Friday, April 10, 2009

Well, here's a reason not to go back to BC.

They've licensed quackery. There's good reason to expand the abilities of nurses and even midwives (who, AFAIK, have some scientific basis for their interventions). But naturopaths? Utter nonsense.

To be fair, they have to get certified and all they can do is prescribe hormones, vitamins, minerals and amino acids (as well as, probably, some others kinds of regulated substances). So, no actual medicines as such. But given that naturopaths are trained in pseudoscience, I'm not hopeful about this power being used responsibly. We've already seen the after-effects of the spread of anti-vaccination woo -- reduction of herd immunity. What's going to happen when the naturopaths don't have to go through real doctors to dump chemicals into someone's body?

H/T Chrystal Ocean.


Chrystal Ocean said...

Your "quackery" is another's expertise. And vice versa: the western medical, including pharmaceutical, industry is seen by many to have serious ethical problems. Certainly, it focuses vastly more on treatment rather than prevention.

As I wrote in my post, I welcome these changes not because of them, per se, but because of what they may mean in terms of shifting the huge overemphasis on the acute care system at the expense of practices which would prevent disease and promote health.

ADHR said...

If you're going to say that naturopaths are experts, then they have to have some actual knowledge. So what is their knowledge? You note that it's not the same as medicine. So what is it? What do they know?

Naturopathy is quackery, based on the only criterion that matters: it doesn't work. Medicine works.

This epistemic point has nothing to do with the ethical point. Linking them the way you have is just a non sequitur. Medicine is not undermined epistemically because some of its practitioners have ethical problems. This is also irrelevant to the point at hand. Any problems with the pharmaceutical industry and its connections to medicine suggests a need for better regulation, not giving quacks more power.

The claim that medicine focuses on treatment rather than prevention is both wrong and confused.

Prevention and treatment aren't independent of each other. Indeed, from a certain perspective, they're the same thing. Treatment can prevent recurrence; prevention can pre-empt the need for treatment. So, if you like, the distinction is between ex post -- treatment -- and ex ante -- prevention. That's why the claim is confused.

I can't recall ever going to a physician where I wasn't instructed in methods of improving diet, exercise, etc. in order to prevent disease and disability. I've also worked for physicians who habitually move between immediate intervention to cure disease or treat disability, and anticipatory interventions to ensure disease and disability do not occur (or worsen). My experience didn't strike me as particularly uncommon, so I take it that it generalizes. That's why the claim is wrong.

Furthermore, you're implicitly claiming that naturopathy somehow prevents disease/disability and makes people healthier. But it just doesn't do that. Naturopathy doesn't do anything; it's never stood up to a scientific test to show it has any measureable, objective effect whatsoever.

If people want to waste their time and money on nonsense, that's their business. But I don't see any reason for the government to encourage it. I also see good reason against it, insofar as it might lead to broadly damaging consequences. It's one thing to allow people to do stupid things that only harm themselves; it's quite another to allow them to do stupid things that might harm everyone. (Again, compare to the issue of people refusing vaccinations for their children; past a certain point, that choice puts everyone at risk.)

Ian said...

ADHR: That comment is worthy of a post of its own!