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Defining Terms – Integrative Medicine (IM)

Many proponents of complementary and alternative medecine (CAM) advocate for what they call integrative medicine (IM), at its most basic described by supporters as the integration of CAM into mainstream medicine. In the post “When  Woo Enters the Science Classroom” I described the issue with this approach as follows. Read more…


When Woo Enters the Science Classroom

Slowly but surely a trend of woo entering science classrooms on university campuses continues to develop. This is an issue that has been written about by concerned proponents of science-based medicine who have pointed to it occurring in both undergraduate science programs and medical schools all over Canada, the U.S. and the world(1, 2, 3, 4). As a Canadian undergraduate I am aware of this issue having reared its ugly head in many Canadian undergraduate programs and have even read about entire courses described in some curriculums, most often as a class about Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) or Integrative Medicine (IM). Still, no matter how much I have heard about this ridiculosity I was not quite prepared the first time I experienced it myself. Particularly given that it came in the form of a fallacy laden lecture delivered by an MD. To set the stage, this was a second year introductory class in human health and disease. We had gone over the basics of the human immune system, pathogenicity, and microbiology, along with some of the social issues around human health and a little about history of medicine, generally an interesting course. Near the end of the course a guest lecturer was scheduled to come speak. Our guest speaker that day was to be an MD who works based out of a well-respected local hospital and is also a some-time lecturer with the university’s faculty of medicine. Any hope I may have initially had that this talk on Integrative Medicine would take an even remotely skeptical look at the bag o’ woo dragged around by those on Integrative Medicine bandwagon was quickly extinguished when I read the assigned papers prior to the lecture. There was some interesting, and objective stuff included but so were some advertisements for quackery disguised as serious scientific research. So it was with low expectations that I set off to attend my first ever lecture on Integrative Medicine. Read more…

Defining Terms – Quackademic Medicine (Quackademia)

An issue that has been written about extensively by Orac at Respectful Insolence as well as many of the bloggers at Science-Based Medicine, my research indicates the term Quackademic Medicine was coined by Dr. R.W. Donnell of Notes from Dr. RW in a 2008 post titled Exposing quackery in medical education . Read more…

Defining Terms – Woo

Woo is short for the term woo-woo. This is term used in different ways. Sometimes to describe a belief about something held on dubious grounds and sometimes to describe those who hold that beleif (ie. Woo-woos believe in woo.).

Given that I couldn’t hope to offer a more entertaining explanation of all that is woo, I refer you to Orac’s explanation at Respectful Insolence.

– Orac – Respectful Insolence: Reader mailbag: What is woo?.

Defining Terms – Introduction

One of the reasons I felt compelled to start blogging about CAM, pseudoscience, and quackery is the feeling I often get when these issues come up in discussion with others that one of the biggest boundaries I am up against is differences in word useage and definitions of terms. Sometimes I find even when discussing these issues with fellow science students who understand the science we have a hard time communicating due to differences in how terms are used that become roadblocks. It is for this reason that I intend to start a series of posts which which will also be compiled on a page that will serve as a dictionary of sorts for this blog called Defining Terms.

It is my intention that these posts will include links to blogs and/or other internet sources that define the term (why reinvent the wheel?) and in some cases these posts will include further pontification from the Science-Based Undergraduate on the meaning of the term, and issues around differing definitions and differing uses of the term.

A topical index / dictionary will be posted on the Defining Terms page.

Why do I care?

Why should anyone care about science-based anything? Why do I care? This is an important question to consider, in particular for those of us who are passionate about the subjects of science-based medicine, public health, pseudoscience, medical quackery and the like. I thought it was important for me to address up front as I begin my blogging journey. After all, does it really matter what quackery someone gets caught up in if it makes him or her feel better? Is it any of my business? Why should I care? What’s the harm? For a quick answer to that last question take a few minutes to peruse this website. Ultimately this is an issue that matters because people matter. People matter and many have been harmed and many more will be harmed in the future, as you already know if you clicked on the link above, by unscientific thinking about scientific issues, particularly when it comes to their health. This is why I believe this issue to be so important, it is at times a matter of life or death and even when it’s not, the stakes are frequently still very high. Read more…

Introducing Science-Based Undergraduate

This is an introductory post to announce the launch of Science-Based Undergraduate. Science-Based Undergraduate is the anonymous blog of a Canadian undergraduate science student working toward soon becoming a Science-Based Medical Student. Inspired by various bloggers and podcasters promoting the importance of science and critical thinking in medicine, the intention of Science-Based Undergraduate is to discuss current issues in science, medicine, and science education from the student’s perspective.

Where is the line between science and pseudoscience? How do science and medicine interact? Should those aspiring to be the next generation of researchers and clinicians be concerned with how science is carried out, how it is reported in the media and discussed in the public, and how it intersects with health and medicine?

This blogger thinks the answer is yes and is inviting fellow undergraduates to join the discussion.

Read more…