One of my pet peeves involves pseudoscience and the scams perpetuated by the quacks that try to pass it off as real science. The most heinous of these scams involves “natural” or “alternative” medicine. Some of these frauds are chiropractory, homeopathy, acupuncture, faith healing, the supplement industry—basically anything that tries to pass as a legitimate medicine without actually having any scientific studies to back them up. I am all for finding new medicines and methods for improving our lives and making us healthier. Ideally what I would like to see is "alternative medicine" follow the scientific method and set up rigorous studies to prove their efficacy. To be sure, there are a few studies here and there, but they can hardly be called scientific. At best they are preliminary studies.
When the further studies are done, tightening the controls of the previous studies, perceived results disappear. One study that I would like to submit compares "real" acupuncture to "fake" acupuncture--both were shown to have the same effect. However, instead of admitting defeat, the alternative medicine frauds simply rely on the older, less controlled studies--or worse, create their own pseudoscientific studies.
While discussing this issue with a friend he brought up the placebo effect. If folks think the alternative medicine is working, and therefore it does work, what’s the harm? That’s a very common sentiment—what’s the harm? I believe there is a lot of harm in apathy of alternative medicine, and was delighted to learn about a website that shared my belief.
I offer the website as substantial evidence for my premise:
What's The Harm?