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This video provides an example of the application of the scientific method to the claims of quackery! Featuring Emily Rosa, the youngest person ever to publish in the prestigious JAMA — Journal of the American Medical Association.

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  • Bryan Wood

    But the girl tester wasn’t an adult therapeutic touch practitioner – flawed design – they should have at least used an experienced practitioner. Also they were not using patients with long-term chronic illness. The same goes for all the homoeopathic trials – flawed design- because the principle of homoeopathy is so hard to trial as it is tailor made to each patient – not a drug for an illness – a remedy for an individual. What is wrong with therapeutic touch or sugar pills if they make people feel better or even actually better? At least they are not being harmed by drugs that will always have side-effects and long-term implications. Hasn’t anyone realised that human beings want a caring practitioner? Research has been done that shows that a percentage of people get better anyway if illnesses are left to self-correct and that they can feel better according to how understanding and nice the practitioner is. The NHS is no longer a caring profession – it is based on targets and cutting costs. Instead of condemning and mocking patients who turn to alternative treatments for some relief from their pain and suffering, funding should be put into well designed trials of alternatives to drugs as that is what an increasingly large number of patients desire.

    • Anonymous

      Hi Bryan

      Many thanks for your comment.

      I guess you have raised a number of different questions here:

      1) What is wrong with a “placebo” if it makes people feel better?

      2) Potential for harm from such interventions

      3) People getting better over the natural course of an illness (see “Nature – the Healer”: http://www.testingtreatments.org/tt-main-text/fair-tests-of-treatments/nature-the-healer/)

      4) Ongoing research into alternative treatments.

      I hope that others will take up your challenge and respond on the above points.

      I would like to take issue with your characterisation of the NHS, which is completely at odds with my experience, both in a professional capacity and as a user of the service.

      Care in the NHS is delivered by highly professional and capable people who are motivated by providing the best possible care for the patient in front of them.

  • Ichalmers

    I agree with Bryan Wood that “some people get better anyway if illnesses are left to self-correct and that they can feel better according to how understanding and nice the practitioner is”, as is made clear in ‘Testing Treatments’
    (See http://www.testingtreatments.org/?s=nature).

    I also agree with Bryan Wood that “funding should be put into well designed trials of alternatives to drugs as that is what an increasingly large number of patients desire” (this is one of the messages coming out of the James Lind Alliance research Priority Setting Partnerships – see http://www.lindalliance.org). There is certainly scope for adding to Emily Rosa’s study and I hope therapeutic touch practitioners will do this.