Bitter Pills
(?) March 5th, 2001

I watched 60 Minutes tonight, if only because it was the only thing on between Futurama and The Simpsons.  I don't watch King of the Hill because it's just a little too saccharine for my tastes.  I prefer the biting sarcasm of Matt Groening's work, but that has nothing to do with skepticism.  

Ed Bradley did a story tonight about Dr. Andrew Weil, king of alternative medicine and the hero to kooks and homeopaths everywhere.  He expounds on the value of energy therapy, herbal remedies, shamanism and LSD in harnessing the body's ability to heal itself.

There is no doubt that the emotional state of a human being has a role in how well the person recovers.  I think this concept is quite well accepted in the mainstream medical field.  Only an idiot would argue with that.

But emotion is not the only factor in physical health.  Mainstream medicine exists because it works.  It has evolved into its present state through centuries of trial and error and scientific exploration.  Weil admits that conventional medical science has its place in trauma situations and other specific treatments.  But go ahead and ask him about the evidence for his own alternative garbage.

He'll probably get snippy, just like he did to Mr. Bradley.  He'll get all outraged and say he's not a researcher, like that small exclusion is like a Get Out of Legitimate Science Free Card.  He needs to get a clue, and a better alibi.

For instance, the good folks at 60 Minutes grabbed some of Dr. Weil's recommended herbal supplements and had them tested for potency.  Not surprisingly, the pills that were supposed to be Echinacea turned out to have a very, very low percentage of the actual herb.  Perhaps even less surprisingly, the companies challenged on these pitifully low results denied the obvious facts and surrendered to corporate whorism, claiming that their own tests showed that the pills had "lots and lots of that junk!"  Weil temporarily swallowed his own whorism and vowed to get to the bottom of it.  But he's still selling his crap.  Tons of it. 

Bravo to 60 Minutes for this one.  The more they crucify corporate whores, the happier I am. 



June 11th, 2001

A Million Damn Dollars
May 31st, 2001

Government Stooges
May 13th, 2001