Quackademic

persistence, redefinition of words, anti Western Culture, … It’s quackademic! At Respectful Insolence, it’s  Tooth Fairy science about traditional Chinese medicine, promoted in the Wall Street Journal.

“There’s a term that I wish I had coined but do frequently use to describe this infiltration: Quackademic medicine. Over the last 30 years or so, what was once quackery, rightly dismissed in a famous 1983 editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine as a “pabulum of common sense and nonsense offered by cranks and quacks and failed pedants who share an attachment to magic and an animosity toward reason” has become mainstream, evolving from quackery to “alternative medicine” to “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) and finally to “integrative medicine.”

“At each stage, the idea was to rebrand medicine based on pseudoscientific, mystical, and/or prescientific beliefs as somehow being co-equal with “Western” or “scientific” medicine through the clever use of language, whose latest term, “integrative” medicine is a near perfect Orwellian twisting of language meant to imply that what is happening is the “integration” of what advocates of integrative medicine like to call the “best of both worlds.”

“If you want to see just how successful quackademic medicine has been at not only infiltrating itself into what should be bastions of science-based medicine but at changing the very terms and language under which it is considered, just look at this article that appeared in the Wall Street Journal yesterday by Shirley S. Wang entitled A Push to Back Traditional Chinese Medicine With More Data: Researchers Marry Modern Analytical Techniques to Centuries-Old Theories on What Makes People Sick

“In the meantime, let’s take a closer look at the article. It’s based entirely on the very hubris behind “integrative medicine,” namely that medicine based on prescientific and religious beliefs, like traditional Chinese medicine, is at least nearly co-equal with medicine based on science and rigorous clinical trials. Or, at least, it would be equal to scientific medicine if there were actually some evidence for it, which these brave maverick doctors and scientists are furiously searching for, no matter how much they have to torture modern systems biology and molecular biology techniques to shoehorn TCM’s fantasy-based “networks” into networks of gene activity being increasingly understood by modern molecular biology.”

“Lots and lots of research money is being wasted studying prescientific superstition such as qi, yin and yang, and “hot” and “cold” applied to human disease, and universities are embracing such twaddle with both arms.”

“It should anger you. It should anger anyone who cares about science and medicine. Sadly, the reaction of the vast majority of physicians is a shrug.”

That shrug seems to be common to many ideas being pushed that threaten who we are and what we have gained over the last two centuries. Do read the shrug link. Some are indeed getting worried.

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