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More About Dr. Connolly
from Dave W.

Ed:  Just ran across the June 2001 (I think) Briefing in which you talked about Dr. Connolly's book about curing psoriasis.  Just wanted you to know that I'd just sent the following message (partly) to the ASSDP [alt.support.skin-diseases.psoriasis] newsgroup, in response to someone asking about the book:

I'm almost positive that the book is promising something that it can't "guarantee" to deliver.  This has almost all of the hallmarks of quackery, from the complete lack of details to the reliance on testimonials instead of actual scientific evidence.  And this quote — "Dr. Connolly's findings have been well chronicled in the nation’s press" — says quite a bit. 

True medical breakthroughs are "chronicled in the ... press" usually only AFTER they've been written up in the scientific medical journals.  In the last 37 years, only one person named "Connolly" has been an author of any papers (three) relating to psoriasis which have been published in recognized peer-reviewed journals, and it's not Robert Connolly.  He's chosen to publish in a popular-press book, instead, and you can be sure that the publisher wasn't interested in peer reviewing the work (if, that is, it's not self-published, which would be even more of a hint that something's not right).

The term "bioenergetics" has been in use in scientific papers since (probably long before) 1963.  This is not a "new field" at all, as it appears to deal with (surprise!) energy use by cells and organisms.  A search for the word back to 1963 results in over 140,000 articles, dealing in everything from photosynthesis to the respiration rates of wild pigs to how fast bacterial flagella can spin.  I suspect that Dr. Connolly is using the term to make something related to acupuncture (he's "certified") sound more scientific-sounding than it probably is.

Dr. Connolly, by the way, is a chiropractor, and not an M.D.

See also Ed Dewke's take on Dr. Connolly's book, with more detail than is available on the web site:


and Allen's response:


(and the list of "bioenergetics" articles from the Biophysical Review appears to be nothing like what Dr. Connolly is hinting at). - Dave W.


Ed’s Response:  So, Dave.  The Cliff Notes version of your take on Dr. Connolly’s psoriasis cure is that it doesn’t pass muster if you walk the scientism line (not to be confused with Scientology. I use the term in Michael Shermer’s sense from his column, “The culture of scientism” in the June 2002 issue of Scientific American).

While I’m not the zealot you are, I always have and probably always will appreciate the tightness of your arguments (despite expressions like “almost positive,” which is right up there with my “probably always,” eh?). 

The only way I can wrap my mind around most of these dietary schemes for treating psoriasis (or “curing” it, as the claim may be) is through metaphor or simile.  I just came up with another one, which I hope you — Dave — will enjoy:

Science fiction author Jules Verne was not formally theorizing space travel when he wrote From the Earth to the Moon (1865); however, he was trying to be believable when he conjectured shooting a capsule containing people, via a giant cannon, from the earth to the moon.  Rocket science, as we all know, hasn’t followed this premise, but has been based on the mechanistic principle of action/reaction (force/opposite force) and the engineering of jet engines, the mathematics of escape velocities, etc. etc. etc.  At what point did someone decide the cannon-approach wouldn’t work?  Or, was that not the issue?  Perhaps it’s possible but not probable?  Simply too expensive?  More risky? Not as efficient as the prevailing method? ... I tend to think of most dietary schemes as cannon travel to the moon.  Perhaps most diet-based regimens are not convincingly proven because it’s unnecessary — for most of us.

Some of us, on the other hand, may have compelling needs to try dietary approaches, which is why I don’t say don’t.  There’s probably a few dozen reasons why I should try some of the dietary action items prescribed in any number of these regimens, but because of drugs I’m not compelled to.  Someday I may regret that.  I try to constantly remind myself that the medical establishment in the eighteenth century — bulwarked by the science establishment of that period — advocated blood-letting.  And I wonder how the medical establishment in the twenty-third century will reflect upon medicine (and its background science) in our time?

Anyway, I ramble.  You always inspire me to pontificate, Dave.  Thanks for seeing to it the light stays on in that dark, neglected, scientific corner of my conscience. –Ed

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