Download Now – Dr. David Gorski: Science-Based Medicine

This is an audio recording of the 01/21 meet-up. This conversation is about alternative medicine and its lack of efficacy.

We also talk about the ethics of placebo treatments, treating patients with phantom limb condition, if popular herbal treatments that have some efficacy should be co-opted into science-based medicine, and a tangential conversation about what patients should ask their surgeon before an operation.

3 thoughts on “Download Now – Dr. David Gorski: Science-Based Medicine

  1. It was great meet-up thanks Chris. I do wonder if a case could be made that the prescribing of a placebo could, in some cases, be ethical. In the UK you can be served by the same family doctor for many years, e.g my grandmother, mum and sister are all served by the same doctors’ office, it leads to a strong relationship.

    Sometimes, at some points in peoples lives, and for a variety of reasons people find themselves feeling lonely and needing to know someone cares about them, trips to their doctors office may increase for a range of conditions that the doctor can find no cause for. The person may know the condition is not a real one or they may have convinced themselves that they really do have pain, would it be ethical to dispense a placebo in these cases? Would that reassure them ease their loneliness, whilst at the same time in their mind, treating the condition they say they have as a real one?

    Or should the doctor give the person the time they need just to talk, ask them to come back again weekly (under the guise of checking on the imaginary pain), in effect treating the loneliness by listening and not adding to the delusion by treating imaginary pain with imaginary remedy.

    Personally I believe the doctors should do the latter, take the time to talk, and in my experience they do, but within their time constraints. I think practitioners of woo offer that extra time, especially in the cases where there isn’t a strong relationship with a long term family doctor. The ‘treatment’ is pointless, but as in this example, there is no real pain anyway that doesn’t matter, the time given to the patient is the real treatment. The belief that a physical condition is being treated is upheld by both but in truth it is the loneliness that is being treated.

  2. On another note we also touched on the topic of cancer during the meet up. For anyone who’s interested in the historic development of cancer treatments and research I recently read THE EMPEROR OF ALL MALADIES-A Biography of Cancer By Siddhartha Mukherjee, there’s a review here
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/14/books/review/Weiner-t.html?pagewanted=all

    It was a long read for me and in some places difficult to understand, I think I’ll read it again later in the year to clarify the final third which looks at the influence of gene sequencing etc. Anyhow, Ann Arbor district library has copies, it’s a good read.

  3. Thanks for the comments, Rebecca. Yeah, I’m really conflicted over placebo treatments. It’s one of the reasons why I wanted to start with that aspect of Science-Based Medicine with David Gorski at our meet-up.

    I can’t seem to figure out what’s more important, honesty or improving someone’s well-being. In a way, placebos seem like the “little white lie” that people understand to mean justifiable deception. But Gorski and others make convincing arguments that explain why this isn’t so.

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