"Alternative medicine" is excellent as an
NPOV category without
introducing a needlessly pejorative term like "quack". "Not proven to
work" within the rules of mainstream science is already implicit in the
term "alternative". The concepts "not proven to work" and
to work" are very different, and quackery would have more kinship with
It's very hard to prove something doesn't ever
work under any conditions. On the other hand
most popular "alternative medicine" stuff
*has* been put to scientific tests and *failed*.
When tested in properly controlled double blind
scientific studies (such as any new medicine is
subjected to) homeopathy has failed. More than once.
Homeopaths alternatively point to poorly conducted
studies that seemed to show some efficacy and, more
usually, anecdotal evidence. Sometimes they like to
imply that their craft has never been tested
scientifically and that scientific validation
is just around the corner. Needless to say, that
is not the case.
This is, I think, what many people think of when
they hear about "alternative medicine" - something
new that hasn't been properly tested but just might
work. That's the impression the quacks like to give
(often in good faith, no doubt) but it's wrong.
Most of this has been tested and failed long ago.
That's why it's accurate to call it quackery and
somewhat misleading to call it alternative medicine.
"Falsely presented" is a point that would
need to be proven. Do you
have evidence that homeopathic medicines are not curative, or that they
are just water?
Certainly. The homeopaths don't even really deny
the fact. Their idea is that the pure water they
sell has some magical properties. They don't usually
deny that chemically it's pure water.
James Randi (http://www.randi.org
) offers his million
dollar price to anyone who has a method for distinguishing
between homeopathic water and normal water.
That may very well be the case, but I would not be
prepared to jump to that conclusion. Making definitive statements about
these practices requires more than parroting the opinions of their
I may be a parrot but I'm
a fairly well informed one :)
I can just as easily see that "quack
undeserved negative connotations, while "alternative" adequately warns
the user to proceed at his own risk. The credibility of the various
practices that come under this heading is wildly variable, and some may
indeed qualify as quackery, but certainly not all.
The overwhelming majority of what quacks (and other
well-meaning people) like to call alternative medicine
is quackery. Sometimes the term is defined so broadly
as to include massage. This is a further attempt to
confuse the issue since massage has very little in
common with, for example, homeopathy.
To sum up the case against homeopathy:
1. Theory developed in the infancy of modern medicine.
2. No plausible mechanism by which it could work.
3. Proper scientific studies fail to show any efficacy.
4. No-one has come up with a method to distinguish between
normal water and homeopathic water.
5. It's sold for profit to many people around the world,
some of them sick and desperate.
What more could you possibly want in order to
classify something as quackery?
The degree of doubt that there might be about
homeopathy does indeed
belong in the article on the topic.
Our article on [[Holocaust denial]] is in the
[[Category:Pseudohistory]]. That term sounds
pretty derisive to me. Does the "degree of
doubt that there might be" on the occurrence
of the Holocaust deserve a prominent place
and a sympathetic representation in any articles
related to it?
(I'm sorry for breaking Godwin's law. I honestly
tried to come up with another well known example
of pseudohistory. I tried the Apollo hoax theory
but for some reason the relevant article isn't
in the pseudohistory category. Nothing in that
category is as well known as [[Holocaust denial]].
To be absolutely clear I'm not suggesting that
any member of this list is a Holocaust denier
or that the Holocaust is somehow comparable to
homeopathy or other types of quackery.)
My opinion is that [[Homeopathy]] belongs both
in [[Category:Pseudoscience]] and in [[Category:Quackery]].
If there is a consensus that it doesn't I will
of course defer to it.
I'm willing to discuss other members of the
alternative medicine category on their individual
merits for classification as quackery.