Friday, September 07, 2007

Taken to task for my criticism of AMSA

Wednesday I criticized AMSA’s promotion of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) and suggested that the organization might be just a wee bit disingenuous in its purported concern for evidence based medicine. This drew questions from two commenters.

Ladybird asked: “How do you know the chakra methods don't work?” That’s the wrong question because it shifts the burden of proof. The burden of proof should rest on those who make the claim. The appropriate questions should be “How do we know the chakra methods do work?” and “Can you show me an anatomic or physiologic basis for chakras?” Put another way, don’t CAM claims warrant the same burden of proof and degree of skepticism that we apply to the products of Big Pharma?

Paige Hatcher, a KU medical student and blogger who is taking an AMSA fellowship, cites a diversity of viewpoints within the membership of AMSA:

With over 10,000 pages on our website, and 70,000 members, there are many individual members and projects that may differ from AMSA's overall goal of teaching evidenced based medicine.

And this is supposed to explain away a double standard? It doesn’t. A standard of rigorous skepticism for the promotions of drug companies alongside one of nearly unconditional acceptance and credulity for numerous unproven, biologically implausible and even dangerous claims of alternative medicine sends a troubling double message.

Paige, as an enthusiastic participant in the leadership of AMSA you have a unique opportunity. I challenge you to make a difference. Encourage the boosters of CAM in your ranks to apply the same standards of evidence to their methods (e.g. chelation therapy, purging, fasting, homeopathy) as they would to the products of drug companies. This will help the cause of EBM and restore credibility to your organization.

1 comment:

#1 Dinosaur said...

Hear, hear!