"Either it is true that a medicine works or it isn't.
It cannot be false in the ordinary sense but true in some 'alternative' sense."
Prof. Richard Dawkins, Oxford, April 2001
from the foreword to 'SNAKE OIL' by John Diamond
This web site has been created as a voice of reason in response to the substantial amount of uncritical media coverage currently being given to alternative medicine.
Despite the fact that a large number of alternative health therapies lack any scientific validity, the perceived benefits of such therapies continue to be promoted. In reality, claims of therapeutic success can usually be attributed to an ailment being self-limiting (i.e. it will resolve itself in time without any treatment), or to an unpredictable placebo response brought about by the patient's deep belief in the therapy and/or the practitioner's sympathetic attention. In both these cases the practitioner will normally take the credit for having elicited a cure and the patient will become a believer in the therapy.
Although most alternative health therapies are seen as being relatively safe, this is not always the case. It is known that some can be potentially harmful. Also, unlike fully qualified medical doctors, many alternative health practitioners have not received adequate training in the skills of differential diagnosis (i.e. the determination of which two or more diseases with similar symptoms is the one from which a patient is suffering based on an analysis of the clinical data). Consequently, this can place patients at risk of not receiving proper medical attention. Other factors such as patient dependency, misleading information, and patient exploitation due to an undefined and/or unlimited scope of practice can also cause a delay in appropriate medical advice or treatment being sought.
With these concerns in mind, it is the aim of this web site to alert consumers to questionable alternative health practices whilst encouraging them to always seek evidence-based medicine (EBM) first.
For tools and resources to enable you to spot misleading claims and to do something about them, please visit The Nightingale Collaboration:
“Misleading claims about healthcare products and services appear on many providers’ websites as well as in promotional leaflets, posters, brochures, newspapers and magazines. People are being misled into paying for products and therapies of unproven efficacy. Some of these aren’t even scientifically plausible and some of them could be harmful. We should be free to choose what we spend our money on but it should be an informed choice, not one based on misrepresentation – deliberate or otherwise - by those who stand to profit. This misinformation will not disappear by itself: it needs to be challenged.”