Posted by: Ticktock | June 28, 2009

Cincinnati Today: My Acupuncture Presentation

I’m speaking today in Cincinnati on the efficacy of ‘Traditional Chinese Medicine’.

My presentation will be for the Free Inquiry Group at 3pm at their new location in St. John’s Unitarian church. These heathens will be squirming in their seats having to visit church for the first time in years, but it’ll be worth it because they’ll get to learn more than they ever wanted to know about acupuncture.

When I was asked to present to FIG, I wanted to speak about something that I knew would challenge some of their beliefs.  Writing and speaking to an audience of skeptics and atheists can seem like an echo chamber sometimes, so it’s fun to shake people up on occasion. It just so happens that the last time I encountered members of FIG, some of them defended the validity of acupuncture, to which I disagreed.

Ever since I agreed to speak, I’ve had to practice defending my science-based stance against friends and family. Some people question whether I’m qualified to speak on the subject. I suppose that’s a valid concern, but I’ve spent quite a lot of time researching TCM in the past month. If anyone wants to challenge my conclusions with contrary facts, I’ll assess their claim against the totality of the evidence and reassess my stance.

I’ve had to do a lot of reassessing of my stances because I was formerly a passive defender of acupuncture when my wife was a student of the trade in Chicago. I used to argue to other skeptics that we should respect that the Chinese culture have a different way of treating disease, and that even though the eastern concept of chi might not be plausible, we should give it a pass because it’s unfair to force our explanations of the body onto their ancient ideas that have been gradfathered in to their culture. Who cares if they have an antiquated, philosophical idea of anatomical energy? If the concept helps people visualize relief in the form of placebo, then why is that so bad?

I still struggle with those questions. After all, I feel like acupuncture is relatively harmless, and I’m not advocating the abolition of Traditional Chinese Medicine. I’ve decided to approach today’s topic from a personal science-based perspective and not an ontological one. It’s not my place to tell others what may or may not work for them, but I am justified in explaining to a willing audience the implausibility and lack of scientific evidence behind the treatment of acupuncture.

My wife has been very kind to allow me to switch into high gear on this subject, since it’s her own personal sacred cow. She’s given me props to share, explained the process and history, and listened to me ramble about discoveries that I’ve made against acupuncture. I guess she’s become used to my skepticism on the subject, and for that, I’m deeply grateful.

Please introduce yourself if you’re a regular reader who attends the presentation today. I look forward to meeting new friends.



  1. A belated good luck. I hope it went well.

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