Money Well Spent? Dubious Medicine on Medicare

4 May, 2013

By Mal Vickers

Before you read any further, try to guess the answer to this question:medicare chiro acu

In Australia, in 2012, how many chiropractic treatments occurred as a result of a doctor’s referral?

To clarify, I’m not asking for the total number of chiropractic consultations that occur per year, just patients consultations for chiropractic treatment where the patient was referred by a medical doctor – how many? Find the answer in the text below highlighted in red. How close were you?

Medicare Dollars are Taxpayer Dollars

Everyone in Australia pays for Medicare rebates through the tax system. Medicare enables community access to a variety of quality health services but that’s not in question. What I’d really like to look at is how much we pay through the Medicare system for treatments that show little or no efficacy. Read the rest of this entry »

An On-Air mixture of Whiplash, Acupuncture and Anecdote

14 January, 2013

By Mal Vickers

An interesting discussion took place on radio whilst James Randi was in Australia. It happened on Friday the 30th of November during The Conversation Hour, a kind of group interview session with popular radio host Jon Faine, (ABC Local Melbourne Radio 774). The particular exchange I’d like to highlight took place at the very end of the program.

James Randi

James Randi

Being a skeptic, of course I’m an admirer of the work of James Randi however, being a Melburnian I also regularly listen to ABC 774 and think highly of Jon Faine.

Many times I’ve heard Jon Faine ask some excellent, insightful questions of politicians. He’s sharp, knowledgeable and in my humble opinion, Melbourne’s best talkback radio host.

Jon Faine

Jon Faine

Jon Faine was, I think, the only media commentator willing to strongly criticise self proclaimed US psychic John Edwards when he came to Australia. The stoush between the two made the national media at the time.

Getting back to the 30th  November Conversation Hour broadcast, with James Randi, comedian Stella Young and psychiatrist Iain McGilchrist; whilst discussing the topic of psychics, Faine said the following:

They [psychics] take away the fundamental and unavoidable importance of us being responsible for our own destiny. And that’s a fraud on every individual, that’s a fraud on all of us.

I think most skeptics would Read the rest of this entry »

RMIT Open Day 2012 -Traditional Chinese Medicine

26 September, 2012

By Mal Vickers

I went along to Open Day at RMIT Bundoora.  Oh boy, where do I start?

As a skeptic, I’m interested in the courses offered that seem further along the woo scale than most. To be fair, I should point out that RMIT is a big university, the overwhelming majority of courses on offer are high quality, science or humanities based. However, this is a skeptical blog, RMIT’s Chiropractic and Chinese Medicine disciplines are of interest to me.

In 2011 I took a close look at Chiropractic, I asked some questions about the practice and wrote two blog posts (here and here). A year later my questions about Chiropractic, still remain unanswered.

This year, I thought I’d take a closer look at Chinese Medicine.

RMIT offers a range of courses in both Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture, up to and including a degree in Chinese Medicine.

Before I get into the details, here’s a little disclaimer.

Discussing Chinese Medicine can be tricky, due to cultural sensitivities, so let me state what I’m trying to do up front. I question the ‘medicine’ part of the description ‘Chinese Medicine’. Saying something is a ‘medicine’ implies that it’s effective for, at least, some health conditions. The associated cultural grouping is irrelevant. I could be investigating ‘Collingwood Supporter’s Medicine’ or ‘Morris Dancer’s Medicine’ – it’s the ‘medicine’ part that interests me. I also wish to question Read the rest of this entry »

Acupuncture in the news

2 June, 2010

In response to a recent ABC “science news” report about acupuncture, Dr Steve Basser writes:

When a skeptic reads that acupuncture ‘works’ the most important question to ask is what specifically the author means by acupuncture?  What exactly is it they are claiming is working, and how have they reached their conclusion?

There have been innumerable papers on acupuncture published over many many years in journals both reputable and less so, but a weakness of many of these is that they do not clearly define what it is they are testing, and fail to detail how they will establish whether it does indeed ‘work’.

Traditional Chinese acupuncture is based upon theories of Read the rest of this entry »