Thursday, April 5, 2018

Do You Believe in Magic? by Paul A. Offit

It would be really funny if I read this book while eating some vitamins or other alternative medicine things but I read it while eating chips (okay I only did this for the last few chapters). Which probably isn’t the healthiest thing to do, come to think of it.

Do You Believe in Magic is a book about alternative medicine. Each chapter looks at a particular cure, going into its history and the (lack of) science behind it. Areas covered are:

- Vitamins and supplements
- Hormone replacement
- Autism ‘cures’
- Chronic Lyme disease and how it isn’t real
- Curing Cancer
- Alternative medicine and children
- Homeopathy

Apart from looking at specific areas of alternative medicine (which really should be called “medicine that doesn’t work”), Offit also looks at the power of the placebo effect.

Now, the author isn’t against TCM or other herbs. He acknowledges that traditional folk medicine has contained remedies that science has verified. What the author is against is unverified/verifiably false cures that sell false hope, and in some cases, result in deaths that could have been prevented. There is a line between placebo medicine and quackery and the author is not afraid to draw it.

I found this book to be eye-opening. I already heard of some of this stuff, but I wasn’t aware as to how damaging some of the ‘alternative medicines’ can be, or how scientifically false they are. It’s particularly heartbreaking to read about how parents are harming their kids and/or depleting their lifesavings because they end up falling for these hucksters.

If you’re interested in the field of homeopathy or alternative medicine, you have to read this book. It’s a well-written explanation about how much you can trust the alternative medicine industry and its proponents and will definitely open your eyes to their practices. And if you want to read more, I recently found this blog called Naturopathic Diaries ( where an ex-Naturopath pulls back the curtain on her Industry.

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