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National Center for Complimentary & Alternative Medicine called “Disappointing” by founder
Posted: 03 March 2009 05:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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You obviously haven’t studied the history of science. There will always be bad ideas and sloppy science, but bad ideas don’t survive for long, and sloppy science is always uncovered- and usually very quickly. The practice of science in a free society is self correcting. CAM doesn’t even try to correct its mistakes because its devotees don’t understand reason and logic and don’t want to know the truth. Its all about faith.

As far as “opening any journal”, I do this almost daily. Where do you get your facts to make a statement that the “Majority” of articles are bad science and that the scientists have an agenda. When was the last time you read a scientific journal? Not every article I read has tremendous value, but they all have one thing in common. They follow the scientific method and they try to answer a question that will advance our knowledge even if its only a small amount. The cumulative effect of all the sicence done over the past hundred years has resulted in the lights you turn on, the TV you watch, the vaccines that have saved millions of lives, and the cell phone you use. Because bad science always shows itself as such and good science always ultimately wins we have made tremendous progress in the past 200 years. What has CAM accomplished?

[ Edited: 03 March 2009 05:43 PM by macgyver ]
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Posted: 03 March 2009 06:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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the more reason to study Cam in a public view, so it “self corrects” itself out. that way the nay sayers cannot claim that it has never been studied and therefore it must work.

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Posted: 03 March 2009 06:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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mcgyver the fact that you find most articles to have value probably means that you do not read them close enough.

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Posted: 03 March 2009 07:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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“In public,” fine. “with public money,” NOT! grin

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Posted: 03 March 2009 07:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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but that’s the only way to keep it in public.

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Posted: 03 March 2009 07:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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Refute I’m a physician. Reading scientific articles has been a daily part of my professional life for 25 years. I don’t think I need a lesson from you on how to read a scientific journal. You love to make sweeping statements but you’re a bit short on facts to back them up. You claim most scientific articles are poor science. Back it up. Give specifics or you’re just blowing hot air.

[ Edited: 03 March 2009 07:45 PM by macgyver ]
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Posted: 03 March 2009 07:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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what specialty? I would love to take this discussion with you in to PM. I do read an article or two on occasion, so not just hot air here. Did not mean to discredit your understanding and critical reading skills. sorry.

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Posted: 03 March 2009 09:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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I haven’t bothered responding to your assertion, refuter, since Doug, Mckenzievmd, and Macgyer have been doing an excellent job.  However, as a retired chemist, I’ll add my comment. — You don’t know what the hell you are talking about.  Just because scientists are human and some may have their own agendas, the vast majority do excellent, unbiased work.  And, very quickly after anyone publishes a “bad science” article, it gets nailed and corrected. 

The difference is that CAM is based on faith, not data so it’s far less likely to be affected by new information.

I don’t know whether you are uninformed, have some agenda of your own, or just like to argue to be contrary even if you have no facts, but I assure you that you don’t know whet you are talking about.

Occam

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Posted: 03 March 2009 10:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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How unbiased of you to notice. Anyway, this is getting way out of hand. remember i never said there is NO difference i simply said that there were similarities.
I restate my original thought: The idea of scientific medicine may be perfection itself, in real life, things are very different. All I am saying in the end is that the world of “science” and “medicine” is full of unproven dogma, as well as outright erroneous info that is perceived as the truth, yet untested. so be a real scientist and admit it! for instance: your very own baby - acupuncture is published many journals, and I have seen several physicians raise their hand with pride, holding the article “proving” the positive effects of acupuncture, despite my giving them dirty looks.

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Posted: 04 March 2009 05:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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Dmitriy, I’ll elaborate on what I said before—I am certainly willing to grant you that a percentage of what is published in mainstream scientific journals isn’t well motivated, argued or demonstrated. Certainly, mainstream science is as riven by personal and political rivalries as any other human endeavor. I am willing to grant you that good science can be done by presenting a null result.

But that does not imply that we should throw up our hands when someone wants to investigate purported therapies with no theoretical motivation or method of action.

It’s sort of like arguing that some policemen are thieves and murderers, so the government should just go ahead and directly fund thievery and murder. Er, no. What that implies is that the government should redouble efforts to combat criminality among their employees.

If some of what is published in mainstream scientific journals is crap, then that suggests that editors and referees of those journals need to do their work better, not that we should publicly fund even crappier stuff. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

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Posted: 04 March 2009 06:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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refuter - 03 March 2009 07:58 PM

what specialty? I would love to take this discussion with you in to PM. I do read an article or two on occasion, so not just hot air here. Did not mean to discredit your understanding and critical reading skills. sorry.

I am an Internist. You are free to PM me with an explanation as to why this discussion should be held privately, but unless there is good reason I prefer to keep discussions out in the open. You continue to give vague references as in “Open any journal and see how much bad science is being published these days - majority result of being enamoured with an idea or scientists having an agenda.” That’s a pretty broad statement without a stitch of evidence to back it up. Name a Journal and a date and then point out the articles that support your claim. Unless you do so you arguments are just mere impressions and biases, not valid verifiable observations.

May I also point out that in your comment to Occam you said

refuter - 03 March 2009 07:58 PM

How unbiased of you to notice. Anyway, this is getting way out of hand. remember i never said there is NO difference i simply said that there were similarities.

But in a previous comment you in fact did say

” but the world of basic science is just as much driven by ideology as is the wolrd of Cam.”

That sounds like you are saying there is NO difference. You seem to be contradicting yourself or at least you are unwilling to own up to prior statements.

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Posted: 04 March 2009 09:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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The only reason I wanted to PM is because the discussion was getting off topic. But, nevermind. It sounds like I have not made myself clear. There exist two domains (at least that is what you are trying to convey) one of CAM and one of scientific medicine: and they are “oh so totally different” and no similarities exist between them. I felt that it was a great idea to have the field of CAM be brought closer to the ideas of real scientific investigation ( by creating and funding a center mentioned above) and bypass the unreliable methods used by todays CAM researcher-wannabes. That being said, I also criticised the field of modern medicine for engaging in the very same practices that WE ALL find so unacceptable in the realm of CAM.
From reading your reactions (esp mcgyver, and occam) it seems that you are not willing to accept the fact that there is just a lot of bad science out there.  To that extent, on the wards we play a little game called name ten things you are doing to your patients today which either not evidence-based, or has not been studied but just “makes sense.”

Anyway. Let’s get back on the topic and if want to discuss the inadequacies of modern medicine (lack of truly independent peer-review process, inadequacies quality control of publications, often lack of statistical “common sense”, etc.) we can start a new thread if need be.

that brings up an funny anecdote I have overheard:

A renouned surgeon is giving a talk on the new technique he has devised to treat an incurable disease. A med student from a back row asks a question:
“Have you thought of having a control arm in your study? Maybe have half the patients get the procedure and half not” The crowd starts whispering incessantly.
Surgeon: “Oh! But that surely would have doomed half of the patients to death!” more whispering goes over the room.
Med student:“Oh. Which half?”

[ Edited: 04 March 2009 09:38 AM by refuter ]
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Posted: 04 March 2009 10:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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Real science has always been self-correcting over time, which easily separates it from all of the pseudo-sciences. The fact that it often takes an uncomfortably long time for self-correction is usually due to human errors or lack of attention or poor peer review or politics etc.

CAM appears to have been set up to confirm a rather unscientific belief rather than to provide rigorous experimentation.

Sadly, there is only so much research time and money, and so most scientists are not off chasing Bigfoot or little grey aliens. Or CAM.

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Posted: 04 March 2009 10:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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Refuter, I have no problem applying science to CAM. In fact this has been done in many circumstances. The whole point of this thread is that it was done to the tune of over a billion dollars and even when all the results are in and there appears to be no benefits to CAM treatments, its believers and adherents refuse to accept the evidence.

The problem with using government funds to examine these treatments is several fold.

1) Many of these treatments have already been studied and found to be useless. There is no reason to throw more money into studying already discredited treatments. Those people who still believe in them will continue to do so even if 100 studies show them to be ineffective.

2) CAM studies shouldn’t get special treatment. There are lots of medical treatments based on really good science that are awaiting study because we don’t have adequate funding. CAM treatments should not get funding in preference to these other treatments simply because they are the love child of a powerful congressmen. This is why there should NOT be a separate government agency that receives funds specifically to study these treatments. By setting up such an agency you are setting aside funds to study CAM treatments when in fact those studies should have to compete on a level playing field with other treatments that are far more likely to bear fruit. Decisions about what to fund should not be based on whether a treatment is CAM or not. It should be based on whether there is a good scientific basis for the study.

You are right that I am not willing to accept the comment that there is “a lot of bad science out there”. That statement is to vague. What does a lot mean to you. If it means most then yes I vociferously disagree. If it means 25%, I still disagree. The vast majority of scientific medical articles that I read are well done. That doesn’t mean they are without problems. Medical research is done on human beings and this limits the researchers ability to conform strictly to the scientific method for ethical reasons. Costs also put limits on the researchers ability to do a “perfect” study. The difference is that CAM medicine doesn’t even try to be scientific in their approach, but even more alarming is that the practitioners of CAM think its someone else’s responsibility to prove they are wrong. This despite the fact that none of their treatments adhere to any of the basic scientific principals we have already proven.

One last thing. You bring up a valid point regarding what is now called evidence based medicine. Over the centuries many treatments were developed without strict scientific evaluation. Some of these treatments are still used by traditional medicine and others are used with some degree of modification. The point is that there are some things we do in traditional medicine that do not have good evidence behind them. many other treatments have strong evidence to support their efficacy, and there are many that lie somewhere in between. The medical profession is currently in the process of reevaluating many older treatments and when they are found to be ineffective we discard them. Antibiotics have been used for years to treat bronchitis, but as evidence has come in that most cases of bronchitis are viral, and studies have shown antibiotics to be ineffective in treating bronchitis, we are slowly educating physicians ( and patients) that antibiotics should not be used for this condition. The HUGE difference is that medicine, as all true sciences, continually uses reason and logic to learn and improve its knowledge base and it does this by building on what it already knows. CAM skips all the basic science and essentially implies that there is some basis for their treatments that is beyond human understanding, and that its up to everyone else to prove them wrong, and even if you do they wont believe the evidence.

Doug and Brennan have already made these points and its the basis for our objections to funding this agency.

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Posted: 04 March 2009 11:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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macgyver,  I agree with you.
I just don’t understand why you guys are so bent up on giving me a lesson in “CAM vs Scientific Medicine”. I do not disagree with you. Get back on the topic:
If even the founder of a government-funded institution designed to study CAM finds it disappointing - its great news. throw some more money at him. Awesome! americans are good at burning cash, so lets not go after drops in the bucket items on the budget and go after big items. i think its good to “waste” some money if in the end there is a body of data that comes out useful to many, diverting many to scientific medicine. so in the end its a good thing.

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