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September 22, 2007

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That's a fabulous argument and I'll bust that shit out to several of my clients when they start spouting bullpucky about alt.med. being effective and "scientific".

Thanks for a great post.

Awesomely awesome article! Really well written.

Ha! Even the Reiki practitioners I know admit it doesn't work (or at least "it doesn't work that way"). For them, Reiki makes you feel spiritually better, which then makes you feel physically better (even though it doesn't). That you still have your migraine is just stubbornness on your part.

I knew a Reiki practitioner here in CA. She still needed Vicodin when she got a toothache.

I remember reading an article in Popular Mechanics where they took all of the "Increase your mileage to 100mpg" ads in the back and actually tested them to see if they did anything. From the magnets that "aligned the fuel molecules" to the shaped vents to "cause turbulence in the air intact to the carburetor." None of them worked at all of course, and in many cases actually lowered the cars mpg. Yet they are all still very much alive and selling.

The publics ability to blindly accept just about any "too-good-to-be-true" promises is never-ending, from the earliest snake-oil salesmen (and probably mastodon-powder salesmen) on.

Unfortunately in many cases, medicine doesn't give much hope and people turn to alternatives in the blind hope that they will beat the odds.

It's easy to come up with a list of diseases and ailments and then find therapies that don't work to treat them. But what if people who regularly visit CAM practitioners have goals and/or experiences that are outside of the realm of narrowly defined sickness and health?

Such as...

chinese medicin: Yin Deficiency.
healing touch: Chakra imbalance.
faith healing: Demonic possession.
ayurveda: Low agni (digestive fire) leading to low energy.
naturopath: painful menstruation

Perhaps those are specific 'ailments' that might lead someone to visit with a practitioner in those disciplines. But what about people who feel drawn to a particular treatment, for a particular time, without necessarily knowing why, or what is coming out of it. Our life paths might take many twists and turns. Who can say what is going on behind the curtain, or out of our scientifically verifiable reality?

Do you ever sit quietly and listen to the thoughts or "voices" in your head? Where does that come from? Where does it go? Is it you? Where do you start? End? Why aren't the therapies you spoke out against in your post valid for reasons besides 'sickness and health' and worth being supported for and by those who are drawn to them?

Alex,

chinese medicin: Yin Deficiency.
healing touch: Chakra imbalance.
faith healing: Demonic possession.
ayurveda: Low agni (digestive fire) leading to low energy.

You'll have to prove that any of these ailments/problems actually exist first, then prove that the CAMs you highlight treat them. You are really going to have to try a lot harder at this.

Trying to prove that alternative medicine is worthwhile by claiming it treats things whose existence is not recognised by anyone outside of the CAM community is a little, well, circular, don't you think?

It's like arguing:
"My yellow polka dotted goblins are worthwhile because they help look after my pink polka dotted fairies."

Do you ever sit quietly and listen to the thoughts or "voices" in your head?

Well. That certainly explains a lot. Get help.

Where does that come from? Where does it go? Is it you? Where do you start? End?

I'm going to stick my neck out and say you're a fan of Deepak Chopra. If so, again, it explains a lot.

Jimmy,

Thanks for your reply.

>You'll have to prove that any of these
>ailments/problems actually exist first,
>then prove that the CAMs you highlight
>treat them.

Actually, I don't have to prove that any of these ailments exist. And if I, or anyone, does, on what grounds? What is the ultimate goal of your reply? What do you, or others who are in agreement that CAM is not worthwhile, hope as an eventual outcome? Would you like to see such practices become illegal? This is not a rhetorical question, but a genuine curiosity. A friend who works in the realm of aids treatment research sent me the link to this post today. This is my first visit to the site, so I am not familiar with the general climate of debate here.

>You are really going to have to
> try a lot harder at this.

At what? At convincing you that you're wrong? Or I'm right? I actually don't care about that at all.

>Trying to prove that alternative medicine
>is worthwhile by claiming it treats things
>whose existence is not recognised by anyone
> outside of the CAM community is a little,
>well, circular, don't you think?

>It's like arguing:
>"My yellow polka dotted goblins are
>worthwhile because they help look after my
>pink polka dotted fairies."

Um, where's the argument? By the way, tell your fairies hello for me. But you might want to have a conversation with the yellow polka dotted goblins. I think they may have some longstanding bad blood with the pink polka dotted fairies. ;)

>>Do you ever sit quietly and listen to the
>>thoughts or "voices" in your head?

>Well. That certainly explains a lot. Get
>help.

I guess you're right. It does explain that you haven't sat still long enough without distraction to notice the never ending conversation that runs through the minds of most normal, sane, individuals. Before you call me crazy, why don't you try it?

Because sitting still is scary? Because someone might call you crazy?

But that is a rhetorical question. Because maybe you have tried it, or some form of meditation. How was it for you? What did you learn about yourself? And of what you learned, how much could you research in a standard scientific text?

Or what types of CAM have you tried? Did it work for you? If not, or if you were harmed or had a bad experience, then I'm really sorry to hear that. But good for you for trying.

>>Where does that come from? Where does it
>>go? Is it you? Where do you start? End?

>I'm going to stick my neck out and say
>you're a fan of Deepak Chopra. If so,
>again, it explains a lot.

I guess that's an inside joke around here. Could you be more specific? I found Chopra's "Perfect Health" to be of invaluable assistance when I was dealing with years of poor digestion, malaise, depression. Some very sound and practical advice on diet, exercise, and lifestyle. Made a tremendous impact for me. Based on thousands of years of Ayurvedic science.

Alex,

Actually, I don't have to prove that any of these ailments exist.

So what your saying is that you don't need to prove that CAM treats anything, right? At least you're honest. Of course, it begs the question: then what is the point of CAM?

And if I, or anyone, does, on what grounds?

What are you talking about? On the grounds that unless you can show these problems actually exist, then claiming that CAM can treat them is nonsense.

What is the ultimate goal of your reply?

To highlight the flaws in your position to anyone reading it.

What do you, or others who are in agreement that CAM is not worthwhile, hope as an eventual outcome?

That people will stop being defrauded by those who claim CAM can treat illness, and that CAM will wither and die and those who practise it will have to find honest employment.

Would you like to see such practices become illegal?

If that is what it takes yes, CAM is fraud. People are defrauded by its practitioners. I would however prefer that people saw CAM for what it is and simply stopped using it.

At what? At convincing you that you're wrong? Or I'm right? I actually don't care about that at all.

Obviously, that is why you have posted three times on the subject. I respond to arguments I don't care about all the time as well.

Um, where's the argument?

That was my point.

I guess you're right. It does explain that you haven't sat still long enough without distraction to notice the never ending conversation that runs through the minds of most normal, sane, individuals. Before you call me crazy, why don't you try it?

If you are hearing conversations (a two way process remember) in your head I'd like to re-iterate my advice that you seek professional help. Now, what level of arrogance does it take to assume something about a person with whom you have had very limited dealings over an internet forum, and that what you experience is the same as everyone else, and therefore the norm?

Because sitting still is scary? Because someone might call you crazy?

Er, no. And no again. However, if I claimed that when I sit still I hear voices in my head holding conversations, then that would be good cause to suggest a mental problem.

Because maybe you have tried it, or some form of meditation. How was it for you?

Relaxing, but nothing more.

What did you learn about yourself?

That I can sit/lie still for a long time.

And of what you learned, how much could you research in a standard scientific text?

All of it.

Or what types of CAM have you tried? Did it work for you?

None, so no. The correct response for you now is to claim that if I haven't tried it I can't criticise it or dismiss it or ask for it to be explained. Of course, I haven't tried sex with dead sheep either.

I guess that's an inside joke around here. Could you be more specific?

Only in the sense that we can spot his drivel a mile away, and those who believe it just as clearly. But specifically, this passage:

Do you ever sit quietly and listen to the thoughts or "voices" in your head? Where does that come from? Where does it go? Is it you? Where do you start? End?

Suggests a belief in the ridiculous 'mind outside body' drivel that he spouts, whether you knew it as that or not.

I found Chopra's "Perfect Health" to be of invaluable assistance when I was dealing with years of poor digestion, malaise, depression. Some very sound and practical advice on diet, exercise, and lifestyle. Made a tremendous impact for me.

So I was right. Nice anecdote, but ultimately worthless as evidence.

Based on thousands of years of Ayurvedic science.

Oh, so it must be right then. I can't imagine anything that could ever be wrong if it is based on thousands of years of superstition, psuedoscience, ideology and philosophy. Can you?

Now since you are new to debate on skeptical forums I humbly suggest that you do some research on logical fallacies; particularly strawmen, appeals to authority, appeals to other ways of knowing, anecdotal evidence, and certainly check out Bronze Dogs Doggerel list.

Skeptico replies to Alex

Re: Actually, I don't have to prove that any of these ailments exist.

I suppose that’s technically true Alex. But you seemed to be claiming that CAM treats these things. If you want anyone to take you seriously you’ll have to show some evidence that those things even exist. And then that CAM can help with them. Just claiming (for example) that Ayurvedic is science won’t cut it. Nor will pointing out it’s been around for thousands of years. Other commenters will point out the weaknesses and logical fallacies you’re employing. Up to you of course.

You might like to read the Comment Guidelines.

Since it's been mentioned: My Doggerel Index.

Full of debunkings of thought-stopping cliches, subject changes, and all-around dishonesty favored by woos.

Thanks for the suggestions. I guess I didn't realize what I was getting into here on this site. I think this forum and the persons participating are all rather genius, actually. You are all judge, jury, and executioner of your cause. This community has defensively set up the replies to any argument, even before it hits the screen (comment guidelines, doggerel list).

And in this environment, I must admit I don't possess the logic or debate skills to face off with masters of the form, such as you proponents of the church of skepticism.

But since you mention that your refutation of my post is partly for the benefit of those reading this thread, then I address the closing portion of my comments to the people who may have found their way to this site because they have exhausted their particular treatment options through "real" medicine, and may be researching CAM for themselves, both through promotional sites, and also through "skeptical" sites such as this. I certainly appreciate the wealth of experiential information on the internet regarding anything I want to pursue, both pro and con. Good luck to you all in reading all that is available and trusting your gut instincts on how to proceed.

And finally, in closing, I would like it to be known to anyone reading this thread, that I have had positive results with CAM. The 'dinacharya' or Ayurvedic Daily Routine was literally a lifeline for me for 3 years. I no longer follow it. These days I see an acupuncturist every month or two for preventative health maintenance, as well as assistance with repetitive stress issues related to my keyboard intensive lifestyle (some of you may be able to relate to that one).

My support for CAM (specifically Ayurveda and TCM) is based on my own experiences and positive results. Jimmy says above that he hopes "That people will stop being defrauded by those who claim CAM can treat illness, and that CAM will wither and die and those who practise it will have to find honest employment." I can only say that even though I have had positive results, I can imagine there are certainly some dishonest practitioners, just as surely as there are some quacks who practice "real medicine." I hope that anyone who is seeing someone who claims to be a CAM practitioner, but is offering no results, has the clear sight and confidence to stop their relationship with that practitioner. Best wishes, all :)

We haven’t “defensively set up the replies to any argument” as you put it. We have just gotten tired of the same fallacious arguments being put forward again and again and again ad infinitum. Rather than replying each time to the same old lame arguments, I just wrote the refutation of the generic argument once (as did Bronze Dog with his list), so that I don’t have to keep writing it out again and again. I put them in the comments guidelines to try to warn people such as yourself that these arguments had been heard before and already debunked, to try to save you making the same mistakes and embarrassing yourself. I notice that regardless you chose to tell an anecdote about your personal experiences. You also didn’t even try to explain why the improvement you experienced could not possibly be due to one of the items I listed. So thanks for confirming you have no reasons for anyone to think CAM works or does anything.

Alex,

First off, all blogs have their militant defenders, except for a few (and so far no one in this thread) you have been spared the worst.

This community has defensively set up the replies to any argument, even before it hits the screen (comment guidelines, doggerel list).

That is only because we have seen this stuff, these claims, these accusations, these fallacies, these circular reasonings literally thousands of times. I am not exaggerating. Its rather boring to defend that same thing over and over again. Skeptico and Co. have simply debunked a lot of the nonsense right up front. That is all, its not a shield to new thoughts and ideas, its a filter for old and tired ones. That is all.

...such as you proponents of the church of skepticism

Skepticism/atheism is not a church (again another tired arguement). The Church/religion or even CAM requires faith. Skepticism requires evidence. I dont belevie you dont have the skills to debate a skeptic, you probably dont have the practice, that is all.

I have had positive results with CAM
Yes placebo is a well known phenomenon. In fact, the reason western medicine is so good, is because the pills and treatments that they give you have been shown to do better than placebo. If they don't, then it isn't a validated treatment. They also recognize that they can be wrong, and a new treatment can be better than an old misunderstood one. Have any of the CAM treatments you listed at the start, changed/improved in response to new data?

two more final notes from me:

First, if all these ancient medicines, ancient lifestyles and practices were actually better than western medicine, wouldn't you expect the lifespans of the average practitioner to be extended? If we look at any of the eastern cultures, they have had very short life expectancies up until recently (when western medicine/sanitation/agricultural practices infiltrated these societies). The average lifespan in china up until 1950(!) was only 35!. India was even worse. We had an average lifespan of 47 back in early 1900s, now we are at 78, an unbelievable improvment! So here again, we see that the data doesn't back up the claims of the 'medicine'

My last final point is about why skeptico has this blog (and many many others) and why we post, and why we rally against nonsense in general (not CAM in particular).

This world will be a far better place if we were all critical thinkers. Debunking nonsense is not just about people defrauding people for money, its about the way we think. A vast majority of the world population is not trained to/practiced in critical thinking. This leads not only to potentially deadly hoaxes and urban legends, but easy submission into conspiracy theories, strong actions without getting all the information first, unquestioned endorsement of war, and so forth. Unanimous casting off of CAM wont keep us out of stupid wars, only increased critical thinking will.

I truly endorse your posting here and your willingness to expose yourself to the mind of critical thinkers. I hope you do more of it and question more of the things around you. Look for evidence of claims, not just of CAM, but of things your friends tell you, your community leaders tell you and your government. Then and only then can your action truly be based on information.

In the September 2007 issue of Mens Health, one of the major stories is titled, "Surgery and pills couldn't help me. A Brazilian shaman said he could" and follows the experience of the author who was diagnosed with Crohn's disease (autoimmune disorder of the digestive tract) went to 12 doctors, 2 surgeries, yadayada without result. He and his dad (who was suffering from Crohn's as well) went to Brazil where they received "alternative" surgery (spiritual hands-on healing). He reports he feels "remarkably better" and his symptoms have relented for the first time in 14 years. His dad is "down to a token dose of prescription medicine."

This is why CAM exists. Did this happen due to the placebo effect? did it happen due to some unexplained power that science may discover someday? I don't know, but all it takes is for a few articles like this to turn people toward CAM practitioners. Especially when modern medicine does not have a solution for people.

He closes with a gut-shot emotional argument, "A doctor once told me that my best shot at living with Crohn's disease was to stay healthy long enough for researchers to find a stronger drug. I can't wait on pharmaceutical companies to manufacturer my solution. If they make it, I might take it, but until then, I'll do what my dad did: take the healing into my own hands."

Alex,

This is a nice overview of why science is so powerful and why we need to instill it into our population.

https://www.seedmagazine.com/news/2007/09/scientific_literacy_and_the_ha.php


It was posted at this loquatious, but quite good blog
https://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/

argh, first link got cut off:

here it is again

Alex,

You are all judge, jury, and executioner of your cause. This community has defensively set up the replies to any argument, even before it hits the screen (comment guidelines, doggerel list).

Not even close, but thanks for playing.

Just think about what you are saying. What would it mean if we already have a reply to your 'arguments'? Could it mean that we have simply heard it enough times before from people like you that we know what is coming?

We know what you are going to say because all the other woos say it, so why repeat ourselves when we can just post a list of the things you're going to get wrong.

such as you proponents of the church of skepticism.

Gosh, that's original.

both through promotional sites, and also through "skeptical" sites such as this.

And we've never seen a woo try to imply that we might not be 'skeptical' before, or that there is something derogatory in using the term. You are following the script at least.

Good luck to you all in reading all that is available and trusting your gut instincts on how to proceed.

Yes indeed, good luck if you base such important decisions as medical treatment on how you feel about them, not whether or not the evidence shows they work or not.

The 'dinacharya' or Ayurvedic Daily Routine was literally a lifeline for me for 3 years. I no longer follow it.

And you don't suffer any ill effects from not following it? Interesting, don't you think? Maybe you should look up confirmation bias, selective/wishful thinking and data selection bias.

These days I see an acupuncturist every month or two for preventative health maintenance, as well as assistance with repetitive stress issues related to my keyboard intensive lifestyle (some of you may be able to relate to that one).

Perhaps you should do some research on recent studies into acupuncture. Many show that 'sham' acupuncture (sticking needles in without regard to chi/qi points etc) has a noticeable effect comparable to 'real' acupuncture. Maybe you could save yourself some money and just use some sewing needles placed by yourself?

I hope that anyone who is seeing someone who claims to be a CAM practitioner, but is offering no results, has the clear sight and confidence to stop their relationship with that practitioner.

And I hope that anyone who can do some research on the strength and nature of the placebo effect can stop and think about what is really happening in CAM, and stop their relationship with all practitioners.

Sorry about the double post guys.

Mark,

Not having seen the article in question, and not knowing the full story rather than just the author's version of events I can't give a detailed response.

However, having just done a tiny amount of research I have found that Crohn's disease is often misdiagnosed, that it's causes are not completely understood but environment is expected to play a large part, and that many scientists think viruses or bacteria are involved. More important is this though:

Some people with crohns have long periods of remission, sometimes years, when they are free of symptoms. However, crohns disease usually recurs at various times over a person's lifetime. This changing pattern of crohns means one cannot always tell when a treatment has helped. Predicting when a remission may occur or when symptoms will return is not possible.

Taken from here:
Crohns Disease FAQs

So, possible misdiagnosis (unlikely given the number of doctors involved), change of environment, final treatment/remission of virus/bacteria, simple and expected remission with unknown probable return of symptoms, or mystical cure via someone waving their hands over the body?

Occam's Razor anyone?

chinese medicin: Yin Deficiency.
What is Yin? What evidence is there to suggest that it exists, that it can become deficient, that Yin deficiency is a bad thing, and that Chinese medicine can help it?
healing touch: Chakra imbalance.
What is Chakra? What evidence is there to suggest that Chakra exists, that it can become imbalanced, that a Chakra imbalance is a bad thing, and that Healing Touch can help it?
faith healing: Demonic possession.
What are demons? What evidence is there that demons exist, possess people, that demonic possession is a bad thing, and that faith healing can cure it?
ayurveda: Low agni (digestive fire) leading to low energy.
What is agni? What evidence is there to suggest that it exists, that it has anything to do with digestion, that its levels vary in the body, that those varying levels lead to lack of energy, and that Ayurveda can help it?

Starting to see a pattern? For all of the above "ailments," what are the symptoms which would specifically indicate possession, low agni, chakra imbalance, and the like? Why should we think that those symptoms demonstrate these ailments, and not other ones?

naturopath: painful menstruation
There are far, far more effective medical cures for this than herbal ones. Midol, off the top of my head, as well as different birth control regimens. With herbal, "natural" treatments, one can't be sure whether or not they're getting enough of the effective ingredients (or any effective ingredients at all), and the herbal treatments may contain other, unnecessary or even harmful, corollary chemicals. Medical treatments use the same ingredients (if they actually are effective) but purify them and put them into measured doses, making them far more effective and far less risky.
Perhaps those are specific 'ailments' that might lead someone to visit with a practitioner in those disciplines.
Anyone complaining of a "Yin deficiency" has already bought into those "disciplines." You don't hear little kids saying "mommy, my Chakra's imbalanced!" Unless you can show some evidence to the contrary, these "ailments" only exist within the framework of the alternative treatments which supposedly cure them. What a perfect scam: convince someone they have a non-medical, unprovable illness, then convince them that you have the only cure.
But what about people who feel drawn to a particular treatment, for a particular time, without necessarily knowing why, or what is coming out of it.
Um...I would say that those people need therapy. One shouldn't be getting any kind of treatment just because one "feels drawn to it." You get treatments when you need them. If I walk into the hospital and say "you know, I've got a real craving for some chemotherapy," they're going to refer me to a psychologist. It's unethical to provide unnecessary curative treatments. The fact that you suggest that CAM lacks such basic ethics is a pretty good indicator that it has no reliable effect.
Do you ever sit quietly and listen to the thoughts or "voices" in your head? Where does that come from? Where does it go? Is it you? Where do you start? End?
...Wow. Just wow. There's a big difference between "thoughts" and "voices in your head." One is normal, one necessitates psychiatric help.
Why aren't the therapies you spoke out against in your post valid for reasons besides 'sickness and health' and worth being supported for and by those who are drawn to them?
Because you first have to present evidence that these "therapies" have any effect, whether on sickness or anything else.
Actually, I don't have to prove that any of these ailments exist. And if I, or anyone, does, on what grounds?
Actually, you do, if you want to claim that CAM has any effect whatsoever on anything, on the grounds that you, as the positive claimant, have the burden of proof. You're making an extraordinary claim (several, actually), so it's up to you to provide evidence which justifies that claim. If you have no evidence to back up your claims, then how on earth can we be reasonably expected to believe you? If there's no evidence for the efficacy of CAM, and no evidence for the ailments it supposedly treats, then why on earth should anyone lose money and time to them?
What do you, or others who are in agreement that CAM is not worthwhile, hope as an eventual outcome?
We hope either that CAM practitioners provide some evidence that their treatments are worthwhile, or that they stop making false claims. We hope that the public becomes educated about the ineffectiveness and improbability of these treatments, and stops using them. We hope that governments and insurance agencies stop funneling money to unproven garbage.
Um, where's the argument?
Which argument? Your claim that 'CAM is useful because it treats ailments which are only recognized by CAM,' or Jimmy's argument that your claim is circular? Because they're both right there, above where you play dumb about the location of the argument.
I guess you're right. It does explain that you haven't sat still long enough without distraction to notice the never ending conversation that runs through the minds of most normal, sane, individuals.
There's a difference between internal monologue and "voices in your head." If you can't recognize that, then I agree with Jimmy: get help.
Because maybe you have tried it, or some form of meditation. How was it for you?
I used to meditate, back in Junior High. I didn't learn anything about myself, other than the fact that I don't like sitting still and doing nothing for so long. It's relaxing, sure, but so is sitting and reading a book.
Or what types of CAM have you tried? Did it work for you?
I've tried none, and I don't plan to try any until they demonstrate effectiveness to the same standards that I require from regular medicine. When acupuncturists can show some valid evidence, preferably a double-blind test, that they're worth the money, then I'll consider having myself turned into a pincushion. I expect proof from regular doctors, I'm not going to lower my standards for Chinese mystics.

Incidentally, "did it work for you" is asking for anecdotal evidence, easily the least reliable kind. A person can be fooled, or can fool themselves, through any number of different ways (post hoc fallacies, confirmation bias, etc.). That's why we do things like double-blind placebo-controlled tests on medical treatments: to eliminate the possibility of individual self-delusion.

I found Chopra's "Perfect Health" to be of invaluable assistance when I was dealing with years of poor digestion, malaise, depression.
So, Chopra's advice treated two related psychological (and usually transitory) ailments, and a physiological one that would likely be exacerbated (if not caused outright) by the psychological ones. Call me unimpressed.
Based on thousands of years of Ayurvedic science.
What is Ayurvedic science? What makes it different from regular science? What standards do they use to judge efficacy of treatments?

I'll third Skeptico and Jimmy's recommendations that you do some reading on basic logical fallacies. Who knows, maybe you'll learn something.

This community has defensively set up the replies to any argument, even before it hits the screen (comment guidelines, doggerel list).
No, you boob, it's that we've seen your arguments before, and recognize the fallacies therein. Logic's a pretty old discipline, and the same failings that were around in Socrates' time are spouted by woo-peddlers today.
And in this environment, I must admit I don't possess the logic or debate skills to face off with masters of the form, such as you proponents of the church of skepticism.
For instance, here you're committing an ad hominem fallacy, by first suggesting that we're being a dogmatic church, and second, by suggesting that this would invalidate our arguments. You don't need to be a master of debate to be able to recognize the most basic fallacious arguments.

Incidentally, the appeal to "help, I'm being oppressed" is equally a non sequitur.

Good luck to you all in reading all that is available and trusting your gut instincts on how to proceed.
Screw your "gut instincts." Your "gut instincts" are often wrong. Trust your intellect and your ability to research, recognize fallacies, and evaluate claims, not your "gut."

Think with that great big computer in your head, not the acid-filled gasbag in your abdomen.

And finally, in closing, I would like it to be known to anyone reading this thread, that I have had positive results with CAM.
Great. Lots of people get better on placebos, too. Should they spend time and effort using them to treat disease?
These days I see an acupuncturist every month or two for preventative health maintenance, as well as assistance with repetitive stress issues related to my keyboard intensive lifestyle
Um...these days I see a doctor and a dentist on a semi-regular basis, but nowhere near "every month or two." Doesn't sound like the acupuncturist's preventative measures are that effective if you need to go back so often for a booster.

My support for CAM (specifically Ayurveda and TCM) is based on my own experiences and positive results.

And your complete lack of knowledge of alternate explanations for those positive results. Look up the placebo effect and be healed.

Jimmy's quotation regarding Crohn's disease is a good example: an illness which naturally goes through periods of severity, and periods of remission. Many ailments are cyclical in that fashion, and others often just go away on their own. Things like headaches, minor infections, colds, depression, malaise, and poor digestion often go away without any treatment, or with a small change in diet or environment. Just because you are getting needles poked into you or your feet rubbed or leeches put on your skin when these things go away doesn't mean that those treatments had any effect on the ailment.

And in regards to the Crohn's disease story we also have no information about previous remissions/relapses, whether conventional treatment continued and how long after the mystic hand waving the miracle cure occurred. Was it instant, the next day, the next week, the next month, the next year?

For crying out loud this crap drives me up the wall.

TechSkeptic/others:

Regarding your "two final notes" to Alex:

You are right about the fact that there has been a great increase in life expectancy in developed countries over the last 100 years (maybe more?), but if you are citing this as an indication of the beneficial effects of modern medicine it is quite misleading in my opinion. The fact that Americans have the lowest life expectancy of the industrialized nations indicates that access to the most technological advanced medical system in the world does not ensure long life. You might find this study of the longevity of Okinawans interesting.

A potential pitfall in the remarkable progress biomedical science has made in unraveling biological mechanisms and associating them with specific diseases and developing technologies that will affect them, is the lack of focus on the other elements which ensures good health. The World Health Organization defines health as "a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity". Biological mechanisms are very rarely the exclusive cause of illness, and therefor understanding them does not necessarily mean making progress in the health of the population. The point i want to make here is that by focusing too much on the mechanisms of an illness, maybe we should ask ourselves under what conditions does an illness arise, and how can we modify these initial conditions.

As the Okinawa Centenarian Study shows, and what is also a common nominator of other places where people tend to live long lives (Sardinia is another example), focus on diet, exercise/relaxation and lifestyle are perhaps more important than the use of drugs to stay healthy. And this brings me back to what TCM, for instance, is really about. To quote one site, "Treatment options might include changes in diet, a prescribed course of exercises, massage, herbal or other organic medicines, and perhaps techniques like acupuncture, although Westerners should keep in mind that these are only one small part of the overall system."

I don't necessarily want to defend any particular branch within CAM, but a holistic/systemic approach to health seems reasonable if we go by the WHO definition of health. I don't really know where to go from this, because i'm not really qualified to speculate any further, but i think it would be a mistake to instantly reject the entire 'theory' of TCM just because it failed a test designed to determine the effect of a specific treatment.

As a side note, it may be worth mentioning that Americans filled 3,340,000,000 outpatient prescriptions (2002), and drug sales increase about 15% every year, reaching $219 billion in 2002. Prescription medications are of course vitally important for treating some conditions, but they're also the #4 leading cause of death, cause 1 million hospitalizations every year, and are a major cause of disability and drug dependency (all US numbers). Isn't this a sign that something within our current medical model is not working as well as we tend to believe?

Boob? Hold on. Let me consult my "Gramma Moses' Guide to Antediluvian Zingers." Ok...

Listen you rubes, I'm starting to realize that we all have a lot more in common than I previously considered. We're all skeptics, yet I don't think you're being skeptical enough! Posting on the heels of Martin above, I am saying that you seem to swallow anything that has been 'scientifically proven' without any regard for personal experience beyond scientific verification. For example, the original article that spawned this thread about the Merck pulling their drug because "it doesn't work." This is a global company that posted $16,634,900,000 in gross profits for 2006. Why hasn't anyone challenged their motives rather than use their *reported* actions as an example of "real medicine good / CAM bad"? Did any of you read the stats? Out of 3 THOUSAND people, their numbers were 24 infections amongst the test group and 21 infections amongst the placebo group. We don't know anything else about the study. Did some people use condoms some of the time? Were there i.v. drug users amongst the population? We also don't know how long the study spanned. Perhaps some of the volunteers had a latent, undetectable infection before enrolling. With results coming from less than 1% of the test population, it could be anything. We just don't know. I think you are all making a great example of confirmation bias by waving your real-medicine flag, and ignoring that CAM can help people.

And to the bangers of the "Good book of Placebo":

Seems that you relegate any medical result not understood by real-medicine or science, to the placebo effect. The result of placing acupuncture needles was called placebo above. The real-medicine equivalent of taking sugar pills and feeling better. If that's true, then the patient's ability to make themselves feel better is the result of an elaborately orchestrated ritual, involving the roles of patient and doctor. You could no less leave out the doctor part, and ask the patient to feel better, as you could tell me to stick sewing needles in my skin, in attempts to save money on acupuncture fees. So, even if there is no actual medicine at work, and it is ONLY the placebo effect, then why aren't those disciplines that create those conditions also valid? If the goal of healing disciplines is creating the health and well being for the patient, and you say the placebo effect is happening, then it works! But removing (or making illegal, as Jimmy would like) CAM and suggesting that the patient can just 'will' the placebo effect isn't science, it's religion. Try being a little more skeptical than that...

Martin: "a holistic/systemic approach to health seems reasonable if we go by the WHO definition of health."

And that's exactly what conventional medicine does. Conventional medicine recognizes that the body is a set of interlocking, interacting systems that affect one another, and acts accordingly. That's why conventional practitioners are (among other things) always trying to get people to quit smoking, exercise, improve their diet, etc. (My partner is a nurse practitioner in the field of HIV and AIDS, and she often says that the one single thing she tries to get her patients to do to improve their health, more than any specific HIV treatment, is to quit smoking.)

"i think it would be a mistake to instantly reject the entire 'theory' of TCM just because it failed a test designed to determine the effect of a specific treatment."

I think you're missing the point. The problem isn't with the ineffectiveness of any particular CAM treatment for any particular ailment. The problem, as clearly outlined in this post, is that *none* of these treatments, practices, or theories gets scientifically tested (double-blind, placebo-controlled, peer-reviewed, replicable, etc.). For anything. Ever.

(Or rather: They rarely get scientifically tested, and when they do, they almost always fail.)

The problem isn't that (for instance) belladonna isn't an effective homeopathic treatment for urinary tract infections. The problem is that homeopathists don't scientifically test *any* of their treatments for *any* condition. They therefore don't actually know which, if any, of their treatments actually work, and they don't withdraw treatments when they're found not to work. (The other problem with homeopathy specifically is that the entire theory that the practice is based on is absurd, but that's a somewhat different topic.)

And yes, there are serious problems with the way medicine is handled in the U.S. Overprescription is part of the problem (although I tend to think that's only one aspect of the larger problem, which is that it's being run for profit). But that's irrelevant to the question at hand. The failings of conventional medicine don't make CAM any more effective, any more reliable, or any more scientifically tested.

I was going to do a big response Alex, but looks like greta did a great job. I'll add just a few things.

I read that Okinawa study. Great. Now could you point me to the place where it says that these folks live longer due to CAM practices? Most of it indicates some sort of genetic superiority. A lot of it indicates good exercise and eating habits (something which western medicine strongly advocates). Even the "psychospiritual" findings were about how they felt and not any woo that they practiced. Further, the japanese benefit from, guess what, western medicine!

Then they blow it at the end...
Okinawa, Japan, and Hong Kong are the top three areas of the world in life expectancy, and what is interesting in their health care systems is that they have all incorporated both Eastern and Western approaches to healing. The use of natural or herbal tonics in these populations far exceeds that of North America. The implications of this type of health care are currently under investigation.

So there is all this good genetics, good eating, good exercise, good attitude.....and therefore we should look at the tonics... LOL!

As for this idea that its the tonics... iceland is next The male life expectancy is HIGHER than that of Japan or Hongkong. Have you heard of any Icelandic tonics, or Icelandic medicine? Of course not, that is silly (although there are those hot springs!)

You are right that we suffer from a lot of unnecessary death from pills in America. But our life expectancy is around 78 years despite that fact. Think of how much better we would be if we had a more responsible medical system.

I agree that we have a system that is frought with inefficiencies due to the profit taking nature of it, but again, we are doing this well despite that, not doing this poorly because of it.

Now if you pointed me to something that showed that CAM practitioners, specifically live longer, are more healthy..then we would have something.

But until then we have remarkably strong data that suggests that modern medicine (and sanitation and agriculture) leads to long life expectancy. As far as I can find, there is no data to suggest the any CAM method performs this well. Do you have anything?

one last thing:
I am saying that you seem to swallow anything that has been 'scientifically proven' without any regard for personal experience beyond scientific verification.

That is pretty much correct, but I wouldn't use the word 'swallow'. personal experience is simply anecdotal evidence. We find patterns in everything, we are so good at finding patterns that we find them where they do not exist (ever see a bunny in a cloud? its just a cloud!). Conversely, we suck at statistics. That is why we easily fall into things like gamblers folly , placebo, and confirmation bias.

So yeah, its true, I want my medicine to have been subjected to double blind rigor before I use it. If it doesnt stand up to that, its truly worthless.

then the patient's ability to make themselves feel better is the result of an elaborately orchestrated ritual, involving the roles of patient and doctor.

and then you asked, what I think is a very valid question:
"So, even if there is no actual medicine at work, and it is ONLY the placebo effect, then why aren't those disciplines that create those conditions also valid?"

Richard Dawkins has asked the same thing. Imagine how well we could perform in relieving discomfort if doctors were allowed to administer placebo.

The thing is: western medicine works better than placebo (which is generally only a 30% positive effect). Further, if someone found out it was placebo, there is a high likelihood that they would sue the doctor for not giving them something 'real'. Even if the placebo made them feel better, previously. When you go to a CAM practitioner, you accept the possibility that you may benefit from placebo. When you go to a real doctor, you do not have this tolerance (in general).


you boob

(sorry, just had to get that in...although I liked your 'rube' rendition)


Martin:

focus on diet, exercise/relaxation and lifestyle are perhaps more important than the use of drugs to stay healthy.

Because I have never seen modern medicine mention these things. Ever. It's a good job I don't know a nutrionist or anyone like that. No, those concepts are unheard of outside TCM. Oh no wait, my 'western' doctor tells me that all the time. I'm not sure exactly which version of modern medicine it is you seem to think we follow here, but it isn't one I recognise.

but a holistic/systemic approach to health seems reasonable if we go by the WHO definition of health.

Oh for crying out loud, not this again. We already did this to death here:
Equivocation on Acupuncture

Modern medicine IS a systems approach, you just pretend it isn't because it suits your argument to do so.

but i think it would be a mistake to instantly reject the entire 'theory' of TCM just because it failed a test designed to determine the effect of a specific treatment.

How about if it failed multiple properly controlled and designed tests for a large range of illnesses for which it was claimed TCM was a cure by TCM practitioners? How about then?

Isn't this a sign that something within our current medical model is not working as well as we tend to believe?

Well speaking as a non-American I am amazed by how many drugs are pushed at people by the medical industry here (including, in a bemusing sort of way, for the scourge of the western world: Restless Leg Syndrome), so I never tended to believe anything about the American medical model.

However, its also a red herring and wrong. Just because there are problems with modern medicine does not mean it is wrong, and most definitely does not say anything about the effectiveness of TCM, and it does not mean that TCM is better or worse. The American medical industry (which is really what you are describing when you say the current medical model) is also not indicative of all 'western' medicine, the British NHS is certainly not as willing to throw drugs at a problem until it crawls away in a drug induced stupor.

America is not the world, so don't assume all 'western' medicine is American medicine. You know, we do do things differently elsewhere, and sometimes they even work.

Alex:

I'm starting to realize that we all have a lot more in common than I previously considered. We're all skeptics, yet I don't think you're being skeptical enough!

Ah, a concern troll. This is an old argument too Alex, you should update your script. Yes, you're the real skeptic and we aren't and we all have something in common, you're quite right.

I am saying that you seem to swallow anything that has been 'scientifically proven' without any regard for personal experience beyond scientific verification.

Do you believe personal experience is infallible (if you do I suggest trying to find some videos of Derren Brown at work)? Do you believe that personal experience can therefore be trusted? If there was a system that allowed you to reach a conclusion whilst ruling out the problems of personal experience, would you not agree it was more reliable? Where the two conflicted, would you not agree that the more reliable one should be regarded as the more accurate, subject to subsequent information?

Just curious.

This is a global company that posted $16,634,900,000 in gross profits for 2006. Why hasn't anyone challenged their motives rather than use their *reported* actions as an example of "real medicine good / CAM bad"?

It's all big pharma and The Man. How original.

Presumably though when TCM practitioners charge money for a treatment they do it for a much more noble cause, right?

How come you haven't challenged the motives of TCM practitioners still practising discredited treatments and charging for them?

Incidentally, I guess your bias got in the way of noticing that the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases helped pay for the trial, not just Merck. What were their motives do you think?

I think you are all making a great example of confirmation bias by waving your real-medicine flag, and ignoring that CAM can help people.

I see. And when you continue to assert CAM helps people despite the evidence that it doesn't, what are you doing?

Seems that you relegate any medical result not understood by real-medicine or science, to the placebo effect.

Really? You'll have no problem pointing out exactly where we say placebo is the only other possible reason then.

But removing (or making illegal, as Jimmy would like) CAM and suggesting that the patient can just 'will' the placebo effect isn't science, it's religion. Try being a little more skeptical than that...

Oh please do point out where a skeptic said this. Oh, you can't, because no-one did. That's called a strawman right there Alex, look it up. Try being a little more honest than that...

Come on woos, is there anything new in your arguments?

Damn it, double posting again, sorry.

Incidentally Alex, you also misrepresent me when you say I would like to see CAM made illegal. I specifically said that I would prefer it that people just saw it for what it was and stopped using it because I knew you would try to insinuate that I would like to see CAM made illegal because I don't like it (and eventually probably try and turn this into a slippery slope argument).

It's right there in my comment, what might your motives be for ignoring it?

What is it with woos, cretinists etc and quote mining?

Martin:

The fact that Americans have the lowest life expectancy of the industrialized nations indicates that access to the most technological advanced medical system in the world does not ensure long life.

America is also one of the few industrialized nations without a national healthcare system. It also has a somewhat disproportionate violent crime rate, with respect to other nations, both facts which would skew the life expectancy results. Most of the improvement in life expectancy worldwide this century is due to better medicine (especially vaccines) and better sanitation.

As the Okinawa Centenarian Study shows, and what is also a common nominator of other places where people tend to live long lives (Sardinia is another example), focus on diet, exercise/relaxation and lifestyle are perhaps more important than the use of drugs to stay healthy.
Absolutely; that's why they say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. But prevention tends to be more difficult to implement and less certain than the cure, in cases where a cure is available.

I don't think anyone's suggesting that we don't take better steps to prevent illness, but we certainly won't be able to prevent all illnesses entirely. We have to have cures available for the people who will inevitably contract those illnesses, and to do that we have to understand the biological mechanisms behind the illnesses and contraction. Not to mention that studying those biological mechanisms will give us a better understanding of how to prevent illness as well.

I don't necessarily want to defend any particular branch within CAM, but a holistic/systemic approach to health seems reasonable if we go by the WHO definition of health.
Why should "holistic" include "stuff that can't be shown to have any beneficial effect"? Environment, diet, sanitation, and the like will have major effects on both physical health and mental/emotional well-being, but I've seen no evidence that herbal remedies are more useful than medical ones, and certainly no evidence that acupuncture has any beneficial effect on anything. I agree that we should take efforts to prevent illness and to promote mental and emotional health in addition to physical health. I don't see how CAM contributes to any of the above, and I don't see that mental and emotional health are quite as important as physical health. If you're suffering physically, you're going to have a much harder time being emotionally sound.
but i think it would be a mistake to instantly reject the entire 'theory' of TCM just because it failed a test designed to determine the effect of a specific treatment.
You've got it backwards. Until TCM can pass tests to demonstrate its efficacy, it would be a mistake to accept the 'theory.' In any rational pursuit, science and medicine especially, claims aren't accepted until proven fallacious; they are assumed untrue until experimentation demonstrates otherwise. This is how science advances, this is how medicine develops, and this is the only method which makes any sense.
Isn't this a sign that something within our current medical model is not working as well as we tend to believe?
Quite. But it's not at all a sign that there's any value to TCM. It's not a condemnation of "western" medicine, either. As I mentioned before, the US is rather odd among industrialized nations, and I'd certainly like to see figures for nations with better healthcare systems.

Alex:

Listen you rubes,

Oh, that's rich.

We're all skeptics, yet I don't think you're being skeptical enough!
Since I haven't yet seen any skeptical behavior from you, I wonder what standards you're using to make such a proclamation.
I am saying that you seem to swallow anything that has been 'scientifically proven' without any regard for personal experience beyond scientific verification.
Personal experience is flawed. People commonly make major mistakes in thinking, specifically attribution errors and selection biases, which make anecdotal evidence notoriously unreliable. The scientific method is specifically designed to mitigate those types of errors. That's one of many reasons why we trust scientific proof over personal experience.
Merck pulling their drug because "it doesn't work." This is a global company that posted $16,634,900,000 in gross profits for 2006. Why hasn't anyone challenged their motives rather than use their *reported* actions as an example of "real medicine good / CAM bad"? Did any of you read the stats?
Because attacking their motives is an ad hominem fallacy, and has nothing to do with the point of the argument. So Merck made bajillions of dollars last year: how is that evidence that they're doing something wrong? I don't see acupuncturists working pro bono.

Incidentally, what is a "gross profit"? Is it all income before expenses, or just before taxes? Drug testing and development costs lots of money. Relying on ancient superstition is relatively cheap by comparison. Of course, you get what you pay for.

Out of 3 THOUSAND people, their numbers were 24 infections amongst the test group and 21 infections amongst the placebo group.
Which is a statistically insignificant difference. If the drug worked, we should see a marked difference in infections between the placebo group and the experimental group. That's how medical testing works.
We don't know anything else about the study.
Gosh, then I guess "we" ought to try to find the peer-reviewed article when it's published in the requisite journals, which will outline the methodology, sample composition, and results in detail.
Did some people use condoms some of the time? Were there i.v. drug users amongst the population? We also don't know how long the study spanned.
Hence why we had a sample size of 3,000: in order to get a representative slice of the test population. Yes, some of them are likely to be IV drug users. Some are likely to engage in frequent unprotected sex with anonymous partners. Having a large sample size tends to even out differences between individuals; chances are that with that many people, the libertine drug-using orgy-attendees will be balanced out either by straight-laced youth group leaders in the same group, or equally libertine orgy attendees in the opposite group (having multiple tests would do the same--note that they were planning an additional test, but halted it as this one appeared to fail). But when your test starts showing that the experimental drug may be having a detrimental effect, ethics and reason would require you to end the study. Clearly it wasn't working as planned. Again, these are all signs of good scientific procedure, the fact that you're unable to recognize the basics of a double-blind placebo-controlled test setup further demonstrate your ignorance of how science works.
Perhaps some of the volunteers had a latent, undetectable infection before enrolling.
And how much of an infection would be undetectable? Would there be enough out of 3,000 to make any appreciable difference? The likelihood that a significant number of people in the experimental group had a latent undetectable infection is very, very small. The fact that the control and experimental numbers were so close means that there would have to be several (on the order of ten to fifteen) erroneous individuals in the experimental group, assuming that there were none in the control group, for the study to viably continue. Again, there needs to be a statistically significant difference between the effects observed in the control group and the effects observed in the experimental group for the study to be considered supportive of the drug's efficacy.
With results coming from less than 1% of the test population, it could be anything. We just don't know.
You're right, it could be anything. We don't know, at least not from this newspaper article (no doubt the published results will be far more in-depth). But when science comes across results like this, where the placebo performs as well or better than the experimental drug, we consider that drug a failure. When the test is potentially harming the participants, we bring it to a halt so as to be safe, rather than sorry.
We just don't know. I think you are all making a great example of confirmation bias
Please look up confirmation bias before you use it incorrectly, as you have here.
ignoring that CAM can help people.
First, you have to demonstrate that CAM can help people. And when you do that, we'll stop ignoring it. Until you provide some evidence, we'll ignore Reiki, Acupuncture, Naturopathy, and so on, just as surely as we ignore magic, unicorns, and leprechauns.

Seems that you relegate any medical result not understood by real-medicine or science, to the placebo effect.

No, we propose the placebo effect (and other hypotheses) as a more plausible explanation for supposed effects of treatments which have not undergone any rigorous testing. If there is a real medical result of some treatment, it should be able to withstand a double-blind placebo-controlled (or similar) study, and it should perform better than the placebo (i.e., better than pure chance). Until testing is done to show that these treatments have some stronger-than-placebo effect, the placebo effect (and other hypotheses) will remain the more parsimonious explanations for any purported effects.

The result of placing acupuncture needles was called placebo above. The real-medicine equivalent of taking sugar pills and feeling better. If that's true, then the patient's ability to make themselves feel better is the result of an elaborately orchestrated ritual, involving the roles of patient and doctor.
Really? Evidence?

The placebo effect doesn't require any patient-doctor interaction. It requires a person doing something which they believe will have some effect on some ailment, and then experiencing said effect. The effect might be purely psychological (the patient's belief in the efficacy of the treatment causes them to feel better), it might be due to natural physiological trends, but in any case, it's not actually caused by the placebo. If I give you a sugar pill and your headache goes away, it's far more likely that the headache went away on its own (as headaches tend to do) than that our ritualistic interaction caused you to feel better.

Of course, it's possible that the patient just needed some human interaction to feel better (naturally, depending on the ailment); of course, none of these cases have anything to do with the purported efficacy of CAM. If CAM only works because people can make themselves feel better, then you can fire the acupuncturist and just think yourself well, because it has nothing to do with shoving needles in your skin.

That's why we do placebo-controlled studies: if your treatment doesn't do any better than the placebo, then you might as well not do the treatment.

So, even if there is no actual medicine at work, and it is ONLY the placebo effect, then why aren't those disciplines that create those conditions also valid?
You've moved the goalposts. Since you can't show that CAM works any better than the placebo, now you claim it works because it's a placebo. What you fail to realize is that placebos don't actually work. The "effect" of a placebo is all either in the patient's mind (in which case, the effect of the original ailment is largely mental as well), or in the natural physiological trends of the ailment (the rising and falling levels of symptoms in Crohn's disease, as mentioned above, for example, or transitory aches and pains that will go away without treatment). CAM claims to do more than just make you think yourself better. Claiming you have a cure and then selling a sugar pill is unethical. Hell, it's fraud. Which, I seem to recall, was mentioned above.

Incidentally, you should have paid more attention to the Doggerel list. We've heard the "It works through the placebo effect" canard before.

If the goal of healing disciplines is creating the health and well being for the patient, and you say the placebo effect is happening, then it works!
No, it doesn't. A person who has a real illness, then rationalizes away the symptoms because of the psychological bits of the placebo effect, is not cured. The treatment has not worked for them, even if they claim some measure of recovery. You haven't created health or well-being, you've created denial.

And a person who has some recurring ailment which happens to clear up after some placebo treatment has not been made healthier; instead, they are likely to misattribute their cure to a treatment which had no actual effect, so they'll never explore what may be the root of the problem, or an even bigger problem of which these ailments are just a symptom.

But removing (or making illegal, as Jimmy would like) CAM and suggesting that the patient can just 'will' the placebo effect isn't science, it's religion.
Again, you fail to understand what the placebo effect is. It is not a cure, and it is not caused by the treatment. It is only caused by coincidence (spontaneous recovery or remission of symptoms) or the patient's belief in the efficacy of some treatment. If you tell someone that eating a sugar cube will help cure their headaches, it doesn't matter whether or not you're a doctor, it doesn't matter whether or not ritual is involved, the placebo effect may happen. It certainly doesn't mean that we should start selling sugar cubes as cure-alls.

Jimmy:

What is it with woos, cretinists etc and quote mining?

If they understood how to read things in context, they might not be woos anymore.

the placebo effect is slightly better then pure chance in the case of some things, and guess what--it as been studied extensively by te scientific and medical community--because we'd realy really like to know how it works and use that knowledge to help people. the most exciting stuff that follows this is in the science of pain and in neuroscience--since the brain is really pretty good at fixing itself if it figures out how to do it.

some people can get better from ANYthing. and thats cool. and if we could give more people that ability...thatd be cool too. but it's not a viable treatment option because the chances of it happening are not good enough. so CAM/TCM, to my mind is pretty much placebo--and if it works, more power to you. but you cannot expect it to work for everyone, and it is highly unethical to tell people to use something that is probably going to fail unless they really really really belive it will. which, on this forum...frankly, our chances of being healed by the placebo effect are slimmer then average. we dont tend to blindly belive in things, and as such were less prone to such things that require faith to work.

LisaG:

Sorry, but it isn't entirely clear from your post. Do you think that CAM and TCM are woo or not? There certainly seems to be some woo in your post.

For instance:

some people can get better from ANYthing.

This is just simply not true, and sounds a lot like stuff we would hear from Secretards, faith healers and woos. In fact, and sorry if this sounds too harsh, this statement is complete crap.

and if we could give more people that ability

Again, this sounds very much like the type of thing a Secretard might say.

so CAM/TCM, to my mind is pretty much placebo--and if it works, more power to you. but you cannot expect it to work for everyone

This sounds like the sort of equivocation we have seen supporters of CAM/TCM make right hear on this blog. You cannot in fact expect CAM/TCM to work for anyone.

it is highly unethical to tell people to use something that is probably going to fail unless they really really really belive it will. which, on this forum...frankly, our chances of being healed by the placebo effect are slimmer then average. we dont tend to blindly belive in things, and as such were less prone to such things that require faith to work.

This is just religious/Secretard nonsense.

"You just have to believe, and then it will work. Have faith. If you don't, it won't work. If you do and it still doesn't work, you just didn't have enough faith."

So what exactly is your position?

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