Snake Oil Science: The Truth About Complementary and Alternative Medicine by R. Barker BausellSnake Oil Science: The Truth About Complementary and Alternative Medicine by R. Barker Bausell

Snake Oil Science: The Truth About Complementary and Alternative Medicine

byR. Barker Bausell

Paperback | August 2, 2009

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Hailed in the New York Times as "entertaining and immensely educational," Snake Oil Science is not only a brilliant critique of alternative medicine, but also a first-rate introduction to interpreting scientific research of any sort. The book's ultimate goal is to illustrate how the placeboeffect conspires to make medical therapies appear to be effective--not just to consumers, but to therapists and poorly trained scientists as well. Bausell explores this remarkable phenomenon and explains why research on any therapy that does not factor in the placebo effect (and other placebo-likeeffects) will inevitably produce false results. Moreover, as the author shows in an impressive survey of research from high-quality scientific journals, studies employing credible placebo controls do not indicate positive effects for alternative therapies beyond those attributable to random chance.Readers will come away from this book with a healthy skepticism of claims about the latest "miracle cure," be it St. John's Wort for depression or acupuncture for chronic pain.
R. Barker Bausell, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Maryland Baltimore, was Research Director of a National Institutes of Health-funded Complementary and Alternative Medicine Specialized Research Center.
Title:Snake Oil Science: The Truth About Complementary and Alternative MedicineFormat:PaperbackDimensions:320 pages, 7.8 × 5.1 × 1 inPublished:August 2, 2009Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195383427

ISBN - 13:9780195383423

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Rated 4 out of 5 by from Alternative Medicine and the Placebo Effect I have not read many books in which the authors are as meticulous as this one in explaining the proper functioning of the scientific method, with particular emphasis on the placebo effect – what it is and what it can do. Through this book, the author, a biostatistician, shares his explorations with the reader regarding whether there is any solid experimental evidence supporting the beneficial use of complementary and alternative medicines (CAM). After a very quick overview of CAM therapies and their popularity in our society, the author carefully, and at length, describes the placebo effect and how it can influence the results of randomized trials conducted to evaluate the effects of such therapies. He also warns of the several possible pitfalls that the investigators must look out for in conducting their work and in interpreting their results. Having selected published reports of trials that he considers to be of the highest quality, he critically examines them in order to see if the reported effects are real, once the placebo effect has been taken into consideration. Overall, his conclusions are not very encouraging for the proponents of alternative medicine. The author writes very clearly in a prose that is generally lively but occasionally a bit dry, quite serious although friendly and occasionally light-hearted, and often quite engaging. This book should attract anyone with an interest in complementary and alternative medicine – either as a user or as a practitioner – as well as anyone interested in the rigorous application of the scientific method.
Date published: 2012-08-01

Table of Contents

Introduction1. The Rise of Complementary and Alternative Therapies2. A Brief History of Placebos3. Natural Impediments to Making Valid Inferences4. Impediments That Prevent our Physicians and Therapists From Making Valid Inferences5. Impediments that Prevent Poorly Trained Scientists from Making Valid Inferences6. Why Randomized Placebo Control Groups Are Necessary in CAM Research7. Judging the Credibility and Plausibility of Scientific Evidence8. Some Personal Research9. How We Know that the Placebo Effect Exists10. A Bio-Chemical Explanation for the Placebo Effect11. Do CAM Therapies Work Or Are They Placebo Effects? Evidence From High Quality Randomized Placebo Controlled Trials12. Do CAM Therapies Work Or Are They Placebo Effects? Evidence From High Quality Systematic Reviews13. How CAM Therapies Are Hypothesized to Work14. Tying Up a Few Loose EndsNotesIndex