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Dirty Medicine The Handbook

by by Martin J Walker

listed in complementary medicine

[Image: Dirty Medicine  The Handbook]

For those of us involved in complementary healthcare the strident and often vicious campaign against what we do is unsettling and unnerving. Why should an activity which is ostensibly gentle and caring be subjected to such vilification? I can understand how some of our theories and models of reality may seem unlikely or alien to those brought up in a rigidly western paradigm but the response of some of the sceptics is more akin to religious fundamentalism than objective criticism.

In this book Walker reveals the 'skeptic' movement to be a complex web of interconnected interests involving scientists, doctors, journalists, corporations and MPs. Using the tools of PR and spin they maintain a steady opposition to the growing popularity of Complementary medicine. He charts the rise of this phenomenon from the formation of the American NCHF (National Council against Health Fraud) in the mid 80s and similar organisations here including the charity SAS (Sense About Science) who on closer scrutiny appears to be a PR organisation for big business with a track record supporting GM as well as being pro pharma and anti CAM.

Perhaps their major area of success is dominating news output. The much criticised Shang meta analysis of homeopathic research for example was published in the Lancet with the headline "The End of Homeopathy", whereas previous similar work supporting homeopathy was given very little airing. This selectiveness was reinforced for me very recently when listening to a presentation of research regarding a complex homeopathic product which had been tested in vitro, in vivo and been subjected to placebo controlled clinical trials and passed all of these. A doctor in the audience obviously very frustrated and angry wanted to know why this information was not in all the newspapers and television news!

Walker starts with a personal story detailing the help he has received from holistic medicine and  continues with the history of the 'skeptic' movement, looking at individuals and organizations that comprise the movement or are involved with them. He then reviews the controversies of recent history from the notorious Bristol Cancer Help Centre Study, the Bienveniste affair to more recent scandals such as Dr Wakefield and Dr Myhill. Finally he looks at the heroes and heroines who have and are resisting the 'skeptics' and gives pointers as to how to organize against them.

Altogether there is huge amount of detail here and many names, some of whom are familiar to me and many who aren't. It seems Walker has included those at the centre of the argument against CAM as well as those who are more peripheral.  Walker writes with a wry humour making the dryness of the content much more readable.

In my view the skeptic movement, although destructive is bound to fail. Despite the propaganda large numbers of patients are voting with their feet and seeking CAM help rather than availing themselves of the heavily pharmaceutically influenced free health care system.

In order for us to facilitate the process of change from a reductionist world-view to a more holistic one in which more patients can be helped in this way, we need to be armed with the knowledge of the arguments. Knowing who the opposition is and what motivates them is an important part of this process. This book can be one of our most valuable resources in achieving this.

Further Information
Available from Slingshot Publications

also from Amazon

Jonathan Lawrence
Published by Slingshot Publications
ISBN 978-0956409317

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