My second entry into this competition is so special that I will show you its complete, unadulterated abstract. Here it is:


To compare the safety differences between Chinese medicine (CM) and Western medicine (WM) based on Chinese Spontaneous Reporting Database (CSRD).


Reports of adverse events (AEs) caused by CM and WM in the CSRD between 2010 and 2011 were selected. The following assessment indicators were constructed: the proportion of serious AEs (PSE), the average number of AEs (ANA), and the coverage rate of AEs (CRA). Further comparisons were also conducted, including the drugs with the most reported serious AEs, the AEs with the biggest report number, and the 5 serious AEs of interest (including death, anaphylactic shock, coma, dyspnea and abnormal liver function).


The PSE, ANA and CRA of WM were 1.09, 8.23 and 2.35 times higher than those of CM, respectively. The top 10 drugs with the most serious AEs were mainly injections for CM and antibiotics for WM. The AEs with the most reports were rash, pruritus, nausea, dizziness and vomiting for both CM and WM. The proportions of CM and WM in anaphylactic shock and coma were similar. For abnormal liver function and death, the proportions of WM were 5.47 and 3.00 times higher than those of CM, respectively.


Based on CSRD, CM was safer than WM at the average level from the perspective of adverse drug reactions.


Perhaps there will be readers who do not quite understand why I find this paper laughable. Let me try to answer their question by suggesting a few other research subjects of similar farcicality.

  • A comparison of the safety of vitamins and chemotherapy.
  • A study of the relative safety of homeopathic remedies and antibiotics.
  • An investigation into the risks of sky diving in comparison with pullover knitting.
  • A study of the pain caused by an acupuncture needle compared to molar extraction.

In case my point is still not clear: comparing the safety of one intervention to one that is fundamentally different in terms of its nature and efficacy does simply make no sense. If one wanted to conduct such an investigation, it would only be meaningful, if one would consider the risk-benefit balance of both treatments.

The fact that this is not done here discloses the above paper as an embarrassing attempt at promoting Traditional Chinese Medicine.



In case you wonder about the affiliations of the authors and their support:

  1. School of Management, Nanjing University of Posts and Telecommunications, Nanjing, 210003, China
    Jian-xiang Wei
  2. School of Internet of Things, Nanjing University of Posts and Telecommunications, Nanjing, 210003, China
    Zhi-qiang Lu, Guan-zhong Feng & Yun-xia Zhu

The review was supported by the Major Project of Philosophy and Social Science Research in Jiangsu Universities and the Postgraduate Research & Practice Innovation Program of Jiangsu Province, China.

2 Responses to The ‘WORST PAPER OF 2022’ COMPETITION. Entry No 2: the safety differences between Chinese medicine and Western medicine

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