Friday, June 18, 2010

Another call for defunding of alternative medicine research

---comes from Steven Salzberg at the Science Business blog.

From that post I just learned that there's not only the NCCAM but also the OCCAM, another national pseudoscience promotional agency. From what I can see OCCAM doesn't push as much hard core woo as NCCAM but it's still a waste.

The post also notes that the guv'ment has spent $3.1 million on Reiki. Here are his comments on NCCAM's weasel words about homeopathy:

In addition to funding pseudoscience, NCCAM also “educates” the public about alternative medicine. I put “educate” in quotes because much of what NCCAM has on its website is misinformation, which serves to mis-educate rather than to inform. For one example (and there are many),under homeopathy the website states that

“homeopathy is used for wellness and prevention and to treat many diseases and conditions.”

Note how carefully this is worded: homeopathy is "used for prevention", from which one might easily infer that homeopathy is effective. It is not.

NCCAM’s homeopathy page goes on to state that

“most analyses have concluded that there is little evidence to support homeopathy as an effective treatment for any specific condition; although, some studies have reported positive findings.”

Again, note the careful wording of that last phrase: strictly speaking, it is true, but let me state it a bit more accurately: “some poorly designed, poorly controlled studies with small patient groups, published in low-quality journals, have reported positive findings.”

Homeopathy is based on principals that scientists know to be false...

He concludes:

So, to Francis Collins (Director of NIH) and Kathleen Sibelius (Secretary of Health and Human Services, in which NIH resides), there you have it: an easy way to cut $250 million from the NIH budget.

Great try, Steven, but it ain't gonna happen in this administration.

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