Alasse's Reviews > Trick or Treatment: The Undeniable Facts about Alternative Medicine

Trick or Treatment by Simon Singh
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Jun 14, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: nonfiction, long-term-reading, skepticism, books-i-wish-i-d-written
Recommended to Alasse by: Rinzewind
Read from October 09 to November 10, 2011

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 it is. And being afraid of the number 11 probably won't hurt her, but there are people out there who will find ways to take advantage of her fear.

This is why this book is so important. People need to know why alternative medicine doesn't work, and they need to know how we can tell that it doesn't work. And if I had to write a book for non-sciency folks to understand how we've come to that conclusion, well, this is exactly the book I would write. (Except it's already been written. I'll have to find something else to do with my time).

The book is at the same time ruthlessly scientific and ridiculously accessible. It flat out refuses to make any assumptions, choosing instead to revise from scratch all the evidence we have on alternative therapies. Except you can't do that without first explaining the method you're using, so that's what the authors do - they intertwine all the acupuncture talk with scientific method talk.That is, they start out by laying out the origins of the clinical trial, and before you know it they're explaining the concept of publication bias and the Cochrane initiative.

The result is a rigorous, honest and well-researched book, and the fact that it's a little lightweight is probably its greatest strength.
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Reading Progress

10/12/2011 page 75
21.0% "If I had written a book for, say, my mom to read about homeopathy and its friends, this is EXACTLY the book I would have written. Happy."
11/03/2011 page 75
21.0% ""Viagra, one of the most successful drug discoveries in recent years, was originally developed to treat angina, but a pilot study showed that it did little to alleviate this condition. However, when researchers decided to stop the trial early and recall any unused pills, they were perplexed by the reluctance of the trial volunteers to return them." HA!!"
11/03/2011 page 225
64.0% ""Viagra, one of the most successful drug discoveries in recent years, was originally developed to treat angina, but a pilot study showed that it did little to alleviate this condition. However, when researchers decided to stop the trial early and recall any unused pills, they were perplexed by the reluctance of the trial volunteers to return them." HA!!"
02/03/2016 marked as: read
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Comments (showing 1-8 of 8) (8 new)

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message 1: by Ken (new)

Ken In truth, the track record of "science" and "undeniable" (ed. note: ha!) "truths" sometimes isn't much better than the alternatives.

Trust in black and white but stay gray all over.


Alasse Yeah, that's true. Which is precisely the point. Science is critical and is constantly tracking, recording and reappraising its own findings. Quackery is not.


message 3: by Julie (new)

Julie What does the book say about chiropractics? I think my MIL goes to a chiroprator.


Alasse That they're no better than regular painkillers for back pain and they're potentially dangerous when they manipulate your cervical column.


message 5: by Stacie (new)

Stacie Alasse wrote: "That they're no better than regular painkillers for back pain and they're potentially dangerous when they manipulate your cervical column."

Thank you for just validating why I will not go to a chiropractor.


Alasse Well, to be fair, chiropractic is one of the few therapies that have actually managed to prove that they do work, sometimes, for some conditions. The problem is, chiropractors started out claiming that they could cure virtually any ailment by manipulation of the spine (the usual "key nervous points" and "reflex adjustment" sort of talk). Nowadays, most of them will stick to treating lower back pain. Which seems to work in much the way that a regular massage would - but it does work, marginally.

The problem is that if you see an old-fashioned chiropractor who insists on "readjusting" (???) your cervical column, you're in danger of suffering a stroke. And, of course, chiropractic therapy is way more expensive than regular aspirin (which is also only marginally effective - low back pain is a bitch).

But, you know, if you have a chiropractor cousin who will treat you for free, and you're severely allergic to aspirin, and you make sure he stays away from your cervical column, then maybe chiropractic is the way to go. Otherwise, I'd just stick with conventional medicine.


message 7: by Jona (new)

Jona Seeley Your ignorance is baffling.


Alasse Well, I'm a medical doctor and not attacking anyone personally on their own review. But whatever.


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