Friends of Science in Medicine — a recently formed group that includes more than 400 prominent scientists, doctors, academics and consumer advocates from Australia and overseas — wrote to the vice chancellors of Australian universities last month. They outlined their concerns about what they called the “diminishing of the standards applied to the teaching of science in our universities” and “the increased teaching of pseudo-science.
“Such courses involve so-called ‘complementary or alternative medicine’ masquerading as, and sitting side-by-side with, evidence-based health-related science courses,” the letter said.
In response to this, the Universities have pushed back. Nick Klomp, Dean of the Science faculty at Charles Stuart University, agreeing with some points of the letter continued to state that the degree offered at his university, a Bachelor of Health Science (complementary medicine) for example, was based on science.
He said the course was designed to impart evidence-based science to people who already had a qualification, like a diploma, in alternative health care. The course includes such subjects as biology and physiology.
Those behind the letter said “For many of us, we’ve been concerned for a long time that in this most scientific of all ages, pseudoscience seems to be flourishing,”
David Colquhoun, a Professor of Pharmacology at University College London has called for the ending of alternative-medicine programs in Britain, a member of the Australian group had some of the harshest words in the article I read when he said “Courses in alternative medicine are dishonest, they teach things that aren’t true, and things that are dangerous to patients in some cases,”
Now, I don’t think I have to take a survey of RadioFreeThinker to know we support the Friends of Science and would be glad to see all CAM programs ended in higher institutions with the caveat, made by the Friends group as well, that research into CAM, if warranted should not stop. That said, one thing Klomp said made me pause.
“I could ignore them or I could train them better,” Mr. Klomp said, adding that a majority of the university’s students were already practicing. “We actually create graduates who are much better health care providers. It’s all about evidence based, science based.
So, that argument is, I think, is even if you think that CAM is all fake, there is here an aspect of harm reduction. That these people would be practicing their pseudo-science regardless, this way they at least have an understanding of what real medicine is and the ethics attached to it. We often say that many CAM practitioners are not frauds but misinformed, this seems one way to at least reduce the potential harm they could do to their patients accidentally via ignorance.