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Canada Officially Goes Woo-Woo PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   

gNo, I’m not kidding. The newly-elected Canadian government has officially declared that science is not a subject of importance to the citizens of the country, that no well-informed person is in charge of science education, and that the country has opted to take a back seat among the civilized nations of the world, in that respect.

For their new cabinet, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party has selected a man without any science credentials, not a scientist nor a technologist, to serve as Minister of State for Science and Technology. And what are his qualifications for this critical position? Ready? This man, Gary Goodyear, is a practicing acupuncturist and chiropractor! Neither acupuncture nor chiropractic have any supporting evidence, they are both internationally recognized examples of quackery, they have been tested endlessly all over the world, and they have failed all examinations.

Perhaps PM Harper was persuaded to appoint Goodyear because one of his important positions before he reached this exalted position was as Chairman of the all-party Canada-Armenia Parliamentary Friendship Group. After all, there are literally hundreds of Canadian citizens who have Armenian roots…

However, the rumor that Harper is planning to appoint Uri Geller as Minister of State for Cutlery, is a base canard.

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written by SumDood, November 25, 2008
There was some discussion on acupuncture on a radio talk show this morning which led me to do a google search on 'mayo clinic acupuncture' which provides many links to information regarding the positive effects of acupuncture on fibromyalgia. Do the mayo clinic's studies count as supporting evidence?
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SumDood
written by AMFCook, November 25, 2008
Here is one of the links from my googled "mayo clinic acupuncture" search:

http://arthritis.about.com/b/2006/06/19/acupuncture-for-fibromyalgia-mayo-clinic-study-shows-benefit.htm

Acupuncture For Fibromyalgia - Mayo Clinic Study Shows Benefit
Monday June 19, 2006
Acupuncture reduces symptoms associated with fibromyalgia, according to a Mayo Clinic study involving 50 fibromyalgia patients. Fibromyalgia is an arthritis-related disorder with symptoms of widespread musculoskeletal pain, joint pain and stiffness, and fatigue.


Fibromyalgia Screening Quiz
Fibromyalgia: Test Your Knowledge
How to Recognize the Signs and Symptoms of Fibromyalgia

In the randomized, controlled Mayo Clinic study, symptoms of the group receiving acupuncture significantly improved versus the control group. The Mayo Clinic acupuncture study is one of three studies which have evaluated acupuncture as a treatment for fibromyalgia. One of the other two studies also found acupuncture to be a beneficial treatment while the other found acupuncture to be ineffective for pain relief.



Would have been nice if we could see the actual reports of the study. This is nothing more than just one person making statements without any supporting data from the Mayo Clinic's research in acupuncture.

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Here's Another Link from medicalnewstoday.com
written by AMFCook, November 25, 2008
Here's another link on "mayo clinic acupuncture:

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/45172.php

Evidence suggests acupuncture reduces the symptoms of fibromyalgia, according to a Mayo Clinic study.

Fibromyalgia is a disorder considered disabling by many, and is characterized by chronic, widespread musculoskeletal pain and symptoms such as fatigue, joint stiffness and sleep disturbance. No cure is known and available treatments are only partially effective. "The results of the study convince me there is something more than the placebo effect to acupuncture," says David Martin, M.D., Ph.D., lead author of the acupuncture article and a Mayo Clinic anesthesiologist. "It affirms a lot of clinical impressions that this complementary medical technique is helpful for patients."



It would be nice if you they mention how this study was conducted, what controls were in place, etc. These are nothing more than selfserving statements and opinions and has not evidenced anything that would lead a rational person to believe acutpuncture is beneficial to fibromyalgia.
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written by macbrooks, November 25, 2008
This just blows me away. I mean, Canada's always seemed to be a rational-type country. Who voted these guys in, anyway?

mac :]
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written by David P, November 25, 2008
The Mayo study is worthless if its not properly controlled, that means testing if accupuncture works, not just testing if distraction, suggestion and the placebo effect relieve a sympton that is very subjective, like an individuals level of pain.

http://www.webmd.com/fibromyalgia/news/20050705/study-acupuncture-no-help-for-fibromyalgia
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acupuncture studies
written by sailor, November 25, 2008
Sumdod
There is no question that acupuncture is one of the more effective placebos (maybe it is all those needles). For this reason, to assess whether anything beyond placebo is happening, the control group have to have a similar kind of treatment (giving a pill will not do). In recent years a variety of ways have been created to do this. One is to use needles but put them "non-acupunture" points. More recently they have developed some very clever needles that stick to the skin, so there is some sensation, but the patient really is not sure whether the needles are going in or not.
You often get the occasional positive study - but the trick of science is replication - it must be possible to replicate a study and get similar results. Many studies are badly designed.
According to an interesting book called Trick or Treatment, written by an honest doctor who was also a homeopath, if you do a meta-analysis you get very little more than the placebo effect. On the other hand placebo is real, so if you know someone with Fibromyalgia, they could give it a go and expect to feel an improvement, though there is nothing to suggest there would be any reversal of the condition. Risks (including needle infection) and cost/benefit have to be considered.
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written by NoDeity, November 25, 2008
It is my understanding that it has been demonstrated that acupuncture can provide temporary pain relief. That it doesn't matter whether or not you place the needles according to the "meridians" has also been demonstrated. That is, although the theory is nonsense, the practise may be of some use for reasons unrelated to the theory. Mild electrical stimulation provides similar relief, without the potentially dangerous insertion of needles.

That chiropractic manipulation can relieve lower back pain has been demonstrated -- for reasons unrelated to chiropractic theory which, of course, is pure nonsense. A good physiotherapist can give you the same treatment, without the woo-woo baggage that encumbers chiropractors. I understand, though, that chiropractic organizations are trying to prevent non-chiropractors from being permitted to perform such joint manipulations.
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written by grochon, November 25, 2008
Beging Canadian I would love to claim that we're a rational people, but this would be dishonest.

Canada is not the first nation to promote someone with inadequate skill and knowledge to a position of power. I believe the US has an 8-year case-study just wrapping up.....

Anyway, as the saying goes, it seems that Mr. Goodyear has been promoted to the level of his incompetence....
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Not all of our fault
written by donjunbar, November 25, 2008
Don't blame all of us. The Conservatives have a minority government. If they try anything stupid, their regime will be voted out of existence.
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Don't tell me, baby, tell your friends.
written by osmosis, November 25, 2008
I hope I'm not the only Canadian who has emailed the PM (pm@pm.gc.ca) to let him know that this article speaks their mind. Maybe if enough people email, he will actually read it.

Don't forget to mention that you pay taxes and you vote.
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written by alexthemagician, November 27, 2008
It`s unbelievable!!! What`s going on in Canada...???!!! Strange...!!!
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written by furgy, November 27, 2008
Why does this not surprise me. To not appoint a man with a science background is absolutely absurd, It would be like appointing a Gardener to be CEO of an Auto company, it just doesn't fit. And to say Science is not important is just as absurd.Science is the main vehicle for providing evolutionary history for our planet and universe, and it amazing to me how some governments try to lessen Science's impact.
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written by rallymodeller, November 28, 2008
Lucky that here in Canada the minister in charge of a specific department, especially a "fuzzy" one like SciTech, has no real power or say. The real power in any particular ministry comes from the deputy ministers, career civil servants who stay in the same post often through many successive governments. Goodyear will only last in his post until either the government is voted down in a No Confidence vote (could be as soon as the new budget next week) or there is a cabinet reshuffle.
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written by rallymodeller, November 28, 2008
@ Furgy: Ministers are usually appointed in this way. We rarely have an ex-military man as Defense Minister, for example. A cabinet post is purely a political appointment, with no oversight as to the choice.
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written by BillyJoe, November 28, 2008
Before you accept the positive results of a trial of acupuncture, you should remember three things:

1) The control group was probably inappropriate

There is actually no longer any excuse for this. There are only two contols appropriate for a trial of acupuncuture:
- using the wrong acupuncture points
- using a sham acupuncture needle (the needle retracts)
The second is better because neither the patients nor the acupuncturists can tell the difference between a true and sham acupuncture needle and, therefore, there is double blinding.

2) The result was positive by chance alone.

Most trials use a p velue of 0.05, which means 1 in 20 tials will be positive by pure chance. A meta-anlysis of all trials of acupuncture using appropriate controls will therefore show about 1 in 20 as having a positive effect. If there is publication bias (some trials showing a negative result are never published), this ratio can be greater.

Finally remember this:


3) The evidence must actually be extraordinary

Acupuncture has almost zero scientific plausibility. In other words, there is no kown physical mechanisms by which it could possibly work. There are no meridians. There is nothing physical that corresponds to acupuncture points. There is absolutely no evidence for the existence of Chi. Therefore the evidence from clinical trials must actually be extraordinary

If you doubt this last claim, think about what sort of evidence you would need if someone told you they saw an F111 aircraft compared to the evidence you would need if they told you they saw an alien spaceship.

regards,
BillyJoe
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written by NoDeity, November 28, 2008
Regarding chiropractic, I think we can differentiate somewhat between the practise and the theory. The theory is quite obviously quackery. The practise, though, can be beneficial for certain conditions. A homoeopath is giving you something that doesn't actually act on your body in any way (unless, perhaps you're very dehydrated smilies/wink.gif) and, so, can be written off as useless and mostly harmless but a chiropractor is doing something that can directly and significantly affect your musculoskeletal system. So, a chiropractor can potentially benefit or harm a patient (don't let 'em get near your neck).
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written by osmosis, November 28, 2008
@NoDeity:

If the theory is wrong, how can the practice be beneficial, except by accident?
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written by NoDeity, November 28, 2008
"If the theory is wrong, how can the practice be beneficial, except by accident?"

That chiropractic manipulation can do some good could very well be accidental. It's surely unrelated to chiropractic theory. For all I know, maybe someone noticed that joint manipulation seems to provide relief in some circumstances and the theory was an ad hoc attempt to explain that.
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written by Diverted Chrome, November 29, 2008
@NoDeity

Perhaps you mean "coincidental" not "accidental"?
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written by NoDeity, November 29, 2008
I agree that "coincidental" is a better word for it.
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written by emonk, November 30, 2008
I take it the picture of Goodyear and the Dalai Lama is meant as proof of woowooness. Perhaps JREF should reconsider one of it's featured books, i.e. Begley - Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain. Here's a picture of Sharon Begley and the Dalai Lama:
http://psyphz.psych.wisc.edu/w...egley.html He even wrote a foreword for one of her books. Therefore she must be a woowoo smilies/wink.gif
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written by BillyJoe, November 30, 2008
The fact is that Goodyear is a nutcase and so is Dalai Lama. So the picture is apt. A picture of Sharon Begley and the Dalai Lama may not be (I don't lknow enough about her to know).
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written by Arts Myth, December 02, 2008
I certainly didn't vote for Harper. Personally, I'd like to see the return of the Rhino Party. Then I wouldn't have to vote NDP all the time (although, I suppose I could have voted Green...).
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