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Austin Cline

Government Funding of Quackery

By October 31, 2006

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The government funds some strange things sometimes, and that's not necessarily a problem. It doesn't even need to be a problem when it funds strange medical research - after all, you can't be sure what will be the next great treatment. It is a problem, however, when the government funds research into treatments that are clearly ineffective, if not downright dangerous.

Kimball C. Atwood IV writes for Skeptical Inquirer:

The NCCAM [National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine] was created by a few advocates who believed in implausible or disproved health claims ... and who felt that the scientific "establishment" was unfairly suppressing them. As such, the Center's role has been more one of advocacy than of science. ... After more than ten years and $200 million, OAM/NCCAM-sponsored research has not demonstrated efficacy for any CAM method, nor has the Center informed the public that any method is useless. It continues to fund and promote pseudoscience. It continues to be influenced by powerful ideologues. The problem with so-called Complementary and Alternative Medicine, in a nutshell, is that it is an assortment of implausible, dishonest, expensive, and sometimes dangerous claims that are exuberantly promoted to a scientifically naive public. The NCCAM, so far, has not been part of the solution.

Atwood's full article outlines just how dangerous and irresponsible so much of "complimentary and alternative medicine" can be. For example, the naturopathic Bastyr University AIDS Research Center has for years recommended the use of St. John's wort despite the fact that it is known to interfere with HIV protease inhibitors. How many people carrying the HIV have developed AIDS or have relapsed because of such a recommendation?

To all the actions of Bastyr University AIDS Research Center and its naturopath director Leanna Standis "irresponsible" and "dangerous" sounds far too lenient - but in America, things like naturopathy aren't required to adhere to the same rigorous standards as real medicine. "Complimentary" and "Alternative" treatments like naturopathy aren't simply quackery; they are beneath contempt. Yet the government continues to fund them.

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Comments
January 5, 2009 at 1:31 pm
(1) D.T. says:

Austin, you are either a moron or your hands are in the pocket of conventional medicine. Perhaps your subnormal intelligence has not enabled you to see that Bastyr university incorporates science and natural medicine to help treat diseases. When people eventually get burned out by harsh and even life-threatening modalities used by conventional medicine, they turn to what natural remedies. Since natural remedies are worthless, why not stop eating food and rely entirely on chemicals, you idiot.
Hope there is at least a drug to make people’s brains become active because, yours isn’t.

January 5, 2009 at 1:38 pm
(2) Austin Cline says:

Austin, you are either a moron or your hands are in the pocket of conventional medicine. Perhaps your subnormal intelligence has not enabled you to see that Bastyr university incorporates science and natural medicine to help treat diseases.

That’s an ad hominem + a Genetic Fallacy + a second ad hominem, but no substantive argument or serious rebuttal to anything that was written. Do you, for example, agree with the recommendation of using St. John’s Wort by people suffering from AIDS?

When people eventually get burned out by harsh and even life-threatening modalities used by conventional medicine, they turn to what natural remedies. Since natural remedies are worthless, why not stop eating food and rely entirely on chemicals, you idiot.

Straw Man argument.

Food is chemicals, by the way, so we have here a False Dilemma Fallacy as well as a Straw Man.

Hope there is at least a drug to make peopleís brains become active because, yours isnít.

Did you imagine that a comment filled with nothing more than fallacies and ad hominems would be a worthwhile contribution here? Did you imagine that such a comment would be treated by anyone as credible or serious? That seems hard to believe, so I’m left wondering what, exactly, you thought you’d accomplish.

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