33 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely brilliant and revealing book
Suckers is an easy read and very well researched. I must admit that I rarely read "popular science" books, since I find them brushing over details and ultimately getting facts wrong. This book however, has the facts and backgrounds of a whole host of "alternative" "treatments" down to a T, teaches you how to recognise a quack by the language they use and will ultimately...
Published on 15 Aug 2008 by Dr. C. Becker
5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars From a complementary health therapists view
I am a health therapist qualified in Pro-active K (kinesiology), herbal medicine, massage and Cranial Laser Reflex technique (CLRT). I thought it would be a good idea for me to read a book that condemns alternative medicine in order to understand why some people are so set against it.
In some ways I agree with Shapiro that there are indeed 'quacks' out there...
Published 7 months ago by C. C. Chivers
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33 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely brilliant and revealing book,
Did you know that "Traditional Chinese Medicine" is barely over 50 years old?
Did you know the origins of chiropractise and osteopathy?
This book is an essential read for the parent who constantly needs to defend their decision not to use a naturopath and for the health professional who has preserved their ethics and is not offering unproven treatments to satisfy the modern trend for supposedly ancient healing methods.
65 of 85 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars clarity,
The approaches of the two books are different, though both add enormously to CAM understanding. I couldn't pick out one over the other: Shapiro is perhaps the more entertaining - and Singh and Ernst perhaps the more comprehensive, with a useful postscript analysis of many different CAM practices. Both are eminently readable; both expose the serious lack of evidence that CAM works above and beyond the placebo response, which nevertheless can relieve some symptoms in up to 32% of sufferers. Edzard Ernst was originally a homeopath himself, and now finds that homeopathy and other CAM practices do not stand up to scientific inspection, in particular from randomised clinical trials, brilliantly espoused, first introduced by Lind in the eighteenth century to prove that vitamin C in the form of lemon or lime juice prevents scurvy. Both discuss the vexed question as to whether evidence-based doctors who recognise that CAM merely achieves a placebo effects should pretend to their patients that CAM works in order to gain the maximum benefit of the placebo response: both decide that this would be dishonest, operating against the modern, truthful doctor-patient relationship. (The placebo effect can be observed only if the patient thoroughly believes in the practice.)
Some placebos work better than others: acupuncture perhaps has the strongest impact, its lack of real benefit only demonstrated by using special placebo needles which retract on pressure, like a stage dagger, instead of piercing the skin. Furthermore, both question whether the NHS exercised by tight budgets should be running 5 NHS homeopathic hospitals in the UK, diverting money from other desperately challenged services that might offer improved quantity and quality of life above and beyond the placebo response. Many GPs love CAM, because they can refer on their heartsink patients (classically middle aged, middle class women) who benefit from the long consultation times of over an hour, a luxury for both patients and doctors denied elsewhere in the NHS. However, homeopaths are notable by their absence from Casualty and Intensive Care Units. Why does their placebo effect not work on broken legs? Instead they choose a tranquil clinic setting.
With the exception of a few herbal remedies, (herbs that work become established: some cancer cures for example are based on periwinkles and yew trees), reading both books will doubly convince you that the multi-billion pound industry supported by Prince Charles is based on nothing but sugar pills. Singh and Ernst dedicate their book to him, hoping that his foggy precepts will be honed.
38 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A dose of salts,
33 of 45 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gullible or vulnerable?,
Rose, there's another book to be written here on the health claims made by branded food stuffs and other goods.
13 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A moneysaving guide to healthcare,
This review is from: Suckers: How Alternative Medicine Makes Fools of Us All (Paperback)Having experienced Complimentary & Alternative Medicine (CAM) myself in the form of osteopathy, I was interested to read about it and the other CAM treatments in this book. Shapiro shines a bright light on the twightlight world of alternative medicine and therapies.
What is most compelling is the lack of evidence that the treatments applied are of any benefit whatsoever. In fact there's good evidence to show Chiropractors are very dangerous!
All the CAM methodologies investigated appear to have some originating dogma, akin to the origin of a cult or religion. Lots of baseless claims an lots of wide-eyed enthusiasts preaching the benefits.
I went to an osteopath and had the party-trick of him clicking my neck. My back did improve, but I was also doing regular stretching exercises in accordance with a properly qualified physiotherapist, so who's to say what fixed my back. What IS in line with the book was the ostepath's zeal to get my wife and son to also visit (£35 a visit). This desire to sign up the whole family is documented in Suckers and also highlights the religious parallels.
Ultimately CAM is CAM because it makes claims it can't prove. Otherwise it would be conventional medicine. Most telling, there are no CAM treatments for conditions that can be clearly measured. Where's the CAM contraceptive, for example?
A great book! :)
39 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars witty and intelligent analysis of a major issue,
I am sure that pro CAM (complementary and alternative medicine) fans will find the book one sided and far too "western & science" based but that is the whole point - we need to apply an objective standard to CAM and not just use it because "it makes us feel better".
23 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intellectually crip anaylsis of an intellectually soggy phenomenon,
I was appalled to read in it that University College Hispital's oncology is recruiting 'healers' at £29 k a year. That's double what I earn writing obituaries. UCH have treated my low-grade lymphoma for years, and in 2003, when it spun-off a high-grade lymphoma, they cured it.
The only thing I'd have liked included is an analysis of the sort of people who use quackery. In my view they are the well-off but scientifically illiterate. The poor, on the while recognise quackery for what it is.
28 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific expose of alternative medicine,
21 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compulsory reading for anyone about to visit a quack,
The distinction between "scientific" and "alternative" medicine is a false dichotomy, exploited by charlatans and fools. If a treatment, any treatment, has any genuine benefit, it will show up in controlled trials. Either the patient gets better, or he doesn't. The dichotomy is really between treatments that have by such means been shown to work, and those which have not (and have regularly been shown not to work).
One of my favourite stories is about Emily Rosa who, aged nine, demonstrated in a school science project that "therapeutic touch" is cobblers. She is the youngest person ever to be published in a major scientific journal. If a child can do this, why not an adult?
One of my friends is training to be an osteopath. I was always given to understand that osteopathy is pretty respectable, and basically another name for physiotherapy. Shapiro's book completely exploded that myth for me. It's all hogwash, drivel and nonsense. My friend highlights his delusions by referring to the science-based alternative as physioterrorism, which is pathetic really. Out of respect, I tolerate his fantasy, but now I think I will present him with a copy of this book for Christmas.
14 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An incisive examination of alternative and complementary therapies,
For those who are only inclined to read one book on this topic, my preference was for 'Trick or Treatment?' This is because it is such a well structured book. Ultimately it will be a matter of personal taste as to which book someone prefers and I will give a couple of possible reasons for choosing 'Suckers' instead.
Rose Shapiro brings a deliciously cynical sense of humour to her writing. In addition, for anyone who is interested in osteopathy, this book contains a much fuller treatment than Singh and Ernst's book. In the latter, osteopathy gets a single page of coverage in the appendix.
This book is a useful antidote to the irrationality to which people are prone. When people are ill they are particularly vulnerable. Anything which diminishes the likelihood of vulnerable people being exploited, if not actually harmed, has to be applauded.
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Suckers: How Alternative Medicine Makes Fools of Us All by Rose Shapiro (Paperback - 5 Feb 2009)
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