Alternative Medicine Under the Microscope
“Alternative medicine” is a perplexing term. What does it mean? What is it an alternative to? Medicine either works, or it doesn’t. If it works, it isn’t “alternative.” If it doesn’t work, it isn’t medicine. So what then is “alternative medicine?” The best definition seems to be “those practices which are not taught in conventional medical schools.” Why not? Because medical schools are sticklers for a little detail called “evidence.” After all, patients have a right to expect that a course of action recommended by a physician has a reasonable chance of working. In science, evidence means statistically significant results from properly controlled experiments, as evaluated by experts in the field. Lack of evidence of course does not mean that a particular treatment cannot work. Only that it has not been demonstrated to work. And that is when it can be termed “alternative.” If sufficient proof is mustered, “alternative” transforms into “conventional.”
For additional information on this year's Trottier Symposium, please visit the Trottier symposium website.
NOTE: The 2011 Lorne Trottier Public Science Symposium is pleased to offer English-language webcasts for the private roundtable event as well as the four presentations.