Re: [asa] Consensus science

From: Jack <>
Date: Sat Aug 29 2009 - 01:16:36 EDT

It is possible, that the effect you report here is what is behind the placebo effect. It is not enough to say, "if it works, it works," there needs to be an explanatory mechanism behind it for it to be scientific. I am not trying to imply in anything that I said that acupuncture or chiropractic is dangerous or useless. Cameron was using the increasing popularity of these practices as an example of how the consensus opinion is wrong, but in my opinion this was a very bad example because the consensus is based on scientific opinion, and the popular opinion is pseudoscientific, for lack of a better term.
  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Schwarzwald
  Sent: Friday, August 28, 2009 3:56 PM
  Subject: Re: [asa] Consensus science

  Heya Jack,

  A note: I'm not all that enthused with "alternative medical practices" myself, whatever they may be. I've heard some interesting anecdotes, but for my own part I tend to put at least a bit more stock into mainstream therapies.

  That said, I don't think the issue is as clear-cut as you say. I decided to check out if there have been any studies indicating acupuncture actually works. Sure enough:

  "The study showed that acupuncture increases the binding availability of mu-opioid receptors in regions of the brain that process and weaken pain signals -- specifically the cingulate, insula, caudate, thalamus and amygdala. By directly stimulating these chemicals, acupuncture can affect the brain's long-term ability to regulate pain, the study found."

  Now, I'm not a big fan of science journalism (and I have a healthy skepticism of scientists reporting on their research too), so take this with a grain of salt - at least if you trust the reports about that helping. But at the glance I took, it seems that there's at least recognition that acupuncture could honestly be achieving some valid results. (Chiropractors, I didn't look into much.) I could care less what chi is or what mystical principles acupuncture is based on - if it works, it works. And if it seems to work, it warrants investigation. Even use.

  I think Cameron could have picked some better and less controversial examples to drive his point home, but I don't think he's completely off-base on this.

    There are so many things wrong with this paragraph it is hard to know where to begin. Chiropractic and acupuncture are considered "alternative" medical practices, for good reasons. First there is no scientific basis to them. I have never seen an electronmicrospy of Chi, nor a Chi gel, or fMRI of Chi states. Western Medicine, for all its flaws, is based on science; anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, etc. Acupuncture is based on mystical principles. Chiropractic is based on a philsophy that almost all modern chiropractic practioners have abandoned. The other difficulty is a lack of clear definitions. When someone does a study of chiropractic techniques, they are rarely rigourous in defining exactly what the manipulation is. There are just about as many manipulations as there are practitioners. I find it surprising that you place higher authority in the general public, "everyone goes to chiropracters", and congressman, than you do on the "consensus" medical opinion. I guess that tells us a lot about you.

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Received on Sat Aug 29 01:17:52 2009

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