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Science Forum

  1. 04 Sep '08 03:07
    We've had the discussion here about pseudo scientific cures and non-traditional "medicine" and I think some have asked what's the harm if people feel better?

    This is a site that has compiled a number of cases where someone's been harmed either physically or economically by not thinking critically about these things.

    It is all anecdotal references - i.e. not scientific studies (those that are supported by scientific case studies or reports are here: http://whatstheharm.net/scientificstudies.html )

    http://whatstheharm.net/

    The point is that there often can be harm in thinking that a chiropractor is a real doctor or that, well, homeopathy can replace evidence based medicine.
  2. 04 Sep '08 08:08
    Originally posted by PsychoPawn
    We've had the discussion here about pseudo scientific cures and non-traditional "medicine" and I think some have asked what's the harm if people feel better?

    This is a site that has compiled a number of cases where someone's been harmed either physically or economically by not thinking critically about these things.

    It is all anecdotal references - ...[text shortened]... hiropractor is a real doctor or that, well, homeopathy can replace evidence based medicine.
    I agree that non-traditional treatment can be harmful, I haven't denied that. This site, http://whatstheharm.net/scientificstudies.html, shows just that, I don't deny that.

    I say that you should always try real doctors first, always!

    But then we have the placebo effect. We should never deny that. We've discussed this before, I don't like to repeat my lines of arguments. But the placebo effect is a strong effect. It has been studied and proven many times in scientific studies.

    Hundreds years ago syphilis was treated with mercury by real doctors.
    Seventyfive years ago radioactivity was used for various treatments by real doctors.
    Fifty years ago some mental conditions was cured by lobotomy by real doctors.
    We are still having harmful treatments by real doctors.
    Only the future can tell about the harmful treatments done by today's real doctors.
    But still I think you should go to a real doctor first. If they cannot fix it, then you can go to some other 'doctors' and try some funny treatments that you believe in and hope for the placebo effect to kick in.

    A friend of mine has severe tinnitus, untreatable. Do you think Ginco Biloba can help him? For real or by placebo?
  3. 04 Sep '08 12:57 / 1 edit
    Placebo effect is about as reliable as a polygraph machine--neither work on me at all. Hypnosis: same thing. Bogus
  4. 04 Sep '08 12:59
    Originally posted by PinkFloyd
    Placebo effect is about as reliable as a polygraph machine--neither work on me at all.
    When I know it is a placebo, it doesn't work on me either.
    The thing is to believe in it, then it might work.
    So a large hefty beer, and I'm fit for any game of chess.
  5. 04 Sep '08 13:00
    Originally posted by FabianFnas
    I agree that non-traditional treatment can be harmful, I haven't denied that. This site, http://whatstheharm.net/scientificstudies.html, shows just that, I don't deny that.

    I say that you should always try real doctors first, always!

    But then we have the placebo effect. We should never deny that. We've discussed this before, I don't like to repeat m ...[text shortened]... re tinnitus, untreatable. Do you think Ginco Biloba can help him? For real or by placebo?
    I would argue that hundreds of years ago real doctors didn't really deserve to be called doctors by anything close to our standards.

    One of the major reasons why medicine has advance as it has in basically just the last 100 years is that they have started to truly look at things scientifically and methodically. Yes, there have been grave mistakes and misunderstandings of our own bodies, but we can only choose to use the best knowledge that we have today rather than reject it just because it could be proven wrong in the future.

    Doctors can't fix everything of course. Doctors can't fix cancer or AIDS, but stopping treatment by doctors to go to a homeopath for the placebo effect is idiocy. Complimenting the standard medical practice with herbal medicines is definitely an option, however this should be done in concert with your doctor and not as a replacement.

    Part of the problem with a lot of herbal remedies is that they have side effects that their manufacturers have NO requirement to publish. Also, due to the fact that the are perceived as being neutral, people don't tend to tell their real doctors that they are taking them.

    For example, ginkgo biloba prevents blood clotting and hence should not be taken for a time before surgery. If your friend takes ginkgo biloba regularly and then requires surgery he would be putting himself at risk if he doesn't know this and doesn't stop taking it a good amount of time before his surgery.

    I'm not saying that your friend taking ginkgo biloba is inherently irresponsible. Of all the alternative remedies, I think herbal remedies do have potential since, as opposed to homeopathy, they actually can have a real effect. I just think we need to be aware that these effects haven't been fully tested and there is no standard on dosage.

    The problem is when you think of these things as a replacement. In your friend's case I would say he should still talk to doctors who should be able to prescribe medication to manage pain, etc..at least and make sure they know that he is also taking or considering ginkgo biloba.

    Another question I have is that if you know it's a placebo, does it still have the placebo effect?
  6. 04 Sep '08 13:16
    Originally posted by PsychoPawn
    I would argue that hundreds of years ago real doctors didn't really deserve to be called doctors by anything close to our standards.

    One of the major reasons why medicine has advance as it has in basically just the last 100 years is that they have started to truly look at things scientifically and methodically. Yes, there have been grave mistakes and ...[text shortened]... tion I have is that if you know it's a placebo, does it still have the placebo effect?
    We have to know that many modern medicines are coming from herbal medicine. I can give you examples, but I think youk know what I mean. So herbal medicine is not bad per se.

    You are against non science medicin of more than one reason:

    (1) People are making big money out of peoples ignorance of meaningless substances. I don't like this either.

    (2) Hazardous medicine with sideeffects. If you know the sideeffects, then it's less problems, even normal medicine have sideeffects.

    (3) Placebo effects. Never cheat a patient. Here we disagree.

    (4) Hunting endangered tigers and turtles, and other animals that has no effects in medicine, to get medicine out of it. Well, I think we agree of this too. Here we are talking about chinese medicine.

    (5) Have I forgotten anything?

    We are also talking about medical procedures, like kiropractice and such, but also primal therapy, prayers, yoga and other things that comes out of beliefs. Some are dangerous, some quite harmless.

    About the Ginco Biloba as treatment for tinnitus. My friend belives in it, and he thinks it makes a difference. He doesn't deny that he is taken his Ginco. If a surgery is planned he will tell his doctor about it. This is not mumbo jumbo.
  7. Standard member Palynka
    Upward Spiral
    04 Sep '08 13:22 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by FabianFnas
    When I know it is a placebo, it doesn't work on me either.
    The thing is to believe in it, then it might work.
    So a large hefty beer, and I'm fit for any game of chess.
    What do you think about believing in the use of prayer as a cure?
  8. 04 Sep '08 13:30
    Originally posted by Palynka
    What do you think about believing in the use of prayer as a cure?
    As a placebo? Sure.
    As something instead of normal medicine? Of couse not.
    But it has no effect whatsoever (other than plaebo). This is btw proven once in a double blind test.
  9. Standard member Palynka
    Upward Spiral
    04 Sep '08 13:42
    Originally posted by FabianFnas
    As a placebo? Sure.
    As something instead of normal medicine? Of couse not.
    But it has no effect whatsoever (other than plaebo). This is btw proven once in a double blind test.
    The problem with that is any such treatment is, like you say, that for it to have even a placebo effect then they have to believe it is effective.

    This is where the harm comes from. If people believe them to be effective then eventually there will be people replacing them or even trying it before going to a real doctor and find out what's wrong with them.

    I'm not saying they should be illegal, as this is a bit of a slippery slope argument, but what I'm saying is that the slippery slope is there (ok, bad pun ) and people should be aware of it.
  10. 04 Sep '08 14:12
    Originally posted by Palynka
    The problem with that is any such treatment is, like you say, that for it to have even a placebo effect then they have to believe it is effective.

    This is where the harm comes from. If people believe them to be effective then eventually there will be people replacing them or even trying it before going to a real doctor and find out what's wr ...[text shortened]... saying is that the slippery slope is there (ok, bad pun ) and people should be aware of it.
    If my mother pray to some guy over there that she will be free from her cancer, it's alright by me. If she refuses to go to the doctor because he upstairs is saving her from cancer, then I would certainly object. This is the problem with religion.

    Jehovas Witnesses are refusing blood transfusion because of supersticious reasons, and in US they have the right to commit suicide this way. They have also the right, as a caretaker, to refuse blood transfusion for their children. This is far beyond placebo.
  11. Standard member Palynka
    Upward Spiral
    04 Sep '08 14:13
    Originally posted by FabianFnas
    If my mother pray to some guy over there that she will be free from her cancer, it's alright by me. If she refuses to go to the doctor because he upstairs is saving her from cancer, then I would certainly object. This is the problem with religion.

    Jehovas Witnesses are refusing blood transfusion because of supersticious reasons, and in US they have the ...[text shortened]... ht, as a caretaker, to refuse blood transfusion for their children. This is far beyond placebo.
    That's a different issue. The reason they refuse transfusions is not because they think God will save their lives.
  12. Standard member Bosse de Nage
    Zellulärer Automat
    04 Sep '08 14:21
    Originally posted by Palynka
    What do you think about believing in the use of prayer as a cure?
    Prayer should only be used as a complement to standard medicine, not as a substitute.
  13. 04 Sep '08 14:27
    Originally posted by Palynka
    That's a different issue. The reason they refuse transfusions is not because they think God will save their lives.
    But why are they refusing blood transfusion when they know they're going to die without it? Isn't suicide forbidden to their religion? And when they deny their children blood transfusion, isn't that murder of some degree?
    Therefore, they (falsely) know they will survive without blood transfusion but with gods help?

    I don't understand their refusal. Please, help me to understand.
  14. Standard member Palynka
    Upward Spiral
    04 Sep '08 14:41 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by FabianFnas
    But why are they refusing blood transfusion when they know they're going to die without it? Isn't suicide forbidden to their religion? And when they deny their children blood transfusion, isn't that murder of some degree?
    Therefore, they (falsely) know they will survive without blood transfusion but with gods help?

    I don't understand their refusal. Please, help me to understand.
    There's nothing there to understand. They refuse transfusions because their religion prohibits it, not because they think God will intervene to save their lives.

    It's not seen as suicide (I also don't think all forms of premeditated deaths are suicides), because the purpose of the refusal blood is not to achieve death. Death is just a consequence of the action. Similarly, according to them, you won't go to hell if you willing give your life to push a child away from an incoming truck.

    That said, as a citizen, I think that refusing transfusions for underage children should be criminalized.
  15. 04 Sep '08 14:59
    Originally posted by Palynka
    There's nothing there to understand. They refuse transfusions because their religion prohibits it, not because they think God will intervene to save their lives.

    It's not seen as suicide (I also don't think all forms of premeditated deaths are suicides), because the purpose of the refusal blood is not to achieve death. Death is just a consequence of the a ...[text shortened]... a citizen, I think that refusing transfusions for underage children should be criminalized.
    Sorry, I brought in spiritual matters in the Science Forum.
    Won't happen again, sorry.