Sunday, January 27, 2008

Healing powers?

My letter to the editor was published in the Cavalier Daily, but it's currently unavailable online. It looks like no letters to the editor are being published online right now, but here I'll present to you my submission. They didn't edit anything, aside from adding parenthetical context. Also, note that the editors themselves choose the titles for the letters. The one they chose for this was, as you may have guessed, "Healing powers?" This was in the edition on January 12, 2008.

Laura Hoffman's article on a University study of magnet therapy serves as an embarrassment to the University community and the good, evidence-based science being practiced here. The evidence for the efficacy of magnet therapy is at best, inconsistent, and at worst, downright lacking. The token skeptical sentence in her article addressed not the actual efficacy of this pseudoscience, but rather, ineffective products in a legitimate market. No product in the magnet therapy market is legitimate. Scientists don't understand the mechanism for how this therapy works because it doesn't work and there is no such mechanism.

Some say that even if the magnets don't work, the placebo effect is worth it for the remedy, and at least such therapy isn't harmful. The harm comes from people wasting their money on a pseudoscience rather than seeking legitimate, effective, evidence-based treatments for their pain.
If it ever gets posted to their website, I'll link to it on this blog.

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