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Month End SitP - Acupuncture: What's the Harm? What's the Good?

Acupuncture: What's the harm? What's the good?

A medical treatment based on an invisible life force called qi seems more like faith healing then science but the evidence of efficacy is mixed. I've been fascinated with this topic for several years now and on November 26 the HK International Skeptics Society in conjunction with HKBU School of Chinese Medicine will present what we know, don't know, and would like to know about the procedure.

We'll be on the 1st floor - above the main bar.

Hope you can join us.

David Young

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  • David Y.

    Please send me questions you'd like me to ask our acupuncturist Tuesday evening. I've got quite a few of my own but I'd love to hear what the rest of you want me to ask. Thanks for those you already posted Paul.


    November 25, 2013

    • Alvin C.

      Sorry I have to work so I couldn't come..... the embarrassing facts is more related to CM in general than accupunture (which actually works-- but so does massage!). I wish someone had asked what the role of the elaborate " theory" behind acupuncture is, whether it actually does anything. Since meridians (or energy channels, whatever the English translation is)is not a physical thing we can observe, does it generate (and thus predict) some empirical results which are unexplained by much simpler theories more consistent with modern medicine ? If energy channels are "real" (despite not being physical), shouldn't we expect a practice backed by such magical knowledge to be unmistakably better than, say, a simple massage or physiotherapy ? A model as intricate as that has to be, at the very least, an indirect way to organize the observable responses of our body. What empirical facts needs to be "organized" this way?

      November 26, 2013

    • Alvin C.

      An easy way to ask is: what would we observe or NOT observe (versus what we actually do observe) if the theory were different (say by picturing the position of the merdians slightly differently)? This is quite independent from the demand that acupuncture be effective (which is what research is trying to show) , which by itself tells us nothing about the necessity or the correctness of the traditional theory behind acupuncture. I imagine this particular question will be very difficult for them to answer, but very easy for modern medicine when it comes to (say) blood vessels or nervous system.

      November 27, 2013

  • Arni H.

    David, I'm bringing my Sister-in-Law as a guest. She works for a Chinese medicine practitioner, who provides an extensive acupuncture service. She and I have often argued on the subject! She is in a second life with her enthusiasm for CM, as she is an ex-TV Producer. I thus want difficult questions thrown at these BU people!!!

    November 26, 2013

  • Alvin C.

    David, I wrote a reply to your thread in the message board. Lest the argument be too one sided (in recognizing the effectiveness of Acupuncture), those might be some questions to challenge the speaker from HKBU. I have other, more embarrassing historical facts for Chinese Medicines, though it might not be a appropriate time to greet them with thorny questions.

    1 · November 16, 2013

    • David Y.

      Alvin, Please send me your questions for tonight. David

      November 25, 2013

  • Paul L.

    One line of questioning might involve studying what high-quality evidence there is that acupuncture can actually change the course of disease.
    Another line of questioning involves pain relief and mood improvement. In these cases, we should look carefully at how acupuncture is defined. Some of these positive effects may be real, but are associated with the therapeutic effect of attention to the patient by the practitioner and small amounts of pressure or pain applied to the skin, rather than adhering to the traditional meridians. In other words, what is the specific hypothesis being tested?
    Sure, I'd like to hear about Saturday's debate.

    1 · November 24, 2013

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