Quacks II: Beyond Chiropracty and Personal Trainers

Lately, the fact has come up that I had carelessly namedropped “reflexology” in an otherwise (hopefully) respectable and science-driven book. In retrospect, this was probably an error. On occasion, I let myself get excited about various pilot studies that come out with quantifiable results from deep tissue massage as complimentary therapy, and the NIH (and science in general) tends to classify foot and/or hand massage as ‘reflexology’. So that’s what I call it. However, I do not take any stock in the “Reflexology” as in a systematized practice of massaging pressure points in an effort to cause internal responses in the body and organs or redirect energy or chi or ki or whatever you want to say.

I don’t mean to simply to distance myself from it. I expect any ‘science’, especially medicine or wellness related, to apply the scientific method to its study and findings as strictly as is possible (I understand fields that aren’t “hard” science like sociology and political science have a tougher time adhering, but I respect those that do their best). Disregard for scientific method is often because the systemizers wish the results to reflect the theory and not the other way around.

I used to be ambivalent to quackery; live and let live, if it makes someone happy then great, whatever. But apathy is not suitable, since if someone profits by pushing quackery it not only encourages more ‘believers’, but putting money and thereby ‘success’ into such a practice also perpetuates by convincing some said believers (or less scrupulous hucksters) into following suit, buying the books, practicing, preaching, and perhaps believing whole-heartedly in the schtick themselves.

Reflexology, astrology, phrenology, magic spells, power crystals, magnets, gimmick diets, all junk. All claptrap and hokum designed to sucker in the gullible for a dollar. Science has enough work to do actually figuring out what’s going on without the necessity of fighting against all the silly crap we’ve accrued over the centuries and millenia. That’s the same type of misinformation problem “Brain Over Brawn” itself was written to address, and I have no intent of feeding into it, even with a single careless sentence.

While I am open to the possibility there are bits and pieces of Alternative Medicine that may be useful as complimentary therapy, there are two very real dangers from any kind of such practice: The first is if they provide false information, such as saying that someone doesn’t have a problem in an area they actually do. The other and worse is when it is substituted as “real” treatment and a person forgoes (or forbids another) from receiving scientific medical care in favor of some ‘mystic cure that the fatcats in Washington don’t want you to know about’. There are certainly flaws with the current state of health care, but overall it does an incredibly greater amount of good than harm. The same cannot be said about any ‘alternative’ medicine… at least not in any way verifiable by a double-blind study.

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