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Trick or Treatment: The Undeniable Facts about Alternative Medicine

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  3,941 ratings  ·  256 reviews
Whether you are an ardent believer in alternative medicine, a skeptic, or are simply baffled by the range of services and opinions, this guide lays to rest doubts and contradictions with authority, integrity, and clarity. In this groundbreaking analysis, over thirty of the most popular treatmentsacupuncture, homeopathy, aromatherapy, reflexology, chiropractic, and herbal ...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published August 17th 2008 by W. W. Norton Company (first published 2008)
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Average rating 4.09  · 
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Jun 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Alasse by: Rinzewind

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
Jul 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
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.
Sep 09, 2012 rated it did not like it
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 ...more
Nov 29, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
Oct 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kat-sachbuch
This book investigates the claims alternative medical treatments make based on a scientifically acknowledged methodology.

The book starts with a description of the scientific methods, studies have to be based on to have any value. They also evaluate some well known studies.

The next chapters look thouroughly on acupuncture, homeopathy, chiropractic therapy and herbal medicine.

The last chapter, which I found particularly interesting, discusses if the placebo effect of alternative treatments is
Sep 12, 2018 rated it it was ok
In my continued exploration of alternative medicine, I turned to Drs. Edzard Ernst and Simon Singhs Trick or Treatment. While rife with medical history and science, unfortunately it reads somewhat like stereo instructions.

Trick or Treatment is simply too tedious for the casual reader. Im sure medical professionals will find this text fascinating. Laypeople? Not so much. Its too academic.

Further, I find it irritating that the doctors denigrate alternative medicine practitioners for relying on
Brian Clegg
Aug 15, 2014 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 dont 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 the
Feb 03, 2013 rated it did not like it
So, Trick or Treatment: The Undeniable Facts About Alternative Medicine was written by Simon Singh, who I used to respect, and Edzard Ernst, 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
David Dinaburg
Mar 07, 2013 rated it liked it
I once watched a pigeon, waddling around on the sidewalk, launch into the air and bounce off a pedestrians chest. It shattered the illusion that the natural world is some sort of flawless, mystical placethat 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 didnt.

This sort of magical thinkingor perhaps
Tanja Berg
Aug 02, 2011 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 ...more
Jul 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
May 01, 2009 rated it it was ok
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
Oct 31, 2009 rated it did not like it
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.
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
Dec 13, 2009 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Angela Gentile
Nov 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The Truth Is Alternative Therapies Provide Nothing More than Placebo Effects

Dr. Simon Singh and Professor Edzard Ernst team up in "Trick or Treatment: Alternative Medicine on Trial" (2008) to bust the myths of the effectiveness of some of the most popular complementary and alternative treatments. Ernsts impressive occupational and education history make him far more than qualified to be the one to take on this task. He was formerly a clinical doctor and studied homeopathy. Singh has a Ph.D. in
Dec 25, 2011 is currently reading it
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.
Mar 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
In short: stay far away from acupuncture, homeopathy, chiropractic therapy, and herbal medicine. The evidence for this was clear and concise 10 years ago when this book was written and more of it has piled up since then.

I was prompted to read this book after several suggestions to buy an EMF protection pendant or a similar product. Dumbfounded and somewhat depressed, I was directed to trawl through a gob of tripe which was supposed to be sufficient to convince me. Unfortunately for them, Popular
Elaine Nelson
Jun 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Todd Martin
Feb 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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 temporary
Jun 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 20, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Dec 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 07, 2012 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Robyn (FailFish)
Jul 26, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: popular-medicine
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
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.
Chuck Pee
Jan 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I think it's a must read for all advocates of "alternative medicine"
Filip Ligmajer
Jan 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
page 8 | location 112-115 | Added on Sunday, 2 November 2014 23:58:01
Everything we know about the universe, from the components of an atom to the number of galaxies, is thanks to science, and every medical breakthrough, from the development of antiseptics to the eradication of smallpox, has been built upon scientific foundations. Of course, science is not perfect. Scientists will readily admit that they do not know everything, but nevertheless the scientific method is without doubt the best
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Simon Lehna Singh, MBE 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 cryptography and its history),

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