Posts Tagged acupuncture

Skeptics with a K: Episode #007

Acupuncture, pain pixies, breast enlargement by hypnosis and the fruit fly sexual tsunami. All this and more in the latest Skeptics with a K!


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In Defence Of Conventional Medicine – View From The Vet

White GSD at the Vet, courtesy of Ildar Sagdejev (

Conventional Medicine: Natural, holistic, and safe

As alternative medicines seem to get so much media exposure, I thought it was time I tried to explain how the conventional approach to medicine works, as I think people take it for granted without really being aware of what is involved. Alternative therapists often promote their treatments as being natural, safe and holistic, when often they are anything but that!

As a vet I believe I take a holistic approach to how I practise veterinary medicine, and approach my cases. If someone brings an ill animal into the surgery, before I examine it, I take a detailed history, which includes asking questions about the animal’s diet and lifestyle…. What food does it eat? Any recent change in diet? How many animals in the household, indoor or outdoor, and how many are showing symptoms. Any recent stress factors (e.g. moving house, people moving into or out of the home, recent kennelling, trauma, accidents or fights; major renovations). I’ll look at its previous medical history and check if it’s on concurrent medication, and check if the owners have medicated it with ‘over the counter’ or their own medication. What flea and worming treatments are being used, and when last applied. Vaccination status. Body condition. The animal’s signalment, ie breed, age, sex, entire/ neutered, all of which affect the conditions it could be susceptible to. I’ll keep in mind that very young, or old animals, as well as those that are obviously ill, may not be able to tolerate certain medications, or procedures. Read the rest of this entry »

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Mind, Body, Spirit, Hand, Hook, Line and Sinker

Mind Body Spirit

Recently, I spent a little time in Edinburgh – having headed north of the border in order to sample what the fringe festival had to offer, I was wholly prepared for a few good laughs.

Which is lucky really, because sitting in a cafe on Cockburn Street (which I was assured but not convinced was actually pronounced Co-burn Street), I noticed this sign (that one there on the right.  It impressed me so much, I obviously took a photo, because I’m like that).

The sign was attached to a woo-peddling establishment called (I believe) Crystal Clear – a veritable cornucopia of bullshit, which the sign doubtlessly attests to.  In case you can’t read the small print, the shop offers:

Feng Shui / Tai Chi / Meditation / Ecology / Herbalism / I Ching / Dowsing / Homeopathy / Self-Improvement / Massage / Spiritual Awareness / Shamen / Zen / Buddhism / Numerology / Native American Indian Art / Therapy / Psychic Development / Acupuncture / Crystals / Complimentary Medicine / Colour Healing / Psychology / Tibetan Buddhism / Wicca / Bonsai / Tarot / Green Issues / Astrology / Aroma Therapy / Celtic Christianity / Sufism / Vegan Cooking / Divination.

A mixed bag, I’m sure you’ll agree, but at least they covered their bases.  I’ve emboldened the ones that made me giggle most, because they’re so normal amongst this sea of crap.  Obviously I went in, and obviously I looked for the weirdest thing I could find… Read the rest of this entry »

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NICE work: acupuncture coming to a primary care trust near you

When I first set up Merseyside Skeptics, I had only one real rule in mind – “no sacred cows”.

I’m always fascinated by which ideas people hold as their metaphorical cow.  A few years ago, when I first started getting enthusiastic about skepticism, I was ranting in the pub with a doctor friend of mine about homeopathy, crystal healing, iridology, and their friends.  We laughed and joked together about the implausibility of it all and the lack of credible evidence, until I mentioned acupuncture.  Suddenly, his face fell and his tone became more stern. “Actually, acupuncture is effective and there are good scientific reasons for that.”

I was briefly taken aback by this.  My friend is one of the most fiercely scientifically-minded people I know, to the point where he has been accused of bringing down a fun, but daft, conversation by pointing out how daft it is from a scientific stand point.  He was the last person I would have expected to claim efficacy for a pseudomedical practice like acupuncture and looking back now, I should have asked him to explain.  Instead, the subject was dropped, glasses were refilled and conversation breezed on to something else.

Read the rest of this entry »

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