Sorry, but data mining the internet is not going to turn anecdotal reports into useful information about alternative therapies. THIS is a link to the FDA site on Good Clinical Practices. These guidlines are present, as as complex and extensive as they are, because it is very difficult to overcome people’s natural thought errors (see below). You are obviously convinced that listening to people’s stories about there experiences is better than nothing (unfortunately, not true), that medicine and science isn’t interested in helping people (also untrue), and that big pharma is the major obstacle to finding new therapies (also untrue; they certainly are an obstacle, and I have a lot of problems with the for-profit pharma industry myself, but the reason research isn’t done into every alternative medicine claim made is mostly becuase the claims contain reasoning that is contrary to established science or at least lacks a plausibile reason to suspect real benefits, and with a limit on resources for research the research needs to be focused on things most likley, based on what we know now, to actually turn out to be helpful).
Believe me, I despartately want new and better tools to help my patients, but I’m not willing to clutch at straws and give their owners false hope, or even do actual harm, just because I’m frustrated witrh the pace of progress.
Most Common Mistakes in Thinking (i.e. Why We Believe Stuff that Isn’t True)
Mistake #1: We prefer stories to statistics. Even a bad story is preferred over great statistics, and this shouldn’t be surprising. We’re social animals, so whatever seems to connect us to others will have a bigger impact than cold, impersonal numbers. This leads us to making decisions based upon a single story which may not be representative of larger trends while ignoring the statistics that tell us about those trends.
Mistake #2: We seek to confirm, not to question, our ideas. Everyone wants to be right and no one wants to be wrong. This may be the primary driving force behind the fact that when people look at neutral evidence before them, they almost invariably focus on what seems to confirm what they already believe while ignoring what might count against their beliefs.
Mistake #3: We rarely appreciate the role of chance and coincidence in shaping events. Odds are that any randomly chosen person has no idea how odds, chance, and randomness affect their lives. People think that unlikely events are very likely while likely events are very unlikely. For example, people forget how large the numbers around them are — an event with a million to one odds against it will happen given a million tries. In New York City alone, this means that several such events could happen every day.
Mistake #4: We sometimes misperceive the world around us. We simply don’t perceive things happening in our vicinity as accurately as we think or might like. We see things that aren’t really there and we fail to see things that are. Even worse, our level of confidence in what we have perceived is no indication of just how likely we are to be right.
Mistake #5: We tend to oversimplify our thinking. Reality is a whole lot more complicated than we realize. Indeed, it’s more complicated than we can deal with — every analysis we make of what goes on must eliminate lots of factors. If we don’t simplify, we’d never get anywhere in our thinking; unfortunately, we often simplify too much and thus miss things we need to take into account.
Mistake #6: Our memories are often inaccurate. To be fair, this isn’t a mistake because we can’t help the fact that our memories are unreliable. The real mistake is in not realizing this, not understanding the ways in which our memories can go wrong, and then failing to do what we can to make up for this fact.