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Complementary and alternative medicine Medicine Quackery

Help a fellow skeptical doctor out

Earlier this week, I did a couple of posts about applying evolutionary principles to the meme of complementary and alternative medicine. In one of them, I mentioned how CAM therapies never seem to “go extinct.” They may wax and wane in popularity and “evolve” into other therapies, but they never go extinct. PalMD of Whitecoat Underground has noticed the same thing and has posed a question and a challenge:

So today I issue a challenge to both of my readers. Find me examples of “alternative” medicine that have been abandoned because evidence showed them to be failures. Post away, but please leave evidence, or your comment won’t be very useful.

An excellent question. There are many examples of “conventional” medical treatments that have been abandoned in the face of evidence showing that they don’t work or may even be harmful. That’s not what this question is looking for, though. Thus far, unfortunately, PalMD hasn’t gotten much in the way of useful responses. So I thought I’d help a fellow skeptic out and post his challenge here. Please post your examples with evidence either here, at Whitecoat Underground or, even better, at both blogs in order to inspire the most discussion.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

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