The persistence of alternative medicine demonstrates our ignorance in modern science
Our love affair with alternative “medicines” still demonstrates that as a species, we still have a lot of growing up to do. The persistence of reiki, acupuncture, crystals, homeopathy, and just about every other bullshit “medicine” is due mainly to the mysterious placebo effect, which seems to suggest our bodies respond positively to treatments, even when they do nothing at all.
I think we can easily dissect this phenomenon if we accept human beings are social animals who require just as much comforting as real medicine. A person who visits a homeopath is often given a great deal of time and attention, much more than they would going to the doctors. This simple act alone has a profound effect on the health of the “patient”, and it’s what makes fighting this flim-flam so difficult.
I think it’s sad the gap between medicine and well being is being filled with nonsense. I would be lying if I claimed it didn’t at least help some people heal faster, but I also can’t forget about all the people who have died because they chose alternative medicines rather than the real thing. I’ve often been asked “is it ok to believe in a lie if it’s comforting, or is it always better to tell the truth?”. On an individual level it’s hard to argue that the truth is better, but that’s only if you discount the external effect of one’s belief. Think about all the people who have died because they refused to listen to the truth about their diseases (Andy Kaufman, why did you fall for such a simple scam as psychic surgery?). Do you really believe that ignorance is a virtue, people?