Musings of a Dinosaur

A Family Doctor in solo private practice; I may be going the way of the dinosaur, but I'm not dead yet.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Let Me Make This Perfectly Clear; Yet Another Restatement of the Problem with CAM

Not that I'm under any illusion that the following will convince anyone who "really believes" in CAM:

Orac, via Dr. RW:
Here's the problem. Negative studies don't matter. If a study shows that a particular CAM "remedy" does no better than placebo, CAM practitioners don't believe it. Can anyone point me in the direction of a single "alternative" remedy that, after multiple negative studies, has been abandoned?
Not only that, but the government continues to fund these negative studies that no one pays attention to anyway, to the tune of over $120,000,000 dollars in 2008.

Here's the real difference between me and those who advocate CAM: I am the one who is truly open-minded, and they are the ones who refuse to consider anything other than what they are convinced is right; just the opposite of what they claim.

Show me the science and I will change my actions. Prove to me something doesn't work, and I will stop. (eg: post-menopausal hormone replacement therapy) Hell, show me that CAM works -- with something other than testimonials or anecdotes -- and I'll prescribe it in a heartbeat!

Show them -- over and over -- that their treatments are nothing but elaborate placebos, and all they do is accuse their critics of intolerance and claim that their treatments can't be tested (but still deserve to be called "medicine.")

Where have I seen this before? Oh yeah: it's called "doublethink", from a little tome published in 1949 titled 1984, by George Orwell.


At Wed Aug 15, 12:12:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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At Wed Aug 15, 03:17:00 PM, Blogger Lynn Price said...

Where have I seen this before? Oh yeah: it's called "doublethink", from a little tome published in 1949 titled 1984, by George Orwell.

I am the one who is truly open-minded...

I can't help but feel a bit of contradiction at play here.

Dino, as you more than likely expected, I have a response to this, but it's way too long, so I posted a thread on my own blog.

At Thu Aug 16, 11:15:00 AM, Blogger Hygeian said...

(stepping out from lurking in shadows to write...)

I don't really believe in CAM but I find I'm not convinced by rhetoric like what's here in this post.

I think I understand the sentiment behind it though, not sure and I don't want to presume. From a personal perspective, I feel a bit put off by what I know of popularized CAM methods and principles. I know my opinion is in large part formed (and isn't helped) by the fact that I've been subject to someone pushing alternative diagnostics, treatments, and discourse in general on me - which includes the person using strategies like flooding my inbox with "research" culled from third + hand information off patient forums (where I can find things like the latest on "Limes disease").

I've never had to watch someone CAM themselves into the hospital though. I imagine if I did, I might feel even more strongly about it.

Thank you for the link though. I am glad there is research being done and that pubmed has made a CAM specific search engine, even if the results can be selectively avoided or ignored. But that can happen in any field which has a high public interest value.

A large proportion of people who look up both "plain old medical" stuff and CAM stuff have poor or insufficient scientific literacy skills to tell the difference between a customer testimonial, a sales pitch, and a peer reviewed research study. Ultimately, I suspect this is at the root of your lament.

I think I might try to get my students to do an experiment on this in the coming semester. E.g., they could see if "scientificy" looking graphics and pictures of people in lab coats on a webpage can make readers rate the information on it as more reliable.


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