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Goddamned Frustrating

This ties in to the post I wrote yesterday. Via Fortyseven comes this article about regrowing fingers. This is a perfect example of the kind of irresponsible woo-style medicine that really pisses me off, because it’s being conducted by mainstream researchers who should know better.

It’s things like this that really make me nuts:

Spievack, however, did have a major advantage _ a brother, Alan, a former Harvard surgeon who’d founded a company called ACell Inc., that makes an extract of pig bladder for promoting healing and tissue regeneration.

and

None of this proves the powder was responsible.

However, I’ll admit that I’m not sure whether to be upset at the researchers or the writer. The writing is pretty terrible, all told, starting out with Obligatory Pop Culture Reference #231: Harry Potter magic. Of course, in Harry Potter, they pronounce fake Latin, not rub pig bladder extract on things. But that’s never stopped a fluff writer before.

Still, if the impression the article gives is right, it sounds like the creators of this pig powder are being reckless and irresponsible. Mailing quantities of an experimental treatment to neighbours and relatives? What? Who does that? They’re clearly in the private sector, because an institutional review board would never pass that experimental methodology.

The reporter, for all his poor writing skills, is right about one thing: “None of this proves the powder was responsible.” Exactly. Without performing a controlled, blinded trial, they can’t prove anything about the efficacy of their concoction. They may as well be hawking snake oil, and until they run a decent clinical study that controls for bias, they’ll get every bit as much contempt from me as a Reiki practitioner or crystal healer.

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