Medical Skepticism

UnOrthodox Skepticism

I thought I’d share an interesting web site I just found called “What’s the Harm?” which has a subtitle saying, “368,379 people killed, 306,096 injured and over $2,815,931,000 in economic damages”.  The site has fantastic examples of the damage of many Unorthodox medical practices and superstitious beliefs and concrete examples of the harm they have caused.  Please give it a look.

Orthodox Skepticism

When I was reading the site, these facts also floated to the top of my head and I am sure they are in the heads of many of those who embrace Unorthodox medicines:

  • 1999 report: “To Err Is Human” by the Institute of Medicine found that preventable medical errors caused 44,000 to 98,000 preventable deaths each year, with an associated cost of $17 to $29 billion dollar.
  • Drugs, with all their concomitant side-effects, are thown at disease when exercise and proper eating could alleviate a huge percent of ailments.
Orthodox medicine relieves much suffering and much of Unorthodox medicine causes no harm.  Further than that, in this post, I won’t try to discuss, weigh or resolve these facts. I think holding them simultaneously is important.  Instead, I will let commentors tell us how they think of these issues.


Filed under Medicine

3 responses to “Medical Skepticism

  1. I, too, am skeptical of orthodox medicine, yet I tend to focus my attention on medicine of the “alternative sort.”
    Why be skeptical of the orthodox medicine? It is not nearly as effective as it is advertised to be. While the potential for good gets exaggerated, the bad is swept under the rug.
    Why be skeptical of unorthodox medicine? Because, as I see it, it is more like “proto-medicine.” Even para-medicine. Some it may work, but we don’t know because it has yet to be found to work according to methods that control for placebo-like effects and confirmation-bias-prone ‘clinical observations.’
    Couple that with the general likelihood for unorthodox medicines to be non-refined, non-concentrated and non-standardized. It is thus both less likely to cause side-effects and less likely to have side-effects officially recorded, documented and placed in public records.
    Strictly scientific medicine comes off as coldly distant; it may even lack the ability to evoke warm-and-fuzzy feelings in patients. And feelings can aid in healing. It’s the nature of the two-sided beast, I guess.
    Very complex topic.

  2. unorthodox treatments aren’t able to be quantified for the harm they cause, because there is not as rigorous tracking of treatment and patients

    at best, they waste time and money – but they often delay orthodox treatments and can interfere with them

    we have to not let fear and wishful thinking cloud the thinking on health care and treatment

  3. @ Andrew
    Good points. Thanks.

    @ Random Ntrygg
    Working in orthodox medicine, I can tell you that the harm we caused is not monitored half as carefully as you may wish to imagine.
    Unorthdox medicines often do help “at their best”. Delaying orthodox treatment can actually, much of the time, be a good thing. We often treat with drugs what is best treated with tincture of time or placebo. Drugs have side effects.

    I agree with your last sentence.

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