P.O. Box 20302
Springfield, IL 62708
February 16, 1999
Letters to the Editor
P.O. Box 3524
Springfield, IL 62708
To the Editor:
When I saw Ginny Lee's article, "Acupuncture Goes Mainstream" (Feb. 11-17), I was hoping to find something new. Instead, I just found the same unscientific stories so prevalent in discussions of alternative medicine.
The problems in this article are twofold. First, Ms. Lee reprints, as gospel, that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) put out a report supportive of acupuncture. Unfortunately, Ms. Lee apparently did not look beyond the press release, or she would have seen a number of problems with this report (admittedly, she 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.
The second problem with Ms. Lee's article is that she made several statements as if they were fact, when they are actually far from it. For example, "if your Ch'i is blocked, you're not going to have a good day. Acupuncture restores the body's energy flow…" If Ms. Lee has any evidence that this "Ch'i" even exists, I hope she will bring it forward, because nobody else has managed to do so. Simply put, Ch'i is a nice philosophical concept, but there is no scientific or medical evidence supporting its existence-let alone the ability to unblock it.
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.
If anybody would like more information on this or related topics, I invite them to contact us at the Rational Examination Association of Lincoln Land, P.O. Box 20302, Springfield, IL 62708; or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
David Bloomberg, Chairman
Association of Lincoln Land