Snake Oil Science: The Truth about Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Snake Oil Science: The Truth about Complementary and Alternative Medicine Review

Millions of people worldwide swear by such therapies as acupuncture, herbal cures, and homeopathic remedies. Indeed, complementary and alternative medicine is embraced by a broad spectrum of society, from ordinary people, to scientists and physicians, to celebrities such as Prince Charles and Oprah Winfrey.
In the tradition of Michael Shermers Why People Believe Weird Things and Robert Parks's Voodoo Science, Barker Bausell provides an engaging look at the scientific evidence for complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) and at the logical, psychological, and physiological pitfalls that lead otherwise intelligent people--including researchers, physicians, and therapists--to endorse these cures. The books ultimate goal is to reveal not whether these therapies work--as Bausell explains, most do work, although weakly and temporarily--but whether they work for the reasons their proponents believe. Indeed, as Bausell reveals, it is the placebo effect that accounts for most of the positive results. He explores this remarkable phenomenon--the biological and chemical evidence for the placebo effect, how it works in the body, and why research on any therapy that does not factor in the placebo effect will inevitably produce false results. By contrast, as Bausell shows in an impressive survey of research from high-quality scientific journals and systematic reviews, studies employing credible placebo controls do not indicate positive effects for CAM therapies over and above those attributable to random chance.
Here is not only an entertaining critique of the strangely zealous world of CAM belief and practice, but it also a first-rate introduction to how to correctly interpret scientific research of any sort. Readers will come away with a solid understanding of good vs. bad research practice and a healthy skepticism of claims about the latest miracle cure, be it St. John's Wort for depression or acupuncture for chronic pain.

Title:Snake Oil Science: The Truth about Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Edition Language:English

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    Snake Oil Science: The Truth about Complementary and Alternative Medicine Reviews

  • Lena

    As someone who spent years traveling through the offices of acupuncturists, chiropractors, naturopaths and homeopaths, I found Barker Bausell's thorough examination of the science behind these practic...

  • Scott

    For the attention-deprived, Bausell succinctly summarizes his thesis and conclusion at the end of Chapter 13: "CAM therapies are nothing more than cleverly packaged placebos."There is significant dept...

  • Ken

    The author wanted to see if alternative medical treatments are any better than placebos. In any test of medicine, the placebo effect has to be taken into account, but in most research done on things l...

  • J & J

    Far too general...

  • Bob Colwick

    When my older son was diagnosed with autism, the first thing I latched on to was a cure...'it is the natural reaction to other health ailments', I thought, 'why shouldn't it work with autism?' As I qu...

  • Kenneth Sherman

    The author wanted to see if alternative medical treatments are any better than placebos. In any test of medicine, the placebo effect has to be taken into account, but in most research done on things l...

  • Alexander Miles

    When I first heard about this book, I figured it would be an all-out one-sided argument against alternative medicine, but the narrative wasn't quite as aggressive as I would have suspected. While the ...

  • Jon Allen

    I really enjoyed this book, because it provided a different viewpoint on Complementary and Alternative Medicine than what I've read in other books. The majority of the book is focused not on how effec...

  • Pam Reeder

    Kind of dry writing. And, heck, I kind of like the placebo effect of a number of therapies -- why knock 'em if people feel better....

  • Dennis Littrell

    Outstanding book that should be widely read, but won’t beWhy?Because Bausell’s position on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is simply this: it’s no more effective than a placebo. Thi...