Things that used to be on a blog.
Fifteen advances in medicine. What has SCAM done?
June 21, 2012
Medical Journal was first published in 1840. A few years
ago the magazine conducted a reader poll to find the fifteen most
important advances, discoveries or breakthroughs in medicine since
then. Here is the list:
- Discovery of DNA structure
- Evidence Based Medicine
- Germ Theory
- Oral Rehydration Therapy
- The Pill
- Risks of Smoking
- Tissue Culture
Alternative medicine supporters will be especially horrified at
the list, because not only does it contradict much of quackery by
including germ theory and antibiotics, admit to the reality of
mental illness by including the first anti-psychotic drug, highlight
the value of evidence and recognise the value of vaccines, but one
of altmed's most demonised villains (Louis
Pasteur) was associated with two of the things in the list.
I invite representatives of alternative medicine to provide their
own list of the fifteen greatest discoveries in Supplementary,
Complementary and Alternative Medicine (or SCAM, for short). Here
are my suggestions, in no particular order:
- The freedom to "cure" cancer in Tijuana, out of the reach of
US health authorities (see a typical clinic
- EDTA chelation, as a method of extracting money from the
parents of autistic children.
- Expert witness fees.
- The opportunity to be paid to find what you want to find
when doing research. (cf
Dr Andrew Wakefield)
- The power of the word "natural" to imply "safe" and
- The axiom of organic chemistry that the dangers of an
"ethyl-" compound can be assumed to be the same as for a
"methyl-" compound, because the names rhyme. (cf
Dr Boyd Haley)
- The profitability of selling water and calling it
- The power of religion to deflect criticism, engender fear
and provide credibility.
- The gullibility of the general public, coming from ignorance
- The variability of conditions like MS, where natural
fluctuations in symptoms and regression to the mean can look
- The use of trade practices and intellectual property laws to
stifle criticism (see examples
- The fact that the causes of SIDS and autism are as yet
unknown, allowing vaccines to be blamed.
- The public's fear of being labelled as mentally ill, thus
providing a fertile field for the treatment of psychosomatic
illnesses such as Multiple Chemical Sensitivity and Morgellons
- The public's fear of mental illness itself, allowing its
existence to be denied and its signs to be blamed on inadequate
nutrition, poor parenting or some other external cause.
- The reluctance of politicians, health bureaucrats, insurance
executives and doctors to stand up and loudly declare "That's