Snake Oil Science: The Truth about Complementary and Alternative Medicine Hardcover – 1 Nov 2007
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'Inside' Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM), we see embarrassingly little critical evaluation. Barker Bausell most certainly comes from the 'inside' and he is definitely critical about CAM; this makes his book unusual, ground-breaking and, I think, important...his book is highly informative, easy to read and full of entertaining wit and humour...aimed at the consumer...but too good a book to be read by the lay audience only. I warmly recommend it to healthcare professionals who work in CAM or have an interest in this area. (Focus on Alternative and Complementary Therapies)
About the Author
R. Barker Bausell, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Maryland Baltimore, was Research Director of a National Institutes of Health-funded Complementary and Alternative Medicine Specialized Research Center where he was in charge of conducting and analyzing randomized clinical trials involving acupuncture's effectiveness for pain relief. He has also served as a consultant to Prevention and Discover magazines.
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Because Bausell's position on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is simply this: it's no more effective than a placebo. This is not something that millions of people want to hear. Regardless, he puts together a compelling case to support this contention. In fact I would call his conclusion inescapable.
R. Barker Bausell is a research methodologist or biostatistician, a professor at the University of Maryland, and has had many years experience in evaluating research studies. It knows the ways researchers can fool themselves, leading to biased results, and he spells them out in elaborate detail. To demonstrate a point, he recalls the work of famed research psychologist Joseph Banks Rhine at Duke University who seemed to establish statistically that people can indeed demonstrate clairvoyance by guessing face down cards, and telepathy by reading other people's minds. Rhine conducted so many experiments over so many years that the above average success of his subjects could not happen by chance. Unfortunately one day he innocently revealed that he had "a filing cabinet filled with results of experiments that had produced only chance results or lower." He explained that "these particular results were produced by people who were deliberately guessing incorrectly just to spite him." (p.270)
Bausell's point is that if studies are selected, then the statistical evaluation of the effectiveness of card guessing or some kind of treatment, is invalid. Bausell notes that this selective process occurs not just from decisions made by researchers but by peer review journals and by the results that research sponsors may suppress as not helping the sales of their product or treatment.Read more ›
The publisher has done the author a disservice by using a hard-to-read sans-serif typeface and very light printing, which made the book hard to read. I hope they will go over to a conventional typeface for the paperback edition (and I'll buy a copy if they do).
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I found this book a terrifically good read. It clearly explains the issues of researching CAM, through illustrating the poor quality 'research' which has already been done, and... Read morePublished on 4 Jan. 2013 by Strider
This book has been written by a man with an inside view of not only CAM therapies but also of how clinical trials are done , and states
all their flaws etc , that said he... Read more