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#31 Old 02-15-2016, 05:26 AM
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Kind of ridiculous, and kind of elitist, for a westerner to declare a 2000 year old eastern treatment as quackery because it is difficult to study using western scientific methods.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/ar...n-acupuncture/

http://undsci.berkeley.edu/article/acupuncture
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#32 Old 02-15-2016, 05:37 AM
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Kind of ridiculous, and kind of elitist, for a westerner to declare a 2000 year old eastern treatment as quackery because it is difficult to study using western scientific methods.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/ar...n-acupuncture/

http://undsci.berkeley.edu/article/acupuncture
Acupuncture is no more difficult to study than any other treatment. It's been tested and it fares no better than a placebo.

ETA: Apparently, "faux acupuncture" is pretty effective, too!
http://articles.latimes.com/2006/feb...th/he-briefly6

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#33 Old 02-15-2016, 05:42 AM
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Knowledge is preferable to ignorance.

@Crouton , you should read Carl Sagan's The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark.

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In the book, Sagan aims to explain the scientific method to laypeople, and to encourage people to learn critical and skeptical thinking. He explains methods to help distinguish between ideas that are considered valid science and those that can be considered pseudoscience. Sagan states that when new ideas are offered for consideration, they should be tested by means of skeptical thinking and should stand up to rigorous questioning.
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#34 Old 02-15-2016, 05:47 AM
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Acupuncture is no more difficult to study than any other treatment. It's been tested and it fares no better than a placebo.
as with the first link that Ledboots posted, you can't really do a double blind experiment with acupuncture, as the person doing the acupuncture, or pretend acupuncture, would know that they are doing either one...unlike dishing out pills which are placebo, or real.
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#35 Old 02-15-2016, 05:56 AM
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as with the first link that Ledboots posted, you can't really do a double blind experiment with acupuncture, as the person doing the acupuncture, or pretend acupuncture, would know that they are doing either one...unlike dishing out pills which are placebo, or real.
Since sham acupuncture does well in these experiments, it would seem that a practitioner's knowing that he DOESN'T actually know how to do acupuncture has a beneficial effect on the subject's reduction of symptoms... which doesn't say much for the objective effectiveness of acupuncture.

I don't buy that acupuncture can't be studied because it involves a mystical force which is inherently unknowable. That's like saying that the Ouija board didn't work because spirits conveniently only communicate with believers.
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#36 Old 02-15-2016, 06:05 AM
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as your article said, I think it is partly the medical procedure, or the fake medical procedure...it creates an atmosphere where the receiver has confidence that they are going to be healed or helped with their pain.

I do think though that supernatural phenomena are next to impossible to study...as a believer in the supernatural. But I think acupuncture is probably only placebo.

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#37 Old 02-15-2016, 06:07 AM
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and to add; I think that the placebo effect is partly a supernatural phenomena.

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#38 Old 02-15-2016, 06:13 AM
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From the link I posted above:

"Although some aspects of acupuncture therapy (its efficacy and physiological mechanism) can be studied by science, this doesn't mean that scientific research supports or rejects the use of acupuncture as a medical treatment across the board. On the contrary, it means that science can tell us if, when, and how acupuncture works. So far, evidence supports its efficacy for some medical problems — especially certain kinds of pain. Research into how acupuncture relieves pain is still in its early stages and has not yet definitely answered the question. The study of pain is complex, in part, because it must rely on people's reports of their subjective experience. Studies of acupuncture are further complicated by the difficulty of finding an appropriate placebo. Despite these challenges, ongoing scientific research is likely to shed further light on acupuncture therapy."
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#39 Old 02-15-2016, 06:33 AM
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All I can say is - I've been having weekly acupuncture for the last month and I have had substantial reduction in the pain from arthritis in my hands (base of both thumbs). My neuropath also has me on an herbal tincture that has brightened my mood and helped me sleep.

Is this any better than traditional medicine? Who knows? But my next option was going to be cortisone shots into my thumbs and I wanted to try something less invasive and with fewer potential side effects.

Having acupuncture is quite an experience if you've never done it. It is not painless. It's not really painful, either, but there's definitely more of a physical experience than I had expected.

eta - the Arthritis Foundation strongly supports the option of acupuncture for pain relief of arthritis. It doesn't work for everyone. But for those who do find that it works, it's a medicine-free alternative.
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#40 Old 02-15-2016, 06:45 AM
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I read a few years ago about a study that was done about the placebo effect in which the subjects knew whether they were getting a sugar pill and it still worked . I think I read about it in The Economist .
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#41 Old 02-15-2016, 06:48 AM
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it's a shame as garlic and onion are such wonderful foods.
I totally agree, I use garlic and onion in practical everything...I garlic!

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#42 Old 02-15-2016, 06:49 AM
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and to add; I think that the placebo effect is partly a supernatural phenomena.
How so?
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From the link I posted above:

"Although some aspects of acupuncture therapy (its efficacy and physiological mechanism) can be studied by science, this doesn't mean that scientific research supports or rejects the use of acupuncture as a medical treatment across the board. On the contrary, it means that science can tell us if, when, and how acupuncture works. So far, evidence supports its efficacy for some medical problems — especially certain kinds of pain. Research into how acupuncture relieves pain is still in its early stages and has not yet definitely answered the question. The study of pain is complex, in part, because it must rely on people's reports of their subjective experience. Studies of acupuncture are further complicated by the difficulty of finding an appropriate placebo. Despite these challenges, ongoing scientific research is likely to shed further light on acupuncture therapy."
Exactly: it "works" because of the placebo effect-- which, as far as I'm concerned, means that it doesn't work.

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All I can say is - I've been having weekly acupuncture for the last month and I have had substantial reduction in the pain from arthritis in my hands (base of both thumbs). My neuropath also has me on an herbal tincture that has brightened my mood and helped me sleep.

Is this any better than traditional medicine? Who knows? But my next option was going to be cortisone shots into my thumbs and I wanted to try something less invasive and with fewer potential side effects.

Having acupuncture is quite an experience if you've never done it. It is not painless. It's not really painful, either, but there's definitely more of a physical experience than I had expected.
The problem with personal experience is that we tend to assign meaning to things which don't have meaning, to find patterns where there are none. If you believe that acupuncture works, that's great-- have acupuncture. As long as it's not putting you at any risk, there's no harm in it. I feel better after eating hot soup when I have a cold even though I know there's nothing in my soup which actually cures a cold. It still feels good, so I eat it. The danger comes when people who are seriously in need of medical care turn to "alternative" treatments instead of receiving treatment for cancer or other life-threatening conditions.
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#43 Old 02-15-2016, 06:54 AM
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How so?
Morpheus-"the mind makes it real"

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#44 Old 02-15-2016, 06:55 AM
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I read a few years ago about a study that was done about the placebo effect in which the subjects knew whether they were getting a sugar pill and it still worked . I think I read about it in The Economist .
This, exactly. That's the power of belief. I don't understand why we can't accept and appreciate this instead of saying that there must be some mystical healing force which lurks in sugar. The force is human belief. It's the same force which makes us hear ghostly sounds when we visit a creepy old house, or comforts us when we imagine that our loved ones are watching over us.
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#45 Old 02-15-2016, 06:57 AM
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I read a few years ago about a study that was done about the placebo effect in which the subjects knew whether they were getting a sugar pill and it still worked . I think I read about it in The Economist .
that probably because their subconscious still believed it was real medicine...they only knew it was a sugar pill at the conscious level, probably in their frontal cortex or whatever.
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#46 Old 02-15-2016, 07:05 AM
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that probably because their subconscious still believed it was real medicine...they only knew it was a sugar pill at the conscious level, probably in their frontal cortex or whatever.
I think that even the act of swallowing a pill can trick us into feeling something. We're conditioned to expect a reaction from the motion of putting a pill past our lips and swallowing it. It's the ritual. I knew junkies who would inject plain water to alleviate withdrawal symptoms simply because the ritual of preparing the needle helped them to feel better.

Our experience of things like pain, nausea, and emotion can be easily swayed. Nobody ever found that acupuncture set a broken bone or healed a wound because these are things with no link to our psychological state.
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#47 Old 02-15-2016, 07:15 AM
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The problem with personal experience is that we tend to assign meaning to things which don't have meaning, to find patterns where there are none. If you believe that acupuncture works, that's great-- have acupuncture. As long as it's not putting you at any risk, there's no harm in it. I feel better after eating hot soup when I have a cold even though I know there's nothing in my soup which actually cures a cold. It still feels good, so I eat it. The danger comes when people who are seriously in need of medical care turn to "alternative" treatments instead of receiving treatment for cancer or other life-threatening conditions.
If my personal experience (along with countless others) is that acupuncture helps ease pain, how is that assigning meaning to something that doesn't have meaning? I don't understand what you mean. Acupuncture for pain is considered a reasonable medical alternative.

It's pretty well documented that acupuncture works for some and not others, likewise cortisone shots work for some and not others, joint replacement works for some and not others, etc.

And when it comes to life-threatening conditions, I don't think anyone is arguing for acupuncture over chemotherapy, but you can certainly understand why someone might at least want to consider lower-risk alternatives, if there is time, rather than immediately accept standard medical advice, which often brings serious side effects. There's an article in our paper today that talks about how angioplasty has become controversial because it doesn't prevent heart attacks they way doctors expected when the procedure was invented. For an average cost of $27k, patients are not getting the health they were promised. Lifestyle changes like diet and exercise are at least as effective in preventing heart attacks as having a tube and stints run through arteries. Western medicine is hugely profitable, but we are not a healthy population. Imo, holistic approaches to health and medicine are much safer and should be included in any but the most immediately dire treatment plans.
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#48 Old 02-15-2016, 07:40 AM
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If my personal experience (along with countless others) is that acupuncture helps ease pain, how is that assigning meaning to something that doesn't have meaning? I don't understand what you mean. Acupuncture for pain is considered a reasonable medical alternative.
The NHS explains it well on their page about alternative medicine and the placebo effect: http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/complemen...bo-effect.aspx

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It's pretty well documented that acupuncture works for some and not others, likewise cortisone shots work for some and not others, joint replacement works for some and not others, etc.
You can find examples of any medical treatment not working for a particular individual, but this doesn't mean that all treatments are equally effective. Acupuncture, aromatherapy, healing crystals, and other alternative treatments have not been shown to significantly outperform placebos. It's a fairly straightforward process to determine whether or not a treatment has any benefit beyond a patient's belief in its efficacy, and conventional medical treatments must pass this test in order to be accepted by the medical community at large. Alternative treatments are encouraged by the medical community only as complementary treatments to be used alongside tried and tested medications and procedures.

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And when it comes to life-threatening conditions, I don't think anyone is arguing for acupuncture over chemotherapy
I'm thinking specifically of Andy Kaufman, but I'm sure there are many others less famous who rely too heavily on alternative medicine for the treatment of serious illness.

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Lifestyle changes like diet and exercise...
There are sound scientific reasons to believe in the objective benefits of a healthy diet, but eating well isn't an alternative to medical treatment, either.

This isn't to say that all medicines and procedures are of equal value, but in order to judge the value of ANY treatment, you need more to go on than your subjective experience because, quite frankly, your subjective experience is deceptive. (Not just yours, obviously-- all of ours, mine included.)
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#49 Old 02-15-2016, 07:42 AM
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Acupuncture works for many of our pregnant patients, even those who had to come off major medicines that are risky in pregnancy.

Reiki works, too. I'm a reiki practitioner and have seen and felt it work. Wait around for science to test everything (oh wait, Pluto isn't really a planet, and gravity has waves!) or not.
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#50 Old 02-15-2016, 08:20 AM
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Acupuncture works for many of our pregnant patients, even those who had to come off major medicines that are risky in pregnancy.

Reiki works, too. I'm a reiki practitioner and have seen and felt it work. Wait around for science to test everything (oh wait, Pluto isn't really a planet, and gravity has waves!) or not.
This is suspiciously reminiscent of spaveg's argument for raw foods: anecdotal evidence and a mistrust of science.

A rational look at reiki: https://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/reiki/
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#51 Old 02-15-2016, 08:28 AM
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Wait around for science to test everything (oh wait, Pluto isn't really a planet, and gravity has waves!) or not.
I've often wondered how people can berate science and its findings while actively using the fruits of its labor. Scientists are always 'at the drawing board'.

If you do not believe in science, don't quote any studies showing that certain meats and preparation methods may cause cancer.

Doctors used to believe:

-Bloodletting would alleviate ailments because evil spirits caused disease and would be drawn out with the blood
-Tobacco would relieve headaches, colds, etc.
-A lobotomy could help with mental illness
-A 'wandering womb' was the cause of many pathologies in women

Through science, understanding, and skepticism, we have found these to be false and appropriately (and thankfully) changed our thinking.

Instead of discussing in further detail, I'm just going to post a bunch of Carl Sagan quotes.


-The method of science, as stodgy and grumpy as it may seem, is far more important than the findings of science.

-Knowledge is preferable to ignorance.

-Science holds to no special vantage points or privileged positions.

-Abandoning science is the road back into poverty and backwardness.

-Ignorance feeds on ignorance. Science phobia is contagious.

-When the pseudoscientific hypothesis fails to catch fire with scientists, conspiracies to suppress it are deduced.

-[Pseudoscience] hypotheses are often framed precisely so they are invulnerable to any experiment that offers a prospect of disproof, so even in principle they cannot be invalidated.
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#52 Old 02-15-2016, 08:45 AM
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I've often wondered how people can berate science and its findings while actively using the fruits of its labor. Scientists are always 'at the drawing board'.

If you do not believe in science, don't quote any studies showing that certain meats and preparation methods may cause cancer.

Doctors used to believe:

-Bloodletting would alleviate ailments because evil spirits caused disease and would be drawn out with the blood
-Tobacco would relieve headaches, colds, etc.
-A lobotomy could help with mental illness
-A 'wandering womb' was the cause of many pathologies in women

Through science, understanding, and skepticism, we have found these to be false and appropriately (and thankfully) changed our thinking.

Instead of discussing in further detail, I'm just going to post a bunch of Carl Sagan quotes.


-The method of science, as stodgy and grumpy as it may seem, is far more important than the findings of science.

-Knowledge is preferable to ignorance.

-Science holds to no special vantage points or privileged positions.

-Abandoning science is the road back into poverty and backwardness.

-Ignorance feeds on ignorance. Science phobia is contagious.

-When the pseudoscientific hypothesis fails to catch fire with scientists, conspiracies to suppress it are deduced.

-[Pseudoscience] hypotheses are often framed precisely so they are invulnerable to any experiment that offers a prospect of disproof, so even in principle they cannot be invalidated.
No one is saying that science is bad or wrong. I am saying that science and knowledge are ever-evolving. The things that physicians do not know about how our bodies work far outweigh what they do know.
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#53 Old 02-15-2016, 08:48 AM
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This is suspiciously reminiscent of spaveg's argument for raw foods: anecdotal evidence and a mistrust of science.

A rational look at reiki: https://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/reiki/
That particular website is not my favorite. https://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org...e-by-veganism/

https://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org...udy-revisited/
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#54 Old 02-15-2016, 09:03 AM
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Those articles are written by two separate individuals. You can't discount the claims of one just because you disagree with the other. Anyway, aside from the remark about religious zeal, there's nothing offensive or inaccurate in that article. The author acknowledges that a diet high in fruits and vegetables and low in red meat is universally regarded as healthy, and that vegans have good arguments regarding ethics and environmentalism, and then offers a valid critique of those who overstate the health benefits of a plant-based diet. Something can't be true simply because we want it to be true. I am a dedicated advocate of veganism, but even I cringe when I hear people promoting a plant-based diet as an alternative to medical treatment or a failsafe talisman against disease.

That we haven't yet discovered EVERYTHING isn't an excuse to believe in ANYTHING. We can't just assume that every claim is a truth which hasn't been discovered yet.
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#55 Old 02-15-2016, 09:05 AM
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I've often wondered how people can berate science and its findings while actively using the fruits of its labor. Scientists are always 'at the drawing board'.

If you do not believe in science, don't quote any studies showing that certain meats and preparation methods may cause cancer.

Doctors used to believe:

-Bloodletting would alleviate ailments because evil spirits caused disease and would be drawn out with the blood
-Tobacco would relieve headaches, colds, etc.
-A lobotomy could help with mental illness
-A 'wandering womb' was the cause of many pathologies in women

Through science, understanding, and skepticism, we have found these to be false and appropriately (and thankfully) changed our thinking.

Instead of discussing in further detail, I'm just going to post a bunch of Carl Sagan quotes.


-The method of science, as stodgy and grumpy as it may seem, is far more important than the findings of science.

-Knowledge is preferable to ignorance.

-Science holds to no special vantage points or privileged positions.

-Abandoning science is the road back into poverty and backwardness.

-Ignorance feeds on ignorance. Science phobia is contagious.

-When the pseudoscientific hypothesis fails to catch fire with scientists, conspiracies to suppress it are deduced.

-[Pseudoscience] hypotheses are often framed precisely so they are invulnerable to any experiment that offers a prospect of disproof, so even in principle they cannot be invalidated.
So what used to be considered "modern" medical procedures have since been proven to be ineffective and very dangerous for patients? Ok then.

I think we're in agreement that skepticism and flexibility are probably the healthiest approaches to modern medicine. Like the angioplasty study I mentioned earlier, medicine is an-ever changing practice as science improves. Targeted therapies are replacing traditional chemotherapies that made people sicker than the cancers they were fighting, drugs approved for one disease are experimented for use on other diseases with varying successes, and drugs that cause serious side effects and death are pulled from the market at a disturbing rate. There are multitudes of failures, side effects, infections and addictions associated with the way our society approaches medicine. Personally, I would rather avoid as much modern medicine as possible and I will continue to seek natural, holistic options in addition to advice from MDs.
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#56 Old 02-15-2016, 09:14 AM
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Those articles are written by two separate individuals. You can't discount the claims of one just because you disagree with the other. Anyway, aside from the remark about religious zeal, there's nothing offensive or inaccurate in that article. The author acknowledges that a diet high in fruits and vegetables and low in red meat is universally regarded as healthy, and that vegans have good arguments regarding ethics and environmentalism, and then offers a valid critique of those who overstate the health benefits of a plant-based diet. Something can't be true simply because we want it to be true. I am a dedicated advocate of veganism, but even I cringe when I hear people promoting a plant-based diet as an alternative to medical treatment or a failsafe talisman against disease.

That we haven't yet discovered EVERYTHING isn't an excuse to believe in ANYTHING. We can't just assume that every claim is a truth which hasn't been discovered yet.
Neither can we believe that only what has already been proven is true.
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#57 Old 02-15-2016, 09:27 AM
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Neither can we believe that only what has already been proven is true.
Actually, we can. That's the only reasonable thing to do. We can certainly hypothesize about things we don't yet know. We can use the knowledge we have to determine what is likely to be true, what's probable. Then we can take our hypotheses and test them. That's how we learn, that's how we determine truth from fiction. Without this method, what means do we have to know what to believe and what to disregard?

There are a million unlikely claims out there, from ghosts to telepathy to astrology. It would be lunacy to assume they're all true. It's telling that whenever a belief in pseudoscience is questioned, believers offer criticisms of knowledge and science rather than evidence that their claims are accurate.
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#58 Old 02-15-2016, 09:35 AM
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Actually, we can. That's the only reasonable thing to do. We can certainly hypothesize about things we don't yet know. We can use the knowledge we have to determine what is likely to be true, what's probable. Then we can take our hypotheses and test them. That's how we learn, that's how we determine truth from fiction. Without this method, what means do we have to know what to believe and what to disregard?

There are a million unlikely claims out there, from ghosts to telepathy to astrology. It would be lunacy to assume they're all true. It's telling that whenever a belief in pseudoscience is questioned, believers offer criticisms of knowledge and science rather than evidence that their claims are accurate.
Don't you think it is rude to call another culture's beliefs pseudoscience? And you want to tell patients who are in pain daily that this relief method is pseudoscience that only works because you believe in it? Take the pain pills, they are proven to work (and also proven to be extremely addictive, cause bowel problems, are tested on animals, etc.)
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#59 Old 02-15-2016, 09:54 AM
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This is also a huge thing in Hindu culture, and it is mostly from religion. Brahman's in some parts of India aren't supposed to eat garlic or onions.
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#60 Old 02-15-2016, 09:59 AM
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Don't you think it is rude to call another culture's beliefs pseudoscience?
I don't feel that cultural beliefs are somehow above criticism or reproach. What's the alternative? Should we pretend that everything everyone believes is true, no matter how ridiculous or potentially dangerous the beliefs, out of sheer politeness?

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And you want to tell patients who are in pain daily that this relief method is pseudoscience that only works because you believe in it?
I'm not telling patients anything, but yes, that's what the placebo effect means. I didn't invent it. It's a well documented phenomenon.

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Take the pain pills, they are proven to work (and also proven to be extremely addictive, cause bowel problems, are tested on animals, etc.)
Yep. My argument isn't "all traditional medicine is 100% good in every way." My argument is that there's little to no evidence to support the efficacy of alternative medicine.
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