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Statement by Senator Tom Harkin

At the Hearing on the Use of Integrative Care to Keep People Healthy


I have tried in the past to give Senator Harkin the benefit of the doubt and overlook this ridiculousness for all the good things he has actually done for my state and country, but this is really the final straw. I did write a response to him, and I hope it does make him think before it goes down the memory-hole.

My response:
Senator, I have endured enough irrationality from you. Assuming I am still an Iowan in November of 2014, and you are still pushing the unproven modalities of so-called Complementary and Alternative Medicine, I will not be voting for you. Your incredulity that actual scientific studies of such things as homeopathy, acupuncture, and energy healing have revealed that they are nothing more than elaborate placebos and your insistence that these types of “alternative medicine” be integrated into science- and evidence-based medicine are really beyond the pale.

You say that “[I]t is time to adopt an integrative approach that takes advantage of the very best scientifically based medicines and therapies, whether conventional or alternative.” If “alternative” medicine is scientifically proven to be effective, it then becomes simply medicine.

Anecdotes do not data make. The human mind is far too susceptible to be biased, to see patterns that are not really there, and to take personal experience as evidence. The use of double-blinding in controlled trials helps to eliminate this effect and let us see what is really going on. If the trials at the NCCAM have found the alternative therapies lacking, it is probably because those therapies don’t work.

It’s considered unethical in medicine to give a patient a placebo without their consent, and yet many alternative therapies that have been shown over and over in controlled and blinded conditions that they are no more effective than a sugar pill would be are allowed to be given as if they were real medicine.

If you truly want to help reform America’s health care system to make it work better for more people, you must make sure that real, effective treatments are available even to those without coverage and that nonsensical wishful thinking doesn’t prevent someone from seeking a treatment that might actually be able to save their life.

I encourage you to read through the posts on sciencebasedmedicine.org, a blog by actual medical doctors that has many posts explaining why CAM doesn’t work. You may not like what you see, but it is based in reality and not wishful thinking.

Yours in reason,
Miranda Richards

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