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”?
This week, JAMA Internal Medicine published a clinical trial purporting to find that acupuncture helps stable angina. Here's a hint: It doesn't. It's a bait-and-switch study that used "electroacupuncture" instead of acupuncture with poor blinding and lack of consideration of prior plausibility.
Quackademic medicine takes a big leap forward at Thomas Jefferson University with its new Department of Integrative Medicine and Nutritional Sciences.
Last week, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center issued a press releast touting its integrative oncology program. It's a perfect example to demonstrate the formulaic nature of such press releases and the distortions behind them used to sell the "integration" of quackery into medicine.
Two prominent advocates of "integrative medicine" bemoan the "practice drift" they see in their specialty, in which doctors drift farther and farther away from their training. What this means is (although it would never be admitted) is that these "integrative medicine" doctors are drifting further and further into quackery. Too bad this is a feature, not a bug.
We know that alternative medicine use is associated with poorer survival in cancer, but what about the use of so-called "complementary medicine," "complementary and alternative medicine," or "integrative medicine"? Bad news. There's still a negative correlation between the use of pseudoscientific and unproven medicine and cancer survival, even when used with conventional cancer therapy rather than instead of it.
In 2014, the Society for Integrative Oncology first published clinical guidelines for the care of breast cancer patients. Not surprisingly, SIO advocated “integrating” dubious therapies with oncology. Last week, the most influential oncology society, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), endorsed a 2017 update to the SIO guidelines, thus endorsing the “integration” of quackery with oncology and paving the way for insurance coverage. The advance of quackademic medicine in oncology continues apace.
I’ve documented the infiltration of quackery into academic medicine through the “integration” of mystical and prescientific treatment modalities into medicine. Here, I look at a seemingly small incident, a veritable pebble in the quackademic avalanche. Is it too late for the pebbles to vote?
Over the last 25 years, medical academia has increasingly embraced "integrative medicine" (i.e., the "integration" of pseudoscience and quackery with medicine). However, it has had help normalizing this new situation. That help comes from the press. Here's yet another example.
For a quarter of a century, quackery and pseudoscience have been integrated into medicine through the construct of "integrative medicine" and into academic medicine in the form of quackademic medicine. Unfortunately, there has been little pushback. That's why it's good to see a recent article in The Surgeon decrying this phenomenon. We need more of this.