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Stop teaching ‘nonsense’ alternative medicine courses, Australian doctors say

The Telegraph (UK): Some of Australia’s most prominent doctors and scientists have banded together to urge universities to stop teaching “nonsense” alternative medicine courses such as aromatherapy and homoeopathy.

The group, Friends of Science in Medicine, says universities have been trashing their reputations by teaching “quackery” and pseudoscience. Almost half of Australian universities offer courses in alternative medicine, including Chinese herbal remedies, chiropractics, homoeopathy, naturopathy, reflexology and aromatherapy.

The group of 400 doctors, medical researchers and scientists began its protests in the wake of a campaign in Britain which has led to curbs on the awarding of university degrees in alternative medicine, including reflexology, homoeopathy and naturopathy.

The Australian group has written to university vice-chancellors, saying they should back evidence-based science rather than give “undeserved credibility to what in many cases would be better described as quackery”.

The group includes world-renowned biologist Sir Gustav Nossal and a leading cancer researcher, Professor Ian Frazer.

One of the group’s founders, Professor John Dwyer, said 19 universities across the country were currently offering “degrees in pseudoscience”

“It’s deplorable, but we didn’t realise how much concern there was out there for universities’ reputations until we tapped into it,” Prof Dwyer told the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper. “We’re saying enough is enough. Taxpayers’ money should not be wasted on funding [these courses] … nor should government health insurance rebates be wasted on this nonsense.”

The new group formed last month, saying it wants to “reverse the trend which sees government funded tertiary institutions offering courses in the health care sciences that are not underpinned by convincing scientific evidence”. The courses listed include energy medicine, tactile healing, homoeopathy, iridology, kinesiology, chiropractic, acupuncture and reflexology.

A professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at Adelaide University, Alastair MacLennan, said universities which teach such courses could not be considered “serious”.

“They are all teaching nonsense courses,” he told ABC Radio. “Why should they have funding from the federal government if they are teaching nonsense? … Alternative medicine is growing in Australia. We’re the laughing stock of some other countries for having so much. It is doing a lot of harm.”


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