The Movement for Complementary and Alternative Medicine
The topic of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) and cancer treatment is highly contentious because medical schools, the oncology profession, and the pharmaceutical industry often reject CAM approaches as dangerous and lacking in scientific evidence. This approach protects patients against false claims and charlatans, but it also has tended to throw out the baby of good, innovative ideas with the bathwater of overstated and dangerous claims. Some of the people in the CAM cancer field were professionals with medical training and scientific expertise (e.g., Burzynski, Gerson, Pauling, Revici) who are increasingly recognized as pioneers and innovators. In response to the suppression of CAM approaches, a movement emerged of health-care professionals and researchers together with patient advocacy organizations that called for a fair analysis of the innovative approaches to treatment coming from CAM. In the U.S., these movements could claim some success in the sense that Congress funded what became the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. My concepts of undone science, epistemic modernization (here in the sense of government recognition of the movement's calls for more research and fairer treatment), and alternative industrial movements emerged from this research, which was originally funded by a small grant from the National Science Foundation (below) on the public understanding of science. This body of work combines nearly a decade of research on complementary and alternative cancer therapies with policy analysis. I am no longer actively engaged in this project, but I did write a retrospective article for the 2014 Routledge volume below.
Part of this project involved a historical analysis of the lost research tradition on bacterial vaccines and cancer (Can Bacteria Cause Cancer?). This book represented an attempt to develop an integrated method for the study of science, technology, and society (STS), which included a historical analysis of the lost research tradition and undone science, a sociological and historical explanation of the reasons why the tradition was lost, an evaluation of the scientific merits of the lost tradition, and a discussion of the policy implications. In a sense, this was my attempt to model an alternative strong program (see my explicit defense of the approach in the essay "If You're Thinking of Living in STS"). Thus, the first two parts of the book represented a descriptive and explanatory approach in the tradition of history, anthropology, and sociology, whereas the last two parts drew on the normative tradition in STS that included policy evaluation.
2015 "Beyond Scientific Consensus: Scientific Counterpublics, Countervailing Industries, and Competing Research Agendas." Forthcoming in Wilhelm Viehover and Peter Wehling, eds. The Public Shaping of Medical Research: Patient Associations, Health Movements, and Biomedicine. Routledge. Prepublication version here.
2012 "Notes on the Relations between CAM and the Social Sciences." Medical Anthropology Quarterly 26(2): 283-286. Final version here. This is an invited commentary on a paper in the same issue by Hans Baer.
2006 "Angiogenesis Research and the Dynamics of Research Fields: Historical and Institutional Perspectives in the Sociology of Science." In Scott Frickel and Kelly Moore, The New Political Sociology of Science. Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press. Article here.
2005 "Complementary and Alternative Medicine." In Sal Restivo, ed., Oxford Encyclopedia of Science, Technology, and Society. Pp. 67-72. Oxford University Press.
2005 "Cancer." In Carl Mitcham, ed., Encyclopedia of Science, Technology, and Ethics. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA . Vol. 1: 285-288. Abstract here.
2005 "Complementary and Alternative Medicine." In Carl Mitcham, ed., Encyclopedia of Science, Technology, and Ethics.. D etroit : Macmillan Reference USA . Vol. 1: 384-387. Abstract here.
2004 "CAM Cancer Therapies in Twentieth-Century North America: Examining Continuities and Change." In Robert Johnston (ed.), The Politics of Healing. Routledge. Article here.
2004 "Medical Modernization, Scientific Research Fields, and the Epistemic Politics of Health Social Movements." Sociology of Health and Illness 26(6): 695-709. Alvailable from Wiley online: article here.
2003 "Technology, Medicine, and Modernity." In Arie Rip, Philip Brey, and Tom Misa (eds.), Technology and Modernity. Cambridge, Ma.: MIT Press.
2002 "Complementary or Alternative? Strong versus Weak Integration Policies." American Journal of Public Health 92(10): 1579-1581. Article here.
2002 "The Raw and the Organic: Politics of Therapeutic Cancer Diets in the U.S." Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. Special issue edited by Helen Sheehan and Barrett Brenton on "Global Perspectives on Complementary and Alternative Medicine." Vol. 582 (Sept.): 76-97. PDF file of the article here; link to American Academy of Political and Social Science here.
2000 "Patients, Science, and Alternative Cancer Therapies." In Preventing Cancer in North America, edited by Diane Wiener. Greenwood Press. Paper here.
1999 Evaluating Alternative Cancer Therapies: A Guide to the Science and Politics of an Emerging Medical Field. Edited collection of interviews. Rutgers University Press.
1999 "Suppression, Bias, and Selection in Science: The Case of Cancer Research." Accountability in Research 6: 245-257. Article here.
1998 Women Confront Cancer: Making Medical History by Choosing Alternative and Complementary Therapies. Collection of interviews, coedited with Margaret Wooddell. New York University Press.
1997 Can Bacteria Cause Cancer? New York University Press. Google books preview.
1996 "Technology and Alternative Cancer Therapies." Medical Anthropology Quarterly 10(4): 657-74. Paper here.
Research for some of the publications above (as indicated in the acknowledgements sections) was supported by the National Science Foundation for the grant “Public Understanding of Science” (Ethics and Values Program). Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation or of the sponsoring university.