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Growth of Pseudoscience Harming Australian Universities

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the my-horoscope-said-the-same-thing dept.

Australia 566

wired_parrot writes "The international credibility of Australia's universities is being undermined by the increase in the 'pseudoscientific' health courses they offer, two academics write in a recent article decrying that a third of Australian universities now offer courses in such subjects as homeopathy and traditional Chinese medicine, which undermines science-based medicine. 'As the number of alternative practitioners graduating from tertiary education institutions increases, further health-care resources are wasted, while the potential for harm increases.'"

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Homeopathic (5, Funny)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251243)

I think people that use homeopathic medicine should be allowed to marry.

Re:Homeopathic (1)

pe1rxq (141710) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251315)

I wish they would stop breading......
They seem to pop up everywhere....

Re:Homeopathic (5, Funny)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251553)

I wish they would stop breading......

...so what if they used a Panko crust instead? Would you be okay with that, or are you one of those traditional grill-only types?

Re:Homeopathic (5, Funny)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251377)

I think people that use homeopathic medicine should be allowed to marry.

Maybe just if they promise to use homeopathic fertility enhancements [xkcd.com] only. The average intelligence of the human race would not be diminished thereby.

Re:Homeopathic (2, Funny)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251529)

Oh you beat me by seconds you bastard! But you included an xkcd so I concede victory to you.

Re:Homeopathic (2, Funny)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251381)

Also they should be allowed to offer and receive fertility treatments where they dilute the hell out of the man's sperm for maximum pregnancy potential. This is a great idea.

Re:Homeopathic (1, Funny)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251473)

And if the postman knocks her up, the baby only gets hyperdiluted powdered formula. After all, the lower the concentration, the more effective it is!

Re:Homeopathic (5, Funny)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251705)

I think people that use homeopathic medicine should be allowed to marry.

But only in extreme dilution like say 10e-30th of couples per country. After all, from an evolutionary standpoint, assuming they'd pass that "belief" along to their kids, that makes for a stronger ... solution... (oh I love /. puns)

Re:Homeopathic (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39251733)

No way. A marriage is between one vaccine refuser and one chiropractic patient.

Homie Opethie (1, Interesting)

negRo_slim (636783) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251247)

How does something like homeopathy even find it's way into a traditional school?

Re:Homie Opethie (5, Funny)

idontgno (624372) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251303)

It doesn't take much. Just a tiny, tiny, tiny bit. Diluted well. It's more effective that way.

I'm a world-leading expert on homeopathy (4, Funny)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251357)

Well, I skimmed the first chapter of a book on it, anyway. Less is more, right?

Re:I'm a world-leading expert on homeopathy (4, Funny)

serviscope_minor (664417) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251493)

I'm a world-leading expert on homeopathy

Me too! It doesn't work. The end.

Re:Homie Opethie (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251633)

Then you're supposed to shake it. Or something.

Re:Homie Opethie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39251307)

$$$

Re:Homie Opethie (0)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251631)

$$$

Fight it. Fight money with money.

Hire some slock lawyers to sit around and wait for the calls after you run some adverts:

"Have you been injured, maimed, cheated, lied to or nearly killed by a false healer? Call Dewey, Skrewum & Howe, we specialise in dismantling fake healthcare!"

Enough of them feel the pinch and maybe there will be fewer willing to go into the field.

Re:Homie Opethie (2)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251313)

I have this bookmark that I keep in my browser just for circumstances like this. This is it [youtube.com] . The disappointing thing is, I don't even listen to Pink Floyd.

Re:Homie Opethie (1)

Qubit (100461) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251413)

This is it [youtube.com] . The disappointing thing is, I don't even listen to Pink Floyd.

No, This is it [youtube.com] . And why do you mention Pink Floyd? Did they do a cover or something?

Re:Homie Opethie (1)

alphatel (1450715) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251565)

And why do you mention Pink Floyd? Did they do a cover or something?

Pink Floyd does covers?

Re:Homie Opethie (1)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251417)

Update that link, it doesn't work anymore. Blocked by the MAFIAA.

Re:Homie Opethie (2)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251425)

I have this bookmark that I keep in my browser just for circumstances like this. This is it [youtube.com] . The disappointing thing is, I don't even listen to Pink Floyd.

Youtube says "This video contains content from EMI, who has blocked it in your country on copyright grounds." Sod them.

Re:Homie Opethie (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251589)

Still got it in Canada. I'll find another one for future reference, though. :)

Re:Homie Opethie (5, Interesting)

forkfail (228161) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251389)

Just part of our decent into a post-industrial dark age, where technology is magic to most folks.

And since it's magic, why shouldn't other forms of magic work?

Re:Homie Opethie (2)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251537)

Just part of our decent into a post-industrial dark age, where technology is magic to most folks.

And since it's magic, why shouldn't other forms of magic work?

Next thing you know, we'll be engraving our coinage with trust in religious beings. Maybe that'll fix the economy?

The problem is we're trying homeopathetic treatment on the inflation adjusted median midle class family income. After all, the lower the income, the more effective each dollar is, right?

Re:Homie Opethie (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251585)

Just part of our decent into a post-industrial dark age, where technology is magic to most folks.

So long as it's like Zardoz, I can live with that.

Re:Homie Opethie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39251409)

It's not like the teaching materials cost a lot.

Re:Homie Opethie (4, Insightful)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251465)

The same way a course in "Star Trek" makes its way into Georgetown University. Or "Art History" or "Golf Management" or dozens of other courses at dozens of other universities. Because higher education stopped being about actual education and more about a) making money and b) making the students feel good about themselves.

Probably started around the time Philosophy classes stopped reading and teaching Neitzsche, Bacon, Aristotle, and Kant, and started being about... well, slacking off, wondering randomly about whatever, and getting high. Biggest contributing factor, IMO, was when people started to feel they need college degrees, but weren't smart enough or dedicated enough to actually study seriously. So, colleges started making up stupid courses people could take, without requiring them to actually do any work. This allows everyone to get a degree, but makes half of them worthless. But hey, now most people at least have a college degree, right?

Re:Homie Opethie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39251595)

You'd have a point if a "traditional education" didn't include bullshit like Ancient Greek. There is more diversity in the filler, but that's about it.

Re:Homie Opethie (5, Interesting)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251599)

Hell, I'd be happy if they just re-introduced Rhetoric and Logic as required courses. That alone would knock out at least half of the garbage we have to put up with in both media and society...

Re:Homie Opethie (4, Informative)

jackbird (721605) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251635)

Whoa, whoa wait a second. Art history is a non-serious field, on par with a course on Star Trek? Having you been smoking the straw man teaching your philosophy class?

Re:Homie Opethie (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39251467)

How does something like homeopathy even find it's way into a traditional school?

The same way Bull Shit like women's studies becomes a College major.

Re:Homie Opethie (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251531)

In the last 10-20 years, a lot of universities have been offering pop courses at the lower levels in an attempt to generate more undergraduate interest. My old university started offering courses with titles like "A History of Comic Books," "Gender Roles in Reality Television," and "The Science of Science Fiction," with some controversy surrounding the idea, obviously. Generally, they were restricted to the 100 and 200 level (though, as I've been out of the academic game for some time now, this may have changed). It was just an obvious attempt to increase enrollment and keep bored students from dropping out, though I never saw much evidence that it was particularly effective in either regard.

what what! (1)

zlives (2009072) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251255)

what no witch craft...

Confucious say... (0)

Zondar (32904) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251257)

Oh nevermind.

Fundamentalists (-1, Troll)

Aguazul (620868) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251287)

Fundamentalists exist in science as well. Alternative therapy is outside the domain of science because science insists on being able to measure stuff with a physical instrument (human perception not being good enough). So science has immediately disqualified itself from judging alternative medicine, yet still the science fundamentalists continue pushing their doctrine outside of its bounds.

Re:Fundamentalists (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39251327)

ROFL. Yes, it's dreadfully inconvenient that scientists insist that something actually work.

Re:Fundamentalists (-1, Troll)

Aguazul (620868) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251469)

ROFL. Yes, it's dreadfully inconvenient that scientists insist that something actually work.

There are lots of things that work without the benefit of science, lots of things that science is not yet able to measure, and lots of things that science does not yet understand. That includes many things that we take advantage of daily -- even before we start on the stuff which is ridiculed by people like you. Do you really believe that Science explains everything? No? Then why can't you accept that some real things may exist outside of the bounds of current scientific dogma. Are scientists representatives of God? Do they really know EVERYTHING? I told you -- fundamentalists scientists -- not much different to any other fundamentalist.

Re:Fundamentalists (-1, Offtopic)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251525)

Troll rating 1/10.

Re:Fundamentalists (1)

19thNervousBreakdown (768619) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251653)

There are lots of things that work without the benefit of science, lots of things that science is not yet able to measure, and lots of things that science does not yet understand. That includes many things that we take advantage of daily -- even before we start on the stuff which is ridiculed by people like you.

Name one thing.

Re:Fundamentalists (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39251749)

i dont know about not working w/ science but scientology works good and goes past science . science cant explain the power of scientology but science tries to bring it down like the evil psychologiests that try to destroy us when ppl can be free and happy. this is more than science but u still insist on profe

Re:Fundamentalists (5, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251675)

That includes many things that we take advantage of daily -- even before we start on the stuff which is ridiculed by people like you

[citation needed]

Are scientists representatives of God?

No, scientists are just people who back up their claims with evidence, collected and analyzed according to careful procedures. Representatives of deities are the people who demand that we believe their claims regardless of the available evidence, because we are supposed to place value on "faith."

Do they really know EVERYTHING?

Did someone claim that scientists know everything? Scientists conclude their publications with lists of unanswered questions, which is what motivates scientific investigations in the first place. Scientists are not claiming that treatments which have not been investigated do not work -- they are claiming that there is no way to know, until those treatments are investigated.

I think a better question is this: do you think that you know everything? If you do not demand evidence, then how do you determine what is or is not true (or which treatments are or are not effective)?

Re:Fundamentalists (1)

Savantissimo (893682) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251743)

I'd mod you up but I already commented. It's sad how so many otherwise interesting sites are infested with these self-appointed guardians of scientism such as the A.C. you replied to and the troll authority who "answered" you ... they seem to crawl out from under their rocks whenever a story like this comes up.

Re:Fundamentalists (5, Insightful)

serviscope_minor (664417) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251745)

There are lots of things that work without the benefit of science,

Er, not sure what that means. Things work or not because of the underlying physics of the universe. Science does not make things work or not.

Science explains things. It gives understanding. That may help devise other things that work by using the modelling powers of science.

lots of things that science is not yet able to measure,

Is there something specifically you have in mind?

and lots of things that science does not yet understand. That includes many things that we take advantage of daily --

Sure. Heck, science doesn't even understand gravity really.

even before we start on the stuff which is ridiculed by people like you.

And here we go. There's your leap. What things are these things that are taken advantage of on a daily basis and are ridiculed by the likes of me?

Do you really believe that Science explains everything? No

No scientist would every claim that - we'd be out of a job for a start. You're setting up a straw man.

Then why can't you accept that some real things may exist outside of the bounds of current scientific dogma.

You're angling to leap from "not everything is explained by science" to "my whacky theories of the world are true".

Just because science is not complete doesn't mean (e.g.) homeopathy works.

fundamentalists... fundamentalists... fundamentalists...

Inigo Montoya would like a word with you.

Re:Fundamentalists (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251385)

Eh, not really. Scientists use human perception to form a question, then try to measure what causes it. Just because something isn't measurable now does not mean it can't be measured; if what you said was true, then fun stuff like black holes, dark matter and human intelligence would be considered myths because we haven't found a direct way to measure them yet.

Re:Fundamentalists (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39251401)

Fundamentalists exist in science as well. Alternative therapy is outside the domain of science because science insists on being able to measure stuff with a physical instrument (human perception not being good enough). So science has immediately disqualified itself from judging alternative medicine, yet still the science fundamentalists continue pushing their doctrine outside of its bounds.

The reason human perception is not good enough is the placebo effect, which is quite strong (and coincidentally, measurable). Homeopathy does not exist outside the domain of scientific questions just because it doesn't work.

Re:Fundamentalists (3, Insightful)

IceCreamGuy (904648) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251423)

I think you're missing a piece - the measurement of the health of a human is well within the realm of human perception and instrumentation. The goals of standard medicine and alternative medicine are the same: improve the health of a human. If standard medicine works and alternative medicine doesn't, well, you should be able to figure the rest out from there.

Re:Fundamentalists (-1, Troll)

Aguazul (620868) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251655)

I think you're missing a piece - the measurement of the health of a human is well within the realm of human perception and instrumentation. The goals of standard medicine and alternative medicine are the same: improve the health of a human. If standard medicine works and alternative medicine doesn't, well, you should be able to figure the rest out from there.

Wow, so confident that alternative medicine doesn't work. So how do you explain all the intelligent people using it? I can only think that you have never tried it, or set it up for failure if you did try it. Then it is easy to doubt. Science is good at measuring things when they are really serious. Not so good at measuring things just starting. Human perception when trained gives very good information, but until a scientist can get in your head with you and see your perceptions, science will never move forward into this domain. I find this really frustrating because I am trained as a scientist and I use that model to understand what I perceive. So I use scientific principles in a domain that science rejects.

Re:Fundamentalists (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39251707)

You are very wrong, the goals of standard and alternative medicine are completely different.

Standard medicine is there to improve the health of man kind

Alternative medicine is there to improve the wealth of man;

Re:Fundamentalists (3, Insightful)

pe1rxq (141710) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251427)

Human perception has proven itself to be pretty much useless many times..... But I guess you missed that lesson as you seem to have a pretty screwed up notion off science.

If it works it will be measureable and you can call it 'medicine', if you can't measure even a single thing different when using the stuff it is not medicine.
You can try and label it 'alternative' but it won't change the facts: its junk.

Re:Fundamentalists (1)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251431)

>So science has immediately disqualified itself from judging alternative medicine

Er.. Science is quite capable of being used to judge the efficacy of alternative medicine. It happens all the time and typically the result is what one would expect.

Re:Fundamentalists (4, Informative)

serviscope_minor (664417) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251441)

Alternative therapy is outside the domain of science because science

Utter rubbish.

measure stuff with a physical instrument (human perception not being good enough).

Again, utter rubbish.

A trial (simplified): give people (a) a placebo and (b) homeopathic treatment. See which get better and which don't. Doesn't even require anything more than perception. Do I percieve this person as dead yes/no?

The results: homeopathy is no better than a placebo.

If it doesn't make you better, then by what reasoning or intuition is it doing any good at all?

So science has immediately disqualified itself from judging alternative medicine, yet still the science fundamentalists continue pushing their doctrine outside of its bounds.

More tosh. Simplifying, either medicine makes you better or it does not. Science can tell you if it does.

Please, in future learn *something* about science before dismissing it out of hand. And if you don't have the inclination to do that, then please carefully consider your comments about "fundemantalists".

Re:Fundamentalists (1)

chichilalescu (1647065) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251747)

the problem with your argument is the definition of "better".
if you're talking about something that can be objectively measured (i.e. "this patient has a temperature of N degrees, let's see if we can bring it down to N-1"), then it's all good. you test the sugar pill versus whatever treatment, and see which does better.

but if you're talking about reducing pain, then it gets complicated. objectively, you can see that a proposed treatment has the same result that a placebo does. does this mean that the treatment is worthless? well, if any fraction of people feel better after the "treatment", even though it's practically a placebo, then what is your argument against those people using the treatment?

don't worry, I know that the problem is with quacks lying about objectively measurable results.

but what do we do in the case of conditions where a "placebo" works very well for a significant fraction of people? shouldn't we fund some research into why the placebo works?

Re:Fundamentalists (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39251519)

Science is not opposed to homeopathy or alternative medicine per se. If the course of treatment cannot be measured by physical measurements, that is perfectly fine. However, if the treatment does not have an effect on outcome of the patient, it is rightly labeled as ineffective. For example, clinical trials of massage and acupuncture have proven the effectiveness of these treatments for specific conditions. http://apps.who.int/medicinedocs/en/d/Js4926e/ and http://nccam.nih.gov/health/massage However, homeopathy specifically the serial dilutions of compounds or extracts in water, has never been proven effective in any clinical trial and goes against basic precepts of chemistry and biology.

This is why we need to improve science education (5, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251561)

Nobody claimed that alternative therapies are beyond the reach of scientific inquiry; there have even been some studies on the effectiveness of Chinese herbal medicine (part of traditional Chinese medicine). The problem is that these alternative therapies are being practiced and taught without first being subjected to scientific evaluation -- it is anyone's guess as to whether or not these treatments are actually effective. Here is an example, from TFA, of the sort of claims that are being made:

some chiropractors now extended their manipulation of the spine to children, and claimed that this could cure asthma, allergies, bedwetting, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, colic, fever and numerous other problems, and could serve as a substitute for vaccination.

Evidence? Studies? Clinical trials? Nothing has been presented to support the claim that chiropractors can cure asthma or bedwetting, let alone the really bizarre claims (a substitute for vaccination?).

There is no conspiracy or closed-mindedness. When evidence that herbal medicines do work, scientists embrace them:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medical_marijuana [wikipedia.org]

You see that long and extensive list of studies? Did you notice that the scientific criticisms were almost entirely focused on smoking as a method of ingestion? Did you notice that the non-scientific criticisms were political, driven by America's far-right government agenda that has been pushed for decades now?

These scientists are objecting to the teaching of treatments that have no evidence to support their use, which have not been the subject of any studies, and for which no statement of efficacy can be made (how do we know these treatments do not cause more harm than good? how do we know that these treatments are not just a waste of time?).

Re:Fundamentalists (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251583)

science insists on being able to measure stuff with a physical instrument (human perception not being good enough).

On one hand, I want to make fun of the "soft sciences" like psych. On the other hand, I want to make fun of the alternative loons by pointing out ... practically all pre-1980-ish psych experiments (post 1980 psych students started hauling early home computers into the lab, probably because they were tired of writing down the data).

Re:Fundamentalists (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39251597)

Alternative therapy is actually well within the domain of science, and scientific tests have proven that it does not work, but good try.

Re:Fundamentalists (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39251609)

Wow. That's just... wow...

You're obviously not a scientist, so here's a crash course. First, human perception is exactly what's relied upon in the sciences of sociology and psychology. Much research of both sciences depend exclusively upon surveys. There are even scientific laws related exclusively to human perception (e.g. Weber's Law).

Second, let's talk about medicine specifically. Medical sciences, and treatment testing in particular, rely on what are called "double-blind studies". What you do is have the treatment (say, a drug, or a homeopathic nonsense remedy or whatever) and a placebo that appears to be that treatment (identical-looking sugar pill, for instance). Give 100 people the treatment, and 100 people the placebo. Neither the patients nor the experimenters know who is getting the treatment and who is getting the placebo. If the 100 people who are given the treatment don't do better (on average) than the 100 people on the placebo, then obviously the treatment doesn't work, does it? Obviously, it doesn't matter if you're taking diluted peppermint oil or just some funny smelling water.

Science can, and does, judge alternative medicine, and quite well. And alternative medicines never perform better than ESP.

(If you believe yourself, or someone you know, is psychic, you should enter one of those paranormal challenges that are willing to hand out millions of dollars for evidence of such things.)

As Horacio Caine would put it (5, Funny)

Daas (620469) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251309)

Seems that Australia is "diluting" its talent.

YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Re:As Horacio Caine would put it (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251403)

You win this thread.

But a plecebo is the most effective drug of all (4, Informative)

scorp1us (235526) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251323)

These "pseudo science" articles indicate that pseudo science works better than science seems to indicate.
Plecebo works better than the real thing [youtube.com] (warning :vulgar language)

Accupunture works, doesn't matter where [arstechnica.com]

Accupunture works [arstechnica.com]

Re:But a plecebo is the most effective drug of all (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251395)

Maybe they should consolidate all the courses into a survey-level "Placebo 101" class.

Re:But a plecebo is the most effective drug of all (1)

forkfail (228161) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251563)

To be an effective placebo, it has to be a believable placebo.

Thus, you have to dress it up with ritual or herbs or pins and needles or lots of water or whatever the method of convincing the patient that they're getting something that will help.

Re:But a plecebo is the most effective drug of all (1)

Qubit (100461) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251485)

But a plecebo is the most effective drug of all

What ever happened to just a spoon full of sugar?

Placebo
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
"Sugar pill" redirects here.

Ohhhhh

Re:But a plecebo is the most effective drug of all (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39251615)

Wrong, wrong and wrong. Acupuncture works as well as sham acupuncture, and neither fix anything. They stimulate nerves that distract the person from pain. That's it, nothing more than rubbing a bumped knee.

Using what works (5, Interesting)

S-HubertCumberdale-F (1860418) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251355)

my favorite quote concerning alternative medicines is... "If Alternative medicine practices worked, they wouldn't be alternative any more" not sure where it came from.

Re:Using what works (5, Informative)

TarMil (1623915) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251549)

Well there's this bit from Tim Minchin's storm [youtube.com] - "Do you know how they call alternative medicine that has been proven to work? Medicine."

Re:Using what works (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39251567)

Not necessarily. It costs significant money to get a treatment researched and approved. If the treatment is not patent-able, there is little incentive to do it.

In some cases, there may be objections that have nothing to do with its effectiveness. For example, illicit drug proponents claim that certain drugs can treat various ailments. But even if that was true, the drug is not going to get approved as a medicine due to its history (some rare exceptions exist). Likewise, if there is any validity to some popular alternative medicine practices, approval will be an difficult due to its history. (Difficult relative to a new synthetic chemical or a new practice that originated in a modern hospital.)

I've got a solution (2, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251359)

Keep offering the courses, but let Penn and Teller teach them.

Re:I've got a solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39251759)

What are their qualifications? Are they certified in it?

If I wanted to know how a magic trick worked or get a (LOUD) opinion on something like this they would be at the top of my list. Teaching... not so much. They are entertainers do not confuse them with teachers.

Look with a skeptical eye upon everyone around you. Even those you agree with. If you do not follow that, you are missing their message...

They fall many times into the same trap they accuse others of. They are tricksters and fraudsters. They think everyone else must be like them. It is their world view. They are bright enough to know it too (and have said it many times). Just be careful with them. Their magic shows are top notch (I would expect no less from professional magicians). Their opinion show is grating. Which mostly consists of Penn having the same meltdown (which he has been milking for years).

Perhaps study these treatments scientifically? (2)

tjlee (1695968) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251387)

Practitioners and patients of Homeopathy and traditional Chinese medicine seem to believe that they work. Wouldn't it be good to devote some resources towards scientific study of these practices? Even if it's to prove that the placebo effect is playing a part, at least science is advanced. Just because we don't understand whether/how it works doesn't rule out the possibility that there might be something to be discovered. If we want to be objective about it, why not study it?

Re:Perhaps study these treatments scientifically? (4, Informative)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251459)

I think you'll find that it's so roundly rejected *because* it's already been researched properly and didn't hold up.

Re:Perhaps study these treatments scientifically? (0)

JustShootMe (122551) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251509)

Some scientists do not think it is worth their time to study things that they have already decided are not worth their time to study.

By the way, I'm not defending homeopathy. But there are other things out there - many having to do with energy work - that do not have foundations in current science but are sworn by. I have personally felt its effect firsthand.

Re:Perhaps study these treatments scientifically? (1)

paskie (539112) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251573)

There were numerous clinical trials conducted. As a whole, they did not confirm efficacy of these treatments.

I recommend excellent book "Trick or Treatment" as a good popular introduction to the field of alternative medicine and overview of scientific results.

Re:Perhaps study these treatments scientifically? (1)

MysteriousPreacher (702266) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251581)

Is there anything specific that we don't already know to a reasonable level that you'd propose be studied? Be specific - check the journals and see how much time and money is already being spent on this research.

Re:Perhaps study these treatments scientifically? (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251659)

Practitioners and patients of Homeopathy and traditional Chinese medicine seem to believe that they work. Wouldn't it be good to devote some resources towards scientific study of these practices? Even if it's to prove that the placebo effect is playing a part, at least science is advanced. Just because we don't understand whether/how it works doesn't rule out the possibility that there might be something to be discovered. If we want to be objective about it, why not study it?

Its more profitable to study self deception and con-artistry in the School-of-Economics or Poli-Sci or the business classes or religion classes if your institution has them. You could argue that's all those guys do all day.

Taking "their thing" into the science labs would probably be about as inappropriate as trying to wedge voltammetry electrochemical analysis into the theology class, just a big WTF for all involved..

Re:Perhaps study these treatments scientifically? (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251663)

Conducting a course which would debunk the very subject it is about is way too controversial for most universities. No way would they have the guts to be so politically-incorrect as to suggest that some religious-based faith healing was so much humbug, lest they bring down the wrath of the various interest groups who actually believe in this stuff. I suspect the "professors" who teach these courses are probably true believers/practitioners who may, at best, give cursory lip-service to any idea that they are a mere placebo.

Theres no problem with teaching this stuff (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39251391)

As long as it is NOT in a science department.

That is, we teach classes about Greek mythology, no need not to teach the homeopathic junk in whatever department teaches thing like "Comparative Religion"

Some of it works, including the placebos (1, Informative)

Savantissimo (893682) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251397)

This sounds like a turf/money battle started by a mainstream academic apparatchik who doesn't want to actually sort through the existing pile of evidence, let alone continue evaluating. Some of the methods listed in the article actually work reliably for some things. Others may actually cause harm. Yet others are placebos so advanced that modern medicine may take decades to catch up. The important thing is to keep using actual evidence to make decisions rather than to just accept the word of reactionaries who gesture vaguely at supposed piles of evidence which, on closer inspection, often say the opposite of what the pseudo-skeptic reactionary claimed.

Source of the problem (2)

jesseck (942036) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251437)

Is the problem that these schools are teaching non-traditional medicine, or that there is a market for that education? Schools need money to run, and they can increase enrollment by offering courses such as "Eastern Medicine". I don't think this is completely the school's doing- there are consumers out there that swear on non-traditional medicine and practitioners who will perform those services. If anything positive, this non-traditional medicine "medical school" may raise the bar for entry into the field.

As for the cheapening of the science behind medicine? Yes, it hurts. But, at the end of the day, it is science that finds cures to our ailments, not rhinoceros horn powder.

Scientific Method (2)

Grindalf (1089511) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251447)

You mean current Medsci has any scientific research behind it at all? You could have fooled me!

Re:Scientific Method (1)

JustShootMe (122551) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251621)

Of course it does. The foolish bit comes in when people start thinking that it's *all* based on science. Of course it's not. There are some aspects of medicine that are just as wishful thinking as homeopathy.

And the very fact that side effects exist is a testament to our not understanding what we're doing half the time.

Creationism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39251453)

Was I the only one who saw the headline and thought, "Here we go, yet another Creationism/Intelligent Design vs. Evolution article?"

Re:Creationism (2)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251591)

I thought it was going to be about 'Global Warming'.

Counter-argument... (2)

Pollux (102520) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251455)

Two academics write in a recent article decrying that a third of Australian universities now offer courses in such subjects as homeopathy and traditional Chinese medicine, which undermines science-based medicine.

I think that academic scrutiny and study are exactly what these areas of medicine need. While I would definitely argue that there are many areas of these medicines that are placebos at best, I have heard and witnessed accounts of individual remedies, scrutinized by science, which nevertheless empirically appear to be effective. I would hate to through the baby out with the bathwater by dismissing either subject entirely.

I don't want to feel that it's merely conspiracy theory to believe that "the man" / "big pharma" is trying to squeeze out all alternative medicine because it competes with their company. But, in the same sense, I don't want people acquiring argyria en mass just because they keep hearing about colloidal silver on the internet. Presently, US law outright forbids scientific study of these remedies. I believe they need to be studied so that there's conclusive evidence of what works and what doesn't work. And what we discover does work should be allowed in practice. The world of academia can help tremendously with that.

This is the danger... (4, Insightful)

JustShootMe (122551) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251463)

... of worshipping science to the extent of all else.

Some "traditional medicines" are bupkus. Some are not. Just because science has not discovered something does not mean it doesn't exist. To think otherwise is arrogant. I can think of quite a few things in my life that science cannot (or at least does not at present) explain.

There are things about the human body and mind that science does not understand yet. And as long as their mindset continues to be "if I can't see it, smell it, touch it, taste it, or hear it, it doesn't exist" that will continue to be the case.

Re:This is the danger... (4, Insightful)

serviscope_minor (664417) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251619)

Some "traditional medicines" are bupkus. Some are not.

OK... some herbs can have active compounds in them, etc..

Just because science has not discovered something does not mean it doesn't exist. To think otherwise is arrogant. I can think of quite a few things in my life that science cannot (or at least does not at present) explain.

The trouble is that you are basically jumping from "science can't explain everything" to "maybe one of these wooly theories is correct". Yes, it is certainly true that not everything is explained. That doesn't make some random wooly theory likely to be correct.

And really, "well, science can't explain everything" is not a piece of evidence in favour of something being correct.

There are things about the human body and mind that science does not understand yet.

Certainly true.

And as long as their mindset continues to be "if I can't see it, smell it, touch it, taste it, or hear it, it doesn't exist" that will continue to be the case.

And what precisely do you propose as the alternative? Over the years, people have conjectured many fanciful theories. Despite science being incomplete, they have generally been found to be junk.

And when it comes to medicine, it is generally very easy to measure: do people get better or not.

Homeopathic BPA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39251491)

Sorry, isn't BPA relatively safe, until it approaches a very small amount, at which point our bodies begin to interpret it as hormonal signalling?

Until someone studies the effects of various compounds at very low concentrations, then they must be treated as unknowns, and worthy of study.

And string theorists too! (1, Insightful)

popo (107611) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251495)

If we're going to start acknowledging the horrifying growth of pseudo-science in our midst, can we include the no-proof-required branches of physics?

An international problem (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251501)

All around the world, homeopathy, naturopathy (which may use some real natural cures, but is still based on a rejection of scientific advancements) old-fashioned chiropractic (subluxation crap), and accupuncture don't get laughed out of the room immediately as they should.

stop harping about the Placebo effect you yoyo's (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39251533)

Yeah, a placebo can fool you into not noticing the symptoms, but that doesn't mean they 'work', because they don't cure, or even help in any non-subjective ways. "How do you feel now, Dave?" isn't hard data.

Placebos don't kill cancerous tumors, didn't eradicate polio, and there's no need to waste University funding to find out that "magical chinese foot pads suck all the bad vibes out through the soles of your feet" is a fat load of shit.

Just think.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39251541)

"Yea, I'm taking Voodoo 101 as an elective this semester. Next week we're sacrificing chickens!"

Hypocracy (0)

jacerie (1071646) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251545)

I find it amusing and depressing that modern medical science has fallen so far. Everything that is known by modern medicine owes its beginnings in ancient medical practices such as Chinese medicine and homeopathy. A perfect example of this is aspirin. Hundreds, if not thousands, of years ago, the medical minds of the day would give their patients tea brewed from willow bark to ease their pain. Where is aspirin found in nature? Willow bark. Natural cures and remedies are available for most ailments, but modern medicine has dismissed the natural treatments in favor of synthetic solutions. These same synthetic solutions have lead to the rise of super-germs and man-made diseases Mother Nature would have nightmares about.

Re:Hypocracy (2)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251651)

And modern chemistry owes its beginnings to alchemy but we know better now and we don't do that shit anymore. Why go backwards instead of just relegating the outdated and largely wrong knowledge to the history books?

Homeopathic education (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39251575)

Allow an accredited doctor of medicine to lecture to them for 10 seconds. Then they will understand the details of homeopathy, right.

Where's the science? (1)

IQGQNAU (643228) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251625)

So where is the science to support the academics' rant?

Political correctness in plain view (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39251641)

Hmmm, negative inflammatory comments about homeopathy and fundamentalists so far, but no negative comments about Chinese medicine. Doesn't anyone want to be brave enough to comment about how idiotic all Chinese people are? No? Not quite politically correct? But no problem attacking people that political correctness has deemed worthy of attack?

I only bring it up because I see over and over how politicial correctness limits people just as much as any other ideology. Of course, the "appeal to authority" (in this case traditional western medicine authority) truly makes a fool of people who buy into the belief that only western drugs and surgery offer any real benefit.

I know from my own experience and that of others that chiropractic care offers the only effective solution to certain problems and I wouldn't be surprised if millions of people around the world suffer horribly who wouldn't have to if they had access to it. I also know that at the very least the holostic approach of Chinese medicine can be more effective than "here, take this pill to see if it helps" approach of western medicine (something western medicine is reluctantly acknowledging).

Expand your horizons people. Stop limiting yourself to a certain belief system you've inherited from your parents and authority figures. Really expand your mind by being willing to admit that some of your cherished beliefs may actually be crap and may have no more validity than the beliefs of others whom you characterize as foolish because, quite frankly, I know for certain from reading your comments on SlashDot that some of your cherished beliefs are ignorantly foolish. It would take just too much of my time to educate you fools.

This sounds like ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39251735)

... the impotent ranting of someone who didn't get his daily dose of tiger penis soup.

Re:Political correctness in plain view (2)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251753)

All Chinese people aren't idiotic (that's racist. You're racist.) but traditional Chinese medicine sure as hell is. It drives A LOT of the trade for products from the carcasses of endangered species. Tiger penis, rhino horn, and elephant tusk, off the top of my head, are some things that morons take when they should be taking Viagra.

Chinese Medicine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39251719)

I think it's theoretically possible to teach a non-bullshit class in Chinese Medicine. There are attempts to standardize the practice, to use non-bullshit terminology, and to write scientific studies on the process.

It would be great for TCM to get some academic analysis that would put to rest whether or not it's all psychosomatic - of course there has been some research, but not much, and it's generally low quality. I'm not sure if an undergraduate program at an Australian university would be the way to do it.

What a relief (3, Interesting)

assertation (1255714) | more than 2 years ago | (#39251751)

I started reading the title of this thread and though "please don't be the US".

After all, we have
- global climate change deniers
- anti-vaccination groups
- paleo diet followers
- raw foodism
- a museum that claims dinosaurs and cavemen lived together on the newly created 5 thousand year old Earth.

What a relief to know that the US is not the only developed country with a problem of people making up their own reality.

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