FSM is committed to:
- maintaining tertiary educational institutions free of health-related courses not based on science;
- engaging regulatory authorities (and other responsible healthcare bodies) to reduce the real and potential harm from ‘complementary and alternative medicines’ (CAMs) not based on science;
- publicly challenging the non-scientific principles of many practitioners of CAMs, revealing their covert attempts to deceive the public;
- engaging the broader public to help clarify the exciting potential of more science for better medical care; and
- educating the public to help them understand how to receive evidence-based healthcare and how to avoid misleading and sometimes dangerous alternative CAM interventions.
What FSM opposes:
- the teaching of so-called ‘health courses’ or topics such as homeopathy, reflexology, chiropractic, iridology etc in our universities and other tertiary institutions; this contradicts the commitment of these institutions to maintaining the highest educational and research standards, compromises the real science taught in those Institutions and gives undue credibility to unscientific practices – our healthcare system should not tolerate these so-called professions with their roots in non-scientific principles.
What FSM supports:
- teaching the history of the concepts embraced under the CAMs umbrella, but FSM opposes the teaching of the concepts and interventions as being valid science;
- all healthcare students learning about CAM approaches so that they understand the lack of scientific support for these claims and can help those they care for to make informed choices; and
- those allied health sciences (such as physiotherapy, dietetics, etc) with solid empirical bases and practices which are consistent with scientific principles.
Summary of Principles
Medicine, together with its allied health professions, is an applied activity aimed at preventing, curing or ameliorating human ailments and diseases. Medicine is firmly based on proven theoretical principles of modern science and on the best experimental available evidence for effectiveness; and
There is no place for interventions based in theories which do not conform with all the laws of Nature. If they do not conform to the laws of Nature discovered by science, and if there are no quality data to support their efficacy and safety, they are pseudoscience.
Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)
So-called ‘complementary and alternative medicines’ (CAMs) represent a disparate variety of interventions, many of which are not effective and are not based on any scientific principle, they therefore deceive the public, often for financial gain; and
At their best, many CAMs ameliorate only minor ailments; they usually work because of the well-known ‘placebo effect’. At their worst, CAM interventions are unnecessarily dangerous – either because they cause direct harm or because they delay effective treatments.
Science has a well-established research methodology – it involves research which is published and able to be repeated by others – and allows a proposition to be either validated or refuted. All scientific theories and hypotheses must be amenable to research techniques. It is nonsense to claim that some of the theories behind CAMs cannot be analysed by valid research techniques;
This principle applies to all types of medications and interventions, including conventional treatments, both to maximise efficacy and to minimise side-effects;
We welcome research into traditional and herbal remedies. Many have been proven to contain valuable medicinal ingredients, which have subsequently been isolated and purified and used effectively by medical practitioners to treat illnesses; and
Research into all CAM interventions is a valid role for universities. Once a remedy has been shown to be effective and safe, it will be incorporated into conventional scientific Medicine.