How not to choose a keynote speaker for a "scientific assembly"

One of the consistent themes I’ve maintained on this blog over the years is to combat in my own small way in my own small corner of the Internet, the influx into medical academia of medicine based not on science, but on prescientific notions of disease, vitalism, and magic, such as homeopathy (which is sympathetic magic), reiki (which is faith healing), and the like. In general, we expect professional societies to maintain and support the scientific basis of medicine. Unfortunately, increasingly, medical societies have been failing us.

Here’s just a short reminder of yet another example. This time, it’s the American Academy of Family Physicians, specifically the its invitation of Dr. Andrew Weil to be its keynote speaker at its 2012 AAFP Scientific Assembly:

The 2012 Assembly will commence with a captivating, inspirational keynote address from Dr. Andrew Weil speaking on “Why Our Health Matters.” Dr. Weil is one of the world’s foremost authorities on health and wellness. He founded the field of integrative medicine which endeavors to create an intersection of alternative and conventional medicines.

Dr. Weil is in demand. He was ranked the #1 choice for keynote speaker by recent Assembly attendees.

Lovely. The keynote speaker of the AAFP this year is someone who has started up his own fellowships of woo (and is trying to offer board certification for them) and who has demonstrated that he doesn’t like evidence-based medicine. In many ways, he is the most important figure in the movement to “integrate” quackery with scientific medicine. What’s even more depressing is that he was the number one choice of AAFP members who attended recent Assemblies.

So, the “integration” of pseudoscience and quackery with medicine continues apace, this time aided and abetted by the AAFP. When will we ever learn? As Mark Crislip so aptly put it, “If you integrate fantasy with reality, you do not instantiate reality. If you mix cow pie with apple pie, it does not make the cow pie taste better; it makes the apple pie worse.”

Or, as I put it:

If you integrate quackery with real medicine, you do not produce better medicine. Instead, you turn quackery into medicine and medicine into quackery, which is exactly what’s happening in medicine right now. Much of integrative medicine represents a return to the past, and not in a good way. Rather, it’s a return to the past where the four humors qi determined health and disease, miasmas unspecified and unknowable “toxins” were responsible for many diseases, and praying to God (or the gods) for healing energy healing and reiki was the order of the day. That’s what we’re “integrating” into scientific medicine.

Time to go back to my vacation/staycation. At least I have a baseball game to go to tonight, where I can chill, have a beer, and root for the proverbial home team. I must admit that I have found a rather interesting study about chemotherapy that I might read and dissect for relaxation, given that I note that the alt-med types are already harping on it as “proof” that “chemotherapy doesn’t work.” Or not. At least, not today, which is a day to relax.