Standing up for science
The international scientific credibility of Australian tertiary education institutions is being undermined by the increasing number of pseudoscientific health courses that they offer (Box).1,2 Many universities teach therapies without a scientific basis to their students within their health care curricula, including homeopathy, iridology, reflexology, kinesiology, healing touch therapy, aromatherapy and “energy medicine”. Subjects such as acupuncture and chiropractic are claimed to treat a broad array of afflictions and are taught as such. The levels of evidence supporting these alternative beliefs are weak at best, and such randomised controlled trials of these therapies as exist mostly do not support their efficacy (with the exception of acupuncture for some types of pain).3-5 Some university courses purport to teach critical thinking about these approaches and promote research into them. Both are appropriate objectives if they are not a subterfuge for awarding qualifications to practise these therapies.
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- 2. Mendham T. The curiosity shock. The Skeptic 2011; 32: 36-45. http://www. skeptics.com.au/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/University-pseudo science-Pt-2.pdf (accessed Jan 2012).
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- 5. Hunt K, Ernst E. The evidence-base for complementary medicine in children: a critical overview of systematic reviews. Arch Dis Child 2011; 96: 769-776.
- 6. Kremer RG, Duenas R, McGuckin B. Defining primary care and the chiropractic physicians’ role in the evolving health care system. J Chiropr Med 2002; 1: 3-8.
- 7. Mirtz TA, Morgan L, Wyatt LH, Greene L. An epidemiological examination of the subluxation construct using Hill’s criteria of causation. Chiropr Osteopat 2009; 17: 13.
- 8. Campbell JB, Busse JW, Injeyan HS. Chiropractors and vaccination: a historical perspective. Pediatrics 2000; 105: e45.
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