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Friday, November 21, 2003

Not that you would, but...

on the off chance you are considering "alternative" medicine for your winter cold or (please please don't) career, here's an informative article about the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM).

In theory, such an agency could be useful. It could debunk many of the claims about homeopathy, powdered rhinoceros horn, spiritual healing and even vitamins that are both dangerous and wasteful. Moreover, on the offchance that extract of toad testicles really is a good cure for alopecia, well, that would be a bonus.

In practice, the NCCAM is filled with people who already believe their own goofy theories before they test them, can't conduct rigorous science, and don't criticize their colleagues. I'm not surprised. I am, however, eternally frustrated. Why?! Why do we prefer to nod in approval rather than offer polite dissent or skepticism? Why does this sort of thing appeal to people who are otherwise well educated?

On the up side, the NCCAM is a part of the NIH, which means they offer postdoctoral funding! And, hell, if I don't have to waste my time doing controls or addressing contradictory research my experiments are sure to go much faster. See? The goverment can be streamlined.

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