McGill takes on horseshit

I received the following invitation from the AWESOME Redpath Museum at McGill today - you should rock on down and check this out.

“Alternative medicine” indeed is a perplexing term.  What does it mean?  What is it an alternative to?  Medicine either works, or it doesn’t.  If it works, it isn’t “alternative.”  If it doesn’t work, it isn’t medicine.  So what then is “alternative medicine?”  The best definition seems to be “those practices which are not taught in conventional medical schools.”  Why not?  Because medical schools are sticklers for a little detail called “evidence.”  After all, patients have a right to expect that a course of action recommended by a physician has a reasonable chance of working.  In science, evidence means statistically significant results from properly controlled experiments, as evaluated by experts in the field.  Lack of evidence of course does not mean that a particular treatment cannot work.  Only that it has not been demonstrated to work.  And that is when it can be termed “alternative.”  If sufficient proof is mustered, “alternative” transforms into “conventional.” 

The timing of the symposium comes well because I happened to be at a pharmacy in Montreal, and I noticed that in the “pain area” they have started selling products labelled as "homeopathic" on the same shelf as regular medicine. How are you supposed to work out the difference between what is medicine and what is not when even your trusted pharmacist is toying with semantics? Aren’t they embarrassed? Unfortunately, this practice isn’t rare, either in Quebec or elsewhere in Canada.

I did a little more research, and as it turns out, some ”homeopathic” medicines actually are medical strength to the point that they are regulated by the FDA. So the hideously vile and wicked marketing strategy is this - place medical strength homeopathy on the shelves of regular pharmacies for things like sprained ankles, so that when Aunt Betty has an incurable cancer, poor Joe Anybody will think to himself “well, that homeopathy worked on my foot, maybe it will work on her uterus!” How could anyone participate in something so wicked?

The symposium is taking place Nov. 7 at 7.00 pm at the Mont-Royal Centre (1000 Sherbrooke W) and November 8 at 6.00 pm in Room 132 of McGill’s Leacock Building. For further information, please contact, Emily Shore, the Trottier Symposium Coordinator, at trottiersymposium.science@mcgill.ca 


  1. rwrc posted this