missed both broadcasts - replays on here much appreciated - when Richard Dawkins confronts the ''alternative'' practitioners and the psychics with questions relating to evidence and testing, they have no tangible answers - says it all really!
haven't had the chance to watch it yet ! however from a discussion with my friend who has seen it .... i can understand how it is difficult to give scientific reason as to why some alternative treatments DO work, but just because something cannot be proven does not mean it doesn't work. ..... i work in anaesthetics.... it is exactly the same ... we know the drugs work in a certain way and have certain effects... but it has yet to be scientifically proven HOW they work.... it is just accepted that they do... ......by this token if you are going to completely de-bunk alternative therapies .....then best you shut down every operating theatre in the country!
Holistic medical treatments can sometimes produce an effect. This effect is called the placebo effect and basically the patient has convinced themselves that this treatment works because the explanation on how the treatment allegedly works makes sense to them. It is an auto suggestive response, much like your mum telling you pulling that plaster off your knee wont hurt.
The efect of a full placebo effect is very real, but also very temporary. Faith healers can often make a disabled person so ecstatic they can hobble about without the aid of crutches or a wheelchair, but a few minutes later they always collapse again in more pain than before. It is an induced phenomena like the strength that small people can achieve in times of extreme crisis. I believe it is a manipulation of a biological fight or flight response.
Your point about anaesthetics is somewhat of a flawed analogy. While it is true we dont understand how some anaesthetics work fully, we understand fully the mechanism of distribution within the body (just not the part thats interesting) We fully understand how some anaethetics work though. They block nerve impulses at a cellular level by inhibiting the sodium channels in the cellular membranes. With no sodium available the nerves cannot conduct the pain impulses.
It is logical and scientific and based on provable and verifiable concepts wich can be reproduced by anyone anywhere at any time. That is the difference between real science and alternative treatments.
quote"While it is true we dont understand how some anaesthetics work fully, we understand fully the mechanism of distribution within the body (just not the part thats interesting) We fully understand how some anaethetics work though. They block nerve impulses at a cellular level by inhibiting the sodium channels in the cellular membranes. With no sodium available the nerves cannot conduct the pain impulses."
what you are refering to here is a local/regional anaesthetic, and yes we do know how these work, i was talking about induction anaesthetics! flawed analogy or not... the point i was trying to make was that science cannot prove or disprove everything...sometimes there has to be acceptance that something works.....just because it does!
science must first theorise if there is even anything to prove, if so then it must investigate and perform expermiments to determine the cause and effect. If science is not at the current technical level to accurately determine the correct results then at least it will have a working theory.
Science cannot explain everything, of that there is no doubt, but what it cannot explain today it will by tommorow and that is the beauty of science. What science cannot do however is just accept that something works because it does. Scientists need to know how and why and what mechanism or physical law allows it to be so. If a phenomena is reported and said to work it should be investigated, and if no evidence for such phenomena exists then it can be discounted.
There is however evidence that the analgesics work, so even if science does not fully understand the mechanism for induction, it can still perform tests which verify its existance and observe the effect. This is something that cannot be done with holistic medicine (observable results Ill grant but temporary at best) Ill cite an example.
A faith healer claims he can cure cancer, the patient feels better after treatment and when the patients condition is checked after the treatment the doctors find that the cancer is in spontanous remission. This is something which can be checked verified and to all intents and purposes it would appear a real phenomena occured.
Compare this to a patient who when checked after still has the cancer, but they still feel better because they believe it worked.
i hear what you are saying but never the less i feel that complimentary/holistic treatments still have their use. i use the term complimentary....because i do not believe that it should be alternative. i personally would like to shoot a "healer" who claims i can cure your cancer... however for a "healer" that claims i can offer you this treatment that will de-stress you and thus make you have a greater feeling of well being .....then why not ...it empowers a person that has a condition, and along with the medical treatments (over which they have little control), it allows them have the control to do something for themselves(which is not dictated). the body is an amazing thing.. some people take exercise to make them feel better (naturally producing endorphines) ... so who's to say that a "healing session" is not doing exactly the same thing? has this been proved/disproved?
I have no quarrel with using these treatments simply to make a person feel better, my problem is when the practitioners tell people that they do work and here is why it works like its some well established factual branch of science. As a stress reliever I cannot argue, its a bit of fun and harms nobody (except maybe your wallet) but its on par with getting your hair or nails done for me. I just cannot accept it should be viewed as anything but a recreational use of your time. The NHS should certainly not be funding it though.
i do not have a problem with the NHS funding, for some cases...i.e for palliative care for terminally ill or oncology patients. i feel it has its place in these areas of care. ...... and also for use in mental health.... some teaching a person meditation and stress management.. ....... anything to help the mental health care in this country (sorry going off topic!!)
The more money the NHS waste on this treatment, the deeper into the red it will slip. They wasted 10 million (approx) on homeopathic hospitals, that money could have been better used elsewhere. There should be organisations seperate from the NHS who handle this type of stuff, reiki practitioners and indian head masseuses can practise their "skill" on patients who would benefit from it. They would recieve training and the NHS would be seen to be providing alternative treatment. Its a win win situation.
More than half of the primary care trusts (PCTs) in England are now refusing to pay for homoeopathy or severely restricting access a year after The Times revealed that 13 senior doctors had urged them to fund only therapies that were backed up by scientific evidence.
One person who could benefit from a switch is Anne Fleming, 58, who had multiple myeloma diagnosed 2½ years ago. She has been told that she will need treatment with Velcade, an anticancer drug that costs up to £25,000 for eight cycles. Her primary care trust in South Cambridgeshire has diverted funds from homoeopathy to conventional medicine.
It shows common sense from the PCT in Cambridgeshire to use money in a way that is proven to help people.
She said that the NHS should also abandon non-essential treatments. “I feel very strongly about using public money on tattoo removal. Things on the national health should be about life or death,” she said.
I have to agree with her, I have six tattoos, having all of them was a personal choice at the time, I would not expect the NHS to fund the removal of them should I decide at a later date I didn't like them.