Dave Gorski reports the very bad news that the journal Science, published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, has sold out to Big Stupidity, aka the “traditional” and “alternative” medicine and supplement industry that profits by scamming the sick and the desperate.
I do, however, feel obligated to deal with one painfully inappropriate action by a major science journal left over from 2014. It happened in an issue that came out just before Christmas, and, with all the festivities, being on call last week, and having houseguests; so, unfortunately, I just didn’t get around to addressing it, either here or on my not-so-super-secret other blog (where I might crosspost this later in the week). The journal is Science, which, as most readers know, is one of the two most prominent general science journals out there, the other being Nature. Actually, it’s appropriate that I mention Nature in this discussion because Nature pulled exactly the same bone-headed move three years ago, almost to the day.
Yes, Nature shilled for traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) by publishing an advertising supplement promoting it sponsored by a Japanese supplement manufacturer. Now it’s Science‘s turn to do the same in the form of—you guessed it!—an advertising supplement entitled The Art and Science of Traditional Medicine Part 1: TCM Today — A Case for Integration. Worse, Science appears to be going Nature one better—two better, in fact. This is the first part of what is promised to be a three part series.Looks like I have blog material for a while.
Indeed. And the World Health Organization is in on it as well, to make things far worse, whose director, Margaret Chan, is spouting bullshit like this:
TM [traditional medicine] is often seen as more accessible, more affordable, and more acceptable to people and can therefore also represent a tool to help achieve universal health coverage. It is commonly used in large parts of Africa, Asia, and Latin America. For many millions of people, often living in rural areas within developing countries, herbal medicines, traditional treatments, and traditional practitioners are the main—and sometimes the only—source of health care. The affordability of most traditional medicines makes them all the more attractive at a time of soaring health care costs and widespread austerity.
Gee, what’s missing from that paragraph? Oh yeah, does it actually work? I’m sure we could hire someone entirely unqualified to tell us how to build a bridge much cheaper than an actual engineer, but you’d be a fool to drive your car over it. If traditional medicine works, then do the science and show that it does. If you can’t, it doesn’t matter how cheap it is, does it?