Homeopathy4health

20 January 2008

Fact or FLACT?

Sceptics like to twist things around, notably Ben Goldacre (junior liaison psychiatrist, of the ‘it’s all in your head’ school of medicine), according to twisted logic.

It feels like this:

I might say ‘I like yellow’.

A sceptic might then claim ‘H4H doesn’t like white, red, blue, green, orange, purple, pink, black or brown.’  This would not be true as I also like blue and purple and I can tolerate all the other colours too.

I have a new term for such logic-derived ‘facts’: ‘FLACT’.

*4th February 2008.  Updated* to incorporate my justification of including Ben Goldacre from responses to Andy Lewis (aka le canard noir):

https://homeopathy4health.wordpress.com/2007/12/03/forced-vaccinations-because-conventional-medicine-is-not-effective-in-treating-infectious-disease/

The low cholera mortality rates under homeopathic treatment: When Cholera finally struck Europe in 1831 the mortality rate (under conventional treatment) was between 40% (Imperial Council of Russia) to 80% (Osler’s Practice of Medicine). Out of five people who contracted Cholera, two to four of them died under regular treatment. Dr. Quin, in London, reported the mortality in the ten homeopathic hospitals in 1831-32 as 9%; Dr. Roth, physician to the king of Bavaria, reported that under homeopathic care the mortality was 7%; Admiral Mordoinow of the Imperial Russian Council reported 10% mortality under homeopathy; and Dr. Wild, Allopathic editor of Dublin Quarterly Journal, reported in Austria, the Allopathic mortality was 66% and the homeopathic mortality was 33% “and on account of this extraordinary result, the law interdicting the practice of Homeopathy in Austria was repealed.’

Ben states:‘Homeopathic pills won’t do anything against cholera.’

So by his logic (and yours) most of the people treated with homeopathy just got better anyway: ‘the homeopaths’ treatments at least did nothing either way’

So logically: If people just got better anyway, by this evidence they should just have been left alone when they got cholera and the death rates would have been much lower. And his other part of Ben’s logic is that cholera death rates were so high because allopathic medicine made them much worse: ‘high allopathic mortality rate was due to dangerous practices’

So my point is why would the population worry so much about cholera then?

But they did:

http://www.earlyamerica.com/review/2000_fall/1832_cholera_part1.html

‘New York was probably the most thoroughly scourged among the states. Each of the thriving towns along the Erie Canal suffered in its turn, despite quarantines and last minute attempts at ‘purifications.’ . . .Small villages, even isolated farms, were stricken. And here the disease was most terrifying; it had to be faced alone, often without friend, minister, or physician. The appearance of cholera in even the smallest hamlet was the signal for the general exodus of the inhabitants, who, in their headlong flight, spread the disease throughout the surrounding countryside.’

http://www.lib.rochester.edu/index.cfm?page=3353

‘Asiatic cholera is a very violent intestinal disease, usually running a short course to dehydration and death, often in a matter of hours. Its very violence ensured that it would not be the type of disease which could be overlooked or treated with little concern’

‘The social and economic consequences of cholera were quite significant. Community life was completely disrupted whenever a new pandemic arrived. Usually panic gripped the populace and all persons who could leave the affected area promptly did so. The spectacular deadliness of the pandemic of 1826-37, which was the first to strike Europe and America, set up a psychological conditioning which assured that all subsequent invasions would induce panic. Normal economic and social life came to an end. Governmental activities were carried out with difficulty. Even medical and nursing services were impaired–sometimes to the extent that the sick were left untended and the dead unburied. Travellers and strangers often were treated badly. Gradually, as an epidemic waned, normal routines were resumed. Practically every community added boards of health and sanitation, which were supposed to take preventive measures against new outbreaks of cholera.’

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33 Comments »

  1. Instead of telling us how it feels why don’t you cite actual examples of this twisted logic? If you can’t provide evidence to back up your statements then why should we believe anything you say?

    Comment by gimpy — 20 January 2008 @ 4:41 pm

  2. I have: on your own Organon blog: http://organon.wordpress.com/2008/01/18/16-17-hahnemann%e2%80%99s-organon-of-medicine/#comment-189

    ‘just because there may be something we can’t measure doesn’t mean we have to have faith in it, and just because you think there needs to be faith doesn’t make it like religion. The logic steps you take are tortuous.’

    ‘Homeopaths reject the notion that ebvidence based medicine works. They reject known laws of physics and chemistry’

    JQH: I see we have a logic problem here and also a repeating an opinion as if it is fact mantra problem. Just because homeopathy does not appear to fit in with current understanding of chemistry does not mean that homeopaths reject chemistry or one of its ‘laws’. Physics may have the answer, we just don’t know what it is yet.

    Comment by homeopathy4health — 20 January 2008 @ 6:04 pm

  3. This is a myth. Physics is not missing some theory that can explain homeopathy. Rather homeopathy is in direct contradiction with physics. Physics shows us that homeopathy is wrong, not that homeopathy shows us physcis is incomplete.

    The evidence base for homeopathy, the anecdotes, the small number of positive trials, all fit in with the hypothesis that homeopathy is a ritualised placebo. There is nothing more to explain. Physics is not threatened by Hahhemann.

    Comment by le canard noir — 20 January 2008 @ 6:42 pm

  4. How on earth can you possibly *know* that physics is complete?

    Comment by homeopathy4health — 20 January 2008 @ 8:22 pm

  5. ‘Physics is not missing some theory that can explain homeopathy’ is a FLACT based on your logic.

    Comment by homeopathy4health — 20 January 2008 @ 10:51 pm

  6. I’ll repeat here something else I said over on Gimpy’s Organon blog http://organon.wordpress.com/2008/01/18/16-17-hahnemann%e2%80%99s-organon-of-medicine/:

    “Ok so I notice that sceptics:

    1. Use logic to generate facts (probably not a good idea)
    2. Repeat facts as mantras (without checking said facts)
    3. Tell you you said something you didn’t actually say (deluded!)

    I thought scientists checked facts or do they just jump to conclusions? Aah but I am assuming sceptics are scientists and this does not [always] appear to be correct.”

    Comment by homeopathy4health — 21 January 2008 @ 12:25 am

  7. How on earth can you possibly *know* that physics is complete?

    I don’t and I do not think physics is incomplete. But homeopathy does not challenge any physical law. Can you show me a set of homeopathic experimental results that are published, replicable and generally accepted that require new physics to explain them? Please be specific about exactly what observations are being made that require new physics.

    My challenge on my web site might provide the start of such a data set. But, to date, there is nothing.

    Comment by le canard noir — 21 January 2008 @ 8:29 am

  8. The problem here arises because H4H cannot grasp or accept the concept of mutual incompatability (and this seems to be a factor of the pro-homeopathy crowd – Laughing My Socks Off has the same problem). You simply don’t understand that there are some situations where X and Y cannot both exist so if X is postulated it automatically precludes Y. Other situations exist where X does not preclude Y.

    It’s the difference between “I like yellow” – which tells us nothing about whether you like or dislike any other colour – and “yellow is my favourite colour” which precludes all other colours from being your favourite. These are different situations but if you see no difference between them, we’ll get nowhere.

    You just don’t understand really, really basic concepts that are essential to reasoned debate and that’s why trying to discuss things with you is so frustrating.

    Comment by M Simpson — 21 January 2008 @ 8:28 pm

  9. Black duck (ex – Andy Lewis):

    ‘How on earth can you possibly *know* that physics is complete?

    I don’t and I do not think physics is incomplete.’

    I’ll rephrase your response: ‘I don’t know that physics is complete AND I do not think physics is incomplete = I don’t know that physics is complete AND I think it is complete = I think physics is complete but I don’t know that physics is complete. Good, so it may be incomplete, phew glad we got that one sorted!

    ‘But homeopathy does not challenge any physical law’. Good.

    M Simpson: ‘H4H cannot grasp or accept the concept of mutual incompatability’ is a FLACT. What I see are sceptics befuddling facts with logic and constraining new possibilities with logic.

    Comment by homeopathy4health — 21 January 2008 @ 9:29 pm

  10. H4H, complaining about logic is complaining about addition. It has simple rules and if someone breaks them you can fairly easily demonstrate that they have done so, but just whining “Ah, you keep using addition!” gets us nowhere and makes you look foolish. If you deny the basic principles of logic, then you become impossible to debate with.

    Comment by M Simpson — 21 January 2008 @ 10:18 pm

  11. ‘complaining about logic is complaining about addition’ er, no it’s not.

    ‘If you deny the basic principles of logic’. I’m not.

    Comment by homeopathy4health — 21 January 2008 @ 10:27 pm

  12. [shameless cut and paste]

    H4H, please give up on the whole “flact” thing. I know you’re terribly excited about trying to start a new meme, but it’s really quite embarrassing. Go and read up on logic and then come back and point out exactly what fallacies have been committed. If the logical steps are incorrect, say so; alternatively, if the premises are incorrect, say so. Both of those criticisms would be perfectly valid and welcomed as such. But please don’t continue on this tack, it’s feeble. For example, here’s a fact derived from logic (a “flact” if you like):

    All swans are birds.
    All birds are animals.
    Therefore, all swans are animals.

    That, according to you is a “flact”, since it was derived from logic. Would you care to point out how it is incorrect?

    [/shameless cut and paste]

    Comment by flimflam_machine — 23 January 2008 @ 7:22 pm

  13. Well done flimflam what you say is perfectly logical, I have no problem with it, now go and teach it to the other sceptics.

    How about this logic in M Simpson’s statement: http://organon.wordpress.com/2008/01/20/18-21-hahnemanns-organon-of-medicine/

    ‘Most of us, when we start to appreciate how complex life is, also start to appreciate that there are therefore no one-stop solutions, no panaceas. That’s one of the reasons why homeopathy is so obviously phony.’

    M Simpson has observed: ‘Life is complex’ and has concluded: ‘so there are no one-stop solutions, no panaceas’. Homeopathy is based on a (non-complex) simple principle (‘like cures like’ or as I prefer to say: ‘your reaction to a similar substance cures yourself’) therefore as ‘there are no one-stop solutions, no panaceas’ it is ‘phony’. He presents the fact ‘homeopathy is phony’ based on logic. It isn’t true.

    The principle is simple but applying it can be quite complex and the source of co-operative non-antagonistic debate between homeopaths.

    Comment by homeopathy4health — 24 January 2008 @ 11:19 am

  14. Yes yes – i put an extra ‘not’ in. For the record, physcis is incomplete. But I will repeat my question, which you avoided,

    Can you show me a set of homeopathic experimental results that are published, replicable and generally accepted that require new physics to explain them? Please be specific about exactly what observations are being made that require new physics.

    The fact that physcis is incomplete does not mean that homeopaths can jump to any conclusions they like. You have to have some unexplained phenomenon. Homeopathy is fully explained through simple delusion – mostly the post hoc falacy.

    Comment by le canard noir — 24 January 2008 @ 6:19 pm

  15. Watch your English in future Andy Lewis, your casual use of it causes misunderstandings and arguments. You sure you know what you are saying or do you have ‘oppositional disorder’?

    Oh, back to the ‘delusion’ word.

    What’s the point? You sceptics just keep on grinding away at the same old same old.

    Comment by homeopathy4health — 24 January 2008 @ 6:26 pm

  16. H4H, you simply not understand logic (or anything very much). My statement that you quote is nothing to do with logic. I’m not presenting a logical argument, I’m presenting an observation – but you’re so caught up in your diatribes against what you think is ‘logic’ that you can’t even grasp that what I’m saying there is not “this proves homeopathy is phony”, it’s ‘this is one reason why most of us consider the phoniness of homeopathy to be obvious.’

    The more you try to argue semantic points without understanding them, the more ridiculous you make yourself look.

    Comment by M Simpson — 24 January 2008 @ 8:59 pm

  17. M – You are presenting an observation and deriving conclusions based on logic, stop arguing.

    And if you mean something else, say what you mean for goodness sake otherwise I will just ignore everything you say. It’s usually complete tosh anyway.

    Comment by homeopathy4health — 24 January 2008 @ 9:25 pm

  18. Perhaps if you wish to develop this random thought of yours you would like to substantiate your claim that “Sceptics like to twist things around, notably Ben Goldacre ”

    Can you find one thing Ben has said where there is an obvious twisting of logic?

    This was asked in your first comment on this thread and I cannot see an answer yet.

    Comment by le canard noir — 26 January 2008 @ 11:53 am

  19. The link on ‘Ben Goldace’ takes you to

    https://homeopathy4health.wordpress.com/2007/12/03/forced-vaccinations-because-conventional-medicine-is-not-effective-in-treating-infectious-disease/

    But I am happy to restate it here for you and everyone:

    Ben Goldacre would like you to believe (notice the word ‘believe’) that the low mortality rate of homeopathy was due to it’s ‘no effect’ effect and the high allopathic mortality rate was due to dangerous practices: ‘Homeopathic sugar pills won’t do anything against cholera, of course, but the reason for homeopathy’s success in this epidemic is even more interesting than the placebo effect: at the time, nobody could treat cholera. So, while hideous medical treatments such as blood-letting were actively harmful, the homeopaths’ treatments at least did nothing either way.’ Then why was there such fear of such epidemics, all everyone needed to do was ‘do nothing’? Nonsense again, Ben.

    Comment by homeopathy4health — 27 January 2008 @ 8:45 pm

  20. But this is not nonsense. Ben does not say ‘do nothing’ – that is your twist. What is interesting is that if you ‘do nothing’ on milder cases then on average you might get better results than risking barbaric and useless treatments. Plus, there is good reason to think that on average homeopaths treated less severely ill people. This could well explain homeopathic ‘success’ in epidemics. Without a controlled trial having been performed there is litte real knowledge you can conclude. Homeopaths do make that leap though to thinking that homeopathy is effective and that is not justified.

    Comment by le canard noir — 30 January 2008 @ 9:20 am

  21. He says: ‘Homeopathic sugar pills won’t do anything against cholera’ AND ‘homeopaths’ treatments at least did nothing either way’, that’s THE SAME AS ‘do nothing’. See? ‘DID NOTHING’.

    ‘Plus, there is good reason to think that on average homeopaths treated less severely ill people.’ You would like to think that: its therefore a FRACT, a fact you would like to be true. You might think there is ‘good reason’ but where is your evidence? Go and ask Nash he went to the RLHH.

    Comment by homeopathy4health — 31 January 2008 @ 8:52 am

  22. Firstly – you said – “Then why was there such fear of such epidemics, all everyone needed to do was ‘do nothing’? Nonsense again, Ben.” This does not follow from Ben’s arguments.

    Secondly, you may well also be equally be guilty of wishing that it was homeopathy that treated cholera patients. How do we decide who is right over these competing explanations? Can I suggest some evidence that homeopathy can cure cholera? Do you have any?

    Comment by le canard noir — 31 January 2008 @ 9:59 am

  23. Ok Andy Lewis, I will give you one last go at explaining it all away.

    Let’s take it one step at a time:

    https://homeopathy4health.wordpress.com/2007/12/03/forced-vaccinations-because-conventional-medicine-is-not-effective-in-treating-infectious-disease/

    The low cholera mortality rates under homeopathic treatment:

    ‘When Cholera finally struck Europe in 1831 the mortality rate (under conventional treatment) was between 40% (Imperial Council of Russia) to 80% (Osler’s Practice of Medicine). Out of five people who contracted Cholera, two to four of them died under regular treatment. Dr. Quin, in London, reported the mortality in the ten homeopathic hospitals in 1831-32 as 9%; Dr. Roth, physician to the king of Bavaria, reported that under homeopathic care the mortality was 7%; Admiral Mordoinow of the Imperial Russian Council reported 10% mortality under homeopathy; and Dr. Wild, Allopathic editor of Dublin Quarterly Journal, reported in Austria, the Allopathic mortality was 66% and the homeopathic mortality was 33% “and on account of this extraordinary result, the law interdicting the practice of Homeopathy in Austria was repealed.’

    Ben states:

    ‘Homeopathic pills won’t do anything against cholera.’ So by his logic (and yours) most of the people treated with homeopathy just got better anyway: ‘the homeopaths’ treatments at least did nothing either way’

    And his other part of Ben’s logic is that cholera death rates were so high because allopathic medicine made them much worse: ‘high allopathic mortality rate was due to dangerous practices’

    If people just got better anyway, by this evidence they should just have been left alone when they got cholera and the death rates would have been much lower.

    So my point is why would the population worry so much about cholera then?

    But they did:

    http://www.earlyamerica.com/review/2000_fall/1832_cholera_part1.html

    ‘New York was probably the most thoroughly scourged among the states. Each of the thriving towns along the Erie Canal suffered in its turn, despite quarantines and last minute attempts at ‘purifications.’ . . .Small villages, even isolated farms, were stricken. And here the disease was most terrifying; it had to be faced alone, often without friend, minister, or physician. The appearance of cholera in even the smallest hamlet was the signal for the general exodus of the inhabitants, who, in their headlong flight, spread the disease throughout he surrounding countryside

    http://www.lib.rochester.edu/index.cfm?page=3353

    ‘Asiatic cholera is a very violent intestinal disease, usually running a short course to dehydration and death, often in a matter of hours. Its very violence ensured that it would not be the type of disease which could be overlooked or treated with little concern’

    ‘The social and economic consequences of cholera were quite significant. Community life was completely disrupted whenever a new pandemic arrived. Usually panic gripped the populace and all persons who could leave the affected area promptly did so. The spectacular deadliness of the pandemic of 1826-37, which was the first to strike Europe and America, set up a psychological conditioning which assured that all subsequent invasions would induce panic. Normal economic and social life came to an end. Governmental activities were carried out with difficulty. Even medical and nursing services were impaired–sometimes to the extent that the sick were left untended and the dead unburied. Travellers and strangers often were treated badly. Gradually, as an epidemic waned, normal routines were resumed. Practically every community added boards of health and sanitation, which were supposed to take preventive measures against new outbreaks of cholera.’

    Comment by homeopathy4health — 31 January 2008 @ 1:56 pm

  24. Do you think you might have answered your own question?

    “and on account of this extraordinary result, the law interdicting the practice of Homeopathy in Austria was repealed.”

    Quite a big incentive to report a good result?

    The fact is that none of these anecdotes can prove anything either way. If homeopathy so effective, where are the trial results that show the same dramatic effects?

    Comment by le canard noir — 31 January 2008 @ 5:58 pm

  25. I think the data stands for itself, it was repeated all over Europe, in a crisis situation.

    Comment by homeopathy4health — 31 January 2008 @ 8:13 pm

  26. ‘If homeopathy so effective, where are the trial results that show the same dramatic effects?’

    If DBRCT is such a ‘gold standard’ where are the ‘gold standard’ results in real life?

    Comment by homeopathy4health — 1 February 2008 @ 8:52 am

  27. […] a cuddly junior doctor/you’re-making-it-up-psychiatrist’ Ben Goldacre’s devoid of any twisted homeopathic facts propaganda piece) makes some pertinent points about the state of Sceptic-Woo wars […]

    Pingback by Wholesale scorn on complementary medicine is unscientific. « Homeopathy4health — 27 March 2008 @ 5:35 pm

  28. […] The pictures I found particularly offensive (not on the internet piece but behind a paywall if you want to look): they depicted sharp suited, dark-glassed male homoepaths ‘loving’ their white pills and standing over their poor kneeling patients while they poured them down their throats.  As many UK homeopaths are female and are known to be quite gentle creatures it didn’t make sense to me.  And as for the ‘facts’ in the piece they were mostly ‘FLACTS’. […]

    Pingback by Society of Homeopath’s press complaint against Goldacre and The Guardian « Homeopathy4health — 29 April 2008 @ 1:09 pm

  29. Homeopathy cures where Conventional Allopathic Medicine (CAM) fails

    Comment by Dr. Nancy Malik — 7 June 2008 @ 5:24 am

  30. Homeopathy 4 Everyone, the world’s largest and most popular e-journal on homeopathy with 37,000 active subscriptions in 200 countries. It’s free. It’s available at http://www.hpathy.com/ezine

    Comment by Dr. Nancy Malik — 9 August 2009 @ 11:44 am

  31. […] 4th 2007.  I’d like to add a skeptic fail of my own: making up facts based on logic, or ‘flact’ for […]

    Pingback by ‘The trouble with skeptics’, ‘illiberal liberals’ and skeptic projection « Homeopathy4health — 20 December 2009 @ 12:40 pm

  32. Ben Goldacre at Nerdstock on placebo research http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O1Q3jZw4FGs

    Comment by homeopathy4health — 26 August 2010 @ 7:30 pm

  33. Ben Goldacre at TEDGlobal2011 http://blog.ted.com/2011/09/29/teaching-science-by-bad-example-qa-with-ben-goldacre/

    Comment by homeopathy4health — 29 September 2011 @ 8:28 pm


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