MD, PhD, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd.

Even though it has been published less than a month ago, my new book ‘A SCIENTIST IN WONDERLAND…‘ has already received many most flattering reviews. For me, the most impressive one was by the journal ‘Nature’; they called my memoire ‘ferociously frank’ and ‘a clarion call for medical ethics’.

I did promise to provide several little excerpts for the readers of this blog to enable them to make up their own minds as to whether they want to read it or not. Today I offer you the start of the chapter 6 entitled ‘WONDERLAND’. I do hope you enjoy it.

It has been claimed by some members of the lunatic fringe of alternative medicine that I took up the Laing Chair at Exeter with the specific agenda of debunking alternative medicine. This is certainly not true; if anything, I was predisposed to look kindly on it. After all, I had grown up and done my medical training in Germany where the use of alternative therapies in a supportive role alongside standard medical care was considered routine and unremarkable. As a clinician, I had seen positive results from alternative therapies. If I came to Exeter with any preconceived ideas at all, they were of a generally favourable kind. I was sure that, if we applied the rules of science to the study of alternative medicine, we would find plenty of encouraging evidence.
As if to prove this point, the managing director of a major UK homeopathic pharmacy wrote a comment on my blog in April 2014: “…I met you once in Exeter in the 90s when exploring a possible clinical study. I found you most encouraging and openly enthusiastic about homeopathy. I would go so far as to say I was inspired to go further in homeopathy thanks to you but now you want to close down something which in my experience does so much good in the world. What went wrong?”
The answer to this question is fairly simple: nothing went wrong, but the evidence demonstrated more and more indispu-tably that most alternative therapies are not nearly as effective as enthusiasts tried to make us believe…

10 Responses to Wonderland (4) – ‘a clarion call for medical ethics’

  • Maybe, someday a similar approach will be adopted with energy therapies,

  • “What went wrong?”
    Unfortunately for him, science, ethics, morality and truth.

  • @ Frank

    Have you found that evidence for spinal manipulation for thoracic spine pain? If yes, post a link to it.

    • @An Other,
      I/we have been pre-occupied with getting my rapidly deteriorating father-in-law into care. Notwithstanding the distraction, I’m not going to bother since the only thing you bring is contrarianism, seemingly for the sake of it. I was going to offer a pejorative relating to your high self-esteem but that would be unseemly.

      • @ Frank

        Sorry to hear about your Father-in-law. But you come to this blog to criticize other for not having evidence for their treatments. However, when you are asked to produce evidence for a treatment you personally experienced you do not produce it.
        So, have you found the evidence for spinal manipulation for thoracic spine pain? If not, start thinking about the complexity that is practicing medicine (ie sometimes these no evidence for some treatments) and stop using ad hominems against people who have a different point of view or experience to yours.

        • Do you want me to quote you in order to provide you with the information you are tenaciously seeking?
          As Manuel asked, “Que?”.

  • Ed,
    Why does an eastern treatment have to stand up to western medicine style testing?
    Have you seen patients have results from thier collaborative treatments whilst in Germany? Is the combination of treatments costing any more? What were the side affects like? Any worse?
    I’m sure you intended to call the treatment complimentary, not alternative, if they were alternative they wouldn’t have been used alongside, they would have been instead of!
    I think your book could be useful to reference to highlight bias reports in the upcoming units of researching health and diseases.

    • may I suggest just 2 things to you?
      1 you read the book – I hope you find the answers to (some of) your questions there.
      2 you learn how to spell complementary medicine correctly before you embark on researching it.

    • Sandra, Chinese culture may be different from that of Western culture, but the bodies of people in China are exactly the same physiological engines as those of people anywhere else. They break down from the same cancers, suffer the same infections and share exactly the same mental disorders as the rest of us.
      .
      Over the past two centuries, in particular, we have benefitted from an explosive growth in our understanding of how bodies work in health and disease (though still with a very long way to go). Chinese physicians understand this, and they avidly pick up this “Western knowledge” so they can offer the best possible treatment for their patients. Take a look at the article in the British Medical Journal, 1997;315:115 (you’ll need a library; it’s not free). As long as 18 years ago, “Western” medicine dominated in Chinese hospitals.
      .
      The “different wisdom” of Chinese medicine is really little more than the old “Western” concepts of vitalism and humours, with different names. We’ve moved on all around the world, including in China.
      .
      And, as Edzard has pointed out, we’re more likely to compliment your posts if you learn the difference of that word from ‘complement’.

    • “Why does an eastern treatment have to stand up to western medicine style testing?”
      Because it needs to withstand scrutiny to establish whether it actually does what its adherents claim. In Australia, there are many Chinese and other Asian doctors (and very good ones too) who don’t seem to have the same enthusiasm as you for “eastern treatment”. I wonder why that would be? They wouldn’t have to get top grades, go through a long and expensive medical degree/s, do internships and be under constant scrutiny. It would be far easier to dole out a few herbs and stick in a few needles.

      “I think your book could be useful to reference to highlight bias reports in the upcoming units of researching health and diseases.”
      I hope you do use the book and show that it has a clear and strong bias; towards science, reason, logic, objective testing, and strong scrutiny of ALL claims to healthcare. That will really get the good Prof into hot water. lol

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