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Responses to the Acupuncture Trialists’ Collaboration individual patient data meta-analysis
  1. Andrew J Vickers1,
  2. Alexandra C Maschino1,
  3. George Lewith2,
  4. Hugh MacPherson3,
  5. Karen J Sherman4,
  6. Claudia M Witt5,
  7. on behalf of the Acupuncture Trialists’ Collaboration
  1. 1Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York, USA
  2. 2University of Southampton, Southampton, UK
  3. 3Department of Health Sciences, University of York, York, UK
  4. 4Group Health Research Institute, Seattle, Washington, USA
  5. 5Charité University Medical Center, Berlin, Germany
  1. Correspondence to Andrew J Vickers, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer, 307 East 63rd Street, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10065, USA; vickersa{at}


In September 2012 the Acupuncture Trialists’ Collaboration published the results of an individual patient data meta-analysis of almost 18 000 patients in high quality randomised trials. The results favoured acupuncture. Although there was little argument about the findings in the scientific press, a controversy played out in blog posts and the lay press. This controversy was characterised by ad hominem remarks, anonymous criticism, phony expertise and the use of opinion to contradict data, predominantly by self-proclaimed sceptics. There was a near complete absence of substantive scientific critique. The lack of any reasoned debate about the main findings of the Acupuncture Trialists’ Collaboration paper underlines the fact that mainstream science has moved on from the intellectual sterility and ad hominem attacks that characterise the sceptics’ movement.

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