Newspaper reader: "Don't promote unproven therapies"

Sometimes you see a letter to the editor of a newspaper that you just want to frame. One such note appeared in today’s Star Tribune.

The letter stated:

Why not a more accurate headline for your Oct. 23 Business article “Massage that offers a healing message”? I suggest “St. Thomas prof sees business opportunity in quack remedy.”

Would the Star Tribune’s “Small Business” feature have endorsed treating breast cancer by manipulating the patient’s “energy”? Would a St. Thomas professor (mindful of that institution’s business ethics program) have cited the fact that breast cancer patients are “very likely to take on alternative therapies” as a marketing advantage?

As an Asperger’s parent, I’m tired of being treated as a sucker and cash cow for unproven remedies. When looking at possible medical treatments, businesspeople, writers, editors and “experts” owe the public the truth. If the “evidence” for effectiveness is just someone’s personal story and there is no scientific rationale, it may be all right to study the treatment, but it is evil to commercialize it.

I recall reading the story in question (but was unable to find it now in the Star Tribune archives), and I recall my reaction was not far from this woman’s reaction. But, as I’ve stated before, newspapers seem to have a different set of guidelines – and perhaps a different standard of ethics – for the Business section. There seems to be a lower standard of evidence if the story promotes any local product or company.

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Indy Rutks

October 31, 2006 at 12:24 pm

The story in question can be found here: