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I remain skeptical of medicine, but there is a particular kind of emotional/intellectual scam that is practiced by some alternative medicine practitioners, akin to what Yvain cautions.

Particularly when the standard, tested regimen (say chemo + radiation for cancer) has miserable side effects, it's tempting to go instead for the herbal remedy (or the like).

But until those alternative treatments are subjected to large trials, what we're trading, basically, is the flawed, but at least somewhat familiar and certainly broad-based approach of medical research for the much murkier world of individual "authorities" and anecdotes. It's darkly ironic that the same folks who urge me to discount the authority of the medical establishment are eager to have me listen to their "authorities" instead.

The emotional (and generally unacknowledged) part of this scam is that the non-traditional recipe is particularly appealing when the standard remedy is horrible.