Edzard Ernst is one of the world’s most well known campaigners against the ineffectiveness and harm caused by much of alt-med that is becoming pervasive in health care. Perhaps I am wrong and it is not as bad as when the original snake oil salesmen travelled from town to town purveying their concoctions. But I really think that the rise of literacy, modern advertising techniques, and the broad spread and immediacy of modern communications have assisted the spread the impact of pseudoscience. Since the internet has become ubiquitous, more and more people are diagnosing themselves and demanding particular treatments rather than relying on properly trained professionals.
Dr. Ernst has recently completed a 15 part series on the how some of alt-med practices have proliferated in our society. The details of his articles are centred on the UK and European Union, but the general principles hold on the side of the Atlantic as well, and all have a negative impact worldwide.
Part 1: Professional organisations of alternative medicine
Part 2: The UK ‘Society of Homeopaths’
Part 3: Professional organisations of colonic irrigation
Part 4: Chiropractic professional organisations
Part 5: Purveyors of alternative cancer ‘cures’
Part 6: The World Health Organisation, WHO
Part 7: Celebrities
Part 8: Books on alternative medicine
Part 9: ‘Homeopaths Without Borders
Part 10: Journalists
Part 11: Conventional health care
Part 12: Alternative practitioners
Part 13: Private health insurances
Part 14: Alternative medicine researchers
Part 15: Politicians
As he indicates in his 15th post, he could have continued on almost indefinitely. This series certainly gives a very good overview of the means by which the practices are creeping into modern health care.