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Enemies of Reason Episode 2

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Another fine episode. It's hard to watch the section without Deepak and not be sure that he is actively lying and quite aware that he is doing so. Thanks to consperic for finding that.


 

Comments

I'm a fan (and proud atheist) but there's still something that rubs me the wrong way about this doc. While I agree with the call for more trials on homeopathic care I'm still perturbed by Dawkins overriding attitude. I was first introduced to "integrative medicine" when I picked up a book by Dr. Andrew Weil in highschool. It was in my mom's home library. She's a respiratory therapist and more a supporter of allopathic medicine than homeopathic but would at times grant me the fact that the "placebo effect" was science truth. My 12 yearold brother has complained of anxiety in the past year and feels better when given a boch flower remedy tablet (she turned to this first before Xanax).

Dawkins seems to be stating that there is more of an opportunity for the placebo effect to work in homeopathic medicine than in allopathic. Agreed. And that in less "life threatening medical treatments" homeopathy is successful largely because the doctor spends more than 8 minutes with a patient. Also agreed. Where I quibble with Dawkins is the way he focuses solely on allopaths in his truth pursuit (scientifically studied and approved).

Andrew Weil in "Health and Healing" writes of various studies where both allopaths and homeopaths failed in the healing process. As a med student in the late 60's Weil documented his studies on a particular pharmaceutical drug. His conclusions were that it did more harm than good. The company thanked him for his research and discontinued the drug for its intended purpose. Years later he saw the drug reintroduced for an unrelated illness (with the same side effects). He also writes of a natural healing center that accidentally used nightshade in an herbal tea remedy on its premises. It inadvertently made many clients sick but they (the clients) refused to see this. His conclusion by and large is that science and herbal medicine used for profit (or out of ignorance) has fatal (or at least unintended) consequences. His leaning is more towards an philosophy of integration.

Placebos have their place but so does penicillin. Allopathic treatments can harm the body when the practitioner is not treating the patient with the time and care a homeopath may give. Dawkins points out that patients of an alternative medical practitioner pay for this privilege. True, but this also evidence the shortcomings of allopathic care. Penicillin is deadly as a preventive treatment and incredibly useful in life threatening cases. We cannot just give science a free pass and stop listening to people. A holistic healer has much to learn from just listening. Holistic medicine is not just woo-woo. Sometimes it means examining the "whole" person to see where sickens lies. Science can be so small-minded it kills me. I guess I felt something was missing from this talk.

Also the gradual loss of video-audio sync in the file bugged the shit out of me. Science be damned!

user-pic

I wrote a rant last night but I guess it didn't go through. I'll attempt a repost now:

I'm a fan (and ever proud atheist) but there's still something that rubs me the wrong way about this doc. While I agree with the call for more trials on homeopathic care I'm still perturbed by Dawkins overriding attitude here. I was first introduced to "integrative medicine" when I picked up a book by a Dr. Andrew Weil in high-school. It was in my mom's home library. She's a respiratory therapist and more a supporter of allopathic medicine than homeopathy but would at times grant me that the "placebo effect" was science truth. My 12 yearold brother has complained of anxiety and feels better when given a boch flower remedy tablet (she turned to this first before Xanax).

Dawkins seems to be stating that there is more of an opportunity for the placebo effect to work in homeopathic medicine than in allopathic. Agreed. And that in less "life threatening medical treatments" homeopathy is successful largely because the doctor spends more than 8 minutes with a patient. Also agreed. Where I quibble with Dawkins is the way he focuses solely on allopaths in his truth pursuit (scientifically studied and approved).

Andrew Weil in "Health and Healing" writes of various studies where both allopaths and homeopaths failed in the healing process. As a med student in the late 60's Weil documented his studies on a particular pharmaceutical drug. His findings were that it did more harm than good. The company thanked him for his research and discontinued the drug for its intended purpose. Years later he saw the drug reintroduced for an unrelated treatment (with arguably the same plethora of side effects). He also writes of a natural healing center that accidentally used nightshade in a herbal tea remedy on its premises. It inadvertently made many clients sick but they refused to see this (thought it was a detox effect). Weil's conclusion by and large is that science and herbal medicine used for profit or out of ignorance have fatal (or at least unintended) consequences. His conclusion is leaning towards more of an "integration" philosophy. Placebos have their place but so does penicillin. Allopathic treatments can harm the body when the practitioner is not treating the patient with the time and care a homeopath may give. Dawkins points out that patients of an alternative medicine practitioner pay for this privilege. True, but this also evidences the shortcomings of allopathic care. Penicillin is deadly as a preventive treatment but incredibly useful in life threatening cases. I know that Dawkins is not making the claim that all western treatments are fantastic but rather that science is the desirable approach to treating serious illnesses. A holistic healer however can do much good just by listening. Holistic means examining the "whole" and this is something that is sadly absent from a lot of health care. Science-minded can be small-minded too. I guess I felt something was missing from Dawkins' analysis. He comes off unctuous sometimes.

And I was bothered by the lack of synch especially when it carries over with each segment. I shouldn't have said shit though. A better curse would have been 'Science H. Logic'!

http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=4304

Here is what norm posted on placebo the other day.

I don't totally disagree that people should have some options to provide a placebo and some pleasant bedside manner or some massage. The problem comes when there are claims of actual healing and fees similar to what it would cost to get medical treatment.

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The boch flower remedy I alluded to as a placebo is inexpensive. I know that some treatments are anything but and I would concede that there is a danger for exploitation in many fields.

As for bed side manner I think that misses my point. It's not just, as Dawkins points out, that the patient is made to feel special, it's that more is learned about a patient in a thorough session. I am skeptical of people's intentions and about the value of different types of alternative treatments but I appreciate it when my doctor recommends a neti pot rather than antibiotics when I complain of a sinus infection.

For me alternative remedies usually means common sense preventive care. I don't buy snake oil but I am wary of an over medicated society that seeks treatments from practitioners who work in a profit driven system that can fail to heal the sick (even though they have science on their side).

In your sinus infection senario, I think that profit isn't as much of an issue as is "making people feel better" Doctors prescribe meds so often because patients insist to be treated even if what they have is just a little anxiety and something that will clear up in a few days.

Really all people just need is rest and good nutrition most of the time. When those aren't enough, medicines are really the only thing that helps. I get my placebo from Orange Juice.

What about the idea of trying to maximize the placebo effect. In other words, feeling good= good healing environment?

If you read the article norm posted, there is some evidence that the placebo effect = the healing you would do otherwise + the belief that you are healing more than you actually are.

So it isn't a magical mind body healing power enacted by belief as some seem to think.

Not to say its a bad thing, It's a good thing to have a positive attitude when you are sick. It simply can't be tolerated that we should be charged for a cure and given a belief. The idea that we should have to pay people to deceive us is pretty sad, and when done for the terminally ill is pretty exploitative.

There's an ethical component to it as well. Doctors can't go about just basically lying to patients (well, maybe only Dr. House). Alt-meddies don't seem to have a problem with ethics.

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