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

In so-called alternative medicine (SCAM) we have an amazing number of ‘discoveries’ which – IF TRUE – should have changed the world. Here I list of 10 of my favorites:

  1. Diluting and shaking a substance makes it not weaker but stronger.

Homeopaths call this process ‘potentisation’. They use it to produce highly ‘potent’ remedies that contain not a single molecule of the original substance. The assumption is that potentisation transfers energy or information. Therefore, they claim, molecules are no longer required for achieving a clinical effect.

2. A substance that causes a certain symptom in a healthy person can be used to cure that symptom when it occurs in a patient.

The ‘like cures like’ principle of homeopathy is based on the notion that the similimum provokes an artificial disease which in turn defeats the condition the patient is suffering from.

3. Subluxations of the spine are the cause of most diseases that affect us humans.

DD Palmer, the inventor of chiropractic, insisted that almost all diseases are due to subluxations. These misplaced vertebrae, he claimed, are the root cause of any disease by inhibiting the flow of the ‘innate’ which in turn caused ill health.

4. Adjusting such subluxations is the best way to restore health.

Palmer, therefore, was sure that only adjustments of these subluxations were able to restore health. All other medical interventions were useless or even dangerous, in his view. Thus Palmer opposed medicines or vaccinations.

5. An imbalance of two life forces is the cause of all illnesses.

Practitioners of TCM believe that all illnesses originate from an energetic imbalance. Harmony between the two life forces ‘yin and yang’ means health.

6. Balance can be restored by puncturing the skin at specific points.

Acupuncturists are convinced that their needling is nothing less than attacking the root cause of his or her problem. Therefore, they are convinced that acupuncture is a cure-all.

7. Our organs are represented in specific areas on the sole of our feet.

Reflexologists have maps of the sole of a foot where specific organs of the body are located. They palpate the foot and when they feel a gritty area, they conclude that the corresponding organ is in trouble.

8. Massaging these areas will positively influence the function of specific organs.

Once the diseased or endangered organ is identified, the area in question needs to be massaged until the grittiness disappears. This intervention, in turn, will have a positive influence on the organ in question.

9. Healing energy can be sent into our body where it stimulates the self-healing process and restores health.

Various types of energy healers are convinced that they can transmit energy that comes from a divine or other source into a patient’s body. The energy enables the body to heal itself. Thus, energy healing is a panacea and does not even require a proper diagnosis to be effective.

10. Toxins accumulate in our bodies and must be eliminated through a wide range of SCAMs.

The toxins in question can originate from within the body and/or from the outside. They accumulate and make us sick. Therefore, we need to eliminate them, and the best way to achieve this is to use this or that SCAM

 

I could, of course, list many more such ‘discoveries’ – SCAM is full of them. They are all quite diverse but have one important thing in common: they are false (i.e. there is no good evidence for them and they fly in the face of science).

If they were true, they would have changed the world by revolutionizing science, physics, physiology, anatomy, pathology, therapeutics, etc.

ALL THESE UGLY FACTS DESTROYING SUCH BEAUTIFUL THEORIES!

WHAT A SHAME!!!

32 Responses to 10 SCAM ‘discoveries’ that did not change the world

  • It’s easy to forget that, as shown above, alternative medicine always uses alternative human physiology.

  • And alternative mentation.

    Except of course that many camists know perfectly well what they are up to.
    “Practitioners of TCM believe that all illnesses originate from an energetic imbalance.
    Harmony between the two life forces ‘yin and yang’ means health.”

    What is the evidence TCM camists believe this?
    I know they say they do – but do they, really?
    How is it ever going to be possible to ‘out’ them short of confessions?

    I take the stance that ‘extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence’ and therefore we should take it as a given that camists are scamists/charlatans/frauds unless and until shown otherwise.
    It’s up to them to ‘proove it’ not simply demonstrate ‘faith’.

    I also contend that SCAM ‘discoveries’ do change the world – for it is out of this mindset that emerges all the fakery, false news and bonkers ideas (Johnson B.) which is harming the world.

    That’s why Prof Ernst’s blog is so important!

    A healthy, and an honest, New Year to all!

  • A pervading myth among alternative practitioners is that they treat the root causes of illness, not just the symptoms. However homeopathy (for example) is based entirely on symptoms. Homeopaths go no further than to question the patient about symptoms. Other practitioners simply invent causes. Go to a chiropractor with a headache and they will say you have a subluxation, while the acupuncturist will say your qi is out of balance. Can they both be right?

    I think it’s time for regulators to get tougher. Even if quacks skilfully avoid overt claims in marketing material to treat a disease, claims that they have special knowledge about disease should still be considered false and misleading.

  • Some of DD Palmer’s original tenets:

    1. Impulses are properly transmitted through the nerves, and produce normal functions in a state of health.

    2. Any sort of pressure upon any part of the nervous system affects the efficiency of the nervous system, exaggerating or diminishing its capacity for transmitting impulses.

    3. Pressure can be caused by substances adjacent to the nerve(s), by irritation of the sensory nerves, by toxins which can irritate sensory nerves, including muscular contractions with a resultant pulling of the bone out of its correct position.

    4. Slight pressure upon a nerve irritates; increase of irritation produces alteration of function which may develop even to a degree of paralysis.

    Law, D. (1975). A guide to alternative medicine. New York: Hippocrene Books, p 71

    From: Ward, Cody L., “Osteopathic and Chiropractic: An Examination of the Patient-Physician Relationship in Their Respective Practices” (2015). Honors Theses. Paper 403.

      • My hero? You assume a lot.

      • What DD was purposing was not anything new. Andrew Still was making similar claims prior to 1895.

        “Still’s claims to a new healing science based on adjusting bones to cure all manner of bodily ailments.3”

        A. J. Steele, “The Osteopathic Fad,” in Transactions of the Medical Association of the State
        of Missouri, at Its Thirty-Eighth Annual Session, Held at Hannibal, Mo., May 21st, 1895
        (Columbia, MO: E. W. Stephens, Printer and Binder, 1895): 344.

        From: MAKING THE FRONTIER’S ANATOMICAL ENGINEERS:
        OSTEOPATHY, A. T. STILL (1828–1917),
        HIS ACOLYTES AND PATIENTS
        A DISSERTATION IN
        History
        and
        Humanities Consortium
        Presented to the Faculty of the University
        of Missouri-Kansas City in partial fulfillment of
        the requirements for the degree
        DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
        By
        MATTHEW ARTHUR REEVES
        B. A., Central Methodist University, 2008
        M. A., University of Missouri-Kansas City, 2014

        One can also go back and look at the claims of early bonesetters and others that practiced spinal manipulation.

        What the above shows is that DD had a progression of thought processes that lead him to this thinking/observation.

        Oh, and the “changing of the world”, in a way these early altmed practices did “change the world” in that they “forced” the medical profession to evaluate how they incorporated their remedies into practice. It probably would have happened eventually anyway, but chiropractic/homeopathy/etc was an early driving force in changing medical practices.

        • but chiropractic/homeopathy/etc was an early driving force in changing medical practices.

          Are they still a driving force in 21st century? If so, provide examples and references please.

          • With this hundred year battle?

            In 1987, United States District Judge Susan Getzendanner found the AMA and its codefendants guilty of violating the Sherman Antitrust Act. In her decision, Getzendanner asserted that “the AMA decided to contain and eliminate chiropractic as a profession” and that it was the AMA’s intent “to destroy a competitor”

            https://journalofethics.ama-assn.org/article/chiropractics-fight-survival/2011-06

          • DC,

            I tend not to believe everything I read, esp. propaganda pieces written by chrios about chiropractic. Beside, you haven’t really answered my question, neither did the article you cited.

          • The main of the chiropractic profession today doesn’t have the desire to change today’s medical practices other than perhaps the treatment of nonspecific MSK conditions.

          • So, the 100 year battle article you posted rather than answering my question is a diversionary tactic and to promote chiro’s propaganda.

            The main of the chiropractic profession today doesn’t have the desire to change today’s medical practices other than perhaps the treatment of nonspecific MSK conditions.

            Perhaps that is because conventional medicine has progressed way beyond what chiropractic can achieve.

          • “ So, the 100 year battle article you posted rather than answering my question is a diversionary tactic and to promote chiro’s propaganda.”

            Nope. It was to show that there was an long and aggressive agenda by the AMA to eliminate the profession which inhibited the professions growth.

    • Also from your source:
      “Palmer claimed he had the capacity to cure someone with a sore throat and the ability to raise a woman from the dead”

      • what is your source for DD claiming he could raise a woman from the dead?

        • Obviously, you didn’t bother to read the source that you referenced:

          Ward, Cody L., “Osteopathic and Chiropractic: An Examination of the Patient-Physician Relationship in Their Respective Practices” (2015). Honors Theses. Paper 403.

          • Oh, you mean this from his pre-chiropractic days?

            “…seventy-five- year-old Mrs. E. M. Hoxie “raised from death unto life” after six treatments.”

            Nature Cures: The History of Alternative Medicine in America
            By James C. Whorton

            She wasn’t dead.

          • ‘DC’ wrote: “She wasn’t dead.”

            Again, obviously.

            As I wrote previously, the source you referenced states:
            “Palmer claimed he had the capacity to cure someone with a sore throat and the ability to raise a woman from the dead”

          • Don’t believe everything you read.

          • ‘DC’ wrote: “Don’t believe everything you read.”

            I don’t, especially when it’s written by an anonymous Internet poster who not only promotes quackery, they also can’t be bothered to read the source material they cite.

            “Chiropractic is the correct term for the collection of deceptions DD Palmer invented.”
            — Björn Geir Leifsson, MD.

          • Sigh.

            Provide evidence that I promote quackery.

            How do you know I didn’t read it but rather was attempting to get him to find and read the reference so he can see that the statement was wrong?

            I remain anonymous for good reasons for which I won’t explain again.

            I have no major issues with Bjorn. He usually raises some good points, he just tends to come short on viable solutions (not that it’s his responsibility but without solutions he is just complaining like most skeptics).

            Now do you have anything to add to the original topic of Palmer or are you just here to waste other people’s time?

          • ‘DC’ wrote: “Provide evidence that I promote quackery.”

            LOL!

          • DC wrote: “Provide evidence that I promote quackery.”

            Pete Attkins: LOL!

            I’ll take it that you can’t provide evidence that I promote quackery.

            Quackery:

            False representation of a substance, device or therapeutic system as being beneficial in treating a medical condition, diagnosing a disease, or maintaining a state of health. Sevens’ Medical Dictionary. © 2012 Farlex, Inc.

            False representation of a substance, device or therapeutic system as being beneficial in treating a medical condition–eg, ‘snake oil’ remedies, diagnosing a disease, or maintaining a state of health; eliberate misrepresentation of the ability of a substance or device to prevent or treat disease. McGraw-Hill Concise Dictionary of Modern Medicine. © 2002

  • All illness and disease is due to a lack pharmaceuticals drugs in an individual’s system. If the populace would simply allow the drugs companies and their medical doctor’s to prescribe these safe drugs and procedures and dictate their life options this would make the world a happier and healthier place for the medico- legal complex. Controlling and dictating what an individual can, does, and puts in their body should be under the auspices of 1 organization and become law. The Monopoly goal of eliminating all others individual health options would then be realized by the medico-pharmaceutical complex. Let’s face it their record of repeatable scientific health outcomes is flawless. Then the paid off propagandist shills promoting this post would no longer be needed and they can get a real job. Remember only drugs and med procedures GIVE and keep health.

    • a failed attempt at humor!

    • @jingo ist

      I like your vision, but allow me to present an alt-vision.

      I envision a world where alt-med practitioners like me are allowed to practice freely without any laws and regulations from the nanny state and/or any other pesky scientific organizations that are stuck on rather clunky and anachronistic ideals of science-based medicine. Because we all know that in a free market economy, any kind of regulation is bad and stifles innovation.

      Once the pseudoscience-based medicine (PBM) practitioners are freed from the suffocating clutches of laws and regulations, they will let their imagination run free and invent many more fantastical modalities (quantum cowpathy by yours truly, anyone?) that improve people’s lives by flushing out toxins from their bodies and money from their bank accounts at the same time. Also, when many different types of PBMs are allowed to flourish in a free market economy, a healthy competition develops among them which will most definitely lead to massive advances in bilking money from gullible public. There is absolutely no downside to this, and it is great for the economy and creates a job market for many. One doesn’t need much in terms of education to enter the PBM market, just a vibrant sense of imagination is all that is required. I never thought I would see this vision come to fruition but thanks to the pandemic, we are very close to achieving my vision.

  • Alternate medicine proven to work isn’t alternate medicine.

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