Here are the top ten most read posts on The Science Bit in 2013: Continue reading “Top Ten Popular Posts on The Science Bit, 2013”
As we all know, the old days were the best. You know. Ye olden days. This is what I thought when I received this tweet alert from @ClaireMcCallion earlier today:
It links to an article just out in the American Psychological Association’s house journal, Monitor on Psychology and yes, @ClaireMcCallion’s right, it does SCREAM pseudoscience.
This all reminds me of an incident many years ago, when the Monitor published another article about pseudotherapies in psychology. Essentially, that article soft-soaped the use of complementary/alternative approaches in clinical psychology and encouraged psychologists to collaborate with the National Council for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) in researching and developing CAM approaches.
Let’s remind ourselves, for a moment, that such therapies — by definition — (a) lack biological plausibility and are argued to operate using forces that are as yet inexplicable to mainstream science, and (b) have not demonstrated medicinal effects in ways that can be demonstrated in unambiguous, rigorous, empirical trials.
You might refer to such therapies as quackery. I couldn’t possibly comment.
Nonetheless, back in ’04 I was in the habit of banging my letter-writing head off the brick wall that is the editorial offices of such publications. As per the following: Continue reading “American Psychological Association promotes pseudotherapies. Again.”
What’s the most cited academic paper on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM)? Is it an evidence-based trial demonstrating the efficacy of a particular therapy? Is it a systematic review of a collection of efficacy literature? Is it a paper that explains a single major CAM modality, such as acupuncture or chiropractic, or one that explains them all? Or is it a treatise on how biological mechanisms (such as the placebo effect) can help explain how such therapies appear to work? Actually, it’s none of these. The most cited CAM paper in history doesn’t tell us how CAM works, how effective it is, what its limitations might be, or even what it actually comprises – instead, it tells us how popular CAM is. Yes, that, and how much it costs. In other words, it’s a paper about the marketing and commercial dimensions of the CAM industry in the US. And it appears in one of the most widely read medical journals in the world.
Now you might expect that a heavily cited paper must be a terrific one to consult, given that so many wise academics have found it to be such a useful source. For example, its methodology and conclusions must be pretty robust, and its take-home message impressively reliable, right? Right? Well, no, not really. Despite the fact that its findings are regularly cited, they are so wholly unreliable as to be highly ambiguous, if not downright misleading. The reason it gets cited so much has little to do with academic rigour or scientific validity. It gets cited because it makes the right point from a partisan perspective: namely, that CAM is just so hugely popular that everybody is using it! Continue reading “Why is this paper still cited?”