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At the heart of general practice since 1960

We now call these cold little crawlspaces 'complementary therapies'

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Alternative medicine has proved divisive for a profession which has built its success and reputation around science and technology.

The medical historian Professor Candid, who ‘works’ at the Department of All Things Old and Dusty says: “Our ancient ancestors thought that illness was caused by the Gods.

“They offered prayer and supplication, but there were a heck of a lot of Gods around and by about 500 BC they got bored of being pious and started to look inside the body for causes of disease.

“So along came the Four Humours, with their relentless appetite for bleedings, purgings and those oh-so-meaty enemas. They thought they’d cracked it and the status quo remained unquestioned because the church threatened to burn you at the stake if you thought otherwise. This went on for centuries, until some clever bloke came along and invented science.”

After a little sip of sherry, the professor continued: “The flaming torch of the enlightenment then swept away the whimsical shadows of the heroic past. But some dark pockets remained where the light never shone. We now call these cold little crawl spaces complimentary therapies.”

One CAM practitioner says: “Complementary therapies work because ill people will try anything to get better. I’ll readily admit that rubbing a mandrake root on your head doesn’t cure brain cancer, but some scientific authorities are arrogant enough to claim that homeopathy is 100% water when it’s quite clear to everyone involved that it’s at least 98% bullshit.”

He went on to say: “Scientists like to prove things with numbers and experiments whereas we like to base our opinions on gut instinct and garrulous anecdote. The two belief systems are simply incompatible and only overlap in the minds of the confused.”

It’s true that science may never give us a complete picture of the world and that sometimes it offers a blurred view of things rather than the clarity we all crave. But it’s a lot better than the alternative, which is a return to the past with all of its mistakes, murky carryings-on and its aimless, blindfolded bumblings in the dark.

Dr Kevin Hinkley is a GP in Aberdeen

Readers' comments (15)

  • OUCH!!!!!!!!!!!

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  • Splendid.... made me chuckle thank you.

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  • What a shoddy, slapdash, nasty piece of 'journalism' this article is.It starts by misspelling 'Complementary Medicine' and just only gets worse in its contemptuous, patronising, wannabe funny tone that is anything but amusing.
    Perhaps the good Dr Hinkley should look at the BMJ's book, Clinical Evidence to discover exactly what % of commonly used orthodox treatments are backed by the highest level of scientific evidence.* Or perhaps he should look at psychiatry as a 'scientific discipline' and see what Kirsch et al say about the use of SSRI antidepressants (NHS budget 32 million pounds) in moderate and mild depression (ie the type GPs treat). What he would find out imo is where the real quackery in medicine is happening.


    *between 11% and 13%

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  • Just for you Dr Hinkley, I can tell you I have a very thriving compl-E-mentary practice, which pays very well thank you. I certainly don't work for free as your title would suggest.
    As for the several thousand patients that have been to my compl-E-mentary practice over the years, and who continue to come when there is a problem, all I can say is they must like my particular flavour of quackery.

    It never really occurs to them that they are pouring money down the drain, so I must conclude that they perceive some benefit over and above the quacky treatments I am offering them. Perhaps as many of them have spent weeks drugged up the eyeballs on prescription medication, they are confused and not able to make sound judgements.

    Don't forget, as you seem insistent on placing the blame at the complementary door, it was your early doctoring profession that engaged in blood letting, leeching, lobotomy, drinking piss and bathing in sulphur, not mine.

    Are you sure you're not really Eddy Ernst come out of retirement? You sound a lot like him.

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  • Uh shucks. I lost my bet. I thought Brian Kaplan, or his fellow fantasist, Andrew Sikorski, would be the first to comment. The usual suspects were a bit slow tonight.

    Both are inordinately fond of treating patients with medicines that contain no medicine whatsoever. That, in my view, amounts to medical misconduct.

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  • @David Colquhoun
    So in spite of the Government recognising NHS homeopathic treatment, you feel free to accuse me of being a 'fantasist' and of 'medical misconduct'. A doctor attacking another doctor in that way comes very close to ethical 'medical misconduct' according to GMC guidelines. But I forget, you are NOT a qualified medical doctor are you Prof Colquhoun?

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  • Mark Struthers

    They may be well past their sell by dates, but the professors dance a truly fantastic fantasia. I'm so disappointed to miss the regular Ernst & Colquhoun comedy fandango, now that Eddy has flounced off to blog elsewhere.

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  • Compliments to the blogger for changing 'Complimentary' to 'Complementary'. Pity about not changing your egregiously offensive opinion about whole person approaches in medicine./

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  • Hang on; isn't this an opinion? What haaoenedto free speech?

    Criticise complementary medicine a you peril; you will recieve no compliments certainly.

    It's nice to see well argued positions, and the beauty of incontrovertible evidence is that one can change ones mind. It seems that religions don't allow mind changing (except those more fun ones that allow the use of various stuff).

    This level of vitriol is beginning to look a lot like religious fundamentalism....

    Which is my opinion.


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  • Sincere apologies for the inability to spell....fat thumbs on a small phone

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