Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Woo medicine in The Baltimore Sun--again

Oh, Baltimore Sun! While I frequently lament your continuing wasting away into a emaciated and frail version of your former self, there are times when I feel almost a sense of relief that almost no one reads you these days. Thursday, June 10, 2010, was one of those days.

I turned to your "Health & Style" section, and there, on page 3, I found yet another article presenting woo medicine as fact: "How and when to seek alternative therapies," part of your "Ask the expert" series, taken from an edited transcript of a June 8 chat with Dr. Joyce Frye on the Picture of Health blog.

Dr. Frye, "an osteopathic physician board-certified in obstetrics and gynecology and in integrative and holistic medicine with the Center for Integrative Medicine and the University of Maryland School of Medicine," is the same woo-promoting doctor I previously blogged about in March in my post "Allergy woo." Homeopathy has not emerged from the pathetic pit of pseudo-medicine since March. No surprise really, since it's failed to provide any evidence of efficacy in the more than 200 years it's been competing with science-based medicine, and as admitted by The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Medicine, "a number of its key concepts are not consistent with the current understanding of science, particularly chemistry and physics." 

Furthermore, well-designed scientific studies have shown that acupuncture, which Dr. Frye also recommended in the article, works no better than a placebo or sham acupuncture.

Still, no wonder, as noted by the article, "alternative remedies are becoming more common." Not only are there plenty of websites promoting woo to the gullible and desperate, but also, as demonstrated by this article, claims for woo medicine are being credulously reported as fact by mainstream media like The Sun, increasingly taught at medical and nursing schools, and offered in hospitals.

(As to why and how academic medicine has increasingly supported alternative-to-real-medicine, and related issues--like medical ethics and academic-medicine-woo's pernicious effect upon the health of patients--I refer you to Orac's blog, Respectful Insolence, on which he has written extensively, and with increasing despair, about the subject.)

I did find this part of the article amusing, in the same way I find The Great Oz amusing when he insists, "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain": 

Q: Are there watchdogs for alternative medicine practitioners?   

A: Unfortunately, the "watchdogs" are usually skeptics who want to hold all alternative practitioners out as "quacks," so they aren't very helpful...." 

Yes, indeed, don't listen to those silly critical thinking watchdogs who ask for evidence that alternative-to-real-medicine works as claimed.  

OK, Sun, I understand that you relied on an expert who is on the faculty at the generally well-regarded University of Maryland School of Medicine. But would you publish, without question or criticism, an article in which an expert in finance who taught at a respected business school, recommended alchemy as an effective method of attaining financial independence? 

Sigh. Maybe, given your credulous reporting of woo medicine, you would.

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