Hand-waving and Healing Energy

In today’s Providence Journal, KtB associate editor Alex Rose kills the Buddhas of the alternative medicine fads:

I don’t mind the practice, or that acupuncturists assert that the practice works. (Studies suggest that its success rate does in fact slightly exceed pure chance.) What I do mind is the assertion that it works for the reasons acupuncturists say it works.

There is no scientific evidence — which is to say, no evidence at all — that energy meridians and charkas actually exist. For a trained professional to tell a client that such things are real is, in no uncertain terms, false advertising. No less so than a televangelist’s claim that you can buy your way into heaven or a real-estate charlatan’s silver-tongued assurance that the value of your swampland investment is “absolutely guaranteed” to rise. You might feel good about yourself for writing the check, but that’s not the issue — the exchange was predicated on trust; you wouldn’t have opened your wallet if you didn’t believe what was being said.

We’re pretty sure he’s not on the payroll of the big bad pharma companies.

It’s not all killing, though. Alex does point out that “Western” medicine could learn a thing or two from the competition.

This is hardly a scientific assessment, but I think it’s reasonable to assume that if people are treated respectfully, made at ease, given the time of day, listened to attentively — if they are given the impression that someone cares about their health — they will be more amenable to treatment. Likewise, the more they are treated like cattle, rushed through batteries of tests, slapped with meaningless and redundant questionnaires, examined by doctors who’d clearly rather be golfing, the less those patients will even feel like showing up in the first place.

Keep reading at the ProJo.