Medical matters, evidence, and people’s desires

There are several essays on the distortion of evidence in the realm of medicine this morning. A Disconnect between cell phone fears and science takes on a book about the dangers of cell phone radiation. Compare and Contrast talks about how traditional, evidence based, medicine learns from failure while ‘alternative’ medical methods don’t. The Acupuncture and Fasciae Fallacy gets into the evidence regarding ancient Chinese medical ideas. CAM Use by Brain Tumor Patients takes a look at the definition of CAM, complementary and alternative medicine, and how it can yield difficult to interpret results.

There is a common thread here, one that can be seen in other recent controversies such as those centering on climate research and those on net neutrality.

Disconnect is a good example of the kind of material used by the EMF alarmist movement. Virtually all the alarmist studies that Davis cites used a poor methodology and/or have not been replicated in follow up studies. In fact, most have been refuted by far more comprehensive and rigorous studies. In many cases, serious flaws have been found with studies that show harm. It is at odds with the conclusions of mainstream expert groups such as the SCENHIR (* 5 P 8): It is concluded from three independent lines of evidence (epidemiological, animal and in vitro studies) that exposure to RF fields is unlikely to lead to an increase in cancer in humans. Disconnect is designed to bamboozle and scare the lay reader, not to inform.

and on the idea of growth and change for improvement?

Most alt med interventions are, of course, based on eternal truths that cannot be improved or changed. They are often immune to reality induced change. Studies that confirm their eternal truth are always accepted. Studies that show harm or lack of efficacy? Not so much.

As to why it is a social concern …

not only millions of taxpayer dollars are being spent on seemingly ridiculous research projects, but also the very fact that they are supporting these projects is often used to lend an appearance of legitimacy to treatments and ideas that are not legitimate.

and the result for individuals can also be a concern,

much of the harm that comes from CAM use derives from indirect harm – mostly from a delay or absence of evidence-based therapy.

Like the net neutrality advocates obsessing on industry lobbying but denying the existence of advocacy groups or the climate research community’s epithets about those who question their research, there is a pattern of distortion, wishful thinking, and logical fallacies that illustrates it is not the topic so much as human behavior that is the root cause problem.

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