Pharyngula

Now I’m embarrassed

Minnesota is a pretty darn good state, usually fairly progressive, but sometimes…sometimes it can plunge off the deep end into the credulous muck of woo. My state has just approved the title of doctor for naturopaths. I imagine the MDs are a bit aghast, and even us Ph.D.s are feeling a bit diminished.

It’s also a law that was pushed by the Democratic-Farmer-Labor party. My party. Minnesota Democrats are responsible for elevating respect for quackery. I’m embarrassed by that, too.

If only I’d known, I would have proposed an alternative idea at the DFL caucus: we should ennoble naturopaths with an even older, distinguished title: “hedge-witch” or maybe “witch doctor”. That last one has “doctor” in it, so it should be acceptable, right?

Comments

  1. #1 Glen Davidson
    June 10, 2008

    I see that Minnesota finally got over that “progressive” bias.

    That’s the spirit, counter progression with regression. And be proud to certify your witch doctors with the name “witch doctors”, ya hear?

    Told you that Minnesota would go downhill after I moved out of it.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  2. #2 zer0
    June 10, 2008

    I don’t know why, but this article reminded me of a recent trip to Walgreen’s. I have severe springtime allergies, and my usual OTC stuff just wasn’t doing the trick. I was looking for something specifically for my nose, and while looking at a couple products and reading the labels for their actives, I actually came across a homeopathic nasal spray. The best part, this crap was $14.89. I’ll go spray some tap water up my nose for free thank you very much.

  3. #3 paul lamb
    June 10, 2008

    At today’s health fair at work (a pharmaceutical company, no less!) there was booth for alternative and homeopathic medicine.

  4. #4 alex
    June 10, 2008

    omlingalingalingalinga kilikilikili.

  5. #5 ndt
    June 10, 2008

    I’ll go spray some tap water up my nose for free thank you very much.

    Don’t do that, you’re likely to get a sinus infection.

    Dissolve some salt in the water first, or buy some saline solution designed for squirting in the nose. Still cheaper than $14.89.

  6. #6 Kris
    June 10, 2008

    Maybe this serves as a form of (un)natural selection against stupid people?

  7. #7 Patricia
    June 10, 2008

    Careful now. I’m an herb peddler. :)

  8. #8 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    June 10, 2008

    DFL’ers are subject to science stupidity, too. Last year when a bill was introduced to ban thimerasol from vaccines I actually had to contact a Republican lobbyist to help kill it. None of the DFL legistlature co-authors would even listen to me when I tried to contact them.

  9. #9 Leukocyte
    June 10, 2008

    It’s no worse than a doctorate in divinity or theology – the study of invented nothings.

  10. #10 Holbach
    June 10, 2008

    Is civilization retrogressing? Before you know it, they will be confering doctorates for all sorts of weirdos and wackos. Ken Hambone will demand his rightful doctorate and be addressed as, Ken Hambone, DD Doctor of Dementia. And I’ll bet those weirdos in Sedona, Arizona will apply en masse for all sorts of doctorates of wackeries. Crap, where the hell are we heading to: complete breakdown of the rational process?

  11. #11 Dan
    June 10, 2008

    Egads, man! Giving these folks the title of “Doctor” is sort of like giving voting rights and driver’s licenses to chimpanzees.

  12. #12 Richard Wolford
    June 10, 2008

    You know, I worked really fucking hard for my PhD. This pisses me off to no end.

  13. #13 Saint Pudalia
    June 10, 2008

    I’m a legal assistant and deal with all sorts of legalish stuff. When can I start calling myself an attorney and finally get the professional respect I deserve?

  14. #14 MikeD
    June 10, 2008

    Dan,

    Haven’t you heard? Chimpanzees are people, too.

    Court to decide if chimps are people, too
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/24878149/

  15. #15 John
    June 10, 2008

    “It’s blending the best of what we know in science with the best of what we know in natural medicine,” said Leslie Vilensky

    And why, exactly, must natural medicine be separate from science? If anything, they should be using science to prove the efficacy of natural medicine!

  16. #16 Barklikeadog
    June 10, 2008

    I once had a friend that told me she was accepted to medical school. I congratulated her and asked where to? It was some naturalpath school. I could hardly hold my mouth closed and I’m sure she got the point when my eyes buldged and I said nothing but ‘oh’ and walked off.

  17. #17 gex
    June 10, 2008

    We quite honestly live in a political environment where being an intelligent elite is considered a *bad* thing. Our political discourse indicates that we think national policies should be decided by “regular folk” and not people with exceptional subject matter expertise. Might as well call homeopaths doctors. Hell, how about a homeopath for Surgeon General?

    /disgust

  18. #18 Rob Adams
    June 10, 2008

    It applies only to graduates of “four year naturopathic medical schools.” It terrifies me not only that people would be willing to attend such a thing, but that apparently so many want to that they can open the school. Or is it an internet correspondence course or something? What do you learn in “naturopathic medical schools?”

  19. #19 SC
    June 10, 2008

    What Richard Wolford said.

  20. #20 tsg
    June 10, 2008

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll keep saying it until everyone gets it: There’s no such thing as “alternative medicine”. If it works, it’s medicine. If it doesn’t, it isn’t. Period.

  21. #21 Dan
    June 10, 2008

    Dan,

    Haven’t you heard? Chimpanzees are people, too.

    Court to decide if chimps are people, too
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/24878149/

    Posted by: MikeD

    That’s it. I’m taking a leap off the nearest bridge. Life’s just gotten too weird.

    Don’t worry. The nearest bridge goes above a little creek, and the water is only six inches deep. But, don’t under estimate the message a couple of wet ankles can send.

  22. #22 Felstatsu
    June 10, 2008

    Don’t think we can give them hedge-witch or witch-doctor, at least not to any of them that practice homeopathy with all that water memory crap. Even the pagans I know and hang out with think those guys are full of crap. Sure, there are ones that do buy into that, but they’re the minority, and when comparing percentages aren’t much more than any other group would expect to have fall for it.

    Outside of that, none of my pagan friends think that a massage or energy work can replace going to a real doctor, so none of the titles recommended really work out. My one friend did give a suggestion for a new title though, “Nuts.”

  23. #23 The Backpacker
    June 10, 2008

    As a proud Minnesotan this makes me sad. We have what I think is a proud history of doing real science in this state, why did my party have to go and screw it up with this crap. What bugs me even more is that otherwise smart educated folk fall for this thinking that magents and accupressure and herbs are going to cure their cancer or fight off AIDS. JUST i MEAN GAHHHHH

  24. #24 theGomezSymbol
    June 10, 2008

    As an aerospace engineer, my pet peeve is maintenance personnel calling themselves ‘engineers’. Sorry, there is a difference between the training required to patch up dry wall Vs. erecting a bridge. Or replacing the electrical outlets Vs. designing circuit boards. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera…

  25. #25 Paul Lundgren
    June 10, 2008

    I think Alex clearly wins the comments today.

  26. #26 Longtime Lurker
    June 10, 2008

    Gotta quote the ‘Mats here:

    “Sanitation expert and a maintenance engineer,
    Garbageman, janitor, and you, my dear,
    A real union flight attendant, my oh my,
    You ain’t nothing but a waitress in the sky.”

  27. #27 Saint Pudalia
    June 10, 2008

    #24 / I hear you! I work for a (real) engineering firm and it irritates me that the building maintenance guy who came by one day to install our kitchen’s paper towel holder for the third time (he didn’t know how to find the stud) has “engineer” in his title.

  28. #28 Felstatsu
    June 10, 2008

    Alex’s comment is indeed funny but it was a little off. The real chant for fake medicine practitioners is

    Omalingalingalinga a kili-ki, omalingalingalinga a kili-ki.

    And then they finish with an “Oh please, oh please, please work, please work!”

  29. #29 Scholar
    June 10, 2008

    Which doctors are witch doctors?

    Witch doctors are which doctors?

    If anybody sees James Randi… tell him I’m still waiting for my money.

    :)

  30. #30 Itzac
    June 10, 2008

    Before I call anyone doctor, I ask myself if I’d let this person administer a urethral swab. It’s made for awkward relationships with physicists.

  31. #31 alex
    June 10, 2008

    I think Alex clearly wins the comments today.

    thanks very much, but careful: i’m “alex”. “Alex” is a different guy… i presume you meant me, and not him.

  32. #32 azqaz
    June 10, 2008

    #28 Felstatsu – No it isn’t it ends with, “And that will be $50. Cash only please.”

  33. #33 Felstatsu
    June 10, 2008

    Nah, they never talk price until after the chant is done. The negative energy of the patient hearing “That’ll be $200, cash only please” could interrupt the healing in its final stages.

  34. #34 buck
    June 10, 2008

    Careful now. I’m an herb peddler. :)

    oh yeah. you can doctor my perceptions anytime :-)

  35. #35 scooter
    June 10, 2008

    WTF is a Naturopath? I work in one of them New Age grocery store organic places (as a mechanic) and I never heard of a Naturopath.

    Did they make that up for this title?

    Herbal Medicine is obviously real, Cayenne is good for circulation and certain GI problems (Capstein), and Aloe Vera is awesome for sunburn. People may prefer to access these remedies directly from plants rather than extractions and there are arguments to be made in favor of that.

    My favorite one is Coca, a perfectly good stimulant which displays properties promoting blood oxygenation.

    Grind up the leaf, soak it ether to extract alkaloid, salt out with HCl, and wah Lah: Cocaine, a vicious and evil drug.

    That’s the ‘Western’ version, but this and other acid base extractions inevitably favor particular alkaloids over others. In this case you start with a leaf, containing many compounds, promotes circulation, and end up with a salt that is a vaso-constrictor, and promotes heart attack.

    In any case all this is far from Homeopathy which is total bullshit.

    So WTF is a Naturopath ?

  36. #36 brokenSoldier, OM
    June 10, 2008

    It’s no worse than a doctorate in divinity or theology – the study of invented nothings.

    Posted by: Leukocyte | June 10, 2008 1:17 PM

    I see where you’re coming from, but I’d offer that it actually is a little worse, because no one looks to a Ph.D. for information directly relating to the maintenance and improvement of their health. This hurts the field of medicine – in my opinion – both specifically and generally. Specifically, more than a few states in actually allow these individuals to be licensed practitioners of medicine, which spells trouble for unsuspecting and otherwise gullible patients in those states. In a general sense, this just gives credibility to a field that shouldn’t even exist – medical doctors have all the requisite knowledge of the body to be able to give the advice that these individuals will be meting out to the patients – with the added bonus that they also have the option of prescribing medicine, should the patient actually have a condition that necessitates it.

    Again – I wasn’t trying to nitpick or anything, but I do think that this poses an actual problem, for both the field of medicine as a whole and for individual patients who are susceptible to manipulation.

  37. #37 "Doctor" Kermit
    June 10, 2008

    Well, I’ve maintained a computer network for years. I change toner cartridges and even hack perl. I’m jealous of those Microsoft Certified Engineers. I figure, going by the naturopath standards that value life experiences, I deserve a Doctorate of Computerology, yes?

  38. #38 Holbach
    June 10, 2008

    Leukocyte @ # 9 More catch words that bespeak nonsense:
    biblical scholar; holy city, holy man, very devout, deeply religious, the last two a state of extreme insanity.

  39. #39 Dutch Delight
    June 10, 2008

    I’m not sure why you would keep using actual plants and herbs in medicine. There’s no way to even check the dosage of the active ingredient for example. Now, if there were nothing else, sure, but i’d rather know that i’m only getting the active ingredients in the right dosage.

    I know people like to whine about big pharma, but I would rather buy pills with known chemicals and dosage then some unidentifiable “chinese herbs” that might or might not do anything and go through less checks then normal food.

  40. #40 Charles Betz
    June 10, 2008

    I’m rather amazed that it took so land, to be honest… considering all the combined lobbying efforts of the quackering nutrition supplement / Homeopath / et al…

  41. #41 Sarcastro
    June 10, 2008

    Careful now. I’m an herb peddler. :)

    As am I, and I consider myself a doctor… in the vein of the good doctor, Raul Duke.

  42. #42 Felstatsu
    June 10, 2008

    Holbach, why is very devout a state of extreme insanity?

    Sure in a religious context it is, but it can also just mean earnest or sincere, and I think I’d like my police to be very devout is their duties, along with real doctors and whatnot.

  43. #43 scooter
    June 10, 2008

    #24

    As an aerospace engineer, my pet peeve is maintenance personnel calling themselves ‘engineers’. Sorry, there is a difference between the training required to patch up dry wall Vs. erecting a bridge.

    I’m a maintenance guy, and I agree, I refer to myself as ‘the maintenance guy’, my job description is ‘maintenance’.

    However, do not underestimate the maintenance guy, we have to fix everything you engineers fuck up.

    Example from yesterday, Commercial Ice Machines use 400 dollars worth of filters, change every six months. I routed the Osmotic water supply to the ice machines to eliminate the filters.

    PROBLEM: I had to call the factory: It turns out, he Osmotic water is too CLEAN for the electronic water sensor that the engineer designed, it can’t ‘see’ the water in the reservoir, and the unit shuts down. Without a few trace minerals, the thing DOESN”T WORK. The factory is supposed to get back to me on that, but it costs us 500 a day.

    So I took a length of bailing wire and submerged it in the reservoir, and grounded it.

    Boom, the thing fired right up and the units are now running.

    Wonder how long before that wire gets eaten up, it’s lo grade steel.

    A simple float shut down design would have sufficed.

    Maintenance guys have love-hate relationships with engineers. We love you when you get it right, and we…. well you get the idea.

  44. #44 Longtime Lurker
    June 10, 2008

    The sad fact is that a lot of people turn to this woo because they cannot afford real medical treatment due to lack of insurance or bad insurance coverage.

    It’s anecdotal, but my favorite bartender in Brooklyn related a horror story in which a friend of hers delayed treatment for melanoma (it progressed from blotch, to tumor, to thirteen tumors on lymph nodes) until he obtained a job with medical benefits.

  45. #45 The Gay Species
    June 10, 2008

    The licensure of N.D. follows the Northwestern College of Chiropractic (along with Southern California and National College in Chicago) metamorphosis into “holistic” alternative “medicine,” as well as acupuncture, oriental herbalism, and physiotherapy. They license “psychologists” too, as “doctors.”

    In one sense, the devolution of the “subluxation syndrome” snake oil of chiropractic into the naturopathy of sun, light, air, colonics, hydrotherapy, electric shock, etc., should reveal just how antediluvian these purveyors of metaphysics are. Before chemistry was alchemy, before physics was astronomy, and before biology was numerology. Some people prefer the “old fashioned” astrology to astronomy, alchemy to chemistry, and Linnea’s taxonomy to Darwinian evolution. It feels more “biblical,” or “natural.”

    Physician and philosopher (the two senses of “doctor”) are pretty clear cut which applies to which. A physician is a “doctor of medicine and osteopathy,” and an expert in philosophy is any expert in the arts, sciences, mathematics, or philosophy.

    The rest are pseudo-“doctors” or quacks. So why license them? Why give them “credibility?” To keep an eye on them, and hope some ethical standards can be used supervisorily.

  46. #46 natural cynic
    June 10, 2008

    gex: We quite honestly live in a political environment where being an intelligent elite is considered a *bad* thing. Our political discourse indicates that we think national policies should be decided by “regular folk” and not people with exceptional subject matter expertise. Might as well call homeopaths doctors. Hell, how about a homeopath for Surgeon General?

    It’s usually not the “regular folk” that are pushing woo and paying big money to woomeisters, it’s usually upper middle classes that have enough extra cash to spend. If insurance can’t pay for it, then the “regular folk” tend to stay away. If insurance can pay for it, then all bets are off.

    The tactic of one elite [politicians] dissing the competence of another elite is truly idiotic. Who would they rather have as quarterback – Peyton Manning or the second stringer at Central High School? If you want to watch a golfer, would you rather watch Tiger or Duffer Joe?

    brokensoldier..,because no one looks to a Ph.D. for information directly relating to the maintenance and improvement of their health.

    Exceptions:
    If you’re talking about nutrition and health, you’re probably much better talking to a Nutrition PhD; if you’re talking about exercise and health, you’re probably better off talking to an Exercise Physiology PhD. There are some things most MDs don’t do very well.

  47. #47 Holbach
    June 10, 2008

    Felstatu @ 42 Of course I was speaking in the religious sense only; wasn’t that obvious?

  48. #48 Artoo45
    June 10, 2008

    It seems to me that the further one goes toward any political extreme, more more magical thinking one encounters. The right has the apocalypse, the left has peak oil. The right has Hagee and Robertson, the left has Chopra and Van Praagh. The right has back-woods survivalists with guns, the left has, er, back-woods survivalists . . . with Birkenstocks. Maybe its middle-age, but I’ll take the middle way any day.

  49. #49 JJR
    June 10, 2008

    This website should be of interest (read: amusement) for regular Pharyngula readers…

    http://www.leviticus11.com/
    (excerpt:)

    “…The foundation of Leviticus11.com is found in the Bible in Chapter 11 of Leviticus (the Dietary Laws of the Mosaic Code) of the Old Testament or the Torah. That chapter tells us which animals are clean and which are unclean and that you should not eat unclean animals. This is a rule given to us to maintain good health, although not an admission ticket to heaven.

    Health and strength are important to enjoy life and avoid living with chronic ailments for which most medical doctors will prescribe some form of medication that does not correct the cause of the problem. Leviticus11.com offers products that I have found can help others improve their own health and strength.”

  50. #50 mik espear
    June 10, 2008

    The Gay Species #45
    “Before chemistry was alchemy, before physics was astronomy, and before biology was numerology”

    I think you mean(t) astrology.

  51. #51 brokenSoldier, OM
    June 10, 2008

    If you’re talking about nutrition and health, you’re probably much better talking to a Nutrition PhD; if you’re talking about exercise and health, you’re probably better off talking to an Exercise Physiology PhD. There are some things most MDs don’t do very well.

    Posted by: natural cynic | June 10, 2008 3:08 PM

    I agree. I should have phrased that line differently. So this:

    because no one looks to a Ph.D. for information directly relating to the maintenance and improvement of their health.

    should have been written as this:

    …because no one looks to a Ph.D. in divinity or theology for information directly relating to the maintenance and improvement of their health.

  52. #52 Richard Wolford
    June 10, 2008

    @Kermit #37:

    Those Microsoft certified guys are one of my pet peeves as well. I worked for two years at an IT company which wanted to expand into enterprise level consulting and design, a hefty upgrade from their typical level of clients. Since I’ve done this for a while, I was hired to lead up this new venture. The entire time I’m listening to people bitch about how I don’t have any certifications and how hard they worked for theirs and blah blah blah; ignore the fact that these “engineers” weren’t even impressive.

    So, I opted to put a few of them in their place. I went and took 24 of the Microsoft exams without attending a single one of the Microsoft “classes”; I passed each one, first time, and earned every certification Microsoft had to offer.

    It let’s you know where people’s priorities lie anyway. It shut up a bunch of people, and the company paid for the tests so I wasn’t out anything, and it felt good to have yet one more thing to hold over the heads of the “engineers”.

  53. #53 Gary Walsh
    June 10, 2008

    I looked at the website of the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Colleges (http://www.aanmc.org/) and found this:

    During their first two years of study, the curriculum focuses on basic and clinical sciences, covering…

    Biochemistry
    Human Physiology
    Histology
    Anatomy
    Macro- and Microbiology
    Immunology
    Human Pathology
    Neuroscience
    Pharmacology

    Seems scientific to me.

  54. #54 ndt
    June 10, 2008

    Minnesota seems to have a history of this. Every health plan I’ve ever had here allowed patients to see a chiropractor without a referral. If you drive through the Twin Cities you see a LOT of chiropractor’s offices. They seem to have a powerful lobbying group in this state.

  55. #55 Ron Sullivan
    June 10, 2008

    # 24: As an aerospace engineer …

    How long is your choo-choo?

  56. #56 Ames
    June 10, 2008

    Anyone want to help tackle vaccine opponents on my blog? I could use the help…

    http://acandidworld.wordpress.com/2008/06/10/vaccineautism-alarmists-on-the-march-nyu-law/

  57. #57 Bureacratus Minimis
    June 10, 2008

    TGS @ 45: So why license them? Why give them “credibility?” To keep an eye on them, and hope some ethical standards can be used supervisorily.

    Also, because if you don’t provide a path to licensure for these people you drive them underground and lose all control of the process, make criminals out of desperate people, cultivate contempt for the rule of law, etc.

    Ultimately, this is one of the unpleasant consequences of freedom of belief.

  58. #58 Schmeer
    June 10, 2008

    OT
    Is anyone listening to Talk of the Nation on NPR? Lewis Black is answering questions about his deistic beliefs. I have just lost a ton of respect for him because he stated: “When you get out of here[some minimum belief in God] then Hitler makes sense” Fucking douchebag.

  59. #59 Simon
    June 10, 2008

    I’m somebody with a math background, and consider myself to be a skeptic. The foolishness with regards to homeopathy seems obvious to me, for instance. However the alarm bells don’t ring as loudly with respect to naturopathic medicine. I’d like to know what the people making the jokes and sarcastic comments know. Could somebody please direct me towards a site or sites that have informative critiques of naturopathic medicine?

    Is it a matter of naturopathic medicine being a complete write-off as a subject (like what I consider theology or homeopathy to be), or just that while there are valid aspects to its teachings, those areas already infringe on what is covered by “true experts” e.g. nutritionsists, doctors, etc?

    The jokes are great for the people who already know everything about the subject, but not really helpful for those of us who have only a vague understanding.

  60. #60 Tulse
    June 10, 2008

    You know, I worked really fucking hard for my PhD. This pisses me off to no end.

    I agree — why the hell do MDs get to call themselves “doctors”, anyway? :-)

  61. #61 Dave
    June 10, 2008

    OK, before we jump all over this law, lets check what it actually says. Its available here: https://www.revisor.leg.state.mn.us/bin/bldbill.php?bill=S1520.2.html&session=ls85

    As I read it, in exchange for registering with the state, maintaining proper records, and getting informed consent from their patients, in writing (including notice that the practicioner is a naturopath and not a MD) a graduate of accredited 4 year ND program (who therefore has a doctorate degree, albeit in woo) can practice naturopathic medicine as defined in the statute (which does not include prescription privileges) and call themselves a “registered naturopathic doctor,” “naturopathic doctor,” or “doctor of naturopathic medicine,” without getting into trouble with the state Medical Board.

    You all may argue that this is simply the thin edge of the wedge, but on its face, this doesnt strike me as that terrible.

  62. #62 Richard Wolford
    June 10, 2008

    @Tulse:

    Why indeed! :)

  63. #63 Chayanov
    June 10, 2008

    Outside of that, none of my pagan friends think that a massage or energy work can replace going to a real doctor, so none of the titles recommended really work out.

    You know more progressive pagans than I do. They think reiki is a good treatment for MS and have said things like, “Western medicine doesn’t work at all.”

  64. #64 fusilier
    June 10, 2008

    Gary Walsh (#53) wrote that the following seems pretty scientific:

    During their first two years of study, the curriculum focuses on basic and clinical sciences, covering…
    Biochemistry
    Human Physiology
    Histology
    Anatomy
    Macro- and Microbiology
    Immunology
    Human Pathology
    Neuroscience
    Pharmacology

    That may be the seem to be case until one considers that, in Indiana, Registered Nurses (Associates’ Degree) are required to take ten semester credit hours just in human anatomy and physiology, four semester credit hours in microbiology, and three semester credit hours in pharmacology before they are permitted to even start nursing courses, much less their clinical rotations.

    I’ll match my students’ knowledge to that of any “Doctor of Naturopathy.”

    fusilier
    James 2:24

  65. #65 Fedaykin
    June 10, 2008

    I’ve never understood the general hatred of Chiropractors. What’s “woo” about someone putting your skeleton back together properly after an accident or poorly taking care of yourself (slouching, lack of proper exercise, etc.)?

    I’ve been to a couple myself, once at the direction of my primary physician after suffering from back problems for most of my life. Seems logical to me that if your spine (or whatever) is out of whack and causing you pain, having someone put it back together correctly is the sane, logical thing to do…

  66. #66 Patricia
    June 10, 2008

    Big pharma and big cosmetics are about to get us herb peddlers out of business shortly, so the whole subject may be pointless. We’re going into organic egg peddling by fall. During the summer we sell produce at the Farmer’s Market. The insurance we have to carry to peddle the herbs is VERY expensive.

  67. #67 Carlie
    June 10, 2008

    Seems scientific to me.

    Just because they know those words doesn’t mean that they understand them. I’d want to see textbooks, syllabi, and sample tests in each subject before declaring them to be scientific. Heck, the ‘anatomy’ class might spend two or three weeks on chi centers, another couple on subluxation effects, etc…

  68. #68 Marcus Ranum
    June 10, 2008

    The sad fact is that a lot of people turn to this woo because they cannot afford real medical treatment due to lack of insurance or bad insurance coverage.

    Um, no. It’s often just as expensive or more so. Not always, but often enough to make my head explode.

    Saw an article in the NYT a couple months ago about an accupuncture alternative to botox. The victim, urr, patient complained that botox was scary and expensive, and had replaced their $2,000 botox treatment with a monthly $200 accupuncturist visit.

    The stupid: it burns.

  69. #69 Nick Gotts
    June 10, 2008

    Fedaykin@65. If anyone actually manages to move your vertebrae, you’re likely to be in serious trouble – possibly paralysed or even dead. And in fact, chiropractors sometimes do cause death or serious injury. See http://quackfiles.blogspot.com/2006/12/chiropractic-index-to-all-entries-here.html

  70. #70 Tulse
    June 10, 2008

    The insurance we have to carry to peddle the herbs is VERY expensive.

    No offense, Patricia, but surely if herbs actually work, actually have a biological effect on the body, then they should be treated just like pharmaceuticals, and those who produce them should bear the same liability as drug manufacturers.

  71. #71 Brenda
    June 10, 2008

    The Mayo Clinic has no problem with complementary medicine.

    Get over yourselves.

  72. #72 Djur
    June 10, 2008

    Grind up the leaf, soak it ether to extract alkaloid, salt out with HCl, and wah Lah: Cocaine, a vicious and evil drug.

    Or: cocaine, the first effective local anesthetic and necessary precondition to modern surgery. The fact that people abuse opiates doesn’t make morphine “vicious and evil,” does it?

  73. #73 Bureaucratus Minimis
    June 10, 2008

    Fedyakin,

    Quackwatch has some good info, if you have the time and inclination to wade through it all, but they are pretty uniformly anti-chiropractic (suspected of being a mouthpiece for the AMA).

    There are basically two schools of thought within chiropractic: “we fix backs” vs “subluxations are the root cause of all your medical problems.”

    The back fixers are generally OK, kind of like physical therapists.

    The subluxations people are the woo-woos. Avoid at all costs.

    And yes, there are bad outcomes with chiropractic treatment, just as there are with surgery and drugs.

  74. #74 Blake Stacey
    June 10, 2008

    The Mayo Clinic has no problem with complementary medicine.

    The fact that woo has infiltrated academic medicine does not mean that woo works. All the endorsements in the world can’t give water a homeopathic memory or magic an energy field into being for Therapeutic Touch hucksters to manipulate. Rather than saying anything about radical new principles of paranormal phenomena, these failures of integrity indicate that patients are willing to pay for bunkum, and somebody is always willing to sell them what they want.

  75. #75 Lycosid
    June 10, 2008

    Schmeer (#58),

    Of course Hitler doesn’t make sense in Judaism. He invalidated all their theology in under a decade.

  76. #76 MikeM
    June 10, 2008

    Strangely, though, when I was a university student, it seemed like most of the “alternative medicine” advocates were politically liberal. Maybe that’s changed since 1984, but I’m not convinced at all that it has.

    Even Bill Maher is on the anti-vaccine wagon:

    http://skeptico.blogs.com/skeptico/2005/12/drinking_the_an.html

  77. #77 Sastra
    June 10, 2008

    “Naturopathy” — like all forms of So-Called Alternative Medicine (SCAM) — is a mixed grab-bag of the reasonable with the unreasonable. The reasonable parts — such as nutrition, exercise, or herbs which have successfully undergone scientific testing — are already included in mainstream medicine, of course, so they act only as camouflage for the larger, unique part, which is dubious pseudoscience.

    You can read up on it at

    http://www.naturowatch.org/

    As for chiropractry, one form has morphed itself into more or less standard physical therapy for the back. But, like naturopathy, the general area is grounded in a pre- and anti-scientific vitalism. All disease and illness is presumably caused by “subluxations” which inhibit the flow of life energy. Only straight chiropracters know this remarkable truth. All the other scientists are in a conspiracy to suppress it, since it would make people well, confirm the spiritual component, and thus confound and bruise the fragile egos of materialist intellectuals, who hate people.

    Alternative Medicine and Creationism both share the same paranoid conspiracy mindset — there are Important Science Truths that scientists want to suppress, or ignore. It takes brave, open-minded ordinary folks to figure things out. You don’t need none of that fancy book larnin’ neither. Science is really just looking at something yourself, and seeing if it works or makes sense.

    God — or Nature — is on your side, and science has the Bad Guys.

  78. #78 Ryan F Stello
    June 10, 2008

    Brenda (#71) whined,

    Get over yourselves.

    Hypothetically, if I called you a snobby, near-sighted boob, would you call me sexist….hypothetically?

    Otherwise, take Blake Stacey’s description (#74) to heart, please, because you have a huge soft spot for officiality in your arguments.

  79. #79 Cubist@ao.com
    June 10, 2008

    The late John W. Campbell Jr. once wrote an editorial in which he proposed a rather interesting idea: Licensed quacks. Rather than suppress those people who want to treat patients with acupuncture, or homeopathic water, or funny noises, or whatever other weird-ass ‘methodology’, let them pony up a nominal fee to the State and do whatever they please. A licensed quack, in Campbell’s proposal, would be completely immune from any and all malpractice liability. In return for this benefit, a licensed quack would have to (a) make it glaringly, obviously clear in all their advertising and publicity that they are not providing anything within spitting distance of conventional medicine (no fair pretending to be a real doctor!), (b) keep scientifically useful records on all their patients, and (c) make all of their records publicly available for real scientists and doctors to have a look at.
    Basically, Campbell figured that as long as there are people who prefer quackery to real medicine, why not make use of them to get some hard data that really does distinguish honest-to-God quackery from effective treatments that just haven’t yet been tested/proven by mainstream medicine?

    To the person who asked why chiropractors attract so much venom: There is a certain subset of the chiropractic ‘fraternity’ which pushes their form of treatment as a cure for pretty much every illness you might possibly come down with. Those chiropractors who act with a full understanding of their discipline’s limitations are basically ‘collateral damage’ of the disgust which their ‘subluxated snake-oil salesmen’ brethern have so rightly earned.

  80. #80 JohnnieCanuck, FCD
    June 10, 2008

    Fedaykin@65

    Think about it. Vertebrae don’t get dislocated, not without very dramatic effects. They aren’t popping bones back into sockets.

    What damage there is to bones, like arthritis or osteoporosis, you wouldn’t expect manipulation to improve.

    If they can imagine they are able to detect ‘subluxations’ in their whole body x-rays (!), they can imagine that they can fix them.

    Benefits from going to a chiropractor?
    Lots of sympathetic attention. It’s the main advantage they have over a typical doctor. Also, they often have equivalent skills to a massage therapist. If you end up being convinced to maintain better posture and exercise appropriately, that might be the best thing they do for you.

    Dangers? They may overlook a real problem while pushing their woo, which is not limited to chiropractics. They often carry other delusions, like homeopathy. And maybe you’ll get a stroke from damage to your vertebral artery.

  81. #81 Lurky
    June 10, 2008

    So-Called Alternative Medicine (SCAM)

    Brilliant!

  82. #82 Patricia
    June 10, 2008

    Tulse – No offense taken. :) I agree that we should have to carry insurance to peddle herbs, I’m just like everyone else though, I love to bitch about the price. Most of our customers are what used to be called hippies.

  83. #83 Mike Spear
    June 10, 2008

    RE: Simon, #59

    I live in Oregon where naturopathy and homeopathy are all over the place. It’s seen as cool and part of being an Oregonian to be into these subjects. Here’s a quote from the Chinese Medical school which is a part of Oregon’s Natural College of Natural Medicine: “Cultivate respect for Oriental medicine as an independent science that has its own parameters and does not require validation by other scientific systems.” http://www.ncnm.edu/admissions-home/chinese-medicine-program.php

    If you pull up their academic criteria required for their doctoral ND program you see that A&P is not even a required course, it’s suggested. The courses that are required are one or two levels of BASIC chemistry. I can’t even apply to real med school without a full sequence of upper level chemistry (which may include a full sequence of lower) organic chemistry, biochemistry, let alone a full sequence of A&P and Micro, in addition to some private schools requiring a full year of upper level biology in addition to A&P.

    Unless you were currently attending school it would be really difficult to ascertain this kind of info, but this is the kind of ignorance (no offense) homeopathy plays on in order to be seen on equal footing as other physicians. It is nearly identical to the same kind of parasitic leeching found in promoting intelligent design.

  84. #84 Mike Spear
    June 10, 2008

    Err “Natural College of Natural Medicine” is supposed to read National College of Natural Medicine.

    I’m supposed to be studying for REAL finals!

  85. #85 True Bob
    June 10, 2008

    Why couldn’t they use the existing title – shaman?

  86. #86 gex
    June 10, 2008

    “gex: We quite honestly live in a political environment where being an intelligent elite is considered a *bad* thing. Our political discourse indicates that we think national policies should be decided by “regular folk” and not people with exceptional subject matter expertise. Might as well call homeopaths doctors. Hell, how about a homeopath for Surgeon General?

    It’s usually not the “regular folk” that are pushing woo and paying big money to woomeisters, it’s usually upper middle classes that have enough extra cash to spend. If insurance can’t pay for it, then the “regular folk” tend to stay away. If insurance can pay for it, then all bets are off. ”

    I was commenting more on the idea that it is bad to be smart. And (upper) middle class people fall for this too. The idea that all those people who go to school (the MDs, the chemists, etc) to practice and extend modern medicine have no more credibility than a homeopath feels like an extension of this.

  87. #87 windy
    June 10, 2008

    Herbal Medicine is obviously real, Cayenne is good for circulation and certain GI problems (Capstein), and Aloe Vera is awesome for sunburn. People may prefer to access these remedies directly from plants rather than extractions and there are arguments to be made in favor of that.

    Perhaps, but the arguments to be made in favor of not having to chew willow bark for pain relief are more persuasive.

  88. #88 Jeric
    June 10, 2008

    So: ACUPUNCTURE: real or scam?

    And if real, how about how it was original treated in the US?

  89. #89 Ryan F Stello
    June 10, 2008

    Jeric (#88) asked,

    So: ACUPUNCTURE: real or scam?

    I would say real and scam.

    I recall a study that was printed in Skeptic magazine years ago that showed that the TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) version had a pretty poor positive success rate, and in some cases was reported to have caused more pain in individuals.

    On the other side, electrically-stimulated pressure pads placed at motor points had more positive results, albeit nothing dramatic.

    The point is that when you ask if Acupuncture works, you’re not saying what kind, where it used, what it is supposed to alleviate, etc.

    That’s the problem with woo, it’s so nebulous as to avoid solid definition.

    And if real, how about how it was original treated in the US?

    You mean with strong skepticism? Seems reasonable.

  90. #90 Simon
    June 10, 2008

    Mike #83, I’m not offended, I admitted my ignorance about the naturopathic field (I’m a math guy, not a medical student). My issue was simply that what I’ve been told about naturopaths is mostly the reasonable stuff (I’ve met naturopaths that are full-fledge medical doctors), and most of the early comments weren’t really informative. Just because this Sastra (#77)’s comment was quite helpful in how to view it.

    The problems with homeopathy are much easier to spot, in my opinion, since they so obviously violate simple laws of Grade-11 level chemistry.

    Anyway, I have a great, personal interest in finding out more about this since my completely un-scientific and often credulous girlfriend has been sick and suffering for four years and has had bad experience after bad experience (and few useful diagnoses) with medical doctors, has received some harmful and damaging prescriptions, and has been seeing homeopaths and naturopaths with increasing frequency (and her doctors who seem to be losing interest since they can’t figure it out, with less frequency). I’m alarmed, but I’m not going to burst her bubble unless I actually know what I’m talking about.

  91. #91 Nick Gotts
    June 10, 2008

    While sharing the disdain here for SCAM, I would advise that we don’t forget that much of scientific medicine might better be called “megacorporation medicine”. The big pharmaceutical companies are in the business to make big money. This means that treatments you have to go on taking indefinitely are more worth developing than cures, drugs just different enough from those already patented by other firms, or out of patent, are the best bet (and negative results on these drugs may well be suppressed), huge resources go into advertising and schmoozing medics, and commercial secrecy means you can’t in fact find out what is or might be in a lot of medicine. A specific example of the last: when my son was at the age when most vaccines are given, I was worried about BSE – at that time, it was quite plausible that it might kill very large numbers of people in Britain. I knew vaccine manufacture often uses calf serum as a raw material. I tried to find out if it was used in the various injectable vaccines, and for the MMR, the manufacturers would not tell me – so he didn’t have it until last year, not because of the autism stuff, but because I wasn’t prepared to risk BSE. As it turns out, calf serum that could have been contaminated was used in producing about 1/3 of the oral polio vaccine used in the UK at that time – and he did get that vaccination, because I didn’t know about the serum’s use. The injectable polio vaccine I received in the late 1950s may have been contaminated with the virus SV40 (from the monkey kidneys used at that time) – which has a possible link to mesothelioma.

  92. #92 ndt
    June 10, 2008

    Strangely, though, when I was a university student, it seemed like most of the “alternative medicine” advocates were politically liberal.

    I don’t think that’s strange at all. Politically liberal (in the US sense of the word) voters tend to have a better education in US and world history than conservatives, but not so much in the sciences. There is a strong tendency to distrust the establishment. It makes sense to distrust the political establishment that gave us segregation and the Vietnam war, and there are certainly times and places when it’s appropriate to distrust the medical establishment, but many liberals (again using the American definition) extend that to a blind distrust of the “establishment” period. Worse, they don’t always extend that distrust to the political establishment that runs the Democratic party.

  93. #93 Blake Stacey
    June 10, 2008

    Ryan F Stello:

    I recall a study that was printed in Skeptic magazine years ago that showed that the TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) version had a pretty poor positive success rate, and in some cases was reported to have caused more pain in individuals.

    More recently, a study found that sham acupuncture was more effective than real acupuncture.

  94. #94 Dave
    June 10, 2008

    Mike Spear@#83,

    Actually, as I read the requirements for ND degree you linked, I dont see it as very different from some International Medical programs. See for ex (http://www.uag.edu/medicine/med11.htm). 8 hours (thats two classes with a lab) each of Bio, Physics, Organic Chem and Inorganic Chem. No A&P, no Micro, nothing else.

  95. #95 David Marjanovi?, OM
    June 10, 2008

    Court to decide if chimps are people, too

    What is this talk about “Austrian Supreme Court”? There is no such thing. Do they mean the Constitution Court? Or the Administration Court perhaps?

  96. #96 Will TS
    June 10, 2008

    I am also a resident of Oregon, which is thick with naturopaths. They are licensed to prescribe medication and do minor surgery, which sounds terrifying to me. A local television commercial for a small pharmacy boldly claims that the pharmacist is a naturopath that can provide patients with naturopathic substitutes for their prescriptions. Oregon is proud of its naturopaths.

    The most embarrassing thing about Oregon naturopaths is that my niece is one of them. Her mother (my sister) boasts that her daughter went to medical school (NCNM in Portland) and now she’s a doctor. Her specialty is homeopathy. She’s a licensed doctor of homeopathy!

    Oregon (at least the urbanized part of it) has a reputation for being a progressive, multicultural, green culture of free-thinkers. Unfortunately, that means that there are huge number of credulous nutjobs among us.

  97. #97 Eric, Rejector of Memes
    June 10, 2008

    So, acupuncture, which was definitely regarded as total woo, now is not so much.

    http://autoimmunedisease.suite101.com/blog.cfm/acupuncture_today

  98. #98 Ryan F Stello
    June 10, 2008

    More recently, a study found that sham acupuncture was more effective than real acupuncture.

    Aye, I think your point #2….

    “many investigators conflate electroacupuncture which is in reality nothing more than the “conventional” modality of transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation rebranded, with acupuncture itself (unless the ancient Chinese knew how to make electrical nerve stimulation devices, which I highly doubt)”

    …bears repeating in this case.

  99. #99 Lyle G
    June 10, 2008

    I once used a Homeopathic remedy for impotence – seemed to work. Don’t know if it was suggestion, or if there was enough of some ingredient to actually work. Tried a homeopathic remedy for tinnitus, – didn’t work. If the premise of homeopathy were true, consider what the mess of substances in tap water might do.
    Naturopathy is nothing new. The dubious practice has been around for decades.

  100. #100 Steve F
    June 10, 2008

    There has been a general trend in the socio-political centers of medicine (ie the federal government) to reduce the status of MD’s and therefore their effective political (and economic)clout by diluting them into the general pool of “providers” that now seems to include podiatrists, chiropractors, phrenologists, naturopaths, and the soon to be members homocoprologists.
    For all of its faults, allopathic medicine is the best device we have of providing a “scientific” process for healthcare. All of the “alternative providers” of which naturopathy is a prime example are immune to self-imposed scientific scrutiny and feed off of the same primitive human cognitive traits that lead to belief in invisible sky fairies (ie “faith”).

  101. #101 decrepitoldfool
    June 10, 2008

    Fedaykin: “I’ve never understood the general hatred of Chiropractors. What’s “woo” about someone putting your skeleton back together properly after an accident or poorly taking care of yourself (slouching, lack of proper exercise, etc.)?

    I did a website for a chiropractor once, and chiropracty isn’t just for backaches anymore. Just by squinching the bones of your spine around they can cure earaches in children or even in little babies. Treat carpal tunnel disorder. They can prevent serious diseases, ulcers, liver disease, even heart disease. Help pregnant women avoid complications. Everyone should see their chiropractor at least twice a year, just ask ‘em!

    I wish I were making that up, but I’m not. Chiropractors have invented an industrial process for concentrating pure nonsense to black-hole densities. As I developed the website the more I learned the more disgusted I became, but I had agreed to do it. Never. Again.

    Oh yeah, the chiropractor drives a Jaguar, and owns an airplane. Surprise!

    Give me a plain old massage any day. It feels good, helps you relax, but it isn’t realigning any mysterious forces.

    My advice to anyone is see your doctor, get a referral to a good physical therapist, who will teach you the exercises you need to know. And keep moving under your own power; ride a bike, walk, stop riding the elevator.

  102. #102 Bride of Shrek
    June 10, 2008

    At #44

    “The sad fact is that a lot of people turn to this woo because they cannot afford real medical treatment due to lack of insurance or bad insurance coverage”

    That doesn’t explain why in countries such as mine, with free universal healthcare, why people are still dosing the woo in record numbers.

    One of the secretaries at work the other day was holding court in then lunchroom giving her reasons why she didn’t “believe in modern medicine” blah blahing on about the Chinese, ancient systems of healing etc etc. This woman just had a fucking epidural to have her latest baby. Believed in fucking modern medicine alright swhen she was in pain. The kicker is one her her reasons is that its “poison”. She says this as she nips out the back door of the office for her three-an-hour smoke breaks.

  103. #103 Coffeeassured
    June 10, 2008

    Curse you PZ and Minnesota! I did not need to hear something this depressing early the the morning.

  104. #104 MandyDax
    June 10, 2008

    OMFSM. >:(

    They should call them “ducktors.” QUACK! QUACK!!

    You gotta keep a watch on those politicians. I don’t allow them in my house because the cupboards are not childproofed, and I’m afraid they’d drink some drain cleaner or something if I turn my back on them. Oh, wait, that gives me an idea….

  105. #105 CanadianChick
    June 10, 2008

    Nick, there’s a helluva lot more money to be made in “naturopathic preparations” than there is in BigPharma…it’s just made by smaller companies.

    Think about it – they get to provide who-knows-what in a bottle, free from the nasty cost additions of research, therapeutic study, quality-control, and so on. A bit of money for appropriately placed adverts and whammo! you’ve got a burgeoning industry that’s high on revenue and low on costs…

  106. #106 Bob Calder
    June 10, 2008

    PZ
    Now you know how it feels to live in Florida.

  107. #107 Holbach
    June 10, 2008

    Brenda @ 71 Ken Hambone wants you to contact him. I think he has a lucrative job for you at his Demented Museum! Seriously.

  108. #108 davidlpf
    June 10, 2008

    quacks to right of him
    quacks to left of him

  109. #109 Screechy Monkey
    June 10, 2008

    there’s a helluva lot more money to be made in “naturopathic preparations” than there is in BigPharma…it’s just made by smaller companies.

    It’s amusing to me how “alternative medicine” somehow gets an exemption from the general distrust of profit-motivated businesses.

  110. #110 Kel
    June 10, 2008

    What is amazing is how many people who have a distrust of pharmaceutical companies go to lengths to defend complementary and alternative medicine (CAMs) despite the evidence for it being anecdotal at best.

    I’m all for bashing the corruption of large corporations and yes there are many problems with pharmaceutical companies and the drugs they produce. Yet because we hear of the negative effects of drugs thanks to the self-correcting process of peer review and we don’t hear of the negative effects of CAM, some people take that as evidence that CAMs are safer than modern medicine. Aside from homoeopathy (water), there could be plenty of side effects from drugs and treatments that we just don’t know of, not to mention that some have no medicinal value and others could be detrimental to our health. This is were solid peer-reviewed research is so important.

    People who back alternative medicine cite hundreds of peer reviewed articles, yet never produce a single one when it comes to the crunch. There’s peer-reviewed literature for creationism too (just ask conservapedia) so it’s important to establish which magazines and what elements made it a controlled study. Saying there’s peer reviewed evidence for CAM is like saying there is evidence for creationism; a baseless assertions that sound good which come from an attempt to stem the criticism of an unfavourable view.

    (a review of a book that actually examines the peer-review literature on CAM)
    http://www.skeptic.com/eskeptic/08-03-19.html

  111. #111 Skwee
    June 10, 2008

    It’s amusing to me how “alternative medicine” somehow gets an exemption from the general distrust of profit-motivated businesses.

    Slightly OT, but I’ve seen two forms of this:

    Lazziez-Faire Republican: “Open markets are free & innovative! All innovation in anything ever was from the market! Those damn socialist hippies are so anti-innovation that they use ‘medicine’ that was disproved 300 years ago!”

    SCAMmer: “My remedies are healthy & natural. ‘Big Pharma’ is so close-minded they can’t see how well [insert woo here] works! They only care about making money by keeping people sick, but we SCAMmers truly care about our cust- er, patients.”

    I truly believe that if one of those individuals saw a person who supported neither economic libertarianism nor woo, their heads would asplode.

  112. #112 mister slim
    June 10, 2008

    I’ve been reading Charlatan, which is about James Brinkley. He claimed that surgically implanting goat testicles or ovaries into the human equivalent would restore vitality. He made a lot of money doing it and also helped pioneer modern advertising.

  113. #113 Ubiquitous Che
    June 10, 2008

    What they’re trying to do is become the gatekeeper for natural health, so nobody else can practice,” said Greg Schmidt, who runs the Minnesota Natural Health Legal Reform Project, which led a pitched battle to sink the law.

    That’s a trifle bizzare. Sounds like the little woo-woo peddlers are ganging up against the big woo-woo peddlers getting to call themselves doctors. Strange bedfellows, eh?

    I really have to wonder about people falling for this stuff. It all comes down to the same basic concept: “Keep the patient amused while nature cures itself.”

    I remember a Penn & Teller episode where they were interviewing someone about the use of herbs. They were told that “To get the most out of herbs, you’ve really got to believe in it strongly.”

    Penn countered: “You hardly ever hear that about penicillin.”

  114. #114 Nick Gotts
    June 10, 2008

    CanadianChick@105. I’d want to see some actual figures before believing that – do you have any?

  115. #115 Sastra
    June 10, 2008

    Mike Spear #83 wrote:
    <

    Here’s a quote from the Chinese Medical school which is a part of Oregon’s (National) College of Natural Medicine: “Cultivate respect for Oriental medicine as an independent science that has its own parameters and does not require validation by other scientific systems.”

    Wow, that quote’s a winner. Science unifies our knowledge — but people don’t really want to come together in understanding if it means they lose their distinctive “specialness”: their nationality, their religion, or just being an individual different than any other individual. No, they want their OWN science — their own individual science — based on personal experience and trust for the authorities they trust. They want to use their own parameters — which consist of those methods which reinforce their preset conclusions.

    And they want their “science” — like their “specialness” — to be “respected.”

    In this case, with Oriental medicine, they’re appealing to multiculturalism. Imposing “Western” science standards on Eastern people is just like cultural imperialism — so don’t be a bigot. With creationism and Intelligent Design, they’re appealing to the social status and indulgence we give to faith. Evolutionists are “bullies.” They don’t respect people’s right to believe what they want.

    I’m reminded of the movie they show at the Creation Museum, where the creation ‘scientist’ keeps harping on the fact that different folks can look at the same evidence and come to different conclusions, because they start out in different places. But it’s all equally science, whether you conclude the earth is 4.5 billion years old, or only a few thousand. We’re all special, and do things our own way, using our own parameters.

    “Cultivate respect for the Christian religion as an independent science that has its own parameters and does not require validation by other scientific systems.”

    SCAM pisses me off even more than creationism, because it’s successfully sliding in to academia and mainstream acceptability by using the anti-science science of “respect for specialness.”

  116. #116 Mike Spear
    June 10, 2008

    RE: Simon #90

    http://www.amazon.com/Snake-Oil-Science-Complementary-Alternative/dp/0195313682

    I highly recommend the above book “Snake Oil Science”, which covers not only the hypocrisy of so many “integrative medicinal studies”, but as to why people are turning to alternative/integrative medicine in general.

    The author is also quick to point out that various alternative treatments may very well fulfill their intended function, but the key difference here is in how they are doing it. The naturopath would like you to believe that it’s because of water memory, chi, or any other number of ridiculous claims that aren’t able to back themselves up with reasonable evidence. The scientists however are arguing that it’s largely due to the placebo effect and self-fulfilling prophecies.

    It’s unfortunate that the homeopaths are arguing otherwise, because it not only knocks western medicine, but it pulls funding away from legitimate research on the well documented phenomenon of the placebo effect.

  117. #117 Mike Spear
    June 10, 2008

    RE: Dave #94 – “Actually, as I read the requirements for ND degree you linked, I dont see it as very different from some International Medical programs. See for ex (http://www.uag.edu/medicine/med11.htm). 8 hours (thats two classes with a lab) each of Bio, Physics, Organic Chem and Inorganic Chem. No A&P, no Micro, nothing else.”

    I’m not really sure where to start. You listed the requirements for the MD program in the “universidad autonoma de guadalajara”. The pre-reqs are extremely short as you pointed out, but it doesn’t appear to be an accredited US affiliated school.

    Here are the pre-req’s for the MD program from a United States based university in Oregon:

    http://www.pdx.edu/media/m/e/Medicine.pdf

    You’ll notice that both biology and chemistry are required in spades. In addition, this campus also lists the schools that these pre-req’s satisfy the requirements for:

    http://www.pdx.edu/clas/premed.html

    It has absolutely nothing in common with either going out of the country, or attending a naturopathic school.

  118. #118 Hermano
    June 10, 2008

    Naturopathic medical students take a full year of gross anatomy and full year of physiology during the first year of school.

  119. #119 Auutmn
    June 11, 2008

    Hermano,
    My wife took two years of both to be allowed to be a tech in an ER, ranking somewhere between the janitors and the cafeteria staff.
    She’ll be taking much more than that when she starts the nursing program, two more years for the simplest certification.
    Now, I respect the hell out of nurses, but even with their extensive training, I’ve never seen any parading around pretending that they have gone to Med School and demanding to be called doctors.
    Naturopathic students (note the dropping of the “medical” modifier) fail utterly to impress me as anything other than whiny children who could never cut it in a real medical program, but who still cry “I wanna be a Doctor! I wanna, I wanna, I wanna…”.

  120. #120 Sastra
    June 11, 2008

    Hermano #118 wrote:

    Naturopathic medical students take a full year of gross anatomy and full year of physiology during the first year of school.

    Is that when they learn about the chi energy life force which keeps the body balanced and helps it to “heal itself?”

  121. #121 NickG
    June 11, 2008

    Mike Spear @ 117 “It has absolutely nothing in common with either going out of the country, or attending a naturopathic school.”

    Just to clarify, those are two entirely different concepts. When US students go out of the US to attend medical school, it is often because they didn’t get into a US school. That doesn’t necessarily mean they are bad physicians. When I was a chief resident, one of our interns was a graduate of a Caribbean medical school. He was voluntarily repeating his intern year because he desperately wanted into our pretty competitive program and he could only get an internal med spot out of med school. He was a star and was offered the intern spot then next year.

    The same guy is an assistant professor at a really good residency program now, and he scored 4 points (on a 45 scale) higher than I did on the MCAT. But I was applying in-state to UNC while he was an Asian male applying to schools in California. So not everyone who gets into a US medical school is a good doctor, and failing to get into a US medical school doesn’t preclude one from being a good doctor.

    Oddly enough, the man who was then and is now the chairman of the department of Emergency Medicine at my residency (Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn), who is also the current Chief Medical Officer of University Hospitals Brooklyn (SUNY-Downstate), and who is one of the most clinically competent and academically rigorous physicians I know… is also a graduate of a Caribbean medical school.

  122. #122 Lyle G
    June 11, 2008

    When homeopathic medicine was first introduced, Giving patents water or sugar pills was often preferable to dosing them with the sometimes toxic medications popular in the 19th century.

  123. #123 DLC
    June 11, 2008

    Briefly:
    Homeopathy = utter and complete BS.
    Quite literally, there’s Nothing To It.
    Acupuncture = Likewise, utter and complete BS.
    The practitioners of acupuncture do not, repeat NOT, stick pins into nerves. the pins typically barely penetrate the epidermis. What they do is “stimulate points affecting the chi”. Okay, for the gullible out there — Chi (or Qui, or Xui) does not exist. Look it up sometime and see if you think poking someone in the foot with a needle is going to have any effect on their liver function.
    as for “naturopathy” and college coursework — it’s not what introductory lectures you sit through, but what you do with the information thereafter. Herbal substances — okay, if the stuff works, put it through clinical trials and prove it. Many useful drugs have come from studies of plants, but they have been tested and proven to have beneficial effects.

  124. #124 Kel
    June 11, 2008

    Yes, placebos have their place in modern medicine. It’s the metholodology of CAM where it doesn’t distinguish between the placebo effect and the touted healing powers that causes problems. They may be harmless enough for treating minor ailments, but people built up trust and faith in the procedures so when they get really sick using homoeopathy seems good because it did as was expected before.

    So sure it’s harmless and in some cases beneficial for trivial matters, but the dishonesty that presents itself can cause problems when symptoms become more serious.

  125. #125 Mike Spear
    June 11, 2008

    RE: NickG #121

    I appreciate your example of a respected physician who graduated from a Caribbean medical school whom you personally know. I know my post wasn’t very clear as it was quite short, but I didn’t intend to come off as suggesting that the only good doctors are US trained physicians. I’ve no doubt there are many well trained physicians that come from outside the US, but the original poster I was replying to drew a link between classes required for accredited naturopathy schools being similar to those required for traditional western schools of medicine, and he subsequently provided me with a link to an overseas school.

    It should also go without saying that I have no idea what the pre-reqs are for the Caribbean based school of medicine. If they were at all similar to the schools I listed, this would be a very moot argument indeed.

    Incidentally I work at OHSU which happens to the single most diverse environment I’ve ever seen, and I can’t imagine with that many people on staff from so many other countries, that they all took their classes in the US. Although a recent internal e-mail did list OHSU as either right at, or slightly below, the average in terms of patient satisfaction rates. Who knew that making a business out of a hospital wasn’t the best way to ease the suffering of others?

  126. #126 Lassi Hippeläinen
    June 11, 2008

    Now that we are in the embarrasment business: biology is just chemistry applied on cephalopods.
    http://xkcd.com/435/

  127. #127 Tom K.
    June 11, 2008

    Hermano #118 wrote:

    Naturopathic medical students take a full year of gross anatomy […] during the first year of school.

    What’s gross anatomy? Does it cover only the naughty bits?

  128. #128 j
    June 11, 2008

    I looked up what this trade pretends to be. The theory is simple. The cerebral cortex of the brain is divided into two parts, the left hemisphere and right hemisphere. Most people primarily use the left hemisphere, while the right hemisphere, which is believed to be the center of creative thought, is not used to its fullest capacity. This imbalance of use results in little communication between the left and right hemispheres of the brain. If the hemispheres of the brain are utilized separately, they may cope with experiences, especially stressful ones, differently. An internal conflict may be created by different interpretations of the left and right brain hemispheres, potentially resulting in increased anxiety in response to a stressful situation. Without proper communication between the two hemispheres, the conflict may never be resolved and the issue or trauma may become deeply suppressed. If the communications between the left and right sides of the brain are improved, the individual will be able to cope with stressful situations with less internal conflict. Essentially, the brain will function more efficiently and creatively.

    They are perfecting evolution. I think it is better licence them than to drive them underground.

  129. #129 Joe
    June 11, 2008

    Formally recognition of NDs is, literally, a license to kill. That is because the inmates (other NDs) are running the asylum (licensing and regulation). There is a (sadly) infamous example of a licensed ND in Hawaii killing his wife with herbs when she had a perfectly curable disease. He was not even reprimanded by the board.

    The license protects the quack, and and gives a false air of legitimacy to the quackery.

    http://www.naturowatch.org

  130. #130 Joe
    June 11, 2008

    Of course, #129 should be “Formal recognition …”

  131. #131 Muffin
    June 11, 2008

    Regarding the earlier comments about chimpanzees… why not just kill two birds with one stone and allow chimps to practice alternative medicine and call themselves “doctors”? We’ve all seen Homer watch “Monkey Trauma Center” on the Simpsons (well, I have, anyway) – this way, we could finally get the real deal! :D

  132. #132 Nick Gotts
    June 11, 2008

    Muffin@131. Actually, chimpanzees are already practicing herbal medicine – without any form of licencing or insurance!
    See for example: http://jinrui.zool.kyoto-u.ac.jp/CHIMPP/CHIMPP.html

  133. #133 JeffreyD
    June 11, 2008

    If you are not aware of it, magician and fraud exposer James Randi frequently addresses woo-woo medicine on his very entertaining site – http://www.randi.org

    Worth a look.

    Bye

  134. #134 GunOfSod
    June 11, 2008

    After many years of dealing with a variety of medical professionals and sampling various cocktails of prescription medication, lotions, potions, ointments and pills, I am convinced that all medications can be replaced by three ingredients. Salt(NaCl), Hydrogen Peroxide(H2O2) and Tonic water(TnH2O) combined with a steadfast refusal to not go anywhere near a hospital.

    I’ll stick with this until I need antibiotics OK.

  135. #135 JeffreyD
    June 11, 2008

    Further to my #133, the site http://whatstheharm.net/ is also worth a look when talking about SCAM.

  136. #136 Jeff Friesen
    June 11, 2008

    Holy crap but what a bunch of reactive non-sense. And you people call yourself scientists?

    Here’s a thought. What if you were to actually research and investigate something before you call it crap. Or is that too easy for you naysayers. Maybe you are right, maybe it is easier to just call anything YOU don’t understand stupid or strange or without reason. I rear many of you are the same type of ‘academics’ who threw Galileo in jail.

    OF course I understand your confusion and I am not calling ND’s Galileos, but they are doctors. To apply they have to have an undergrad degree and the required science courses. They then attend a 4 year residential medical school complete with clinical training including minor surgery, pharmacology, nutrition etc. That is 8 years of academics.They are trained and qualified to be primary care providers.

    To the Ph.D’s posting on here about being pissed off and how hard they worked, how does their training in any way take away from your accomplishment? All of the medical boards approved of this law. All of them. This was not the legislature making shit up.

    But I can understand your confusion because one of the main benefits of this law is title protection. It is needed because there having been no regulation in Minnesota Diploma Mills have stepped through that loophole and sold a “degree” with the same name.

    If you think you have a right to be pissed off imagine how the ND’s feel. There ARE hedge doctors out there masquerading as ND’s. Imagine how you would feel if someone could just go online and ‘purchase’ the same degree you had worked YOUR ass off to EARN. That is the place the ND’s found themselves and the reason for this law.

    So ease up on the ND are realize that your ignorance of a subject does not excuse your rude behavior. Your mother would be ashamed. Snort. [smile]

  137. #137 Dennis N
    June 11, 2008

    Um, we’re not the Catholic Church, aka the people who actually did mess with Galileo. And no one here has said they dislike naturopaths because it disagrees with our interpretation of Biblical scripture, so what are you talking about?

  138. #138 GunOfSod
    June 11, 2008

    #136 Jeff, Excactly how many times would you like scientists to investigate Homeopathic, Naturopathic remedies before you’re satisfied that tap water merchants should be granted the same status as MD’s?

  139. #139 Joe
    June 11, 2008

    @Jeff Friesen #136 wrote “Here’s a thought. What if you were to actually research and investigate something before you call it crap.”

    Many of us have studied what naturopaths do. I will link it again: http://www.naturowatch.org Go there and read about it and you will see why NDs are Not Doctors.

    You have fallen into the ND trap that they have 8 years of education. Counting the same way, an MD/DO requires at least 12 years before they get a license.

    And what do NDs study? They learn “conversational medicine” in the courses that sound medical; that is, they learn words that make them appear to be health professionals. Then, they study lots of irrational, disproven methods of diagnosis (iridology, applied kinesiology, etc.) and treatment (homeopathy, acupuncture, etc.).

    If there is a central idea to naturopathy, it is “detoxification;” that is, removal of imaginary toxins they think accumulate in the body. The notion that we need regular laxatives and enemas was common in medicine until 80 years ago, when advances in anatomy and physiology showed it to be nonsense.

    So, Jeff, instead of accusing us of ignorance- ask questions and/or educate yourself. I believe this is the fourth time the URL for naturowatch has been posted, you have certainly had ample opportunity to get the info.

  140. #140 phantomreader42
    June 11, 2008

    Jeff Friesen @ #136:

    Here’s a thought. What if you were to actually research and investigate something before you call it crap. Or is that too easy for you naysayers.

    Here’s a thought, how about you provide the slightest speck of evidence that your crap actually works? Or does that sound like too much work?

    Scientists aren’t stopping medical quackery from being investigated. It’s the quacks who don’t want to have to subject their methods to the slightest scrutiny. It’s the quacks who refuse to admit they’re wrong even when the evidence clearly shows it. Like those studies that show patients receiving sham accupuncture actually did better than those who got “real” accupuncture.

    If you had evidence that this crap actually works, you would have provided it. You didn’t. Therefore, you clearly don’t have any evidence. You’re not at all interested in the facts, are you?

    Jeff the monumentally ignorant:

    I rear many of you are the same type of ‘academics’ who threw Galileo in jail.

    “Academics” did not throw Galileo in jail. Religious fanatics did. And they did it because they couldn’t stand the fact that he had evidence that proved them wrong. Do you, by any chance, have the slightest speck of evidence? No, you don’t, we’ve already established that.

    And the fact that you got that so monumentally wrong just further shows that you have no interest in the facts.

    Jeff backpedaling:

    OF course I understand your confusion and I am not calling ND’s Galileos

    Good. Because if you were, you would be an idiot. Though your other statements strongly suggest you’re an idiot even without this.

    Jeff babbling:

    but they are doctors. To apply they have to have an undergrad degree and the required science courses. They then attend a 4 year residential medical school complete with clinical training including minor surgery, pharmacology, nutrition etc. That is 8 years of academics.They are trained and qualified to be primary care providers.

    So, are you saying they provide medical care that actually works? Do you have the slightest speck of evidence to support this claim? No, you don’t, we’ve already established that.

    The bottom line is, does the treatment work? Does it actually help the patient? Does it provide the claimed benefits?

    If it worked, there would be some evidence of it working. No such evidence has ever been found.

    If the quacks had the slightest interest in finding evidence that their crap worked, they would have done so by now. So far, nothing, just negative results or badly-designed studies.

    Why should anyone look for medical advice from a “doctor” who hasn’t got the slightest speck of evidence that his “medicine” actually does anything?

    Hey, I’m a doctor, I recommend you slap yourself with a sea bass and drink a gallon of hemlock tea! Think that’s a good idea?

  141. #141 Jeff Friesen
    June 11, 2008

    Well I can’t say I didn’t expect ad hominem attacks when I posted. So on that account I am gratified.

    And I will not justify the treatments because I am not an ND and do not practice medicine, but I will say that several of you are mixing up what ND’s do and what other hedge doctors do. One of you accuses me of babbling and keeps asking me to prove therapeutic efficacy. I don’t need to. The law was not about efficacy [and as long as we are on unrelated subjects please provide me with one double blind study that proves the efficacy of oncological agents – let me save you some time – there are none that are not based on comparisons only to other oncological agents – the standards of proof in allopathy are not absolute – thus the term “practice” of medicine] but about protecting an earned title and establishing a reasonable scope of practice. Obfuscate all you want, but that is what is being discussed with HF1724 in Minnesota.

    I would like to point out that the religious fanatics of Galileo’s time WERE the ‘scientists’ of the age. My point was about academic orthodoxy. I guess you missed that and I guess I didn’t make my point clear enough. Sorry about that.

    The one thing I have time to respond to here is to ask you to check out quackpotwatch which researches the efficacy, if you will, of quackwatch and it’s other incarnations such as naturowatch. Ask yourself where the ‘doctor’ who runs that organization gets the money to be running legal defenses in the average of 20 states at a time. Those things cost money that he has no visible means of support for. Who pays for his bandwidth? I am not suggesting a conspiracy but it wouldn’t be the first time that a front organization was funded by a corporation [global warming deniers and Exxon anyone?] to sway public opinion.

    As for the detoxification “myth” why don’t you crack open your PDR and look up toxemia? As I said, research. I guess very few of you have watched Bambi.

    Ask yourself why you are so upset about this?

  142. #142 Ray C.
    June 11, 2008

    “I would like to point out that the religious fanatics of Galileo’s time WERE the ‘scientists’ of the age.”

    To claim the mantle of Galileo it is not enough to be persecuted by the “establishment”. You also have to be right.

    Now begone, foul troll.

  143. #143 Kseniya
    June 11, 2008

    Jeff Friesen,

    …thus the term “practice” …

    You can’t be serious. Or was that a joke?

    Ask yourself why you are so upset about this?

    A fair question. Hasn’t it been answered?

    Let me ask one in return:

    If homeopathic approaches and remedies are so effective, why haven’t they been coopted by Big Medicine and Big Pharmaceuticals? Competition is fierce in the world of “allopathy” (a red flag term, there) — so what possible motivation could sway companies like Pfizer and Lilly, which spend billions of dollars each year on research and development, not just to ignore but to suppress, rather than explore, avenues of research that could give them a significant advantage in the marketplace?

  144. #144 Nick Gotts
    June 11, 2008

    the standards of proof in allopathy are not absolute – Jeff Friesen

    It seems our troll is a homeopath. AFAIK, no-one else calls real medicine allopathy.

  145. #145 Lilly de Lure
    June 11, 2008

    Kseniya said:

    If homeopathic approaches and remedies are so effective, why haven’t they been coopted by Big Medicine and Big Pharmaceuticals?

    I think the standard woo answer to that is that woo remedies are either unpatentable or so cheap to produce that they would erode Big Pharma profits (how Big Herbal is raking in so much cash is not explained). Thus evil Big Pharma prevent woo being tested where possible and cover up positive results where not.

    However even if we accept this reasoning I’ve always wondered where this leaves the insurance companies. You’d think that if woo treatments showed the slightest symptom of being more effective and cheaper than conventional medicine they’d be queuing up to fund studies of treatments that would save them millions in pay outs every year, but so far, no dice.

    So why are the Insurance companies not interested in blowing the lid of a conspiracy that costs them millions a year? Inquiring minds want to know!

  146. #146 phantomreader42
    June 11, 2008

    Jeff the whiner @ #141:

    Well I can’t say I didn’t expect ad hominem attacks when I posted. So on that account I am gratified.

    Persecution complex much?

    And you obviously don’t know what “ad hominem” means. Saying “Jeff’s an idiot” instead of addressing the argument would be an ad hominem. What we’re actually doing is showing what’s wrong with your argument and saying you’re an idiot in addition to that. Though you’ve made it clear you’re not smart enough to understand the distintion, nor to notice the ad hominems you yourself have made, while complaining about nonexistent ad hominems from others.

    Jeff babbling:

    And I will not justify the treatments because I am not an ND and do not practice medicine, but I will say that several of you are mixing up what ND’s do and what other hedge doctors do.

    If this is the case, explain how. Explain what it is “ND’s” do and how it differs from other “hedge doctors”. If there is in fact any reason to take “ND’s” seriously, if there is any reason to consider them as anything other than quacks, then you should be able to articulate such a reason. The fact that you haven’t even tried to do so is telling.

    Jeff babbling again:

    One of you accuses me of babbling and keeps asking me to prove therapeutic efficacy. I don’t need to.

    You do if you expect your quackery to be taken seriously as a medical therapy by people who know what they’re talking about. But then, quacks are usually much more interested in ripping off the gullible. They avoid facts and evidence like the plague.

    Jeff the liar:

    I would like to point out that the religious fanatics of Galileo’s time WERE the ‘scientists’ of the age.

    No, they were not. Scientists do not murder people for presenting inconvenient evidence. The people who imprisoned Galileo were not practicing science.

    Jeff the pointless:

    My point was about academic orthodoxy. I guess you missed that and I guess I didn’t make my point clear enough. Sorry about that.

    Your “point” was incoherent and dishonest. THAT is what you should be apologizing for.

    Jeff too busy lying:

    The one thing I have time to respond to here

    So, you don’t have time to present the slightest shred of evidence in support of your claims. You don’t have time to respond to reasonable questions. You don’t have time to clarify your arguments, or even proofread your posts. But you somehow find the time to spam the same garbage to multiple blogs. You somehow find the time to whine about how mean people are being to you. You somehow find the time to question the motives of the naturowatch site at length, without a speck of evidence.

    I call bullshit. It’s not a lack of time that prevents you from engaging in an honest discussion, it’s a lack of honesty.

    Jeff the conspiracy theorist:

    is to ask you to check out quackpotwatch which researches the efficacy, if you will, of quackwatch and it’s other incarnations such as naturowatch. Ask yourself where the ‘doctor’ who runs that organization gets the money to be running legal defenses in the average of 20 states at a time. Those things cost money that he has no visible means of support for. Who pays for his bandwidth? I am not suggesting a conspiracy but it wouldn’t be the first time that a front organization was funded by a corporation [global warming deniers and Exxon anyone?] to sway public opinion.

    Ah, the classic pharma shill gambit!

    So, it looks like you’re saying that quackwatch, naturowatch, and related sites are not to be trusted because of the supposed source of funding. Of course, you don’t have the slightest speck of evidence where this funding actually comes from. Nor do you even try to address the claims actually made on the sites. You just try to poison the well with unsupported speculation on funding. In a grand irony, this attack on imagined bias instead of addressing the arguments actually made by naturowatch is in fact a form of ad hominem, which you were complaining about earlier, without actually knowing what it meant. Just yet more proof you don’t know what you’re talking about.

    And while you claim not to be suggesting a conspiracy, here’s the very first thing you see on the site you recommended (emphasis mine)

    This website, the official archive of Tim Bolen’s “Millions of Health Freedom Fighters – Newsletter” is about the conspiracy, by a group calling itself the “quackbusters,” to suppress leading-edge health care in North America. No studies have ever been done to determine the level of suffering, and death, inflicted on Americans because of the activities of these conspirators…yet. So, let’s begin…

    Oh, but they’re not suggesting a conspiracy! They’re just lying. Just like you, Jeff.

    As for Exxon, there is actual evidence showing that Exxon funded global warming denialists. You, on the other hand, have no evidence whatsoever. You reject the very concept.

    Jeff, Lord of Nonsequitors:

    As for the detoxification “myth” why don’t you crack open your PDR and look up toxemia? As I said, research. I guess very few of you have watched Bambi.

    And if you think you can get away with lying so much, you’ve obviously never seen Pinocchio.

  147. #147 jeff friesen
    June 11, 2008

    Wow. Oh wow.

    Phantom. You claim that I don’t understand what ad hominem means because you “CLEARLY don’t use those”, and then you post a long and winding homily with such personal attacks like, “Jeff the Liar,” “Jeff the Whiner,” Jeff, Lord of Nonsequitors,” “Jeff the pointless,” etc..

    What precisely do you call these if not personal attacks.

    Physician, go fuck yourself.

  148. #148 Rev. BigDumbCHimp
    June 11, 2008

    Um jeff friesen, you actually need to look up what ad hominem is. You have provided great examples of Ad hominem circumstantial and Association fallacy.

    Also, phantomreader 42 has answered your assertions, provided reasons they are full of shit, and also provided reason and examples of why certain adjectives are useful in describing you. Granted some were colorful, but all were supported.

  149. #149 heretic
    June 11, 2008

    You folks are pretty uninformed for scientists, and even more disturbing, are the pronouncements you are making without having done any research on the subject you are attacking.

    First, the number of hours of training in basic and clinical sciences, lab testing, x-ray, etc. is equivalent to that an MD receives at most med schools. The textbooks used are the same ones used in med school. Students go through supervised internships over the last two years of their four-year program. While their clinical training is much less than for MDs, the methods they use don’t have the same inherent risks. The programs are accredited by an agency that is approved by the federal DOE. Schools are reaccredited every five years. That’s the good part.

    The bad part is that this fairly rigorous scientific foundation is used to justify a wide range of treatment methods, many of which are bogus (such as homeopathy, hydrotherapy, flower essences, colonics, and the like). However, in the mix are also a range of effective herbal and nutritional therapies, for which there is sound scientific evidence suggesting efficacy, though in most case nothing on the level of controlled clinical trials. It is problematic that the outright quacks in this field are legitimized by such laws (though my attitude is generally buyer beware rather than making the government my nanny). However, there are good reasons for using herbs in some cases. Many are effective and often cheaper than drugs that are used for the same thing and have less side effects (e.g., saw palmetto vs. proscar for prostate conditions). the reason they are not “proven” is because they cannot be patented and there is thus no incentive to for a private entity to do the research. Interestingly, in Germany, where medicine is socialized, quite a few herbal meds are approved for prescription, albeit by medical doctors and not just any quack. In Germany and other european countries, the issue of dosage has been addressed by using what are called standardized extracts, which are assayed for levels of active constituents. It is really wholly scientific enterprise over there.

    Granted, in the U.S., many folks who practice and use so-called natural medicine are delusional. Magical thinking is rampant in the field. However, the impulse for many others is to explore potentially efficacious therapies that have been ignored by mainstream medicine for reasons that have little to do with science. For example, it is only in recent years that medical doctors have accepted a link between diet and health. My grandfather, an esteemed cancer surgeon (now retired) told me back in 1987 that there was no link between diet and any form of cancer. Yet, we now know that certain dietary components provide protective effects. Back in 1987, there was already quite a bit of evidence that this was the case, but MDs would have none of that poppycock. At the same time, diets high in vegetables, whole grains, and fiber were being advocated by naturopaths.

    The real issue in this country is that our for-profit healthcare system does not serve the interests of patients or science. We don’t need naturopaths and we certainly don’t need legitimization of untested or clearly bogus therapies. What we do need is research in areas that show true promise. Currently, the office of alternative medicine at NIH approves studies in the most ludicrous areas (like prayer or homeopathy). This is a colossal waste of tax dollars. OTOH, studying methods that have a viable mechanism of action is not at all a waste if such research identifies safe, cheap therapies. I am not suggesting herbs are generally better than drugs or there is an herbal alternative for all drugs. I do not believe this is the case. However, I believe it is sometimes the case. We are in the midst of a healthcare crisis and controlling costs has to be part of the solution. The study of some alternative medicines is one piece of the puzzle.

  150. #150 Kseniya
    June 11, 2008

    Physician, go fuck yourself.

    That’ll play well in the E.R.

    It is interesting that you opted to whine about being insulted, instead of taking the opportunity to bolster your case by addressing the question I raised.

  151. #151 Kseniya
    June 11, 2008

    Heretic: Interesting post.

    The real issue in this country is that our for-profit healthcare system does not serve the interests of patients or science.

    You won’t get an argument from me on that point.

  152. #152 Citizen Z
    June 11, 2008

    I rear many of you are the same type of ‘academics’ who threw Galileo in jail.

    I would like to point out that the religious fanatics of Galileo’s time WERE the ‘scientists’ of the age.

    No, they were Pope Urban VIII and a group of Cardinals you moron. Not ‘academics’, not ‘scientists’.

  153. #153 John Robie
    June 11, 2008

    The Body would’ve vetoed this crap.

  154. #154 Etha Williams, OM
    June 11, 2008

    @#141 Jeff Friesen —

    he standards of proof in allopathy are not absolute – thus the term “practice” of medicine]

    LMAO. I suppose this is why they call it “practicing” religion too?

    Ask yourself why you are so upset about this?

    This is strikingly similar to the “if you don’t believe in God, why do you spend so much energy being upset at religion”? We’re upset about it because even though the principles of naturopathy are bogus, its consequences are very real: the mistreatment of sick people, sometimes to the point of death, and the denigration of real medicine.

  155. #155 windy
    June 11, 2008

    You folks are pretty uninformed for scientists, and even more disturbing, are the pronouncements you are making without having done any research on the subject you are attacking.

    Who was objecting to testing herbs for medicinal properties? Read before you rant. Most people were objecting to “legitimization of untested or clearly bogus therapies”, like you do.

    I am not suggesting herbs are generally better than drugs or there is an herbal alternative for all drugs.

    Herbs are not an alternative to drugs. They are an alternative source of drugs.

  156. #156 clinteas
    June 11, 2008

    As much as I would like to scream and foam at the mouth and laugh at the little insanities like this one that keep coming out of your formerly great country,with this particular issue Im practicing restraint,because I dont have all the facts yet,e.g.,does this legislation change naturopaths legal standing or is just a name change? As a Physician myself Id hate to be sharing a title with any quack who can hold an acupuncture needle. Does it submit them to clinical tests for the practices they choose to expose their “patients” to,does it allow them to prescribe drugs,ot write out medical certificates,or bill to Medicare(or its US equivalent)?
    Will look for answers to those and then re-consider how bad this really is.But it sounds just like the kind of nuttery that US legislators would come up with if there is a strong enough quack lobby.

  157. #157 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    June 11, 2008

    In the words of someone else (Probably a commenter at Orac’s blog but I can’t remember)…

    There is no alternative medicine. There is just medicine. For some thing to be Medicine, it has to show efficacy through well designed and regulated studies and research. Those that can’t are not medicine. They are not alternative medicine. They are at best placebos and at worse dangerous unregulated junk.

  158. #158 Richard
    June 11, 2008

    How about W.D., or Doctor of Witchery.

  159. #159 jeff friesen
    June 11, 2008

    Citizen Z,

    Would it be possible to correct me without being insulting?

    You are correct. The Pope, Fr. Tommaso Caccini [his accuser], and the College of Cardinals did put the smack down on Galileo.

    Will you concede that the church at that time was the guardian of all orthodox information and had the power to censor any published information?

    My analogy of the church as academics was inept. Perhaps a better analogy would be university administrators as the gatekeepers of orthodoxy. I was trying to illustrate an idea, and apparently doing a crappy job of it.

    FYI – To some of the less polite on this blog, I did a quick search on Pubmed and found double blind controlled studies on homeopathy proving its efficacy in certain cases. Just because you are too lazy to search and have already decided what is and is not true before seeing any information or doing some research, don’t blame me.

  160. #160 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    June 11, 2008

    FYI – To some of the less polite on this blog, I did a quick search on Pubmed and found double blind controlled studies on homeopathy proving its efficacy in certain cases. Just because you are too lazy to search and have already decided what is and is not true before seeing any information or doing some research, don’t blame me.

    Provide the link to the actual ones you are referencing or that means exactly zero.

  161. #161 Dennis N
    June 11, 2008

    How would homeopathy work? It is so dilute that any sampling of water anywhere could have the necessary ratios to be homeopathic water. For homeopathy to work, we would have to overturn so much science, that science itself would become unrecognizable. Two unprovided articles are not going to do it. Even in the world of woo, homeopathy makes no sense to me.

  162. #162 phantomreader42
    June 11, 2008

    Jeff the illiterate @ #147:

    Phantom. You claim that I don’t understand what ad hominem means because you “CLEARLY don’t use those”

    No, I claimed you don’t understand what ad hominem means because the term has a definition, which you clearly did not understand, as you were applying it to things that did not fit the definition.

    Get this through your thick skull: “AD HOMINEM” IS NOT A FANCY LATIN WORD FOR “INSULT”!

    Rev. Big Dumb Chimp @ #148:

    Um jeff friesen, you actually need to look up what ad hominem is. You have provided great examples of Ad hominem circumstantial and Association fallacy.

    Not to mention tu quoque, which sums up that very post.

    But actually he doesn’t need to look it up. I already provided a link to a definition. All he has to do is put the mouse over the blue words “ad hominem” in my post, click once, and read. But he has shown he is not capable of doing even that.

    Since Jeff can’t be bothered to follow a link to find out the definition of ad hominem, here it is:

    An ad hominem argument, also known as argumentum ad hominem (Latin: “argument to the man”, “argument against the man”) consists of replying to an argument or factual claim by attacking or appealing to a characteristic or belief of the person making the argument or claim, rather than by addressing the substance of the argument or producing evidence against the claim.

    Again, as I said above, ad hominem is not a fancy Latin word for insult. Dismissing your arguments due to a total lack of evidence on your part is not an ad hominem. Showing that your arguments are so wrong that only an idiot would make them, and then calling you an idiot for making idiotic claims, is not an ad hominem. The term has a meaning, a meaning that you clearly don’t understand, and clearly have no interest in learning.

    Jeff, whining again:

    and then you post a long and winding homily with such personal attacks like, “Jeff the Liar,” “Jeff the Whiner,” Jeff, Lord of Nonsequitors,” “Jeff the pointless,” etc..

    I called you a liar because you made claims that were clearly false, and that you should have known were false at the time you made them. You lied, therefore you are a liar.

    I called you a whiner because your second post started off with you complaining about how mean people were being to you, but you never bothered to address anything anyone said. You had nothing of substance to say, you just cried like a small child because you didn’t get your way. You whined, therefore you are a whiner.

    I referred to you as “Lord of Nonsequitors” becuase you cited a Disney cartoon as some sort of support for one of your asinine claims. You cited something that had nothing to do with what you were talking about. It didn’t follow. Non sequitor is another common logical fallacy, Latin for “It doesn’t follow”.

    I called you “Jeff the pointless” because your “point” was incoherent, dishonest, and completely unsupported by the evidence. You had no point, therefore you are pointless.

    Jeff still doesn’t know what he’s talking about:

    What precisely do you call these if not personal attacks.

    Yes, those are personal attacks. And they are entirely apt. Again, ad hominem is not a fancy Latin word for “insult”.

    I’d try to address the substance of your arguments, if there was any substance. There isn’t. You have admitted you don’t have any evidence for anything you’ve said, you’re not even interested in looking for it. You don’t know what you’re talking about, and you don’t want to learn, even when the information is right in front of you. You have nothing to contribute but whining and lies. And you deserve nothing in return but ridicule and derision.

    Jeff the hypocrite:

    Physician, go fuck yourself.

    What precisely do you call that if not a personal attack? :P

    Jeff, don’t think people won’t notice that you haven’t even tried to address anything anyone here has said to you. Perhaps on some level you DO understand what ad hominem means. It’s all you’ve got. Your every post is an evidence-free attack to divert attention from the fact that your arguments have been ripped to bloody shreds.

  163. #163 Sastra
    June 11, 2008

    heretic #149 wrote:

    You folks are pretty uninformed for scientists, and even more disturbing, are the pronouncements you are making without having done any research on the subject you are attacking….The bad part is that this fairly rigorous scientific foundation is used to justify a wide range of treatment methods, many of which are bogus (such as homeopathy, hydrotherapy, flower essences, colonics, and the like). However, in the mix are also a range of effective herbal and nutritional therapies, for which there is sound scientific evidence suggesting efficacy, though in most case nothing on the level of controlled clinical trials.

    Well, yes. I think this is exactly what most of us have been saying: there are legitimate benefits derived from herbs and nutrition — but these are already included in mainstream medicine, as fruitful areas of study and an established source of benefit. They are no more exclusive to So-Called Alternative Medicine than morality is exclusive to religion. We are not going to concede either.

    Like most pseudosciences, naturopathy tries to co-opt the few relatively useful aspects as a cover for extremely dubious or disproven claims. As windy at #155 pointed out, nobody is objecting to testing herbs. Something like 30-40% of pharmaceuticals come from naturally-found substances as it is. When the Alternative Medicine proponents are in charge of the testing, however, the studies are often of poor quality. It’s rather telling that the agencies set up to test alt med therapies have failed to rule out anything.

    jeff friesen #159 wrote:

    To some of the less polite on this blog, I did a quick search on Pubmed and found double blind controlled studies on homeopathy proving its efficacy in certain cases.

    Homeopathy is old territory. The better controlled the studies, the poorer and less replicable the results. Couple this with the fact that — if homeopathy actually works — we would have to throw out most of what we understand of modern chemistry, biology, and physics, and I think you have picked a losing argument.

    I consider homeopathy to be the canary in the mine shaft. If someone sings its praises, that means that their understanding of reality, science, and how they work together is dead, departed, and gone to join the choir invisible.

  164. #164 phantomreader42
    June 11, 2008

    jeff friesen:

    Would it be possible to correct me without being insulting?

    Possible, but not as much fun. :P

    And need I remind you that YOU started with an insulting tone of your own? Yes, apparently I DO need to remind you, of the very first line of your very first post:

    Holy crap but what a bunch of reactive non-sense. And you people call yourself scientists?

    Jeff cites the voices in his head:

    FYI – To some of the less polite on this blog, I did a quick search on Pubmed and found double blind controlled studies on homeopathy proving its efficacy in certain cases. Just because you are too lazy to search and have already decided what is and is not true before seeing any information or doing some research, don’t blame me.

    Links or it didn’t happen.

    For you to accuse anyone of laziness is laughable. Remember, you’re the one who was given a link to a definition of ad hominem that clearly proved you wrong, and you didn’t even bother to click it! You’re asking far, far more of us than you’re willing to do yourself.

    You claim the evidence exists. Present it. If you had any evidence, presenting it would be your best option, your only rational move. And yet you haven’t done it. Why not? The most logical reason is that you know full well you don’t have any evidence, and you’re just lying.

    So put up or shut up. You claim you’ve got studies that prove homeopathy works, show them. I, for one, won’t be holding my breath.

  165. #165 jeff friesen
    June 11, 2008

    BigDumbChimp,

    My point here is that if a non scientist like me can look them up in minutes then you should be able to as well. Given that you haven’t I must assume that your mind is made up and that you have no interest in this subject beyond denigrating comments.

    I agree with you that evidence in needed but anything I provide will be ignore or denigrated by the open minds on this blog. Do your own research.

    What I am seeing in these comments areg statements like “that’s bogus,” without the commensurate evidence of your own, present company excluded of course.

    Etha,

    You said, “We’re upset about it because even though the principles of naturopathy are bogus, its consequences are very real: the mistreatment of sick people, sometimes to the point of death, and the denigration of real medicine.”

    I think that all reasonable people could agree with you that sick people shouldn’t be mistreated. I think the ND’s who went to medical schools would agree with you which was why they asked to be regulated by the state. The flip side of that is that those who are quacks will be able to be prosecuted, which, because of a bill passed a few years ago in Minnesota by the opponents of the current bill, cannot happen.

    Can you tell me why you consider the principles of naturopathy are bogus in your opinion. It is possible that you are seeing stuff from the diploma mills and assuming that they are the same people. It is unfortunate that there has been such lax regulation in America that has allowed these “schools’ to flourish and sell shit to the public. On that you have my complete agreement. So please supply me with what you are basing your statement on.

    Cheers.

  166. #166 phantomreader42
    June 11, 2008

    Sastra @ #163:

    Homeopathy is old territory. The better controlled the studies, the poorer and less replicable the results. Couple this with the fact that — if homeopathy actually works — we would have to throw out most of what we understand of modern chemistry, biology, and physics, and I think you have picked a losing argument.

    Yes, the basic principles behind homeopathy are nonsense. Poison diluted until there isn’t a single atom of it left becomes medicine? Medicine gets stronger as it gets more diluted, even when it’s so diluted there’s none of it left? Water remembers what’s been in it? It’s all ridiculous.

    If water really had this magical memory, every drop of water on Earth would be simultaneously perfect medicine and deadly poison, because it would “remember” every substance and creature there ever was, good and bad. There would be no way to dispose of homeopathic “medicine” because diluting it only makes it stronger. Imagine the effect on ocean water of treasure from shipwrecks! Gold, silver, precious gems, all homeopathically rememembered by the entire Atlantic! It’s insane! And just think of sewage runoff! Why, if homeopathy worked, the very concept of water filtration or purification would be impossible.

  167. #167 tony (not a vegan)
    June 11, 2008

    Jeff, et al.

    Homeopathy works in exactly the same way that distilled water works.

    i.e. it doesn’t. really!

    As phantomreader42 asks: Put up or shut up.

    As regards other alternative medicine. I’m sure some of it even works sometimessometimes. Confirmation bias is a truly wondrous thing to behold. With so much around, it always amazes me that some people can actually find their own way to the bathroom.

    sheesh!

  168. #168 Joe
    June 11, 2008

    jeff F. wrote “Can you tell me why you consider the principles of naturopathy are bogus in your opinion.”

    You still don’t get it. We do not need to prove naturo is bogus, you need to prove the ‘positive’ claim that it is not.

  169. #169 jeff friesen
    June 11, 2008

    This is my final post.

    Phantom, you sir, are an e-thug. I wanted a discussion. You seem to be satisfied with proving your testicular worth by being insulting.

    I cannot do closed captioning for the thinking impaired.

    Adieu.

  170. #170 tony (not a vegan)
    June 11, 2008

    Jeff:

    A brief search on PubMed brought forth the following Meta-study

    A systematic review of systematic reviews of homeopathy
    E Ernst
    Department of Complementary Medicine, School of Sport & Health Sciences, University of Exeter, 25 Victoria Park Road, Exeter EX2 4NT UK
    Correspondence: Professor E. Ernst, Department of Complementary Medicine, School of Sport and Health Sciences, University of Exeter, 25 Victoria Park Road, Exeter EX2 4NT UK. E-mail: E.Ernst@exeter.ac.uk
    Received 2002; Accepted 2002.
    This article has been cited by other articles in PMC.
    AbstractHomeopathy remains one of the most controversial subjects in therapeutics. This article is an attempt to clarify its effectiveness based on recent systematic reviews. Electronic databases were searched for systematic reviews/meta-analysis on the subject. Seventeen articles fulfilled the inclusion/exclusion criteria. Six of them related to re-analyses of one landmark meta-analysis. Collectively they implied that the overall positive result of this meta-analysis is not supported by a critical analysis of the data. Eleven independent systematic reviews were located. Collectively they failed to provide strong evidence in favour of homeopathy. In particular, there was no condition which responds convincingly better to homeopathic treatment than to placebo or other control interventions. Similarly, there was no homeopathic remedy that was demonstrated to yield clinical effects that are convincingly different from placebo. It is concluded that the best clinical evidence for homeopathy available to date does not warrant positive recommendations for its use in clinical practice.

    My emphasis.

    Other than this meta-study, most of those I saw were published in ‘complementary medicine’ journals – obviously they have no bias, and have exactly the same standards for inclusion as (e.g.) Lancet.

    I saw ZERO positive studies in any regular peer-reviewed journal.

    try again. (on the other hand, please don’t. I have other things to do than hand hold a moron. Moron is correct in this case since you obviuously are lacking in any higher cognitive critical thinking skills such that you could find the relevant articles in PubMed. I doubt you could even find a needle in a needle factory while equipped with a magnet and a personal guide.)

  171. #171 Ryan F Stello
    June 11, 2008

    jeff friesen said,

    I wanted a discussion

    No you didn’t.

    If you did, you would have come back to everybody’s challenges for links and evidence, instead of focusing on your feelings, while making assholish statements, yourself.

    Unless, maybe your view of discussion is one where everybody does what you tell them to do and do nothing yourself, in which case I’d agree, you didn’t have a discussion.

    Adieu.

    Vas-y

  172. #172 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    June 11, 2008

    BigDumbChimp,

    My point here is that if a non scientist like me can look them up in minutes then you should be able to as well. Given that you haven’t I must assume that your mind is made up and that you have no interest in this subject beyond denigrating comments.

    I agree with you that evidence in needed but anything I provide will be ignore or denigrated by the open minds on this blog. Do your own research.

    What I am seeing in these comments areg statements like “that’s bogus,” without the commensurate evidence of your own, present company excluded of course.

    Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. I looked them up and the first three i read were not supportive at all of your claims. You need to provide the actual ones that you claim support it. It’s the classic dodge by those like yourself. You haven’t provided the evidence beyond making a claim that it exists and then not actually providing the link to it. Calling us lazy is not providing evidence. You must provide the actual link because you could very easily be confusing support for homeopathy for the mere mention of it on pubmed. Not the same thing.

  173. #173 Rey Fox
    June 11, 2008

    Tiny violins, commence the Concerto di Tristezza in E minor for Mr. Friesen.

  174. #174 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    June 11, 2008

    damn it. Blockquote should start at bigdumbchimp and end at …”excluded of course”

  175. #175 clinteas
    June 11, 2008

    Rev.Big,
    Those 2 trolls have put up exactly the same show on Abbie’s blog as well,not worth debating them at all IMO.

  176. #176 phantomreader42
    June 11, 2008

    jeff friesen @ #169:

    This is my final post.

    *claps happily*
    Goodbye and good riddance, don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.

    Jeff the whining liar:

    Phantom, you sir, are an e-thug. I wanted a discussion. You seem to be satisfied with proving your testicular worth by being insulting.

    No, Jeff, I think it’s obvious to anyone reading this that you DIDN’T want a discussion. You came in here insulting people, making asinine arguments. Your arguments were torn to bloody shreds, your dishonesty and stupidity were put on display, and your only response was to whine.

    If you’d actually been interested in a discussion, you could have tried addressing any of the countless valid questions and criticisms, such as the following:
    GunOfSod @ #138:

    Excactly how many times would you like scientists to investigate Homeopathic, Naturopathic remedies before you’re satisfied that tap water merchants should be granted the same status as MD’s?

    Joe @ #139:

    You have fallen into the ND trap that they have 8 years of education. Counting the same way, an MD/DO requires at least 12 years before they get a license.
    If there is a central idea to naturopathy, it is “detoxification;” that is, removal of imaginary toxins they think accumulate in the body. The notion that we need regular laxatives and enemas was common in medicine until 80 years ago, when advances in anatomy and physiology showed it to be nonsense.

    phantomreader42 @ #140:

    Here’s a thought, how about you provide the slightest speck of evidence that your crap actually works? Or does that sound like too much work?
    Scientists aren’t stopping medical quackery from being investigated. It’s the quacks who don’t want to have to subject their methods to the slightest scrutiny. It’s the quacks who refuse to admit they’re wrong even when the evidence clearly shows it. Like those studies that show patients receiving sham accupuncture actually did better than those who got “real” accupuncture.
    The bottom line is, does the treatment work? Does it actually help the patient? Does it provide the claimed benefits?

    Ray C. @ #142:

    To claim the mantle of Galileo it is not enough to be persecuted by the “establishment”. You also have to be right.

    Kseniya @ #143:

    If homeopathic approaches and remedies are so effective, why haven’t they been coopted by Big Medicine and Big Pharmaceuticals? Competition is fierce in the world of “allopathy” (a red flag term, there) — so what possible motivation could sway companies like Pfizer and Lilly, which spend billions of dollars each year on research and development, not just to ignore but to suppress, rather than explore, avenues of research that could give them a significant advantage in the marketplace?

    Lily de Lure @ #145:

    So why are the Insurance companies not interested in blowing the lid of a conspiracy that costs them millions a year? Inquiring minds want to know!

    phantomreader42 @ #146:

    Explain what it is “ND’s” do and how it differs from other “hedge doctors”. If there is in fact any reason to take “ND’s” seriously, if there is any reason to consider them as anything other than quacks, then you should be able to articulate such a reason. The fact that you haven’t even tried to do so is telling.

    Rev. Big Dumb Chimp @ #148:

    Um jeff friesen, you actually need to look up what ad hominem is. You have provided great examples of Ad hominem circumstantial and Association fallacy.

    Kseniya @ #150:

    It is interesting that you opted to whine about being insulted, instead of taking the opportunity to bolster your case by addressing the question I raised.

    Rev. Big Dumb Chimp @ #157 (quoting someone else):

    There is no alternative medicine. There is just medicine. For some thing to be Medicine, it has to show efficacy through well designed and regulated studies and research. Those that can’t are not medicine. They are not alternative medicine. They are at best placebos and at worse dangerous unregulated junk.

    Dennis N @ #161:

    How would homeopathy work? It is so dilute that any sampling of water anywhere could have the necessary ratios to be homeopathic water. For homeopathy to work, we would have to overturn so much science, that science itself would become unrecognizable. Two unprovided articles are not going to do it. Even in the world of woo, homeopathy makes no sense to me.

    phantomreader42 @ #162:

    No, I claimed you don’t understand what ad hominem means because the term has a definition, which you clearly did not understand, as you were applying it to things that did not fit the definition.

    Sastra @ #163:

    Homeopathy is old territory. The better controlled the studies, the poorer and less replicable the results. Couple this with the fact that — if homeopathy actually works — we would have to throw out most of what we understand of modern chemistry, biology, and physics, and I think you have picked a losing argument.
    I consider homeopathy to be the canary in the mine shaft. If someone sings its praises, that means that their understanding of reality, science, and how they work together is dead, departed, and gone to join the choir invisible.

    phantomreader42 @ #164:

    You claim the evidence exists. Present it. If you had any evidence, presenting it would be your best option, your only rational move. And yet you haven’t done it. Why not? The most logical reason is that you know full well you don’t have any evidence, and you’re just lying.

    tony (not a vegan) @ #167:

    Homeopathy works in exactly the same way that distilled water works.
    i.e. it doesn’t. really!

    Joe @ #168:

    You still don’t get it. We do not need to prove naturo is bogus, you need to prove the ‘positive’ claim that it is not.

    Jeff, you have offered no evidence that this quackery works. None at all. No matter how many people asked you for evidence, you did not provide any. You claimed to have evidence, but when the time came to put your cards on the table you fled in terror.

    Should we license and trust a “doctor” who claims he can cure diseases by the application of fairy dust? Or one who says the squirrels in his backyard have magical healing powers? How about a guy who says drinking his urine will remove germs and cancer cells? Or a man who claims he can realign a woman’s spine by fucking her up the ass? No, these people are obviously insane.

    So why should we give any consideration for “alternative medicine” practicioners who have no rational basis for why their “treatments” are supposed to work, who refuse to provide evidence, and who fail every test they’re put to? Why should we waste time and money on crap that doesn’t work, when people are dying for lack of medicine that DOES work? And why should we respect people who, for all anyone can tell, are doing nothing but lining their own pockets at the expense of vulnerable sick people? Why should we have anything but contempt for those who would lie, cheat, and steal from those seeking help in their time of need?

  177. #177 Rey Fox
    June 11, 2008

    “It is problematic that the outright quacks in this field are legitimized by such laws (though my attitude is generally buyer beware rather than making the government my nanny).”

    Even in potential life/death situations? Wonderful.

  178. #178 Sastra
    June 11, 2008

    phantomreader42 #166 wrote:

    If water really had this magical memory, every drop of water on Earth would be simultaneously perfect medicine and deadly poison, because it would “remember” every substance and creature there ever was, good and bad.

    Here’s where it gets interesting. The homeopath’s response to this is that the remedy is useless unless it has gone through what’s called “succussion” — repeated shakings after each dilution. This is supposed to release and activate the vital energy in the original substance, so that it can become more powerful as the amounts get smaller.

    But HOW does the succussive process do this, you may well ask?

    Through intentionality. Your intentions — your desires, wants, and concerns — are directly communicated to the treatment as you shake it the prescribed way, so that its potential is activated or “dynamised.” It won’t work without the human factor communicating its need to Nature. Nature responds.

    THIS is where homeopathy is elevated from a strange and silly discarded medicine theory into “woo” — supernaturalism. It’s a form of Magic, where Mind and Will act down upon the physical, shaping them through Intentional Force. Thus, secular humanists and other rational skeptics lump it in with religion. It’s a form of mystical, spiritual, magical belief which reassures our significance in the Grand Scheme of Things.

    Isaac Asimov once wrote “Inspect every piece of pseudoscience and you will find a security blanket, a thumb to suck, a skirt to hold.

    Homeopathy is supposed to work because we need it to work — and if you know the secret rituals, the universe responds as if it were a person, happy and eager to meet our specific needs.

  179. #179 phantomreader42
    June 11, 2008
    phantomreader42 #166 wrote:
    If water really had this magical memory, every drop of water on Earth would be simultaneously perfect medicine and deadly poison, because it would “remember” every substance and creature there ever was, good and bad.

    Sastra @ #178:
    Here’s where it gets interesting. The homeopath’s response to this is that the remedy is useless unless it has gone through what’s called “succussion” — repeated shakings after each dilution. This is supposed to release and activate the vital energy in the original substance, so that it can become more powerful as the amounts get smaller.

    “Repeated shakings after each dilution”

    Tides, anyone? :P

    Sastra:

    But HOW does the succussive process do this, you may well ask?
    Through intentionality. Your intentions — your desires, wants, and concerns — are directly communicated to the treatment as you shake it the prescribed way, so that its potential is activated or “dynamised.” It won’t work without the human factor communicating its need to Nature. Nature responds.
    THIS is where homeopathy is elevated from a strange and silly discarded medicine theory into “woo” — supernaturalism. It’s a form of Magic, where Mind and Will act down upon the physical, shaping them through Intentional Force. Thus, secular humanists and other rational skeptics lump it in with religion. It’s a form of mystical, spiritual, magical belief which reassures our significance in the Grand Scheme of Things.

    So, all that crap in drugstores labeled “homeopathic” is supposedly mass-produced psychic power in a cardboard box?

    Don’t psychic charlatans usually dodge tests by saying that their powers are fickle and CAN’T be boxed and replicated on demand?

  180. #180 Brownian, OM
    June 11, 2008

    though my attitude is generally buyer beware rather than making the government my nanny

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  181. #181 phantomreader42
    June 11, 2008

    Brownian, OM @ #180:

    So order your bottle of Last Meal? and start living!

    So, how many bottles should I put you down for?

    Don’t listen to this Big Pharma shill, all you need is some hemlock tea. It’s all-natural!

  182. #182 Hermano
    June 11, 2008

    What a bunch of heros.
    Does it make you feel smug sharing your prejudices?
    Just for the record, are you from the United Atheist League,
    the United Atheist Alliance, or the Allied Atheist Allegiance?

  183. #183 Mike Spear
    June 11, 2008

    http://dcscience.net/?p=231

    Partway down the page is the link to Dr. Katz giving a lecture at Yale on recent naturopathic research. He’s ballsy enough to come out and say that every study they performed failed to show any positive performance on behalf of any alternative therapy. His conclusion however leaves something to be desired when he asks for a more “fluid concept of evidence”.

  184. #184 Sastra
    June 11, 2008

    Hermano #182 wrote:

    What a bunch of heros. Does it make you feel smug sharing your prejudices?

    Our concerns are not the result of ‘prejudices’ — the claims of Naturopathy pretend to meet objective scientific criteria, and don’t.

    Just for the record, are you from the United Atheist League, the United Atheist Alliance, or the Allied Atheist Allegiance?

    Is this an admission then that people believe in Naturopathy the same way they believe in God — through faith and inner conviction, and not scientific evidence?

  185. #185 Dennis N
    June 11, 2008

    Hey Hermano, how ya doin? Glad to see you get all your info about atheists from South Park! Makes you fully educated and prepared to come tell us how to behave!

    By the way, its heroes, with an E.

    But on a more serious note, what are we prejudiced against? If I may be so bold, I can make a quick list of things I think we as a group dislike, so tell me which ones you think we should stop being prejudiced against:

    1) Woo
    2) Homophobia
    3) Irrational beliefs
    4) Anti-science attitudes

    I know lots of people will join in and add to the list. Folks around here are a helpful lot. Remember, you need to let us know what our specific prejudices are that you disagree with, and don’t be upset or shocked if we respond with our reasons for keeping that prejudice.

  186. #186 Dennis N
    June 11, 2008

    I was using prejudice in the sense of dislike, and not prejudgment. I’m aware that may be an improper use of the term.

  187. #187 marcus welby
    June 11, 2008

    Hi,

    I am new here and it is good to know what the taboo subjects are. I have recently learned on another blog about ‘woo.’ I still say that it is a silly sounding term, but I work in a prison where using such language could have, shall we say, unpleasant consequences.

    Seriously though I am confused about this debate/flaming. Perhaps given my background in matters legal rather that scientific -and if the last 7 years have taught us anything it is that the 2 arenas do not necessarily intersect -but doesn’t it make more sense to regulate than to not regulate.

    Not to get all Wyatt Earp on everyone, but do we really want twisted libertarian version of the wild west? Isn’t it better to bring alternatives into the fold, so to speak, rather that letting them scurry under the floorboards?

    Thanks.

  188. #188 StuV
    June 11, 2008

    5) Coconuts. I hate coconuts.

  189. #189 MartinM
    June 11, 2008

    Isn’t it better to bring alternatives into the fold, so to speak, rather that letting them scurry under the floorboards?

    Better still to regulate the alternatives without lending them undue legitimacy.

  190. #190 StuV
    June 11, 2008

    Isn’t it better to bring alternatives into the fold, so to speak, rather that letting them scurry under the floorboards?

    Would you also be for astrologers to be equals to astronomers?

  191. #191 Emmet Caulfield
    June 11, 2008

    Then there’s the one about the guy who forgot to take his homeopathic medicine — He died of an overdose!

  192. #192 Etha Williams, OM
    June 11, 2008

    @#185 Dennis N —

    1) Woo
    2) Homophobia
    3) Irrational beliefs
    4) Anti-science attitudes

    I think 1, 2, and 4 are already covered under #3. Woo? Irrational. Homophobia? Irrational. Anti-science attitudes? Irrational.

    Coconuts, on the other hand….

  193. #193 tony (not a vegan)
    June 11, 2008

    6) Anchovies on pizza. I hate anchovies on pizza. (but I love fish — there’s obviously something intrinsically wrong with anchovies, ‘cos I love all fish — oh, except for rollmop herring. or gefilte fish. or that month old rotten fish thing the inuit treat as a delicasy. and eels (yeech wormy). and…)

    i’ll go have a little lie down.

  194. #194 Dennis N
    June 11, 2008

    I guess I could argue that 2) is more a fear than belief, but I think the fear stems from the belief that homosexuality is contagious or something. Very odd fear. Better just to amend 3) to irrational religious belief. Redundant? Maybe.

  195. #195 marcus welby
    June 11, 2008

    Hey. Thanks for getting back to me.

    So your position is that naturopathy is, um, that they shouldn’t be regulated. Am I right?

    From a legal point of view this is problematic in that it opens the door to all sorts of crazy activity, much of which has been at least alluded to here. I just went onto the state website and looked at the law and it doesn’t mention anything about the use of the term doctor.

    Although I am puzzled by your reaction to that. Given that they seem to have, um, 8 years of post secondary and a doctorate, would you have the same problem with them calling themselves that privately. I am curious if any of the “regulars” here are Ph.D.’s and if so how do you handle the entire Dr. thing?

    Final thoughts. Are you SURE that you are not painting the very few people that this law will cover with others? Absolutely sure?

    Thanks for any answers you want to give me.

    PS – I still don’t like that ‘woo’ term. Is there another word that could be chosen with a little more dignity?

  196. #196 Ryan F Stello
    June 11, 2008

    PS – I still don’t like that ‘woo’ term. Is there another word that could be chosen with a little more dignity?

    Magic?

  197. #197 phantomreader42
    June 11, 2008

    marcus welby @ #195:

    PS – I still don’t like that ‘woo’ term. Is there another word that could be chosen with a little more dignity?

    Well, there’s “fraud”. Or “medical malpractice”. Or “ripping off sick people”. Do those sound dignified enough for you?

    Why should frauds be given any dignity at all? These are people charging money for treatments that are totally unsupported by evidence, either useless or potentially deadly. They are preying on the ill at a desperate time, offering false hope for money that the customers can ill-afford, and discouraging them from getting legitimate treatment that may save their lives. At best, they are stupid. The ones who know that their “treatments” don’t work are scum, thieves.

    The term “Doctor” is usually a term of respect. Respect has to be earned. When you make your living ripping people off, you don’t deserve respect.

  198. #198 Etha Williams, OM
    June 11, 2008

    @#195 marcus welby —

    PS – I still don’t like that ‘woo’ term. Is there another word that could be chosen with a little more dignity?

    Woo has no dignity. That’s sort of the point.

  199. #199 MartinM
    June 11, 2008

    So your position is that naturopathy is, um, that they shouldn’t be regulated. Am I right?

    I would love to know how you arrived at that conclusion, given the responses you got.

  200. #200 ndt
    June 11, 2008

    What if you were to actually research and investigate something before you call it crap

    We did. That’s why we call it crap.

    Also, academics didn’t imprison Galileo, priests did.

  201. #201 Dennis N
    June 11, 2008

    Sorry, I think woo is the best term for woo. Notice the similarity of playing off of emotions and doing what it takes to claim your prize (usually money). Woo is not about truth. However, whether something specific counts for woo leads to lively debate. A solid example of woo to go off of is astrology or homeopathy. Total woo there.

  202. #202 tony
    June 11, 2008

    @195, re woo:

    How about ‘Snake-oil salesmen’. That has both the benefit of historicity (!) and accuracy!

  203. #203 ndt
    June 11, 2008

    John Robie wrote:

    The Body would’ve vetoed this crap.

    I’ve said it before on this blog, and I’ll say it again: Jesse Ventura was the best governor this state has had in decades.

  204. #204 Danio
    June 11, 2008

    marcus,

    lots of people with PhDs, including myself, are called ‘Dr’ in professional circumstances, but using the title outside that setting is debatable, especially as it can be misleading due to its lack of specificity. I certainly don’t identify myself, or expect to be addressed as “Dr. Danio” unless I’m in the lab or the classroom in some official capacity–and even then I prefer just plain ‘Danio’ (or Danio rerio, if you insist on being formal :).

    As to the regulation thing, I responded to your similar inquiry over on Orac’s blog, but if you read the article linked in both posts, the Minnesota law (like the laws in 13 other states before it) is not designed to regulate the practice of Naturopathy, but to legitimize the practitioners. I think you will be hard pressed to find a regular, rational commenter anywhere on Scienceblogs who thinks this is a good idea. Similarly, I think we’d all like to see CAM regulated into oblivion due its utter uselessness and ultimate harmfulness, but things seem to be moving in the opposite direction, sadly.

  205. #205 Citizen Z
    June 11, 2008

    Citizen Z,

    Would it be possible to correct me without being insulting?

    The very first sentence Jeff Friesen posted on this thread:

    Holy crap but what a bunch of reactive non-sense. And you people call yourself scientists?

    I am more than happy to be polite to people I disagree with. But only if they are also polite. You should not pretend to hold any sort of moral high ground with your behavior.

    This is beginning to be a pattern, Pharyngula’s getting comment martyrs. It’s always the same, first comment: “Hey you assholes blah blah blah” … fourth or so comment: “Why are you so impolite? I just wanted a civil dialogue blah blah blah”

  206. #206 ndt
    June 11, 2008

    Medical fraud should be “regulated” in the sense that it should be illegal.

    It should be legal to sell harmless herbs and treatments as long as the seller is clear that they have no proven medical benefit. It should be illegal to claim a medical benefit that has not been shown to exist, and of course it should be illegal to sell herbs or practices that cause significant harm.

    Of course, herbs that cause small amounts of harm should be legally available to anyone of legal drinking age. Once again, Jesse Ventura was right.

  207. #207 Kseniya
    June 11, 2008

    Final thoughts. Are you SURE that you are not painting the very few people that this law will cover with others? Absolutely sure?

    Speaking only for myself: No.

  208. #208 Mike Kelly
    June 11, 2008

    Anchovies, Anchovies
    They’re so delicious!
    They’re my favourite
    of all the little fishes /buffy

  209. #209 marcus welby
    June 11, 2008

    Danio and Martin, et.al.,

    Ok, I get all of your points but I still think that ‘woo’ lacks dignity. For the person saying it. I strongly suggest NOT using the term in any hood or any prison, which kind of goes without saying.

    Danio said that he responded to my posting in another blog. I guess I should have figured that if I could find these blogs then you could too. I was just looking for more opinions. I hope I haven’t offended anyone.

    Martin said that he would love to know how I arrived at the conclusion that you opposed regulation? I really am not sure. On the one hand you don’t want this law passed which clearly regulates the ND’s and on the other you clearly … what? Thus my confusion. Maybe someone could explain it to me using small words because I clearly am not getting it.

    Of course I understand your position that you don’t want to legitimize someone, but I can tell you that when something is regulated it becomes MUCH easier to get rid of the abusers. It seems to me that these ND’s are moving in the right direction – away from that-undignified-term-that-I-don’t-want-to-say – and any problems you have with treatments can be addressed within the scope of practice and enforcement regulations.

    Thanks for listening. I appreciate your comments.

    PS – is phantomreader42 always this intense?

  210. #210 ndt
    June 11, 2008

    marcus welby wrote:

    Martin said that he would love to know how I arrived at the conclusion that you opposed regulation? I really am not sure. On the one hand you don’t want this law passed which clearly regulates the ND’s and on the other you clearly … what? Thus my confusion. Maybe someone could explain it to me using small words because I clearly am not getting it.

    See my post #206.

    Of course I understand your position that you don’t want to legitimize someone, but I can tell you that when something is regulated it becomes MUCH easier to get rid of the abusers.

    But all naturopaths are abusers. Every single one of them is a fraud. Fraud should be criminalized, not regulated.

  211. #211 Emmet Caulfield
    June 11, 2008

    I am new here and it is good to know what the taboo subjects are.

    I’m pretty new here too, but it seems to me that there are no taboo subjects, only taboo methods of argument.

    If you make an assertion that is not simply a matter of personal preference, you must be prepared to present empirical evidence to support it. If you are asked for evidence, fail to produce it, but continue arguing, you get flamed.

    If you say, “I like potatoes”, nobody’s going to flame you. If you say “potatoes can cure cancer”, you better be able to support it with links to a dozen papers in reputable medical journals. A lot of people here work or study in universities and have access to most online digital libraries.

    If you’re peddling supernatural beliefs (‘woo’) of any kind (homeopathy, crystal-healing, miracles, ESP, spoon-bending, faeries, gods, leprechauns, etc.), you’re off to a rocky start (most people here are already pretty sure these are bullshit because they’ve been around a long time without a shred of empirical evidence) and better make with the rock-solid empirical evidence quick or be prepared for swift and merciless ass-kicking.

    Eviscerating woo-peddling twits is enjoyable both as a participatory and as a spectator sport. In this case, phantomreader42 gutted jeff friesen like a mackerel. He wiggled enough to be fun, but not so much that he became tiresome. If he persists after gutting, and he might, then he becomes an object of ridicule and scorn, expressed as invective. If you see a poster being mercilessly abused by a large number of people for no apparent reason, it’s usually because they won’t let go of an argument that’s been gutted a few times already in other threads. Troll season is open 24/7/365.

  212. #212 Ryan F Stello
    June 11, 2008

    Ok, I get all of your points but I still think that ‘woo’ lacks dignity.

    That’s the point.

    I strongly suggest NOT using the term in any hood or any prison, which kind of goes without saying.

    Your concern is mis-placed. Just because you work in a prison doesn’t mean we will care about your hard-won insight.

    Of course I understand your position that you don’t want to legitimize someone, but I can tell you that when something is regulated it becomes MUCH easier to get rid of the abusers.

    This makes the assumption that there are honest practitioners of woo out there. Do you know of any?

    More to the point, that’s a big function of adding alternative therapy sections to many medical centers, to keep the woosers in check.

    So, you’re advocating something that’s already done? Seems like a waste of time.

    is phantomreader42 always this intense?

    I’d say: probably. It’s part of his/her/its charm.

  213. #213 Sven DiMilo
    June 11, 2008

    I am curious if any of the “regulars” here are Ph.D.’s and if so how do you handle the entire Dr. thing?

    Nobody calls me “Dr. DiMilo” except my students. And, when addressing envelopes, my Mom. I never introduce myself that way, even to my students (or, it goes without saying, my Mom).

    So I was called for jury duty and empaneled, and the lawyers are asking questions of the panel for jury selection.
    Absurdly histrionic ADA: Your occupation?
    Me: I’m a biologist; I teach at [large West Coast public university].
    AHADA: I see. And, Mr. DiMilo–or is it Dr. DiMilo?
    Me: *shrugs* Either way.
    And from then on I was Dr. DiMilo, got selected, and was immediazely elected by my jury-mates as foreperson. As if my expertise in turtle urine gave me great powers to correctly decide DWI cases.

  214. #214 Brownian, OM
    June 11, 2008

    PS – is phantomreader42 always this intense?

    We can’t answer that. The phantom belongs outside the realm of science. We could collect some data, do some analyses, etc., but wouldn’t that just ruin the mystique?

    There are some things science was never meant to know….

  215. #215 Kseniya
    June 11, 2008

    Anchovies on antipasta are yummy. Anchovies on pizza – blech!

    Why? What’s the difference?

    The difference is, HOT ANCHOVIES SUCK! They’re too dry/fishy/salty, when they should be moist/cool/tangy.

    Ok. Begin anchovie flamewar…

    NOW.

  216. #216 Mike Spear
    June 11, 2008

    Granted I’m not from “the hood”, but when did it become a life-threatening issue to say the word woo in the ghetto?

  217. #217 ndt
    June 11, 2008

    I only like anchovies ground up and mixed into Ceasar salad dressing.

  218. #218 Sven DiMilo
    June 11, 2008

    This makes the assumption that there are honest practitioners of woo out there.

    Oh, sure there are. My ex-wife used to see a variety of chiropracters, herbalists and acupuncturists and every one of them came across clearly as 100% sincere. Very nice, dedicated, peaceful folks for the most part too, really committed to helping people in pain. In fact, I’d wager that among woo-slingers the sincere True Believers vastly outnumber the cynical con-artists.

  219. #219 Kseniya
    June 11, 2008

    As if my expertise in turtle urine gave me great powers to correctly decide DWI cases.

    Perhaps it would, if the over-consumed beverage in question was an American “lite” beer.

  220. #220 marcus welby
    June 11, 2008

    NDT,

    I hate to burst your bubble but fraud is a legal term and as such it is defined as whatever the legislature decides it is and is enforced as however the prosecutor decides it will be depending on the merits of the case – which is a fancy way of saying, “can I win this sucker if it goes to trial?”

    And if you think about it, it is a good thing that the legal process grinds so slowly. I would not want to live in any country where people could react capriciously and say, “I don’t like that. It should be against the law.” I believe that most of you academics have a similar viewpoint about science, but usually science doesn’t carry a baton, gun and taser. Imagine the country where Pat Robertson was suddenly in charge of drafting new laws. You might find yourself teaching advanced theologic anatomy. Eg. The soul bone connects to the head bone. I hope you get my point.

    And if I may say so, you guys play rough. Although I must say that phantoms gutting for Jeff was not a pretty sight and a tad over the top. That is just my humble opinion. I guess I would have been a little more diplomatic, but that doesn’t seem to be everyones style. And that’s OK. Forewarned is forearmed.

  221. #221 Brownian, OM
    June 11, 2008

    Ok. Begin anchovie flamewar…

    NOW.

    Well, you’re no good at this at all. You forgot to not give reasons for why hot anchovies suck. Now all I’m left with is an assertion of personal preference with a backing argument. Effective and meaningful argumentation doesn’t make for good flame warring.

    As an aside, during my (earlier) bachelor days, I did once eat a tin of anchovies (well, the anchovies within the tin (nd the tin was probably aluminum)) on frozen hot dog buns with margarine. While watching Boxing Helena.

    How come I can’t get a job in the movies? I can whine just as well as Bill Paxton.

  222. #222 Nick Gotts
    June 11, 2008

    In fact, I’d wager that among woo-slingers the sincere True Believers vastly outnumber the cynical con-artists.

    Maybe, and I don’t think those exhaust the possibilities. Someone I used to know went through half a dozen types of mutually inconsistent woo in the time I knew him, making some sort of living out of each in turn, and reinventing himself each time. My impression was that he convinced himself that each was true – but really had to work on it. For social reasons, I never challenged him on any of them overtly, but he became increasingly unwilling to be in the same room as me – I must have been giving off sceptical vibrations.

  223. #223 Sven DiMilo
    June 11, 2008

    K (#219): Pretty funny, and I certainly catch your drift and all, but having–ahem–tasted both liquids at issue (and despite my overwhelming preference for a nice hoppy IPA), I can assure you there is no contest in the palatibility department. And it’s Less FillingTM ta boot!
    [tee hee, learned a new html tag!]

  224. #224 Brownian, OM
    June 11, 2008

    For social reasons, I never challenged him on any of them overtly, but he became increasingly unwilling to be in the same room as me – I must have been giving off sceptical vibrations.

    Easily remedied Nick. The next time you think your scepticism might be rudely disrupting an otherwise perfectly vacuous woo-fest, just mention that you ‘consider yourself spiritual, but not religious.’

    Works better at masking a rationalist than deer piss does a hunter.

  225. #225 Brownian, OM
    June 11, 2008

    [tee hee, learned a new html tag!]

    Which one? The &trade;? or <sup></sup>?

    Does anyone know if there’s a list of all the html tags accepted by scienceblogs? No need to point it out; I just want to know if anyone knows of one.

    Just kidding. I’d like a link if there is one.

    Thanks!

  226. #226 Danio
    June 11, 2008

    Martin:

    Ok, I get all of your points but I still think that ‘woo’ lacks dignity. For the person saying it. I strongly suggest NOT using the term in any hood or any prison, which kind of goes without saying.

    You may be hearing the word ‘woo’ uttered with a lilting, come-hither intonation, wildly batting eyelashes and coquettish over-the shoulder glances, as in ‘pitching woo’. If so, I certainly see your point about the prison, etc. However, ‘woo’, in this context is entirely different. Try saying it while imagining that you have a mouthful of putrified slugs, a pounding hangover, and have just stumbled upon a picture of your sweet old grandfather wearing only a pink frilly diaper over his enormous erection, and you might be able to capture the scorn, disgust and outrage that this term can evoke, in the proper circumstances.

    Danio said that he responded to my posting in another blog. I guess I should have figured that if I could find these blogs then you could too. I was just looking for more opinions. I hope I haven’t offended anyone.

    Not at all. You just happened to hit two of the ScienceBlogs I visit daily, on a day that I actually have time to post comments. And, not that it matters much, but the correct pronoun to use in referencing me would be ‘she’.

  227. #227 Brownian, OM
    June 11, 2008

    Try saying it while imagining that you have a mouthful of putrified slugs, a pounding hangover, and have just stumbled upon a picture of your sweet old grandfather wearing only a pink frilly diaper over his enormous erection, and you might be able to capture the scorn, disgust and outrage that this term can evoke, in the proper circumstances.

    Wow, Danio. That’s a strong image.

  228. #228 marcus welby
    June 11, 2008

    Mike,

    I didn’t mean to get off topic. It is not the saying of ‘woo’ specifically but rather the showing of weakness combined with making yourself noticed. Thus if you were in, say , South Philla and your pulled into a convenience store and got out and happened to be talking to a friend on your phone and saying stuff like ,”that is so woo,:” you just might end up getting; a) your ass kicked, b) robbed, c)car jacked, or d) all of the above.

    Ryan,

    Don’t mistake my light hearted comment for caring. I don’t know you. If you want to go to the nearest hood, drop your drawers, and start chanting KKK slogans, that is your business. It would just be the gene pool correcting an obvious mistake. I was just making a comment about the use of the word “woo” on this board which I thought both interesting and a little, well, woo. It was an attempt at humor, which is, I admit, not one of my strong suits.

    Don’t read more into it that was already there. And do not ever talk like that to me in person. I know I am a guest here and I am sorry if you didn’t like what I said. I didn’t mean to offend you. I hope you can say the same.

    Thanks,

  229. #229 ndt
    June 11, 2008

    Danio wrote:

    And, not that it matters much, but the correct pronoun to use in referencing me would be ‘she’.

    They let women get PhDs now? Vox Day would not approve!

  230. #230 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    June 11, 2008

    Ok. Begin anchovie flamewar…

    NOW.

    Puttanesca…. /homer drool

  231. #231 ndt
    June 11, 2008

    Marcus, you didn’t “burst my bubble”. Nothing you wrote contradicts anything I wrote.

  232. #232 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    June 11, 2008

    Ok that’s it. I turn in my computer literate card and will be resigning from my job as IT manager for a 200 mil a year company.

    If I can’t proof a simple blockquote tag I deserve to be flogged unmercifully.

    /grumble

    Now where’s my beer.

  233. #233 marcus welby
    June 11, 2008

    Ms. Danio,

    Your description help. The delivery is really everything. Of course if you said like you suggest someone might assume that you are looking to score some rock … and that is a whole other set of problems.

    Whoooooooooo.

  234. #234 StuV
    June 11, 2008

    Brownian:

    I did once eat a tin of anchovies (well, the anchovies within the tin (nd the tin was probably aluminum)) on frozen hot dog buns with margarine. While watching Boxing Helena.

    Danio:

    Try saying it while imagining that you have a mouthful of putrified slugs, a pounding hangover, and have just stumbled upon a picture of your sweet old grandfather wearing only a pink frilly diaper over his enormous erection, and you might be able to capture the scorn, disgust and outrage that this term can evoke, in the proper circumstances.

    When did the truly-disturbing-images hour start?

    Yikes and double-yikes.

    Still, better than coconuts. Did I mention that I don’t like coconuts?

  235. #235 Sven DiMilo
    June 11, 2008

    “Puttanesca”???? AND a drool?

    Dear Sir and/or Madam:

  236. #236 Wowbagger
    June 11, 2008

    Brownian, #221 wrote:

    How come I can’t get a job in the movies? I can whine just as well as Bill Paxton.

    …or is that Bill Pullman?

  237. #237 Brownian, OM
    June 11, 2008

    Ms. Danio,

    Your description help. The delivery is really everything. Of course if you said like you suggest someone might assume that you are looking to score some rock … and that is a whole other set of problems.

    Whoooooooooo.

    Wow. Now I understand how you were interpreting the word, Marcus. How interesting!

  238. #238 ndt
    June 11, 2008

    Rev. BigDumbChimp: I think there’s a bug in the posting software. I’ve noticed whitespace in the wrong place can sometimes make a blockquote tag disappear. I use preview all the time now.

  239. #239 Sastra
    June 11, 2008

    Marcus Welby #209 wrote:

    Of course I understand your position that you don’t want to legitimize someone, but I can tell you that when something is regulated it becomes MUCH easier to get rid of the abusers. It seems to me that these ND’s are moving in the right direction – away from that-undignified-term-that-I-don’t-want-to-say – and any problems you have with treatments can be addressed within the scope of practice and enforcement regulations.

    I understand your point here, but still disagree.

    Some Naturopaths are far worse than others. Because “Naturopathy” is a rather broad, vague category, it can include everything from the harmless and moderately effective (natural herbal remedies and organic diets rich in fruit and vegetables), to the mostly harmless and completely ineffective (homeopathy and energy healing), to the downright dangerous and counter-effective (harsh enemas, chelation therapy, and phony cancer cures.) So it’s tempting to want to separate the wheat from the chaff, get some form of regulation going, and reign in the mavericks who undergo no formal course of study, follow no ethics, and make it up as they go along.

    The trouble is, as a bunch of us have already pointed out, this doesn’t so much reign in the MAJOR quacks as give the seal of approval to quackery itself. Yes, many Naturopaths are sincere, caring, and mostly harmless. Some of them do some good, as there’s a generous area of overlap with mainstream medicine. A few of them have really helped a few people.

    But…

    Giving the official stamp of approval, crediting non-science as science, is more harmful in the long run than the short term benefit of getting rid of the worst, most extreme “abusers.” They are abusing a system with no real scientific accountability in the first place: they are breaking the rules of Calvinball.

    Sometimes it seems as if every story I read about a psychic starts out with the psychic establishing her skeptical credentials: oh my, yes, there are a LOT of frauds out there. There are people who take your money to remove curses and things. That is why it is so important that you find a REAL psychic, who won’t defraud you. After all, you want to be moderate and temperate and avoid the extremists positions, don’t you? Don’t fall for everything — but don’t dismiss ALL fortunetellers just because of a few bad apples. Find the truly gifted and genuine psychic that works for you. The Argument from the Golden Middle.

    You suggest that, in desiring regulation, Naturopaths seem to be taking that small step towards legitimacy and away from pseudoscientific claptrap (note how I was nice and didn’t say ‘woo’ for you.) I doubt this very, very much. They do NOT plan on moving away from the claptrap because they do not understand that the claptrap is unscientific. No, it has it’s “own science” which follows its “own parameters” which include stories and testimonials and the popular populist All-Pervasive Assumption that Science is really just a word which means “Try it for yourself and see if it works.”

    They know it works because they’ve seen it work in their own clinical experience. Uh huh. And uh oh. There goes scientific progress. For hundreds of years doctors knew bleeding worked, because they saw it work.

    Once they have official state endorsement as “Doctors” it will be virtually impossible to convince the general public that homeopathy and vitalism are unsupported by any good evidence. They will simply assume that it’s an internal conflict between different scientists, a genuine controversy in science.

    And the Naturopaths will have succeeded where the Creationists are still failing.

  240. #240 Danio
    June 11, 2008

    Brownian:

    Wow, Danio. That’s a strong image.

    This is high praise coming from you, Sensei. :)

  241. #241 Sven DiMilo
    June 11, 2008

    Which one? The ™? or ?

  242. #242 Sven DiMilo
    June 11, 2008

    [note to self: “preview” on the LEFT, “post” to…the OTHER LEFT]
    Well, as is probably clear from the gobbledygook just posted, it was just the “sup” thing. But I figured it out all by myself! With lots of trial and previewed error!

  243. #243 Strangely Beige
    June 11, 2008

    Well, since nobody else has done it, let me be the first to say

    “Hi, Doctor Nick!”

  244. #244 marcus welby
    June 11, 2008

    Sastra,

    Thanks for your input. I think I understand where you, and maybe where everyone here, is coming from. That was a generous and helpful post. I still think that the law is adequate in some ways to start regulation. I guess I’m a ya-gotta-start-somewhere kind of guy. It seems the me that the dangerous ones that you describe are the ones without any clinical training. Isn’t it a good idea to start with the worst offenders. To use a law enforcement analogy, shouldn’t we start with the murderers and work out way down to the jaywalkers?

    I wonder if everyone could chime in on what they mean by “stamp of approval.” Does this law really do that? Doesn’t the statement “stamp …” assume that there is a some public approval? Is there really? I think most people are completely unaware of this mode of healing. Don’t we, by creating a controversy, in fact also create that stamp?

    Thanks for the great responses everyone. I hope I am not coming across like a complete illiterate here. I assume that most of you have far more education that I do, so I don’t want to, well, be a pain.

    Thanks.

  245. #245 Wowbagger
    June 11, 2008

    Where’s chiropracty in the woo spectrum? I had a flatmate who was a medical scientist (I used to describe him as working for the medical-industrial complex) who described them as thieves as well.

  246. #246 Danio
    June 11, 2008

    Wowbagger @#245:

    It’s pretty much woo–there may be some very narrow circumstances in which it may have a legitimate therapeutic effect, but certainly no more so than some standard Physical Therapy would. The trouble is that most Chiropractors don’t limit themselves to this narrow application, and instead plunge headlong into the deepest pile of woo imaginable, encouraging patients to eschew evidence-based treatments in favor of repeated, endless subluxations, etc. For a recent review, I recommend this excellent entry by Dr. Harriet Hall, posting on the Science-Based Medicine Blog:

    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=59

  247. #247 brokenSoldier, OM
    June 11, 2008

    It seems the me that the dangerous ones that you describe are the ones without any clinical training. Isn’t it a good idea to start with the worst offenders. To use a law enforcement analogy, shouldn’t we start with the murderers and work out way down to the jaywalkers?

    Posted by: marcus welby | June 11, 2008 8:41 PM

    Actually, the dangerous ones include pretty much all of them, in that anything beneficial from homeopathy already overlaps in the field of standard medicine. The way you handle this situation is to ensure that those who practice of homeopathy remain outside the realm of licensed medical professionals entirely. When you have legislation that legitimizes a field that is so obviously contradictory to known medical practices, you don’t succeed in protecting patients – you only further the extent to which they can be duped.

  248. #248 Wowbagger
    June 11, 2008

    Thanks, Danio – I’ll have a look. It’s just something I notice showing up more and more; for example, most health insurers have it as an option these days.

  249. #249 Danio
    June 11, 2008

    Indeed, Wowbagger. My health insurance, provided by the State of Oregon, covers Naturopathy and Acupuncture as well as Chiropractic treatment. This is the slippery slope one begins to descend when such legislation is enacted.

  250. #250 khan
    June 11, 2008

    Jeff babbling:

    And I will not justify the treatments because I am not an ND and do not practice medicine, but I will say that several of you are mixing up what ND’s do and what other hedge doctors do.

    Is Jeff really upset that people won’t distinguish between real witch doctors and fake witch doctors?

    Walla walla bing bang.

  251. #251 MAJeff, OM
    June 11, 2008

    Ok. Begin anchovie flamewar…

    Anchovies…melted into a butter…to make putanesca sauce….DIVINE!

    [I got some of the anchovy butter from my favorite Italian restaurant–like almost a pound–and have sooooo much sauce…and I’m not giving any way. Friday is pasta putanesca con calamari!)

  252. #252 phantomreader42
    June 11, 2008

    ndt @ #238:

    Rev. BigDumbChimp: I think there’s a bug in the posting software. I’ve noticed whitespace in the wrong place can sometimes make a blockquote tag disappear. I use preview all the time now.

    Yes, I’ve noticed this. sometimes it helps if you take out the whitespace and include a <BR> tag to reinsert the line break. And remember to preview.

  253. #253 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    June 11, 2008

    [I got some of the anchovy butter from my favorite Italian restaurant–like almost a pound–and have sooooo much sauce…and I’m not giving any way. Friday is pasta putanesca con calamari!)

    Well that settles it. Putanesca tomorrow night.

  254. #254 Ryan F Stello
    June 11, 2008

    Don’t read more into it that was already there. And do not ever talk like that to me in person.

    How did I talk to you?
    I just said that we don’t really care about your “hard-won insight”, which we don’t.

    For someone who describes themselves as light-hearted, you turn pretty aggressive at the slightest criticism and this?…..

    If you want to go to the nearest hood, drop your drawers, and start chanting KKK slogans, that is your business.

    …that’s just insane.

    Working in a prison made you about as funny and insightful as a train wreck (hope that didn’t offend you too much).

  255. #255 Kseniya
    June 11, 2008

    Ok… putanesca is wonderful, in part because chopped anchovies in a sauce aren’t HOT AND DRY AND TOO SALTY like the offending pizza-anchovies.

       *   *   *   *

    Blockquotes break easily here.

    Newlines break them.

    I have tried using a [p] tag to force a newline, and that works less-than-perfectly-well. (Each [p] seems to cause a one-line extension of the block, so that it steps on the first line(s) of text that follow the block.)

    I’ve taken to using the list tag [li] to create indentations, rather than rely on newlines to separate paragraphs (or discrete lines in a list) within a blockquote. This works fairly well in most cases, and doesn’t screw up the spacing.

    Another approach is to close the block and open a new one for each paragraph in the quoted text. This does create an unintended effect – it suggests the paragraphs aren’t contiguous, or even related.

    Here is the first in a series of lines, each followed by a [p] tag only (no newline).

    Here is the second line.

    And the third.

    And the fourth, followed only by the /blockquote tag. You’ll see that the spacing is inconsistent, and the block extends two or three lines below the end of this sentence.

    Now the same block, with [li] prefixed to the each line, effectively replacing all occurrences of [p], and the text edited accordingly:

  256. Here is the first in a series of lines, each followed by an [li] tag only (no newline).
  257. Here is the second line.
  258. And the third.
  259. And the fourth, followed only by the /blockquote tag. You’ll see the block no longer extend two or three lines below the end of this sentence.
  260. Now the first block again, with [br] replacing all occurrences of [p], and the text edited accordingly:

    Here is the first in a series of lines, each followed by a [br] tag only (no newline).
    Here is the second line.
    And the third.
    And the fourth, followed only by the /blockquote tag. You’ll see the block no longer extend two or three lines below the end of this sentence.

    Now, finally, I’ll try using [br] to double-space the lines:

    Here is the first in a series of lines, each followed by two [br] tags (and no newlines).

    Here is the second line.

    And the third.

    And the fourth, followed only by the /blockquote tag. You’ll see the block no longer extend two or three lines below the end of this sentence.

    That seems to work well.

  261. #256 StuV
    June 12, 2008

    Marcus:

    I hope I am not coming across like a complete illiterate here.

    Not by a long shot. And even if you did, you will find this community is very willing to teach.

    Damn perfessers.

    For the record, you seem that true rarity here: someone new to the topic and genuinely willing to learn. Admirable.

  262. #257 Brownian, OM
    June 12, 2008

    MAJeff, the way you describe cooking and food is totally hot.

    Seriously. Hot.

  263. #258 Dr Benway
    June 12, 2008

    We ought to license CAM and other anti-science practitioners via state gaming commissions.

    All CAM advertising, including business cards, should include the words, “for entertainment purposes only.”

  264. #259 Joe
    June 12, 2008

    Marcus Welby #244 wrote “I still think that the law is adequate in some ways to start regulation.”

    They are already regulated- practicing medicine without a license is illegal.

  265. #260 marcus welby
    June 12, 2008

    NDT,

    Actually I think I sort of did burst the bubble. Let’s look at most states current statutes regarding fraud, which is difficult to prosecute in all but the most excessive cases because one must prove intent. It is OK for you to hold the opinion that everything that ND’s do is a fraud, but proving the intent to defraud will be almost impossible unless you change the laws, a step I think would be a very dangerous one, especially considering our current supreme court composition.

    Imagine a law where someone else can attribute intent to your actions. Think this through and then think about some historical examples of countries where similar laws were enacted.

    Ryan,

    I will work hard to bring my level of insight up to your exacting standards.

    Joe,

    Ah but then there is the difference between opinion -“I believe that they are breaking the law” and proof – “your honor, the state rests.” Proving the practice of medicine without a license is nigh on impossible without investigative resources that are not available. You aren’t volunteering your time to become trained in investigative techniques, spend years honing your insight into admissible evidence and then spending all of your time in court testifying to achieve a decent level of prosecutory wins, all, of course, for no pay. Because that is what it would take.

    Let’s be real here. There is a very big difference between the world as we would like it to be and what it really is. Resources are limited and you must pick your battles. Obviously most on this blog are of the opinion that this is a critical fight, but compared to the war, economy, and the lack of decent universal health care in this country, this is not even on most peoples radar screens.

    Do you have a reasonable and achievable idea? And before you say, we let’s just outlaw it, I would ask you if you have ever actually tried to shepherd a new law through any body of government? I have. It is a long, hard, labor intensive process that can consume your entire life if you actually work for a living. And then anyone who opposed it can come in at the last moment and submarine all your work. Crap. Maybe you can get it passed next biennium.

    I don’t say this to be dismissive because you obviously feel strongly about this subject. Do you have any solutions that will work on the ground?

    And I have a question for everyone. I have tried to research this and have not been very successful. I am pretty good at quelling riots, but pubmed is not exactly a riot. Bwahahahahaha. I crack me up. Ahem. Sorry.

    Here is my question. I have been told that chemo agents have never been studied against a control neutral, and only against other chemo agents. Maybe I don’t understand this deeply enough, but it seems to my little mind that this would violate the tenets of basic research.

    I have been asking a lot of questions about cancer lately because Mom has peritoneal cancer – terminal. I have watched chemo destroy her quality of life in what the MD admitted was basically medical experimentation. And in one conversation this little tidbit was brought up. I am looking for some kind of validation, I guess. Sorry for being irrational about this, but it hurts.

    Thanks.

  266. #261 Emmet Caulfield
    June 12, 2008

    given my background in matters legal

    OK, given this background, do you think it’d be a good idea to allow, say, crystal-ball readers to call themselves “psychic lawyers” and represent and dispense legal advice to the public if they wanted to? I’m sure some people do go to crystal-ball readers to ask if they should cop a plea, sign a contract, etc., so we should probably regulate that. Let’s make sure they’ve a diploma from an unaccredited college, with a set curriculum of crystal-ball gazing, legal studies, palmistry, and tarot-reading.

    If people are happy for Madame Zuzu to represent them facing a capital murder charge, that’s their choice.

    When the stakes are health, life and death, the state shouldn’t legitimise horseshit. Really.

  267. #262 Citizen Z
    June 12, 2008

    @Kseniya: (Warning! Web geekery!)

    Another approach is to close the block and open a new one for each paragraph in the quoted text. This does create an unintended effect – it suggests the paragraphs aren’t contiguous, or even related.

    That’s actually how it’s supposed to work. This page is in XHTML Strict, and all tags are supposed to be closed, otherwise you’ll get rendering issues. If you want to force a newline, just force a newline, that’s what <br /> is for. (Use two if you want a blank line between text.) The main problem is with the disappearing blockquotes.

  268. #263 Kseniya
    June 12, 2008

    Z:

    That’s actually how it’s supposed to work.

    Yes, I realize that. I was just pointing out that the approach can subtley undermine the perceived continuity of the quoted blocks, even though it does solve the broken-blocks problem.

    Either way, the [br] tag is the way to go; thanks for the suggestion. I don’t know why I’d abandoned that one in favor of the [p] tag. Duh. :-)

    Another suggestion for those who are wondering how to add some formatting to their comments: when you see something you like, you can see how it was done by viewing the source of the page.

    In IE, right-click on the page and select “view source” – it’ll pop up a Notepad window showing the full html source of the page; you can then use the “Find” function to easily locate areas of interest. I forget how to do it in Firefox… it’s probably pretty similar.

  269. #264 Ryan F Stello
    June 12, 2008

    I will work hard to bring my level of insight up to your exacting standards.

    Good. You can start by keeping your “light-hearted”, but aggressively violent sense of non-humor out of it.

    Now that that’s out of the way, time to sit back and await others’ replies to your more substantive questions.

  270. #265 thalarctos
    June 12, 2008

    Here is my question. I have been told that chemo agents have never been studied against a control neutral, and only against other chemo agents. Maybe I don’t understand this deeply enough, but it seems to my little mind that this would violate the tenets of basic research.

    You are right that from a purely logical point of view, that that is a less robust research design than testing against a control would be. However, there is also an ethical principle that if there is an accepted standard of care–even if that standard is quite unsatisfactory–you cannot deprive someone of that care in order to get them to participate in a study. You cannot ask them to give up whatever chance the standard of care would have given them for the sake of an unproven treatment, in case the unproven treatment turns out to be ineffective.

    So comparison against standard chemotherapy, although the research design is weaker, is the compromise that has been reached for the sake of that ethical principle.

    I have been asking a lot of questions about cancer lately because Mom has peritoneal cancer – terminal. I have watched chemo destroy her quality of life in what the MD admitted was basically medical experimentation. And in one conversation this little tidbit was brought up. I am looking for some kind of validation, I guess. Sorry for being irrational about this, but it hurts.

    I’m sorry, marcus, and I wish I could offer more consolation than that.

  271. #266 StuV
    June 12, 2008

    I have been told that chemo agents have never been studied against a control neutral, and only against other chemo agents. Maybe I don’t understand this deeply enough, but it seems to my little mind that this would violate the tenets of basic research.

    At a certain point, “basic research” (I assume you mean a full-bore double-blind clinical study) becomes an exercise in cruelty. Think about it. What if your mother was to participate in a new double-blind chemo test, died, and you were then told “Surprise! She was in the placebo group! You’ll be happy to know everyone receiving the real chemo is in full remission. Yay science!”

  272. #267 Annie
    June 12, 2008

    I’m late to the party, but Sid Schwab at Surgeonsblog opined on this, as well, saying, “According to at least one interpretation, they’ll be able to admit patients to regular hospitals and manage their care.”

    Really? That’s interesting. I think you may be able to take heart:

    Does the MN Board of Nursing have statutes relative to the obligation (or not) or registered nurses acting on the prescriptions of naturopaths? That might be the backdoor way to stop this nonsense in its tracks.

    What medical staff organization would accept naturopath credentialing for inclusion on the medical staff, anyway?

    But I wouldn’t worry too much because of the reimbursement and risk factors that hospitals would have to assume. How many third party payers cover naturopath services and billed treatments? Under what codes? Do they participate in CMS?

    What is the legal liability for hospitals?

    I think the answers to those questions will keep most, if not all, accredited hospitals, from accepting naturopaths’ patients.

    The worrisome part to me is how patients will be suckered in and will forgo effective treatment, reliable and valid therapy and will of course, be the ones shelling out money, time and quality of life without effective advocacy.

  273. #268 Danio
    June 12, 2008

    Marcus,
    I’m very sorry to hear about your mother. I hope that she is as comfortable as she can be right now, and that you are able to be with her as much as possible.

    From your various comments about your background, I gather that learning about this Minnesota Naturopathy law has been your first experience in examining Complementary/Alternative Medicine. As such, I can understand your inclination to dismiss it as, comparatively speaking, not a very big problem. However, if you look into it further I think you will discover that the widespread acceptance of CAM both by laypeople AND Health Science professionals, is a huge problem. These ‘therapies’ net billions of dollars in profits every year–dollars surrendered by hopeful, helpless people seeking miraculous changes in their health that science-based medicine cannot promise.
    Your chemo question is a great example of the limitations of modern medicine. There is an ethical limit to how rigorously the cancer-targeting chemicals can be tested in clinical trials. The best we can do, currently, is to test as rigorously as possible in animal models and in cell culture before offering the chemical for potential use on human patients. It is an imperfect system, and we are working every day to improve the specificity and diminish the side-effects of these chemicals. For now it’s far from ideal, though, and many cancer patients who have endured the intense unpleasantness of chemo of which you are all too familiar, will, in desperation turn to CAM that promises to rid them of cancer completely with herbal remedies, or ‘healing touch’ (in which the patient is not actually touched, btw), or countless other extremely loopy claims. They are Snake-Oil Salesmen, plain and simple. If patients seek these treatments in conjunction with the chemo/radiation therapy they are already receiving, then usually the only thing they lose is money. If, however, they abandon the traditional therapies and seek treatment wholly through CAM modalities, it is almost always a detriment to their health.

    Meanwhile, millions of federal dollars are spent on developing and, ostensibly, testing CAM modalities, in our country and abroad, even as competition for federal research grants for basic and clinical research in the established sciences grows depressingly stiffer. To my knowledge, there has been no CAM treatment to date that has been shown to be any better than a placebo in these trials, but treatments that have failed these tests continue to be applied indiscriminately. Furthermore, CAM programs are cropping up at established medical schools all over the country, lending further credence to their absolutely bogus methods. Bottom line: The health and lives of countless people are adversely affected when CAM is offered as a viable, equivalent alternative to Science-based medicine. It is a big problem, and it flourishing precisely because the majority of people just don’t know enough about the way real science or medicine works to distinguish the difference between true treatments and quackery. If the doctors and scientists don’t rattle their sabers about this disturbing trend, who will?

  274. #269 marcus welby
    June 12, 2008

    Thanks for the input everyone. I appreciate your thoughts.

    I have 2 things to say, both of which will likely result in me getting flamed. Please bear in mind that on the first I am but a messenger. The second one will be open season if you do so choose and I shall accept any scorn you heap my way.

    First, a friend and MD who had studied Qi Gong in China told me that the reason/excuse given that most chinese medicine studies are dismissed is that they do not, for the ethical reasons that Thalarctos states in his post, use double blind studies. To the best of anyones knowledge, is that true, and if so, how is that justifiable? It smacks for a double standard and if true it is not in keeping with the dispassionate stance science purports to follow.

    Second, and addressed to Ryan, I believe that I owe you an explanation if nothing else. Your original post seemed to me both dismissive and passive aggressive. I’m not saying that was your intent but that is how I interpreted it.

    The problem with blogs are 2 fold in my opinion. First, given that up to 90 percent of communication can be non-verbal, it is hard to express nuance with just words. Thus the raise of the emoticon. Second, there are some people who take advantage of the anonymity of blogs to be, shall we say, less polite than they might otherwise be. The medium can lead to a lack of civility.

    Emily Post herself said, “Whenever two people come together and their behavior affects one another, you have etiquette.” This goes for strangers on planes as much as it does for meeting your significant other’s parents for the first time. Good manners aren’t just about good impressions–they’re about how you choose to interact with other people.

    I am certainly as guilty of this as any. I hope that you will accept my apology for any inadvertent harm I may have caused you. I also hope that you recognize that your comment to me was not exactly Emily Post.

    All my best,

    Marcus W. [not MD]

  275. #270 Emmet Caulfield
    June 12, 2008

    the reason/excuse given that most chinese medicine studies are dismissed is that they do not, for the ethical reasons that Thalarctos states in his post, use double blind studies.

    I don’t think that Qi Gong or acupuncture can be compared to chemotherapy. IIRC (IANA MD), until comparatively recently chemo agents were really really nasty and the disease they’re intended to cure is really really nasty. The ethical considerations are very weighty. I don’t think one can compare that to administering/withholding a regimen of breathing exercises or sticking needles in their butt to cure gout.

    I once talked to a diplomat who’d been to China as part of a medical delegation. I forget the exact reason, but they got extensive tours of Chinese hospitals, clinics, and healthcare facilities. Primary care in much of China is basically woo. The delegates asked “Don’t you guys know this is all bullshit?”. The Chinese reply was basically “Of course, we do!”. The authorities know that it’s woo, but they don’t care because they can’t afford real medicine on that scale and the people are perfectly happy with woo. For a lot of minor complaints, woo has a placebo effect, the people get better anyway, and they feel they’ve been treated. If they die, the authorities don’t really care all that much, it’s not like they have a problem with the small size of their population. Sounds cruel, but that’s the way it is.

  276. #271 StuV
    June 12, 2008

    First, a friend and MD who had studied Qi Gong in China told me that the reason/excuse given that most chinese medicine studies are dismissed is that they do not, for the ethical reasons that Thalarctos states in his post, use double blind studies. To the best of anyones knowledge, is that true, and if so, how is that justifiable?

    First, the excuse to not do a double blind study only really applies if it would be unethical to do so, i.e. in chemotherapy. It does not apply for things like acupuncture treatment for back pain. Unsurprisingly, when actual blinded studies were done on that, the effect was doodly-squat better than placebo.

    Second, science-based medicine always proposes a mechanism, i.e. what the damned medication actually does. For example, chemotherapy would have a “this molecule X in the medication binds to protein Y on cancerous type cell Z thereby killing it”. This can be tested and proven before human trials start. Here’s the mechanism for acupuncture, from Wikipedia:

    ” technique of inserting and manipulating fine filiform needles into specific points on the body with the aim of relieving pain and for therapeutic purposes.[4] According to acupuncture theory, these acupuncture points lie along meridians along which qi, a kind of vital energy, is said to flow.”

    Homeopathy is even worse. Look it up for a good laugh. Or cry.

  277. #272 David Marjanovi?, OM
    June 12, 2008

    Chi (or Qui, or Xui)

    .

    Comment 128:

    They are perfecting evolution.

    What, if anything, do you mean? ~:-|

    Tonic water(TnH2O)

    :-D

    I would like to point out that the religious fanatics of Galileo’s time WERE the ‘scientists’ of the age.

    No, “scientist” has a definition: “someone who uses the scientific method”.

    (Like how “ad hominem” has a definition. “X is a Great Master, so what X says is true” is an ad hominem argument. “Insult” and “ad hominem argument” are orthogonal.)

    His conclusion however leaves something to be desired when he asks for a more “fluid concept of evidence”.

    ROTFL!!!

    if you were in, say , South Philla and your pulled into a convenience store and got out and happened to be talking to a friend on your phone and saying stuff like ,”that is so woo,:”

    No, no, we use “woo” as a noun.

    Blockquotes break easily here.

    Newlines break them.

    This is not true, as I demonstrate here. (I just copied what you wrote, empty line included, and put the tags around the whole thing.) It probably holds if you have an incapable browser. IE 7 and Safari are capable, believe it or not.

    Or perhaps preview screws it up. It does odd things sometimes. That’s why I almost never use it. :-)

    You’ll see that the spacing is inconsistent,

    Yes, the first paragraph in a blockquote is always in a smaller font and smaller spacing than the rest, and needs to end either in <br> or in an empty line.

    and the block extends two or three lines below the end of this sentence.

    Not true.

    Here is my question. I have been told that chemo agents have never been studied against a control neutral, and only against other chemo agents. Maybe I don’t understand this deeply enough, but it seems to my little mind that this would violate the tenets of basic research.

    Easy. It’s not enough that a chemo agent works at all, it must work better than the existing treatments, so that’s what it’s compared to.

  278. #273 StuV
    June 12, 2008

    And as for Qi Gong, good luck doing double-blind breathing exercises — but then again, I think it is generally accepted in the scientific community that good breathing and exercise is good for you. “Cosmic breath” my foot.

  279. #274 thalarctos
    June 12, 2008

    Thalarctos states in his post

    *Her* post, actually :).

    First, a friend and MD who had studied Qi Gong in China told me that the reason/excuse given that most chinese medicine studies are dismissed is that they do not, for the ethical reasons that Thalarctos states in his post, use double blind studies. To the best of anyones knowledge, is that true, and if so, how is that justifiable? It smacks for a double standard and if true it is not in keeping with the dispassionate stance science purports to follow

    It’s a trade-off that weakens the study significantly, as you observed. Other examples are the studies on hormone-replacement therapy and on giving AZT to pregnant women with AIDS, where the results each time were so dramatic that the study was stopped prematurely in order to apply the results.

    That’s not good research design, but the evidence was so compelling (dare I say “extraordinary”?) that research design was sacrificed to ethical treatment of patients–at the cost of the study. In extraordinary cases, researchers absorb that kind of blow to their work.

    If you do it routinely, however, then the whole corpus of research is compromised. It may be a choice that the Chinese medicine researchers make in order to satisfy an ethical mandate, but it means that as a consequence, the whole body of research is correspondingly weaker. Saving that option for extraordinary cases only would make a huge difference in the reception and interpretation of the research corpus.

  280. #275 Brownian, OM
    June 12, 2008

    My own experiences with qigong (which mostly included the more active taiji forms like the Eight Pieces of Brocade) is that they are excellent exercises for general health and fitness, much like many forms of yoga. However, as for the mystical disease-curing attributes of the practices, my sifu once mentioned qigong exercises that supposedly improved eyesight. When I asked him how effective they were, he pointed to his glasses and said, “These work much better.”

  281. #276 marcus welby
    June 12, 2008

    OK,

    Thanks, that helps in understanding.

    To clarify my friend wasn’t talking about Qi Gong being studied but rather a larger body of chinese medicine. I also study Tai Chi as a combat variant and it is remarkably good exercise. I think it would make a good modality for PT. Plus it looks really cool.

    It doesn’t surprise me that the diplomat got that answer, but I am cautious about the meaning of it. I taught english a long time ago [given my user name you can guess just how many miles I have on my wheels – does anyone else remember the show?] in Taiwan then Venezuela. One of my private students in Venezuela was a chinese ambassador and a genuinely nice guy. After we had known each other about 8 months he explained to me a quirk in the chinese culture when dealing with foreigners, especially when ‘face’ is involved. They will, um, shade the truth to the degree necessary so that they do not directly disagree with the guest. So when your diplomatic friend asked with typical american straightforwardness, “Dont’ you know this is all BS [paraphrased]” then the response MIGHT have been what they thought he wanted to hear based upon his original statement. Or it might not have. It is all very convoluted and based in a culture that is, um, different than ours to a great degree.

  282. #277 Danio
    June 12, 2008

    Thalarctos states in his post
    *Her* post, actually :).

    Damn all the wimmin and their sexually ambiguous generic names!!

  283. #278 Dustin
    June 12, 2008

    I’m glad that naturopaths can now be called doctors. In my mind, an M.D. and a naturopath are both quacks. One is going to give you an herbal tea and some insense to fix your infertility the other is going to give you a fertility drug so you can give bith to a litter of underweight, semi-translucent, partially deformed, borderline retard babies.

  284. #279 StuV
    June 12, 2008

    No, Dustin, don’t hold back.

  285. #280 Longtime Lurker
    June 12, 2008

    Gotta love the anchovies (alici), but the key is to soak them briefly to cut down on the excess salt. One local pizzeria does a no-cheese pizza with crushed tomatoes, anchovies, and garlic. Any residual saltiness from the anchovies permeates the tomatoes… simply sublime.

    Pasta puttanesca (prostitute-style) is not a traditional dish, but a recent addition to La Cucina Italiana. One interesting feature of the dish is that the ingredients are preserved “pantry” staples rather than seasonally grown or foraged items. One can imagine a “working girl” cooking it quickly, between johns, with no need for hitting the market.

    The filipino dilis is another great “anchovy” dish, the little suckers are deep fried, head on (Head On is another “woo” remedy, BTW). They are then eaten whole, dipped in vinegar, and washed down with copious amounts of beer- be-bop-a-licious.

  286. #281 Hermano
    June 12, 2008

    @Longtime Lurker
    What is your recipe for puttanesca?
    I’ve been dumping in an entire tin of anchovies, the tin has double the number of anchovy fillets called by the recipe.
    No soaking, as I do not want to waste any bit of flavor.
    It is a bit salty, especially with added capers.

  287. #282 marcus welby
    June 13, 2008

    Thanks for your feedback and words everyone.

    I am going back on shift and will not be checking in for about 2 weeks.

    I would like to leave you with this thought from a non scientist type person. What would I call that … layman?

    Anyway. I have used some CAM treatments but to me and many of the people I know [consider the pool of candidates I hang out with – the atmosphere is fairly testosterone laden] who also see chiropractic, naturopathic, or some martial art all consider it a help in keeping in optimal health. Contrast this to curative, which I believe you guys [generic term] call, um, science based medicine.

    I know of one friend who died of cancer [pardon my french but that disease is a real MoFo – damn it all] who also saw an ND who worked with the oncologist to ameliorate the pain with a minimum of side effects. Obviously this is anecdotal. But I do remember meeting an ND at a party and chatting with her for a while. She seemed pretty well educated to me [which is, I admit, not saying much], but one thing she said stuck with me; “If you break your leg or have an emergency call 9-11. If you get cancer or other serious disease I can help with pain and I can help keep your nutritional needs balanced with your treatment plan, but I would recommend certain MD’s that I have worked with.” Or something like that. It seemed a pretty reasonable approach to things.

    I have to wonder, although you may not, whether or not your take no prisoners approach is the most fruitful way to approach this issue. Sun Tsu said that to know your enemy is to have won to battle.

    Have a great few weeks and don’t be saying ‘woo’ on MLK anytime soon.

    MW nMD

  288. #283 Longtime Lurker
    June 13, 2008

    Hermano, I don’t really stick to recipes, being more of an “instinctual” cook, but they key to success is to remember that the anchovies and capers have been salted for “preservation” purposes (even though better methods for preservation have been devised). Stick to the number of anchovies (salt-packed are better than oil-packed, if you can get them) called for in the recipe, but give them (and the capers) a quick soak. I prefer gaeta olives for the recipe.
    Also, for the base to the sauce, I first cook a heaping tablespoon of tomato paste in a nice splash of olive oil until it’s slightly carmelized, then add about six soaked anchovy filets, mashed in a pestle. Then add the garlic (I tend to use A LOT), cook until aromatic, and add the olives, capers, crushed tomatoes, and a copious amount of crushed red pepper.

    Belissima!

  289. #284 Sven DiMilo
    June 13, 2008

    Olives, ah. I knew there was a reaon I doid not care for most Putanesca, and it’s because I cannot abide black olives. (Love anchovies, though, on pizza and everything.)

  290. #285 Hermano
    June 14, 2008

    @Lurker
    Bravo
    I like the idea of cooking tomato paste first.
    I usually start by slicing A LOT of garlic and cooking it in olive oil, then adding other ingredients, including lots of Calamatas and diced organic tomatoes.
    I’ll try to slow down a bit, soak and mush anchovies, mince garlic.
    I like how bold flavors are in my puttanesca but I want them to be more balanced and blend better.
    Will look for anchovies packed in salt.
    BTW. I had a pizza margherita today with anchovies, it was excellent but as usual the pizziolis overload pizza with anchovies or perhaps they do not soak them, as I am sure they do not often get requests for anchovy topping, and in anchovies case more and saltier is not always better.

  291. #286 Dr Benway
    June 14, 2008

    Marcus Welby, always the first question is: does the treatment work?

    Individual humans cannot tell when treatments work. We had to invent statistics to move beyond bloodletting for everything.

    But the statistics weren’t enough. We had to invent blinded controls to see beyond our own wishful thinking.

    This controlled trial stuff started to take off in the 1980s. A lot of standard treatment is slowly being evaluated with better controls – e.g., hormone replacement therapy which for many years was widely recommended to prevent bone loss is now no longer standard.

    Every step forward in modern medicine has been a hard fight against our own monkey-minds, our propensity to *feel* health and goodness as a quality, as we *feel* kinship or love.

    Shamanism is natural and easy. Science is hard, but much more powerful.

    We don’t need more ancient wisdom. We don’t need more ground up rhinoceros horn. We don’t need naturopaths or homeopaths. We need more science.

  292. #287 marcus welby
    June 14, 2008

    Dear Dr. Benway,

    Whether you feel the need or not for ancient wisdom, rhino horn, ND’s or homeopaths is irrelevant to my point, I think. You obviously don’t believe so.

    The facts are that CAM treatments are being studied now, albeit in a small way. Your feelings about that are irrelevant to the bigger picture.

    My point was unscientific but very political. You are fighting battles and losing the war. The statistics of since the 80’s of the acceptance of CAM treatments and the amount of money being spent on research and direct purchase of CAM are pointing in one direction; up to the top of the chart.

    Not to bring more woo into this, but in sales one closes the deal with an emotional appeal, not an intellectual one. This is true for the vast majority of people and while you and I may look at ‘just the facts ma’am’ most do not.

    And dismissing others opinions outright because they do not have the evidence behind them is not winning you any converts outside of the already converted. Joe Public is just going to say that ‘you guys’ seem to change your mind every few days. You might point out that as the evidence changes so does your stance. I admire that stance and I agree with it, but the nuance of it is lost on most.

    This is likely something most of you are aware of. I just thought I should mention it in case you weren’t. It can be easy to mistake the trees for the forest at times for all of us, not matter our circumstances.

    Have a great day.

    MW nMD

  293. #288 Katrina
    June 14, 2008

    Hermano,

    A pizza Margherita with anchovies is not a Margherita, but a Pizza Napolitano, which, incidentally, you can find everywhere in Italy except Naples.

  294. #289 Dr Benway
    June 14, 2008

    I’m all for well controlled trials for any substance or therapy thought to help people. Calling the substance or therapy “CAM” adds no scientific meaning.

    Science is difficult. It is likely impossible if politics become more important to all concerned than doing good science.

  295. #290 Longtime Lurker
    June 14, 2008

    Hermano, the anchovies should impart more of an umami flavor than a salty flavor. A common ingredient in Roman cooking was garum, a fish sauce similar to Nam Pla, Nuoc Nam, or Patis. The use of anchovies as a flavoring agent in sauces may be a gentler throwback to the days of garum’s popularity.

    Just to give you another favorite recipe of mine, take a nice bunch of bitter greens, such as broccoli rabe, escarole, or chicory, give it a quick parboil, drain thoroughly, then saute it in olive oil with a handful of currants or golden raisins, a couple of cloves of garlic, and a handful of pignoli. Serve as a side to just about anything.

    Enough of my food-geekery…

  296. #291 Hermano
    June 16, 2008

    Katrina,
    I will ask for Pizza Napolitano next time, I doubt the native Mexican pizziolis will know what I am asking. The place I went last week advertises itself as purveyors of ‘vera pizza napolitana’ and is very good, 430C wood fired oven cooks pizza
    in just over 1 minute.

  297. #292 Hermano
    June 16, 2008

    Lurker,
    I shared your idea for bitter greens with my spouse and got an enthusiastic yes. A big favorite here is kale sauteed in olive oil with lots of garlic. I think adding pignolis will be a great idea.
    Yes, umami flavor, I love seaweed and anchovies, not a huge fan of MSG.

  298. #293 llewelly
    June 29, 2008

    hm, ‘doctor for naturopaths’ … yes, naturopaths do need doctors, especially doctors specializing in mental disorders.

  299. #294 misslotus78
    May 14, 2010

    Wow interesting, am I feeling a sense of threat? Totally amusing. I am actually a naturopathic medical student. There is a misconception that we learn witch craft, muscle testing etc.. I make fun of all of that stuff too.

    Not true, we learn modalities such as botanical medicine, homeopathy (which has an incredibly interesting origin), hydrotherapy (what they do in Europe to get well- imagine that!), manipulations, minor surgery, and pharmacology to name a few. The challenge with research, which is what I do, is in CAM- the patient is an individual with unique circumstances that lead up to their pathology or in the case of an herbal medicine. Seperating out the active constituent is not as useful as the synergistic properties of that plant. Also a lot of it boils down to money. Naturopathic doctors have been recommending Vitamin D and fish oil for decades. Now that the mainstream medical community has finally found that out, it’s theirs all of a sudden. Naturopathic medicine fundamentally gos by the principle of treating the cause. Palliation has its uses, digging a bit deeper too to find the causative agents, provides long term results.

    We do not even learn acupuncture

  300. #295 John Morales
    May 15, 2010

    misslotus78: Shame you’re not doing real medicine. Because there’s nothing “unnatural” about it.

    PS

    * botanical medicine — impure, variable-dose substances with unpredicable degrees of active ingredients. What people had to rely on before modern chemistry came along.

    * homeopathy — pure unscientific woo, with truly “an incredibly interesting origin” which can be summarised as unsympathetic magic.
    At least it only does harm by preventing real medicine, since properly done it has no active ingredients.

    * hydrotherapy — because a relaxing bath can cure what ails you! (heh)

    * manipulations — good for correcting dislocations, not for much else. I suppose a nice massage can be relaxing…

    * minor surgery — best left to surgeons. At least it’s a genuine modality! :)

    * pharmacology — pure, fixed-dose substances with predicable degrees of active ingredients. What “botanical medicine” should aspire to.
    This is the exact opposite of homeopathy! :)

  301. #296 John Morales
    May 15, 2010

    misslotus78:

    Also a lot of it boils down to money.

    Uh-huh. You’re learning this out of the goodness of your heart, and not to make a living out of it?

    You won’t charge for your “services”? :)

    Now that the mainstream medical community has finally found that out, it’s theirs all of a sudden.

    Yeah, because it was not “mainstream medical” research that discovered vitamin D or omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid ordocosahexaenoic acid, right? Heh.

    Look, either it’s medicine, or it’s alternative to medicine. There is no “alternative medicine”.

  302. #297 Jadehawk, OM
    May 15, 2010

    what they do in Europe to get well- imagine that!

    Were you trying to impress us with your claims of “what they do in Europe”?

    provincial moron.

    Europeans don’t do hydrotherapy any more than Americans or anybody else. IOW, some who have fallen victims to your false claims do, but most sane people still haul their ass to their Dr. Med. for real medicine when ill.

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