Oh BOY! Nontraditional Therapy Really Works! And Scientists? Just Stuffed Shirts!!
photo © lei for openphoto.net CC:Attribution-ShareAlike
EVERYBODY’S a scientist.
In Science News, there’s a description of work from the University of Missouri which says that 30 years ago the United States began embracing ancient medical practices and that now a study with over 90 patients has demonstrated the efficacy of NCTT ( “non contact therapeutic touch”). Click the title just above the photo for details.
The lead researcher, Guy McCormack (Occupational Therapy and Occupational Science, MU) qualifies his work this way: “There seems to be some subliminal aspects that we are not aware of that may have to do with the connectivity between people. People don’t question how you can text someone, transmit messages through computers, or visual images through television; thus the belief system is very powerful. If people believe that NCTT is going to be beneficial and are knowledgeable of it, it will be beneficial.” Thank YOU, Guy McCormack. You’re serious, right?
Now I get to talk about science which is the point of this blog. Science is us humans doing our best thing: critical thinking. Recognizing that it’s easy to fool ourselves (or have others fool us) techniques have evolved to allow us to work together as a community to improve our ability to separate the crap from the non-crap. We do this to protect ourselves from charlatans who want to intentionally mislead us as well as from misguided true believers who don’t or can’t submit their ideas for proper evaluation. We also do this because we really, really don’t want the wings to fall off of the airplanes or our computers to burst into flames. At least not too often.
Naturally, life being what it is, the purveyors of crap, have learned. Although it is often maligned, science really is gaining ground. Now, if you want to be believed, it helps to have studies. They may not be very good studies and, maybe, not subject to the usual constraints such as quality peer reviewed journals, replicated by others, etc. But studies. So everybody’s got a study now. And you gotta watch it.
I don’t want to bang up Guy McCormack’s work since that would be irresponsible (and unscientific and closed minded) of me. Like reviewing a book I haven’t read. Believe it or not, I have a responsibility to remain open to the idea that this dubious sounding approach of his is sound. Quantum mechanics isn’t exactly intuitive.
But a single study with “over 90” participants where the phenomenon under study, pain, is classically subject to placebo-like effects, is, at best, an ELEMENT of a scientific process. And his comments which suggest you gotta believe to really get the benefit should worry you a little. Oh and comparing radio communications and computer technology whose physical principles have been well studied and profoundly and objectively validated with “non touch therapy”? If that doesn’t worry you, you’re one of those lucky people who is going to go through life with few doubts about anything.