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Alternative Medicine Is a Playground for Apologists

“ What will you do if your conventional medical colleagues turn out to be skeptical about your research?” This question created an embarrassed silence during the press conference arranged in 1993 by Exeter University on the occasion of my appointment to the first chair in “complementary medicine.” I had already explained how I would conduct my research into alternative medicine and all had gone well, but nobody had anticipated this question. My answer was spontaneous: “I don’t worry about that, because I will be more skeptical than they are.” There was a somewhat relieved giggle in the room, and even Sir Maurice Laing, the sponsor of my chair and a known proponent of alternative medicine, smiled.

At the time everyone seemed to think that I had wriggled out of a tight spot, and nobody seemed to believe that, for me, the answer was as truthful as it was obvious—how else could one approach research into such a controversial subject?

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