Despite the fact that I’ve not had an allopathic medicine since 1985 and remain in rude good health, my brother is deeply embarrassed by my adherence to alternative medicine.
So, in an attempt to cure me of my naïveté, he gave me a book entitled “Trick or Treatment” (by Simon Singh and Edzard Ernst) for Christmas. Since the title made me pretty sure that the book would conclude that the therapies examined were “tricks”, I put off reading it until last week when I decided I was strong enough to deal with whatever sneers and barbs the book might present.
The authors go to great lengths to outline how scientifically they have reached their conclusions. They go to great lengths to let the reader know that if you doubt the scientific conclusions it is because you are unscientifically biased. And their scientifically reached conclusions lead them to assert that Acupuncture and Homeopathy are entirely valueless, while Chiropractic medicine may, possibly, help those with back pain and some herbal medicines work but mostly there is no need to take them because there are better allopathic medicines available. In the main, they conclude, the alternative therapies that they examined are largely successful only because of the placebo affect and modern medicine is to be preferred at all times.
I could wax very long about what I perceive to be unscientific bias from the authors and I could point out the supreme weakness of some of their examples, but I don’t want to be a bore. Suffice it to say that I believe the authors to have suffered their own biases.
Questions that are neither posed nor answered in the book are these: if allopathic medicine is the best there is why are so many people seeking alternative therapies? And if the therapies are so useless why has belief in them persisted through centuries, through the disapprobation of the doctors of each era, through media support and media condemnation? One would think that the millions of people throughout the world who consult with non-doctors on their health would have seen the light before the book was written and that this would have obviated the need for such a book.
But no. People like me continue to be deceived and I regret (and my brother is going to be peeved) that I remain unconvinced that I should ditch my herbs and aromatherapy oils and find myself a GP.