(I prefer to keep my IQ as intact as possible, thank you.)
One of their "health contributors" wrote an article about how colonics can protect you against Swine Flu (the link goes to the post about it at RI, not HuffPo itself, though there are links, if you must).
Now, I'm very fond of this humour piece on colon health I wrote years ago (which is why it's on my site, natch), but for Deity's sake, have we not given up on the idea that flushing warm water up your backdoor does nothing but clean out feces that was on its way out anyway, just a bit faster? And that for some people, it's actually bad to persist in high pressure "colonic irrigation" (diverticulitis, IBS, Crohn's, Coeliac) because it can cause damage to the delicate lining of your inner sanctum?
No, clearly not.
As blogs like RI point out, the field of quack medicinery (not a word, but then, this isn't a science, is it?) is rife with idiotic ideas, most of them expensive but relatively harmless (if you want to spend a bunch of money trying to coax "toxins" out of your feet with sticky pads that turn brown, be my guest).
However, some of them are idiotic and deeply harmful, like the Anti-Vaccination (I will not link to their awful site, but one of their spokespeople, Jenny McCarthy, has called autistic kids kidnapped and soul-less, and another has posited that autism should be called "Mad Child Disease") movement, who claim that vaccines cause Autism, even though the researcher who claimed to have proved this falsified his findings, and no prior or subsequent study has been able to find a link, and has been responsible for the rising incidence of childhood diseases, some of which have been fatal (warning: really, really sad story. Link thanks to Hoyden About Town)... *
(sorry, that shit winds me up, and I start ranting)
...Or touting colonics as a way to protect yourself from Swine Flu.
(The only giggle-worthy part of that piece is when she appears to be saying that they had vaccines back in 1918. And I'm being generous when I say "appears"; the wording of the sentence is such that she really sounds like she's saying that the people who got colonics did better than the people who got vaccinated - in 1918. Whether it's bad writing or bad research - and why can't it be both? - it's funny in a horrible kind of way.)
One of the more annoying things for me is that pseudoscience is considered somehow more noble than regular medicine - it's sticking it to "The Man", and his insatiable greed for money, money, money. It has real results - just look at all the testimonials! It's advertised on TV! Catalogues come in the mail! And it's so easy! No waiting! No side effects! Boundless energy - you're free of all those "toxins"!
(No-one has ever been able to pin down for me what all those "toxins" actually are, and why, in healthy people, are their liver, kidneys, and intestines are not perfectly capable of filtering them out? All the real toxins I can think of - such as heavy metal poisoning - cannot be removed by anything short of major medical care, and often not even then.)
-And that opens the door for soul-less, empty, sorry excuses for human beings to promote themselves on the back of people who really suffer, and are willing to follow anyone who claims to provide an answer to the unanswerable, and a cure for the incurable.
Far from being "The Man", the real person getting the stick is the desperate person who buys into this crap. It's not just the sap who pays $500 for a series of cupping therapies; these people are often strapped for cash, unable to get health insurance, and otherwise vulnerable to the cash-on-the-table, cure-all approach of bastard scam artists. I don't really give a damn if rich people want to spend thousands on ridiculous "spa" treatments, but I care very much if someone is spending their food or rent money on therapies that claim to cure cancer. That shit right there? Is evil**.
Besides, if Alternative Medicine is so different from regular medicine, which as everyone (*pause for eye roll*) knows, is all about money, not health, then why does the alternative stuff cost such a huge amount? I'm not saying the health care profession is perfect - having come into intimate contact with it for years now, I am deeply aware of its failings - but surely, if Alternative Medicine only cares about you and your health, not like those money-grubbing doctors (*pause for expressive spitting noise*), shouldn't it be low cost or free? After all, it's about treating people.
(*pause for expression of trancendental piety*)
Ugh. In most of these "therapies", the only thing I see being removed from my body is money.
I have used herbal remedies for things - I like my aromatherapy, and my Magic Stick balm, but those are both proven workers for me. On the other hand, I sincerely doubt that wearing a pretty glass pendant is going to do anything for my well-being.
(In fact, at that price, I think it's a bit detrimental to my overall health. Severe financial anemia is a dangerous condition.)
There's alternative, and there's "Alternative!!!", you know? Supplemental medicine is a valuable part of anyone's medical toolbox, and new benefits of various natural substances are being found all the time (though I would appreciate it if we could lay off the pomegranate-with-everything kick. While I like the fruits - mostly for the play value - the juice tastes like ass). But most of the therapies that are featured on Respectful Insolence's Friday Woo and the James Randi blog are simply various forms of vacuum devices for sucking the money out of your wallet. Most of them have been easily disproved, and they simply play on the idea that all "modern" medicine is evil, therefore all alternatives must be great.
It must be nice to live in such a black and white world.
Personally, I have a hard time with the idea - I think herbal medicine is underused, but I also think homeopathy is magical thinking (and have never had it work for me). I have, in my desperation to be free of pain, tried all sorts of odd things, and I have the copper "magnetic" bracelets to prove it. I draw the line at soaking my feet in brown water, though.
I think people buy into the idea of alternative therapies (the one with absolutely no proof of efficacy, which is, sadly, most of them) because they want a "magic" cure for what ails them. Especially when what ails them is getting older and, eventually, dying (one out of every one person dies, it are a fact). From the ancient philosophers to the Real Housewives of Orange County, people dream of living forever, or at least of staying young, fresh and vital until they keel over, preferably after about 150 years. People are terrified of growing old and infirm, and they'll pay any amount of money to prevent that from happening.
As the great Marie Wilcox-Little so beautifully demonstrates, growing old is not for sissies, but it isn't the end of the world, either. However - accepting alternative therapies without demanding proof that they are safe and efficacious, while at the same time declaring that things like vaccines are dangerous without considering the consequences to everyone who listens to you?
Or saying that Swine Flu is caused by illegal immigrants, not tourists who have the money to fly all over the world, and like a cheap holiday?
Y'all please excuse me; I need to take more headache pills, since the alternatives I've tried aren't doing a damn thing.
*(Please Note: I sympathize deeply with anyone who has an autistic familiy member, but the science over the involvement of vaccinations in autism is not there. If you feel a mad need to argue with me, stay polite, and be prepared for me to ignore you completely, because my mind is pretty made up on this one - as I'm sure, is yours. Therefore, us debating this matter is about as useful as putting tap shoes and a hair bow on a healthy pig and calling it "Swine Foo". Thank you.)
**ETA: For another look at the kind of harm "alternative" medicine can cause, go here (WARNING: Graphic images).