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Trick Or Treatment: The Undeniable Facts About Alternative Medicine

Hal Harris's picture
Tue, 11/02/2010 - 02:00 -- Hal Harris

"Trick or Treatment" is a critical (very critical) examination of several varieties of alternative medicine. I was surprised to see Simon Singh as lead coauthor of a book about health because I know him as author of a book about math, "Fermat's Enigma", that I recommended in December of 1999. I thought it was the best science/math book of that year. His collaborator is Edzard Ernst, who has strong medical credentials and a history of writing about alternative medicine. The two discuss acupuncture (not entirely negatively, but largely so), homeopathy (without mercy), chiropractory (critically but fairly, in my opinion), herbal remedies of the alternative-medicine variety (critically and informatively). Singh was sued (as an individual, not his newspaper) for remarks about chiropractic that he wrote for his Guardian column. Singh was sued for libel by the British Chiropractic Association because of a part of the column in which he said that there was no evidence that chiropractic can cure colic, ear infections, asthma, prolonged crying, and sleeping and feeding problems in children. Singh "won" when the BCA decided not to continue their appeal after losing their first round, but it cost the author a couple of hundred thousand dollars. On the other hand, the backlash against the BCA's attempt to stifle press comment resulted in a backlash against chiropractors. Five hundred lawsuits were filed in one 24 hour period against individual chiropractors for false advertising, which resulted in the careful editing of claims on Web sites advertising chiropractic service.

Pick Attribution: 

Simon Singh and Edzard Ernst

Publication Date: 
Thursday, January 1, 2009
Price: 
$17.95