Talk:Alternative medicine/Archive 13

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Archive 12 Archive 13 Archive 14

Major revisions to Alternative Medicine article

As discussed previously, some feel that this article is a mess and needs major reorganization and editing. The amount of information dedicated to defending and critiquing alternative medicine as a whole is inordinate. Since the validity of alternative medicine inherently depends upon the validity of the various methods and treatments that fall under its heading, most of the information defending and critiquing the broader alternative medicine category should be moved to those specific articles. Does anyone agree? Does anyone disagree? Are there suggestions on what we can trim or move while keeping a NPOV? Edwardian 2 July 2005 00:01 (UTC)

I don't think the amount of information is inordinate. It should just be presented more clearly; I agree that the article could use major reorganization and editing. Most of what's specific to a particular therapy should be in that particular article, but this article doesn't devote excessive space to such material. Occasional citation of a study, as an example of how practitioners and opponents assess alternative medicine, is a reasonable way of illustrating some points, even though most such studies necessarily examine only one form of AM. JamesMLane 4 July 2005 04:58 (UTC)
Edwardian, I disagree. I think that it is important to include these defences and criticisms in this article about a highly controversial topic. Axl 7 July 2005 07:42 (UTC)

Alternative medicine and the law

This is from the section entitled "Alternative medicine and the law": Legal jurisdictions differ as to which branches of alternative medicine are legal, which are regulated, and which (if any) are provided by a government-controlled health service. Regulation does not, however, necessarily reflect the effectiveness of the methods used. Some practitioners and branches of alternative medicine have been investigated by governmental agencies for health fraud, and in a few cases criminal charges have been brought. I am going to remove the last sentence. Fraud is not unique to a practitioner of alternative medicine, and if certain branches are more likely to be investigated I suggest that we discuss that within their specific articles.Edwardian 4 July 2005 06:47 (UTC)

Testing and studies

This is from the section entitled "Testing and studies": The scientific community argues that many studies carried out by alternative medicine promoters are flawed, as they often use testimonials and hearsay as evidence, leaving the results open to observer bias. They argue that the only way to counter observer bias is to run a double blind experiment, where neither the patient nor the practitioner knows whether the real treatment is being given or if a placebo has been administered. This research should then be reviewed by peers to determine the validity of the research methodology.

Testimonials are especially useless in this procedure, because by chance alone some people will get cured and will be able to testify that the method really helped them - this can be explained by post hoc reasoning of the regressive fallacy. Furthermore, if the majority of people using a method do not notice any benefit or even get worse, there will still be a minority that can testify that the method really helped for them. [2]

I reworded the first sentence then deleted the rest. It is beyond the scope of this article to explain proper study design. The main section is entitled "Critcism" so it should suffice to say that critics contend that there are few well designed studies to support alternative therapies... or something like that. Edwardian 4 July 2005 07:41 (UTC)

I think the former language was too wordy but truncating it to only the first sentence errs in the opposite direction. We shouldn't just say that some people don't accept the evidence offered by AM proponents; we should give some further explanation of the grounds adduced by the critics. (Some AM proponents ascribe all criticism to greed on the part of orthodox doctors and scientists who don't care about truth and seek only to protect their lucrative turf.) We don't need to provide a complete primer on study design. Certain recurring issues are common to many forms of alternative medicine: Testimonials are useless because of observer bias and selective memory, and valid tests must rule out the placebo effect. A short explanation of these issues can link to Observer effect#Observer bias, Placebo effect, and Randomized controlled trial. At present some links are there, but the linking is spotty, a symptom of the need for improved organization. JamesMLane 4 July 2005 09:24 (UTC)

I am removing the following sentence as itNearly all mainstream doctors and scientists are open to revising their views of any specific new treatment, if new peer-reviewed evidence comes available. And many have, such as the physicians quoted above. We don't know for sure what "nearly all mainstream doctors and scientists" think, however, the fact that "[t]he boundaries of alternative medicine have changed over time as a number of techniques and therapies once considered to be 'alternative' have been accepted by mainstream medicine" makes the comment unnecessary. Edwardian 6 July 2005 00:36 (UTC)


I have changed the references list to now be in alphabetical order. I have also made them all have the same format, a commonly used one that you can find in journals like the annals of internal medicine. The key thing now is consistency. Please could anyone who adds a reference use this following format:

Author Initials, second author initials. "title" journal name, year; volume(issue): pages.

The date is irrelevant except for the year. No links in the reference except at the end of the reference.

This is really important for the professional organisation of an article which cites references and not is not me nitpicking.

I have also altered the contemporary use section.

PhatRita 8 July 2005 13:23 (UTC)

Section entitled "Medical education"

Regarding today's addition: Skeptics would argue, however, that it has acupuncture has never been shown to be effective in healing anyone of anything, though some people have been hurt by it by either the practice itself directly or indirectly by subsequent avoidance of conventional medicine. It is notable that the aforementioned British Medical Acupunture Society fails to mention the metaphysical implications of acupuncture on their website, and actually makes a conspicuous error in effectively denying them. The section is entitled "Medical education", not "Criticism of accupuncture". The points in the first sentence regarding concerns about efficacy, direct harm, and indirect harm have already been stated previously in the article (see Alternative_medicine#Criticism_of_alternative_medicine). I assume that the "British Medical Acupunture [sic] Society" was offered only as an example of education offered in alternative medicine, so it's a bit irrelevant to rebut acupuncture claims here. Can an someone suggest why these comments should stay here and not be moved to acupuncture? Edwardian 21:54, 18 July 2005 (UTC)

they don't belong in acupuncture either: see the section below.PhatRita 18:59, 19 July 2005 (UTC)
I'm OK with that, too. I wanted them out of here and thought I could "pass the buck". Edwardian 07:32, 20 July 2005 (UTC)

Maprovonsha172's edits

In the UK no medical schools offer courses teaching courses in clinical practise of alternative medicine. However, alternative medicine is taught in several schools as part of the curriculum. Teaching is based mostly on theory and understanding alternative medicine, with emphasis on being able to communicate with alternative medicine specialists. To obtain competence in practising clinical alternative medicine, qualifications must be obtained from individual medical societies. The student must have graduated and be a qualified doctor. The British Medical Acupuncture Society, which offers medical acupuncture certificates to doctors, is one such example. Skeptics would argue, however, that it has acupuncture has never been shown to be effective in healing anyone of anything, though some people have been hurt by it by either the practice itself directly or indirectly by subsequent avoidance of conventional medicine. It is notable that the aforementioned British Medical Acupunture Society fails to mention the metaphysical implications of acupuncture on their website, and actually makes a conspicuous error in effectively denying them.

I removed Maprovonsha172's edits in bold. "Never been shown to be effective in healing anyone of anything" is false. (See acupuncture.) "Conspicuous error" is decidedly POV. And it is not particularly notable that the BMAS fails to mention the metaphysical aspects, as they are not relevant to Western science. --Dforest 02:23, 19 July 2005 (UTC)

I beg to differ on all counts. If you take the metaphysical "aspects" out of acupunture you're taking away the essential element. In effect, you would just be poking people with needles. Acupuncture is the practice of placing needles in certain key points in order to unblock Chi, a non-physical force which certain pre-scientific people believe pervades all things. It is a conspicuous error to fail to mention the metaphysical basis for this practice, and effectively deny it. Moreover, it is a fact that acupuncture has never been shown to be effective in healing anyone of anything and if you think otherwise you ought to tell James Randi and he'll give you $1,000,000, or £574,538.69 for our British friends. To show that acupunture heals to show that unblocking Chi heals, but few people believe Chi exists.

Needless to say, I'm going to change it back. Maprovonsha172 19:59, 20 July 2005 (UTC)

acupuncture may have started out with such theroetical bases but it has certainly changed and evolved. Western acupucnture involved the idea of needles inserted into certain junctional areas of nerves which mediates a descending pathway activation of nervous release of endogenous analgesiacs in the brain. The theory is consistent with Melzack & Wall's theory of pain (1960), the widely accpeted portrayal of pain by the medical community. The fact that fMRI studies show what my lecturer calls lines "like a christmas light" which go off, that acupuncture alters firing rate, not to mention the systematic reviews quoting its efficacy in at least osteoarthritis (see main text).
so the Moreover, it is a fact that acupuncture has never been shown to be effective in healing anyone of anything comment is disputed at the least and more likely, false.
The "essential element" that you suggest is merely a starting point for a different kind of understanding for modern medical acupuncturists who adhere to the western principle of nerve junctions, of which the BMAS is the statutory body for. Ie in one form of acupuncture the basis for diagnosis may be metaphysical, but in another form, the western form, it has credible mechanisms and a whole different philosophy.
In short, in eastern, the acupoints lie on meridians, in western, the acupoints lie on certain nerves. The points are the same.
I resent the comments about pre-scientific, it is totally not necessary and I would imagine to be somewhat offensive to TCM practitioners and other alternative practioners. Please excuse the poor Chinese people who did not have immunohistological staining techniques and electron miscroscopes back in the 30th century BC to make sure that QI not chi exists.
and finally if you have points to debate about acupuncture in particular, please put it in the actual acupuncture entry.
Ps James Randi is there to prove supernatural things. Western acupuncture is not supernatural. But if you are offering, send the cheque for £574.5K to
PhatRita 21:53, 20 July 2005 (UTC)

Again, I don't think you have the right information. Here's what Robert Todd Carroll says on his website: "There is no correlation between the meridians used in traditional Chinese medicine and the actual layout of the organs and nerves in the human body."

And I'm not just looking to debate pro-acupuncture POV, I'm up for arguing against any POV. Unfortunetely, however, there seems to be several topics which wikipedians generally accept POV, and will look the other way when they encounter it. New Age beliefs, from "magick" to alternatives to medicine, seem to be widely accepted here and are allowed. Well, acupuncture is defined by the metaphysical notion of Chi, and cannot thus be understood as medical or scientific in any context. The only findings for acupuncture by actual physicians are that patients feel better. But pain is largely subjective. It's hard to pin one thing down as a cause of feeling better, and it often comes down to post hoc reasoning. Also, there is the placebo effect.

Prof. Carroll continues: "Finally, acupuncture is not without risks. There have been some reports of lung and bladder punctures, some broken needles, and some allergic reactions to needles containing substances other than surgical steel. Acupuncture may be harmful to the fetus in early pregnancy since it may stimulate the production of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and oxytocin, which affect labor. There is always the possibility of infection from unsterilized needles.* And some patients will suffer simply because they avoided a known effective treatment of modern medicine."

So acupuncture is a dangerous antiquated practice and it would be irresponsible for us to present it any other way. Maprovonsha172 01:50, 21 July 2005 (UTC)

here in the world of medicine, we use this little thing called evidence based medicine (EBM). It aims to get the most impartial view of any subject. One idea in this EBM is that there is an evidence pyramid at the top of which is a meta analysis. The general gist that applies here is, websites are not reliable, and that medical journals are more reliable. Websites are not peer reviewed, but journals are. It may very well be that this website has references, but it is still written with whatever agenda there is and no peer reviewing nor editing has been committed by external, impartial sources. In my experience, you can probably write an article in CAM which could prove almost anything provided you select the right journals to back up your argument since so many contradict.
Acupuncture, on the other hand, has studies into basic mechanisms look at Vickers and Zollman's introductory article on acupuncture published in the BMJ here
regarding your points about meridians - even if this is true, which you have yet to prove with a quoted review or analysis in a reputable journal, meridians don't necessarily mean routes of nerves, but maybe intersection points between meridians and nerves. There is always another argument you have to defeat. So if you cannot convince me, a CAM skeptic, on your edits, there must be very little hope of you winning over others.
lastly regarding your point about safety. This is ridiculous. Do you know the incidence of such things happening? these are mostly isolated incidents. Acupuncture is much much safer than most convetional medical treatments. Just watch ER and you'll see what I mean. People make mistakes, and that includes acupuncturists and doctors. Getting all worked up about it is alarmist only because you have a distinct inclination against acupuncture, imho.
in the spirit of EBM, I can certainly quote significant evidence for the safety of acupuncture:
here, an major study (BMJ) of 34 000 acupuncture treatments which says "Comparison of this adverse event rate for acupuncture with those of drugs routinely prescribed in primary care suggests that acupuncture is a relatively safe form of treatment.".
looking forward to your reply.
PhatRita 10:48, 21 July 2005 (UTC)

I'm glad we're on the same page that medicine should be evidence-based, indeed everything properly called medicine is evidence-based, and evidence is researched and presented in medical journals. Acupuncture, however, is not evidence-based medicine. I never said that acupuncture is VERY dangerous, there are more dangerous medical procedures. However, medical procedures do good, and acupuncture has never been shown to do any good. It is one thing to show that acupuncture doesn't hurt too many people, it's another to show that it actually helps anyone. Maprovonsha172 23:55, 21 July 2005 (UTC)

you know, for all that wording, you seem to have skirted the actualy points that I have made in reponse to your points. Firstly, you say that acupuncture is "dangerous" and when I reply with evidence to the contrary, you say that you never said it was "VERY dangerous". So what was your actual point in the first place?
secondly, you say that acupuncture is inefficacious. You provide no evidence to support this, other than a website. There is already sufficient references quoted on the main wiki article anyway to suggest otherwise. Then you say that you are indeed a strong proponent of EBM, and yet, you do not quote references of journals, analyses etc etc, which is the essential embodiment of EBM.
Then you say that acupuncture is NOT evidence based medicine. What do you form your basis on for that remark? does a medciine get born with the status of evidence based medicine? How is acupucnture different to the latest cancer drug? Because it wasn't developed in the lab? Because we don't know the mechanisms? How many techniques in medicine, eg the abdominal thrust (heimlich's manoevre) do YOU know that is evidence based and developed in the lab? And you'd be surprised how many drugs we have no idea what mechanisms they act thru, such as ASPIRIN.
then I see this quote: "however medical procedures do good, and acupuncture has never been shown to do any good". Just what on earth supports this statement? Where is the evidence? I bet you there has probably never been any studies conducted to show whether lancing a cyst for pus exists. But doctors do it anyway. And don't give me that "oh but it works for people" because that is anecdotal. The same argument can be made for acupucnture. You must make a choice between supporting EBM, which would mean you have to accept evidence EBM throws up, or not accepting EBM and base your arguments on unsupported works, hear say and narrow mindedness.
PhatRita 09:44, 22 July 2005 (UTC)

Acupuncture cannot be evidence-based by definition, because it is by definition metaphysical. Acupuncture is a practice of placing needles along certain meridians, by practicioners who believe this will unblock Chi. Show me a journal that discusses the qualities of Chi. The anecdotal post hoc reasoning you say is made for acupuncture, that "it works for people," is the only thing anyone has said for acupuncture that I know of. When it's shown that unblocking Chi heals people, then you can call it evidence-based. Maprovonsha172 01:18, 23 July 2005 (UTC)

You are confusing evidence base with mechanisms of action. Evidence based medicine does not exclude metaphysical medicine as something to test. In fact, contrary to that, it is here that EBM shines the most. Therapies such as homeopathy (which has metaphysical roots, im sure you'll agree), are tested via the EBM principle of clinical efficacy. Journals do not have to discuss whether Qi is unblocked or anything, but whether it can give a greater effect than placebo. "Acupuncture cannot be evidence-based by definition", I have no idea how you can defend yourself against this. Acupuncture can, and is, consistently proven by EBM as efficacious. In short, I just don't see the mutual exclusivity between metaphysical therapies and EBM.
There were some interesting funnel plots published a while back[1]. In the light of this paper I would suggest that claiming that acupuncture is supported by EBM is going a little far.Geni 09:43, 25 July 2005 (UTC)
The study you quote is one of a metaanalysis of trials in China. I do not see how this is relevant to the discussion at hand. Anyway, the study shows most of the trials are in favour of acupuncture over control. The problematic "trials needs more rigour" conclusion is present in most systematic reviews if not all of them. Acupuncture is supported by EBM, probably not as consistenly as I may have suggested, but it is shown to be efficacious above placebo for some conditions, which makes it a viable therapy. Check out the Cochrane collaboration on acupuncture:
PhatRita 14:01, 25 July 2005 (UTC)
also you don't seem to have replied to any of the points I have raised regarding such things such as your safety remarks, the lack of credible evidence you can present and justification for your POV.
PhatRita 21:22, 24 July 2005 (UTC)

It cannot by definition be tested because Chi is the essential element and it cannot be tested. As to the safety remarks, I thought we had sorted that out. I said that acupuncture may be dangerous. That's true not only because people have been hurt by the insertian of needles but also because some people avoid medical treatment after being treated by an acupuncturist. As for credible evidence:

"Chi is defined as being undetectable by the methods of empirical science." --Robert Todd Carroll, Ph.D. Maprovonsha172 01:06, 27 July 2005 (UTC)

again we reach an impasse on this matter. Firstly, your comments on safety. Again, where is your evidence? You say that people avoid medical treatment after acupuncture. How many? what % of the population? Says who? again, you quote Dr. Robert Carroll, from the Skepdics website, with which I'm all too familiar. This is not EBM, as much as is not EBM. The words you want be looking for are "lancet", "bmj", "jama" ,"nejm", "peer review", "randomised", "control" and "trial".
again you say that chi is untestable. I do not disagree with you on this matter. However, testing chi (Qi is the preferred written form as it reflects the Chinese pinyin system) is certainly not EBM. The fact of the matter is that acupuncture and other therapies can be tested for their clinical efficacy and THAT is EBM. This efficacy does not necessitate in a viable theory of practise. If we follow your logic, tender loving care is as much untestable as qi is. And incidentally, western acupuncturists do not consider qi as part of their diagnosis.
PhatRita 12:49, 27 July 2005 (UTC)

Then why don't you provide some evidence that acupuncture, whether in the traditional sense or in the sense you speak of, heals people? Pain is one thing(placebo effect), irradicating disease is another. Maprovonsha172 19:50, 28 July 2005 (UTC)

my god, it continues! I'm afraid, that the onus is on YOU to provide evidence. I have quoted at least 5 or six studies, journals or systematic reviews to back up my points, and you are asking me to provide evidence base?! ridiculous. The only evidence you have provided comes from the skepdic's website.
However, I shall continue my pursuit of this argument via evidence based discussion. There are very few full articles you can read, for example, on a systematic review (and full reviews are quite boring, I can assure you.) If you know what the Cochrane database of systematic reviews, then skip the following paragraph.
Professor Archie Cochrane was a well respected and brilliant doctor living in Scotland. Basically he was the pioneer of the cochrane collaboration which sought to provide highly reliable reviews on what is effective and what wasn't. Nowadays, the cochrane collaboration is one, if not the most respected authority in clinical medicine. They publish their findings on the prestigious journal, "the cochrane database of systematic reviews". Their databases are as good as pubmed and you have heard of the following: DARE (Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects ), CENTRAL (Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials), and others such as NHS EED, HTA and more.
Take a look on their website, and they allow access to abstracts of their systematic reviews. Looking up on acupuncture gives this:
(informedhealthonline is the public domain name for the cochrane.)
Acupuncture for lateral extensor (tennis elbow) pain: "Acupuncture might be able to provide short-term relief from tennis elbow, but more research is needed"
Acupuncture for idiopathic migraines: "Acupuncture seems to be able to help relieve headaches and migraine, but more reliable research is needed"
Acupuncture and TENS for dysmennorhoea (painful periods): "TENS and acupuncture might help relieve painful menstrual cramps"
Acupuncture on rheumatoid arthritis: "One study shows electroacupuncture decreased pain in patients with rheumatoid arthritis"
Acupucnture for labour induction: "Acupuncture may help to induce labour but more research is needed"
Acupucnture safety: "Acupuncture with disposable needles and clean needle techniques causes few serious adverse effects"
Do you see a repeat pattern emerging? research is needed, and yet the results seem to be in favoiur of acupuncture. Therefore I don't see how you can justify any of your comments from the past 2 weeks.
I also read this in an old copy of the journal of alternative and complementary medicine the other day:
"there is now general internal agreement that acupuncture is effective for the following coditions: dental pain, postoperative nausea and vomiting and chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting. Some conditons are seen to be effective by some and difficult to interpret by others: migraine, low-back pain, and TMD." (Birch et al 2004)
PS please dont even THINK about dragging placebo into this argument or I'm gonna have a field day. EBM is a serious business and relating everything to the placebo whenever someone quotes "alternative medicine" will lose their argument credibilty from the word go.
pps. This argument reminds me of my friend at school trying to argue with the teacher that a cold is caused by bacteria.

ppps "irradicating [sic] disease?" what the hell are you talking about?

  • Birch S, Hesselink J, Jonkman FA et al (2004) "Clinical research on acupuncture: part 1. What have reviews of the efficacy and safety of acupuncture told us so far?" JACM; 10(3):468-480
PhatRita 23:13, 29 July 2005 (UTC)

None of those examples you gave are what I asked for. They all refer to pain, which is a very tricky thing to measure. Pain is quite subjective, and affected by suggestion. I don't know why you mean to dismiss the placebo effect so crassly, (PS please dont even THINK about dragging placebo into this argument or I'm gonna have a field day.) the fact is there exists a placebo effect and it is visible in all sorts of alternative-to-medicine-therapies from faith healing to acupuncture.

And by irradicating disease I mean that it gets rid of disease, as anti-biotics do. Maprovonsha172 20:00, 2 August 2005 (UTC)

So what is the purpose of alternative medicine? You have yet to state what exactly you would like to see proven? That acupuncture is a miracle cure for everything? Well it isn't. Like antibiotics cannot eradicate disease - they are bacteriostats, which means they limit bacteria growth. You have no valid argument.
You are quite right, pain is subjective, but how does that affect your reasoning that acupuncture is ineffective? Placebo is a valid argument, only if you back it up with randomised control trials stating that there is no efficacy over placebo. The studies I have quoted are all randomised and controlled, or meta analyses of such studies. Also, most healthcare professionals use the placebo to their advantage. It is said that the placebo is used by the most eccentric quacks and the wisest physicians. Bedside manners, the white coat, clean hospitals, fresh air, flowers, allowing supporting families to visit etc are all examples of the placebo. PhatRita 14:10, 4 August 2005 (UTC)

The National Council Against Health Fraud has shown that:

1. Acupuncture is an unproven modality of treatment;

2. Its theory and practice are based on primitive and fanciful concepts of health and disease that bear no relationship to present scientific knowledge;

3. Research during the past twenty years has failed to demonstrate that acupuncture is effective against any disease;

4. Perceived effects of acupuncture are probably due to a combination of expectation, suggestion, counter- irritation, operant conditioning, and other psychological mechanisms;

5. The use of acupuncture should be restricted to appropriate research settings;

6. Insurance companies should not be required by law to cover acupuncture treatment;

7. and Licensure of lay acupuncturists should be phased out.

They explain that "Research during the past twenty years has failed to demonstrate that acupuncture is effective against any disease" and that "the perceived effects of acupuncture are probably due to a combination of expectation, suggestion, counter-irritation, operant conditioning, and other psychological mechanisms." In short, most of the perceived beneficial effects of acupuncture are probably due to mood change, the placebo effect, and the regressive fallacy.

Also, anti-biotics don't only limit bacterial growth, they kill bacteria. The first sentence of the wikipedia article for anti-biotics is, "An antibiotic is a drug that kills or slows the growth of bacteria." That sentence isn't disputed, and if you want an example, look up penicillin.

Your use of the word placebo is rather strange, as well. The placebo effect is generally defined as measurable, observable, or felt improvement in health not attributable to treatment, resultant of a practice or the administering of something (sugar or starch pill) should be ineffective. A placebo (Latin for "I will please") is apposed to a nocebo (Latin for "I will harm") which is something which should be ineffective but which causes symptoms of ill health. Acupucture is an example of a placebo, I'm not denying that, but if we agree that it is a placebo we're agreeing that it is effective only because "patients" expect it to be.

Furthermore, what I've said about anti-biotics stands against the true effectiveness of acupuncture, because though anti-biotics irradicate disease, acupuncture has never been shown to heal anyone of anything.

Maprovonsha172 19:45, 5 August 2005 (UTC)

1)The NCAHF is one of the keystones in the ring which includes quackwatch, chirowatch etc. Are you honestly telling me that this is IMPARTIAL and undisputed evidence!?
2)Penicillin, is known as a bacteriostat, like many of its derviatives and future versions. They act to SLOW bacterial growth and so let the immune system take over. Their role in actually killing bacteria is very limited. Allopathic medical training has got me well versed in this knowledge. Penicillin is a cell wall disruptor. However, others such as rifampicin etc can affect RNA synthesis, etc. They do not KILL bacteria. They decrease the numbers of bacteria reproducing or limit growth. I would choose my wording more carefully next time, if I were you.
3)Placebo. This is a whole can of worms. Firstly, consider the ethical side of the argument. If it does seem to be efficacious, EVEN IF, and only IF, acupuncture is purely placebo, what is wrong with using it? It seems to please patients who use it, and it is safer than conventional medicine. Besides, acupunture is more effective than a placebo. Secondly, consider your sentence "not attributable to treatment". Placebo relies on treatment - the longer the treatment (and more empathically given), the higher the placebo effect (Brody 2000), even if this treatment has no conceivable effect on the body's physiology. This basically boils down to how the pill or treatment is administered.
4)thank you for your latin lesson. I am quite aware of what placebo means.
5)Have you ever read a systematic review on acupuncture? Have you ever even read a medical journal? Try it sometime before you bombard this talk page with useless quotes from a seriously biased and unpublished web source. For all your wording, you have yet to prove with a single medically published source, that acupuncture is ineffective.
6)Futhermore, you have insisted on launching a crusade against acupuncture, the most scientifically proven form of CAM, and insisted on adding negative input into the CAM main page (including after we started out little debate, without notifying me nor other members) which is neither the right information NOR the right place to put it. This amounts to little more than vandalism. If you wish to prove yourself more than a vandal, I suggest you go and acquaint yourself with how EBM works. You may say you know and agree with EBM, but you certainly do not follow its methodology and practice.
PhatRita 12:11, 7 August 2005 (UTC)

1. I hardly think being in an anti-quackery ring makes a website untrustworthy.

2. Let me choose my words quite carefully. Here's what the FDA says:

For example, penicillin kills bacteria by attaching to their cell walls, then destroying a key part of the wall. The wall falls apart, and the bacterium dies.

3. You ask...

"If it does seem to be efficacious, EVEN IF, and only IF, acupuncture is purely placebo, what is wrong with using it?"

What is the point of using it? Some people are hurt by needles, yet needles have never irradiated disease like anti-biotics. If you were injured on the battlefield in the Second World War, I'm sure you'd rather have penicillin than any herbs or crystals or whatever, and the only needle you'd want is one with morphine in it.

4. Anytime. You say you've been trained in allopathy, but do you know the etymology of the word? Hahnemann, the creator of homeopathy, conjoined the words allos and pathos or opposite and suffering. It refers to the ancient Greek humoral practices which modern science no longer uses. So it is a false term at best, and perhaps even a tacit slander. Perhaps you ought to choose your wording more carefully next time.

5. Well it depends on how you mean "ineffective." We've agreed that it is merely a placebo, which is something which eases pain but is generally ineffective outside of the subjective nature of perceived pain. Acupuncture doesn't heal anyone of anything, and never has, and that's all I want in the article. It may ease some pain in some people, but so do false beliefs. We should promote science and rationality, not try to adapt old Eastern Metaphysics to our sensibilities.

6. You say...

"If you wish to prove yourself more than a vandal, I suggest you go and acquaint yourself with how EBM works. You may say you know and agree with EBM, but you certainly do not follow its methodology and practice."

I suggest you lose your condescending tone, and argue the issue if you can. You say I'm not posting the "right information" instead of attack the information I've presented, and you say I should acquaint myself with the way evidence-based medicine works instead of pointing out where you've found me ignorant. You make the ridiculous claim that I don't follow the methodology and practice of evidence-based medicine, as if I should. I'm not an M.D. I'm a philosopher, we're bound by the laws of logic and our method is analysis. In philosophy, we call all these little jabs red herrings. If you want to argue an issue, do so. You've so avoided the issues at hand I don't even know what you mean to accomplish. I've said that I want it said in this article that acupuncture has never been shown to heal anyone of anything, and is merely a placebo utilizing the body's susceptibility to suggestion. If you disagree with that, argue against it. Furthermore, the NCAHF is a well-respected organization, you can't just make such an irrational statement that because they belong to a certain web-ring they can't be trusted. Even if they were a fringe organization, and nothing they say could be trusted, you should be able to point out where you disagree with them. So, in addition to what I want to add into the article that you should argue against, you may argue against the following points made by the NCAHF:

1. Acupuncture is an unproven modality of treatment;

2. Its theory and practice are based on primitive and fanciful concepts of health and disease that bear no relationship to present scientific knowledge;

3. Research during the past twenty years has failed to demonstrate that acupuncture is effective against any disease;

4. Perceived effects of acupuncture are probably due to a combination of expectation, suggestion, counter- irritation, operant conditioning, and other psychological mechanisms;

5. The use of acupuncture should be restricted to appropriate research settings;

6. Insurance companies should not be required by law to cover acupuncture treatment;

7. and Licensure of lay acupuncturists should be phased out.

They explain that "Research during the past twenty years has failed to demonstrate that acupuncture is effective against any disease" and that "the perceived effects of acupuncture are probably due to a combination of expectation, suggestion, counter-irritation, operant conditioning, and other psychological mechanisms." In short, most of the perceived beneficial effects of acupuncture are probably due to mood change, the placebo effect, and the regressive fallacy. Maprovonsha172 16:53, 7 August 2005 (UTC)

Ok this whole issue has spun way out of control, which was not my original intention.
In response to your points,
1)being an anti quackery site does not, conversely, make it a trustworthy site either. That is the whole reason I have been arguing with you about this issue. These websites can say anything they want and it would not be moderated or corrected. Yes, they MAY have correct information, but equally, they MAY NOT. And when someone or a group have an agenda, ie, anti quackery, the information may be, and is often distorted or manipulated. Compare this, for example with the evidence based process whereby scientific enquiry into reputable journals results in balanced and peer reviewed articles which are edited by independant people working for those journals.
2) Penicillin DOES kill bacteria, but not in as much a great quantities as you may think. They do disrupt cell walls etc like you state. However, considering that the body's immune system will do most the work, and their effect is not as great as you may think. It is true that someone with a dnagerous infection, antibiotics are the life saving force, but you have to be careful in simply stating that they kill bacteria, for their role in fighting infection is a little more complex. Basically it boils down to a numbers game - antibiotics stop the growth of the colony so much that the immune system can overcome, and not as many people think, they dont just simply quickly eradicate all bacteria.
3)the point you have made is that acupuncture is not as efficacious as say morphine for killing pain? Or it is not relatively good as say antibiotics for treatment. Well this is obviously true and is not a point of which I am arguing. Of course morphine is more efficacious than acupucnture in most cases. However, morphine is more efficacious than paracetamol or aspirin for pain killing in most cases, isn't it? You have to look at what acupuncture is used for and whether it is efficacious for that.
4)your comments have created some offence to me (part of the reason for the severity of my reply, which I apologise for in retrospcet) because I take my alternative medicine very seriously. Your reply seemed to me very patronising. If you take a look at history of the homeopathy page and talk:homeopathy page, you will find my name in abundance there. I am well aware of who Hahnemann is and where allopathy comes from.
5)We have not agreed it is MERELY a placebo. My point was that IF and only IF acupuncture was a placebo, there would still be considerable ethical use for it as it is SEEMINGLY efficacious. From what research shows, it is much more efficacious than acupucnture.
I think also you should be careful when you say that acupucnture has never healed anyone of anything. What do you mean by heal? Acupucnture is effective for short term pain relief amongst other conditions. This alone makes it a viable medical therapy. I completely disagree with your statement there. If you are referring to healing as for example, CURING, then you MAY be right. However, most medical techniques don't CURE diseases. Morphine, for example is a pain killer, but what does it cure? Certainly not the debilitating multiple scelerosis nor the excruciating supracondylar fracture it was prescribed for. Acupucnture is effective for what is was prescribed for and that is it.
"so do false beliefs" - well my quotes from studies have shown that acupucnture is ABOVE placebo. This comment may be true but so is this comment: "acupuncture is better than false beleifs for that pain relief"
6)I have been, for the past 2-3 weeks trying to argue with you about your comments. Everytime I do, you make another comment but do not answer my replies. And yet I am the one trying to "avoid the issue"?
EBM is the methodology by which medical personnel make warrants of arguments for whether a theory is effective or not. Your points are attacking the core of the efficacy of a treatment. If you wish to argue that it is effective or not, you do not attack its theory or scientific foundation, you attack its SCIENTIFIC evidence. You must attack whether it is effective above the placebo effect in the clinic, because that is what matters.
You refuse to believe that there may be nerves involved in endogenous analgesiac relief. Yet how do you know? Not even the best scientific minds can be sure of this conclusion.
you one solid line thus far: "acupuncture has never been shown to heal anyone of anything, and is merely a placebo utilizing the body's susceptibility to suggestion"
I will argue against this point. What you are in effect is saying that acupuncture is not effective over placebo.
The studies which I have quoted above, all of them show other wise. These are scientific studies with randomisation and double blind and so on, which show otherwise. These are studies which composed of blinded randomised trials which have one group on placebo and one group with acupucnture. These are also systematic reviews of tens, if not hundreds of these trials and group them together to form a conclusion. If even one randomised control trial came out for a "normal" pharmaceutical drug which showed such effects, it would be sold on the market.
It is your job to prove that acupuncture is INEFFECTIVE.
Acupucnture has not been proved conclusively as efficacious becuase skeptics just refuse to beleive in CAM therapies. Not any amount of evidence will convince them.
Again, this point about the NCAHF. They may be respectable, but I can say that the Research council for complementary medicine (RCCM), is respecatble (which it is). I could say that is respectable. I could say that chirohealthweekly is the lord's scriptures. But it is not tenable in the medical world, of which acupuncture belongs to.
In response to NCAHF's six points:
1 - At what point is there enough "proof"? There is already siginificant evidence, but probably there will never be enough for hardcore skeptics.
2 - Its theory may be based on primitive practises. So? The same could be said for using herbs, but 30% of all drugs are derived from them. It does not matter where it comes from, but that it is effective.
3 - This is wrong. There is plenty of research evidence to show that acupucnture is effective above placebo.
4 - Every treatment has some kind of placebo effect. When the point says "Percieved effects of acupuncture...", you can replace with almost anything. "the perceived effects of Paracetamol...." You could say the same about every one of those treatments.
5 - what are these research settings?
6 - American medical insurance is beyond me. I know nothing about it.
7 - Well of course they should be. The licensing of lay doctors should be phased out, the licensing of lay nurses should be phased out. What a ridiculous comment. Of course alternative medicines need a strong professional internal discipline and organistion like the AMA and the BMA/GMC does. This step is already moving in the UK. Chiro + osteopathy are under parliament legislation to be under the GMC. Acupuncture is well on its way.

ps , Again I apologise for wording in the previous reply. Although I do feel offended from your remarks, especially "prescienfic".
PhatRita 14:43, 8 August 2005 (UTC)

I retract my apology dated 08/08/05, above. the user in question, Maprovonsha172, insists on altering the main article page to add POV comments to suit his negative view of alternative medicine. There are many comments regarding acupuncture which he refuses to argue for with actual medical evidence and runs around rings to avoid. He uses unreliable evidence from a known anti cam website which clearly breaches the neutral point of view policy of wikipedia. He has also made several comments which adds offense to me and alternative medical practioners alike. PhatRita 19:40, 11 August 2005 (UTC)

You haven't shown that acupuncture is effective. That some studies show acupuncture is more effective than a placebo doesn't mean anything if the majority of studies don't indicate anything more than a placebo effect. And please, let's argue about what's true, not whether a website I'd link to is NPOV, or whether things I have said have offended you. The Supreme Court said that you can't prosecute emotional distress cases because no one can be the judge of it, I think that speaks volumes to this discussion. You said my posts have offended you, but we can't be sure, people feel better with acupuncture, but are they better? We can't be sure. It's the placebo effect. We see it in faith healing, as well, the placebo effect provides the illusion of being healed, but in time the disease persists whether or not pain resumes. I wonder if you've seen the documentary A Question of Miracles, in it the documentarian followed people who were going to faith healers, and faith healers themselves. People who couldn't walk got up and danced around, people who couldn't step out of a wheelchair got up and ran around. It doesn't mean these faith healers cured them. All that happened was a temporary stimulation of neurochemicals which masked pain, unfortunately, it doesn't mask one from the cancer or whatever is killing you and you die just the same. The same is true for acupuncture.

And I'm sorry (and you don't have to worry about any retractions of courtesy from me) if you were earnestly offended by my saying acupuncture is prescientific, but I don't feel bad because acupuncture is prescientific. It's a paradigm case. If you think Chi is anything but prescientific you should find a dictionary and look up the word. Maprovonsha172 01:50, 21 August 2005 (UTC)

I have not replied for a while, being away for holiday. To reply to your point:
That some studies show acupuncture is more effective than a placebo doesn't mean anything.... - metaanalyses that I quote are ones which cover every credible trial of that time and amalgamate the results. These studies which I quote, therefore, cover literlly hundreds of trials.
...if the majority of studies don't indicate anything more than a placebo effect - have you counted all the studies which have been conducted? You will find that this is again, a false statement. Studies which show effect above placebo, in my experience, outnumber ones that dont at least 2 to 1. Although there may be some other reasons such as publication bias, this still contradicts your statement. It is time you stopped running rings and come up with some hard answers. These answers include hard facts of published peer reviewed trials in medical journals, not Dr Stephen Barrett's Quackwatch ring nor the Skepdics site.
My offense is mild, and is probably a little more than annoyance that you refuse to engage the argument with reliable facts.
PhatRita 16:48, 24 August 2005 (UTC)
ps its QI not CHI!

Most studies just don't show what you're suggesting. And I don't know what you're implying about Robert Todd Carroll or Stephen Barrett, who are both highly respectable people.

Studies which favor acupuncture are often bias, resulting from poor methological quality and the desire to see these things approved. There is a LOT of money in acupuncture and other so-called "alternative" medicines so of course MANY people want these good results.

Here's an example of poor metholodology:

Here's a good explanation of acupuncture and its metaphysical implications:

P.S. The purpose of transliteration is so that we read a word as we would write it. So, since its pronounced Chi, I'm going to keep calling it Chi. Maprovonsha172 21:28, 25 August 2005 (UTC)

Im not implying anything about those two people. However, the content that you quote are simply not reliable, however true they are. You have a distinctly awry sense of what evidence based medicine actually is. Articles by non peer reviewed, unpublished sources are just not something which is admissible as evidence in the EBM courtroom. I have stated this several times and yet you refuse to acknowledge this point. There may be nothing wrong with the article, but HOW ARE WE TO KNOW?
Im sure those are both highly respectable people. Stephen Barrett is a medical director somewhere, with a life master rank in bridge and eagle scout or whatever. Great.
I agree with you that many studies, in areas such as homeaopthy and other alternative medicines are severely flawed. However, many studies are not. Reversely, studies can be biased against acupuncture, say by someone like Stephen Barrett...MD.
This is why we even have EBM and organisations such as the cochrane. Reviews, such as those performed by the cochrane are the best answer we can derive from the evidence we have.
The single review you have quoted (the first credible source I have ever seen you quote) is probably true. But you have picked a single example of trials of bad methodology out of the hundreds of trials out there. I can equally pick out good evidence from the hundreds too.
I have read the quackwatch acupuncture article before. It contains selective evidence, like all of quackwatch's articles, to be honest. You can prove almost anything with the right studies in CAM related subjects.
I also ask you to write qi instead of chi not because whether it suits you, but for the same reason that peking is no longer used and beijing is - it is out of respect for the culture that originated the name and their wish to use the way that they write it with (the pinyin system).
PhatRita 23:41, 27 August 2005 (UTC)

Arguing over different transliteration standards doesn't improve this article one bit. I think most english readers would more correctly pronounce the word if the common chi was used instead of qi which is often mispronounced. But it doesn't matter too much either way.

I am not going to take a pro or con side on the efficacy of accupuncture. But stubbornly insisting that it is invalid only because the centuries old explaination (that may or may not be totally hoopty) doesn't make any scientific sense doesn't reflect one bit on the efficacy of the treatment. Just because someone thinks mystical chi is underlies the is the efficacy of sticking a needle in a body that results in an outcome. There are many many things that work just fine that people had a difficult time explaining back in the day. We can explain today why items of dissimilar weight fall at the same rate, but historically it was difficult to accept and explain by the people of the day. That doesn't make the fact that it happened any less valid.

If accupuncture works it works...regardless of anyones theory as to why it works. Hiding behind the argument that "accupuncture is by definition the mytical manipulation of chi..and chi is bogus...therefore accupuncture cannot work" is silly. It is false logic.

Massage can help ease pain. It doesn't matter if you think it does it by transfer of life energy from massager to massagee....or if you understand that squeezing lactic acid and other biochemicals out of sore muscles can reduce the pain. Theories about answering "why" questions have no relation to efficacy...period. --AStanhope 15:48, 9 September 2005 (UTC)

Section entitled "Contemporary use of alternative medicine"

I suggest combining the subsections entitled "In the US and UK", "Around the world", and "Rising use of alternative medicine" (a total of 7 sentences) into one section, then moving that section to immediately before or immediately after the section entitled "Legality and regulation". Thoughts? Objections? Edwardian 06:38, 26 July 2005 (UTC)

Well wikipedia english is mainly uk and us and rising use of alternative medicine is a different topic heading in itself, so I disagree with that idea. I do agree with placing it after legality and regualtion PhatRita 14:33, 26 July 2005 (UTC)
My thought was that the three subsections each reflect "usage of alternative medicine", and could easily be combined into one concise paragraph. I'll leave them as subsections, but move them as noted above. Edwardian 04:48, 27 July 2005 (UTC)

Suggestion change in section entitled "Safety issues"

From: This can be a particular issue in the treatment of children and individuals whose capacity to evaluate the treatment is impaired, and of animals. To: This can be a particular issue in the treatment of individuals whose capacity to evaluate the treatment is impaired. Reason: The issue of children (and animals!) not being able to make an informed decision is not unique to alternative therapies. Are there any objections to this change? Edwardian 00:23, 30 July 2005 (UTC)

yes your reason does not appear to make a case.Geni 01:42, 30 July 2005 (UTC)
Edwardian, I don't get your point? The current wording does not imply: that children not being able to make an informed decision is unique. It is saying "children AND individuals whose capacitiy . . . etc... ". Note the use of the word "AND". dave 07:43, 15 August 2005 (UTC)
Issues of informed consent are not unique to AM. The sentence doesn't really need to stay. Edwardian 21:14, 15 September 2005 (UTC)


I don't think I'm qualified to edit the article, and it's probably been said before, so I'll just post this here. For some reason, I have never heard of an "alternative" treatment used to treat trauma. Why is this? Am I missing something? Alternative medicine only seems to address the rather nebulous issue of disease. When did the last N.D. fix up a gunshot wound or a lacerated, bleeding liver from a car accident victim? Can a chiropractor reassemble a compound-fractured leg or remove an icepick from someones brain? etc. etc. etc. It is the 21'st century, after all. Surely there's "natural" "cures" for these traumas, are there not??

If they could actually do anything they wouldn't be called "alternative;" "alternative" is a euphemism for all these quacks thatthe Establishment won't endorse because they can't prove them effective, but people flock to because they can't be proven ineffective. Then in this case "alternative" is a euphemism for "fringe." It's fringe versus mainstream, pseudoscience versus science. If alternative medicine could be shown effective, it would become mainstream and cease to be "alternative" even though it would be "an alternative" in the proper sense of the word, which is to say an different yet equally valid option. The trouble is these pseudo/pre-scientific practices aren't equal, they are often ineffective and/or directly or indirectly harmful. Maprovonsha172 01:34, 21 August 2005 (UTC)

ahh, maybe a good ole non sequitur, but hey... That's all I got :) --Kvuo 23:47, 17 August 2005 (UTC)

What non sequitur? Maprovonsha172 18:43, 22 August 2005 (UTC)

My original comment. I didn't reply to your reply until now --Kvuo 22:13, 24 August 2005 (UTC)

Adherence To Topic

Somehow in the last couple years of editting, it seems that ALL details concerning alternative health practices have been removed. This seems to violate NPOV as much as anything. The article provides no details what-so-ever concerning what alternative practices involve. There is an older version (years old) which has such an outline of common practices. I would admit that the outline does not have to be extensive but for it not to be there at all is just absurd.

The section I think should be added is

Branches of alternative medicine

The most often used branches of alternative medicine in the United States are (Eisenberg et al., 1998):

  1. acupuncture
  2. biofeedback
  3. Chinese medicine
  4. chiropractic
  5. homeopathy
  6. hypnotherapy
  7. massage therapy
  8. naturopathy

Just adding this seems to restore some slight degree of covering the topic at hand. Indeed, I could go further and say the entire topic be moved to Issues of the effectiveness of alternative health but just some details seems reasonable at present.

Anyway, I'm not sure the best place to add this, so I thought I'd just comment first.

Hans Joseph Solbrig 22:49, 28 August 2005 (UTC)

Alternative approach would be to break the article almost entirely into various subsection.

  • Legal Issues Of Alternative Health
  • Science And Alternative Health
  • Branches Of Alternative Health
  • Philosophies Of Alternative Health

And perhaps others.

This would allow the read to pursue the aspects they were most interested and reduce further arguments about what to put on the base page.

Hans Joseph Solbrig 23:06, 28 August 2005 (UTC)

I understand what you are saying and I think it is a valid point. However, just to list examples is not enough. Defining CAM is needed first, of which the article is poor at. Defining what CAM encompasses (and it is different to different people,)can then lead you to CAM examples and usage, probably in the contemporary use section). PhatRita 22:54, 29 August 2005 (UTC)
Hmm, I would say that CAM is a particular take on alternative medicine, supported by particular institutions with ideas about how alternative and conventional medicine can be seen. So despite claims to the contrary, it is thus not a broader concept than the phrase "alternative medicine" - most alternative medicine providers would use the CAM phrase. This page has through so many of the controversies around Alternative medicine that it seems like folks forget the need to actually define/describe the basic term.
And so I believe developing concrete examples of the forms alternative medicine actually takes is necessary. The previously deleted list I dredged-up is excellent for this - it is documented and judges them by an objective standard - popularity. Again, if you are going to have an encyclopedia article, why actually give some examples, sheesh.
Also, noticed a NPOV comment - n "most cases, it is a violation of the neutral point of view to specifically break out a controversial section without leaving an adequate summary. Consider other organizational principles for splitting the article. Be sure that both the title and content of the broken-out article reflect a neutral point of view."
Article_size - This suggestion was clearly violated over the last few years, with details of the subject being what has been split out without a slightly adequit summary being left behind. I don't think there is any excuse to not add the section I previously mentioned - at the bottom seems to fit into the style guidelines but an addition to introductory paragraph might be useful. I will still wait for comments for a couple more days, however.
Anyway, even if defining CAM would be a highly useful task, adding in some details is also much easier and therefore I can't see the problem with doing it first.
Hans Joseph Solbrig 19:38, 30 August 2005 (UTC)

Also, I would assume there is a reason somewhere in talk for having no listing for "Alternative Health Care" as opposed alternative medicine. Distinguishing between "Alternative health care" and "alternative medicine seem like a useful way to distinguish those modalities which are complementary to conventional medicine (by improving health) and those which attempt to assume a similar role to medicine (by diagnosing and treating diseases).

I'm not yet attempting to do anything because I know what a can of worm these issues are but could someone point me to the reason there is no "alternative health" page. "Alternative Health" googles to over a million entries.

Hans Joseph Solbrig 19:38, 30 August 2005 (UTC)

the study you quote at the top is the trends of CAM 1990-97 article, if I remember correctly. It highlights two problems with your suggestion:
1. what would you suggest as being within the boundaries of CAM? Would you consider praying for one's health CAM? I wouldnt, but others would. For examples Barnes et al, 2004, a statistical study with over 30000 participants, included diets such as Atkins, spiritual healing, and prayer as part of CAM.
2. there is flux with popularity. The Atkins diet is out of business, literally. The eisenberg study showed improving popularity from something like 30% to 35% in the 7 years. Did each therapy rise in popularity equally? Unlikely.
3. defining the separate medical systems - eg would you say that someone using TCM acupuncture to improve their qi is using acupuncture, TCM or both?
It is this lack of agreement within even basic research such as contemporary use and what CAM is that has stunted the main article page. I feel that an example section is very important, but we have to do it right and not just rely on a single piece of research. PhatRita 11:51, 2 September 2005 (UTC)


The list/study I quote does not list prayer or the Atkins diet as a commonly practiced modality so that issue does not come up. It seems like some of your arguments boil down to "it cannot be perfect so it should not be created until it can be". I believe that the wikipedia philosophy is the opposite - start adding bits of good things and the fill them in till you get something excellent. Something less than perfect that is NPOV and improves the balance of the article is good regardless of whether it could be even better (and those two ingredients are necessary - adding unsupported assertions about the details of alternative medicine would not be NPOV). Also, if something is changable, then the article is editted as the change happens. If a better study exists, it can be substituted, etc.
I get the feeling that there has been a less than useful conceptual framework at work among all "sides" in this discussion up till now. The desire has been to create an rigorous and scientific description of what alternative medicine "really is". Such an approach is unsuitable for a term such as alternative medicine whose meaning has arisen by common usage rather than by a systematic, rigorous or scientific process. Of course, any effort at research into alternative medicine is going to use a more rigorous and therefore different definition than the definition in common usage (CAM is different term than alternative medicine). This is why technical terms for common phenomena are used. But it is not wikipedia's purpose to transform commonly used terms into exact scientific terms.
Within such vaguely defined category like alternative medicine, Wikipedia can give a somewhat objective statement of which terms and categories are commonly used in its description - its Lexical_definition. No other type of definition is appropriate in the context (this article is useful for looking at the possible definition-types that could be used). Wikipedia cannot and should not untangle what the tangle of usages for alternative medicine objectively means. - at least not on a single page. It is similar to the situation of US census on race. Census takers record what race each person identifies with (black, white, hispanic...). They do not and cannot define the meaning of race - indeed an exact definition is quite likely impossible. A statement about the racial composition of the US still relies on the results of the census (or other similarly arbitrary measures).
Using this approach, the commonality of the use of modalities with different labels is something that can be answered objectively and thus belongs on the main page of alternative medicine. The question of acupuncture versus TCM versus Qigong etc obviously requires more discussion and thus is suitable for a discussion within the TCM and/or acupunture pages.
And just as much, one can objectively answer the question what modalities have been considered "alternative medicine" by those seeing themselves as its critics.
Hans Joseph Solbrig 21:48, 3 September 2005 (UTC)


I do think a complete rewrite of the page will be good. I am writing a proposal for this that I'll cc to the talk page of all the folks who seem to have gotten caught-up in this debate over the years (I posted my rough ideas above in talk). But like I said, I don't the prospect of rewrite should stop incremental improvements here.

Hans Joseph Solbrig

Edited my most recent comments for typos. Hans Joseph Solbrig 19:48, 5 September 2005 (UTC)

Sorry for the late reply, my broadband is suffering some problems. Anyway, I feel that we can define a new set of CAM therapies but all I'm saying is that we need to be careful. If you'll point me to your suggested rewrites then we'll discuss it further. PhatRita 15:57, 9 September 2005 (UTC)

External links

The purpose of Wiki is not to accommodate everyone's opinion on everything. Per Wikipedia:What Wikipedia is not:[2][3]. Edwardian 06:41, 13 September 2005 (UTC)

  • Not even if it may be one of the leading approaches of conventional medicine, or medical communities worldwide, to the understanding of the so-called alternative medicine(s)? It is fine, as you wish, I am not in the medical field and I donnot even know the author! So, never has been publicity, but just a legitime interest on this knowledge! ;-) --GalaazV 07:03, 13 September 2005 (UTC)

The current practice of medicine is based upon the Newtonian model of reality. This model is primarly a viewpoint which sees the world as an intricate mechanism. Doctors conceptualize the body as a type of grand machine which is controlled by the brain and peripheral nervous system: the ultimate biological computer. But are human beings really glorified machines? Or are they complex biological mechanisms which are in dynamic interplay with a series of interpenetrating vital energy fields... the so-called "ghost in the machine"? This book is an introduction to a new viewpoint of healing that encompasses an evolving picture of matter as an expression of energy. This new field of healing, based upon the Einsteinian paradigm, is called vibrational medicine. by Richard Gerber in Vibrational Medicine: The #1 Handbook of Subtle-Energy Therapies (ISBN 1879181584, Bear & Company: 3rd edition, March 15, 2001) [4]

More to the point; this is spam. This is a discussion of the general category Alternative Medicine. It is not a summary of the different categories of alternative medicine though I'm planning to flesh out a little bit about the most common forms alternative medicine takes. The appropriate place for links concerning a particular modaility of alternative medicine would be under the category it most closely fits into. Yes, you have an opinion about how the difference between alternative medicine and western medicine. But this clearly is not the common conception of what alternative medicine is. Wikipedia is not a medium for folks to publish new or revolutionary theories. It is a place where the existing body of knowledge is summarized.

I am alternative health practitioner myself (I practice qigong, which I would not label medicine though it actually could be called "subtle energy therapy"). I am irked by the poor state of this and related pages. Unfortunately part of this is the tendency of alternative health practitioners to be independent businesspeople and thus be in the habit of writing ad copy rather than serious NPOV descriptions. This tendency has resulted in those scientifically inclined just erasing whole topics - and having some justification for that erasure. When I have the time, I aim to create definitions here and in related page that are primarily summaries of the topics at hand with efforts to promote OR denigrate them being included only afterwards. Having folks blow in to spam the discussion is not really useful here.

I would hope that a serious member of the alternative health community would appreciate this effort to be exact. So find the section you belong in and write something that describes primarily what you do.

Hans Joseph Solbrig 19:58, 13 September 2005 (UTC)

  • I have done it already and also plan to do an article on Telecommunications field. However, I have also studied some systems, presented here, considered to be Alternative medicine field. I truly support your intention of raising the standard of "Alternative medicine" related articles: and there are some who really need attention (i.e. "Spiritual healing" as "Faith healing"?!). It was not my intention to present any spam: the author doesn't create any new "Alternative medicine" branch but tries to construct a bridge between mainstream medical science and milenary (or older) alternative medicine practices, based on scientific models (for instance the "Einsteinian" E = mc2:), which he calls "Vibrational medicine". I would see his conceptions as an attempt to show to the academic conventional medicine deeper understanding about CAM, its wider potentiality in healing (not just curing), and to present methods capable of being applied in practice by medical communities. So, I thought it would be Ok to introduce it into "CAM" and "Alternative medicine" sections related to discuss these matters. But, please do what you think it might be best, as you may know far more of this field than myself. --GalaazV 21:45, 13 September 2005 (UTC)


I think the participants in this article really need to avail themselves of what NPOV writing is all about. This article is hardly an encyclopedic presentation of the history and definition of a topic. It is written with a clear agenda against any kind of fair and even presentation of fact or evidence. The language used is loaded with all sorts of implied statements and facts without anything to back it up. The proponents of Alternative medicine are held to a totally different standard than the skeptics....the proponents not even being allowed to leave something that states "possibly effective" without citation after citation, yet the skeptics can present in broad strokes language that states that "Western medicine's" efficacy (across all specialties and is "proven". Statements implying zero evidence for efficacy of Alternative medicine fly in the face of the many many studies that have concluded effectiveness of many of the treatments (accupunture and manipulative methods like Chiropractic especially). Arguing against any possible efficacy simply because the primitive ancient speculations of "why" something works is especially counterproductive and silly.

I'm not a huge believer in everything fruity and crunchy on the alternative side. Clearly there is a huge batch of stuff lumped in together, much if which is snake oil. But arguing against every shred of possiblity that ancient medicine might have any possible contribution to the general body of knowledge is a little like arguing that the ancient Egyptians couldn't possibly have built the pyramids, in spite of them being there!

Take a look at for a topic that can be clearly approached from a very skeptical view...and yet the article is written in a very NPOV way.

Truth be told, as an athiest, I would love to drop the article on Christianity into a category of "Fantasy", but I know that would be a adolescent flame and not contribute to the NPOV presentation of knowledge and history that the article strives to represent. I think the dogged skeptics to Alternative Medicine need to get off the soapbox here and let a true NPOV article arise under this topic name.

--A6Patch 21:35, 13 September 2005 (UTC)

  • Thank you for your commentary. First of all, your assumption that the current participants in this article are incapable of writing NPOV or are responsible for POV is incorrect. If you take the time to check the history of edits in this article, I think you will see that there has been plenty of agenda pushing from all sides for a long time. It appears to me that the few skeptics that have posted here in recent history have gone out of their way to ensure a fair representation of alternative medicine. Secondly, your help in making certain a "fair and even presentation of fact or evidence" appears here is certainly welcome. Please do list your specific concerns so that they may be addressed. Edwardian 04:20, 14 September 2005 (UTC)
  • I understand this article has a long and storied history. I am just commenting on where it has ended up. IMO, this is not a "fair representation of alternative medicine". I have studied the recent history of the changes and it seems it has been difficult to pull it back incrementally from being what is (IMO) a fairly skeptical POV. A6Patch 04:57, 14 September 2005 (UTC)
  • This article certainly did not convey a NPOV when John Gohde and Irismeister were active. Indeed their inability to work with others to present a NPOV is partially why they are no longer active in Wikipedia. What specifically do you think has been removed to give the article a skeptical POV? What specifically do you think needs to be added to give it a NPOV? Edwardian 05:08, 14 September 2005 (UTC)
  • Well I could pull out element by element and point out the language that I think is biased and should be changed, but really its more a subtle and pervasive attitude in the language throughout. Here is at least one example: "Where alternative methods provide temporary symptomatic relief, this has been explained as being due to the placebo effect, or to natural healing, or to the cyclic nature of some illnesses." The whole "this has been explained" is very problematic. Been explained by who? It implies that there is no debate, that it has been explained factually as being due to those reasons. Not to mention the fact that many elements of western medicine can be "explained" (speculated is a better word) by the same reasons.
I think the overall problem is an underlying and subtle implication of infallibility and proven efficacy of western medicine, vs this /eyeroll "alternative stuff that no one can prove anything about". The fact that western medicine has evolved and continues to envolve should demonstrate that like anything, we don't know everything yet. There are things in western medicine that don't work, aren't proven, and can actually end up hurting people (Vioxx and Thalidimide are good examples...but it certainly isn't limited to just medications). In spite of the article itself mentioning the thousands of published studies concluding efficacy of certain alternative practices, there is still language that implies that not a single alternative treatment has ever been studied closely enough to conclude anything.
Centuries ago logic and science had no idea how to explain certain things. Magnetic fields, infections, etc were mysteries speculated to be caused by all sorts of things. Just because those initial explainations were all bogus...doesn't mean magnets didn't work or people weren't dying from little bugs. Things like cellphones, microwaves, etc. would seem like magic to scientists from not too long ago. I myself assume a highly skeptical position regarding the efficacy of any specific treatment. But I think it is arrogant and short sighted to think that alternative medicine is so questionable on such a broad scale as to not give it the benefit of language that implies that some of it might possibly work (albeit without a viable explaination yet). We discovered all sorts of "magical" fields and forces in the last 100 years in the world around us. Its pretty naive to think that the amazing human body isn't making some use of subtle fields and bioelectric energy in some way. No one can really explain "life" or "conciousness" at all. How can anyone argue against the existance of life energy manipulation with any kind of certainty? A6Patch 13:46, 14 September 2005 (UTC)
  • Regarding: "Well I could pull out element by element and point out the language that I think is biased and should be changed, but really its more a subtle and pervasive attitude in the language throughout." Pointing out the language that you think is biased and should be changed is exactly what this article, and the editors who are working on it, needs. The existence of whatever "attitude" you perceive is in those comments and they should be addressed specifically if you/I/we want it rectified. As I mentioned previously in the Talk pages, alternative practices stand or fall on their own merits or drawbacks which should be discussed within the individual articles. Although certain points may apply to the whole of alternative medicine, this article had degenerated into a tool in which to defend or criticise those practices with blanket statements. This is an article about alternative medicine, so redirection to medicine is warranted if anyone wishes to defend or criticise Western medicine.Edwardian 15:37, 14 September 2005 (UTC)
  • Fair enough, I will look to do exactly that. However, I don't think these two topics have enough symetry to just banish criticism of Western medicine into its own article. Its not like people are putting blanket acceptance of alternative practices into the Western medicine article, allowing such implied omnipotence of Western medicine here doesn't help the article.
I think your point about using the individual alternative practice articles to house specifics is good, but the specifics of criticism should be there as well instead of here. This article's blanket criticisms don't necessarily apply across the board to all of the alt practices, and it is not possible to defend against them in such a blanket way (nor should it, I'd hate for people to think that I believe in half the stuff thats lumped in here, I just think the other half has merit beyond what is insinuated by this article on its own). By allowing the broad criticism and banishing the only possible defense to each specific article, it allows this to basically be inappropriately negatively biased.A6Patch 17:06, 14 September 2005 (UTC)
  • Let's work on all of this. I've attempted a rewrite of the sentence that you mentioned a couple of posts earlier. Edwardian 17:23, 14 September 2005 (UTC)
  • Not realy sure what this means. Are you reserving Religion from being scrutinized from a scientific perspective because it is a "non-scientific theme"? Religion is religion. It is a batch of things different people believe. You can believe in germs..or not believe in germs. Scientists can examine germs and prove they exist. A scientific view on religion would be fairly skeptical at this point. Perhaps in the future science will expand its awareness and somehow we'll be peeping God in the Hubble space telescope. A non-scientific view is simply one that ignores evidence and instead relies on "faith" (a brilliant and enduring concept that exists only to confound any attempt at logical analysis). This is getting pretty off-subject. A6Patch 13:46, 14 September 2005 (UTC)
  • I would just like to add some input. It seems that many skeptical editors wish to challenge every single sentence of a specific article, even basic tenets such as practise and history. There should be a section written by the experienced and practising members on the actual usage. The theory should be presented, but the hard science on efficacy and placebo debated. What is strnage is that the "could be"s which is what most alternative therapies have to defend themselves with, is not acceptable because this is speculative. PhatRita 17:57, 14 September 2005 (UTC)
  • Although I don't think there is a specific theory of alternative medicine (but rather theories for the individual practices), I would like to see this article become more informative as you have suggested. Regarding the "could be"s, I'm not certain to what you are referring but I do think there needs to be some evidence of possibility before something is deemed "possible"... whether referring to conventional medical practices or alternative practices. Edwardian 18:18, 14 September 2005 (UTC)
  • Yes that is what I meant by "could be" - the possible mechanisms and such. Im sure you will remember from the homeopathy page that all the potential mechanims stuff I suggested, which is one of homeopathy's only defence nowadays was deemed "speculation" and deleted. Other medicines would not even have any studies or trials going their way and have no other defence except anecdotal evidence. Information about the CAM subject at hand written by the users and healers should be there, without the negative comments that many subjects have been wrriten with. PhatRita 20:40, 14 September 2005 (UTC)
  • Unfortunately, I don't recall your suggestions in Homeopathy. I took it off of my watchlist weeks ago for a number of reasons: 1) the article is much too verbose in presenting information that the most important points are lost and inedecipherable, 2) a similar verbosity exists in the Talk pages making it impossible to work on the first point, 3) Aegis can't play nicely, and 4) David refuses to allow the introduction of a section briefly discussing criticism or controversy surrounding the subject - which I think would give opponents of homeopathy a place to make their points. My opinion is this: If those who practice or use a certain alternative therapy believe X is the proposed mechanism, then it should be noted in the article. If others have a legitimate beef with that mechanism, then it also be noted. Edwardian 21:31, 14 September 2005 (UTC)
  • Yes you are more prudent than I am to take homeopathy off your list. And this is a good example of what has gone wrong with alt med articles. Extremists, ie Aegeis, is still trampling through the place with incessant edits which no one sanctions (in the last revert, he described hahnemann as senile). The page contains way too much stuff, on every possible ounce and nuance of the subject that it is no longer interesting and completely inaccessible to new people. I was doing a review and just felt like deleting and making a brand new article. The talk page contains endless retorts, counter retorts etc (just take a look at the MaProvonsha section above and you'll see how you can carried away). I think that pages should read better than an endless debate on information:
"blah blah has been around for 250 years, BUT that is unproven. The great thing about blah blah is that it takes a holistic view of the body, BUT psychogenic testing has proved that placebo effects can explain the majority.... etc etc". The whole thing can get quite tedious.
PhatRita 23:38, 15 September 2005 (UTC)
you do know that the homeopathy article went through a complete rewright pretty recently?Geni 23:53, 15 September 2005 (UTC)
yes I do. The "merged" version by FOo is just taking the Aegeis edit and adding a few paragraphs from the original. It is far from satisfactory. I had tried to balance it but now my edits have been reverted. I doubt it will be the last time. PhatRita 11:56, 16 September 2005 (UTC)

I agree with A6Patch here.

I would say that the article itself isn't the product of the folks who currently survey it but was the sad product of various extremists who have kind of left by now. Thus, entries that were not NPOV were replaced with NOTHING, leaving an article without a description of the topic at hand but with lots of debate.

Basically, I think folks would be willing to accept a good rewrite of the topic IF someone actually did it. If I get the energy, I'll be producing one in the next few days ... or otherwise weeks. I put one outline of what a good article would involve above but I'll say more here.

I am thinking that the best long term solution is to make this entry short and move most description to the category "alternative health [care]". Most items popularly considered "alternative medicine" are also called "alternative heath" so this would allow the entry to have a reasonable amount of descriptiveness (common practices). The alternative medicine entry would immediately reference those things that are considered alterantive health care and then begin a narrow description of alternative medince - reference legal issues, developed alternative medical practices (Chinese and Indian) as well as referencing critiques of alternative health practices (which would its own article but would be linked in many places).

Obvious CAM - complementary and alternative medicine - is a category that some would consider equivalent to "alternative health". But I would assert that CAM is a particular viewpoint/frame for understanding alternative healthcare practice. CAM can't be the "umbrella category" when most alternative care practitioners wouldn't consider themselves CAM practitioners. But CAM is describing a contemporary phenomenon, alternative care, a system which varies in spectrum from modalities attempting to replace conventional medicine to modalities attempting to supplement it.

Hans Joseph Solbrig 19:46, 15 September 2005 (UTC)

critism belongs here. Untill you can show the artilce has grown too large it is going nowhere.Geni 23:53, 15 September 2005 (UTC)
Uh.... most of my proposal involves rearranging material to more appropriately define the topic at hand. Only a small part involves breaking up a article which might be too long. As far as length goes, the article seems to have grown and shrunk over the last fews years. Many skeptical users feel that each mention of any alternative modality deserves a note saying how dubious it is. Basically, as soon as the article gets moderately long, folks feel that the degree to which each aspect is addressed (details of alt med versus criticism of alt med) determines the slant and so you get a war. Making the article a short with links to each aspect would solve that problem of perceived slant.
But that's only part of my point. The main thing is that "alternative medicine" isn't very appropriate topic for a long page since it is so ambiguously defined. Most common modalities such as accupunture, yoga, hypnotherapy, etc. are commonly classified as both "alternative medicine" and "alternative health care" but the later is a clearer classification since the former connotes the direct replacement of conventional medicine, something only a minority of these modalities engage in - despite indeed often being called "alternative medicine". At the same time, many of the skeptical criticism apply to both alternative healthcare and to alternative medical system proper, so having a seperate page that could be linked to each of these pages as well as to the list of alternative medicine terms.
Hans Joseph Solbrig 20:26, 16 September 2005 (UTC)
we have articles on every major siege but at the same time the siege article is extreamly long. Moving the critism to anouther article would mess up the NPOV balance of this one.Geni 20:44, 16 September 2005 (UTC)
Uh, there have been a number of comments concerning the way the present article is not NPOV. You perhaps haven't had time to review these arguments. Presently, the article is primarily a debate on Alternative Medicine rather than an article on Alternative Medicine containing a debate - a reader who didn't know anything about alternative medicine BEFORE reading the page wouldn't know any concrete details about it AFTER reading the page. This has been raised by me, by A6Patch, and I think that others agree with this basic point. My proposal is an effort to solve this problem.
Also, I am NOT proposing REMOVING the criticism section. I am simply proposing SUMARIZING it as well as summarizing the forms that alternative medicine takes. Short, to the point, criticism is not necessarily weak criticism at all - especially in a short article. I would agree that some articles should be long. But given the problems with this one, I don't think this is one of them. One obvious problem, as I said, is that the once the article gets to a certain length, the proportion of the discussion devoted to criticism versus description BECOMES the slant. And more to the point, the article shouldn't be long because it is on an ambiguous term - as the page itself implies, everyone has their own definition of alternative medicine based on their POV. Instead, the page should contain pointers and short summaries with pointer to better defined terms and concepts - Alternative Health Care (CAM), Quackery, Non-Western Medical Systems, Criticism Of Non-standard Medical Practices, Legality of Alternative Medical Practices (here including the basic point that it is illegal to practice medicine without a license, currently not mentioned in the article).
I'm using the quite useful "geni's advice on how to win an edit war" section from your enlightening user page - meaning I want to be as respectful as possible. And I look forward to a more detailed discussion of this issue assuming you are seriously interested in improving the presently unfortunate quality of this page.
Best Wishes
Hans Joseph Solbrig 05:20, 17 September 2005 (UTC)

As satisfying as it can be editing a wikipedia article and spiraling into a happy consensus of good NPOV writing, this article and this process are anything but. It just isn't worth contributing when in simply defining a generally accepted term it is contested because its efficacy is questioned. Just because something isn't effective doesn't mean that we need to clutter up the language with "alleged" and all kinds of bending over backwards to slant the article to be completely skeptical. I hate to point fingers, but Edwardian is ruining this process. Every single edit he makes has to have citations (are these spam links? hmmm) from quackary sites, etc etc, which I don't think anyone would consider to be authoritative or peer reviewed scientific evidence or studies. One peek at his personal page shows the troubling topic of "Outline for the criticism of various alternative therapies and other quackery", which shows a clear agenda of pushing every article about alternative therapies in a skeptical POV direction. We need a clean slate here. --A6Patch 00:49, 24 September 2005 (UTC)

I'm sorry that you think I am "ruining the process" with my edits and providing links for the assertions that others previously made. If you think the article was better before my edits, then you are welcome to your view. The majority of my edits in this article have actually served to trim down the skeptical view of alternative medicine, and I think my comments noted near the top of this Talk page show that I am committed to presenting a NPOV. There is no doubt that I am a skeptic of alternative medicine, however, you are mistaken that my outline is evidence that I wish to push a skeptical POV. If you have browsed any of the alternative medicine articles, the skeptical point of view is presented with unbridled chaos which gets in the way of presenting information about the therapy. I completely agree with what Hans Joseph Solbrig stated above: "I am simply proposing SUMARIZING it as well as summarizing the forms that alternative medicine takes. Short, to the point, criticism is not necessarily weak criticism at all - especially in a short article." Given that virtually every criticism of any alternative therapy could be briefly summarized within my outline, it would serve us (or at least Hans and I) to reach a common objective. Edwardian 04:26, 24 September 2005 (UTC)
I suppose my language was a bit heavy handed (the "ruining the process" bit anyway), but I really think this article is a poor example of what belongs in a encyclopedia on this topic. It has become a stalemate of sorts and somehow along the way forgot its mission of being an informative article about alternative medicine. Your outline doesn't serve a real educational purpose in the least, but it does demonstrate the agenda you have launched against trying to write articles on these topics. It isn't presenting information, insight, or wisdom. Instead, it just raises vague questions that could be used against just about anything...alternative OR conventional. Why not just maintain a nice article on Quackery or Alternative Medicine Counterpoint, and let the articles refer to each other? It seems pretty counterproductive to launch such a campaign to water down any kind of attempt at summarizing the basic topic of alternative medicine (which is broad enough that criticisms don't apply across the board..they belong in the specific areas not at this level). Implying that alternative medicine as a whole is dangerous or life threatening is silly. Its like implying that all medicine is life threatening, when really taking out a splinter...well...isn't, but bleeding edge surgical techniques might be dangerous, or even reckless.

--A6Patch 06:49, 25 September 2005 (UTC)

It is simply your POV that I have launched an agenda against alternative medicine and that my outline is to push that agenda. First of all, I just finished explaining the purpose of that outline (i.e. to cut down on the bulkiness of the criticism on alternative medicine pages). Secondly, it's ironic that you are lecturing me that "criticisms don't apply across the board..they belong in the specific areas not at this level" because the very first post on this Talk page shows that I am one of those who suggested that specific criticisms of various therapies don't belong here. Thirdly, the views presented in opposition to alternative medicine were not originally posted by me. Fourthly, you still fail to credit me for substantially reducing the amount of crap that was within the Criticism section. I have asked you multiple times for your specific suggestions to improve this article and you have offered none. Failing that, you are welcome to check my edits and discuss whether any of them should be reverted. If you wish to focus on me rather than the article, I suggest that you post your complaints on my Talk page. Edwardian 18:29, 25 September 2005 (UTC)

How can this possibly be considered NPOV?

Critics contend that "dubious therapies can cause death, serious injury, unnecessary suffering, and disfigurement" [5] and that some people have been hurt or killed directly from the various practices or indirectly by failed diagnoses or the subsequent avoidance of conventional medicine which they believe is truly efficacious [6].

The same thing could be said for much of conventional medicine. There isn't a therapy on the planet for a serious illness that doesn't have risks associated with it and sometimes cause "death, serious injury, unnecessary suffering, and disfigurement". Take one look at a modern medical release form that you need to sign when undertaking any kind of "western medicine" therapy. Its all risky. None of this is relevant to an encyclopedia article describing and defining the topic Alternatice Medicine. This is all agenda based writing..and it stinks.

The bottom line is that writing patently POV and hiding behind a leading "Critics contend that..." is poor form. --A6Patch 01:01, 24 September 2005 (UTC)

The bottom line is that you consider something NPOV only when it reflects your POV. Wikipedia:Neutral point of view states: "Articles should be written without bias, representing all majority and significant minority views fairly. This is the neutral point of view policy." I'm sorry that you don't think the above sentence fairly presents what amounts to at the very least a "significant minority view", but I think it does. Although you may not recognize that I did not originally post that view, I will take the credit or blame for adding the citations. I am also disappointed that you failed to note how much I actually trimmed down the Criticism section recently.
If you wish to present something that you feel represents a majority or significant minority view of conventional medicine, then feel free to do so. Despite your complaints and my request for your help in improving this article, it's evident that you don't wish to lend a hand here. Edwardian 04:26, 24 September 2005 (UTC)
"The bottom line is that you consider something NPOV only when it reflects your POV." That really isn't true at all. My POV is closer to yours than you think. I happen to believe that the article shouldn't represent that POV (or any POV), and it drives me crazy to see the tug of war going on here. I really do want to see this article improved, but it is almost hopeless imo using the existing article as a starting point. The skeptical language that is throughout not just the criticism section, but really throughout the whole article, give it inertia that is difficult to shift without getting into a hopeless editing battle. I know that is what the wikipedia is about, but I guess I don't have the energy for it. The ironic thing is I am a huge skeptic about most of this stuff. I know there is enough emperical evidence that something is going on with acupuncture to give it a certain degree of efficacy, and anything manipulative (yoga, massage, chiropractic, etc) is going to clearly help with certain sorts of musculoskeletal things. But the rest of it....probably a heck of a lot of wishful thinking and a thousand years of mythology. However, I also think that it deserves a place in the Wikipedia with a *much* less heavy handed opposition. When you read an article (even on a controversial subject) that is well written with regard to NPOV, it can seem very much like an impartial account of something without judgement or conclusion. But this article doesn't convey that at all, it is much more like an obvious fight between two camps, alternating sentences. "Advocates for xxxxx believe yyyyyy, however, critics of xxxxx believe zzzzzzz". Paragraph after paragraph of that just doesn't make for a good article for any purpose. I think it is poorly written and reflects poorly on both camps. And I dont' know where to start even in suggesting improvement (other than to just whine here a bit..hehe).
I have nothing against conventional medicine. The reason I point at it in these discussions is because the broad strokes criticism of alternative medicine presented here in this article have far too little specificity. They can be applied to conventional medicine just as effectively, which kind of makes them moot as a specific argument against alternative medicine. Since this isn't the article to discuss specific treatments or types of alternative medicine, then it shouldn't be the place to launch criticisms against small specific types (especially when they aren't named, making it impossible to contest the criticism). And linking to articles on quackery sites is pointless. They are not authoritative or reviewed in any way. They only serve to lend false credibility to statements that otherwise might just be pure opinion or conjecture. --A6Patch 06:49, 25 September 2005 (UTC)
Although you may not have the energy to lend a hand in improving this article, apparently you have the energy to criticise me of "heavy handed opposition" without verifying what were my previous comments and edits to this article. Perhaps you should start by checking out the very first post on this Talk page (the one in which I state that criticism of specific therapies does not belong here) and the fourth one (the one in which I state that a certain critique leveled at alternative medicine isn't unique to alternative medicine). When you said "I hate to point fingers, but Edwardian is ruining this process", you were barking up the wrong tree. Edwardian 18:29, 25 September 2005 (UTC)
Yeah, Patch, I agree with your view on the POV of the article but the only thing Edwardian is doing incremental improvements. These are good regardless of whether the article would eventually be reorganized. I think we are all in closer agreement than you think, it's just that a full reorganization would take some effort and therefore time - I've done a small mock-up but putting such reorganization into effect would be a big job and therefore something that will happen slowly unless someone has a big block of time. Best to all Hans Joseph Solbrig 19:08, 25 September 2005 (UTC)
There has been many changes made on the article which makes it somewhat more fair. some things, and one in particular, really sticks out to annoy me, however. The safety section contains the phrase regarding the safety of alternative medicines. Again there is a generalisation of an entire bloc of alternative medicine which cannot be good. Many alternative therapies have been shown to be safer than conventional medicine. I think it is hypocritical to discuss them like so. Also there is no proof except for anecdotal evidence, to suggest otherwise. If we wish to examine alternaative medicine, generalisations should be left to individual pages. We should stop using internet sites like the one quotes as they are utterly unreliable and have an serious agenda. I have been involved in a heavy debate with user MaProvonsha regarding this (as any regular reader to this page will know) and it is wrong to enforce the use of evidence base if we do not use it properly either. PhatRita 09:22, 26 September 2005 (UTC)
The generalizations go both ways. ("Many alternative therapies have been shown to be safer than conventional medicine" may be true, but is itself a generalization.) If there is going to be a support section representing the view that alternative therapies are generally safe and generally effective, then there should be a criticism section representing the view that alternative therapies are generally not safe and generally not effective.
Having an "agenda" (which it's called if you don't agree with the mission, purpose, or goal) does not necessarily make one unreliable, so I don't think it's appropriate to say that we're not going to accept any citations from certain websites. I think we need to evaluate each piece of information in full context before determining whether it stays or goes. Edwardian 21:49, 26 September 2005 (UTC)
Having an agenda, in this case, can seriously compromise the validity and reliability of a piece of literature. My view of the matter is that NOTHING on the internet can be entirely taken at face value. Having an agenda means that you have a view. Having a view, however, means you can and probably will write something which is biased.
When referring to alternative medicine and safety, I think that if you must discuss safety and unsafety, you MUST compare them to conventional medicine. If you say that you can die of an acupunture needle due to a punctured lung, and so acupuncture is not safe, you must compare it to convetional medicine, in which anything can happen. Peoiple compare to convetional medicine because it is the gold standard. PhatRita 13:33, 28 September 2005 (UTC)
Regarding your first point: Although I don't think having a view necessitates subjectivity, I won't deny that any information presented anywhere in this article will be questioned by someone as biased. To get everyone to see this article as objective will be tough. Regarding your second point: I'm not against presenting the point that some people turn to alternative therapies because they perceive that many are safer or more effective than conventional therapies. In turn, I think it's fair to present the point that some people think alternative therapies should be avoided because they perceive that many may be ineffective or unsafe when compared with conventional therapies. Edwardian 04:41, 29 September 2005 (UTC)
my point regarding the safety of alternative medicine is based on the fact that alternative medicine, many forms of it, that is, IS more safe than conventional medicine. The bad things which happen are much rarer than that of conventional medicine most of the time. If the article wishes to quote such nasty consequences such as death and paralysis etc, it must be prepared to state what the occurance of such incidents are and how common they are in comparison to modern medicine. Having a few anecdotal stories regarding alternative healthcare is totally unacceptable. PhatRita 10:21, 29 September 2005 (UTC)
Prior to determining what content is in a section entitled “Criticism”, I think we need to determine if the section is even warranted. Again, Wikipedia:Neutral point of view states: "Articles should be written without bias, representing all majority and significant minority views fairly." There is most definitely a significant skeptical view of alternative medicine that exists, so the next step is to characterize that view in the article. In my opinion, the skeptics’ view of alternative medicine is summarized something like this: “Skeptics think alternative therapies should be avoided because they perceive that many may be ineffective or unsafe when compared with conventional therapies.” Is that not a fair representation of what they think? If not, what would be an acceptable way to represent the skeptics’ view of alterantive medicine?
What would be unacceptable is to allow this article to characterize the supportive view of alternative medicine with generalizations (e.g. “many forms of alternative medicine may be safer than many forms of conventional medicine” and “nasty consequences in alternative medicine are rare”), but require that the skeptics view be defended with specific examples. That many forms of alternative medicine may be safer than many forms of conventional medicine, that nasty consequences are rare within alternative medicine, and that the validity of a therapy is not determined solely by its potential to cause harm are exactly why this article should acknowledge the controversy and address the skeptics’ view. Edwardian 21:00, 29 September 2005 (UTC)
I believe that expression of viewpoints must be done clearly, eg "skeptics believe that XXX is ineffecacious or unsafe" but such a statement must be followed up with what is real and what is not, eg "but it has been shown in studies that this statement is true/false". Stating viewpoints WITHOUT discussing the reality after them simply confuses the normal reader, who is not out to analyse every single iota and minushire of information. PhatRita 15:33, 30 September 2005 (UTC)
In this instance, “XXX” is alternative medicine. There is no study or meta-analysis that shows the broad category of alternative medicine is safe, unsafe, effective, or ineffective. Thus “discussing the reality” means we’re back to square one listing specific examples of therapies and what has been shown or not been shown to be true about them. Edwardian 16:01, 30 September 2005 (UTC)

Section entitled "Medical education"

Regarding: "In the UK no medical schools offer courses teaching courses in clinical practise of alternative medicine." Is there an extra word or two in there? Edwardian 05:06, 2 October 2005 (UTC)

well the sentence means "no medical schools offer courses which teach the clinical practise of alternative medicine". that would probably be a lot better. PhatRita 21:29, 2 October 2005 (UTC)

Time to archive?

What do you guys think? Edwardian 04:41, 29 September 2005 (UTC)

Done. Edwardian 03:57, 7 October 2005 (UTC)

this is very interesting i think it is very useful and nonetheless it has added a lot of meaning to the topic