Pre-scientific medicine: Alive and well in U.S. military

Dr. Harriet Hall exposes on Slate the sad state of the military using medical treatments from pre-scientific times. It’s a whole lot of foolishness. There is also a petition to put a stop to it.

Quack medicine in the military: Acupuncture, cupping, and moxibustion are endangering troops. – Slate Magazine.

The military uses some of the most technologically sophisticated machinery and innovative medical techniques in history. But a disturbing current of pseudoscience in the military is wasting money, perpetuating myths, and putting our troops in danger. I am a retired U.S. Air Force colonel, so this hits close to home. An organization I was once proud to belong to has become a source of embarrassment.

Another ongoing DoD failure is the infiltration of quackery into military medicine. It’s not as dangerous to our troops as a bomb detector that can’t detect bombs, but it’s wasting tax dollars and medical resources on unscientific mumbo-jumbo that “works” only as a placebo. In some cases, it is demonstrably harmful.

In this modern era, we should be looking at the best science, not reverting to anecdotal evidence and pre-scientific belief systems. We should be looking at comparative effectiveness and evidence-based treatments and ways to reduce costs. The adoption of acupuncture by military medicine is a step backward. But with strong advocates of alternative medicine on both sides of the aisle, we’re not likely to see changes any time soon.

Tip: CFI’s Morning Heresy and also submitted by Mike Yamiolkoski

Here is the petition: The U.S. Senate: Protect our troops from fake medical procedures

Our military personnel deserve the best care for both injuries received in service to our country, and for their everyday health needs. Unfortunately, some misguided people in our military health services are hiring practitioners who are not qualified to give medical treatment.

It’s pretty disgraceful. With these times of budget tightening, the first things that should be cut is waste. If the goal is to treat soldiers with the BEST care, fake medicine is NOT the way to do it. Revamp and get this nonsense treatment out.

Story submitter Mike mentioned that this was the lead item on, getting it the visibility it deserves. In addition, it is written not by a news reporter, but a retired U.S. Air Force Colonel. He says, “Hopefully, this will have a greater impact on the men and women in uniform who are being victimized by pseudoscience and false medicine in the military; they may be inclined to give the report greater weight because it was written by one of their own.”

(Harriet A. Hall, M.D., is “the SkepDoc”)

  4 comments for “Pre-scientific medicine: Alive and well in U.S. military

  1. Bob
    August 22, 2012 at 8:39 AM

    Fort Rucker, Alabama has a chiropractic clinic. The Army cut hospitals back from full service to clinics and then wastes money on quack therapy.

  2. Phil
    August 23, 2012 at 3:05 AM

    This is sad.

  3. Arnold
    August 28, 2012 at 4:36 PM

    Hey, Sharon…
    The “Air Force Colonel” quoted here is not a “he”: it’s Harriet Hall. But she wasn’t supposed to fly.

  4. Melissa
    September 3, 2012 at 2:34 AM

    This is so sad but true. While I feel lucky to have health insurance it’s very disappointing to have to wait months for an appointment to see a specialist about my adult onset asthma due to overcrowding yet Balboa Hospital opened a new acupuncture clinic. I wish they would have spent that money employing more licensed medical doctors.

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