Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Do You Believe In Magic?

You do, if you use homeopathy, acupuncture, chiropractic, Reiki, some kind of faith healing, and countless other alternative medicine modalities that have absolutely no roots in modern science, reality and critical thinking. Most of them are just ways of "wishing away" the problem, and while some might "work" as a placebo, the might have some dangers associated with their use, and, when used instead of real medical interventions, all of them can be deadly (see here, here, and here).

So, why do we do it? Because we want miracles? Because we don't know any better? Because science is complex and, sometimes, difficult to understand? Probably, all of the above.

It is good to know that we can count on a few brave authors, who do the research, dig out the details and present it in a nice fashion, digestible by the regular folks like us. Among them is Paul Offit, a medical doctor, a researcher, and a strong proponent of reality-based medicine, including vaccines. His previous books, "Autism False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine and the Search For a Cure", and "Deadly Choices" were both excellent descriptions of the vaccine "controversy", how it started, evolved from bad science to social movement, and how it threatens our health and the well-being (and lives) of our children. Knowing his great writing style and deep commitment to science and research, I was very excited to find out that his new book "Do You Believe in Magic?: The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine" is out. I should have more of my own thoughts about it in a few days (or weeks, it's summer after all), but in the meantime, here are two reviews available on line:

Book raises alarms about alternative medicine - from USA Today, by Liz Szabo
and
Vaccine advocate takes on the alternative medicine industry - NBC News

There is also more on the topic from Liz Szabo: Alternative therapies, supplements can cause side effects and How to guard against a quack

Go, read it all, and stop believing in magic. It's the 21st Century!