Monday, October 08, 2007

Media credulity towards alternative medicine

If woomeisters put the good name of academic medicine behind their claims those claims must be true. If they admit that quackery really does exist they must be appropriately skeptical. Right? Wrong, but don’t tell that to CNN which recently published this credulous piece: 5 Alternative Medicine Treatments That Work.

The article well illustrates two things I’ve been harping on for a while, these being the harm done when academic medicine promotes quackery and the distortion of health issues by popular media. Needless to say it would have been fun to write a debunking piece about this article. I thought about it the other night but was just too tired. Fortunately Mark Hoofnagle and Orac came through. Although both posts are worth reading in their entirety Orac’s conclusion best summarizes what’s really wrong with the recent infusion of pseudoscience into academic medicine:

The bottom line is that the infiltration of woo into academic medicine is a threat to evidence-based medicine because it lends the prestige of scientific medicine to modalities that are not evidence-based, thereby promoting the belief that they are on an equal footing, even though the vast majority of them are not. In so doing, it blurs the line between science and non-science, between scientifically supported treatments and quackery. Moreover, the faculty of the institutes, divisions, and departments dedicated to CAM in medical schools are, by and large, not made up of skeptics, but of true believers, be they M.D.s or not, who apply a veneer of skepticism and science to their studies and curriculae and then give interviews to credulous reporters like Elizabeth Cohen to publish on

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