Sunday, April 18, 2010

My Impressions of NECSS 2010 & a Follow-Up With PMID14745386's Author:

here, I reflect on the 2010 NECSS, the people I met, and how that relates to naturopathy:

001. regarding the 2010 Northeast Conference on Science and Skepticism [NECSS]:

001.a. well, in brief, I found the entire day to be great. Proof-positive of my attendance:


And here's a blurry picture [apologies] of the "Science or Fiction" part of the SGU podcast from yesterday:


 The year before I didn't find much appealing about the afternoon part of NECSS, so I bailed early.  This year, Randi spoke last and the place stayed packed all day.  I've done the last two TAMs, and NECSS has really evolved quickly into something just as high-caliber.  I later did the 'speakers' dinner' and as chance would have it, I sat directly to the left of Dr. Kimball Atwood. Now, that was fortunate, because Naturocrit is a naturopathy skeptical blog, and Atwood wrote, for those who are not familiar, likely the most prominent journal-vetted criticism of naturopathy that I know of [per "the first article in a mainstream medical journal that critically summarizes the field of 'naturopathic medicine'"] AND THEN had some serious skeptic fun in answering the letters of righteous indignation that resulted from that criticism [see 001.b., below].

I'd hoped for the opportunity to ask Dr. A. one simple question, and I did get that chance: 

"regarding your critical analysis of naturopathy that was published in Medscape in 2003, have you had to retract anything you'd initially said in all the years that have transpired since its publication?"

Now, seven years have gone by since that article was published, and eight have gone by since I ceased the ND program at UB after four years of that cloud-cuckoo land and a few years prepping for that program's prerequisites.

Well, the answer to my question was short: "no."

Note: Atwood is a fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry.  Yesterday, Grothe had talked about the continuity between skepticism and the scientific enterprise, and reminded the crowd that the root of the word skeptic is the Greek word for 'inquiry' ['σκέπτομαι' skeptomai, to look about, to consider].  I would argue that science is a particular form of skepticism.

001.b. the Atwood items are titled:

001.b1. "Naturopathy: A Critical Appraisal" [Medscape General Medicine, 2003;5(4)][here it is on Pubmed ] whose abstract, in part, reads:

"'naturopathic medicine is a recent manifestation of the field of naturopathy, a 19th-century health movement espousing 'the healing power of nature' [this is their science-ejected concept of vitalism, which I've collected]. 'Naturopathic physicians' now claim to be primary care physicians proficient in the practice of both 'conventional' and 'natural' medicine [NDs claim to be scientific overall]. Their training, however, amounts to a small fraction of that of medical doctors who practice primary care [and it is irrational, since science and nonscience are equated, actually, in naturopathy -- and that is an absurd position for someone claiming physicianship]. An examination of their literature, moreover, reveals that it is replete with pseudoscientific, ineffective, unethical, and potentially dangerous practices [I completely agree]."

Note: so, lets be clear.  In the seven years since this article was published, naturopathy has not been in any manner CURBED while this 2003 article's author hasn't in any manner had to alter content that clearly lays out the evidence that naturopathy is hugely fraudulent [though Atwood doesn't use that specific term (the 'f' word), I shall do so here deliberately].  

Let me lengthen the lineage of this fraud because it encompasses my life from my early twenties onwards, back from when I was considering graduate school and reading through AANP literature in the1990s.  In 1997, the year before I started the UB ND program, I printed this document [archived here]:

which states that naturopathy is "science-based" and not a "belief-system."  The institutions responsible for the document were the AANP and its schools of that time.  Now, "science-based" and "pseudoscience" have particular meanings. It is quite clear that the essentially naturopathic is an essentially science-ejected sectarian belief system THEN falsely labeled as scientific and not belief.  If you are not what you say you are in commerce, we call that fraud and falsehood.  It is harmful, it is unjust, it is a form of institutional predation committed upon a trusting public. Naturopathy obviously does not meet the ethical standards of commerce: it is falsely labeled.  You do not get what you paid for because you get something else.  And meanwhile, naturopathy claims that something is what it is not.  Now, naturopathy also claims to meet the 'higher than commerce' standards of professionalism.  But, that cannot be possible if the lower standards of commerce cannot be met.  I started UB's ND program in 1998, and at that time naturopathy [I believe] knew what it truly is and that it was deceptively labeling itself for marketing purposes.   This has not changed.  Here, currently, is UB labeling naturopathy science while hugely based upon the science-ejected.  Here is an actual science book quite clearly stating that what is essentially 'the naturopathic' is bunk.

001.b2. and "Naturopathy, Pseudoscience and Medicine: Myths and Fallacies vs. Truth" [2004-03-24] [here it is on Pubmed]. Here is an excerpt:

"it is clear that my article raised a few hackles. I received more than 60 emails myself [...] the arguments were based on logical fallacies [...] denial [...and] ignorance [...but] not one opposing letter, however, offered an example of an inaccurate statement made in the article itself [(and that was about 7 years ago!)...] naturopaths' primary care claim is also refuted by the content of their training, which is replete with fanciful, antiscientific nonsense [...and also] there is no such thing as 'allopathic' medicine."

002. well, the fraud continues:

for me, the fraud goes with me to my grave as the student loans I've taken out for this graduate school nonsense continue and I was diverted from something else due to the absurdity known as naturopathy.  For the public at large, this fraud also continues because no matter what regulatory bodies I contact, nothing changes.  See, they're all liable for this: AANP and kind, the States that approve the schools, the Federal government that approves the accreditation body to oversee the schools, the regional accreditation bodies that approve the schools, the State ND boards, the individuals administrating this absurdity at institutions, the instructors who on a moment by moment basis prop up this nonsense.

Oh, so here's a microcosm of the whole thing: even after Atwood's expose, a new ND program started up in the AANP fold, National University of Health Science's ND program in Illinois.  It states in "Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine":

"a rigorous curriculum [...a] scientific foundation [...per] the same basic sciences as an M.D. [...and within that] holistic philosophy and time tested principles [...to] promote the body’s natural healing process [...] the natural healing capacity of individuals [coded vitalism...and they love] homeopathy [...and this is] high quality naturopathic care [...and there are] rigorous professional board exams [...] the NPLEX exams which are a gateway to practice in states with licensure."

Now, homeopathy is complete bunk yet that NPLEX labels it "clinical science."  We have this claim of rigor and high quality but how can that be?  Naturopathy falsely labels the hugely-science-unsupported-for-decades "science."  That is not rigorous, it is cultic.  And we have the label of professional, but even on this supposed definitions page, they code their essential premise, the science-ejected principle of vitalism.

So, from page one, naturopathy obviously trains its proponents to deceive.
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