Collision of Incompatibles

Last week’s post was about a recent (October 2007) meeting held at Harvard University on the subject of fascia. The purposes for commenting were several.

First, the organizers were partial believers in some forms of “Complementary and Alternative Medicine” (“CAM”), now being called “Integrative” but more realistically called sectarian or anomalous, aberrant medicine. The meeting is another in a long series of associating sectarian medicines with science – a bad fit.

Second, it illustrated an increasing infiltration of sectarianism, ideological thinking, and pseudoscience into medical schools and academia.

Third, this infiltrating change is no natural evolution, but is a political and economically driven external force, intent on both selfish and ideological interest. The forces are intent on radically changing society with medicine as the point of their phalanx. They chose medicine because of its admitted openness and self-criticism (no trade secrets, no state secrets, no top secret clearances; its self-criticism is open for all to see.) A vulnerable and often willing victim.

Fourth, the somewhat naïve writeup in Science (November, 2007) shows how even the scientific press takes the soft approach to quackery, showing it in a rosy light.

In contrast, sectarian movers, dealing pseudoscience, are occult and secretive, use obscure and distorted language. They use obscure financing behind the scenes. Progressing over 15 years or more, using cultural relativism and postmodern thought and rationales, its own advocates have described “CAM” as “the quiet revolution.”

The purposes of the fascia meeting, set out in a seven point statement, were in part to integrate the basic research being done on biochemical, molecular biological levels with clinical practitioners and results.

Problem is that there is no clinical specific disease condition or set of scientific therapy methods relating directly to “fascia.” But there are sectarian practices that claim to affect “fascia” in some way. These include massage, “structural integration” and forms of bodywork (Rolfing,) classical osteopathy and its sectarian offshoots like “cranio-sacral therapy,” chiropractic, and acupuncture. Organizations representing all of these were sponsors or supporters of the meeting. They all hoped to receive a dose of “respect” by association.


When the sectarian advance became obvious in the early 1980s, we first became suspicious of advocates’ language. Bill Jarvis of the National Council against Health Fraud called attention to misuse of the word “alternative” in a NCAHF sponsored meeting in 1982. We will explore the history of more language distortions in future posts.

We also recognized the politics of takeover used by militaries and early 20th century communists in other countries and in other American institutions such as unions. Takeover followed a certain set of steps, in varying order, similar to objectives in military takeovers. The military first destroy means of resistance – both military and civilian. These are means of communication – the radio, printed press, other publishing, transportation, and education.

Having no need for or relevance to anything military, the sectarians concentrated on institutions that affect mind and opinion. They gained acceptance into academia by claiming having been ignored or unheard, and claiming to represent just other systems of thought and practice; that those systems could not be rejected by lack of proof, but could be rejected only by disproof.

You get the point here – and how sectarianism eased into a self-examining and self-critical medical system and how difficult it has been to disprove the moving targets of claims by experiment rather than by using prior knowledge. Academia, instead of rejecting this challenge, stepped in, up to both knees, thinking that disproof would be easy, short, and cheap. It is hard, long, and expensive (over $1 billion so far with little proved or disproved.)

Sectarians easily claimed the popular press with its naïve cub reporters and scientifically naïve editors. (Some editors actually being anti-“Establishment” biased.) We have had 25 years of naïve press coverage – devoted to non-judgmental reporting. Three to four page articles quoting advocates, 1-2 paragraphs of skeptics‘ quotes, buried midway in the article, and the last word given to the advocates. Radio and television are conquered by quackery and pseudoscience from paid commercials through standard news broadcasts. Naivete still reigns.

With the press wowed and academics cowed, and no need for transportation or airfields and barracks, the takeover plateaued, now rising slowly in the general population as our educational system turns out more students devoid of thinking skills, suspicious of authority, and attracted to conspiracies.

In 1994-7, I surveyed all US medical schools by questionnaire and telephone specifically as to how they taught “CAM”, and evaluated how much time or exposure was given to critical, scientific views. The survey found only four schools that taught significant amounts of critical analysis of claims, the rest teaching entirely from a position of non-judgment or, as for most, advocacy. I published the results in “The Need for Educational Reform in Teaching about Alternative Therapies.” (Acad-Med. 2001 Mar; 76(3): 248-50) in the journal, Academic Medicine in in 2001.

Since then we have been collecting information on medical school teaching. Several of us have actively opposed sectarian attempts to create new large centers and courses in selected schools – SUNY Stony Brook, Pittsburgh, Colorado, and chiro schools at Florida State and York (Toronto.) plus a few others. The Pitt and Fla. State experiences are published in SRAM and SI.

As a correlate study we have collected names of wealthy private foundations sponsoring med school programs. The Bravewell Collaborative sponsors the Consortium for Academic Healthcare in at least 36 medical schools, and another system for indoctrinating residents and physicians. It also indoctrinates the public, having sponsored the recent PBS series, The New Medicine.

Other sectarian sponsors include, Samueli (money made in broad band technology) which is devoted mainly to homeopathy and paying its medical leader, Wayne Jonas formerly NCCAM Director. Despite its wealth, it sucks on the nipple of the Congress, having been granted several million dollars in 2007 through Senator Tom Harkin’s earmarks (again) and 2 million five years ago from the Dept. of the Army to investigate homeopathy for battlefield wounds.

Add to these, smaller foundations such as Zakeim (Harvard) and Osher (Harvard and UCSF,) Fetzer (financer of the 1988, Bill Moyers PBS TV series Cancer and the Mind, Templeton (religion and science) Rosenthal (Columbia.) The engine of the “Integrative” and “CAM” systems are ideological, revolutionary, anti-science groups and foundations that at this moment are hard at work revolutionizing medicine and society.

Like lit or not.

Posted in: Medical Academia, Politics and Regulation, Science and Medicine

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