February 1st, 2009

reading list

Bruce Lipton, quack

I was rudely awakened by my father this morning at 10 a.m. to ask me about a guy named Bruce Lipton. He said that he was watching a video of him, and at first he didn't make sense, but he thought he was starting to....

Dad, first of all, I went to bed at 2 a.m. Couldn't you wait a bit? Second, listen to your first instincts.

A quote about the book comes from Lipton's own site: A renaissance in Cell Biology now provides the cutting edge science - real science - to prove how holistic health therapies work.

That last bit is where my brain comes to a screeching halt... "to prove how holistic health therapies work"??? They haven't been proved to work yet!! How can you prove how they work if they don't work?

My dad's talking to me about energy, and how sound waves are energy and how they use them to break glass or shatter kidney stones... and I have to stop him. It's a compression wave, this stuff is all very well understood. Resonant frequencies and feedback... No mystery here. Energy is not some supernatural mumbo-jumbo that we can attribute to everything, that is capable of anything. It has very specific properties. And all this from a former engineer.

I was of mixed feelings a couple years ago when an acquaintence of mine chose a non-standard medical treatment for a wife who was terminally ill with cancer. I think that traditional medicine may have bought her more time, because I believe it is more effective, and doctor's generally give worst-case scenarios so that they can't be sued later for the cancer being more aggressive than average. But even traditional medicine knew that she was dying, and I respected the choice, even if I disagreed with it, about what to do in those last three to five months.

However, I fear that I will soon lose an aunt to these bullshit "holistic" treatments. My aunt found cancer in her salivary glands in her face. The cancer was removed, and they thought they got it all, but the doctors wanted her to undergo chemotherapy as a back-up, to ensure that they got it all. I believe her chances of survival in such a scenario would have been high.

Did my aunt, though, have the good sense to follow her doctor's advice??? No, of course not, because she's been bamboozled. She blames talking on a cell phone for her cancer. And she doesn't want to do chemo because it's too hard, because she's heard "horror stories". Instead, she's drinking juice. Yeah, I kid you not. Instead of chemo, she is on some detoxification diet involving lots of home juicing. So far, she has no recurrence, but what I fear is that it will come back somewhere else, having metasticized, and her distrust of normal medicine will actually kill her, and cut short what would otherwise have been a normal lifespan, and kill her with a cancer which was otherwise curable.

"Holistic" therapies that don't work are not harmless; they kill people.

And of course, any time I try to mention my concern to anyone, including my dad, my aunt's older brother, what do I get, except arguments that she can do what she thinks is best, and how dare I this, that or the other thing. Lots of indignation that I should care because I claim to know something.

I'll tell ya one thing, though... when my brother's kid is born, that child is going to have far more respect for science than what I've been seeing from my family lately, if I have anything to say about it.

Update (Feb 10, 2011): It's been two years since I made this post at what, for me, was very early in the morning. I was annoyed for a number of reasons, and the tone of my post reflects that. But despite that two years have gone by, and I've locked the post to anonymous comments, I'm still getting random people wandering in telling me I'm stupid, and that I don't have a right to think what I do. And in large measure, the comments have been horribly skewed toward purveyors of pseudo-scientific nonsense... which is why I can't just let this alone and shut off notification. Crazy commenters need to be responded to. Unchallenged, they do more damage. However, my life continues at a breakneck pace and I don't have time to respond to people defending alternative medicine when there isn't any reliable evidence that says it works (even the government agency designed to defend it can't manage to manufacture credible studies capable of bolstering their position). This isn't what I do for a living. I am, therefore, diabling comments on this post, for the foreseeable future. After a while, Google will move me back down their search engine results and I can go back to not wanting to break something.