A very vocal critic of alternative medicine gets a sweet comeuppance

Calling someone a “hypocrite” is strong stuff. So I’ll give you the details, then you can decide if “hypocrite” fits.

A few months ago, The Atlantic magazine ran an article titled, “The Triumph of New-Age Medicine.” I hate to see “new-age” used to describe complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). But that’s a small gripe. It’s an excellent article.

The author, David H. Freedman, balances his CAM discussion against the views of a skeptic. That’s Steven Salzberg, Ph.D. He’s the director of the Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology at the University of Maryland.

Dr. Salzberg says alternative medicine doesn’t work. He calls CAM “cleverly marketed, dangerous quackery.” And Freedman calls him “one of the angriest voices attacking the field.”

Here’s a sample: “These people have been trying to prove their alternative treatments work for years, and they can’t do it. But they won’t admit it and move on.”

It’s so simple, isn’t it? Dr. Salzberg has decided CAM is useless. So in spite of all the documented success of CAM treatments, we should all just pack it in.

Then something surprising happens…

At the end of the article, Freedman notes that Salzberg doesn’t include hypnosis therapy in his list of fraudulent CAM practices. Why? Salzberg guesses it’s because his father used it in his practice as an academic clinical psychologist.

And here’s the payoff. Salzberg admits that he hasn’t looked very closely at hypnosis studies. But he says that’s not necessary because… “I believe it works.”

Ah! Just sit back and savor that one.

“The Triumph of New-Age Medicine” David H. Freedman, The Atlantic, July/August 2011, theatlantic.com

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