Interesting article in the Herald:
“Fife woman claims her cancer was “reversed” by music therapy”
A WOMAN claims her arthritis and skin condition have been cured and her cancer reversed after she listened to “musical medicine”.
Lawks a’mercy. Where do you start?
Well, the obvious place to start is with the evidence for this wondrous claim. Ms Katy Meiklem, a patient with untreatable myeloma went into remission after attending a concert at the Edinburgh Festival. She claimed that her remission was caused by the music “re-harmonising her energy field”.
First things first. The case highlighted in this article (assuming the facts stated are correct) appears to be a case of spontaneous regression. And that’s great for the patient. I’m glad that it happened. I wish it happened more often to more patients. And I wish that we understood how and why this can occur – I hope we will, one day.
And, also, if Ms. Meiklem wants to attribute her recovery to music, then fine. That’s her business and not why the article annoyed me so much. It is one thing for the patient to believe this. It is quite another for the journalist to write up these claims so uncritically, or for the editor of this newspaper to publish it. The truth remains that until this “treatment” is properly assessed, then Ms. Meiklem’s claim remains a one-off anecdote and cannot be used as “proof” of this treatment’s efficacy. The Herald has no business punting it as a possible alternative to conventional medicine.
I could claim that my cancer had been cured by telepathic contact with an orange blancmanche from the planet Venus. And if anyone DARES to pull me & ask for evidence, well. I’m obviously being repressed by the Dictatorial Scientific Orthodoxy…correct? Surely the Herald should publish MY unsubstantiated claims for the efficacy of Venusian Blancmanche Therapy – after all, it has just as much scientific validity as Ms. Meiklem’s Music Therapy, which the Herald was happy to report so uncritically.
Scientists are under absolutely no obligation to take any old claim seriously if it isn’t backed up by supporting evidence. And this one isn’t. So I don’t take it seriously. If, at some point in the future, the originator of this Medical Wonder comes up with a testable hypothesis, then I’ll happily reconsider. Till then? Nope.
AG McCluskey (2015). Venusian Blancmanche Therapy Zongo’s Cancer Diaries