Yes, I have just published a new book! Its title is ‘Alternativmedizin – was hilft, was schadet: Die 20 besten, die 20 bedenklichsten Methoden’ (Alternative medicine – treatments that help and treatments that harm: The 20 best and the 20 most worrying methods). Yes, it is in German, and somehow I doubt that there will be an English version of it. Therefore I take the liberty of translating a short section for those who do not read German.
But first, let me tell you about the book’s concept.
Some people who read this blog seem to have the impression that I am dead against so-called alternative medicine (SCAM) – my friend Dana Ullman, for instance, is convinced of it. This, however, is not quite correct (Dana rarely is). The truth is that I am
- FOR evidence-based medicine,
- FOR a level playing field in all areas of healthcare,
- FOR critically evaluating all options.
This also means, of course, that I am against misleading consumers about the value of SCAM. And therefore I am FOR any SCAM that demonstrably does more good than harm.
This attitude should have been clear from all my books. However, it seems to be difficult to understand for those who are on the more fanatical end of the SCAM spectrum. And because it is not that obvious, I decided to write a book that analyses (understandably yet analytically [including ~300 references of the original science]) the evidence for 20 SCAMs that are supported by reasonably sound evidence together with 20 for which this is not the case. My hope is that, with this approach, I might reach more consumers who are in favour of SCAM.
There is a risk, of course. Chances are that, instead of reaching more people from the pro-camp, I will merely offend both the sceptics as well as the enthusiasts.
We shall see.
Anyway, here is the promised bit that I translated for you. It is the postscript of the book, and I hope it gives you a flavour of what it is all about. Here we go:
In the first chapter of the book, I promised that I would neither uncritically hype alternative medicine nor unfairly condemn it. I have taken great pains to keep this promise.
Have I succeeded?
I fear there will be many who answer this question in the negative. And I can’t even blame my critics! Who likes to be criticized for something in which he deeply believes? Who likes to hear that his prejudices against everything called alternative medicine are wrong and counter-productive? Who doesn’t mind an ugly fact that destroys his beautiful theory? Both the dogmatic naysayers and the naive believers will be dissatisfied with my book (or at least parts of).
That’s a shame, but ultimately it is irrelevant. My point was not to take the word of one camp or another in the endless trench warfare that is alternative medicine. My main concern was to present the evidence as up-to-date, understandable, and objective as possible, and to serve those who are seriously interested in facts.
The book is thus not for dogged trench warriors; rather, it is aimed at ordinary consumers with an interest in their health. After all, the vast majority of the population is not among the unteachables of one camp or the other. Most people don’t want ideology, they want effective medicine. And most of them are baffled by the unmanageable variety of alternative medicine on offer, the grandiose promises of healing, and the vehement emotions that it all triggers.
In the area of alternative medicine, there is undoubtedly a lot of nonsense, charlatanry, and danger. But there are also some things that demonstrably do more good than harm. In order to separate the wheat from the chaff, consumers don’t need creeds. What they need above all is reliable evidence!
You can read about this evidence in my book. How you then deal with it is solely your decision. I do not want to tell anyone what to do with my presentation of the facts. But I know that the abundance of misinformation in the field of alternative medicine causes great damage and that the consumer and reader of my book, deserve better than to be led up the garden path.
If this book helps readers to make wise treatment decisions, my efforts will have been worthwhile. And if they get half as much pleasure from reading it as I did from writing it, my goal has been achieved.
(If by any chance you do read German and are in the position to publish a book review, please let me know and I will see that you get a free review copy of my book)