Before I fling immature epithets at the world of alternative medicine, I need to give a brief overview of the regulations imposed on those who make real medicine. The medicines that do everything from saving lives to preventing gas. In America, these regulations are known as "Current Good Manufacturing Practices", or cGMPs for short. The best way to illustrate the thoroughness and complexity of these regulations is to use a narrative. The narrative won‘t even scratch the surface, but it will give you a general idea:
Let's say a company wants to make a new drug. What are some of the things it must it do?
In the current issue of Harper's Magazine, you'll find a long article by Rachel Aviv entitled "Like I Was Jesus," subtitled "How to bring a nine-year-old to Christ."
In it, Aviv writes of infiltrating - and that's an ugly word, but apropos - a chapter of a group called the Child Evangelism Fellowship during the summer of 2008. The chapter comprised 40 young missionaries who "roamed the housing projects of Connecticut," accosting unsupervised young children and pressuring them to accept Jesus into their hearts.
According to Aviv: "The goal was salvation, but the missionaries rarely used that long word. They employed monosyllabic language and avoided abstract concepts and homonyms. ‘Holy' was a problem, the missionaries said, as children thought it meant ‘full of holes.' ‘Christ rose from the dead' was also tricky because children mistook the verb for a flower."
As we discussed in the Anti-Anti-Vax Panel at TAM7, scientifically illiterate activists are endangering our public health. Now they have a new target: the fast-track program to develop a swine flu vaccine in time to prevent a possible pandemic.
A correspondent in the Netherlands wrote me, forwarding this article a friend in the UK had sent him: http://www.globalhealthfreedom.org/?p=3081 Briefly, it says we are going to be offered a dangerous, inadequately tested swine flu vaccine for a nonexistent threat.
This last Sunday I posted "We Should be Insulted," a commentary on the seeming endorsement of acupuncture by US agencies. Following that, I sent an inquiry to Ms. Cynthia Bass at the National Cancer Institute [NCI] - a division of the National Institutes of Health [NIH] - with this direct comment and question:
I have seen references in NCI literature to the use of acupuncture in cancer treatment, to relieve certain side-effects of chemotherapy. My question: Is there any scientific, double-blind research that shows acupuncture is effective?
Please note: I specified "double-blind" because many non-blinded tests of acupuncture have been done, with mixed results, but no such tests can be considered as evidential unless done that way, and I've never found any records of double-blinded tests of this claim. Ms. Bass did not answer the question. She referred me to a list of frequently-asked questions - and the official answers - on the NCI site; this is not unexpected, considering the volume of inquiries that the agency must receive. I have selected here those that almost respond to my inquiry.
Recently I read here that a study  had been conducted which looks at the trends between the study of certain subjects in college and religious observance. The study concluded that very religious high school students are more likely than less religious high school students to attend college.
This may surprise the skeptical world. I've heard many times that people with high levels of religiosity tend to be less educated and less intelligent whereas people with low religiosity tend to be more educated and more intelligent. Typically people cite an article published in nature as evidence for this phenomenon , if they cite an article at all. So why is this study saying that people who are more religious are more likely to attend college?