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As many mourn the death of Apple founder Steve Jobs, they use words such as visionary, brilliant, innovative, leader, entrepreneur, capitalist, and philanthropic to describe him. Many aren't aware though that Jobs was also an admirer of Ayn Rand's work, especially Atlas Shrugged, which Steve Wosniak said "was one of his guides in life."

Ayn Rand lashed out at all forms of mysticism, which she defined as "acceptance of allegations without evidence or proof, either apart from or against the evidence of one's senses and one's reason." In The Ominous Parallels, Objectivist heir Leonard Peikoff refers to alternative medicine as a "mystic cult."

Being a lover of Rand's work, it is interesting that Jobs initially used alternative therapies to treat his pancreatic cancer - a cancer having a typically high survival rate using modern treatments - with alternative methods that are typically not associated with scientific evidence. After nine months without improvement using alternative treatments and with the tumor actually getting larger, Jobs underwent a pancreatoduodenectomy (aka the Whipple procedure).

Natural health experts are taking an "I told you so"-position that it is "the cancer industry and its poisons," such as surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, as well as the overall "modern medical system," that are preventing people from getting better. There are certainly alternative medicines that have gained more legitimacy as people use them (e.g., chiropractic therapy, acupuncture), so much so that they are now often prescribed by physicians and covered by insurance companies. Also, no one doubts the power of the placebo effect, where patients improve without medicines or surgical treatments. Additionally, the medical industry isn't known for always having the most ethical participants. And there's even scientific research that suggests you can starve cancer with food.

But, the challenge for alternative treatments is that the scientific evidence thus far appears conflicting and/or inconclusive. Having said that, many still swear by it, with an estimated 40% of people in the US using some form of alternative therapies.

Do you think Steve Jobs would still be alive if he had initially used treatments with more evidence-based treatments? What has your experience been with alternative treatments? If you, or someone you loved, had cancer, would you try or encourage them to try alternative treatments instead of modern treatments? Which alternative treatments do you support? As some evidence does exist to support alternative therapies, should alternative treatments be considered mysticism?

I'm sad that today I'm adding a slide to one of my live presentations, adding Steve Jobs to the list of famous people who died treating terminal diseases with woo rather than with medicine.

...Steve, it turned out, had been treating his pancreatic cancer with a special diet and other alternative therapies, prescribed by his naturopath.

Most pancreatic cancers are aggressive and always terminal, but Steve was lucky (if you can call it that) and had a rare form called an islet cell neuroendocrine tumor, which is actually quite treatable with excellent survival rates - if caught soon enough. The median survival is about a decade, but it depends on how soon it's removed surgically. Steve caught his very early, and should have expected to survive much longer than a decade. Unfortunately Steve relied on a naturopathic diet instead of early surgery. There is no evidence that diet has any effect on islet cell carcinoma. As he dieted for nine months, the tumor progressed, and took him from the high end to the low end of the survival rate.

Eventually it became clear to all involved that his alternative therapy wasn't working, and from then on, by all accounts, Steve aggressively threw money at the best that medical science could offer. But it was too late.

Steve Jobs Succumbs to Alternative Medicine


Original posting by Braincrave Second Life staff on Oct 12, 2011 at http://www.braincrave.com/viewblog.php?id=657

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