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Sunday, September 11, 2016

WebMD and Quack Treatments

WebMD is a website that many of my friends and family seem to trust as a source of health information. But I have recently found that they commit critical sins of omission when it comes to alternative treatments.

The first issue I noted was when I looked up acupuncture on the site. They talk about what acupuncture is, and whether it is safe (answer: yes). But they need to go a step further in my opinion. They need to talk about whether acupuncture actually works. At a minimum, they should say that the literature of good studies on acupuncture show that it does very little, at best. An even stronger statement would be to say that it essentially does nothing beyond vague placebo effects that are from giving a patient special attention. But WebMD don't say any of that. The site does not seem to take a position on whether any treatment actually works.

So I thought I would take my investigation a step further by looking at a treatment that there is no debate about - one which every legitimate professional agrees doesn't work and couldn't possibly work: Homeopathy. Even in their article about Homeopathy, WebMD does not take a stand regarding the fact that it doesn't work. This is a disservice to their customers, who may not have the experience to figure out these conclusions on their own. I suggest that they should add a section to each page called "Effectiveness".

I realize that WebMD may be trying to stay above the fray, and just provide basic information to their readers. However, they are implicitly "endorsing" these types of treatment by not mentioning that they don't work.

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