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Is evaluating of complementary and alternative medicine equivalent to evaluating the absurd?

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>06/2010
<mark>Journal</mark>Evaluation and the Health Professions
Issue number2
Number of pages13
Pages (from-to)127-139
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Complementary and alternative therapies such as reflexology and acupuncture have been the subject of numerous evaluations, clinical trials, and systematic reviews, yet the empirical evidence in support of their efficacy remains equivocal. The empirical evaluation of a therapy would normally assume a plausible rationale regarding the mechanism of action. However, examination of the historical background and underlying principles for reflexology, iridology, acupuncture, auricular acupuncture, and some herbal medicines, reveals a rationale founded on the principle of analogical correspondences, which is a common basis for magical thinking and pseudoscientific beliefs such as astrology and chiromancy. Where this is the case, it is suggested that subjecting these therapies to empirical evaluation may be tantamount to evaluating the absurd.