Thursday, April 19, 2012

Q is for Quackery

Quack science, quack medicine, it's all voodoo.

A lot of stuff gets passed off as a miracle cure these days.  I can understand the desire; a loved one is sick and you will do anything to make them better. Grasp at any straw, take any chance just so you are doing something.  But that doesn't mean it will work.

Along with Atheism I have long held a very, very skeptical belief in all forms of "Alternative Medicine".

Here are some of the things that people will do instead of thinking.  A lot of it comes from people's unclear understanding or out right ignorance of the way the body or science works.

"It's Natural" lots of claims are made that something is good for you because it is natural.  Plutonium is natural, all sorts of poisons and toxins are natural.  All of them will kill you.  Tylenol is not natural.  I am sure as hell going to grab one or two of those when my next headache comes around and not chew on some willow bark.

"It's Ancient/It's Eastern" you know what else is ancient? Driving out demons from a body instead of the disease.  You know what's also really old, leaches.  Sure their maybe something to some old remedy (chicken soup won't cure your cold, but it will make you feel less bad).  But just because something has been done the same way for thousands of years doesn't always mean it works better, it just means no one has had the chance to find a better way.

"Aromatherapy" and "Homepathy" man this stuff is pure bullshit.  There is no science what so ever behind any of this.

"Vaccines cause Autism" this might be the worse of the bunch.  We were so close to eliminating diseases that have plagued humankind since the well dawn of humankind.  And an idiot doctor and a Playboy centerfold have nearly undone it all.  Well not completely, but there is no established link between vaccines and Autism.  Not even weak correlation data (and remember kids, correlation is not causation). And just so we are clear here is the group saying there is a link:  Jenny McCarthy and scared parents.
Here is the group saying there is no link: the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Medical Toxicology, the Canadian Paediatric Society,the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the Food and Drug Administration,Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, the Public Health Agency of Canada, and the European Medicines Agency.
I am sorry, but I don't care what Jenny and her band thinks, that is some powerful backing.

I could go on and on, but I need topics for the future.

Look I have no love for the drug companies.  I worked as QMHP for a while and I felt that the psychiatric staff were only giving the patients the drugs the drug company reps were selling to them at the time. It's big business.  But that doesn't mean they have it wrong.  Tamoxifen for example works.  There are tens of thousands of other drugs that also do what they say.

Not knowing though how to choose or how to find out is where science in our schools is failing.  Not through their own faults, but due to lack of funding or stupid "teach the controversy" tactics.

I'll save magic for my games and science for the real world.


  1. I couldn't agree more. Seroxat is addictive and the withdrawal is a bitch but it works and I'm not going to toss it aside for some St. John's Wort that did nothing, just because it's natural.

    As for the vaccines and autism, that was all media scaremongering over here, that really damaged things and some people still believe it. I can't believe how stupid some people can be.

  2. Admittedly, homeopathy got its start back when the medicine was nearly as dangerous as the diseases -- so it was an improvement, in its way. But beyond the placebo effect (which is a weird-but-real thing) no, not effective.

    And expressing what I think Jenny McCarthy should have done to her on behalf of all the children who WILL DIE -- would be unchristian. Not my job.

  3. There are surely a lot of quack doctors out there causing more harm than good.
    Happy A-Zing!

  4. As a long-time believer in folk medicine, I have to disagree with you. However, I do agree that alternative methods of healing should never be seen as miracles, nor should they be used in exclusion to more "scientific" treatments. Thanks for making me think!

    1. Jen, keep in mind there are differences as well.

      If you tell me that there is a tradition of using X herb to relieve Y ailment, then I'll look for the scientific reports that support that. Willow Bark does get rid of a headache cause it has the same ingredients as aspirin. But I prefer the aspirin.

      Others are just wishful and hopeful thinking.