To the Chicago Tribune
About Acupuncture

David Bloomberg
P.O. Box 20302
Springfield, IL 62708
(217) 726-5354

February 16, 1999

Voice of the People
Chicago Tribune
435 N. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611

To the Editor:

When I saw that the Tempo section was featuring a series on alternative medicine, I initially decided to wait until all four parts were printed before offering comment. Unfortunately, the second part, on acupuncture (Feb. 11), deserves an immediate response.

The main problem with this article is the way the author, Bob Condor, accepts as gospel the National Institutes of Health (NIH) report on acupuncture. Mr. Condor apparently did not look beyond the press release, or he would have seen a number of problems with this report (he is not alone — many news outlets failed to take this step).

The report was actually issued by the Office of Alternative Medicine within the NIH; that office has come under heavy criticism for being biased in favor of alternative medicine and against proper scientific studies. The report was put together by a planning committee and consensus panel that were both heavily weighted with proponents of alternative medicine rather than unbiased, objective observers. The report came from a three-day meeting of presentations, with no balance given in the form of inviting researchers with opposing viewpoints. Finally, the audience often cheered when the presenters attacked the scientific method — the method on which medicine is based, and the method acupuncture proponents should be striving to use to prove their claims.

As an editorial in a recent medical journal noted, there really is no such thing as alternative medicine – there is only medicine that works and medicine that doesn’t. Three-day conferences don’t determine what is scientifically valid — only proper experiments can do that. I would like to see good experiments done on acupuncture, and some people are working in that area. But until good data comes in, all the press releases in the world won’t change the fact that acupuncture still has not been scientifically shown to work.

David Bloomberg, Chairman
Rational Examination
Association of Lincoln Land

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