Space City Skeptics

The Official Blog of the Houston Skeptic Society

Reports Show Increasing Numbers of Americans Use Alternative “Therapies”

with 3 comments

I ran across this news article this morning:

38% of Adults Use Alternative Medicines: Study Prompts Critics to Warn of Therapies’ Risks”

One of the things I found interesting in the article was that it included chiropractic treatments in the list. Even though most skeptical people immediately agree homeopathy and weird food supplements are bogus, many often take a step back when it comes to chiropractics, siting personal experiences with pain relief. Even educated skeptics are susceptible to anecdotal evidence. I recently spent an hour trying to explain to my mother and aunt the history of chiropractic care, anecdotes, regression to the mean, and placebo effects. My aunt seemed interested, but my mom dismissed me out of hand, because her ‘doctor’ had helped her, many times. (I might add, this discussion took place while we were waiting for her pre-op examination for a cornea transplant. She’s not against real medicine.)

This story was refreshing because the writer didn’t pull any punches when quoting doctors and scientists’ strong language referring to alternative medicines as fraud, and calling the American public ‘gullible’. Usually, this is only found in scientific or skeptical journals, not in the mainstream media. It also discusses the current fad of antioxidants and how studies have shown no benefit. (Whatever happened to oat bran?)

Enjoy, and pass it along to those who are willing to listen.

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Written by Geek Goddess

December 11, 2008 at 9:51 am

3 Responses

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  1. You beat me to this one. I’m post-call and was planning on mentioning it after a lengthy recuperation period.

    skepticpedi

    December 11, 2008 at 11:11 am

  2. What’s the deal with distrust in traditional Western medicine? Why is it that the dis-/mis-trust seems to be rising despite decades of fruitful and life-altering discoveries produced by Western (scientific) medicine?

    mike D

    December 12, 2008 at 11:33 am

  3. Because most of the benefits are not obvious. One of the biggest things going against scientific medicine is that is has been so succesful. You don’t seem crippled kids with polio anymore for example, so people are quick to downplay the benefit of the polio vaccine.

    skepticpedi

    December 12, 2008 at 12:16 pm


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