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Celebrate Acupuncture Awareness Week with a poll

Apparently, someone decided 27 February-4 March is Acupuncture Awareness Week. I’m happy to help out.

You should be aware that acupuncture is total bollocks.

There. Is that enough? No, it is not. We must also crash a stupid online poll. Devastate it, please. It’s on a site run by dishonest quacks, so I think we have the potential to smash their poll so thoroughly that either they a) shut it down in embarrassment, or b) start faking the numbers.

Do you think acupuncture should be made more widely available on the NHS?

Yes 79.3%
No 20.7%

Somebody tell me why they have a gigantic picture of a happy family that totally dwarfs their tiny three line poll on the page?

Comments

  1. David Marjanović says

    Yes: 279
    No: 76
    Total votes: 355

    So few votes? We’re going to pharyngulate that to within the error margin for counting the votes!

  2. steve oberski says

    It sez I have already voted.

    Not true, but perhaps it divined my nefarious intention to vote multiple times.

    I suspect shenanigans going on behind this poll.

  3. Sophia Dodds says

    Oh bloody hell! Acupuncture seems to be one of those things that’s crept unhindered into mainsteam medical practices. I’ve had two separate physiotherapists say they wanted to use it on me. Next time I’m going to ask them why they don’t just offer homeopathy instead, it’s a cheaper and less painful placebo, and just as goddamned effective. GAH.

  4. timothyeisele says

    There’s a private medical clinic in town that used to have a sign out front that said “Try Acupuncture for Pain”. Whenever I saw this, I would think of a scenario kind of like this:

    Acupuncturist: Now hold still . . . [Jab]
    Patient: Ow! Hey, that hurt!
    A: Well, what did you expect? Didn’t you read the sign? [Jab]
    P: Ow!
    [and so on]

  5. Marcus Hill says

    We’ve already got it over 50% no. Also, they have not one, but two stupid graphics to show the results.

  6. grumpy1942 says

    Me too. I ticked the “No” button and it told me I had already voted. I’ve never been on that site before.

  7. Louis says

    That’s it, I am getting Pratchettian Retro-phrenology approved for use on the NHS. I have a few mates in the MHRA and NICE.

    It will be approved for use solely on people who do NOT have any form of mental illness, unless they have a mental illness and also promote blathering woo. Why? Because under the Glorious Coalition ConDemNation Government, people with mental illnesses are Particularly Fucked* as it is. No need to hit them on the head with a series of carefully weighted mallets in order to bring about personality corrections.

    There are times when one is caused to despair. It makes one wish for a tipple a mite stronger than tea.

    Louis

    *This is the approved scientific, medical and political terminology for the current state of affairs.

  8. Marcus Hill says

    Once you vote, it reloads the page (and thus shows the results and “you’ve voted” rather than the question). Just open the page and reload every so often to watch the stampede in real time – 62% of over 800 votes now.

  9. AsqJames says

    In somewhat related news, this morning’s episode of Jim Al-Khalili’s The Life Scientific was with Iain Chalmers on Evidence Based Medicine. I couldn’t listen to it live, but it will be on iTunes when I get home and is available on the BBC iPlayer. Suspect it’s mostly focused on how EBM has improved, and continues to improve, real health care, but now I’m kind of hoping acupuncture gets a thorough roasting too.

  10. Kevin nyc says

    I loved going to my acupuncture doc. She was a little old Chinese lady and she put on soothing chinese music and used PACKS of needles.

    My knees always hurt (I now have implants) and my calfs hurt.

    She would start with my ear and work her way down… bang! bang! push with her fingers.. “do this hurt” here? and when she pushed a certain spot it would be like ouch! and then she would plant a needle right in there. so some in ears and head and chest.. then knees and calves.. and then the foot.. ouch.. foot needles hurt the worst.

    Then 20 to 30 minutes under the lamp… she would take the needles out and I would feel great! nice bounce in my step.. much less pain.

    I would last about a week or so. She also told me to take magnesium for the calf cramps. she says… take as much as you need to get the diarrhea .. then take less. the dose is that just under… that seemed to help a lot.

    so.. whatever reason it works. lying on that table, under the heat lamp, stuck full of pins, listening to the music… it was great!

  11. glenmorangie10 says

    If ever I feel a glimmer of doubt in my conviction that acupuncture is not just bollocks, but is actively harmful, I follow the Quackcast’s advice and do a google image search for “safe acupuncture”. Behold all of the pictures of bare, ungloved hands touching bare skin where needles are about to be inserted or have just been inserted. By all means, guy who doesn’t believe in germ theory, please touch my open wounds.

  12. Marcus Hill says

    An hour of pharyngulation when most of the horde haven’t woken up yet has practically reversed the stats (76.8% no now), so I comfortably predict this will be a dead poll soon enough. I wonder if the acupuncturists will leave it on view much longer…

  13. Synfandel says

    Please don’t flame me. I’m just wondering…

    While we might believe that the traditional Chinese medicine explanation of how accupuncture works doesn’t gibe with our evidence-based understanding of the world, do we have good, scientific evidence—with proper sample sizes, randomization, double blinds, etc.—to show that it does not in fact work (or that it does) better than placebo? Can you point to the studies?

  14. aaronsavadge says

    The thing that really gets me is I’ve seen acupuncture practiced at otherwise reputable hospitals by people with actual doctorates. It gives people a false sense of respect for it that only makes this alternative medicine crap more desirable for idiots who believe in it.

  15. Gregory Greenwood says

    81.7% for ‘NO’ – poll crushed, by your command*.

    ——————————————————————

    * Imagine a mechanistic, Cylon-style tone of voice here. The fundies like to claim that we are inhuman automatons because we don’t believe in their sky fairy, so we should at least get the cool voice effects.

  16. sirbedevere says

    Note that it’s logging IP addresses so you can’t vote twice from the same IP (even if you clear your cache and cookies or use a different browser). Perhaps those who couldn’t vote even once may be behind a firewall or router where many computers would present the same IP to the hosting site?

  17. jollywahlstrom says

    @Synfandel: It doesn’t work that way. They have to prove it DOES work better than placebo and yes, there are more and more studies showing it doesn’t work. In fact, poor and small studies show a possibility that there is something there but as the studies get bigger and more exacting, the possibility shrinks to nothing. This is one of the most obvious signs that something is crap.

  18. mikeeslea says

    @ Synfandel

    Fans of acupuncture can cite hundreds of studies that support them, but the problem is that the placebos are not very convincing so the studies are never really blind. The better the placebo, the smaller the effect – and reviews that include study quality (rather than just summing all the crappy trials) find no evidence of any effect beyond placebo. You can see me trying out some placebo needles here http://punkpsychologist.blogspot.com/2008/10/placebo-needles-in-acupuncture-do-they.html

    The best recent review of acupuncture research is probably Barker Bausell’s “Snake Oil Science”

  19. ikesolem says

    If there’s anything more unscientific than an ‘online poll’ . . . heavy response bias, poor study design, etc. etc. Why does anyone takes such things seriously?

    As far as acupuncture, it seems the ‘qi’ theory behind it has little if any scientific basis, but as far as the practical efficacy, there might be something to it, according to a few NIH-funded studies:

    1997, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) began evaluating the safety and effectiveness of acupuncture as a complementary and alternative therapy. . . The strongest evidence of the effect of acupuncture has come from clinical trials on the use of acupuncture to relieve nausea and vomiting.

    site:http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/cam/acupuncture/patient/page2

    So, that’s as an adjunct treatment for chemotherapy in cancer patients. The main risk appears to be non-sterile needles, which the FDA now regulates. Obviously, acupuncture alone would be a bad idea for treating cancer, though, which is probably more the gist here?

    Actually, cannabis (THC) is a more effective anti-nausea medication, but the DEA and FDA still refuse to allow that on a national basis (but many states have passed their own laws on that, based on clinical studies: http://www.cannabis-med.org/studies/study.php)

    Here’s an online poll: what’s the more effective cancer anti-nausea therapy: cannabinoids, acupuncture or Xanax?

    (Yes Xanax is FDA-approved for treatment of anxiety linked to chemotherapy nausea – it’s perfectly safe, too, just ask Whitney Houston).

  20. eoleen says

    THEY’VE BEEN PHARANGULATED!!!! The numbers now read (as of 11:02 EST) NO: 82.8 % = 1672, YES: 17.2% = 348

  21. Kevin Anthoney says

    Somebody tell me why they have a gigantic picture of a happy family that totally dwarfs their tiny three line poll on the page?

    They’ve tried to “dilute” the poll on the page with the massive photo, thereby making it stand out more.

  22. pandurata says

    Link won’t work anymore for me. Just wanted to check on the progress and received an error message… Didn’t take long to break our new toy, now did it?

  23. davidbuck says

    If you look at the home page, they’ve closed the poll and put the results back to:

    No: 22.6%
    Yes: 77.4%

    With 287 votes

    They ask for public feedback then fudge the numbers when they don’t get what they want. Typical.

  24. rezimotoboleht says

    RE: 15 Synfandel

    Searching PubMed for acupuncture gives a lot of results. I don’t really have the time to even begin skimming all the articles. Many of the abstracts seem to be reporting negative results. Some claim to show an effect of acupuncture on such and such a condition, although the sample sizes are probably questionable.

    I think the interesting papers are the ones looking at physiological responses to acupuncture, for instance I skimmed this one “Effects of acupuncture on Th1, th2 cytokines in rats of implantation failure” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3270570/, which is a follow up of another study that apparently shows that acupuncture increases the chance of implantation of embryos in women following in vitro fertilization. I’ll grant you that it’s in a journal that I’ve never heard of before, from an institute that probably has an agenda for promoting acupuncture, but… well, it’s still interesting to learn how organisms react when you stick them with needles, right?

    As far as I’m aware, biologists would not suggest that an animal has absolutely no physiological response when it is stuck with a needle. So, if it is the case that sticking a needle into a particular tissue causes a predictable response (and I’m not sure that this has been established, but it seems possible), then doesn’t acupuncture technically work in principle? Of course, whether or not it produces the effect claimed by the acupuncturist is a different issue. Based on my limited knowledge of this field, the questions that remain to be addressed would be something like A) what are the responses, B) how predictable are the responses, C) can we use these responses to help people?

    I certainly have no personal investment in acupuncture. Please feel free to respond critically.

  25. Marcus Hill says

    Of course, you could all email the british acupuncture council (site linked from the poll site, nice little “contact us” link) to ask why they took away their survey when the results weren’t going their way, and if they treat real science with the same selective filter.

  26. Jerry says

    Kevin,
    Let’s see, you go to your acupuncture treatment when you are in pain. Typically, people go at the peak of pain, when they cannot stand the pain any more. Simply waiting will relieve many instances of muscle pain, as the body heals itself, which usually gets no credit. You expect relief (placebo effect). From your acupuncturist, you get also time under a heat lamp, rubbing (massage), relaxation, magnesium supplement, as well as being poked with pins. How can you expect to separate the effect of pins from everything else? (AND you have no control group.) Given all of that, she believes in it (and gets paid) and you still want to believe, so you both reinforce the bias in favor of pin poking.

    On the other hand, as other people have pointed out, meta-analysis of carefully controlled acupuncture studies do not show anything more than the placebo effect. Sorry, no, much as you want to believe in this woo, the plural of anecdote is not data. As far as “where’s the harm?”, well, you are risking infection, wasting your time and money on a sham, and leaving yourself open to other mystical non-science “therapy”. Sci-ence.org has a good takedown of acupuncture (along with lots of other mystical woo) at http://sci-ence.org/series/the-ghosts-of-woo-acupuncture/

  27. eigenperson says

    Well, I can see the poll, but voting does not appear to do anything. I think they broke it.

    On the other hand, maybe if I voted “yes,” they’d tally my vote, but since I voted “no,” it’s being thrown into the bit bucket….

  28. SallyStrange: bottom-feeding, work-shy peasant says

    Yeah, it’s broken. Nice stock photo on the front page, though.

  29. says

    One could consider acupuncture as having long-term mortality evidence against it. If the argument is that it has a beneficial effect over time, we would expect to see that life-spans in China would have been measurably (even by a small amount) better than the rest of the non-accupuncture-practicing world. If “traditional chinese medicine” worked for thousands of years, it would have been “traditional worldwide medicine” pretty quickly. In fact what we see is that life-spans worldwide only started to jump up because of the discovery of the bacterial model of infection and virology.

    The very ancient-ness of “traditional chinese medicine” is the best argument I know against its efficacy!

    Of course we also know that “traditional chinese medicine” is hardly traditional or ancient, and was largely propaganda promoted by Mao after the Chinese killed off most of their educated population following the revolution. Killing off their doctors didn’t help them a whole lot, either (though I’m sure they imported a few for the party elite) That’s a kind of a republican-style “good for the rich, not so good for the rest of you” medicare system, huh?

  30. Kevin nyc says

    well.. again.. I did it.. and I liked it!! She used gloves and new needles. she cleaned the ears and feet with some alcohol, but not all over the body.

    at times I got a great buzz on and felt I was floating. I left relaxed and happy. She never made any claims it would fix my knees. sometimes she would grunt things like “oohh you have big appetite!.. ohh you have fire in belly ! ” but mostly she just went to work.

    I think the 50 or so needles had some effect.

  31. says

    @Marcus Hill #38

    Excellent suggestion! Here’s what I sent:

    I’m not sure how closely you are affiliated with introducingacupuncture.co.uk, but I found the link to your site through theirs.

    Today, Feb. 28, 2012, they ran a poll that asked, “Do you think acupuncture should be made more widely available on the NHS?”. In short order the numbers ran up to over 80% responding “No”.

    Shortly after reaching those numbers, the poll was closed (or at least became non-responsive to votes), and the results reverted back to an earlier total that completely INVERTS the percentages.

    While it is true that internet polls are useless in establishing anything other than the views of a self-selected group of respondents, why would a group even bother to ask the question if the results are dismissed when they run contrary to the expected (or hoped for) result?

    I say, without reservation, that the actions of introducingacupuncture.co.uk are dispicable and dishonest.

    Are you prepared to defend their actions? Is your organization supportive of these dishonest tactics?

    Yours truly,
    blah blah blah

    I’m not sure what effect, if any, an e-mail will have on these folks, or if I’ll receive a response at all, but it sure makes me feel a lot better to have challenged their ridiculous ostrich view of reality.

  32. Kevin nyc says

    “Let’s see, you go to your acupuncture treatment when you are in pain. Typically, people go at the peak of pain, when they cannot stand the pain any more.”

    no, it was chronic pain… treatments were scheduled weeks in advance.

  33. Kevin nyc says

    ” well, you are risking infection, wasting your time and money on a sham, and leaving yourself open to other mystical non-science “therapy””

    well.. except none of those things happened. I thought the $60 bucks was well worth it for the effect. Do I care that it was acupuncture? no. not really.

  34. you_monster says

    so.. whatever reason it works. lying on that table, under the heat lamp, stuck full of pins, listening to the music… it was great!

    The reason in “worked” was the placebo effect.

    Try getting a nice massage next time. You can still listen to your music, relax, feel a little better, and you will save some money. Sugar pills are tasty too.

  35. Kevin nyc says

    and sorry for the many posts but as I go back to Jerrys’ comments I find something else…

    “Simply waiting will relieve many instances of muscle pain, as the body heals itself, which usually gets no credit”

    err.. no. This was pain due to loss of cartilage in the knees. was not repairable. I finally got a double knee replacement last year. works great! still some pain from the operation but getting less all the time. and my knees work smoothly.

    so.. did acupuncture “cure” anything. no. it was a temporary relief from pain symptoms. was it due to the heat lamp? no.

    was it in my head? well .. I think everything is in my head so who cares?

  36. Chuck says

    Family doctor here.

    I seem to remember reading a journal article about how the effects of acupuncture were blockable by naloxone (Narcan, used to reverse opiate overdoses). The theory was that stimulating the nerve endings with needles tricked the body into thinking it was feeling significant pain, which then caused a release of the body’s own opiates to counteract it (as happens with fractures or other trauma). The chi explanation was of course bogus woo but acupuncture did seem to have some pain-relieving effect. I don’t think it mattered where the needles were applied.

    Should it be used in modern medicine? I don’t recommend it to my patients, even though we have an acupuncturist MD across the street from my clinic. It just seems like a lot of trouble to go to when other methods have been proven safe and effective. For chronic pain I’d rather them see a pain specialist (usually an anesthesiologist) than screw around with needles several times a week.

  37. you_monster says

    ” well, you are risking infection, wasting your time and money on a sham, and leaving yourself open to other mystical non-science “therapy””

    well.. except none of those things happened. I thought the $60 bucks was well worth it for the effect. Do I care that it was acupuncture? no. not really.

    What do you mean none of those things happened? Some certainly did. You did put yourself needlessly at risk of infection. Acupuncture is a sham medicine, and you certainly opened yourself up to a “mystical non-science therapy”. Perhaps you don’t consider your $60 bucks wasted. I guess it is your prerogative to spend your money on pretend treatments and consider it well spent.

  38. Kevin nyc says

    “You can still listen to your music, relax, feel a little better, and you will save some money. ”

    a quick search found a 1 hr threapeutic massage at an intro price of $75. plus tax and tip. regular rates higher…

    I think, and have said before, that attacks on non-woo acupuncture are misguided. let’s all worry about … GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE!!

  39. Kevin nyc says

    “What do you mean none of those things happened? ”

    I mean I did not get an infection, I did not waste my money IMO, and was not more open to woo effects.

  40. you_monster says

    I think, and have said before, that attacks on non-woo acupuncture are misguided. let’s all worry about … GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE!!

    Show me an example of a non-woo acupuncturist.

    What the fuck is your point with mentioning climate change? Sorry for the salty language, I get testy when people are supporting pseudo-medicine. People forego actual treatment for bullshit, and people like you are partly responsible.

  41. you_monster says

    I mean I did not get an infection, I did not waste my money IMO, and was not more open to woo effects.

    Are you stupid or dense? The claim was that you opened yourself up to a “RISK of infection”, which is true. Would you say playing russian roulette does not pose a risk, simply because you played it once and didn’t shoot yourself?

  42. Grumps says

    I had acupuncture 10 years ago for alcohol addiction. They do it in your ears. Not only did it not work (surprise!!, but I was under orders to cooperate so I went along for a couple of sessions) but it was painful. Not sure which was more irritating, the 10 needles in my ears or the bloody whale-song music.

  43. Kevin nyc says

    “and people like you are partly responsible.”

    now you are getting crazy. please explain in detail HOW I have made “people forego actual treatment for bullshit”?

    non-woo means you lay off the Yin and the Yang and the Ki and the Kai and the energy flows and just provide a service for those who want it.

    are you saying my nice old lady should be put out of business? bah! no one is avoiding treatment because of acupunture.

    I think that GCC is a bigger problem than people liking acupuncture.

  44. eigenperson says

    #56:

    I think, and have said before, that attacks on non-woo acupuncture are misguided.

    Er, could it be that you think that because you don’t understand the idea of scientific evidence?

    I get it — you believe that acupuncture helped you. But since you apparently lack the ability to think critically, read the literature, or understand the extraordinarily low value of anecdotal evidence, I don’t think I’m going to put much stock in your belief.

    The fact is, you (repeatedly?) paid $60 to a woo artist for a sham treatment. You may have enjoyed the experience (I kinda like going to the doctor myself, and your woo artist sounds more fun than my doctor), but the treatment itself had no medical value.

  45. Kevin nyc says

    you really are a monster…

    I did it dozens of times. never had the slightest bit of infection. why are you so angry?

  46. Kevin nyc says

    “but the treatment itself had no medical value.”

    right.. please point me in the direction of my claims that it did.

    You seem to be reading a whole lot more info and intent into my simple statement than it warrants. I make no claims for acupuncture. I make no assertions it “cures” anything.

    It’s a story. I have done acupuncture on a regular basis for a specific problems and I felt that it helped.

    why is everyone so against that. It is not a claim or an advertisement, it is a statement.

  47. eigenperson says

    #65: From #12:

    so.. whatever reason it works.

    From #46:

    I think the 50 or so needles had some effect.

    Ah, but perhaps when you said “it works” and “had some effect,” what you really meant was something completely unrelated to your knees. For example, it “worked” at making you want to go back. And it “had some effect” in that you felt the needles.

    Is that how those comments should be interpreted? And if so, why did you mention your knees at all?

  48. says

    It’s a story. I have done acupuncture on a regular basis for a specific problems and I felt that it helped.
    why is everyone so against that. It is not a claim or an advertisement, it is a statement.

    Do you understand plain English? YOU HAVE MADE A CLAIM, that “it helped”.

  49. eigenperson says

    By the way:

    why is everyone so against that. It is not a claim or an advertisement, it is a statement.

    When people come here with the false belief that a 1st century Jewish carpenter was secretly the creator of the universe and is their close personal friend, we try to disabuse them of that delusion.

    You should expect your own delusions to be treated similarly.

  50. you_monster says

    Haha. I’ll go with stupid and dense. No matter home many times you did acupuncture without getting infected, each time you did it you needlessly subjected yourself to the risk of infection.

    non-woo means you lay off the Yin and the Yang and the Ki and the Kai and the energy flows and just provide a service for those who want it.

    Woo-filled pseudo-science exists wherever hucksters push a “treatment” that has not been shown to be effective. Even without the Qi bullshit, there is still no good evidence that acupuncture does anything beyond the placebo effect. Therefore, it is woo. Not that hard to understand.

    are you saying my nice old lady should be put out of business? bah!

    Depending on how she advertises her business, yes. If she claims anything beyond what is supported by evidence, then I think she is being dishonest and possibly very harmful.

    no one is avoiding treatment because of acupuncture.

    False.

    please explain in detail HOW I have made “people forego actual treatment for bullshit”?

    You do so by irresponsibly suggesting that acupuncture is actually effective. The link between people considering a pseudo-science effective and their actually utilizing it, seems pretty obvious to me.

  51. says

    I got the “access forbidden” page.

    So, the rule is that purveyors of acupuncture don’t let everyone vote/speak, just the people who agree with them.

  52. Kevin nyc says

    here is my remembrance of the effect:

    “she would take the needles out and I would feel great! nice bounce in my step.. much less pain.

    I would last about a week or so.”

    so that is what I felt. knees worked smoother, less pain, easier to walk. whether it was caused by some voodoo medicine, that may be.

    It is instructive to note that when I went to another acupuncture person that was on my insurance, she never had the same touch, never put in enough needles, and I never felt the same relief. So even though that was $20 a session I stopped going.

    That new one was no Dr. Yu!

  53. Peter Cranny says

    I tried to vote about 20 minutes ago and got a “403” error – you are not allowed access!
    I just went back and was able to to vote no.
    Following the links showed at least one practitioner giving her address as The Liverpool Women’s Hospital. If she is operating from the hospital I am going to complain.

  54. you_monster says

    whether it was caused by some voodoo medicine, that may be.

    You are a silly person.

    I’ve got a doll at home, I can connect you with it with my voodoo magic. Pay me $30, I’ll stick some needles in it. Your knees will feel great. Trust me.

  55. glenmorangie10 says

    Kevin,

    You apparently enjoyed the experience, and you apparently believe it helped you. I accept your enjoyment, and I accept your belief in your personal experience of effectiveness. You are now claiming that:

    “I make no claims for acupuncture. I make no assertions it “cures” anything.

    It’s a story. I have done acupuncture on a regular basis for a specific problems and I felt that it helped.”

    The only response anyone can offer to that is, well then so what? People here are discussing the likelihood that acupuncture is a scam, a biologically nonfeasible bit of nonsense trickery. Your story is either an attempt to offer anecdotal evidence of efficacy, or it’s a fun story you’re telling for a lark. If the former, any thinking critical person can dismiss it as insufficient evidence of anything. If the latter, stop trying to justify the claims you now claim you’re not making.

  56. gareth says

    I’ve just reported them to the Advertising Standards Agency for the following misleading claim.

    “Other conditions which can be treated successfully with acupuncture are nausea, vomiting, dental pain, and the temporary relief of pain associated with osteoarthritis of the knee (along with exercise and conventional medicine) and short-team relief of tension headaches and migraine-type headaches.”

    Lets hope that the ASA do their job right.

  57. Kevin nyc says

    wow a response from PZ! I am honoured!

    “Do you understand plain English? YOU HAVE MADE A CLAIM, that “it helped”.”

    ok but it’s subjective. It helped me. I felt better. are you telling me I didn’t feel better? or are you saying I felt better for the wrong reasons?

    I am not saying it would help anyone else. if someone had bad needs and general pain, and was tired of taking hydrocodone all the time, as I was. and who had money to spend and not worry about it, I would say hey try it. based on my experience the risk of infection from the clean needles she takes out of sealed packages is less than x.y%.

    so back to English. If I say. “It helped” meaning “I felt it helped me” .. is that a “claim” ?

    Dictionary.com: Claim: to assert or maintain as a fact

    or webster..: to assert in the face of possible contradiction

    is my “claim” subject to contradiction? are you going to tell me I did not feel better?

    As in most things I am evidence oriented. If I did not feel it help I would not, (and did not) go back.

  58. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    As in most things I am evidence oriented. If I did not feel it help I would not, (and did not) go back.

    People also think Airborne helps them and that prayer works.

    100% evidence based.

  59. you_monster says

    from the evidence.. 50+

    You clearly don’t understand that word you are throwing around. “Evidence” actually means something to non-credulous people.

    You claim not to be making any assertions about efficacy. Just to be clear, do you acknowledge that your “feeling better”, was in all likelihood (as far as actual scientific evidence suggest) merrily caused by the placebo effect? Do you agree that acupuncture, sugar pills, homeopathy, …ect are all “effective” in the same way?

  60. says

    The site seems to be back up but now with reduced ‘NO’ votes. It did let me vote again though, so worth re-Pharyngulating if you can. It was at about 82% NO the first time I voted, and only at 48% NO a few minutes ago.

  61. Noodles Petmecky says

    Those fried-breakfast-brain pollsters reset their stupid poll since this morning when I initially voted. Quackery is bad enough, now they’re poll-scamming-quackerists? I had to use five different VPNs from three continents to get my fair share of ‘NO!’ votes.

  62. Kevin nyc says

    Mr. Chimp, let me say that I always like your comments. and to everyone I have been posting here for years and was reading PZ even before scienceblogs.

    so…I am fighting a losing battle here. I admit to a soft spot on acupuncture.

    “People also think Airborne helps them and that prayer works.”

    except that Airborne is supposed to prevent something. which is harder to prove or see. and if they were praying to be relieved of pain and it actually worked now that would be a great placebo effect! but not really the same as sticking needles in me and me feeling some effect though.

    So I make these comments honestly, and carry no great torch for the issue. since I am now titanium-based life form I no longer feel the need.

    plz don’t chop my head off to see what effect that has! lol.

  63. eigenperson says

    The site now appears to be down.

    I assume this means they are performing emergency maneuvers to avoid finding out what people think of them.

  64. ChasCPeterson says

    What is the right number of needles?

    Enough to make his knee feel better, obviously.
    When it comes to pain management, even a total placebo effect does in fact make some people feel better. Which is the point of pain mangaement. And in that sense it ‘works’.

    I know a true believer; she is adamant that acupuncture treatment eased (and eases) her chronic osteoarthritis pain to the point where she can function normally. She’d previously tried meds and even surgery. I don’t buy the Chi bullshit for a second, but on the other hand I don’t think she’s ‘wrong’ about her own perception of her own pain and functionality.

    I have received treatment (I had my reasons) and I can totally relate to what Kevin nyc has been saying. My Dr. Yu was highly trained and seemingly competent; used gloves and sterile needles and alcohol wipes just like a real doctor.

  65. Rip Steakface says

    ok but it’s subjective. It helped me. I felt better. are you telling me I didn’t feel better? or are you saying I felt better for the wrong reasons?

    It means you experienced the placebo effect. This is well known science – if you believe that whatever “treatment” you’re given will work, it will work to some degree. Evidence-based medicine looks for treatments that work better than placebo. Otherwise, you could just give people some vegetables, saying they’re healing herbs, and when they inevitably feel some kind of effect, you can claim credit for helping them.

    I’m writing a somewhat brief (only 10 double spaced pages) research paper for a freshman English class right now – and my topic is CAM. I’ve read a good few studies in the last couple weeks, and CAM is pissing me off.

  66. Kevin nyc says

    “Do you agree that acupuncture, sugar pills, homeopathy, …ect are all “effective” in the same way?”

    no. the pins have some effect. what? how? unclear. they are physical things. drinking “magic” water does not have the same appeal to me. seems non-physical.

    evidence = when the second person used < 20 I felt little of the effect. as opposed to when the other person used 50+. so.. 50+ is the "magic number.

  67. ChasCPeterson says

    I’ve got a doll at home, I can connect you with it with my voodoo magic. Pay me $30, I’ll stick some needles in it. Your knees will feel great. Trust me.

    Except they won’t feel better. Whereas with acupuncture, they actually did feel better.
    There are placebos and then there are placebos. Airborne, prayer, and voodoo dolls are simply not the same thing as having actual needles inserted into your actual skin in an ostensibly medical setting. You can feel it, and it feels very different from what you might think or predict. It’s a very active placebo and–I will repeat–it really is truly effective at helping (some) people deal with (some) chronic pain. You can hoot at the woo all you want, but those people still really do feel better. They really do.

  68. you_monster says

    and if they were praying to be relieved of pain and it actually worked now that would be a great placebo effect!

    Placebo treatments do not “actually work”. If they did, they would no longer be placebos.

    so…I am fighting a losing battle here. I admit to a soft spot on acupuncture.

    Good. The first step is admitting you have a problem. Next, join the winning side of this “battle”. The side that doesn’t make claims about medical treatments when there isn’t any evidence for them.

    Until then, enjoy your pretend treatments and enjoy your costly* placebo effect-induced delusion.

    I’m glad you can afford to throw away your money. I’m sad that it is going to a snake-oil salesperson.

    *you said you’ve gone dozens of times at $60 a pop, right? … wow.

  69. Brownian says

    no. the pins have some effect. what? how? unclear. they are physical things. drinking “magic” water does not have the same appeal to me. seems non-physical.

    You had a good case (CCP made a better one in 90), and then you totally shit the bed with this one.

    Read this wiki page.

  70. glenmorangie10 says

    “drinking “magic” water does not have the same appeal to me. seems non-physical.

    evidence = when the second person used < 20 I felt little of the effect. as opposed to when the other person used 50+. so.. 50+ is the "magic number.""

    So, if someone were to post here the evidence that he attended one homeopath, was given a 50C dilution of allium cepa, which he found totally worked for him, but when a second homeopath gave him a 100C dilution it didn't work, you would change your opinion of "magic" water?

  71. Brownian says

    Placebo treatments do not “actually work”. If they did, they would no longer be placebos.

    Yes, they do. They seem to cause placebo (or nocebo) effects, which are real, measurable outcomes.

    This is very different than, say, nothing, which has no effect whatsoever.

    When we talk about the efficacy of treatments, we’re talking about efficacy as compared to placebo, not efficacy as compared with nothing at all.

  72. Kevin nyc says

    “But not a real doctor. Pardon my amusement.”

    yes of course. note that I refrain from using the word doctor. or calling the other person that. and yet Dr. Yu was old and chinese so I did it out of respect.

    she never claimed to be a doctor.

  73. Kevin nyc says

    “Until then, enjoy your pretend treatments and enjoy your costly* placebo effect-induced delusion.”

    now look who is not reading…

    “*you said you’ve gone dozens of times at $60 a pop, right? … wow.”

    over ten years? sure..two dozen, maybe three.

    “So, if someone were to post here the evidence that he attended one homeopath, was given a 50C dilution of allium cepa, which he found totally worked for him, but when a second homeopath gave him a 100C dilution it didn’t work, you would change your opinion of “magic” water?”

    no. only if it happened to me.

  74. you_monster says

    You can hoot at the woo all you want, but those people still really do feel better. They really do.
    Thank you, I will. I enjoy hooting at woo. The pseudo-scientific explanations of cause and effect, and the complete lack of evidence of efficacy beyond that which a placebo would generate is ridiculous, irrational, and could be believed only by one lacking critical thinking skills*. I find it amusing in a morbid way that people believe this crap. Just as I like having a laugh at the creationists.

    There are placebos and then there are placebos. Airborne, prayer, and voodoo dolls are simply not the same thing as having actual needles inserted into your actual skin in an ostensibly medical setting. You can feel it, and it feels very different from what you might think or predict. It’s a very active placebo

    I am well aware that different types of placebos generate varying degrees of subjective relief (or pain; if you give someone the placebo with the expectation that it will make their pain more intense, it will).

    evidence = when the second person used < 20 I felt little of the effect. as opposed to when the other person used 50+. so.. 50+ is the "magic number.

    Yep, you do not understand this whole “evidence” thing. You are mistaking anecdotal, subjective experience with verifiable, objective, controlled, repeatable demonstrations of efficacy.

    * in this area. There are plenty of skeptical, intelligent believers of all sorts of bullshit. But believing in any one form of woo does indicate a lack of critical thinking towards that subject matter.

  75. David Marjanović says

    It’s like watching green pacman die

    Day saved.

    If there’s anything more unscientific than an ‘online poll’ . . . heavy response bias, poor study design, etc. etc. Why does anyone takes such things seriously?

    That’s exactly the point PZ wants (us) to drive home.

    well.. again.. I did it.. and I liked it!! She used gloves and new needles. [...]

    I think the 50 or so needles had some effect.

    Well, sure. The pain caused by the needles distracted you from the other pain.

    no one is avoiding treatment because of acupunture.

    Except, apparently, my aunt and my cousin.

    are you saying my nice old lady should be put out of business? bah!

    Depending on how she advertises her business, yes. If she claims anything beyond what is supported by evidence, then I think she is being dishonest and possibly very harmful.

    Seconded.

    The argumentum ad misericordiam is a logical fallacy… especially when it completely fails to take the nice old lady’s patients into account.

    So, yeah, go directly to the site without going there from Free Thought Blogs and you can still vote.

    Forbidden, my ass.

    I never click on a link to a poll. I always open the link in a new tab, or in any case in a tab other than the one with Pharyngula in it! I want to have both open at the same time! :-)

    ok but it’s subjective. It helped me. I felt better.

    The first of these sentences flatly contradicts the other two.

  76. you_monster says

    Yes, they do. They seem to cause placebo (or nocebo) effects, which are real, measurable outcomes.

    This is very different than, say, nothing, which has no effect whatsoever.

    When we talk about the efficacy of treatments, we’re talking about efficacy as compared to placebo, not efficacy as compared with nothing at all.

    Yes, all correct. I didn’t mean to imply otherwise, I’ll try to phrase myself more clearly. I took the term “actual effect” to mean something more than the effect generated by a placebo.

  77. What a Maroon says

    plz don’t chop my head off to see what effect that has!

    Probably get rid of your pain.

    exactly…. placebo effect though…

    Wrong. It’s a 100% effective treatment.

  78. Kevin nyc says

    “Yep, you do not understand this whole “evidence” thing. You are mistaking anecdotal, subjective experience with verifiable, objective, controlled, repeatable demonstrations of efficacy.”

    Dude… I am not about to start a controlled study of how many needles it takes to achieve whatever effect I got. based on the EVIDENCE before me, being that one person used too few, and another person used over 50 and it seemed to work, I will go with 50+ as an answer. based on the evidence I had through experience.

    you can say that you don’t “like’ my evidence.. that its not “repeatable” and its not presented with a “margin of error” but so what? this is not a paper! The evidence says 50+! and that’s what I am going to go with.

    Has anyone here actually HAD acupuncture? besides me and Peterson?

  79. Kevin nyc says

    “Wrong. It’s a 100% effective treatment”

    bah! now where’s YOUR evidence…!!?

    lol)

  80. persiflage says

    Dr. Yu was old and chinese so I did it out of respect.

    she never claimed to be a doctor.

    Wait, what? I have a neighbour who is likewise old and Chinese and has never claimed to be a doctor. Should I be calling her ‘Doctor’ out of respect too?

  81. says

    I am surprised that no one said to take a quick run over to Orac’s place and search for acupuncture. That box of lights has written about it many times, looked at many studies, both good and bad, and discussed them.

    kevin nyc, I recommend you go there and read about this. Read the blog itself actually, you seem to be confused as to what constitutes evidence and there is plenty of writing there to help you understand why anecdotes and person experience are so misleading.

  82. Rumtopf says

    @kieran
    Thank you for the laugh with the Pacman thing. I didn’t get to see the poll but I assume there were pie charts involved.

  83. ikesolem says

    Poked around a little more, here’s an interesting Nature Neuroscience article, Apr 2010

    http://www.nature.com/neuro/journal/v13/n7/full/nn.2562.html

    “We found that adenosine, a neuromodulator with anti-nociceptive [anti-pain] properties, was released during acupuncture in mice and that its anti-nociceptive actions required adenosine A1 receptor expression.”

    As Chuck noted there are more effective non-invasive pain remedies (not Vioxx and Celebrex or other pharma-hyped NSAIDs, though – they have nasty side effects), but there does appear to be some evidence for a non-placebo effect.

    There is a large population of chronic pain patients (some 76 million in the U.S.), and treatment is often difficult. However, recent studies (see below) point towards a synergistic combination of opiates and cannabinoids as being the most effective (and safest) for chronic pain treatment:

    http://www.nature.com/clpt/journal/v90/n6/full/clpt2011188a.html

  84. you_monster says

    Evidence points to the fact that prayer is effective, but only if you do it the right way. Once, I prayed 3 times in a day. Nothing happened! I had a headache, and it didn’t go away. Then, this other time, I prayed 5 times in a day. It totally worked for me, dude! Headache? I could barely feel the pain. Once I even paid $60 to go to an organized prayer, led by a professional prayer-leader. You will never guess what happened… My headache completely disappeared.

    The evidence says that praying 5 times a day, and when possible, under the direction of a prayer-leader, is effective in curing my headaches. The prayer must have some effect. what? how? unclear. But i am going to continue believing it anyways.

    Fuck skepticism, amirite?

  85. greame says

    Similar to Kevin nyc’s anecdotal testimony, a friend of mine recently went to a chiropractor. I’ve explained to him many times how much bunk it is and his response, “I don’t need evidence if it makes me feel better.” And then when I said, “That is the epitome of pseudo science.”, he got offended. It sucks because he is a normally pretty rational guy, and I’m his best man come September. But that statement, “I don’t need evidence if it makes me feel better.” just made me want to cry for our species.

  86. shoeguy says

    Damn! All this pharyngukization has crashed their cheap-assed server. Perhaps if they were to poke a few needles in it it would work again.

  87. you_monster says

    Has anyone here actually HAD 5 prayer sessions in one day? totes works. I’ve got good evidence. you can say that you don’t “like’ my evidence.. that its not “repeatable” and its not presented with a “margin of error” but so what?

  88. says

    Has anyone here actually HAD acupuncture? besides me and Peterson?

    How is this relevant? Do you bring this up only in the case of acupuncture, which you admit you have a soft spot for? If a homeopath came in here and said their personal experience showed that it worked would you be convinced? What if they asked if you had actually tried it and you had not? Can we only discuss the evidence if we personally have tried something? Appeals to personal experience are weak, we are very easy to fool. Please do yourself and everyone else a favour and read a little bit about why controlled studies are done in medicine.

  89. Kevin nyc says

    “you seem to be confused as to what constitutes evidence and ”

    I am not confused. I claim the sky is blue. based on what evidence? now do I say that the spectrum is such and such and light emitted at such a wavelength is called blue? or go into scattering? no I just say its blue.

    People may be confused and think that I am saying others need 50+ needles. Mr Chimp was making fun because I said the second person “used too few” so he asked how amny were enough. so making fun I said “based on the evidence 50+!” now you may complain the sample size is too small and the level of effect that is equal to the desired effect was never established, but .. so what?

    1. that which tends to prove or disprove something; ground for belief; proof.
    2. something that makes plain or clear; an indication or sign

    so I can only answer that the evidence is 50+.

    also, since I have titanium knees now I am not planning on getting acupunture, but I might jsut for fun.

  90. Rich Woods says

    @Kevin nyc #92:

    evidence = when the second person used < 20 I felt little of the effect. as opposed to when the other person used 50+. so.. 50+ is the "magic number.

    On that basis, how do you know that 20+ isn’t the magic number? With a bit of carefully thought-out trial and error you could have saved yourself all that extra pain, and possibly even got your treatment at a lower price.

    There’s a lot to be said for carefully thought-out trials, you know.

  91. Kevin nyc says

    “How is this relevant? Do you bring this up only in the case of acupuncture”

    so the answer is no.

  92. says

    Note: I am not saying you should stop doing it, if you feel better afterward and can afford it well, go ahead. There is some risk involved, there are reported cases of infection and such, but you can do that risk evaluation yourself. However, you claimed it worked:

    so.. whatever reason it works.

    which is probably one reason why you are getting so much blowback. You did not just say that you felt better afterward, and people are challenging you on the fact that it works.

  93. Kevin nyc says

    “There’s a lot to be said for carefully thought-out trials, you know.”

    Oh good.. go create one and carry it out.

  94. says

    you_monster:

    Has anyone here actually HAD 5 prayer sessions in one day? totes works.

    That depends on which god you’re having the prayer sessions with, and whether or not they are a real god or just play one in some book.

  95. Kevin nyc says

    “Should I be calling her ‘Doctor’ out of respect too?”

    perhaps.. is she giving you Chinese herbs? and tintures in vials. does she grind roots for you?

    then sure go ahead and give her a “Dr.” . make her day.

  96. says

    That depends on which god you’re having the prayer sessions with, and whether or not they are a real god or just play one in some book.

    It helps if you show him the proper respect by calling him “Dr. God.” Because he’s old and shit.

  97. Kevin nyc says

    I like Dr. Yu very much. such a nice person and a competent acupuncturist. I was sad when her father died.

    I knew her for many years. I moved away and have not seen her for a few years. So she did not graduate from medical school, so what.

    sometimes I feel like calling my pharmacist “Doc” but I refrain because maybe she was unable to follow that path and regrets it.

    OTOH I did call the knee surgeon “Doc”

  98. Therrin says

    wow a response from PZ! I am honoured!

    Earning the red text from PZ is generally not a welcome honor.

  99. you_monster says

    You are tiresome, Kevin. But, you are on the internet, and wrong, so…

    now you may complain the sample size is too small and the level of effect that is equal to the desired effect was never established, but .. so what?

    I did not complain about those deficiencies in your “evidence”*, but I certainly could have. My main complaint is the lack of any control. You may feel better when you use the invasive (and slightly risky) placebo effect that is acupuncture, but you could get the same effect by just poking yourself with toothpicks. Do you really not see the usefulness of placebo-controlled studies when attempting to determine the efficacy of treatments? Or do you just ignore proper testing procedures when it comes to your favorite form of woo?

    *anecdote

  100. Louis says

    John Sessions on an episode of the British TV show “QI” (S1 Ep 12) related this anecdote:

    “The late, lamented, and great Sir John Gielgud was directing a young actor in the West End once, and the young actor was pausing a lot, as young actors tend to do. And Gielgud said to him, “Oh, stop. No, no. No, you must never pause. Never pause in the West End. I paused many, many years ago, and during the silence, I heard a voice from the third row go, ‘Oh, you hideous beast! You’ve just come all over my umbrella!'”

    At first sight, this might not have anything to do with acupuncture, the exposure of woo, medicine, the ethics of whether or not one paternally exploits the placebo effect, and indeed that first sight would be correct.

    But it really is too good an anecdote not to share.

    Louis

  101. says

    Dammit. I had to work hard at low pay for five years to earn my “Dr.”, and now you tell me all I had to do was grind a few herbs and stuff them into vials?

  102. you_monster says

    I like Dr. Yu very much. such a nice person and a competent acupuncturist.

    I am also a competent acupuncturist. So is my cat. Its not hard to be competent at something that has no basis in reality.

    I am also competent in voodoo (like I mentioned above), speaking to the dead, praying for headaches to go away… I could go on.

    I am just as competent in those fields as anyone who actually practices* them.

    *practice meaning: is willing to perform these non-services in return for the money of gullible people.

  103. tomfrog says

    So Kevin nyc, you don’t think it is possible that, anticipating 50+ needles and seeing only 20 in this particular session, your brain was kinda prepared for the thing to fail (“no, it usually work with 50 needles”) and therefore the placebo effect (because that is what it is. And since you seem to believe it is relevent, yes I did have acupuncture as a child) was less intense ?

    I guess that’s the issue with personal experience and that’s why it can’t beat science at arriving at good results.

  104. Kevin nyc says

    “Or do you just ignore proper testing procedures when it comes to your favorite form of woo?”

    you are insane. you are possesed by the hatred of acupuncture.

    proper testing procedures? about what?

    You are a retard. and a monster. I relate a personal event and activity. you want to turn it into a medical study.

    you are so dead set against it that you refuse to hear any other point of view. Take my story for what its worth.

    to you .. its nothing . so you can take it and…

  105. you_monster says

    Dammit. I had to work hard at low pay for five years to earn my “Dr.”, and now you tell me all I had to do was grind a few herbs and stuff them into vials?

    So long as you are also old and Chinese.

  106. Kevin nyc says

    “Dammit. I had to work hard at low pay for five years to earn my “Dr.”, and now you tell me all I had to do was grind a few herbs and stuff them into vials?”

    yes but also be old and chinese… so I am afraid that path was closed to you…

  107. Therrin says

    you are possesed by the hatred of acupuncture.

    So you believe in possession now, too?

    You are a retard.

    Yellow card.

    Take my story for what its worth.

    Such has already been occurring, you just don’t like the result.

  108. Brownian says

    Has anyone here actually HAD acupuncture?

    I’ve had IMS (they stick the needles in and then pull ‘em out pretty much right away).
    It’s practiced by a physical therapist, not an acupuncturist, and the purpose is to relieve pain caused by tense, knotted muscles.

    My GF™ booked the appointment, and I went in with the belief that any effects could plausibly be placebo, and I was not disappointed. (I’m convinced my pain issues will be better treated through lifestyle changes, particularly losing weight and exercising more.)

    But, as Travis note, why does this matter? I’ve never had been subjected to voodoo, reiki, eaten dragon bone, had rattlesnake venom sucked out, sacrificed a goat to the gods, or been to a medicine wheel. Does that mean that the subjective accounts of individuals who have participated in those treatments trump clinical trials or other studies conducted with methodological rigour?

  109. Kevin nyc says

    Its ok. rare for me to be on the receiving end. I guess if the thesis is

    “You should be aware that acupuncture is total bollocks.”

    and I have a story that I have done acupunture and felt that it helped, it should be expected to raise some counter-dicussion.

    but ranting about evidence and studies? please. just stick with

    “you are deluded and don’t know what you are talking about” and that would be fairer.

    insults appear to be more useful to certain people here however, so they can have some back.

    so anyway, that’s my story. I have to do some work so I will check in later.

  110. says

    Kevcake:

    you are insane. you are possesed by the hatred of acupuncture.

    It’s not okay to fling ableist slurs here. No one is insane, and why do think it’s alright to use mental illness as an insult?

    Also, no one is possessed. They aren’t even obsessed. People are simply refuting your insistence that anecdote equals evidence. This place is a seething pit of people with functioning brains. The risk is yours when you want to play anecdote!

    You are a retard. and a monster. I relate a personal event and activity. you want to turn it into a medical study.

    Again with the ableist slurs. Tsk. Perhaps you should have your brain needled, it might start working.

    you are so dead set against it that you refuse to hear any other point of view. Take my story for what its worth.

    Cupcake, people have been taking your story for what it’s worth. It’s not worth much at all.

  111. Brownian says

    you are so dead set against it that you refuse to hear any other point of view. Take my story for what its worth.

    The homeopaths/anti-vaxxers/ghost hunters/UFO abductees/911 Truthers/Christians/Muslims/Hindus/neo-Aztecs/etfuckingcetera called:

    They want their argument back.

  112. TGAP Dad says

    Poll is back up as of 3:02 EST. Currently 314 (no) to 243 (yes). Everyone head on back there!

  113. you_monster says

    you are insane. you are possesed by the hatred of acupuncture.

    I don’t hate it. I just think it is pure placebo effect, and that practitioners of it are hucksters taking money from gullible people. Some of whom can’t really afford to give it. Some of whom neglect getting medical treatment to help with their ailments because they have been misinformed by shits like you that acupuncture actually does anything beyond the placebo effect.

    proper testing procedures? about what?

    I’m not sure what you are asking here, but your claim that acupuncture works requires testing via proper procedure (including a placebo-control). You said “the pins have some effect”. Put up the evidence*. If you stop saying it actually works, and clarify that you are benefitting from your expectation of efficacy and the placebo effect, then I will stop arguing. Stop claiming it works**, I’ll stop demanding evidence for that claim.

    You are a retard. and a monster. I relate a personal event and activity. you want to turn it into a medical study.

    You related a person story, and are extrapolating from your anecdote, that acupuncture works. Evidence please. I have no problem with nice stories of people getting fake-treatments and then talking glowingly about the wonderful placebo effect some complex faux-medical procedure gave them. The placebo effect is useful and interesting. Don’t imply anything more is at work.

    you are so dead set against it that you refuse to hear any other point of view. Take my story for what its worth.

    What am I refusing to hear? You said you felt good doing your woo. Fine. I am happy for you. But your story isn’t worth shit as a support for acupuncture as an actual treatment for anything.

    And you can shove your offensive ableist slurs up your ass. Even you are smart enough to think of an insult that doesn’t denigrate a group of people.

    *and again, an anecdote is not evidence.

  114. Don Quijote says

    I had an acute puncture on the motorway the other day. Hombre it was a pain in the neck.

  115. Tsu Dho Nimh says

    They are blocking traffic from freethoughblogs … all I had to do was copy and paste the URL after loading a neutral site.

    OR: set the “HTTP Referrer” on your browser to “do not send”.

    Current Stats:
    No = 63%
    Yes = 37%

  116. you_monster says

    That depends on which god you’re having the prayer sessions with, and whether or not they are a real god or just play one in some book.

    I’m going to have to call you out here, Caine. According to my evidence, it doesn’t matter whatsoever which god I am praying to. It is just the act of praying, I guess. Don’t ask me about the mechanism behind it. what? how? unclear, but I can’t deny the evidence.

    I just go with my gut, its all the evidence I need.

  117. ChasCPeterson says

    Sure. Sticking needles in ones skin does reduce pain. So does poking it with toothpicks at totally random places.
    That does not mean acupuncture works.

    Of course it does, if pain reduction is the objective. So (in that study) did random-toothpick-poking.

  118. says

    Has anyone here actually HAD acupuncture?

    Yes.

    I also (out of curiousity) purchased a few packs of needles on Ebay and taught myself how to drill them in, avoiding nerves. Given the feedback mechanism, it’s a pretty fast learn-time. I offered to do accupuncture on a friend, who declined most expeditiously.

  119. TGAP Dad says

    Poll is back up, but seems stuck at 287 votes (77.4% yes), and tells me I’ve already voted. Wonder if they’re tracking IPs? Can someone who knows web intricacies tell me how to cast (another) vote?

  120. says

    Here’s another question for the acupuncture belivers:
    – Why doesn’t anyone use acupuncture to get high?
    …after all, since it’s claimed to be able to do
    many things, why can’t you just needle me up and
    make me trip like Fatboy Slim?
    – Why doesn’t anyone use acupuncture to kill?
    …after all, since it can apparently “fix” anything
    wrong with you, wouldn’t it be useable as a wonderful
    assassination weapon?*

    (*Arguably a voodoo doll is an acupuncture/placebo assassination weapon)

  121. Kevin nyc says

    yeah yeah very funny…

    I agree its mean to associate medical and cognitive problems with Monster. Mean to those people. I retract the statement.

    “Some of whom neglect getting medical treatment to help with their ailments because they have been misinformed by shits like you that acupuncture actually does anything beyond the placebo effect.”

    bullshit. you have nothing to support this. you are a liar. and have a head full of shit. you only care for yourself and hate everyone and everything.

    you are an admitted monster! you destroy things and kill people. you have bad skin! I spit on you! I agree with nothing you say!

    and you smell!

  122. says

    BTW, one of the “Richard Dawkins Interviews Nicholas Humphrey Part 1″ videos on youtube has a segment with a psychiatrist who, I think, offers a pretty interesting explanation of the placebo effect and how it can be valuable.

  123. says

    you are possesed by the hatred of acupuncture.

    Let me clarify for you. We hate quacks. And the enablers of quackery (<=you). Quackery is despicable because it cons people out of their money, and because it leads people away from employing and supporting real, effective, science-based medicine. Saying that you found a placebo you liked and saying that acupuncture works are two different things. No one here would care to argue with you about the former. Saying the latter puts you in the camp of the anti-vaxers, the faith healers, and the cancer cure con men.

  124. you_monster says

    CCP,

    Sure. Sticking needles in ones skin does reduce pain. So does poking it with toothpicks at totally random places.
    That does not mean acupuncture works.

    Of course it does, if temporary pain reduction is the objective.

    FIFY. It “works” like homeopathy “works”. It gives you a temporary subjective experience of feeling better. Depending on your ailment though, you may have conditions that are not being addressed. Without his knee surgery, Kevin’s chronic pain would have remained untreated. Sure, one can continue to treat the pain with bullshit woo, but if you want any actual remedy, go for science.

    Stop insisting that any pseudo-scientific treatment “works” simply because it can produce a placebo effect. That is not what practitioners of acupuncture imply when they say it works. People who waste their money on expensive woo don’t take “work” to simply mean that it works because of the placebo effect. If it was better understood that woo operates via the placebo effect, people would opt for cheeper placebos, and be more apt to only do the woo shit for minor pain, and seek help from actual doctors when something serious is wrong (or if they want to kill their pain with some drug that is actually shown to be more effective than a placebo in doing so).

  125. Gen Fury, Still Desolate and Deviant #1 says

    Confirming reports that it’s borken again. Even going through Google for Acupuncture Awareness Week didn’t enable me to vote. Oh, they give the poll and the radio buttons, but actually selecting “no” and pushing “vote” does nothing. I wonder if it would work if one voted “yes”? Not about to try that out, though, and give them more ammo.

  126. Hayden says

    bullshit. you have nothing to support this. you are a liar.

    Steve Jobs used alternative medicine in lieu of main stream cancer treatment.

    His early decision to put off surgery and rely instead on fruit juices, acupuncture, herbal remedies and other treatments — some of which he found on the Internet — infuriated and distressed his family, friends and physicians, the book says.

    Source

  127. you_monster says

    yeah yeah very funny…

    I agree its mean to associate medical and cognitive problems with Monster. Mean to those people. I retract the statement.

    “Some of whom neglect getting medical treatment to help with their ailments because they have been misinformed by shits like you that acupuncture actually does anything beyond the placebo effect.”

    bullshit. you have nothing to support this. you are a liar. and have a head full of shit. you only care for yourself and hate everyone and everything.

    you are an admitted monster! you destroy things and kill people. you have bad skin! I spit on you! I agree with nothing you say!

    and you smell!

    Well there goes the board, all the pieces are now covered in shit and strewn about the floor.

    Like I said, you, cupcake, are a silly person. The claim that some people forego science-based treatment in favor of woo, and that they do so in part because they have been told it is effective, is not contentious*. Now you are just coming across as immature and intellectually dishonest.

    Funny how my concern for people who are being suckered by hucksters is interpreted as me only caring for myself. If that were true, I wouldn’t be on her countering your misinformation. If I cared only about myself, what would I care if you hurt people with your lies?

    I agree its mean to associate medical and cognitive problems with Monster. Mean to those people. I retract the statement.

    Whatever it takes for you to not use hateful, slurs. If you feel like using racist slurs sometime, just come on back and I’ll criticize you some more.

    Actually I don’t feel like joking about your offensiveness. Your use of ableist language merits better than that weak not-pology/jibe.

    *take Christian Scientists for example, who think that faith-healing works. They forego treatment in favor of praying. If you were asserting that prayer works, you are aiding their dangerous delusion. Just as you are here with acupuncture.

  128. ChasCPeterson says

    Stop insisting that any pseudo-scientific treatment “works” simply because it can produce a placebo effect.

    All of my comments about acupuncture have concerned pain reduction, specifically. There is simply no way to objectively measure how much pain a person is experiencing. If somebody is in pain, eats some ibuprofen, and reports feeling less pain, it worked. If someone goes to an acupuncturist in pain and leaves feeling less pain, it worked. Period. There is no measurement you can make to falsify this limited claim.
    I do not claim that it cures any disease or disability. I claim only that some people experience pain relief from the procedures, that these people are not lying, and that therefore, for these people, it works.
    If you claim it doesn’t work, I guess you don’t mean that people experience real pain relief, but rather that it has no known effects on the physiological mechanisms of pain perception. Of course, the same was true for morphine just a couple of decades ago. Nobody argued on that basis that morphine doesn;t work.
    The mechanism by which acupuncture works to relieve pain may be totally psychological (as most people mean when they disdain the placebo effect), or it might be via a subtle and so far unknown physiological mechanism (somebody above mentioned endorphins), or the placebo effect itself might turn out to have both psychological and physiological components.
    It doesn’t matter for the claim that it “works”, for some objectives.

  129. ChasCPeterson says

    Stop insisting that any pseudo-scientific treatment “works” simply because it can produce a placebo effect.

    All of my comments about acupuncture have concerned pain reduction, specifically. There is simply no way to objectively measure how much pain a person is experiencing. If somebody is in pain, eats some ibuprofen, and reports feeling less pain, it worked. If someone goes to an acupuncturist in pain and leaves feeling less pain, it worked. Period. There is no measurement you can make to falsify this limited claim.
    I do not claim that it cures any disease or disability. I claim only that some people experience pain relief from the procedures, that these people are not lying, and that therefore, for these people, it works.
    If you claim it doesn’t work, I guess you mean that it has no known effects on the physiological mechanisms of pain perception. Of course, the same was true for morphine just a couple of decades ago. Nobody argued on that basis that morphine didn’t work.
    The mechanism by which acupuncture works to relieve pain may be totally psychological (as most people mean when they disdain the placebo effect), or it might be via a subtle and so far unknown physiological mechanism (somebody above mentioned endorphins), or the placebo effect itself might turn out to have both psychological and physiological components.
    It doesn’t matter for the claim that it “works”, for some objectives.

  130. Hayden says

    CCP, and you_monster, I think you are in violent agreement.

    you_monster, you’ve been telling Kevin nyc that all you want is for him to admit that the acupuncture is no better than placebo. That is all CCP is saying, so I don’t know why you’re jumping all over him.

  131. you_monster says

    I agree with your point generally. You’ll get no objection from me to the claim that placebos can reduce pain. I’ve already explained that most practitioners of acupuncture, when they say it works, and most users of it, when they think it works, aren’t talking about merely the placebo effect.

    Acupuncture is a sham and should be derided. Even if practitioners and users were honest about it being indistinguishable from the placebo effect, they are still ripping people off. $60 for a pretend treatment is a travesty. Considering that acupuncturists are not actually doing anything besides subjecting you to the risk of infection and giving you the expectation that you are going to feel better, that fee is outrageous.

    Maybe I am preaching to the choir in telling you this. I hope I am. But I still maintain that saying “acupuncture works” is deceptive, considering how people interpret that statement. And that even though acupuncture may reduce pain, it is an expensive and risky placebo.

  132. ikesolem says

    Ahem:

    K: So she did not graduate from medical school, so what.

    Well, a physician who has undergone a comprehensive medical training program is of great benefit for the patient because they may detect things like pre-metastasized cancerous tumors, which if quickly removed will result in additional decades of life. Likewise, they may identify signs of diabetes onset, note the presence of chronic infections, etc. etc. etc.

    So, you probably would benefit from consulting a completely trained physician, and not relying only on your much-loved acupuncturist.

    P.S. I’m getting better at this politeness business, aren’t I?

  133. says

    Chas:

    Your equivocation of ibuprofen or morphine and acupuncture is disingenuous. Morphine can be shown in controlled trials to work better at relieving pain than placebo, even if the mechanism remains unknown. Placebo, on the other hand, works the same as placebo.

  134. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    Mr Chimp was making fun because I said the second person “used too few” so he asked how amny were enough. so making fun I said “based on the evidence 50+!

    I wasn’t making fun, and it’s obvious my point was missed.

  135. John Morales says

    So, I went to have a look (in my usual roundabout way, not from here), only to get a HTTP 403.

    (Heh)

  136. Moggie says

    Kevin nyc:

    bullshit. you have nothing to support this. you are a liar. and have a head full of shit. you only care for yourself and hate everyone and everything.

    Sylvie Cousseau: Sylvie was diagnosed HIV positive, but pursued alternative treatments for her disease including homeopathy, acupuncture and drinking her own urine. She eventually died of AIDS.

    Sarah Parkinson: When she was diagnosed with breast cancer, she was concerned that chemotherapy would prevent her from using IVF to start a family. Instead she used acupuncture, spiritual healing, homeopathy and Johrei to treat it. She died at the age of 41.

    Michael Tylo II: The son of actress Hunter Tylo and actor Michael Tylo, he was counseled that his seizures were caused by familial stress & could be treated with therapy and acupuncture. Later, he suffered a seizure, fell into a pool and drowned.

    http://whatstheharm.net/acupuncture.html

  137. ChasCPeterson says

    Your equivocation of ibuprofen or morphine and acupuncture is disingenuous. Morphine can be shown in controlled trials to work better at relieving pain than placebo, even if the mechanism remains unknown.

    I never said different. In fact, I was careful not to equivocate them in terms of statistical efficacy.
    Look, my only point is that people who report a lessening of pain following acupuncture treatment are not lying or fooling themselves. They really do feel better, same as somebody might who took ibuprofen.
    (btw, if it turns out that endorphin secretion is induced by acupuncture, then the physiological mechanism would be very similar to that of morphine)

  138. tim rowledge, Ersatz Haderach says

    Whenever I try to get an acupuncturist to explain how it is supposed to work I just can’t pin them down.

  139. Kengi says

    OK, there seems to be a lot of confusion over just what “the placebo effect” actually is.

    You need to get back to why placebo controls were put into place in medical research studies. The problem is a large variety of confounding factors are introduced when dealing with people, and especially when people are dealing with subjective evaluations of effects. Placebos control for a LOT of confounding factors.

    Which ones specifically? It doesn’t matter. That’s the awesome thing that placebo controls give us in medical research. People living a normal life are just so different from one another there are millions of combinations of things that could affect any study without placebo controls.

    For example, the office where the treatment is given may be warmer and more humid then the patient’s home, which may affect results. The person interviewing the patient may expect patients to feel better after a treatment and thus consciously, or unconsciously, skew the results of the interview about pain (or range of motion, or whatever). A person may eat breakfast on the way to the doctor on treatment days instead of eating at home as normal. Etc, etc, etc…

    And, of course, patients subjectively may report results about less pain in a kind of “mind over matter” situation.

    The beauty of the concept of using placebo controls is that the researcher no longer needs to track down all of those individual confounding factors and take them into account to see if there was any actual “effect” for a given treatment. So, we introduce a sham treatment (called a placebo), and compare the result of the treatment being studied to the sham treatment.

    If the treatment under study fails to perform better than a sham (beyond random chances), we know the TREATMENT being studied has no real medical effect.

    Any measured effect is due to the any combination of the many, many confounding factors, which fortunately we don’t need to track down since we know the effect is no different than the sham treatment.

    The new push in CAM is to pretend that “placebo” is a specific mind-over-matter effect which their treatment is somehow tapping into. That’s not, however, what a placebo is actually doing in medical research. Let me repeat for clarity: A placebo is a sham treatment which is a catch-all for the millions of uncontrollable confounding factors in a subjective experiment involving people (as reporters and/or participants).

    Yes, one of these many, many factors may be the patient reporting “feeling better”, but unless you can actually perform better than a sham treatment which has no real effect, you can’t claim your TREATMENT is actually doing anything. Most (or all) of any subjective change could just as easily be due to a variety of other factors which were not specifically studied. And we don’t need to study all of those millions of things to prove it wasn’t the treatment in question that did nothing.

    That’s the beauty of placebo controlled studies. We can demonstrate that, while still not sure of why a patient feels better or not, at least we know with confidence it wasn’t due to the treatment in the study which failed to do better than the placebo control.

  140. rezimotoboleht says

    Hi, I posted this earlier, it appears nobody responded to it, so I will repost to see if anyone will refute it. Since TLDR is an issue sometimes, I will summarize as: “if it is the case that sticking a needle into a particular tissue causes a predictable response (I’m not sure that this has been established, but it seems possible), then doesn’t acupuncture technically work in principle? (I think whether or not the actual response is what the acupuncturist claims it to be is a separate issue)”:

    Searching PubMed for acupuncture gives a lot of results. I don’t really have the time to even begin skimming all the articles. Many of the abstracts seem to be reporting negative results. Some claim to show an effect of acupuncture on such and such a condition, although the sample sizes are probably questionable.

    I think the interesting papers are the ones looking at physiological responses to acupuncture, for instance I skimmed this one “Effects of acupuncture on Th1, th2 cytokines in rats of implantation failure” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3270570/, which is a follow up of another study that apparently shows that acupuncture increases the chance of implantation of embryos in women following in vitro fertilization. I’ll grant you that it’s in a journal that I’ve never heard of before, from an institute that probably has an agenda for promoting acupuncture, but… well, it’s still interesting to learn how organisms react when you stick them with needles, right?

    As far as I’m aware, biologists would not suggest that an animal has absolutely no physiological response when it is stuck with a needle. So, if it is the case that sticking a needle into a particular tissue causes a predictable response (and I’m not sure that this has been established, but it seems possible), then doesn’t acupuncture technically work in principle? Of course, whether or not it produces the effect claimed by the acupuncturist is a different issue. Based on my limited knowledge of this field, the questions that remain to be addressed would be something like A) what are the responses, B) how predictable are the responses, C) can we use these responses to help people?

    I certainly have no personal investment in acupuncture. Please feel free to respond critically.

  141. Kengi says

    rezimotoboleht,

    Bleeding a patient or putting leeches on the skin “has an effect”, but it doesn’t mean it’s a “treatment that works in principle”. Treatment is the key word here, not effect. Getting punched in the face has an effect, yet it’s not an effective treatment for back pain.

    For anyone to promote acupuncture for a treatment, they would first have to either have a plausible mechanism for expecting the procedure to have a specific positive effect on a known problem, or demonstrate that acupuncture is more effective than a sham treatment (placebo) at which point the mechanism involved can be studied and isolated.

    Just saying that there’s an obvious effect of being stuck with needles is not a reason to promote it as a treatment for anything in an evidence-based world.

  142. Sophia Dodds says

    As someone with a severe needle phobia, ‘mainstream’ woo like acupuncture is a contentious issue for me. To the people who say it ‘works, in principle’, which principle exactly are you referring to? The only principle by which the application of pain to combat pain has been shown to work is that by convincing the body it’s in more pain that it actually is you can cause the release of endorphins. Endorphins do dull the experience of pain, but only temporarily.

    In this case, you’d get the same kind of relief by stabbing someone in the eye with a pencil or poking at them with a heated metal rod. By endorsing acupuncture yet rejecting the “chi” woo that’s supposedly behind it (and the charts of where to place the needles as those have been shown to be utterly irrelevant also) you’re effectively saying that an effective pain relief remedy is to cause someone pain.

    I’m trying to see things from other perspectives here but I can’t see a false equivalency, just an incredibly stupid premise.

  143. Sophia Dodds says

    ACK! Ignore the tautologies there. Terrible wording, I apologise. Morning coffee hasn’t quite hit my brain.

  144. catnip67 says

    Kevin nyc says: @72

    “she would take the needles out and I would feel great! nice bounce in my step.. much less pain.

    Like banging your head against the wall….. Feels nice when you stop.

  145. Kevin nyc says

    “Later, he suffered a seizure, fell into a pool and drowned.”

    and you are blaming that on me? fuck you. and your monster. My knee pain felt better. that’s it. I think Acupuncture helped it. that’s it. all of you are such sanctimonious little shits I am suprised I never noticed it before.

    I called up Dr Yu. SHe said she spent five years in school in China learing medicine and doing internships. She had the right to be called Doctor there.. but of course here.. no.

    so you all want me to say a denial about something you know nothing about. bite me. I don’t feel like it.

    so now go ahead and type some more puke.

  146. Ichthyic says

    My knee pain felt better. that’s it. I think Acupuncture helped it. that’s it.

    can you rule out placebo effect?

    can you rule out that it was healing on its own anyway?

    sanctimony has nothing to do with this.

    this is a simple issue of applied skepticism, and you failed it.

  147. Ichthyic says

    he only principle by which the application of pain to combat pain has been shown to work is that by convincing the body it’s in more pain that it actually is you can cause the release of endorphins.

    yup.

    same principle behind treatment using capsaicin.

    At least there is a mechanism involved there that is documentable and predictable.

    speaking of which, here’s a nice paper that documents the use of capsaicin ointments in treating neuropathy:

    http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pmed.0020238

    as to its effectiveness?

    based on the specific mechanism, I don’t think it has nearly as wide an applicability as one might think given the advertising for the various products using it.

    Even within the recommend application, my only case example (my own father) suggests it’s of limited utility.

    strangely enough, while acupuncturists think that acupuncture is the perfect solution for neuropathy, NOT ONE SINGLE PEER REVIEWED STUDY supports this notion, and no doctor my pop ever visited (over a dozen) EVER recommended it as a treatment.

  148. Sophia Dodds says

    @Ichthyic

    Thanks, I’ll have a browse! Eesh. I still can’t get over the idea that once you strip it away, people are just advocating pain relief via more pain. If you’re that into masochism, just bite your tongue for a triple-barrelled effect – pain, pain relief AND it’ll shut you the hell up! :D

  149. Ichthyic says

    I’d also add that there is a LOT of psychology involved in proper pain management, and I’d bet that a lot of success that acupuncturists claim with treatment is much more due to the personal interactions with their patients, instead of the actual physical treatment itself.

    In fact, I would further suggest that if a correlative study was done, there would be a strong correlation between patients claiming that acupuncture helped them, and whether they thought the acupuncturist treating them connected with them positively on a personal level; made them feel relaxed, etc.

    If you check out the paper I cited, you’ll see a bit about how psychology enters into pain management.

  150. says

    Kevin, we’re talking about something here that is being sold and promoted as having medical efficacy–though there’s no science behind it, the evidence shows it’s merely a placebo, and people are wasting money on it while, sometimes, not seeking proper, science-based medical treatment.
    And you keep talking about your goddamn knee, like that outweighs everything else.
    You asked for something to back up the assertion that, sometimes, people pass on real treatment in favor of acupuncture, only to die horribly, and you were given some real-life examples to chew on.
    And you got all pissed off and talked about your fucking knee some more.
    We get it. Somebody kissed your knee and made it all better.
    We’re trying to tell you how the misinformation, and the circulation of “it worked for me” stories are doing more harm than good.
    We’re glad your knee feels better. We just think you’re mistaken about why. And we would rather you, and others, didn’t turn that mistaken idea into a bigger fucking problem than it already is.

  151. Ichthyic says

    people are just advocating pain relief via more pain

    neuropathy is a strange beast. You get these weird cycles of faulty neuron activity that actually can be “reset” by the application of a constant amount of real neuronal stimulus.

    I liken it to using a defibrillator to try and reset a heart arrhythmia.

    however, capsaicin seems to lose its ability to have this effect rather quickly in a lot of cases, apparently.

    Still, if you can get an early jump on managing pain with it, along with other methods, sometimes you can really reduce the long term pain issues associated with neuropathy from things like shingles, etc.

    I wish I didn’t actually know any of this stuff. The only reason I do is because I watched my pop suffer from it for about 8 years.

    which reminds me:

    if you have ever had chicken pox in your life, there is a vaccine now available to prevent shingles (the secondary lytic cycle of the infection). Do yourself a BIG favor and keep that vaccination up to date if you are over the age of 40.

  152. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, purveyor of candy and lies says

    Ichthyic:

    … and no doctor my pop ever visited (over a dozen) EVER recommended it as a treatment.

    Funny story, my mom used acupuncture for pain relief of an old hip injury. After months of hearing about how great it is and it would do wonders for my back pain, I finally convinced her to ask her doctor about it. Her doc told her that going to an acupuncturist is fine “as long as you like wasting your money.”

    That still makes me smile.

  153. Sophia Dodds says

    I had a read. It seems more of a ‘we use these methods because they’ve reported some success’ rather than the treatments being based on a solid evidentiary premise. Pain is, as you say, often a psychological as well as a physiological issue, or at least it can have causes that are either physioloical or psychological. I’m of the belief that the psychological causes or manifestations of pain are probably the main factor behind the efficacy of the placebo effect, considering that it only works when the patient believes they are getting an effective treatment.

    The issue with alt-med practices such as acupuncture or reiki are not that they don’t provide any pain relief, it’s that they’re LYING about how they do it. Nobody is saying the placebo effect is useless, they’re saying that pretending it is anything but the placebo effect is dishonest.

  154. Ichthyic says

    It seems more of a ‘we use these methods because they’ve reported some success’ rather than the treatments being based on a solid evidentiary premise.

    ??

    I should perhaps have linked to the full study instead of the summary then:

    http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.0020164

    that’s the review article of about 60 papers relating to the subject of pain management.

    if you want details for specific studies, check the bibliography.

    you’ll find the links to the various controlled studies there.

  155. Sophia Dodds says

    Ah, vaccinations. Totally for them, would get them all at once if I could just get over my stupid phobia. If they’d only hurry up and fast track that non-needle vaccination patch… Hopefully that’ll be available by the time I hit 40. :)

  156. Sophia Dodds says

    Ah! Right, that gives me a lot more meat to chew over, thankyou. I think my skepticism nodes kicked in a bit too hard reading that summary, I should really stop inserting my foot in my mouth before I have all the info. Apologies.

  157. Ichthyic says

    oh, and if you want specific mechanisms of action instead of clinical trial studies of efficacy, just google scholar or medline on the subject; there’s a list of papers that will pop, starting back in the early to mid 80’s and onwards from there.

  158. Sophia Dodds says

    Ooh, that’s rather cool. I’m not a scientist or a doctor so sometimes I find studies go over my head a bit unless I really kick myself into research mode, but the delicious data from the chart showing the relative efficacy of the drugs and placebo controls was very easy to understand.
    The comments on the capsaicin treatments were interesting also, and I now see where you’re coming from on the comparison with acupuncture and sensation-based placebo boosting effects. (If I’m reading you correctly, that is!)

  159. Ichthyic says

    The comments on the capsaicin treatments were interesting also, and I now see where you’re coming from on the comparison with acupuncture and sensation-based placebo boosting effects.

    Yes, in all clinical studies, whether they were tracking effect or studying mechanisms, there indeed is a marked difference between capsaicin and acupuncture.

    both cause “pain” in order to attempt to stimulate proper function, but only one actually has a mechanism that has been elucidated, and exploited successfully in clinical trials.

    the other, even though actually much MORE widely examined in the literature, does not.

    there is no hypothesized mechanism of action for acupuncture that has been supported by experiment to date, and no clinical studies (properly blinded and controlled) that support that it has an effect distinct from placebo.

    er, just to be abundantly clear on the issue.

    :)

  160. Ermine says

    Back to 288 votes. Damn, how fucking dishonest can you be? Pretty dishonest apparently, when you’re a woo-peddler.

  161. Sophia Dodds says

    Indeed! I’m just glad I’ve managed to learn something and see it supported before midday on a day when I am, ironically, in a great deal of pain. ;)

  162. you_monster says

    You should be aware that acupuncture is total bollocks.

    There. Is that enough? No, it is not. We must also crash a stupid online poll. Devastate it, please. It’s on a site run by dishonest quacks, so I think we have the potential to smash their poll so thoroughly that either they a) shut it down in embarrassment, or b) start faking the numbers.

    or c) alternate between shutting it down in embarrassment and faking the numbers when it is intermittently working.

    Somebody tell me why they have a gigantic picture of a happy family that totally dwarfs their tiny three line poll on the page?

    Ooh, I know. They are just proudly displaying their evidence of acupuncture’s efficacy. Those smiling people clearly get good feelings from it. Therefore, it must work!!! That’s how evidence works in the land of woo.

  163. Ichthyic says

    or c) alternate between shutting it down in embarrassment and faking the numbers when it is intermittently working.

    well, “C” means victory for the poll crashing effort.

    well done!

    It just reinforces the fact that all these alt-woo peddlers utilize poll data instead of actual science to support their efforts.

    just like the evangelical fundys do.

  164. catnip67 says

    Once upon a time, many years ago, I visited a “healer” under the influence of a woman with whom I wished to maintain a close relationship.

    She talked to me a while, had me lay face down on a massage table & then “plucked” the dead souls off my back that were clinging to me & making my life so shitty.

    Amazingly, after the session, I felt lighter than air, my chest puffed up & I felt goooood.

    I rationalized that I like being touched by a woman. I have confirmed this through repeat trials and found the optimum treatment comes from being gently touched by my girlfriend. Although when I have a sore muscle, I find a trained masseuse can have higher efficacy. Also they are more inclined to keep going for up to 90 minutes (without me having to do anything in return….other than give them my credit card details at the end).

    I didn’t call the healer “Doctor”. I felt that that would have been disrespectful to all those who earned their doctorate through years of hard work at university.

    Also, I don’t have to get needles stuck in me to get the goooood feeling. Maybe I’m just not that into S&M?

  165. says

    Ichthyic:

    I’d also add that there is a LOT of psychology involved in proper pain management

    For most people, yes. I’m not one of them. I keep my pain management limited to specific treatments and drugs which help my actual pain.

    I’d say those most prone to having a positive experience with things like acupuncture or homeopathy tend to be those who respond especially well to the psychological aspects of any given treatment.

  166. you_monster says

    well, “C” means victory for the poll crashing effort.

    God I love pharyngulating polls. Before I ever thought of creating a nym and commenting, I derived great joy from helping to crash the cranks’ polls. Nothing is more rewarding than seeing their pages borked and their polls taken down. Even funnier is when they post a pissy comeback article*, claiming their poll was tampered with. The irony is clearly beyond them.

    It just reinforces the fact that all these alt-woo peddlers utilize poll data instead of actual science to support their efforts.

    If you go to the “Why choose acupuncture” tap in the linked-to article with the bullshit poll, the only evidence they give is an appeal to how many people use it. They have a link where you can learn more. Here is the list of things for which they claim acupuncture can provide relief:

    Acne
    Allergic rhinitis
    Anxiety
    Back pain
    Bell’s palsy
    Cancer Care
    Childbirth
    Chronic fatigue syndrome
    Chronic pain
    Colds and flu
    COPD
    Cystitis
    Dentistry
    Depression
    Dysmenorrhoea
    Eczema and Psoriasis
    Endometriosis
    Female fertility
    Fibromyalgia
    Frozen shoulder
    Gastrointestinal tract disorders
    Headache
    Herpes
    Infertility ART
    Insomnia
    Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
    Male infertility
    Menopausal symptoms
    Migraines
    Nausea and vomiting
    Obstetrics
    Osteoarthritis
    Post-operative pain
    Premenstrual syndrome
    Puerperium
    Rheumatoid arthritis
    Sciatica
    Sinusitis
    Sports Injuries
    Stress
    Substance misuse
    Tennis elbow
    Tinnitus
    Type-2 Diabetes
    Urinary incontinence

    Fucking sham-artists

    *I recall the Blaze complaining about the integrity of their online poll being ruined.

  167. you_monster says

    Haha, I know. That was one I had to click on. As well as dentistry and male infertility. Sticking needles in your back apparently makes one’s little spermies swim extra fast. Makes one’s ballsack nice and chilly too.

    This is not the woo you are looking for (waves hand in front of face).

  168. What a Maroon says

    bah! now where’s YOUR evidence…!!?

    lol)

    You don’t get it, do you? In the case of beheading, there’s a well-understood mechanism for pain relief (i.e., the cessation of all neural activities). No such mechanism has been shown to exist for acupuncture.

    Granted, beheading has some undesirable side effects (profuse bleeding, paralysis, death), but it does work as an antidote for chronic pain.

  169. you_monster says

    “woo_monster”, that has a nice ring to it. Hmm, how do nym-changes work? I suppose TET is the place to ask..

  170. you_monster says

    Thanks for the reply, but I was wondering about the etiquette of it, not how to do it. Is it appropriate just to change to the new nym? Not that I post regularly, but I could see how it could be deceptive to change identities without properly notifying other readers.

  171. StevoR says

    Pharyngulated -latest results :

    ***

    You have already voted for this poll!

    Statistics:

    No = 291 votes, 60%

    Yes = 186 votes 34.4%

    Number of Voters 476

  172. says

    you_monster:

    I was wondering about the etiquette of it

    It’s no big deal, people do it fairly often. If you feel better about it, you can announce it on TET or do a temporary (formerly you_) or something after the new nym.

  173. John Morales says

    [meta + OT]

    you_monster, it’s one thing to change nyms to avoid killfiles or to sock-puppet, and another to change nyms just because.

    (So, go for it, woo_monster! :) )

  174. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, purveyor of candy and lies says

    you_monster:
    I changed my ‘nym a while back and it didn’t seem to ruffle anyone’s feathers. :)

    I like the sound of woo_monster.

  175. catnip67 says

    Actually, I think the poll is just random number generators. I just did a screen shot 1 minute after StevoR & it has:
    No(230),
    yes(65).

    And this was after a screen shot taken ~15 minutes earlier with results

    No(246),
    yes(184)

    :-/

    Ooops! just did another refresh and got:

    No(65)
    yes(263)

    Only 6 minutes later

  176. movinbutnotshakin says

    Wow, somehow since StevoR at 9:45 PM ET, the number of No votes has gone from 291 to 252. I had heard of anti-particles, but anti-voters is a whole new thing.

    Catnip67: I just saw the same thing. The only explanation is that there’s a whole other anti-pharyngula horde somewhere.

  177. catnip67 says

    Movinbutnotshakin, I’d agree, but the totals keep fluctuating up and down (both for yes and no). Either: random number generation, woo peddlers (can’t call them monsters anymore ;-)) being dishonest and resetting back to their original, only to be pharyngulated again, or Eddie’s in the space-time continuum

  178. says

    They reset the poll again.

    No 123, Yes 267.

    Point proven, I think.

    Still, if we keep this up, I’m sure they’ll just close the poll and post the “final tally”… being whatever made-up percentage they feel gives the best result.

  179. Woo_Monster says

    Yes, this feels right.

    (Sorry, Chell, first GLaDOS berates you and tries to kill you, now I discard my nym that was a homage to you)

  180. says

    evidence = when the second person used < 20 I felt little of the effect. as opposed to when the other person used 50+. so.. 50+ is the "magic number.

    Or, the number of needles is irrelevant, and the difference you experienced was due to the more comfortable table; or the room was a different temperature or colour; or the music was better; or maybe only one person was sufficiently nice, old and Chinese enough for you.

    You have an apparent sample size of two, you’ve controlled for nothing, and yet you’re confident that you can isolate the effective property?

    Maybe you should just sit down and have a cup of tea with the elderly Chinese lady, and see if that also makes you feel nice?

  181. Koshka says

    My partner and I went to a fertility specialist. The doctor recommended acupuncture as studies had shown that it improved the chances of IVF.

    I did ask the doctor why. He had no answer. I suspect a highly stressed woman is less likely to conceive so maybe it does make a difference. I also think it is possible the doctor gets a kickback – or at least taken to lunch every month.

  182. Cassandra Caligaria (Cipher), OM says

    at times I got a great buzz on and felt I was floating. I left relaxed and happy

    Kevin, I’ve experienced exactly the same effects you report here. Even referred to it as “floating.” I also experienced some temporary pain relief for my chronic pain issue, improved mood, decreased stress, better sleep, all kinds of lovely stuff.
    Of course, I wasn’t undergoing acupuncture, just enjoying some consensual BDSM play. (Somewhat less costly.)
    Think I should let my partners know they apparently qualify as “doctors” now?

  183. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Good lord. Kevin nyc is so obviously trolling-he’s hitting every stupid trope in the book and clumsily. Why is anyone taking him seriously?

  184. says

    The acupuncture literature is a bit clouded but you can see some really telling trends. In research coming out of China there’s 100% positive results- you wouldn’t even get that many positive trials if you were checking aspirin.

    Looking a bit deeper we see that there’s an odd choice in the types of trials being done. A lot of the researchers have found that they can’t get the results the want from blinded trials so they’ve just skipped over the step where you establish that there is an effect straight into unblinded trials where they try to measure the size of the effect- it’s much easier to spin any numbers you get from those into a positive result.

    As for blinding it was quite an ordeal to find a way to really prevent people from knowing. At one point the control groups were getting fake acupuncture from trained acupuncturists where the needles went into the wrong spots. The practitioners knew if they were doing it right or not so there was some expected skewing of the data but even so real vs fake was effectively identical in effectiveness. The response from the acupuncture nuts here was “well they just accidentally put the needles into effective points we didn’t know about yet.”

    Struggling forever forward we have come up with a fancy way of blinding the trials though. It’s this little needle sheath sort of thing that either contains an acupuncture needle or a toothpick. The practitioner can’t tell what he’s poking his victim with and the subjects get about the same tactile sensation from it. By the time we came up with this all it was no surprise that you got all the same benefits here without actually puncturing the skin (there’s a very very slight difference but it’s so small that it is medically worthless.)
    The response to this was a jaw dropping “placebos are good and effective medicine.”

    Even though they’ve refused to make any sense there this response is still very harmful to the practice of acupuncture. The bulk of people on both sides now admit that there is no reason to puncture the skin.

    For me that’s case closed. If you have chronic pain and are fine with accepting fake treatments to ease the pain then let little Asian women poke at you with toothpicks singing and whatnot under a heat lamp or whatnot. Go ahead and pay them however much it takes to convince yourself that it’s worth doing too. I will still hate what you’re doing and consider that kind of thinking to be a blight upon society but you’ll have cut out the part that is undeniably pointless and statistically harmful.

    On the other hand if you’re willing to accept that acupuncture is pre-medicine superstition with no real medical effect then your best course of action is to go find a doctor with good bedside manner. The thing you’ve really been getting out of acupuncture is a relationship with somebody that shows concern for your problem and is working with you to help lessen your pain. Not all real doctors will give you the kind of attention that’s most beneficial, but you certainly can find ones with personalities that suit you.

  185. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Brownian: All well and good. I just wish people would call him out explicitly so that he—and onlookers—know that they know he’s not an honest interlocutor, and that they’re only replying to prevent uninformed observers from being mislead. Deliberate and conscious trolls like Kevin nyc need to be publicly called out.

  186. Brownian says

    Deliberate and conscious trolls like Kevin nyc need to be publicly called out.

    Fair enough. I didn’t do so because I didn’t recognise him as such. He made a few arguments that I thought were characteristically wooish, but I wasn’t paying enough attention and assumed he just had a blind spot for this one subject.

  187. John Morales says

    [OT]

    andrewriding:

    On the other hand if you’re willing to accept that acupuncture is pre-medicine superstition with no real medical effect then your best course of action is to go find a doctor with good bedside manner.

    What’s good advice for you ain’t so for me.

    (Bedside manner is bullshit; gimme a doctor who is professional about her duties and doesn’t mince words (or produce false sympathy) any day.

    (You’d be horrified by my dentist!) :) )

  188. spamamander, hellmart survivor says

    I didn’t read this whole thread but I -do- have to say that the “floating” and such is the same effect I get while having a tattoo done.

    Even more so when, erm, “playing”. Hitting the mind-altered state of “subspace” comes after a long session of BDSM play. At least when I’ve done serious edge play I know I am working with someone who is extremely conscientious about the necessity for gloves/ sterilizing equipment/ new needles (if you’re into the medical play scene). Plus there is a great deal of aftercare, in a club or party session they will not allow the sub to be left alone until they come completely out of the altered state. Plus I’m not paying for it or having someone tell me it’s medically indicated.

  189. chrisdevries says

    I have had acupuncture…3 times, during my efforts to find something to help me reduce my chronic leg pain. I went in fully aware of the studies that show no effect beyond placebo. The theory I was testing was that a placebo only works if you believe in it. I did not believe that acupuncture would help me, but I did it anyway.

    Basically, my experience was that it had an immediate and moderate effect on my pain, followed by a mild but noticable reduction in pain for a period of about 5 days. This is despite the fact that I did not expect it to work. I was understandably surprised, and came back a couple times. I suspect that the needles, combined with the electrical current run through them (which was part of the process), cause endorphins to be released that create the buzz you feel immediately after an acupuncture session which causes moderate pain relief; I cannot account for the few pain-reduced days that followed a session though. I do know that anecdotal experiences do not count as evidence, but acupuncture shouldn’t have worked for me, based on my disbelief in its efficacy. In the end however, I found that while I received some benefit from acupuncture, the amount of benefit was not worth the cost, especially since I had found another, far more effective way at reducing my pain: Iyengar yoga.

    Now I am making a claim that is supported by lots of evidence – sustained stretching of your muscles both reduces muscular cramping, and increases your flexibility which makes your muscles more resilient to injury. This is why athletes should stretch before and after exercising; not stretching can actually be dangerous. Iyengar yoga involves sustained poses (held and worked for at least a couple of minutes at a time), each of which stretches multiple muscle groups. There is certainly woo attached to certain aspects of all yoga, but that doesn’t invalidate the truth that stretching muscles is good for you. Since I learned the poses, I now do the most effective ones at home so I don’t have to put up with the pseudo-mystical crap.

  190. says

    Now I am making a claim that is supported by lots of evidence – sustained stretching of your muscles both reduces muscular cramping, and increases your flexibility which makes your muscles more resilient to injury. This is why athletes should stretch before and after exercising; not stretching can actually be dangerous.

    You sure about that?

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1071358/

    Should people stretch before exercise?
    Clinicians are under increasing pressure to base their treatment of patients on research findings—that is, to practice evidence-based medicine.[1]
    [...]
    From the basic science research, we find that an increase in tissue compliance due to temperature,[14] immobilization,[15] or fatigue[16,17] is associated with a decreased ability to absorb energy. Although increased compliance is not the equivalent of stretching, no basic science research shows that an increase in compliance is associated with a greater ability to absorb energy. Second, most injuries are believed to occur during eccentric contractions,18 which can cause damage within the normal range of motion because of heterogeneity of sarcomere lengths.[19,20,21,22] If injuries usually occur within the normal range of motion, why would an increased range of motion prevent injuries? Third, even mild stretching can cause damage at the cytoskeletal level.[23] Fourth, stretching some-how increases tolerance to pain—that is, it has an analgesic effect.[24,25,26] It does not seem prudent to decrease one’s tolerance to pain, possibly create some damage at the cytoskeletal level, and then exercise this damaged anesthetized muscle. Of note, no basic science evidence suggests that stretching would decrease injuries. Finally, some basic science data suggest that a warmup may help to prevent injuries.[27]

    (Emphasis mine.)

    I think this perfectly illustrates the case in point. If you’re making basic claims about a practice based on historical anecdote, without looking at the evidence — and as noted at the top of the passage, this still sometimes happens even in mainstream medicine — you risk arriving at a completely wrong answer.

  191. Nes says

    Oi. I only made it to around comment 170 or so, but I just gotta say this. Apologies in advance if it’s already been mentioned.

    It amuses me that Kevin so easily dismissed the heat lamp at #52. Heat relaxes muscles. Guess what that helps with?

  192. sonofrojblake says

    Kengi: “Let me repeat for clarity: A placebo is a sham treatment which is a catch-all for the millions of uncontrollable confounding factors in a subjective experiment involving people (as reporters and/or participants).”

    This neglects the well documented observation that some “shams” work objectively, measurably, better than others. More sham pills = more effect. Red sham pills = more effective than green sham pills. Sham injection = more effective than sham pills. This suggests that there’s more going on than simply controlling for confounding factors.

    Goldacre’s pretty good on it.

  193. chrisdevries says

    @252 Kagato

    Having examined the research, it seems that a certain amount of the evidence that was used in support of stretching came from studies where researchers did not properly isolate their variables. The benefits or lack thereof in stretching as a way to prevent injury are hotly debated amongst scientists, and it also seems that the truth may be that the answer to the question “is stretching beneficial?” is: it depends/ That is, it depends on an individual’s extant physical condition and the types of physical activities they engage in.

    For me, I’m no athlete; I smashed my right femur to smitherenes 14 years ago and have never fully recovered my muscle mass due to the nerve damage I sustained in the accident (downhill skiing). My flexibility was so bad that I couldn’t sit cross-legged. Every few months to a year, I would be doing some physical exertion (running to catch a bus, walking for over an hour) that I considered normal and possible without injury and found myself laid up for 2-3 weeks in excruciating muscle pain due to the disproportionate strain I put on muscles that were not meant to take that much strain but had to because the proper muscles were too weak.

    Since I made significant and long-lasting gains in flexibility due to the yoga I did, those incidents have ceased. I still have chronic pain which will likely persist until treatments for nerve damage are developed. However, my brain has now come to expect pain from those damaged nerves, so it has altered itself such that it may be partially creating the pain without leg involvement at all (see V.S. Ramachandran’s fascinating work). I’m not sure how that kind of thing can be reversed…in amputees with ghost limb pain, Ramachandran used mirror boxes to trick the brain into thinking the amputated limb still existed. But this type of research is in its infancy, so I hold out hope that some day I may not need opiates and nerve-blockers.

  194. alexmcdonald says

    Do you think acupuncture should be made more widely available on the NHS?
    No
    35.6%
    Yes
    64.4%

    Total votes: 492

    I smell a very big rat…

    They’re going to keep resetting this until they get the answer they want. Headline; “TWO THIRDS OF PEOPLE WANT ACUPUNCTURE ON NHS”

  195. alexmcdonald says

    And it’s over: “Please register to vote”. So I did, and it doesn’t let me log on. And it’s been reset yet again;

    No 65 Yes 222

    Headline: “75% NOW WANT ACUPUNCTURE ON NHS!!!”

  196. Antares42 says

    …Yepp, and there it went back from

    324/222 (yes/no)

    to … what?

    222/65? Why?

    How do they even get those numbers? Why are the 222 “no” suddenly “yes” and the others gone?

    This is ridiculous.

    Oh, and people – don’t make it too easy for them: Copy the link address into a new tab/window to avoid getting caught as coming from Pharyngula via the HTTP-referrer header.

  197. says

    I was watching this poll, and the numbers were slowly moving to sanity. It went down to low 60% for acupunture. Then a huge chunk of no votes got deleted, and the poll suddenly seems to be for registered users only. What a surprise, they didn’t like how it was going, so fudged the results.

  198. quoderatdemonstrandum says

    Acupuncture Question for Horde:

    Can anyone point me to the single best authority that acupuncture does not work?

    My gym is now advertising acupuncture services for as hole host of serious medical issues including: depression, infertility, anorexia and asthma. I spoke to the manager and need to show him my one best piece of evidence that these claims could get him in trouble.

    For those living in the UK, does anyone know which medical and advertising bodies to complain to?

  199. Grumps says

    @ Antares42 #263

    They also have a Youtube channel!

    and only one subscriber. So that’s good.
    Shall we leave some comments?

  200. Antares42 says

    @Grumps #265

    I left a comment at the Clare Nasir video, basically asking why she credits acupuncture with her IVF success while also receiving standard of care treatment. Can they delete those, too?

  201. Grumps says

    I just left this

    Acupuncture killed my mother. She had lower back pain and went to an acupuncturist and therefore didn’t get the proper treatment for her failing kidneys that she needed.

    It’s true too.

  202. Antares42 says

    Haha, how funny – they reacted again!

    After the complaints that the poll counts don’t add up and keep on fluctuating… they removed the counts. Now the pie chart only shows percentages.

    These guys crack me up.

  203. Grumps says

    Thank you.
    This shit is important. I’m back to youtube now to leave a few comments. Thanks for the link.

  204. Grumps says

    These guys crack me up.

    They’re a fucking joke aren’t they?
    This poll fiddling should be more widely known. Has anyone got contacts in the BBC? or a well followed twitter account? Spread the news people… dishonest quacks are dishonest x10

  205. aufwuch says

    Pure crap and hell for me. Pain Dr suggested acupuncture after 4 yrs of hand pain with now identification of cause…7 specialists and 5 MRI’s. Before I could even get home from treatment pain level shot up 3 pts.(10 pt scale) Pain Dr authorized increase in my two opiate meds until levels dropped. Three days later back to a pain level of 1.5. Fool me once,… never ever again.

    The funky music and incense should have been my first clues of junk science.

  206. julietdefarge says

    I feel that traditional acupuncture was the necessary precursor to therapies that actually work. I have mild scoliosis, so I’m prone to muscles spasms in my back. When they persist for a couple of weeks, I go to a rehabilitation therapist. In combination with lidocaine injections in trigger points, I get acupuncture needles that are electrified- like TENS therapy, except more th current is delivered directly into the clenched muscle. Before the 2 to 4 needles are inserted, my back is swabbed with iodine and numbed with a cooling spray. I’ve had trigger point massage in the past, and it’s waaay more painful and less effective.

  207. Sastra says

    quoderatdemonstrandum #264 wrote:

    Can anyone point me to the single best authority that acupuncture does not work?

    I haven’t followed this entire thread so I may be repeating what’s been mentioned elsewhere, but the blog ‘Science-Based Medicine has what I think are the most thorough and specific series of articles on the topic.

    My understanding is that the procedure julietdefarge describes in #275 does show some good evidence for being effective, but contains elements which entail that it falls into a category other than ‘acupuncture.’

  208. Antares42 says

    Oh, and just in case anyone had any doubt:

    That website with the poll does not only sport the same favicon as the BCA, or the neat little “In association with the BCA” logo in the bottom right corner.

    It is them.

    Domain name:
    introducingacupuncture.co.uk

    Registrant:
    British Acupuncture Council

    Now, call me a pain in the ass, but wasn’t there some sort of European law that websites had to have an imprint or a contact page or something like that? I don’t see any of that, officially.

  209. Antares42 says

    Alright, now I really have to get back to doing some work, but just before I go:

    Here is the press contact for this publicity week organized by the BAcC (not BCA as I typed earlier, my bad):

    The first ever Acupuncture Awareness Week launches on Monday 27 February 2012 and will attempt to dispel the many myths still surrounding acupuncture.

    [...]

    For further details please go to http://www.introducingacupuncture.co.uk

    Press enquiries: Amy Seaman – Tel: (01903) 821550 / amyseaman@pegasuspr.co.uk

    I think I’ll send her an email later asking about the poll shenanigans.

  210. Ariaflame, BSc, BF, PhD says

    @kengi #187

    Bleeding a patient or putting leeches on the skin “has an effect”, but it doesn’t mean it’s a “treatment that works in principle”. Treatment is the key word here, not effect. Getting punched in the face has an effect, yet it’s not an effective treatment for back pain.

    And one of the differences between leeches and/or bloodletting and acupuncture is that the former two actually do have evidence based modern medical uses. Leeches for removing blood coagulating in areas where it is pooling too fast for the body to remove, or where the veins are still regrowing (such as in the reattachment of severed fingers).
    Bloodletting, while not advised for all, does have its uses for those with haemochromatosis (sp?) though if the iron levels are low enough then the blood can be donated rather than just wasted.

  211. Antares42 says

    …and in ongoing coverage, the user registration at the poll website seems to work now. Time to get to work, everyone, and just as a precaution – try to avoid getting there directly from Pharyngula, the HTTP headers give you away.

    Copy this link into a new window or tab and get cracking. :-)

  212. oeditor says

    I’ve come to this late and was surprised to see that the Pharyngulation hadn’t worked – the site still shows about 3/4 in favour of more woo on the NHS. Then I noticed that only people registered with the site could vote. All the more reason to register and vote, thought I. I did, and Lo! the ratio was reversed! Seems they’re very sly and are exhibiting a fake result to anyone notlogged in to the site.

  213. Kevin nyc says

    “Deliberate and conscious trolls like Kevin nyc need to be publicly called out.”

    again. you all are a bunch of sanctimonious little shits. I have been on this page forever. make your snide comments and insults. You don’t know what you are talking about. You jump to conclusions. don’t listen to simple english, and are whiney little pricks.

    I always had a good feeling about this site.. all about honest people in honest debate etc.. what a lie. ha joke’s on me.

  214. betelgeux says

    It looks like user registration on this quack site is down again. I’m getting “Error 500″ messages when I try to log in and complete the ongoing pharyngulation.

    But have no fear! These dishonest pricks (puns ftw) will not win! Let them know we see their dishonest poll tinkering. Write to them, it will only take a few minutes. Those sneaky woo-meisters deserve a nice deluge of email.

    SWARM PHARYNGULISTAS, SWARM!

  215. Woo_Monster says

    Cupcakevin,

    I have been on this page forever.

    Then you should realize that the response you received was the one that all pushers of woo get. You don’t get to make evidence-free, outlandish, and possibly harmful claims without getting criticized. Go find a site that does’t appreciate skepticism if you want to peddle bullshit without reprise.

    I always had a good feeling about this site.. all about honest people in honest debate etc.. what a lie. ha joke’s on me.

    Where is my magnifying glass, I can’t find my violin. Boo hoo. You spouted bullshit. It was called bullshit. You are not some sympathetic victim. If you are going to be in the habit of holding shitty beliefs, you should work on getting used to hearing criticism.

  216. John Morales says

    Kevin nyc:

    whiney little pricks

    Heh.

    (I guess an acupuncture aficionado would know all about little pricks)

  217. catnip67 says

    Kevin nyc says:

    again. you all are a bunch of sanctimonious little shits. I have been on this page forever. make your snide comments and insults. You don’t know what you are talking about. You jump to conclusions. don’t listen to simple english, and are whiney little pricks

    We are all? We don’t know what we are talking about? more unsubstantiated assertions, Kev?

    Lets be honest, you made some assertions that were certain to spark lively response and you did so without supplying any evidence. Personal anecdote is not evidence. Either, as Josh says, you are a troll, or you are not the skeptic you think you are. As woo_monster says, if you have actually been on this site forever, then you should not be in the least bit surprised to discover that it is full of people willing to take apart any poorly thought out argument or support of woo (not monster). Now either give us some real evidence to support your contention, or HTFU

  218. Brownian says

    again. you all are a bunch of sanctimonious little shits. I have been on this page forever. make your snide comments and insults. You don’t know what you are talking about. You jump to conclusions. don’t listen to simple english, and are whiney little pricks

    “Hi, I’m Kevin. My knee hurt. I went to an acupuncturist, and now my knee feels better. Despite the fact that I keep claiming I’ve been around the skeptics’ community for like forever, I seem to think this anecdote of correlation means something, and am clearly unaware of how and why clinical trials exist.

    But you know what really hurts? Everyone else keeps telling me my anecdote doesn’t mean anything. Don’t they know I’m O.G. dammit?”

    Go away now, Kev.

  219. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Kevin nyc

    I always had a good feeling about this site.. all about honest people in honest debate etc.. what a lie. ha joke’s on me.

    What debate on your part? What open mind on your part? You preached Kevin. You had anecdotal evidence only. A meaningless story. We require real statistical evidence in order to come to conclusions. The statistical data says acupuncture is the Placebo Effect in action. Your story doesn’t refute that. In fact, it supports that conclusion, not that anything special is happening. You couldn’t prove otherwise with your anecdote.

  220. erikthebassist says

    Kevin,

    You like acupuncture? Why not try a little on the inside of your bowels and grab yourself one of those porcupines on the way out the door. You’re an idiot and apoor example of a skeptic. If you’ve been here for ever and still try and prop up shitty arguments like the one you came in here with, you obviously haven’t been paying much attention.

  221. andyo says

    Kevin, the fact that you’ve frequented this site longer than me and many regulars only says that you should have known WAY better on how to present your case if you have a case at all. If you were a noob perhaps you could have been given more of a pass, although not after the first oh, I don’t know, ten posts saying the same thing.

  222. Chris Booth says

    By the way, the message that the big photo sends to me is quite distasteful and racist. It is a Lovely British Family, with an attractive Asiany woman who has married a Handsome British White Man (that way around is OK) [cue background music of brass instruments playing Rule Brittania] and they have beautiful mixed-race children in whom East and West meet adorably…so accupuncture in England is like those children in which East and West are harmoniously intermixed. And accupuncturists are like the attractive girl-next-door-ish Asiany woman: non-threatening and attractive.

    It is a cynical and skillful employment of racist imagry. [I might be specifically sensitive to this. My daughter is half Chinese, and I don't want her objectified by anyone for anything; not for being white, or for being Chinese, or for being a woman, or whatever. This photo is awash with objectification, including of the children. So this sets off bells to me. But I suspect that these very things make it an effective advertising photo. It is meant to reassure those who will swallow woo but are offput by acupuncture because it is foreign.]

  223. Ichthyic says

    The only explanation is that there’s a whole other anti-pharyngula horde somewhere.

    we often get freepers anti-pharyngulating polls.

    doesn’t matter.

    it’s a win either way.

  224. says

    I see this thread is still alive, so I’m hoping I can get a little help from the Horde™.

    I’ve been engaged in a lively debate on Twitter with a fellow atheist and skeptic, but one who claims that acupuncture has some efficacy following a successful treatment. I’m aware that anecdotes are not data, and I’m firmly in the “nothing beyond placebo” camp, but my opponent has presented some evidence to me that has left me a little confused, in the form of a paper published in Nature on experiments performed on mice. Unfortunately, I’m not very experienced in determining the quality of a scientific paper (it doesn’t help that there seem to be as many studies claiming an effect as there are claiming not effect), so I wonder if someone here with a better grasp of the methods used could take a look and let me know their thoughts.

    Here is the abstract from the paper:

    Acupuncture is an invasive procedure commonly used to relieve pain. Acupuncture is practiced worldwide, despite difficulties in reconciling its principles with evidence-based medicine. We found that adenosine, a neuromodulator with anti-nociceptive properties, was released during acupuncture in mice and that its anti-nociceptive actions required adenosine A1 receptor expression. Direct injection of an adenosine A1 receptor agonist replicated the analgesic effect of acupuncture. Inhibition of enzymes involved in adenosine degradation potentiated the acupuncture-elicited increase in adenosine, as well as its anti-nociceptive effect. These observations indicate that adenosine mediates the effects of acupuncture and that interfering with adenosine metabolism may prolong the clinical benefit of acupuncture.

    And the paper itself: Adenosine A1 receptors mediate local anti-nociceptive effects of acupuncture.

    I cannot find out if the work has been reproduced elsewhere or what the qualifications of the authors are. My Science-Fu skills are weak. Can anyone spoon feed an amateur with some proper scientific analysis?

    Thanks.

  225. Jerry says

    To Drawing Business (comment 297):
    You don’t need to refute anything in the Nature paper. You need to refute the illogical conclusion that your fellow debater is taking from that paper. The journal article is simply saying that poking a mouse with pins releases a compound that reduces pain. It shows the effect of acupuncture is more than doing nothing. It does not show that the effect of acupuncture is (a) safe, (b) safer than current medical care or physical therapy, (c) more effective than current medical care or physical therapy, (d) longer lasting than current medical care or physical therapy. In fact, there are quite a lot of human studies and meta-analyses of human studies showing that acupuncture is no more effective than a carefully done placebo for almost all of the claimed laundry list of benefits, and less effective than current medical care or physical therapy. (Do a search on PubMed at ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed for the terms meta-analysis and acupuncture. Look at the last 3-5 years, because the older stuff covered studies that were too small or poorly controlled.) Acupuncture proponents want to be taken seriously as “alternative medicine”, but they fail at the medicine part. What Kevin_nyc is not understanding is that we’re not ‘picking on him’. We’re arguing that his anecdote does not counter any of the scientific studies done to date, and furthermore that his giving an anecdote as proof that acupuncture ‘works for him’ is harmful because it helps promote the public acceptance of woo over science based medicine.

  226. Jerry says

    p.s. I’m not ignoring the paper. I’m a published biochemist who understands the article quite well. The biochemical processes by which acupuncture effects a mammal at the cellular level is not relevant to the much more important point that acupuncture _does_ _not_ _work_ well enough to be seriously considered medicine.

    Given a choice between paying a lot of money ($60?) to be poked with 50+ pins for an hour to obtain very minor and quite temporary relief of pain versus having a selection of several different, more effective and much cheaper drugs (2-4 cents/dose) with quite trivial side effects (for most people), pass me two generic tablets with a glass of water, thanks. I can get a large bottle, pretty much a year’s supply for me, of acetaminophen or ibuprofen for under $8.

  227. Kevin nyc says

    OK my last post on this.

    I should have been more mindfull of throwing bloody red meat into the lion’s den.. but I wasn’t. I blithely recounted my experience; and angered people because I said “it works.” as in giving relief from chronic pain. How? I don’t know. placebo? perhaps, but I still there was some actual effect (sorry). and I was joking about the evidence being 50+ needles. This occasioned a host of mocking responses I should have but did not expect.

    As I said earlier “but ranting about evidence and studies? please. just stick with “you are deluded and don’t know what you are talking about” and that would be fairer.”

    The whole thing degenerated into insults, on my part, and others.

    OH well.. it happens. I am no troll, and I guess I’ll avoid any acupuncture stories in teh future.