Skeptical Inquirer — The Science of Medicine
Herbal supplements are big business. The industry has managed to maintain a “mom and pop” image to the public, the righteous underdog constantly under attack by Big Pharma. In reality, the herbal product industry is just another drug industry, one selling products that are poorly regulated and likely don’t work for their claimed indications.
The “mystery illness” has become a Rorschach test of sorts: people see in the illness a diagnosis that fits their worldview or pet cause. But now that the dust has settled somewhat on this outbreak, what can we reliably say about it?
The group Friends of Science in Medicine has recently formed in Australia, and they now have over 400 professional members. They felt the need to come together over a disturbing trend—the infiltration of rank pseudoscience into once respected universities.
To patients suffering from an incurable disease a new idea represents one thing: hope. Science, by contrast, cares only about what works and is dispassionate, which is easily portrayed as heartlessness. Hopeful nonsense thus has a public relations advantage over pitiless science every time.
If you believe the hype, then you want them in your food; you want to take them as pills; and you want the maximum most powerful antioxidants that can be found in nature. Unfortunately, the evidence does not support the claim that there are any health benefits to taking antioxidants.
Stem cells have tremendous potential, and they will likely be playing an increasing role in medical therapies over the next twenty years. But reality has yet to catch up with the hype.
We must first define what acupuncture actually is before we can ask whether acupuncture works. This is not as easy as it might seem.