Thursday, October 14, 2010

A 'Cargo Cult' Depiction of Naturopathy: Correcting "Erica"

here, I quote from a comment from an [apparent] ND student in Canada, and I comment upon her comments / claims [see 001., below]; then, I cite from a recent Science-Based Medicine post on acupuncture [quackupuncture!; see 002., below]:

001. Skeptic North's post "University of Toronto: Bastion of Pseudoscience?" by Mitchell Gerskup (2010-07-23) has, as its third comment, this from CCNM ND student "Erica":

"I saw a classmate reading this [the 2010-07-23 SN post] and I had to laugh at the ignorance [...] naturopathic doctors will, by 2012, have the title doctor protected by the government of Ontario, be able to engage in 7 controlled acts (already engage in 6, 7th is pharmaceutical prescription), and are already primary health care providers [...] naturopathic colleges, like ALL medical colleges, were modeled after the John Hopkins medical school after JAMA came out with recommendations that all medical schools follow this standard [(Flexner)...] I’m surprised it’s believed naturopathy is considered anti-science, unless you truly do believe physiology, anatomy, neurophysiology, immunology, pathology, pathophysiology, nutrition, biochemistry, and embryology to be anti-science? [(sciences!)...] we use the same diagnostic tools and tests as medical doctors, and do all the same exams as a general practitioner would, so I’m not sure why exactly you think we’re radically different? [...] I myself remain skeptic[al] to homeopathy [...] but I do question if it were such quackery why an entire continent would make it a mandatory part of standard medical education? [...] iridology is not part of the curriculum at naturopathic colleges, that does verge on the edge of quackery, right now [...] germ theory verged on the edge of quackary [sp., 'quackery'] too once, so I can’t be certain that this will never be proven [...] are you aware that physiotherapists graduating from U of T use acupuncture regularly to treat patients? Is that under the pseudo-science heading as well [...] it just sounds like there’s a lot of heated debate here drowning in emotion and no solid logic or research [...] didn’t U of T teach you to never use Wikipedia? At least for $20 grand a year CCNM taught me that much! Hell even York did!  But yet I’m too lazy regardless to site anything here [...] would love to show you around, give you a tour, and more info (or more ammo) on naturopathic medicine! - Erica."

Note: I must admit that the first comment is my own, from July.  And I thank Erica for engaging in dialog, since it is so difficult to find NDs [or students of] doing so.  Anyway, here are some Naturocrit comments upon Erica's comments.  Regarding:


well, when an ND tells others they are ignorant, I'd like to point out the ignorance of naturopathy.  Nowhere else but naturopathy, to my knowledge, will you find someone with so much power and so trusted unable to differentiate between the severely science-ejected [e.g., naturopathy's "life force" belief, their junk therapies, their pseudodiagnostics] and the legitimately scientific, efficacious and ACTUAL.  In fact, in terms of commerce, naturopathy is based on a very false posture yet you have, especially in places that protect them like Ontario, more rights as a consumer on a used car lot and that person isn't pretending to be a professional;

-"protected by the government of Ontario":

the protection of absurdity and falsehood only protects the offenders;

-"like ALL medical colleges":

well, the last time I looked, actual medical colleges do not, as I experienced, blend the scientific and the hugely nonscientific and then falsely label the whole thing science [when is an article of faith and a scientific fact the same thing: naturopathy]; 

-"I’m surprised it’s believed naturopathy is considered anti-science":

I actually don't think that "anti-science" is encompassing enough to describe naturopathy. Nowadays, I'd say "anti-rationality" and "anti-knowledge delineation"; 

-"I’m not sure why exactly you think we’re radically different?":

ah, because you are.  Look at their textbooks: values have been turned upon their heads.  Within naturopathy, the sectarian faithy-absurd is considered objective scientific fact.  What evidence is needed: none.  What must be ignored: science's progression;

-"if it were such quackery why an entire continent",

 just because a huge amount of people do something and believe it is true isn't in any manner a form of scientific knowledge;

-"on the edge of quackery":

well, it's nice to know some NDs don't use iridology, but look at Australia and the UK.  It is likely that iridology, though truly false, is more plausible than say homeopathy!;

-" I can’t be certain that this will never be proven";

no, you can't.  But, what is the likelihood based upon all we know, based upon prior probability?;

-"under the pseudo-science heading as well";

see 002., below; 

-"no solid logic or research";

well, I'd like naturopathy to logical ground the position they occupy which places something as equal to what it is not;

-"too lazy regardless to site anything here";

how about cite?;

-"more info (or more ammo) on naturopathic medicine";

let them talk, and it falls from the sky like manna.

002. meanwhile, up at Science-Based Medicine is the post "The Cargo Cult of Acupuncture" (2010-10-14) by Ben Kavoussi which states [contrary to Erica's support of acupuncture]:

"'cargo cult' is a metaphor that describes the act of imitating an activity or a practice without any insight into the underlying principles [...] it [specifically] refers to a magico-religious practice observed in tribal societies, where the members ritually imitate the activities of a technologically-advanced society they had contact with, so that they can magically draw their material wealth [...] the term 'cargo cult science' was introduced by Richard Feynman in a speech at Caltech in 1974 to describe pseudoscientific studies in which all the superficial aspects of a scientific inquiry are adhered to, but the underlying principles are not scientific [(naturopathy, anyone?)...e.g., in these times, there's] the plethora of two-arm acupuncture studies that compare a needling regimen using the traditional concepts and compare it with a non-interventional placebo [...] whereby 'one pain masks another' [...] a true interpretation of this finding invalidates the traditional lore of the meridian-and-points system [...] this finding echoes the position of Felix Mann, MD, the founder of the British Medical Acupuncture Society, who after decades of practice reached the conclusion that putting needles in 'wrong' places was as effective as a 'correct' treatment. He therefore wrote that 'traditional acupuncture points are no more real than the black spots a drunkard sees in front of his eyes' [...] two-arm studies cannot rule out the possibility that the observed results are due to anti-nociceptive effects on the same segmental dermatome, which can occur regardless of the classical theories for point selection and means of stimulation [...] the most compelling argument to qualify acupuncture of a cargo cult is the fact that its apostles remain obstinately faithful that someday someone will prove that 'astrology with needles' is a panacea that can naturally restore health and longevity [...yet] well-conducted three-arm clinical trials that used sham controls with needle insertion at 'wrong' points (points not indicated for the condition) or non-points (locations that are not known acupuncture points) along with a non-interventional control group, have failed to demonstrate that there is a reliable difference between sham and 'true' needling [...] the most recent challenge came from a review article in the New England Journal of Medicine which concluded that acupuncture’s specific therapeutic effects – if any – are small, and its benefits are mostly attributable to 'contextual and psychosocial factors, such as patients’ beliefs and expectations, attention from the acupuncturist, and highly focused, spatially directed attention on the part of the patient' [...expect!] pointless studies that aim to validate notions that date of Galen’s era, and [to] hear the irrational narrative of the apostles of this cargo cult."

Notes: yes!  See, what I think is happening is that naturopathy itself is a cargo cult.  The rituals they mimic have to do with what it takes to develop legitimate knowledge.   But, they take huge shortcuts, and, if I remember Feynman's account of the phenomenon...

no planes ever landed [because magical expectations are not knowledge and power].

So, naturopathy is a long wait for a plane that ain't coming, in my view [e.g., I wouldn't wait too long for them to bring into the legitimately scientific such things as vitalism and supernaturalism, which are as hugely science-ejected as flat-earth-ism and phlogiston].
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