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.
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
- 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.