Ian Harris explains that more than half of commonly performed surgical operations may be placebos. Adequate studies using a blinded control group are essential. Ian Harris, a Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, wrote a book titled Surgery, The Ultimate Placebo. I haven’t… read more "Ian Harris on “Surgery, the Ultimate Placebo”"
Taopatch Offers Everything… Except Science
Taopatch promises all kinds of vague benefits, but the mechanism of action is implausible and what they call scientific proof is no such thing. It promises to improve your health and wellness. Who wouldn’t want that? Immediate health benefits. Why wait for things that work slowly? Delivery via skin patch:… read more "Taopatch Offers Everything… Except Science"
Alternative Medicine: Placebos for Pets
A skeptical veterinarian reviews the evidence for alternative medicine for pets, and concludes it’s mostly placebos. She thinks she’s adjusting the horse’s subluxations. She isn’t; she’s practicing placebo medicine.Alternative medicine is accepted by many humans, but we may forget that it is also imposed on their pets. Veterinarian Brennen McKenzie… read more "Alternative Medicine: Placebos for Pets"
Homeopath Quits Homeopathy but Thinks the Homeopathic Approach Has Value
A former homeopath shows that there’s nothing scientific about homeopathy; in fact, it contradicts all known scientific principles. Nevertheless she finds value in the homeopathic approach to the patient and thinks all providers can learn from it. Natalie Grams is a German MD who was an enthusiastic practitioner of classical… read more "Homeopath Quits Homeopathy but Thinks the Homeopathic Approach Has Value"
The Magic Feather Effect: Placebos and the Power of Belief in Alternative Medicine
In her book The Magic Feather Effect, journalist Melanie Warner covers placebo research, shows that alternative medicine is placebo medicine, takes a “try it yourself” approach, and gives belief and anecdotes more credit than they deserve. In the movie Dumbo, a little elephant with large ears can fly by flapping them like… read more "The Magic Feather Effect: Placebos and the Power of Belief in Alternative Medicine"
Cure Is About Caring, Not Curing: Placebos, Alternative Medicine, and Patient Comfort
In a recent post, Dr. Gorski criticized two articles by Jo Marchant on placebos and alternative medicine. He mentioned that she had a book coming out and suggested I might want to review it. The title is Cure: A Journey into the Science of Mind Over Body. I don’t know of any evidence… read more "Cure Is About Caring, Not Curing: Placebos, Alternative Medicine, and Patient Comfort"
Answering Our Critics, Part 2 of 2: What’s the Harm?
Last week I posted a list of 30 rebuttals to many of the recurrent criticisms that are made by people who don’t like what we say on SBM. I thought #30 deserved its own post; this is it. At the end, I’ve added a few items to the original list. What’s the… read more "Answering Our Critics, Part 2 of 2: What’s the Harm?"
The Living Matrix: A Pseudoscientific Infomercial for Energy Medicine
The Living Matrix: A Film on the New Science of Healing is an atrociously bad movie that falls squarely in the tradition of What the Bleep Do We Know? In his book Nonsense on Stilts, Massimo Pigliucci characterized the “Bleep” movie as “one of the most spectacular examples of a… read more "The Living Matrix: A Pseudoscientific Infomercial for Energy Medicine"
Incorporating Placebos into Mainstream Medicine
Alternative medicine by definition is medicine that has not been shown to work any better than placebo. Patients think they are helped by alternative medicine. Placebos, by definition, do “please” patients. We would all like to please our patients, but we don’t want to lie to them. Is there a… read more "Incorporating Placebos into Mainstream Medicine"
But What about Acupuncture?
“Alternative” medicine is by definition medicine that has not been scientifically proven and has not been accepted into mainstream scientific medicine. The question I keep hearing is, “But what about acupuncture? It’s been proven to work, it’s supported by lots of good research, more and more doctors are using it,… read more "But What about Acupuncture?"