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tomk80
SFN Regular

Netherlands
1278 Posts

Posted - 07/12/2004 :  11:58:37  Show Profile  Visit tomk80's Homepage Send tomk80 a Private Message
Being a health sciences student and thus made naturally skeptical against claims made by the alternative community, I have in the mean time had quite a few debates with friends of mine who put their trust in alternative medicine. However, I think I'll resign from doing this on a personal basis. I don't like the debates anymore. These people put all their trust in the alternative community, because regular medicin can't help them (either because they or their pets (yes, their pets) have diseases which cannot be cured or symptoms which are extremely vague to begin with like chronical fatigue syndrom).

Although I often know a bit about the treatments they get and the claims surrounding them and try to bring this as delicate as possible , they put all their faith in these medicins. The subject is so charged, that normal discussion is impossible. Even if alternative medicine fails, and I suspect that they have waited to long with going to a regular physician and have problems because of that, discussing it can put too much of a strain on my relationships with them. I have troubles seeing their pain when suggested that maybe the therapy they undergo now does not work as well as they think.

People do not want truth, they want hope. Regular medicine doesn't deal in that, and thus is naturally suspect. Hope they want, and they will go wherever hope takes them, no matter how questionable the road is which they are taking.

Maybe in the future I will try to contribute to this problem on a more impersonal way. For now, I am slowly retiring from personally seeing the pain of my friends when they think I try to take the hope away from them, especially when I have at present no real alternatives to the alternative path they choose to take.

Tom

`Contrariwise,' continued Tweedledee, `if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn't, it ain't. That's logic.'
-Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Caroll-

Gorgo
SFN Die Hard

USA
5310 Posts

Posted - 07/12/2004 :  12:08:10   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Gorgo a Private Message
Alternative medicine doesn't deal in hope as much as real medicine does. Alternative medicine, much like all alternative views of reality that have nothing to do with reality, only deals in delusion. Delusion is not hope, delusion is delusion.

I know the rent is in arrears
The dog has not been fed in years
It's even worse than it appears
But it's alright-
Jerry Garcia
Robert Hunter



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tomk80
SFN Regular

Netherlands
1278 Posts

Posted - 07/12/2004 :  12:23:36   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit tomk80's Homepage Send tomk80 a Private Message
I would agree. However, for example in the case of chronical fatigue syndrom, real medicine does not offer hope, since it does not offer treatment. Thus, the people will try to find hope in delusion, and think to benefit from it. I know (or at least, strongly suspect) that they put their hope in delusion, but fighting the fight against it is presently an experience I find too hard.

Tom

`Contrariwise,' continued Tweedledee, `if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn't, it ain't. That's logic.'
-Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Caroll-
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Gorgo
SFN Die Hard

USA
5310 Posts

Posted - 07/12/2004 :  13:25:50   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Gorgo a Private Message
Science is the only thing that does offer hope. Quackery offers loss of time and money.

I agree there is a point to shut up, but not until after you've told the truth. Some of it will sink in some of the time.

I know the rent is in arrears
The dog has not been fed in years
It's even worse than it appears
But it's alright-
Jerry Garcia
Robert Hunter



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Renae
SFN Regular

543 Posts

Posted - 07/12/2004 :  17:22:33   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Renae a Private Message
I understand, tomk80. I feel the same way.

I don't think the hope part is to be discounted entirely, however. To live without hope isn't really living.
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Ricky
SFN Die Hard

USA
4907 Posts

Posted - 07/12/2004 :  17:48:03   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Ricky an AOL message Send Ricky a Private Message
"Alternative medicine doesn't deal in hope as much as real medicine does. Alternative medicine, much like all alternative views of reality that have nothing to do with reality, only deals in delusion. Delusion is not hope, delusion is delusion."

Seeing from the real perspective, no it doesn't. But to tell someone that they can be cured of something like AIDS or cancer, that gives hope to those who think it works. Remember, you must see it from their shoes.

"People do not want truth, they want hope. Regular medicine doesn't deal in that, and thus is naturally suspect. Hope they want, and they will go wherever hope takes them, no matter how questionable the road is which they are taking."

Maybe its just me, but I think I said this pretty well in my conclusion of my senior speech that I posted here a while ago (it was on psuedomedicine):

There is something that pseudomedicine can offer that conventional western medicine can't, comfort. The truth, especially when it comes to saving lives, is that not all lives can be saved, and this is something that many people are ready to reject because of wishful thinking. They turn to alternate medicine, pseudomedicine that is full of quacks, frauds, and many dangers. The promise of a cure lures them like a moth to a flame, but in the end, they always get burned.

Why continue? Because we must. Because we have the call. Because it is nobler to fight for rationality without winning than to give up in the face of continued defeats. Because whatever true progress humanity makes is through the rationality of the occasional individual and because any one individual we may win for the cause may do more for humanity than a hundred thousand who hug their superstitions to their breast.
- Isaac Asimov
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Gorgo
SFN Die Hard

USA
5310 Posts

Posted - 07/12/2004 :  18:08:37   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Gorgo a Private Message
I know what you're saying, but on the other hand, it doesn't "give" them anything. It only takes away.

I know the rent is in arrears
The dog has not been fed in years
It's even worse than it appears
But it's alright-
Jerry Garcia
Robert Hunter



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Ricky
SFN Die Hard

USA
4907 Posts

Posted - 07/12/2004 :  21:16:02   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Ricky an AOL message Send Ricky a Private Message
The only comfort in knowing the truth is that you know whats real, and that just isn't good enough for some people.

Why continue? Because we must. Because we have the call. Because it is nobler to fight for rationality without winning than to give up in the face of continued defeats. Because whatever true progress humanity makes is through the rationality of the occasional individual and because any one individual we may win for the cause may do more for humanity than a hundred thousand who hug their superstitions to their breast.
- Isaac Asimov
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26012 Posts

Posted - 07/13/2004 :  20:18:58   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message
Tom, it is my opinion that "believers" in alternative medicines are (generally) as bad, or even worse than, fundamentalist Christians in their dogmatic insistence in the "truth" of what they believe. In my four years of participating in the psoriasis newsgroup, I got quite a bit of venom thrown my way. While many fundamentalists will claim to fear for my immortal soul, and try to "help" me, many "alternative medicinists" were ready, willing and able to twist my words to ridicule me or otherwise attack me - personally.

A typical example would be along these lines:
John Doe (JD): Hey, folks! I tried this All-Natural Health Goop on my psoriasis, and it worked! What do you think? I think you should all give it a shot!

Me [after searching the web and PubMed for hours]: Well, I'm glad it's working for you, but there don't appear to be any good clinical trials showing it will work for anyone else. One test [link to article] showed it did nothing more for eczema than placebo, but psoriasis isn't eczema. It's possible that this particular combination of ingredients does do good things for psoriasis, but there need to be tests to determine that. Good luck with it.

JD: Well, science doesn't know everything, so how can you be so sure it doesn't work?

Me: When did I say science knows everything? When did I say the Health Goop doesn't work?

JD: Aren't we here to talk about psoriasis? The Health Goop worked for me! I'm proof that it works! So cram it, Mr. It-can't-possibly-work!

Me: [A few paragraphs regarding the usefulness of clinical testing, and the failures of the post-hoc fallacy in relation to a disease which can spontaneously remit.] And again, when did I say the the stuff can't possibly work?

JD: You're paid by the drug companies, aren't you? You're paid to sit here and say that natural healing doesn't work, so that those doctors can keep their yachts. Well, up yours, you damnable pharmaceutical thug.

Me: What the hell brought that on?

JD: I just can't believe your arrogance, telling me that what worked for me couldn't have worked for me, and denying this wonderful hope to everyone else.

Me: [Quotes my first reply to JD] Where, specifically, did I say that the Health Goop couldn't work for you? And how the heck can I stop anyone from buying the Health Goop? Am I now the Federal Trade Commission?

JD: [Doesn't reply.]
And it's been much, much worse.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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tomk80
SFN Regular

Netherlands
1278 Posts

Posted - 07/13/2004 :  21:25:11   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit tomk80's Homepage Send tomk80 a Private Message
Dave, your comparison between fundamentalist christians and alternative medicine 'believers' sounds very familiar. On web discussions, I've only had discussions with the first, so there I can't really compare. However, I have friends of both camps, and their reactions are very similar with this. If you give an argument they can't counter, they have a look as if some necessary fundament of life has been pulled away from them (which of course, from there point of view, is exactly the case). They will subsequently quickly change the subject or fall silent. A few minutes later, the points made seem to be forgotten.

Tom

`Contrariwise,' continued Tweedledee, `if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn't, it ain't. That's logic.'
-Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Caroll-
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Gorgo
SFN Die Hard

USA
5310 Posts

Posted - 07/14/2004 :  03:34:55   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Gorgo a Private Message
Yes, I have friends that won't go to the doctor, but they'll take stuff that cures everything. And keep taking it. And keep taking it. And keep taking it. And then come up with something else that cures everything. And keep taking it. And then something else. And then tell me that doctors are in it for the money. And then keep taking several cures for everything.

I know the rent is in arrears
The dog has not been fed in years
It's even worse than it appears
But it's alright-
Jerry Garcia
Robert Hunter



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beskeptigal
SFN Die Hard

USA
3834 Posts

Posted - 08/08/2004 :  13:23:58   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send beskeptigal a Private Message
As an advocate of evidence based medicine, I'd be careful about grouping all Western medicine in the science category. There's a lot of bad medicine out there that is based on 'traditional' beliefs and presumed 'logic' over research. I no longer believe medicine is an art and not a science. That's an example of what I mean. A lot of physicians use that phrase to cover for their lack of knowledge about where the science is on a particular intervention.

On the good side is many medical practitioners are beginning to recognize the medical practices that aren't based on research.

So whether it is alternative or Western, we need evidence and we need to teach folks how to recognize good science and bad science.

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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 08/08/2004 :  14:56:39   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message
A cobra's gall bladder will cure lots of ailments and make you horny while it does it.

Prove me wrong.


"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

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tomk80
SFN Regular

Netherlands
1278 Posts

Posted - 08/09/2004 :  07:05:16   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit tomk80's Homepage Send tomk80 a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by beskeptigal

As an advocate of evidence based medicine, I'd be careful about grouping all Western medicine in the science category. There's a lot of bad medicine out there that is based on 'traditional' beliefs and presumed 'logic' over research. I no longer believe medicine is an art and not a science. That's an example of what I mean. A lot of physicians use that phrase to cover for their lack of knowledge about where the science is on a particular intervention.

On the good side is many medical practitioners are beginning to recognize the medical practices that aren't based on research.

So whether it is alternative or Western, we need evidence and we need to teach folks how to recognize good science and bad science.




This is (unfortunately) very true. A good deal of the cures prescribed by physicians are bogus, and physicians often don't have the chance to read up on this. I've often about how you could inform physicians on what works and what doesn't in a way which is easy and still scientific. This is hard, but I do think that with current programs which can help physicians in making decisions, progress is being made.

Tom

`Contrariwise,' continued Tweedledee, `if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn't, it ain't. That's logic.'
-Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Caroll-
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26012 Posts

Posted - 08/09/2004 :  07:54:13   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message
Tom wrote:
quote:
A good deal of the cures prescribed by physicians are bogus, and physicians often don't have the chance to read up on this.
Well, at this point I think it's important to talk about what you mean by "cures" and "bogus." I mean, you won't find double-blind clinical trials testing the hypothesis that casts help broken bones heal, since with what we already know, not casting them would be considered unethical.

So, what is an example of a "bogus cure" commonly prescribed by a physician?

Oh, and before anyone says "antibiotics for a head cold," it's also important to note that patients often demand a treatment of some sort (when "bed rest and liquids" would be more appropriate), and their doctors find it much easier to simply acquiesce than to lecture the patient, and/or possibly wind up on the receiving end of a bogus malpractice suit.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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tomk80
SFN Regular

Netherlands
1278 Posts

Posted - 08/09/2004 :  08:05:09   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit tomk80's Homepage Send tomk80 a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Dave W.

Tom wrote:
quote:
A good deal of the cures prescribed by physicians are bogus, and physicians often don't have the chance to read up on this.
Well, at this point I think it's important to talk about what you mean by "cures" and "bogus." I mean, you won't find double-blind clinical trials testing the hypothesis that casts help broken bones heal, since with what we already know, not casting them would be considered unethical.

So, what is an example of a "bogus cure" commonly prescribed by a physician?

Oh, and before anyone says "antibiotics for a head cold," it's also important to note that patients often demand a treatment of some sort (when "bed rest and liquids" would be more appropriate), and their doctors find it much easier to simply acquiesce than to lecture the patient, and/or possibly wind up on the receiving end of a bogus malpractice suit.



I agree, and was a little too harsh in my language. To give two examples from the top of my head.

For back pain, often physiotherapy is prescribed by physicians. However, whereas giving practice routines to strengthen your back do give some beneficial results, often massage therapy is used. Massage therapy has in clinical trials been shown to do nothing except relieve pain for the duration of the massage and a few hours afterwards.

This one I have to read up on, but medicins against hypertension often don't work very good and have side effects. However, anti-diurethics work better with less side effects. Many physicians do not know this and still keep prescribing the original hypertension drugs.

When discussing this however, you have to realize that a lot of the complaints which docters have to face are very vague. It can be very hard to pinpoint a specific cause, so finding the right medication can be nearly impossible.

PS: I remember reading a year back or so that operating a hernia often does not have a beneficial effect compared to not operating. Again, I'll have to trace back references.

Tom

`Contrariwise,' continued Tweedledee, `if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn't, it ain't. That's logic.'
-Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Caroll-
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