Science or evidence-based medicine, I find, is not a common approach to an individuals understanding of medicine. This is also the case when it comes to many things in life. I recently read an article talking about how we should be using evidence-based management for successful businesses, which made a lot of sense to me. It should also make sense to everyone but that doesn’t seem to be the case if you look at how people treat medicine.
What SBM’s all about is really very simple; it’s about observing evidence and using reason to come to conclusions to make the best decisions. Many people do not do this. It often will not negatively effect a person but in cases it can be detrimental. An example would be a case where you have a life threatening illness, that is treatable with medicine, and you treat it with alternative medicines. Hopefully you would be rushed to hospital before it was too late.
If I were to become ill with a sickness that has no known cure or form of treatment, I would have no choice but to use unproven medicines in the hope of being healed. This is different to using disproved medicines with the same hope. Unproven medicines can be newly created medicines that show some hope but have not had their efficacy shown. I would hope that in using these medicines I would also be helping doctors to find treatments which can stop future patients from having to use unproven medicines.
Alternative medicine is just unproven or disproved techniques that make claims to be able to heal all sorts of illnesses. Once it is proven it is called medicine, therefore alternative medicine is another way to say nonsense medicine. In most cases the alternative medicines have been shown to be nothing more than a placebo. Why would you spend money on these things or even give yourself false hope? There comes a stage where you need to choose to die with dignity and wasting time on nonsense does not allow this. I’m looking at you, Jim Stynes. There is no dignity in drinking your own urine because someone told you it is extremely good for you.
The next time someone recommends that you to go to a chiropractor for your back pain, take some homeopathy to heal your hay fever, or stick fine needles in you to resolve a long-term injury ask them for some evidence and not anecdotes. If they have none to show you, look for it yourself. We have this wonderful knowledge-base called the Internet to find proof.
If I told you that eating your snot would reduce your chance of stomach cancer, would you start gulping down bogies? Would you question what I am saying and look for evidence? If you were to do the former you would be thought of as simple. How is it any different to accepting that homeopathy is efficacious? Do you know what homeopathy is?
I will answer this briefly; homeopathy is when you take an actual proven active ingredient for a purpose like treating hay fever and then dilute it down until there is absolutely none of the active ingredient detectable in the final product. You are then expected to believe that the water will have a memory of the active ingredient and you will be healed.
As I find time to write some more blogs I will write thorough explanations of some of the more popular alternative medicines (and try to be as objective as possible). I believe most people who use alternative medicines have just accepted that they work and have never looked into what they claim or what they actually are. Hopefully some people will read these; change their opinion of at least some alternative medicines and hopefully take a more science-based approach to more things in their lives.
I have searched around but it turns out you can’t buy health insurance extras that do not include magical medicine. I found this out as I am looking for cheaper health insurance; hoping for an option where I receive a discount for the choice of not including any alternative medicine.
I went to a website called iSelect that gives you pricing for a large amount of Australian insurance companies. I found that it is default to include chiropractic and “natural” therapies in the rebates for all levels of extras.
Later I received a phone call from iSelect, since I had entered my phone number, to see if I was happy with the information I received on their website. I put my question to the girl on the other end of the phone and she thought it was funny. Not sure why this is funny, I really do not want to pay for idiots to claim money back on unproven/disproved “medicine.”
In all seriousness, why can’t I receive a discount to not include this nonsense in my cover?
Come on insurance companies! Alternative medicine… I’m off that.
My stance on alternative medicine brings up some interesting questions during discussions about it. A question I was asked is what I would do if my child were to become ill and science-based medicine failed to help, would I try alternative medicine. My answer to this is an outright N to the O. I would try different specialists, there is never a good reason to use alternative medicine.
If I were to use a placebo for my child, I would give them a Tic Tac and tell them that it is a new miracle cure and it will make them all better. There is no denying that the mind is extremely powerful and a placebo can at times be effective. Also, by giving them a Tic Tac they get a much more interesting sugar pill than homeopathy offers.
I will not use homeopathy, aromatherapy, chiropractic, acupuncture, crystal healing, prayer or any of that nonsense on my child or myself. Rather than wasting what may be the very little time they have to experience this amazing world on hours of nonsense medicine, I would let them have fun. I will help them enjoy life and hope that somehow through either medicine or an unexplainable phenomena become well again. I will never attribute a miraculous recovery to any of the alternative medicine nonsense.
This question was part of the reason that I am writing this but also thanks to a brilliant Internet comic called xkcd. This particular comic, seen below, almost defines my view on this perfectly.
Why would anyone use something that they know does not work? Homeopthy definitely does not work at all. Let alone there being absolutely no evidence that it works, the whole idea of it is ridiculous. The idea is that water has memory and holds onto the active ingredient even if that ingredient is no longer detectable at all. There is no excuse for believing that this works. You may have a bit of leeway for believing that many of the other alternative medicines have some benefits but definitely not for homeopathy.
If you still believe that homeopathy works you can win US$1,000,000 from the James Randi Education Foundation by proving it.
If it wasn’t for me having a child and someone’s suggestion of using a chiropractor for my babies upset stomach, I may never have gone along this path known as critical thinking/skepticism. Simply asking the question: “What the hell does my babies spine have to do with an upset stomach?” led me to this. I wish everyone would question these things, rather than accepting what they are told initially.