Your article on the Office of Alternative Medicine (P. Smaglik, The Scientist, Nov. 10, 1997, page 7) quotes Robert Park as saying that it is difficult to set up a double-blind study of acupuncture. Actually, it is rather easy--it was done in the department of orthopedic surgery at the University of California, San Francisco, when I was a faculty member there. One of the residents was Asian, and his mother was an acupuncturist. For his research project he undertook to determine the efficacy of acupuncture for arthritic pains. It was double-blind because the needles were placed either on the correct points or off the correct points, as determined by his mother. He then did the evaluations of therapeutic efficacy, not knowing whether the needles had been placed correctly or not. As you might expect, 30 percent of the patients got better, in each group. A classic...
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