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Alternative Medicine Gaining Polularity?

 
 
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MrRon
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07 June 2009 14:51
 
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SkepticX
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08 June 2009 05:12
 

No surprise, since very few people are remotely good skeptics, and the number one cause of homelessness and bankruptcy is overwhelming medical debt. I can’t really blame people for looking to alternatives (though I’d encourage people to muster up a bit of intellectual discipline and do a better job of choosing them). If they go to a doctor with even a fairly mundane problem and they haven’t had their insurance for long, they can be dropped, or their insurance company might refuse to abide by their own contract because of an alleged failure to report an existing condition (may not have been diagnosed, just some symptoms reported and entered into the medical records).

It seems the best way to survive the current US “health care” system is to avoid using any care at all until you’re certain you’re dying (so your records are clean) and then try very very hard to be dying of something that’s covered, avoiding any kind of non-textbook malady or symptomology. Once you’re dropped, or coverage for your “allegedly” necessary non-textbook procedure is rejected (what the hell do doctors know about such things anyway), you’re pretty much fucked.

So I can understand why alternative medicine is gaining in popularity.

Byron

 
 
 
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eudemonia
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08 June 2009 06:31
 

And that science cannot yet explain the placebo affect.

And antecdotal evidence.

And confirmation bias.

Alternative medicine has a long history in front of it yet.

 
 
 
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zelzo
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10 June 2009 09:28
 
eudemonia - 08 June 2009 10:31 AM

And that science cannot yet explain the placebo affect.

And antecdotal evidence.

And confirmation bias.

Alternative medicine has a long history in front of it yet.

The scariest thing about “alternative” is there is no oversight to insure you get what you pay for.  Even a bottle of multiple vitamins or calcium supplements may not be what you think they are. I take a few supplements, mainly calcium with magnesium and a few vitamins but how do I actually know what I am ingesting. (I try to buy from “reputable” companies.)

It is time for the Feds to regulate this stuff.  With billions of dollars spent, people need to know what they are getting.

I’m with Byron on this one. Our healthcare system is in the sewer. “Alternative” at least gives people hope for something better.

Lindajean

 
 
 
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SkepticX
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10 June 2009 10:28
 
zelzo - 10 June 2009 01:28 PM

I’m with Byron on this one. Our healthcare system is in the sewer. “Alternative” at least gives people hope for something better.


And in many cases placebos work. They seem to be far more effective than I think most skeptics (and medics) are comfortable admitting ... not that I agree with the marketeers by any means.

Byron

 
 
 
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eudemonia
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11 June 2009 10:25
 

Yes they do. The ole mind over matter eh?

 
 
chris madden
 
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chris madden
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12 June 2009 00:12
 

One good thing about placebos is that they don’t have any unpleasant side effects (Before you say that that’s because they don’t have any effect at all, they do have a measurable positive effect, which is why they are so interesting).

 
 
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SkepticX
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12 June 2009 05:13
 
chris madden - 12 June 2009 04:12 AM

One good thing about placebos is that they don’t have any unpleasant side effects (Before you say that that’s because they don’t have any effect at all, they do have a measurable positive effect, which is why they are so interesting).


Well, we do have nocebos though. Nocebos are the “substance” behind voodoo and such, what substance there is, anyway.

Byron

 
 
 
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nv
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13 June 2009 16:17
 
SkepticX - 10 June 2009 02:28 PM

And in many cases placebos work. They seem to be far more effective than I think most skeptics (and medics) are comfortable admitting ... not that I agree with the marketeers by any means.

Byron

The placebo effect is fascinating. It can involve environmental factors and a seemingly unlimited variety of applications—not just medicines. I have a sister-in-law who used to do feng shui design in Southern California, and much of her work made a lot of sense on a psychological level. I have a feeling that she actually bought into the magic of it, as well, which seems harmless enough. And I have no doubt that her clients felt better somehow, as they paid her well and kept her employed for a couple of decades.

On the other hand, the nocebo effect, much less studied, also can be potent. Dean Adell has spoken at length about imagined problems with silicone implants and IUDs. It’s fairly controversial, but he claims that people, if they suspect that a product is harmful, can tend to get sick—truly ill.
http://www.skepdic.com/nocebo.html

What do we do with this information? I don’t know, but I think it’s worth a lot more study, and it would seem to me to lead logically to advances in hypnotherapy. Self-hypnosis techniques have helped me tremendously over the years—I guess I’m just an introvert and a sucker for the easy, free, highly effective, quick fix.

 
 
Traces Elk
 
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Traces Elk
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19 June 2009 09:00
 

Hey, I admit I’m an asshole. Though I could try to make a case for having some weird variant of Autistic Spectrum Disorder, I choose not to make excuses for myself. I claim to be afflicted with HID (High Intelligence Disorder), an under-appreciated phenomenon in medical archives. People who find solace in Feng Shui may or may not be afflicted with this disorder. It depends. Nothing is always. Everything is sometimes.

 
 
M is for Malapert
 
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M is for Malapert
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19 June 2009 12:21
 
zelzo - 10 June 2009 01:28 PM

The scariest thing about “alternative” is there is no oversight to insure you get what you pay for.  Even a bottle of multiple vitamins or calcium supplements may not be what you think they are. I take a few supplements, mainly calcium with magnesium and a few vitamins but how do I actually know what I am ingesting. (I try to buy from “reputable” companies.)

Dr. Dean Edell’s father sold vitamins.  Edell says that there are just a couple of companies worldwide making vitamins.  Resellers just buy them, slap their own label on, and make whatever claims of superiority they feel like.

So someone’s $40 bottle of this or that fancy vitamin is just as good as a Walgreen’s generic bottle of the same thing.  They are very likely made by the same company and maybe even came from the same batch.

It’s still probably a good idea to buy from “reputable” manufacturers—whatever that means; do any of them test for content or that sort of thing?—but probably any vitamin or supplement not from a Mexican or Chinese healer who hands you the product in a cellophane bag is as good as any other.

It is time for the Feds to regulate this stuff.  With billions of dollars spent, people need to know what they are getting.

The problem is that in most cases they aren’t getting anything.  If “alternative” products had to go through the gold standard of blind prospective clinical trials, nothing would be found to happen.

I’m with Byron on this one. Our healthcare system is in the sewer. “Alternative” at least gives people hope for something better.

Actually “alternative” wastes people’s time by giving them that hope which lulls them into not taking aggressive action to demand health care as a right.  How can we waste anyone’s energy or money on useless crap like homeopathy which leaves them thinking they are doing something for themselves, when if they saw they are really being denied even hope (as the hugely vast majority of “alternative” treatments are hopeless), they might get mad enough to finally get fed up with the nonsense they’re fed about “socialized medicine” and “you don’t want the government dictating your health care”, etc. etc.

Isn’t false hope worse than no hope at all?  Isn’t that one basic plank of our opposition to religion?  “You can’t have it on earth, but if you follow our instructions, you’ll get everything when you’re dead.”  (“I’ll take Fark for $200, Alex.”  “Okay.  What celebrity recently railed against materialism while standing in front of his gold and marble palace, filled with priceless treasures, and wearing a jeweled crown and handmade Prada shoes?”  “That would be the Pope, Alex.”)

As usual I direct people to my favorite scientist, Dr. Robert Park, who publishes a weekly newsletter on pseudoscience and flimflam, including “alternative” medicine: http://www.bobpark.org

Or, just listen to Dr. Edell.  As he says, when your car breaks down you don’t go to an “alternative” mechanic.  Our bodies ought to be worth more than our cars.

[ Edited: 19 June 2009 12:40 by M is for Malapert]
 
 
M is for Malapert
 
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M is for Malapert
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19 June 2009 12:33
 
Traces Elk - 19 June 2009 01:00 PM

Hey, I admit I’m an asshole. Though I could try to make a case for having some weird variant of Autistic Spectrum Disorder, I choose not to make excuses for myself. I claim to be afflicted with HID (High Intelligence Disorder), an under-appreciated phenomenon in medical archives.

It’s under-appreciated and seldom recognized because most “medical professionals” have a different syndrome, N-to-LID.  They also fit right in with other Godly folk (mostly), go to church as regularly as everyone else (i.e. not as much as they claim, but they do claim enough attendance to show they think it’s important), and forgot all their physics after the freshman year of college.

Most doctors and their colleagues are just well-trained technicians, much like auto mechanics.

 
 
 
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wahoo
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19 June 2009 16:46
 

I think most doctors are actually pretty smart. 

Unfortunately many do not do as much as they could to keep current and evidence-based in their practices. 

And some of us remember more than a little physics.

 
 
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nv
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19 June 2009 17:56
 

M is for Malapert, I tried to e-mail you and it didn’t go through. So I tried to p.m. you and was informed that your in-box is full.

Anyway, it’s terrific to see you back around and I hope to be able to reconnect with you soon   -Dave/homunculus/UZ

 
 
 
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nv
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19 June 2009 17:57
 

Wahoo, that’s a nice skeptical expression on your face—good to finally see you.

 
 
 
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zelzo
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01 July 2009 12:33
 

“M is for Malapert”
Dr. Dean Edell’s father sold vitamins.  Edell says that there are just a couple of companies worldwide making vitamins.  Resellers just buy them, slap their own label on, and make whatever claims of superiority they feel like.

So someone’s $40 bottle of this or that fancy vitamin is just as good as a Walgreen’s generic bottle of the same thing.  They are very likely made by the same company and maybe even came from the same batch.

It’s still probably a good idea to buy from “reputable” manufacturers—whatever that means; do any of them test for content or that sort of thing?—but probably any vitamin or supplement not from a Mexican or Chinese healer who hands you the product in a cellophane bag is as good as any other.

Some vitamins and supplements have UBC codes on their labels that indicate they are what they say they are and have been tested for verification—-that Vitamin C contains the specified amount of Vitamin C—-say 500 MG—for example.

The problem is that in most cases they aren’t getting anything.  If “alternative” products had to go through the gold standard of blind prospective clinical trials, nothing would be found to happen.

By regulating I mean the FDC should hold companies accountable for what is in the product.  If I buy a bottle of calcium with Vit D and zinc in it, the bottle should have the exact amounts they claim to have.  The FDC does not regulate the industry at all.  Unlike drugs:  if I buy a bottle of aspirin, I know exactly what I am getting.

Actually “alternative” wastes people’s time by giving them that hope which lulls them into not taking aggressive action to demand health care as a right.  How can we waste anyone’s energy or money on useless crap like homeopathy which leaves them thinking they are doing something for themselves, when if they saw they are really being denied even hope (as the hugely vast majority of “alternative” treatments are hopeless), they might get mad enough to finally get fed up with the nonsense they’re fed about “socialized medicine” and “you don’t want the government dictating your health care”, etc. etc.

Isn’t false hope worse than no hope at all?  Isn’t that one basic plank of our opposition to religion?  “You can’t have it on earth, but if you follow our instructions, you’ll get everything when you’re dead”...

....

Or, just listen to Dr. Edell.  As he says, when your car breaks down you don’t go to an “alternative” mechanic.  Our bodies ought to be worth more than our cars.

I don’t think it is one or the other. Simply because someone uses homeopathy (for example) does not mean they are not interested in reforming the health care system. And it is not a waste of energy for them if the substance does improve their well-being.  People can use homeopathy and get better.  Perhaps it is a placebo, perhaps they are lucky, perhaps it works for them on some other level.  You can say the same for chemotherapy as well. For some it helps them fight cancer and for others it sends them into the grave. Regardless, what people already know is that the health care system is dysfunctional.  People using alternatives are not necessarily any less wise to this fact than those who do not use alternatives. The system is broken. Period. Nothing to debate. So we need a health care system that works and that gives people a choice over which kind of health care they want to use. If someone wants to use alternative to fight indigestion or headaches or PMS and opt out of allopathic measures, that should be their choice.  The power of the placebo has proven efficacy.  Unfortunately, our cars and their engines tend to be immune to it.

 
 
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