Health

Irish Times Calls Alternative Medicine "Assault on Science"

| by Kate Wharmby Seldman

The Irish Times has published an op-ed piece calling two Irish universities’ teaching of alternative medicine “dodgy,” and saying it turns “academia into quackademia.”

The writer of the article, clinical psychologist Paul O’Donoghue, lambasts two schools in the city of Dublin - Institute of Technology Tallaght and University College Dublin - for offering courses focusing on alternative medical practices such as reiki, qi gong, homeopathy and reflexology. IT Tallaght’s courses are included in a Bachelor of Science degree track in Sports Science and Health. UCD features these classes as part of its Graduate Certificate in Healthcare (Acupuncture).

“Concern is often expressed at the lack of interest, ignorance and general apathy towards science which is evident in too many of our young people. The content of the above courses will certainly not help matters,” says O’Donoghue. “At best they will lend to confusion. At worst they will turn an ill-informed and potentially dangerous cohort of graduates loose on a gullible public.”

O’Donoghue goes on to call alternative medicine a “fantasy world,” and “nothing less than an assault on science.” He’s not alone in his condemnation of university courses featuring complementary health practices – David Colquhoun, a professor of biochemistry at University College London, has been campaigning for universities in the UK to shut down degree programs containing these disciplines, and has precipitated the elimination of many such courses. Now O’Donoghue is calling for Irish universities like UCD and IT Tallaght to do the same.

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What do you think? Do O'Donoghue and Colquhoun have a point - is it dangerous to teach alternative medicine at the college level when it hasn't been scientifically proven to work? Or are they being unnecessarily cautious about medical practices that won't harm, even if they don't necessarily help?

Originally published at GrannyMed