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Biomedical Engineer sounds alarm on “dangers” of acupuncture. No one listens.

Forbes writer and professor of Biomedical Engineering Steven Salzberg writes an unhinged word vomit op-ed filled with contradictions, conjecture, and blatant lies about acupuncture.

He says his colleague Steven Novella has debunked many acupuncture studies. Yes he’s critiqued many, so many that you could say it’s his full time hobby. For all his cries of other people cherry picking the data to prove acupuncture’s efficacy, they basically do the opposite. Anyone can manipulate the data to match their supposition.

No hit piece on acupuncture is complete without the proverbial “it’s just placebo” assertion. However, using a placebo in a RCT with acupuncture greatly skews the results, as pointed by the Journal of Chinese Medicine (2). “They were first developed to assess medications, but are problematic as a research model for assessing complex skill based therapies including acupuncture, psychotherapy and surgery. There is now evidence that shows that sham acupuncture protocols used in trials to date have not been inert and in fact produce effects that real acupuncture does not. This has caused a consistent underestimation of the effect size of real acupuncture.”
The placebo effect applies to medical doctors as well, which he conveniently leaves out. As the New York Times points out “Doctors who are warmer and more competent are able to set more powerful expectations about medical treatments. Those positive expectations, in turn, have a measurable impact on health.” (3)

Then there is this blatant lie “Acupuncturists aren’t trained in real medicine, and they don’t use proper sterile procedures. This means that they don’t necessarily sterilize their hands, or your skin at all of those points where they’re plunging needles into you.”

  1. First, he doesn’t seem to know what the word “medicine” means. Let me help you out Steven.
    med·i·cine | noun
    1. the science or practice of the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease (in technical use often taken to exclude surgery).
  2. Second, even during phlebotomy the site of injection is not sterilized; it’s disinfected! So he is intentionally moving the goal post to bolster the narrative. (4)Every licensed acupuncturist must pass a national board exam on clean needle technique, administered by the Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (CCAOM).

If this were in print, it wouldn’t be fit to line a bird cage with. This is what passes for journalistic integrity @forbes?





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