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Anecdotal Praise Is Not Scientific Proof

March 06, 2000

I am concerned that you may be doing a disservice to readers by running the column "The People's Pharmacy." I am a fairly new subscriber and a family practice physician assistant. My complaint about this column is the type of information that they are dispensing is testimonials and anecdotes, not scientifically proven [data]. In the Feb. 28 column, these are some of the statements that worry me:

"Some readers have found flaxseed . . . helpful";

"UniFiber (powdered cellulose) solved one woman's constipation problem."

That is what these are: stories! They are no better than the infomercial testimonials that are heard on late-night TV or weekend radio. This is neither good journalism nor good medicine.

--KATHLEEN NELSON

Via e-mail

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