Ass Reflexology Hoax Shames Integrative Medicine Conference

Readers may be familiar with the infamous Sokal Affair, where a physicist successfully published an utterly nonsensical article in Social Text, a journal of postmodern cultural studies, in order to demonstrate its poor editorial standards and idealogical biases.

Recently, professor of medical education John C. McLachlan pulled the same stunt on an “International Conference on Integrative Medicine” held in Jerusalem in 2010, where he was invited to present a paper on the promising new field of ass reflexology. He described his findings as such:

McLaughlins Ass Reflexology Map

McLachlan's Ass Reflexology Map

Recently, as a result of my developmental studies on human embryos, I have discovered a new version of reflexology, which identifies a homunculus represented in the human body, over the area of the buttocks.

The homunculus is inverted, such that the head is represented in the inferior position, the left buttock corresponds to the right hand side of the body, and the lateral aspect is represented medially.

As with reflexology, the “map” responds to needling, as in acupuncture, and to gentle suction, such as cupping. In my studies, responses are stronger and of more therapeutic value than those of auricular or conventional reflexology. In some cases, the map can be used for diagnostic purposes.

Sadly, McLachlan did not go as far as to actually present his paper in Jerusalem, but has published his correspondence with the organization, concluding that:

So called integrative medicine should not be used as a way of smuggling alternative practices into rational medicine by way of lowered standards of critical thinking. Failure to detect an obvious hoax is not an encouraging sign.

[Full Artice at BMJ.com]

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  • Honu

    ok, so this kind of sh-t gets on my nerves. I’m a holistic bodyworker and have worked for 12 years in the field. Just because John McLaughlin (is he a M.D.?) was able to fool members of the CAM field into allowing him to submit a ludicrous paper about ass reflexology doesn’t mean CAM (complimentary alternative medicine) is bogus. All it means is that he convinced people that he had something worth presenting. As if conmen and shysters haven’t been pulling crap like this for millenia. While the clinical effects of reflexology have always escaped me, I know from experience that there is much alternative medicine that is valid despite western medicine’s resistence to it. I would argue that some of the work I do is demonstrably more effective than most of the M.D.’s recommendations for soft tissue related ailments. More esoteric therapies like light, sound and magnetics are harder to show their medical effectiveness but here’s a paper showing the clinical effects of drumming (sound) on the endocrine and immune system.

    http://www.mind-body.org/Bittman%20Immune%20System%20Study.pdf?objectid=71

    If this close minded f’ing tool is too cranky to consider new directions in health, I don’t see why he should have a place at the table to effect the course of medicine in the future. What a jackhole.

  • Honu

    ok, so this kind of sh-t gets on my nerves. I’m a holistic bodyworker and have worked for 12 years in the field. Just because John McLaughlin (is he a M.D.?) was able to fool members of the CAM field into allowing him to submit a ludicrous paper about ass reflexology doesn’t mean CAM (complimentary alternative medicine) is bogus. All it means is that he convinced people that he had something worth presenting. As if conmen and shysters haven’t been pulling crap like this for millenia. While the clinical effects of reflexology have always escaped me, I know from experience that there is much alternative medicine that is valid despite western medicine’s resistence to it. I would argue that some of the work I do is demonstrably more effective than most of the M.D.’s recommendations for soft tissue related ailments. More esoteric therapies like light, sound and magnetics are harder to show their medical effectiveness but here’s a paper showing the clinical effects of drumming (sound) on the endocrine and immune system.

    http://www.mind-body.org/Bittman%20Immune%20System%20Study.pdf?objectid=71

    If this close minded f’ing tool is too cranky to consider new directions in health, I don’t see why he should have a place at the table to effect the course of medicine in the future. What a jackhole.

    • Haystack

      What he did isn’t supposed to prove that all CAM is bogus, but to illustrate that the field lacks the critical thinking and standards of evidence sufficient to separate good research from obvious nonsense. If he can sell them on ass reflexology to prove a point, is it not therefore safe to assume that the CAM community may just as easily be taken in by dubious therapies concocted by those with a profit motive?

      • Honu

        So you’re talking about the scientific method as the standard by which to judge a medical approach. That’s fine. I can understand needing that kind of validation. There is a growing body of studies on cam. Without sounding paranoid, the public’s interest in CAM has been growing steadily for years and is beginning to take a bigger bite financially out of western medical practices which worries alot of the western medical establishment. It’s only because of this that there’s more focus on doing scientific research into different modalities. It’s still in the early stages and politics is playing a role in this. If you do some basic google research on the efficacy of TCM, massage and other CAM you’ll find some.

        • Haystack

          I would question the quality of many of those studies. The pattern I’ve seen is small scale, poorly controlled studies report a small effect, and for these studies enter the news cycle and generate public interest, while the larger, more comprehensive studies show no effect and go unreported. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, for example, in spite of years of public funding, has produced almost exclusively negative results.

          The problem with the argument that these modalities are a threat to the medical establishment is that alt-med modalities can be very lucrative in their own right. Many large pharmaceutical companies are now selling herbal supplements; they’re just as happy to cash in on an herbal substance as they are a pharmaceutical. In the US, supplements are exempted from having to prove either efficacy or safety in order to be sold; so, again, there’s a lower standard of evidence for “natural” or “non-western” modalities than there is for others.

          That it boils down to, for me, is this — if you are selling some traditional remedy, and studies come out proving that it doesn’t work, that in no way stops people from buying it. The company can alway claim that the western medical establishment is just trying to keep them down; it doesn’t effect their bottom line very much. It never seems to happen that an alt med modality is discarded because it turned out not to work. St Johns Wort turned out not to treat depression, but people still buy it for just that reason.

          Now, I’m not trying to say that there are absolutely no herbs or non-western modalities that might be shown to work. What I’m saying is that by creating a category of “alternative medicine,” we’ve created a kind of shelter where for all of the phony stuff to continue selling product without being held to the same standards of evidence that would apply to any pharmaceutical.

          • Honu

            I get it. You don’t like any non western approved medical approach. That said I disagree completely with your notion that just because negative studies exist supposedly disproving a cam modality, it doesn’t stop people from buying. Why do you think people keep going to accupuncturists, massage therapists and other cam practitioners? If it was truly a bust and people believed there was no merit or benefit i doubt very much that cam field would continue to grow the way it has. Much of the benefits that these modalities offer are difficult to measure using the tools and approach that western medicine uses to gauge such things.

            Alternative medicine may perhaps serve in some way as a shelter for shysters but let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that western medicine with an inflated sense of credibility is above their own version of bs nor have they cornered the market on effective medicine. The politics and the money involved in western medicine absolutely is a determining factor in what gets funded for research and the general approach to doing medicine in the first place. You can’t actually believe that the glut of pharmaceuticals for every condition and fabricated condition (restless leg syndrome? are you f’ing kidding me? The symptoms may exist but there’s no way it’s an isolated ‘disease’) is the most efficacious way to treat them.

            You don’t get to paint this picture with such a broad brush without some blow back.

          • Haystack

            That’s an argument from popular opinion. Leeching didn’t work, but people kept doing it for hundreds of years. Would you disagree that it would be possible for someone run a successful business selling an inert placebo, based on clever marketing alone?

            Acupuncture and massage do have an effect that derives from being touched, relaxed, calmed, etc… If you compare acupuncture patients to a control group, you do indeed get results. At the same time, if you compare an acupuncturist who is just randomly sticking needles into a patient to one who is doing it according to energy medians and what not, you find no difference. So, the theory behind that which makes acupuncture acupuncture hasn’t panned out. It’s often the case that one could get the same effect, at less expense, by relaxing at spa. ‘

            The US government has a publicly-funded organization, the NCCAM, which exists just to find alt med studies that have supposedly been suppressed. It has produced almost no positive results. If what you say is true, the NCCAM would have offered forth a cornucopia of new treatments.

            Now, I don’t care if a modality is “western” or “eastern.” I just insist upon proof of efficacy.

          • Honu

            If you’re asking me if marketing sells crap then I would say yes, an expensive and extensive marketing campaign can sell garbage. Look at Justin Beiber or the Jonas Brothers.

            It seems that our going ’round and ’round with our postings is centered on proof of efficacy. And I think that’s a fair requirement even if the proof of efficacy is the scientific method which demonstrates just one particular approach that is an agreed upon standard. I would like to offer this in regards to western medicine’s track record of proof of efficacy.

            Only 15% of standard medical procedures have ever been held to scientific scrutiny and only 1% of the articles in medical journals are based on verifiable scientific research, according to David Eddy, M.D.,Ph.D., the doctor who coined the term “evidence based” medicine.

            My argument with you, from my perspective, is not about cam is better than western medicine or vice versa. I know I’ve shown my hand by responding with alot of emotion supporting cam but truthfully i can only speak to the results I’ve gotten in my particular field of expertise which is repetitive injury, range of motion issue, acute and chronic myofascial pain. I’ve seen alot of clients who come to me with all manner of soft tissue problems. Many have consulted western doctors who prescribe the same 4 treatments:
            pain killers, cortisone shots, physical therapy and surgery. Many people I see have tried one or a combination of these 4. Pain killers mask the issue, cortisone shots break down connective tissue weakening the myofascia/joint for years, physical therapy seems to primarily focus on strengthening an area and surgery has very iffy results with soft tissue related injuries not to mention it can be unnecessary. Myofascial realignment by working to create space in hypertense tissue with movement will so often restore range of motion and reduce pain that it amazes me that so few doctors seem to recommend it. Yet the mainstream treatments don’t actually treat the issue. And on a personal note, I am always having to defend my work from doubters…hence my passionate postings. I’m done with our debate but I wanted to write one last response.

          • A Scientist

            Perhaps the fact that you have to constantly defend your work from doubters should give you a clue that your work provides doubtful benefit.

            Your comments, reliance on logical fallacies and anecdotal evidence, general scientific illiteracy, and attitude of denial demonstrate a textbook case of true believer syndrome. I feel sorry for you, and more sorry for the deluded fools who you “treat”.

    • Dave_Plankton

      “As if conmen and shysters haven’t been pulling crap like this for millenia.”

      Which is precisely why he did it- to demonstrate that the field of Alternative Medicine is full of conmen and shysters preying on the gullible and has been for millennia.

      • Honu

        And you think your western medical practices aren’t full of conmen and shysters? You believe the medical community isn’t overseen by an ingrained political climate that allows for certain research and not others? You believe the western medical community is so above board that their modus operandi is always looking out for the best interests and health of the people?

        It would serve you well to do more research into this. While I won’t argue that CAM has it’s share of people who manipulate the public for profit hocking less than credible therapies, you would be absolutely wrong to believe that CAM should be dismissed because of this. Traditional Chinese Medicine has maintained it’s basic tenets for millenia because it works. Western medicine has gone through so many radical changes in their approach to working with the body that comparing medical working models from one century to the next is like comparing a fish to a bird. If the models change so much over time isn’t it possible that western medicine as it’s practiced may not necessarily have the full picture?

        Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not throwing out western medicine. I’m arguing that there are CAM that are valid despite what the mainstream believes.

        • Haystack

          “Traditional Chinese Medicine has maintained it’s basic tenets for millenia because it works. Western medicine has gone through so many radical changes in their approach to working with the body that comparing medical working models from one century to the next is like comparing a fish to a bird. If the models change so much over time isn’t it possible that western medicine as it’s practiced may not necessarily have the full picture? ”

          See, I would draw exactly the opposite conclusion there. Scientific medicine changes when confronted with new evidence. People used to believe that cholera was caused by a miasma; research showed that it as a waterborne microbe, and now we know how to prevent it (e.g., don’t drink out of the water you shit in). You want your medical models to constantly change as more information is gathered.

          The fact that a system has existed without change for thousands of years usually indicates that it is being practiced essentially as an article of faith. For how many centuries did we practice bloodletting and the balancing of bodily humours? Would you say that that is because it worked so well?

          • Honu

            To compare eastern and western medicine is to compare apples and oranges. First of all eastern medicine is holistic in it’s foundation in that it looks at the body comprehensively. It determines where an imbalance is and decides on a treatment that harmonizes that imbalance. Western medicine is reductionistic and uses technology as it develops to isolate the perceived cause of illness sometimes at the expense of the context of the relationship to the rest of the bodily functions, diet, lifestyle, etc. While I wouldn’t turn to an accupuncturist to sew my arm back on after it’d been ripped off in a combine, western medicine has not been as effective for preventative care.

            As far as medical models evolving…..I wonder if you might explain, for example, why western medicine insists on treating people with insulin and other medications when holistic practitioners like Dr. Gabriel Cousins have shown they can nearly cure people of adult onset diabetes by changing their diet? I wonder if you realize that just because a medical model ‘evolves’ it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s progressing. The reality of pharmaceutical companies pouring money into lobbyist coffers as well as doctors and medical organizations, ensures the perpetuation of medicine through medication.

            If you don’t acknowledge that the western model has room for integration with cam then you’re ignorant. If western medicine ignores cam, it’s being negligent. You’re welcome to your opinions but speaking as someone who’s in the cam field I have first hand experience with seeing the benefits of some cam. It’s only a matter of time before the western approach integrates.

          • Tuna Ghost

            As far as medical models evolving…..I wonder if you might explain, for example, why western medicine insists on treating people with insulin and other medications when holistic practitioners like Dr. Gabriel Cousins have shown they can nearly cure people of adult onset diabetes by changing their diet?

            Actually I’m pretty certain western doctors will tell you all about the effects of your diet on your diabetes. They give you insulin you don’t, y’know, die.

            I wonder if you realize that just because a medical model ‘evolves’ it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s progressing.

            Western medicine has vaccines, treatments and cures for diseases that were untreatable or incurable a century, or even half a century, ago (diseases for which there is absolutely no evidence that CAM has had any effect on, although that is beside the point). That is progress. To argue otherwise is simply ridiculous.

            You’re welcome to your opinions but speaking as someone who’s in the cam field I have first hand experience with seeing the benefits of some cam.

            Then some decent evidence, i.e. real studies showing the effectiveness of these treatments, should be forthcoming, shouldn’t it?

          • Honu

            Western medicine has vaccines, treatments and cures for diseases that were untreatable or incurable a century, or even half a century, ago (diseases for which there is absolutely no evidence that CAM has had any effect on, although that is beside the point). That is progress. To argue otherwise is simply ridiculous.

            Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not a black and white guy here. I’m not throwing western medicine under the bus. Of course there have been great advancements with the western approach. Haystack is using an incident to paint with a broad brush saying because someone fooled a cam convention into letting him present a ludicrous ‘therapy’ that therefore all cam is to be disregarded.

            “Then some decent evidence, i.e. real studies showing the effectiveness of these treatments, should be forthcoming, shouldn’t it?”

            I will be happy to provide links to studies of cam that show their effectiveness. At the same time there are studies showing they have no effectiveness. Western medicine deals with this kind of thing also especially with the pharmaceuticals.

          • Haystack

            “Haystack is using an incident to paint with a broad brush saying because someone fooled a cam convention into letting him present a ludicrous ‘therapy’ that therefore all cam is to be disregarded. ”

            No, I’m just saying that the integrative medicine conference being fooled demonstrates that poor standards of evidence are being applied by at least some in that field.

          • Tuna Ghost

            As far as medical models evolving…..I wonder if you might explain, for example, why western medicine insists on treating people with insulin and other medications when holistic practitioners like Dr. Gabriel Cousins have shown they can nearly cure people of adult onset diabetes by changing their diet?

            Actually I’m pretty certain western doctors will tell you all about the effects of your diet on your diabetes. They give you insulin you don’t, y’know, die.

            I wonder if you realize that just because a medical model ‘evolves’ it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s progressing.

            Western medicine has vaccines, treatments and cures for diseases that were untreatable or incurable a century, or even half a century, ago (diseases for which there is absolutely no evidence that CAM has had any effect on, although that is beside the point). That is progress. To argue otherwise is simply ridiculous.

            You’re welcome to your opinions but speaking as someone who’s in the cam field I have first hand experience with seeing the benefits of some cam.

            Then some decent evidence, i.e. real studies showing the effectiveness of these treatments, should be forthcoming, shouldn’t it?

          • Haystack

            “While I wouldn’t turn to an accupuncturist to sew my arm back on after it’d been ripped off in a combine, western medicine has not been as effective for preventative care. ”

            That’s the thing–“western” medicine delivers in instances where the outcome is easily demonstrable. It cures or vaccinates diseases and mends injuries. Many of the alt med claims are so vague as to be meaningless. We see supplements, for example, that promise to “promote overall well being.”

            I agree with you that medicine must be holistic in the sense that it must consider diet, lifestyle, the doctor-patient relationship, etc. At the same time, what is often described as “holistic” is some flavor of vitalistic energy model, which reduces medicine to balancing humors, the flow of chi, or whatever.

            And of course I agree with you that we are plagued by corrupt drug companies, a dysfunctional health care system, and all of that. I just want everyone to be held to the same standard. Whether you’re selling a “supplement” or a pharmaceutical, you should have to show that it works and that it is safe before you can market it as a health product.

          • caseinpoint

            “To compare eastern and western medicine is to compare apples and oranges.”

            A meaningless statement. Knowledge is knowledge. “Eastern” and “western” are just subjective labels. This is a false dichotomy based on some misguided notion of Eastern “exoticism.” That fact of the matter is that medicine must be subject to clinical evidence. As Carl Sagan once said, “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” Without such evidence, and with a reliance upon anecdotal evidence alone, it’s no more legitimate or factually based than faith healers or snake oil salesmen.

          • Honu

            “See, I would draw exactly the opposite conclusion there. Scientific medicine changes when confronted with new evidence”

            And at the time, the medical establishment had the same certainty they do today about how medicine should be administered and a 100 years goes by and they look back and say that perhaps they weren’t so correct as they thought. That’s the point.

            Do you honestly believe that eastern medicine hasn’t changed in 3000 years? Of course there have been improvements. They’ve even integrated some western approaches but the efficacy of TCM is such that the foundation remains. They are not shitting in their drinking water for god’s sakes and the medicine is not based on faith. For you to say that makes me seriously doubt your understanding of the eastern model and demonstrates an ignorant bias.

            But because you’re calling out the holistic approach, let’s look at a typical western approach to a condition. Western medicine’s go-to approach for cancer is let’s dump toxic chemicals into the body and expose it to high frequency radiation that for all intents and purposes kills the body slowly in hopes of killing the cancer before the body dies. It may not be bloodletting but it ain’t sophisticated either.

            And to answer your question, no, balancing the humors and bloodletting have not worked and therefore it was stopped. Humor balancing and bloodletting are all outdated WESTERN approaches to medicine not eastern.

          • Haystack

            Exactly. I have confidence in evidence-based medicine because it *does* revise its practices when confronted with new evidence. By contrast, you never hear about alt med modalities being abandoned in the light of negative findings. What that tells me is that the people selling it will continue to do so regardless or whether or not it works.

            Certainly you would be very hard pressed to argue that western medicine has not improved in the last hundred years.

            Our methods for treating cancer are indeed primitive, and will probably be compared to bloodletting 100 years from now, but it does save lives. My grandmother survived breast cancer thanks to western medicine. My grandfather delayed treatment of colon cancer so that he could try some all-natural miracle cream, and he’s dead now. I have no patience for those who take advantage of the suffering of cancer patients under chemotherapy as a way to make a buck off of miracle cures.

            It strikes me as contradictory to say that, say, acupuncture must work because it has been practiced for ages, but the same is not true of humor balancing because that is a “western” approach. If humor balancing could be used for centuries and not work, then it stands it reason that the same might be true of traditional eastern approaches.

    • A Scientist

      Cry me a river. The fact that this threatens your 12-year “career” of providing placebo therapy to gullible people gets you zero sympathy from me or any other rational individual. Whether you believe your own BS or not, the fact remains that it’s BS. The only difference your belief makes is whether you are a willful charlatan or a self-deluded fool.

      If you honestly think your “therapy” is more effective than science-based medicine, put your money where your mouth is: conduct a scientifically valid, double-blind clinical trial and have your results published in a reputable medical journal so other researchers can attempt to reproduce your results. That’s how REAL medicine works. If you can’t (or won’t) do that, you have no right to call the crap you do “medicine”.

      No one with a half a brain gives a crap what you BELIEVE – the only thing that matters is what you can PROVE. Provide scientific proof that your treatment produces repeatable, measurable results and it WILL be accepted by the Western (science-based) medical establishment. But, I seriously doubt that you or anyone else in your line of work would be willing to subject your cash cow to that level of scrutiny, even if you have the first clue (let alone the academic credentials) on how to set up and conduct a valid clinical trial (a possibility I find extremely unlikely)

      The only jackholes around here are you and your fellow witch doctors.

    • Ksdreger

      The truth eventually comes out just out of natural sharing of information.

      The humor in me is not that it bashes holistic bodywork but that the mechanism that allowed such a hoax either doesn’t even read the papers in question or doesn’t do so with critical thinking. The basis for it being done as holistic is just that it’s the least understood and so easiest to fake.

  • Haystack

    What he did isn’t supposed to prove that all CAM is bogus, but to illustrate that the field lacks the critical thinking and standards of evidence sufficient to separate good research from obvious nonsense. If he can sell them on ass reflexology to prove a point, is it not therefore safe to assume that the CAM community may just as easily be taken in by dubious therapies concocted by those with a profit motive?

  • Anonymous

    “As if conmen and shysters haven’t been pulling crap like this for millenia.”

    Which is precisely why he did it- to demonstrate that the field of Alternative Medicine is full of conmen and shysters preying on the gullible and has been for millennia.

  • Honu

    And you think your western medical practices aren’t full of conmen and shysters? You believe the medical community isn’t overseen by an ingrained political climate that allows for certain research and not others? You believe the western medical community is so above board that their modus operandi is always looking out for the best interests and health of the people?

    It would serve you well to do more research into this. While I won’t argue that CAM has it’s share of people who manipulate the public for profit hocking less than credible therapies, you would be absolutely wrong to believe that CAM should be dismissed because of this. Traditional Chinese Medicine has maintained it’s basic tenets for millenia because it works. Western medicine has gone through so many radical changes in their approach to working with the body that comparing medical working models from one century to the next is like comparing a fish to a bird. If the models change so much over time isn’t it possible that western medicine as it’s practiced may not necessarily have the full picture?

    Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not throwing out western medicine. I’m arguing that there are CAM that are valid despite what the mainstream believes.

  • Honu

    So you’re talking about the scientific method as the standard by which to judge a medical approach. That’s fine. I can understand needing that kind of validation. There is a growing body of studies on cam. Without sounding paranoid, the public’s interest in CAM has been growing steadily for years and is beginning to take a bigger bite financially out of western medical practices which worries alot of the western medical establishment. It’s only because of this that there’s more focus on doing scientific research into different modalities. It’s still in the early stages and politics is playing a role in this. If you do some basic google research on the efficacy of TCM, massage and other CAM you’ll find some.

  • Haystack

    I would question the quality of many of those studies. The pattern I’ve seen is small scale, poorly controlled studies report a small effect, and for these studies enter the news cycle and generate public interest, while the larger, more comprehensive studies show no effect and go unreported. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, for example, in spite of years of public funding, has produced almost exclusively negative results.

    The problem with the argument that these modalities are a threat to the medical establishment is that alt-med modalities can be very lucrative in their own right. Many large pharmaceutical companies are now selling herbal supplements; they’re just as happy to cash in on an herbal substance as they are a pharmaceutical. In the US, supplements are exempted from having to prove either efficacy or safety in order to be sold; so, again, there’s a lower standard of evidence for “natural” or “non-western” modalities than there is for others.

    That it boils down to, for me, is this — if you are selling some traditional remedy, and studies come out proving that it doesn’t work, that in no way stops people from buying it. The company can alway claim that the western medical establishment is just trying to keep them down; it doesn’t effect their bottom line very much. It never seems to happen that an alt med modality is discarded because it turned out not to work. St Johns Wort turned out not to treat depression, but people still buy it for just that reason.

    Now, I’m not trying to say that there are absolutely no herbs or non-western modalities that might be shown to work. What I’m saying is that by creating a category of “alternative medicine,” we’ve created a kind of shelter where for all of the phony stuff to continue selling product without being held to the same standards of evidence that would apply to any pharmaceutical.

  • Haystack

    “Traditional Chinese Medicine has maintained it’s basic tenets for millenia because it works. Western medicine has gone through so many radical changes in their approach to working with the body that comparing medical working models from one century to the next is like comparing a fish to a bird. If the models change so much over time isn’t it possible that western medicine as it’s practiced may not necessarily have the full picture? ”

    See, I would draw exactly the opposite conclusion there. Scientific medicine changes when confronted with new evidence. People used to believe that cholera was caused by a miasma; research showed that it as a waterborne microbe, and now we know how to prevent it (e.g., don’t drink out of the water you shit in). You want your medical models to constantly change as more information is gathered.

    The fact that a system has existed without change for thousands of years usually indicates that it is being practiced essentially as an article of faith. For how many centuries did we practice bloodletting and the balancing of bodily humours? Would you say that that is because it worked so well?

  • Anonymous

    It only proves that “medical professionals” can be just as stupid, gullible and lacking in “godhood” as everyone else.

  • GoodDoktorBad

    It only proves that “medical professionals” can be just as stupid, gullible and lacking in “godhood” as everyone else.

  • Honu

    To compare eastern and western medicine is to compare apples and oranges. First of all eastern medicine is holistic in it’s foundation in that it looks at the body comprehensively. It determines where an imbalance is and decides on a treatment that harmonizes that imbalance. Western medicine is reductionistic and uses technology as it develops to isolate the perceived cause of illness sometimes at the expense of the context of the relationship to the rest of the bodily functions, diet, lifestyle, etc. While I wouldn’t turn to an accupuncturist to sew my arm back on after it’d been ripped off in a combine, western medicine has not been as effective for preventative care.

    As far as medical models evolving…..I wonder if you might explain, for example, why western medicine insists on treating people with insulin and other medications when holistic practitioners like Dr. Gabriel Cousins have shown they can nearly cure people of adult onset diabetes by changing their diet? I wonder if you realize that just because a medical model ‘evolves’ it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s progressing. The reality of pharmaceutical companies pouring money into lobbyist coffers as well as doctors and medical organizations, ensures the perpetuation of medicine through medication.

    If you don’t acknowledge that the western model has room for integration with cam then you’re ignorant. If western medicine ignores cam, it’s being negligent. You’re welcome to your opinions but speaking as someone who’s in the cam field I have first hand experience with seeing the benefits of some cam. It’s only a matter of time before the western approach integrates.

  • Honu

    I get it. You don’t like any non western approved medical approach. That said I disagree completely with your notion that just because negative studies exist supposedly disproving a cam modality, it doesn’t stop people from buying. Why do you think people keep going to accupuncturists, massage therapists and other cam practitioners? If it was truly a bust and people believed there was no merit or benefit i doubt very much that cam field would continue to grow the way it has. Much of the benefits that these modalities offer are difficult to measure using the tools and approach that western medicine uses to gauge such things.

    Alternative medicine may perhaps serve in some way as a shelter for shysters but let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that western medicine with an inflated sense of credibility is above their own version of bs nor have they cornered the market on effective medicine. The politics and the money involved in western medicine absolutely is a determining factor in what gets funded for research and the general approach to doing medicine in the first place. You can’t actually believe that the glut of pharmaceuticals for every condition and fabricated condition (restless leg syndrome? are you f’ing kidding me? The symptoms may exist but there’s no way it’s an isolated ‘disease’) is the most efficacious way to treat them.

    You don’t get to paint this picture with such a broad brush without some blow back.

  • Tuna Ghost

    As far as medical models evolving…..I wonder if you might explain, for example, why western medicine insists on treating people with insulin and other medications when holistic practitioners like Dr. Gabriel Cousins have shown they can nearly cure people of adult onset diabetes by changing their diet?

    Actually I’m pretty certain western doctors will tell you all about the effects of your diet on your diabetes. They give you insulin you don’t, y’know, die.

    I wonder if you realize that just because a medical model ‘evolves’ it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s progressing.

    Western medicine has vaccines, treatments and cures for diseases that were untreatable or incurable a century, or even half a century, ago (diseases for which there is absolutely no evidence that CAM has had any effect on, although that is beside the point). That is progress. To argue otherwise is simply ridiculous.

    You’re welcome to your opinions but speaking as someone who’s in the cam field I have first hand experience with seeing the benefits of some cam.

    Then some decent evidence, i.e. real studies showing the effectiveness of these treatments, should be forthcoming, shouldn’t it?

  • Tuna Ghost

    As far as medical models evolving…..I wonder if you might explain, for example, why western medicine insists on treating people with insulin and other medications when holistic practitioners like Dr. Gabriel Cousins have shown they can nearly cure people of adult onset diabetes by changing their diet?

    Actually I’m pretty certain western doctors will tell you all about the effects of your diet on your diabetes. They give you insulin you don’t, y’know, die.

    I wonder if you realize that just because a medical model ‘evolves’ it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s progressing.

    Western medicine has vaccines, treatments and cures for diseases that were untreatable or incurable a century, or even half a century, ago (diseases for which there is absolutely no evidence that CAM has had any effect on, although that is beside the point). That is progress. To argue otherwise is simply ridiculous.

    You’re welcome to your opinions but speaking as someone who’s in the cam field I have first hand experience with seeing the benefits of some cam.

    Then some decent evidence, i.e. real studies showing the effectiveness of these treatments, should be forthcoming, shouldn’t it?

  • Honu

    “See, I would draw exactly the opposite conclusion there. Scientific medicine changes when confronted with new evidence”

    And at the time, the medical establishment had the same certainty they do today about how medicine should be administered and a 100 years goes by and they look back and say that perhaps they weren’t so correct as they thought. That’s the point.

    Do you honestly believe that eastern medicine hasn’t changed in 3000 years? Of course there have been improvements. They’ve even integrated some western approaches but the efficacy of TCM is such that the foundation remains. They are not shitting in their drinking water for god’s sakes and the medicine is not based on faith. For you to say that makes me seriously doubt your understanding of the eastern model and demonstrates an ignorant bias.

    But because you’re calling out the holistic approach, let’s look at a typical western approach to a condition. Western medicine’s go-to approach for cancer is let’s dump toxic chemicals into the body and expose it to high frequency radiation that for all intents and purposes kills the body slowly in hopes of killing the cancer before the body dies. It may not be bloodletting but it ain’t sophisticated either.

    And to answer your question, no, balancing the humors and bloodletting have not worked and therefore it was stopped. Humor balancing and bloodletting are all outdated WESTERN approaches to medicine not eastern.

  • Honu

    Western medicine has vaccines, treatments and cures for diseases that were untreatable or incurable a century, or even half a century, ago (diseases for which there is absolutely no evidence that CAM has had any effect on, although that is beside the point). That is progress. To argue otherwise is simply ridiculous.

    Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not a black and white guy here. I’m not throwing western medicine under the bus. Of course there have been great advancements with the western approach. Haystack is using an incident to paint with a broad brush saying because someone fooled a cam convention into letting him present a ludicrous ‘therapy’ that therefore all cam is to be disregarded.

    “Then some decent evidence, i.e. real studies showing the effectiveness of these treatments, should be forthcoming, shouldn’t it?”

    I will be happy to provide links to studies of cam that show their effectiveness. At the same time there are studies showing they have no effectiveness. Western medicine deals with this kind of thing also especially with the pharmaceuticals.

  • Haystack

    Exactly. I have confidence in evidence-based medicine because it *does* revise its practices when confronted with new evidence. By contrast, you never hear about alt med modalities being abandoned in the light of negative findings. What that tells me is that the people selling it will continue to do so regardless or whether or not it works.

    Certainly you would be very hard pressed to argue that western medicine has not improved in the last hundred years.

    Our methods for treating cancer are indeed primitive, and will probably be compared to bloodletting 100 years from now, but it does save lives. My grandmother survived breast cancer thanks to western medicine. My grandfather delayed treatment of colon cancer so that he could try some all-natural miracle cream, and he’s dead now. I have no patience for those who take advantage of the suffering of cancer patients under chemotherapy as a way to make a buck off of miracle cures.

    It strikes me as contradictory to say that, say, acupuncture must work because it has been practiced for ages, but the same is not true of humor balancing because that is a “western” approach. If humor balancing could be used for centuries and not work, then it stands it reason that the same might be true of traditional eastern approaches.

  • Haystack

    “Haystack is using an incident to paint with a broad brush saying because someone fooled a cam convention into letting him present a ludicrous ‘therapy’ that therefore all cam is to be disregarded. ”

    No, I’m just saying that the integrative medicine conference being fooled demonstrates that poor standards of evidence are being applied by at least some in that field.

  • Haystack

    That’s an argument from popular opinion. Leeching didn’t work, but people kept doing it for hundreds of years. Would you disagree that it would be possible for someone run a successful business selling an inert placebo, based on clever marketing alone?

    Acupuncture and massage do have an effect that derives from being touched, relaxed, calmed, etc… If you compare acupuncture patients to a control group, you do indeed get results. At the same time, if you compare an acupuncturist who is just randomly sticking needles into a patient to one who is doing it according to energy medians and what not, you find no difference. So, the theory behind that which makes acupuncture acupuncture hasn’t panned out. It’s often the case that one could get the same effect, at less expense, by relaxing at spa. ‘

    The US government has a publicly-funded organization, the NCCAM, which exists just to find alt med studies that have supposedly been suppressed. It has produced almost no positive results. If what you say is true, the NCCAM would have offered forth a cornucopia of new treatments.

    Now, I don’t care if a modality is “western” or “eastern.” I just insist upon proof of efficacy.

  • Haystack

    “While I wouldn’t turn to an accupuncturist to sew my arm back on after it’d been ripped off in a combine, western medicine has not been as effective for preventative care. ”

    That’s the thing–“western” medicine delivers in instances where the outcome is easily demonstrable. It cures or vaccinates diseases and mends injuries. Many of the alt med claims are so vague as to be meaningless. We see supplements, for example, that promise to “promote overall well being.”

    I agree with you that medicine must be holistic in the sense that it must consider diet, lifestyle, the doctor-patient relationship, etc. At the same time, what is often described as “holistic” is some flavor of vitalistic energy model, which reduces medicine to balancing humors, the flow of chi, or whatever.

    And of course I agree with you that we are plagued by corrupt drug companies, a dysfunctional health care system, and all of that. I just want everyone to be held to the same standard. Whether you’re selling a “supplement” or a pharmaceutical, you should have to show that it works and that it is safe before you can market it as a health product.

  • Hadrian999

    so do you need a license?

  • Hadrian999

    so do you need a license?

    • Honu

      If you’re asking me that question, yes, it’s a state wide certification as well as a national certification.

      • Hadrian999

        actually I was just being a wiseguy about wanting to practice ass reflexology

  • Honu

    If you’re asking me if marketing sells crap then I would say yes, an expensive and extensive marketing campaign can sell garbage. Look at Justin Beiber or the Jonas Brothers.

    It seems that our going ’round and ’round with our postings is centered on proof of efficacy. And I think that’s a fair requirement even if the proof of efficacy is the scientific method which demonstrates just one particular approach that is an agreed upon standard. I would like to offer this in regards to western medicine’s track record of proof of efficacy.

    Only 15% of standard medical procedures have ever been held to scientific scrutiny and only 1% of the articles in medical journals are based on verifiable scientific research, according to David Eddy, M.D.,Ph.D., the doctor who coined the term “evidence based” medicine.

    My argument with you, from my perspective, is not about cam is better than western medicine or vice versa. I know I’ve shown my hand by responding with alot of emotion supporting cam but truthfully i can only speak to the results I’ve gotten in my particular field of expertise which is repetitive injury, range of motion issue, acute and chronic myofascial pain. I’ve seen alot of clients who come to me with all manner of soft tissue problems. Many have consulted western doctors who prescribe the same 4 treatments:
    pain killers, cortisone shots, physical therapy and surgery. Many people I see have tried one or a combination of these 4. Pain killers mask the issue, cortisone shots break down connective tissue weakening the myofascia/joint for years, physical therapy seems to primarily focus on strengthening an area and surgery has very iffy results with soft tissue related injuries not to mention it can be unnecessary. Myofascial realignment by working to create space in hypertense tissue with movement will so often restore range of motion and reduce pain that it amazes me that so few doctors seem to recommend it. Yet the mainstream treatments don’t actually treat the issue. And on a personal note, I am always having to defend my work from doubters…hence my passionate postings. I’m done with our debate but I wanted to write one last response.

  • Honu

    If you’re asking me if marketing sells crap then I would say yes, an expensive and extensive marketing campaign can sell garbage. Look at Justin Beiber or the Jonas Brothers.

    It seems that our going ’round and ’round with our postings is centered on proof of efficacy. And I think that’s a fair requirement even if the proof of efficacy is the scientific method which demonstrates just one particular approach that is an agreed upon standard. I would like to offer this in regards to western medicine’s track record of proof of efficacy.

    Only 15% of standard medical procedures have ever been held to scientific scrutiny and only 1% of the articles in medical journals are based on verifiable scientific research, according to David Eddy, M.D.,Ph.D., the doctor who coined the term “evidence based” medicine.

    My argument with you, from my perspective, is not about cam is better than western medicine or vice versa. I know I’ve shown my hand by responding with alot of emotion supporting cam but truthfully i can only speak to the results I’ve gotten in my particular field of expertise which is repetitive injury, range of motion issue, acute and chronic myofascial pain. I’ve seen alot of clients who come to me with all manner of soft tissue problems. Many have consulted western doctors who prescribe the same 4 treatments:
    pain killers, cortisone shots, physical therapy and surgery. Many people I see have tried one or a combination of these 4. Pain killers mask the issue, cortisone shots break down connective tissue weakening the myofascia/joint for years, physical therapy seems to primarily focus on strengthening an area and surgery has very iffy results with soft tissue related injuries not to mention it can be unnecessary. Myofascial realignment by working to create space in hypertense tissue with movement will so often restore range of motion and reduce pain that it amazes me that so few doctors seem to recommend it. Yet the mainstream treatments don’t actually treat the issue. And on a personal note, I am always having to defend my work from doubters…hence my passionate postings. I’m done with our debate but I wanted to write one last response.

  • Honu

    If you’re asking me that question, yes, it’s a state wide certification as well as a national certification.

  • David

    Heheheh!! The irony is that the ass IS a place with many benefits – if we weren’t so obsessed with sitting on it in embarrassment all the time! A very important massage point for relieving stress (you would not believe just how much tension you can store up in your twin cheeks!) – and even light spanking has known health benefits! Would i make up something like that? I think we should all have our asses massaged! :-D

  • David

    Heheheh!! The irony is that the ass IS a place with many benefits – if we weren’t so obsessed with sitting on it in embarrassment all the time! A very important massage point for relieving stress (you would not believe just how much tension you can store up in your twin cheeks!) – and even light spanking has known health benefits! Would i make up something like that? I think we should all have our asses massaged! :-D

  • A Scientist

    Cry me a river. The fact that this threatens your 12-year “career” of providing placebo therapy to gullible people gets you zero sympathy from me or any other rational individual. Whether you believe your own BS or not, the fact remains that it’s BS. The only difference your belief makes is whether you are a willful charlatan or a self-deluded fool.

    If you honestly think your “therapy” is more effective than science-based medicine, put your money where your mouth is: conduct a scientifically valid, double-blind clinical trial and have your results published in a reputable medical journal so other researchers can attempt to reproduce your results. That’s how REAL medicine works. If you can’t (or won’t) do that, you have no right to call the crap you do “medicine”.

    No one with a half a brain gives a crap what you BELIEVE – the only thing that matters is what you can PROVE. Provide scientific proof that your treatment produces repeatable, measurable results and it WILL be accepted by the Western (science-based) medical establishment. But, I seriously doubt that you or anyone else in your line of work would be willing to subject your cash cow to that level of scrutiny, even if you have the first clue (let alone the academic credentials) on how to set up and conduct a valid clinical trial (a possibility I find extremely unlikely)

    The only jackholes around here are you and your fellow witch doctors.

  • A Scientist

    Perhaps the fact that you have to constantly defend your work from doubters should give you a clue that your work provides doubtful benefit.

    Your comments, reliance on logical fallacies and anecdotal evidence, general scientific illiteracy, and attitude of denial demonstrate a textbook case of true believer syndrome. I feel sorry for you, and more sorry for the deluded fools who you “treat”.

  • Hadrian999

    actually I was just being a wiseguy about wanting to practice ass reflexology

  • Ksdreger

    The truth eventually comes out just out of natural sharing of information.

    The humor in me is not that it bashes holistic bodywork but that the mechanism that allowed such a hoax either doesn’t even read the papers in question or doesn’t do so with critical thinking. The basis for it being done as holistic is just that it’s the least understood and so easiest to fake.

  • caseinpoint

    “To compare eastern and western medicine is to compare apples and oranges.”

    A meaningless statement. Knowledge is knowledge. “Eastern” and “western” are just subjective labels. This is a false dichotomy based on some misguided notion of Eastern “exoticism.” That fact of the matter is that medicine must be subject to clinical evidence. As Carl Sagan once said, “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” Without such evidence, and with a reliance upon anecdotal evidence alone, it’s no more legitimate or factually based than faith healers or snake oil salesmen.

  • Anonymous

    The company can always say that the Western medical system is trying to keep her quiet, which does not affect the results much. Never seem to get a med alt mode is ignored because it has proven not to work. St. John’s wort has been shown not to treat depression, but people still buy it for that reason.

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