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Book Review: The Whole Story - Alternative Medicine on Trial

Written by Print 

The Whole Story: Alternative Medicine on Trial, by Toby Murcott, sets out to provide an unbiased overview of alternative medicine; cataloging its strengths and weaknesses.  Mr. Murcott was the science correspondent for BBC World Radio, and he holds a PhD. in biochemistry.  His attempt at unbiased reporting in the book is flawed, because he misses a crucial point of good journalism: a journalist cannot ethically present both sides of a controversy in a balanced manner, if either side is known to be distorting the facts.  A reporter has a duty to note such deceptions, or he merely becomes a passive part of the propaganda apparatus himself, through his omissions.  Objectivity is a vaulted (but rarely seen) ideal of modern journalists, but it is hardly idyllic whenever it seduces them into perpetuating known lies themselves.  They may be drawn into the corruption themselves, ironically by working to distance themselves from it.

The book offers little help for those seeking health alternatives.  It attempts to persuade orthodox doctors to be more thoughtful about alternatives; yet it does so whilst demeaning alternative medicine as a whole.  The author avoids discussing herbal medicines at all; claiming that they are too similar to pharmaceuticals to be discussed as an alternative.  This is despite the fact that herbs are a cornerstone of alternative medicine, and a natural practitioner without herbs can be almost as useless as a doctor without drugs.

In order to circumvent discussions about herbal products and their efficacy, the author guided his topics toward niche therapies such as shiatsu, reflexology, reiki, acupuncture, and homeopathy.  The author scientifically tore away the lack of logic used in spiritual meridian systems and homeopathic memory water.  In modern homeopathy, for instance, Murcott explains that there is no traceable amount of any substance left in the preparations, leaving patients with nothing more than plain water for medicine.  His explanation of this was the only highlight of the book, and it seemed to be written with the intent of simply maligning alternative medicine as a whole, by targeting it at its weakest point.  Homeopathy is not representative of natural therapies, as he implied.  Homeopathy is the unwelcome chemical cousin, which is repeatedly used for ammunition by those who want to obfuscate the benefits of legitimate alternatives through misdirection.  The fact that the author carefully locked onto this, while cherry-picking his topics, tells me that he was never really so objective, after all.  He only wanted to appear objective, and this is a clear sign of his corruption as a journalist.

In an attempt to seem sympathetic towards alternative medicine, Murcott patronizingly espouses the benefits of the placebo effect throughout the second half of the book.  The implication is that all benefits from alternatives must have been imagined by the people who were helped, which speaks more about his personal belief system than ours, or the facts.  He blamed the failures of modern medicine completely on increasingly small consultation times; rationalizing the successes of natural practitioners to hour-long consultations.  Thus, I was left with the question of, "How long of a consultation would be needed to cure cancer or anything else"?  Of course, he went light on such details.

Whilst claiming that alternative medicine's benefits are solely caused by the placebo effect, Murcott likewise made the false assertion that all pharmaceuticals currently in use have been tested to ensure that they perform better than a placebo.  In fact, the greatest percentage of dangerous pharmaceuticals currently being prescribed have never been put through independent, 3rd-party, peer-reviewed, double-blind trials.  Finding any pharmaceutical that was ever put under the same scientific scrutiny that is routinely used to ban the medical use of alternatives would be on par with discovering gold.  Many of them, including heart medications, diabetes drugs, vaccines, anti-cancer drugs, and anti-depressants have been shown to be less effective than placebos -- actually substantially worsening the symptoms, and the underlying diseases in the long term.  This is typical of pharmaceuticals, and great for repeat business.  Most of the time, they might as well be giving sugar pills to diabetics.  Of course, the author made no suggestion that the benefits of pharmaceuticals could likewise be attributed to a placebo effect, because pharmaceuticals are obviously 'real medicine'.

Overall, The Whole Story was a bitter disappointment, but it is typically misrepresented as a book that promotes the advantages of medical alternatives, and their introduction into clinical settings.  Toby Murcott misguidedly concluded, in a very long-winded tirade, that standard physicians should speak with their patients longer, as the viable solution to our health problems.


There would have been no dishonor in the author's biases if only he had been honest about them.  He was not honest, so his book is just another disingenuous work of propaganda that mostly promotes the status quo.  This sort of "ethics" is sadly the standard for our adversaries.  We could certainly report about the book in an unbiased manner, but we could not do it and tell you the truth at the same time.  Judging facts from fiction, and good from evil is what journalists did before they learned to become accomplices to evil themselves, by ignoring it for the sake of "unbiased" reporting.  Turning a blind eye toward mass-deception is the very antithesis of good journalism, but our morally ambiguous leaders convinced the journalistic community that this is actually ethical behavior under the new-age principle of objectivity.  What many modern journalists fail to grasp is that if they choose to serve neither side, then the bad guys automatically win, because the bad guys do not fight fair, and they do not tell the truth.  Good journalism, as far as these reporters are concerned, requires that lies and attempts at manipulation get exposed for what they really are.  The bad guys love objective and unbiased journalists like Toby Murcott.



Comments (2)
  • Paul Fassa  - Book Review: The Whole Story - Alternative Medicin

    Excellent review - surprised you were so gentle on Toby though. He's an obvious SHILL for big pharma and the medical mafia.72sxi

  • Dr. Michelle Honda

    Impressed! I really admire your forthright expression of the facts. I wish everyone could read this piece. Very enlightening and informative. Your review will cause many readers to scrutinize other written material that appears to be too bias.

    Yours kindly,
    Michelle Honda PhD

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