Angry Doctor

Friday, October 16, 2009

What's in a name?

Fellow skeptic-blogger Singaporean Skeptic's post draws angry doc's attention to a study on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) on ADHD being conducted at IMH.

angry doc is one of those people who routinely calls modern medicine 'western' medicine. He does so because he thinks it is a convention that reduces confusion; but Skeptic does make a good point - calling things by their proper name is important in promoting public understanding of science.

The fact is, even if "yi shen ke li" is shown to improve the behaviour of children with ADHD, it doesn't mean that TCM 'works', because giving a fixed formulation to all patients with a diagnosis that is made by 'western' doctors and which does not exist in TCM canon is not TCM.

Rather, it would mean that the active components in 'yi shen ke li' works. If we go on to identify that active component like Skeptic suggested, then it will mean that that active component works. If we continue to give children 'yi shen ke li' in its current form to children, then it would mean that this particular *herbal* medicine works. Either way, it would mean that modern or scientific medicine works, but not that TCM works.

Being conducted by IMH, angry doc is pretty sure the trial will be vigorous and have proper control group/s and be properly double or triple-blinded, although he suspects that the results will be like this one he looked at a while ago. He eagerly awaits them , and hopes that a 'negative' trial will also be reported with the same fanfare in the local media.

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  • I doubt they will report a negative result. I think even in journals, there is a greater reluctance to publish negative results.

    That is why I tend to be skeptical about meta-studies- studies that look at multiple past reports because of the selection bias.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At October 18, 2009 10:25 am  

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