Edzard Ernst, the world's first professor of complementary medicine, is on a mission. He wants people to know the truth about the "potions, pills, needles, pummelling and energising" that make up the multibillion-dollar global alternative medicine industry.She also interviewed Marc Cohen, a professor of complementary medicine at RMIT University in Melbourne. He engages in special pleading and throws about a few factoids, but the one thing that really got me was this:
He also points out that Australians spend four times as much out of their own pockets on alternative medicines as on pharmaceuticals. "Obviously people vote with their wallets. So it's likely they do it because they're receiving a benefit."Which Smith follows with:
But it is not an argument that persuades Singh and Ernst.That's because appealing to Popular Opinion is not an argument at all. Here's Cohen's "argument" again, but this time about gambling:
"Australians spend more money a week on gambling than they do on petrol or on alcohol. Obviously people vote with their wallets. So it's likely they do it because they're receiving a benefit."Given the similarities between playing the pokies and B. F. Skinner's pigeons, the only thing they'll receive is a bout of superstitious behaviour. (The same analogy applies to most of the complementary therapies too, I'd suggest.)
Of course, another possible benefit is to the group. The same article I link to points out:
An average of 12% of state and territory revenue comes from gambling.I don't buy into the whole group selection thing however...
Hat tip Kylie S at Podblack Cat.