RationalWiki's 2018 Fundraiser

There is no RationalWiki without you. We are a small non-profit with no staff — we are hundreds of volunteers who document pseudoscience and crankery around the world every day. We will never allow ads because we must remain independent. We cannot rely on big donors with corresponding big agendas. We are not the largest website around, but we believe we play an important role in defending truth and objectivity.

If everyone seeing this today donates $5, we will meet our goal for 2018.

Fighting pseudoscience isn't free.
We are 100% user-supported! Help and donate $5, $20 or whatever you can today with PayPal Logo.png!

Donations so far: $3383Goal: $5000


From RationalWiki
Jump to: navigation, search
This page is automatically archived by Archivist

Tools Used[edit]

According to the nice folk at Science Based Medicine, acupuncture is referenced in historical texts but most of the tools used in those references are scarily large sized: http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/acupuncture-and-fascial-planes-junk-science-and-wasteful-research/ I don't have access to the original texts that SBM cite, but I'm pretty sure I'm not alone amongst modern folk who mentally think acupuncture=needles and could do with a reminder. It's only in my head because I was trawling the SBM archives last week and re-read it then! Jeshyr (talk) 08:32, 9 February 2013 (UTC)


since "doctors" actally use disposable needles the remark concerning disease spreading is groundless itself..

removing?— Unsigned, by: / talk / contribs

This claim is backed up with a superb reference to a relevant medical study.--ADtalkModerator 11:57, 11 April 2011 (UTC)

sry, just reporting what i saw myself.
how can i support it? (not sarcasm)
medical guidelines? i know that probably "dr"Wong uses the same needles his grandfather gave him, but i believe that in structures ::such as hospitals or clinics a doctor who does not dispose of such materials will not last long. (talk) 12:13, 11 April 2011 (UTC)

Acupuncture vs "needle play"[edit]

Given that it is well known in the fetish community that (at least for some people) being poked with a bunch of needles (typically 23-18 gauge hypodermics, that go just underneath the skin and back out again much like a surface piercing) releases far more endorphins than it should given the level of pain involved isn't it likely that the real effect of Acupuncture is simply causing a mild form of "subspace" in the person being treated thus causing temporary pain relief and that the increased effect over random stabbing is simply because of the acupuncture practitioner getting into a good rhythm and such? It would also explain why the results are so unreliable, only certain people have that kind of reaction to being poked like that whether it is in an acupuncture treatment or at the local fetish club. (in fact, of the two human pincushion sideshow performers I know, both have said that endorphin high is the big reason they got into doing such performances in the first place)

A true story[edit]

My wife had to have shoulder surgery and in the course of the rather complicated procedure a nerve was cut, causing her, among things, to pretty much loose the use of her right arm. The doctor (MD) she visited about this issue told her that it was unlikely that she would ever be able to use her arm again. Being right handed and an artist that was very bad news for her, as it would be for anyone, even left handed soccer players. She had a friend who was a brilliant acupuncturist (or as you folks might put it, “possessing powerful woo”) and who went to work on her, inserting needles in and around the severed nerve(s?) and attaching tiny clips (like little jumper cables) to them and running electricity through them. Bottom line is that it took a year of stabbing, but it worked. I realize that this does not take the place of the exhaustive FDA and AMA approved tests that you folks are addicted to but she is back to drawing and painting and the AMA/FDA approved MD was wrong and the woo-wooer fixed it. feel free to say, "BS, I don't believe this" but I have no reason to lie, believing as I do that any position supported by untruths is best not supported at all. Carptrash (talk) 19:14, 25 June 2015 (UTC)

I see no reason to think you are lying. However, I would wonder whether the result would have been the same without the year of stabbing. Also, was the acupuncture the only thing being done to the arm / shoulder during that period? --SpecialFFrog (talk) 19:20, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
Just because something happened during the same time doesn't mean one caused the other. Human beings are rigged to look for correlations. That's why there are studies. -EmeraldCityWanderer (talk) 19:42, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
Not to mention, this is anecdote at best. People also tend to misattribute recovering from a condition to the acupuncture rather from natural healing or temporary setbacks of symptoms. I'm not saying you're lying, but you need to be aware of these psychological shortcomings humans have, and that's why exhaustive FDA and AMA-approved tests exist. Well-designed experiments are intended to address and control these kinds of shortcomings and misattribution, and they have shown that acupuncture is generally placebo at best, making these procedures ultimately worthless in terms of time and money. LEFTYGREENMARIO 20:06, 25 June 2015 (UTC)

I think it is fascinating. It reminds me of my story about one of the reasons why I grew disillusioned with acupuncture:

I am Korean-American. I have an uncle who still lives in Daegu, South Korea. Some years ago, he was involved in a rather serious accident at his workplace, an industrial facility for a major company, and the injury and subsequent surgery ended up severing several nerves around his facial/neck area, giving him the swollen appearance of someone who is a stroke survivor, or perhaps suffering from some sort of mental illness. The doctor (MD) he and my aunt had visited about this issue told him that it was unlikely that he would ever be able to feel or move the left side of his face again. He was recommended by a friend to a brilliant acupunturist who had a degree from Kyung-Hee University, a very renowned college. He was started on a program of 전기침 (jeon'gi-chim, acustimulation, lit. "Electric acupuncture"), where needles were placed around the damaged nerves and along particular meridians, little clips were attached (like little jumper cables), and electric currents were passed through. This was supplemented with traditional Korean herbs he took daily. That was almost five years ago. He still goes to him and other practitioners, insisting that it'll start improving more sharply soon, but the rest of us can tell it doesn't.

Please do not misunderstand my intent: I really do wish you and your wife the best, and am very, very glad to hear that she is back to her old self. I also believe you are entirely truthful with your story. The crux of the matter, however, is that a single -- or even a handful -- of anecdotal stories isn't enough to definitively say that something works for most people, because for every story like yours, we have many, MANY stories like mine that nobody hears or remembers. That is why we trust the scientific studies more than the stories. ℕoir LeSable (talk) 20:15, 25 June 2015 (UTC)

Yeah, my experience is not quite as pleasant. I have an older relative that has breast cancer. She had it earlier and had the conventional treatment but it metastasized (this part doesn't make sense to me but it was what I was told). It is slow growing so they weren't worried, surgery would get the piece that broke off...till she turned to acupuncture, one of the "anti-cancer" diets, herbs, and became a huge advocate of the medical conspiracies. She spent almost all her money, was terminated from repeated jobs from her obsession, and lost her house (plus a condo later) dealing with these "alternative treatments" as it eats her alive. Her devotion and preaching of these things seems to get more intense as the disease progresses without abatement.
My part of the family has mostly broken off contact, due to her trying to defraud us of almost $40,000, and her 4 kids are visiting for shorter lengths of time with their new grandkids because it's become almost a monomania. That somehow the more intense her belief is in this the more likely it will work. To me the people who make money off this are crooks. That's my experience so take it as you wish. -EmeraldCityWanderer (talk) 22:12, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
As a regular reader of Respectful Insolence, those stories are disheartening to hear and sounds too much like the other stories that David Gorski writes about. It's all too often when people search for medical woo when they have serious medical conditions when they instead should see "mainstream" doctors to get information from scientific professionals. LEFTYGREENMARIO 22:53, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
It's terrible to watch because it's like a slow motion building collapse. She's going into retirement with nothing but an extreme conviction that it works, even though everyone can see with their own eyes it is not. She is driving away all of those who care for her because you are either with her or against her. -EmeraldCityWanderer (talk) 15:32, 26 June 2015 (UTC)

There are always horror stories to be found about anything. For those of you who put your faith . . .sorry, your intellect behind Allopathic medicine, I just found this. ' New research estimates up to 440,000 Americans are dying annually from preventable hospital errors. This puts medical errors as the third leading cause of death in the United States, " Maybe it is better outside the USA, but maybe it is not. Carptrash (talk) 14:56, 26 June 2015 (UTC)

You are right - there are always horror stories about anything. But if we can't believe the horror stories, then we can't believe the miracle stories either: they're just the same poor line of anecdotal reasoning, used by people on opposite sides of the argument. The only way to find out objectively is to do proper tests. I don't claim science or medicine is perfect. However, I do think (believe?) it's the best approach we have. You are welcome to believe acupuncture works, if you've looked at things from our perspective and still think your conclusion is right. But mainstream medicine prevents far, far more deaths than it causes: that is a fact. I have seen no [non-cherry picked] evidence that alternative medicine prevents anything [that the placebo effect would not prevent as well]. All I have heard are individual stories from either side - and the big problem is that people will usually talk about something more if it works. "I tried acupuncture once but it didn't do anything" is a boring story; "Acupuncture saved my life" is a lot more interesting and more likely to be re-told over and over. Another problem is that people only tend to converse with / pay proper attention to those with the same views as oneself, so while I have heard and seen plenty of stories/cases where alternative medicine has not worked, someone who does believe in alternate medicine will have heard about loads of cases where it did seem to help. —Bilorv (smells) 15:14, 26 June 2015 (UTC)
Facts are not faith, since faith is belief without proof. Any more then gravity, germs, or lightning caused by storms is faith. Errors happen because we are human, it has nothing to do with weather the treatments work or not. At least they are trying to do things that are demonstrated and proven to work. Even if one uses the alternative treatments right, who can make errors as well, it doesn't. The word for alternative medicine that works is....medicine. -EmeraldCityWanderer (talk) 15:32, 26 June 2015 (UTC)
This anecdote is also consistent with initial mistake in the prognosis. So, to firmly attribute the recovery to the acupuncture alone is an error. In a Bayesian analysis, you would ask - "Which is more likely, that a doctor was too pessimistic in their forecast or this uncertain treatment is actually effective?". In the absence of solid evidence to differentiate between the two, your conclusion would mirror your prior. But we have an abundance of strong evidence showing that acupuncture is, at best, marginally effective. We quantify and record medical errors (here an error in prognosis, not in treatment). So, the totality of the evidence is heavily against acupuncture. In fact, a little lateral thinking suggests that the 'error' might instead be sensible patient care - managing expectations of recovery in a way that doesn't inadvertently give the patient false hope or lead them to over-use it too early and ruin what chance there was of a good recovery. A CYA to avoid a 'you said it would get better!' lawsuit might factor into it, which is not in the best interests of patient care but sadly a practical consideration. Queexchthonic murmurings 15:53, 26 June 2015 (UTC)
That would be a guess for me but the CYA estimate seems sensible. It's easier to prepare for the worst and try for the best. If it gets better you feel great. If you are prepared for the best and it stays the same (or gets worse)...it's lawsuit time. Working in health facilities that happens a lot. -EmeraldCityWanderer (talk) 16:24, 26 June 2015 (UTC)
Have you looked into that fact you mentioned? You're talking about "A New, Evidence-based Estimate of Patient Harms Associated with Hospital Care" by Dr. James, yes? (It's one of the major ones that's been shown on Forbes and other major news venues) If you look at the errors they were looking for as "preventable", you'll notice that all but one of the Predictable Adverse Events (PAEs) looked for are human errors. Equipment that was not sterilized properly. A surgeon's carelessness. Miscommunication between doctor and nurse. Lack of patient compliance. If anything, the study shows that we imperfect humans make the error, not the "allopathic" system behind it. Even if we assume that "naturopathic" medicine worked and we switched to an entirely naturopathic system, do you not think that we'd see the same kind of issues? (Recall all the stories of acupuncture needles not being sterilized properly, causing organ damage from being placed too deeply, chiropractic adjustments leading to paralysis/stroke, herbal medicines causing massive skin damage, etc.) ℕoir LeSable (talk) 16:12, 26 June 2015 (UTC)
I am enjoying this lively discussion and was interested to see & read this here. "Another problem is that people only tend to converse with / pay proper attention to those with the same views as oneself," because this is sort of the role that i have adopted at rationalwiki, to present views different from most of you here, but in a non confrontational way. I don't mind being called a woo whatever, I was raised in a totally atheist/rational family so I understand many of the concepts involved. I just don't agree with them. I have all sorts of anecdotal stories (that happened to me, or when I was present) about all sorts of subjects but since "I don't believe you" is annoying and "This proves nothing" helps nothing. I quit editing at RW 6 or 7 years ago but came back because, although I disagree with many of you folks on some issues I still have faith in your good intentions. Something I can not say, for example, about Conservapedia. Carptrash (talk) 17:04, 26 June 2015 (UTC)
And I really appreciate and am glad to hear that. :) Personally, I tend to have a give-and-take POV when it comes to attitudes on discussions with people I disagree with here (i.e., if someone's going to be snarky with me, I'll be snarky back), although generally I try to assume the best of intentions and refrain from pushing it too far. Considering a lot of the "dissenting" talk posts people put up in RW are usually done in anger or out of personal offense (and thus either half-coherent, FILLED with RANDOMLY capitalized and/or BOLDED WORDS, or brimming with sarcasm), it's kind of nice to have a civil discussion now and again. ℕoir LeSable (talk) 19:29, 26 June 2015 (UTC)

@Carptrash: Regarding your statistic on causes on death by medical errors, this does not invalidate the "mainstream" medicinal practices. A lot of other factors come into play when it comes to deaths caused by hospital error, pointed out by Noir LeSable. Sure, "mainstream" medicine isn't perfect, but pointing out its flaws does not strengthen the validity of alternative care, including acupuncture. As for anecdotes, we're providing you anecdotes to counter yours, but the big picture is that anecdotes, while interesting and lively, cannot be used as proof something works. I hope this discussion helps you learn about these psychological pitfalls, and that's what the scientific method is meant for, to control that. LEFTYGREENMARIO 02:46, 29 June 2015 (UTC)

I understand where my stories rank on the rationalwioi scale. And I am sorry that I took that dig at mainstream medicine because it serves no purpose. The purpose that I had in the first place was to find out what happens when I post such material. I have many such stories and will likely drag them out from time to time unless folks start saying "We don't believe you," at which point I will stop. Know, however, that I view Science as just another religion and the Scientific Method is just a part of its dogma, its Ten Commandments or its Lord's Prayer or some such thing. It is not being proven by the scientific method that makes something true. Or is it? Carptrash (talk) 03:07, 29 June 2015 (UTC)

"Battlefield Acupuncture"[edit]

Tsai Shiu-Lin and Sanghamitra Misra. Auricular Battlefield Acupuncture at the 2016 Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting. Medical Acupuncture. August 2016, 28(4): 173-174. doi:10.1089/acu.2016.29027.slt. (LibGen version.) FuzzyCatPotato!™ (talk/stalk) 22:07, 29 August 2016 (UTC)

What the hell does that even mean? Reverend Black Percy (talk) 08:06, 30 August 2016 (UTC)