Category: Acupuncture

Acupuncture for IVF Revisited – More Tooth Fairy Science?

I read this Reuters Health article on MedlinePlus, and then I read the study the article referred to (The impact of acupuncture on in vitro fertilization) and now my head hurts. The study found that acupuncture was not effective in increasing the pregnancy rate (PR) during in vitro fertilization (IVF). As quoted on MedlinePlus, the lead author, Alice Domar, seems to blame her patients...

/ April 28, 2009

When “CAM” is mandatory: A science-based medical student’s dilemma

Early in the history of this blog, I wrote a rather long post expressing my dismay at the infiltration of unscientific “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) or “integrative medicine” (IM) modalities into American medical schools. In it, I listed the medical schools that had embraced pseudoscience through having started a CAM/IM program (a list desperately in need of an update). Moreover, we...

/ March 30, 2009

Acupuncture – Disconnected from Reality

The primary goal of science-based medicine (SBM) is to connect the practice of medicine to the best currently available science. This is similar to evidence-based medicine (EBM), although we quibble about the relative roles of evidence vs prior plausibility. In a recent survey 86% of Americans said they thought that science education was “absolutely essential” or “very important” to the healthcare system....

/ March 18, 2009

Yes We Can! We Can Abolish the NCCAM! Part II

Pseudoscience and Dishonesty, continued: “Reliable Information”? In the previous post, we examined misrepresentations by the late National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) Director Stephen Straus and Margaret Chesney, written in 2006 as a rebuttal to a critical article by Donald Marcus and Arthur Grollman in Science magazine. Here, we continue. According to Straus and Chesney: Before the establishment of NCCAM,...

/ January 31, 2009
Commander Yevsey Goldberg conducts an acupuncture procedure.

Battlefield acupuncture revisited: That’s it? That‘s all Col. Niemtzow’s got?

It’s like the zombie that wouldn’t die, isn’t it? I’m referring to so-called “battlefield acupuncture,” a topic that I wrote about last week for this very blog. With a week separating my usual posts, I normally don’t write about the same topic two times right in a row, but I’m making an exception for this topic. There are three reasons. First, I...

/ December 22, 2008

“Battlefield acupuncture”?

THE SCENE: Iraq, Afghanistan, or anywhere where U.S. troops are risking life and limb. THE TIME: The not-too-distant-future. Maybe even 2009. Joe is on patrol. It’s the middle of summer in the desert town. The air hangs heavy, hot, dry and dusty, like a blast furnace firing steel. The heat penetrates Joe’s 80 lb pack in much the same way the heat...

/ December 15, 2008

On the dangers of using valid placebo controls in clinical trials of acupuncture

I don’t recall if I’ve ever mentioned this before on this blog, but there was a time when I was less skeptical of acupuncture than I am now. It’s true. Don’t get me wrong, though. I never for a minute considered that the whole rigamarole about “unblocking” or “redirecting” the flow of that mystical life force known as qi had anything to...

/ November 17, 2008

“It’s just a theory”

I am afraid that the experiments you quote, M. Pasteur, will turn against you. The world into which you wish to take us is really too fantastic. La Presse, 1860 It’s just a theory. Not evolution. Germ theory. Just a theory, one of many that account for the etiology of diseases. I should mention my bias up front. I am, as some...

/ November 7, 2008

Is There a Placebo Effect for Animals?

One of the occasional arguments used in support of “alternative” approaches to human medicine is the observation that since “alternative” medicine is used (with anecdotal success) in animals, and animals don’t know anything about the treatment that they’re getting, then they must work a priori.  Of course, the fallacy of such an observation is pretty obvious to anyone with a logical/skeptical frame...

/ October 25, 2008

Puncturing the Acupuncture Myth

Note: This is slightly revised from an article I originally wrote as a “SkepDoc” column for Skeptic magazine. It was pre-released online in eSkeptic and it has already generated a lot of comments, including “a truly amazing piece of peurile pseudo-intellectualism,” “an ad hominem attack on one form of alternative medicine so beset by poor thinking that one must come to the...

/ October 21, 2008