Snake Oil Science : The Truth About Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Hailed in the New York Times as "entertaining and immensely educational," Snake Oil Science is not only a brilliant critique of alternative medicine, but also a first-rate introduction to interpreting scientific research of any sort. The book's ultimate goal is to illustrate how the placebo effect conspires to make medical therapies appear to be effective-not just to consumers, but to therapists and poorly trained scientists as well. Bausell explores this remarkable phenomenon and explains why research on any therapy that does not factor in the placebo effect (and other placebo-like effects) will inevitably produce false results. Moreover, as the author shows in an impressive survey of research from high-quality scientific journals, studies employing credible placebo controls do not indicate positive effects for alternative therapies beyond those attributable to random chance. Readers will come away from this book with a healthy skepticism of claims about the latest "miracle cure," be it St. John's Wort for depression or acupuncture for chronic pain.
- Paperback | 320 pages
- 137.16 x 213.36 x 22.86mm | 408.23g
- 27 Aug 2009
- Oxford University Press
- Oxford, United Kingdom
- tables and figures
Table of contents
Introduction ; 1. The Rise of Complementary and Alternative Therapies ; 2. A Brief History of Placebos ; 3. Natural Impediments to Making Valid Inferences ; 4. Impediments That Prevent our Physicians and Therapists From Making Valid Inferences ; 5. Impediments that Prevent Poorly Trained Scientists from Making Valid Inferences ; 6. Why Randomized Placebo Control Groups Are Necessary in CAM Research ; 7. Judging the Credibility and Plausibility of Scientific Evidence ; 8. Some Personal Research ; 9. How We Know that the Placebo Effect Exists ; 10. A Bio-Chemical Explanation for the Placebo Effect ; 11. Do CAM Therapies Work Or Are They Placebo Effects? Evidence From High Quality Randomized Placebo Controlled Trials ; 12. Do CAM Therapies Work Or Are They Placebo Effects? Evidence From High Quality Systematic Reviews ; 13. How CAM Therapies Are Hypothesized to Work ; 14. Tying Up a Few Loose Ends ; Notes ; Index
"Mr. Bausell has emerged with a book about his true intellectual passion-- how we teach, how kids learn, and what would give us better results... His vision of the learning lab -- with students touching computer screens as they follow computerized lessons, each of them learning at his or her own pace, and with tutors providing individualized instruction as necessary-- suggests a more efficient model for learning, particularly for children already behind the curve, and real urgency about the future." --Dan Rodricks, The Baltimore Sun
About R. Barker Bausell
R. Barker Bausell, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Maryland Baltimore, was Research Director of a National Institutes of Health-funded Complementary and Alternative Medicine Specialized Research Center.