Alternative medicine debate

Issue: BCMJ, vol. 49, No. 9, November 2009, Page 473 Letters

I read with interest and enthusiastic support Dr Oppel’s first letter condemning CME credits for what I like to call “so-called alternative medicine” (or SCAM.) I couldn’t agree with him more. I think it is reprehensible that outright quackery can be considered legitimate education for physicians. His response to the “woo woo” thinking of Dr Stephen Faulkner was also right on the money.

However, I disagree with both of them when they agree that “physicians are the most grounded and least gullible group of individuals.” Sadly, that is not true. The level of physician belief and acceptance of nonsense like homeopathy, therapeutic touch, crystal therapy, or even acupuncture is unfortunately quite high. Michael Shermer, president of the Skeptics Society and publisher of Skeptic Magazine, has published a book called Why People Believe Weird Things, and had to have a chapter in it titled, “Why Smart People Believe Weird Things.” In a nutshell, the answer is because they are smart and well educated, they assume they can’t be fooled. They can. The fake healers count on it.

—Tim McDowell, MD

Tim McDowell, MD,. Alternative medicine debate. BCMJ, Vol. 49, No. 9, November, 2009, Page(s) 473 - Letters.

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