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Trick or Treatment: The Undeniable Facts about Alternative Medicine

4.07  ·  Rating Details ·  2,849 Ratings  ·  189 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
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Paperback, 352 pages
Published October 19th 2009 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 2008)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Alasse
Nov 10, 2011 Alasse rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Alasse by: Rinzewind
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
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Lena
Oct 20, 2008 Lena rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Jennifer
Dec 30, 2012 Jennifer rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Sheri
Sep 09, 2012 Sheri rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Brian Clegg
Aug 15, 2014 Brian Clegg rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book takes an objective look at alternative medicine. The outcome is electrifying to everyone who thinks and has used or considered using anything like homeopathy or acupuncture. Singh and Ernst don’t set out with any malice – Ernst has worked for many years in alternative medicine – but they show devastatingly how proper trials have shown these alternative treatments to rarely be better than a placebo, and often to have negative or even life-threatening consequences.

It really is striking –
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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
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Tiffany
Sep 06, 2016 Tiffany rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Alex Givant
Если вы планируете прочесть всего одну книгу в этом году - прочтите эту, возможно она спасет вашу жизнь или жизнь ваших близких/друзей.
Jenny
Jul 11, 2011 Jenny rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
stefano
Mar 13, 2016 stefano rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Mi hanno sempre affascinato le medicine alternative e tra le tante prediligo l'omeopatia. Certo, senza nulla togliere alla cristalloterapia, alla tuocuginopatia, all'osteopatia, alle terapie ayurvediche, alla naturopatia, ai fiori di Bach. Tutte discipline degne di essere derise apprezzate, ma nessuna raggiunge il livello dell'omeopatia. Io amo particolarmente l'omeopatia, gli omeopati e financo gli omeopatici. Sono affascinato dalla diluizione, dalla succussione, dalla dinamizzazione. Adoro la
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Jennifer
May 01, 2009 Jennifer rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Mike
Dec 13, 2009 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Eva
Dec 01, 2009 Eva rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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.
Mike
Aug 03, 2011 Mike rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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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
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Tanja Berg
Aug 02, 2011 Tanja Berg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, science
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
Todd Martin
Mar 31, 2009 Todd Martin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Michelle
This methodical assessment of the clinical evidence of the effectiveness of alternative medicine treatments is straight-up brutal - but hey, that's science for you. The authors of Trick or Treatment certainly agree that there's no point in mincing words when mountains of evidence show no or minimal clinical effect beyond placebo in treatments such as acupuncture, homeopathy, and energy healing. Their tone throughout the book is unlikely to change the minds of alt-medicine true believers, but the ...more
Ci
Nov 27, 2015 Ci rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: how-to-books
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
Andrew
Jan 05, 2009 Andrew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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
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Yankey
Mar 20, 2012 Yankey rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Miklos
Aug 16, 2014 Miklos rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Few things are better understood than alternative medicine modalities and there are less things that are questioned as to its efficacy. Talk to Dr. Oz, Chopra, Andrew Weil, etc. and you'll hear glowing endorsements of acupuncture, homeopathy, and the like. Dig a little into the evidence evaluating its effectiveness however, and everything falls apart. Trick or Treatment is one of the few books I can find that evaluates the four major alt med modalities - Homeopathy, Herbalism, Acupuncture, & ...more
Fail Fish
This book gives accurate, scientifically tested facts about complementary and alternative medicine and the surrounding community. It includes some very interesting anecdotes and comparisons, as well as some excellent suggestions for the future of medicine.

That being said, the writing style is atrocious.

Don't get me wrong, Simon Singh can undoubtedly write very well. However, he uses a scathing, critical style when discussing alternative medicine, whether he is discussing treatments that work or
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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.
Luda
Oct 24, 2012 Luda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition


כמה מסתורי וסקסי זה רייקי, אנרגיית צ׳י, מרידיאנים וסנטה קלאוס.
יש דברים שעבודים ויש דברים של. כדאי מאוד לדעת מה זה מה, כדי לתעל את האנרגיות הזמן והכסף.
Atticus06
Ottimo come approfondimento a Salute e Bugie di Salvo di Grazia. Esaustivo, chiaro e da consigliare a tutti gli estimatori di cure alternative e pseudoscienze.
Chuck Pee
Jan 02, 2011 Chuck Pee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think it's a must read for all advocates of "alternative medicine"
Geraldine
Feb 02, 2016 Geraldine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone who decides on or reports on anything related to health or resourcing healthcare
Recommended to Geraldine by: Ben Goldacre
Shelves: science, 2015
I slowly got to like this book as the pages went by. But I do think it is a more difficult read than it should be. Which is a shame, because it ought to be compulsory reading for just about anybody. It's not obviously badly written - no writerly tics, but it just seems to drag.

Also, sadly, it's going to be read either by sciencey types, some of whom may use it to prove their smugness; people like me who have accepted much writing by Singh, & Goldacre, Colquohon and others about Complementary
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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
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More about Simon Singh...

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“Perhaps the greatest danger in the way that alternative therapists behave is simply the promotion of their own treatments when patients should be in the care of a conventional doctor. There are numerous reports of patients with serious conditions (e.g. diabetes, cancer, AIDS) suffering harm after following irresponsible advice form alternative practitioners instead of following the advice of a doctor.” 0 likes
“(Florence) Nightingale's passion for statistics enabled her to persuade the government of the importance of a whole series of health reforms. for example, many people had argued that training nurses was a waste of time, because patients cared for by trained nurses actually had a higher mortality rate than those treated by untrained staff. Nightingale, however, pointed out that this was only because more serious cases were being sent to those wards with trained nurses. If the intention is to compare the results from two groups, then it is essential to assign patients randomly to the two groups. Sure enough, when Nightingale set up trials in which patients were randomly assigned to trained and untrained nurses, it became clear that the cohort of patients treated by trained nurses fared much better than their counterparts in wards with untrained nurses.” 0 likes
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