AMSA Follies: The Duck Pond
Q: What’s bipedal, featherless, and quacks like a duck?
quacks representatives of the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges.
That’s right… AMSA sold them a booth at the 2011 convention, to say nothing of the smattering of naturopathic students in attendance as participants.
AMSA won’t quite take pharm money (more on that tomorrow), but they have no problem selling out to pseudoscience (that term is far too generous).
I went up to the booth and feigned ignorance as to what naturopathy is. I was told that they are “primary care physicians” who treat the “whole patient in a holistic way.” I pushed harder and harder, and for the longest time they continued to maintain that they’re “just like MD physicians.” Finally, one of their reps cracked, and poured forth the litany of quackery to which they subscribe: homeopathy, herbalism, acupuncture, therapeutic touch, and all sorts of other nonsense.
Fortunately, their written materials were more straightforward about their quackishness, though there were also some materials to recruit MD students for “integrative medicine” training at “Bastyr University“ in the Pacific Northwest (of course). Too bad they’re competing with AMSA’s own summer pseudoscience academy, whose flyers I also picked up.
For an organization that professes to support evidence-based medicine in other realms, and that ostensibly represents those students who are training to become applied scientists, this is really sad. The political gripes I might have with AMSA are one thing, but legitimizing quackery of this sort is truly beyond the pale. A poll of an unrepresentative convenience sample indicated that this is a non-partisan issue. “Open-mindedness” and “tolerance” are great, but when it comes to practices that don’t work, that mislead patients and that cast a pall on scientific medicine, organized medicine (AMSA included!) shouldn’t hesitate to take a stand.
If AMSA could be a forceful voice against pseudoscience much as they are a forceful voice for a variety of health policies with much less evidentiary support, they would be doing medicine, science, and patients a great service indeed.
I almost forgot, at the other end of the exhibition hall was the ayurvedic quack booth. I hope these pictures speak for themselves.
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