Conventional Medicine is NOT Science-based. Natural Medicine is NOT Pseudo-Science. Don’t Feed Trolls.

by Dr. Rick Kirschner on January 19, 2015

StethoscopeHaters gonna hate.

A few days ago, Oregon Public Broadcasting did a show and posted an article about Naturopathic doctors working to change Oregon state law to stop insurers from denying access under the Affordable Care Act.  And no sooner did the article go up and the haters swarmed like mosquitos on a damp jungle night.

One of the main charges leveled at natural medicine by comment trolls on the internet is that natural medicine is somehow not based in science, and conventional medicine is.  Therefore, natural medicine is phony and dangerous, and conventional medicine is safe and true.  The persuasion tactic is dismissal.    By speaking about natural medicine in the pejorative, using the most dismissive language possible, they seek to undermine support for it by making its supporters out to be idiots and victims.   But in reality,  this idea that conventional medicine is science based, and naturopathic medicine is pseudo science, is an unsubstantiated conceit and nothing more. And the idea that a dependable scientific purity is somehow driving our for-profit conventional system is both laughable and sad all at once.

Maybe you’ve seen it.  The comment trolls on any favorable press in support of natural medicine say things like  “Let’s see the consensus of scientific studies that supports each practice taught at your schools!” And I find myself compelled to respond:  You go first. Let’s see the consensus of scientific studies that supports each practice at conventional schools!

Fact is, a good deal of what these ’science-based medicine’ trolls are calling ‘science-based’ boils down to cherry picked studies from drug companies that support their desired monetary outcomes, rubber stamped by agencies staffed through industry’s revolving door. MDs have no monopoly on science. Science is agnostic about all of this, as it is a methodology for separating fact from fiction, not a way to prove yourself right.

Many MDs use therapies and tests that are completely baseless, and should be considered complete scams. They often give advice that is clearly against the consensus of science in regard to public health. The list of issues goes on and on. It’s simply unconscionable, and yet the comment trolls and bloggers defend it.  And I’m not saying that scientifically baseless tests and therapies don’t happen in natural medicine, because they do.  I am saying that the weaknesses in the natural medicine system are found in the conventional system as well.  And the conventional system, through its dominance, has a broader and deeper impact on human health as a result.

The fact that the healthcare system dominated by pharmaceutical medicine is actually a sick care system that finds power and profit in promoting and sustaining sickness, that focuses on keeping people alive more than it does on quality of life, seems to escape the anti-natural medicine haters. The fact that many MDs are essentially point of purchase vendors for the drug companies also seems to escape them. The fact that conventional medicine didn’t earn it’s place at the top of the hierarchy because of its successes and virtues but instead bought and bullied its way into dominance escapes them. The fact that their so called “science-based’ medicine has a century long track record of damage and failure that could easily be read as an indictment of conventional practice escapes them, as does the fact that natural medicine has a track record that supports its inclusion and integration into the healthcare system.

But these things no longer escape the attention of healthcare consumers. And increasingly, regulators have grown weary of being fooled time and again by specious claims and arrogant pretense (the proof is in the pudding). More to the point, they are seeing the good that can come from the work naturopathic doctors do to help people get their health back and keep it, and the problems created by conventional doctors simply managing patient dis-ease until death do they part.

Clearly, the survival and continuing success of naturopathic medicine in spite of a century of concerted effort to subvert and destroy it just irks some people.   I don’t know why.  Maybe they had a bad experience with it.  (It happens – not all doctors are created equal.)   Maybe they get paid to do it.  (It happens – not all outside voices are really outsiders.)  But for whatever reason, you will find the comment trolls and medical science bloggers hyping this false idea that conventional medicine is virtuous because it has science on its side, and they just can’t speak negatively enough about the alternatives to it.  I suppose it is good for them to get all their misdirected hate, unexamined and parroted assumptions out of their system once in a while, but when I see it, I think to myself, “Couldn’t they take that dump somewhere in private?”

There is plenty of good science that’s been done and is being done on the natural medicine approach to healthcare.  There is plenty of data to substantiate that an approach of restoring health and teaching patients how to maintain it has more benefits to society and to individuals than prescribing drugs and removing troublesome body parts.  And it isn’t really even news any more that so-called ‘science-based’ medicine isn’t really based in science. You can find news items popping up about this in various places and going back quite a while:

“Only 10-20% of all procedures currently used in medical practice have been shown to be efficacious by controlled trial.” Office of Technology Assessment, US Congress. Assessing the Efficacy and Safety of Medical Technologies. Washington DC : Office of Technology Assessment, US Congress; 1978.

“More than half of all medical treatments, and perhaps as many as 85 percent, have never been validated by clinical trials.” Michael L. Millenson, AB: Demanding Medical Evidence: Doctors and Accountability in the Information Age, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Issue 2, September 1998.

Then there’s this recent business about the cancer racket.  HEADLINE: More Doctors Confess To Intentionally Diagnosing Healthy People With Cancer To Make Money

Or this: After 3 decades of mammography, researchers conclude, “Despite substantial increases in the number of cases of early-stage breast cancer detected, screening mammography has only marginally reduced the rate at which women present with advanced cancer. Although it is not certain which women have been affected, the imbalance suggests that there is substantial over diagnosis, accounting for nearly a third of all newly diagnosed breast cancers, and that screening is having, at best, only a small effect on the rate of death from breast cancer.” Long story short, it’s expensive, almost completely pointless, and highly encouraged by ‘science-based’ medicine.

I could find references like this all day. It would be fun if it weren’t for all the damage done by the conventional system, the costs incurred, the worthless conventional treatments bought and paid for (and junkets, don’t forget the doctor junkets paid for by the drug companies!) the patients harmed. Oh, and let’s not forget that the AMA, professional association for ‘science-based’ medicine gave America it’s tobacco and soft drink addictions by placing their seal of approval on tobacco and soft drinks in JAMA all those years ago.

If the ‘We’re all so right and they’re all so wrong’ comment and blog trolls showed even the slightest tendency to go after the serious problems in the practice of conventional medicine, they would have more credibility for making a credible case against the weaknesses in natural medicine.   But they don’t go after the serious problems in the practice of conventional medicine.  Instead, they explain the problems away as quickly as possible, make excuses and unsubstantiated claims or just ignore the data entirely, change the subject, dismiss legitimate criticisms as insignificant, attack people who speak up as naive or uneducated or incapable of coherent thought, or whip out their favorite canard about ‘If it actually works, it’s not alternative, it’s medicine.’    The entire house of healthcare needs to be brought into focus, examined and healed so it can fulfill it’s purpose of aiding humanity.  There’s room for improvement all around. But instead of working for good, they just keep grinding their axe, and offer nothing of value or consequence to honest discourse.

Here’s a link to an excellent article that reveals just how phony the science claim in medicine really is. It’s titled ‘The Mythology of Science Based Medicine,’ and it’s well worth a read.

Kudos to OPB for their coverage.

Final thought:  I prefer to not engage directly with trolls.   I advise others who encounter them online to avoid them.  Think about it – it is pointless to try and engage a closed mind with an agenda, and I’m reminded me of something I was heard from a prominent physician AND farmer: ’Never wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and the pig likes it.”

Your reasonable comments are welcome.  As are other points of view on the subject of what’s wrong in healthcare and what it will take to fix it.  But the haters trolling comment threads will get no traction here and their comments will be deleted.

Be well


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