Monday, November 05, 2007

None dare call it quackery

(With apologies to John A. Stormer). In yesterday’s edition of an ongoing series on alternative medicine Panda Bear compares and contrasts alternative and mainstream methods on several levels. Both traditions, for example, construct models to describe the how and why of biological processes. The difference, of course, is that conventional medicine refines its models over time to conform to new scientific observations while much of alternative medicine does not. As Panda Bear notes:

“Meridians” make sense when your knowledge of the body is based on religious superstition and mysticism. Once you discover the true function of blood vessels and nerves, however, it is time to put away your belief in qi, a spiritual construct that as a metaphor for disease has no basis in real physiology.

Is academic medicine listening? Almost a century ago Abraham Flexner urged medical education to get rid of the woo. Nowadays, though, the leaders (well, maybe there are two or three exceptions) in medical education seem unwilling to take a stand. The task is left to a few bloggers who choose to call quackery what it is at the risk of being labeled narrow minded fuddy-duddies or Pharma shills.

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