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

The complex links between so-called alternative medicine (SCAM) and the pandemic have been a regular subject on this blog. Here is more:

This study investigated if people’s response to the official recommendations during the COVID-19 pandemic is associated with conspiracy beliefs related to COVID-19, a distrust in the sources providing information on COVID-19, and an endorsement of SCAM.

The sample consisted of 1325 Finnish adults who filled out an online survey advertised on Facebook. Structural regression analysis was used to investigate whether:

1) conspiracy beliefs, a distrust in information sources, and endorsement of SCAM predict people’s response to the non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) implemented by the government during the COVID-19 pandemic,

2) conspiracy beliefs, a distrust in information sources, and endorsement of CAM are related to people’s willingness to take a COVID-19 vaccine.

The results indicate that individuals with more conspiracy beliefs and lower trust in information sources were less likely to have a positive response to the NPIs. Individuals with less trust in information sources and more endorsement of SCAM were more unwilling to take a COVID-19 vaccine. Distrust in information sources was the strongest and most consistent predictor in all models. In addition, the analyses revealed that some of the people who respond negatively to the NPIs also have a lower likelihood to take the vaccine. This association was partly related to lower trust in information sources.

The authors concluded that distrusting the establishment to provide accurate information, believing in conspiracy theories, and endorsing treatments and substances that are not part of conventional medicine, are all associated with a more negative response to the official guidelines during COVID-19. How people respond to the guidelines, however, is more strongly and consistently related to the degree of trust they feel in the information sources than to their tendency to hold conspiracy beliefs or endorse CAM. These findings highlight the need for governments and health authorities to create communication strategies that build public trust.

I also believe that these findings highlight the urgent need for improvements in education. In my view, it should start at school and continue into adult life. It should focus on a better understanding of science and – crucially – on the ability to differentiate facts from fiction and conspiracies.

47 Responses to Endorsement of so-called alternative medicine is associated with a negative response to the official guidelines during COVID-19

  • Great minds think alike. They dont fall for group-think of CON-Med (the conventional medicine con).

  • Same result as in Germany (as previously covered here). At least in Germany this tendency should come as no surprise as the state has been supporting homeopathy and Anthroposophical Medicine for many decades and more or less forcing medical insurers to pay for it.

    It’s quite a U-turn for the state now to suddenly start complaining about people who don’t trust vaccines and blaming them for not getting the pandemic under control. In fact it was the state who allowed doctors promoting quackery to get control of policy and grant exemption from the usual medical standards for anti-vax ideologies.

  • Absolutely unsurprising. SCAM is insidious, solipsistic, pseudo-intellectual and profoundly unethical. It poisons decent minds and damages relationships. It is akin to a cult.

  • Did I indicate I was supporting any SCAM ? … you assume

    • Then you confirm the irrelevance of your comment.

      • I confirm this;
        That conventional medicine, as defined by those that follow AMA guidelines, FDA rulings, big pharma protocols, and MD orders are those that are on the side of a cult of medicine that inflicts harm on many a patients. In the end, the same already mentioned villains are responsible for many a chronic disease, and early death.

        I confirm nothing more.

        • it seems to me that you are a most reliable guide: THE OPPOSITE OF WHAT YOU CLAIM IS USUALLY THE TRUTH

        • @Ruthy: Congratulations on confirming what you believe. Yes, thank you, we had already worked that out.

          Now try confirming what you can prove. Because you are boring us senseless with unevidenced blather.

          “What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence.” – Christopher Hitchens

          • Allow me to adapt Hitschens’ bonmot to the realm of SCAM:
            What has been asserted without evidence must be dismissed without evidence

          • @Edzard: I also admit a huge fondness for Scopie’s Law:

            In any discussion involving science or medicine, citing Whale.to as a credible source loses you the argument immediately… and gets you laughed out of the room.

            What’s truly shocking is that Ruthie (and Roger) don’t even rise to that standard! Even Scudamore’s buttocks show more cognitive power! And while I’d like to believe that such incompetent public performances actively hurt, not help, their cause, I wouldn’t place any money on it. Because those who are that besotted on belief not only fail to distinguish between “knowledge” and “what I believe in really really hard”, they can’t: because they truly sincerely do believe that knowledge and belief are one and the same! And their entire system of epistemology hangs off that.

            Thus, when they argue with us, they perceive it as an argument between two competing belief systems, so whoever believes hardest wins. (And they will always “win” at that.) Whereas we argue from evidence, and if the other party brings compelling new [honest] evidence that stomps on our own, we revise our [provisional] beliefs accordingly.

            Which brings us to the universe’s great irony…

            “We” [science-based skeptics] can can easily understand where “They” [religious believers] are coming from, because we are ALL irrational creatures at heart, and the types of mistakes we see them making are all mistakes we’ve caught and corrected ourselves making first. Thus, to understand them from their point of view, all we do is “switch off” our rational learned self-correcting behaviours and revert to our irrational defaults.

            Conversely, “They” completely misunderstand “Us” because they are incapable of constructing a mental model of others’ behavior that is any greater than their own. Not only do they not think rationally, they do not know how! And anything that is not part of their personal experience is no different to that which does not exist at all. Thus, in mentally modelling our behavior, they project their own attributes onto us simply because they cannot conceive of anything more. And since they do not self-correct, and mismatch between how they expect us to behave and how we are observed to behave is just an indication that we are behaving dumb. In other words, they are absolutely, unshakeably convinced that they fully understand us and that we are too stupid to get them at all!

            See Also: https://www.google.com/search?q=are+narcissists+stupid+or+clever

            We skeptics learn to correct and improve ourselves by learning to recognize when we are wrong. But many Alties cannot achieve that because they are Not Even Wrong. And since they cannot conceive of ever being Wrong, they naturally conclude that they must always be Right. Much as we try to explain this to them, to help them develop insight into both others and themselves, we cannot make them achieve that insight; they have to want to achieve that insight for themselves. And they don’t. We might as well lecture cats and dogs, for all the good it does. We can’t even show them how to build stronger, more resilient arguments for themselves. To them, all of their own arguments are already perfect and invulnerable, and in need of no improvement as just by existing they have already won. And in a way they are right: even the greatest, wisest, sharpest of skeptics cannot nail pure blancmange to a wall!

            It is depressing. I mean, the only ones who benefit from such terrifyingly self-unaware people are con artists. And this planet has far too many of both. It’s very easy to laugh, but it’s a populist mindset that dooms us all.

            Perhaps for your red top banner your web developer could add a little counter: “It has been [000] days since an Altie last posted evidence.” Which you can reset yourself whenever they do post links that aren’t crap. It won’t teach the stupidest ones, but the more self-aware may take the hint and start more frequently doing it; thereby setting an example for others to follow. And who knows; maybe they’ll even start winning some arguments on the merits of their high-quality evidence, instead of this godforsaken zombie attrition where nobody wins at all.

            “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” ― Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

          • interesting!
            do you want to write a complete guest post on this?
            [it would mean giving up your pseudonym]

          • has

            You’re just a blow-hard with too much to say. You spout your BS here multiple times per day, much to much for an clown with no education.

            I won’t waste my time posting proof here as it won’t be accepted at truth. I’ve seen the evidence played out over in real life. What more evidence do we need ?
            That “proof” that you mention when posted on this blog vs the status quo here is maligned as having been already been debunked, as unreliable source, opinion, or simply evidence too old to be valid today.
            Why waste my time … and yours.

            I’ll say this, the proof is in the millions that have been conned by CONmed over the decades. Evidenced by multitudes that continue making trips to the MD for the same ILLNESS, so Dr. Smith can prescribe more pills that benefit little…. all the while causing another chronic illness.
            Deaths evidenced by the hundreds of thousands of mistakes while MD give prognosis, medication, surgeries and the likes. How bout those dying from the lack of viable covid treatments.
            Patients even dying right inside hospitals due to errors.
            Not to mention those harmed by vaccines.

            Yes, conventional medicine is killing patients…. one just need to open the eyes and ears. Far too many people have been duped. Far to many have been conned, and far too many have had their life savings bilked from them to the medical system… and died anyway.

          • “I won’t waste my time posting proof here as it won’t be accepted as truth.”
            that’s really interesting!

          • You spout your BS here multiple times per day, much to much for an clown with no education.

            And yet many here find Has’s “BS” very insightful, unlike your BS which is almost always devoid of logic, facts, and evidence. Reading your posts, I gathered that you don’t place much value on education, since you don’t trust some of the most highly educated people like MDs and scientists. However, that doesn’t stop you from making disparaging comments on the lack of educational qualifications of others. It makes me wonder what your educational qualifications are. You certainly are well versed in clownery, so my guess is that you went to a clown university.

            I won’t waste my time posting proof here as it won’t be accepted at truth.

            Good. Because no one has time to go thru the YT and FB links that you and your ilk consider as evidence.

          • has

            Great post. And it’s wonderful of Ruthy to confirm the points it raises by demonstrating her utter uncomprehension of everything it so patiently explains.

          • Well put “has” Your erudite analysis describes well my own conclusions after a decade of trying to get a grip of why and how seemingly rational and educated people fall prey to obvious hoaxes and quackery, even to the extreme of own practice thereof.
            The observation that initially got me interested was seeing my cancer patients with multiple ornamental rubber bands sold to promote health with a diffuse deceiptful claim involving “positive ions” and mysterious holograms. This was in 2011 and these gimmicks were sold in pharmacies – institutions where the sick and suffering should expect truthful service and counselling.
            I care little for the worried well who fall for fancy supplements and highway acupuncturists who promise to cure their tennis elbow in two months. But when quackery interferes, defrauds and hurts those sick and suffering who need it least, my claws come out. A particular object of my wrath nowadays is the half-witted contamination of health care by so called “integrative medicine”.
            I follow this blog to learn and hone my thinking. I seldom comment nowadays because even if the trolls change, the subjects of discussion have become repetitively monotonous and unenlightening. The posts are great but much of the discussion is just not as informative anymore. Some commenters are always worth reading others I wish I could filter out for easier reading 😀
            But it has its brighter moments. Even uneducable Ullmann always amuses. At least he is reliably wrong. Like a clown provoking laughter every time by simply tripping over himself. U is a prime example of the blindly faithful you describe so well. It is perhaps the only miracle of homeopathy, how its ardent followers always manage to hit their own foot and then disappear to lick the wound, just to repeat the show to the same egg and tomatoe throwing audience?

            Anyway, enough of idle musings in the morning. Work waits. I wholeheartedly encourage you to consider the professor’s offer.

          • I think Ruthy/roger doesn’t like doctors? Wonder what happened. Hope she/he is one of the lucky few with good genes who die healthy at an advanced age due to the protective shield of good public health measures where public vaccinations keep the environment relatively free from measles, influenza and so on.

          • @Edzard: While I am flattered, my comment is only an opinion piece and thus should be weighted accordingly. 🙂

            @Ruthy: “I won’t waste my time posting proof here as it won’t be accepted at truth.”

            Well that’s convenient. And indistinguishable from you not having any.

            Yet it wouldn’t be so bad if you would only stick your flounce. Yet for someone who quite rightly scorns my opinions as worth only the weak sauce evidence base they are built upon, you find no problem in subjecting us to the firehose of your own. Hypocrisy much?

            You want to shut us all up? Bring awesome robust evidence that smashes ours flat! You will beat us by our own rules (which we cannot evade without showing our ass) and win a lifetime’s supply of us eating humble pie.

            But thus far all you’ve done is deliberately downplay all the benefits of modern mainstream medicine while exaggerating all its harms; disingenuous behavior which marks you as a calculating (if not very competent) manipulator of words and facts. That is also the standard operating procedure for all AltMed flaks, so while you may play ambiguous and all innocent on your own pro-AltMed bias it is nothing we haven’t seen a hundred times before. We’re not impressed.

            As to my current, egregious time-wasting: yes, I am fully aware of it. I’m WFH and currently in the last stage of Work Avoidance Mode, which is SOP for me whenever I try to get a major new project rolling. At least meantime I’m practising my wordcraft. My creative block will pass; I’ll go back to lurking silently here, and go do something productive with my life elsewhere, and if by then you’re still burbling uselessly then that will not be my problem—not that it ever was. I have offered you all the kindness I have; if you wish to pique and whine like a child because I’m not also being nice about it then that’s on you, and on you alone.

            You can grow up and learn how to reason and argue from science, not religion, like a thoughtful, insightful, self-correcting adult. Or you can remain that blind and squalling baby forever; useless to everyone, even yourself. Which is to say: your attempt at deflection doesn’t work either. I can see you doing it, and it’s nothing I haven’t done first, realized I was doing it and why I should not, and so put a stop to that. I don’t tolerate my own BS, so why should I entertain yours?

            You have made/implied two claims:

            1. Mainstream medicine does more harm than good.

            2. Therefore we should accept AltMed (which implies that CAM does more good than harm).

            You have done this multiple times now, and not once have you provided the evidence. Even an honest personal anecdote recounting how mainstream medicine has failed you and/or yours would be a start. Because everyone here has those (I know I do), and sharing those might enable us to establish some common ground. And then we can explore why our beliefs on “CONmed” vs AltMed have grown so divergent; that while we skeptics completed accept and acknowledge that medicine is flawed and incomplete, that it is the worst system we’ve got except for all the others, and thus we should focus on testing and correcting it and improving its standards. Whereas the Alties advocate it for sweeping it into the dustbin and replacing it with quasi-religious cultisms which have no standards at all.

            We are, believe it or not, curious about why you have come to believe as you do; and what science and medicine might have done poorly or wrong to exacerbate that. Because by knowing, by admitting our errors and fixing them, we might make this world a little bit better for others as well. However, do not mistake our curiousity for lax standards. We do not need to try the Altie’s own prescription to know that it is wrong, and we are confident in this position too: because history has already tried it for us many times over! The mass starvations of Lysenkoism; the “doctor” cosplaying of the Khmer Rouge; the patent medicine scams across 19th-century America; Radithor; ALL medicine up to the 18th century, the mainstream included.

            Mainstream medicine has gotten to where it is today ONLY by being WRONG itself a great many times first! (And will continue to do so for many years more: never 100% Right, but growing Less-Wrong.)

            That is the lesson we try to impress on you. That being wrong is not your problem; only refusing to consider even the possibility that you are. Because we’ve all done it ourselves too, and from that we have learned.

            But anyway. Thank you very much, Ruthy, for reminding me that I absolutely must stop prevaricating and get my indolent ass moving on paying work now. 🙂

            “I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.” – Douglas Adams

          • Mr. Bjorn Geir

            I’m flattered that you should mention me specifically.

            What happened with MD’s in my past ? …. as many did harm as did good. That’s 50/50… not exactly a vote for “science”. Same goes for my family and friends. So my personal pool of experience doesn’t line up with yours.
            When MD’s can do better than that, I’ll take another try.

            As for good genes, they moistly help if you make good lifestyle choices. Good genes won’t prevent lung cancer if you choose to smoke. Good genes won’t prevent obesity or heart disease if you choose to eat like a pig, or are you aware of the science ?

            I’m sixty-five years old with no health insurance, and no health issues. No drag on the health system from me. I just paid out of pocket for cleaning my teeth.
            I already survived covid-19, and the measles…. without vaccines. Was it really “public health” that saved me ?
            I think not.

            BTW – I’m not against all vaccines all the time for everyone, there is a time and place for vaccines. But this idea of forcing people to accept a medical procedure against their will is nonsense…. pure tyranny.
            In fact, good science says that you don’t attempt to vaccinate the population during a pandemic.

          • Another impressive bit of work from Ruthy – so many logical fallacies in one short post.

            In fact, good science says that you don’t attempt to vaccinate the population during a pandemic.

            Would you care to provide a link to the evidence which supports this assertion that you appear to have pulled out of your arse?

          • Ruthy,

            Good genes won’t prevent lung cancer if you choose to smoke. Good genes won’t prevent obesity or heart disease if you choose to eat like a pig, or are you aware of the science ?

            Yes they will. Not everybody who smokes gets lung cancer and not everybody with a bad diet gets heart disease or even becomes overweight. It is largely our genes which determine our susceptibility to various lifestyle factors. And for those unfortunate enough to pick the short straw from the gene pool (if you can excuse the mixed metaphor) there is only a limited amount that lifestyle changes can achieve.

            My advice is still the same, though, whoever you are:
            1. Don’t smoke
            2. Exercise more
            3. Eat less, mostly plants

          • Doctor

            While I try to respect your education, your thought process is simply rubbish.
            Why follow your recommendations if genetics is all that matters ? … you contradict yourself.

            Genetics only point out a tendency to be predisposed to a specific trait… no life sentence. The environmental element is important.
            A person could easily be predisposed to be a type two diabetic, however with eating the proper diet, that person likely never even test borderline diabetic.
            Aa person could be predisposed to heart disease, but if they live the life of an athlete, chances are their heart is strong and healthy.

          • I did not know that you are also an expert bullshitter in genetics – well done you!

          • @Ruthy

            Genetics only point out a tendency to be predisposed to a specific trait… no life sentence.

            Surely you must have heard of lethal alleles.

            For a second you fooled me into thinking that you are an expert in genetics. Turns out you are suffering from a severe case of proctophasia? I was going to recommend a good proctologist but too bad you don’t believe in “Conmed”.

          • Ah, Ruthy. The joyous conviction of the self-righteous Dunning-Kruger victim.

            You really have no grasp of your foolishness.

            Look up the number of elite sportsmen who have died of cardiac events to which they have had a genetic predisposition. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Coronary artery disease.

            It’s a terrible shame when hard facts and evidence bring your delusions crashing to Earth.

            I suggest you put your fingers in your ears and shout “LALALALA” as loudly as you can. You really don’t want to go learning anything now, do you?

          • Ruthy,

            While I try to respect your education, your thought process is simply rubbish.
            Why follow your recommendations if genetics is all that matters ? … you contradict yourself.

            I don’t think you have read my comment very carefully.

          • EE, Dr, Lenny and Talker

            So, to be clear.
            What you are all claiming is that environmental and social variables have no impact on an individual with regard to influencing their life outcome, in spite of their genetic information.

          • So, to be clear you managed to produce yet more BS

          • So, to be clear.
            What you are all claiming is that environmental and social variables have no impact on an individual with regard to influencing their life outcome, in spite of their genetic information.

            No, Ruthy. We are claiming no such thing. Your reading comprehension is letting you down as, once again, you make words say what you want them to say, not what they do say.

            You are the one who has claimed that the effect of genes can be eliminated by diet and lifestyle.

            A person could be predisposed to heart disease, but if they live the life of an athlete, chances are their heart is strong and healthy.

            We have shown, with evidence, that you are incorrect.

            Again.

            And you, like all Alties, are refusing to learn when your errors are pointed out to you. Exactly as Has explained in their elegant and erudite post.

            Which is why you, like all Alties, will remain no more than an inconsequential, irritating and close-minded troll.

          • Ruthy,

            So, to be clear.
            What you are all claiming is that environmental and social variables have no impact on an individual with regard to influencing their life outcome, in spite of their genetic information.

            If you read either of my last two posts properly it should be clear that this is not what I was saying.

            Take lung cancer, for instance. Most, but not all, cases of lung cancer are in smokers, so clearly smoking is a risk factor (and we know from Doll and Peto's studies that it is causative). Not all smokers get lung cancer, however, so clearly there are other factors and we now also know that there are genetic factors which influence susceptibility.

            Almost all disease is an interplay between genetic and environmental factors. We can to some extent influence the environmental factors through our lifestyle choices, but the extent to which this is possible is also dependent on our genetic make-up, and is less than many people seem to believe. However, it is quite clear that much ill-health and many early deaths could be prevented by not smoking in particular, and by more exercise and less over-eating.

          • I must have misunderstood you. That’s fantastic news, then we all agree.

            Social and environmental factors CAN and DO influence genetic predisposition.

          • “we all agree”
            please count me out in any agreement with you!

    • For those keeping score:

      https://edzardernst.com/2017/08/gerson-therapy-a-treatment-to-avoid-at-all-cost/#comment-134890

      Ruthy is quite good at fluttering eyelashes in the direction of SCAM, then slyly claiming s/he wasn’t even looking in that direction when called out on it. Which, you know, is a technically correct assertion; but one which can’t avoid growing the suspicion that she is doing it deliberately to be a baity troll. Especially when her complaints about conventional medicine mirror the benighted Roger’s in both evidence and usefulness, i.e. none at all†.

      6/10 for disingenuousness; 1/10 for making us give a crap about your weasel words.

      † Oh, and any skeptic here can happily and capably rip on mainstream medicine in general and its various implementations (NHS, US healthcare, etc) all day long, citing both personal observation and linked evidence. We tend not to do it often here because this is a blog about AltMed, and to hammer here constantly on the many deficiencies of mainstream medicine (which we also understand far better than Alties) would constitute Off-Topic thread derails which Prof Ernst would [understandably and quite rightly] terminate. Besides, Alties already do it frequently [and badly] enough already as a pathetic Tu Quoqe to avoid engaging the subject at hand: the many ongoing demonstrated failures of AltMed to do what it claims on the tin. And it’s not our job to sort their incompetence constantly, cleaning up behind them as they litter the place with endless garbage arguments. Motes, Beams, We are not your Servants, etc, etc.

  • Research data on this ever mutating virus can never be available in real time so papers follow months later by which time the data is out of date.
    Right now we have a situation where less people are taking up each subsequent vaccine.
    Look at the data and you can see that despite endless pressures by Govs to vaccinate, the 90 % of the public who took the 1st jab are not all taking the 2nd and then even less are taking the booster jabs.
    People including quite a few scientists and medical people who took the 1st jab or the 1st and 2nd jab simply have decided not to go further.
    So when they offer the booster of the booster jab for the moronic variant then there will be even more people refusing the jab. Most of whom will never have seen an alternative practitioner in their life.
    Linking this decline in vaccination rates to alternative practioners may not be possible in future as the data changes. It is the public who are making their own choices for themselves based on their vaccine experiences.

    • This is the reality all because for the first time, the general public has almost as much fear of the vaccines as the virus. Can we think of any reasons why this might be ? Beginning with how the virus was engineered (gain of function), set loose, and spread all over the globe. Followed by a cover-up.
      And now governments all over the world want to force a medical procedure on the masses. Vaccines that are causing patients harm, and vaccines the are simply not very effective by historical standards.

      hmmm

      • “Can we think of any reasons why this might be?”
        yes, because the loony anti-vaxxers are fear mongers of the first order.
        “the virus was engineered”
        oh, really, do you have any evidence for this statement?

      • That’s a lot of wrong to pack into one short post, Ruthy. Well done.

      • Can we think of any reasons why this might be ?

        Yes, because of conspiracy-theorising ignoramuses like you. And the evidence for labelling you such is right there in your hackneyed tosh of a comment.

        • lol…. ahhh yes.
          When all else fails, resort to name calling and labeling.

          BTW- Did you know that after WWII ended. Neither Stalin nor Eisenhower believed that Hitler was dead…. neither did the FBI, and they searched for him and proof of his death for many years. Then twenty years after the fact, Russia attempted to produce the skull of Hitler, but later is was debunked by DNA evidence. So the world continues till today with the narrative that Hitler and Braun killed themselves, with no good evidence.

          Truth, lie…. or conspiracy ?

      • Can we think of any reasons why this might be ?

        I am glad you asked Ruthy!

        One reason I can think of is the gullible public’s lack of proctophasia detection skills. Most people are not aware of and are not taught how to detect which end of a conspiracy theorist (CT) is producing information, that is of course assuming that a CT can produce accurate information from their front end. Although most sane people that comment on this blog know that CTs tend to spout bullshit from both ends (procto-oro-phasia?), as evident from your post.

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