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People Believe Alternative Medicine Sans Science

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Regarding the news of Echinacea not being a valid treatment for the common cold:

MSNBC: Echinacea fails to treat or prevent colds in study

The most telling comment was this:

“Our study ... adds to the accumulating evidence that suggests that the burden of proof should lie with those who advocate this treatment,” wrote Dr. Ronald Turner.

However I believe people will continue to believe in Echinacea despite evidence, primarily because distrust of scientific evidence is becoming part of popular culture.

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[...] However I believe people will continue to believe in Echinacea despite evidence, primarily because distrust of scientific evidence is becoming part of popular culture.

Or more fundamentally, distrust of the human mind's ability to know reality. Many people never even get to the point where they consider what's trustworthy and what isn't, because they don't or can't distinguish between thought and emotion.

There have been many times when I've pointed out evidence such as you cited, or showed that there was a contradiction or fallacy in some view, only to be told "Well, that's _your_ way of thinking, others think differently". Such people just don't care about evidence, argumentation or proof, they only care about what their emotions tell them.

I've been seeing more and more of that type over the last few years, and they're almost always New Age mystics. Homeopathy, holistic medicine, herbal "drugs", reverence for the "natural" and disdain for the man made, love of a form of spirituality derived from eastern mysticism, and overt emotionalism are all mixed up in the same person.

People still see subjectivism and intrinsicism as the only alternatives, and these days, they're just combining the two.

Mark Peters

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Actually, a surprisingly large number of private health plans are starting to cover this mumbo jumbo. I was surprised by the list of what my companies new health plan covered. But then it's a flex plan type insurance coverage with a pre-tax dollar paid debit card to purchase medicines and pay bills with. I'm put in the drivers seat much more now than under a traditional insurance plan. Still not a full blown HSA but it's a step in the right direction.

Actually, as people junk traditional insurance and move to health savings accounts, people are going to be more responsible for their own health care. So now that they are in full control of their healthcare, more people are demanding and getting stuff like Echinacia covered under Flex Benefits spending plans. I know mine does.

So, in a way the market forces are driving the industry to recognize quackery anyway so the laws are going to be an almost afterthought. That is assuming that congress doesn't stick their ugly heads into the mess and make HSA's illegal because they are just to darn good of an idea. Which sounds like something congress would well do.

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I used to be addicted to placebos. It was a crippling affliction that brought me to my knees. </sarcasm>

Note that the advocates of these alternative medicine treatments rarely fail to mention that Doctors never tell their patients about these things because it is in a Doctor's best interest to keep people sick, so they can get a steady stream of patient visit cash flows.

In my day job for the benefits company, I too have noticed that many client health plans are beginning to pay for acupuncture and hypnotherapy. There are medical claim codes (CPTs) in the books corresponding to acupuncture, osteopathic and chiropractic treatements.

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