Alternative medicine: No humility in the face of disease

Panda Bear MD has posted the second part of his series about the irrationality behind much of “alternative” (a.k.a. non-evidence-based) medicine. He makes an excellent point:

At no time however, will your physicians ever promise a magic cure, a therapy that will definitively fix the problem with no ill effects leaving alone the precarious balance of your fantastically complicated body. At best they will promise good results with minimal and easily tolerated side effects. At worst the therapies they will reluctantly propose are almost as bad as the disease they will ameliorate and the subject of, for example, chemotherapy or a risky aortic repair is broached with dread to a patient who must be made to understand that real medicine is not as it appears in the popular media.

At a philosophical level, leaving aside the utter ridiculousness of Reiki healers shooting sacred energy from their fingers, this is the difference between real medicine and Complementary and Alternative Medicine whose practitioners, as they don’t treat real pathology, have never developed humility in the face of disease. It is easy, for example, for your acupuncturist to promise a perfect cure because they’re not really treating anything, just some nebulous mumbo-jumbo like a dysfunction of your ability to receive pure qi from the heavens.

I’ve often pointed out that it’s the practitioners of alternative medicine who are the real arrogant ones, thinking as they do that they should not be bound by the same standards of evidence as “conventional” doctors because they “know” their woo works. I may have to expand on that and Panda Bear’s point later this week.