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Michael Phelps's Back Spots Deserve a Gold Medal in Pseudoscience

Has the entire U.S. Olympic team fallen for the superstition of cupping?

Say it ain't so, Mike!

Tell me those dark purple bruises dotting your much gawked-upon anatomy are the result of some misguided experiment in Greco-Roman wrestling with Barney the Dinosaur. If Jessica Rabbitt gave you a few dozen monster hickeys, I'm okay with that. Or did your nonchalance about contracting the Zika virus prove too optimistic?

Just don't tell me those mysterious dark ovals come from cupping. You know, that time-worn Chinese (or possibly Middle Eastern) superstition that claims vacuum suction applied to the body can alter your "qi" energy and thereby cure asthma, herpes, infertility, cancer, and early onset acute gullibility disorder due to excessive gold medal-itis.

You've won a zillion medals. You're representing America. Please don't make us look any more naive than we already are. It was only last week that we learned the truth about flossing and we can't handle additional disillusionment.

A part of me doesn't want to blame you or your Olympic teammates for buying into alternative medicine. Journalists, tough-minded creatures that we are, have already fallen for the ruse. Glance at any newspaper headline on the topic nowadays and the odds are high you'll find an uncritical report praising unscientific "complementary" and "integrative" therapies.

When the entire Portland Trail Blazers team began cupping, The Oregonian quoted star athletes who called it "scientific stuff" that "works pretty good"—without sourcing a single dissenting voice. The Atlantic penned this 4,000-word paean to evidence-free medicine. And don't get me started on Dr. Oz, the homeopathy-hawking surgeon who remains popular despite a recent ratings plunge.

That's why it's no surprise when USA Today's headline declared, "Cupping Helps Heal the USA Men's Olympic Gymnastics Team," a ringing endorsement for your brand of magical thinking.

How did we ever get so soft on pseudoscience? The media takes its cues from the medical establishment, which increasingly takes its cues from the federal government. Over the last 25 years, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), a branch of the National Institutes of Health, has been doling out medical grants by the billions of dollars to promote alternative medicine. As I reported in The Alternative Medicine Racket, the NCCIH has successfully installed all sorts of bogus therapies and quack clinics into dozens of major hospitals and medical schools around the country.

In our fact-free world, you can find an expert to validate almost any crackpot belief. Our politicians insist that immigrants are flooding across our borders. The rate of violent crime is allegedly higher than ever. And yes, there's even this scientific-looking meta-analysis proving that cupping really works. Like many studies of alternative medicine, it buries the lede and hopes you don't get around to reading the fine print. (Here it is, at the bottom of the study: "the main limitation of our analysis was that nearly all included trials were evaluated as high risk of bias." Translation: the study isn't worth much.)

Nick Gillespie recently wrote about the truthiness of our postmodern world:

Sure, the internet and other technologies allow us to live in an ideological bubble that is virtually impervious to non-confirming information and data. But it's equally and even more true that we live in the Age of Transparency where the whole world can fact-check your ass (including mine!). The best way forward, especially in a time when confidence and trust in major institutions are flopping quicker than Cristiano Ronaldo in UEFA play, is for the people in charge of our politics to actually argue in good faith.

Facts still matter, even as our confidence in authorities continue to erode. Which is why it behooves us to look critically at the world and seek out different points of view. Because guess what? More Mexicans are leaving the United States than entering it. Rates of violent crime are near historic lows. Cupping is quackery.

And that holds whether you're an Ivy League heart surgeon, a candidate for president of the United States, or the most decorated Olympic medalist of all time.

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  • R C Dean||

    the odds are high you'll find an uncritical report praising unscientific "complimentary" and "integrative" therapies

    Given the enormous role that your mental state plays in healing or dealing with chronic conditions, I wouldn't make the leap from "unscientific" to "ineffective".

  • Cyto||

    Yes, you absolutely can call it unscientific and ineffective. As in, this has no prior plausibility to start with, but it also has been thoroughly investigated and shown to be completely ineffective. This is how we obtain knowledge. Looking controlled studies in the eye and saying "yeah, but it is a good placebo" doesn't reflect well on anyone.

    Special pleading to "oh, but it might help with their mental state" is nothing but a cover for scam artists. There is no excuse for practitioners of this sort of bunkum making the claims they do, and there is no excuse for believing any of it.

    The level of ignorance required to fall for cupping is pretty high, although I will say that it seems that they have relabeled, modernized and re-imagined the mechanism of action from the original cupping with glass bowls, fire and pulling out toxins. So maybe that's why people are falling for it even today.

    The only legitimate reason I can think of for getting a cupping treatment is if you need a cover for a bunch of hickeys that you don't want your significant other to know about.

  • Cyto||

    Oh, and for the aforementioned meta analysis. As they say, garbage in, garbage out.

    In the few semi-controlled trials with semi-measurable endpoints, there was no effect.

  • BigT||

    Cyto, you have a citation of a study or two debunking cupping? I'll read the data and make up my own mind, thank you.

  • Deven||

    Seems to me that cupping is stress-relief, nothing more, much like massage therapy.

    Less stress = your body can heal itself and recover faster, you are less prone to disease, you sleep better at night, etc.

    Most of these alternative medicines act in this way. They will never cure any particular ailment, but they can and do relieve stress, so I actually think they are beneficial to many people. Perhaps not as good as figuring out what stresses them and removing it from their lives like a healthy person would do, but better than nothing.

  • Sevo||

    "Cyto, you have a citation of a study or two debunking cupping? I'll read the data and make up my own mind, thank you."

    Uh, did you fail logic?
    Those who claim 'it works' carry the responsibility or proving it, not the other way around.

  • Harold Falcon||

    Shut up, you fucking retard.

  • Harold Falcon||

    Shut up, you fucking retard.

  • Deven||

    No one is disagreeing that they see a benefit. The question is whether it is placebo or simple stress relief, which I think is the biggest reason for the placebo effect. Also explains why the placebo effect is getting stronger, because people have more faith in modern medicine to cure them, which reduces their stress levels.

  • Set Us Up The Chipper||

  • ShamanX||

    "I don't even know why this is a libertarian issue."

    Good point... this is the kind of article I would expect to see on Huffington Post..

  • Entelechy||

    Phelps should switch to Qi vaping , and avoid the tar.

  • R C Dean||

    I suspect our values of "effective" diverge.

  • Cyto||

    Probably true.

    The trick is to be able to define an endpoint for "effective". If you can't say "this means it worked, this means it didn't", then it is very difficult to design a scientific test.

    Most "alternative" treatments that have any sort of attempts at scientific testing start out with soft end points and show some small effect in early trials. When "reported feeling better" is replaced in later trials with measurable effects, like improved mobility, the effect disappears.

    This has actually been studied directly. Apparently pseudoscientific treatments like acupuncture come with lots of ritual and personal contact that inspires confidence in the patient. So alternative medicine patients often feel like their treatments were great, even when their objective measures are unchanged. Meanwhile traditional medicine often gets the reverse, due to the nature of modern medical practice.

    Given an opportunity to up their game, the medical profession has instead reacted to this news by adding highly profitable "integrative medicine" clinics to their hospitals. They get more money and higher patient satisfaction. Win-win, right? :'/

  • R C Dean||

    More Mexicans are leaving the United States than entering it.

    So now I suppose its the Mexicans saying "they tuk our jerbs" about those damn Central Americans, eh?

  • Agammamon||

    Its more along the lines of 'there's no moar jerbs!'. The big 'exodus' coincides with the 2008 crash - so it may turn around soon (may already have).

  • ||

    You're representing America. Please don't make us look any more naive than we already are.

    We're not even in the same league as Europe when it comes to quack medicine and state support for it.

  • ||

    True, that. And Europe isn't in the same league of quackery as Asia.

  • ||

    Also true. Odd as it is, we're largely on the right side of this.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    It's my understanding that the Chinese don't do or use a lot of traditional Chinese medicine.

  • ||

    Depends on your definition of TCM. On my visits there, I've experienced all sorts of suggested herbal remedies, animal parts, and horrifying rituals. I haven't seen acupuncture, though it may well be my lack of searching and my inability to read the signs. But any time I went into a drugstore to buy aspirin or antacids or whatever, they'd try to sell me snake penis pills or something like that.

    India is worse.

  • ||

    When I was in Beijing in '96, I was not able to find a single dose of OTC Western medicine, even in the fanciest of department stores. I was desperate (I had an immediate bad reaction to the pollution, and got a cold on top of that). I was trying to devise a way of getting someone at the U.S. Embassy to give me some fucking Nyquil.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Huh... Ok then, I may be operating on bogus information.

  • ||

    I mean, that was 20 years ago - maybe things have changed. It was one of the most frustrating things for me visit there. THat, and the lack of TP in restaurant bathrooms. Even McD's.

  • GamerFromJump||

    Chinese don't do or use a lot of traditional Chinese medicine.

    Would that it were true. I've had students tell me they are "doctors" of TCM. My first thought is always, "So, not a doctor."

  • ||

    But...ANCIENT CHINESE SECRETS!

  • Wolf 359||

    The pee-pee in my coke is neither ancient nor a secret.

  • Fk Censorship||

    It's surprising that Europeans are leaner and healthier than Americans, and East Asians even more so (despite their harsher health-destroying climates).

  • Bubba Jones||

    Smoking

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    I suspect we won't see any laws banning this "clearly unscientific" practice-- I strongly suspect because Bernie-Bros, Jill Stein followers and a large portion of the Democratic party are on board. Party of science!

  • LibertarianJRT||

    ^this.

  • BigT||

    "I suspect we won't see any laws banning this "clearly unscientific" practice"

    That's what we need, more regulations! NOT!!

  • UnCivilServant||

    We don't need a new law. It's just fraud and can be prosecuted as such.

  • EscherEnigma||

    Fraud is, generally speaking, hard to prosecute.

    Partly because it's not enough that the person is wrong, you must also show that they knew they were wrong. And you also have to look at the actual claims vs. the perceived claims.

    Take beard oil for example. Strictly speaking, it's conditioner for your beard. Watch commercials for any given brand and you might walk away with the impression that it'll make you grow a thicker beard, filling in patchy spots, making growth longer and fluffier and shooting unicorns out your mouth or something. But if you watch more critically and pay attention to their actual words, rather then the "feeling", you notice they don't say much other then "it smells good" which, being subjective, can't be "fraud".

    So did your acupuncturist say it would make you walk? Probably not. They might have said that people have reported their pain decreasing and increased mobility, but notice the key words "people have reported". And it's not even like these people are being malicious, they're just applying lawyer language so they can run their business as they've done for years.

    So to make a long answer short: just because something doesn't work doesn't mean someone is trying to defraud you. People can be honestly wrong.

  • Bubba Jones||

    There are commercials for beard oil?

    I can't even

  • EscherEnigma||

    Fraud is, generally speaking, hard to prosecute.

    Partly because it's not enough that the person is wrong, you must also show that they knew they were wrong. And you also have to look at the actual claims vs. the perceived claims.

    Take beard oil for example. Strictly speaking, it's conditioner for your beard. Watch commercials for any given brand and you might walk away with the impression that it'll make you grow a thicker beard, filling in patchy spots, making growth longer and fluffier and shooting unicorns out your mouth or something. But if you watch more critically and pay attention to their actual words, rather then the "feeling", you notice they don't say much other then "it smells good" which, being subjective, can't be "fraud".

    So did your acupuncturist say it would make you walk? Probably not. They might have said that people have reported their pain decreasing and increased mobility, but notice the key words "people have reported". And it's not even like these people are being malicious, they're just applying lawyer language so they can run their business as they've done for years.

    So to make a long answer short: just because something doesn't work doesn't mean someone is trying to defraud you. People can be honestly wrong.

  • The Last American Hero||

    Front page on USA Today on the benefits of cupping. Zero mention of it being controversial or not being backed by science and the only source cited is a Team USA trainer. WTF do they actually teach in J-School? This shit wouldn't have passed my 9th Grade English class, and here's a front page article on a major mainstream publication.

  • Rhywun||

    I think I saw the same article in my local paper. It's the journolist effect in action again.

  • UCrawford||

    Gibbering liberal idiots like to spout their phrases as a group...makes them feel like they're normals, rather than gibbering idiots saying nonsense even they don't understand.

  • UCrawford||

    Apparently in journalism school, all they teach now is to regurgitate Democrat Party talking points like a pro and accuse anyone who disagrees of being a sexist, racist, anti-science sub-neanderthal.

    I got into an argument about Chelsea Clinton's tenure at NBC once with an acquaintance of a friend. The acquaintance worked at NBC News in New York and was adamant that in no plausible way could Chelsea Clinton's employment at three times the salary of a reporter with experience indicate a buying of favor with her mom by NBC. She said that anyone who didn't understand this was "clearly just ignorant of journalism", at which point I gave up debating with her and reduced her to a spitting rage by baiting her and pointing out all the ways in which she was a mentally deficient sell-out who sucked at her job and who would have found a way to spin the Holocaust as a brave and innovative social program if only Hitler was a registered Democrat.

    It's almost as if you're unemployable in mainstream journalism unless you're a functional retard who can spout liberal catchphrases.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Almost?

  • Bgoptmst||

    It's like the crossfit people. If Ken Froenig told someone that wrapping KT tape around his dick while getting Progenex enemas helped him be successful you would have people figuring out how to do this via double dutch rudder before their workouts.

    Disclaimer: Wife does the crossfit. I don't have to buy friend since mine were issued.

  • Holger da Dane||

    Are massages being portrayed as medical science with any kind of value other than relaxation?

  • EscherEnigma||

    Googled "massage benefits" and got:

    "While more research is needed to confirm the benefits of massage, some studies have found massage may also be helpful for:

    Anxiety.
    Digestive disorders.
    Fibromyalgia.
    Headaches.
    Insomnia related to stress.
    Myofascial pain syndrome.
    Soft tissue strains or injuries.
    Sports injuries."

    So yes.

  • ||

    I am hoping to talk my wife into some cupping tonight but would be a bit disappointed in the outcome (and quite likely walking funny) if there are large purple spots in its wake.

  • The Hyperbole ((Very Tall))||

    Cupping only works if you wear a magnetized copper infused bracelet, and drink some water with "potentiated" substances at least 6 days before your treatment.

  • Libertarian||

    Water remembers.

  • Agammamon||

    But . . . fish *pee* in water. Nobody ever seems to remember that.

  • Cyto||

    Awesome response. Made me laugh... not out loud, but quietly inside.

  • Brian||

    Oh, we're talking magnets now?

    Cured my palsy and my cancer, all at once.

    Magnets will also give you a hard on for 5 hours. Worked wonders for my lady friend time.

    Magnets will fuck your shit up!

  • Wizard4169||

    Magnets: how the fuck do they work?

  • bluecanarybythelightswitch||

    Miracles.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    The Atlantic penned this 4,000-word pean to evidence-free medicine. And don't get me started on Dr. Oz, the homeopathy-hawking surgeon who remains popular despite a recent ratings plunge.

    A fun technique our local NPR station uses to make sure it covers the 'dissenting voice', take city council "Socialist Initiative #1298", interview council member sponsoring the legislation. Then reference local Koch-like business man who complains "it might be expensive", ask council member how he'd respond to that. Give him a 3 minute response.

    Fairness!

  • Ken Shultz||

    Psychologically, there's a barrier to girls putting their hands on you. If they tell you they're doing reiki or something on you, you go past that.

    Dancing used to be like that when dancing was something a guy and a girl did together. She'd loosen up, get happy, and then he thighs would defrost.

    We don't dance like that anymore, but once a chick psychically heals you with her hands, you're out of the friend zone. Offer to return the favor by rubbing her back, and you're halfway to second base without even kissing her first.

    Seriously, just about anything done in the service of the biological imperative is perfectly rational. Sometimes, the angle just isn't immediately obvious.

  • SugarFree||

    My favorite Olympic Moment so far has been Hope Solo worried about Zika because she is eager to "start a family" with the husband she has been arrested for beating the shit out of.

  • ||

    Wasn't it the husband who was accused of beating her?

  • SugarFree||

    No, wait, you are right... she was also arrested in a separate incident for beating on her sister and her nephew.

  • SugarFree||

    Stevens was charged with rape, beating up two bouncers, and a DUI that also resulted in Solo being suspended from soccer for 30 days.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Correct. The "legal troubles" section of his wikipedia is impressive.

    I looked it up the other day. At least the Olympics have a proper villain.

  • LibertarianJRT||

    This is eye opening stuff. Now I won't feel so bad when I think wood. Wood so hard.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    That's the one I remember. Hope Solo beating some kids. Apparently, a lot of beating going on at the Solo residence. Han would never put up with that shit.

  • Jumbie||

    Yeah, Han knows how to deal with his kid.

  • utabintarbo||

    He probably shoot first.

  • Illocust||

    Domestic Violence is mutual for some ridiculously high percentage of the time, so it would make sense for them both to be throwing punches. Her only mistake was throwing it at someone other than her significant other.

  • Agammamon||

    Maybe that's how Seattle white trash express affection?

  • Crusty Juggler||

    I believe she beat up her nephew. Her husband was arrested for assaulting her at a party where her brother was using a stun gun to shoo troublemakers from the house.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I hate it when weekends end like that.

  • Playa Manhattan.||

    That's how my weekends start.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Cupping cured my chronic candida.

  • Juice||

    Does it do anything for fibromyalgia?

  • Dennis, Constitutional Peasant||

    All i know is that the expression on the face of the man/woman/thing in that photo there scares the fuck out of me.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    It's been established that Michael Phelps bears a striking resemblance to Bojack Horseman, and it is unnecessary for you to keep pointing it out.

  • ||

    Dude's, what 6'4" and well built? Most heterosexual women are going to wear that expression when cupping his thighs.

  • John||

    The placebo effect is on line 2 and would like to have a word with the author.

  • ||

    15 % of the time, measurements two sigma from the median are going to regress to the median. 8% of the time the 2% of sickest people become healthy. If you think those are related, I won't try to sell you my Lottery Picking Formula.

  • Dennis, Constitutional Peasant||

    I'm not sure i really grok the concern tho with "alternative medicine*"

    *(I'm OK with maybe using a different word other than 'medicine', though, as its Not, really)

    I'd assume the libertarian default is, "Whatever floats your boat, yo", and that there's absolutely nothing wrong with people hawking snake oil

    What we'd be more upset about would be the FDA or someone demanding practitioners get 'certified' or 'vetted' in order to hawk their (otherwise non-medically threatening) wares/services.

    As long as they're not claiming to cure cancer, i don't see the problem.

    I DO see the problem with retarded journalists who can't tell the difference between science and goofball alt-medicine; and maybe that's the main gripe here. But hey, if you're going to start getting mad at journalists...i'd probably get more upset with them for their routine innacuracies and narrative-pumping in *everything else* before i'd start to worry they weren't being critical enough of bullshit chinese-medicine.

  • The Hyperbole ((Very Tall))||

    and that there's absolutely nothing wrong with people hawking snake oil

    Isn't there a libertarian argument against fraud?

  • Dennis, Constitutional Peasant||

    Yes, of course. hence my caveat "'As long as they're not claiming to cure cancer""...

    most of these alternative-medicine practices avoid making 'structure/function' claims; they don't really promise to "do" anything... but suggest that they can "encourage", "stimulate", "facilitate", "aid in"...

    as long as they don't do any damage, and they accurately warn about any side-effects or potential risks, then i don't really see the problem.

    The obvious alternative is to empower govt agencies to decide what people Can/Can't do with their own bodies. Which i always thought was sort of a libertarian no-no.

  • The Hyperbole ((Very Tall))||

    Fair enough, and I think were on the same page, I just have always associated 'Snake Oil' with outright fraud, so In my mind there is plenty wrong with it. Buyer beware and all that other Latin shit, autem if you're selling tiger repelling rocks I gotta call bullshit.

  • Dennis, Constitutional Peasant||

    I just have always associated 'Snake Oil' with outright fraud

    yes, it was probably the wrong phrase to use, since it implies "intentionally misleading/quack medicine".

    What i was really referring to was simply 'anything outside of the FDA-approved/board-certified medical world'. There's a world of kooky-therapy-stuff i was thinking of which has a range of 'proven benefits' to 'completely idiotic'.

    (*the most recent which my brother recently tried out with a damaged limb was this "Cryotherapy"-treatment)

  • Cyto||

    Yes, they use weasel words. It is still absolutely fraud. Putting "this is not intended to treat or diagnose any disease" on the bottle that you then market as a treatment for 25 completely unrelated conditions doesn't magically make you less culpable, regardless of what the US federal government has to say on the matter.

    There is nothing on your homeopathic isle at the pharmacy that will stimulate your immune system, facilitate healing or eliminate toxins. This is easy to understand if you have the slightest inkling of what the word homeopathic means. (it means there is nothing but water in the "active ingredient")

    The doofus putting suction cups on the world's greatest Olympian deserves a flogging, not a hearty pat on the back and a national soap box.

  • Dennis, Constitutional Peasant||

    The doofus putting suction cups on the world's greatest Olympian deserves a flogging, not a hearty pat on the back and a national soap box.

    That's your opinion. but if you have to choose between the FDA regulating what kinds of therapy people are "allowed" to do... versus a 'free-ish' market in non-invasive, non-medical treatment....

    ...as i said above = the libertarian view is generally "its your body - do what the fuck you want".

    Its also my view, coincidentally. Note = That is not an endorsement for quack therapy or alternative medicine, FYI. Its just saying i think people should be free to be stupid if they want; and that as long as no one gets poisoned, its no skin of my back if people want to try homopathic remedies or acupuncture or whatever.

    I think the attitude you express is a bit odd, frankly; the current regulatory regime is, if anything, 'too limiting' in the views of many libertarianish types. Yet you seem to think its a travesty that Mike Phillips should be able to get whatever bullshit 'therapy' he wants - iow, you'd prefer the market was *more* regulated than it currently is?

  • Cyto||

    The current regulatory scheme has a carve out for fake medicine like homeopathy. Thanks, former Senator Hatch!

    The problem isn't that the feds decline to regulate some stuff. It is that they created a fake little world where some frauds cannot be easily called out.

    Not as bad as Britain though, where calling homeopathy a scam can get you sued, successfully. Strangely enough, their libel laws allow you to recover damages even if what someone said is true. Really bizarre.

    At any rate, the ideal scheme would be to have private rating agencies that tell us about the effectiveness of various drugs and treatments, and fraud enforcement for false or deceitful advertising and sales tactics. No FDA needed.

    I'm 100% for people having the right to be stupid. I'm equally enthusiastic about pointing out said stupidity when it rears its ugly head. In this case we have a bunch of media knobs doing stories about an obviously bogus treatment. This will inevitably lead to a burgeoning business in cupping over the next 18 months or so.

    Tonight the swimming coverage included one of the analysts getting a cupping treatment. The claims were reported uncritically, with the only "controversy" being over how long the bruising takes to heal. This kind of incompetent reporting needs to be called out and roundly condemned. (it is all too common in science reporting. Transparently the skill set for handling these sorts of claims is very rare.)

  • Dennis, Constitutional Peasant||

    This kind of incompetent reporting needs to be called out and roundly condemned.

    As i noted in the very first post - if the way they treat something as innocuous as "cupping" makes you get all frothy, i think you haven't been paying enough attention to the way journalists do exactly the same thing on matters of far greater importance. (e.g. the "Iran Deal", "the ACA", events libya, etc)

    and i don't know if i mentioned it above - but i have pretty extensive experience with the whole legal scheme surrounding OTC/dietary supplements/alt-therapies. that includes taking money from people like Boiron to do research studies on the homeopathic market in the US, work for Herbalife, as well as trad pharma companies like pfizer/J&J, etc.

    re:

    the ideal scheme would be to 1) have private rating agencies that tell us about the effectiveness of various drugs and treatments, and 2) fraud enforcement for false or deceitful advertising and sales tactics. No FDA needed.

    1- there are in fact a variety of things *like* this already in existence. most people don't use them or care. many are compromised by relationships w/industry. the things most used/most promoted mostly "certify" or rate supplements companies for adherence to quality control standards. people don't care how "efficacious" ginko biloba is; they just want to know its purity/quality and whether the company ensures not to poison them.

  • Dennis, Constitutional Peasant||

    (cont'd)

    2 - ""2) fraud enforcement for false or deceitful advertising and sales tactics. No FDA needed.""

    as i noted to Ag below = please read the DSHEA and tell me what qualifies as "deceitful". 100s of lawyers and FDA people debated this shit for years before you ever spent 2 seconds thinking about it.

    You're acting like you're the first person to have come across the subject.

    There are certainly some areas where consumer ignorance is exploited; but unless you plan to pay for the cadre of lawyers yourself to pursue cases arguing whether "promotes healthy bloodflow" and shit like that is "misleading", its a waste of the public's money, because you can't find any actual plaintiffs out there who say they've been 'harmed'.

    Its unfortunate that people have stupid beliefs about alt-medicine like homeopathy that doesn't actually do anything. But unless you plan to donate huge sums of money to causes to "educate" people (and trust me, the pharma co's already have), there's not much more that can be done that doesn't involve demanding govt intervention (against the will of millions of happy-but-stupid customers, fwiw)

  • Agammamon||

    The thing is - the fringe stuff 'with proven benefits' is a narrow, narrow fringe. If it actually worked it'd be on its way to being incorporated into 'allopathic' medicine. The rest of it is firmly in the 'no medical benefit *at best*' category.

    If you look around you'll notice that most of the stuff that isn't approved that people are clamoring to get to help/cure some problem are things stuck in the FDA's maze, not 'ancient Chinese secret'.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    If it actually worked it'd be on its way to being incorporated into 'allopathic' medicine.

    We just call it real medicine. Shorter and more accurate.

  • Cyto||

    Yeah, it is like that old joke:

    Q: Do you know what they call alternative medicine that actually works?

    A: Medicine.

    Any of these treatments could easily be demonstrated to work with simple clinical trials. The fact that they never are should be a clue.

  • Agammamon||

    And all those claims are false, hence - fraud.

    Plus, there's a difference between people *complaining* about the existence of these scum and laughing at them and pointing out the fraudulence of their enterprises at every turn and people demanding the government shut them down.

    Fortune tellers are complete frauds but I wouldn't support a law making them illegal.

  • Dennis, Constitutional Peasant||

    there's a difference between people *complaining* about the existence of these scum and laughing at them and pointing out the fraudulence of their enterprises at every turn and people demanding the government shut them down.

    Not really. What exactly do you hope to accomplish by complaining? Whether you intend it or not, objecting to the dumb things other people do tends to lead in the direction of govt regulation.

    Your analogy w/ fortune telling is sort of inapropos. People who offer massage therapy (*which is all this cupping shit is) or acupuncture or hydrotherapy or aromatherapy or dietary supplements deliver a product which is exactly what people ask for. Its not "fraud". and while you might say that things like echinachea don't ACTUALLY prevent colds, or that vitamin C-loading doesn't actually do anything metabolic other than color your pee and stress your kidneys.... these consumers are perfectly free to do some reading and consider the arguments either way. Its not "fraud" if no one makes structure/function claims and simply because consumers BELIEVE misconceptions isn't the fault of the providers.

    There's an old expression, "if the population weren't dumb as rocks, no one would be able to make a buck in this world". Simply because mis/quasi-informed people choose silly placebos rather than the 'correct' medicines/therapies isn't "fraud".... its just dumb people spending their money the way they see fit. You can't fix that.

  • Agammamon||

    If your hydro/aroma, whatever '*therapy' is claiming to do anything more than relax you - then it is in the same category as fortune telling.

    Acupuncture 'fixes chakra blocks' - and that is the lead to a claim that it will fix any condition you can't take a pill for.

    Same with Chiropracty - subluxations are the cause of all illness, chiropracty 'fixes' subluxations.

    Dietary supplements start with a claim that your diet is deficient in whatever they supplement - and unless you're showing signs of nutritional deficiency (like unexplained skin sores) then you're not deficient. And if you were, a lab test can pinpoint *exactly* what you're deficiency is (and its usually hormonal, not a lack of vitamins) and get you with *exactly* what you need to fix it rather than a vague self-diagnosis and a 'general supplement'.

    Its fraud when you structure your delivery to accentuate the misconceptions, poo-poo the actual evidence against efficacy (rather than provide counter evidence).

    As I said - *libertarians* can be all against these sorts of things without wanting them to be made illegal. Because it can be difficult for a court to sort through dueling studies we may choose to err on the side of freedom and not move to have this stuff made illegal, but still perfectly appropriate to complain that these people are in the market at all.

    That's just the marketplace of ideas working.

  • Agammamon||

    And I'm not going to stop pointing out woo and warning people off of it because the *statists* might take that as a call to arms and start calling for legislation because that just gives the game away to anyone to make any sort of vague claim in order to scam money.

  • Cyto||

    Moreso, if you know that some guy is a fraud and you don't tell me when you see me walking in, you are morally bankrupt.

    Not holding a gun to the homeopath's head and forcing them to stop trying to sell their wares is one thing, standing quietly by as they convince someone with stage 4 cancer that their best option is to take a 100C dilution of ethidium bromide is something else entirely.

    For fun, check out these guys who seriously suggest all sorts of quackery for the treatment of cancer. No, I do not suggest that you rely on their recommendations.

  • Dennis, Constitutional Peasant||

    If your hydro/aroma, whatever '*therapy' is claiming to do anything more than relax you - then it is in the same category as fortune telling.

    So you propose regulating their speech more than it already is?

    And BTW - that's exactly what i pointed out in the beginning re: noting that everyone in the Alt-therapy business knows exactly where not to cross the Structure/Function line.

    ["'they don't really promise to "do" anything... but suggest that they can "encourage", "stimulate", "facilitate", "aid in"...""]

    I know a little about this; i covered (among other things) the OTC industry for a number of years, and ended up doing consulting for a bunch of supplement/alt-medicine as well as trad-pharma companies, which required me constantly reading/staying up to date on the laws/requirements to sell dietary supplements/market therapies etc.

    You moan "fraud" only because you're pretending their claims mean more than they technically do. That's why those laws exist - to ensure that their claims don't cross that line.

    unless you propose stricter regulation of speech, there aint fuck all to do about it except 'educate consumers'. and you're free to do that on your own nickel, but you have no claim to stop the people from selling their placebos.

  • Dennis, Constitutional Peasant||

    and before you try and 'explain' anything more to me about "fraud", go read the DSHEA of 1994, and tell me what about that law you think needs changing

  • Cyto||

    You allude to the exact problem.

    Take a look at this from google shopping.

    It says right on the box - "Hot Flash Relief. Night Sweats, Irritability."

    Then it makes these direct claims about its ingredients:


    ACTIVE INGREDIENTS: Arnica montana 4C HPUS—Relieves blotchy face associated with hot flashes. Cimicifuga racemosa 4C HPUS—Relieves irritability and occasional sleeplessness associated with menopause. Glonoinum 4C HPUS—Relieves sudden hot flashes with profuse sweating and throbbing headache associated with menopause. Lachesis mutus 5C HPUS—Relieves irritability, hot flashes and night sweats associated with menopause. Sanguinaria canadensis 4C HPUS—Relieves flushing of the face associated with menopause

    You'll note that these are 4C and 5C dilutions of the active ingredients. So 4 or 5 1:100 dilutions. You'll also note that there is no starting concentration, so there is no way of knowing what should be there after a 100,000,000 or 10,000,000,000 fold dilution. Not much of anything, but still.

    Any way, these are specific medical claims that cannot be proven for the mixture claimed. This is what is wrong with our version of fraud. Calling it a supplement negates English, apparently. "Not intended to treat.." despite what the label says.

    If I can locate these claims with one google search, our enforcement is broken.

  • Agammamon||

    . . . go read the DSHEA of 1994, and tell me what about that law you think needs changing

    I honestly don't give a fuck.

    I recognize that there is a difference between what the law says is fraud and what anyone with even the slightest bit of ethical training would recognize as fraud. I do not consider 'its legal' to provide any ethical coverage whatsoever - for *or* against an action (there's simply too many unethical laws in existence to think there's any innate connection between legislation and ethics).

    I do not and am not asking for the law to be changed. I am simply pointing out that these people are lying and will keep pointing out that they are lying. Sophistry and careful omission of relevant facts are lies. Lies to get something of value is fraud and should be pointed out loud and clear whenever its encountered.

  • Agammamon||

    unless you propose stricter regulation of speech, there aint fuck all to do about it except 'educate consumers'. and you're free to do that on your own nickel, but you have no claim to stop the people from selling their placebos.

    I have already said - repeatedly here in this very thread that you're responding to - that I am not proposing regulating their speech.

    I am proposing *more* speech providing a counter to them and that I'm not going to stop talking just because someone *else* might take it as a sign that 'the government should do something'.

  • Libertarian||

    I don't think that fighting quack medicine is a libertarian issue. But I've always thought that there is a huge Venn diagram overlap with skeptics and libertarians.

  • Dennis, Constitutional Peasant||

    I've always thought that there is a huge Venn diagram overlap with skeptics and libertarians.

    yeah. There are also a few types who think GMO is poison (via precautionary-principle-excesses, reductio ad ignorantiam, "We can't be sure it *wont* cause super-bacteria"-type argumens), and that Colloidal Minerals are best taken via daily colonic, etc. Big Tent, etc.

  • Cyto||

    I'm always shocked when skeptics are not libertarian. I don't know why, but it just seems impossible that someone who tries to question everything would be on team blue or team red. Particularly when it comes to economic issues.... since economics is actually a thing.

    Meanwhile, team liberty is full of skepticism for everything, including the libertarian party. But a lot of us are skeptical by nature, not by training or avocation. So nutball survivalists, anti-science freaks, conspiracy theorists, etc. are to be expected. They are skeptical of anything "the man" tries to push on them. So skeptical, but not skeptics, I suppose.

  • LibertarianJRT||

    I also find it frustrating when skeptical people are not libertarian. I find it really amusing that team blue gives Michael Shermer grief for being a libertarian. Because they believe government is sacrosanct, and he professes to believe everything must be questioned.

  • BigT||

    Shermer is not skeptical of his pet religion - AGW. He's an ass who attacks retards and mental cripples.

  • Aresen||

    I'm perfectly fine with people using homeopathy/cupping/purging/whatever in an attempt to cure illnesses.

    I view it as Darwin's way of cleaning the gene pool.

  • Brian||

    What we'd be more upset about would be the FDA or someone demanding practitioners get 'certified' or 'vetted' in order to hawk their (otherwise non-medically threatening) wares/services.

    Oh, I see you haven't googled your local alternative licensing board.

  • grrizzly||

    Why so angry?

    So, Phelps and other US Olympians enjoy this somewhat exotic form of massage and the author is outraged that it hasn't been peer-reviewed and FDA-approved, really?

  • Sigivald||

    Because they're pushing it to everyone as "really effective, proven medicine".

    But it isn't.

    It's pseudoscientific BS that doesn't work at all, beyond placebo.

    It's not "it hasn't been FDA approved", it's "it literally doesn't and can't work and it's a fraud".

    Fraud being the key, though it's that special kind of fraud where those pushing it honestly, truly believe in it - but it still doesn't do anything more than laetrile or RSO "cures cancer".

  • grrizzly||

    What if cupping relaxes their muscles and they feel better after the procedure? Who is claiming that cupping cures cancer? I don't understand why you're shouting "fraud."

  • Cyto||

    It doesn't do any such thing. It gives you a big bruise (elsewhere described as a hickey). That is all. If that were the desired effect, it would be better to get a massage.

    But that isn't the desired effect. They are using it as a treatment for injury.

    Here's the rationalization from one integrative medicine apologist:

    Internal medicine physician and certified personal trainer Dr. Michael Smith told CBS News, "The suction pulls the tight muscles and stretches the fascia, the connective tissue around the muscles, and in effect, allows blood vessels to expand. The theory is that the increased blood flow speeds healing. It makes sense, but it is not going to cure any problem the athlete may have."

    This is stupid at an epic level, and this guy should know better. A suction cup on your skin is not going to pull tight muscles (like the hammy that Phelps is shown getting treated). Nor is it going to stretch the fascia covering the muscle. It is going to suck up the skin and break a bunch of blood vessels - reducing blood flow speeds in the area and requiring healing.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Because the party of science is banning other remedies that are unscientific. I don't care if shit is unscientific, I just get annoyed at the hypocrisy.

  • EscherEnigma||

    Phelps is an adult choosing this therapy himself, and there isn't a mountain of evidence showing it's harmful.

    Doesn't really seem comparable.

  • Sigivald||

    Look, how else can they balance their humours?

  • Dennis, Constitutional Peasant||

    THE PATIENT AILS!! QUICK = MORE LEECHES

  • Playa Manhattan.||

    I'm not sure I'd let her cup me.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    She may not give you a choice.

  • JayU||

    I bet you don't even know what farm to table means.

  • db||

    Is that like ass to mouth?

  • db||

    A guy who used to work for me was learning to be a reiki "healer" on the side and tried to convince me he could charge a battery using his psychic energy. We had a dead battery from a cordless drill amd he did some hocus pocus on it with his hands and then plugged it back into the drill, which was able to make a revolution and then stop. He tried to use this as "proof" that reiki worked. I told him about the effect of "rest" on a chemical battery, which is a well known phenomenon. He then said that his reiki master could totally charge that battery way up because his skill was so much greater.

    Sure. Suuuure.

  • JayU||

    I had some sacro-cranial therapy once. I got a slight erection during the session.

    Success?

  • Cyto||

    The "healing touch" style pseudo-science was debunked by a 12 year old girl. She had practitioners try to identify whether there was a human body part under their hand behind a cardboard shield. They could not do so, despite their claims of feeling the energy of living things as a part of the treatment.

    Of course the big thing this pointed out was that alternative medicine researchers are astoundingly incompetent, as a group. It is a truism that the initial studies of any alternative medicine will be very poorly designed and show a very weak positive result, usually below any clinical relevance and without any hard endpoints. Then as studies are improved, the tiny effect evaporates.

    For those not plugged in to the skeptic literature, this is also true for the "superfood of the month" studies. They are universally giant fishing expeditions with a couple of hundred degrees of freedom for the researcher. They identify one or two positive results and report that. Follow-on studies show no effect. But millions are made in the interim.

  • Eternal Blue Sky||

    CARDBOARD MUST BLOCK LIFE ENERGY!!

    Which is great, because now I've got a way to keep those damn ghosts out of my house.

  • JParker||

    Rather than resorting to name calling (e.g., "quackery"), perhaps giving a rational explanation, backed by published studies where possible, demonstrating that "cupping" is not effective. As it stands, the author's objections are themselves non-scientific.

    Cupping either has some beneficial effects or not. If it does, it may or may not have any relation to any given theory as to why (e.g., "qi"). Evidence and arguments for and against is welcome; rhetorical rants less so.

  • Libertarian||

    The burden of proof lies with those who claim an effect. There is no evidence cupping works, just as there is no evidence for myriad other things.

  • JParker||

    The burden of proof rests with anyone who makes a claim. Those who claim no effect have an equal burden of proof as those who claim some particular effect. The neutral position is to state that one does not know if some particular effect occurs or not.

  • Agammamon||

    For cupping to be taken seriously advocates need to

    1. State an effect.
    2. Provide quantifiable evidence that this effect exists.
    3. Provide the details of their experimental analysis so that others may duplicate their results.

    They fail on at least numbers 1 & 2 and independent testing is unable to duplicate their results.

  • Cyto||

    Even having prior plausibility would be a start. Without that, why should anyone even bother to do a study?

  • JParker||

    For cupping opponents to be taken seriously, those opponents need to:

    1. State a specific absence of effect.
    2. Provide quantifiable evidence that the effect is indeed absent.
    3. Provide the details of their experimental analysis so that others may duplicate their results.

    Opponents clearly fail on number 2, and number 3 is not attempted.

  • Libertarian||

    Logged onto randi.org recently. I guess the Amazing Randi retired last year, and the JREF (James Randi Educational Foundation) is no longer very active, and the million dollar prize is no longer available to someone who can prove paranormal phenomena, etc. It's a shame to see the organization fall apart just because of Randi's advancing age. I would have thought they'd be proactive and carry on, possibly with Penn as the figure head. Oh well.

  • Cyto||

    Yeah, that's surprising. I didn't know the prize had fallen by the wayside.

    I did hear that it had been many years since anyone even agreed to a protocol. Maybe that is why it is getting pushed aside. Nobody even bothers to prove they can do anything to a skeptic when they have Oprah, Dr. Oz and a hundred other mainstream outlets willing to push them to the front of the public consciousness.

  • Libertarian||

    The most recent stuff on the website seemed to be about a year old. I didn't spend much time there, but they did mention that they were still getting many applicants who were so sloppy and unserious that it was a drain on resources to even test them (how many times do we have to test diviners before they admit defeat?)

  • Eternal Blue Sky||

    "someone who can prove paranormal phenomena"

    I always thought that that contest was pretty much bullshit. It WOULD be easy to claim the prize money, except for the Catch-22

    Paranormal means "denoting events or phenomena... that are beyond the scope of normal scientific understanding."

    Which is thus easy to accomplish. I mean, St. Elmo's fire was at one point in time "paranormal" by that definition. Plenty of "paranormal" things have been proven real.

    Except if you go through their challenge and scientifically document something paranormal, it ceases BEING paranormal, so that prize money is literally impossible to claim. Even if you could somehow prove that ghosts or something like that exists, your proof now puts it within the realm of "scientific understanding" and it ceases being "paranormal" by definition. Meaning it's a Catch-22 bullshit prize that no one could ever claim by very definition.

  • ||

    Quackery has been around for a longsss timesss and will continue to be around. Even Newton, probably because the apple gave him a concussion, believed in alchemy.

    People just want to, you know, believe. And science simply can't keep up with people's lust for belief.

  • Cyto||

    This is painfully true.

    I know this, yet I am always shocked and surprised when people I know and respect turn up touting the latest pseudo-scientific fad.

    And it is surprisingly resilient, this desire to believe. I've had people fall for known scams, showed them full and detailed write-ups about why it is a scam..... and still they spend hundreds of dollars on their chosen nonsense. It is really hard to watch.

  • Sevo||

    "I know this, yet I am always shocked and surprised when people I know and respect turn up touting the latest pseudo-scientific fad."

    Like socialism.

  • Agammamon||

    OTOH, Newton believing in Alchemy is like Einstein believing in Newtonian physics. Alchemy was a decent explanation of chemistry (with a lot of extraneous mystical crap) - until a better explanation came along and then it was dropped.

  • Sevo||

    It was an approximation which served, at the time, to explain what was then measurable. As does good scientific examination, always.
    I despise the term 'paradigm shift', as it presumes to announce a new (typically 'spiritual') way of seeing things when it really (typically) means someone has found a better way of measureing the results of an experiment, and the data now fall in toward the center of the calibration and are therefor 'way more robust.

  • Agammamon||

    I think 'paradigm shift' is more along the lines of a new theory that encompasses previously unexplained out-of-whack results.

    Einsteinian physics 'shifted the paradigm' by coming up with new way of looking at reality that both adhered to the Classical Limit while explaining previously unexplainable measurements - like constant errors creeping into the calculations of Mercury's position under Newton. An error that disappeared when using Relativity.

    The measurements didn't get better - the scope of the underlying theory expanded.

  • some guy||

    I wouldn't be surprised to find that there is no conclusive evidence that flossing is beneficial on the whole. But I know for a fact that it is beneficial to me. After many years of not flossing regularly I've finally picked it up for the past 8 months and I've noticed a definite benefit to the health of my gums and mouth as a whole. Fewer canker sores and quicker recovery from cuts and abrasions. In my book, that's conclusive.

  • Agammamon||

    That's just the herpes going into a dormant phase again.

  • Pat (PM)||

    Canker sores aren't caused by the herpes virus, professor. You're thinking of cold sores.

  • Agammamon||

    Fine, I didn't want to make this public, but some guy has herpesgonasyphilAIDS.

    There. Are you happy that I just embarrassed some guy on the internet?

  • Sevo||

    "Fine, I didn't want to make this public, but some guy has herpesgonasyphilAIDS."

    Didn't know that, but he has a case of 'anecdotal'.

  • Jackand Ace||

    Stop. There isn't alternative medicine. Things that once were considered alternative proved to actually work, and sometimes not. It's trial and error.

    Red rice yeast. A traditional Chinese medicine. Does it lower cholesterol? Yeah it does. Proven. And why? Because it contains monacolin K, which happens to be used in a drug to fight cholesterol.

    Who knows if cupping works. Maybe, maybe not. But if those athletes believe it does, that might make improvement for them.

    I bet you think meditation is alternative.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    Your daily doses of tiger penis explains a lot.

  • Agammamon||

    'alternative' as in 'has no proven medical benefit'? Yes.

  • Jackand Ace||

    If you believe that, you should stay away from red rice yeast. Or meditation. Have a great evening!

  • Sevo||

    Jackand Ace|8.8.16 @ 10:36PM|#
    "If you believe that, you should stay away from red rice yeast. Or meditation. Have a great evening!"

    Die an early death!

  • Agammamon||

    Why should I stay away from them?

    I'm sure they both have perfectly suitable uses.

    Medicine just isn't one of them.

  • Jackand Ace||

    Neither are medicine. One is a food that fights cholesterol. The other is a process that contributes to healthy living. Both are alternatives to medicine.

  • Jackand Ace||

    Oh, and cupping isn't medicine either. It's a treatment.

    And you shouldn't stay away from them then.

    Still, enjoy your evening.

  • Sevo||

    Jackand Ace|8.9.16 @ 12:52AM|#
    "Neither are medicine. One is a food that fights cholesterol. The other is a process that contributes to healthy living. Both are alternatives to medicine."
    "Alternatives to medicine" Does this mean you'd p[refer to die rather than take "medicine"? I'd love to help; remeoving you from the gene pool would add to the world's intelligence. How can I help?
    Jackand Ace|8.9.16 @ 12:53AM|#

    "Oh, and cupping isn't medicine either. It's a treatment."
    For what?

    "And you shouldn't stay away from them then."
    Yes, intelligent people should.

    "Still, enjoy your evening."
    Still, die early.

  • Pat (PM)||

    Does it lower cholesterol? Yeah it does. Proven. And why? Because it contains monacolin K, which happens to be used in a drug to fight cholesterol.

    So... researchers isolated the precise molecule in the yeast that provides a medical benefit so that it could be used therapeutically after it was studied and found to be efficacious, and this, in your mind, somehow vindicates "alternative" medicine? If it works and has an explicable mechanism of action that can be observed and repeated under observation, then it is no longer "alternative" - it's passed scientific muster.

  • Agammamon||

    Of course, 'contains' does not mean 'contains a therapeutically useful density'. Which is probably the reason monacolin K is sold as a pill and not a prepared mixture of red rice yeast.

    It doesn't do you any good if you need to consume 1g+/kg of body weight to get a sufficient dose, now does it?

  • Sevo||

    Jack claims to be 'sciencfully' since he is sure climate change is gonna kill us all if we don't turn over the economy to the likes of Obo and ilk.
    As mentioned below; presume an IQ of a grapefruit.

  • Cyto||

    I guess I read that backwards. I read it as: this "alternative" thing was investigated and shown to have a medically relevant effect. It is no longer "alternative", it is just medicine.

    That's how science works. If you have something that can be tested and shown to be true, it is no longer your wacky fringe theory. It is science fact.

    This argument is not commutative.

    Alternative thingie that is proven scientifically becomes medicine.

    One alternative thingie becoming medicine does not confer similar status on any other things "alternative".

  • Sevo||

    "If you have something that can be tested and shown to be true, it is no longer your wacky fringe theory. It is science fact."

    "Fact" makes me nervous; "strongly proven result" is better.
    But there is no 'alternative' medicine; it is shown to be effective, or it is being tested.

  • Jackand Ace||

    No. It's considered "alternative" to people like Todd.

    Keep trying. You'll eventually make a good point.

  • Sevo||

    Jackand Ace|8.9.16 @ 12:49AM|#
    "No. It's considered "alternative" to people like Todd."
    Jack, *what* do you frantasize as considered "alternative"? Please let us know; your stupidity is a source of continuing amusement.

    "Keep trying. You'll eventually make a good point."
    Keep it up; your stupidity is amusing.

  • Greg F||

    Jackass is so stupid.

    http://www.medicinenet.com/red.....rticle.htm

    However, in the United States it is no longer legal to sell supplements of red yeast rice that contain more than trace amounts of cholesterol lowering substances.
  • Jackand Ace||

    And your point? That traditional Chinese medicine of red rice yeast doesn't fight cholesterol? No, you couldn't be that stupid. So once again for gilts like you, red rice yeast has some of the same properties as the medicine prescribed by doctors, so it works.

    Now let me know what your point is about whether or not it is available here, because that has nothing to do with my point.

    Idiot.

  • Sevo||

    Jackand Ace|8.9.16 @ 12:47AM|#
    "And your point?"
    Outside of showing that you are an ignoramus, the point is that the suppliments you and other ignoramuses buy have not been shown to be effective, nor have they been shown to be safe.

    "That traditional Chinese medicine of red rice yeast doesn't fight cholesterol?"
    I'm sure you have cites to show that claim, right, Jack? Let's see them.

    "Now let me know what your point is about whether or not it is available here, because that has nothing to do with my point."
    Was that written to be understood by those who read English?

    "Idiot.
    Imbecilic asshole. Beatcha!

  • Sevo||

    Chipper Morning Wood|8.9.16 @ 2:21AM|#
    "Jack is totally right on this. You guys are morons."

    Cite or STFU.

  • Agammamon||

    Well, it doesn't. Having the same chemical is not the same thing has having the same amount of that chemical.

  • Jackand Ace||

    I'm willing to bet, Todd, if you were writing articles back in the day of sailing ships, you would have made fun of all those sailors bringing grapefruits on those long voyages.

  • Sevo||

    Jackand Ace|8.8.16 @ 10:33PM|#
    "I'm willing to bet, Todd, if you were writing articles back in the day of sailing ships, you would have made fun of all those sailors bringing grapefruits on those long voyages."

    I'm willing to bet you have the IQ of a grapefruit?

  • Agammamon||

    No dumbass, because they brought fruit on those long voyages because they had *documentation* marking the difference in certain nutrient deficiency diseases between voyages where the crew had access to citrus and where they didn't.

    That's WHY THEY ALL STARTED CARRYING CITRUS. And how the Royal Navy got the nickname - no, not *that* one - 'limies'.

  • Sevo||

    Noooo!
    Here Jack thought they did so because a seer walked up to a departing voyage and handed them some grapefruit!
    Oh, the SHOCK!

  • Jackand Ace||

    Yawn. The useful idiots are here.

    "These experiments in fact represented the world's first clinical trial. Unfortunately no prominence was given to this finding in a book which was long and contradictory. Lind's findings did not conform to the theories of his time, that scurvy was the result of poor digestion and the consumption of preserved meat and moldy water, and as a result had little impact on medical thinking. It would be 40 years before practical seamen and surgeons insisted on issuing lemon juice and effective prevention became widespread.[6] Scurvy remained a problem during expeditions and in wartime until the mid-20th century."

    In other words, smart ass, vitamin c was an ALTERNATIVE treatment at the time, and not accepted. But I guess to you and Todd those sailors who ignored accepted medicine and ate grapefruits were dumbasses.

    Thanks for showing up and defining what a dumbass is.

  • Sevo||

    Jackand Ace|8.9.16 @ 12:43AM|#
    "Yawn. The useful idiots are here."

    Yawn, Ignoramuses are now here; thanks for showing up.
    Did you have a point? Other than you really have no idea what you post?
    Vitamin C was *never* an "alternative" medicine, unless you read ignorant claims of ignoramuses. Such ignoramuses (that would be you, Jack) claim that since it hadn't as yet been found to be effective, it therefore was an 'alternative' medicine.
    You're not real bright, are you?

  • Agammamon||

    So - that means all alternative treatments are effective?

    Because I do not think that means what you think it means.

  • Voros McCracken||

    That's like 1 girl, 8 cups.

  • BigT||

    Double D cups?

  • Sevo||

    More quackery that ignoramuses such as Jack just luv!

    "The Quack of the Gaps Problem: Facilitated Communication, Autism and Patients' Rights"
    [...]
    "Howard Shane, [...] conducted independent controlled experiments in which autistic children and their facilitators were shown pictures of either the same or different objects while blinded to what each other saw. What was typed was always and only what the facilitator saw."
    http://www.skeptic.com/eskeptic/16-08-03/

    Hey, Jack! Tell us about that magical "science" again! You always make an ass of yourself.

  • Sevo||

    Hey, Jack! More of your buddy luddites!

    "FDA approves Zika-fighting, genetically modified mosquito, but no release imminent'
    [...]
    "Anti-GMO activists have criticized Oxitec for allowing the release of some modified female mosquitoes, which do bite humans. The company has said only a very small number of females are released, and no humans have reported any health problems from their bites."
    http://www.sfgate.com/news/sci.....124731.php

    Yep, if your effort doesn't guarantee a 100% solution, why should we 'let you' do anything?!
    BTW, this is interesting:
    "After considering thousands of public comments, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Center for Veterinary Medicine concluded the proposal from biotech firm Oxitec to release its mosquitoes in an island neighborhood just north of Key West would not significantly affect the environment, according a statement from the agency."
    Bullshit! It certainly *would* "significantly affect the environment" by producing non-vital offspring.

  • SIV||

    It's funny how small minded people put all their faith in "science". Particularly in a quasi-scientific institution propagated by a rotten lot of rent-seeking quacks.

  • Sevo||

    SIV|8.8.16 @ 11:34PM|#
    "It's funny how small minded people put all their faith in "science"."

    Yeah, SIV, we should ignore repeatable results and go with our gut, just like you! Gonna eat those peach pits when you get cancer? Really worked for Jobs, so you're on it, right?

  • XM||

    I experienced cupping and acupuncture (yes I'm Asian). I also gobbled down my share of Chinese herbal medicine.

    Is there scientific evidence that they always work? Nope. Should the state subsidize it? Nope. Does it help people? Probably. These alternative treatments aren't riskier or less proven than the dietary, herbal and penis enlarging pills that saturate the market and paid TV ads. Like Sheldon Cooper says, mutli vitamins are essentially paying for expensive urination.

    As for cupping, I found that it does help me loosen up and relax. But much of that probably has to do with the fact that you're lying down belly first on a bed for twenty minutes while being told to relax. And there's that "Aaaahhh" moment when the pinch of the cup is released. You feel lighter.

    Call it a placebo effect if you will, but if your body feels good, so be it. Surely if libertarians don't object to free individuals subjecting themselves to harmless pseudoscience?

  • Cyto||

  • Azathoth!!||

    What's the harm?

    If this is the cure, I think I might rather have the disease.

    The 'harm' that comes from witchcraft is people burning witches. No skepticism of witchcraft, just that people kill you for being a witch.

    The 'harm' that comes from ghosts is that they may scare you and thereby you'll do something stupid.

    See the problem?

  • R C Dean||

    Preach it, XM.

    The burden of proof I'd on those invoking the state, not just those making claims.

    I see too many people who say this woo-hoo stuff helped them to want it "regulated".

  • Cyto||

    I've seen many such claims myself.

    I have a devotee of "airborn" in my circles. Every time she feels a cold coming on, she takes airborn's homeopathic remedy. She touts it as preventing the flu about once a month or so.

    And no, I don't notice that she has any less of a rate of getting sick than anyone else. In fact, she pretty much gets all the same colds as the rest of us who have kids the same age.

    But she feels better about it, because it "works for her".

    And no, I wouldn't use a gun to keep her from buying her woo.

  • Sevo||

    "I see too many people who say this woo-hoo stuff helped them to want it "regulated"."

    Which is totally irrelevant to whether it has been shown to be effective. Fail, RC.

  • Sevo||

    "Does it help people? Probably"
    Prove it.

  • Possible Bot||

    If they say it makes them feel better then it's proven. Unless you have a feelometer to show they're lying.

  • XM||

    These alternative treatments are usually intended to improve your general lifestyle and overall health, not treat specific symptoms. I've taken Chinese medicine to help with digestion and such.

    I would never abandon chemotherapy in favor of some experimental oriental treatment if I ever got cancer. That's a whole another ball game. If you suffer from depression and find that feng shui arrangements and acupuncture helps you feel better, well, then more power to you.

    The cupping in the olympics is actually modified to the point where it actually does facilitate circulation - apparently.

  • GamerFromJump||

    It's not facilitating circulation, it's facilitating BLEEDING. That's what the giant bruises are.

  • BigT||

    Leeches are being used conventionally for a similar purpose. It is not inconceivable that cupping has some beneficial effect. It would be necessary to see proper clinical trials, however, before advocating the treatment.

  • adampeart||

    Spoiler alert. It IS INCONCEIVABLE.

  • Sevo||

    "These alternative treatments are usually intended to improve your general lifestyle and overall health, not treat specific symptoms. I've taken Chinese medicine to help with digestion and such."

    They are intended top enrich the sellers at the expense of the gullible.

  • Agammamon||

    Libertarians don't object to free people doing whatever the hell they want.

    Libertarians can still point and laugh and they can still point and yell when someone makes a claim about a treatment that has no backing or has even been disproven.

    I think you're missing a big distinction here - just because you feel better after removing a mildly unpleasant stimulus doesn't mean that that stimulus has had any actual effect other than being mildly unpleasant. Your blood flow is not increased - its actually decreased in the suction area - its not promoting healing, none of that.

    If all these people said is that this was an alternative to a massage, others might look at them weird, shrug their shoulders and move on. Its when practitioners start to make claims about how this improves your health directly that some of us start calling 'quack'.

  • XM||

    The only distinction that matters is whether tax payers are forced to fund these alternative medicine or promote it. Consumers are 100% free to either ignore or accept claims made by the practitioners. I'm not one of these people who think the government has to "protect" gullible consumers.

    I've never really felt relaxed after a round of Yoga or listening to new age music. Some people do. The marketplace is flooded with elixirs, detox pills and super fruit drinks that's unlikely to deliver on their promises. People buy them anyways.

    Michael Phelps turned to cupping (modified to be more effective) because it either gave him a mental advantage or it actually helped him feel better. That's all that matters. Those red dots on his back signaled to the competition that the American swimmers were receiving some exotic treatment to increase their performance. Perception and mind games matter.

  • adampeart||

    "The only distinction that matters is whether taxpayers are forced to fund these alternative medicines..."

    Follow the line:
    Obamacare--------->Insurance Companies----------------->Alternative medicine coverage------------->Increased insurance premiums------------->Insured Taxpayer--------------->Forced to pay.

  • ||

    When Todd wins his first gold medal, then I will start to give a fuck what he has to say about athletes

  • IceTrey||

    The men's gym team just blew up.

  • nicmart||

    So-called evidence based medicine is vastly more hazardous than quackery. Risk in perspective.

  • Sevo||

    nicmart|8.9.16 @ 1:41AM|#
    "So-called evidence based medicine is vastly more hazardous than quackery. Risk in perspective."

    Man, the imbeciles are out in force.

  • Butts Wagner||

    Hey! Remember when Michael Phelps banged a tranny?

  • MikeP2||

    Such elitism and virtue-signaling in this 'article'. What the heck is happening to Reason?

    Fact: Competition at the highest level is 95% mental. Yes, it takes years of intensive training and the right body design, but once you get there and are competing against others of similar abilities, the mental state at the start of the race defines whether you achieve 100% of your capabilities, 95%, or 90%. That's the difference between Gold and 4th.

    Fact: Humans use a huge range of mental strategies to "get their head right". Many athletes have routines, superstitions, and other activities that provide a ritual before competition that helps them align their mental state to where it needs to be.

    These are widely known and proven truths. To ignore this and write a blitheringly stupid article condemning the top athlete in the world in his sport for doing what helps him compete at the highest level is just shockingly ignorant.

  • Sevo||

    MikeP2|8.9.16 @ 9:23AM|#
    "Such elitism and virtue-signaling in this 'article'. What the heck is happening to Reason?"

    Yep, repeatable results are only for the "elite". What an imbecile.

  • MikeP2||

    Reading comprehension problems?

    I never even implied Cupping was scientifically valid. That's not the point.

    This article is on par with mocking LeBron James for traveling with a lucky pair of socks. Todd is doing nothing more than penning an article to exclaim to his readership "look at me, I'm sciency! let's all mock the less sciency!"

    As if he or you have any chops to lecture Phelps about what he does to achieve the most Olympic Gold in US friggin history. It is utterly laughable.

  • MikeP2||

    correction. I said "it is utterly laughable". I was wrong. It's just pathetic.

  • Sevo||

    MikeP2|8.9.16 @ 10:21AM|#
    "Reading comprehension problems?"

    Not at all:
    "Fact: Competition at the highest level is 95% mental"
    Bull
    .
    .
    .
    .
    shit.

  • MikeP2||

    Yeh...just keep shoveling on the evidence of your ignorance. We're all impressed.

  • Sevo||

    MikeP2|8.9.16 @ 11:26AM|#
    "Yeh...just keep shoveling on the evidence of your ignorance."

    Hey, let's see the cite for that "95%" bullshit. I'll be waiting.

  • MikeP2||

    ah...the classic cry of a poser who started an argument, but really has nothing valid to say. Someone who wants to whine about things, but is too lazy to even pen a coherent counter-argument. Classy.

    Did you even read the entire paragraph? This is no-brainer, common knowledge.

    If that is above your level, then perhaps you should stfu and...
    Go read any of the dozens of books on sports mentality.
    Go read any of the dozens of autobiographies of world class athletes.
    Go talk to people who compete at the highest levels.

  • Sevo||

    MikeP2|8.9.16 @ 11:49AM|#
    "ah...the classic cry of a poser who started an argument, but really has nothing valid to say."

    So no cite.
    The classic move of an imebcile called on his bullshit.

  • MikeP2||

    Lol...this made my day. In what reality do you think anyone needs to force feed you knowledge that you are theoretically perfectly capable of getting yourself by just reading some books on the subject?
    I told you where to look for the info, but you choose to be ignorant. good luck with that.

  • Sevo||

    MikeP2|8.10.16 @ 9:55AM|#
    "Lol...this made my day. In what reality do you think anyone needs to force feed you knowledge that you are theoretically perfectly capable of getting yourself by just reading some books on the subject?
    I told you where to look for the info, but you choose to be ignorant. good luck with that."

    Mike, I considered answering this as if you were an intelligent human, and them realized I was wrong.
    I'm gonna say you're a stupid piece of shit who pulled that out of your ass. And I'm going to continue to say that until you support that stupid claim with some cites.
    What a fucking ignoramus.

  • Codermatt||

    +1. How do I upvote comments here?

  • Codermatt||

    +1

  • Bubba Jones||

    There is an awesome United ad that features Olympians psyching themselves up.

    "I am fast like a mongoose. I strike like a cobra."

  • Codermatt||

    +1

  • Azathoth!!||

    Gods above, people--'cupping'

    It's a euphemism.

    Did we stop doing those?

  • MikeP2||

    No. We're not doing "phrasing" anymore.

  • Animal||

    Three words:

    Cherokee.
    Hair.
    Tampons.

  • PurityDiluting||

    I prefer to not do stupid things out of ignorance. Clear-headed stupidity is the best kind

  • Lord Rae||

    Athletes in general being so incredibly superstitious will do anything in the world that they think might get them even 1/100th of a second edge.

    So it doesn't surprise me at all that they would do something unscientific. The real question is does it hurt anyone or anything? No? Ok no story here then.

  • Sevo||

    Misdirection from a bleever, no doubt; see Mike P2 above.

  • maddarter||

    Sorry if someone beat me to this point. Hard to see so many comments on a mobile.

    Screw science and listen to Crash Davis in Bull Durham. If you think you are winning because you are wearing women's underwear, then you ARE winning because you're wearing women's underwear. And a player on a streak does not mess with a streak.

  • Sevo||

    "Screw science and listen to Crash Davis in Bull Durham. If you think you are winning because you are wearing women's underwear, then you ARE winning because you're wearing women's underwear. And a player on a streak does not mess with a streak."

    Misdirection from a bleever, no doubt; see Mike P2 above.

  • Rational Exuberance||

    Facts still matter, even as our confidence in authorities continue to erode. Which is why it behooves us to look critically at the world and seek out different points of view.

    Michael Phelps obviously likes cupping (sounds kind of kinky), he or his sponsors pay for it, so it is none of your business.

    What you believe or do not believe to be facts or truth is utterly irrelevant, or at least ought to be to a libertarian.

  • Sevo||

    Misdirection from a bleever, no doubt; see Mike P2 above.

  • Sevo||

    Yep, see, it's not a story since it really doesn't hurt anyone and blaaa, blaaa, blaaa....
    Sorry, folks that's a bullshit defense of pseudo-science, promoted by national media as if it had some effect other than causing bruises.
    No, it doesn't, and you can ask Laurene Powell Jobs about the efficacy of bullshit medical treatments.

  • Rational Exuberance||

    Sorry, folks that's a bullshit defense of pseudo-science

    No, it's not a "defense of pseudo-science", it is a reminder that science and politics don't mix, and that whether something is scientifically true or scientifically false is an individual judgment.

  • Sevo||

    "No, it's not a "defense of pseudo-science", it is a reminder that science and politics don't mix, and that whether something is scientifically true or scientifically false is an individual judgment."

    Really?
    Nothing in my post suggested any political activity at all.
    Called on bullshit. Again.
    Dishonest posts are such a magnet for bullshit detectors.

  • bd555||

    So glad we have utterly brilliant Reason writers to tell these people the techniques they're using don't work.

    After all, there's no one more out of touch with their bodies and how well they're healing than star Olympic athletes!

  • adampeart||

    Actually, I think it was the marijuana that made his aches and pains disperse.

  • vek||

    Sooo didn't read all the bullshit responses thus far, but the reason a lot of people believe in "alternative" medicine is that a lot of it works. Big pharma does not have a monopoly on chemical reactions in the body...

    That said, a lot of it is nonsense too. Stuff that I personally "believe in" tends to be stuff that has either actually proven valid in studies already, or things that have a lot of anecdotal evidence AND a logical pathway (like chemistry and shit) to having real effects, even if it hasn't been thoroughly tested in a proper scientific setting yet. That kind of stuff if it seems to work I'll give a fair shake to. The above largely equates to a lot of herbal remedies that actually do work, and maybe some vitamin/nutrient related stuff.

    Keep in mind people discovered a shit ton of actually effective herbal remedies in olden times... As well as bunk stuff (I'm assuming) like cupping. Modern pharmacology is simply an extension and evolution of herbal remedies, usually distilled into more concentrated forms. Like aspirin and morphine and shit. The fact that we have concentrated opium into morphine doesn't mean that a little straight dope from a poppy doesn't have lower (but real) pain killing effects.

  • vek||

    I personally keep a number of herbal teas kicking it around because they have a real and noticeable effect when taken. Like stuff that decongests you when you have a cold, or stuff that makes your throat feel better. Other things like garlic and onions have real antibiotic/antimicrobial effects. Garlic is also good for circulation. These are real facts.

    My 2 cents is that most herbal stuff IS NOT as potent as modern western "magic pills" but a lot of them DO have a smaller, but real, effect. They also tend to have few to zero side effects. So take your pick. For a lot of chronic, but not severe, conditions adjusting diet to get a few of these zero side effect things working together is the way I would prefer to go if I ever end up with such an ailment. I don't see how it's pseudo-science or anything to prefer that to paying 30 bucks a pill for some fancy new shit from Merck that makes your dick stop working and might give you a heart attack or whatever like half of the pharmaceutical pills do...

  • vek||

    Then there's the stuff where the modern western medical establishments says "Well you're f*cked. It's incurable, sooo take this stuff for the rest of your life to slightly alleviate symptoms." At that point you might as well try some weird shit. If nothing else you might get the placebo effect to kick in!

    Funny thing is my dad has psoriasis. Incurable, so they say. He didn't like the side effects that the steroid based symptom management has. He likes to keep up on a lot of weird subjects, and one day a certain "charlatan" was being interviewed on a radio show and happened to mention that a certain hardcore multivitamin product he had formulated helped a lot of people with many auto immune issues to varying degrees. He mentioned psoriasis specifically. My dad figured WTF, might as well try it.

    Funny thing is that it almost immediately improved. Then went away completely. Then as he lowered the dosage and dropped off on how regularly he took it it would incrementally come back. Up the dose again and away it goes. The fact that it comes and goes along with how much of this he's taking seems to imply to me it's not all placebo.

  • adampeart||

    Um, yeah, vitamins are kind of proven to be beneficial.

  • vek||

    Funny thing is that it almost immediately improved. Then went away completely. Then as he lowered the dosage and dropped off on how regularly he took it it would incrementally come back. Up the dose again and away it goes. The fact that it comes and goes along with how much of this he's taking seems to imply to me it's not all placebo.

    This particular product has high doses of all the "regular" vitamins etc that mainstream science says are good (although many in higher doses than are often said to be needed), but it also has a host of a couple dozen trace elements this particular guy thinks are overlooked. These things show up in our bodies in trace amounts, but somehow we're told we don't actually need to ingest them because they just don't matter... They're just hanging out cluttering up our bodies or something serving no purpose. This doctor thinks otherwise.

    There's a theoretical reason why this stuff could work: modern medicine hasn't properly identified all trace elements that serve purposes in the highly complex biochemistry in our bodies. Even if they're not the primary drivers they might be needed in small amounts for certain bodily functions. Therefore if you don't have them some functions may not work right. Valid theory as to why it might work plus the fact that it seems to work in practice = worth consideration. Pseudo-science or not my dad no longer has symptoms of psoriasis several years on.

  • Bubba Jones||

    I work in Pharma.

    I have Chinese employees who bring me awesome tea from China. I ask them to bring me only "beverage" tea and nothing "medicinal" because I have no idea what kind of active ingredients might actually be in there.

    A lot of our medicines originally came from plant extracts. People have been chewing on leaves and roots for tens of thousands of years.

    I work with clinical trials. There is a venn diagram that describes the overlap between "real medical benefit" and "positive regulatory trial end points." Some things that work are almost impossible to prove in a trial. Some things that have been "proven" in clinical trials don't actually work. The devil is in the trial design.

    Cupping appears to be a trendy form of massage therapy for athletes. I am pretty sure that Michael Phelps is an expert on the influence of outside stimuli on his body. If he says it helps him recover or heal, then I am willing to believe it helps HIM recover and heal in the context of racing 10 times a day. Even if you could design the trial and prove the effect on athletes who 5 standard deviations from the mean, I'm not sure what that tells you about cupping for housewives. And vice versa.

    I have no opinion on the meta-argument about USA Today promoting pseudoscience. USA Today is a rag. Not sure what you expect to find there besides full color weather maps.

  • Bubba Jones||

    My wife takes airborne when she feels a cold coming on, or thinks she has been exposed.

    I take Vitamin C and Zinc when the kids are sick and I want to avoid it.

    Not sure why I should care. Airborne is just a fancy supplement. INVENTED BY A TEACHER so it must be good?

    *shrug*

  • adampeart||

    Extreme back pain (herniated lumbar disc) led me down the primrose path of quackery a while ago. When you can hardly walk, sit, shit, or sleep you get desperate (though I was never so desperate to try a chiropractor, my brother in law was one, I know how quack-a-rific that "science" is.) Because my insurance covered ancient Asian quackery(geez, I wonder why my premiums are so high) I gave acupuncture a try all the while knowing any benefit I would receive would come from the placebo effect. I also received cupping treatment at the same time. All I got were some painful bruises. Hardly beneficial. Chiropractics is a hardcore quack profession. When I was eight my mom would take me to get adjustments(why not, after all ten visits are covered by insurance per annum!) I vividly recall one day the chiropractor explaining to my mom that I had, and I quote "borderline Down's Syndrome" and he divined this knowledge by assessing the ridges on the bottom of my newly forming adult front teeth! Genius!

    The bottom line: whether chiropractics, acupuncture, kenesiology, cupping, even some physical therapy they all have a similar theme- if you want to experience the "benefits" of the "therapy" you have to be treated regularly for a loooong period of time. You know, "twice a week for two years" type of stuff. And after two years you feel miraculously "better" and the naive attribute it to the treatments, when in fact their bodies repaired themselves naturally regardless of treatments.

  • Bubba Jones||

    Wow. Most of my chiropractic exposure has been of the musculoskeletal alignment variety. Not the "wellness" stuff.

  • Codermatt||

    What a terrible article. I was expecting to see the best argument for cupping, followed by ruthless reasoning and rebuttal on why they are wrong. What is presented is just drivel with a holier-than-thou, condescending attitude. If you are doing a take-down of pseudoscience, present the evidence or show why their evidence is bogus! This is reason.com, is it not? Waste of time reading this.

  • ||

    Did you watch the embedded video, by any chance? 'The Alternative Medicine Racket' is more than 14 minutes of ruthless reasoning. It examines the origins of alternative medicine's popularity and the absence of evidence behind it.

  • computer programs||

    Legal experts have suggested that if Congress has the power to require individuals to buy health care insurance, it may also mandate that Americans buy broccoli. Legal experts have suggested that if Congress has the power to require individuals to buy health care insurance, it may also mandate that Americans buy broccoli. Legal experts have suggested that if Congress has the power to require individuals to buy health care insurance, it may also mandate that Americans buy broccoli. - - - - برامج 2017- برامج 2017

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