Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Chinese Herbal Medicine must be good because so many say it is good.

Dear Dr. Phil.

Last year you came to my AP Psychology Class at Shasta High. You were very informative and funny. You said that we could email you if we had a question... so here goes.

My friend's mom has gone 100% mental over Chinese medicine. She has an herb solution for everything. She is positive that there is a conspiracy keeping the truth about the power of Chinese medicine a secret so that doctors can get rich.

Is Chinese medicine better than American medicine?

Thanks, Sara

Is Chinese medicine better than American medicine?

Great question Sara,

The fact is that Chinese and American medicine are the same. Medicine is based in scientific fact, and in China if you can afford medicine you get the same treatments as you get in this country. Alternative medicine was (is) only used in poor, rural areas where there is little access to modern medicine. In fact, in the middle of the last century China was in the forefront of medical research. So, how come so many Americans believe that Chinese folk remedies are better than medicine (American, Chinese or French)?

It is important to look at how this phenomenon entered American culture. To help you get this information please take the time to listen to the podcast linked below. It is from Their motto is Skeptoid: Critical Analysis of Pop Phenomena. I find Skeptoid's analysis of a subject to be scientifically sound and educational.

Mao's Barefoot Doctors: The Secret History of Chinese Medicine (Skeptoid #259) - Westerners' belief that Chinese have long relied on alternative medicine is due in part to being duped by book publishers.
Read | Listen (12:51)

The transcript (Read) is a synopsis, so I recommend listening to the podcast for the whole story.

May I recommend:

While I'm on the subject to of, I highly recommend their award winning web site: Skeptoid: Critical Analysis Podcast

and specifically their podcast on critical thinking: The Importance of Teaching Critical Thinking

Be well,
Dr. Phil Copitch

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

New images on cigarette packs

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently showed of the new "warning" images that will be on all cigarette packs by the end of 2012. 

Some of the images are relatively mild:

While some are in your face gross:

The big question is "Will these warning graphics help people to stop smoking, or better yet, never start?"

The simple answer is yes.

These warning labels are product specific advertisement, and it is well documented that advertisements work. In 2006, the tobacco industry spent $12.4 billion on advertising, not to keep newspapers and magazines afloat, but to replace customers that die from their product. This 12.4 billion represents a doubling in expenditure since 1997.  Read the FTC report.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said on June 21, 2011, 

Somebody said when they first saw the warnings: ‘These are really gross.' Well, they are. We want kids to understand smoking is gross, not cool. And there's really nothing pretty about having mouth cancer or making your baby sick if you smoke.

"I heard that teens aren't influenced by these scare tactics" 

Most people start smoking before age 19.  A common reason teens start to smoke is to say "screw you" to their parents, school, or authority in general. This attitude is fleeting for most teens. So over time, knowledge will  overcome anger. And advertising (warnings) take time to seep into the mind.

Smoking for teens is a statement. The more the teens see the bigger picture, the less effective their "statement" will be. 

A closing thought:

Teens are substantially more likely to smoke if one of their parents smoke. Some parents wonder if their teens learn anything from them... the simple answer is... Yes!

Want to stop... learn more?

Call: 1-800-Quit-Now or go to : USA, LLC