Snake Oil For Sale ~ The Anti-Vaccine Movement, Alternative Cures, and The Importance of Science-Based Medicine

Anti-Vaccination-Envelope31I’m not trying to make waves.

People are free to medically treat themselves with sunshine, hugs, pixie dust, homeopathy, or any form of quackery they see fit.

Really, have at it.  It’s a free country.  Who am I to judge?

But when it comes to preventing communicable diseases, it is a duty to ensure that the spread of such illnesses is stamped out.  On this, there really is no room for argument.

Because statistically significant numbers of people chose to opt out of vaccinations, illnesses that were once thought to be eliminated are now spreading. This after the bulk of the medical community decried fringe papers on the dangers of vaccination — and countless people ignored that inconvenient fact.

Science is science. And multiple peer-reviewed studies are what it takes to be acceptable science. If the bulk of the scientific community says one thing, and one or two voices say another, chances are that the overwhelming numbers of experts are correct (see: climate change, smoking, vaccinations, homeopathy, etc.).

The same goes with treating your children’s illnesses. Is your “alternative” cure actually effective? If there is a lack of statistically significant data on efficacy, chances are extremely good that you are treating your child with either a placebo, or a method that pales in comparison to proven treatment. And that is dangerous.

If you have read about an alternative cure in a non-mainstream source (or even a mainstream one, really), be sure to follow up by doing even 5 minutes of research on the paper or papers that the article quotes. Find a scientific consensus on the issue — and weigh the source of the peer review. If the article doesn’t cite any studies, look for one that does — and then do your quick secondary research.

A quick side note: anecdotal evidence does not equal statistically proven evidence. There is no methodology to it. It is not acceptable science.  Really wanting something to work is a great way to promote a placebo effect.

Yes, I know… big pharma. I agree, drugs are often over-prescribed. Very, very much so. But herbs, oils, homeopathic vials of water, and the like are also big business. And producers/practitioners are often just as eager to get their cut.

I’m also not saying that all herbal remedies are bunk. Far from it. There are some that I have no qualms about turning to for preventative medicine and treatment of maladies. I have for years. But I’ve also done my research. I’m just suggesting that you do yours as well.

Sometimes there is such thing as an “alternative” medicine.

But, oftentimes, the alternative is absolutely not a medicine.

So, yeah… feel free to rock your crystals and tinctures. But if and when it gets to the point that your decision affects the health of loved ones, community members, or the general public, it is selfish to put others in danger.

Because human health has a ripple effect. For all of us little pebbles.