Wednesday, September 12, 2012

ND Murray & Pizzorno's 2012 ENM Absurdity: Science Subset Nonscience

here, I excerpt from the 2012 edition of the "Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine" [ENM] by NDs Murray and Pizzorno regarding their overarching claim of science subset naturopathy, and show therein they place patently nonscientific claims and ideas which I will term 'the essentially naturopathic' [see 001., below]; then, I cite from the alma mater's of the two NDs, and perhaps therein why can understand why they falsely label nonscience science [see 002., below]:

001. Murray, M.T. (ND Bastyr 1985), Pizzorno, J.E. (ND NCNM 1975) write in "The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine" (3rd ed. 2012, ISBN 1451663005 978-1451663006) [page numbers are from the paperback edition; my comments are in unquoted bold]:

Note: I'm only here excerpting from the first two chapters, which set up the "natural medicine" premise.  I own all three editions of this book now, and perhaps I'll later do a post which compares these two chapters across the editions.  This new edition was only $20.  That's quite a bargain for a nugget of American anti-intellectualism and pseudoscience irrationality!!!

001.a. the overarching science claims:

"[from the coauthored preface] readers are strongly urged to develop a good relationship with a physician knowledgeable in the art and science of natural and preventive medicine, such as a naturopathic physician [...]";

NDs, which the two authors are!

 "[ND Pizzorno writing about ND Murray in the book's acknowledgements] Dr. Michael Murray has had a remarkable impact on decreasing disease and suffering through his research, teaching, and writing, and his advocacy of science-based natural medicine [...]";

science-based medicine" is a label that naturopathy uses upon itself.  In fact, on his own biography page, Murray states: "one of the great myths about natural medicines is that they are not scientific. The fact of the matter is that for most common illnesses there is greater support in the medical literature for a natural approach than there is for drugs or surgery."  That's quite an overarching science label 'upon the naturopathic'.  What defines naturopathy, which we will see in 002.b., that above is labeled by Murray as "a natural approach", is quite shocking if you are looking for rigorous actual science content.

"[from the coauthored first chapter, 'What is Natural Medicine?'] this book was written in an effort to update the public's knowledge about the use of natural medicines in the maintenance of health and treatment of disease. It dispels a common myth about the use of natural remedies—that natural medicine is 'unscientific'. This book contains information based on firm scientific inquiry and represents an evidence-based approach to wellness. This encyclopedia is without question the most thoroughly researched and referenced book on the use of natural medicines ever written for the public [p.017...]"; 

promises, promises.  So, we are promised that we will be disabused of our myths via science.  Let the reversal of values begin.

"Bastyr University with its focus on teaching science-based natural medicine [p.005...]";


again, that big, overarching science label upon natural medicine / naturopathy.

"[Bastyr's] landmark achievement of accreditation [p.005...]";

I have been asking the FEDERAL education apparatus if there is a mechanism for pursuing fraud in their membership / consortia.

"the nutritional approach has considerable support in the scientific literature that proves its safety and effectiveness [p.014...]";

a pill for every ill, according to naturopathy.

"if doctors had not been so biased against scientific data on nutritional supplements [p.014...]";

sounds to me like the straw-man of the bashing of regular medicine as stubborn and closed-minded.  But, I have to ask, if preponderantly the assessments of 'nutritional treatments of disease' by 'supplements as medicine' is known by scientific inquiry to be ineffective overall [except in rare cases], who is being biased and cherry picking studies that only support that bias [perhaps this entire book].

"currently, there are seven schools in the United States and Canada that train naturopathic physicians with accreditation [...] National University of Health Sciences [...] University of Bridgeport—College of Naturopathic Medicine Health Science Center [...p.015]";

ah, that continuous 'science subset naturopathy' claim. As a disclosure: I went to that UB program for four years and couldn't bide its ethical position wherein academically, clinically, and commercially, crap such as homeopathy was falsely labeled science-supported.

 "one of the pervasive myths about naturopathic medicine has been the belief there is no firm scientific evidence for the use of the natural therapies naturopathic physicians employ. However, as this book attests, scientific studies and observations have upheld the validity not only of diet, nutritional supplements, and herbal medicines but also of some of the more esoteric natural healing treatments, including acupuncture,  biofeedback, meditation, and homeopathy [p.017...]";

homeopathy?  Labeling homeopathy science-supported is like labeling astrology science.  It is indeed a myth that homeopathy is supported by science.  So, herein, when I speak of the reversal of values, naturopathy wins the prize: a myth is presented falsely as a scientific fact.  I have often termed this 'epistemic conflation' or 'knowledge ambiguation'.

"scientific investigation has not only validated the natural measure but also led to significant improvements and greater understanding [p.017...]";

promises, promises.

 "the reality is that many believe faith and medical science are mutually exclusive despite the fact that numerous scientific studies have now fully validated the efficacy of faith, prayer, and religion in healing [...] scientific investigation into the healing power of prayer has shown that prayer can affect physical processes in a variety of organisms [p.022...]";

ah, more conflation, wherein now miracles / supernaturalism has been verified by scientific experimentation.  Hand out the Nobels.

001.b. the 'essentially naturopathic':

001.b1. vitalism [their supernaturalism I've ready cited above]:

"naturopathic medicine—a system of medicine based on the belief that the human body has a remarkable innate healing ability [...] naturopathic medicine is a system founded on seven time-tested principles: principle 1: the healing power of nature (vis medicatrix naturae). Naturopathic physicians believe that the body has considerable power to heal itself. It is the role of the physician to facilitate and enhance this process with the aid of natural nontoxic therapies [...] naturopathic medicine is built upon seven underlying principles. Principle 1: the healing power of nature (vis medicatrix naturae) [...] naturopathic therapy [...] traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture Traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture are part of an ancient system of medicine involving techniques used to enhance the flow of vital energy (chi). Acupuncture involves the stimulation of certain specific points on the body along chi pathways called meridians [...] the body has two internal mechanisms to maintain health. The first is the inherent internal healing mechanism, vital force, chi, or primitive life support and repair mechanism that operates even in a person who is asleep, unconscious, or comatose. The second mechanism involves the power of the mind and emotions to intervene and affect the course of health and disease in a way that enhances or supersedes the body's innate vital force [...]";

oh how they love imaginary invisible archaic science-ejected forces.  The body doesn't heal by vital forces, in this here modern science-informed age.

001.b2. the love of homeopathic magic beans and unicorn tears:


"in 1902, Lust founded the first naturopathic college of medicine in the United States in New York City. It taught a system of medicine that included the best of what was then known about nutritional therapy, natural diet, herbal medicine, homeopathy, spinal manipulation, exercise therapy, hydrotherapy, electrotherapy, stress reduction, and other natural therapies [...] naturopathic medicine is inclusive, in that it incorporates a variety of healing techniques. The current treatments naturopathic physicians are trained in include clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, homeopathy, Oriental medicine and acupuncture, hydrotherapy, physical medicine including massage and therapeutic manipulation, counseling and other psychotherapies, and minor surgery [...] the term homeopathy is derived from the Greek words homeo, meaning 'similar,' and pathos, meaning 'disease.' Homeopathy is a system of medicine that treats a disease with a dilute, potentized agent, or drug, that will produce the same symptoms as the disease when given to a healthy individual, the fundamental principle being that like cures like. Homeopathic medicines are derived from a variety of plant, mineral, and chemical substances [from the first two chapters...]";

oh how they love their homeopathy.

002. alma maters [their science claims, and the 'essentially naturopathic concepts and philosophies']:

002.a. Bastyr [Murray, and a school Pizzorno founded]:


I've collected Bastyr's science claims, and their mention of naturopathy's underlying science-ejected vitalistic premise [falsely labeled able to withstand scientific scrutiny].

002.b. NCNM [Pizzorno]:

I've collected NCNM's science claims, and their mention of naturopathy's underlying science-ejected vitalistic premise [falsely labeled able to withstand scientific scrutiny].

003. overall note:


so, this "natural medicine" premise is quite absurd in terms of its basis.  If the ENM's two first chapters are an indication of naturopathy's boundaries concerning what constitutes legitimate science and knowledge -- and it is quite easy to see that science and nonscience are muddled together as a single kind of knowledge type termed 'natural' -- then I have very little faith in the accuracy of the book that follows.  To paraphrase the writers at the blog Science-Based Medicine: science involves looking at ALL the evidence and not MERELY a) ignoring what one finds inconvenient and b) cherry picking what supports one's preconceived notions.

I'll cite two quotes from ND Murray:

a) the one above: 

"one of the great myths about natural medicines is that they are not scientific. The fact of the matter is that for most common illnesses there is greater support in the medical literature for a natural approach."

which I will now alter to a 'better condition of truthfulness':

"one of the great myths about natural medicines is that they are scientific. The fact of the matter is that for most common illnesses there is PREPONDERANT little or no support in the medical literature for a supposed natural approach."

 b) and from his own web site post  "Solving The Healthcare Crisis" (2012-07-25) [vsc 2012-09-12]:

"one of the pervasive myths about wellness-oriented medicine is that there are no firm scientific studies substantiating its use. Scientific studies have upheld the validity of not only diet and nutritional supplements, but also of other healing methods such as acupuncture, biofeedback, meditation and homeopathy [...] it appears that the concepts and philosophies of wellness-oriented medicine will persist and be a major part of the medicine of the future—medicine merely known as good medicine."

my response, BULLSHIT.  This I will now alter to a 'better condition of truthfulness':

"one of the pervasive myths about naturopathic medicine is that there IS firm scientific studies substantiating its use. Scientific studies have in rare cases upheld the validity of diet and nutritional supplements, and has discarded their other healing methods such as acupuncture [for instance...] and homeopathy [for instance...] it appears that the concepts and philosophies of naturopathic medicine are PATENTLY UNTENABLE when viewed scientifically and cannot persist and will NOT be a major part of the medicine of the future because it is the science-discarded medicine of the past — medicine now known as REALLY BAD medicine."

beware. 
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