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Apr 26 2012

The Economist has a poll

It’s a sad, pathetic little poll, and it needs your participation.

Should alternative medicine be taught in medical schools?

54% Yes
46% No

Right. And I’m going to offer to teach “physiology of vampires” and “faerie genetics” courses in my biology program next year.

(Sadly, such courses would probably be very popular.)

40 comments

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  1. 1
    kingeofdremes

    A lot of lay people are more familiar with complementary and alternative medicine concepts than they are with traditional medicine. Since so many lay people are so willing to challenge their doctors these days, I would think that the doctors *should* be aware of the quack theories out there, so that these concepts can be dismissed in a way that their patients will not be offended. We don’t want patients to be *driven* into the hands of alternative therapists, do we?

    Sure, CAM is bullshit. But it’s popular bullshit.

  2. 2
    dianne

    @1: I agree that medical students should be taught about various forms of quackery out there. However, the Economist poll’s full question is “So, should alternative medicine be treated on a par with the traditional sort and taught in medical schools?” Alternative medicine should not be treated on a par with traditional (i.e. effective) medicine. It should be treated as part of the culture that doctors need to be aware of and take into account. Sort of like patients’ other dangerous habits like smoking, drinking too much alcohol or riding motorcycles.

  3. 3
    movinbutnotshakin

    According to the article, there’s such a thing as a “homeopathic hospital”, the numbers of which are dwindling in Britain. The fact that such an institution exists caught me by surprise, but the trend is encouraging.

    I wonder about the States though.

  4. 4
    ibbica

    I’m going to offer to teach “physiology of vampires” and “faerie genetics” courses in my biology program next year.

    Better topic for you (peer-reviewed pub, even!):
    The pyrophysiology and sexuality of dragons.

    ;)

  5. 5
    kieran

    Yes but what type of physiology of vampires, traditionlist/storkerism, the rice school of vampire physiology, Summers theory of precise anatomy of vampires or the reformed vampire physiology and a porper breakfast?

  6. 6
    Doubting Thomas

    Wouldn’t you think that something that calls itself The Economist would have a clue about internet polls?

  7. 7
    w00dview

    This makes me wonder, have anti-vaxxers ever tried to argue that medical schools should “teach the controversy” on the safety of vaccines? Cranks usually play from the same rule book.

  8. 8
    m.brndt

    Doubting Thomas, apparently not enough to make it work properly. When I submitted my vote the no tally was at 121%.

  9. 9
    DLC

    not surprised. it’s so easy to perpetrate bullshit on people who grow up believing that the entire universe was created in a week.

  10. 10
    Moggie

    movinbutnotshakin:

    According to the article, there’s such a thing as a “homeopathic hospital”, the numbers of which are dwindling in Britain.

    Eventually there won’t be a single homeopathic hospital left in the country, and then homeopathy will be more effective than ever.

  11. 11
    Matt Penfold

    Wouldn’t you think that something that calls itself The Economist would have a clue about internet polls?

    I can tell you are not familiar with The Economist. The idea it would have a clue about anything is laughable.

  12. 12
    davidmcnerney

    I’m going to have to call fraud on this.

    After I registered my vote there were 3600+ votes.

    Now there are 1304.

  13. 13
    Matt Penfold

    And now the votes are back again.

    I suspect incompetence rather than dishonest intent on the part of The Economist.

  14. 14
    Dick the Damned

    You’ve given me an idea, PZ. I will devise Alternative Theory of Structures (ATS). It will be based upon the use of the skyhooks that everyone has heard of, but that those closed-minded engineering profs don’t acknowledge.

    Bridges & buildings built using ATS will be much cheaper because they won’t need all that pesky science-based engineering that wastes everyone’s time & money.

  15. 15
    a3kr0n

    My vote was 3333 which, if you interpret correctly, would be 666 with extra raspberry sauce.

  16. 16
    Matt Penfold

    And now there are only 727 votes, all yes.

    I think they broke their website.

  17. 17
    duncanbooth

    Up to 184% No votes now. Surely that must be a record for Pharyngulation!

    It is still showing 50% Yes, so my guess would be that it can’t cope with the unimaginable concept that fewer than 50% will vote yes.

  18. 18
    eigenperson

    I got 72% No or something like that.

  19. 19
    duncanbooth

    I reloaded the page and it’s now back to 53% yes and 47% no. It looks like someone is faking the poll results.

  20. 20
    Cosmic Teapot, not the Antichrist.

    I reloaded the page and it’s now back to 53% yes and 47% no.

    Ditto.

  21. 21
    EvoMonkey

    According to the article, there’s such a thing as a “homeopathic hospital”, the numbers of which are dwindling in Britain.

    Are homeopathic hospitals really small with only a few beds in one tiny building or really dilute with several beds spread out all over the city in many tiny buildings? It also seems that only the homeopathic hospitals located near very active seismic faults would be effective.

    If the numbers of homeopathic hospitals are dwindling then they will be even more effective. The most effective homeopathic hospital is none at all. I can support that.

  22. 22
    IslandBrewer

    I totally wanted to teach a seminar on Dragon Developmental Biology when I was a grad student. It was actually going to be a serious class, where I taught systems of vertebrate axis formation and tissue differentiation, and have the students come up with ways to make hexapod bodies out of ostensibly tetrapod pattern forming mechanisms.

    The head of the department didn’t approve.

  23. 23
    dcg1

    For an example of the power of the royal family, and the career prospects of those who denounce homeopathy, google Edzard Ernst, Homeopathy, Exeter and Peat.

  24. 24
    Ing

    Are homeopathic hospitals really small with only a few beds in one tiny building or really dilute with several beds spread out all over the city in many tiny buildings? It also seems that only the homeopathic hospitals located near very active seismic faults would be effective.

    If the numbers of homeopathic hospitals are dwindling then they will be even more effective. The most effective homeopathic hospital is none at all. I can support that.

    homeophatic hospital in action

  25. 25
    Martin Wagner

    I’m not sure exactly how the site is now telling me there are “299%” No votes. I’d think a magazine like The Economist would grasp how to calculate poll numbers a bit better.

  26. 26
    Peter Cranny

    The site is now showing 86% no / 14% yes.

    Most of the comments (including mine) are along the lines of “there ain’t no such thing – if it works it’s medicine.”

    There is one commenter wondering if the poll has somehow been nobbled…

  27. 27
    Kagehi

    Think they need to adjust the name for this stuff. They are leaving “god” out of it, so, how about “Spiritual, Complimentary and Alternative Medicines”? ;)

  28. 28
    Lord Mawkscribbler

    Now at 87% with just shy of 6000 votes.

  29. 29
    kp71

    “Alternative” medicine, “out of body experiences,” when will the delusional woo-meisters STOPPPPP ALREADYYYYYY!!!!!!!

  30. 30
    'Tis Himself

    You voted: No
    Current total votes: 5677
    14% voted for Yes and 86% voted for No

  31. 31
    scienceavenger

    Where’s “fuck no”?

  32. 32
    markr1957

    #24 – Ing – love the video clip :) Time for a (non-homeopathic) beer – cheers!

  33. 33
    Brain Hertz

    from the article:

    In 2010 a parliamentary science committee advised that “the government should not endorse the use of placebo treatments including homeopathy.”

    Nice…

  34. 34
    Doubting Thomas

    Homeopathic hospital! LOL! But surely there can’t be more than one tiny one in the entire world? Any more and they would be toxic. Or maybe I just don’t understand homeopathy.

  35. 35
    Kristof

    As Dara O’Briain said: “The thing about ‘alternative medicine’ is we tested it. And the stuff that works is now just called ‘medicine.’”

  36. 36
    bastionofsass

    Should alternative medicine be taught in medical schools?

    I didn’t vote because I think “yes” or “no” don’t fully encompass the range of options.

    For example, I for one, think alternative medicine should be taught in medical schools, provided that it meets the same entrance requirements as all the other students and pays the required tuition and fees.

  37. 37
    vexorian

    I am missing the “Hell No” option.

    PZ, I think it is an unfair comparison between “Vampire biology courses” and CAM. Didn’t you teach us about alien biology in a conference? I think a subject about fantastical biology with critical look on whether it could or could not be possible could be a good optional subject that overlaps with literature. Meanwhile, CAM would kill people and make students that believe in magic become doctors.

  38. 38
    scottplumer

    The med school at which I work already has classes in CAM, unfortunately.

  39. 39
    colinsutton

    Apparently the Economist magazine needs some help with math.

    Just voted no, and the results are 50% yes, 481% no.

  40. 40
    jimjammy

    I’m a second year medic in Scotland, and I’m sorry to say that in my first year we had far too big a chunk of time devoted to learning about CAM as well.
    The lecturer even brought in a patient and a hypnotist to one of our lectures for a demonstration!

    It wasn’t the end of the world- the majority of our tutors later on in the year denounced it as blatant quackery, and this year it’s been drummed into us that we need evidence for everything- but it made me pretty angry that it was presented as a viable treatment option to us in the first place (especially now the class hippy argues that ‘some things exist outside of your narrow scientific mindset’ in every tutorial since…)

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