The Weekly Waluation of the Weasel Words of Woo #6

An Apology

OK, I plead guilty to being a week late in this crucial series—one that has the vast readership of SBM sitting on the edge of its collective seat! Proof of that assertion, of course, is found in the overwhelming number of Waluations submitted for the passage offered in the W^5/2 #5: Six. Another apology, if only a minor one: when I wrote, “the ‘plot’ of that paragraph has a little something that’s different from the usual fare,” I was probably wrong. I thought, somehow, that the passage had promoted the idea that “the integrative medicine movement” might offer physicians an antidote to “the limitations managed care has placed on their earning capacity.” Upon rereading the passage, I realized that it had not explicitly made that assertion.

A Wawiety of Cweative Waluations

Your faithful judge was faced with a difficult task this time: there were several clever and thoughtful Waluations, but they were so different from one another, stylistically, that choosing among them became an Apple ‘n’ Orange typa thing. Let’s get to it:

Michelle B‘s economical translation captured the gist of the passage and, for that matter, of most of the agenda of “Integrative Medicine” in a way that is especially pleasing to those of us who, like your humble and faithful judge, learned everything we needed to know about morals and wisdom from TV Westerns in the 1950s. How, pray tell, can we expect our own children to navigate the treacherous shoals of life without such fundamental teachings?

Stu (m’man!), in his usual, all-but-inimitable fashion, revealed the essential ironies of the matter with Stinging Spears of Sardonicism.

joel_grant apologized for not being funny (not that there’s anything wrong with that!), but his translation was accurate and included an important bonus: “That such unhappiness as exists should inadvertently send patients to quacks is collateral damage” is another way of describing the non sequitur that is “integrative medicine,” when proposed as a remedy for the ills of modern medicine.

nicodemus6 also offered an accurate translation, but his was funny. What did he mean, though, by “bad enough that many are no longer calling themselves doctors anymore”? At first I thought he meant that many are leaving medicine, which is possibly true—at least compared to back in the day. Later it occurred to me that he might have been referring to the tendency of many young physicians to introduce themselves to patients by their first names. I think of that as part of a more general cultural phenomenon (I decline to participate in the obvious debate), and I’ve heard arguments that it reflects a discomfort with the authority that society confers upon highly trained professionals or, for that matter, a discomfort with adulthood itself. nicodemus6, we are dying to know what you meant!

Also, good question about medical school enrollment, but probably not the right one, at least not yet: I doubt if enrollment is down, but I’d not be surprised if applications are down. For decades there have been so few places in American medical schools, relative to the number of applicants, that a general diminution in interest would not be reflected in enrollment until it had achieved an advanced state. Somewhere, recently, I read that the most desired residency for American medical school graduates is now dermatology, a field that during my career has been considered a “life-style” specialty: good hours, little or no night or weekend call, plenty of money. The least sought-after specialties, and among the least “life-style,” are those that were the most desired when I finished medical school in 1979: internal medicine, primary care, and general surgery. So yeah, things appear to have changed. But not, as you correctly noted, in a way that justifies quackery, as was also pointed out by the next Waluator.

wertys also cited the non sequitur, this time by its name, that “integrative medicine” represents as a purported solution to “the problems medicine has as a profession.” He offered reasons for the “growth of the sCAM movement” that I, for one, agree with completely. He displayed the same indignation about the issue and about its misrepresentation in the passage that inspired many of us to the cause of “CAM” skepticism—a major theme of Science-Based Medicine. Right on.

Michael X borrowed, to considerable advantage, a page from Stu (m’man!): “The power of simple substitution.” Michael X’s substitution might not have been as timely or as racy as Stu’s, but in its own, humble way it demonstrated the Perpetual Problem of the Patterns of Popular Preferences.

And the Winner is…

wertys, for having Told it Like it Is to an extent that went beyond the call of duty for the Weekly Waluation of the Weasel Words of Woo! Honorable mention goes to Michael X,  for the funniest entry. As for the rest of you, don’t fret: you done good.

This Week’s Entry…

…has gotta be wunna my all-time favorite passages in the Infamous Annals of Asinine Assertions, straight from a book review in the Journal of the American Medical Association:

How does this book change everything? Dossey envisions and graphicallydescribes a medicine of the future. This new era is composedof a blend of the best of what we know of physical, material-basedmedicine (“Era I”), mind-body medicine (“Era II”), and the caring,compassion, and consciousness that characterize “Era III.” Acompelling example is given in the use of all three levels ofcaring in the “Era III Emergency Room.”He vividly shows us a new kind of emergency department in whichan auto crash patient is not only stabilized and sutured buthas the suggestion of relaxation imagery along with the lidocaineand nylon. Meanwhile, caring healers take a moment to pray andvisualize a positive outcome based on the scientific evidenceof the effects of nonlocal mind, employing a network of nonlocalhealers as they work.

Happy Waluating!

The Misleading Language and Weekly Waluation of the Weasel Words of Woo series:

  1. Lies, Damned Lies, and ‘Integrative Medicine’
  2. Integrative Medicine: “Patient-Centered Care” is the new Medical Paternalism

Posted in: Humor

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14 thoughts on “The Weekly Waluation of the Weasel Words of Woo #6

  1. namidim says:

    In a bold new drama, Dossey wipes out the scientific method that has driven the last 100 years of medical advances to paint a graphic, post-apocalyptic future where medicine has been reduced to a combination of medieval remedies and a medicinal cargo cult.

    In this new era, humanity is reduced to using a combination of high-school level medical knowledge, wishful thinking, and the 24 hour Oprah channel. This tragedy is compellingly described as the “Era III Emergency Room.”

    Pain and suffering are vividly portrayed as a severe burn victim is butchered to the over-loud sounds of Enya that are used to drown out his distress. Meanwhile, desperate to effect a positive outcome, healer-clerics plead with the god that has abandoned them for the miraculous cure that never comes!

    Drama, Action, Fantasy! All coming to a hospital near you…..

  2. Stu says:

    Welcome to the emergency room!

    Here, let us stabilize you with our therapeutic magnets and a homeopathic infusion of Nightshade. That’ll have to do for now, our vibration therapist is off doing NCCAM-funded research on the Liberty Bell.

    Much better, isn’t it? What’s that you say? You’re still bleeding? Yes, yes, by all means, let’s get on that. Here, while we purify your sutures with Reiki, look at this picture of our doctor dancing in a meadow. This might pinch a bit… ah, there. The homeopathic lidocaine should be kicking in soon.

    Now, before we do these stitches, join us in prayer for a positive outcome. We’ve got our Local Prayer Healers 755 on the job as well, but you have to join in.

    Yes, of course it’s still bleeding. Pray, damn you!



    Hmm. His faith probably wasn’t strong enough.

  3. Michelle B says:


    How does this cookbook change everything? Ms. Lemon Sunshine Cupcake envisions and graphically describes a cuisine of the future. This new era is composed of a blend of the best of what we know of physical, material-based cookery (“Era C”, that is, Era Caveman, where the physical aspect of fire was first introduced thus creating the notion of cooking), mind-body cookery (“Era CC”, that is, Era Celebrity Cook where one through the transformative power of gimmicky expensive utensils instantly becomes part of a foreign culture by consuming roasted beetles over a designer barbeque pit), and the caring, compassion, and consciousness that characterize “Era CCC” (Completely inComprehensible Caca) where we ask the permission of fruits and vegetables for the privilege of their consumption, and if refused, will struggle with malnutrition until we receive their OK.

    Ms. Cupcake vividly shows us a new kind of cookery kitchen in which a starving client is not only dusted with the highest and finest grade of flour and sealed with saran wrap but has the suggestion of satisfying one’s ravaging hunger with a hologram of a steaming pot of Cassoulet along with the garden-fresh crudites and an amuse bouche. Meanwhile, well fed cooks take a moment to describe to the very hungry client their next designer recipe, one that is comprehensively and definitively shared with all cultures–past, present, and future–by the very dint of their imaginative say so.

  4. Joe says:

    I wouldn’t try to top those above; except Michelle B. should be disqualified for writing “Caca.”

    However, I am reminded of a WW2 cartoon (by Bill Maulden?). A soldier presents himself at the medical tent, and is offered a purple heart. He replies “I’ve already got one of those, can you give me some aspirin?”

  5. Michelle B says:

    Joe wrote: …except Michelle B. should be disqualified for writing “Caca.”

    Obviously, you are a member of the anti-natural brigade! I bet you are an opponent to ‘natural baby’ finger-painting also? teehee.

  6. Joe says:

    Michelle, may I B. so informal? The only babies I know are “natural.” I have lots of (natural) nieces and nephews, as well as the informal sort (and next generation). My best advice about the “finger painting” is to take them out and clean them with the garden-hose- a regular bath or shower is less efficient.

    To break them of the habit- feed them chili con carne. The resulting smell would put a vulture off a carcass, and make them reluctant to play with it.

  7. Joe says:

    I wrote “To break them of the habit- feed them chili con carne. The resulting smell would put a vulture off a carcass, and make “them” reluctant to play with it.”

    It should read “To break them of the habit- feed them chili con carne. The resulting smell would put a vulture off a carcass, and make “the babies” reluctant to play with it.”

  8. Michelle B says:

    Joe wrote: The resulting smell would put a vulture off a carcass, and make “the babies” reluctant to play with it.”

    Very good suggestion, as we certainly don’t want babies playing with carcasses!


  9. Joe says:

    I believe it was “The Outlaw Josey Wales” who noted that ‘a man has to know his limitations.’ Well, I know mine- and I must concede that I have been overmatched. I shall graciously retire and cede the field to Michelle.

    But I hope she chokes.

  10. Michael X says:

    So yes, I totally ripped off Stu. But come on. It’s Stu. You’d do it too, if Stu, posted before you! (Sing to the theme of “it’s my party”, just cram those extra syllables in.)
    And wouldn’t you know it, after I read this post, I thought “Boy, an ER parody would be hilarious here.” And then I scroll down… DAMN YOU STU AND NAMIDIM!!!!

    In any case, I’m not bitter.

    But if you guys thought the article quoted here was interesting it’s nothing compared to the interview for the special edition DVD.

    Interviewer: So Mr. Dossey, how will the Era III E.R. change things in the long term?

    Dossey: After the Era III Emergency Room takes hold, we will progress as a spiritual medical practice and be able focus more upon the mind. I envision an even more futuristic emergency room, that takes place even farther in the future. I know it’s hard to envision, an even more futuristic future, but that’s why I’m here. In what I’m calling “The Era IIII Emergency Room” (there are no more “V’s” in the future) we finally return to the purely spiritual, holistic, and from what I’ve been told by my spirit guide and clairvoyant medium, much more successful form of healing that our ancestors practiced. In this E.R. when an auto victim comes into the E.R. he is immediately doused in chickens blood.

    Interviewer: Chickens blood? What about the reviving and the suturing? Where are the material doctors?

    Dossey: In the Era IIII E.R. we’ve progressed past the staid and often rushed and overworked doctors who focus only on what has years of stud y behind it. They never helped the mind and never made sick people feel better, in the emotional sense and they were always very rude to those of us who had great ideas but not a lot of “clinical trials” as they so often sneered. So the best way to fix that problem is to get rid of them and focus more on the calming, self-centered and thoroughly baffling aspects of the mind. Now as I was saying, after the chickens blood dries, we’ll bleed the patient with leeches in an attempt to balance the 4 humors. Simultaneously, while this is going on (we can be just as efficient as material doctors!) a Rabbi will sacrifice a goat and burn it at the hospital’s alter, located in each lobby. Then we will go through the rest of the known gods and sacrifice to them along with others who can tap into the energy of the universe. This is something traditional medicine never took into account. What if Baal really is the only one who can help? Wouldn’t it be better to cover all the bases? The arrogance of doctors who discount the possibility that Loki really is just screwing the patient, just because we can’t prove it, is shocking. If a chunk of quartz taped to someones head can possibly help, shouldn’t we try it? So, after all 2000 some odd rituals are finished we’ll ask the patient how they’re feeling. If they’re still in bad shape, we’ll sadly have to chalk it up to their not wanting to get well. It’s a shame to admit, but with such advanced spiritually-tuned methods, the only variable left is the patient. If it doesn’t work, it has to be them. At that point, we’ll refer them to the lesser materialistic doctors whom history has shown get things right often enough that we should at least give them a shot. Though we’re sure those doctors won’t be as nice.

    Interviewer: Mr. Dossey, thank you.

    Dossey: You’re welcome. And that’ll be $250 for the hour.

  11. wertys says:

    I operate an ERA III practice without even knowing it ! Every time I see a patient I ‘take a moment to visulaize a positive outcome’ by hoping they won’t be as bad as last time I saw them.

    My nonlocal healers have refused to take my psychic calls, as they have been having trouble billing the decidedly local insurance providers. If anyone knows of some nonlocal healing types who I can tap into I’d be grateful…

    I am worried that I missed out on Era II though (notice how the roman numerals make it look much more scientific). The research on mind-body approaches to rehabilitation following joint replacement or multi-trauma surgery seem to have passed me by. My loss I guess…

  12. namidim says:

    The medical community of today is facing a crisis like none before: the scientific treatments that can be legally provided to patients simply do not provide enough profit. Today’s hospitals face a number of problems:

    1)Although pharmaceutical companies have made great strides with television advertising, the range of ailments described by science do not have the sort of population coverage we’d like to see particularly in the lucrative “healthy” market.

    2)The cost of doctors trained in actual medicine is high and the supply is relatively low.

    3)The cost of insurance for procedures which actually have a clinically testable result is skyrocketing.

    4)The legal restrictions on providing irrelevant care to desperate patients are stifling.

    In his new book Dossey attempts to revitalize the anemic business of health care with the “Era II Emergency Room.” Patrons can now be charged high prices for services rendered by those with a degree by mail education. High profit, low effect treatments can be offered in conjunction with or even instead of more other treatments hampered by expertise and side effects.

    Most startlingly, trained staff can be reduced or even eliminated by taking advantage of the power of “non-local” minds where prayer channels the expertise of other hospitals into your own at little to no cost.

    Start practicing medicine without the inconvenience and cost of regulation, evidence, safety, and/or efficacy today at the hospital of the future!

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