A couple of days ago, a colleague lent me a book he thought I would enjoy, Snake Oil Science: The Truth About Complementary and Alternative Medicine by R. Barker Bausell.
I've never been interested in alternative medicine and have always been quick to dismiss it. But since some extended relatives and acquaintances keep asking me about it (for some reason, we medical writers are often regarded as "physicians" by our friends), I thought it would be a good idea to read the book. Good decision.
Bausell is a biostatistician from the University of Maryland, formerly involved in clinical trials assessing the effectiveness of acupuncture and other treatments. In his book he makes the case that complementary medicine treatments are not more effective than any other placebo.
The book's logic is enlightening and the prose engaging. Bausell's criteria for what makes a good clinical trial and his notes on publication bias are particularly useful for those involved in medical writing. Check it out.