Complementary and alternative medicine Medicine Quackery

One more swipe at CNN for its credulity towards alternative medicine

About a week ago, I posted about a truly execrably credulous article on alternative medicine published at, which basically took a panel of true believers and asked them which five alternative medicine modalities had the best evidence to show that they “work.”

Now, Steve Novella weighs in. His key point, with which I agree, is that “alternative” medicine advocates (or “complementary and alternative medicine,” or CAM) have been wildly successful in framing their favored woo as being on an equal footing with “conventional” medicine, all the while carving out a double standard that allows non-evidence-based modalities to be excepted from the normal standards of medical evidence. Moreover, he points out how CAM advocates either appropriate certain conventional therapies (physical therapy, vitamins) and label them as “alternative,” while packaging the somewhat plausible alternative medicine modalities (herbal medicines, for example) with the “grossly absurd” (like homeopathy, Reiki, or “detoxification,” for example) and then try to sell the whole package as though it works.

Say what you will, Steve’s point that we “conventional” physicians have not done as good a job at “framing” as CAM advocates is hard to argue with.

Well worth a read.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

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