Simon Singh - Trick or Treatment
Posted: 02 January 2009 06:49 PM   [ Ignore ]
Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  174
Joined  2007-02-21

Simon Singh is an author focusing on science and mathematics for the general public. His books include Fermat’s Enigma: The Epic Quest to Solve the World’s Greatest Mathematical Problem, The Code Book, and Big Bang. He has produced a number of documentaries for television on science topics, and is a trustee of the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts, and the National Museum of Science and Industry, both in the United Kingdom. He is currently being sued for libel by the British Chiropractic Association for comments he wrote in a column in The Guardian. His newest book, co-authored with Dr. Edzard Ernst, is Trick or Treatment: The Undeniable Facts about Alternative Medicine.

In this conversation with D.J. Grothe, Simon Singh talks about being an open-minded skeptic regarding complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). He discusses the efficacy of various CAM treatments, such as detox programs, homeopathy, and acupuncture. He examines the origins and claims of chiropractic, whether it works, and how it may be dangerous. He talks about the limits of scientific inquiry, and when a CAM claim might justifiably be dismissed. He discusses the funding of research into CAM versus the funding of its marketing. He explores the reasons why people continue using such treatments despite the lack of scientific data showing that it works. He explains the placebo effect and its legitimate therapeutic uses, and details the harm that some CAM treatments can cause even if they do work. He shares his opinions about why passions among skeptics and believers regarding CAM are so heated, giving advice to both the CAM and scientific communities. And he gives reasons for speaking out regarding CAM despite the possible negative repercussions from various quarters of the CAM community.

http://www.pointofinquiry.org

Profile
 
 
Posted: 02 January 2009 10:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4096
Joined  2006-11-28

Haven’t had a chance to hear the podcast yet, but I cannot recommend the book highly enough! An outstanding resource for anyone interested in the evidence for and against specific CAM therapies.

 Signature 

The SkeptVet Blog
You cannot reason a person out of a position he did not reason himself into in the first place. 
Johnathan Swift

Profile
 
 
Posted: 03 January 2009 02:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2423
Joined  2007-09-03
mckenzievmd - 02 January 2009 10:08 PM

Haven’t had a chance to hear the podcast yet, but I cannot recommend the book highly enough! An outstanding resource for anyone interested in the evidence for and against specific CAM therapies.

And I recommend the Code Book
http://www.simonsingh.net/The_Code_Book.html

Profile
 
 
Posted: 04 January 2009 08:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  189
Joined  2009-01-01

Podcast ahead!  From pop religions to pop medicines, CFI casts a long shadow over the collective shoulders of these various self-serving entrepreneurs.  But is there true hope for elightenment of the masses?  It’s much like the “war on drugs”, fighting the growth of addictions when two pushers pop up for every one busted.

 Signature 

Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful. - Seneca (ca. 4 BC –AD 65)

Profile
 
 
Posted: 06 January 2009 05:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2423
Joined  2007-09-03
Thomas Donnelly - 02 January 2009 06:49 PM

In this conversation with D.J. Grothe, Simon Singh talks about being an open-minded skeptic regarding complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). He discusses the efficacy of various CAM treatments, such as ..... homeopathy…

In the Jan-Feb edition of [ Free Inquiry magazine] 
Gregory S. Paul discusses why the United States appears to be more ‘religious’ than the liberal democracies in Western Europe, which apparently are more secularized. One common hypothesis is the “free market” in the U.S. enshrined in the Constitution. Paul seems to argue that no, it’s the socialized policies of Western Europe which eradicated the need for religion and it gradually withdrew.  I am really skeptical of this argument.

In this interview Singh discusses homeopathy in detail. This superstition appears to be more widespread in Europe than the U.S., and yet Singh notes it is a superstition held by otherwise educated and intelligent folks. He gives a number of explanations—the first being “marketing” which is surprisingly similar to the common explanation for religion in the U.S.  As to why homeopathy isn’t more common in U.S.—any good reasons?

Singh referred to a homeopathic hospital - ??— a Google search turns up over a millions hits to “homeopathy hospital”, including The Royal London Homeopathic Hospital. If socialized medicine rids you of religion (as Paul suggests!),  does it have a side effect of these other supersitions?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 08 January 2009 09:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
Jr. Member
Rank
Total Posts:  2
Joined  2009-01-08

Great podcast (as usual) - I enjoyed the conversation with Mr Singh very much.  A couple of comments:

1.  In my opinion the ONLY valid form of skepticism is “open-minded skepticism”.  Declaring that a claim is definitely false, without bothering to evaluate the evidence, is no more rational than automatically assuming the claim is true.  It’s a safer position, but not a more reasonable one.

2.  As usual, the podcast was too short!  I would have loved to hear some discussion of the sociopolitical factors that help make booming industries out of treatments like homeopathy, despite the lack of any credible evidence that they work at all.  For example, it seems to me that some people’s mistrust of The Evil Pharmaceutical Industry, or their fear of “chemicals” (wait a sec, isn’t any active ingredient in any kind of medicine a “chemical”?), might lead them to embrace “natural” alternatives.  I think there are also people out there who just love the idea that the Western European scientfic and intellectual tradition doesn’t have all the answers.  (Of course it doesn’t; that’s no reason to embrace a lot of rubbish.)  And there’s the basic fear of science itself; a lot of people just don’t trust men in white coats, however willing they may be to trust mystics of various kinds.

Again, great podcast!  Keep up the fantastic work.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 09 January 2009 10:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  122
Joined  2006-11-24

In many cases, “open minded skepticism” is a pointless luxury.
For instance, patent offices will ignore submissions which in turn ignore the second law of thermodynamics and promise the impossible. By the same token, why bother with miracle cure claims that lack a conceivable mechanism by which the effect could work? Much of what’s offered among ‘alternative’ medicine is unbelievably shallow: someone had some poetic ‘insight’ (Dr Hay diet, Bach flowers, Hahnemann’s homeopathy) and it just takes off.
Maybe it’s in our genetic makeup to be swayed by shamans uttering nonsense.

Anyway, I advocate for ‘miserly skepticism’: pick your battles and don’t waste your time with obvious bullshit, except to hone your debating skills.

[ Edited: 10 January 2009 10:22 PM by moreover ]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 14 January 2009 07:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
Jr. Member
Rank
Total Posts:  22
Joined  2008-10-23

Hey guys, what happened? Is there no show this week?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 15 January 2009 08:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  174
Joined  2007-02-21

Due to a complete hard drive failure, the next show will be posted today, and the next one after that on Sunday. We anticipate resuming our previous schedule next week.

Cheers!

Thomas

Profile
 
 
Posted: 15 January 2009 08:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  122
Joined  2006-11-24

I suppose your fervent faith in technology has been shattered some, ey?
How about converting to ritualistic hard drive backup routines?
Redundancy is Lord!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 18 January 2009 12:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  227
Joined  2008-07-26

I didn’t get much out of this wide-scoped podcast.. be skeptical and open-minded.. got it, thanks.
I wanted a bit more meat about the homeopathy debate, particularly after reading 13 Things That Don’t Make Sense which in part covers the recent history of the homeopathy debate but ultimately calls it a legitimate mystery that requires further study (like the other 12). This is because some studies appear to beat chance.

Not to say Singh’s book isn’t good.. I have no idea.

For my part I discount answers looking for a question. In science we start with questions (why do we see X.., how does Y work..?) and look for answers. Superstition & mysticism start with a seemingly crazy answer (you need to rearrange your furniture for health; needles need to pierce your chi lines; just add water-substances cure the problems they had caused) then want us to go looking for the question i.e. the “mystery” or phenomena that it would explain. Also we generally expect real answers to add insight and understanding. None of that here.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 18 January 2009 06:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2423
Joined  2007-09-03
Thomas Donnelly - 15 January 2009 08:26 AM

Due to a complete hard drive failure, the next show will be posted today, and the next one after that on Sunday. We anticipate resuming our previous schedule next week.

Cheers!

Thomas

Thomas sorry for the problems. Hope POI is up soon. 

Jackson.

Profile