Friday, February 27, 2015

ND McElveen of NCNM Says "Medicine is in Fact an Art, Not a Science", and Lauds Homeopathy

here, some comments on an ND's post regarding vaccines [see 001., below]; then, a quick visit to her other practice web pages where she makes naturopathy's 'superscience claim' and lauds homeopathy [see 002., below]:

001. ND McElveen, an NCNM ND graduate, writes in "What No One is Talking About in the Vaccine Debate" (2015-02-05):

"this week, several of my favorite people in the entertainment world have all taken jabs at the 'anti-vaxxers,' saying their view is not based in science and that ALL doctors agree that vaccines are completely safe [...]";

well, science is hugely PRO vaccine, in general.  That is the SCIENCE, it is massive.  So being anti-vaccine is a stance that is PRO-antiscience!  Now, not ALL doctors are provaccine.  There is a FRINGE even within the M.D. community, but very very few of that fringe are pediatricians, and that is quite telling.  And the ND's sentence is a kind of false equivalency or straw-man.  Support a WRONG statement by attaching a FALSE absolute to it.  Antivaccination is against the science that hugely SUPPORTS vaccination, so being antivaxx is NOT based on science.  That's the ND's WRONG statement.  Then, that "all doctors agree" is the FALSE absolute attached.  But correcting that latter statement, a kind of straw-man, doesn't make-right the WRONG former statement.  Oh how naturopathic THOUGHT bruises my mind.
 
"being a doctor in integrative medicine [oh boy!...] I have seen several cases of adverse effects from vaccination in my young, seven year career [anecdote alert!]. Does that mean I'm anti-vaccine? No. What no one is talking about, is that these people, who have lost loved ones, or who's lives have been devastated by side effects such as paralysis or narcolepsy or yes, autism, are being ignored [bogeyman alert!...] to me, the tragedy here is that there is a large group of people who's terrible, life-altering experience is being dismissed and big name people and media outlets are all making them feel as if their experience doesn't exist [...]";

so, this sounds like a dog whistle-like claim that vaccination CAUSED this cluster of harm.  HOW does she KNOW? This is NOT science, this is not evidence, this is anecdote.  Even if you claim the authority of a "doctor."  And regarding "being ignored", no.  Just because WRONG claims that these issues are DUE to vaccines are being ignored, which I think is what is being claimed, that doesn't mean that the medical system IGNORES these patients and their needs and nullifies their experiences.  That's NUTS.  The ND seems upset that patient anecdotal claims that these problems are DUE to vaccines is no longer an issue.  Well, that WRONG causes are being bypassed is GOOD, so that research can then concentrate on the ACTUAL causes.  The science says move on and look otherwheres.  That is progress.  Dismissing a false-cause is not a dismissal of the patient's circumstances!

"you cannot dismiss someone's experience by simply stating 'it didn't happen' or 'science proves otherwise' [...]";

this is a false equivalency.  This issue, if vaccines 'did it', isn't about what 'happened' but what was the actual CAUSE.  Science has shown quite convincingly that childhood autism is NOT due to the MMR, for instance.  So, the patient's problems are not being dismissed.  Wrong causal claims are being corrected.

"in fact, in science, the data is there, or it isn't. We can't cherry pick what data we want and discard the rest or pretend it didn't happen [...]";

there goes some science-naivete and a false dichotomy.  It is UNTRUE that data is either there or not.  Data is actually RANKED based upon the conditions that led to it, and if it doesn't reach a threshold of QUALITY, then it is NOT PICKED.  Data is not all equal, that's science.  So, I think the ND is arguing that anecdote is equal to rigorously derived data.  But data is not all equal.  To state that data is is absurd.

"this is why medicine is in fact an art, not a science [...]";

actually medicine is an applied science.  Naturopathy is what is NOT an applied science.  It serves naturopathy to muddle the epistemic waters, to integrate.  But, this is not the middle ages.  Unless you are within naturopathy.

002. what else is at the ND's web pages, kristenmcelveennd.com, I wonder?

002.a. well, there's naturopathy's super science claim, in "Education"  [saved 2015-02-27], which states:

"licensable naturopathic doctors: have an undergraduate degree in pre-medical science to fulfill medical school prerequisites [...] check out the similarities between ND and MD medical education below [...NDs] have an undergraduate degree in pre-medical science to fulfill medical school prerequisites [...] have to pass multi-step, national board exams similar to the USMLE, the first focusing on basic sciences and the second and third on clinical practice [...] NCNM [...] basic and clinical science [...] 1548 [hours...while] Yale University [...] 1420 [hours...]";

yes, NCNM ND science > Yale MD science.  Science, science, science.  And it's always interesting to me how an area, naturopathy, that claims that within science is nonscience, is so adamant that their quantity is all that matters, not their quality.  But, science courses that are conflated with nonscience courses create a highly suspect QUALITY. 

002.b. and there's the lauding of homeopathy in "Just One Drop," a Documentary on Homeopathy and Our Current Healthcare Crisis" [saved 2015-02-27]:

"the upcoming film, Just One Drop, about the history and effectiveness of homeopathy in the US and around the world [...] if you are a fan of homeopathy at all, I urge you to donate as much as you can [...] so this movie can be finished and shown to the masses. I fully support the filmmaker [...] and applaud her for using her talent and passion to bring these stories to life [...] lease join me in donating to this cause [...] please spread the word [...]";

ah, no.  Homeopathy is to pharmacy as flying carpets are to aeronautics.

"me both as a doctor using homeopathy and as a former skeptic.  My background is in biochemistry [...] I just couldn't wrap my scientific brain around the fact that something that has been diluted so much that there was no molecular trace of it could possibly be an effective medical treatment. Then again, I wasn't aware of the power of energetic medicine yet, either [...]";

well, obviously the cool-aide was drunk.  And the idea that energetic medicine is in any way energetic as in science's energy is FALSE.  Energy is a MEASURED quantity.

"it wasn't until one day, in one of our low-income clinics in the Portland-Metro area that I really woke up to the possibilities of homeopathy as a valid treatment modality [...] I put the pellets under the child's tongue [...] before I was even done with the exam, the child stopped crying [...] by the time I became a resident, I was doing rotations with Dr. Dickson Thom, a guru in the naturopathic profession who uses a form of homeopathy called biotherapeutic drainage. I was hooked [...]";

ah, the famous N=1, like a religious epiphany. Because a child never stops crying, suddenly.  'If before, then because of...'  It's tough to be hooked on woo.

"and why do people poo-poo homeopathy saying it's 'just placebo' when there is so much research that placebo is in fact a valid theory? [...]";

oh there is SO MUCH wrong with that idea it's actually sad.

"I was now seeing hugely complex cases like cancer, Lyme disease, Parkinson's and autism have such positive responses to homeopathy. So much so, that I currently use it as a primary treatment modality in my current practice [...]";

and somehow science has missed all this effect in recent major reviews that call homeopathy worthless.  Interesting.
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