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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Putting the boot in, 10 Mar 2013
This review is from: Trick or Treatment?: Alternative Medicine on Trial (Paperback)
Whilst I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiments expressed in this book I also think that sentiment is part of the problem. The authors get too personal. It doesn't seem to be enough to sink 'alternative' therapies with weight of evidence alone- something the book makes repeated claims to be doing- instead it too often stoops to the level of those it accuses with anecdotes tossed around, individual trials cherry-picked and a completely unforgivable lack of referencing.
I do accept that fixing the above would have made for a drier read, however when you're going after something which in so many cases is patently fraudulent yet accepted by so many it is hugely important to keep your case watertight and expose yourself to as few attacks as possible. Singh and Ernst seem to have not been able to resist dismantling the 'therapy' in question then trying to outdo each other in repeatedly kicking it for no other reason than they can, weakening their case in the process.
After finishing this I found myself wishing that Ben Goldacre had written it- I can't help feeling that his style of indignant but more balanced and tough to contradict writing would have been better suited to the subject.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 7 Apr 2013 16:59:57 BDT
John Tosco says:
Let me see if I understand correctly. When you say: "with anecdotes tossed around, individual trials cherry-picked and a completely unforgivable lack of referencing.", Are you implying that when they say: "Every conclusion we reach depends on an unbiased analysis of the best medical research" (page 12), it is not true? That they are misleading the reader?
Then why 3 stars?

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Apr 2013 08:00:08 BDT
Andy Barnard says:
I'm not saying it's misleading at all and I'm sure the conclusions are solid. I'm only saying that they give their detractors an easy way out by not properly referencing and using anecdotes or single trials to illustrate all their points.

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Apr 2013 14:51:47 BDT
Last edited by the author on 9 Apr 2013 14:52:16 BDT
John Tosco says:
You can pull as many hat tricks as you want, but I only see two possibilities. One, you are right and they use "cherry-picked individual trials" (your words not mine) which implies -accoding to THEIR reference "Testing treatments" (page 391)- that they are biased (in fact the epitome of bias according to that book: "biased under-reporting of research can be lethal" (page 96)) and therefore misleading the public (unbiased analysis!), or Two, you are wrong and they don't toss around anecdotes nor they cherry-pick individual trials.
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