For those who don’t know, NCCAM is the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and it’s as impressive as you might think (boldface mine):
“Some of these treatments were just distinctly made up out of people’s imaginations,” said Dr. Wallace Sampson, clinical professor emeritus of medicine at Stanford University. “We don’t take public money and invest it in projects that are just made up out of people’s imaginations.”
“Lots of good science and good scientists are going unfunded,” said Dr. David Gorski, a breast cancer researcher at Wayne State University, who has been a vocal critic of NCCAM. “How can we justify wasting money on something like this when there are so many other things that are much more plausible and much more likely to result in real benefit?”
…many mind and body treatments that are being studied, like qigong and acupuncture, also involve the purported manipulation of a universal energy or life force, sometimes called qi — metaphysical concepts unproved by science and incompatible with our modern understanding of how the body works.
In an email, Briggs wrote that it isn’t necessary to invoke qi or other ancient concepts to study therapies that may benefit people with chronic pain, a significant health problem.
NCCAM’s continuing interest in acupuncture comes even though many of its studies have found that acupuncture and similar therapies work no better than a sham treatment at easing symptoms like pain and fatigue.
…And yet, instead of declaring these studies convincingly negative, NCCAM is pouring more research money into acupuncture.
“The intellectual dishonesty is just astounding,” said Dr. Steven Novella, a neurologist at Yale School of Medicine and a critic of NCCAM. “They are just quietly changing the question and the rules.”
By my informal and unofficial estimate, the NHGRI sequencing center cuts led to at least 90 firings of productive scientists who were producing tangible, real results, as opposed to reconfirming repeatedly the failure of a sham treatment.