Science journals are shilling for the placebo effect? Why is that bad?
Orac (Respectful Insolence) here:
I do, however, feel obligated to deal with one painfully inappropriate action by a major science journal left over from 2014. It happened in an issue that came out just before Christmas, and, with all the festivities, being on call last week, and having houseguests; so, unfortunately, I just didn’t get around to addressing it, either here or on my not-so-super-secret other blog (where I might crosspost this later in the week). The journal is Science, which, as most readers know, is one of the two most prominent general science journals out there, the other being Nature. Actually, it’s appropriate that I mention Nature in this discussion because Nature pulled exactly the same bone-headed move three years ago, almost to the day.
Yes, Nature shilled for traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) by publishing an advertising supplement promoting it sponsored by a Japanese supplement manufacturer. Now it’s Science‘s turn to do the same in the form of—you guessed it!—an advertising supplement entitled The Art and Science of Traditional Medicine Part 1: TCM Today — A Case for Integration. Worse, Science appears to be going Nature one better—two better, in fact. This is the first part of what is promised to be a three part series.
Looks like I have blog material for a while.
Here is a mini three-part series you will not have to wait for:
Note 1: How people feel about their problems—especially if they are old and have chronic illnesses—is great deal of the problem. My Chinese neighbours are convinced of the value of Chinese medicine, and their seniors seem happy with it, so… tell me again what the problem is … ?
Note 2: One of the best attested effects in medicine, no matter what tradition, is the placebo effect: When people think they are getting better, they very often start to get better. No, the placebo effect does not cure cancer. But it plays so great a role in most of the aches and pains of life that no one should be surprised if Chinese medicine works, especially among those whose lifestyle is oriented around its underlying principles. See also: Mind: Just expecting treatment improves brain activity in Parkinson’s patients
Note 3: Like Orac, O’Leary for News also had a lot of stuff to do over the holidays but it all just wasn’t interesting enough to tell you about, if you weren’t there. So instead,
See also: Neuroscience: Illness is partly in your mind, so now the bad news …
Illness is not all in your mind, but a lot of it is
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