Tuesday, August 14, 2007

No woo is beyond the pale

---for the National Center for the Promotion of Pseudoscience (NCPP) or, if you prefer, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). It’s been a while, at least a few weeks, since I’ve picked on the NCPP. Maybe I had grown weary and needed to give it a rest. But today Orac stoked the flames with this exposé in the wake of their 2008 budget announcement.

He makes this point that I’ve hammered on many times before:

Indeed, there appears to be no woo so implausible, so without basis in science, that NCCAM won't take it seriously. Homeopathy? Check. Qi gong? Check. Craniosacral manipulations? Check. In children, yet! Shamanic healing? Check! Distant healing? Check!

And this:

Here's the problem. Negative studies don't matter. If a study shows that a particular CAM "remedy" does no better than placebo, CAM practitioners don't believe it. Can anyone point me in the direction of a single "alternative" remedy that, after multiple negative studies, has been abandoned?

The Orac challenge! But worse yet not only do the practicing woomeisters not abandon debunked woo, neither does the NCCAM! Take chelation. (Please!). In spite of high level evidence against the use of chelation in the treatment of cardiovascular disease the NCCAM is funding a large multi-center trial (one which, as I demonstrated before, is riddled with conflicts of interest and methodological flaws). And, of course, there’s echinacea.

The NCCAM just won’t give up on anything. In this editorial they, in effect, rationalize away all their negative studies and explain why they have to do them all over again. They even propose to fund omics analysis on previous negative studies of CAM modalities.

And on and on it goes.

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