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Astrology, Alchemy, ESP and Reiki. One Of These Is Not Like The Other

reiki-hands-pic

I knew that Jann was thinking of writing about reiki and fraud, but did not know the details of her most excellent discussion from yesterday until I had finished my penultimate draft for today. Think of them as a match set, two perspectives on the same elephant.

Fraud: a person or thing intended to deceive others, typically by unjustifiably claiming or being credited with accomplishments or qualities.

There are numerous activities that one human will offer another in exchange for money that are completely divorced from reality.

Astrology. Total bunkum.

There is no force, known or unknown, that could possibly affect us here on Earth the way astrologers claim. Known forces weaken too fast, letting one source utterly dominate (the Moon for gravity, the Sun for electromagnetism). An unknown force would allow asteroids and extrasolar planets to totally overwhelm the nearby planets…
Study after study has shown that claims and predictions made by astrologers have no merit. They are indistinguishable from chance, which means astrologers cannot claim to have some ability to predict your life’s path.

Although 48% of Americans think astrology is a science, as best I can tell astrology is not part of the curriculum at any astronomy division or program. Astronomers know it is bunkum and avoid it .

Alchemy. Total bunkum. Outside of a nuclear reactor, you cannot turn base metals into gold. And, as best I can tell, alchemy is not part of the curriculum at any chemistry division or program. Chemists know it is bunkum and avoid it.

Parapsychology. Total bunkum. There is no ESP, no ability to read minds, talk to the dead, move objects with thought etc. etc. While as many as 75% of Americans believe in one form of parapsychology, as best I can tell, parapsychology is not part of the curriculum at any psychology division or program. Psychology departments know it is bunkum and avoid it.

Offering astrology or alchemy or talking to the dead for money seems to me to not quite meet the dictionary definition for fraud since I assume for most practitioners there is no intent to defraud. But they do anyway. Just not intentionally.

The legal definition of fraud? Those are waters I will not swim in. Why there are palm readers and astrologers and psychics who perform their services for money when there is no basis in reality for their services is beyond me. Like the lottery, those practices are for entertainment value? The law has limited resources and has to pick and choose?

What about pseudo-medicines? Isn’t that fraud? Jan Bellamy has a nice discussion of the issue. It is a complex issue under the law. Whether pseudo-medical providers taking money from the sick and desperate for therapies that have no basis in reality is legal fraud, I leave to lawyers. In my moral-ethical calculus, offering pseudo-medicines, such offerings may not be legal fraud, but are no different from astrology or talking to the dead.

I don’t see NASA joining up with the American Federation of Astrologers. While astronomers avoid astrology, psychologists avoid parapsychology and chemists avoid alchemists, how does the medical field respond to magic? They form Integrative or Alternative Medicine programs.

One would think that leading medical institutions, major hospitals and universities would know better. What hospital wants to offer imaginary therapies to their patients? Quite a few, evidently.

Take, for example, reiki. An energy ‘therapy’ that is nonsense has no effect on any disease in well done studies. It is, like homeopathy, 100% pure bunkum.

Much to my surprise, while I have done a Quackcast on reiki, I have never written on the topic. A quick summary of the pertinent features.

1) It was just made up. So many SCAMs have a origin story that is on par with gamma ray exposure or being hit by lightening when bathed in chemicals. In this case reiki was created, not unlike the works of Stan Lee, by Mikao Usui as part of a midlife crisis.

2) Its precepts are:

There is a universal and inexhaustible spiritual energy which can be used for healing purposes.

Through an attunement process carried out by a Reiki Master, any person can gain access to this energy.

This energy will flow through the Reiki Master’s hands when he/she places his/her hands near the patient.

As this energy has human-like intelligence, there is no need for diagnosis — the energy will automatically judge the disease and heal the patient.

This energy is, like all energy in SCAMs, has nothing to do with the concept of energy as understood by reality-based sciences like physics. Unmeasured and unmeasurable, this energy is not Kinetic, Potential, Mechanical, Mechanical wave, Chemical, Electric, Magnetic, Radiant, Nuclear, Ionization, Elastic, Gravitational, Intrinsic, Thermal, Heat or Mechanical work. And I suppose Dark, whatever dark energy may be.

This energy can only be detected by the reiki or other energy practitioner unless, of course, they are being tested by a fourth grader. Odd. We can detect the Voyager spacecraft transmitting with the power of a refrigerator light bulb from 10 billion miles away but cannot measure the human ‘energy’ field.

Watch the videos. The reiki practitioners sometimes touch the patient and sometimes they wave their hands over the patient. At least when the patient lays down, relaxes and is touched by a practitioner, you get a bit of the social grooming. It is probably why people feel good with a Reiki treatment. But hand waving the ‘energy’ away? Really. They are serious. And taking money from people to do it.

And what is kind of creepy, and I did not look at every video on the YouTubes, but every person being reiki-ed is female. Someone should do a survey of SCAM videos on the YouTubes. I bet 95% of those being SCAMed upon are thin, young females and most of those performing the SCAM are older males. Or maybe that’s a touch of confirmation bias on my part.

3) There are zero quality studies to demonstrate that reiki is effective beyond that of beer goggles.

To summarize reiki is an invented fiction with no basis in physical reality that has no proven efficacy beyond placebo effects, and you know if you read this blog what I think of placebo effects. If I had a drug I wanted to have on formulary with those characteristics, I would be laughed out of the P&T committee. But intellectual rigor is not always a prized characteristic.

So here is a sobering statistic:

More than 60 U.S. hospitals have adopted Reiki as part of patient services, according to a UCLA study, and Reiki education is offered at 800 hospitals.

That includes, with their description of reiki:

  • Sloan Kettering. Along with reflexology and Restorative Facial Acupuncture.
  • Yale-New Haven

    healing energy lulls you into a deeply relaxed state. It is this deep relaxation that increases energy as the body rests and becomes revitalized during the session

  • Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Institute

    Based on the belief that an unseen “life-force energy” flows through us and helps keep us alive, Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction that is safe, natural, and easy to learn….You simply lay down on a table, fully clothed, while a licensed Reiki master (teacher) places his or her hands on various parts of your body. In addition to making you feel more relaxed, safe, and secure, a proficient instructor can facilitate energy flow to the areas where you need it most – often creating a warm feeling in those locations.
    Reiki treatments offered to all by the university health services (well-being)

    Through healing touch, your energy level is balanced and immune system enhanced.

  • Brigham and Women’s Hospital. At least it is a volunteer program; they offer magic for free.
  • Columbia University

    Reiki is an ancient, gentle hands-on healing technique that originated in Japan in which a Reiki practitioner allows energy to pass through him/her to another person, for the recipients higher good. This energy flow can realign, recharge and rebalance an individual’s energy field, which creates the conditions needed for an integrated functioning of the body’s healing ability

  • Johns Hopkins Hospital

    Reiki is a very specific form of energy healing, in which hands are placed just off the body or lightly touching the body, as in “laying on of hands.” Reiki can also be done “long-distance,” as a form of prayer…In a Reiki session, the practitioner is seeking to transmit Universal Life Energy to the client.

  • University of Maryland

    Reiki is a powerful yet subtle healing practice used as a support for wellness on a body, mind and spiritual level. It is offered through non-invasive, light touch to a clothed client on a massage table. Reiki energy work helps to restore balance, increase energy flow, improve sleep and relieve pain. One of the greatest benefits of Reiki is stress reduction and relaxation which triggers the body’s natural healing abilities!

  • University of Pennsylvania Health System
  • University of Maryland Medical Center

    Therapeutic touch is a kind of healing that uses a practice called “laying on of hands” to correct or balance energy fields. Despite the use of the word “touch,” the hands usually hover over the body and don’t physically touch it.

  • The Cleveland Clinic

    Reiki is a form of hands-on, natural healing that uses universal life force energy. The term comes from the Japanese words “rei,” which translates into universal, and “ki,” which means vital life force energy that flows through all living things. This gentle energy is limitless in abundance and is believed to be a spiritual form of energy. It is not tied to any specific religion or nationality.

    The Reiki practitioner is the conduit between you and the source of the universal life force energy. The energy flows through the practitioner’s energy field and through his or her hands to you. The energy does not come from the practitioner; it comes through the practitioner from the universal source.

  • New York University Medical Center

I only mentioned some of institutions that are involved with medical education or are considered one of the best US medical institutions. Many more community hospitals are offering reiki and lists can be found on the net (I could not, in good faith, click on their ‘agree’ button). If you Google reiki and hospitals you can find various lists of hospital that offer this and other forms of magic to the ill. And proudly I might add. And it seems that this particular form of pseudo-medicine has a real East coast popularity; and here I thought it was the West Coast that was the center of all things flakey.

One would think if the fundamental thesis of a human energy field could he disproven by a fourth grader, Harvard or the Columbia could figure out that reiki was bunkum. Guess not.

Usually when patients receive ministrations from those representing a higher energy and belief systems (I am thinking clergy here), it is a free service for the patient. Belief systems are usually provided free, or at least should be. And, to point out, with no little irony,

a Catholic who puts his or her trust in Reiki would be operating in the realm of superstition, the no-man’s-land that is neither faith nor science

I have this semi-pateralistic idea that health care providers and institutions are not supposed to offer worthless and imaginary therapies to ill people for money. We have a higher standard to follow.

Well, we did. Past tense.

I cannot find much on the medical ethics of offering worthless alternative therapies by health care providers, universities, hospitals and other institutions. Kimball Atwood has discussed the issue, but most of the references speak to SCAM issues that surround the patient-physician relationship: how to respond to a patient who desires a SCAM. I can nothing on the ethics of offering reiki, homeopathy or other fantasies.

The day of the private practice doctor is on the wane and most of us work for or will work for large institutions. I can also find nothing on the ethics of institutionalizing magical therapies outside of Hogwarts.

Offering reiki may not be legal fraud, although given the right set of circumstances evidently it can be, but it is not right. Evidently that ethical standards and integrity are not important to the major medical institutions in the US.

And energy therapies do not even make the patient feel better as is so often thought. As a recent study on energy healing showed:

Whereas it is generally assumed that CAMs such as healing have beneficial effects on well-being, our results indicated no overall effectiveness of energy healing on QoL, depressive symptoms, mood, and sleep quality in colorectal cancer patients. Effectiveness of healing on well-being was, however, related to factors such as self-selection and a positive attitude toward the treatment.

Similar to acupuncture, and probably all of SCAM, energy therapies have effects on subjective outcomes only if patients think it will work. While I often refer to these interventions as beer goggles, they are also self-fulfilling wishful thinking.

If you want a litmus test to see if your local medical institution may not by particularly concerned with reality, that their Board of Directors is not paying much attention to quality, and the institution prefers money and magic, see if they offer reiki. Or acupuncture, reflexology, craniosacral therapy, or has a naturopath on staff who provides homeopathic nostrums.

As I think about, it would probably be harder to find a large hospital that doesn’t offer at last one of these pseudo-medicines.

I will finish with the following quote, from The Ethics of Alternative Medicine: An Alternative Standard?

When we offer alternative treatments, we advise our patients, treat them and then cash their checks. We respond to a demand in the marketplace, hoping to help patients and then profit from it. We might help our patients, but there is no proven benefit to the treatment we offer. We assume we will not hurt them, but the safety of what we do is not really proven to today’s randomized, controlled standards, either. Aren’t we more like snake oil salesmen when we pitch alternative medicine to our patients?

To be sure, we all have much to gain by embracing change in medicine. Other cultures and non-Western medical traditions have much to teach those of us who are open-minded enough to listen. The list of “traditional” medical advances that have grown out of “alternative” avenues is long and important. In this environment, it is more crucial than ever not to lose sight of our responsibilities. Patients come to us for help in filtering. They trust that our traditions of integrity and scientific inquiry will help us to help them navigate a bewildering array of health care offerings. They could go to an herbalist or an acupuncturist or a massage therapist for alternative treatments alone. Instead, some of them visit us for a “scientific” seal of approval.

We must respond to our patients’ trust with integrity. Let’s do more soul-searching before we advise patients about untested therapies. Let’s make sure we are not administering acupuncture needles or gingko to patients just because of market demands. We must insist that clinical trials test alternative approaches before we embrace them. We would not place our patients on methotrexate before learning that it was safe and effective. Let’s not give them magnetic treatments without the same standard. That’s not “alternative medicine,” or even “traditional medicine”; it’s just good medicine.

As I have said before, Sisyphus had it easy.

Posted in: Energy Medicine, Health Fraud

Leave a Comment (144) ↓

144 thoughts on “Astrology, Alchemy, ESP and Reiki. One Of These Is Not Like The Other

  1. ChristineRose says:

    Am I completely off base in blaming at least a good chunk of this on a system where health care costs vary widely depending on your insurance plan? Where insurers are constantly second-guessing doctors and denying people care? Where hospitals negotiate rates with the big insurers and inflate prices for everyone else? All this creates even more incentive for hospitals to upcharge people for everything from art to therapy dogs, which in turn incentivizes the patients (already confused, unhappy, and sick) into trying whatever is offered to them.

    1. Windriven says:

      “Am I completely off base in blaming at least a good chunk of this on a system where health care costs vary widely depending on your insurance plan?”

      I don’t know whether that could be characterized as a cause but certainly it does nothing to help. Other than our friend from Colorado, you won’t find many here who don’t pine for some variant of a single payer system.

  2. Stephen H says:

    Isn’t reiki what Dr Oz used on one of his patients before open heart surgery? (I think I have persuaded Mrs H to stop watching his show).

    Actually, you make an interesting point about the practitioners and their patients: maybe if I were looking for a new Mrs H, reiki would be a way to get to meet possible candidates (and grope them).

    1. Andrey Pavlov says:

      Isn’t reiki what Dr Oz used on one of his patients before open heart surgery?

      Not quite. He uses it on most, if not all, of his patients and does so during surgery by having a “Reiki master” in the theatre casting spells over the open chest.

      His wife, by pure coincidence I’m sure, happens to be a Reiki master.

      1. Frederick says:

        Yeah, and she is the boss also…

    2. Woo Fighter says:

      Yes, Dr. Oz’s wife sells reiki and her business partner is both welcomed and encouraged in Oz’s operating room. You should read the expose on Oz in last year’s New Yorker for his thoughts on reiki and how he feels everyone should try it. Of course his family’s income depends on others paying for his wife’s services.

      Last year on RI we had two reiki salespeople posting hundreds of comments about how reiki can and has cured cancer.

      1. Windriven says:

        “Of course his family’s income depends on others paying for his wife’s services.”

        Naaaah. Given the Oz media empire, I’m guessing that Lisa’s loonery amounts to little more than a rounding error in the Oz family finances.

        The lesson, boys and girls, is don’t worry too much about honesty or ethics. Have your teeth whitened and for the love of god have somebody show you the ins and outs of hair “product.” Then sell, sell, sell!

  3. Cervantes says:

    This is actually a worse scam than astrology. I once interviewed a guy who had decided to stop taking his antiretroviral medications and instead rely on Reiki therapy because the most important thing was to achieve “order and harmony” in his life. I don’t know what became of him but if he stuck with that plan, he is dead.

    1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      …as well as anyone he had sex with before he died.

  4. steney01 says:

    A quick perusal of UPMC’s website unfortunately shows that they also are well integrated with nonsense. No reiki thankfully, but we have such offerings as acupuncture, craniosacral therapy, lymph drainage therapy, prolotherapy, reflexology, naturopathy, etc.
    My favorite staff member in the integrative medicine group is a naturopath who’s qualifications include publishing an article in an alternative medicine newsletter about how menstruation cycles pattern with moon phases and suggesting that light pollution is the cause of breast cancer. This appears to be the only article this person ever published.

  5. Emily68 says:

    There is no ESP, no ability to read minds, talk to the dead, move objects with thought etc. etc.

    Actually, we all have the ability to talk to the dead. Getting the dead to answer back is the hard part.

    1. Andrey Pavlov says:

      Actually, we all have the ability to talk to the dead. Getting the dead to answer back is the hard part.

      LOL. Touché!

  6. tgobbi says:

    Mark Crislip: “So here is a sobering statistic:

    “More than 60 U.S. hospitals have adopted Reiki as part of patient services, according to a UCLA study, and Reiki education is offered at 800 hospitals.”

    And, I’m sorry to say, the hospital system my doctors are affiliated with is among them as well:

    Patricia Piant, MSTOM, Dipl.OM., L.Ac.
    Patricia is a licensed, board-certified acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist. She holds an MS in Traditional Oriental Medicine from the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine and is certified in Integrative Oncology from Memorial Sloan Kettering. She currently mentors both medical and acupuncture residents and students. For many years, she worked in the pharmaceutical industry and holds certifications in shiatsu, Yoga, Reiki and energy healing. Patricia treats a wide variety of conditions with a focus on oncology, pain, women’s health, stress reduction, digestive issues, migraines and healthy aging.

    and

    Rena Zaid, MS, Dipl.Ac., l.Ac.
    Rena is a licensed, board certified acupuncturist, graduating summa cum laude from Midwest College of Oriental Medicine. In addition, Rena has a BA in behavioral sciences and an MS in counseling, as well as certification in Traditional Chinese Nutrition, Mei Zen cosmetic acupuncture, Laughter Yoga, and is a Reiki practitioner. She has a special interest in supporting individuals with serious illnesses including cancer, auto-immune diseases and chronic pain syndromes, as well as helping people with anxiety, depression and other psycho/emotional concerns.

  7. goodnightirene says:

    “And it seems that this particular form of pseudo-medicine has a real East coast popularity; and here I thought it was the West Coast that was the center of all things flakey.”

    Pseudomedicine (I’m dispensing with the hypen by personal decree) is alive and well here in the Midwest (or Great Lakes Region, if you will). At the big medical/teaching center here they call it “Small Stones Wellness Center”:

    Resources for You and Family
    Small Stones Wellness Center hosts wellness classes on relaxation, healthy living and other topics, designed specifically for patients undergoing cancer treatments. Classes include:
    Yoga
    Nutrition
    Relaxation techniques
    Reike
    Integrative Cancer Care
    Art Therapy
    Music Therapy
    Contact Maggie Lausten at 414-805-0998 for information on current class offerings, registration and fees, or visit our community calendar.

    The center also carries a selection of informative and inspirational items for patients, family members and friends:

    Books – coping, nutrition, support, education, and other topics
    Relaxation, meditation and guided imagery CDs
    Unique jewelry
    Cards and gift items
    Can’t decide on the perfect gift? Gift certificates are available.

    ———
    I really must get over there and have a look at their “unique jewelry”.

    1. David Weinberg says:

      Irene,

      I made some noise about the Reiki classes a few years ago, and to the best of my knowledge they have not been offered since. Don’t know why the never changed the website.

  8. Ed Whitney says:

    Anyone happen to know if the Dartmouth Atlas tracks geographic variation in Reiki and similar modalities? I can probably look it up myself but am hoping that someone knows the answer.

    1. Windriven says:

      I went to the Atlas and did a site search on reiki.

      Quoth the Dartmouth Atlas: “No Results”

      The double entendre made me laugh.

  9. Frederick says:

    “You simply lay down on a table, FULLY CLOTHED , while a licensed Reiki master (teacher) places his or her hands on various parts of your body.”

    Well I like the fact that they clarify this… LOL. So when i touch my wife on different part of or body, naked, it is not Rieki, but when she have her clothes on, it is ?
    This is worst than acupuncture as a elaborate placebo ( at leas it is safer, if of course the master is not doing it for the touching), well it is not a ridicule as the guy who just STARE at people ( Harriet hall spoke about him) I don’t remember his name.

    In reality all sCAM are fraud, by definition, you pay for something that have no possibility of working beyond placebo and auto-suggestion.
    But since those are beliefs, It is hard to point it out to peoples that it is a fraud. In that sense, religion could also be seen as a fraud, but at least they are free. ( well the real ones, not the sects)

    1. Stephen H says:

      In that sense, religion could also be seen as a fraud, but at least they are free. ( well the real ones, not the sects).

      Time for my atheist, sceptic twitch-meter to sound the quackometer.

      1. What do you mean, “the real ones”? Are these the ones that believe in the One True God, rather than those thousands of fake gods? I have never been sure whether adherents to the Roman Catholic tradition will Burn In Hell, or if it’s Southern Baptists who are Condemned to the Eternal Fires. Of course, the latter group is fairly positive that Northern Baptists are currently thick-sliced bread, soon (in the cosmic sense) destined for toast-hood.

      2. You have never been dragged into a gathering of an organised religious group? The Bible refers specifically to tithing (10% of everything you earn!), monks/nuns/priests are supposed to live by “charity”, while the eastern traditions tend to encourage Buddhist and Hindu monks to live in poverty – again living on “charity”. Hell became a dominant theme of The Church during the Middle Ages, along with the invention of Purgatory, in order for The Church to be able to sell forgiveness! And of course if you wanted to know what organisation has the most money/assets, the fact that it has over 1 billion members (many of them the poorest on Earth), and some of the most expensive land on Earth (some of it granted back in said Middle Ages, and held ever since) really gives Roman Catholicism the win on that score.*

      *Strangely enough, due to some legal chicanery by it and a pocket Australian government in the first half of last century, the Roman Catholic Church in this country does not actually “own” anything – it is all held in trusts. So Australians who have been molested by priests have been given a pittance and a “sorry, we got nada”. Because it’s the Christian thing to do.

      1. Windriven says:

        “So Australians who have been molested by priests have been given a pittance and a “sorry, we got nada”.”

        As Shakespeare noted: the law is an ass. I hadn’t known that about the perverts down under. I don’t suppose there is any way to go after the mothership in Rome on grounds of contributory negligence or something?

        Perhaps it says all that needs saying that a man can claim to be some god’s personal representative on earth, then use his position of trust to diddle the kids in his care, then put on the vestments and celebrate mass with his diddlees kneeling 10 feet away.

      2. Frederick says:

        Oh sorry of you didn’t get that right, I’m atheist too, I mean Totally, I’m for a total human race emancipation from religion, but it won,t happen soon.

        But I was raise a Catholic and still, for funeral, marriage and things like that, go to those ritual, and I never felt pressured for anything. Sects like Raëlians or Scientology are a lot more into you pocket. This does not mean that some Uber christian church can’t pressured people for money. I had a Friend Who was in some “we take the bible super seriously and all other religions are crap” kind of group, He was giving 33% of is salary to them. But this was not part of any Main religions. That’s what I meant. For the most part money his acquire by charity, znd i give to them, Yes I’m atheist, but the churches are sometimes beautiful places that have history. They need to be keep in good shapes, And for that I think it is a good idea.

  10. Harriet Hall says:

    “the guy who just STARE at people”

    That’s Braco the Gazer.

  11. Harriet Hall says:

    I wouldn’t object to offering reiki in these institutions if it were named more accurately. “Let’s Pretend Therapy” would do. And I wouldn’t object if all it claimed was that it might make people feel better temporarily.

    1. David Gorski says:

      Given that reiki is a religious belief system akin to faith healing, I would have no problem letting reiki masters into hospitals as chaplains, the same way clergy in any other religion are allowed in as chaplains. Where my objection comes in is when I see hospitals making health-based claims like the ones Mark listed in his post. I’ve listed some before in various posts over the years (the Cleveland Clinic passage is one that I frequently use in talks about quackademic medicine), most recently at the University of Arizona Cancer Center:

      http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/a-tale-of-quackademic-medicine-at-the-university-of-arizona-cancer-center/

      However, seeing them listed for several major and, in general, well-respected academic medical centers is very depressing indeed.

    2. Andrey Pavlov says:

      I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I not only have no problem with, but would actively support an initiative to have more spa-like services at hospitals. Massages, mani/pedi’s, hair treatments, facials, etc. It would be easiest (and perhaps even best) in chemotherapy infusion suites. But it could easily be something that inpatients utilize as well. I constantly see inpatients walking around the hospital getting lunch in the cafeteria or hanging out by the window or in common areas. No reason they couldn’t have access to a day-spa center that also makes room-calls. There is absolutely nothing wrong with improving quality of life, even if it is entirely subjective.

      We just have to get over this idea that unless it is some “directly” related to the medical issue at hand it has no place in a hospital. Perhaps some of the impetus behind gussying up what is otherwise a spa day as “alternative medicine” is to get around this unspoken taboo of “nothing not medicine belongs in a hospital.” Forget reflexology – just get a damned foot massage if it feels good to you!

      1. Richard Abbott says:

        The problem is, the hospital can at least try to bill the insurance for a Reflexology visit.

        They will not for a foot massage.

        1. Calli Arcale says:

          I can’t imagine they’ll keep authorizing charges for reflexology forever. It’s wasting money, and that’s one thing insurers really don’t like to do. I mean seriously, if they’re gonna get fussy about whether or not I really needed that MRI to diagnose my burst joint capsule, they could be raising more of a stink about paying for nonsense.

          1. Richard Abbott says:

            Why haven’t they cut off (for example) Chiro and acupuncture then ?

            Coming to the US from the UK, I HATE the insurance system here.

            1. calli Arcale says:

              It’s because in some places, the blighters have managed to get themselves legislative protection mandating coverage.

        2. Andrey Pavlov says:

          The problem is, the hospital can at least try to bill the insurance for a Reflexology visit.

          Then we change that.

      2. steney01 says:

        I agree. On a scale of horribleness from 1-10, being in a hospital is a 12 for most people. It’s isolating, it’s depressing and it’s stressful. A foot massage could go a long way.
        And maybe, just maybe you could put reiki out of business. Who wants a fake energy massage when you can get a real one?

      3. Derek Freyberg says:

        At the Palo Alto Medical Foundation chemo infusion clinic, there is occasionally someone offering massages to patients. But it’s definitely free. People seem to appreciate it.

        1. psychability says:

          Somebody has to be paying for it. The “master” isn’t working for free.

          1. Vicki says:

            The massage therapist may figure this is their volunteer work (rather than helping clean up a park or helping get out the vote or any number of things that don’t directly use their skills). I’d rather see a massage therapist volunteer for that than volunteer to help give people directions at the hospital entrance or show visitors to the appropriate wing of the building.

  12. Windriven says:

    “This energy can only be detected by the reiki or other energy practitioner unless, of course, they are being tested by a fourth grader. Odd. We can detect the Voyager spacecraft transmitting with the power of a refrigerator light bulb from 10 billion miles away but cannot measure the human ‘energy’ field.”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rf5aYzbB4JM

    :-)

  13. Windriven says:

    Columbia University:

    “Reiki is an ancient, gentle hands-on healing technique that originated in Japan…”

    1922 is ancient? My father was born in 1928 and he’s just old. Where precisely does the ancient line fall?

    1. NotADoc says:

      1925.

  14. David Gorski says:

    I don’t see NASA joining up with the American Federation of Astrologers. While astronomers avoid astrology, psychologists avoid parapsychology and chemists avoid alchemists, how does the medical field respond to magic? They form Integrative or Alternative Medicine programs.

    They also form integrative or alternative medicine societies, like the Society of Integrative Oncology:

    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/patient-centered-care-and-the-society-for-integrative-oncology/

    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/an-open-letter-to-nih-director-francis-collins/

    And they have prominent sessions on “integrative oncology” at major cancer meetings:

    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/integrative-oncology-the-trojan-horse-that-is-quackademic-medicine-infiltrates-asco/

    And they set up board certifications in magic:

    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/andrew-weil-integrative-medicine/

    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/cam-practitioners-react-to-andrew-weils-proposal/

    And they offer CME in quackery:

    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/aafp-cme-program-succumbs-to-integrative-medicine/

    And, of course, they form a Center at the National Institutes of Health to study magic and quackery, namely the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). (OK, I know it was more the politicians who did that than anyone else.)

    1. Windriven says:

      “OK, I know it was more the politicians who did that than anyone else.”

      True enough. But once done, they didn’t have any trouble staffing it did they? Dr. Briggs? Did you say something? No, I didn’t think so.

      1. Andrey Pavlov says:

        But once done, they didn’t have any trouble staffing it did they? Dr. Briggs?

        An interesting thought. What if I (or any other SBM physician here) were approached to staff it (yes, unlikely but suspend disbelief for the hypothetical)? I think a reasonable argument could be made that someone will. They make have to work their way down to SSR, but someone will staff it. So what is the better way to go about it? Try and dismantle it from the inside? Make a show of declining the offer to cast light on how ridiculous they are? I reckon dismantling from the inside is a loftier idea than may be possible, but the name is changing. The mission statements change. Could it be feasible to change the mission, subtly over time, to basically say explicitly that the point is to study popular but ridiculous modalities to show people they don’t work? Or is the whole thing just too tainted.

        I dunno. Half baked thoughts in my head. Musing out loud so to speak.

        1. Windriven says:

          I don’t know either, Andrey. I’m guessing that the only thing that will change is the budget. Which will grow.

  15. chet says:

    I’m not certain, but I think the term “beer goggles” is almost always used in offensively sexist ways, despite its theoretical gender neutrality. (e.g., http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=beer%20goggles) So, while I appreciate that it is a useful analogy, I wish there another you could replace it with.

    1. Harriet Hall says:

      Political correctness has gone too far. As a woman, I don’t find it offensive, because I choose to interpret it as human behavior, not male behavior. The sexist interpretation is only in the mind of sexist thinkers.

      1. chet says:

        I agree that the behavior of having one’s judgment impaired by alcohol is universal. My claim is that the term beer goggles is used almost exclusively by men to demean women. I don’t think it makes me sexist to notice that.

        I specifically said I’m not certain about that claim, so if you want to tell me that women commonly use that term to demean men, I can’t really dispute it.

        I love this blog and all of the contributors’ efforts to communicate and educate. The writers here always seem very careful to not use language or arguments that would distract from their point. The term just makes me wince a little, so I thought I’d point it out as perhaps not the best analogy to use. Dismissing my concern as political correctness and sexist seems like an absurd ad hominem response.

        1. Harriet Hall says:

          If sexist men are misusing it to demean women, why should that mean non-sexist people shouldn’t use it in a non sexist context? Maybe we should use it even more frequently, to balance the statistics. IMHO, even suggesting that it may be offensive is contributing to the problem.

          1. Bill says:

            I am so tired of “PC” (Jeez, I even hate that term). I have a friend, a very good, very bright, man, who is quite liberal (and in his seventies). On occasion he prefaces an e-mail comment with stuff like: “Forgive me, but I was in WalMart the other day…”, “Don’t tell anyone, but I have a bottle of RoundUp that I need to get rid of…”, and the like.

            It’s a da**ed shame. I think of Rodney King–Can’t we all just get along?

            1. Marion says:

              Actually, choosing NOT to give one’s money to WalMart and choosing to dispose of Roundup in some environmentally safe way – and I have no objection to the use of Roundup itself – are all logical sensible ways, trivial as their effects are, of PHYSICALLY causing less harm than if one did give one’s money to WalMart or dumped concentrated Roundup down the water supply.

              I’m just making that up, here, about Roundup. Maybe dumping Roundup down the drain IS the acceptable way of disposal. WHATEVER the good way vs the bad way of disposal, it makes sense to choose the GOOD way.

              Point is: this has nothing to do with politically correctness: believing some bullshit psychological theory. All it is is making a slightly better choice over a worse one.

        2. Windriven says:

          The Urban Dictionary defines beer goggles thus:

          “phenomenon in which one’s consumption of alcohol makes physically unattractive persons appear beautiful; summed up by the phrase, “there are no ugly women at closing time” ”

          You will note that the definition itself is genderless and that only the illustrative example mentions men or women.

          A less tolerant and accepting person than I might think it sexist to imagine that only men’s judgment of physical attraction is influenced by alcohol. Are you suggesting that women don’t drink? That they pass out before alcohol can distort their judgment? Or that they are only interested in the size of the bulge??? You’re drifting farther and farther into hot water!

          How about this: take a deep breath (or a stiff drink) and stop looking for insults under every bush. Crislip is Crislip. He’s funny. Often irreverent. Rarely irrelevant. And never mean-spirited except toward those who have wittingly and joyously packed their crania with bull snot.

          1. chet says:

            I specifically agreed that the behavior is universal.

            Don’t just look at the first entry at the urban dictionary link–scroll through all of the examples and you’ll see that most of them include other sexist slurs.

            I’m not claiming Dr. Crislip’s use of the term was outrageously sexist. I see now that my first sentence may have implied that. I meant that its normal usage is usually sexist.

            1. Harriet Hall says:

              It would not have occurred to me to even notice whether most of the examples were sexist. I have experienced plenty of sexist discrimination in my life; you can read about it in my memoirs “Women Aren’t Supposed to Fly.” Rather than keeping a chip on my shoulder, looking for sexism, and complaining, I try to think of women as part of mankind and to insist on an equal place as a person. “All men are created equal” means me, too. I even laugh at “blond” jokes because I can enjoy the humor without feeling that it says anything about me or about other examples of mankind who happen to have chest bumps instead of dangly bits.

              1. Andrey Pavlov says:

                I even laugh at “blond” jokes..

                My fiance laughs at, and tells, blonde jokes.

                She is blonde. And an aerospace engineer for Lockheed-Martin/NASA.

                I also agree with n brownlee. To my knowledge the term has never been used or intended in a sexist manner. I’ve used it. I’ve been “victim” to it. So have some of my female friends. It is actually, to the best of my understanding, a term that could only be described as derogatory to the person who was wearing the beer goggles, whether male or female.

                So to me, the argument that it is mostly in reference to men wearing them would mean, at best, it is sexist in saying that men are too stupid to hold their liquor and refrain from poor life decisions.

                In any event, I see the whole thing as falling apart as much ado about nothing (taken in the Shakespearean sense or otherwise).

              2. Windriven says:

                What is the first thing a blond does in the morning?

                Gets dressed and goes home.

                How do you know the data entry operator is blond?

                White-out on the CRT.

                The other ones I know are either too dirty or too stupid. Or both.

              3. Frederick says:

                @Andrey So do you have you personal stealth plane yet? ;-)

              4. Andrey Pavlov says:

                So do you have you personal stealth plane yet?

                Ha! That would be nice. But she actually specifically has no interest in aeronautics, just aerospace. She does rocket engine work most recently completing the round of testing on the J2X engine which is the second stage for the Space Launch System. Now she is gearing up for testing the RS-25 engines which will be the first stage of the SLS. The J2X is the successor to the J2 engine which was what powered the Apollo missions. The RS-25 is an entirely new engine which is vastly more powerful than the J2X.

                I have been able to get security clearance to and watch some tests though. It is pretty freaking cool. If you are interested you can check out this video which is a test of the J2X that she was working on. After they do the live fire tests she takes all the data and analyzes all the fluid dynamics stuff and gives a report. Basically they try and get the engine and fuel system to fail in specific ways so that they can determine the maximal operating parameters.

              5. Windriven says:

                Andrey, the link failed – and I’d love to see it!

              6. Andrey Pavlov says:

                @windriven:

                That is weird. Both my links today are showing up as links and then not clicking. I’m going to try hyperlinking here and also just putting the bare link here:

                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i2gU4CVDV6Y

                just in case.

              7. Windriven says:

                Bitchin’! I’d love to see the thermal profile of the nozzle. You can see what I presume to be water vapor from the cold liquified propellant and oxidizer on the outside and the temp on the inside (presuming H2 and O2) is likely around 2500C at the heart of the flame.

              8. Andrey Pavlov says:

                Bitchin’! I’d love to see the thermal profile of the nozzle. You can see what I presume to be water vapor from the cold liquified propellant and oxidizer on the outside and the temp on the inside (presuming H2 and O2) is likely around 2500C at the heart of the flame.

                You are correct – it is all LH2 and LOX fuel. There is also LN2 and some LHe for quenching and purging. So that is all frozen water vapor falling off the piping.

                I just asked her what the flame temp is and she wasn’t sure off the top of her head but guessed around 5,000F* which is 2750C so your estimate is probably roughly correct. She actually primarily works on design and analysis for the stand itself, but obviously deals with the engine to some degree.

                There are some other videos there but they are of older tests and are of low quality. It was just recently that they installed GoPros in the test stand when someone finally told them it would be really cheap and easy to replace the existing VHS based recording system. Apparently there was disbelief that full HD video could be done for just a few hundred bucks. LOL.

                Also, I’ve been inside that test stand and walked right where the engine is as well as at the very top of it. It is the highest point for 100 miles (and one of the highest for many hundreds) and it was a clear day. Stunning view. And an amazing beast of a test stand. Here is a view from the outside. You can see the cars in front for scale. The huge white plume is because they dump water down the “bucket” to quench the exhaust.

                Have I ever mentioned how cool my fiance’s work is? :-D

                *remember how I said they work with weird units? :-P

              9. Windriven says:

                Great stuff, Andrey. Thanks for sharing.

        3. n brownlee says:

          Yes, women commonly use the term. I don’t know about the demeaning part; I don’t think it’s a demeaning term. More an admission of stupid, drunken misbehavior on the part of the goggle wearer. Spring Break, remember?

          1. chet says:

            Thanks, all, for the perspective.

            I agree that the term beer goggles isn’t inherently sexist. And according to you all, it’s used in more neutral situations than I realized. In my personal (apparently unfortunate) experience, I’ve only ever heard it in combination with offensive descriptions like “fat chick” or “ugly bitch”, to the point that “beer goggles” essentially serves as code. Glad to learn that it doesn’t carry that connotation in more polite circles.

        4. Mark Crislip says:

          I have been using the term in lectures for years and I always point out I am much better looking and my lectures are funnier after two pints of beer.

    2. Windriven says:

      Chet. Women have been known to wear them too. Otherwise, I’d still be a virgin.

    3. Frederick says:

      Me, I just see it as the fact that alcohol make people look more attractive physically than their are in reality, in the eyes of the person looking. Man, women alike. I’m pretty sure lots of women have end up with man they don’t find attractive and blame it on beer google. I can see you point, because we mostly hear that coming from man, and they expression probably come form that, but women are also subject to it. And beer google can also apply to anything, everything look nicer and cooler when you drunk. Everybody is your best friend and all. I think that is what Dr Crislip was going for.

  16. Yodel lady says:

    Some patients inevitably see quack treatments and medical treatments as equivalent. I’ve encountered dozens of cancer patients online who will say, “I’ve decided to do juicing and meditation rather than chemo.” “Antibiotics are poison so I choose to eat kefir instead.” “Now that I’m eating right and boosting my immune system I don’t need any more chemo.”

    I think doctors who recommend bogus treatments need to accept moral responsibility for the consequences. Jann’s article yesterday explore the possibility of class action lawsuits against institutions that promote bogus treatments. I’d like to see some criminal charges as well.

    For most people, the doctor is probably their only contact with someone who has a rigorous advanced education. I ask my doctors to help me spot and evaluate sketchy theories and treatments. I rely on my doctor to help me learn the facts about my medical problems. I rely on my doctors to tell me the truth. My life depends on that, and I want them to take their responsibility to me seriously.

  17. Here you guys go again grouping all that is not Traditional Medicine into CAMs. False and deceptive.

    Then you make believe all of Traditional Medicine is all good. False and deceptive.

    When is someone going to make a list of all the good valid and safe medicine from both groups?

    I know beyond a doubt that back surgeries and joint replacement surgeries are unnecessary the vast majority of the cases.

    I know beyond doubt that Acupuncture, most of the types, are the best medicine for certain situations.

    Gee also explore your exact goals instead of pooping all of CAMs and not addressing the horrendous flaws and faults of TM.

    1. Windriven says:

      Jesus, Steve. Isn’t it time for you to put a second string on your banjo?

      1. Frederick says:

        Well, a Lot of guitarist ( Alex lifeson for example) use only one string for guitar solo. They just beat the hell up of the same string. Of course SSR guitar sound like crap.

        1. Windriven says:

          The problem with Steve’s banjo isn’t just one string, it is that his finger stays on the same fret, ?ike Lifeson, he beats the hell out of it. Unlike Lifeson, Steve’s tune never changes: E-flat, E-flat, E-flat, E-flat, E-flat, E-flat, E-flat, E-flat, E-flat. Gets old after a couple of years.

          1. DevoutCatalyst says:

            Steve, play him the solo from Cinnamon Girl !

            1. Windriven says:

              @DC

              Yeah, well Cinnamon Girl was 1969 and Young only knew about 6 chords.

              I’ve followed Young since back in the early days with Crazy Horse. Amazing songwriter. Prolific and capable of real depth. And he does a lot with guitar – really helped shape the role of guitar in modern rock – despite not having particular virtuosity*. Keith Richards is another; solid musicianship without real virtuosity but has left an indelible mark.

              Check out some of the music of Brandi Carlile. She is writing some powerful stuff. Her music is hard to classify with strong influences from country, folk and rock. For my money she’s one of the best around at the moment. And her live gigs are incredible.

              *And Jesus Christ, where did he get that voice? Sounds like an alley cat in a fight for its life ;-)

              1. Alright mate, I’ll check out Brandi Carlile, but I’m warning you, my idea of profundity is the Hawaii Five-0 theme played on ukeleles

                http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GKwcB6s2pZk

              2. Windriven says:

                Just to wrap this up, I went to a very close friend’s father’s service and burial today. The entire service was in Korean. But they did a video montage of Kum’s life and the sound track was Neil Young’s, “Only a Dream.”

          2. Frederick says:

            lol

            I didn’t Mean SSR was a GOOD soloist, It was just a funny analogy. And it is kind of insulting for Dr Lifeson ( yes him and Geddy got honorary doctorate, but to me, they are more Doctors than SSR anyway!).

      2. I ask the same thing of this collective, same old dogma and personal choice and beliefs. NONE in the real world or science.

        More like Science Fiction Based Medicine … hey that is the best name for this virtual place.

        1. Windriven says:

          “I ask the same [add a second string to the banjo] thing of this collective, same old dogma and personal choice and beliefs. NONE in the real world or science.”

          And I thought Dr. Moran was deaf to every tone save the one he favors and the one he detests.

          But you Steve find yourself at a Leo Kottke concert yet you can’t hear the music, only the hollow echo your own monotonous voice.

          I’ve challenged you before to roll out the ten best therapies that your voodoo bullcrap has and the evidence that they have transformed the human condition – and then I’ll roll out mine. But you are all noise and chicken manure. You offer nothing. You stomp your feet and insist that your quackery is bitchin’ good. But you never offer a whisper of proof beyond your own anecdotes and the attestations of codelusionals.

          It is cowardice, Steve. Put up or shut up. This site is Science Based Medicine. Show us the science that backs your claims. THAT is the real world.

    2. Polly-Marie says:

      “‘By definition”,’ I begin
      “’Alternative Medicine”,’ I continue
      ‘“Has either not been proved to work,
      Or been proved not to work.
      You know what they call “alternative medicine”
      That’s been proved to work?
      Medicine.”’- Tim Minchin

      But thanks. I will tell my mom she need not have her hip replacement next week. Some arnica cream and some acupuncture should be strong enough to replace all that missing cartilage and repair the resulting wear and tear in the femur that’s showing on the MRIs in no time. Why spend $28 after subsidies on a hip replacement that will remove the damage in one clean sweep and replace it with something that works?

      1. @Polly-Marie and Tim Minchin — both of you are confused and not in reality. In many accounts this is all deceptive advertising and an example of dangerous misinformed consent.

        “I will tell my mom she need not have her hip replacement next week.”
        This would be the best gift you could give your Mom!

        “Some arnica cream and some acupuncture”
        CAMs are a vast array of options and in this case they all need to be used together. Outcomes are better when combined. Acupuncture in this case is a weak choice and Prolo would be a more profound influence restorative option in this case.

        “should be strong enough to replace all that missing cartilage and repair the resulting wear and tear”
        The body can repair itself naturally !!!PERIOD!!! if given the chance, this is a dangerous lie the steel joint makers have fed the uneducated public. Dead tissues are walled off or expelled from the human body so this is not the case here. If the environment of the stressed cartilage is restored the cartilage will regenerate, maybe not 100% but good enough to allow for normal activity.

        “in the femur that’s showing on the MRIs in no time.”
        You can not see pain, pathology or the future on an MRI!! What you can see on an MRI are the secondary damage, so anyone knows that if you’re treating the secondary findings you will fail miserably. The primary tissues need to be treated.

        “Why spend $28 after subsidies on a hip replacement that will remove the damage in one clean sweep and replace it with something that works?”
        If you/she had a choice (which she does not) of choosing a “hunk of metal” or CAM therapy to revitalize, rejuvenate and restore your/her God-Given nature joint designed to last a lifetime, which would you or her choose??? Duh!

        1. Missmolly says:

          Yeah, @Polly-Marie, you mom-torturing maniac, why aren’t you suggesting your mom suck up her immobility and pain while she waits for her God-given hip to sort itself out? You could suggest she rub some bullshit on it in the meantime. Hell, make her inject some bullshit right in there to help things out :)
          Srsly ppl, will someone take this idiot’s medical licence away? He’s giving this advice to real patients!
          And SSR, the reason everyone has stopped responding to your inane posts with the evidence is that you utterly ignore it every time. So it would be a waste of time adding those links; much more beneficial for all of our blood pressures to chat about music and booze.

          1. Anger and resentment …

            ” He’s giving this advice to real patients!”
            My advice is open for discussion.

            What do you say about this one; The statement “Acupuncture does not work” is a bold lie to the public which is egregious and corrupting.

            The reason no one respond is that no one can argue the science and all the vast literature sited!!

            It is so easy killing the messenger.

            1. Missmolly says:

              What the hell, I might as well waste my time along with everyone else :)
              “What would you say to this one; The statement ‘acupuncture does not work’ is a bold lie to the public which is egregious and corrupting”.
              I would say that the statement ‘acupuncture does not work’ is an accurate statement based on the current research, especially if you amend the statement slightly to read ‘acupuncture does not work any better than placebo’. I would refer you to the many, many articles on this site that analyse the current research on acupuncture and show that there is no evidence that it works above placebo.
              Commenters here do respond to your vast list of citations, again and again. You just don’t read the responses, or at least don’t engage with them because you are already invested in your own correctness.
              I’m not particularly angry with or resentful of you, Dr Rodriguez. I am disappointed in and contemptuous of you because you don’t actually want to listen to alternative viewpoints and rebut them. You don’t want to enter a conversation. You just want to shout about how 100% right you are, and all the evidence in the world couldn’t convince you otherwise.
              The thing I love most about this site is that the majority of the contributors actively seek out knowledge and are ready to change their mind when other viewpoints are convincingly presented. They want to learn, to be challenged, and to admit they were wrong if new evidence shows they are. It’s a sign of true intelligence.
              You don’t belong here.

            2. Windriven says:

              “The reason no one respond is that no one can argue the science and all the vast literature sited!!”

              The science is clear, Steve. And it supports the assertion that acupuncture has no value beyond placebo. We have asked you repeatedly for scientific evidence to back your claims, but all you can manage is anecdotes and garbage papers that lack rigor.

              Once again, I’ve challenged you many times to enumerate the medical conditions for which acupuncture – or any other quackery – has transformed the human condition. But you’ve never made the effort because you can’t. You obviously know that what you do is a sham and a scam, otherwise you’d man up and produce the evidence. Instead, you repeat the same hoary anecdotes.

              What is the definition of fraud, Steve? In which ways do you not fit the definition?

              1. “The science is clear” Meaning? 100% or 1% or just in your mind. Where is the evidence that proves it does not work? Relying on hall’s article would be naive.

                Your use of the word “acupuncture” is misguided and shortsighted.

                Your use of the word “placebo” is not what you think it is.

                You are not being very scientific cherry picking, twisting definitions and denying clinical evidence (Ignoring any evidence will make your conclusions erroneous).

                Your believes is yours to cherish, do not pawn them off on unsuspecting citizens.

              2. Windriven says:

                ““The science is clear” Meaning? ”

                Meaning? There are four words in the preceding sentence. Which one(s) don’t you understand?

                “Where is the evidence that proves it does not work? ”

                Questions such as these mark you as an unscientific poseur. Acupuncture has made claims of effectiveness. Any number of careful trials have been run without finding appreciable effectiveness beyond placebo. Go to the top of this page and search on acupuncture.

                The remainder of your comment suggests that I misuse the words acupuncture and placebo, and of being unscientific. So let’s cut the crap, Steve. Pick one and give me real specifics. Then I’ll respond. We can take this back and forth until it is clear which one of us is full of crap. One of us is the scientist and one of us is spouting delusions and pipe dreams. Are you up to proving which is which?

              3. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

                “The science is clear” Meaning? 100% or 1% or just in your mind. Where is the evidence that proves it does not work? Relying on hall’s article would be naive.

                Steve, you don’t even seem to be aware of the science supporting or refuting acupuncture. As for evidence that acupuncture doesn’t work, have a look at the discussion and references in this article.

                Also, this post was written by Dr. Crislip.

                Your use of the word “acupuncture” is misguided and shortsighted. Your use of the word “placebo” is not what you think it is.

                Please, define these words for us then – and provide us with citations that support your definition of acupuncture being safe and effective.

                You are not being very scientific cherry picking, twisting definitions and denying clinical evidence (Ignoring any evidence will make your conclusions erroneous).

                Windriven doesn’t provide any science to cherry-pick (do you understand what the term means?), and provides no definitions. He might “deny” clinical evidence though, but that’s actually a feature, not a bug. Clinical evidence is very, very easy to distort, and it’s very, very easy to use anecdotes from one’s clinical experience to justify ignoring the scientific data. That’s why bloodletters were able to practice for so long and orthopedic surgeons were able to offer knee cartilage debridement – their clinical experience showed them that their services were safe and effective, because they forgot the times they killed people, or weren’t effective, or their patients didn’t get better. That’s why scientific evidence is superior to clinical experience.

                Your believes is yours to cherish, do not pawn them off on unsuspecting citizens.

                We will happily change them if you provide us with some valid scientific publications that show we are wrong. Last time you dropped of a sack of dog shit that didn’t prove anything except that you’re willing to dump a list of references in the hopes nobody would actually read them.

            3. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

              What do you say about this one; The statement “Acupuncture does not work” is a bold lie to the public which is egregious and corrupting.

              If acupuncture works, why do researchers find that needling location, needling depth, skin penetration and diagnosis don’t matter? If you take away where you needle, how deep you needle, whether you penetrate the skin, and even whether you use a needle – are you still doing “acupuncture”?

              The reason no one respond is that no one can argue the science and all the vast literature sited!!

              How is it that the meta-analyses of acupuncture consistently finds that it is worthless for anything but pain and nausea, but regarding pain and nausea it is indistinguishable from nonpenetrative pokes with a toothpick in a random location? That’s what the actual science says, but you do not seem to be familiar with this fact.

              It is so easy killing the messenger.

              It’s not that we’re “killing” the messenger, we’re pointing out that the messenger doesn’t appear to be literate, isn’t holding a message, and is saying something rather important without actually substantiating it. If I were the President and someone walked into my office claiming that Russia had launched a chemical attack based on their dog sneezing, I might ask for a little more evidence than that.

              Asking “why do you think that” is not the same thing as stabbing you.

        2. R. Miller says:

          “The body can repair itself naturally !!!PERIOD!!!”

          Awesome, so where’s the single case of an amputee cured through alternative medicine? You don’t even need a fancy clinical trial for this one, only a mere single case study.

          As usual, this is another attempt by alternative medicine to re-brand things. Medicine takes advantage of “self-healing mechanisms” all the time and they are entirely accounted for during rationale therapy design. The idea either that alternative medicine is free of harsh interventions (autistic children more or less tortured by their parents, for example), or that science-based medicine seeks to intervene with reckless abandon is incredibly childish. The most common prescription is ‘wait and see’ from the family physicians I deal with; in contrast, how many chiropractors, or homeopaths, etc. will send someone home without an adjustment or a remedy from the shelf?

          1. “Awesome, so where’s the single case of an amputee cured through alternative medicine? ”

            You are a guided by group think. Did you just hear yourself?? We humans cut off what is detrimental tissues and let nature do the wound healing!

            The wait and see idea is valuable and is good medicine.

            Your issue seems to be liars, cheaters, deceivers and for-profiteers all are a part of human free will. WHY pick on CAMs?

            Who are you?

            1. Frederick says:

              Oh yeah, cut yourself somewhere deep and do nothing after, let nature rot you wound until you die, because you know, Infections, bacteria are natural after all. Them eating you wound and flesh is perfectly natural.
              And you tell people they have flawed logic? lol you are so blinded is it so ridiculous. Well you have to defend you money making business after all.

              1. Using common sense is the key to both TM and CAM.

                Having viable safe options is what I advocate when TM fails. And it will!!!!

                Drama to argue your case falls short of the science. Doing nothing is not common sense!

                Closing the wound will expedite healing but is not an absolute necessity. You must not be a physician or a health care provider. Google wound closure to educate yourself.

              2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

                Using common sense is the key to both TM and CAM.

                CAMs actually do represent “common sense”, because they tie our illnesses to our senses. It is traditional medicine that forces us to ignore our common sense in favour of empirical results. And because our senses deceive us, common sense is often harmful rather than helpful. Common sense says that injecting yourself with a virus is dangerous – but vaccination is far safer than wild-type infection. Commonn sense is often right about human motivations (for instance – you are motivated to defend unproven or disproven CAMs because you have financial and ego-based reasons to do so) but very, very wrong about non-human matters (the sun does not orbit the Earth, the Earth is not the center of the universe, and humans are not designed by a deity).

                Having viable safe options is what I advocate when TM fails. And it will!!!!

                How do you determine what a “viable” option is? My definition includes proof of efficacy. Does yours? If so, what is your standard of proof? And why do none of your options seem to include reference to the scientific literature?

                Drama to argue your case falls short of the science. Doing nothing is not common sense!

                While your first sentence is nonsense, your second is correct – fortunately doctors have learned to ignore their common sense in favour of scientific evidence and the realization that placebo effects exist and need to be controlled for.

                Closing the wound will expedite healing but is not an absolute necessity. You must not be a physician or a health care provider. Google wound closure to educate yourself.

                Why would I ever do that? It’s not like googling will ever make me a doctor. That’s why I have a doctor – they can assess the latest scientific evidence and determine what the best evidence-based treatment is for me.

            2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

              You are a guided by group think. Did you just hear yourself?? We humans cut off what is detrimental tissues and let nature do the wound healing!

              Well, until they have a valid treatment for necrotizing fasciitis, unfortunately that’s a medical reality. The fact that real medicine can’t treat everything doesn’t justify using worthless, unproven CAM instead.

              The wait and see idea is valuable and is good medicine.

              Yes, that’s why doctors do it all the time, and why it’s viewed as a viable treatment option in the absence of a clear, safe alternative. Your idea that charging people for worthless and sometimes dangerous unproven modalities is far, far more dangerous than what I would consider a good alternative – simply buying a Netflix subscription. In both cases, you’re merely entertaining the patient while they get better anyway. And with Netflix, you can see boobs and/or wangs.

              Your issue seems to be liars, cheaters, deceivers and for-profiteers all are a part of human free will. WHY pick on CAMs?

              Who are you?

              Well…because CAMs are unproven, and CAM practitioners resist evidence that their treatments are worthless, and demand the unimpaired right to sell their treatments, and sometimes they’re outright dangerous (for instance, google Kim Ribble-Orr and Roh Tae-woo). See, you claim the people who object to your posts are somehow all paid to do so, with no evidence of this fact. Meanwhile, you are paid to deliver CAM treatments. It’s how you make your livelihood. So tell me again about how the skeptics are the ones with a motive to deceive about medical treatments again?

              1. “Well…because CAMs are unproven”
                Error! … Some CAMs are reliable and valid therapies.

                “CAM practitioners resist evidence”
                Bias! Some TM therapy are supported by flawed logic and the proponent resist change. So you are referring to a complicate medical system driven by profits and many human attributes.

                “worthless” Dramatic! and not science based.

                “outright dangerous” Biased! Some TM option are truly dangerous and actually sanctioned to be applied to unsuspecting naive and trusting patients.

                “your posts are somehow all paid to do so, with no evidence of this fact.”
                I was actually being nice and polite, why else would sane individuals disparage a messenger with viable treatments to relieve pain, malfunctions and suffering?

                “paid to deliver CAM treatments.”
                Of course I’m paid that is my job! 15 yrs ago I was also paid to practice all TM and that was a travesty and harmed many souls. I know better now. You all seem not to care that a joint can be rejuvenated to a point that it does not have to be amputated and replaced with a flawed human- made part.

                “So tell me again about how the skeptics’
                You all are not skeptics! You are cynics… much different. I’m a skeptic and reasonable looking for the truth. You all have a inhumane intention of harming people by suggesting that they suffer without options.

              2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

                Error! … Some CAMs are reliable and valid therapies.

                Which ones? And please provide references. Because you have only provided evidence for one CAM modality, and your evidence was actually worthless and proved nothing.

                Bias! Some TM therapy are supported by flawed logic and the proponent resist change. So you are referring to a complicate medical system driven by profits and many human attributes.

                Two points:
                1) Are we talking about CAM or real medicine? If you are claiming CAM is effective, leave real medicine out of it; CAM doesn’t work merely because real medicine has flaws. Doctors who practice real medicine definitely will retain preferred, disproven treatments – but then again, so do CAM practitioners, and while most of real medicine is proven science, most of CAM is not (and if CAM is proven to work, then it becomes part of real medicine, like spinal adjustments for low back pain, now offered by physiotherapists, and St. John’s Wort for mild depression, which interferes with HIV medication and causes photosensitivity.
                2) I’m sorry, do CAM practitioners give away their services for free? Because from what I can tell CAM is worth about $60 billion per year internationally and in the US they have enough money to start funding Washington lobbyists. I’m sure CAM practitioners are also motivated by compassion, but that doesn’t make their services effective. CAM is parasitic on real medicine for the few interventions that work that they’ve claimed as alternative (nothing alternative about diet and exercise) and as a foil they can use to defend defrauding customers – knowingly or merely through incompetence.

                Dramatic! and not science based.

                CAM? Yes, most CAM interventions are quite dramatic, and none are science-based. Certainly not acupuncture.

                Biased! Some TM option are truly dangerous and actually sanctioned to be applied to unsuspecting naive and trusting patients.

                The fact that real medicines and surgeries are dangerous does not justify worthless treatments. I mean seriously, if a doctor told you “this pill won’t do a damned thing, but it’s way safer than surgery”, wouldn’t you want his license pulled? I mean, you wouldn’t – but a rational person would. Patients trust doctors to deliver effective care with a safety profile that in aggregate is far safer than doing nothing, or at least has an excellent quality of life trade-off. Nothing CAM practitioners deliver has been proven safe and effective, and they exploit patients by not telling them the differences between CAM and real medicine, or what the body of knowledge against things like acupuncture and homeopathy are.

                I was actually being nice and polite, why else would sane individuals disparage a messenger with viable treatments to relieve pain, malfunctions and suffering?

                Two points:
                1) You are not nice and polite – you consistently accuse the people who argue with you of being paid shills for…some nefarious entity you never actually specify, apparently because you consider the mere accusation to be enough to smear other people. You constantly belittle real medicine and doctors for being greedy, unethical and having zero care for their patients. And you consistently ignore the arguments and sources provided by the people you talk to. Not nice or polite.

                2) You aren’t a messenger with a viable alternative. You claim to have an alternative, but you provide no evidence of this fact and insist everyone bow to your clinical experience – ignoring completely how flawed a source of evidence clinical experience is. Bloodletters relied on clinical experience for years, and it turns out they were bleeding their patients to death. How are you different? Oh, because you know the Truth (which consists mostly of badmouthing your competition apparently).

                Of course I’m paid that is my job! 15 yrs ago I was also paid to practice all TM and that was a travesty and harmed many souls. I know better now. You all seem not to care that a joint can be rejuvenated to a point that it does not have to be amputated and replaced with a flawed human- made part.

                Prove it. Show me the studies. Your word is not enough, it is not proof. Your approach is unethical – if it does nothing, then you are wasting time and money. If it does something, by refusing to test it you are keeping an effective treatment from the hands of the medical community, out of greed or self-aggrandizement, or both. Either way – you are an unethical practitioner.

                You all are not skeptics! You are cynics… much different. I’m a skeptic and reasonable looking for the truth. You all have a inhumane intention of harming people by suggesting that they suffer without options.

                A cynic says you will never cure anything. I am merely asking for evidence you are unable to provide. There’s a difference. I don’t want patients to suffer without options – I merely want the options to be between valid, empirically-supported choices.

          2. n brownlee says:

            “Awesome, so where’s the single case of an amputee cured through alternative medicine?”

            Or even… regeneration and reappearance of extracted teeth?

            Or ovaries, uteruses, all those testes surgeons used to remove in orchiectomies for prostate cancer?

            1. Calli Arcale says:

              Yes, it does seem interesting that the body knows not to regenerate things that were removed intentionally and things that are visible without any special imaging or surgery. It knows to only regenerate tissues that the mark, um, I mean patient, can’t see and whose symptoms can be a bit subjective.

              Curious, that.

              1. ??
                Are we using common sense here? As long as a person is alive, most wounds will heal by nature — and you keep it clean and dressed properly.

                I think you guys are confused with what and why we do surgery, the formality of the surgical procedures and wound closures.

              2. Calli Arcale says:

                Well, I will agree that one of us is confused about wound healing, and I would suggest it’s the one who proposed spontaneous regeneration of joint tissue without a shred of evidence to back himself up. ;-)

    3. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      Here you guys go again grouping all that is not Traditional Medicine into CAMs. False and deceptive.

      It’s not “traditional medicine”, it’s “proven medicine”. CAM inherently hasn’t been proven. CAM that has evidence of efficacy becomes “medicine”. All that is being asked is a level playing field – something doesn’t get to be called “effective” merely because it is old.

      Then you make believe all of Traditional Medicine is all good. False and deceptive.

      What is deceptive is your description of medicine. Real medicine changes, new techniques are added and old ones dropped on the basis of the results of studies. Nobody believes medicines are all good, that’s why drugs have black box warnings, why informed consent is so important, and why M&M meetings are important in hospitals. The idea that doctors are unrestrained cheerleaders for real medicine ignores the massive amounts of work done to identify previously-unrecognized risks, to make treatments safer, and to search out drugs with fewer adverse effects.

      Meanwhile your personal practice appears to be “as long as it seems to work, it doesn’t need study”. Well, thalidomide appears to work for nausea, why not give it to pregnant women?

      When is someone going to make a list of all the good valid and safe medicine from both groups?

      As soon as CAM has been studied sufficiently to determine if it works and is safe. Unfortunately, all of CAM is made up of unstudied interventions, or interventions that have been proven not to work but CAM practitioners continue to use, such as acupuncture, or homeopathy, or chiropractic adjustments for anything but low back pain (now offered by physiotherapists).

      I know beyond a doubt that back surgeries and joint replacement surgeries are unnecessary the vast majority of the cases.

      How do you know this? If you say “because of all the patients that I see”, then I will ask – what about the patients you don’t see? What is your process to systematically make contact with patients who have back and joint surgeries whom are completely satisfied with the results?

      I know beyond doubt that Acupuncture, most of the types, are the best medicine for certain situations.

      Great, please provide us with the clinical trials you base your certainty upon, so we can evaluate them.

      Gee also explore your exact goals instead of pooping all of CAMs and not addressing the horrendous flaws and faults of TM.

      The fact that real medicine has flaws does not mean that CAMs automatically work. If CAMs are actually effective, then it should be trivial to demonstrate this in controlled trials. Why don’t CAM practitioners do this? Why don’t they abandon things proven not to work, like homeopathy, reiki and the like?

  18. Chris4evar says:

    I have heard the statistic that a lot of Americans believe in Astrology before, does anyone know how the question was phrased. I find it easier to believe that 48% of Americans don’t know what the word Astrology means and are confusing it with Astronomy.

    1. Yodel lady says:

      LOL, Chris, good point! My father often declared aggressively, “I don’t believe in astronomy!”

      That’s not what he meant, but he just couldn’t learn.

  19. Ian Musgrave says:

    I must protest about the mischaracterisation of Alchemy, alchemy was never just about turning base metals into gold . It could be even argued that this was code for spiritual transformation, but enough people really did try to turn actual metals into gold, using a philosophical system that all matter was mixtures of certain base elements. This has as much correspondence to modern chemistry as Galen’s theory of humors had to modern medicine, but alchemy was a complex project that went beyond simply turning metal into gold.

    Practical alchemists made medicines (the Alchemist Paracelsus revolutionised materia medica, insisting of defined purity and gave us the aphorism “it is the dose that makes the poison) perfumes, new alloys and duplicated the secret of porcelain. In the end the practical alchemists followed Boyle and became chemists, while the spiritual alchemists went on to … Well, write things that sound like Coleridge on opium on a bad day.

    Surpringly, some forms of Ayurveda claim to use transmutation, but most modern alchemy is either obscure occultism or folks who distill herbal essences.

    1. When a compounding pharmacy mixes a few chemicals together based on a physician’s idea of a treatment, he is performing Alchemy. (the modern accepted version of the ancient discipline)

      The way this site uses a word without complete meaning, they are attempting to persuade in a particular directions, which is a type of distraction and deception … some type of post hoc.

      1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

        When a compounding pharmacy mixes a few chemicals together based on a physician’s idea of a treatment, he is performing Alchemy. (the modern accepted version of the ancient discipline)

        No, the pharmacist is using chemistry to produce a dosing mechanism that meets the specific needs of a patient unable or unwilling to take medication in it’s currently available forms. It also presents its own dangers, particularly with extremely tiny doses of active ingredients, which are difficult to measure out in an office. Big Pharma, for all that they’re assholes, at least manage to produce a standardized product that is quality checked.

        The way this site uses a word without complete meaning, they are attempting to persuade in a particular directions, which is a type of distraction and deception … some type of post hoc.

        I don’t even know what to say in response to this since you aren’t actually saying anything meaningful. Amusing since you seem to be talking about how meanings are important.

    2. Calli Arcale says:

      Not long ago, Smithsonian had an interesting article about alchemy and gold, and it did indeed discuss how alchemists weren’t complete loons but were in fact the forerunners of modern chemists. The author started the piece by describing his own attempt to reproduce an alchemical recipe — and it worked, growing a “Philosopher’s tree” out of gold. Basically, a seed of gold mixed with mercury was placed into a flask and then buried in warm sand overnight. I would guess that the resulting “tree” grew through a whiskering process (whereby long filaments grow out of a metal surface under some sort of stress, in this case thermal; it’s a problem that has bedeviled computer engineers for many years, since of course whiskers can short out a circuit).

  20. Shane says:

    Stephen you make these assertions ‘beyond doubt’

    Without any reference to supporting evidence. And also counter to the well established body of published works.

    What then makes you utter such bold statements? What proof can you provide?

    At this point you are looking like a member of the small and entertaining group of outlier practitioners who range from eccentric to bizarre. If the MD means what it says.

    I do recall a wonderful GP in my cath lab insisting that a pint of cream a day was an acceptable health prophylaxis, and couldn’t make the connection between that and his triple vessel disease. His cognitive dissonance would have been hilarious if he hadnt been giving his own opinions to his patients as established medical advice.

    1. Mark Crislip says:

      I thought he was from Maryland

    2. “At this point you are looking like a member of the small and entertaining group of outlier practitioners who range from eccentric to bizarre.”

      Please I’m not a part of this group of narrow thinkers and flawed logical scientist.

      You account of errors in logic from the GP pale in comparison to the errors we’ve witness come out of traditional medicine. At lease the GP is not an authority like the FDA who has recalled many drugs that have killed many.

      The GP and his cream are relational but may not be causative. (what was your point)

      1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

        Please I’m not a part of this group of narrow thinkers and flawed logical scientist.

        No, the narrowness of your thinking is restricted to a single track about the relative utility of acupuncture. A track so narrow it can’t even accomodate actual evidence.

        You account of errors in logic from the GP pale in comparison to the errors we’ve witness come out of traditional medicine. At lease the GP is not an authority like the FDA who has recalled many drugs that have killed many.

        So…you’re bashing the FDA because the recall drugs? That’s…even stupider than your usual statements. Maybe it’s just me, but I’m happy when a government agency withdraws approval for a dangerous drug.

        The GP and his cream are relational but may not be causative. (what was your point)

        What’s yours, considering your inability to cite relevant evidence, your inability to offer a novel argument, and your insistence that your personal failings are due to your interlocuters citing evidence?

  21. Shane says:

    Stephen you make these assertions ‘beyond doubt’

    Without any reference to supporting evidence. And also counter to the well established body of published works.

    What then makes you utter such bold statements? What proof can you provide?

    At this point you are looking like a member of the small and entertaining group of outlier practitioners who range from eccentric to bizarre. If the MD means what it says.

    I do recall a wonderful GP in my cath lab insisting that a pint of cream a day was an acceptable health prophylaxis, and couldn’t make the connection between that and his triple vessel disease. His cognitive dissonance would have been hilarious if he hadnt been giving his own opinions to his patients as established medical advice.

  22. david says:

    I understand your view on astrology but it is a studied field and has been for 1000′s of years. True anyone claiming they can predict your life’s path for money is a scam artist. Astrology is a guide to understand oneself and how the harmonies of the planets transit the set natal planetary harmonies we are born with. Quantum mechanics breaks everything down to energy. All matter is vibrating in and out of existence. An existence dependent on its observation. The majority of the universe is dark energy which still can’t be explained or understood. Stands to reason there may be some of that energy surrounding us. Why does technology and communication go on the fritz when mercury goes retrograde? Why does everyone have an intensely difficult time during their Saturn return? Astrology isn’t a scam its just a different way to look at who you really are as a person. It can’t predict specifics about what exactly will happen 168 days from now but neither can a meteorologist. Basic patterns will be used to formulate an outlook. An astrologer could tell you how a full moon in Gemini may effect your personal life the same way a meteorologist would probably tell you it will be colder and may rain so wear a jacket. Astrology is the weather of the stars and constellations. If you pay money to ask a weather man why it’s raining so hard this week that would be silly. The same goes for paying an astrologer to find out why you are depressed and your world is falling apart. Both could give you an answer that makes sense. Advice and a projected forecast for when it might end. But you shouldn’t have to pay for it. And you shouldn’t knock astrology. Pull up your natal chart and discover yourself. You’ll be amazed how spot on it really is. Plenty of sites do it for free.

    1. Andrey Pavlov says:

      Sorry David, but not only is all of astrology complete bunkum (though it did spawn actual astronomy which is pretty cool and you can learn more about that by watching the new Cosmos series) but for all these centuries have been doing it wrong anyways because there are actually 13 constellations but it was shoehorned into 12 months. Astrology fails on every conceivable level.

      1. Calli Arcale says:

        Andrey — and don’t forget about the precession problem! If you are a Leo, you were not born under that constellation. Not any more. But 2,000 years ago, you would have been.

        BTW, it’s even sillier than thirteen constellations shoehorned into twelve; the constellations are arbitrary declarations by humans, so there’s really no reason to have it be any particular number.

        1. Andrey Pavlov says:

          Calli – there are limitless reasons why astrology is BS. I just picked a single convenient one.

          But yes, pile them on!

    2. Windriven says:

      @Peter Moran

      See Peter? This is what it looks like when the cinnamon latte frappe colonic fails and fecal matter backs up into the cranium. And you would have me … what? Take this douche through elementary physics and point out the errors in his brief comment? How does one explain that “Mercury goes retrograde” is an observational illusion to a guy whose gray “matter is vibrating in and out of existence”?

      One can’t just let his comment lie there and pretend it is unseen. Others will see it and presume that because it was unanswered it must be unanswerable.

      One can’t answer it in the spirit in which it is written – at least I can’t. I have yet to meet hash powerful enough to make me that incoherent or separate me that far from reality.

      So what am I to do? We have a nitwit spouting science learned at the business end of a bong holding forth about the majesty of an idiocy so bizarre that only Nancy Reagan takes it seriously.

      So you do it, Peter. Show me how it’s done. Take this farting horse’s ass to task and show him the error of his ways in a manner consistent with your high ideals and yet leaves no doubt in the mind of the most gullible lurker that his comment doesn’t quite rise to the level of stupid.

      I will stand in awe.

      1. Andrey Pavlov says:

        I have yet to meet hash powerful enough to make me that incoherent or separate me that far from reality.

        I can introduce you to my friend Justin who was recently called the Phillip Morris of Pot in the NY times. I’ve never tried it, but supposedly his “Hartfield Reserve” is some pretty serious stuff.

        Honestly, I’d ask him ship you some* just to see what sort of commentary it produces on these pages. For funsies. LOL. ;-)

        *apparently it is extremely rare and very difficult to make so I doubt he’d do it, but it is still fun to imagine it. For me at least

      2. Andrey Pavlov says:

        Ok. That is strange. I have no idea what happened. Anyways, here is the link to the NY Times article.

        1. Windriven says:

          Yeah, I read the ‘Dowd gets Wowed’ when she wrote it. Good advert for your friend!

          As to shipping, while WA is cool with it, the Postmaster General would turn a cold eye. Besides, I settled on alcohol some years back. But I kinda like the idea of writing in a haze of hash smoke – on a theoretical basis :-)

          1. Andrey Pavlov says:

            As to shipping, while WA is cool with it, the Postmaster General would turn a cold eye.

            Oh I know. My future brother-in-law currently lives in Seattle. It was more a question of the specific “Hartfield Reserve” which is stuff of myth and lore. I’ve seen it once, but dared not partake. I just enjoy being the observer with such shenanigans.

            But I kinda like the idea of writing in a haze of hash smoke – on a theoretical basis :-)

            Hemingway meets Marley… with some attitude. LOL

    3. Harriet Hall says:

      “david” is in the wrong place. This is a science-based website. Astrology has been “studied” but it is based on superstition, not science. No response is necessary, but I would like to point out one thing. Yes, you will be amazed at how spot on your natal chart really is; but that has nothing to do with the positions of the planets. There is an experiment that has been run many times; I participated in one at a TAM workshop a few years ago. Participants submit their birth date and the time of day as closely as they know it. They are given their horoscope and asked how accurately it describes them. Almost everyone is amazed at how spot on it is. Then participants are asked to exchange their reports with the person next to them, and they discover that everyone’s report is the same. Human psychology has excellent explanations for this phenomenon; astrology doesn’t.

      1. Frederick says:

        I have seen a video of a trick like that, it is based on set of description of human psychology done by a Psychologist in the sixties, not sure about this. It was really cool to watch.

      2. Thomas says:

        Thanks, Harriet, for a level-headed comment.

        Is true, too, that the other comments re David made me laugh & read excerpts to my wife. Her response – regarding: “idiocy so bizarre that only Nancy Reagan takes it seriously” was : “well, that’s not true, what about M— M— (our nearby neighbor who fancies himself a regionally prominent astroloder & all-around shaman).

        1. Wow!!
          Hall is correct with the Astrology comment.

          Wrong about the completeness of the science data used in this site. A lot of personal conclusions esp about the Acupuncture.

          Science and medicine are much more than what you find from PUBmed.
          “The farther away from the patient you get, the farther away from helping them you get.”-one of my profs

          1. Jason Heyward (not THE Jason Heyward) says:

            “The farther away from the patient you get, the farther away from helping them you get.”-one of my profs

            Stephen, setting aside the merit (or the meaning) of this quote by your “prof”, leaving souvenirs inside of a patient seems a poor way of bridging the post-treatment distance, literal or metaphorical, between you and your patient.

            Referring to your comment below this article:

            http://www.wfaa.com/news/local/tarrant/Acupuncture-patient-makes-911-call-after-being-left-pinned-and-stuck-in-office-220892521.html

            Stephen S. Rodrigues
            I have to say this is embarrassing to an Acupuncturist… no true harm done. Acupuncture as part of a therapeutic package can do no harm except for the little pinches and maybe a small bruise.

            I have to admit I have left a few needles in my patients, in the past 15yrs, who find them in their hair or under clothing. They don’t mind and toss them appropriately.

            Some Acupuncture protocols will require the needles to be inserted under the skin in certain points and left in place for a while.

    4. Chris says:

      In the future, the next time you mangle the use of the word “quantum”, make sure to not do it on an article written by someone whose undergraduate degree is in physics. It will save you more embarrassment.

      Though, it might help if you also learned to distinguish between fantasy and reality.

    5. Vicki says:

      Then why did astrologers not figure out the existence of Uranus and Neptune two thousand years ago, from the gaps in their charts?

      Who am I kidding, they don’t even account for the precession of the equinoxes.

      1. Calli Arcale says:

        Many modern astrologers are more than happy to make up for that deficiency, not only accounting for Uranus and Neptune but even for the motions of the plethora of minor planets, which I can only assume is a serious headache as they keep on getting discovered.

  23. kathryn says:

    *sigh*

    Sadly I had to take a parapsychology class for my degree (if I wanted to graduate on time, that is). I was part of the honors program and the last honors seminar my senior year was parapsychology with a fancy name (Remote Sensing and Viewing, I think). Thankfully I was the only one in the seminar so I just read a couple book (pure BS), looked at a remote viewing website (according to my prof, I had talent, *snort*) and wrote a couple of papers which were pure crap. All of which I got to do on my own schedule and never had to meet with the nutcase prof.

  24. Bill says:

    >>All matter is vibrating in and out of existence.
    It’s true! yesterday, I snuck a peek though my fingers while covering my eyes with my hands, and gosh darn it, my house was gone. The dog was still there.

    >>Why does technology and communication go on the fritz when mercury goes retrograde?
    Does that mean when the thermometer goes lower?

    Why does everyone have an intensely difficult time during their Saturn return?
    Cuz GM’s service was lousy?

    Ya gotta love it!

  25. Marion says:

    “And what is kind of creepy, and I did not look at every video on the YouTubes, but every person being reiki-ed is female. Someone should do a survey of SCAM videos on the YouTubes. I bet 95% of those being SCAMed upon are thin, young females and most of those performing the SCAM are older males. ”

    Damn excellent observation, Mark!

    Let’s see some Reiki criminals performing their fraud over the fattest, oldest, ugliest most disgusting male you can imagine. I would LOVE to see THAT promoted in all their fakey videos.

    1. Mark Crislip says:

      No. You do NOT want to see me in a reiki video even with beer goggles.

  26. ste5e says:

    Reiki is a pyramid scheme.
    $10 a treatment.
    $100 to open you to the awareness of the cosmic energy flow so you can charge £10 a treatment.
    $1000 to show you how to open the awareness of someone else to the cosmic energy flow.
    And so on.

    I help run a pain management course. Once we ran one that had 75% of the attenders with ‘qualifications’ in Reiki. I was too polite to point out the irony.

    It is nice that SSR spends so much time on this site (and others that are hard science medicine sites) banging on his one string banjo. It keeps the public safe.
    Kind thoughts,
    Steve

  27. Pete A says:

    The first universal thought that came to Mikao Usui was actually: rakin’. Then for some reason, the universe inspired him to think of ancient pyramids and Qi. After much pondering over these astonishing revelations he created a pyramid scheme called “Rakin’ in yet more cash from Qi”, but he soon realized that this name was a bit too obvious so he obfuscated it by renaming it Reiki.

    No? Well, this is what the universe has clearly revealed to me and many others.

  28. Discussant says:

    Psychotherapy / talking therapies should be added to the list.

    A few articles on the state of psychology and psychotherapy research:

    http://www.theguardian.com/science/head-quarters/2014/jun/10/physics-envy-do-hard-sciences-hold-the-solution-to-the-replication-crisis-in-psychology

    http://idiolect.org.uk/notes/?p=5890

    http://blogs.plos.org/mindthebrain/2014/06/10/salvaging-psychotherapy-research-manifesto/

    It’s not ethical to intervene without evidence and play dice with human lives.

    The burden of proof is on proponents of these psychotherapies to show that they are making good use of their clients’ time and money, and that the risk-benefit ratio is favorable. In the absence of having met this burden, they ought to stop practicing, or at a bare minimum clearly inform all of their clients of the weak status of the evidence and indeterminate risk as part of a transparent informed consent process.

    Lives have been ruined and people have even been killed from non-science-based therapies such as attachment therapy, repressed memory therapy, gay conversion therapy, etc. When a therapy is not grounded in robust replicable scientific evidence, the outcome is a crap-shoot: you’re recklessly experimenting with human lives with potentially profound and devastating consequences.

    “If you won’t take responsibility when things go badly, you give up the right to take credit when things go well.”

    The psychotherapy industry has done an egregiously poor job of tracking and taking responsibility for the harm it causes. See, for instance: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24607768 and http://www.comppsychjournal.com/article/S0010-440X%2814%2900006-6/abstract

    There is no justification for therapists, no matter how good their intentions are, to go on playing dice with human lives.

    1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      Lives have been ruined and people have even been killed from non-science-based therapies such as attachment therapy, repressed memory therapy, gay conversion therapy, etc. When a therapy is not grounded in robust replicable scientific evidence, the outcome is a crap-shoot: you’re recklessly experimenting with human lives with potentially profound and devastating consequences.

      There’s a slight difference between cognitive-behavioral therapy and the therapies you list above. I don’t think most psychologists would recommend the junk therapies you list above, and certainly the psychiatrists and academics I have read were horrified by the recovered memory therapy. And there is some evidence that therapy is useful, even though much, much more work needs to be done.

      Further, there is no mechanism through which astrology, alchemy, ESP and reiki could ever work, unlike therapy which does have such a rationale.

  29. Discussant says:

    Discussant says:
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    June 16, 2014 at 7:29 pm
    Psychotherapy / talking therapies should be added to the list.

    A few articles on the state of psychology and psychotherapy research:

    http://www.theguardian.com/science/head-quarters/2014/jun/10/physics-envy-do-hard-sciences-hold-the-solution-to-the-replication-crisis-in-psychology

    http://idiolect.org.uk/notes/?p=5890

    http://blogs.plos.org/mindthebrain/2014/06/10/salvaging-psychotherapy-research-manifesto/

    It’s not ethical to intervene without evidence and play dice with human lives.

    The burden of proof is on proponents of these psychotherapies to show that they are making good use of their clients’ time and money, and that the risk-benefit ratio is favorable. In the absence of having met this burden, they ought to stop practicing, or at a bare minimum clearly inform all of their clients of the weak status of the evidence and indeterminate risk as part of a transparent informed consent process.

    Lives have been ruined and people have even been killed from non-science-based therapies such as attachment therapy, repressed memory therapy, gay conversion therapy, etc. When a therapy is not grounded in robust replicable scientific evidence, the outcome is a crap-shoot: you’re recklessly experimenting with human lives with potentially profound and devastating consequences.

    “If you won’t take responsibility when things go badly, you give up the right to take credit when things go well.”

    The psychotherapy industry has done an egregiously poor job of tracking and taking responsibility for the harm it causes. See, for instance: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24607768 and http://www.comppsychjournal.com/article/S0010-440X%2814%2900006-6/abstract

    There is no justification for therapists and other CAM/SCAM providers, no matter how good their intentions are, to go on playing dice with human lives.

    1. Discussant says:

      Oops, sorry, please delete this duplicate.

  30. mmanion says:

    Mehmet Oz, aka ‘Dr. Reiki’, is hauled before Congress today to ‘splain his expanding formulary of miracle diet cures. Claire McCaskill was not impressed.

  31. david jeske says:

    “There is no force, know or unknown” ???

    I love the site, but statements like this have about as much credibility as astrology. How can someone possibly declare statements about the unknown? That is religion, not science and tarnishes an otherwise rational view.

    In fact, there is a known force which connects the stars to brain development.. Gravity. Since we know almost nothing about the brain, it’s more accurate to say that we have no idea how micro fluctuations in gravity affect brain development.

    However, there also seems to be no credible studies connecting astrology to objective affects in human development.

    1. Harriet Hall says:

      We can’t know about something that hasn’t been discovered yet; but we can say a lot about the unknown. We can be reasonably confident that the forces we have already discovered and quantified don’t leave room for any significant effects on humans from any undiscovered forces. There are no mysterious gaps to explain like the ones cosmology calls dark matter and dark energy, detectable indirectly by their influence.

      Whatever the effects of gravity on the brain, the tiny fluctuations from the positions of the planets would be completely drowned out by the gravitational effects of the birth attendants’ bodies and by the variations in gravity due to the altitude and latitude of the birth location. Just ask any physicist.

    2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      David, that’s actually a quote from badastronomy. Your gravity argument is stupid – gravity drops off with distance. These planets are so unimaginably distant that the impact of their gravity is essentially zero when discussing humans. It would be washed out utterly by the force of another person standing next to us, let alone the umpteen squintillion tons of Earth that holds us firmly to its surface through gravity. Further, a mother rolling over, or even walking, would have several orders of magnitude more impact on how gravity affects their child than even the Moon.

      In order for astrology to work, there would have to be a force that exists that is generated or emitted by nine (or eight, or ten, or six, depending on the astrological system) planets but not the Earth. Aside from an essential narcissism that consumes the human race, there is no reason to speculate that there would exist such a force. We aren’t the center of the universe, we aren’t the dominant life on the planet, and even the matter we can see is merely a fraction of what actually exists. None of the claims of astrology make sense, they can’t make sense, and they don’t make sense. It’s the legacy of a prescientific and ignorant age, and like all aspects of that age, there’s no reason to give it any more emphasis than the ramblings of Gene Ray or David Icke. People may be able to make logically coherent systems within their own minds and write them down – but that doesn’t make them true.

    3. Andrey Pavlov says:

      David, that is the beauty of science. When we establish models to a certain level of certainty, we can be equally sure that things incompatible with the model cannot be. In other words, the Standard Model of physics is confirmed to astounding certainty. Therefore we can be astoundingly certain that things that are directly contradictory to the Standard Model (meaning that if they were correct we would have to throw out the Standard Model entirely) are equally unlikely. And that is how we can be confident in things we don’t know. Not all things, mind you, but those which would make models fail. And the idea of astrology being contingent on microgravity effects of brain development fall into that category. Which is precisely why we can say “no force known or unknown” could have that effect. Because known forces do not, and unknown forces that would cannot exist unless what we do know is profoundly wrong.

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