Alt med still making me sick

By Phil Plait | June 23, 2009 7:00 am

Last week I wrote about how the British Association of Chiropractors put out a laughable press release about their law suit against Simon Singh, who had the audacity to point out that some of the claims made by the BCA were "bogus".

As dictated by the Streisand Effect — making a stink about something trivial will itself turn it into big news — people all over the world are now talking about "alternative medicine" and its unhealthy dose of quackery.

That includes my dear friends the skeptics in Australia, who have been relentlessly and heroically pounding the altmed movement Down Under. The latest shot is against the very thing the BCA is talking about: chiropractors inflating their credentials and making claims not at all based on solid evidence. Check out that link, poke around the website, and show Dr. Rachie (a real doctor, folks) your love.

There’s more: you may have heard of Daniel Hauser, a young boy who has Hodgkin’s lymphoma. His parents don’t "believe" in real medicine and were treating him with nonsense therapies like using herbs and vitamins.

Here’s a hint, people: you don’t get to choose to not believe in medicine, just like you don’t get to choose to not believe in gravity. You can not believe in either all you want, but when the time comes, your belief may kill you.

A judge agrees: he issued a court order to the family to make them have Daniel undergo chemotherapy. And guess what? His tumor is shrinking.

Now, if you’re familiar with the zealot-like belief system some people have in altmed, the next bit won’t surprise you at all: his family claims that it’s not the chemotherapy shrinking the tumor, it’s their altmed supplements. Yes, even though for months their "treatment" did no good at all, and after a few sessions of chemo the tumor shrank, of course it was the vitamins that did the trick.

Sigh.

You know what? It would make me sad, but if, as an adult, and after doing due diligence to research a problem, you decide to take vitamins to cure a fatal disease, that’s your choice. But when it comes to your kids things are different. You can choose to dress them funny, or give them terrible haircuts, and even choose what religion they will be and how they will be educated. But you don’t get to choose to kill them. And when there is evidence — rock-solid and with thousands of examples — that your idea of medicine is quackery, and that withholding of real medicine will let your child die, your rights as a parent have been abrogated.

As a parent, that’s a hard thing for me to write. You may say, what if the government wants to take your kid away for what you feel is a capricious reason? The difference here, the critical difference, is that this isn’t capricious. It’s based on solid evidence.

If you decide to sacrifice your child upon an altar to Zeus, or tie them to railroad tracks to cleanse their chi, or set your little girl on fire to purify her of demons, then guess what? The State has a right to step in to protect that child.

The right to swing your beliefs ends at a child’s nose. The problem is, far, far too many people think their beliefs are untouchable rights. They’re not. And those of us in the reality-based community will continue to pursue this as long as people who aren’t based there continue to hurt their kids.

Comments (126)

Links to this Post

  1. mind cleanse | September 19, 2009
  1. And, anti-med ranting in 3, 2, 1…

  2. Harry

    Excelent post Phil. Keep em coming :)

  3. J Root

    So does not having the right to kill your child still apply when they are in the womb? It seems the logical next step in your argument here, which I agree with wholeheartedly. (I know, I just opened a whole new can of worms….)

  4. Sadly, when it comes to child welfare, you’re often damned if you do and damned if you don’t. For every horror story like the Daniel Hauser case, there are horror stories about government agencies being too protective. It gets kind of confusing.

    http://drvitelli.typepad.com/providentia/2009/06/court-takes-child-of-stupid-mother—times-online.html

  5. Mark Hansen

    Also, “This isn’t about astronomy” whine in 3, 2, 1…

  6. llewelly

    “This isn’t about astronomy” whine in 3, 2, 1…

    But it could have been. Phil could have titled this post: “BCA explodes with a supernova of stupid”.

  7. Gary Ansorge

    ,,,and the next thing on the alt-med horizon may be High Colonics,,,as though 3 plus billion years of evolution hadn’t figured out how to effectively remove waste.

    “The right to swing your beliefs ends at a child’s nose.”
    Good reference. As I recall that particular saying(original format) it was “Your rights end where my nose begins,,,”. Some believe their beliefs and their rights are synonymous . If you’re living in a cave, with no one to be affected by your Woo, that may be true but, as most of us realize, we don’t exist as hermits.

    Welcome to a world of interacting life forms,,,

    GAry 7

  8. NEWS JUST OUT:

    Dr Simon Singh will be presenting in Sydney, thanks to the efforts of the Skeptic Zone Podcast and the wonderful publishers and the University of Sydney.

    “Simon Singh talks to Sydney” July 15 th, Seymour Centre, Sydney.

    Hope people check out our official site at http://www.skepticzone.tv for more news. :)

  9. Steve Ulven

    Considering they failed to homeschool him (this kid can’t even read) as well, that is even yet another reason to suspect neglect of their duties as parents.

  10. > You can choose to dress them funny, or give them terrible haircuts,
    > and even choose what religion they will be and how they will be educated.
    > But you don’t get to choose to kill them.

    Amen, Phil.

  11. Then Again

    The problem is, far, far too many people think their beliefs are untouchable rights. They’re not.

    Does that include the belief in atheism (the cult of Dawkins) and worshipping Science above all else incl. God?

    We know what’s ethically right from religion NOT science. That’s the reality.

    Galileo put it best : “Science tells us how the heavens go NOT how to go to Heaven.”

    Science is a tool that can – and has been – used for good and evil. It can NOT discover deeper ontological and epistemological truths that are found only in religion and, to a lesser extent, philosphy.

    The real question of “Is there a God and if so what is His nature? How should we relate to God? Is Jesus Christ really our Saviour?’ and so forth all lie in the greater realms of knowledge far outside the reach of materialist science.

  12. @Then Again

    Science is a tool that can – and has been – used for good and evil. It can NOT discover deeper ontological and epistemological truths that are found only in religion and, to a lesser extent, philosphy.

    Don’t forget, that religion is also a tool that can – and has been – used for good and evil. It can NOT discover deeper truths that are found only in science.

    The real question of “Is there a God and if so what is His nature? How should we relate to God? Is Jesus Christ really our Saviour?’ and so forth all lie in the greater realms of knowledge far outside the reach of materialist science.

    To some extent, I agree that questions like these lie outside the realm of science. However, if we start talking about how a god or gods can affect the material world, then science can play a role. But, if there is no actual effect on the physical world, then it is merely philosophy and serves little purpose other than as thought exercises and topics of argument.

  13. Jan

    Great post, too bad some people need to be told that not everything they dictate is reality.

    In my opinion, the problem with reality-deniers is not so much that they can’t tell fact from belief, but that they (explicitly or implicitly) believe that there is no such thing as an objective reality, and anyone’s interpretation is equally correct. Basically seeing the world as a work of abstract art, and it can be whatever you want to see in it. In a half-Platonian worldview, they define the shadows on the cavewall as real, instead of the objects creating them. But of course, a shadow can’t smack you over the head to knock some sense into you.

  14. Muero

    @Then Again

    >Does that include the belief in atheism (the cult of Dawkins) and worshipping Science above all >else incl. God?

    If my atheism ever leads me (and I don’t see how it possibly could) to killing children, I hope I get sent to prison.

    Also, your use of the word “cult” here just shows how ignorant you are of its definition and how bad real cults actually are.

  15. @Then Again,

    I’ll agree that science should never be worshiped. It is merely the description of how things work in the Universe. However, too many people (creationists, for example) try to discredit science by calling scientists “science worshipers.” Worshiping science would mean praying to it and blindly following it. However, the very basic principal of science is that you should never blindly follow it. Every scientific principal is open for debate and debunking. Of course, in many cases, like Evolution and Gravity, the theories match the facts so closely that slight tweaks here and there are more likely that a complete upheaval. Still, even though best theory is never 100% complete, they are still leaps and bounds better than “God Did It.”

    You are right, however, that science can’t dictate morality. Morality isn’t the type of thing that is easily answerable by peer reviewed experiments. You won’t find morality fossils to examine. However, I don’t think that morality only comes from religion. I think that morality comes from peoples’ instincts to do good. For some, that manifests as religion. For others, it manifests in other ways. An athiest can still be moral just as a religious person can be immoral. (This coming from a religious person who would like to consider himself to be moral.)

  16. amphiox

    @Then Again

    Ah, here we go again. Yet another ‘religion is the source of morality’, and to top it all off, the ‘atheism = religion’ fallacy, all in a single post!

    Just think rationally for a moment here, and you will realize that these two statements are contradictory.

    IF religion is the source of morality, and IF atheism is a religion, and science is atheism’s god, THEN science is a valid source for morality and atheism is a proper channel for determining what is ethical. Thus your second argument destroys your first, and vice versa.

    There may be some atheists who treat their atheism like a religion, for whom atheism plays the same role in their lives as religion does for believers, but, if you bother to read even a little of what Dawkins has written, you will see that Dawkins isn’t one of them.

    Religion is not the source of morality. Morality evolved naturally, and became one of the sources of religion. In fact, if someone told me that their religion was the only source of their moral sense, that they only acted good because they believed some all-powerful authority told them to do so and would punish them if they didn’t, that without this belief to restrain them, they would not feel any compulsion to act ethically, then I would not feel safe being in the same room as such a person.

  17. Steve Jeffers

    > Galileo put it best : “Science tells us how the heavens go NOT how to go to Heaven.”

    Did he? *The* Galileo came up with something that sounds like some modern bumper sticker? Where? That pun still works in Italian, does it?

    > We know what’s ethically right from religion

    And … no. That’s simply not true. Religion may be what some people use to help them make moral decisions, but none of the hot button issues of the American right, say, are in the Bible. Show me the passage that deals with stem cell research, drilling in Alaska, border fences or flag burning. I can show you a passage where a woman losing her unborn child is no big deal (and countless passages where God kills children), now you show me the one that rules out late term abortion to protect the mother of a child that won’t survive a few hours beyond birth. Do you think homosexuals should be stoned to death? Is that really the ‘moral’ thing to do?

    In countless cases – including the one in the post above – religion is used to justify *immoral* decisions, not enforce moral ones. Praying for your child instead of treating them is child sacrifice, it is literally doing worse than nothing. Would you defend an atheist’s right to do nothing to treat their child? I wouldn’t.

    But … OK. We have a moral dilemma here, you say your religion means you know what’s ethically right. Did the Hausers do the right thing? I don’t have a religion, here’s what I think: this is a tricky one, because parents should have rights and no one should be forced to have treatment against their will (unless there’s an overwhelming threat to the general population – if someone had some incredibly infectious disease, say). That said, if something prevents the parents from acting rationally, the authorities should step in. In this case, if the Hausers came to a rational decision that the chemo would be too harsh, the outcome too uncertain or not enough, that would be fair enough. Six months of harsh chemo to extend a life a month … probably not worth it. It’s a decision doctors help patients make all the time – quality of life versus quantity of life. But if, as reported (and perhaps not true, I grant you), it was ‘a tiny amount of chemo will cure him’ versus ‘we’ll pray’ … then the Hausers are basically one step up from those guys in Temple of Doom. It’s human sacrifice. So, the answer is to take the kid, treat him, hand him back, let the parents spend the next fifty years bitching to him about it.

  18. Stone Age Scientist

    Hi Phil, have you already seen this piece of news?

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_sci_underground_science

  19. @TechyDad

    Good points about how atheists can be moral, just as religious people can be immoral. It’s not as cut and dried, black and white, as Then Again would seem to suggest. I happen to be an atheist, and I feel that I am a pretty moral person. How could this possibly be? Well, life is simply much easier and more fulfilling if I behave in a moral fashion than if I don’t. It benefits those around me, and it benefits myself. No deity required.

    What it really boils down to, though, is what is the point of Then Again’s post? It has nothing to do with the topic of Phil’s post, other than to pick on the one bit about belief, and even then it is tangential.

  20. why worry about death from the skies when we have parents who subject their kids to death from ignorance

  21. Rob

    “We know what’s ethically right from religion”

    Really? So you think that genocide is ok? Do you think that we ought to kill our children for being disobedient, as is mandated in the Bible? Unless you are writing this from prison, I would assume that you do not believe these things. As such, it logically follows that you are able to cherry pick the GOOD things in the Bible (Love thy neighbor, etc.) from the bad (genocide, slavery, torture, rape…). This means that your morality HAS TO come from somewhere other than the Bible. Where does this come from? It comes from our genes, our societal evolution, and from education. I would go so far as to say that modern science has played a huge role in increasing our understanding of each other and has thereby contributed MORE to morality as a whole than religion ever has.

    Besides, isn’t being afraid of the invisible man in the sky a pretty lousy reason to, say, not cheat on your wife? Isn’t it far more noble to just know that it would hurt her very deeply? That you would not want to bring harm on someone you love and care for?

  22. Phil Weadick

    Just to add to the insanity I find a banner ad for the Templeton Foundation at the top of the page.

  23. Jay

    Excellent post, Phil.
    The state would definitely take exception if any of these parents went out and assaulted some random person on the street. The fact that the person is their child doesn’t give them license to harm, regardless of their religious beliefs or lack thereof.

  24. On one hand, I agree with the ruling in the case of Daniel Hauser. The family shouldn’t be able to ignore medical science to pursue their own unproven treatment. It would have been one thing if the doctors said his tumor was too far gone to be treated. In that case, if medical science couldn’t help, I wouldn’t have any objections to them going the woo-route. The worst feeling in the world is knowing that your child is sick and possibly dying and not being able to do anything. (Trust me, I know that feeling. My youngest son had a febrile seizure, stopped breathing, turned grey and didn’t start on his own. I made “looking for the ambulance” my job because I needed to be doing something even if it was completely useless.)

    On the other hand, as a fan of limited government, I can see how this can be taken too far. For example, I recently had a twitter-argument with some anti-circumcision activists. They consider a parent having a baby circumcised to be mutilation and a violation of that baby’s human rights. I think that it falls within a parent’s right to decide what happens to their child. They want a law passed to outlaw circumcisions. While I doubt this would ever succeed, imagine if it did. Any Jewish parent who tried to uphold tradition by circumcising his kid could have their kid taken away from them for “mutilating” the child. Any parent who circumcised their child for the medical benefits could face the same fate.

    At what point do we draw the line where parental rights end? Immediate death of the child via treatable illness is one thing. What about putting the child through a medical procedure that some claim is unneeded and potentially harmful? As Romeo Vitelli pointed out, having the government decide when parents lose their kids can lead to abuse.

  25. These small-minded religiobots never seem to grasp that there were atheists before Dawkins was ever heard from, just like they can’t fathom that atheism isn’t a “belief” but quite the opposite.

    When you see some yobbo writing about cults of dawkins and atheist beliefs/religion, you can stop reading immediately – you know everthing that follows is bollocks. This opinion I formed on the basis of empirical evidence.

    Besides, you know all those Dealth Cult of Iesu people are going to be smitten when the avatar of Vishnu returns to right the world :)

  26. ndt

    11. Then Again Says:
    June 23rd, 2009 at 7:48 am

    We know what’s ethically right from religion NOT science. That’s the reality.

    No, that’s not reality at all. Our sense of what’s ethically right comes from neither science nor religion.

  27. @Evolving Squid

    the avatar…returns to right the world

    Ang is going to return and defeat the Fire Lord with the help of Kitara, Saka and Toff? Yay!

    (sorry, U.S.-produced anime reference)

  28. Blind Squirrel FCD

    ndt@23 OK, I’ll bite. Where does it come from?

  29. Daffy

    Then Again,

    Psalm 137:9. Read that, and then tell me again that ethical behavior comes from your God; I promise not to laugh in your face.

    People being slaughtered by the millions in the name of religion, all throughout history…and you make such an absurd claim. I was wrong; I will laugh in your face.

  30. Mighty Favog

    To understand the motivation of the kid’s parents, you have to realize that religious people don’t think anyone *really* dies, so it’s OK to let them die. Atheists know there’s nowhere else to go, and so have a vested interest in being moral and making this world a better place. And yes, that includes doing everything you can to stay in this world as well as encouraging others to do so.

  31. Rob

    @TechyDad — “At what point do we draw the line where parental rights end?”

    I think that the best way to go about this is to leave the gray areas alone entirely — such as the anti-circumcision activists. When they classify circumcision as mutilation they are voicing an opinion, not a fact. While the health benefits of circumcision may be questionable, there is no black and white reason that the government should intervene.

    In the case of Daniel Hauser, however, there was clear-cut, black and white evidence that he would almost certainly die without chemo. If his parents want to ignore that evidence for their own personal treatment, that is their decision. When it comes to their child, and they are unquestionably putting their child at risk, it is certainly the government’s place to step in. They were putting a 20 barrel revolver with 19 bullets to Daniel’s head and pulling the trigger by refusing the chemo, and this is simply not acceptable in a civilized society. I would agree with you, however, that if Daniel’s prognosis with chemo were no better than the woo treatment, it ought to be left up to the parents.

  32. Aaaw Kylie, you’re teasing about Simon Singh aren’t you. I’ve checked the Seymour Centre website and the only performer of any intellect coming up is Kevin Bloody Wilson. No Simon listed as yet. Waaah.

  33. Karen

    One quibble. Herbs and vitamins are not invalid treatments for *some things*. I really dislike the complete dismissal of homeopathy by big name scientists. Are they trying to be the other end of the balance scale from people who swear on herbs to cure every illness?

    I’m a scientist myself. I’m also Wiccan. And I think homeopathy is a great alternative to pursue for mild illness, or in cases where traditional medicine isn’t working. But as long as alternative medicine and traditional science are squaring off in opposite camps, society is losing out on the true benefits of both. We don’t have to “pick sides”, and traditional science REALLY needs to get over being threatened by alternative practices. It’s like the f’ing Inquisition all over again.

  34. Quiet Desperation

    Here’s a thought that hit me today. If we go to some sort of nationalized health care system, would it include alternative medicine stuff? Is it included in the European systems?

    or set your little girl on fire to purify her of demons

    Well that’s just dumb! Demons *love* fire! Sheesh! People these days…

  35. Ami Silberman

    amphiox:
    “There may be some atheists who treat their atheism like a religion, for whom atheism plays the same role in their lives as religion does for believers, but, if you bother to read even a little of what Dawkins has written, you will see that Dawkins isn’t one of them.”

    I think that I may be though. It makes me feel better knowing that bad things that happen are due to either human causation or the workings of an impersonal and stochastic universe, and that good things that happen are likewise due to either human effort and/or stochastis processes. Because I don’t believe in a deity, I believe that we, as moral beings, are responsible for our own behavior (or at least have an illusion that we are, I’m somewhat convinced that “free will” is just an explanation for stochastic deterministic events which drive our actions.) If we want the world to be better, we have to do something about it.

  36. Big Fat Earl

    just like they can’t fathom that atheism isn’t a “belief” but quite the opposite.

    This is a logical fallacy I’ve heard too many people trot out. By its very definition, the existence or nonexistence of a God or gods is something inherently beyond our ability to prove – it is something for which there is and can be no physical evidence to prove or to disprove. Disbelief is in itself belief – in that it is making a judgment without evidence. Atheism is a “belief”, because it is making a claim to know the nature of God/gods/whatever without any evidence. Logically speaking there can be no definite conclusion for or against the existence of a God or gods, so atheism is in its own way just as illogical as any other spiritual belief. So yes, atheism is a “belief”.

    That said, atheism is not a “religion” the way some try to paint it. There is no organization, no hierarchy, and no dogma to be followed. Spirituality (even a spirituality based on disbelief) and religion are not necessarily inclusive.

    Perhaps this will make the more militant (Dare I say “evangelical” or “fundamentalist”? Oh, I dare, because Dawkins and his ilk, in their irrational and broad hostility toward religion and their broad stereotyping of believers, constitute the same fanaticism found in the darkest reaches of the Southern Baptist cult.) atheists will be given pause by these few facts of reality pointed out to them, but I doubt it.

    Perhaps it would be better if the “religion versus atheism” debate were handled by actual rational human beings instead of hatemongers like Pat Robertson and Richard Dawkins.

  37. kurt_eh

    There was a case before the courts in Alberta (I’m not sure where it’s at or if it’s even finished by now) about a woman suing after becoming paralyzed from a neck manipulation.

    http://www.cbc.ca/canada/edmonton/story/2008/06/13/chiro-lawsuit.html

  38. Blashy

    Concerning cancer, some alternative ways have shown to work for certain forms of cancer.

    The whole problem with these ways is they have no studies to back them up and no one is willing to really dig in because the cost would be great and if they clearly showed a benefit they could only make very little to no profit because the ingredients used cannot have patents.

    Pharmaceuticals are not interested in very little profit, heck they are not even interested in people getting healthy, they don’t want them to die but they want them sick from something so they can keep selling drugs.

    The reality is that as long as medicine is a for profit business in any area you will not see the promotion or study of any medicine that cannot be highly profitable. Sure you already have some studies done to show food X Y Z help prevent or eliminate cancer cells but how much money goes into that compared to drugs?

  39. @QD
    Here’s the Medical Benefits Schedule for Medicare in Oz

    ATTENDANCE at which ACUPUNCTURE is performed by a medical practitioner by application of stimuli on or through the surface of the skin by any means, including any consultation on the same occasion and any other attendance on the same day related to the condition for which the acupuncture was performed

    More on acupuncture services provided here…
    www9.health.gov.au/mbs/search.cfm?q=acupuncture

    So acupuncture performed by a MD appears to be covered. Nothing else alternative is though.

  40. @Then Again

    The real question of “Is there a God and if so what is His nature? How should we relate to God? Is Jesus Christ really our Saviour?’ and so forth all lie in the greater realms of knowledge far outside the reach of materialist science.

    Some of this *can* be determined by science, in the wider sense of fact-based knowledge, coupled with reason. The scientific or rational analysis of the texts compiled into what we know as the bible, the historical context of those writings, and the history of both Judaism and Christianity give a pretty clear picture of the truth. If, as with all science, we begin with observable or observed facts and draw conclusions from them instead of beginning with a conclusion and disregarding or distorting facts to match said conclusion, if we keep pushing back the boundaries of the unknown using materialist science, the possibilities for the role for God or Gods become limited.

  41. Pieter Kok

    The real question of “Is there a God and if so what is His nature? How should we relate to God? Is Jesus Christ really our Saviour?’ and so forth all lie in the greater realms of knowledge far outside the reach of materialist science.

    How is that knowledge? You need refutable statements in order to gain real Knowledge, and these are in very short supply when it comes to metaphysical matters (apart from general logical impossibilities). Trying to answer the questions you speak of may lead to a fulfilling spiritual life, but it does not contribute to humanity’s collective body of knowledge, regardless of millennia of theology.

    PS. Michelle, what do you mean by “the truth”? Is that the historical chain of events that led to the compilation of the Bible?

  42. @Blashy

    The reality is that as long as medicine is a for profit business in any area you will not see the promotion or study of any medicine that cannot be highly profitable.

    Except of course research conducted by universities, private researchers funded by, say, NIH grants, and so on. If there is not likely to be much profit derived from it, then, yeah, larger companies probably aren’t going to wast too much time looking into it. That does not mean, though, that no one will investigate it.

  43. There are even theists, such as myself, that think this sort of behavior isn’t acceptable. If you as an adult want to follow an alternative course of medical treatment, go for it. But children sometimes need to protected from their own parents.

  44. Just a quick note on all the religion posts, from what I understand, it was not religious beliefs, really, that guided the parents in this case, but rather the mistaken belief that alternative treatments (herbs and vitamins) were at least as effective as conventional medicine in treating the cancer, but without the side effects. It doesn’t appear as if God/Yahweh/Jehovah/Vishnu/FSM or any other deity entered into the picture.

  45. ndt

    28. Blind Squirrel FCD Says:
    June 23rd, 2009 at 9:03 am

    ndt@23 OK, I’ll bite. Where does it come from?

    Human psychology and human culture.

  46. Chris

    @TechyDad @24

    The anti-circumcision folks are ignoring the science; circumcision has been repeatedly shown to reduce the risk of HIV infection. Aside from the religious freedom aspect, circumcision is a minor surgical procedure that conveys significant health benefit. To deny parents the chance to offer that benefit to their children would be, ahem, immoral.

  47. Pharmaceuticals are not interested in very little profit, heck they are not even interested in people getting healthy, they don’t want them to die but they want them sick from something so they can keep selling drugs.

    Blashy, this is the type of dangerous nonsense that makes people like the Hausers distrust modern medicine and seek out alternative cures in the first place. While it’s true that people want to profit from selling medication, twisting this into saying that they have an interest in keeping people sick is, well, just sick.

  48. @Then Again

    The real question of “Is there a God and if so what is His nature? How should we relate to God? Is Jesus Christ really our Saviour?’ and so forth all lie in the greater realms of knowledge far outside the reach of materialist science.

    The real question is if there is a god why should we care and why would he/it? Why should we relate to god? How would we even know? What exactly did JC save? Does the “sacrifice” of a god-man for 2 nights really prove or mean anything for a supposedly immortal being. If it all lies outside the reach of materialist science why does it matter? He/it has obviously never interacted, or I should say there is no evidence of any interaction with its “creation” at any time so what can he/it do? Are you afraid of him/it?

  49. Everyday Atheist

    This issue is a great example of what Dennett calls the “spell” surrounding religious and other superstitious beliefs — that they are considered untouchable and unquestionable in polite society. Thus, we get arguments that people like Daniel Hauser’s parents have an absolute right to act on their beliefs, and states with laws actually exempting parents from criminal liability for harm caused to a child by acting on their religious beliefs. Such accomodations are considered necessary, at least in some part, because to allow state intervention on behalf of children means we’re ready to declare that certain beliefs are *gasp* just WRONG.

    Although the line-drawing concerns expressed in this thread are valid concerns, they aren’t a sufficient reason to exempt woo-believers from liability for harming their children. In all areas of constitutional law, difficult line-drawing decisions have been and are made on a regular basis. Our institutions are set up to do this, however imperfectly.

  50. Chris

    “The Streisand Effect” is such a ridiculous term. It comes from Barbra Streisand, who had never previously filed a lawsuit against anyone, even after decades of nonstop lies about her… filing a lawsuit against a guy who was using advanced photopgraphic technology to put onto the internet detailed photos of her home under the guise of using them as part of his concern over the shoreline. Had the photos been just of the shoreline in front of her property, I doubt she would have any issue with it, she does after all gives tons of money to environmental concerns. But detailed pictures of her estate (which have nothing to do with the shoreline) was an invasion of privacy. This is no “trivial” concern and the writer of this article didn’t use the term as it is really applied. The “Streisand Effect” makes no claim about the importance or supposed “triviality” of an issue, it merely implies that something that might not have gotten so much attention actually received more attention because it was made public. Hey Phil, lets take detailed photos of your place and see if you find it “trivial”. Oh, that’s right, there isn’t any interest in that.

  51. Steve Jeffers

    “If we go to some sort of nationalized health care system, would it include alternative medicine stuff? Is it included in the European systems?”

    http://gimpyblog.wordpress.com/2008/01/30/nhs-support-for-homeopathy-evaporates/

    Some UK NHS trusts tried it, under pressure from alternative medicine advocates … it never works. The pull quote from that article ‘there can be no cost effectiveness without effectiveness’ should be a T-shirt.

    This is exactly what alternative medicine people say they want – to be treated seriously. And it’s exactly what scientists and sceptics want – measured outcomes. The results are simple: almost everyone does better with conventional medicine, the alternative treatments do about as well as placebos.

    “The reality is that as long as medicine is a for profit business in any area you will not see the promotion or study of any medicine that cannot be highly profitable.”

    So-called alternative medicine is the most profitable type of medicine – you don’t have to run up bills attending medical school, you don’t have to take out medical insurance, just about all the medicines have no effects ergo no costly side effects, homeopaths can charge forty dollars for a thimble of water and chiropractors a lot more than that for rubbing your back and pretending *really hard*, neither of those things cost money to research or to get government approval. If it was being run on a cost basis, there would be no contest.

    But, altogether now, there’s no cost effectiveness without effectiveness. Actual hospitals, with actual doctors, measure results by medical outcomes.

  52. Erin F.

    I think my favorite part of the article on Daniel Hauser was the following line: “She believes the world was created with everything needed to sustain and heal life…” Their lawyer was speaking about Daniel’s mom’s opinion.

    Well, of course it was! Did anyone ever tell her that sometimes we may have to FIND what was created for us so we can heal ourselves? The herbs and vitamins you can take can be almost the same as the medicine I take, it’s just that my medicine is in a more refined, more efficient, more powerful form. Yes, you should avoid toxins (I’m not going to drink a healthy swig of sulfuric acid, for example), but don’t discredit modern medicine as being unnatural.

    I’m agnostic (I just can’t make up my mind some days, basically), and have been to church a few times. But you know where my morality came from? Two places: 1) My parents, who taught me that you don’t have to be perfect, but being a good person is rewarding on it’s own, and they haven’t been to church since before I was born. And 2) Books; reading about good vs. bad and realizing that the bad guys really suck, and but the good guys were really, really cool, and I wanted to be like them. And you know one of the greatest things that stuck out for me from all that reading? This line:

    “Good done in the name of Evil is still good. And evil done in the name of Good is still evil.”

    Don’t give me religion as the only moral compass out there. I found my own directions, and I didn’t have to have someone tell me I was going to burn in hell to get me there. While I may not fully believe in the idea of a higher power, I don’t think I’m going to get smited for making dirty jokes. I hope he/she/it laughs right along with me, in the spirit of good humor. And if said higher power didn’t have a sense of humor, that’d be depressing.

  53. @17,
    I agree Steve that the quote attributed to Galileo does have “Know Jesus Know Peace, No Jesus No Peace” bumpersticker quality to it. “La scienza ci dice come i cieli vanno, non come andare a cielo” any real Italians care to have a stab at correcting this potentially hilarious (to Italians) translation, and seeing if it still makes a snappy sounding axiom?

  54. Steve Jeffers

    “Human psychology and human culture.”

    Many animals, even simple ones, demonstrate sophisticated behaviors we’d call altruism or self sacrifice or planning in humans.

    Even a cursory glance at gorillas or chimpanzees shows that a lot of ‘human’ behavior is shared by other primates. Clearly, we have a more developed language and culture, but equally clearly, chimpanzees have a lot of our ‘family values’.

    A lot of it is just the best solution to surviving – working together usually achieves more than working apart. Specialization gives you an advantage but forces you to cooperate with individuals with a different specialty. Living in a group involves rituals. The same ‘commandments’ apply to meerkats as much as people.

  55. John

    “The problem is, far, far too many people think their beliefs are untouchable rights.”

    Phil, read the *universal declaration of human rights* when you get a chance.

    Article 18: http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/

    I think you’ll find you’ve never been more outrageously wrong about anything in your entire blogging career. Stick to stars and spaceships, stuff you actually have a clue about. Thanks.

  56. 35. Blashy Says:

    The reality is that as long as medicine is a for profit business in any area you will not see the promotion or study of any medicine that cannot be highly profitable.

    And how do they know without testing, extraction of active ingredients, etc. that something will NOT be profitable?

    J/P=?

  57. @Blashy,

    I think there would be a very big profit motive for a cancer cure. Even if the cure was located in some herb/mineral/etc, it would need to be refined and mass-produced (so that the dosage amount could be controlled and impurities kept out). That process could be patented for awhile. Even if each “cancer killer” drug course was priced inexpensively, the company that got to make it would profit massively during the patent period.

    Of course, different types of cancer have different causes and would likely have different treatments. So you might find a “magic cure” for lung cancer only to find that it doesn’t work for prostrate cancer. Meanwhile, another company might find the “magic cure” for prostrate cancer but learn that it is ineffective against breast cancer. The end result would be that multiple companies could find multiple “magic cures” for cancer and make profits on each one.

  58. Katie

    While I believe I live firmly in reality, I am a massage therapist and I know lots of people who practice “alternative therapies”. I consider these people friends and respect their opinions, but I don’t really believe the stuff works. However, I do believe in the power of the body and the power of natural health. I think people are generally over medicated and we rely too much on pills and chemicals to fix what ails us. You mention colonics… and you are absolutely right: the body is darn good at getting rid of its own waste. Well, it’s also pretty good at dealing with many other things and I truly believe that sometimes medication should be avoided. That said, I completely agree that western medicine has a proven track record and children should be protected from wacko parents that would let them die before treating a condition. I whole-heartedly believe in vaccinations. I just wish that these extremists wouldn’t give people like me a bad name.

  59. Nija

    Is there some regulation about what a chiropractic office can say/claim for the US? I just looked at my friends chiro’s website and … *gag* it claims all that good stuff that’s being argued about in the UK right now.
    Including spinal adjustments for newborns… “Seek regular chiropractic care, especially during the first four months.” Sorry… That’s just messed up.

  60. tlowan

    Given LOTS of proven incidents of traditional medicine providing poor treatment (insisting that children can be safely given antidepressants when there was no testing done on children and it kinda made them commit suicide occasionally, ditto drugs untested on women just men, covered up medical malpractice, hospital errors, growing numbers of superbug infections in medical settings) it’s clear that there is no shortage of criminal idiocy in all forms of medicine (as in the human race at large).
    The rise of alt med IS unproven. But, like voters voting for an unproven opposition party, it’s more about the rejection of the people in power than wholesale acceptance of the option. Trad medicine isn’t working and railing against Alt med won’t change that.
    Where exactly is government (the only people with a reason AND the money to do the research) in the production of cross-comparison studies looking at the overall efficacy of alt vs. trad med, in specific areas and across populations. There are many billions of dollars to be saved if even a few alt med proceedures are effective.
    My suspicion? The lack of funding for such studies AND the general acceptance of unproven alt med like chiropractic are chowing the wicked effectiveness of lobbying and advertising in creating a false system based on money, not proven efficacy.
    Stop whining in 1, 2, 3… write your gov’t rep, demanding funding for alternative medicine studies.

  61. @Nija

    I don’t believe there are any federal laws on what a chiropractor is or is not allowed to claim or practice, but there are state laws governing chiropractic practice, it seems, from a casual google search. You may want to look for the laws of your state for more specifics.

  62. @Then Again,

    Galileo put it best : “Science tells us how the heavens go NOT how to go to Heaven.”

    How does this justify child abuse?

    If it is only possible to obtain morality through religion, what do we do when different religions have incompatible views of morality?

    You know, little things like giving infidels the opportunity to convert, but if the infidels do not accept the wisdom of this approach, you may enslave the infidel. then for the most holy of reasons, you may release the infidel from slavery. That reason is money.

    As long as Then Again insists that we follow any rule that is from a God or Gods. These are God’s (or Gods’) children.

    If the children need to be sacrificed, Then Again has no problem with that. It is the moral thing to do, because Then Again says so. As long as the killing is done in the name of God, or Gods.

    How do we decide if either religion should be allowed to tell members of the other religion how to behave?

    When do I get permission to stone those darned kids who do the things the Bible says that I may stone them for? Right now, all I can do is hit them with tiny pebbles that annoy them so much that they leave. They come back, but if I could stone them they would never come back (at least not after the body is carted away).

    I’m just being moral by following the rule in the Bible to stone people to death. Just ask Then Again. :-)

  63. @J Root

    So does not having the right to kill your child still apply when they are in the womb?

    Well, then you get into a case of definitions; namely, at what point does one call it a child/human being? Lots of different philosophical approaches to this, all with their own little flaws riddling them more or less useless.

  64. T_U_T

    @todd w.
    The best thing is simply reversing brain death criteria. Now, tell me what makes it useless.

  65. Randy A.

    Rights exist only when paired with responsibilities. As any parent can tell you, the responsibilities of parenthood completely outweigh the rights.

    Therefore, we should completely excise the phrase “parental rights” from the English language. Use “parental responsibilities” instead.

    To Phil, other bloggers, and readers of this blog who might write a “letter to the editor” of your local paper — talk about parental responsibilities, such as the responsibility of keeping your kid alive! Don’t mention parental rights, which boil down to the right to enjoy five minutes of whoopie with your partner…

  66. Gary Ansorge

    Wow! Too much to read.

    Consistently I read references to SCIENCE, as though it was some dogmatic, atheistic jumble of belief systems. It Ain’t that. What it is, is KNOWLEDGE, derived from a METHOD of verifying that our knowledge accords with the way reality really is,,,

    Morality is a derivation of ethics, which, in it’s most simple form is the observation that our BEHAVIOR is mediated by the effect we have upon the behavior of others,ie, if I go around beating up on people, they will likely treat me the same way, so I don’t do that. That has absolutely nothing to do with any god.

    Morality derived from God is nothing more than fear of repercussion from authority, which is a substitute for the iron fist of those we’ve pissed off,,,

    GAry 7

  67. @T_U_T

    The best thing is simply reversing brain death criteria. Now, tell me what makes it useless.

    Haven’t heard that one before. So, basically, when the brain is formed, blood starts flowing to it and there is neural activity?

  68. @35. Blashy,

    Concerning cancer, some alternative ways have shown to work for certain forms of cancer.

    Please show us some reproduceable studies that demonstrate this.

    The whole problem with these ways is they have no studies to back them up and no one is willing to really dig in because the cost would be great and if they clearly showed a benefit they could only make very little to no profit because the ingredients used cannot have patents.

    That is completely wrong. The quacks charge a fortune for these treatments now. There is no reason why a drug company could not patent these treatments. To suggest otherwise is a lie, but since alternative medicine seems to be undiluted fraud, that is no surprise.

    Pharmaceuticals are not interested in very little profit, heck they are not even interested in people getting healthy, they don’t want them to die but they want them sick from something so they can keep selling drugs.

    The alternative medicine practitioners are far worse than what you incorrectly assert about conventional medical treatment.

    Alternative medicine is so corrupt, that they won’t even do some research to find out if their treatments are safe.

    Alternative medicine still charges as if they have something safe, or even effective.

    Murderous frauds.

    The reality is that as long as medicine is a for profit business in any area you will not see the promotion or study of any medicine that cannot be highly profitable.

    Alternative medicine is not any different. Wait, my mistake. Alternative medicine is very different.

    Alternative medicine has not be shown to be safe.

    Alternative medicine has not be shown to be effective.

    This is the fault of the alternative medicine practitioners. No good doctor would treat patients with a drug like that, except as experimental treatment.

    Sure you already have some studies done to show food X Y Z help prevent or eliminate cancer cells but how much money goes into that compared to drugs?

    I don’t know. How much are these alternative medicine quacks putting into studying this?

    Oh yeah, they just make stuff up. They do not believe in reality.

  69. Chris

    “The State has a right to step in to protect that child.”

    i would not say the state has the “right”, i would say it has the obligation. a codified obligation, in fact.

  70. Abortion debates bore me, because they are all but futile. That’s not to make light of the subject, but for all the hot air expelled over the last 35 years almost nothing has changed. The poll numbers fluctuate a little over time, but they’re basically the same as they were in the 1970s, with a roughly evenly divided opinion on elective abortions and a hardcore 20% wanting to make all abortions illegal.

    I suspect this will continue in the decades ahead until medical science comes up with a a safe and foolproof way to prevent unwanted pregnancies that can be used from puberty onwards and is universally accepted. Of course, the trick will be the “universally accepted” part. More likely is that elective abortions will die out in the reality community as parents see no reason for their children not to make use of the new contraceptive (I’m thinking of something like a device or medication that can turn on/off ovulation or sperm production here, not condoms) leaving the teenage children of the religious wingnuts and the anti-vax crowd (or other anti-pharma idiots) being the only ones using the services of the remaining abortion providers.

  71. TheBlackCat

    There is one major flaw in the “Pharmaceutical companies are keeping us sick” argument: competition. If pharmaceutical companies were suppressing effective treatments, they would all have to be cooperating. If one released an effective treatment that the others were hiding, that one would be able to take all of the profits from its competitors. None of the ineffective treatments would be used anymore, so the one who cheats gets the entire market.

    Basically, all of the companies would have to trust all of the other companies not to try to screw them over. But if they are lying to the public, then by definition they are untrustworthy and their competitors would have no reason to trust them either. So it basically requires that not only do they lie to and cheat the public, but that at the same time they don’t lie to and cheat each other despite the fact that they have every reason to do so. It require pharmaceutical companies to be amoral liars and cheaters yet be upstanding, honest businesses at the same time.

    All it would take is for one company to wait until they had a catalog of enough suppressed treatments, then they release them all at once and drive all of their competitors out of business. None of the competitors are going to give them that opportunity, so they have to release their treatments to maintain their competitive edge.

    It is the same thing with “alt meds don’t have high enough profits”. Ignoring the fact that a great many companies are making huge profits of alt meds, if they were so effective the company that sold them would be able to drive their opponents out of the market, thus getting the entire market to themselves. Then they could charge whatever they want for it.

  72. rob

    religion is a sexually transmitted disease whose only cure is education.

  73. Mike

    Phil says: “Yes, even though for months their “treatment” did no good at all, and after a few sessions of chemo the tumor shrank, of course it was the vitamins that did the trick.”

    Reminds me of a guy I worked for who was HEAVILY into Feng Shui.
    (My interview consisted of birth date, color of car, etc.)
    The business was really doing poorly….absolutely in the crapper.
    But in his mind, things would be much, much worse were it NOT for Feng Shui.

  74. RL

    “Rights exist only when paired with responsibilities.”

    I completely disagree with that assertion. In fact I think it’s a dangerous view. There may be times when the government is justified to intervene, but those times are (and should be) very rare and should be difficult for the government. Parents do have responsibilities but they also have rights.

  75. Acronym Jim

    @Then Again(towards top of comments)

    Does that include the belief in atheism (the cult of Dawkins) and worshipping Science above all else incl. God?

    I believe you’re confusing science with scientology. They’re not the same thing.

  76. Quiet Desperation

    Some UK NHS trusts tried it, under pressure from alternative medicine advocates

    That’s what worries me. We have a LOT of medi-loons here in the States. If we do move toward a national system, the skeptical community needs to stay active on that front.

    Mediloons? Why, I’ve just coined a term. :-)

  77. ndt

    60. tlowan Says:
    June 23rd, 2009 at 11:15 am
    Trad medicine isn’t working and railing against Alt med won’t change that.

    I have asthma, and traditional medicine has been keeping me alive for 39 years. Traditional medicine is also why neither you nor I have to worry about contracting polio or smallpox. Yes, it is not perfect. Yes, drug companies, like all corporations, are amoral by design and need to be regulated and monitored. Those are not reasons to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

  78. T_U_T

    @Todd w. Brain activity starts around week 25.

  79. The Black Cat,

    To believe that such a system would’t work, we would have to believe that this cartel would not be able to enforce its embargoes and other anti-competitive practices. Everybody knows that there is just to much money involved for anyone to ever cheat.

    On the other hand, OPEC (the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) regularly demonstrates that people will violate whatever agreements they have made, if they think it will provide a short term profit. The comic aspects of OPEC are up there with some of the best intentional comedians. :-)

  80. Quiet Desperation,

    Should we pay Mediloons with doubloons ? Not the real ones made from gold, but the chocolate candy ones. M&Ms do make for excellent placebos.

  81. TheBlackCat

    @ Rogue Medic: yes, OPEC is a very good example why cartels fail. There is no way for companies to force their competitors to work against the their own best interests. The more effective the cartel becomes, the more incentive their is for members of the cartel to cheat. And unlike with OPEC, pharmaceuticals can be patented, which means when one company cheats they can lock out all of their competitors. That means there is even more incentive to cheat.

  82. Anyone who thinks that the pharmaceutical industry can’t make money out of the American people without expensive patented drugs needs to go to the local pharmacist and ask them why they are bothering to stock brand names like Tylenol and Aleve when their exact generic equivalents are on the shelf right next to them, often priced at over 50% less. Never underestimate the general public’s ability to allow these companies to continue ripping them off.

    It is true that there is little interest from the pharmaceuticals when it comes to finding cures for some diseases, but that’s almost always when the malady in question is a so-called “orphaned disease” — i.e. there aren’t enough suffers to constitute a viable market for a drug. That is a real problem, and non-profits and charities often have to step into the breach if there is any progress to be made.

    But, as others have said, finding a cure for cancer is a whole different matter. It doesn’t matter how cheap the drug is, the sheer size of the global market for the cure would make the venture profitable, even if they have to make full use for their brand name and marketing muscle to do it.

    And don’t forget, even if we cure cancer, we’re all still going die of something. We will almost certainly never reach the point where the pharmaceutical industry runs out of things to develop treatments for.

  83. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    So does not having the right to kill your child still apply when they are in the womb?

    There are no children in wombs, there are fetuses.*

    Most fetuses (~ 80 %, IIRC) are aborted by their mothers womb right there and then, because they fail to develop properly, whether you want it or not. The “right to” “kill” argument is moot if not considered wrong by definition – there is no killing and there is no such right (to not abort).

    On the other hand one can make a moral argument that mothers have had, and should have, the right to decide over their bodies.

    [* And if you don’t know the difference, don’t serve me your cooking. It’s likely all raw. :-)]

    @ Then again. So, alt real instead, OT but fun:

    It can NOT discover deeper ontological and epistemological truths that are found only in religion and, to a lesser extent, philosphy.

    Other took care of the fallacies you made on science and morality. The above may remain: neither of those discover any “truths”.

    There are many conflicting logics (and similarly derived math theories) that have truth values. Truth values are relative – the systems that we use are those that are useful to explain facts. For example, plane geometry for plane surfaces and hyperbolic geometry for hyperbolic surfaces. In the former it is true that there is unique parallel lines, in the later not.

    In all respects, reality is the deepest truth, because it is the only absolute value we can have, albeit tempered with our contingent and subjective measures in the face of discovery and imprecision. Is it “true” if it is tested to 99.9 % or 99.999 %? Will we ever “don’t know” if there are multiverses, is it a meaningful question, has it an answer with a truth value at the end?

    OTOH, ontology and epistemology doesn’t mean anything, they can’t explain anything as they can’t predict anything about the real world. They are at most self-consistent but meaningless games that people likes to play, is all.

    Ironically, we now know that reality operates at the power of algorithms as physics does [try to make a formal math theory of 2nd quantization if you don’t believe me], and that formal theories akin to philosophy are pitiful islands in the larger algorithmic universe. Why philosophers persist in thinking that these toys will encompass anything remotely powerful (but still meaningless) on this measure of scale I honestly don’t know. [shrugs]

  84. Zyggy

    I admit that I have not (yet) read all of the above posts, but I did read over half of them, and I don’t believe that anyone has mentioned the erroneous use of the term “moral(s)” throughout this thread.

    Moral refers to a person who is true to his own personal values.

    Values are what you, as an individual, believe is right or wrong. These values are generally instilled by society (parents, school, churches, etc). However values are a very personal thing. They can vary drastically from one person to the next. Your “morality” reflects how you adhere to your OWN PERSONAL VALUES.

    To me, it makes no sense to say that another person does not adhere to YOUR values, and is therefore “immoral”.

    If one’s values dictate that murder is wrong, then killing another person makes one “immoral”. However, by the same token, If a person’s values indicate that a murder is a virtue, then by NOT killing they become “immoral”. (edit: I personally believe that murder is wrong)

    Also, re: “You can choose to dress them funny, or give them terrible haircuts, and even choose what religion they will be…”

    I was under the impression that religion (or a lack thereof) is a very personal choice (belief). Your parents can not really decide what religion you will be. They can make suggestions, and take you to their church, but YOU decide what you will believe (or don’t).

  85. @tlowan

    In the last ten years the american government has spent 2.5 billion dollars researching “alternative medicine” without any significant result.

    (click my name for the article)

  86. OTOH, ontology and epistemology doesn’t mean anything, they can’t explain anything as they can’t predict anything about the real world. They are at most self-consistent but meaningless games that people likes to play, is all.

    If you will forgive me….

    Hallelujah!

    :-)

  87. I haven’t done extensive research on the Daniel Hauser case, but of the few articles I’ve read, not one is consistent w/ another in terms of the parents’ motivation nor background of the case.

    My original impression was that the kid had received a prior round of chemo, and having witnessed her child suffer from the painful side effects, the mom basically got scared about the idea of going through it again. Which, in itself, would hardly seem unreasonable.

    Other versions have the kid just diagnosed, and/or the parents resistance to chemo being religious based and/or the result of a particularly bad case off woo-worship.

    *shrug*

    Regardless,

    @31 Rob says:
    I would agree with you, however, that if Daniel’s prognosis with chemo were no better than the woo treatment, it ought to be left up to the parents.

    I agree to some extent, however, I’d content that the decision should be that of the child AND his parents. At 13-yo, he certainly has the ‘right’ IMO to have a say. The law may say otherwise (I’m not sure), but, of course, government is no more a reliable source from which to derive moral principles than religion…

    On that note:
    “One of the great tragedies of mankind is that morality has been hijacked by religion.” – Arthur C. Clarke

  88. 82. tacitus Says:

    Anyone who thinks that the pharmaceutical industry can’t make money out of the American people without expensive patented drugs needs to go to the local pharmacist and ask them why they are bothering to stock brand names like Tylenol and Aleve when their exact generic equivalents are on the shelf right next to them, often priced at over 50% less. Never underestimate the general public’s ability to allow these companies to continue ripping them off.

    REF: pending reading.
    From the book jacket: “Why do our headaches persist after taking a one-cent aspirin but disappear after taking a 50-cent aspririn?”
    Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely. ISBN: 978-0-06-135323-9

    J/P=?
    (h/t to Leo Laporte/audible.com and local Public Library)

  89. We also have to remember that Daniel’s case is exceptional. Sadly, there must be thousands of families facing life and death decisions involving their children every day in America, and almost none of them is as clear cut as this case. Where the prognosis—even with conventional treatment—is bad, few doctors and even fewer judges challenge the wishes of the parents if they choose not to continue with the treatment.

  90. Yojimbo

    @Zyggy

    I was under the impression that religion (or a lack thereof) is a very personal choice (belief). Your parents can not really decide what religion you will be.

    Perhaps true, but in practice it is seldom possible for a child to actually make the decision. A child raised with even a minimum of love will start off with the religious beliefs of its parents. It may later reject that religion for another, or none, but parents have most of the role in shaping a child’s belief system – the child does not choose its beliefs.

  91. Lizard King

    at Big Fat Earl:

    Belief does not imply no evidence, as you seem to be saying when you say “Disbelief is in itself belief – in that it is making a judgment without evidence. Atheism is a “belief”, because it is making a claim to know the nature of God/gods/whatever without any evidence.”

    The definition of belief includes beliefs that are backed by evidence and those that are not. I believe in gravity, however I don’t require faith (like religious belief) to do so because we experience gravity and thus have evidence to support its existence. Similarly atheists require no faith in their disbelief, there is no evidence to support the existence of god. It requires no more faith to not believe in god than it does to not believe in Santa Clause, the tooth fairy, or trolls living under bridges. None of these imaginary figures have any logical basis supported by evidence, just like god.

  92. T_U_T

    On the other hand one can make a moral argument that mothers have had, and should have, the right to decide over their bodies.

    This does not work, because the fist and nose argument about where your liberty ends may be easily rephrased to an argument about your right to decide over your body ending where your decision affects adversely the body of another person. There is no way around the “fetus is a person abortion is murder” equivalence.

    OTOH, ontology and epistemology doesn’t mean anything

    ontology and epistemology have been replaced with probability theory and information theory decades ago. But it will take a few more decades for the philosophers to realize that they are jobless, and still more time to acknowledge it.

  93. I don’t have the same religious beliefs as my parents, my husband doesn’t have the same religious beliefs as his parents, and our daughter doesn’t have the same religious beliefs as we do. There is this thing called free will after all.

    I hate to see chiropractors completely knocked. I’ve heard some go overboard about how wonderful their services are, and how holistic they are. That said, I’ve had back trouble on and off for years. I had about five chiropractor sessions over about three years. Haven’t need to see one since. Now, I wouldn’t go see a chiropractor if I had cancer, but for back pain that doesn’t go away? Sure!

  94. anna

    @T_U_T

    There is no way around the “fetus is a person abortion is murder” equivalence.

    actually, it may be possible. just hear me out on this one – i’m not sure if it really applies or not. just throwing it out there for the purpose of debate…fetus = not a citizen, since you’re only considered a citizen if you apply / are granted citizenship by the immigration authorities, are born here or on a military base / embassy etc, or if you live in the country and pay taxes etc for like 14 years or something. and as the fetus is not a citizen, the fetus has no rights…because it isn’t really a foreign national either. granted this is kind of a conflicting logic since we have some laws on the books that will grant you a double-homicide charge if you kill a pregnant woman…idk, just putting that out there. feel free to tear the theory to tiny little pulps.

  95. anna

    nope. on second thought, killing people whether they’re citizens or not is still murder. nvm. hm.

  96. anna

    might be able to find a way to consider a potentially fatal fetus an unlawful combatant though.

  97. Jeffersonian

    Phil,
    Speaking of alt med and qi, have you heard of the case of “Hu Wanlin” ?

  98. TheBlackCat

    I don’t have the same religious beliefs as my parents, my husband doesn’t have the same religious beliefs as his parents, and our daughter doesn’t have the same religious beliefs as we do. There is this thing called free will after all.

    You are the exception. The vast majority of people on the planet inherit at least the religion of their parents.

    I hate to see chiropractors completely knocked. I’ve heard some go overboard about how wonderful their services are, and how holistic they are.

    If all they did was treat back pain, or even all that most of them did, we wouldn’t be criticizing them. But not only do huge numbers of chiropractors claim they can treat all sorts of conditions completely unrelated to the spine, but many of the major chiropractic organizations support them.

  99. Mr. eX

    I think it’s important to note that the nonsense was that the family rejects traditional medicine and was attempting to use herbs and vitamins as a REPLACEMENT for it, rather than using herbs and vitamins in general.

    I think it’s somewhat misleading to put utter quackery like homeopathy and magnet therapy in the same category as things that show more promise such as herbs and vitamins.

  100. Jeffersonian

    @tacitus
    “I suspect this will continue in the decades ahead until medical science comes up with a a safe and foolproof way to prevent unwanted pregnancies that can be used from puberty onwards and is universally accepted.”

    Or, in the near future, when the population exceeds food production, triggering famines and, likely, wars, more drastic measures will accumulate.

  101. Gary Ansorge

    98. Jeffersonian Says:

    “more drastic measures will accumulate”,,,as in what happened to the Easter Islanders when they ran out of trees to makes fishing boats???(indications are that the strong ATE the weak,,,).

    GAry 7

  102. controlled chaos

    Does this include American D.O. doctors?
    Do you think they are “quacks as well”? For receiving extra training?

  103. Mark Lyndon

    Chris: “The anti-circumcision folks are ignoring the science; circumcision has been repeatedly shown to reduce the risk of HIV infection. Aside from the religious freedom aspect, circumcision is a minor surgical procedure that conveys significant health benefit. To deny parents the chance to offer that benefit to their children would be, ahem, immoral.”

    1) I’m tired of circumcised men trying to justify cutting parts off other people’s bodies. Babies aren’t going to be getting any STI’s before they’re old enough to decide for themselves whether or not they want part of their genitals cutting off. It’s their body; it should be their decision.

    2) These latest studies are from Africa. The Dickson study in New Zealand showed a slightly *higher* rate of STI’s among circumcised men.

    3) If we found out that cutting off part of a girl’s genitals reduced her risk of contracting an STI, would that make it acceptable?
    The Stallings study in Tanzania showed exactly that.

    If female circumcision had caught on in the USA (it was promoted in medical papers till at least 1959, and practised till the early 70’s), and western researchers were now looking for benefits of female circumcision as enthusiastically as they are looking for benefits of male circumcision, we’d now be getting news articles about how female circumcision help prevent STI’s. It wouldn’t mean that there aren’t better ways to prevent STI’s, and it wouldn’t make it right.

    News from April: A jury in Atlanta has awarded $1.8 million to a boy whose penis was severed in a botched circumcision five years ago. The record payout for a botched job in $28 million. Oh yeah, and a bunch of babies died. So much for the “significant health benefit”.

    Circumcision is a particularly dangerous distraction in the fight against AIDS. There are seven African countries where men are *more* likely to be HIV+ if they’ve been circumcised: Rwanda, Cameroon, Ghana, Lesotho, Malawi, Swaziland, and Tanzania. Eg in Malawi, the HIV rate is 13.2% among circumcised men, but only 9.5% among intact men. In Cameroon, the HIV rate is 4.1% among circumcised men, but only 1.1% among intact men. If circumcision really worked against AIDS, this just wouldn’t happen. We now have people calling circumcision a “vaccine” or “invisible condom”, and viewing circumcision as an alternative to condoms.

    ABC (Abstinence, Being faithful, Condoms) is the way forward. Promoting genital surgery will cost African lives, not save them.

  104. Cairnos

    @ Karen (33)

    Important point: Homeopathy does not equal herbs and vitamins

    Homeopathy = Pure water (or alcohol, or for some reason sugar) only
    Herbal medicine and vitamins = stuff that may (or may not) help a given condition.

    Note that for some conditions vitamins are the conventional remedy. Got scurvy, grab an orange. Got rickets, grab some vitamin D and calcium.

    But for others vitamins are strictly an alternative remedy. Got cancer, well take vit C if you want but I’d still catch up with your family while theres time if your rejecting conventional therapies shown to work (or at least a chance of doing so).

    As for herbs, if it can be shown to work in clinical trials it again becomes a conventional medicine, but the active ingredients will probably be isolated (an synthesized if possible) and put in some form so they can be delivered in precise doses. Mother nature is many things but a dispensing pharmacist she ain’t.

  105. Rob: “They consider a parent having a baby circumcised to be mutilation and a violation of that baby’s human rights. I think that it falls within a parent’s right to decide what happens to their child.” But circumcision DOESN’T just happen to “their child”. The foreskin doesn’t return at 21. Circumcision has still happened to the man he becomes, and more and more of those men are as mad as hell about the violation of THEIR rights. Where are you libertarians then?

    Chris: “The anti-circumcision folks are ignoring the science; circumcision has been repeatedly shown to reduce the risk of HIV infection.”
    The science has been highly selective: in seven African countries more of the circumcised men have HIV than the intact men, according to the National Health and Demographic surveys. The randomised controlled trials of paid volunteers for circumcision were non-blinded and non-placebo. Several times as many circumcised men dropped out, their HIV status unknown, as non-circumcised men were infected. It may be that circumcision does measurably reduce the incidence of this or that disease, but when a disease is rare, that results in an unacceptably high Number Needed to Treat, with many circumcisions wasted, but not without the attendant complications.

    “Aside from the religious freedom aspect,…” WHOSE religious freedom? Babies don’t have religions. If an adult wants to have any part of his or her own body cut off, for religious or any other reasons, let him, but leave the babies out of it.

    There’s something peculiar about circumcision. Why is the infant male foreskin the only healthy non-renewable part of a human body that may be arbitrarily cut off at someone else’s whim? (And is it a coincidence that it is intimately associated with his sex?)

  106. Steven

    @ #9 “Considering they failed to homeschool him (this kid can’t even read) as well, that is even yet another reason to suspect neglect of their duties as parents.”

    I was home schooled and didn’t learn to read until I was about 9 or 10. I then learnt to read over a six month period and was reading adult novels about a year after that.
    One of the points of homeschooling is that you let kids learn in their own time. I don’t agree with not treating an illness with a proven medicine but unless you know how the parents approach their homeschooling don’t attack that as well.

    Oh, and as a contrast: My younger brother learnt to read so early that he read Lord of the Rings by the time he was six. Yikes.

  107. Hey TechyDad, Rob, Chris,

    There is nothing about a male’s foreskin threatening him while he is still a baby that justifies amputation, which is why not one national medical association on earth endorses routine circumcision. Leaving him intact is not anti-science, it’s mainstream medicine.

    The only way to do the math and come down in favor of taking away his choice is to leave three important factors out of the equation: 1) You’d have to completely ignore the risks of unexpected outcomes (but since cutting an infant is so haphazard, nearly EVERY circumcision has an unpredicted result). 2) You’d have to forget that he is a person who can be trusted to (and deserves the basic human right to) make his own decisions about things that vitally affect him, especially when the decision can just as easily wait for him to become rational. 3) You’d have to ignore the fact that foreskin FEELS REALLY GOOD.

    Most of the world has intact genitals. The US and 94% of the world already outlaws genital cutting WITH NO RELIGIOUS EXEMPTION, but for girls only.

    In places like New Zealand where the circumcising stopped in like a decade, there was no horrific rise in penis-related problems. People just relaxed and enjoyed sex more. His foreskin is absolutely as vital to his full sexual experience as a female’s hood and labia minora are to hers (they are the SAME tissue until three months’ gestation). Only the informed adult owner of a body has the moral right to choose cosmetic amputations.

  108. Interesting article here…

    http://www.bellybelly.com.au/articles/men/circumcision-son

    It answers most of the common circumcision arguments: hygiene, wanting the son to look like dad (I’ve heard this one most of all), religion, sexiness etc.

  109. ScottB

    John@55

    Nice link, John. I’d point out that Article 30 of the declaration also applies to believers as well.

  110. T_U_T

    and as the fetus is not a citizen, the fetus has no rights

    We are talking about ethics not legality, so any loophole in american law that would allow to kill someone legally is irrelevant.

  111. Justin Andrews

    Galileo put it best : “Science tells us how the heavens go NOT how to go to Heaven.”

    No it Does, it totally does… its around 12Km/s ;)

  112. @Kylie referred to the Simon Singh lecture in Sydney. Although it is not yet on the Sydney Ideas website it will be later this week, I promise! Put it in your diaries; July 15 th, Seymour Centre, Sydney. And thanks Phil for plugging my blog. Cheers!

  113. @Steve Jeffers (#17), @Pareidolius (#53)

    I have found on Wikiquote (the Italian one, of course ;-)) the correct quote, which goes like this:

    “l’intenzione dello Spirito Santo essere di insegnarci come si vadia al cielo, e non come vadia il Cielo”

    This can be translated roughly as: “It is the intent of the Holy Ghost to teach us how to go to the heavens, not how the heavens go”… more or less (it is rather archaic Italian). So the quote is exactly reversed, which gives it a rather different spin, don’t you think?

    Besides, I don’t really understand how this is related to Phil’s post (great, as usual!) or to the discussion…

    I’ll close with another interesting quote from Galileo (anyone from the SGU reading this? ;-)): “Parlare oscuramente lo sa fare ognuno, ma chiaro pochissimi” -> “Anyone can talk obscurely, very few with clarity” (apologies for the bad translation)

  114. John ( No. 55 ): Your comment about the UDHR is totally irrelevant. Every individual does indeed have the right to practice their own beliefs, but they do NOT have the right to impose their beliefs on others – including their children.

    Then Again ( No. 11 ): As No. 113 correctly points out, your “Galileo” quote is completely out of context, and reversed. Allow me to put this into context.
    Galileo was put on trial by the Inquisition, for teaching the Copernican view of the Universe, which contradicted religious teaching. A cardinal who defended him ( NOT Galileo himself ) made the famous statement, which is commonly quoted in English as “The Bible tells us how to go to Heaven, not how the heavens go.”
    In other words, the Bible was written as a “guide” to morals and religious principles; it is NOT, nor was it ever intended to be, an accurate history book or a scientific textbook. A thought for all creationists…

    On the subject of morals, saying that morality is derived from religion is utter drivel! As several others have pointed out, the Bible contains many statements of “morals”, which modern society considers abhorrent and obnoxious – e.g. the story of Abraham, who supposedly came within a whisker of murdering his own son, because God told him to, to “test his faith”!!!
    EVERY Christian today – even the most rabidly fundamentalist – cherry picks which parts of the Bible to take notice of, and which to ignore. And guess what – their resultant “morals” are usually pretty much the same as those of every other religion, and of atheists!
    I’m an atheist, BTW, and I consider myself pretty “moral”; I’ve never knowingly or willingly harmed another human being, or committed any dishonest or illegal act more serious than breaking a speed limit. I don’t need the threat of retribution from an imaginary being in the sky, to tell me how to behave.
    The point is that morals are derived from other sources – such as the consensus of society as a whole, as to what behaviour is acceptable and what isn’t – which have nothing to do with religion.

  115. Nigel Depledge

    Hmmm, looks like I’m late to the party again…

    Then Again (11) said:

    Does that include the belief in atheism (the cult of Dawkins) and worshipping Science above all else incl. God?

    Your entire premise is wrong.

    Atheism is not a belief, it is an absence of belief in the untestable.

    Your other mischaracterisations of atheism can fairly be dismissed as inflammatory rhetoric.

    We know what’s ethically right from religion NOT science. That’s the reality.

    Actually, the reality is people do what they feel is right (whether solely for themselves, for their family, tribe, cult, race, culture, nation or whatever) and then attempt to justify it by whatever means are available. Religion has been used to justify more atrocities than has science (not that science has not also been thus abused). While some religions teach a message of ethics, many also teach that murdering, lying and other such unethical behaviour is right if you do it to spread or perpetuate that authority of the religion.

    On the other hand, atheism frees one from all that cultural baggage. Atheists can behave ethically out of respect for their fellow humans rather than out of fear of later retribution or the promise of paradise.

    Galileo put it best : “Science tells us how the heavens go NOT how to go to Heaven.”

    Perhaps that is so, but he was a Catholic (yes, despite what the church eventually put him through) and that statement relies on the assumption of a belief in heaven.

    Science is a tool that can – and has been – used for good and evil.

    True of any tool, including religion. Did you have a point?

    It can NOT discover deeper ontological and epistemological truths that are found only in religion and, to a lesser extent, philosphy.

    Not so.

    Science and mathematics offer us the only casis for consensual truth. Mathematics has the power of pure logic, and arrives at truth via the process of mathematical proofs. Science has evidence, and arrives at truth through following what the preponderance of evidence tells us.

    Religion and philosophy, while they have much to contribute to culture, ethics and thought, cannot arrive at any kind of truth.

    The real question of “Is there a God and if so what is His nature? How should we relate to God? Is Jesus Christ really our Saviour?’ and so forth all lie in the greater realms of knowledge far outside the reach of materialist science.

    Not so. The discoveries of science tell us that either:
    (1) God works only through the natural laws that we have discovered (and perhaps, too, some that have yet to be discovered) and leaves no evidence of her work;
    or:
    (2) There is no god.

    Thus, the nature of god has been constrained by what has been discovered about reality. Or have you never heard of the “god of the gaps” argument?

  116. The proposed “Parental Rights Amendment” addresses your concerns, I think. It says,

    “SECTION 1
    The liberty of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children is a fundamental right.

    SECTION 2
    Neither the United States nor any State shall infringe upon this right without demonstrating that its governmental interest as applied to the person is of the highest order and not otherwise served.

    As I understand the intention and effect of this language, saving a child’s life would be deemed an interest “of the highest order” which is “not otherwise served” by allowing the parents to insist on alternative medical treatment.

    Would you agree?

  117. TJ

    “You can … even choose what religion they will be…”

    That’s another thing that needs addressing. When you get your head and emotions stuffed full of crap as a kid — and if you’re brighter than a gerbil, you know it (but they’re good at it and it works anyway) — what recourse do you have?

    None. In fact. And you … and everyone around you … gets to live with the results, to the extent that you can’t do a self-purging, for a lifetime.

    Nice? I don’t think so.

  118. Jeffersonian

    @101. Gary Ansorge Says:
    “as in what happened to the Easter Islanders when they ran out of trees to makes fishing boats???(indications are that the strong ATE the weak,,,).”
    GAry 7

    OK, that freaked me out for a second, as I’m reading that book right now. I turned around to make sure you weren’t standing behind me.

  119. Nigel Depledge

    Karen (33) said:

    One quibble. Herbs and vitamins are not invalid treatments for *some things*. I really dislike the complete dismissal of homeopathy by big name scientists.

    Well, herbs and vitamins are not the same as homeopathy, so what are you actually trying to say here?

    Vitamins are a great treatment for conditions arising from vitamin deficiencies.

    Some herbal treatments have been demonstrated to be of genuine benefit (e.g. St John’s Wort for depression, IIUC).

    But homeopathic “remedies” are no better than a placebo. This has been demonstrated in clinical trial. Mind you, they are a very good placebo.

    For a remedy to be genuinely homeopathic, it must be diluted many times. A “weak” homeopathic preparation is a 1060x dilution of a starting extract (what homeopaths start with is something that causes the symptoms they wish to treat – this is often a poison of some kind). Since homeopaths claim that more dilution gives astronger “medicine”, a really “powerful” homeopathic preparation is of the order of a 102000x dilution.

    Are they trying to be the other end of the balance scale from people who swear on herbs to cure every illness?

    No. It was scientists who demonstrated that some herbal remedies have a genuine clinical effect.

    I’m a scientist myself. I’m also Wiccan. And I think homeopathy is a great alternative to pursue for mild illness, or in cases where traditional medicine isn’t working.

    But since you seem to be confused over the difference between herbal and homeopathic “remedies”, I have to question this claim. What kind of scientist do you consider yourself to be? Have you ever looked up a definition of homeopathy? Have you ever asked a homeopath what homeopathy is?

    But as long as alternative medicine and traditional science are squaring off in opposite camps,

    They are not. Edvard Ernst is a professor of CAM at a University in the UK. He is a real scientist investigating alternative medicine. The fact that most alt-meds cannot support their claims with anything remotely resembling actual evidence means that he and others highlight this lack. However, I am sure that, where alt-meds are supported by evidence, Professor Ernst is the first to acknowledge this.

    society is losing out on the true benefits of both.

    Perhaps. But it is not the scientists that are raising the barrier. Many of the alt-med practitioners tend:
    (a) To claim that their treatment will cure all sorts of things when it does no such thing;
    (b) To reject the idea of having to demonstrate that what they do actually works;
    (c) Spout crazy, made-up nonsense when asked to explain how their treatment is supposed to work.

    What the alt-med faithful should be doing is demanding that their practitioners establish their professions on a foundation of evidence, so that more people can receive the benefits. (For example, a very few alt med treatments are available in the UK through the National Health Service, but with some proper evidence backingit up, this would increase.)

    We don’t have to “pick sides”, and traditional science REALLY needs to get over being threatened by alternative practices.

    Actually, it’s the other way around.

    Traditional science is a threat to many of the alt-med practices, because many of the the alt-med practices don’t work. However, why should a real drug have to be proven for safety and efficacy, when there is no such burden on a homeopathic one? Are all of the alt-meds just so much snake oil, or do some of them really work – and without proper trials, how can we tell them apart?

    It’s like the f’ing Inquisition all over again.

    Yes, I’m willing to bet that Simon Singh didn’t expect the Spanish Inquisition.

  120. Nigel Depledge

    Big Fat Earl said:

    This is a logical fallacy I’ve heard too many people trot out. By its very definition, the existence or nonexistence of a God or gods is something inherently beyond our ability to prove – it is something for which there is and can be no physical evidence to prove or to disprove. Disbelief is in itself belief – in that it is making a judgment without evidence. Atheism is a “belief”, because it is making a claim to know the nature of God/gods/whatever without any evidence. Logically speaking there can be no definite conclusion for or against the existence of a God or gods, so atheism is in its own way just as illogical as any other spiritual belief. So yes, atheism is a “belief”.

    You are wrong.

    The principal of persimony demands that we do not assume the existence of something without evidence. Belief in any deity (or anything else for which there is, by definition, no evidence) is therefore irrational. The only rational and logical position to adopt is atheism.

    This isn’t a logical fallacy, it is the conclusion of a logical examination of the options.

    Belief that there is no god is a different thing from belief in a god or gods. It is a belief based on experience, evidence and logic.

    For instance, the universe appears to us to be and to behave exactly as we would expect it to if it had formed in some process like the big bang and had then developed according to physical laws that exist today. There is no evidence of divine tinkering anywhere. This is not proof that there is no god (after all, how can anyone ever disprove the existence of something that is defined to be incorporeal, omnipresent and omniscient?), but it is evidence that there has been no divine tinkering in the development of the universe.

  121. Nigel Depledge

    D’oh!

    When I said:

    The principal of persimony …

    of course I meant “the principle of parsimony”.

  122. Nigel Depledge

    Tlowan (60) said:

    The rise of alt med IS unproven. But, like voters voting for an unproven opposition party, it’s more about the rejection of the people in power than wholesale acceptance of the option.

    OK, fair enough. But make it a level playing field. New treatments introduced in the last 30 years or so have been required by law (in Europe and North America, Australia and Japan at least) to undergo trials for safety and efficacy. So, why not have the same standard for alt meds?

    Trad medicine isn’t working and railing against Alt med won’t change that.

    But modern medicine does work more often than not. Otherwise they would not license it. Alt med, OTOH, almost all doesn’t work. For example, homeopathy has been demonstrated in more than one controlled trial to be no better than placebo. Some herbal remedies do work (y’see, because people tested these things properly, we now know), chiropractic can help with some back problems, but things like crystal healing and so on are just so much mumbo-jumbo.

    Where exactly is government (the only people with a reason AND the money to do the research) in the production of cross-comparison studies looking at the overall efficacy of alt vs. trad med, in specific areas and across populations.

    Why should governments spend their taxpayers’ money carrying out trials that the alt med industry should be paying for?

    There are many billions of dollars to be saved if even a few alt med proceedures are effective.

    And, in the present environment, billions of dollars in undiluted profit for the alt med practitioners.

  123. Details of Singh’s lecture now out:
    Head to: Trick or Treatment? Alternative Medicine on Trial – Sydney University!

    Date: 6.30pm Wednesday, 15 July
    Tickets: $20 Full, $15 Conc
    Venue: Seymour Theatre Center, University of Sydney.

    Thanks to the doubters – see you there! ;)

  124. Damon

    Well, your fallacy here Phil is to assume that Chiropractic is an alternative medicine (it is not), it’s pretty much a proven practice. It’s just a shame that the occasional quack has seen fit to ruin Chirpractic for the skeptical by making ridiculous, outrageous claims. That does not, however, discount the positive effects of Chiropractic.

  125. Nigel Depledge

    Damon (124) said:

    Well, your fallacy here Phil is to assume that Chiropractic is an alternative medicine (it is not), it’s pretty much a proven practice. It’s just a shame that the occasional quack has seen fit to ruin Chirpractic for the skeptical by making ridiculous, outrageous claims. That does not, however, discount the positive effects of Chiropractic.

    Damon, you seem to have missed the entire point of the case.

    It was the British Chiropractic Association that was making the quack claims that were the target of Singh’s criticism, with at least the tacit approval of its members. This is not “the occasional quack”, it is one of the organisations representing the entire chiropractic profession. Additionally, you will find that many chiropractors make or have made claims about chiropractic that are similarly unsupportable.

    You, as a supporter of chiropractic, should be at the forefront of those demanding that the profession be put on a firm foundation of properly-acquired evidence. Are you?

NEW ON DISCOVER
OPEN
CITIZEN SCIENCE
ADVERTISEMENT

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

ADVERTISEMENT

See More

ADVERTISEMENT
Collapse bottom bar
+

Login to your Account

X
E-mail address:
Password:
Remember me
Forgot your password?
No problem. Click here to have it e-mailed to you.

Not Registered Yet?

Register now for FREE. Registration only takes a few minutes to complete. Register now »