Professor Fabrizio Benedetti is the most famous and almost certainly also the most influential researcher investigating the physiology of placebo effects. In a recent commentary, he asks whether placebo research is fueling quackery, as quacks co-opt its results. The answer to that question is certainly yes. A better question is: How do supporters of science counter the placebo narrative promoted by quacks, in which placebos represent the “power of the mind to heal the body”?
As results from randomized clinical trials show that alternative medicine is nothing more than placeboe, quacks like to argue that they are "harnessing the power of placebo" with their methods and that placebos have real healing effect. They've even gone so far as to make up a genomics-based concept: The placebome. But is there such a thing as the placebome?
The Academic Consortium for Integrative Medicine and Health is a group dedicated to promoting "integrative medicine" in medical academia that has, unfortunately, been very successful over the last two decades. Recently, it published a report that promotes acupuncture as a tool to combat the opioid epidemic Let's just put it this way. The ACIMH exaggerates the evidence rather obviously.
I write quite a bit about placebo effects. Of course, part of the reason is that placebo effects are just plain interesting from a scientific perspective. After all, if one can relieve symptoms with inert sugar pills or other ineffective interventions because of the power of expectation, that’s something we should want to understand. Also, given the mission of this blog, another major reason is that placebo effects are inextricably bound to the question of whether the alternative medicine modalities that are being “integrated” into medicine through the brand of integrative medicine actually have any useful therapeutic effects or not, …
Blogging is a funny thing. Sometimes the coincidence involved is epic. For instance, as I do on many Mondays, yesterday I crossposted a modified and updated version of a post from a week ago from my not-so-super-secret other blog. This time around, it just so happened to be a post about what I like to refer to as the placebo narrative. As is my wont, I described in the usual ridiculous level of detail why that narrative is so popular among promoters of pseudoscientific medical treatments and, more importantly, why that narrative is approaches black hole density bullshit. It’s something …
Meet Dr. Jason Fung. Dr. Fung is unhappy with skeptics and thinks they're hypocrites behaving like religious fanatics. Unfortunately for him, his arguments are a combination of the worst methodolatry of evidence-based medicine combined with rants against conventional medicine and a defense of quackery.
Back when advocates of “alternative” medicine were busily trying to legitimize their quackery by first renaming it “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM), long before CAM “evolved” into “integrative medicine,” they really believed that if their favorite woo were to be studied scientifically it would be shown to be efficacious. Thus was born the Office of Alternative Medicine in the NIH, which later became the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), which more recently became the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), thus utterly purging itself of the word “alternative.” Both reflecting and influenced by NCCIH, over …
Investigators at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center reported the results of a trial of acupuncture for xerostomia (dry mouth) secondary to radiation therapy for head and neck cancers. It was a negative trial, but investigators still tried to spin it as positive, but with a twist. There was a large difference between results found at M.D. Anderson and the second site in China. What could be going on?
In May JAMA published a negative study of acupucnture and in vitro fertilization. Dr. Carlo Giovanardi, a physician and leader in acupuncture in Italy, was not pleased. As acupuncturists frequently do, he is now making excuses.
A recent episode of The Zoo:San Diego featured acupuncture quackery at the San Diego Zoo. But it's even worse than that. Tembo the elephant was subjected to more than just acupuncture quackery.