How do people who resort to pseudo-therapies without scientific evidence think?


“What is scientific in four years is still out of date and does not work, however, we are talking about a medicine that worked five thousand years ago and continues to work.” The words refer to a “millennial” treatment no scientific evidence and belong to one of the participants in a study carried out by FECYT on the use and trust of these pseudoterapias. The goal was to understand the motivations of its users.

The study consisted of ten interviews and eight discussion groups throughout 2020. A total of 66 people from different cities, ages, and social classes and consumers — regular or occasional — of pseudotherapies such as homeopathy, acupuncture, herbal medicine and herbal medicine participated. reiki.

“We wanted to see what they believe, what they trust, how they see the world,” the sociologist from the Autonomous University of Madrid and main author of the report explains to SINC. Josep Lobera. “The easy thing is to laugh and polarize, call them crazy,” says Lobera. His intention was to understand what mechanisms lead some people to entrust their health to therapies that have no scientific evidence.

“The main conclusion is that they are not people who deny science, they are not anti-science,” says Lobera. In fact, “most trust [en la medicina] and if they had a serious illness they would go [a los servicios sanitarios]”Treatments without evidence are generally conceived as an adjunct.

“I see science well, what I do not see well is the corporatist use that is made. Knowledge does end up benefiting, but if it were used in a more noble way it would help more”, says one of the participants. On the possibility of modifying the human genome to fight diseases, he does not oppose, but asks: “In the end, who is going to be able to do it? People who have money.”

However, Lobera clarifies that the chosen participants “are initiating, trusting and consuming” pseudotherapies, but they are not staunch fans. The researcher warns that “there are many levels of depth” and that, at the most advanced, these people may see therapies without scientific evidence as an alternative rather than as a complement. For example, one of the volunteers claimed that he knew of a terminal cancer case that the MMS –an industrial bleach harmful to health– He had managed to reverse: “I think I would take it,” he said.

The “works for me” versus “corrupt” medicine

Lobera considers it striking that there is no “hierarchy of knowledge” that marks which pseudotherapies they can trust and what criteria they must have to be reliable, but that everything works by word of mouth. “They have no problem with something not being scientifically proven, everything seems reliable to them: if I choose it, it is reliable, and I choose it because it works for me, and it works for me because they have recommended ten things until one of them works,” says Lobera.

“If they try acupuncture, Bach flowers and homeopathy, and it does not work for them, that does not make them doubt, because the logic they follow is that it is an individual and personalized path in which one thing may not serve you, without this meaning that it is wrong, “Lobera continues. “In the end they try, for example, reiki, and they feel much better.” In this sense, one of the interviewees comments: “Ours is not scientific, but that does not mean that it is not useful or that it is not true.”

Why opt for these pseudo-therapies, which often don’t work for them, instead of science capable of finding covid-19 vaccines in less than a year? The opinion of the interviewees is that medicine has been “corrupted” by the economic interests of Big Pharma, and that doctors and politicians are part of the problem.

They feel that medicine “has strayed from human needs” and “doesn’t really cure”, but rather “abuses drugs” with “disastrous” health side effects that “intoxicate.” The proof, according to the participants, is in the drug leaflet, which says “terrible things.” The result is that patients receive products that can be “harmful” when “it is not interesting to show that there are alternatives without side effects.”

Lobera points out the irony of this philosophy when treatments without scientific evidence “move more and more money” and their spending “is increasing.” He assures that they are convinced that there is an intention of profit “above their personal interests” on the part of the pharmaceutical companies, but they see multinationals, large pharmaceutical companies and companies that sell pseudo-therapies as victims.

Reasonable criticism to improve our health system

The most interesting thing about the study is that several of the complaints of the interviewees would not clash with a survey carried out to the general population. Lobera considers that some of the criticisms made by the participants “are profitable”, such as the little time that is devoted to patients during the consultation, the waiting lists, the excessive medicalization and the little comprehensive treatment focused on the symptoms. All this pushes them towards pseudo-therapies.

He assures that one of the participants’ wishes is that medicine dedicate time to them and take care of them: “Their head hurts and they dispatch them in three minutes, but the other one spends an hour saying that their chakras are not well and they feel That works for them because without taking anything they take a few breaths, put their hands on their heads and calm down. ”

“There is scientific evidence that more consultation time gives better diagnostic results, satisfaction and confidence in treatments, which are less abandoned “, says Lobera. They also criticize the excess of medicalization. “We’ve been cutting healthcare for decades, so doctors have little time and don’t ask how you’re doing; the quickest thing is to prescribe a paracetamol and tell you to come back if it continues to hurt.”

For all this, Lobera believes that mistakes are being made that alienate some people. We are “expelling them” from the scientific system and evidence-based science, he laments. “Healers exhibit a dynamic of attraction, but at the same time there is a dynamic of expulsion” that facilitates the process.

“Let us listen to their complaints, because we are going to improve our system [sanitario] and make less people give way to pseudosciences that are in danger “, proposes Lobera.” It is an opportunity, people who leave the scientific system in part, because they do not want to leave the whole, but they ignore many things that we believe that They have senses”.

It is something that the report recommends in its last lines. “From a sociological perspective, incorporating some of their claims into science-based medicine could lead to greater social trust in treatments based on evidence and, in general, on the health system, “the authors write.

Lobera believes that the results of his study are “a sign that something is happening. Let’s also look at how our health system is doing.” He fears that the problem goes beyond medicine: “There is a direct link between this and problems with democracy in the short term.” He fears that whoever does not trust the data and evidence will end up doing the same outside of the medical context.


Source: ElDiario.es – ElDiario.es by www.eldiario.es.

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