Medical Therapy Effectiveness

The chart below is not based on research — but instead, is my intuitive, personal estimates for dialogue purposes.  Nonetheless, I feel that exposing my basic intuitions graphically can makes dialogue easier.  Below the chart I will give a brief explanations for each of my evaluations.

Preliminary Notes:

Placebo Benefit:  Even if a treatment is ineffective, placebo is the know positive effect due to expectation of both the patient and the practitioner.  I have chosen 30% as the basic baseline of this effect placebo — a common choice.  But placebo effect is complex and it is not my purpose to discuss it here — thus, this too could be a large mistake on this chart.

Ignored Harm:  Sham and unnecessary treatment result in harms which I do not  count the following into the “harm” category above.  They are important to consider, of course, but for simplicity, I have left them out of my intuitive calculus.

a) financial harm
b) false-hope harm
c) postponing or avoiding correct treatment with a false treatment

Treatment Summaries:

  • Homeopathy:  It offers hours of personal psychological insights that may give it that potential of 5% over placebo baseline of 30%.  But most homeopathy (OTC) has no psychological treatment.
  • Acupuncture:   I am not sure where research is at present, but it may help for a few conditions.
  • Manipulation Therapy:  helps relieve pain for several conditions.
  • Energy Healers:  Ineffective – only placebo effect
  • Herbal Therapy:   Herbs are drugs, some benefit and some harm.  Most are taken in too little quantity  and for wrong purpose to keep actually.  Some are given badly and cause harm.
  • Faith Healing:    Ineffective — only placebo effect
  • Primary Care Medicine:   Harm is cause by wrong prescriptions, inappropriate prescribing, side effects of meds, and the cure being worse than the treatment — to name a few.
  • General Surgery:  Harm is done when surgery done unnecessarily, anesthesia deaths, inapproriate surgeries, surgical mistakes.


Here are the important points I am trying to illustrate by this graph are:

  • Alternative folks tend to look at harm
  • Orthodox folks so distain alternative medicine, they don’t want anyone to even mention benefit — even if placebo.
  • Orthodox folks lump all alternative medicines into the same category. (this is an orthodoxy hallmark)
  • There is often a trade of risk of harm for benefit (we all choose differently)

If you’ll notice, my points in this post parallel points concerning conversation between religious folks and non-religious folks as seen in my previous post on the harm & benefit of religions.  The deadlock dialogue between camps is similar too.

Question to readers:  Tell me your own intuition of the numbers or what sort of graph you’d draw.  Give me your arguments.  I am ready to change.

Other related posts:


Filed under Medicine

31 responses to “Medical Therapy Effectiveness

  1. For the Supplements, Complementary, and Alternative Meds, you’re forgetting the negative of it causing people to put off or even avoid actual treatments with proven efficacy.

  2. I’m disappointed you would understand that the effectiveness of alternative and complimentary treatments is indistinguishable from zero and that any ‘benefit’ is derived not from the ‘therapies’ but the self through the placebo effect. Yet your chart inaccurately and intentionally attributes this self created placebo effect to each of the therapies! Not true, Sabio, not true and you know it.

    The harm element of modern medicine (why abuse the term ‘orthodox’ relating to beliefs and ideology and apply it incorrectly to modern evidence-based medicine when you know perfectly well that alternative and complimentary medicine fits the term seamlessly?) is most often directly related to efficacy. Surely it makes sense to you that ‘treatments’ that do nothing are very safe indeed! That is not a point of success but an admission of failure if your goal is to support the notion that CAM treatments are effective. Doesn’t it make sense that treatments that do have a greater ability to affect the body physiologically will also tend to have greater risk? Implementing treatments that really are efficacious must always take into account the costs and benefits and plausible outcomes. Do those who propose to do nothing efficacious but sell non efficacious ‘treatments’ also weigh the costs and benefits and plausible outcomes? Did you ever explain to your previous ‘patients’ that your dribble of water was non efficacious other than slightly hydrating the paying customer?

    The greatest harm related to the CAM sham is against causal honesty: CAM is not efficacious. That’s the unpleasant yet honest truth, which is why the goal posts for CAM treatments tend to be constantly shifted around to avoid dealing with the overwhelming lack of evidence that it is efficacious. Your chart needs a lot more zeros if it is to be an honest reflection of effectiveness.

  3. Earnest

    @ Sabio: great article, I would suggest a tiny amount of actual harm for homeopathy. These compounds are often suspended in strong liquor, which some parents give to their minor children even at fairly young ages. I think this may give a greater-than-zero risk of accelerated onset of alcoholism. The younger you are when you sample alcohol the more likely you are to eventually end up as an alcoholic. I suppose the same could be said for tobacco smoke in the setting of Native healing rituals.

    I would also expand the benefit of acupuncture a bit as there are at least scattered case reports of efficacy. A recent controlled multi-arm trial found acupucture lacking in effectiveness compared to NSAIDS, yet superior in safety:

    @ Jeff: In Sabio’s defense he did address his non-assessment of “ignored harm”. I think what Sabio is getting at is an analysis of the highly informed consumer, who, having exhausted all conventional options, is left with nothing but CAM to explore for relief or at least a kind ear to dissipate some of the frustration built up by failures in conventional treatments.

    @tildeb: points taken, but I think you are missing some fascinating science about the validity of getting people better with the placebo effect. It is real, and just recently we have some good science to suggest that real people get measurable health benefit in reduction of annoying symptoms with application of placebo, even when the patient knows they are giving themselves a placebo. Here is a link to the original article:

    If this (small) study is right, then than some people can make their bowels better even if they take something they know the whole time is thought to be ineffective by many scientists.

  4. It would help the graph to draw a vertical line at 30%. And perhaps to color the placebo component of effectiveness differently from non-placebo effectiveness.

    If you grant an extra 5% of effectiveness to homeopathy for amateur psychological counseling, the same probably also needs to go to energetic and faith healing, which may also include that. But, talk therapy also needs to be measured against placebo, and with the exception of cognitive-behavioral, it usually comes out showing no effectiveness.

    Also, homeopathic “remedies” are sold over-the-counter, and I’m sure there are tens of millions of users who self-prescribe them and never talk to a homeopathist.

    I think a lot of the support for alternative medicine comes from eternalism. Mainstream medicine sucks (let’s admit that). So what’s the alternative? Alternative medicine, obviously. The fault is in assuming that something must be the Right Answer, because otherwise the universe would suck, and God certainly wouldn’t have created a sucky universe. The possibility that nothing works for a particular complaint, or that nothing that we know of works is morally unacceptable. And then you reason “from ought to is”, and hey presto! alternative medicine must work. A priori.

    If you throw in monism (“everything is connected to everything else”), which is a big part of contemporary eternalism, you get an pseudo-explanatory framework for how alternative medicine works. So the thing is all nice and “spiritual”. I think part of the appeal of alternative medicine is completely orthogonal to whether it works. It’s religiously the Right Thing, and being a part of it makes you a Good Person.

    The placebo effect is mysterious, and there’s some interesting recent research on it. Here’s one URL: (not a peer-reviewed publication, and problematic, but interesting)

    I’ve seen some recent research on acupuncture that makes it pretty clear that it does *something*, although not for the reasons acupuncturists think, and probably not what they think. It looked reasonably solid, but I don’t have a handy reference.

  5. @ Earnest: Yes, I read this study previously. Fascinating, eh? But remember, it’s self-reporting so any improvements may be thought to be true (believed) by the patient/client but nevertheless false in fact. BTW, I never meant to suggest that the placebo effect wasn’t real. It is quite well known and has been for some time. My problem with Sabio’s chart is for him to attribute the placebo effect to a particular treatment when that link is demonstrably not true. Please note: we’re talking about a placebo effect rather than a specific thing/action/therapy called a placebo. Many people confuse the two and assume a sugar pill is a thing called a placebo only to mistakenly attribute the effect to the pill rather than the self. It’s an important difference that clearly shows that such an effect is NOT linked to anything other than the patient’s mind.

    @ David Chapman: you write But, talk therapy also needs to be measured against placebo, and with the exception of cognitive-behavioral, it usually comes out showing no effectiveness. It is my understanding that although talk therapy has low efficacy for specific therapeutic effects, it stands as the most effective long-lasting efficacious therapy treatment. (As a side note, I’m having an ongoing discussion with therapists who assume biochemistry produces behavioural issues in need of and susceptible to biochemical remedy versus my opinion that biochemical production in the brain is caused by how we think. But hey, what’s NOT fascinating about the brain?)

  6. Earnest

    @ tildeb: I concede that causality regarding symptom iimprovement can be tricky. And in the biochemical agonist-receptor drug development model the placebo pill to treat Irritable Bowel Sydrome really doesn’t fit very well.

    However, if there is subjective improvement in the client, the exact cause of such improvement is less important to me as a health care provider than the precise method in which that subjective improvement was obtained. Can we see any improvement on colonoscopy in the treatment of IBS with placebo? No, because by definition IBS patients have normal colonoscopies to begin with. I predict there will be no objective data to obtain at a tissue level, and looking for it (IMO) is an excercise in futility.

    People who believe they are healthier after a treatment feel better. And regarding your conversation with the therapists, the evolving science suggests that both you and they are right. Neurochemistry can alter behavior, and behavior can alter neurochemistry.

    My point is the behavior modification induced by the consumption of the known placebo can itself be effective in modifying some sort of neurohormonal balance. The patient senses improvement, and it matters very little to me clinically if this is a central or peripheral effect.

    For that matter, there are antidepressants that I give to people to make them happy that they have pain. Are they lying to themselves by ignoring the gravity of the ongoing existance of the pain? Perhaps, as I have begun to suspect that such patients would also be happy that they were experiencing the pain of a heart attack. I have started to explicitly warn such patients of my suspicions that this might happen to them.

    The net result, however, is improved function and decreased disability induced by a deliberate creation of a therapeutic reality discordance. The patient and I are both satisfied by the result. I leave it to others to comment on how this might be improper therapeutic behavior on my part.

  7. Thanks for the feedback folks. I used it to hopefully improve the

    @ Jeff,
    Thanx for stopping in. The posts explains your objection.
    Putting-off-treatment harm is common to all practices. Even orthodox medical practitioners hold on to patients too long and harm them rather than referring them to a more appropriate therapy. Thus I excluded this “harm” from all.

    @ tildeb,

    You are correct that:

    (a) my previous chart may have given the impression to the casual reader that all the benefit was to the actual tx. Though my post stated that was not the case, I took David’s astute suggestion and changed some colors to make your point stand out — though the graph is essentially the same, hopefully it captures this point of yours.

    You are incorrect that:

    (a) all alt. tx have zero benefit. See (b)

    (b) all complimentary or alternative treatments can be lumped together. Indeed many of yesterday alternatives are today’s orthodoxy.

    (c) some treatment that do nothing for a condition actually harm. So, no, just because a treatment is totally ineffective, does not mean it does no harm.

    Sorry all this bothered you so much. I look forward to the upcoming posts on alternative medicines.

    @ Earnest,
    The homeopathy I know does not come with alcohol. But I will take your word that they exist. We have made gradual improvement is Orthodox medicine by improving their fillers, colorings, and other agents too.

    @ David Chapman,
    (a) Excellent points — I touched up the chart and the post using your suggestions. Hope it is some improvement.

    (b) Even “professional” psychological counseling leaves much to be desired, but I have seen some good counseling by the type of homeopaths I was trained. But, you are right, I may be overestimating — but I will let it stand. Perhaps the faith healing and energetics deserve a tad of benefit from that too. Or maybe none of them should get green benefit.

    (c) Agree, OTC homeopathics have no psychological help.

    (d) I like your eternalism analysis — It OUGHT to be fixable. But I would argue against that argument. I have seen desperate seeking cure all over the world (as I am sure you have too). I don’t think it is because people think something SHOULD be fixable, but because they desperately care to escape. I could be wrong.

    (e) You and Earnest have read some stuff on the effectiveness of acupuncture — I have not followed research. I will look into it sometime. but meanwhile you point at something I have said for ages:
    “Just because someone’s explanation is wrong, does not mean the thing does not work.” This holds for acupuncture, chiropractic tx, herbal therapy and even much of Orthodox medicine.

  8. Boz

    in response to some of the comments, here is an example of homeopathic harm – nightshade poisoning.

  9. You see, Boz, the issue here is not if there is harm. You, tildeb and Jeff can all relax. Of course there is harm. Heck I could start posting of damage done by drugs and surgeries too.

    I get that you guys have your favorite drum to beat. I am against homeopathy too.
    That is not the point of this post.

    BTW, we have call back of poorly made Modern meds too. Just because it was made wrong, don’t make the medicine bad. [Even though, yes, yes, we all agree Homeopathy is an ineffective waste. We get that. Next.) I am working on the logic.

  10. Boz

    fair enough, I see what you are saying.

  11. No doubt this is just a quibble but how does assigning the ‘nocebo effect’ to CAM believers alter the chart for imagined harm from what you continue to call ‘orthodox’ rather than ‘evidence-based’ medicine? After all, if one is going to account for placebo benefit should one factor in the nocebo harm for ‘orthodox’ treatments?

    I point this out not beat a favourite drum against anything in particular but because we really must do a better job respecting what is true. Healthy and informed scepticism is in dramatically short supply in the world of CAM believers yet public (and insurance) funding of these so-called treatments continues to be a political issue with very real negative effects on efficacious medicine. It is my concern that a disservice is done to respecting what is true when one pretends any of these therapies offer efficacy other than placebo. And that’s the truth unless and until causal effects by means of mechanism can be established… in which case it becomes… you guessed it… medicine.

    What is unstated in your post is that by offering unearned and unjustified respect of efficacy to these alternative methods when they have failed in fact to show any efficacy (other than by placebo effect) detracts from understanding why they are not worthy of comparison to honest medicine that has. It is upon this fulcrum of efficacy that faith-based beliefs become the foundation for CAM support and because of this reliance on a necessity for belief puts all of CAM at the opposite end of the knowledge spectrum in regards to medicine because it has lost its connection to efficacy. Your title ‘Medical Effectiveness Therapy’ misleads people into associating such CAM practices such as homeopathy, acupuncture, faith healing, and so on to be associated with some albeit minor efficacy when in fact they are not. I am glad you have placed equal effect for placebo across the spectrum, but would it actually be more reflective to drop it entirely from the graph so that it becomes obvious that CAM therapies alone offer no efficacious treatment?

    The drum I am beating is the same one for my criticism for any and all faith-based claims to knowledge. These ‘therapies’ and those who swear by them are actually diametrically opposed to lending respect to what efficacy in medicine actually means and supporters and practitioners who try to fly under and go around the very wire – causal efficacy – that defines medicine have a tendency to pretend that the rigors of scientific causal efficacy is peppered with corruption and should not be fully trusted… as if this kind of scepticism aimed at what respects causal efficacy is somehow wise or clever but maintaining faith in that which does not respect causal efficacy is worthy of at least as much merit.

    It isn’t.

    Knowledge – in this case medical knowledge about efficacy – does not come from faith.

  12. Hey tildeb,
    To facilitate our conversation, please tell me if I understand you. Are these your main points?

    (a) I want you to call it “evidence-based” medicine, not “orthodox medicine”

    (b) You should add nocebo to your chart

    (c) CAM are based on faith and thus totally invalid.

    (d) CAM have no efficiency based on their actual treatment so you should not imply otherwise.

    (e) CAM pretends to be scientific

    (f) I need you to write it like I would because a correct presentation is important because otherwise you may unwittingly support the stupidity of alternative medicine which is horribly dangerous. So don’t be sloppy. Listen to me.

  13. I thought I phrased it a little nicer with an explanation than point (f) but yes, you get the gist. It’s not because I think this or that but because there is a tendency to give CAM legitimacy for efficacy that is not substantiated by causal evidence. Your chart suggests otherwise even though your explanation admits ineffectiveness for some. On a graphic level this is misleading. And the reason why I point this out is because this is a very important issue if we are going to compare like with like and kudos to you posing about it. My intention is not to ‘attack’ or insist that you must write about it my way but to challenge the very notion that CAM as a set of treatments offers any evidence-based benefit other than placebo.

    In addition, the harm comparison is also very important to understand yet appears to me to be a bit misleading because any treatment that causes physiological effect will always be accompanied by potential harm. That’s the nature of the beast. This makes understanding the comparison (again, if we are to compare like with like) between the potential harm and potential benefits of treatments crucial for informed patient care regarding efficacy of treatment options between medicine and CAM therapies. I don’t think CAM supporters understand this very well, nor do I think CAM practitioners honestly tell their patients that the reduction of harm CAM can offer is based on ineffectiveness of treatment, nor appreciate that undermining trust in medicine (the nocebo effect) because of its association to compare therapies on the basis of treatment harm has a net cost for overall patient care. This is the danger that we continue to see grow aided and abetted by a publicity campaign by CAM practitioners to distrust real efficacious (yet potentially harmful) evidence-based medicine and distrust any critical commentary about it. This issue of respecting CAM therapies as if they were equivalent kind of medicine (and the real harm such belief causes) is too important to leave unexpressed out of concern for commentary tone.

  14. @ tildeb
    Well then I think you can see I understand you. In fact, your objections have helped me think of a few other posts. Also, they have helped me think of a graphic way to express both your and my points simultaneously and in contrast. Stay tuned.

    As I look through this comment, I see nothing you didn’t say before. Correct me (with a short, concise bullet) if I did.

    Concerning tone — tone is very important. It all depends on the effect you want. I am not against harsh tones in principle, but I think people often over-estimate their effectiveness.

  15. Earnest

    @ tildeb:
    I think all on this page agree that the science supporting conventional medicine is more robust than the flimsy “studies” often tossed around by CAM proponents to improve the public’s opinion of CAM. My own mother is a devout CAM believer and she drives me nuts any time we talk about it.

    I think there is also general agreement that a cure of a disease is really not all that likely in the presence of CAM, but can occur pretty reliably in a finite list of situations with conventional medicine.

    To move the discussion forward, I propose that the placebo effect can be a good thing if it makes a patient feel better, even if a cure is not obtained. It is possible, tildep, that you would disagree with that. However, if the natural course of the illness is extremely similar to the outcome that would be predicted to be provided by conventional medicine, I think the placebo effect is something to be promoted in the interest of patient comfort.

    If the above is true, then I propose that “placebo effect enhancement” may be a valid goal in many health care settings. I think placebo effect enhancement may be a new frontier of medical investigation, prompted by the IBS study I mentioned previously.

    I concede it is a delicate balance between enhancing the placebo effect and selling false hope, which is something to avoid.

    @ Dave Chapman:
    I agree that eternalism is a motivator driving clients into CAM.

  16. Just come back from holiday so I’m a bit late to the party. While I don’t disagree with the specific values much, I think the overall chart creates a misleading effect, namely making the CAM treatments look more effective than they are (or “closer” in comparison to “orthodox” medicine). For instance, the relatively high success rate of manipulation represents a small number of symptoms and conditions, whereas the modest green bar next to primary care represents pretty much the sum total of what everyone goes to a GP for. As for calibration, I’d make the green for primary care higher, but maybe lower for surgery. Finally, AFAIK, there is no consensus of quality studies that show an acupuncture effect beyond placebo.

  17. @ Michael
    Better late than never. Yes, you tildeb and others objected to the graphs — not so much, it seems, on quantitative grounds, but on what you felt the graphs implied.

    These criticisms have helped me consider another post which I have not put up yet which basically will say: “they perceive it like this, and we perceive it like this.” It will show how we represent and emphasize things in our minds.

    So I thank you guys for the comment.
    I thought my graphs a caveates told all that, but they don’t.

    Question, you said:

    Finally, AFAIK, there is no consensus of quality studies that show an acupuncture effect beyond placebo.

    Is that empirical, qualitative statement based on a large database? Have you searched PubMed or some good recent MetaAnalysis or is this from your impressions from listening to Fox News? Smile — I am being playful, but unless you are a researcher, this statement shows how people form opinions on things — which is part of my whole story about alternative med which I hope I touch eventually.

    Oh yes, I hope to put up a brief post about Fox News too.

  18. The statement is, like most things I believe, formed from various secondary sources. Obviously Fox News doesn’t qualify as a source at all in my book! Anyway, I doubt I’m qualified to do the PubMed search myself since it would involve evaluating the actual quality of specific studies (although I’m sure if I invested the time it would still give me a closer feel for it). Looking forward to more of your series.

  19. Right, thank you Michael.
    And most likely you read secondary sources with huge confirmation bias.
    And those secondary sources report with huge bias– ignoring inconvenient information.
    And even your secondary sources are very limited.
    Yet, you made a large, apparently empirical claim.
    This is what religious folks do. This is what we ALL do.
    Now, that does not mean we should give up searching for better models of reality (“truth”), but it points at the challenges before us in such conversation.

    I am looking forward to you pointing out my slips, exaggerations and false impressions in coming posts. Thanx

  20. @ Sabio

    This not what religious people do. They substitute faith-based beliefs for evidence. At least Michael seems to me to have used something other than “huge” assertions empty of knowledge.

  21. @ tildeb
    I am not attacking Michael. Yet I still think we do exactly the same types of jump of logic as religious folks when they make decisions we may look-down on. But it will take me time to show that. Or I may fail. But thank you for challenging. It makes the stakes more clear.

  22. I think this meta-level thing is heading off track since the vast majority of what anyone knows is from secondary sources and 100% of people are susceptible to confirmation bias so speaking about whether secondary sources are biased is a blanket statement that has nothing specifically to do with the case at hand. It’s probably best to wait for the actual upcoming discussion on the specifics of acupuncture as it may get even more meta at this stage.

    Sabio — one thing that comes to mind is that much of your blog is devoted to showing that non-religious people are often susceptible to similar kinds of errors that religious people make in their thinking, eg. biases, fallacies, tribalism and so on. But the way you write it, it’s almost like you think it’s a hotly contested point, and yet I don’t think I’ve heard the contrary opinion anywhere. Even if someone says something like “atheists are much smarter than religious people”, this does not preclude the types of “jumps of logic” you talk about — and I imagine even that person would agree with you.

  23. Hey Michael,

    (1) Concerning your first paragraph: What I am talking about is what kind of decisions do we make BEFORE we do any deep analysis. Most of us make almost all our decisions at that level.

    (2) Concerning your second paragraph: Very good point, Michael. I think the reason most don’t contend my point of shared biases is either:
    (a) those who would contend, aren’t reading
    (b) some folks may think, “sure, but that is not me”
    (c) some may think “I may do it, but I know when I do it” (yet they miss the obvious)

    Perhaps all my posts are written for me — to remind myself. But I think such reminders are therapeutic– again, even if just for me.

    But even if you look above, I think tildeb’s indignation has that flavor — but perhaps I am wrong. I think it is hard to understand how deep reaching our ignorance is and how intimately similar we may be to those we detest.

    Do you think these posts are a waste of time and have better suggestions of how I should use my energy and effort?

  24. I don’t know if you’re being playful but I definitely meant the waste of time was in whether this comments discussion will end up saying anything about acupuncture when the talk has gotten to some very general concepts — not about the posts themselves!

    With respect to those who would contend your points, I didn’t just mean on this site, I meant I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone say something like “as atheists, ‘we’ don’t have biases or fallacies in our thinking”.

  25. @ Michael
    Ooops, I think I lost you.
    Not sure I follow.
    I was not being playful — but thanks for giving me that leeway.
    When I pursue my story about acupuncture you may be very disappointed at the my how deep I go into the studies. We’ll have to see. As I have said, I think there is much to be learned even before we get there. But forgive me, I am being a bit abstract.

    Concerning self-righteous atheists — I see them all the time. I am one of them.

  26. My indignation? No, but I smell accommodation coming down the pike.

    My point is that I am highly sceptical that your equating assumptions of what we think is true is similar in kind between religious faith-based beliefs and knowledge based opinions – no matter how much confirmation bias may be floating about. No ignorance can be mitigated by faith-based beliefs. At all. It’s the wrong method for gaining knowledge but it’s the right tool to stop it acquisition.

  27. @ tildeb,
    (1) Could you define “accommodation” to me? I have heard it used and seriously am not sure of its use. Does it have several uses? Perhaps I am going that way, but I won’t know till I get there and until I know what it is.

    (2) As for your second paragraph, I did not understand. Sorry. Perhaps it was too abstract for me. Perhaps if you hang in there with me you will see if I ripen into the “accomodationalist” you loathe, feel indignation for, or don’t respect.

  28. Sure, Sabio. It’s always good to define the terms.

    Accommodationists hold that even if science and faith-based beliefs are incompatible, it is politically expedient (and properly polite) to deny this incompatibility when defending science. Moreover, for reasons of political expediency, no one should bring up the incompatibility even while doing things other than defending science.

    I am an anti-accommodationist, meaning that I hold, for various reasons, that when defending science, I should never assert that science is in any way compatible with faith-based beliefs; instead, I should defend science.

    As for my second paragraph, I explained why my point was not born from indignation but from proper scepticism.

  29. I don’t believe in denying incompatibility when it exists.
    I thoroughly support the scientific method.
    I think much of what people believe because it is “based on science”, believe it for the wrong reasons.
    I believe that much of what we believe is not base on any significant scientific evidence, nor should it be.
    I hope that clarifies my opinion and helps you in labeling me an accomodationalist or not.

  30. @ Sabio

    And that’s why I distrust the liberal use of the word ‘believe’ when it comes to comparing how we come to know something and why. Because it has two very distinct meanings depending on its religious and non religious use, its inclusion in this kind of discussion tends to muddy the waters unnecessarily. In addition the word is often abused to allow wiggle room for the incompatible to seem to be comparable.

    For all your criticism of my wordiness and lack of clarity, consider your first point. Why not write “I accept incompatibility if I have good reasons to think it exists,” rather than, “I don’t believe in deny incompatibility when it exists.” You then go on to use the word repeatedly in its different meanings.

    My point is that if we use the right words, we won’t confuse faith-based beliefs – where faith in the absence of corroborating evidence is seen to be a virtue (or at least acceptable) – with knowledge informed reasons where faith in the absence of corroborating evidence is seen to be a flaw in good reasoning.

    As to whether or not you are an accommodationist in regards to any of the CAM ‘disciplines’ remains an open question.

  31. @ tildeb
    We’ll have to see if I violate the rules you value in coming posts. The discussion seems to hinge on epistemology (how we know things). I will try to be honest about how I knew things. It is tough doing it in retrospect because memory is very untrustworthy.

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