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 Post subject: Re: The Red Flags of Quackery
PostPosted: Fri Jan 27, 2012 7:26 pm 
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solipsistnation wrote:

The strong resistance to actual testing doesn't help its case, either. Again, this makes it more like religion than medicine, and if I have to believe in something for it to work, it might as well not work. The thing about science-based medicine is that I don't _have_ to believe in it-- it works anyway.


I got one point to counter that: Placebo Effect and placebo groups in drug trials.
A new version of a drug can not be released until it is proven that it is better than the older version and the placebo version.

Now that that was put aside, I endorse medicine 100%.. except for pharmaceutical companies: they f**k up too much in my opinion. It all depends on what you are trying to fix, some things are a piece of cake and others will have side effects worse than the condition: ex: drugs for acne have "suicide" on the first ligne of side effects. This should ring a bell. Hormonal drugs are on my top list to "things I should say no to" if they aren't really needed like some steroids (especially cortisol) in some major conditions.

I think people should learn the difference between doctors and pharmacists. Go to any university website, check the medical school program structure and compare it to the main program structure of the pharmaceutical science departements; check even their recommended books for courses: there is a huge difference between an M.D holder and a pharmacist when it comes to major illness; not so much to when it comes to cure a headache or a blister though, your pharmacist can fix that.

I should also add a point to "holistic medicine": I'm pretty definitely sure that anyone that claims he uses this is a liar. BUT you should understand that one organ can not function without another; one physiological system can not work without all of the physiological systems being linked together and if one system isnt functioning properly, he will be affecting all the other systems (that's why you'd be in terrible shape kicking and screaming): hence the holistic approach being somewhat true and this is why you should fix the cause and not try to mask the side effects of your illness (like some drugs do for minor conditions, I'd understand if you were terminal though...).

All in all, Medicine compared to alt. medicine, is surely more credible, but they still do tons and TONS of mistakes with all the cases of misdiagnosis, surgery mistakes, drug trials & testing, and lab analysis.
From what I have seen, I'd say we aren't advanced in medicine as we are advanced in creating micro computers and ipads. Shame.


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 Post subject: Re: The Red Flags of Quackery
PostPosted: Sat Jan 28, 2012 12:05 am 
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ArizonaBay wrote:
solipsistnation wrote:
The strong resistance to actual testing doesn't help its case, either. Again, this makes it more like religion than medicine, and if I have to believe in something for it to work, it might as well not work. The thing about science-based medicine is that I don't _have_ to believe in it-- it works anyway.

I got one point to counter that: Placebo Effect and placebo groups in drug trials.
A new version of a drug can not be released until it is proven that it is better than the older version and the placebo version.

I don't get what you are trying to argue about here? Clearly you agree that science-based medicine works. Maybe you think solipsistnation should buy pseudo-medicine purely for its placebo effect?

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 Post subject: Re: The Red Flags of Quackery
PostPosted: Sat Jan 28, 2012 12:18 am 
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ArizonaBay wrote:
All in all, Medicine compared to alt. medicine, is surely more credible, but they still do tons and TONS of mistakes with all the cases of misdiagnosis, surgery mistakes, drug trials & testing, and lab analysis.
From what I have seen, I'd say we aren't advanced in medicine as we are advanced in creating micro computers and ipads. Shame.


So uh, yeah. That was incoherent, but I'm going to poke this piece in particular.

These things you list are all different things.

Misdiagnosis and surgery mistakes (I'm not sure here if you mean unneeded surgery or mistakes made during surgery but the point stands) are pretty rare. The reason you hear about them when they happen is because they're rare. It's like child kidnappings-- they happen so rarely that it's news when they do.

Drug trials and testing and lab analysis aren't things that you have cases of. Do you mean mistakes made during trials and testing and lab analysis? Or do you just dislike them?

Creating electronics is relatively simple-- it's just zeros and ones. Yeah, we're pretty good at it now because it's totally deterministic and because you control ALL variables. You're designing the system and thus can make sure it does what you want. For that reason, I don't think you can really compare the state of the art between something like electronics and something like medicine. It's like saying that we're better at designing cars than we are at breeding horses. They're totally different.

I think you might actually have a point you want to make, but what you posted is sort of vague and hand-wavey. (LIEK ALTERNATIVE MEDICIN LOLZ) Can you try to articulate it better and see if you can make it more clear?

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 Post subject: Re: The Red Flags of Quackery
PostPosted: Sat Jan 28, 2012 5:58 pm 
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caterpillar wrote:
ArizonaBay wrote:
solipsistnation wrote:
The strong resistance to actual testing doesn't help its case, either. Again, this makes it more like religion than medicine, and if I have to believe in something for it to work, it might as well not work. The thing about science-based medicine is that I don't _have_ to believe in it-- it works anyway.

I got one point to counter that: Placebo Effect and placebo groups in drug trials.
A new version of a drug can not be released until it is proven that it is better than the older version and the placebo version.

I don't get what you are trying to argue about here? Clearly you agree that science-based medicine works. Maybe you think solipsistnation should buy pseudo-medicine purely for its placebo effect?


He was talking about believing in things in order for those things to work. That's a big part of the placebo effect: when patients take placebo pills thinking they will heal, that alone, in a lot of cases, is a big part of the healing process.

That's just what I was trying to say. Nothing more. I just wanted to point out that believing in some things sometimes is enough. I see it as something quiet amazing honestly: the power of our minds.

caterpillar wrote:

Post subject: Re: The Red Flags of Quackery Reply with quote
ArizonaBay wrote:
All in all, Medicine compared to alt. medicine, is surely more credible, but they still do tons and TONS of mistakes with all the cases of misdiagnosis, surgery mistakes, drug trials & testing, and lab analysis.
From what I have seen, I'd say we aren't advanced in medicine as we are advanced in creating micro computers and ipads. Shame.


So uh, yeah. That was incoherent, but I'm going to poke this piece in particular.

These things you list are all different things.

Misdiagnosis and surgery mistakes (I'm not sure here if you mean unneeded surgery or mistakes made during surgery but the point stands) are pretty rare. The reason you hear about them when they happen is because they're rare. It's like child kidnappings-- they happen so rarely that it's news when they do.

Drug trials and testing and lab analysis aren't things that you have cases of. Do you mean mistakes made during trials and testing and lab analysis? Or do you just dislike them?

Creating electronics is relatively simple-- it's just zeros and ones. Yeah, we're pretty good at it now because it's totally deterministic and because you control ALL variables. You're designing the system and thus can make sure it does what you want. For that reason, I don't think you can really compare the state of the art between something like electronics and something like medicine. It's like saying that we're better at designing cars than we are at breeding horses. They're totally different.

I think you might actually have a point you want to make, but what you posted is sort of vague and hand-wavey. (LIEK ALTERNATIVE MEDICIN LOLZ) Can you try to articulate it better and see if you can make it more clear


I was talking about mistakes during surgery. They aren't really that rare but I guess it depends on where you live. Misdiagnosis happen ALL the time but I can see how this can fall back on our lack of knowledge of some diseases.
The thing is I see a lot of times, people walking into surgery/treatment and completely trusting their doctor and handing out their life to an M.D. I know he is more qualified then anyone else to help out but this puzzles me.
I think that my beef with medical staff comes most probably from my experience with med students but that's another topic. I just thank god that most undergrad med students drop out before they get their degree because the thought of some of them handling a patient's life scares the crepe out of me. I know that in france, you get two strikes as an M.D, after that, you aren't allowed to practice anymore; yeah, thank god for regulations like that.

As for drug trials and lab analysis, I've heard of real sick people being put into the placebo groups for some drug trials, and some lab analysis techniques aren't really reliable. Like I said, we arent really that advanced in most medical fields.

I don't have a solution for any of those problems and I do endorse medicine 100% all the way. I just don't look at medical doctors as "all mighty all knowing person" like some people pass them to be: "the doctor said it, it must be true!!". And I think that was my point. I'm not saying doctors are quacks, I'm saying some of them (NOT ALL OF THEM) are just out of practice. I prefer to have several medical opinions than one.

I do have a problem with that, because people go to doctors thinking M.Ds holders will go out of their way to fix stuff, the truth is there are a lot of things holding us back including funding and costs for medical research, lab tests etc. Or maybe it's just me, when I went into science I thought I was joining a huge team working towards saving humanity, but things are a lot slower, more contradictory, ambiguous than I thought they would be.

And the things you point out are totally valid. Also, sorry for being incoherent, I was just trying to add food for thoughts I guess.


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 Post subject: Re: The Red Flags of Quackery
PostPosted: Sat Jan 28, 2012 8:34 pm 
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Medicine is not perfect but it knows that it is not and admits when it is wrong. Science is groovy like that.

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 Post subject: Re: The Red Flags of Quackery
PostPosted: Sat Jan 28, 2012 11:09 pm 
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Vantine wrote:
Medicine is not perfect but it knows that it is not and admits when it is wrong. Science is groovy like that.


Unfortunately, alternative medicine doesn't and doesn't. THAT IS THE PROBLEM.

I'm being nice. I asked for clarification rather than just going off. That's, like, a conversation and everything!

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 Post subject: Re: The Red Flags of Quackery
PostPosted: Sun Jan 29, 2012 1:28 am 
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Not to hijack this thread, but this discussion made me think of an episode of This American Life that I listened to recently (the episode is Kid Politics from 1/13/12). The second story was about convincing Americans that climate change is a real phenomenon, caused by human activity. The show brought together a teenager who doesn't "believe in" climate change and the Executive Director of the National Earth Science Teachers Association for a discussion, to see if the scientist could convince the skeptic. The Exec. Director listed and explained numerous types of evidence to support the reality of climate change, and the teenager kept saying she was not convinced because this was only "one side of the story." As I was listening, I realized that NO AMOUNT of evidence would have convinced her because she doesn't care about evidence. She's a person who doesn't understand the scientific method, doesn't understand how new evidence allows us to change our models and theories of how things work. It struck me as unfortunate that they didn't ever ask her what she thought of science, or whether she understood the scientific method. Ultimately, I got pretty depressed about the level of science education in this country (the U.S.).


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 Post subject: Re: The Red Flags of Quackery
PostPosted: Sun Jan 29, 2012 1:54 am 
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ArizonaBay wrote:
when I went into science I thought I was joining a huge team working towards saving humanity, but things are a lot slower, more contradictory, ambiguous than I thought they would be.

And that's how it should be, no easy answers. Because that's life.

Vantine wrote:
Skeptics! Behave! Be nice to the new poster or I will have to send you all homeopathic spankings

Sorry if you feel attacked ArizonaBay. I know it's hard to express yourself in a new community. Even me and solipsistnation have had disagreements before.

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 Post subject: Re: The Red Flags of Quackery
PostPosted: Sun Jan 29, 2012 3:09 am 
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ArizonaBay wrote:
I was talking about mistakes during surgery. They aren't really that rare but I guess it depends on where you live. Misdiagnosis happen ALL the time but I can see how this can fall back on our lack of knowledge of some diseases.
The thing is I see a lot of times, people walking into surgery/treatment and completely trusting their doctor and handing out their life to an M.D. I know he is more qualified then anyone else to help out but this puzzles me.


...so I should trust somebody _less_ qualified? I'm not sure what you're saying here. It sounds like "I am confused why people would trust the most qualified person to help them." Are you bothered by the (relatively slim) chance that even the most qualified person might make a mistake?

Mistakes do happen. That's why you're supposed to get a second opinion for major stuff.

Quote:
As for drug trials and lab analysis, I've heard of real sick people being put into the placebo groups for some drug trials,


Well, yeah. Shouldn't _everyone_ in the trial be sick? So OF COURSE sick people would get the drug. Ideally nobody who _isn't_ sick should get it. I don't think they put fakers into drug trials, do they? Even if they did, if you don't have actual sick people in both the drug and placebo groups, your test is no good. That's how those tests work.

Quote:
I don't have a solution for any of those problems and I do endorse medicine 100% all the way. I just don't look at medical doctors as "all mighty all knowing person" like some people pass them to be: "the doctor said it, it must be true!!". And I think that was my point. I'm not saying doctors are quacks, I'm saying some of them (NOT ALL OF THEM) are just out of practice. I prefer to have several medical opinions than one.


Okay, yeah. Which you're supposed to do for major stuff anyway...

Quote:
Or maybe it's just me, when I went into science I thought I was joining a huge team working towards saving humanity, but things are a lot slower, more contradictory, ambiguous than I thought they would be.


Yeah. We're thousands of years into medicine, and we're pretty good, but if we were perfect we wouldn't need scientists any more...

What science are you in?

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 Post subject: Re: The Red Flags of Quackery
PostPosted: Sun Jan 29, 2012 3:11 am 
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caterpillar wrote:
I know it's hard to express yourself in a new community. Even me and solipsistnation have had disagreements before.


And now we totally hang.

...ArizonaBay, I like to argue on the internet. If I sound like I'm attacking you, it's probably not personal. (Lemme tell you, you will KNOW when it's personal. I am not subtle. But I like the PPK and even though there are some people on here that I think are serious twits, I'm probably not going to be rude about it.)


(...and now you're all wondering who I think is a twit. Who could it be? Is it you? Heh heh.)

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 Post subject: Re: The Red Flags of Quackery
PostPosted: Sun Jan 29, 2012 1:54 pm 
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Vantine wrote:
Skeptics! Behave! Be nice to the new poster or I will have to send you all homeopathic spankings
Medicine is not perfect but it knows that it is not and admits when it is wrong. Science is groovy like that.


hah thanks. i like discussions about medicine and science :p as long as they dont start insulting me im okay.

caterpillar wrote:
And that's how it should be, no easy answers. Because that's life.

yeah that's what bothered me. I guess when I was in highschool I chose science because there wasn't any debates in it yet like other human sciences but boy was I wrong.

Quote:
...so I should trust somebody _less_ qualified? I'm not sure what you're saying here. It sounds like "I am confused why people would trust the most qualified person to help them." Are you bothered by the (relatively slim) chance that even the most qualified person might make a mistake?

no im not saying you should trust someone less qualified by any means.
but yes im bothered by the fact that the doctors make mistakes. I just thought that doctors were "almighty" like people talked about them, but then I realized that that's not true.
Quote:
Well, yeah. Shouldn't _everyone_ in the trial be sick? So OF COURSE sick people would get the drug. Ideally nobody who _isn't_ sick should get it. I don't think they put fakers into drug trials, do they? Even if they did, if you don't have actual sick people in both the drug and placebo groups, your test is no good. That's how those tests work.

yeah, it does make me cringe though when the people conducting the tests know this and talk about it like its perfectly ok.. it's like sentencing people to a death penalty. Maybe it's my morals that think this is somewhat horrible.

Quote:
What science are you in?

undergrad immunology

I am realizing that it's just probably my morals and my expectations of the medical field clashing together. This is what caused my disappointment.
it's just sad...
but I wouldn't change my field for the world.


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 Post subject: Re: The Red Flags of Quackery
PostPosted: Sun Jan 29, 2012 2:16 pm 
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I know I've read of people who are ill and agree to go into drug trials in order to help find a cure.


Regarding holistic medicine, I regard it as a way to clean up faith based medicine by attaching it to evidence based medicine. But woo with a side of science is woo none the less.

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 Post subject: Re: The Red Flags of Quackery
PostPosted: Sun Jan 29, 2012 5:48 pm 
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I think it's a bit of a sweeping generalisation to say that complementary medicine practitioners never know when they're wrong/admit it.

I'm on the side of science in most cases, but provided you can afford it and it's not dangerous, I'd pick the most evidence-based complementary medicine and give it a go. I've seen naturopaths who've said "Hmm.. this isn't working, can I refer you on to someone else? Have you seen your GP as well?". So to say that they don't is ridiculous - you don't know that.


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 Post subject: Re: The Red Flags of Quackery
PostPosted: Sun Jan 29, 2012 6:14 pm 
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Quick response before going to the park:

ArizonaBay wrote:
yeah, it does make me cringe though when the people conducting the tests know this and talk about it like its perfectly ok.. it's like sentencing people to a death penalty. Maybe it's my morals that think this is somewhat horrible.


But it's a _test_. It's not like they're withholding a 100% certain cure-- for that matter, they could be making the people who DO get the real drug sicker! Or it could make no difference to anyone. The most likely result is that they're no better or worse off than they were to start with.

And the people who are in the trials have to agree to it-- I've been part of enough testing (including a couple of medication research projects) that I've seen the bales of paperwork they make you sign before you can become a test subject. It's not like the people in the test are unaware.

Plus I've seen that one episode of House where Foreman gets somebody into a drug trial and she dies because the drug makes her worse. I'm sure that's totally happening all the time... 8)

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 Post subject: Re: The Red Flags of Quackery
PostPosted: Sun Jan 29, 2012 8:16 pm 
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mattomic wrote:
I think it's a bit of a sweeping generalisation to say that complementary medicine practitioners never know when they're wrong/admit it.

I'm on the side of science in most cases, but provided you can afford it and it's not dangerous, I'd pick the most evidence-based complementary medicine and give it a go. I've seen naturopaths who've said "Hmm.. this isn't working, can I refer you on to someone else? Have you seen your GP as well?". So to say that they don't is ridiculous - you don't know that.

Evidence based complementary medicine is medicine. I use the term faith based because a lot of complementary treatments have zero evidence that they work but people still use them. Some of them also include belief in supernatural forces. Acupuncture comes to mind.

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 Post subject: Re: The Red Flags of Quackery
PostPosted: Sun Jan 29, 2012 8:26 pm 
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Vantine, sorry - I was responding to:
Vantine wrote:
"Medicine is not perfect but it knows that it is not and admits when it is wrong. Science is groovy like that."
Solipsistnation:
"Unfortunately, alternative medicine doesn't and doesn't. THAT IS THE PROBLEM. "

Perhaps my use of complementary "medicine" was not the best term to use. Perhaps "practices", rather than medicine.

Acupuncture is practised by a number of doctors, and does have clinical trials to back it up - for some things. And back pain is one of those things where conventional medicine has little to offer other than drugs, so I don't think there's harm in trying, provided you can afford it and it's via someone highly trained.


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 Post subject: Re: The Red Flags of Quackery
PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2012 11:58 am 
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I was under the impression that scientific examinations of acupuncture had shown it to be less than impressive. Am I wrong?

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 Post subject: Re: The Red Flags of Quackery
PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2012 1:19 pm 
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I hadn't heard about acupuncture but I have heard that chiropractic practices do show some success with back pain. Physical therapy is also something that tends to do well as a non-surgical intervention for back pain.

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 Post subject: Re: The Red Flags of Quackery
PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2012 2:11 pm 
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Here's what I found in a quick check: From the British Medical Journal

[quote=Acupuncture treatment for pain: systematic review of randomised clinical trials with acupuncture, placebo acupuncture, and no acupuncture groups]
A small analgesic effect of acupuncture was found, which seems to lack clinical relevance and cannot be clearly distinguished from bias. Whether needling at acupuncture points, or at any site, reduces pain independently of the psychological impact of the treatment ritual is unclear.
[/quote]

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 Post subject: Re: The Red Flags of Quackery
PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2012 5:58 pm 
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At the very least, I think it's unfair to write it off and it deserves further research.

Every second acupuncture study I come across says that it had benefits for some people, even sometimes as good as medication, but that they couldn't recommend it yet due to various factors.

For migraine patients: http://summaries.cochrane.org/CD001218/ ... rophylaxis
Tension headaches: http://summaries.cochrane.org/CD007587/ ... e-headache
Shoulder pain: "may improve pain and function over the short term: http://summaries.cochrane.org/CD005319/ ... ulder-pain
Neck pain: "on average, better pain relief immediately after treatment and in the short-term than those who received sham treatments. Individuals with chronic neck pain..better pain relief in the short-term" http://summaries.cochrane.org/CD004870/ ... -neck-pain
Tennis elbow: http://summaries.cochrane.org/CD003527/ ... elbow-pain
Period pain: "some evidence": http://summaries.cochrane.org/CD007854/ ... eriod-pain

I could go on, and on. There are pages. It does seem to be better at assisting with musculoskeletal ailments than anything else.

Medical studies aren't always watertight, either. And I've got nothing to do with acupuncture! I've only ever had it once, long ago.

My point is - there's a lot more evidence for acupuncture, and it's not as ridiculous as the premise of homeopathy or many other "treatments" can be.


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 Post subject: Re: The Red Flags of Quackery
PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2012 7:31 pm 
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I know they've done studies in which they put needles in the wrong place and not very far in at all and people experience the same relief that they do when it's done "properly." The problem with testing some of the woo is that if people believe it will help, they often report relief.
They have a hard time doing an effective test because you can tell if someone is sticking needles into your body.

http://skepdic.com/acupuncture.html

Anyone who wishes to believe is Qi is welcome to do so; just don't pretend that it's not a religious belief. It's faith healing just without the gospel music

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 Post subject: Re: The Red Flags of Quackery
PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2012 7:53 pm 
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I remember hearing a thing on NPR and I'm probably getting it all wrong, but I think there was something about just being touched by medical folks having something to do with feeling better. Apparently a lot of doctors don't touch their patients at all? Anyway, I can't remember if they said it or if I made the connection between that and alt medicine that is very touchy.


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 Post subject: Re: The Red Flags of Quackery
PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2012 9:00 pm 
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Lactose Intolerant...Literally
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Location: Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
I'm not talking about acupuncture necessarily in the traditional chinese medicine sense - a lot of doctors practice it in a different formation. If it works, and you actually need to do something for it to happen, it's not easily explained as placebo.


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 Post subject: Re: The Red Flags of Quackery
PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2012 11:08 pm 
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I looked at the (abstracts of the) studies you cited, and many (most?) of them DO indeed say that the results with acupuncture (while sometimes not very impressive or lasting) were better than with fake acupuncture (placebo). Some of the abstracts also say the studies were quite small, and their results might not be worth much.

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 Post subject: Re: The Red Flags of Quackery
PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2012 11:29 pm 
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Drinks Wild Tofurkey
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I have definitely started using homeopathic remedies in the last few months. Some of it I think maybe helps and none of it seems to hurt. The biggest thing for me was when I was having supply issues with my breastmilk I took herbs and they worked, really, really well.


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