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So Goldacre's finding is that unethical practices and unproven treatments exist both in mainstream pharma and "CAM" [1].

So why is your contempt reserved for "CAM"?

> Unproven treatments that may make problems worse, while also encouraging patients to stay away from tested treatments

I keep hearing this but I've only witnessed the opposite.

I've utilised "CAM" for conditions that mainstream medicine couldn't help with (after years of trying to get help from different mainstream practitioners).

Only a combination of treatments from "CAM" modalities (naturopathy, osteopathy, myotherapy, yoga/pilates, limited chiropractic & TCM) has enabled me to get properly well.

Every "CAM" practitioner I saw encouraged me to keep checking in with mainstream doctors, which I did and have continued to do.

My mainstream doctors now look at my test results and just say "whatever you've been doing, keep doing it".

I get that there are horror stories, as there are in many facets of life. But like much of what makes up mainstream news reporting, the very thing that makes them noteworthy is that they are exceptions to the norm.

As someone who has gone about as deep into researching health/medicine as one can without actually undertaking a medical degree, I'm comfortable that the hysterical reactions over "CAM" are overblown.

So, it would seem, are government regulators around the world who are actually looking at the data, otherwise there would be even more stringent controls imposed on practitioners than are already in place.

[1] "Complementary and Alternative Medicine"




Because CAM doesn’t even attempt to be correct.

I know it’s hard to believe and to generalise beyond your own experience but you are one data point. You might have gotten better without any of the things that you mentioned. Most likely it was a placebo effect, strengthened by your own research and belief in the practices.

I’m not sure the lack of government regulation is a valid point. In my experience, and as you’d see if you read Goldacre’s book, government administrators don’t understand statistics. Even if they did, they don’t neccesarily legislate to maximise welfare.


I'm sure you're sincere in wanting to advocate positions that are good for the world. So you'll want to know how your arguments in this comment are flawed.

> Because CAM doesn’t even attempt to be correct.

Practitioners don't stay in business if they don't provide benefits. So unless you're asserting that most "CAM" clients like spending money for zero benefit, this claim doesn't hold up.

> I know it’s hard to believe and to generalise beyond your own experience

If you were committed to intellectually honest discussion, you'd have at least made further enquiries of me before making this assertion.

I have many acquaintances pursuing similar paths through their own health challenges, and have done for many years. I've examined many case reports and research studies, in order to understand the medical basis for what I've observed and experienced. So, yes, I'm one data point, but I've observed and researched many others.

> You might have gotten better without any of the things that you mentioned.

There's no basis for this. My health consistently declined for many years - for reasons that are now easily explained. And it started to turn around only after I started undertaking particular healing practices from the "CAM" sphere - but for reasons that are easily explained using scientifically sound medical knowledge.

> Most likely it was a placebo effect, strengthened by your own research and belief in the practices.

Serious question: do you suggest that my healing was imaginary, or that it was real but caused by beliefs/emotions rather than material factors?

People who invoke the placebo effect in this context often aren't conscious of importance of the distinction, but it matters a lot.

If it's the former, then I guess there's no more to discuss without knowing the details of my case - which you're welcome to enquire about.

If it's the latter, well then I agree with you that my healing has been influenced - indeed mostly driven - by changes in beliefs/emotions, as is the case with the version of the placebo effect that I subscribe to.

I've extensively researched the placebo effect and what is known about it, and how it may be relevant in my case, and I'm happy to discuss it further if it's a topic you're genuinely curious about.

> I’m not sure the lack of government regulation is a valid point. In my experience, and as you’d see if you read Goldacre’s book, government administrators don’t understand statistics. Even if they did, they don’t necessarily legislate to maximise welfare.

My point is not that there is a lack of regulation. There's a lot of regulation in most jurisdictions; professional bodies, health authorities, consumer protection authorities, criminal justice systems.

Governments may not legislate to maximise welfare but they are highly motivated to avoid horror stories on the front pages of newspapers, and the infrequency of such occurrences indicates that the level of harm caused by "CAM" is low.

Sure it would be great if it were lower, as is the case with all aspects of society where any harm occurs.

But striving for a world that only allows the practice of therapies that have been approved in advance by the mainstream medical establishment is not going to lead us to a better world than what we already have.




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