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Therapeutic nihilism – Wikipedia

Posted: December 4, 2016 at 11:23 pm

Therapeutic nihilism is a contention that curing people, or societies, of their ills by treatment is impossible.

In medicine, it was connected to the idea that many “cures” do more harm than good, and that one should instead encourage the body to heal itself. Michel de Montaigne espoused this view in his Essais in 1580. This position was later popular, among other places, in France in the 1820s and 1830s, but has mostly faded away in the modern era due to the development of provably effective medicines such as antibiotics, starting with the release of sulfonamide in 1936.

In relation to society, therapeutic nihilism was an idea, with origins in early 20th-century Germany, that nothing can be done to cure society of the problems facing it. Its main proponent was the novelist Joseph Conrad, whose writings reflect its tenets.

In politics, therapeutic nihilism is a defining principle of modern conservatism. The so-called “Father of Conservatism” Edmund Burke’s imputation of “unintended consequences” the implicitly inevitable and undesirable results of political engineering, and Peter Viereck’s assertion in “But I’m A Conservative!”,[1] his also-definitive essay in the April 1940 issue of the Atlantic magazine, that socialists are nave to believe that society can be improved, are two prime examples of conservative arguments for therapeutic nihilism.

The phrase therapeutic nihilism is also included in a modern version of the Hippocratic Oath, traditionally taken by physicians upon graduation. The statement is “I will apply for the benefit of the sick, all measures [that] are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism.”

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Therapeutic nihilism – Wikipedia

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Political Correctness Watch

Posted: December 2, 2016 at 12:30 pm

The subtext here is that male ballet dancers are frequently homosexual — and a mother is entitled to discourage her son from such an unhealthy and unhappy lifestyle. Just for starters, there is a very high incidence of spousal abuse among homosexual couples

It may have once been traditional for boys to play football and girls to do ballet but nowadays many children feel free to take up activities regardless of gender.

However, one pushy parent took to Mumsnet to ask for advice on how to discourage her son from taking ballet lessons.

The woman said her son is an aspiring model and explained that she doesn’t think the extra-curricular activity ‘is going to fit in’.

In her post, Mumsnet user Ironriver said: ‘How do I put my son off wanting to do ballet? I’m showing him how cool football, rugby and karate are but he’s having none of it. ‘He does modelling and I don’t think ballet is going to fit in. Lots of the boys do football and other sports so I would like him to do that. Any ideas?’

Many commenters were outraged at the mother’s behaviour and suggested she should let her son pursue his own interests.

Concerned commenter OohhThatsMe said: ‘Your poor child, having such a sexist mother.’

Shocked reader coolaschmoola added: ‘Stop being so bloody sexist and let him do the thing he is interested in and actually wants to do.

‘It’s 2016! Boys don’t just play football. Just like not all girls do ballet.’

Other commenters were surprised that the woman had already decided her should would become a model.

Dodobookends said: ‘He’s nine and you have already chosen his career for him? Absurd.’

Some even suggested that taking up ballet would be beneficial to any future modelling aspirations.

OlennasWimple said: ‘Ballet would give him excellent posture, teach him to move well and have a better idea how to use his body effectively. ‘And less chance he’ll break his nose or get a cauliflower ear.’

OohhThatsMe added: ‘Actually ballet would REALLY help a modelling career. In what way would football do that?

‘Look at the girls doing modelling – most will have studied ballet.’

SOURCE

Israeli Bill to Hush Mosque Call to Prayer Stokes Controversy Among Muslims–Others Too

Proposed legislation in Israels parliament to prohibit the use of loudspeakers to transmit the five-times daily Muslim call to prayer is causing dismay among adherents of more than one religious group.

A preliminary vote on the so-called muezzin bill (a muezzin is the mosque official who recites the call to prayer) is scheduled for early next week.

It is not clear how the legislation, if adopted, would impact numerous areas of Israel and the West Bank that are under complex jurisdictional ruling and home to a mixture of religions.

In Jerusalem and elsewhere throughout the country, the three monotheistic faiths contribute to the cacophony of sounds at various times and on different days of the week.

The daily Muslim calls to prayer begin at about 4 a.m. and can be heard to differing degrees, depending on where you are. Where mosques are in close proximity to one another, there is a lot of overlap and duplication.

In Jerusalem, the Jewish shabbat alarm, which is essentially an air-raid siren, sounds every Friday at sundown to tell residents the sabbath has begun. Church bells ring on Sunday and important holidays.

Yaakov Litzman, Israels ultra-Orthodox deputy health minister, initially blocked the bill over concerns that it could be extended to include the shabbat alarm. Last week, Litzman withdrew his opposition after a loophole was added for the alarm, Haaretz reported.

In Bethlehem, which is heavily dependent on Christian pilgrims for tourism at several points during the year, the towns main tourist center is home to a mosque with a loudspeaker set at a very high volume. The mosque towers over Manger Square, and faces the Church of the Nativity, the traditional birthplace of Jesus.

The towns Christmas tree stands right in front of the church and numerous Christmas holiday traditions take place in or near the square.

Local business owners, many of whom are Arab Christians, dont seem to mind the blend of sounds, though.

Im not against it, for sure, said Sami Khouri, general manager of the Visit Palestine visitor center and gift shop-cafe a few hundred feet from Manger Square. Turning down the volume is somewhat okay, but preventing them from doing it isnt right.

Khouri, who also runs a tourism company and lives in Jerusalem, says its just part of life in the region.

Even where I live in Jerusalem, there are two mosques [making the call to prayer] nearby, five times a day. I just think this is co-existence, he said. The mosque has been there for who knows how long and we also ring the church bells. For tourists, its part of the flavor. For me its part of the sounds of Jerusalem, the ambience.

However, Khouri and others do suggest that if multiple mosques are situated in a given area they could possibly coordinate their broadcasts. The caveat is popular sentiment, but is not part of the bill before the Israeli parliament.

Some areas in the West Bank technically under full Palestinian Authority control have protested by staging multifaith demonstrations, with hundreds of Muslims, Christians, and Jewish Samaritans singing the call to prayer together.

Nablus is the largest Palestinian city in the West Bank and home to hundreds of mosques, which together produce a wall of uncoordinated sound.

The ultra-Orthodox Jewish community is almost evenly divided on the issue, according to a poll on one of the communitys websites, Kikar HaShabat (Sabbath Corner). The poll found that 42 percent of respondents were against the bill.

There are also individuals working together behind the scenes, with unlikely, discreet alliances between some Arab and ultra-Orthodox lawmakers, according to a report in Al-Monitor.

Disputes over mosque calls to prayer are not uncommon, both in Western and Muslim countries. In 2004, some of the 23,000 residents of the Detroit suburb of Hamtramck, Michigan were at odds over mosque loudspeakers, with some telling local media they were simply too loud.

In Dubai in 2011, the volume of a mosque was checked twice for decibel level after residents complained about crying children being woken up at 4 a.m.

An online Indonesian housing forum for expats recommends visiting a potential new home to make sure you can handle the disruption to the peace and quiet of your home during the call to prayer.

SOURCE

The left is creating a new kind of apartheid

The student union at Kings College London will field a team in University Challenge that contains at least 50 per cent self-defining women, trans or non-binary students. The only bad thing Ken Livingstone could bring himself to say about the brutal dictator Fidel Castro was that initially he wasnt very good on lesbian and gay rights. The first page of Hillary Clintons campaign website (still up) has links to African Americans for Hillary, Latinos for Hillary, Asian Americans and Pacific islanders for Hillary, Women for Hillary, Millennials for Hillary, but none to men for Hillary, let alone white people for Hillary.

Since when did the left insist on judging people by to paraphrase Martin Luther King the colour of their skin rather than the content of their character? The left once admirably championed the right of black people, women and gays to be treated the same as white, straight men. With only slightly less justification, it then moved on to pushing affirmative action to redress past prejudice. Now it has gone further, insisting everybody is defined by his or her identity and certain victim identities must be favoured.

Given the history of such stereotyping, it is baffling that politicians on the left cannot see where this leads. The prime exponents of identity politics in the past were the advocates of apartheid, of antisemitism, and of treating women as the legal chattels of men. We are sleepwalking our way to segregation, Trevor Phillips says.

Identity politics is thus very old-fashioned. Christina Hoff Sommers, author of Who Stole Feminism, says equality feminism fair treatment, respect and dignity is being eclipsed in universities by a Victorian fainting couch feminism, which views women as fragile flowers who require safe spaces, trigger warnings and special protection from micro-invalidations. Sure enough, when she said this at Oberlin College, Ohio, 35 students and a therapy dog sought refuge in a safe room.

It is just bad biology to focus on race, sex or sexual orientation as if they mattered most about people. Weve known for decades and Marxist biologists such as Dick Lewontin used to insist on this point that the genetic differences between two human beings of the same race are maybe ten times as great as the average genetic difference between two races. Race really is skin deep. Sex goes deeper, for sure, because of developmental pathways, but still the individual differences between men and men, or women and women, or gays and gays, are far more salient than any similarities.

The Republican sweep in the American election cannot be blamed solely on the culture wars, but they surely played a part. Take the bathroom wars that broke out during the early stages of the campaign. North Carolinas legislature heavy-handedly required citizens to use toilets that corresponded to their birth gender. The Obama administration heavy-handedly reacted by insisting that every school district in the country should do no such thing or lose its federal funding. This was a gift to conservatives: Should a grown man pretending to be a woman be allowed to use . . . the same restroom used by your daughter? Your wife?, asked Senator Ted Cruz.

White men played the identity card at the American ballot box There is little doubt that to some extent white men played the identity card at the ballot box in reaction to the identity politics of the left. In a much-discussed essay for The New York Times after the election, Mark Lilla of Columbia University mused that Hillary Clintons tendency to slip into the rhetoric of diversity, calling out explicitly to African-American, Latino, LGBT and women voters at every stop was a mistake: If you are going to mention groups in America, you had better mention all of them.

He argues that the fixation on diversity in our schools and the press has produced a generation of liberals and progressives narcissistically unaware of conditions outside their self-defined groups, and indifferent to the task of reaching out to Americans in every walk of life . . . By the time they reach college many assume that diversity discourse exhausts political discourse, and have shockingly little to say about such perennial questions as class, war, the economy and the common good. As many students woke up to discover on November 9, identity politics is expressive, not persuasive.

Last week, in an unbearably symbolic move, Hampshire College in Massachusetts removed the American flag a symbol of unity if ever there was one from campus in order to make students feel safer. The university president said the removal would enable us to instead focus our efforts on racist, misogynistic, Islamophobic, anti-immigrant, antisemitic and anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and behaviours. There are such attitudes in America, for sure, but I am willing to bet they are not at their worst at Hampshire College, Massachusetts.

The one group that is increasingly excluded from campuses, with never a peep of complaint from activists, is conservatives. Data from the Higher Education Research Institute show the ratio of left-wing professors to right-wing professors went from 2:1 in 1995 to 6:1 today. The 1 is usually in something such as engineering and keeps his or her head down. Fashionable joke: whats the opposite of diversity? University.

This is not a smug, anti-American argument. British universities are hurtling down the same divisive path. Feminists including Germaine Greer, Julie Bindel and Kate Smurthwaite have been no-platformed at British universities, along with speakers for Ukip and Israel, but not Islamic State. Universities are becoming like Victorian aunts, brooking no criticism of religion, treating women as delicate flowers and turning up their noses at Jews.

The government is conducting an independent review into Britains sharia courts, which effectively allow women to be treated differently if they are Muslim. The review is chaired by a Muslim and advised by two imams. And far too many government forms still insist on knowing whether the applicant is (I have taken the list from the Office for National Statistics guidance): Gypsy or Irish Traveller, White and Black Caribbean, White and Black African, White and Asian, Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Chinese, African, Caribbean, Arab, or any other ethnic group. So bleeding what?

The left has vacated the moral high ground on which it won so many fine battles to treat human beings equally. The right must occupy that ground and stand for universal human values and equal treatment for all.

SOURCE

Fake news and posttruth: the handmaidens of Western relativism

It isnt Macedonian teens who killed truth and objectivity

Internet-savvy 16-year-old boys in Macedonia are undermining Western journalism and democracy. Have you ever encountered a faker news story than that? This is the great irony of the fake-news panic that has swept the Western media in recent days, with observers now claiming that the promotion of made-up news on Facebook may have swung the election for Donald Trump and done GBH to the Western ideals of objectivity and reason: it is underpinned by illusions of its own; by a refusal to grapple with hard truths about the Wests own jettisoning of those values; and by an urge to invent bogeymen that is every bit as dislocated from reality as are those myth-peddling kids in the East.

Still reeling from the failure of their idol Hillary Clinton to get to the White House, mainstream observers and politicians this week came up with another thing to blame: BS news. They claim the spread of stories like The pope loves Trump and Hillary is a paedophile, many of which originate on phoney-news websites in Eastern Europe and get loads of likes among Westerners on Facebook, is a threat to truth and to the very practice of democracy. Angela Merkel bemoaned the fake sites, bots, trolls which manipulate public opinion and make politics and democracy harder. President Obama slammed this active misinformation, arguing that if everything seems to be the same and no distinctions are made, then we lose so much of what weve gained in terms of democratic freedoms.

Liberal columnists, wounded that so much of the public ignored their overtures first on Brexit and then on Trump, claim good, decent, supposedly elitist journalism must now assert itself. Our role in seeking the truth must be harnessed with steely determination, says one. CNNs Christiane Amanpour says the tsunami of fake-news sites is an affront to journalism and the thing that journalism helps to facilitate: democracy. We must now fight hard for the truth in this world where the Oxford English Dictionary just announced that its word of 2016 [is] post-truth, she says. Numerous hacks have been despatched to Macedonia and Russia to confront the fresh-faced youths who run these fake-news sites for cash. How teens in the Balkans are duping Trump supporters, says one headline. Russian propaganda effort helped spread fake news during election, says another. The image were left with is of dastardly Easterners suckering stupid Westerners and undermining the democratic tradition, and now pain-faced, well-minded columnists must stand up to this foreign threat to reason.

Its the fakest news story of the week. It might not be as utterly invented as the one about Hillarys people abusing children in a pizza restaurant in Washington, DC. But it involves a profounder avoidance of truth, a deeper unwillingness to face up to facts. In particular the fact that the rise of fake news, alternative news and conspiracy theories speaks not to the wicked interventions of myth-spreaders from without, but to the corrosion of reason within, right here in the West. It speaks to the declining moral and cultural authority of our own political and media class. It is the Western worlds own abandonment of objectivity, and loss of legitimacy in the eyes of its populace, that has nurtured something of a free-for-all on the facts and news front. Those Macedonian kids arent denting democracy or damaging objectivity theyre merely milking a Western crisis of objectivity that began long before they were born.

The first striking thing about the fake-news panic is its naked paternalism. The suggestion is that voters, especially those of a low-information, redneck variety, were hoodwinked into voting Trump by outlandish stories about how evil Hillary is. Fake news whacks people who could not recognise [or] fact-check, says Amanpour. Its a post-truth era where you can play [people] like a fiddle, says a liberal writer in the US. A Guardian columnist says people easily believe lies that play to their prejudices and then pass them on thoughtlessly. Were given the impression that masses of people are incapable of deciphering fact from fiction. They cast their votes on the basis of a daft pizza-paedo link they saw on Facebook. With a loud sneer, observers write off the general publics capacity for reason and willingness to engage seriously with democratic decisions. Ironically, this demeaning of the demos, this calling into question of the very idea that underpins modern politics that the public is reasoned and must be allowed to steer the fate of their nation does far greater damage to the value and standing of democracy than any spotty Macedonian with a laptop could ever do.

Then came the paternalistic solutions. We need new gatekeepers, columnists claim: professionals who have the resources and brains to work out whats true and whats a lie and ensure that people see more of the former. Obama and others suggest Facebook must get better at curating news, sorting truth from falsehood on behalf of its suggestible users. The suggestion is that the internet, having thrown open the world of reportage and commentary to everyone, having enabled anyone with a computer or phone to say their piece, has disoriented truth and democracy and now must be tamed, or at least better managed.

This echoes the elite fears that greeted the invention of the printing press in the 15th century. Then, the religious authorities the gatekeepers of their day worried that all sorts of heresy might now find its way into the publics minds and hearts, unfiltered by their wise, godly counsel. Todays aspiring gatekeepers panic that fake news will get into and warp the minds of the little people in this era when knowledge filtering has been stripped back even further, so that increasingly the citizen stands alone before the claims and counter-claims of those who publish. And apparently this fake news often contains heresies of its own. In his interview with the New Yorker, Obama strikingly bemoaned the fake news of climate-change scepticism, where an explanation of climate change from a Nobel Prize-winning physicist looks exactly the same on your Facebook page as the denial of climate change by somebody on the Koch brothers payroll. This cuts to the 15th-century-echoing fear that motors the panic over fake news: the belief that it will allow not only outright lies, but new heresies, new blasphemies, different ways of thinking, to make an appeal to peoples beliefs and convictions. The call to filter social media is a paternalistic call to protect the public from bad or mad or dangerous thoughts, in a similar way that early clampdowns on the printing press were designed to keep evil from the swarm.

What this censorious, anti-demos view overlooks is the positive side to todays unprecedented throwing-open of debate and news and politics: the fact that it implicitly calls on the citizen to use his own mental and moral muscles, to confront the numerous different versions of the world offered to him and decide which one sounds most right. Surely the internets downside of fake news is more than outweighed by its invitation to us to negotiate the rapids of public debate for ourselves and make up our own minds? Ideally, in a democracy, everybody would agree that climate change is a consequence of man-made behaviour, because thats what 99 per cent of scientists tell us, said Obama in his handwringing over fake news. No. The ideal thing in a democracy isnt that we believe something because scientists, or politicians, or priests, have told us its true; its that we believe something because we have considered it, thought about it, weighed it up against other things, and then deployed our own judgement. Believing something because others tell you its true isnt democracy its oligarchy.

Even the extent to which fake news is a bad thing and of course it can be its rise is not a result of wicked foreign poking into Western politics and debate. Rather, it speaks to the hollowing-out of the whole idea of truth in the West, to the march of the relativistic notion that objectivity is not only difficult but undesirable. The image of the old gatekeepers of knowledge, or just news, being elbowed aside either by new technologies or by interfering Easterners is wrong; it is more accurate to say that these gatekeepers gave up, and abandoned their posts, on the basis that it is arrogant to assume that any one way of seeing or reporting the world is better than another.

For the past two decades, Western news reporting has openly called into question its own definitiveness. It has thrown open news items to ceaseless commenting below the line, on the basis that news coverage is a partnership, as the BBCs Richard Sandbrook said in 2005. It celebrated citizen journalism as a realer, less top-down form of newsgathering. And it has jettisoned the very thing that distinguished it from other, more opinionated views on world events: its objectivity. From the rise of the journalism of attachment in the 1990s, in which journalists eschewed the apparently cold, forensic habit of objectivity and took sides with the most victimised groups in certain conflicts and situations, to the medias embrace of data journalism in the 2000s, where churning through thousands of leaked documents took the place of discovering stories and faithfully reporting them, Western journalism has redefined its mission from one of objectively discovering truth to simply offering its increasingly technical or emotional take on what might, or might not, have happened.

Journalists have explicitly disavowed objectivity, and with it their gatekeeping role. It is time to toss out objectivity as a goal, said Harvard journalism expert Dan Gilmor in 2005. By 2010, even Time magazine, self-styled epitome of the Western journalistic style, was celebrating The End of Objectivity. The new-media openness [has] upended the old medias poker-faced stoicism and its about time, it said. The Western media started to replace the ideal of objectivity with values such as fairness, transparency and balance. And as one European observer pointed out, these are very different to objectivity: where objectivity points to the active quest for truth, these newer, more technical values reduce the news media to just another voice among the many voices in a pluralistic world. When someone like Amanpour says Western journalism and democracy are in mortal peril, largely thanks to foreign powers like Russia paying to churn out false news, she overlooks journalisms weakening of its own ideals and authority, including by her and others in the 1990s when they ditched objectivity in preference for taking sides in conflicts like the one in Bosnia. She conspiratorially displaces on to Russia a crisis of objectivity that has its origins in the newsrooms and academies and political chambers of the West.

The abandonment of objectivity in journalism did not happen in a vacuum. It sprung from, and in turn intensified, a rejection of reason in the West, a disavowal of the idea of truth, and its replacement either by the far more technical ambition of being evidence-based or by highly emotional responses to world events. Indeed, the greatest irony in the fake-news panic, and in the whole post-Brexit, post-Trump talk of a new post-truth era, is that it was the very guardians of Western culture and knowledge, the very establishment now horrified by how the little people think and vote, who made us post-truth; who oversaw the turn against Enlightenment in the academy, the calling into question of male science, the throttling of the idea of any one, clear morality to which people might subscribe, and the rubbishing of the entire project of objectivity, even of news as we understood it. When Obama says we live in an era where everything seems to be the same and no distinctions are made, he isnt wrong. Only that refusal to distinguish, to judge, to elevate truer things over questionable things, is not down to Facebook or Macedonians or allegedly dumb Trump voters it is an accomplishment of the very post-Enlightenment, self-doubting, technocratic elites Obama is part of.

And what happens when you give up your conviction that truth can be discovered, and instead promote the idea that all ways of looking at the world, and interpreting the world, and feeling the world, have validity? You disorientate public discussion. You slay your own cultural authority. You create a situation where people doubt you, often with good reason, and go looking for other sources of information. You create the space for other claims of truth, some of them good and exciting, some of them mad and fake. Dont blame Russia, or us, for the crisis of journalism and democracy or for our so-called post-truth times. You did this. You, the gatekeepers. Well be our own gatekeepers now, thanks.

SOURCE

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Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American “liberals” often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America’s educational system — particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if “liberals” had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.

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Prison abolition movement – Wikipedia

Posted: at 12:27 pm

The prison abolition movement is a movement that seeks to reduce or eliminate prisons and the prison system, and replace them with more humane and effective systems.

It is distinct from prison reform, which is the attempt to improve conditions inside prisons; however, relying on prisons less could improve their conditions by reducing overcrowding.[1]:3

Some organizations such as the Anarchist Black Cross seek total abolishment of the prison system, not intending to replace it with other government-controlled systems. Many anarchist organizations believe that the best form of justice arises naturally out of social contracts. However, many supporters for prison abolition intend to replace it with other systems, reducing prisons to a smaller role in society.

Prominent social activist Angela Davis, outspoken critic of the prison-industrial complex, openly supports prison abolition.[2] “Mass incarceration is not a solution to unemployment, nor is it a solution to the vast array of social problems that are hidden away in a rapidly growing network of prisons and jails. However, the great majority of people have been tricked into believing in the efficacy of imprisonment, even though the historical record clearly demonstrates that prisons do not work.”[3] Her relevancy in this movement is attested by her close involvement with groups moving to abolish the PIC.[4]

Critical Resistance, co-founded by Angela Davis and Ruth Wilson Gilmore, is an American organization working towards an “international movement to end the Prison Industrial Complex by challenging the belief that caging and controlling people makes us safe.”[5] Other similarly motivated groups such as the Prison Activist Resource Center (PARC), a group “committed to exposing and challenging all forms of institutionalized racism, sexism, able-ism, heterosexism, and classism, specifically within the Prison Industrial Complex,” [6] and Black & Pink, an abolitionist organization that focuses around LGBTQ rights, all broadly advocate for prison abolition.[7] Furthermore, names such as the Human Rights Coalition, a 2001 group that aims to abolish prisons,[8][9] and the California Coalition for Women Prisoners, a grassroots organization dedicated to dismantling the PIC,[10] can all be added to the long list of organizations that desire a different justice system for our world.[11]

Every other year after Ruth Morris organized the first one in Toronto in 1983,[12] The International Conference on Penal Abolition (ICOPA) gathers activists, academics, journalists, and “others from across the world who are working towards the abolition of imprisonment, the penal system, carceral controls and and the prison industrial complex (PIC),”[13] to discuss three important questions surrounding the reality of prison abolition ICOPA was one of the first penal abolitionist conference movements, similar to Critical Resistance in America, but “with an explicitly international scope and agenda-setting ambition.”[14]

Anarchists wish to eliminate all forms of state control, of which imprisonment is seen as one of the more obvious examples. Anarchists also oppose prisons because the vast majority of inmates are non-violent offenders. Numbers show incarceration rates affect mainly poor people and ethnic minorities, and do not generally rehabilitate criminals, in many cases making them worse.[15] As a result, the prison abolition movement often is associated with humanistic socialism, anarchism and anti-authoritarianism.

In October 2015, members at a plenary session of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) released and adopted a resolution in favor of prison abolition.[16][17]

Proposals for prison reform and proposed alternatives to prisons differ significantly depending on the political beliefs behind them. Proposals and tactics often include:

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime published a series of handbooks on criminal justice. Among them is Alternatives to Imprisonment which identifies how the overuse of imprisonment impacts fundamental human rights, especially those convicted for lesser crimes.

Social justice and advocacy organizations such as Students Against Mass Incarceration (SAMI) at the University of California, San Diego often look to Scandinavian countries Sweden and Norway for guidance in regards to successful prison reform because both countries have an emphasis on rehabilitation rather than punishment.[18] According to Sweden’s Prison and Probation Service Director-General, Nils berg, this emphasis is made popular among the Swedish because the act of imprisonment is considered punishment enough.[19] This focus on rehabilitation includes an emphasis on promoting normalcy for inmates, a charge lead by experienced criminologists and psychologists.[20] In Norway a focus on preparation for societal re-entry has yielded “one of the lowest recidivism rates in the world at 20%, [while] the US has one of the highest: 76.6% of [Americans] prisoners are re-arrested within five years”.[21] The Scandinavian method of incarceration seems to be successful: the Swedish incarceration rate decreased by 6% between 2011 and 2012.[22]

In place of prisons, some abolitionists propose community-controlled courts, councils, or assemblies to control the problem of social crime.[23] They argue that with the destruction of capitalism, and the self-management of production by workers and communities, property crimes would largely vanish. A large part of the problem, according to some, is the way the judicial system deals with prisoners, people, and capital. They argue that there would be fewer prisoners if society treated people more fairly, regardless of gender, color, ethnic background, sexual orientation, education, etc. This is proven with the creation of private prisons in America and corporations like Correction Corporation of America (CCA). Its shareholders benefit from the expansion of prisons and tougher laws on crime. More prisoners is seen as beneficial for business.[24]

Opponents of the abolition argue that none of the arguments above address the protection of non-criminal population from the effects of crime, and from particularly violent criminals.

Prison abolitionists such as Amanda Pustlinik take issue with the fact that prisons are used as a “default asylum” for many individuals with mental illness.[40] One question that is often asked by some prison abolitionists is:

“why do governmental units choose to spend billions of dollars a year to concentrate people with serious illnesses in a system designed to punish intentional lawbreaking, when doing so matches neither the putative purposes of that system nor most effectively addresses the issues posed by that population?” [40]

This question is often one of the major pieces of evidence that prison abolitionist claim highlights the depravity of the penal system. Many of these prison abolitionists often state that mentally ill offenders, violent and non-violent, should be treated in mental hospitals not prisons.[41] There are more people with mental illness in prisons that in psychiatric hospitals.[42] By keeping the mentally ill in prisons they claim that rehabilitation cannot occur because prisons are not the correct environment to deal with deep seated psychological problems and facilitate rehabilitative practices.[41] Individuals with mental illnesses that have led them to commit any crime have a much higher chance of committing suicide while in prison because of the lack of proper medical attention.[43] The increased risk of suicide is said to be because there is much stigma around mental illness and lack of adequate treatments within hospitals.[43] The whole point of the penal system is to rehabilitate and reform individuals who have willingly transgressed on the law. According to many prison abolitionists however, when mentally ill persons, often for reasons outside of their cognitive control, commit illegal acts prisons are not the best place for them to receive the help necessary for their rehabilitation.[41] For many prison abolitionists, if for no other reason than the fact that mentally ill individuals will not be receiving the same potential for rehabilitation as the non-mentally ill prison population, prisons are considered to be unjust and therefore violate their Sixth Amendment and Fifth Amendment Rights, in the U.S., and their chance to rehabilitate and function outside of the prison.[40][40][41][44] In America, by violating an individual’s rights as a citizen, prison abolitionists see no reason for prisons to exist, and again, offer another reason people within the movement demand for the abolition of prisons.[40][41][44]

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Prison abolition movement – Wikipedia

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Posted: at 12:25 pm

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Rationalism, also known as the rationalist movement, is a philosophical doctrine that asserts that the truth can best be discovered by reason and factual analysis, rather than faith, dogma or religious teaching. Rationalism has some similarities in ideology and intent to humanism and atheism, in that it aims to provide a framework for social and philosophical discourse outside of religious or supernatural beliefs; however, rationalism differs from both of these, in that:

Outside of religious discussion, the discipline of rationalism may be applied more generally, for example to political or social issues. In these cases it is the rejection of emotion, tradition or fashionable belief which is the defining feature of the rationalist perspective.

During the middle of the twentieth century there was a strong tradition of organized rationalism, which was particularly influenced by free thinkers and intellectuals. In the United Kingdom, rationalism is represented by the Rationalist Press Association, founded in 1899.

Modern rationalism has little in common with the historical philosophy of continental rationalism expounded by Ren Descartes, however it has large affinities with the work of Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz which influenced the development of empirical rationalism, or logical positivism. Indeed, a reliance on empirical science is often considered a hallmark of modern rationalism, whereas continental rationalism rejected empiricism entirely.

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Homepage of Martin W Ball

Posted: November 30, 2016 at 6:41 pm

Greetings fellow travelers and welcome!

I’m honored that your journey has brought you here and I pay respect to the Divine Being that you are. You are welcome to all that I have to offer.

Here you will find information about my work and creations from my various projects in life: awakening, entheogens, music, books, podcasts, art, and more. My goal is to help others through creativity, knowledge, wisdom, and inspiration. What motivates me is the love of Truth and the quest to live in Reality as a Fully Awakened Human Being, centered in the knowledge of our Unitary Being. I am here to serve as a mirror; clear, reflective, and free from distortion and illusion, offering to help other versions of the Self find clarity and self-knowledge within.

As an independent artist, musician, author and publisher, I depend on the support of others to continue my work. If you find that what I have to offer speaks to you, then I encourage you to consider purchasing a book, CD, or art product. I am also always happy to field questions about entheogens and personal experience and encourage you to explore my podcast, “The Entheogenic Evolution.”

My latest release, which is now available, (June, 2014) is Being Infinite: An Entheogenic Odyssey into the Limitless Eternal – A Memoir from Ayahuasca to Zen, which chronicles my personal awakening and transformation through exploration of the Self via 5-MeO-DMT, Ayahuasca, Salvia divinorum, and other entheogenic medicines. It is available in paperback and digital ebook formats.

Being Infinite, 2014. 330 pages. $19.95, plus shipping (international order, please use Amazon)

Being Infinite, paperback

And to get you in the mood for the book, here’s a short promo video. Full-screen HD version recommended

May your journey bring you to the only place there is to go: into who you really are.

Martin

For more information about my nondual understanding

of the nature of being and role of entheogens in

cultivating personal awareness, visit my site:

http://www.entheological-paradigm.net

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Alternative Medicine Journals – Open Access Journals

Posted: at 6:38 pm

OMICS International is an amalgamation of Open Access publications and worldwide international science conferences and events. OMICS International is operating 700 open access journals with the help of 50000 editorial board members and organizing 300 scientific conferences throughout the world. OMICS International is collaborated with more than 1000 scientific associations and societies.

Medicine Journals of OMICS International are the peer-reviewed open access Journals devoted to publish scholarly articles on the multi-disciplinary aspects related to the basic sciences of Medicine. Medicine is a science or practice dealing with the diagnosis, treatment, prevention of disease and maintenance of health. Medicine is a preparation for the treatment and prevention of illness or diseases with the help of an agent like drug, and concerns with the nonsurgical treatment of disease.

Medicine Journals aim to promote the most reliable source of information on current research developments and advancements across the fields of Medical sciences and related health care practices by providing scientific platform for the medical community to disseminate knowledge and quality research and making them freely available through online without any restrictions or any other subscriptions to researchers worldwide, increasing the importance and essentiality of the Open access type of publishing.

Medicine Journals of OMICS International encourage the medical practitioners and experts to publish their research works to accelerate the wide range of information on current research findings in medicine focusing on the Pathological studies, Disease epidemiology, Physiology, Genetics, Immunology, Microbiology, Systems Biology, Biomedical research, Diagnostic techniques, Biomedical analysis, Toxicology studies, Medical technologies, Pharmaceutics and drug developments. The subject areas include the latest medical advances in the fields of Anesthesia, Cardiology, Oncology, Vascular biology, Neuroscience, Dermatology, Virology, Infectious diseases, Nutrition and metabolism, Pediatrics, Psychiatry, Occupational Medicine, Molecular Medicine, Translational Medicine, and other related sciences.

Medicine Journals provide a platform for outstanding research around the globe in the field of medicine. These scholarly journals aim to contribute to the progress and application of scientific discoveries, by providing free access to the research information. The published work reaches the general public and the scientific community immediately after publication, thus providing higher citation rates for the author. Medicine Journals are supported by 5000 internationally renowned editorial board members and a high quality review board. Medical Journals use online Editorial Manager System for quick and high quality review process. Articles of Medicine journals are subjected to peer reviewing and these are included in the standard indexing databases like CAS, EBSCO, HINARI, Index Copernicus, SHERPA/RoMEO, Open J-Gate, AcademicKeys, JournalSeek, Ulrichsweb, WorldCat, etc. All the articles published in Medicine journals are permanently archived in respective peer reviewed journals thus providing unrestricted utilization and requisition of the scientific information.

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Communes: the pros & cons of intentional community …

Posted: November 29, 2016 at 1:31 am

My fianc and I are curious about commune living, community co-ops, or intentional living communities for our future living arrangements but we need advice. What should we know before we decide whether to take the dive into this world?

Oh, do I ever have the inside scoop on this one. See, my mom runs an intentional community called Sacred Groves on the property where I grew up. For those who have read my book, our wedding reception happened at Sacred Groves, so all the shenanigans that took place that night were hosted by the Groves.

That in mind, I decided to bring in my mom to answer this question. Take it away, Ma!

By Therese Charvet, of Sacred Groves Living in community is as old as the human race. Our modern lifestyle with singles, couples and single-families living in isolated housing units is relatively modern, and uncommon in much of the world. Conventional houses and apartments offer much privacy and reduce the hassles of sharing, but they can also breed isolation, loneliness and can put a strain on marriages. Intentional Communities, Communes and Co-housing situations offer an alternative to this model, one more akin to our traditional roots. Andreas doing a community yoga class at Sacred Groves Every community is different but the basic premise is that you live in proximity with a group of people with whom you share the use of certain common facilities, and things are set up in such a way as to promote connection and familiarity amongst the residents. Generally speaking, this is the definition of “Intentional Community.” Dozens of models of intentional communities exist, some with only a few people, some with hundreds, some with a charismatic leader, others with a commitment to consensus.

There is quite a movement afoot in the U.S. toward community living. In fact, a national organization exists and a national directory of intentional communities is available for people looking for housing. For more description and definition of Intentional Communities, see Wikipedia and/or the website for The Fellowship of Intentional Communities.

In late 2005, my current partner Tere and I decided it was time to make the land where we live, Sacred Groves, an “intentional community.” We transformed the downstairs of the log cabin (with kitchen, bathroom and dining area) into “common space” and used the upstairs rooms plus three nearby cabins as private space for residents’ bedrooms. A couple women friends who happened to be looking for housing at that time decided to join our experiment and the four of us formed the first rendition of a Sacred Groves Intentional Community.

It is nearly always heart-warming and sometimes very challenging to live in this way with people. Some of the challenges include getting enough quiet/private time, figuring out chores, working out disagreements in a functional way, staying out of each other’s business. Each of us has to deal with our personal control issues regularly; community living does not make it easy to be a control freak. It flushes out what you are attached to, that’s for sure! But the rewards are worth the effort! These rewards include spiritual and personal development and participating in the evolution of human consciousness toward a more cooperative society. That’s big work, work the world really needs right now.

In closing let me say that I love this lifestyle and hope to live in community until old age. I don’t understand those 90 year olds who want to live alone in their own house until they die. I love living around children and young adults, it keeps me flexible and up to date, it gives me a place to share my stories, my skills, my time and my gifts. It makes me smile to hear the children laughing uproariously as they jump on the trampoline. Life is good!

If you’re interested in learning more about my mom’s community, you can see photos of Sacred Groves on their website or on Flickr. Oh and my mom tells me they miiiiight have openings for new Grovesmates in the coming months. Click here if you’re interested in that sort of thing.

I’d also love to hear from Homies who may have had experience living in community. I know from my times out at Sacred Groves, that it can be a challenging and rewarding experience for folks who are suited to that kind of living. Anybody got any stories to share?

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Alternative medicine – Wikipedia

Posted: at 1:27 am

Alternative medicine or fringe medicine are practices claimed to have the healing effects of medicine but are disproven, unproven, impossible to prove, or only harmful. Alternative therapies or diagnoses are not part of medicine or science-based healthcare systems. Alternative medicine consists of a wide variety of practices, products, and therapiesranging from those that are biologically plausible but not well tested, to those with known harmful and toxic effects. Contrary to popular belief, significant expense is paid in testing alternative medicine, including over $2.5 billion spent by the United States government, with almost none showing any effect beyond that of false treatment. Perceived effects of alternative medicine are caused by placebo, decreased effects of functional treatment (and therefor also decreased side-effects), and regression toward the mean where improvement that would have occurred anyway is credited to alternative therapies. Alternative medicine is not the same as experimental medicine.

Alternative medicine has grown in popularity and is used by a significant percentage of the population in many countries. While it has extensively rebranded itself: from quackery to complementary or integrative medicineit promotes essentially the same practices. Newer proponents often suggest alternative medicine be used together with functional medical treatment, in a belief that it “complements” (improves the effect of, or mitigates the side effects of) the treatment. However, significant drug interactions caused by alternative therapies may instead negatively influence treatments, making them less effective, notably cancer therapy. Despite it being illegal to market alternative therapies for any type of cancer treatment in most of the developed world, many cancer patients use them. In the UK complementary therapies are commonly made available to cancer patients.[1][2]

Alternative medical diagnoses and treatments are not included in the science-based curriculum taught in medical schools, and are not used in medical practice where treatments are based on scientific knowledge. Alternative therapies are often based on religion, tradition, superstition, belief in supernatural energies, pseudoscience, errors in reasoning, propaganda, or fraud. Regulation and licensing of alternative medicine and health care providers varies between and within countries.

Alternative medicine has been criticized for being based on misleading statements, quackery, pseudoscience, antiscience, fraud, or poor scientific methodology. Promoting alternative medicine has been called dangerous and unethical. Testing alternative medicine that have no scientific basis has been called a waste of scarce medical research resources. Critics have said “there is really no such thing as alternative medicine, just medicine that works and medicine that doesn’t”, and the problem is not only that it does not work, but that the “underlying logic is magical, childish or downright absurd”. There have also been calls that the concept of any alternative medicine that works is paradoxical, as any treatment proven to work is simply “medicine”.

Practitioners of complementary medicine usually discuss and advise patients as to available alternative therapies. Patients often express interest in mind-body complementary therapies because they offer a non-drug approach to treating some health conditions.[3][clarification needed]

In addition to the social-cultural underpinnings of the popularity of alternative medicine, there are several psychological issues that are critical to its growth. One of the most critical is the placebo effecta well-established observation in medicine.[4] Related to it are similar psychological effects, such as the will to believe,[5]cognitive biases that help maintain self-esteem and promote harmonious social functioning,[5] and the post hoc, ergo propter hoc fallacy.[5]

CAM’s popularity may be related to other factors that Edzard Ernst mentioned in an interview in The Independent:

Why is it so popular, then? Ernst blames the providers, customers and the doctors whose neglect, he says, has created the opening into which alternative therapists have stepped. “People are told lies. There are 40 million websites and 39.9 million tell lies, sometimes outrageous lies. They mislead cancer patients, who are encouraged not only to pay their last penny but to be treated with something that shortens their lives. “At the same time, people are gullible. It needs gullibility for the industry to succeed. It doesn’t make me popular with the public, but it’s the truth.[6]

Paul Offit proposed that “alternative medicine becomes quackery” in four ways: by recommending against conventional therapies that are helpful, promoting potentially harmful therapies without adequate warning, draining patients’ bank accounts, or by promoting “magical thinking.”[7]

In a paper published in October 2010 entitled The public’s enthusiasm for complementary and alternative medicine amounts to a critique of mainstream medicine, Ernst described these views in greater detail and concluded:

[CAM] is popular. An analysis of the reasons why this is so points towards the therapeutic relationship as a key factor. Providers of CAM tend to build better therapeutic relationships than mainstream healthcare professionals. In turn, this implies that much of the popularity of CAM is a poignant criticism of the failure of mainstream healthcare. We should consider it seriously with a view of improving our service to patients.[8]

Authors have speculated on the socio-cultural and psychological reasons for the appeal of alternative medicines among the minority using them in lieu of conventional medicine. There are several socio-cultural reasons for the interest in these treatments centered on the low level of scientific literacy among the public at large and a concomitant increase in antiscientific attitudes and new age mysticism.[5] Related to this are vigorous marketing[9] of extravagant claims by the alternative medical community combined with inadequate media scrutiny and attacks on critics.[5][10]

There is also an increase in conspiracy theories toward conventional medicine and pharmaceutical companies, mistrust of traditional authority figures, such as the physician, and a dislike of the current delivery methods of scientific biomedicine, all of which have led patients to seek out alternative medicine to treat a variety of ailments.[10] Many patients lack access to contemporary medicine, due to a lack of private or public health insurance, which leads them to seek out lower-cost alternative medicine.[11] Medical doctors are also aggressively marketing alternative medicine to profit from this market.[9]

Patients can be averse to the painful, unpleasant, and sometimes-dangerous side effects of biomedical treatments. Treatments for severe diseases such as cancer and HIV infection have well-known, significant side-effects. Even low-risk medications such as antibiotics can have potential to cause life-threatening anaphylactic reactions in a very few individuals. Many medications may cause minor but bothersome symptoms such as cough or upset stomach. In all of these cases, patients may be seeking out alternative treatments to avoid the adverse effects of conventional treatments.[5][10]

It is loosely as a defined set of products, practices, and theories that are believed or perceived by their users to have the healing effects of medicine,[n 1][n 2] but whose effectiveness has not been clearly established using scientific methods,[n 1][n 3][15][16][17][18] or whose theory and practice is not part of biomedicine,[n 2][n 4][n 5][n 6] or whose theories or practices are directly contradicted by scientific evidence or scientific principles used in biomedicine.[15][16][22] “Biomedicine” or “medicine” is that part of medical science that applies principles of biology, physiology, molecular biology, biophysics, and other natural sciences to clinical practice, using scientific methods to establish the effectiveness of that practice. Unlike medicine,[n 4] an alternative product or practice does not originate from using scientific methodology, but may instead be based on testimonials, religion, tradition, superstition, belief in supernatural energies, pseudoscience, errors in reasoning, propaganda, fraud, or other unscientific sources.[n 3][12][15][16]

In General Guidelines for Methodologies on Research and Evaluation of Traditional Medicine, published in 2000 by the World Health Organization (WHO), complementary and alternative medicine were defined as a broad set of health care practices that are not part of that country’s own tradition and are not integrated into the dominant health care system.[23]

The expression also refers to a diverse range of related and unrelated products, practices, and theories ranging from biologically plausible practices and products and practices with some evidence, to practices and theories that are directly contradicted by basic science or clear evidence, and products that have been conclusively proven to be ineffective or even toxic and harmful.[n 2][25][26]

The terms-Alternative medicine, complementary medicine, integrative medicine, holistic medicine, natural medicine, unorthodox medicine, fringe medicine, unconventional medicine, and new age medicine are used interchangeably as having the same meaning and are almost synonymous in some contexts,[27][28][29][30] but may have different meanings in some rare cases.

The meaning of the term “alternative” in the expression “alternative medicine”, is not that it is an effective alternative to medical science, although some alternative medicine promoters may use the loose terminology to give the appearance of effectiveness.[15][31] Loose terminology may also be used to suggest meaning that a dichotomy exists when it does not, e.g., the use of the expressions “western medicine” and “eastern medicine” to suggest that the difference is a cultural difference between the Asiatic east and the European west, rather than that the difference is between evidence-based medicine and treatments that don’t work.[15]

Complementary medicine (CM) or integrative medicine (IM) is when alternative medicine is used together with functional medical treatment, in a belief that it improves the effect of treatments.[n 7][12][33][34][35] However, significant drug interactions caused by alternative therapies may instead negatively influence treatment, making treatments less effective, notably cancer therapy.[36][37] Both terms refer to use of alternative medical treatments alongside conventional medicine,[38][39][40] an example of which is use of acupuncture (sticking needles in the body to influence the flow of a supernatural energy), along with using science-based medicine, in the belief that the acupuncture increases the effectiveness or “complements” the science-based medicine.[40]

Allopathic medicine or allopathy is an expression commonly used by homeopaths and proponents of other forms of alternative medicine to refer to mainstream medicine. Specifically it refers to the use of pharmacologically active agents or physical interventions to treat or suppress symptoms or pathophysiologic processes of diseases or conditions.[41] The expression was coined in 1810 by the creator of homeopathy, Samuel Hahnemann (17551843).[42] In such circles, the expression “allopathic medicine” is still used to refer to “the broad category of medical practice that is sometimes called Western medicine, biomedicine, evidence-based medicine, or modern medicine” (see the article on scientific medicine).[43]

Use of the term remains common among homeopaths and has spread to other alternative medicine practices. The meaning implied by the label has never been accepted by conventional medicine and is considered pejorative.[44] More recently, some sources have used the term “allopathic”, particularly American sources wishing to distinguish between Doctors of Medicine (MD) and Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) in the United States.[42][45] William Jarvis, an expert on alternative medicine and public health,[46] states that “although many modern therapies can be construed to conform to an allopathic rationale (e.g., using a laxative to relieve constipation), standard medicine has never paid allegiance to an allopathic principle” and that the label “allopath” was from the start “considered highly derisive by regular medicine”.[47]

Many conventional medical treatments clearly do not fit the nominal definition of allopathy, as they seek to prevent illness, or remove the cause of an illness by acting on the etiology of disease.[48][49]

CAM is an abbreviation of complementary and alternative medicine.[50][51] It has also been called sCAM or SCAM with the addition of “so-called” or “supplements”.[52][53] The words balance and holism are often used, claiming to take into account a “whole” person, in contrast to the supposed reductionism of medicine. Due to its many names the field has been criticized for intense rebranding of what are essentially the same practices: as soon as one name is declared synonymous with quackery, a new name is chosen.[27]

It refers to the pre-scientific practices of a culture, contrary to what is traditionally practiced in cultures where medical science dominates.

“Eastern medicine” typically refers to the traditional medicines of Asia where conventional bio-medicine penetrated much later.

Prominent members of the science[7][54] and biomedical science community[14] assert that it is not meaningful to define an alternative medicine that is separate from a conventional medicine, that the expressions “conventional medicine”, “alternative medicine”, “complementary medicine”, “integrative medicine”, and “holistic medicine” do not refer to any medicine at all.[7][14][54][55]

Others in both the biomedical and CAM communities point out that CAM cannot be precisely defined because of the diversity of theories and practices it includes, and because the boundaries between CAM and biomedicine overlap, are porous, and change. The expression “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) resists easy definition because the health systems and practices it refers to are diffuse, and its boundaries poorly defined.[25][n 8] Healthcare practices categorized as alternative may differ in their historical origin, theoretical basis, diagnostic technique, therapeutic practice and in their relationship to the medical mainstream. Some alternative therapies, including traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and Ayurveda, have antique origins in East or South Asia and are entirely alternative medical systems;[60] others, such as homeopathy and chiropractic, have origins in Europe or the United States and emerged in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Some, such as osteopathy and chiropractic, employ manipulative physical methods of treatment; others, such as meditation and prayer, are based on mind-body interventions. Treatments considered alternative in one location may be considered conventional in another.[63] Thus, chiropractic is not considered alternative in Denmark and likewise osteopathic medicine is no longer thought of as an alternative therapy in the United States.[63]

Critics say the expression is deceptive because it implies there is an effective alternative to science-based medicine, and that complementary is deceptive because it implies that the treatment increases the effectiveness of (complements) science-based medicine, while alternative medicines that have been tested nearly always have no measurable positive effect compared to a placebo.[15][64][65][66]

One common feature of all definitions of alternative medicine is its designation as “other than” conventional medicine. For example, the widely referenced descriptive definition of complementary and alternative medicine devised by the US National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), states that it is “a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not generally considered part of conventional medicine.”[69] For conventional medical practitioners, it does not necessarily follow that either it or its practitioners would no longer be considered alternative.[n 9]

Some definitions seek to specify alternative medicine in terms of its social and political marginality to mainstream healthcare.[72] This can refer to the lack of support that alternative therapies receive from the medical establishment and related bodies regarding access to research funding, sympathetic coverage in the medical press, or inclusion in the standard medical curriculum.[72] In 1993, the British Medical Association (BMA), one among many professional organizations who have attempted to define alternative medicine, stated that it[n 10] referred to “…those forms of treatment which are not widely used by the conventional healthcare professions, and the skills of which are not taught as part of the undergraduate curriculum of conventional medical and paramedical healthcare courses.”[73] In a US context, an influential definition coined in 1993 by the Harvard-based physician,[74] David M. Eisenberg,[75] characterized alternative medicine “as interventions neither taught widely in medical schools nor generally available in US hospitals”.[76] These descriptive definitions are inadequate in the present-day when some conventional doctors offer alternative medical treatments and CAM introductory courses or modules can be offered as part of standard undergraduate medical training;[77] alternative medicine is taught in more than 50 per cent of US medical schools and increasingly US health insurers are willing to provide reimbursement for CAM therapies. In 1999, 7.7% of US hospitals reported using some form of CAM therapy; this proportion had risen to 37.7% by 2008.[79]

An expert panel at a conference hosted in 1995 by the US Office for Alternative Medicine (OAM),[80][n 11] devised a theoretical definition[80] of alternative medicine as “a broad domain of healing resources… other than those intrinsic to the politically dominant health system of a particular society or culture in a given historical period.”[82] This definition has been widely adopted by CAM researchers,[80] cited by official government bodies such as the UK Department of Health,[83] attributed as the definition used by the Cochrane Collaboration,[84] and, with some modification,[dubious discuss] was preferred in the 2005 consensus report of the US Institute of Medicine, Complementary and Alternative Medicine in the United States.[n 2]

The 1995 OAM conference definition, an expansion of Eisenberg’s 1993 formulation, is silent regarding questions of the medical effectiveness of alternative therapies.[85] Its proponents hold that it thus avoids relativism about differing forms of medical knowledge and, while it is an essentially political definition, this should not imply that the dominance of mainstream biomedicine is solely due to political forces.[85] According to this definition, alternative and mainstream medicine can only be differentiated with reference to what is “intrinsic to the politically dominant health system of a particular society of culture”.[86] However, there is neither a reliable method to distinguish between cultures and subcultures, nor to attribute them as dominant or subordinate, nor any accepted criteria to determine the dominance of a cultural entity.[86] If the culture of a politically dominant healthcare system is held to be equivalent to the perspectives of those charged with the medical management of leading healthcare institutions and programs, the definition fails to recognize the potential for division either within such an elite or between a healthcare elite and the wider population.[86]

Normative definitions distinguish alternative medicine from the biomedical mainstream in its provision of therapies that are unproven, unvalidated, or ineffective and support of theories with no recognized scientific basis. These definitions characterize practices as constituting alternative medicine when, used independently or in place of evidence-based medicine, they are put forward as having the healing effects of medicine, but are not based on evidence gathered with the scientific method.[12][14][38][39][69][88] Exemplifying this perspective, a 1998 editorial co-authored by Marcia Angell, a former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, argued that:

This line of division has been subject to criticism, however, as not all forms of standard medical practice have adequately demonstrated evidence of benefit, [n 4][89] and it is also unlikely in most instances that conventional therapies, if proven to be ineffective, would ever be classified as CAM.[80]

Similarly, the public information website maintained by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) of the Commonwealth of Australia uses the acronym “CAM” for a wide range of health care practices, therapies, procedures and devices not within the domain of conventional medicine. In the Australian context this is stated to include acupuncture; aromatherapy; chiropractic; homeopathy; massage; meditation and relaxation therapies; naturopathy; osteopathy; reflexology, traditional Chinese medicine; and the use of vitamin supplements.[91]

The Danish National Board of Health’s “Council for Alternative Medicine” (Sundhedsstyrelsens Rd for Alternativ Behandling (SRAB)), an independent institution under the National Board of Health (Danish: Sundhedsstyrelsen), uses the term “alternative medicine” for:

Proponents of an evidence-base for medicine[n 12][94][95][96][97] such as the Cochrane Collaboration (founded in 1993 and from 2011 providing input for WHO resolutions) take a position that all systematic reviews of treatments, whether “mainstream” or “alternative”, ought to be held to the current standards of scientific method.[98] In a study titled Development and classification of an operational definition of complementary and alternative medicine for the Cochrane Collaboration (2011) it was proposed that indicators that a therapy is accepted include government licensing of practitioners, coverage by health insurance, statements of approval by government agencies, and recommendation as part of a practice guideline; and that if something is currently a standard, accepted therapy, then it is not likely to be widely considered as CAM.[80]

A United States government agency, the National Center on Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), created its own classification system for branches of complementary and alternative medicine that divides them into five major groups. These groups have some overlap, and distinguish two types of energy medicine: veritable which involves scientifically observable energy (including magnet therapy, colorpuncture and light therapy) and putative, which invokes physically undetectable or unverifiable energy.[99]

The NCCIH classification system is –

Alternative medicine consists of a wide range of health care practices, products, and therapies. The shared feature is a claim to heal that is not based on the scientific method. Alternative medicine practices are diverse in their foundations and methodologies.[69] Alternative medicine practices may be classified by their cultural origins or by the types of beliefs upon which they are based.[12][15][22][69] Methods may incorporate or be based on traditional medicinal practices of a particular culture, folk knowledge, supersition, spiritual beliefs, belief in supernatural energies (antiscience), pseudoscience, errors in reasoning, propaganda, fraud, new or different concepts of health and disease, and any bases other than being proven by scientific methods.[12][15][16][22] Different cultures may have their own unique traditional or belief based practices developed recently or over thousands of years, and specific practices or entire systems of practices.

Alternative medicine, such as using naturopathy or homeopathy in place of conventional medicine, is based on belief systems not grounded in science.[69]

Alternative medical systems may be based on traditional medicine practices, such as traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), Ayurveda in India, or practices of other cultures around the world.[69] Some useful applications of traditional medicines have been researched and accepted within ordinary medicine, however the underlying belief systems are seldom scientific and are not accepted.

Bases of belief may include belief in existence of supernatural energies undetected by the science of physics, as in biofields, or in belief in properties of the energies of physics that are inconsistent with the laws of physics, as in energy medicine.[69]

Substance based practices use substances found in nature such as herbs, foods, non-vitamin supplements and megavitamins, animal and fungal products, and minerals, including use of these products in traditional medical practices that may also incorporate other methods.[69][121][122] Examples include healing claims for nonvitamin supplements, fish oil, Omega-3 fatty acid, glucosamine, echinacea, flaxseed oil, and ginseng.[123]Herbal medicine, or phytotherapy, includes not just the use of plant products, but may also include the use of animal and mineral products.[121] It is among the most commercially successful branches of alternative medicine, and includes the tablets, powders and elixirs that are sold as “nutritional supplements”.[121] Only a very small percentage of these have been shown to have any efficacy, and there is little regulation as to standards and safety of their contents.[121] This may include use of known toxic substances, such as use of the poison lead in traditional Chinese medicine.[123]

The history of alternative medicine may refer to the history of a group of diverse medical practices that were collectively promoted as “alternative medicine” beginning in the 1970s, to the collection of individual histories of members of that group, or to the history of western medical practices that were labeled “irregular practices” by the western medical establishment.[15][124][125][126][127] It includes the histories of complementary medicine and of integrative medicine. Before the 1970s, western practitioners that were not part of the increasingly science-based medical establishment were referred to “irregular practitioners”, and were dismissed by the medical establishment as unscientific and as practicing quackery.[124][125] Until the 1970’s, irregular practice became increasingly marginalized as quackery and fraud, as western medicine increasingly incorporated scientific methods and discoveries, and had a corresponding increase in success of its treatments.[126] In the 1970s, irregular practices were grouped with traditional practices of nonwestern cultures and with other unproven or disproven practices that were not part of biomedicine, with the entire group collectively marketed and promoted under the single expression “alternative medicine”.[15][124][125][126][128]

Use of alternative medicine in the west began to rise following the counterculture movement of the 1960s, as part of the rising new age movement of the 1970s.[15][129][130] This was due to misleading mass marketing of “alternative medicine” being an effective “alternative” to biomedicine, changing social attitudes about not using chemicals and challenging the establishment and authority of any kind, sensitivity to giving equal measure to beliefs and practices of other cultures (cultural relativism), and growing frustration and desperation by patients about limitations and side effects of science-based medicine.[15][125][126][127][128][130][131] At the same time, in 1975, the American Medical Association, which played the central role in fighting quackery in the United States, abolished its quackery committee and closed down its Department of Investigation.[124]:xxi[131] By the early to mid 1970s the expression “alternative medicine” came into widespread use, and the expression became mass marketed as a collection of “natural” and effective treatment “alternatives” to science-based biomedicine.[15][131][132][133] By 1983, mass marketing of “alternative medicine” was so pervasive that the British Medical Journal (BMJ) pointed to “an apparently endless stream of books, articles, and radio and television programmes urge on the public the virtues of (alternative medicine) treatments ranging from meditation to drilling a hole in the skull to let in more oxygen”.[131] In this 1983 article, the BMJ wrote, “one of the few growth industries in contemporary Britain is alternative medicine”, noting that by 1983, “33% of patients with rheumatoid arthritis and 39% of those with backache admitted to having consulted an alternative practitioner”.[131]

By about 1990, the American alternative medicine industry had grown to a $27 billion per year, with polls showing 30% of Americans were using it.[130][134] Moreover, polls showed that Americans made more visits for alternative therapies than the total number of visits to primary care doctors, and American out-of-pocket spending (non-insurance spending) on alternative medicine was about equal to spending on biomedical doctors.[124]:172 In 1991, Time magazine ran a cover story, “The New Age of Alternative Medicine: Why New Age Medicine Is Catching On”.[130][134] In 1993, the New England Journal of Medicine reported one in three Americans as using alternative medicine.[130] In 1993, the Public Broadcasting System ran a Bill Moyers special, Healing and the Mind, with Moyers commenting that “…people by the tens of millions are using alternative medicine. If established medicine does not understand that, they are going to lose their clients.”[130]

Another explosive growth began in the 1990s, when senior level political figures began promoting alternative medicine, investing large sums of government medical research funds into testing alternative medicine, including testing of scientifically implausible treatments, and relaxing government regulation of alternative medicine products as compared to biomedical products.[15][124]:xxi[125][126][127][128][135][136] Beginning with a 1991 appropriation of $2 million for funding research of alternative medicine research, federal spending grew to a cumulative total of about $2.5 billion by 2009, with 50% of Americans using alternative medicine by 2013.[137][138]

In 1993, Britain’s Prince Charles, who claimed that homeopathy and other alternative medicine was an effective alternative to biomedicine, established The Prince’s Foundation for Integrated Health (FIH), as a charity to explore “how safe, proven complementary therapies can work in conjunction with mainstream medicine”.[139] The FIH received government funding through grants from Britain’s Department of Health.[139] In 2008, London’s The Times published a letter from Edzard Ernst that asked the FIH to recall two guides promoting alternative medicine, saying: “the majority of alternative therapies appear to be clinically ineffective, and many are downright dangerous.” In 2010, Brittan’s FIH closed after allegations of fraud and money laundering led to arrests of its officials.[139]

In 2004, modifications of the European Parliament’s 2001 Directive 2001/83/EC, regulating all medicine products, were made with the expectation of influencing development of the European market for alternative medicine products.[140] Regulation of alternative medicine in Europe was loosened with “a simplified registration procedure” for traditional herbal medicinal products.[140][141] Plausible “efficacy” for traditional medicine was redefined to be based on long term popularity and testimonials (“the pharmacological effects or efficacy of the medicinal product are plausible on the basis of long-standing use and experience.”), without scientific testing.[140][141] The Committee on Herbal Medicinal Products (HMPC) was created within the European Medicines Agency in London (EMEA). A special working group was established for homeopathic remedies under the Heads of Medicines Agencies.[140]

Through 2004, alternative medicine that was traditional to Germany continued to be a regular part of the health care system, including homeopathy and anthroposophic medicine.[140] The German Medicines Act mandated that science-based medical authorities consider the “particular characteristics” of complementary and alternative medicines.[140] By 2004, homeopathy had grown to be the most used alternative therapy in France, growing from 16% of the population using homeopathic medicine in 1982, to 29% by 1987, 36% percent by 1992, and 62% of French mothers using homeopathic medicines by 2004, with 94.5% of French pharmacists advising pregnant women to use homeopathic remedies.[142] As of 2004[update], 100 million people in India depended solely on traditional German homeopathic remedies for their medical care.[143] As of 2010[update], homeopathic remedies continued to be the leading alternative treatment used by European physicians.[142] By 2005, sales of homeopathic remedies and anthroposophical medicine had grown to $930 million Euros, a 60% increase from 1995.[142][144]

Since 2009, according to Art. 118a of the Swiss Federal Constitution, the Swiss Confederation and the Cantons of Switzerland shall within the scope of their powers ensure that consideration is given to complementary medicine.[145]

By 2013, 50% of Americans were using CAM.[138] As of 2013[update], CAM medicinal products in Europe continued to be exempted from documented efficacy standards required of other medicinal products.[146]

Much of what is now categorized as alternative medicine was developed as independent, complete medical systems. These were developed long before biomedicine and use of scientific methods. Each system was developed in relatively isolated regions of the world where there was little or no medical contact with pre-scientific western medicine, or with each other’s systems. Examples are traditional Chinese medicine and the Ayurvedic medicine of India.

Other alternative medicine practices, such as homeopathy, were developed in western Europe and in opposition to western medicine, at a time when western medicine was based on unscientific theories that were dogmatically imposed by western religious authorities. Homeopathy was developed prior to discovery of the basic principles of chemistry, which proved homeopathic remedies contained nothing but water. But homeopathy, with its remedies made of water, was harmless compared to the unscientific and dangerous orthodox western medicine practiced at that time, which included use of toxins and draining of blood, often resulting in permanent disfigurement or death.[125]

Other alternative practices such as chiropractic and osteopathic manipulative medicine were developed in the United States at a time that western medicine was beginning to incorporate scientific methods and theories, but the biomedical model was not yet totally dominant. Practices such as chiropractic and osteopathic, each considered to be irregular practices by the western medical establishment, also opposed each other, both rhetorically and politically with licensing legislation. Osteopathic practitioners added the courses and training of biomedicine to their licensing, and licensed Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine holders began diminishing use of the unscientific origins of the field. Without the original nonscientific practices and theories, osteopathic medicine is now considered the same as biomedicine.

Further information: Rise of modern medicine

Until the 1970s, western practitioners that were not part of the medical establishment were referred to “irregular practitioners”, and were dismissed by the medical establishment as unscientific, as practicing quackery.[125] Irregular practice became increasingly marginalized as quackery and fraud, as western medicine increasingly incorporated scientific methods and discoveries, and had a corresponding increase in success of its treatments.

Dating from the 1970s, medical professionals, sociologists, anthropologists and other commentators noted the increasing visibility of a wide variety of health practices that had neither derived directly from nor been verified by biomedical science.[147] Since that time, those who have analyzed this trend have deliberated over the most apt language with which to describe this emergent health field.[147] A variety of terms have been used, including heterodox, irregular, fringe and alternative medicine while others, particularly medical commentators, have been satisfied to label them as instances of quackery.[147] The most persistent term has been alternative medicine but its use is problematic as it assumes a value-laden dichotomy between a medical fringe, implicitly of borderline acceptability at best, and a privileged medical orthodoxy, associated with validated medico-scientific norms.[148] The use of the category of alternative medicine has also been criticized as it cannot be studied as an independent entity but must be understood in terms of a regionally and temporally specific medical orthodoxy.[149] Its use can also be misleading as it may erroneously imply that a real medical alternative exists.[150] As with near-synonymous expressions, such as unorthodox, complementary, marginal, or quackery, these linguistic devices have served, in the context of processes of professionalisation and market competition, to establish the authority of official medicine and police the boundary between it and its unconventional rivals.[148]

An early instance of the influence of this modern, or western, scientific medicine outside Europe and North America is Peking Union Medical College.[151][n 14][n 15]

From a historical perspective, the emergence of alternative medicine, if not the term itself, is typically dated to the 19th century.[152] This is despite the fact that there are variants of Western non-conventional medicine that arose in the late-eighteenth century or earlier and some non-Western medical traditions, currently considered alternative in the West and elsewhere, which boast extended historical pedigrees.[148] Alternative medical systems, however, can only be said to exist when there is an identifiable, regularized and authoritative standard medical practice, such as arose in the West during the nineteenth century, to which they can function as an alternative.

During the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries regular and irregular medical practitioners became more clearly differentiated throughout much of Europe and,[154] as the nineteenth century progressed, most Western states converged in the creation of legally delimited and semi-protected medical markets.[155] It is at this point that an “official” medicine, created in cooperation with the state and employing a scientific rhetoric of legitimacy, emerges as a recognizable entity and that the concept of alternative medicine as a historical category becomes tenable.[156]

As part of this process, professional adherents of mainstream medicine in countries such as Germany, France, and Britain increasingly invoked the scientific basis of their discipline as a means of engendering internal professional unity and of external differentiation in the face of sustained market competition from homeopaths, naturopaths, mesmerists and other nonconventional medical practitioners, finally achieving a degree of imperfect dominance through alliance with the state and the passage of regulatory legislation.[148][150] In the US the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, based in Baltimore, Maryland, opened in 1893, with William H. Welch and William Osler among the founding physicians, and was the first medical school devoted to teaching “German scientific medicine”.[157]

Buttressed by increased authority arising from significant advances in the medical sciences of the late 19th century onwardsincluding development and application of the germ theory of disease by the chemist Louis Pasteur and the surgeon Joseph Lister, of microbiology co-founded by Robert Koch (in 1885 appointed professor of hygiene at the University of Berlin), and of the use of X-rays (Rntgen rays)the 1910 Flexner Report called upon American medical schools to follow the model of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and adhere to mainstream science in their teaching and research. This was in a belief, mentioned in the Report’s introduction, that the preliminary and professional training then prevailing in medical schools should be reformed, in view of the new means for diagnosing and combating disease made available the sciences on which medicine depended.[n 16][159]

Putative medical practices at the time that later became known as “alternative medicine” included homeopathy (founded in Germany in the early 19c.) and chiropractic (founded in North America in the late 19c.). These conflicted in principle with the developments in medical science upon which the Flexner reforms were based, and they have not become compatible with further advances of medical science such as listed in Timeline of medicine and medical technology, 19001999 and 2000present, nor have Ayurveda, acupuncture or other kinds of alternative medicine.[citation needed]

At the same time “Tropical medicine” was being developed as a specialist branch of western medicine in research establishments such as Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine founded in 1898 by Alfred Lewis Jones, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, founded in 1899 by Patrick Manson and Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, instituted in 1912. A distinction was being made between western scientific medicine and indigenous systems. An example is given by an official report about indigenous systems of medicine in India, including Ayurveda, submitted by Mohammad Usman of Madras and others in 1923. This stated that the first question the Committee considered was “to decide whether the indigenous systems of medicine were scientific or not”.[160][161]

By the later twentieth century the term ‘alternative medicine’ entered public discourse,[n 17][164] but it was not always being used with the same meaning by all parties. Arnold S. Relman remarked in 1998 that in the best kind of medical practice, all proposed treatments must be tested objectively, and that in the end there will only be treatments that pass and those that do not, those that are proven worthwhile and those that are not. He asked ‘Can there be any reasonable “alternative”?'[165] But also in 1998 the then Surgeon General of the United States, David Satcher,[166] issued public information about eight common alternative treatments (including acupuncture, holistic and massage), together with information about common diseases and conditions, on nutrition, diet, and lifestyle changes, and about helping consumers to decipher fraud and quackery, and to find healthcare centers and doctors who practiced alternative medicine.[167]

By 1990, approximately 60 million Americans had used one or more complementary or alternative therapies to address health issues, according to a nationwide survey in the US published in 1993 by David Eisenberg.[168] A study published in the November 11, 1998 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that 42% of Americans had used complementary and alternative therapies, up from 34% in 1990.[169] However, despite the growth in patient demand for complementary medicine, most of the early alternative/complementary medical centers failed.[170]

Mainly as a result of reforms following the Flexner Report of 1910[171]medical education in established medical schools in the US has generally not included alternative medicine as a teaching topic.[n 18] Typically, their teaching is based on current practice and scientific knowledge about: anatomy, physiology, histology, embryology, neuroanatomy, pathology, pharmacology, microbiology and immunology.[173] Medical schools’ teaching includes such topics as doctor-patient communication, ethics, the art of medicine,[174] and engaging in complex clinical reasoning (medical decision-making).[175] Writing in 2002, Snyderman and Weil remarked that by the early twentieth century the Flexner model had helped to create the 20th-century academic health center, in which education, research, and practice were inseparable. While this had much improved medical practice by defining with increasing certainty the pathophysiological basis of disease, a single-minded focus on the pathophysiological had diverted much of mainstream American medicine from clinical conditions that were not well understood in mechanistic terms, and were not effectively treated by conventional therapies.[176]

By 2001 some form of CAM training was being offered by at least 75 out of 125 medical schools in the US.[177] Exceptionally, the School of Medicine of the University of Maryland, Baltimore includes a research institute for integrative medicine (a member entity of the Cochrane Collaboration).[98][178] Medical schools are responsible for conferring medical degrees, but a physician typically may not legally practice medicine until licensed by the local government authority. Licensed physicians in the US who have attended one of the established medical schools there have usually graduated Doctor of Medicine (MD).[179] All states require that applicants for MD licensure be graduates of an approved medical school and complete the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE).[179]

The British Medical Association, in its publication Complementary Medicine, New Approach to Good Practice (1993), gave as a working definition of non-conventional therapies (including acupuncture, chiropractic and homeopathy): “…those forms of treatment which are not widely used by the orthodox health-care professions, and the skills of which are not part of the undergraduate curriculum of orthodox medical and paramedical health-care courses.” By 2000 some medical schools in the UK were offering CAM familiarisation courses to undergraduate medical students while some were also offering modules specifically on CAM.[181]

In 1991, pointing to a need for testing because of the widespread use of alternative medicine without authoritative information on its efficacy, United States Senator Tom Harkin used $2 million of his discretionary funds to create the Office for the Study of Unconventional Medical Practices (OSUMP), later renamed to be the Office of Alternative Medicine (OAM).[124]:170[182][183] The OAM was created to be within the National Institute of Health (NIH), the scientifically prestigious primary agency of the United States government responsible for biomedical and health-related research.[124]:170[182][183] The mandate was to investigate, evaluate, and validate effective alternative medicine treatments, and alert the public as the results of testing its efficacy.[134][182][183][184]

Sen. Harkin had become convinced his allergies were cured by taking bee pollen pills, and was urged to make the spending by two of his influential constituents.[134][182][183] Bedell, a longtime friend of Sen. Harkin, was a former member of the United States House of Representatives who believed that alternative medicine had twice cured him of diseases after mainstream medicine had failed, claiming that cow’s milk colostrum cured his Lyme disease, and an herbal derivative from camphor had prevented post surgical recurrence of his prostate cancer.[124][134] Wiewel was a promoter of unproven cancer treatments involving a mixture of blood sera that the Food and Drug Administration had banned from being imported.[134] Both Bedell and Wiewel became members of the advisory panel for the OAM. The company that sold the bee pollen was later fined by the Federal Trade Commission for making false health claims about their bee-pollen products reversing the aging process, curing allergies, and helping with weight loss.[185]

In 1994, Sen. Harkin (D) and Senator Orrin Hatch (R) introduced the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA).[186][187] The act reduced authority of the FDA to monitor products sold as “natural” treatments.[186] Labeling standards were reduced to allow health claims for supplements based only on unconfirmed preliminary studies that were not subjected to scientific peer review, and the act made it more difficult for the FDA to promptly seize products or demand proof of safety where there was evidence of a product being dangerous.[187] The Act became known as the “The 1993 Snake Oil Protection Act” following a New York Times editorial under that name.[186]

Senator Harkin complained about the “unbendable rules of randomized clinical trials”, citing his use of bee pollen to treat his allergies, which he claimed to be effective even though it was biologically implausible and efficacy was not established using scientific methods.[182][188] Sen. Harkin asserted that claims for alternative medicine efficacy be allowed not only without conventional scientific testing, even when they are biologically implausible, “It is not necessary for the scientific community to understand the process before the American public can benefit from these therapies.”[186] Following passage of the act, sales rose from about $4 billion in 1994, to $20 billion by the end of 2000, at the same time as evidence of their lack of efficacy or harmful effects grew.[186] Senator Harkin came into open public conflict with the first OAM Director Joseph M. Jacobs and OAM board members from the scientific and biomedical community.[183] Jacobs’ insistence on rigorous scientific methodology caused friction with Senator Harkin.[182][188][189] Increasing political resistance to the use of scientific methodology was publicly criticized by Dr. Jacobs and another OAM board member complained that “nonsense has trickled down to every aspect of this office…It’s the only place where opinions are counted as equal to data.”[182][188] In 1994, Senator Harkin appeared on television with cancer patients who blamed Dr. Jacobs for blocking their access to untested cancer treatment, leading Jacobs to resign in frustration.[182][188]

In 1995, Wayne Jonas, a promoter of homeopathy and political ally of Senator Harkin, became the director of the OAM, and continued in that role until 1999.[190] In 1997, the NCCAM budget was increased from $12 million to $20 million annually.[191] From 1990 to 1997, use of alternative medicine in the US increased by 25%, with a corresponding 50% increase in expenditures.[169] The OAM drew increasing criticism from eminent members of the scientific community with letters to the Senate Appropriations Committee when discussion of renewal of funding OAM came up.[124]:175 Nobel laureate Paul Berg wrote that prestigious NIH should not be degraded to act as a cover for quackery, calling the OAM “an embarrassment to serious scientists.”[124]:175[191] The president of the American Physical Society wrote complaining that the government was spending money on testing products and practices that “violate basic laws of physics and more clearly resemble witchcraft”.[124]:175[191] In 1998, the President of the North Carolina Medical Association publicly called for shutting down the OAM.[192]

In 1998, NIH director and Nobel laureate Harold Varmus came into conflict with Senator Harkin by pushing to have more NIH control of alternative medicine research.[193] The NIH Director placed the OAM under more strict scientific NIH control.[191][193] Senator Harkin responded by elevating OAM into an independent NIH “center”, just short of being its own “institute”, and renamed to be the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). NCCAM had a mandate to promote a more rigorous and scientific approach to the study of alternative medicine, research training and career development, outreach, and “integration”. In 1999, the NCCAM budget was increased from $20 million to $50 million.[192][193] The United States Congress approved the appropriations without dissent. In 2000, the budget was increased to about $68 million, in 2001 to $90 million, in 2002 to $104 million, and in 2003, to $113 million.[192]

In 2009, after a history of 17 years of government testing and spending of nearly $2.5 billion on research had produced almost no clearly proven efficacy of alternative therapies, Senator Harkin complained, “One of the purposes of this center was to investigate and validate alternative approaches. Quite frankly, I must say publicly that it has fallen short. It think quite frankly that in this center and in the office previously before it, most of its focus has been on disproving things rather than seeking out and approving.”[193][194][195] Members of the scientific community criticized this comment as showing Senator Harkin did not understand the basics of scientific inquiry, which tests hypotheses, but never intentionally attempts to “validate approaches”.[193] Members of the scientific and biomedical communities complained that after a history of 17 years of being tested, at a cost of over $2.5 Billion on testing scientifically and biologically implausible practices, almost no alternative therapy showed clear efficacy.[137] In 2009, the NCCAM’s budget was increased to about $122 million.[193] Overall NIH funding for CAM research increased to $300 Million by 2009.[193] By 2009, Americans were spending $34 Billion annually on CAM.[196]

In 2012, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published a criticism that study after study had been funded by NCCAM, but “failed to prove that complementary or alternative therapies are anything more than placebos”.[197] The JAMA criticism pointed to large wasting of research money on testing scientifically implausible treatments, citing “NCCAM officials spending $374,000 to find that inhaling lemon and lavender scents does not promote wound healing; $750,000 to find that prayer does not cure AIDS or hasten recovery from breast-reconstruction surgery; $390,000 to find that ancient Indian remedies do not control type 2 diabetes; $700,000 to find that magnets do not treat arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, or migraine headaches; and $406,000 to find that coffee enemas do not cure pancreatic cancer.”[197] It was pointed out that negative results from testing were generally ignored by the public, that people continue to “believe what they want to believe, arguing that it does not matter what the data show: They know what works for them”.[197] Continued increasing use of CAM products was also blamed on the lack of FDA ability to regulate alternative products, where negative studies do not result in FDA warnings or FDA-mandated changes on labeling, whereby few consumers are aware that many claims of many supplements were found not to have not to be supported.[197]

In 2014 the NCCAM was renamed to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) with a new charter requiring that 12 of the 18 council members shall be selected with a preference to selecting leading representatives of complementary and alternative medicine, 9 of the members must be licensed practitioners of alternative medicine, 6 members must be general public leaders in the fields of public policy, law, health policy, economics, and management, and 3 members must represent the interests of individual consumers of complementary and alternative medicine.[198]

There is a general scientific consensus that Alternative Therapies lack the requisite scientific validation, and their effectiveness is either unproved or disproved.[12][15][199][200] Many of the claims regarding the efficacy of alternative medicines are controversial, since research on them is frequently of low quality and methodologically flawed.Selective publication bias , marked differences in product quality and standardisation, and some companies making unsubstantiated claims, call into question the claims of efficacy of isolated examples where there is evidence for alternative therapies.[202]

The Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine points to confusions in the general population – a person may attribute symptomatic relief to an otherwise-ineffective therapy just because they are taking something (the placebo effect); the natural recovery from or the cyclical nature of an illness (the regression fallacy) gets misattributed to an alternative medicine being taken; a person not diagnosed with science-based medicine may never originally have had a true illness diagnosed as an alternative disease category.[203]

Edzard Ernst characterized the evidence for many alternative techniques as weak, nonexistent, or negative[204] and in 2011 published his estimate that about 7.4% were based on “sound evidence”, although he believes that may be an overestimate.[205] Ernst has concluded that 95% of the alternative treatments he and his team studied, including acupuncture, herbal medicine, homeopathy, and reflexology, are “statistically indistinguishable from placebo treatments”, but he also believes there is something that conventional doctors can usefully learn from the chiropractors and homeopath: this is the therapeutic value of the placebo effect, one of the strangest phenomena in medicine.[206][207]

In 2003, a project funded by the CDC identified 208 condition-treatment pairs, of which 58% had been studied by at least one randomized controlled trial (RCT), and 23% had been assessed with a meta-analysis.[208] According to a 2005 book by a US Institute of Medicine panel, the number of RCTs focused on CAM has risen dramatically.

As of 2005[update], the Cochrane Library had 145 CAM-related Cochrane systematic reviews and 340 non-Cochrane systematic reviews. An analysis of the conclusions of only the 145 Cochrane reviews was done by two readers. In 83% of the cases, the readers agreed. In the 17% in which they disagreed, a third reader agreed with one of the initial readers to set a rating. These studies found that, for CAM, 38.4% concluded positive effect or possibly positive (12.4%), 4.8% concluded no effect, 0.69% concluded harmful effect, and 56.6% concluded insufficient evidence. An assessment of conventional treatments found that 41.3% concluded positive or possibly positive effect, 20% concluded no effect, 8.1% concluded net harmful effects, and 21.3% concluded insufficient evidence. However, the CAM review used the more developed 2004 Cochrane database, while the conventional review used the initial 1998 Cochrane database.

In the same way as for conventional therapies, drugs, and interventions, it can be difficult to test the efficacy of alternative medicine in clinical trials. In instances where an established, effective, treatment for a condition is already available, the Helsinki Declaration states that withholding such treatment is unethical in most circumstances. Use of standard-of-care treatment in addition to an alternative technique being tested may produce confounded or difficult-to-interpret results.[210]

Cancer researcher Andrew J. Vickers has stated:

“CAM”, meaning “complementary and alternative medicine”, is not as well researched as conventional medicine, which undergoes intense research before release to the public.[212] Funding for research is also sparse making it difficult to do further research for effectiveness of CAM.[213] Most funding for CAM is funded by government agencies.[212] Proposed research for CAM are rejected by most private funding agencies because the results of research are not reliable.[212] The research for CAM has to meet certain standards from research ethics committees, which most CAM researchers find almost impossible to meet.[212] Even with the little research done on it, CAM has not been proven to be effective.[214]

Steven Novella, a neurologist at Yale School of Medicine, wrote that government funded studies of integrating alternative medicine techniques into the mainstream are “used to lend an appearance of legitimacy to treatments that are not legitimate.”[215] Marcia Angell considered that critics felt that healthcare practices should be classified based solely on scientific evidence, and if a treatment had been rigorously tested and found safe and effective, science-based medicine will adopt it regardless of whether it was considered “alternative” to begin with.[14] It is possible for a method to change categories (proven vs. unproven), based on increased knowledge of its effectiveness or lack thereof. A prominent supporter of this position is George D. Lundberg, former editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).[55]

Writing in 1999 in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians Barrie R. Cassileth mentioned a 1997 letter to the US Senate Subcommittee on Public Health and Safety, which had deplored the lack of critical thinking and scientific rigor in OAM-supported research, had been signed by four Nobel Laureates and other prominent scientists. (This was supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).)[216]

In March 2009 a staff writer for the Washington Post reported that the impending national discussion about broadening access to health care, improving medical practice and saving money was giving a group of scientists an opening to propose shutting down the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. They quoted one of these scientists, Steven Salzberg, a genome researcher and computational biologist at the University of Maryland, as saying “One of our concerns is that NIH is funding pseudoscience.” They noted that the vast majority of studies were based on fundamental misunderstandings of physiology and disease, and had shown little or no effect.[215]

Writers such as Carl Sagan (1934-1996), a noted astrophysicist, advocate of scientific skepticism and the author of The demonhaunted world: science as a candle in the dark (1996), have lambasted the lack of empirical evidence to support the existence of the putative energy fields on which these therapies are predicated.

Sampson has also pointed out that CAM tolerated contradiction without thorough reason and experiment.[217] Barrett has pointed out that there is a policy at the NIH of never saying something doesn’t work only that a different version or dose might give different results.[137] Barrett also expressed concern that, just because some “alternatives” have merit, there is the impression that the rest deserve equal consideration and respect even though most are worthless, since they are all classified under the one heading of alternative medicine.[218]

Some critics of alternative medicine are focused upon health fraud, misinformation, and quackery as public health problems, notably Wallace Sampson and Paul Kurtz founders of Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine and Stephen Barrett, co-founder of The National Council Against Health Fraud and webmaster of Quackwatch.[219] Grounds for opposing alternative medicine include that:

Many alternative medical treatments are not patentable,[citation needed], which may lead to less research funding from the private sector. In addition, in most countries, alternative treatments (in contrast to pharmaceuticals) can be marketed without any proof of efficacyalso a disincentive for manufacturers to fund scientific research.[226]

English evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, in his 2003 book A Devil’s Chaplain , defined alternative medicine as a “set of practices that cannot be tested, refuse to be tested, or consistently fail tests.”[227] Dawkins argued that if a technique is demonstrated effective in properly performed trials then it ceases to be alternative and simply becomes medicine.[228]

CAM is also often less regulated than conventional medicine.[212] There are ethical concerns about whether people who perform CAM have the proper knowledge to treat patients.[212] CAM is often done by non-physicians who do not operate with the same medical licensing laws which govern conventional medicine,[212] and it is often described as an issue of non-maleficence.[229]

According to two writers, Wallace Sampson and K. Butler, marketing is part of the training required in alternative medicine, and propaganda methods in alternative medicine have been traced back to those used by Hitler and Goebels in their promotion of pseudoscience in medicine.[15][230]

In November 2011 Edzard Ernst stated that the “level of misinformation about alternative medicine has now reached the point where it has become dangerous and unethical. So far, alternative medicine has remained an ethics-free zone. It is time to change this.”[231]

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Alternative medicine – Wikipedia

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The Abolition of Man – Wikipedia

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The Abolition of Man is a 1943 book by C. S. Lewis. It is subtitled “Reflections on education with special reference to the teaching of English in the upper forms of schools,” and uses that as a starting point for a defense of objective value and natural law, and a warning of the consequences of doing away with or “debunking” those things. It defends science as something worth pursuing but criticizes using it to debunk valuesthe value of science itself being among themor defining it to exclude such values. The book was first delivered as a series of three evening lectures at King’s College, Newcastle, part of the University of Durham, as the Riddell Memorial Lectures on February 2426, 1943.

Lewis begins with a critical response to The Green Book, by Gaius and Titius, i.e. The Control of Language: A Critical Approach to Reading and Writing, published in 1939 by Alex King and Martin Ketley.[1] The Green book was used as a text for upper form students in British schools.[2]

Lewis criticises the authors for subverting student values. He claims that they teach that all statements of value (such as “this waterfall is sublime”) are merely statements about the speaker’s feelings and say nothing about the object. Lewis says that such a subjective view of values is faulty, and, on the contrary, certain objects and actions merit positive or negative reactions: that a waterfall can actually be objectively praiseworthy, and that one’s actions can be objectively good or evil. In any case, Lewis notes, this is a philosophical position rather than a grammatical one, and so parents and teachers who give such books to their children and students are having them read the “work of amateur philosophers where they expected the work of professional grammarians.”

Lewis cites ancient thinkers such as Plato, Aristotle and Augustine, who believed that the purpose of education was to train children in “ordinate affections,” that is, to train them to like and dislike what they ought; to love the good and hate the bad. He says that although these values are universal, they do not develop automatically or inevitably in children (and so are not “natural” in that sense of the word), but must be taught through education. Those who lack them lack the specifically human element, the trunk that unites intellectual man with visceral (animal) man, and may be called “men without chests”.

Lewis criticizes modern attempts to debunk “natural” values (such as those that would deny objective value to the waterfall) on rational grounds. He says that there is a set of objective values that have been shared, with minor differences, by every culture “…the traditional moralities of East and West, the Christian, the Pagan, and the Jew…”. Lewis calls this the Tao (which closely resembles Taoist usage).[a] Without the Tao, no value judgments can be made at all, and modern attempts to do away with some parts of traditional morality for some “rational” reason always proceed by arbitrarily selecting one part of the Tao and using it as grounds to debunk the others.

The final chapter describes the ultimate consequences of this debunking: a distant future in which the values and morals of the majority are controlled by a small group who rule by a “perfect” understanding of psychology, and who in turn, being able to “see through” any system of morality that might induce them to act in a certain way, are ruled only by their own unreflected whims. In surrendering rational reflection on their own motivations, the controllers will no longer be recognizably human, the controlled will be robot-like, and the Abolition of Man will have been completed.

An appendix to The Abolition of Man lists a number of basic values seen by Lewis as parts of the Tao, supported by quotations from different cultures.

A fictional treatment of the dystopian project to carry out the Abolition of Man is a theme of Lewis’s novel That Hideous Strength.

Passages from The Abolition of Man are included in William Bennett’s 1993 book The Book of Virtues.

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The Abolition of Man – Wikipedia

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