Tag: evidence

QuackeryEvolution

We Should Abandon the Concept of “Alternative Medicine”

In a recent editorial for the New York Times, Aaron E. Carroll argues, “Labels Like ‘Alternative Medicine’ Don’t Matter. The Science Does.” I agree with this headline thesis, but the details of his argument ironically show the harm that the so-called CAM (complementary and alternative medicine) movement has done. Carroll starts out well, essentially pointing out that the division between “conventional” and...

/ August 12, 2015

Don’t just stand there, do nothing! The difference between science-based medicine and quackery

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines science as: Knowledge about or study of the natural world based on facts learned through experiments and observation. And: Knowledge as distinguished from ignorance or misunderstanding. While this should distinguish science from pseudoscience, those who practice the latter often lay claim to the same definition. But one of the major differences between science and pseudoscience is that science...

/ May 22, 2015

Evaluating Treatment Claims: A Primer

I recently wrote about the claim that acupuncture can improve vision in patients with macular degeneration. In response, I received this e-mail: At Discovery Eye Foundation we have an education and outreach program for people with age-related macular degeneration, the Macular Degeneration Partnership. We are constantly getting calls from people who have heard of a new “cure” or a way to stop...

/ July 15, 2014

Answering Our Critics, Part 1 of 2

Some people don’t like what we have to say on Science-Based Medicine. Some attack specific points while others attack our whole approach. Every mention of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) elicits protests in the Comments section from “true believer” users and practitioners of CAM. Every mention of a treatment that has been disproven or has not been properly tested elicits testimonials from...

/ September 24, 2013

Evidence Thresholds

Defenders of science-based medicine are often confronted with the question (challenged, really): what would it take to convince you that “my sacred cow treatment” works? The challenge contains a thinly veiled accusation — no amount of evidence would convince you because you are a nasty skeptic. There is a threshold of evidence that would convince me of just about anything, however. In...

/ March 27, 2013

Defending Isagenix: A Case Study in Flawed Thinking

The Internet is a wonderful new medium for communicating ideas and information in a rapid and interactive way. Many articles are followed by a “comments” section. Like so many things in this imperfect world, comments are a mixed blessing. They can enhance the article by correcting errors, adding further information, and contributing useful thoughts to a productive discussion. But all too often...

/ June 22, 2010

Diagnosis, Therapy and Evidence

When Dr. Novella recently wrote about plausibility in science-based medicine, one of our most assiduous commenters, Daedalus2u, added a very important point. The data are always right, but the explanations may be wrong. The idea of treating ulcers with antibiotics was not incompatible with any of the data about ulcers; it was only incompatible with the idea that ulcers were caused by...

/ March 16, 2010

Integrative Obfuscation

The marketing of so-called CAM or integrative medicine continues. These terms are just that – marketing. They are otherwise vacuous, even deceptive, and meant only to conceal the naked fact that most medical interventions that hide under the CAM/integrative umbrella lack plausibility or credible evidence that they actually work. Medicine that works is simply “medicine” – everything else needs marketing. Last week...

/ September 9, 2009