Trick or Treatment: The Undeniable Facts about Alternative Medicine
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Trick or Treatment: The Undeniable Facts about Alternative Medicine

4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  1,518 ratings  ·  143 reviews
“For anyone who has ever wondered about the scientific evidence for the effectiveness of . . . alternative therapies.”—Susan Okie, Washington Post

Whether you are an ardent believer in alternative medicine, a skeptic, or are simply baffled by the range of services and opinions, this groundbreaking analysis lays to rest doubts and contradictions with authority, integrity, a...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published October 19th 2009 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 2008)
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Alasse
DIE, HOMEOPATHY, DIE!!

This book is perfect. I've been thinking I had to write this book eventually, but now I don't have to because it exists and it's exactly as I imagined it. Now all I have to do is have a child and plant a tree.

It's a fact that otherwise smart people have a tendency to believe weird stuff. It's always there, right under the surface. My own mom just came in to tell me I have to be careful tomorrow (11/11/11), because the number 11 scares her. I don't understand it, but there...more
Lena
This is the third book I've read this year that examines the evidence for and against alternative medicine, so much of the ground it covers was already familiar to me. Despite that fact, I enjoyed this book a great deal and think it is likely to be the most accessible to those who have personal experience with alternative medicine.

The authors take an in-depth look at the four most popular modalities in the alternative medicine world: acupuncture, homeopathy, chiropractic and herbal medicine. The...more
Jennifer
Super biased in favor of conventional medicine, which shouldn't be a shock since it's written by an MD.
Not well cited at all, very anecdotal in the examples that prove how useless alternative medicine is (other than the super diluted homeopathic drugs).
Mentioned a FEW people have even been harmed with natural cures, but failed to mention the over 100,000 people who die in the US every year from correctly prescribed, properly taken conventional medicine (not including overdoses and illegally us...more
Sheri
Wow. The authors treat their readers as if we are unintelligent. I really thought this book was going to take a more neutral, and scientific based approach to exploring the efficacy of alternative medicines. I am also surprised to see some of the reviewers on here saying things like "this book just confirmed all my beliefs" and " I was already suspicious of alternative medicines". Why even read it if you have already made up your mind? It's always easy to convince you of something you already b...more
David Dinaburg
I once watched a pigeon, waddling around on the sidewalk, launch into the air and bounce off a pedestrian’s chest. It shattered the illusion that the natural world is some sort of flawless, mystical place—that animals are so in tune with their surroundings that they never make mistakes or have poor judgments. “Yeah, I can totally achieve escape velocity before that giant lumbering treetrunk or whatever crosses my flightpath,” thinks the pigeon. No. You didn’t.

This sort of magical thinking—or per...more
Mike
So a while back a friend of mine used acupuncture to help with some nausea issues. I teased her about it and said it was just the placebo effect. Then I heard that some studies indicated that acupuncture may truly be useful for certain kinds of pain and nausea. In order to confirm this, I wanted to find a trusted source. I'm rather new to the skeptical community, but I have already heard much about Simon Singh and his battles with British libel laws to tell the truth about chiropractics. So I th...more
Jenny
I'd been hoping to find a book like this. It was well done and interesting. The introductory chapter and explanation of the history of clinical trials was well done. Then the meat of the book (brief history of alternative therapy, and review of it's merit and/or risks based on trials and studies to date) was excellent reading. Acupuncture, Homeopathy, Chiropractic, and Herbal Medicine are examined in detail, and there is a nice appendix with summaries on a plethora of other alternative therapies...more
Jennifer
I only read the section of this book that related to chiropractic care. The authors seem to make the fatal assumption that the double-blind study it the only valid test of a medical treatment. Although the book seemed well researched and accurate in the facts presented, it was written with a clear bias against non-allopathic medicine. Since they claim that they are presenting a scientific and unbiased view, they have clearly failed in their goals. I actually believe that the time I spent on this...more
Qi
This book takes an empirical view to evaluate the clinical trial data on various alternative medicine. For each of the "therapies" analyzed in the book, there is a summary of the historical background, major proponents and controversies, whether the basic idea is "biologically plausible", and results of credible clinical trials. In the Appendix section of the book, there are angle-paged summary of popular alternative medicine, the evidence and conclusion. The overwhelming conclusion is negative....more
Yankey
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tanja Berg
This book aims to explain the most common alternative therapies - acupuncture, chiropractic therapy, homeopathy and herbal medicine - and analyze their usefulness based on the same method as mainstream medicine is rigorously tested. The book details the history of clinical trials based on scientific method and explains simply and thorougly. It is thanks to clinical trials that medicine profession began to emerge from the dark ages 150 years ago and that we can now see our GP's without risking ou...more
Michael Greenwell
Trick or Treatment didn't have to carry me very far, I was already severely dubious of any from of alternative medicine, and it may in fact have made me reconsider my own point of view on a number of the treatments that apparently have some claim to efficacy, despite the authors' overwhelmingly negative conclusions with regards to the efficacy of alternative treatments.

However, I don't know whether I really appreciated its overall tone, which, while informative, struck me as too impassioned to b...more
Todd Martin
Trick or Treatment takes a scientific look at the evidence for and against Alternative Medicine. The authors look at a broad range of clinical trials and use this data to describe:
• The claims as to how the treatments function
• Whether the treatments work
• If so, for what conditions
• The dangers involved

Unfortunately, alternative medicine makes many claims which are not supported by the evidence.

Acupuncture – There is no such thing as Chi or Meridians. Some evidence exists for minor and temporar...more
Elaine Nelson
My tongue-in-cheek instinct is to say that I'm posting spoilers, but not really: acupuncture might work for nausea & pain; homeopathy is BS; chiropractic might work for lower back pain; and herbal remedies are a mixed bag, some quite effective, others not so much.

More seriously, I like the detailed approach to these fairly common "alternative" techniques. The authors start with a history of evidence-based medicine and the application of the scientific method to human health, before going on...more
Tiffany
So, Trick or Treatment: The Undeniable Facts About Alternative Medicine was written by Simon Singh, who I used to respect, and Edzard Ernest, MD, who calls himself "the world's first professor of complementary medicine" and immediately relative to this I have heard people who know him clear their throats and add: "Although, I have never heard where he studied any complementary medicine." (See what I just did there? I cast aspersions upon one of the authors by relating an anecdotal and therefore...more
Mike
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Bookaholic
În secolul nostru curios, cercetător, dar și teribil de credul, când orice buruienuță are potențial latent de panaceu și orice vraci chinez poate lecui, cu o mână la spate, orice beteșug, cartea Adevărul despre medicina alternativă este o lectură recomandabilă oricărui intelectual.

Cei doi autori, amândoi oameni de știință și cercetători, Simon Singh și Edzard Ernst, iau la analizat câteva dintre cele mai populare metode medicale alternative, începând cu originile lor, cu perioada lor de înflorir...more
Eva
I was really frustrated by this book. So frustrated that I returned it with about 50 pages left to read. I'm not even sure I can tell you exactly why I didn't like it, but I found the attitude of the authors some what holier-than-thou, and not really very helpful or useful. It's particularly ironic that I didn't like the book, since I agree with most of what they said.
Samantha
While I was very interested in the information this book provided, I felt that the authors presented it in a very harsh and biased manner. The data support the arguments made, but I don't think it needed to be presented in such an "in your face!" kind of way.
Wrenn1
Dec 25, 2011 Wrenn1 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
The ratings here on this book appear to reflect the opinion of the "choir".

If you believe strongly in something find a book that confirms your belief so you can tell yourself you were right.
Chuck Pee
I think it's a must read for all advocates of "alternative medicine"
Blake Nelson
This book is a very well written and accessible discussion of the most popular forms of alternative medicine in use today (homeopathy, chiropractic, herbal medicine, and acupuncture).

The book starts with a description of evidence based medicine, which is the process of determining which treatments work and which don't by observing their effects on people. Remarkably, it is only the last couple hundred years that people have thought to check on the result of a treatment - most treatments were gi...more
Andrew
I picked this book up at the library by chance. It is a fascinating exploration of both standard medicine and alternative medicine. It describes the successes and failures of standard medicine, and how the medical profession continually tests treatments to determine which work and which don't.

It then describes in detail acupuncture, chiropractry, homeopathy and herbal medicine, describing their history, their philosophy and their effectiveness. I never fully understood the first three, so this...more
Kirsty Darbyshire
Before I read this book my opinion was that "alternative medicine" was largely "trick" and only occasionally "treatment", so much so that I almost didn't bother to read it. But since I struggle to explain that viewpoint to others sometimes I thought I'd have a read and see which bits were actually useful.

The authors look into four branches of alternative medicine in detail. Before reading I thought that homeopathy was a load of rubbish (though only since realising in recent years that this invol...more
Mackenzie
While I agree with some of the authors concerns about alternative medicine and it's effects on societal health, I can't help but feel this book was incredibly biased. The authors are not blatant about their hatred for alternative medicine but it is evident in their word choice and writing tone. This book also covers a wide variety of therapies yet has no documentation so you could look into their comments further. The conventional medical society has a tendency to ignore how patient feels about...more
Harry Rutherford
This book reviews the evidence for the various main forms of alternative medicine. The take-home message, for me, was that most of these treatments are completely ineffective but harmless, with two major exceptions.

First is herbal medicines, which are largely untested but some of which work. Of course they can also have just as bad side-effects as anything your doctor will prescribe for you, and there's no guarantee of the quality of the product. So that's a bit of a crap-shoot.

And the surprisin...more
Ben
Welp, so much for grabbing that homeopathic remedy off the shelf at Walgreen's this afternoon.

I would recommend this book to anyone. I've never made much consideration, or even shown much interest, in alternative medicine before. And for those of you like me, this book is perfect. The authors speak plainly yet authoritatively to the leymen among us.

I found the brief histories and consistent approaches to the major alternative therapies appeasing and trustworthy.

Singh and Ernst begin the book v...more
Johan
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Campbell Mcaulay
Readable and interesting, if unsurprising and a little lightweight,

In "Trick or Treatment" Singh and Ernst summarise the cases for or against four of the more popular alternative health treatments, acupuncture, chiropractic, homeopathy and herbal medicine. This summary includes a resume of the history, theory and format of the therapy and an overview of the attempts that have been made to prove or disprove the efficacy of the treatment. An appendix gives a briefer overview of a much wider range...more
Mazola1
The authors' aim is to find out the truth about alternative medicine. They do this mostly by reviewing double blind clinical trials. That is the gold standard for determining whether drugs or therapies are actually effective. The book provides an in depth look at homeopathy, chiropractic therapy, herbal remedies and acupuncture. The authors conclude that with few and minor exceptions, none of these forms of therapy(and a host of other alternative modes of therapy considered in less detail)has be...more
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10894
Simon Lehna Singh, MBE (born 1 January 1964) is a British author who has specialised in writing about mathematical and scientific topics in an accessible manner. He is the maiden winner of the Lilavati Award.

His written works include Fermat's Last Theorem (in the United States titled Fermat's Enigma: The Epic Quest to Solve the World's Greatest Mathematical Problem), The Code Book (about cryptogra...more
More about Simon Singh...
Fermat's Enigma: The Epic Quest to Solve the World's Greatest Mathematical Problem The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography Big Bang: The Origin of the Universe The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets The science of secrecy: The secret history of codes and codebreaking

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