Pharyngula

How to save $225 million dollars

Here’s a phenomenal suggestion you can promote to the Obama administration: shut down the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. It’s a huge boondoggle, a fat earmark for low-quality pseudoscience, and it’s money that would be better spent on real science and medicine. Sign up at change.gov and vote it up!

Comments

  1. #1 10ch.org
    January 15, 2009

    You know, I wonder how may other wasteful earmarks there are.

  2. #2 David Marjanovi?, OM
    January 15, 2009

    Yes, we can!!!

  3. #3 Mike Beavington
    January 15, 2009

    Darn, I can’t vote eh. Good luck on this one; it’s a great idea. There is probably something else on that abstinence only campaign as well that can be diverted as well.

  4. #4 Zifnab
    January 15, 2009

    The solution seems somewhat messy. Having forty different branches – one for each disease – seems somewhat bureaucratic. Shouldn’t this all be administered by one agency?

  5. #5 10ch.org
    January 15, 2009

    @#3 Mike Beavington
    Yes, you can vote. It is easy to create an account there.

  6. #6 cameron
    January 15, 2009

    UFO disclosure is at 6400 points! Don’t forget to vote that one down.

  7. #8 the pro from dover
    January 15, 2009

    In the USA we have a medico-legalo-consumero-victimo-advocateo-pharmaco-technico-insuranceo-investero-ancillaryo-alternativeo-marketo-mediao-entrpreneurial complex that will see to it that any attempt to diminish the authenticity of alternative medicine and its funding and reimbursement will be flooded by testimonials which in the USA carries far more clout than any # of peer reviewed research articles. Emotion trumps science every time. I will safely bet that beyond some limited scope (insurance for children-who usually are healthy) there will be no significant medical reform during the Obama administration, and all other related promises to this subject will be put on the back burner pretty quickly. Remember: If conventional medicine is against it, it’s got to be good (see laetrile).

  8. #9 funda62
    January 15, 2009

    Can someone give a specific html for the sign up page? I haven’t finished my first cup of coffee and can’t seem to find it. TIA

  9. #10 Nerd of Redhead
    January 15, 2009

    The only good thing about this agency is that it funds work that shows that alternative medicine is nothing but placebo. But that isn’t the results people wanted or expected when the agency was originally set up. For example, a recent study showed the herbal supplements didn’t work against menopause symptoms. Dah.

  10. #11 Francine DuBois
    January 15, 2009

    Not so fast… Alternative medicine may not need a separate center, but research into alternative medicine is not itself a bad thing.

    For example, a friend of mine was funding by NCCAM to study how alternative medicines may interfere with targeted cancer drugs. A completely valid study that may improve patients’ lives by convincing them NOT to use alternative medicine.

  11. #12 David Lee
    January 15, 2009

    I voted it down. If Obama is going to dramatically change health practices he might as well add defunding this agency to the pile. Can’t hurt.

  12. #13 funda62
    January 15, 2009

    Never mind I found it and am now embarrassed for life.

  13. #14 recovering catholic
    January 15, 2009

    We’ve been fighting the institution of an aromatherapy program at my college for years. Each year comes up to the curriculum committee the vote is closer and closer to its being approved, despite the vigilant protests of the natural science department.

    Support scientific literacy! On the change.gov website, please search for every “alternative medicine” supportive proposal and vote NO!

  14. #15 Bronze Dog
    January 15, 2009

    Added my vote.

  15. #16 TSC
    January 15, 2009

    But I need my dirty herbs man.

  16. #17 HumanisticJones
    January 15, 2009

    Voted up the defunding of NCCAM, voted down the UFO disclosure. A Pharyngula poll crash that may come to some good.

  17. #18 amph
    January 15, 2009

    @#3 Mike Beavington
    Yes, you can vote. It is easy to create an account there.

    Seriously, you don’t need an existing American address?

  18. #19 10ch.org
    January 15, 2009

    @#17 amph
    Nope. You only need to fill in an American zip code. If they block non-U.S. IP addresses, then use a U.S. proxy to create an account.

  19. #20 SplendidMonkey
    January 15, 2009

    Man, that’s a confusing request. “Vote Up” = “Defund” I hope.

  20. #21 Angel Kaida
    January 15, 2009

    Try searching Religion in there too, people. This is one of the best uses for Pharyngulizing ever.

  21. #22 Jay
    January 15, 2009

    Vote UP to Defund.

  22. #23 CPSmith
    January 15, 2009

    I’m still not convinced that there is no place for alternative medicine. Certainly there needs to be more research into what actually works and how (most of it looks like rubbish to me), but there is something very positive about alternative medicine that I have noticed. With alternative medicine the patient is often required to be an active agent in their own care. They have to work on their diets or meditate or some similar thing. I suspect that this feeling of control over one’s own health and treatment could benefit patients greatly and it is probably the reason alternative therapies are so popular. Perhaps there is a way to harness this positive aspect of alternative medicine without having to tell people that they are being cured by the wisdom of ancient quantum crystal rays.

  23. #24 Angel Kaida
    January 15, 2009

    Also, “Marriage Equality” is a good place to vote.

  24. #25 jwmaag
    January 15, 2009

    This is definitely my new favorite website to browse when bored.

  25. #26 parkrrrr
    January 15, 2009

    Vote down which UFO disclosure proposal? There’s at least a dozen.

    On the plus side, the inability of the nutcases to organize properly dilutes their effect.

  26. #27 JY
    January 15, 2009

    A number of pseudo-science issues DO have SOME legitimacy, but taken to a nonsensical extreme the lesser, but legitimate, benefits get overlooked or even deprived of the merit they deserve; I think the following are some examples:

    Homeopathy (use of diluted ???) — has origins associated with “hormesis” where dilute [but measurable] quantities of poisons were found to be effective treatments for some things. Homeopaths took the concept to an extreme and tooke the study of hormesis into obscurity. There was an article about it, “Is Radiation Good for You?” in Sci American, Discover/y, some years back. Apparently some good science was missed as a result & this niche area was getting renewed attention.

    Chiropractic — if ever a test case existed I was it with a back injury with a subluxation visible to the naked eye. As physical therapists some of these practioners can be very good (a certified physical therapist I was seeing said as much & my experience proves it, to me)…but any evidence of the neural issues they advertise were nonexistant in my symptoms. That fact contributed to my cousin, who was a Chiro, going back to school for his Phys. Asst. credential. Another guy I knew had a neck injury, which was miraculously “cured” when he got hit in the neck by an errant football. Chiro treatments helped him too…but the neural effects that supposedly existed showed no symptoms & thus weren’t “cured.” MANY Chiros recognize this & will admit it, and want to practice as a form of therapist–and DO provide a good service at a reasonable price compared to formal physical therapists, in my opinion they’re ok…but those that assert the neural effects of imperceptible/nonexistant subluxations are either quacks or self-deluded themselves.

    Both illustrate how some good, or at least not bad, things can get derailed by pseudo-science. It’s not just that the latter are bad, its also the negative impact that nonsense has closely affiliated science that is put into false disrepute as a result — this latter effect doesn’t get the attention it deserves…

  27. #28 Richard
    January 15, 2009

    The altmed people are trying to become legitimate, and that corrupts everybody. They are infiltrating hospitals and medical schools. In my opinion, alternative medicine is just as pernicious as creationism.

  28. #29 DrBadger
    January 15, 2009

    #28, Richard, agreed. It’s all over my medical school. And people get upset if you try to (scientifically) challenge their practices. I doubt they will get rid of this department. It’s a very lucrative business and it won’t go away quietly.

  29. #30 mayhempix
    January 15, 2009

    Voted.

    Unfortunately there is another proposal that already has over 19,000 points and is one the more popular ones. It includes “freedom” from vaccinations and chemtrails.

    Please vote it down:

    http://citizensbriefingbook.change.gov/ideas/viewIdea.apexp?id=087800000004oSw

    Health Freedom IS Our First Freedom
    Health Freedom – Our First Freedom!

    Health Freedom means the right to control what happens to your body, choosing your own health path, making our own health choices as you see fit.

    Please vote for health freedom so we can have:
    Access to high potency nutrients and supplements
    Protection from Codex
    Absolute medical privacy
    Meaningful organic standards
    Access to raw milk, bitter almonds and other health aides
    Irradiation-free foods

    Freedom from:
    - Unlabelled GMO foods
    - Coercedor mandatory vaccinations and other medical treatments including psychiatric or other drugging
    - Involuntary experimentation on foster children, prisoners and civilian populations
    - Chemtrail spraying
    - C?

  30. #31 Chris Chandler
    January 15, 2009

    http://citizensbriefingbook.change.gov/ideas/viewIdea.apexp?id=087800000004uGm

    -I not only voted that issue down, but I’ve spent more than an hour voting down UFO conspiracies. The link above is my own personal wish to eliminate the Patriot Act. For me, this was a greater shame than Iraq.

  31. #32 Orac
    January 15, 2009

    The person who proposes this is correct that the federal government spends around $225 million per year on unscientific and dubious studies of therapies mostly based on prescientific understanding. What he’s wrong about is where the total comes from. In actuality, NCCAM’s budget is around $121 million a year. The other money comes from an office in the National Cancer Institute known as the Office of Complementary and Alternative Medicine, whose budget is also around $121 million a year. Together, that’s nearly a quarter of a billion scarce taxpayer dollars spent on woo. Both NCCAM and OCCAM would have to be defunded to realize that savings, and I certainly support defunding both. There’s no need for a separate institution to study this stuff. Also, the entire NIH budget is just under $30 billion. Removing OCCAM and NCCAM would only be less than 1% of the NIH budget.

    But it’s a start.

  32. #33 ihedenius
    January 15, 2009

    This is a huge favorite of Steve Novella (of the Skeptics guide to the Universe). Lol, he has the second comment. This might be the most worthy target to phanryngulate yet. I’m going to try to vote, foreigner and all.

  33. #34 Ray Ladbury
    January 15, 2009

    You know, I have some relatives who believe in this crap–laser accupuncture, aura-readers–they’ve got tons of “high-tech” equipment that really has no effect but to peg my bullshit meter. The thing is some of these folks are scientists and engineers, and as rational and competent as you could ever want. They just seem to have a need to believe that they’ve found a way to cheat death. Good luck trying to take that false security away from them. Remember what happened when they tried to give FDA authority to regulate herbal supplements–you could have Mel Gibson show up on your doorstep. And nobody wants that.

  34. #35 SC, OM
    January 15, 2009

    Also, the entire NIH budget is just under $30 billion. Removing OCCAM and NCCAM would only be less than 1% of the NIH budget.

    But it’s a start.

    By which Orac of course means a start at eliminating CAM, not the NIH budget.
    :)

  35. #36 Steven Salzberg
    January 15, 2009

    Good point, ORAC. We need to de-fund both NCCAM and the separate OCCAM (at NCI) in order to save these funds. I’ll be more explicit next time.

  36. #37 ihedenius
    January 15, 2009

    On second thought. Not going to give a false zip code, I hope lots of americans vote it up though.

  37. #38 Exitus
    January 15, 2009

    Maybe I’m just being pessimistic, but if this is anything like the British Governments online petition system, they’ll completely ignore it.

  38. #39 Exitus
    January 15, 2009

    Maybe I’m just being pessimistic, but if this is anything like the British Governments online petition system, they’ll completely ignore it.

  39. #40 Orac
    January 15, 2009

    By which Orac of course means a start at eliminating CAM, not the NIH budget.

    True. I meant, it’s a start in getting more money to go to worthy biomedical research. D’oh!

  40. #41 NewEnglandBob
    January 15, 2009

    medico-legalo-consumero-victimo-advocateo-pharmaco-technico-insuranceo-investero-ancillaryo-alternativeo-marketo-mediao-entrpreneurial complex

    Such a catchy phrase. I may put it on my car’s bumper. Oh wait, I would need a semi for it to fit.

    Remember: The name for alternative medicine that works is medicine.

  41. #42 DrBadger
    January 15, 2009

    @#41… I think your catchy phrase would make a better bumper sticker.

  42. #43 NickK
    January 15, 2009

    I’m Canadian, so I don’t think I’ll vote. Even though I want to. I fear that initiatives like this will be sabotaged by those who will claim “Foreign Influence”. Especially if is discovered that people are circumventing protections that the site has put in place to ensure only US residents can vote. Obama will have enough on his plate than to have to defend against spurious attacks.

  43. #44 dreamstretch
    January 15, 2009

    Maybe I’m just being pessimistic, but if this is anything like the British Governments online petition system, they’ll completely ignore it.

    They don’t ignore it; everyone who signs gets a nice email explaining exactly why they don’t give a shit.

  44. #45 Conor H.
    January 15, 2009

    There are some CAM practices that I think we could find uses and mechanisms for if they (CAM practitioners) weren’t so quackish about it. For instance, I read a handbook on acupuncture once that was intended for doctors and other conventional medical professionals. Half of the book was a discussion of plausible mechanisms and therapuetic use. The other half was a bunch of mumbo-jumbo about meridians and energy fields. It’s like the first half was written by rational professionals and the second half was written by some crystal waving lunatic.

    If anything works, or doesn’t we should do research and find out. If that’s what th NCCAM is doing, I support them. Of course, this would cause the great bulk of CAM to disappear, so I can’t imagine they’ll be very anxious to do that.

  45. #46 Quiet_Desperation
    January 15, 2009

    laser accupuncture

    First I’ve heard of that.
    I have to admit, though, it *sounds* awesome. ;-)
    How about nuclear homeopathy? Wireless herbs? Genetic chiropractors?

  46. #47 ThinkingApe
    January 15, 2009

    I walked into the place where I buy my coffee the other day (hemp/crystal/hippy shop) and somebody was getting “Raindrop Therapy”. She had her head back and was getting essential oils dropped on her face. It was, apparently, very therepeutic.

  47. #48 bsk
    January 15, 2009

    I have to say, most of the popular ideas on that site are actually worthwhile. I can’t remember the last time I saw people voting en-masse for something that wasn’t retarded.

  48. #49 Scotty B
    January 15, 2009

    If you click “Popular Ideas” there’s actually some really good ones:

    http://citizensbriefingbook.change.gov/ideas/ideaList.apexp?c=09a800000004fo6&lsi=2

  49. #50 bsk
    January 15, 2009

    Ahahah, oh god, I spoke too soon:

    http://citizensbriefingbook.change.gov/ideas/viewIdea.apexp?id=087800000004rdZ

    Mr. President ? Tell us the Truth about the extraterrestrial presence on this planet and release as much relevant information to the American people as possible within reasonable constraints of national security. It is time for the people of the world to know the truth about the universe they inhabit.

  50. #51 Orac
    January 15, 2009

    If anything works, or doesn’t we should do research and find out. If that’s what th NCCAM is doing, I support them. Of course, this would cause the great bulk of CAM to disappear, so I can’t imagine they’ll be very anxious to do that.

    If that’s all that NCCAM were doing, I might agree with you. However, NCCAM does far more than fund research. It actively promotes CAM by funding training grants to train CAM practitioners, and actually funds studies on homeopathy.

    Because homeopaths don’t just believe that dilution makes their remedies more potent but that it is the succussation (shaking) between serial dilutions that imbues their remedies with their “potency,” there is actually a study that asks if succussation improves the dose-response curve:

    There was actually awarded an R21 grant to study homeopathic dilution and succussion and how they affect the dose-response curve of homepathic remedies. This latter grant actually proposes to study whether succussion (the vigorous shaking done with each homeopathic dilution) that, claim homeopaths, is necessary to ?potentize? their remedies affects the dose-response characteristics of homeopathic remedies up to 30C dilution (30 times 100-fold, or a dilution factor of 1 x 10-60). This is a dilution factor many orders of magnitude larger than Avagaddro?s number, which is makes a 30C homeopathic remedy nothing but water. Period. In fact, the investigators are actually going to compare stirring with succussion to see whether succussion, as homepaths claim, improves the dose-response curve.

    See http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=36 for a lot more details about pseudoscience funded by NCCAM and CAM promotion activities.

  51. #52 Jeff Lestina
    January 15, 2009

    Damnit PZ! We are going to have to butt heads here. My Head-On works. I just apply it directly to my forehead and within minutes my headache goes away. I can’t explain it, it just plain works.

  52. #53 Scotty B
    January 15, 2009

    Haha!: Revoke the Tax Exempt Status of the Church of Scientology

    http://citizensbriefingbook.change.gov/ideas/viewIdea.apexp?id=087800000004rbZ&srPos=1&srKp=087

  53. #54 eric
    January 15, 2009

    Nerd of Redhead (#9) said: The only good thing about this agency is that it funds work that shows that alternative medicine is nothing but placebo. But that isn’t the results people wanted or expected when the agency was originally set up.

    Yeah I was also under the impression that the latest head of NCAAM was funding a lot of double-blind studies that demonstrated the uselessness of various “alternative” treatments.

    Now, you could argue that this falls under the authority of the NIH or FDA, but whether you do it there or in NCAAM, I’m okay with (some of) my tax dollars being being spent on exposing bulls**t. Rather than eliminating it, wouldn’t it be nice to fold it into the FDA, effectively giving them an extra $125 mil dedicated to exposing woo for what it is?

  54. #55 Blue Fielder
    January 15, 2009

    Jeez, the staggering amount of crazy Gribble-esque tinfoil-hats on some of those is making me nauseous.

    @53: Upvoted.

  55. #56 larryniven
    January 15, 2009

    I want to reiterate bsk’s point @ 50: this UFOs thing, http://citizensbriefingbook.change.gov/ideas/viewIdea.apexp?id=087800000004na2, is patently absurd. Please let’s not let this actually get taken seriously.

  56. #57 cervantes
    January 15, 2009

    I’m afraid I can’t agree with this. It is true that the Center’s priorities have sometimes been a little strange, but there is a public benefit to subjecting remedies which are widely sold and used to scientific scrutiny. That is what the center does — it’s mission is research, not promotion. Many remedies have a weak evidence base, which their purveyors use to promote them, but which suggest they may have some value. It’s a good idea to do more rigorous research and find out. It turns out, for example, that saw palmetto is an effective treatment for benign prostate enlargement, but that glucosamine-chondroitin has been disappointing after early evidence for effectiveness. As long as these products are out there, it seems incumbent on us to find out if they work, if they are useless, or if they are dangerous.

    Calling for shutting the center down is misguided. It should have a clear priority-setting process and criteria, it should fund only high quality research, but it certainly ought to exist.

  57. #58 Hours
    January 15, 2009

    Nice new boredom killer.

  58. #59 Matt
    January 15, 2009

    $225 million is small change. We would be better to cut back funding for our over-extended military. If we would stop policing the world we could save an amount that would make $225 million a joke.

    As for the NCCAM, why shouldn’t they be provided funding until their treatments are proven ineffective? If there is evidence pointing to a certain level of effectiveness of a treatment (dietary intervention in the treatment of various degenerative diseases) funding should be supplied to study the efficacy of said treatment, right?

    I agree with one poster who mentioned the fact that testimonials unfortunately mean far more to the average citizen than good science. Maybe rather than cutting funding to NCCAM, we need to apply restrictions or guidelines as to what the funding can be used for; real science, well designed clinical trials and the education of the real results to the people who need to understand it most.

    Let’s also not act like “real medicine” hasn’t used pseudo-science disguised as good science to promote itself. The use of shady statistical practices are far too common in some of our most respected medical journals. Reform in every area of medical science is badly needed, in my opinion.

  59. #60 Joe Jordan
    January 15, 2009

    I would agree to a 50% cut providing the 50% is invested in researching the nature and cause of the iatrogenic events that are the third largest cause of premature death in the USA after cancer and heart disease. Doing that may then clarify the rationale for investing more in researching CAM….

  60. #61 John C. Randolph
    January 15, 2009

    $225 million for quackery at the taxpayers’ expense is appalling of course, but don’t lose sight of the far bigger wastes of our money. A trillion dollars annually to keep US troops in 130 countries around the world, for example.

    -jcr

  61. #62 Steven Salzberg
    January 15, 2009

    John C.: of course we waste far larger amounts on other things. However, my proposal is an attempt to manage the realities of how the budget is decided in Washington, DC. NIH gets a certain amount of money, which has been basically flat the past couple of years. Saving money in the DoD budget is great, but it will not be re-directed to NIH (if only it would!). However, if NIH itself can cut $225 million by closing NCCAM and OCCAM, that money would stay within NIH where it could be used to fund, oh, perhaps 500 or more good science proposals per year.

  62. #63 Miko
    January 15, 2009

    I approve of doing this, but I certainly hope you realize that if we stop spending money on this and shift it to something else, we haven’t actually “saved” the money.

  63. #64 Harry
    January 15, 2009

    Here is my new favorite game, searching for “ideas” promoting alternative medicine and other crap and voting them down!

  64. #65 Eric
    January 15, 2009

    Be sure to search for subjects like evolution and vaccines in order to vote down pseudoscience and vote up real science.

  65. #66 TX CHL Instructor
    January 15, 2009

    Here’s an easy way to save about that much this month: Have the presidential inauguration held as a small ceremony in the oval office. Broadcast on TV, but only a few dozen personal invitees.

    As I recall, Lefties were howling about the insane amount of money GWB spent on his inauguration. BHO is about to double that, and nary a peep from you guys.

    Oh, I forgot, it’s ok if Liberals do it.

  66. #67 Steven Salzberg
    January 15, 2009

    TX CHL: this is not a partisan issue. NCCAM was originally sponsored by Tom Harkin, a Democratic Senator from Iowa, and there are probably more pseudoscience advocates on the left than on the right. So no, it is not OK, whoever is doing it. It’s bad science and it’s a waste of money.

  67. #68 Blue Fielder
    January 15, 2009

    @66: You’d be more credible if you weren’t a whiny loser referring to your President as “BHO”. Cry some more, race-baiter.

  68. #69 Jadehawk
    January 15, 2009

    so.much.woo! so.little.time! >.<

    it seems to be left-wing-woo only, too… I did have the feeling change.gov was hovering somewhere around the Netherlands in the political spectrum (well, the “legalize it” proposals pretty much gave it away) :-p

  69. #70 mayhempix
    January 15, 2009

    “As I recall, Lefties were howling about the insane amount of money GWB spent on his inauguration.”

    It’s not the amount of money, but where the money comes from.
    Of course I don’t expect the Gun Nut Instructor to understand the difference.

  70. #71 mayhempix
    January 15, 2009

    “… it seems to be left-wing-woo only, too…”

    Altie med believers and anti-vaxxers come equally from both sides.

  71. #72 Jadehawk
    January 15, 2009

    really? i thought alternative med (other than prayer) were mostly leftwing…

  72. #73 sfnishino
    January 15, 2009

    By all means, shut it down. I don’t understand why we need it center anyway. If it’s good science, it should be covered already. If it’s not… But there is also the issue of ignorance and greed in the medical arena promoting misinformation. Lymph drainage is still considered complimentary or alternative treatment by many. Ya’ know… never mind. bye sf

  73. #74 Blue Fielder
    January 15, 2009

    @73: As the kids these days say, “LOL WUT”

  74. #75 Hershele Ostropoler
    January 15, 2009

    cameron@6, nothing wrong with that, just say “there aren’t any.” Or there are, which would be fascinating.

    Miko@63, the point isn’t to save money per se, it’s to spend it on something useful, like the CDC or whatever. Though one could argue that returning it to the taxpayers (in the form of reduced or fewer taxes) counts as something useful.

  75. #76 Marc Abian
    January 15, 2009

    I don’t think you need an American zip code. There are no ZIPS where I live so I just put in NA with a number.

    Anyway, If someone wants to vote down the leading UFO one (seriously, what the hell?), it can be found here

    http://citizensbriefingbook.change.gov/ideas/ideaList.apexp?c=09a800000004fo6&lsi=2&lsr=30&category=Economy&u=00580000001nCUX

    As an added bonus you can vote up the ones below it, which include the one PZ linked, better school nutrition and a proposal to revoke the special tax breaks the Church of Scientology enjoys.

  76. #77 the pro from dover
    January 15, 2009

    We should call a spade a spade here. Alternative medicine is faith based practice and should be no better at reducing morbidity and mortality (as opposed to improving the “quality of life”),than abstinence education (faith based birth control) is in reducing teen pregnancy rates and std’s. Regardlless, in the USA testimonial therapeutic entrpreneurial marketing fans medical fear and drives percieved need for all kinds of intervention. It makes you feel special and justifies all secondary gain. (see improving “quality of life” cited above.).

  77. #78 Pikemann Urge
    January 15, 2009

    I don’t care what medicine you practice as long as:

    1. It’s as inexpensive as humanly possible
    2. It’s as quick acting as possible
    3. It produces minimal side effects

    Match those criteria and you’ve won me.

    You think pseudo-science is bad? Try telling the idiots around me who take antibiotics ‘in case’ they get an infection. Ahem.

  78. #79 Sara
    January 15, 2009

    Shit. I’ve just wasted hours over there voting on stuff…

  79. #80 miui
    January 15, 2009

    OMG, there are *so* many UFO disclosure petition threads. I voted one up by mistake because the title was ambiguous. It pissed me off, so I made a search for all the threads available and voted them down. Read some threads carefully.

    I’m wary that there are so many BS threads and replies full of paranoia. Change.gov needs more intelligent and WELL INFORMED people adding input.

  80. #81 Jadehawk
    January 15, 2009

    what’s with the “stop the fluorisation of water” proposals? WTF? is there anything to that, or is this more shit like mercury in vaccines? because i’ve never heard of any negative side effects to that…

  81. #82 NFPendleton
    January 15, 2009

    It’s really sad that they actually get to use the word “Medicine” in their name. They can keep their funding, but they need to replace word “Medicine” with the phrase “Fuckin’ Bullshit and Lies.”

  82. #83 TX CHL Instructor
    January 15, 2009

    Here’s another agency you can shut down, and save a lot more than $200,000,000/month: The Bureau of Indian Affairs. There are more government bureaucrats in the BIA than there are Indians subject to their ‘care’, and at least 95% of the BIA budget is completely wasted.

  83. #84 llewelly
    January 15, 2009

    Jadehawk, #81

    what’s with the “stop the fluorisation of water” proposals? WTF?

    Fluoride takes away the freedom of people to believe in UFOS.
    No, really, it’s much easier to believe in UFOs if half your teeth have rotted out.

  84. #85 Eva Young
    January 15, 2009

    Teen Challenge is another Earmark that deserves to be defunded. Both Klobuchar and Obama have supported earmarks for this fringe group:

    http://www.pamshouseblend.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=9027

  85. #86 Aquaria
    January 16, 2009

    Here’s another agency you can shut down, and save a lot more than $200,000,000/month: The Bureau of Indian Affairs. There are more government bureaucrats in the BIA than there are Indians subject to their ‘care’, and at least 95% of the BIA budget is completely wasted.

    Bullshit.

    There are about 1.6 million registered Native Americans, and about another 900K not officially registered with BIA who sometimes do fall under their domain.

    The most recent BIA performance report stated that there were approximately 10,000 employees. Even if it were double that, it wouldn’t be all that high for an agency that includes law enforcement, social workers, and teachers in addition to the typical bureaucrats.

    Admin costs are about 12% of the budget, and the rest of the funds that aren’t stolen by contractors friendly with BIA kahunas goes toward expenditures like law enforcement, education, natural resource mgmt, infrastructure, and etc. that are worthwhile.

    Can BIA be improved? Definitely. Is it unnecessary? Hard to say.

    It’s not as black and white as telling Native Americans sink to or swim on their own, or throwing more money at the problem. The entire issue is too complicated for that.

  86. #87 Jadehawk
    January 16, 2009

    Fluoride takes away the freedom of people to believe in UFOS.

    makes perfect sense now

  87. #88 Sara
    January 16, 2009

    Thank you, Aquaria (#86).

  88. #89 larry c. lyons
    January 16, 2009

    Then again, some so-called complimentary approaches do have some legitimacy. For instance hypnosis research is very rigorously studied,and has contributed a fair amount to methodology (consider the real simulator designs that have come from hypnosis research by Hilgard et al., in the late 70′ and early 80′s). Another good example is the demonstrated effectiveness of hypnotic analgesia. it can be as effective as surgical anesthesia, given the skills and training of the individual.

    That sort of research is what the CAM should be funding.

  89. #90 dave
    January 16, 2009

    As a longtime reader, rationalist and atheist, I am not wholly surprised, but somewhat disappointed that the majority of the people here oppose FUNDING scientific studies to test the efficacy of alternative medicine.

    Of course, all rational people should oppose quacks and charlatans who make promises for which they have no evidence. To that end, wouldn’t it be nice if we could refute these people by pointing to actual studies which indicate that their claims are complete bullsh**? Currently we can’t, since studies of alternative medicine don’t get funded because they don’t make drug companies money.

    Instead, all medical science gets based upon selectively reported drug trials funded by massive drug and health companies who have huge financial stakes in the outcomes of said studies and conducted by researchers dependent on the drug companies for funding.

    If the people here wanted to be consistent they would advocate de-funding the FDA which actually has a significant budget and has been wholly corrupted by the pharmaceutical industry.

    To target the (comparatively) minuscule budget of CAM is to completely miss the forest for the trees.

    Relatedly, is it terribly uncouth to wonder how much research money PZ’s University receives from the pharmaceutical industry?

  90. #91 Steven Salzberg
    January 16, 2009

    90 and 91: you both repeat a logical error here. The proposal to de-fund NCCAM will not end, or ban, the testing of any scientific hypotheses about the efficacy of any treatment. Anything that shows promise can get funded through the normal NIH review process – it doesn’t need a special set-aside (earmark) that is subject to lower standards, which is how NCCAM (and OCCAM) operate. For example, the hypnosis research referred to by #90 was funded before NCCAM even existed.
    91, you are being a bit paranoid when you write “studies of alternative medicine don’t get funded because they don’t make drug companies money.” You seem to think there’s a massive conspiracy that has co-opted all scientists, and I doubt I can convince you otherwise, but that’s simply false. I’m an NIH study section member, and the scientists I’ve met – and their reviewing criteria – aren’t being controlled by drug companies. Far from it.

  91. #92 Nec_V20
    January 16, 2009

    Question: What do you call alternative medicine which works?

    Answer: Medicine

    I have had two spine operations and of course have my “back-attack” days. Whenever that happens I always get the “sage” advice with regard to voodoo medicine.

    My reply to “Have you tried acupuncture?” is, “Have you tried a red-hot poker up your arse – because that would work for me”.

    But mainly I avoid the conversations, because when I hobble into the pub and someone asks me if I have back problems I usually answer, “No, I’ve just shit myself” and that tends to curtail the bull.

  92. #93 Global Warming Is A Scam
    January 17, 2009

    I voted up de-funding further “research” into “climate change”, as well as faith-based initiatives (really two hues of the same color).

  93. #94 dave
    January 19, 2009

    @ 92:

    Thank you for your response. I do not think there is a conspiracy. I just think that there are existing institutional realities which prevent certain research from ever being conducted. I have no doubt that the vast, vast majority of scientist and academics are honest, trustworthy and trying to do the right thing.

    However, I think that, when it comes to medical research, there has been a long and sorry history of scientists, researchers, universities and agency operatives who have been blind to their own biases caused by conflicts of interest (large and small).

    As a concrete example, I would refer you to the controversies surrounding the research done on SSRI’s and their use in children. In particular, I refer you to Dr. Martin Keller who despite taking ridiculous sums of money from drug companies and conducting and publishing fraudulent and misleading results remains a distinguished researcher at Brown University.

  94. #95 Steven Salzberg
    January 19, 2009

    Thanks to everyone who voted “up” for this proposal to de-fund NCCAM, and to take the funds back for real science instead of pseudoscience.

    The voting stood at >11,500 in favor on Saturday, thanks largely to Pharyngulists. Unfortunately, word spread in the “woo” community and they surged back on Sunday, cutting into the total quite a bit. It ended up at 8,940 in favor. The Change.gov website closed at 6pm Sunday (Jan 18). Let’s hope that the votes for this proposal were enough to get the attention of the incoming administration!