Monday, December 28, 2009

SGU on Naturopathy - 2009-12-02, Thoms & Novella:

recently, the Skeptics' Guide to the Universe podcast dated 2009-12-02 discussed skeptical activism in Canada by Skeptic North aimed at exposing naturopathy.  For the full podcast, click here.  Here are some excerpts: 

[SN is SGU host Steve Novella; ST is SGU guest and editor of Steve Thoms]

"SN: Steve is the editor and chief of Skeptic North which is a skeptical group, pan-Canadian blog. And we are here to talk to you about one issue that you guys have been tackling and that is the attempt that's being made by naturopaths in Canada to gain the right to prescribe medications [1].


ST: The problem is that naturopaths do not have the medical training to prescribe medical drugs. And that's kind of the bottom line here. The counter-argument that we've faced a lot is that naturopaths have eight years of education, but that's taking into account four years of university training in the undergrad. which they're not affiliated with.  Like no naturopathic college in Canada is associated with a Canadian university. So that's kind of taking credit for the Canadian university system. And also, eight years -- I mean -- I can study unicorn breeding for eight years and that doesn't mean that unicorns exist. Quality of education also matters here [2].

SN: Right, of course I agree with you. Again, for our listeners who may not be aware, naturopaths are really like a cult-like medical pseudoprofession. They believe in a hodge-podge of just about any unscientific modality that's out there. [E.g.] they prescribe homeopathy and acupuncture. And they believe in a lot of unsubstantiated notions [...] my colleague Harriet Hall calls it Tooth Fairy science, which I think is perfect. You could do all kinds of scientific studies about the Tooth Fairy and how the size of the tooth relates to the amount of money that gets left behind, whatever, it doesn't make the Tooth Fairy real. The underlying premises are pseudoscientific and so the entire endeavor is false. And this also gets to the notion that this is naturopaths trying to expand the scope of their practice, which usually happens once they get licensure and also trying to function as primary care healthcare providers being the first person that somebody sees when they're sick which is scary because they don't have the training and they don't have the dedication to science. This a very unfortunate thing [3]."


[1]: it is not uncommon in the US for NDs to have gained legal access to prescribe certain 'medical drugs', but it varies from state to state.  In Connecticut, NDs have no such script rights, as far as I know.  In places like Oregon, the ND 'formulary' is large.  Overall, it is rather strange that NDs have rights to such compounds, since they do not abide by modern scientific premises, particularly the scientific premises of pharmacology.  This is evident in naturopathy's huge obligation to the pseudomedicinal system known as homeopathy, whose pills are claimed as medicinal / active when actually 'just water' / inert.

[2]: well, I went to ND school for four years and I can say that it truly is as absurd as 'unicorn breeding'.  When the label science us placed upon sectarian principles that are hugely science-ejected, such irrationalism / academic negligence is ethically revolting. 

[3]: yes, cult-like and a pseudoprofession.  In a deposition at 2002 about, I labeled naturopathy "cultic mystical weirdness".  It's 'mental circuit-blowing stupid' hasn't gotten any less. As scientific as the Tooth Fairy, as in completely false to this day in terms of its claim that that which is scientific is also that which is science-ejected / not-science-supported / nonscientific.  Science is a label naturopathy uses to promote what is actually hugely science-ejected.

I would argue, though, that naturopathy is categorically different than actual academic science.  It's not an issue of quality then, it is an issue of false posturing and unfair trade.  It is not what it says it is clinically or academically as a whole: so, commerce occurs and the initial conditions are untrue.

That's my take, from the inside: for naturopathy, science is a false label camouflaging their sectarian absurdity.

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