The Din of Inequity

The Din of Inequity

...yes, I spelled it that way on purpose.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Is it any wonder...

...that many many people still believe that there are quality scientific studies that show acupuncture is effective?

Here's a Reuters headline: Acupuncture Shown to Relieve Migraines: Study

Looks like a pretty strong endorsement, doesn't it?

Here's the relevant information from the article, though:
They compared the effects of real and fake acupuncture with drug treatments for migraine and found all equally effective.
And there's more:
"Secondly, sham acupuncture is as effective as traditional Chinese acupuncture," he told Reuters.
So the fake acupuncture, were they don't actually do the treatment, works just as well as "real" acupuncture. Which would seem to indicate that neither of them has any physical effect--it appears that the patient's belief that he or she is receiving treatment is what really gets the job done. Which would also seem to be indicated by the failure of the medicines to do any better--they probably don't do anything either.

I should note that the researcher goes on in the article to subtly mis-represent the result, saying, "What we showed is that acupuncture is effective but we need more research to find out the biological effect behind it." No, you didn't show that. What you've shown is that acupuncture isn't any more effective than A: one thing that's intended not to work--indeed, sham acupuncture is designed specifically not to do what acupuncture does or B: one thing that doesn't work reliably--few people get much relief from migraine medicines, and there seems to be little rhyme or reason to which ones they'll respond to.

Maybe I'm crazy, but it sounds to me like the headline should read something like:
All Apparently-Effective Migraine Treatments Likely Rely on Placebo Effect

I'm sure the pro-acupuncture folks can jump on here and say that it's probably just that the sham acupuncture accidentally stimulates the same meridians or Qi points or whatever, so it still shows accupuncture works. I call bullshit on that. Somebody find me a properly controlled scientific trial of acupuncture for anything that shows a better result than placebo and I'll listen. So far, I haven't heard of any.

|| Bikeboy 10:42 AM ||
Truth in headlines? Keep dreaming. If we had truth in headlines, every day the front page of the Washington Post would read: "Bush Lies Like A Motherfucker. Again."

Also, no hyphen in compound adjectives that end in "ly":

INCORRECT: highly-inflammatory remark
CORRECT: highly inflammatory remark
CORRECT: well-meaning remark

And of course, "anti-Bush Administration remark" would use an en dash.
Well firstly, they are not Pre-menstrual Tension, they are behavioural conditions which are stored as memory, habit and instinct in an organ called the Amygdala, seated inside the subconscious brain; and, secondly, I don't like the term disorder, it implies illness and inappropriate anxiety isn't an illness, it's inappropriate anxiety. Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is both a psychological as well as a chemical ailment in which the sufferer experiences great trepidation towards being in groups of people.
Pre-menstrual Tension Pre-menstrual Tension
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