"Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the Sultan of Johor are seen in a blue Proton Saga... "When asked whether there is any tension with the sultan, Dr Mahathir said: “No, I don’t see anything because I went to see him and he drove me to the airport. I don’t want to comment on the sultans because if I say anything that is not good then it’s not nice because he is the sultan”"

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Saturday, February 20, 2010

"I suppose that I shall have to die beyond my means." - Oscar Wilde, upon being told the cost of an operation


Another spectacular train wreck:

Me: Acupuncture has been shown to work - even when the wrong points were poked

Basically it's the placebo effect

A: Placebo Effect cannot be used to explain everything.
If not, we can say the same thing about western medicine.
Personally, I believe acupuncture works, not because of Placebo Effect or because of The Qi, but rather, the pain / sensation simulates certain natural biological processes that cause the body to self heal.
I am personal supporter of TCM, btw.

Me: I believe the results were that needles poked randomly (and not into the "Qi" points) also relieved pain

So basically it's in the patients' minds.

I can say I believe that 抓根 "simulates certain natural biological processes that cause the body to self heal", but this does not make it true.

B: I’ll add to the acupuncture discussion, no sources though.

There were two other blinded experiments besides poking the wrong place: 1) only pierce the skin 2) retractable needles. They all “worked”; especially if the experimenters paid the subjects more attention.

I also came across talk about “the placebo effect” being a little misleading; it would be more accurate to call it “the placebo response”.

A: To Gabriel:
Well, you believed wrong.
The reason why poked at random relieved pain is because that's how the body works, it’s the same as why scratching relieved ache. It’s not in the mind, but in the nerves system. Many TCM experiments have shown that total random pocking do not work at all, it has to be within an area.

It's the same thing as after you eat, you feel full, it does not have to be a certain kind of food, but it has to be food. It's is not a placebo effect. Unless you are saying that placebo effects works up to 90% of the time, in that case we might as well abandon modern Science and head to the Church or Temple for Miracle Cures, since placebo effects can work so well.

Well, if I am hungry and then ate something, and I felt full after eating it, is that considered a black box, until one day someone discover about the digestive system and things like carbohydrates, fats, proteins... ect? If the ancients would to go by your logic, eating for survive would have been considered a placebo effect until around two century ago.

It is unreasonable for people before the invention of things like microscope and such to not use a black box approach to understanding nature. Mainstream health care was also in a black box state before we discover things like bacteria and virus.

TCM have also been shown to work by double blind trials, as much as Western drugs. Even acupuncture, it had been shown to have work through double blind trials, the Placebo Effect test only work some, but not all of the time, these tests have been conducted in China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, and had been proven beyond reasonable doubt, that it’s much more then Placebo Effects. Case and point, it had been shown to worked on babies, kids, people who do not trust TCM, placebo effects? I think not.

In any case, it is being practice as a legal and accepted form of health treatment in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore, are you saying that the governments of these nations are all allowing Placebo Medication? Last I heard, Qi-Gong healing and religion Miracle Cures aren't.

Finally, TCM, and in fact most traditional medicine works on the idea that the body can self-heal given the right herbs and simulations. This is totally in line with Biology and the Theory of Evolution, if the body is incapable of self healing and self curing; we would have long been extinct. The system which most of them work is build on thousands of years of experiments and researches, and it does advance, without Dogmas, according to what it's practitioners discover in the way. What ever doesn't work is removed, and what ever works, is passed down.

... Just because one test suggest that it might be a Placebo Effect, doesn't mean it is a Placebo effect, since there are even more tests to prove that it isn't. TCM is currently highly support by evidences and researches, while there are still some mysteries and in fact, errors in it, it does work, what remains is to see which parts truly works, and which parts are errors. It's is not 100% correct, by neither is it wrong. You cannot discredit TCm just because it is different from what you believe.

Me: Well, since you say there is lots of evidence for TCM, please share some with us.

From what I read the evidence is mixed at best; it's not because it's different from what I believe.

Be Wary of Acupuncture, Qigong, and "Chinese Medicine"

acupuncture - The Skeptic's Dictionary

A: The short ans.
I trust The Singapore and China government more then this 2 group of people.

The long ans.
While they have been good in dealing with a lot of other things, both Quackwatch and The Skeptic's Dictionary are highly unreliable and in fact, talking total rubbish in this matter.
They are both bias against TCM, and conducted unfair tests.
Just go to China, and read things published in Chinese, and you will see the real results.
Their what, 51 tests and 2,938 reports are meaningless compare to the millions of successful rate all across Chinese communities.

Just go read any TCM books publish in Chinese.
The Chinese government had been researching into TCM for decades, they spend more time and money, and conduct more controlled tests and research then both this two group of people added together.

So far, according to the TCM text book and introductory published by China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine have shown positive results. QiGong, btw, on the other hand, have shown to be just about as good as any other form of sports and exercise.

Btw, 'the quality of TCM research in China has been extremely poor' is either a proof of ignorance or a complete lie. There are government established Institutions researching and teaching TCM in China, and in Singapore, TCM is a 5 years degree course, in a TCM Academy in TPY and just a few years ago, NTU.
Are we suppose to believe that the government of two major Asian Nation, allows Healthcare treatment with extremely poor quality research to be legally practice in the Nation?
Case and point, you can find TCM in our Government Hospitals today, giving Acupuncture treatments.

Unless these two groups' last research on TCM was like around 20 years ago, what they said, shows a complete lack of data and research. I would believe that two government bodies would not only have more resources, but a greater responsibility to have practice and conducted much controlled tests.
NTU teaching Peudoscience, and Govermental Hospitals giving Peudo Healthcare treatment.
Yeah right.

: So what would you qualify as pseudomedicine?

Are there medical treatments that Quackwatch and The Skeptic's Dictionary are qualified in dismissing? (Besides TCM, of course.)

Are you familiar with homeopathy?

A: Pseudomedicine?
Anything that had a bad record of not doing the job and killing patients, or requires faith to work. And anything in which operations and effects cannot be reasonably cause by physical and bio-chemical means.

Except for things like faith healing and QiGong, none. XD
All medical treatments, especially traditional ones, with a good track record should be researched on, test and verified by specialize personals, with knowledge in both main steams medicine and the alternate one they are researching, knowledge in Biology and Chemistry would be a bonus.
People like Quackwatch and The Skeptic's Dictionary are only qualified to ask question and throw doubts, in which the other side may or may not give an answer, which may or may not be reasonable.
Dismissing, however, is not something they should do. :D
Especially if it's something that have been accepted by people whom have more resources to do more tests and had done so, and have access to much better equipments and more people doing full time researches. :)

Homeopathy and TCM, together with a lot of other TMs are entire different things.
Homeopathy was dream up by some German physician.
Traditional Medicines are form through generations of trial and errors of the ancients of their respective cultures.

Traditional Medicines uses native, locals herbs which contains a lot of chemicals, including many active ingredients and nutrition.
Acupuncture interacts with the body using physical stimulations.
Homeopathy uses heavily diluted solution usually lacking active ingredients.

C: While I don’t think that TCM is a pseudoscience, I do think the efficacy of it is far from established. The peer review system is the defence against the bias that you claim affects Quackwatch and The Skeptic's Dictionary. I wouldn’t be too quick to trust the Singapore or Chinese governments either. Not that either government intends harm on its people, but there are nationalistic political reasons for promoting TCM that can come into conflict with the science agenda. Do a quick search of Google scholar and you’ll find that for every positive study you’ll find a lot more that show no correlation. Unfortunately I don't read chinese but they should publish in english if their message is intended to be taken seriously. If faced with a life threatening illness, I would do what “western science” says works and only turn to "alternative medicine" as a complementary form of treatment if no interactions with main interventional treatment exist. While I don’t agree with the conservative position taken by others on this site I do think there is a need to call the proverbial spade a spade.

A: Sorry, but I don't really thinks an article make more sense when it is publish in English.
Nor do I think being published in English is a pre-requisite for something to be taken seriously.

I don't see how peer review is of higher credit then governmental organization.
If the counter argument for TCM is that Singapore and China has nationalistic political reasons for promoting TCM that can come into conflict with the science agenda, then along the same line TCM supporters can claim that Quackwatch and The Skeptic's Dictionary being Western English media has cultural supremacy reasons that can come into with the science agenda.
Let's keep politics out of these.

At any rate, the consequences of making wrong National Healthcare policies far outweighs any political advantages endorsing quack medicine based on culture reasons. Healthcare is a life and death manner.
In any case, Singapore is a highly Westernize and Secular Society, that puts economical progression as it's main concern. Saying that Singapore has nationalistic political reasons for promoting TCM is really not very reasonable.
Personally, I would see TCM doctors only, I personally have not been to see any western doctors and I likely never will, even when facing a life threatening illness I would go to Hong Kong or Taiwan rather then say, U.S.
But this is more due to personally experience rather then logic or science, so I wouldn't rather not talk about it.

C: 1) Publish and in English: so that barbarians like me can be aware of this and so that other smarter barbarians can reproduce the results, critique/support them as per the so called scientific process. Choice of English in this case is pragmatic, not political.
2) Peer review vs Government authority: If healthcare were the primary agenda why is more money spent on defence and education? Government has much greater responsibilities than just healthcare (say “economical progression “ ) and governments are in the business of politicking not science. You can’t keep politics out of it. Not that peer review is entirely free from political influence either, but at least it’s in the public domain.
3) Sadly merely believing something works or does not work doesn’t make it so
Where’s the pragmatism eh? Where?!

In the interest of public inquiry, would appreciate it if you could share evidence from Chinese journals or otherwise that show the efficacy of TCM over mainstream forms of treatment.

A: 1.) There is nothing barbaric about any language, it is simply natural for an research work to be publish in it's native language, translation is usually done on the part of the learner, not teacher. If a person wishes to learn more abt TCM, he can jolly well learn Chinese, or get some translated work.
If I wanted to learn about Tibetan Traditional Medicine, I would expect that the majority articles are in Tibetan, and not Chinese or English, and I need to go learn Tibetan.

2.) Government kept different policies apart from each other. Their individual policies are independent from each other. Healthcare policies do not have to go through the MoE, it only has to go through the MoH.

3.) Like I said, my choice of TCM is entire personal, it does not means TCM is superior to mainstream medical science, it might be because all the previous western doctors I've seen are idiots who can't seems to even cure a simple cold within a week and stop it from happening again within a season, while the TCM doctors I've been seeing cure it within two days, and I usually don't have to go back to them for half a year.
Yeah, luck does pay a part in these stuffs.

There is currently no evidence that TCM is always more efficacy then mainstream forms of treatment, however, studies in China have shown that they worked, and progress has also been made. For example, in terms of Acupuncture, they have found out some new points, as well as abolish some old points in the pass few years. Whether if TCM or superior to mainstream or not is still largely uncertain.

B: Gabriel,

I look forward to your response to A.

Me: suffice it to say that a strong faith in the Chinese and Singapore governments is not the best way of deciding on the efficacy of health treatments. And that there's a reason that TCM medical certificates are not widely accepted in Singapore.

If faith healing works for so many people, perhaps we should all give it a try as well.

B: Yea I thought so... there’s so much wrong with the arguments, a meeting of the minds might be too hopeful. Pity Urine Therapy didn’t come up.

A: So it's wiser to have faith in Quackwatch and The Skeptic's Dictionary?
Interesting concept, forgive me for being unable to comprehend it.
Since at this moment, I can only comprehend things that are logical and reasonable.

Sure, TCM MC are not widely accepted, that's because a lot of companies's bosses do not understand TCM.
If students and practitioner don't even have the courage and opened mindedness to understand other medical ideas and only know to simply dismiss and discharge all other forms of medical theory as Faith Healing, then I must say that they are the one who is unscientific and are practice faith healing.

The science behind TCM might be wrong, but the technology, ie: it's diagnosis and treatment, works. And it can be trained, without using faith or religious rituals. The correct, scientific way should be to research and understand it, to uncover how it works, instead of just calling it "faith healing".

If not, I strongly suggest we just abolish all form of medical treatment and just go to temples, churches, mosques and what have we for faith healing, or just use hypnosis. It will save us a lot of money on medical equipment and medicine. XD

Well, I sure am glad the pioneers of biology and modern medical science have a much more open mind, if not, we might be believing that eating make us fell full is a placebo effect.

And yeah, there's much wrong with the arguments, namely, yours.

C: While I do think that theoretically it COULD work, I have yet to come across evidence other than individual testimony that is DOES work. Arguments of authority (that the Chinese and Singapore governments approve) are not evidence. I accept there that there may be evidence that i have no access to, so please share it with us A.

The science behind TCM might be wrong, but the technology, ie: it's diagnosis and treatment, works.

I can accept this statement if you can show us it does work. I'm assuming that since the science is wrong they only way to do this would be by correlation.

A: Institutional research by Researchers from the Chinese Government have shown that it work.
Records by Chinese Historians have recorded hat it worked.
Are these people lying?
These people are institutional researchers trained in the scientific method.
If you believe that they are lying, then I say I believe that the people from Quackwatch and The Skeptic's Dictionary are lying.

If you don't consider governmental approval and governmental collage level education system teaching it as a good evident, there I say, there is no evident that modern medicine work as well, none at all. The fact is, Mainstream medicine has no evident over TCM at the moment. There is currently no evident that show mainstream modern medicine to be of any better then any traditional medicine.

In any case, I believe I have more reason to believe in something which as five thousands years of research and data, rather then something with only two century.

The science is wrong because the ancient Chinese don't have a microscope.
The technology worked, because it's based on trial and error, data collection, tests, check and balance.

C: Ahhhhhhhhhh. . . . Throwing in the towel. . .

Me: Let's see if B: has something to say :)

B: You may think that when it comes to alternative health therapies you've heard it all. But there is one natural therapy you've probably never heard of ---even though its one of the most powerful, most researched and most medically proven natural cures ever discovered...

It's the most astounding proven natural cure that medical science has ever discovered-and yet none of the incredible research findings on this incomparable natural medicine have ever been revealed to the public! Now, for the first time ever, learn to use this simple method and read about the startling and amazing medical cures that prestigious researchers and doctors themselves have witnessed in clinical use of this inexpensive, incredibly effective yet virtually unknown natural medicine...

Urine Therapy: it may save your life

Urine therapy has been practised for thousands of years and has merely fallen a bit into obscurity in the last century. However, urine therapy may seem to be unorthodox and perhaps revolutionary, it does not introduce anything new or original. It has been known throughout the centuries both in the West and in the East. Dr. Evagelos Danopouolos of Greece reported that urea found in urine has anti-cancerous properties...

Don't take this therapy lightly. Multiple sclerosis, colitis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, hepatitis, hyperactivity, pancreatic insufficiency, psoriasis, eczema, diabetes, herpes, mononucleosis, adrenal failure, allergies and so many other ailments have been relieved through use of this therapy...

Source: http://www.shirleys-wellness-cafe.com/urine.htm

[Can't believe enough? Turbo-charge your urine with homeopathy]

A: Read into it before, Japan and Chinese has been using Urine Therapy for years, however, the urine of children, preferably female members below the age of 12 is usually recommended.
Researches believed that hormones and minerals found in urine might the reason why Urine Therapy worked for certain group of people.
And therefore, the urine of healthy individuals should be good at replacing sick individuals who's illness are cause by a deficiency in these hormones and minerals.
Personally, I am not trying it, but I must say the explanation makes sense.

As of this post, the thread extends for another 9 pages, and gets more and more stuck in the mire, like a claim that modern medicine is a failure because it cannot cure the common cold.
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