Readers will know that I've been expressing my objections to National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute [NIH/NCI] suggestions that acupuncture can/may/might offer relief of cancer treatment side-effects. I'll begin this entry by providing some explanatory background. I'm personally involved because I'm well into the process of chemotherapy, a "clean-up" procedure following a successful operation to remove a tumor. I prepared myself by reading up on the literature, and I must say that I'm doing very well - due to very recent improvements in the process, and new medications. I've experienced none of the possible nausea, though I'm weakened physically due to a decrease in red blood cells, and I have to avoid possible infection because of a lessened resistance. This, I hope, explains my considerable reaction to the irresponsible NIH/NCI comments on the efficacy of acupuncture for the relief of chemotherapy.
As I announced at TAM 7, during a recent routine medical exam I received news that I have been visited by a most unwelcome guest. Now, I am fighting this with the aid of medical experts, and I have the highest trust -- not faith, mind you, but trust -- in their knowledge of and their ability to use state of the art medical science. No balms, distilled water, electrified needles, rubs, detoxifying agents, or poultices for me!
While I'm somewhat weakened by this state of affairs, I am emboldened by the support I have received from the JREF audience and community. Your emails and phone calls have filled me with (dare I say it) good spirits, and fight on I will.
However, on the advice of said medical experts, I must avoid crowds and public places. As much as I love to meet everyone and shake their hands, for the time being this has become impossible. Therefore I will not be attending Dragon*Con or NECSS in September, or TAM London in October. However, you can rest assured there will be a cadre of critically thinking skeptics attending and speaking at those conferences, and I urge you to attend them. As much as I wish I could go as well, I need to attend to my health first, so that I can be there in person next time.
With the insertion of a new American President that actually wants scientists to be heard and (and to subsequently follow their advice), one can feel the winds of change blowing across the country and to a lesser extent, other countries as well. These breezes are bringing a breath of fresh realism to the people where science is no longer twisted or ignored to fit ideology, but rather it is being recognized as a legitimate source of information from which to base sound decisions.
Many skeptical organizations say that Education is the backbone of their activities, and if that’s true then now is the time for them to move out into the education frontier and start fighting the battles to win the minds of our youngest students.
Before I fling immature epithets at the world of alternative medicine, I need to give a brief overview of the regulations imposed on those who make real medicine. The medicines that do everything from saving lives to preventing gas. In America, these regulations are known as "Current Good Manufacturing Practices", or cGMPs for short. The best way to illustrate the thoroughness and complexity of these regulations is to use a narrative. The narrative won‘t even scratch the surface, but it will give you a general idea:
Let's say a company wants to make a new drug. What are some of the things it must it do?