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Alternative Medicine, Prayer, and Faith Healing

Do prayer and faith healing have any basis in reality? Are they effective at all, or just based upon fantasy?
  1. Book Reviews: Compliment...

Vitamin Industry: Scientific Analysis of Vitamins too Scientific
Science is successful and reliable because it insists that tests be as objective as possible - this means doing blind tests to eliminate bias and replicating tests elsewhere to ensure that one set of results was not due to error. Such tests often puncture traditional beliefs and vested interests, which leads to people complaining about the tests when they don't like the results.

Government Funding of Quackery
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.

Homeopathic Suicide: Proving that Homeopathic Remedies are Quackery
When major health insurance companies in Belgium announced that they would start providing coverage for homeopathic care, skeptics were incensed. They argued that homeopathy is worthless, but the insurance companies insisted that since people liked homeopathy, that made it OK. So the skeptics announced that they would kill themselves via homeopathy.

Chiropractic Dangers: Death Leads to Jury Verdict Requiring Warnings
On January 16, 2004, a five-person jury in a Canadian inquest issued a landmark verdict, finding that the death of Lana Dale Lewis was caused by her 'high chiropractic neck manipulation.' Chiropractic doctors fought hard to prevent this, but in the end they lost and have to warn their patients about the dangers of what they are doing.

Prayer Has No Effect on Heart Patients
Guess what? There is no scientific evidence that praying for someone can improve their health. Surprised? Religious believers may be surprised - nonbelievers and skeptics won't see anything strange about this, but believers are constantly told that prayer has a real impact and even that science supports this. Thus, the new study may come as a real shock to many who have been deceived.

Funding for Cancer Research Cut; Acupuncture Funding Remains Steady
What's more important, fighting the 'war' on terrorism or fighting cancer? Cancer kills far more people than terrorism, but the administration continues to invest large amounts of money in Bush's Iraq debacle while cutting the money spent on cancer research. Both of these facts will lead to more deaths for no apparent gain. Not even Bush's popularity gains from any of it.

Natural Health, Natural Medicine: Andrew Weil and Peddling Nonsense
Purveyors of so-called 'natural' medicines and 'natural' health treatments almost invariably say and do things which are unjustified in the light of scientific evidence. This is not to say that such medicines and treatments always have no value at all, it's just that much more is claimed about and for them than should be.

Chiropractic Medicine and Community Colleges
Chiropractic has never had a very good reputation in the medical community. It has managed to do a little better in recent years and some practitioners wisely limit themselves to physical therapy of the back. The basics of chiropractic, though, remain pseudoscientific - which is why supporters are working hard to create the appearance of academic credibility.

Alternative Medicine
By some estimates,"alternative medicine" is an industry doing between $15 and $20 billion annually - and growing! A report in New England Journal of Medicine back in January 1993 showed that about one-third of American adults had sought some sort of unorthodox therapy in the preceding year. With that kind of influence, it's valid to wonder what it is, why it's so popular, and how effective it is.

Alternative Medicine: Compromise Between Religion & Science
There is a tremendous amount of money to be made in so-called 'alternative' medicine today. Billions are spent every year and its popularity only seems to be increasing - but why? What is it about alternative medicine that causes people to eschew proven, scientific medical treatments?

Alternative Medicine: Why Pills and not Needles?
Americans appear to be very fond of so-called 'alternative' medicine, and alternative medical practitioners go to great lengths to portray themselves like scientific medical practitioners. There is, however, one interesting difference: scientific medicine relies heavily on injections, but alternative medicine doesn't (or hardly) uses them at all. Why?

Criticizing Prayer
One person's adventures in attempting to criticize prayer ads in the local paper.

Characterization of Quack Theories
What tends to separate "quack theories" from the good ones?

Florida woman's "miraculous" cure
"On May 5, 1995, NBC-TV's "Unsolved Mysteries" featured a Fort Lauderdale, Florida, woman who, a few years ago, allegedly experienced a "miraculous" healing, through prayer, of a breast lesion suspected of being cancerous."

God in the CCU?
From Gary P. Posner: "Randolph C. Byrd, M.D., a San Francisco cardiologist, endeavored to answer these questions: (1) Does intercessory prayer (IP) to the Judeo-Christian God have any effect on a CCU patient's medical condition and recovery? (2) How are these effects manifested, if present?"

Faith Based Drug Treatment
A bill to amend the Public Health Service Act to permit faith-based substance abuse treatment centers to receive Federal assistance...

Let Us Pray
"Not only Christianity, but most religions, urge prayer. Prayer is a practice that cannot survive the harsh spotlight of logic."

Medical Practice Enters a New Age
Review of Larry Dossey's Healing Words by Gary P. Posner

Nonhealing a Nonexistent Tumor
"It is clear that Peter Popoff's televised claim of a documented "miracle," nearly three years after the fact, is without foundation. "

Power of Prayer?
Gary Posner criticizes an NBC-TV newsmagazine's cynically skewed reporting on prayer in medicine

Science and Miracles
Theodore Drange argues that scientists, working as scientists, must assume naturalism and not believe in miracles.

Prayer Study-in-Progress
"...does replacing "God-answered prayer" with "psychic power," for which the quality of evidence is comparably low, moot the downside of physician engagement in unscientific practices? "

Some Thoughts About Faith Healing
From Stephen Barrett, MD: "Can anything be done about faith healing? Believers don't see it as a problem, while most nonbelievers don't see it as a priority issue and have little sympathy for its victims."

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