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Letter: Pseudoscientific therapies put Roswell Park’s reputation at risk

Pseudoscientific therapies put Roswell Park’s reputation at risk

The Feb. 16 article “Roswell Park expanding its use of unconventional therapies” brought bad news for medical science.

Calling therapies like Reiki, healing touch, and acupuncture “unconventional” or “integrative” or “complementary” does not make them any less pseudoscientific.

In the article, Wayne State University oncology professor David Gorski put the matter into correct perspective: “Diluting their science with pseudoscience and pandering to dubious treatments gives the impression that those treatments have science to back them up,” when they emphatically do not.

Dr. Gorski is a fellow of our organization and an important voice for science-based medicine. Among our other fellows, Dr. Steven Novella, a neurologist at Yale School of Medicine, has called acupuncture “a theatrical placebo.” Another fellow, Dr. Harriet Hall, physician and medical investigator, observes that there are indeed negatives with acupuncture, ranging from infection (including joint infection) and lung collapse to scores of documented deaths.

Roswell’s catering to its patients’ magical thinking will have a most unfortunate side effect. Medical pretenders and other charlatans will find a prestigious cancer treatment center’s prescriptions for quackery to be their almost unimaginable good luck, and they will begin to do an even more brisk business everywhere – without a real doctor in sight.

Joe Nickell Ph.D.

Senior Research Fellow

Center for Inquiry


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