supporting (or, far more frequently, failing to support) them is. Unfortunately, that’s not what usually happens. (More about that below the fold, along with the justification of including the Blogging About Peer-reviewed Research icon.)

Worse, one outcome of so much credulous teaching of treatments with no good basic scientific or clinical evidence allows credulous boosters in the media like the Chicago Tribune‘s chief antivaccinationist twit and cheerleader for quackery, Julie Deardorff to crow about how CAM is now “respected”:

Is it time to try acupuncture, hypnosis, meditation, guided imagery and massage?

Surprisingly, even the most conservative mainstream research hospitals now answer “yes!”

Twenty years ago, the mind-body connection was largely dismissed by U.S. doctors as a wacky concept in healing. Today it’s a staple of integrative medicine, the discipline that blends complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) with conventional treatments and places more emphasis on treating the whole person.

About 75 percent of medical schools now have some CAM courses in the curriculum, and the Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine includes 39 academic health centers, including the Mayo Clinic plus Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, Duke and Yale Universities.

Coincidentally enough, 39 is the number of centers in my first iteration of the Academic Woo Aggregator. Deardorff goes on to discuss these modalities, which were apparently the topic of a conference at the Drake Hotel in Chicago last week. The truly ridiculous thing about all of this is that the vast majority of the interventions claimed at this meeting to have efficacy are dietary or herbal remedies, not hardcore woo like homeopathy. For example:

A Mediterranean-style diet is the best eating plan for patients with coronary heart disease. It includes fruits and vegetables, at least two servings of fish per week, the use of liquid vegetable oils, such as flaxseed, and a decreased intake of saturated fat, said Matthew Sorrentino, a non-invasive preventive cardiologist at the University of Chicago. A Mediterranean diet in conjunction with statin therapy has been shown to be more effective than statin therapy alone.

Since when did using dietary interventions as medical treatment for heart disease become “alternative,” CAM, or integrative, rather than just medicine? Forgive me, but most of this is nothing more than mainstream medicine repackaged as CAM to sell it to a credulous public. True, such “soft” interventions as hypnotism, relaxation, acupuncture, and massage are included, but most of the interventions discussed would not be out of place in the paradigm of “conventional” medicine, which makes me wonder why they are called “alternative.” In reality, what bothers me about the whole concept of CAM is that it’s basically a Trojan horse through which some therapies that might be evidence-based and could easily be integrated into our standard armamentarium of medical therapies are the “foot in the door” behind which hardcore woo lumped together as CAM follow, woo such as homeopathy, craniosacral therapy, reiki, and even reflexology, all of which I have encountered on wepages for academic centers devoted to CAM.

That’s why I’ve been in agreement with Dr. Robert Donnell, who, as part of a Roundtable Discussion entitled Should Medical Schools Teach “Integrative Medicine?, recently penned an excellent editorial for Medscape entitled Abraham Flexner May Be Turning Over in His Grave. A key quote:

Let’s make a distinction. Doctors need to know about the alternative treatments that patients are seeking so that they can recognize herb-drug interactions, engage patients in discussions about alternative treatments, and appreciate cultural differences that may lead patients to seek such treatments. Medical schools should equip students in these areas. However, they should teach an appropriately critical and scientific view of alternative theories.

For many medical schools today, that’s the rub. Academic leaders, in fact, are suggesting that alternative modalities should be presented “in the context of their own philosophies and models of health and illness.[4]” Survey data from both MD- and DO-granting schools confirm this trend.[5-7] In other words, dubious claims are being promoted to students in an unscientific, uncritical manner. If you need more evidence, browse the Web sites of academic medical centers to see what’s going on and note their promotions of therapeutic touch, homeopathy, Ayurvedic medicine, shamanism, chakras, and more.

So, you may say, what’s wrong with combining other healing traditions with scientific methods? Plenty, because it results in an eclectic mix of diverse theories with no common basis. It leaves medicine without a consistent scientific framework upon which to evaluate treatments.

I would go even further and say that it blurs the line between science and pseudoscience, between medical science and the religious beliefs that underlie so many CAM therapies, such as reiki, shamanistic practices, or acupuncture. This is something medicine most definitely does not need. Indeed, Dr. Nick Genes, organizer of the Grand Rounds medical blogging carnival, while arguing that evidence-based medicine is the future of medicine, not CAM, inadvertently gives a good indication why the infiltration of woo into medical schools is so disturbing. Genes argues that, even after the Flexner report, medicine remained quite dogmatic and that only now is evidence-based medicine supplanting teaching based on the authority of long-dead “gods” of medicine and tradition. Although I think he is exaggerating a bit, he does have a point about how medical education can at times be dogmatic. He also has a point that evidence-based medicine is finally coming to the forefront in medicine and medical education, after years of lip service being paid to it but little being done with it. Unfortunately, though, that’s exactly why the infiltration of CAM is so disturbing. Medicine has finally, after over a hundred years, evolved to the point where it can actually become truly scientific and evidence-based. From my perspective, the growing uncritical acceptance of CAM in academic medicine is a major threat to the continuation of that evolution. Indeed, Dr. Roy Poses of the Health Care Renewal blog, who wrote another article for this roundtable, tells me just how bad the problem is becoming:

By 2002, most US medical schools (98 out of 126) were teaching about CAM practices in 1 or more required courses.[15] The material that was being taught was mostly uncritical: Less than one fifth of CAM courses included “critical evaluation of the scientific literature,” and almost four fifths were taught by a “CAM practitioner” who was likely to be an enthusiast, not a critic. Many of the modalities being taught had little scientific justification. These included homeopathy (taught in 58% of courses); ethnomedicine, including Ayurveda and Native American medicine (48%); therapeutic touch (38%); naturopathy (36%); and energy medicine, including manipulation of electromagnetic fields and magnet therapy (12%).

[…]

Medical schools’ often uncritical embracement of CAM sadly contrasts with their often lukewarm support of EBM. As Paul Glasziou put it, “evidence-based medicine (EBM) is like safe sex: talked about a lot, preached (taught) a little and practiced infrequently.[19]”

One thing for which I’m grateful is that this roundtable brought to my attention to a couple of articles that suggest just how much woo is infiltrating the curriculum of most medical schools:

  1. Brokaw JJ, Tunnicliff G, Raess BU, Saxon DW (2002). The teaching of complementary and alternative medicine in U.S. medical schools: a survey of course directors. Acad Med. 77(9):876-81.
  2. Saxon DW, Tunnicliff G, Brokaw JJ, Raess BU (2004). Status of complementary and alternative medicine in the osteopathic medical school curriculum. Am Osteopath Assoc. 104(3):121-6.

The first article polled the course directors of medical schools, while the second article looks at osteopathic medical schools. Both of them paint a depressing picture. Again, I emphasize that I strongly support teaching an evidence-based approach to CAM. The problem, if these articles’ conclusions are accurate, is that this is not what’s happening. The good news is that teaching of CAM, as of five years ago, was still a relatively small part of the medical school curriculum in most medical schools, although it was found that some medical schools dedicated 60 or more contact hours to it. The bad news is that it’s growing:

The growing popularity of CAM is beginning to have an impact on medical education. In their 1997-1998 survey of all 125 U.S. medical schools, Wetzel et al. found that 64% of the 117 responding schools were teaching CAM topics either as stand-alone elective courses or as part of required courses. This is almost twice the number of institutions found offering CAM instruction in a 1995 survey (34% of 97 responding schools),8 which underscores the rapid acceptance of unconventional therapies in U.S. medical schools. Canadian medical schools have likewise incorporated CAM into their curricula–as of 1998, 81% were teaching CAM topics.

Given this background, Brokaw et al (quoted above) did a study looking at what is taught in medical school by polling course directors. What they found about how CAM is taught in most medical schools where it is taught should give any maven of evidence-based medicine pause:

The topics most often being taught were acupuncture (76.7%), herbs and botanicals (69.9%), meditation and relaxation (65.8%), spirituality/faith/prayer (64.4%), chiropractic (60.3%), homeopathy (57.5%), and nutrition and diets (50.7%). The amounts of instructional time devoted to individual CAM topics varied widely, but most received about two contact hours. The “typical” CAM course was sponsored by a clinical department as an elective, was most likely to be taught in the first or fourth year of medical school, and had fewer than 20 contact hours of instruction. Most of the courses (78.1%) were taught by individuals identified as being CAM practitioners or prescribes of CAM therapies. Few of the courses (17.8%) emphasized a scientific approach to the evaluation of CAM effectiveness.

In other words, slightly more than one out of six medical schools actually do what they’re supposed to do and teach these modalities using a scientific viewpoint, which is, after all, what medical schools do for virtually every other therapy. However, apparently CAM modalities are otherwise given a pass in most cases when it comes to being taught from an evidence-based, scientific perspective. Indeed, only around one in twelve actually specifically emphasize that they use evidence-based techniques to teach CAM in their courses, while nearly 80% of the teachers are CAM practitioners:

…we find it troubling that so few of the respondents (17.8%) appear to have emphasized a critical perspective in evaluating CAM treatments and claims of therapeutic efficacy. In fact, only 8.2% of the respondents specifically mentioned that they included topics about evidence-based medicine in their courses. This may reflect the fact that most of the courses (78.1%) were taught by practitioners or prescribers of unconventional therapies. Although an instructor’s use of a CAM therapy does not necessarily imply uncritical advocacy, it does imply that he or she believes a particular CAM treatment modality to have genuine merit. In this situation, then, the instructor may be less inclined to impart a critical perspective based on accepted standards of scientific evidence. Whether our findings truly reflect the state of CAM instruction nationwide is uncertain, but the apparent lack of a critical approach by most of our respondents is cause for concern.

Indeed it is. In essence, what we have are practitioners of non-evidence-based medicine teaching the next generation of medical students uncritical acceptance of their favored woo. If Saxon et al (the second paper) are to be believed, the situation is even more disturbing in osteopathic medical schools:

Although we found that CAM instruction at osteopathic and allopathic medical schools was on the whole similar, there were a few notable differences (Table 2). For example, courses with CAM content were twice as likely to be required at osteopathic medical schools than at allopathic medical schools. This may indicate a greater commitment to CAM education at osteopathic medical schools, but could just as easily reflect the incidental inclusion of CAM topics into several required courses of the traditional osteopathic curriculum. Another difference is that most CAM instruction at osteopathic medical schools occurred during the first 2 years, whereas CAM instruction during the third and fourth years was relatively uncommon. By contrast, the teaching of CAM at allopathic schools was substantial during the third and fourth years.7 In general, these data suggest that students at osteopathic medical schools are more likely to be exposed to CAM in required coursework during the preclinical part of their training, whereas students at allopathic medical schools tend to learn about CAM in elective coursework taken during the clinical years.

Sadly, this teaching seems to be having an effect. There is at least some evidence that far too many medical students appear to be enthusiastically embracing non-evidence-based CAM therapies, as was reported by Chaterji et al in 2007, in which they found that 91% of medical students agreed that “CAM includes ideas and methods from which Western medicine could benefit.” (I wonder what ideas those are. The concept of qi, the magical life force that, it is claimed, various therapies can manipulate to therapeutic intent, perhaps? But that’s just the nasty skeptic in me speaking.) Even taking into account the journal in which this study was published, which is an “alternative medicine” journal, its conclusion is worrisome:

Interest in and enthusiasm about CAM modalities was high in this sample; personal experience was much less prevalent. Students were in favor of CAM training in the curriculum to the extent that they could provide advice to patients; the largest proportions of the sample planned to endorse, refer patients for, or provide 8 of the 15 modalities surveyed in their future practice.

I fear that this conclusion may well be fairly close to the truth.

What I fail to understand is why there is even the concept of CAM to begin with. I view the distinction between “conventional” medical therapy and “alternative” medical therapy to be a false dichotomy used as an excuse to give an appearance of respectability and scientific validity to therapies that have failed to earn either the same way “conventional” medical therapies have to earn them, through science and clinical trials. The real dichotomy is between therapies that have scientific evidence to support their efficacy in treating specific disease and those that do not. As a supporter of evidence-based medicine, I would be perfectly happy to embrace any therapy for which there was compelling scientific and clinical evidence for efficacy. Believe it or not, I’d even embrace a concept as ridiculous as homeopathy appears to be now if compelling evidence in well-designed clinical trials showed that it had an effect over that of a placebo. In other words, I do not accept the concept of “alternative,” “complementary and alternative,” or “integrative” medicine. In fact I reject them. To me there are only two types of medicine. There is medicine that is not evidence-based, and there is medicine that is. I choose the latter. Unfortunately, medical schools seem to be becoming all too receptive to promoting the former, and, if the discussion after the articles is any indication, a depressingly large number of medical students are lapping it up.

Comments

  1. #1 Barn Owl
    December 17, 2007

    Excellent post, very interesting topic. I was relieved to find that the medical school at which I teach is *not* on the woo aggregator list. “Discordant” is the word I would use for the UT MD Anderson CAM webpage linked on your list.

    Just a few quick thoughts-

    Perhaps the reason that nutrition is included as an alternative therapy is that this topic is largely ignored in the part of the medical school curriculum with which it most logically (and scientifically) belongs: biochemistry. If I just look at many of our medical students (especially the third-years, busy with clerkships) and physicians, I can tell that they learned nothing about nutrition. Or perhaps they just chose to ignore/forget it, which is particularly disturbing in a community with high rates of type 2 diabetes.

    One of the studies mentioned included first and second-year medical students at Georgetown; I’m not familiar with the curriculum there, but it’s possible that attitudes towards CAM migh change after the third-year clerkships.

    I have mixed feelings about yoga. I practice Iyengar yoga twice a week, with two rational and hypercritical surgeons as classmates, and all three of us benefit greatly, in terms of reversing damage and strain caused hours of standing and/or hunching over microscopes. All of this can be explained anatomically (at least with Iyengar yoga), without invoking woo. A scientifically-minded person can ignore the coiled serpent energy, chakra, and skull luster stuff, and I find the meditation part to be as boring as I did Montessori school nap-time many years ago (the floor is dusty, my mat smells funny, there is a cool lizard on the windowsill, and when is this going to be over????)

  2. #2 Freddy the Pig
    December 17, 2007

    I think “CAM” modalities should be presented “in the context of their own philosophies and models of health and illness”.

    Homeopathy should be presented as a religion cooked by a loony German.

    Ayurvedic medicine should be presented as similar to the Mediaval cocept of the 4 humors.

    Stone age superstitions should be presented as exaclty what they are too – the beliefs of small groups of Hunter Gatherers who lacked better tools to unserstand the world.

    Etc.

  3. #3 Marcus Ranum
    December 17, 2007

    Good article!

    In the long run, isn’t this all about fear of death? Nobody wants to die, but everyone knows they’re going to. You can’t go to a ‘real’ doctor and have them lay on hands and give you a mumbo-jumbo treatment, so instead you go to a shaman. Shamen don’t actually do anything, but that’s OK, because the “patient” can feel that they didn’t go to their grave without putting up a good hard fight.

  4. #4 inkadu
    December 17, 2007

    Maybe what’s being reflected here is a desire for doctors to appear informed about and sympathetic towards their patients CAM leanings. Maybe medical schools can get away with this because, in practice, doctors don’t refer to CAM unless it’s something that is minor and that does not have a good EBM intervention. This way the doctor’s remain “in the loop,” are still considered “expert” by their patients, and patients will still come to them first. Politically, it’s important to play along with what society throws at you.

    However, I do think it’s ridiculous that medical schools are teaching woo w/o criticism. But here’s the catch: do you want to spend 20 hours teaching about chakras, qi, and all the other assorted bogus theories that the human mind has come up with? Do you want to learn about it? I sure don’t. I don’t imagine many rational people would want to invest the time to really learn the topic. Yes, you know and I know that there is no more to know about homeopathy than there is about astrology. But people have to have a rough grounding, and why not use actual practicioners, who have studied, to give the most accurate picture of the theory and practice?

    Here’s a quick remedy: a relatively brief presentation, pointing to all the reasons why the theory is bogus and citing any positive treatment evidence (just cause the theory is bogus doesn’t mean the treatment necessarily is). This wouldn’t take much time and would be devastating and helpful. For instance, there isn’t a qi practitioner in the world who can tell, at better than random chances, if there’s a living body under a sheet or a 98 degree body-shaped heater. That pretty much blows any idea of “qi” out of the water, gives the insitution’s scientific view of the matter, and now students are free to take the class while trying not to roll their eyes too much.

  5. #5 Joe
    December 17, 2007

    @Barn Owl,

    Nutrition is an old and respected part of medicine.

    However, it is often hijacked by sCAM proponents who give bogus advice. They promote “detoxification” and “dietary supplements” and “alkaline diets” and fasting etc.; the list of misleading, and bad, advice is quite long. For that reason, it may be properly included with the woo without maligning the legitimate profession.

  6. #6 Dr Aust
    December 17, 2007

    There is some truth to Barn Owl’s view that biochemistry dumped nutrition. This is for two reasons, I think: first off, because the nutritional biochemistry med students need is pretty basic stuff, and second, the cool biochemists decamped from nutrition / metabolism to molecular biology long ago and hate teaching this kind of stuff.

    In our medical school, a decade and a bit back we rebadged “nutritional and absorptive biochemistry” back into “physiology” (where it started out a century ago, of course). This works out OK since physiologists are broadly happy to teach “systems level” and “integrated” rather than:

    “Here’s my cool gene which makes my pet protein that I love more than anything else in the world – let me tell you about LYSINE RESIDUE 129!”

    Result: students learn nutrition and absorption, and biochemistry (or rather old-style metabolic pathways stuff) has largely disappeared from many UK medical curricula.

    Statement of Conflicting interest: I started out in Biochemistry but ended up in Physiology.

  7. #7 howard
    December 17, 2007

    What is woo? An acronym, a neologism, or a nickname? It seems to mean superstition, unfounded belief, unsupported conclusions, hype, BS, buncombe, or smoke & mirrors.

    A definition please.

  8. #8 Texas Reader
    December 17, 2007

    I am horrified that so many US medical schools are allowing this claptrap to be taught. Now whenever I am looking for a new doctor I suppose I need to ask him or her if they believe in “alternative medicine.” There is just no excuse for waiving rational thinking and evidence based decision making in a medical school class.

  9. #10 Barn Owl
    December 17, 2007

    Joe-

    I agree that the legitimate science of nutrition (both biochemical and physiological aspects) has been hijacked by CAM proponents. Ideally, we should educate healthcare professionals about the science, so that they can reject the misleading, bad advice, and prevent their patients from falling prey to potentially harmful nutrition woo.

    Dr Aust-

    The systems-level nutrition and absorption info has been incorporated into physiology courses in our curriculum as well. We’ve recently added biochemistry to the list of required courses for medical school admission, but the range of quality and depth in undergrad biochem courses in the US reduces the potential benefits-I’m not convinced that it has improved performance in first-year medical biochemistry.

    [rant]It bothers me that medications such as statins are so readily prescribed in the US (and requested by patients), when in many cases better results could be obtained by fairly simple changes in diet and exercise. In fact, the recommendations for such medications indicate that they’re to be used when strict diets don’t work to lower cholesterol. People should not view statins as excuses to continue to eat whatever they want, and then cr*p it out. [/rant]

  10. #11 Dr Aust
    December 17, 2007

    Hmm… re statin pushing, what you need is “socialized medicine”, Barn Owl. At least that way there is some kind of incentive to work on persuading the patients to follow nutritional / exercise advice before passing out the pills.

    Here in the UK the Family Practice people do try fairly hard to persuade borderline patients to take on the health / lifestyle / diet advice first. But we still have an awful lot of people on statins…!

    Re the point about educating people to combat misleading “nutritional” advice, we have been debating this a lot in the UK, where we are beset with a ton of idiot “Nutritionistas” and supplement peddlers, who are all over TV like a rash. But most of the debunking comes from us amateur types: see e.g. Ben Goldacre’s BadScience site here. Ben Goldacre has the theory that sites like BadScience and Respectful Insolence are parts of a net-based “Enable the Geeks” movement, which tries to arm sceptical people
    in all walks of life with the info to combat Woo at the grassroots. That way the counter-messages can come from your friends and neighbours, rather than some authority figure.

    Something is certainly needed, because in general I think the healthcare practitioners are too busy, and struggle to find enough time to promote the good stuff, let alone combat the nonsense. Plus the kind of people that are susceptible to the Woo-tritionists are usually people whose “life direction” and belief-set make them innately suspicious of mainstream advice. A final problem is that the mainstream dietary /lifestyle advice is often relatively simple – “eat less saturated fat, take exercise, lose weight” – and I suspect some people simple believe it cannot be that easy. The Nutrition-nonsense peddlers usually give far more complex messages than the mainstream advice, as part of their sales pitch is “Here are the secrets they’re not telling you”.

  11. #12 Dr. S.E.B.
    December 18, 2007

    You are correct when you say CAM shouldn’t exist, but it’s been forced to. We, as physicians, have to A)heal our patients, and B) DO NO Harm. Allopathy has become self-absorbed in evidence basing everything they do, with little regard to the true outcome to the patient. Every doc should KNOW what is healthy to eat and not, but they don’t. So they don’t teach their patients. This is evidenced by the obesity rate in the US and the rise of diabetes to disastrous numbers. Sure, just put them on insulin, or xenical, or glucophage…the list goes on and on. So what if we can lower the insulin levels or sugar levels artificially, what has the patient gained in terms of ‘net’ health in the long run? Nothing, in fact they’ve lost life.
    Too much of medical ‘science’ has the mark of evidence based but stinks of fowl play or negligible gains for the risks.

    Evidence IS important, please do not misunderstand me. But it seems that many are using double standards with regards to vetting various ‘modalities or therapies’. 200 participants in an RCT that have truly been ‘cherry picked’ for the trial, is not evidence based. Nor is excluding negative outcomes or minimizing placebos, evidenced based.

    If a placebo works as good or equal to the measured treatment, then why in god’s name would that treatment be considered a positive outcome, especially when the risks must be weighed in?

    So, easy on the woo and look inside your own homes before casting those stones. The public wants a shift in their healthcare and somebody better step up and deliver, whomever it may be.

  12. #13 Prometheus
    December 18, 2007

    Dr. S.E.B.,

    Since you agree that evidence is important, how about providing some of the evidence (that would be data, not “anecdotes” or “testimonials”) that support any of the popular CAM modalities.

    For that matter, how about supporting your statement that, “Every doc should KNOW what is healthy to eat and not, but they don’t.” What, in your world-scheme, is “healthy to eat” and what is not? And do please provide something more than your educated opinion to support your assertions.

    I don’t mean to seem disrespectful, but all too often people come on this ‘blog (and others) full of great “information” but then can’t seem to find where they left the data. Maybe it’s in their other pants.

    I’m sure that you, however, will be different. You will support your assertions with real data, won’t you?

    Prometheus

  13. #14 HCN
    December 18, 2007

    Dr S.E.B. said ” Every doc should KNOW what is healthy to eat and not, but they don’t. So they don’t teach their patients.”

    Evidence? Because it seems that there are doctors in several different places that do not represent your “Every doc” bit. My dad and I have almost identical cholesterol numbers. High, but with very high HDL numbers. So both of our doctors (who practice over a thousand miles from each other), just tell us to watch what we eat. They even give us papers showing us what is good and what is bad.

    Very unlike a relative of mine (who has naturally low cholesterol) who claims that it does not matter what you eat because the liver makes the cholesterol. I just told I choose not to provide the raw material.

    Similar to what Prometheus said, please provide evidence that doctors are not giving nutrition information before prescribing medications.

    For my part I present this webpage of nutrition links:
    http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/healthy/food.html

  14. #15 Rude
    December 19, 2007

    Individual consumers contesting with institutions is an asymmetric struggle. To myself, I am not a statistic. I just don’t like being sick. I have eliminated some foods from my diet. Some problems go away. 80% of patients of any health system may have become better without treatment. We are deluged with advice and advertising. Caveat emptor! As a consumer I don’t do evidence, data. That would be practicing medicine or science with out a license. I don’t do Authority, not my job. I am qualified by 66 years of experience. I make decisions and take responsibility for them. I use herbs and food empirically. I am only interested in what works for me. I don’t have to prove it works for others. At this age 66, I expected to see my old friends die that is statistical.. But let me tell you witnessing faith in medicine disappointed in the worst way strengthens my belief in mortality.
    Emotional reaction to death of loved ones is not ,quantifiable
    .. it can clarify the mind considerably.

  15. #16 Rude
    December 19, 2007

    Individual consumers contesting with institutions is an asymmetric struggle. To myself, I am not a statistic. I just don’t like being sick. I have eliminated some foods from my diet. Some problems go away. 80% of patients of any health system may have become better without treatment. We are deluged with advice and advertising. Caveat emptor! As a consumer I don’t do evidence, data. That would be practicing medicine or science with out a license. I don’t do Authority, not my job. I am qualified by 66 years of experience. I make decisions and take responsibility for them. I use herbs and food empirically. I am only interested in what works for me. I don’t have to prove it works for others. At this age 66, I expected to see my old friends die that is statistical.. But let me tell you witnessing faith in medicine disappointed in the worst way strengthens my belief in mortality.
    Emotional reaction to death of loved ones is not ,quantifiable
    .. it can clarify the mind considerably.

  16. #17 Dr. S.E.B
    December 19, 2007

    Prometheus, are you saying that doctors, in general, ARE educating their patients with regards to diet and health? What statistics do you have to support they are? If they are, as you say, and the patients aren’t listening, then are we calling them on their foolishness or are we enabling them with a pharmaceutical crutch?

    Now, reading your post again, I assume you want me to provide statistics that show RCTs have been falsified or altered to improve the outcome. I’m sure that must be a very easy statistic to find. (sarcasm) I will, however, point to others who have written on the RCT and it’s +/-. Some of the references I would direct you to have a commonality in that they are mentioned in a recent article from the bulletin of the NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases.

    Hopefully this ‘peace’ offering is sufficient enough to substantiate my comments and show that I did not leave my statistics in my other pants.

    http://www.nyuhjdbulletin.org/Permalink.aspx?permalinkId=9fdac2d6-2252-4339-8574-e86e69aedec0

  17. #18 Prometheus
    December 20, 2007

    “Dr” S.E.B.,

    Since you made the claim that “Every doc should KNOW what is healthy to eat and not, but they don’t.”, I believe that it is up to you to support it. Please don’t take the crank way out and try and turn it back onto me to prove you wrong. You made the claim, so you either have data to support it or you should withdraw it.

    As to your rather bizarre assertion that I want you to “…provide statistics that show RCTs have been falsified or altered to improve the outcome.”, that seems to be either a rather obvious strawman or a very curious interpretation of my request.

    Instead of trying to answer the question that you want to answer, how about answering the question that I asked?

    Although my original comment is only a little ways up from this one, I’ll save you the effort of scrolling and repeat it here:

    “Since you agree that evidence is important, how about providing some of the evidence (that would be data, not ‘anecdotes’ or ‘testimonials’) that support any of the popular CAM modalities.”

    You see, my question was not about how RCT’s can be manipulated, although that issue might arise in response to your answer – if you ever give one.

    “Dr.” S.E.B., your response so far has suggested that you actually don’t have any data to support your rather bold assertions of 18 December. I hope that this is simply a misunderstanding. I eagerly await your answers.

    Prometheus

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