Thursday, June 7, 2012

Curious George goes to the Naturopath

I have plenty of issues with the PBS series "Curious George," not the least of which is: CURIOUS GEORGE IS NOT A MONKEY. I know they are stuck with their source material on this one, but one still hopes this simple point would be addressed in a show that wants to be educational. Perhaps they have, and that's the one episode that I have never seen.

The first glimpse I had of the show was before I had a kid, and in it, I saw them show a large sauropod walking while dragging its tail on the ground. We have found no evidence in the fossil record that they did this, nor does it make any sense from a physiological perspective. Their long tails would have balanced their long necks. Since then, however, I have found them to be relatively accurate and to teach good lessons, aside from the fact that they occasionally allow the "monkey" to drive the subway train or work at the soda stand all alone. Or go on a space walk to repair a telescope.

But this particular episode filled me with enough anger that I have to contact the producers:

(From the PBS Kids website) Monkey Fever
The Man with the Yellow Hat always takes such good care of George, so when the Man comes down with a terrible case of the sniffles, George wants to return the favor...
Educational Objective (Science): To illustrate what it's like to be sick with a cold and some ways to take care of yourself when you are sick; get rest, drink fluids, eat healthy food and, if needed, take medicine. Also to introduce some doctor's tools like thermometers and stethoscopes.

All that sounds good, aside from the obvious fact that George is going to make a mess of something at some point because he is not a human in an ape suit. Where it fell off the rails into woo-ville was with this segment:
Live Action Segment The kids visit Dr. Shiva Barton, a naturopathic doctor and learn about alternative healing therapies. The doctor shows them pressure points on their bodies and the importance of staying healthy and eating right.

Naturopathy is woo, not science or health care. One does not need to visit a naturopath to learn about staying healthy and eating right; evidence-based medicine has always and continues to emphasize these elements of health care. Herbs and potions coming from a naturopath are not necessarily tested or proven to work as they are not subject to the same rules and regulations as medical care. It is irresponsible for Public Television to be promoting this nonsense.

"You know what they call alternative medicine that's been proven to work? Medicine." (I have heard this from Tim Minchin and Dara O'Brien.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Naturopathic doctors have an extensive science education equivalent to medical doctors. They are trained to help treat patients with improving their healthy habits, herbal and nutritional supplements as well as pharmaceuticals, but most importantly know when to treat each individual patient with the appropriate method. Because of their extensive scientific knowledge, they can, for example, identify when a patient has pre- diabetes and help them make the appropriate diet and lifestyle changes to prevent disease progression. But if they have already developed diabetes, they can formulate a comprehensive treatment protocol that would include supplements that have been scientifically researched and clinically proven as well as pharmaceuticals if it is truly necessary.
Now, in some states, there are some people who practice under the name "naturopath" who are self-proclaimed and self-educated who do not have a scientific background. But Dr. Shiva Barton is a Naturopathic Doctor with an education equivalent to an MD in science with much broader treatment options for his patients than just pharmaceuticals.