Scientists criticize The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

I’ve always been critical of the National Institute of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, thinking that it was catering to pseudoscience and feeling that most of the genuinely scientific forms of “alternative healing” could best be studied in the regular sections of the NIH, where they’d have to compete for money with every other project.  Up till now scientists have been pretty mum about the NCCAM, but now they are speaking out about it.  In a nice article in The Washington Post, David Brown talks about scientists’ growing criticism of the Center:

Although NCCAM has a comparatively minuscule budget and although it is a “center” rather than an “institute,” making it officially second-class in the NIH pantheon, the principle is what mattered. But as NIH’s budget has flattened in recent years, better use for NCCAM’s money has also become an issue.

“With a new administration and President Obama’s stated goal of moving science to the forefront, now is the time for scientists to start speaking up about issues that concern us,” Steven Salzberg, a genome researcher and computational biologist at the University of Maryland, said last week. “One of our concerns is that NIH is funding pseudoscience.”

Salzberg suggested that NCCAM be defunded on an electronic bulletin board that the Obama transition team set up to solicit ideas after November’s election. The proposal generated 218 comments, most of them in favor, before the bulletin board closed on Jan. 19.

A fuller discussion of what the NCCAM has failed to accomplish can be found on the blog Quackwatch, and a good general blog on this and similar issues is Science-Based Medicine.

(Thanks to D. J. Grothe for calling Brown’s article to my attention)

One Comment

  1. newenglandbob
    Posted April 3, 2009 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    This has been my stance on this. The “National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine” should not exist, it is a waste of money. Possibly advantageous products and processes can vie against others within the NIH and FDA, etc.


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