Homeopathy4health

1 August 2008

The disease didn’t kill her, the medication did….

How many of us have heard of this?

I have been away visiting family.  My mother-in-law told us that my brother-in-law’s friend’s 47 year old wife had recently died.  She had been suffering from breast cancer for several years but she died in her sleep from a heart attack.  This was blamed on her medication which had ‘weakened her heart’. A ‘side effect’ I expect.

According to Hering’s Law of Cure inappropriate medicine can suppress the vital system and weaken more internal and more vital organs.  People can live without breasts (men can be affected by breast cancer too); they can’t live without a heart.  I’ve commented on patterns and progress of disease before.

Ok, I know it’s not that simple, I didn’t know the lady concerned and how she was before she died, she might have died shortly anyway, but there was no indication of that in the story as told, her death came as a surprise.

5/8/08 – Updated to include links to information about the homeopathic approach to treating people with the symptoms of cancer:

Treating cancer with homeopathy

Dr Ramakrishnan – Cancer

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192 Comments »

  1. Congratulations! At least somebody has the courage to talk about the side effects of medicaments!

    Comment by natrummur — 3 August 2008 @ 7:58 pm

  2. According to Hering’s Law of Cure inappropriate medicine can suppress the vital system and weaken more internal and more vital organs.

    Really? Is this also true of homeopathic medicine, then? Only that’s constantly being sold as totally free of any side effects, and since homeopaths blame all failures on having given out the wrong remedy (I’ve even seen someone here or maybe on goodscience say “homeopathic medicine cannot fail”) it would seem that huge amounts of the pills dispensed are “inappropriate”.

    Personally, I resolve this dilemma by not including homeopathy in my definition of “medicine” but I expect you have some other answer.

    Comment by Andrew — 3 August 2008 @ 9:05 pm

  3. I’ll see your anecdote by raising you couple of news items linked out of “What’s the harm”

    What’s the harm?
    http://whatstheharm.net/homeopathy.html

    Woman seeks homeopathic help for her cancer and spends $10000 befor expiring:
    http://www2.jsonline.com/news/state/jun01/nature16061501a.asp

    Account written by a man whose wife died after seeking purly Woo treatment for a small lump in her breast:
    http://www.quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/Victims/craven.html

    Indecently this is the stuff that drives the passion “QuackBusters” crusade. The middle age middle class women who seek alt med on top of mainstream medicine may really be helped by the talking therapy you offer and I wouldn’t object to that. The problem is that some vulnerable people truly believe, and deny themselves potentially life save treatment as a result. Please try to recognise that it is a deep concern for the well being of others and a desire to use the skills and training we have received, at the tax payers expense, for the good of society as a whole, that drives sceptics to confront the CAM community.

    Let’s be clear, if your brother in laws friend’s wife had relied on homeopathy alone, she would have died sooner, had no hope what so ever of recovery and probably suffered far more pain.

    Comment by Derrik — 4 August 2008 @ 7:44 pm

  4. The term “side effects” should be retired. It implies something that is not accurate. Drugs have effects. Period. They are sold because some of those effects are supposed to be beneficial. That, though, does not mean that the other effects exist only on the side.

    For example, take many old cold medications. They tend to dry the mucous membranes and make you sleepy. So, when the drug is sold as a cold treatment, sleepiness is called a side effect. However, when the same drug is sold as a sleep inducer, dry mucous membranes are called a side effect.

    The use of the term side effect is utterly misleading. Cancer drugs depress and destroy the immune system. This effect is, in fact, central to why they’re sold as cancer treatments. So, the effects they have on the body, which often do kill, are not mere side effects. They are part and parcel of the drug’s action on the body.

    Comment by gaiatherapy — 5 August 2008 @ 12:22 pm

  5. The assumption that a person would have died sooner if relying on homeopathy alone is based on what? Absolutely nothing but a belief that homeopathy does not work.

    The assumption that the person with cancer would have lived longer without the cancer treatment is not based on fact, either. There is little or no benefit gained from most allopathic cancer treatment. The assumption that shrinking a tumor ends the disease is the root of the belief, but there is no truth behind that assumption. The fact is that lifespan is rarely extended through drug or radiation treatments, and the quality of life that results from them is severely diminished. The means of avoiding facing this fact is that, if the tumour doesn’t kill directly, then another cause is listed as the cause of death – such as seems likely in the case of the woman referenced above. So, she didn’t die of cancer, she died of a heart attack? Dead is dead, though it’s quite a convenience for standard medical treatment to be able to list something other than cancer as the cause.

    Comment by gaiatherapy — 5 August 2008 @ 12:47 pm

  6. The assumption that there is little or no benefit gained from most allopathic cancer treatment is based on what? Absolutely nothing but a belief that allopathy does not work.

    The assumption that shrinking a tumor ends the disease is the root of the belief, but there is no truth behind that assumption.

    Lucky, then, that nobody believes that. I know very little about cancer but even I am aware that shrinking the tumour still leaves some tumour there. That’s just delaying the disease’s effects, which is useful, but only postpones the inevitable. Excising the tumour effectively removes the disease, but only if the cancer hasn’t already spread, which often it has, in which case future tumours could arise from the same cancer.

    In any case, everyone’s bound to die eventually, and in almost all cases — generally anything other than being shot in the head — the cause will be more complicated than “oh, it was cancer”. A heart attack could be caused by diet, old age, cigarettes, stress, medication… or far more probably a combination of many different things. It’s all well and good saying “dead is dead,” but by that logic if homeopathy worked then Hahnemann would still be alive to champion it, and saying “it was the drugs wot done it” is little better than saying that World War I was caused purely because Franz Ferdinand got shot.

    Life must be so simple in a make-believe world where all the effects of allopathy are bad and all the effects of homeopathy are good but the real world isn’t that clear-cut in either case. Even if you can’t recognise evidence or logic, at least admit that reality is not a magical fairytale land where Good and Evil rule supreme and shades of grey do not exist.

    Comment by Andrew — 5 August 2008 @ 4:00 pm

  7. If the assumption that shrinking a tumour is the point, then why do doctors routinely tell patients that they know the chemotherapy or radiation is working because the tumour has shrunk? That’s exactly what happens.

    Somehow, the idea that everyone is going to die eventually means what? And who ever said that Hahnemann or anyone else could live forever?

    It’s obvious that putting the body under extreme duress, which chemotherapy and radiation do, is going to increase the chances of a heart attack or other life-ending event or condition. The point that other things could have contributed is irrelevant to the discussion here. It’s a red herring – yet you make nasty statements accusing others of lacking logical ability.

    Mean-spirited commentary like yours is an ad hominem attack, and that’s the lowest sort of debate.

    Comment by gaiatherapy — 5 August 2008 @ 4:53 pm

  8. Shrinking a tumour is progress. Eliminating it is a cure. Less cancer is better than more cancer. No cancer is best. What part of this is confusing you?

    The point about the aggressive cancer therapies is to hit the cancer harder than the patient. The worst case scenario is that they kill the patient, but if the patient only had a month to live anyway, then that’s not as big a risk as it sounds. And if it cures the cancer, or even puts it back enough, then the patient gets years of extra life. That’s a gamble most people are willing to take. Anyone who isn’t can simply refuse consent.

    If I push someone out of the path of a bus, but they land in a pile of garbage, get stuck by a needle, and die of AIDS fifteen years later, I fail to see how I’ve done anything wrong. Whereas you stand there and say “it’s obvious that pushing someone onto an infected needle is going to increase the chances of a life-ending event or condition”. Yes, it’s obvious, but that doesn’t make it true.

    Now, do you have some evidence for your assertion that lifespan is rarely increased by cancer treatments, or did you just make it up?

    Comment by Andrew — 5 August 2008 @ 5:08 pm

  9. Andrew said: “Life must be so simple in a make-believe world where all the effects of allopathy are bad and all the effects of homeopathy are good but the real world isn’t that clear-cut in either case. ”

    Andrew, it is apparent that you live in this make-believe world that you cast on homeopathy. It is because you obviously have little clinical medical experience.

    You paint homeopathy as bad only based on the assumption it does not work. You make assertions that are not substantiated except by many of your calloused opinions. It seems that it is that black and white for you. So your arguments or more precisely your prejudice is based on this. This seems make believe to me since I have seen it work and I’ll match what I have seen, my knowledge and education any day. Not at all times but homeopathy definitely works. I can’t always say that conventional medicine doesn’t always work, nor can any person who is really involved in clinical conventional medicine.

    Conventional medicine is very far from perfect but still has a lot to offer but to then tarnish homeopathy with the argument that harm will come from not taking certain conventional therapies as in the links is also making conventional medicine ALL GOOD and free of error, problems, free of lack of effect where in many instances this is actually the case. It also leaves no room for errors in conventional medicine since you can make the same argument about physician error- missing a diagnosis causes terrible results.

    So, when we talk about clinical medicine it is apparent that there is error. Homeopathy doesn’t work in all instances and for the most part has mainly clinical evidence. Conventional medicine doesn’t work in all instances and there is very high incidence of side effect, even death not just in terminal cases as described above. You can defend it but except for those skeptics trying to make something perfect that is imperfect it is sounding more and more like some irrational bleating and magical thinking.

    By the way, Dr. Allen Levin, MD, author of The Healing of Cancer, has said, “The majority of the cancer patients in this country die because of chemotherapy, which does not cure breast, colon or lung cancer. This has been documented for over a decade and nevertheless doctors still utilize chemotherapy to fight these tumors.” Read the book. Or better yet, get into a cancer medical clinic for a few weeks and then talk about this wonderful conventional medicine and possibility of cure and killing people with it.

    Andrew then said:
    “The worst case scenario is that they kill the patient, but if the patient only had a month to live anyway, then that’s not as big a risk as it sounds.”

    This is also part of the fallacy of the infallibility of diagnosis and life prediction. Again, magical thinking of a perfect world of medicine and predictability.
    The argument that it is OK to kill is an ethical minefield.

    Comment by Galley — 5 August 2008 @ 7:08 pm

  10. gaiathereapy

    The simplest reason for believing homeopathy incapable of treating Cancer, and specifically breast cancer, is historic. Homeopathy started over 200 years ago and had plenty of time to optimise its treatment of patients with such diseases (note careful homeopath friendly phrasing). If it had done so there would have been no need to develop our modern EBM treatments as homeopathy would be doing the job just fine. The only reason for not finding this a compelling argument that I can think of is some conspiracy theory about homeopathies suppression by a conglomerate of Big Pharma, the government and the medical establishment. Is that what you believe?

    Comment by Derrik — 5 August 2008 @ 7:23 pm

  11. The conclusion I have come to is that Homeopathy is a taboo in modern science and medicine. You are indoctrinated against it.

    Here is an analysis of historical and current homeopathic approaches and cases of cancer:

    Treating cancer with homeopathy

    Comment by homeopathy4health — 5 August 2008 @ 7:56 pm

  12. And here is Dr Ramakrishnan’s website (homeopath to the president of India and leading authority on the homeopathic treatment of cancer):

    Dr Ramakrishnan – Cancer

    Comment by homeopathy4health — 5 August 2008 @ 8:20 pm

  13. And I refer you back to this previous post:

    Malignant tumour cases regressed with homeopathy

    Comment by homeopathy4health — 5 August 2008 @ 8:43 pm

  14. Ooo appeals to authority H4H, not had one of the for a while here. It doesn’t matter if Dr Ramakrishnan is homeopath to the president just as it doesn’t matter that Peter Fisher is Quack to the Queen. There is a distinct lack of evidence supporting homeopathy after you have weeded out the non-randomised, non-blinded, non-controlled research.

    Anyway, H4H, Galley & gaiatherapy instead of utilising your cunning to attempt to turn our arguments on their heads and use them against us (hint, it’s not working – we have evidence on our side, you use speculation and unproven assertion) why don’t you provide us with good quality double-blinded randomised controlled trial data? Perhaps a meta-analysis which weights evidence according to how good it is. Like Shang et al for example.

    Comment by gimpy — 5 August 2008 @ 8:48 pm

  15. The information isn’t just for you Andrew…. gimpy/Andrew/Derrick/rentaskeptic

    Comment by homeopathy4health — 5 August 2008 @ 8:51 pm

  16. The big cancer charities are some of the largest charities in the world. They have turnovers of millions of pounds/dollars/euros. They are philanthropic organisations with the stated aim of relieving the suffering of cancer patients and finding a cure for the condition. The money they raise from grants and donations is ploughed into funding pharmaceutical research, searching for drugs that will alleviate, cure or prevent cancer.

    And yet there is, apparently, an extremely cheap, completely safe form of cancer treatment already widely available, well documented and clinically proven. Which all these big cancer charities are avoiding. The money they spend on drug research each year would pay for homeopathic treatment for every single cancer sufferer in the world, probably several times over. By spending the money on drug research instead of homeopathy, these charities are actually doing the precise opposite of their stated aims, prolonging and increasing the suffering of cancer patients who would benefit from this cheap, safe, effective treatment. The bastards.

    Hang on, there must be something wrong with this picture. Either every single one of the major cancer charities is actually not philanthropic but an evil organisation (or under the secret control of another evil organisation) devoted to prolonging human suffering. Or maybe this cheap (undeniably), safe (indubitably), effective treatment … isn’t actually effective. At all.

    Because if it was. If it was even just a tiny little bit effective, then those charities would be ploughing wads of cash into promoting and researching this marvelous treatment. Which they are most conspicuously not doing.

    However, I’m sure this matter won’t trouble the ‘black equals white’ world in which homoepaths reside.

    Comment by M Simpson — 5 August 2008 @ 9:07 pm

  17. H4H, why don’t you address people’s arguments instead of calling us names?

    Evidence. Let’s be having it. And no, anecdotes are not admissible. Find one study that shows that patients with cancer, any cancer, when treated with homeopathy show greater life expectancy that those who are not treated with homeopathy. If you cannot then you should not make claims about cancer.

    Comment by gimpy — 5 August 2008 @ 9:38 pm

  18. Science…let’s be having it…time to put your PhD’s to proper use….Nobel prizes to be won…$1,000,000 Randi prize and paltry £10,000 from Ernst…come on….

    Comment by homeopathy4health — 5 August 2008 @ 9:49 pm

  19. Andrew, it is apparent that you live in this make-believe world that you cast on homeopathy.

    I believe homeopathy has no effect. That’s not to say it’s worthless: it can be useful as a placebo for hypochondriacs, or as medication for self-limiting conditions where using antibiotics will be of limited use and increase the resistance of bacteria. But it shouldn’t be confused with medicine. I have a balanced opinion. Paint me as Mr Black And White all you like, but it won’t magically make it true.

    You paint homeopathy as bad only based on the assumption it does not work.

    Yes. That’s exactly right. And when I see some proper evidence that my assumption is wrong I will discard it. But that hasn’t happened yet. And frankly, given everything I know, I can’t see it ever happening. But I keep an open mind as best I can, not least because I know I would have to open my mind pretty damn wide before something the size of homeopathy fell in there.

    Conventional medicine is very far from perfect but still has a lot to offer but to then tarnish homeopathy with the argument that harm will come from not taking certain conventional therapies as in the links is also making conventional medicine ALL GOOD and free of error, problems, free of lack of effect where in many instances this is actually the case.

    Okay. I have to say you’re not making a lot of sense but I’ve parsed this as best I can and I think you’re saying that my argument that taking medicine is good is flawed because sometimes the medicine does bad things. Well I need only cite the balance of probability to show you why that’s nonsense. If I offered you odds of 10:1 that you couldn’t roll two sixes in a row toss you’d be mad not to take that bet, but 1/36th of the the time you’d lose your money all the same.

    Homeopathy doesn’t work in all instances

    It is honestly a refreshing change to hear that acknowledged. Not so long ago I saw someone post on one of these blogs “homeopathic medicine cannot fail” and I quoted that and called the guy mental. My post was deleted, but the original comment that homeopathy was infallible was allowed to stand. That seems odd to me.

    The argument that it is OK to kill is an ethical minefield.

    Then it’s lucky I never made that argument — and I think it’s utterly pathetic that you’d stoop so low. It’s okay to take a risk when the rewards, should it pay off, are so great. I never said it was okay to kill. I’ve made my case perfectly clear and won’t repeat it. If that’s the level you reason at then you disgust me and I won’t bother trying to reason with you any further.

    The conclusion I have come to is that Homeopathy is a taboo in modern science and medicine. You are indoctrinated against it.

    That’s utterly false.

    I went through years of scientific education and homeopathy was never mentioned (which in retrospect is not surprising). A while back I went to see a stand-up comic called Matt Kirshen, who was excellent. He whined about Gillian McKeith, and afterwards I looked her up and was amazed by her nonsense. I emailed Kirshen and he put me onto Ben Goldacre and his marvellous forum. There I learned of homeopathy and thought “surely nobody really thinks that!?”. I was wrong.

    Where in that do you think the indoctrination took place? I mean, I suppose I was taught about how many molecules are in 10ml, and about germ theory, both of which (barring some as yet unidentified miracle) instantly disprove homeopathy, but those things are demonstrably true — I know this because I demonstrated them myself — so I don’t think that can be reasonably called “indoctrination”.

    There’s no “taboo”. That just doesn’t happen in science. Some pretty strange theories have become accepted — look at relativity and quantum mechanics. Both totally mad from the point of view of everyday life, and neither one seems so far to be remotely compatible with the other, but there’s just so much evidence that scientists accept both, and trust that one day someone will reconcile them. We don’t mind not knowing things. It’s precisely not knowing things that keeps scientists in jobs.

    And if there was any evidence at all that homeopathy worked, that would be a whole world of things we don’t know right there — how water remembers what was in it, how that information is passed to the body, why it never seems to matter if you have massive overdoses of totally inappropriate homeopathic medicine… Scientists would love it. There’d be Nobel Prizes all over it. The only reason they don’t investigate those things is because discovering Why– is not interesting until someone’s proven That–.

    Comment by Andrew — 5 August 2008 @ 11:42 pm

  20. By the way, there are actual laws about claiming to cure cancer. Tread lightly. Seriously.

    Comment by Andrew — 5 August 2008 @ 11:43 pm

  21. I haven’t claimed to cure cancer.

    Comment by homeopathy4health — 6 August 2008 @ 1:28 am

  22. What science have you been trained in exactly? I see you are doing a PhD in 2D and 3D image analysis at Manchester University – what field of science and real life is that in relation to?

    I have no idea what this: ‘Well I need only cite the balance of probability to show you why that’s nonsense. If I offered you odds of 10:1 that you couldn’t roll two sixes in a row toss you’d be mad not to take that bet, but 1/36th of the the time you’d lose your money all the same.’ has to do with medicine in real life.

    ‘Some pretty strange theories have become accepted’ – some not without a massive fight.

    ‘I was taught about how many molecules are in 10ml, and about germ theory, both of which (barring some as yet unidentified miracle) instantly disprove homeopathy, but those things are demonstrably true — I know this because I demonstrated them myself’ – how exactly?

    You are coming over as inexperienced and naive in the field of medicine and health.

    Comment by homeopathy4health — 6 August 2008 @ 1:48 am

  23. H4H: You made a claim about homeopathy and cancer. Please back up that claim with the appropriate scientific references or withdraw it.

    Comment by gimpy — 6 August 2008 @ 6:29 am

  24. H4H has not made any claims, gimpy, but only presented the links to the references, can’t you read?

    Comment by ez — 6 August 2008 @ 12:22 pm

  25. ‘I was taught about how many molecules are in 10ml, and about germ theory, both of which (barring some as yet unidentified miracle) instantly disprove homeopathy, but those things are demonstrably true — I know this because I demonstrated them myself’ – how exactly?

    Avogadro’s number [of molecules in a mole] can be calculated roughly using a drop of oil and a tray of dusty water. That, and a bit of maths.

    You can demonstrate the existence of bacteria very easily using agar jelly in petri dishes and a couple of sensibly chosen spots to sample. That doesn’t prove they cause disease but nobody in the class was stupid enough to do the very simple and tempting follow-up experiment that would have proved that, even by accident. (Incidentally, an Ig Nobel prize was awarded to the man who proved stomach ulcers were caused by bacteria by necking said bacteria and developing an ulcer.) I’ve yet to see an experiment even hint at the existence of a “vital force”. You can surely understand why I’m more convinced germs exist than the vital force.

    ‘Some pretty strange theories have become accepted’ – some not without a massive fight.

    Name as many as one.

    What science have you been trained in exactly? I see you are doing a PhD in 2D and 3D image analysis at Manchester University – what field of science and real life is that in relation to?

    Our unit does clinical trials of things. And better ones than the eczema paper you paraded in front of us, at that.

    I haven’t claimed to cure cancer.

    You’ve implicitly claimed homeopathy actively fights cancer by publicising and thereby endorsing other people’s claims. That’s reckless at best. I don’t know what the rules are, but I’m betting you don’t either, so my advice is to tread lightly around cancer.

    Comment by Andrew — 6 August 2008 @ 2:21 pm

  26. Andrew- You see yourself as a guardian of science but then ethically there is a lot wanting in your arguments. You want it both ways. On the one hand, you state that in the name of your material science and big cancer organizations that it is OK that chemotherapy kills a certain percentage of patients because it gets a few or even more better but not necessarily cured. Since cancer is one of the most common diseases your percentage of collateral damage from the conventional therapy you are promoting is VERY high.

    Yet, you criticize and make reference to alternative practitioners and make references to individual cases, (one or two!) where someone dies of a terminal disease while under the care of an alternative practitioner as a terrible tragedy because it is not your idea of science. You do not reference any of the cured cases cited in homeopathic journals. It is handful of cases that you refer to as opposed to the thousands that die from chemotherapy. Not only that you laughably reference one (!) case where the patient who pursued the alternative route spent so much money on it. I can assure you that chemotherapy and other conventional treatments costs a lot lot more but the cost is hidden in socialized medicine.

    But money aside, (although your narrow science perspective has been molded by financial interests) I find your ethics reprehensible. Any method or person that overtly states that it is OK that some people die is pretty sick even if it is in the name of what you consider the solution to all that ails everything and everyone-“material science and medicine”.

    Your arguments are sounding more and more like the materialistic arguments that communists made. And they also killed a percentage of the population for the sake of their perspective of what was the cause of “disease”.

    Comment by Galley — 6 August 2008 @ 2:59 pm

  27. Yet, you criticize and make reference to alternative practitioners and make references to individual cases, (one or two!) where someone dies of a terminal disease while under the care of an alternative practitioner as a terrible tragedy because it is not your idea of science. You do not reference any of the cured cases cited in homeopathic journals. It is handful of cases that you refer to as opposed to the thousands that die from chemotherapy. Not only that you laughably reference one (!) case where the patient who pursued the alternative route spent so much money on it.

    Well I don’t think I did cite any of those cases.

    Come on, those were from WhatsTheHarm.net whose own FAQ points out that it isn’t evidence. I don’t care about the anecdotes on that site and I don’t care about the single case reports in homeopathy journals. (Frankly I instinctively mistrust anything published in a homeopathy journal anyway, because any decent study would be published in a more well respected journal.) The point is that when someone dies of a terminal disease while not being treated for it because a quack has told them their magic placebo pills are enough, that’s a disgusting abuse of trust. If it can be demonstrated that the pills work, fair enough, but that’s not true of homeopathy according to the current best evidence.

    But money aside, (although your narrow science perspective has been molded by financial interests)

    People do love to libel me this way. Maybe I will quit my job and instead make a living by winding up homeopaths until they lie about me and then suing them.

    Any method or person that overtly states that it is OK that some people die is pretty sick even if it is in the name of what you consider the solution to all that ails everything and everyone-”material science and medicine”.

    Don’t be ridiculous. Of course it’s okay that some people die. People die all the time. People are routinely killed by cars, penicillin, time, latex, stairs, peanuts, the sun, cigarettes, alcohol, wheat, fish, nitrogen, dogs, bees, water, ovens, painkillers, other people, electricity, and basically everything else in the world. If you banned anything that means “some people die” then you’d have a world with nothing in it.

    Many of the things on the list there also routinely — and in most cases far more often — save lives. If you ban them then more people will die. They’ll be different people, so it’s a moral grey area, but you can’t be so absolutist because the real world is a lot more complicated than that.

    I can assure you that chemotherapy and other conventional treatments costs a lot lot more but the cost is hidden in socialized medicine.

    Woah, stop the presses! You’re telling me that a complex treatment involving specially created drugs costs more than a made-up treatment involving little bottles of water? My word. I am stunned.

    Comment by Andrew — 6 August 2008 @ 4:01 pm

  28. Wow, you are sidestepping issues galore and talking out of two sides of your mouth to cover up your ignorance about clinical medicine and to cover up some of the very nasty things you have said here. You seem to talk about complicated real world situations but when it comes to medicine you have a very simplistic black and white view- conventional good and alternative bad.

    By the way I think that conventional medicine has a lot to offer but unlike you I don’t think it is the end all. I do think that homeopathy offers a tremendous amount too. But I find your arguments against homeopathy and pro medicine to smack of a loss of concern about the patient and people and too much concern with your own consternation about the implausibility to you of homeopathy working.

    And you lump in electricity and even benign influences in society to hide your nasty near-eugenic medical concepts. Comparing these type of things to your idea of intentionally killing people for the sake of helping a few is a shallow way of covering up some of the terrible things you have said in your postings.

    You show the worst of human behaviour here and like others perseverating about homeopathy you get lost in your fear and emotions and lose a sense of real human caring simply because homeopathy is implausible to you.

    Comment by Galley — 6 August 2008 @ 5:16 pm

  29. Your English is bad. Where are you from?

    Wow, you are sidestepping issues galore and talking out of two sides of your mouth to cover up your ignorance about clinical medicine and to cover up some of the very nasty things you have said here. You seem to talk about complicated real world situations but when it comes to medicine you have a very simplistic black and white view- conventional good and alternative bad.

    I think that medicine that works, properly applied is a good thing. Homeopathy does not work. It can be useful, as I explained earlier, but it shouldn’t be confused with something that can cure real diseases.

    But I find your arguments against homeopathy and pro medicine to smack of a loss of concern about the patient and people and too much concern with your own consternation about the implausibility to you of homeopathy working.

    Try to see this for just one second from my point of view. I do not imagine that homeopathy works. As such, surely the best way I could show concern about the patient would be to encourage them not to rely on homeopathy? If I didn’t care about the patient (whoever exactly “the patient” may be since I am not and have never pretended to be a clinician) then surely I’d be perfectly happy for them to use treatments I didn’t think worked, because I wouldn’t care what happened to them? Yes?

    But no, I don’t think that’s what you’re really saying. Maybe I’m misreading this into your broken English, but to me you’re implying that I’d rather people didn’t use homeopathy, even though I know deep down works really, because I’m for some unspecified reason “against” it, even though I don’t stand to make or lose any money either way because we run trials of toothpaste and mankind has yet to develop a homeopathic detergent. Why would I do that? Why? Does it sound even remotely as plausible as me just not thinking homeopathy works?

    Because you must admit that homeopathy sounds a bit unlikely to an outsider. No molecules of medicine but it still works? Deliberately choosing substances that ought logically make the patient worse? More dilute medicines are stronger? Come on, you have to admit you don’t need much of a conspiracy to make people doubt that. It sounds a bit silly. That doesn’t make it false, but it’s reason for suspicion until there’s good evidence, isn’t it?

    And you lump in electricity and even benign influences in society to hide your nasty near-eugenic medical concepts.

    I really hope that you have no idea what eugenics is, because if you do understand it then you are being either incredibly nasty, incredibly stupid or both.

    Comparing these type of things to your idea of intentionally killing people for the sake of helping a few is a shallow way of covering up some of the terrible things you have said in your postings.

    You say it as if I know in advance which people will die. As if I’m shooting four people in the head so I can save one. That’s not how it works at all.

    Come on, all medicine that works involves some element of risk. Whatever homeopaths might say, that is an inevitable fact of life. Cancer is a pretty strong disease, and as such it needs pretty strong medicine. That means that the risks are higher, but people are willing to accept them because cancer is a fatal disease — they have very little to lose and a hell of a lot to gain by trying any treatment. Nobody would bother with chemotherapy if it only cured the flu or something, but for a disease like cancer things are different. Sure, it could kill them, but so could crossing the street to buy a cough sweet. That’s the risk you take. Death is everywhere, and noticing that fact is not the same thing as eugenics.

    Let’s go back to the electricity thing for one second. I’m going to ask you a direct question and I want a direct yes-no answer. Please. Say the nation’s electricity was turned off, and you were stood by the master switch. If you throw the switch, everyone gets to use TVs, computers, lights, microwaves, washing machines and so forth — and then there’s heaters, life support machines, defibrillators, heart-rate monitors, heart-lung machines and so on. You can save thousands of people’s lives by throwing that switch and restoring the power supply. But… 25 people a year will die in electrical accidents. Do you throw the switch?

    If you do, how is that different to promoting medicine which kills a few people who were terminally ill anyway when that self same medicine saves loads of other people from similar illnesses? At what ratio of deaths-to-saves does something become acceptable to you?

    your narrow science perspective has been molded by financial interests… I find your ethics reprehensible… pretty sick… Your arguments are sounding more and more like the materialistic arguments that communists made… to hide your nasty near-eugenic medical concepts… your idea of intentionally killing people… You show the worst of human behaviour here

    And you talk about “the very nasty things [I] have said here”? Listen to yourself. You’re getting quite abusive and not engaging with me at all. I don’t know if it’s your poor grasp of English or a poor grasp of logic, but for whatever reason you are reading everything I say in a bizarre and twisted way and effectively arguing with some awful but fictional critic of entirely your own imagining. You need to take a step back, calm down, consider things afresh, let go of your conceptions about the other side of this argument and start over. Then perhaps we’ll

    That, of course, or you are trying rather stupidly to dig yourself out of a hole which just keeps getting bigger and bigger. I don’t know. But I assure you that the monster you are fighting is not me, and is not anybody else either. It exists only within your head.

    Comment by Andrew — 6 August 2008 @ 6:50 pm

  30. “Your English is bad. Where are you from?” – Is it a coincidence that on the Goodscience blog a similar comment addressed to Galley has been posted? Is this a new idea how to intimidate posters? I would suggest you don’t waste your efforts, though, the people have noticed just what sort of arguments you tend to prefer, and if you only could know just how disgusting this looks to any well-meaning person…

    Comment by ez — 7 August 2008 @ 4:45 am

  31. ez, it is a shame that insults and slurs are how homeopaths argue. In the real grown up world, as Andrew points out, we have to constantly balance risks and rewards for every new invention, every new medicine, every new technology. Take this story over cancer drugs for example. NICE, who base their decisions on the limited resources available to the NHS, have come to the very difficult decision that the financial costs involved in allowing drugs which may extend life expectancy by up to 6 months in some cancer patients are too high. This decision will undoubtedly cause an earlier death for some, this is unfortunate but in the real world it means that other treatments of greater benefit can continue to be funded and many more people will have their lives extended despite serious illness. NICE base their decisions on the cost and efficacy of treatments which are established using scientific evidence. Homeopaths have no such strategies at their disposal and will make, frankly offensive claims, that it can be used as a global panacea for all ills. This is just absurdly stupid. Even if homeopathy worked you would have to prove it worked to the high standards demanded of those who hold the purse strings. There is no pressure from within the homeopathic profession to conduct proper trials, I am certain that such trials would fail to show anything greater than a placebo effect, consistent with Shang et al, but that is beside the point. Until homeopaths are willing to grow up and accept that they will have to prove homeopathy works to the standards demanded of other treatments there is little point in arguing for its use. Instead of nasty and mean-spirited attacks on your critics why don’t you provide them with answers to their concerns?

    Comment by gimpy — 7 August 2008 @ 8:36 am

  32. “Your English is bad. Where are you from?” – Is it a coincidence that on the Goodscience blog a similar comment addressed to Galley has been posted?

    I doubt it is coincidence. I expect his English was no better there than it is here. You’ll really see a conspiracy in anything, won’t you?

    Comment by Andrew — 7 August 2008 @ 9:03 am

  33. What strikes me as particularly interesting about Andrew’s comments is his proclivity for finding insult worthy of lawsuits. Such incredible sensitivity coming from a person who’s primary tool for argument seems to be condescension and ridicule boggles the mind.

    Andrew made the comment, “Your English is bad”. Then, when called on it, he responded that homeopaths use insults and slurs.

    That is truly stupid.

    Comment by gaiatherapy — 7 August 2008 @ 9:35 am

  34. gaiatherapy, I think you have confused Andrew and myself. I used the phrase ‘insults and slurs’, you responded to my criticism that homeopaths use insult instead of evidence by calling it ‘truly stupid’. I rest my case.

    Comment by gimpy — 7 August 2008 @ 9:39 am

  35. It was my comment on Goodscience about Galley’s English. I honestly feel ashamed that I have never managed to learn a foreign language and recognise that means a wealth of other perspectives are closed to me. I totally respect those of you can, particularly ez who I would never have guest spoke Russian as a first language. That said, we are discussing complicated issues in English and it is important we understand each other. Poor grasp of English should be no barrier to such discussion but it does require some patience from the native English speakers and some recognition from the less fluent cementers that they may have misunderstood something; feel free to ask, you may even catch us out. If you are based outside the UK you may have interesting perspectives on homeopathy from other countries, India makes widespread use of homeopathy and Germany seems to be very into it, if you are from such a country perhaps you can point us to resources we would not notice by ourselves.

    The alternative of course is that Galley is a native English speaker. If so then even more patience is required. The disjointed prose might indicate a deeper struggle to engage with the issues but might just indicate a struggle to communicate in written language. As a dyslexic I have struggled with written work my entire academic career and have submitted poorer examples of English than Galley’s in my time so I do sympathise. Some bizarre mistakes in my own posts lay testament to my struggles.

    It would be nice to know which of the options is going on here so we can debate effectively. Engaging with science and the wider issues that arise for technology and medicine should be something everyone can do. This is one of the key values of the blogging sceptical community.

    Comment by Derrik — 7 August 2008 @ 10:40 am

  36. What strikes me as particularly interesting about Andrew’s comments is his proclivity for finding insult worthy of lawsuits. Such incredible sensitivity coming from a person who’s primary tool for argument seems to be condescension and ridicule boggles the mind.

    People have said some pretty nasty things about me on this site. People, I note, who say them while hiding behind pseudonyms. Galley said I had “nasty near-eugenic” opinions. Since I’m writing this under my real name and it’s easily traceable back to my employer, I’m pretty certain I could very easily sue Galley for that kind of comment, at least, if he had the conviction to put his (or her) real identity behind such a statement. Fortunately for Galley, I’m not as sensitive as you apparently think I am, and therefore I’m not going to overreact like that. I merely offer my friendly advice that some people take that kind of thing very seriously, so you should be careful saying such awful things about people unless you can prove them — the next person Galley compares to eugenics advocates might actually be “incredibly sensitive” and decide to settle matters in court. And they’ll win.

    Comment by Andrew — 7 August 2008 @ 10:59 am

  37. Just a bunch of bullies. You’ve found some new people you think you can bully and threaten. I simply stated the obvious about your posts but instead of addressing your own prejudices you just hurl the threats.

    Listen you’ve all made your points- “homeopathy does not work because it is implausible”, conventional medicine kills a certain number of people but that is OK because shit happens etc. So what. Maybe time to go back to your beers and football fights?

    Comment by Galley — 7 August 2008 @ 2:42 pm

  38. No, gimpy, I was referring to Andrew’s comments. He has routinely used threats of lawsuits. When you examine his point that people hide behind pseudonyms, we discover that he’s being quite disingenuous. He has previously made clear that he used the link I provided, which goes straight to my website and identifies me, to find out who I was. Now, he tries to give the impression that the homeopaths are hiding behind pseudonyms, something he obviously knows not to be entirely true.

    The idea that he could sue someone for stating an opinion is absurd. Whether the speaker’s views are valid or not, they’re an opinion. Someone stating a viewpoint about someone else’s comments is not at risk of lawsuit.

    This is either posturing or an implied threat – and it gives the strong impression that the intended desire is to try to silence the voices of homeopaths.

    Comment by gaiatherapy — 7 August 2008 @ 4:48 pm

  39. “Listen you’ve all made your points- “homeopathy does not work because it is implausible”,”

    Do you people never learn anything? Time and time again we have to explain this. No-one – no-one with a brain in their head – dismisses homeopathy or anything else “because it is implausible”. We dismiss homeopathy because lots of people have tested it to see whether it works and they have consistently shown that it doesn’t. If someone showed that all those previous tests were flawed in some way and in fact homeopathy does work, then every sceptic in the world would embrace it – even if it was still wildly implausible.

    Try to understand what we are saying: homeopathy does not work AND it is implausible.

    Comment by M Simpson — 7 August 2008 @ 5:39 pm

  40. gaiatherapy, nobody is trying to silence you. All we are asking is that you provide proof that your treatments work and if you cannot do this then you will have to rethink the claims you make for homeopathy.

    Comment by gimpy — 7 August 2008 @ 6:25 pm

  41. Simpson and gimpy

    You both prove my point.

    Simpson- your additional bit of opinion which you think of as fact is included under “etc.” in my previous comment.

    gimpy- you said “if you cannot do this then you will have to rethink”—-your post has an ominous tone- anyone not agreeing with you should “rethink” because you don’t accept it? Does that mean that we should all be under your thought control? Your other comments also has the same ominous tone- if you don’t prove it to me, if you don’t think the way I do, then you HAVE to do this or that.

    I don’t see much proof being given here in this post that homeopathy does NOT work except bleatings that it is not a major part of conventional medicine and that there are a group of people called skeptics who have the opinion that it doesn’t work, etc. etc. Then why should gaiaitherapy prove it does work? There are many, including many scientists and ordinary peoples who have the opposite opinion AND EXPERIENCE to the skeptics here. It is appropriate to be able to state it without being threatened.

    It seems that those who oppose homeopathy resort to ominous threats and disturbing persistent tactics because there are a group of people out there who disagree with you. I think the major thing you can do is to understand what you promote, (I’m not sure why you promote it but I don’t even need to know) is an opinion and not fact. If you did then you wouldn’t be so quick to stop or threaten others who state their opinion and experience about how well homeopathy works.

    Comment by Galley — 8 August 2008 @ 1:47 am

  42. gimpy – I’d understand if you’d called this simply “unfounded claims of homeopathy”, as we already know your opinion, but why would you use the word “offensive”? You say: “frankly offensive claims, that it can be used as a global panacea for all ills.” Really, what offends you here?

    Comment by ez — 8 August 2008 @ 4:08 am

  43. Andrew,

    you write “Maybe I will quit my job and instead make a living by winding up homeopaths until they lie about me and then suing them.” This is certainly a revealing statement about you – I am not saying that you are consciously pursuing this route – but then there is always our unconscious which betrays us once in a while. At least, it certainly looks like what many of those who are now engaged in internet anti-homeopathic (let’s call them) “discussions” are actually trying to do.

    Comment by ez — 8 August 2008 @ 4:16 am

  44. One more point to gimpy –

    who writes: “All we are asking is that you provide proof that your treatments work and if you cannot do this then you will have to rethink the claims you make for homeopathy.”

    If you’d taken time to have a look at gaia’s site, you’d learn that she herself has experienced what homeopathy can do to a person with a far from self-limiting and benign condition – as have many other homeopaths, by the way, – and this was so compelling an experience that such former homeopathic patients choose to become homeopaths themselves. In a way, the fact that she is alive and well and is here to talk to you is in itself a proof that homeopathy works. Too bad if this is not convincing enough for you, and the only evidence that you wish to see should come from a study and not a real life situation. Andrew writes – “Death is all around us” – this is also telling. I admit, it is probably not easy to persuade such a person that a short-term relief is not the best alternative – and that there are other alternatives to consider in the first place, because such a person would be in a great hurry to do something right now – quite a number of homeopathic remeides come to mind when one reads such comments. This only speaks about how deep the ailments of such people are, but here a sort of metaphysical talk starts, which often looks like propaganda or preaching, although it is not – it is amazingly real and relevant to each and every person, – so I’d better leave it at this point.

    Comment by ez — 8 August 2008 @ 4:29 am

  45. your post has an ominous tone- anyone not agreeing with you should “rethink” because you don’t accept it? Does that mean that we should all be under your thought control? Your other comments also has the same ominous tone- if you don’t prove it to me, if you don’t think the way I do, then you HAVE to do this or that.

    WTF?

    ez, homeopaths make claims that it can be used to treat and cure cancer, autism, malaria, the common cold and every ailment under the sun without any evidence that it can. When homeopathic treatments are subject to the same rigourous testing as conventional medicine and shown to have an effect then you can start making claims based on what the evidence says. Until that moment you have to stop making these unsubstantiated claims, to do so is false advertising and that I find offensive. Anecdotes, such as those presented by gaiatherapy, are subject to cognitive bias and prove nothing. This is why scientific tests are carefully controlled and ideally blinded.

    Comment by gimpy — 8 August 2008 @ 8:46 am

  46. This whole business of double blinding in tests is a bit of a red herring, if you consider the ultimate results of a huge number of such tests in pharmaceutical drug trials. These drugs are routinely approved after double blind tests. If these tests were so good, then why is it that, in real world application of these products, so many prove to both lack efficacy and do great harm?

    Drugs like that include thalidomide, vioxx, celecoxib, statins, and a host of others. It is common for real-life use of these drugs – that is, tested on thousands or millions of people over a period of time – to demonstrate their lack of efficacy and dangers.

    So, the problem is either that double blind testing is not an effective method or that it is being corrupted in practice. If it is not effective, then the suggestion that homeopathy be tried with that technique is clearly not valid. If double blind testing is effective but corrupt in application, then one must assume that the testers have preconceived notions in doing their tests. Thus, they are still not valid for use in testing homeopathy – or anything else.

    It’s obvious that double blind testing is either ineffective or too easily subject to abuse by those who purport to use the technique.

    Comment by gaiatherapy — 8 August 2008 @ 9:26 am

  47. The idea that he could sue someone for stating an opinion is absurd. Whether the speaker’s views are valid or not, they’re an opinion. Someone stating a viewpoint about someone else’s comments is not at risk of lawsuit.

    That’s totally false.

    If you write and publish that I am a shill for a Big Farmer then that is defamatory. I could sue you for libel, and then you would have to prove it or else you’d lose the case. That’s how libel law works. You can say it’s an opinion all you like, but that’s disingenuous, because clearly I either am or am not a shill for a large agricultural worker. It’s not a matter of opinion. It is clearly a statement of fact — or a lie.

    Please understand that I’m not threatening you with anything. I’m simply saying that you can’t go around making that kind of claim about people unless you can back it up with evidence — although as a group, the homeopaths’ past record on backing things up with evidence is pretty dismal. It is unhelpful and unethical, it makes you look bad and it does put you at risk of legal action.

    I mentioned this largely as a way of pointing out that you are arguing using made up ad hominem attacks instead of evidence and reason.

    I find the likeness between this argument and the homeopathy argument fascinating: in both you are making sweeping factual statements with absolutely no basis in evidence, and using further ad-hom attacks and hiding behind the “entitled to my opinion” line when someone questions you on them. It’s childish, really.

    ez, I’ll respond to your points as and when you decide to make any. I feel sure you’re making nasty insinuations about me as well but since I can’t work out what they are I’ll assume that neither can anyone else and ignore them.

    I don’t see much proof being given here in this post that homeopathy does NOT work except bleatings that it is not a major part of conventional medicine and that there are a group of people called skeptics who have the opinion that it doesn’t work, etc. etc. Then why should gaiaitherapy prove it does work? There are many, including many scientists and ordinary peoples who have the opposite opinion AND EXPERIENCE to the skeptics here. It is appropriate to be able to state it without being threatened.

    By all means you can state your experience. But you shouldn’t extrapolate from it to make general statements about the efficacy of medicinal systems. That is inappropriate — especially where fatal diseases are involved, because if you’re wrong then people could die because of your advice. That’s why we’d like homeopaths to prove their medicine works before applying it.

    Of course in fact we’re all by now utterly convinced it doesn’t work, so when we say “prove it first” I suppose we really intend that you’ll go and do a trial expecting to prove it, get a negative result, and stop bleating on about how great you imagine homeopathy is. But that’s not really relevant: the important thing is that you do the trial at all. Which way it goes is something neither of us can control — that simply depends on whether homeopathy works or not.

    Comment by Andrew — 8 August 2008 @ 9:55 am

  48. gaiatherapy, whatever the problems with drug trials, and those problems you mention can be overcome with a bit of oversight and regulation, this does not prevent homeopathy from being subject to such trials. Bizarrely you claim that such trials are lax and this would make them unsuitable for homeopathy – I would have thought that you would want trials to be lax so there is more chance of homeopathy being approved! You also suggest that researchers have preconceived notions, this is undoubtedly true, we all have notions and biases. This is why trials should be BLINDED so preconceptions are rendered irrelevant. Try again. Why can’t homeopathy be investigated using randomised controlled trials that eliminate bias?

    Comment by gimpy — 8 August 2008 @ 11:30 am

  49. gimpy says: “Why can’t homeopathy be investigated using randomised controlled trials that eliminate bias?”

    Well, I’m not good at discussing trials etc., but judging from one of the laughinstock’s thread where givescience a chance posted – they (GSAC) are of the opinion that it is possible to design an adequate trial of the type you seem to like so much, only that noone has ever done it yet, and I recall that I personally wrote there that in my humble opinion this is not likely to be an easy task, besides – I hope you will agree, – the people who do this design should be familiar with the way homeopathy is applied in a safe and efficient way – in order to be able to come up with a design that would permit to test exactly these specific features of its mode of action.

    GSAC also pointed out many times that those “blinded” trials are not – and should not – be the only type of evidence to rely on in judging things in medicine (in particular), but you obviously seem to prefer to ignore this.

    One more thing that GSAC said is that “anecdote” actually refers to information that was not obtained first-hand, so while actual cases are indeed anecdotes to you, they are NOT anecdotes to those who have seen them first-hand or even experienced them themselves, so I suggest you revise your use of this word “anecdote”, especially the denigratory manner in which you employ it implies deep disrespect to the people you are adressing yourselves to, so I don’t think you have any (should I say) moral right to receive any answers at all, in particular to you constant claim “prove it to me”.

    ANdrew – I am not good at insinuations, and I never found any pleasure in such activity, so you may relax on this one, I’m not going up to make up any imaginary traits that you might have – I don’t know you personally and have nothing against you personally, of course. I only note that you are quite persistent in your attacks at something you obviously do not know well, and I find it strange and disturbing – which makes me question your motives.

    But again, as with the thread of the laughingsocks this exchange threatens to start repeating itself, so I beg your pardon at this point, and hope to hear from you – maybe saying the same things, and maybe not – who knows – in some 5 years from now. All the best.

    Comment by ez — 8 August 2008 @ 1:08 pm

  50. One more thing gaiatherapy. I note on your website that you list a BSc amongst your qualifications. Would you mind stating what this BSc is in as using it professionally suggests that it is appropriate to your job?

    Comment by gimpy — 8 August 2008 @ 1:11 pm

  51. One more thing that GSAC said is that “anecdote” actually refers to information that was not obtained first-hand, so while actual cases are indeed anecdotes to you, they are NOT anecdotes to those who have seen them first-hand or even experienced them themselves, so I suggest you revise your use of this word “anecdote”, especially the denigratory manner in which you employ it implies deep disrespect to the people you are adressing yourselves to, so I don’t think you have any (should I say) moral right to receive any answers at all, in particular to you constant claim “prove it to me”.

    I think you’ve misunderstood the problem with anecdotal ‘evidence’. The problem isn’t that the stories are second hand; it’s that they’re unreliable. Even a first-hand anecdote can be misremembered, they’re selectively reported — and selectively recalled to begin with, they’re riddled with the post-hoc fallacy, and such little information as they contain isn’t useful without something matched to compare it to. They’re anecdotes whoever’s anecdotes they are, and that alone renders them unhelpful. Not worthless, but not evidence.

    Comment by Andrew — 8 August 2008 @ 1:37 pm

  52. Andrew, I do find it curious how quick to take offence homeopaths are. And how they use this mask of affront to avoid actually answering any questions or providing evidence. It’s almost like they know they can’t prove what they say is true.

    Comment by gimpy — 8 August 2008 @ 2:27 pm

  53. gimpy- offence? You are offensive when you ominously question someone about their qualifications yet give none yourself.

    Truth and evidence? All I see here is threats and unsubstantiated negative opinions about homeopathy. For all of you without ANY qualifications stated officially I find all your comments are not believable even though you say your opinions as heavy handed fact.

    And yes, the process of how you are giving your opinions is very relative to the believability of any statements you make.

    So, joining all of this, all I see is that none of you are experts except in skepticism. Some here are experts in homeopathy and have officially stated as such- their experience is what I am interested in. Too bad you can’t let them express it without threatening them.

    Comment by Galley — 8 August 2008 @ 3:17 pm

  54. Galley, I do not offer my qualifications because I am not posting here in a professional capacity. Gaiatherapy uses hers on her website and at the foot of the (grossly inaccurate and misleading) articles she writes. There is no reason to do this unless to imply they are an important part of her credentials to practice as a homeopath and to write as a journalist.

    I think you should appreciate that statements backed with evidence are more believable than statements backed with a few letters or title. There is plenty of evidence refuting the concepts behind homeopathy and its efficacy as a treatment, there is no evidence supporting its concepts and little evidence supporting it as a form of treatment and what little there is wholly explicable through the placebo effect.

    Comment by gimpy — 8 August 2008 @ 3:24 pm

  55. I find it bizarre gimpy that you would in a cavalier fashion dismiss the list of problem drugs that giatherapy gives with a statement like:

    “whatever the problems with drug trials, and those problems you mention can be overcome with a bit of oversight and regulation”

    Are you kidding- “a bit”? From that list there are tens of thousands of people killed or injured by those drugs. With that going on, why are you so heavy handed with individual homeopaths and not about the deficiencies of this process? It sounds like you are actively promoting drugs to me.

    Comment by Galley — 8 August 2008 @ 3:43 pm

  56. So, joining all of this, all I see is that none of you are experts except in skepticism. Some here are experts in homeopathy and have officially stated as such- their experience is what I am interested in.

    Don’t you see though that anyone who claims to be an expert in homeopathy will say that it works whether or not it does? If it works, then the experts will study it and find out that it works. If not, then most people will dismiss it as such and never bother to become experts. Those that devote so much time to learning about it will be almost exclusively those who think it works.

    That’s why we need people like Edzard Ernst to be professors of complementary medicine and not people who practice it professionally — asking homeopaths whether homeopathy works is like asking the Pope if God exists: the answer is determined by their position and not by the fact of the matter.

    Oh, and thanks — I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a better and more succinct definition of a scientist than an “expert in skepticism”.

    Truth and evidence? All I see here is threats and unsubstantiated negative opinions about homeopathy.

    It is usual for the people who think they can sure diseases by shaking water to provide evidence to back up their claim, rather than assuming it’s true until someone proves otherwise. That’s how the burden of proof works. Partly so that scientists don’t have to spend the whole time investigating any crackpot idea anyone invents, but mostly because to prove homeopathy didn’t work in any circumstance would be nigh-on impossible, whereas all you have to do is find one disease that it can reliably treat better than placebo and I promise we will all accept that — with a handful of exceptions; doubtless there are ideologues on both sides.

    Comment by Andrew — 8 August 2008 @ 3:47 pm

  57. Andrew you said: “Don’t you see though that anyone who claims to be an expert in homeopathy will say that it works whether or not it does? If it works, then the experts will study it and find out that it works.”

    Experts in homeopathy are enough for me. My personal homeopath has done a lot for me and my family and my friends. But I know that homeopathy does not ALWAYS work. But when it does it is exceptional! This is a personal experience but an awesome one.

    And this type of evidence is not for you. But why Andrew are you so angry about that? I have had very positive experiences with homeopathy and you have an opinion. Why all the anger about it?

    Comment by Galley — 8 August 2008 @ 3:57 pm

  58. Galley, what is your point about drugs causing side effects and death? It’s hardly news that some people can have an adverse reaction to a drug. The key point is that the benefits of taking the drug should outweigh the risks. We should strive to reduce the risk as much as possible but it is all but impossible to achieve zero risk. However, this is a separate issue to homeopathy. Are you suggesting that ‘drugs have side effects therefore homeopaths should not be criticised is a logical argument’? I can’t see the logic myself.

    And what do you mean I am actively promoting drugs? I happen to think that the profound effect science and medicine have had on the health and longevity represents some of the finest achievements of our species. But I own no shares in drug companies, I do not work for them and do not use their products unnecessarily. Do you think I am a big pharma shill? If so it would be remiss and, as Andrew has already pointed out, libellous of you not to provide evidence to support that accusation.

    Comment by gimpy — 8 August 2008 @ 4:06 pm

  59. gimpy – I’ll have to take your word for it. It was just a question based on your comment but in actual fact your answer does sound like an advertisement for drug companies.

    And it is pertinent to the “testing” of homeopathy scientifically. Since my personal experience with homeopathy is much different than when I see my medical doctor, i.e. a much more individualized approached, then should it be tested like drugs that are given only on the basis of the disease and not the individual?

    And if the scientific methodology of testing is seriously or even partially flawed, as you admitted, should it be used?

    Comment by Galley — 8 August 2008 @ 4:20 pm

  60. Galley a flawed system of testing is preferable to no testing at all.

    What do you mean that drugs are given only on the basis of the disease and not the individual. Does your doctor not ask if you have taken a drug before and if you had side effects? Do they not check your individual health before writing a prescription? Individualised or not there is no conceivable mechanism by which homeopathy could work nor, as the Quackometer went to great lengths to explain, are its claims not testable by science.

    PS I hope you strongly condemn the over the counter selling of homeopathic remedies made by Ainsworths, Boiron and other Big Quacka on the grounds that the customer is not buying individualised treatments.

    Comment by gimpy — 8 August 2008 @ 4:46 pm

  61. I see a lot of cavalier attitudes about peoples dying from drug problems here- the flaw seems bigger to me than what you make of it.

    And also why don’t you stop with the idiotic threats and acting as if gimpy is a real name! Your posts are littered with ominous threatening words: sue like Andrew, quacks, condemn, with links to web sites even that exhort people to do that and more! What is that about? You are seeming like a professional at being anti-homeopathy. Is this your job?

    Comment by Galley — 8 August 2008 @ 4:53 pm

  62. I choose to blog pseudonymously. I am under no obligation to explain I only ask that you consider my arguments on their own merits and accept them as having no hidden agenda because I present them as such. Now please get over this ridiculous persecution complex and paranoia over words and actually engage with your critics. I don’t think you have answered a single question on this blog, you respond to criticism with accusation and anger not reason.

    Comment by gimpy — 8 August 2008 @ 5:00 pm

  63. Oh I see, gimpy- you see discussion and debating as you putting out questions or grilling the supporter of homeopathy but you not having to answer any yourself. Mmmmmm well that just about says it all. I haven’t seen any arguments but simply threatening accusations from you.

    You still have not explained why you dismiss side effects from conventional medicine so easily. It is very pertinent to why the peoples should choose homeopathy and why it is a superior choice for many ailments.

    Comment by Galley — 8 August 2008 @ 5:10 pm

  64. OK back to the argument:

    Gimpy said: “Are you suggesting that ‘drugs have side effects therefore homeopaths should not be criticised is a logical argument’? I can’t see the logic myself.”

    More accurately if drugs can kill people with side effects both known and UNKOWN AFTER TESTING should the testing model be used to test homeopathic remedies.

    Comment by Galley — 8 August 2008 @ 5:20 pm

  65. Galley, I don’t dismiss side effects easily. I accept them as a consequence of altering biochemical pathways. The point is that the benefits of the drugs outweigh the risks. Which part of this do you not understand?

    Now you have just made a claim that homeopathy is a superior choice for many ailments, where is your proof?

    Comment by gimpy — 8 August 2008 @ 5:23 pm

  66. “benefits outweigh the risks”. So you are also saying that death is an inevitable outcome of this practice or the use of conventional drugs and it is.

    My proof is that it worked for me and my family and friends. I’m happy with that. You are not. So why condemn me or others for that belief and limit my access to it particularly since you are saying that a certain number of deaths is a natural outcome of the conventional drug therapies.

    Comment by Galley — 8 August 2008 @ 5:34 pm

  67. More accurately if drugs can kill people with side effects both known and UNKOWN AFTER TESTING should the testing model be used to test homeopathic remedies.

    The safety of homeopathic remedies is not in doubt. The question mark — and it’s a big one — hangs over their efficacy. It is my understanding that homeopathic remedies are nothing more than pure water, and have therefore no pharmacological effect, therapeutic or damaging.

    Current testing procedures are indeed not capable of exhaustively detecting all side-effects, because the list of potential side-effects a drug could have is near infinite and they may be exceedingly rare. But a simple RCT can prove the efficacy of any treatment, provided it has any.

    So far as I’m aware, RCTs to date haven’t shown any good evidence in favour of homeopathy. You can either accept this as a negative result, or else perform more trials, reasoning that homeopathy may work on diseases it hasn’t been properly tested on yet, or using different remedies to what was used in the trials.

    Comment by Andrew — 8 August 2008 @ 5:38 pm

  68. My proof is that it worked for me and my family and friends. I’m happy with that. You are not. So why condemn me or others for that belief and limit my access to it particularly since you are saying that a certain number of deaths is a natural outcome of the conventional drug therapies.

    Nobody wants to stop you using homeopathy by force, and nobody would condemn you for your beliefs, even if they’re demonstrably wrong. (We might mock you a bit for them, though. Don’t take it personally.) Many of us feel, though, that you shouldn’t advise other people to use it on the basis of your experience, because it isn’t good evidence.

    Oh, and a few deaths is not “a natural outcome of the conventional drug therapies”, it is a natural outcome of any effective drug therapies. That is a fact of life. Anything that tinkers with your body’s biochemistry carries a risk. That should be obvious. You can’t have it both ways: if a drug has no side effects, that’s because it doesn’t do anything.

    Comment by Andrew — 8 August 2008 @ 5:42 pm

  69. Galley, death is an inevitable outcome of being born. Drugs merely extend the distance between the two for many. Of course some people will have an adverse drug reaction and die, such cases are tragic and should be reduced. However, the death of a few is an acceptable price to pay for the lives of a great many. This isn’t cold or callous, it is just an acceptance of a reality where there are no magic potions to cure disease nor elixirs of eternal life.

    Now seeing as you think that homeopathy can replace all these drugs with side effects then it should be easy to demonstrate that homeopathy has powerful effects. But oddly this has never been demonstrated. Strange that. All these companies and governments ploughing billions into scientific research when the answer to all mankinds ills is a bottle of agitated water, why didn’t they realise? This is a serious question. What explanation do you have for the failure of homeopathy to be accepted as a credible treatment for disease by the vast majority of the worlds scientists, governments and corporations?

    Comment by gimpy — 8 August 2008 @ 5:49 pm

  70. I’m not a scientist so I can’t prove that it works in the way that you are suggesting. But I think safety is the issue as far as the restriction of homeopathic remedies or the practice of homeopathy. I believe homeopathy is extremely efficacious with my own experience and I believe that is why the majority of people who use it also feel it is effective. That is what drives consumer demand.

    I am just surprised at the amount of time that you put into fighting homeopathy and wanting to “condemn” or restrict it. This considering the collateral damage from homeopathy is so much, much less than the collateral damage that you support for conventional drugs.

    Comment by Galley — 8 August 2008 @ 5:58 pm

  71. Galley, there may be collateral damage (btw I hate that term, it rather dehumanises things don’t you think?) from conventional drugs but they are proven to work. They are proven to cure disease. They are proven to extend life. Homeopathy lacks proof. Anecdotes are not proof, torn from the sanctuary of anecdotes and stripped of cognitive bias homeopathy is demonstrably no better than a placebo as Shang et al have shown.

    You admit you cannot prove homeopathy works to the standard society demands of conventional drugs and rely on anecdote to prove your assertions. Do you appreciate the problems of anecdotes? I suggest you read this post and think about how the problems with anecdotes can apply to you. Then you can explain how, despite these problems, you believe that anecdotes are stronger evidence than clinical trials. Please.

    Comment by gimpy — 8 August 2008 @ 6:21 pm

  72. I think the word collateral damage is very appropriate for this discussion, even humanizing especially considering the families of those killed or seriously injured by conventional drugs in the name of “working”.

    Anecdotes appeal to some people, (like myself) even a large portion of society. It may not be an acceptable standard to you or a scientist but it is a societal standard.

    Comment by Galley — 8 August 2008 @ 6:49 pm

  73. Galley, you haven’t engaged with the problems of anecdotes as outlined in my link. Appealing to the popularity of a standard in society is a fallacious argument too. Please explain that given the problems of anecdotes, as outlined in the evidence based medicine link, why you think that they are stronger evidence than clinical trials with respect to homeopathy.

    Comment by gimpy — 8 August 2008 @ 6:54 pm

  74. I do not believe that anecdotes are necessarily stronger evidence than clinical trials.

    I don’t think they compete with each other even except in these posts.

    They both have relevance but to me on a personal level anecdotes is what engaged me in trying homeopathy. And it worked and continues to work for me, my family and friends over many years! Yea! I’m enthusiastic about homeopathy because I know it works.

    So, I don’t think the consequences of either anecdotes or clinical trials should be restricted particularly if safe like homeopathy.

    Comment by Galley — 8 August 2008 @ 7:07 pm

  75. Also gimpy you said about conventional drugs “They are proven to cure disease”- I’m not sure which drugs you are referring to but in the case of most chronic diseases they don’t cure they simply treat the symptoms of disease- a big distinction which is relative to my experience with homeopathic remedies curing a number of diseases in myself, my family and friends.

    Comment by Galley — 8 August 2008 @ 8:06 pm

  76. Andrew – you write: “Nobody wants to stop you using homeopathy by force,” – oh, but you do, it’s your goal, isn’t it? Because if the financing aids in Britain will be withdrawn from homeopathy, a certain number of people will be FORCED NOT TO GO TO A HOMEOPATH because they will not be able to pay the fees of the private practice!

    Comment by ez — 9 August 2008 @ 1:15 am

  77. gimpy writes: “Galley, death is an inevitable outcome of being born.” Well, I’ve noticed that for most sceptics this does indeed sum up their perception of life – they are simply kind of waiting out their time till death, not consciously, of course, but basically this shows in most of the posts. What a waste! There is much more to do with life, beleive me!

    Re anecdotes – I know that it probably would sound stupid to you, but I’m afraid you are not aware that some people are really capable of knowing themselves so well as to be able to be – well, what the real homeopaths are trained to become, actually, and what Hahnemann and other classics stress the need of – to be “UNPREJUDICED OBSERVERS”. If one is rational enough as to consciously understand their own line of thought this becomes possible for them – to check all those pitfall outlined in your post about anecdotes, I agree to almost all of them, but I do not agree that EVERYBODY is NECESSARILY going to fall into all of them, although I often witness people who tend to do so. Half of the points is what I’m telling my friends, and potential patients also, who are often in all those “health-food” stuff etc. “Golden Mean” is the best solution: to have enough of “open mind” balanced by a good share of “rational scepticism” is what I see appropriate.

    From the outside a person who is at a sufficiently high level of such self-awareness can be spotted by CONSISTENCE of their beliefs/statements, that is when the OBSERVER is able to grasp the logic. I am a mathematician by education, and logic was my best done subject, I also did extremely well – which totally surprised me, as a matter of fact, – in the course of social decision at the Sorbonne University in Paris where I did the first part of my Ph.D. – I never got to the actual paper-writing as it was postponed because of the child-rearing, but now I think I’m changing my route and not going to do it after all. This social decision course is in France a course of pure logic calculus, so I guess I can be quite sure regarding my logical skills, of which I was already being told at my school back in Russia, where I was winning all essay competitions for a number of years, mainly because the people who checked them were overwhelmed by the logic that I developped in the text – as they told me themselves several times. I write this, obviously, not to boast about my skills etc., but to tell you that I have repeatedly received confirmation to what I actually always KNEW was my strong point, so I consider this to be a good argument to trust my – not exactly experience, – but judgement abilities – in general, that is, applied to basically all areas of my competence, which is not, of course, unlimited, but rather wide. Regarding the experience with homeopathy included. When faced with an anecdote, obviously the judgement of the person should be based not solely on the emotional response, which should not, however, be ignored, but on all previous personal and learned experience PLUS the test for CONSISTENCY in logic (and some other aspects as well). Sorry to disappoint you, although the article is actually good, I did not see any single point that is applicable in cases of a judgement a SKILLED homeopath does when assessing the course of their treatment of a person, actually – half of the points are mentioned in our course as points to be aware about in order not to deceive oneself and distort the picture and thus not to go on with wrong remedies.

    However, if you have never been familiar with the activity of thinking for yourselves, you will find a lot of revelatory things in what the sceptics write – well, why not for the moment? Maybe, you will learn to think on your own, and then you’ll see some day what it was all about? I understand you are all quite young? What is unpleasant, though, is that you are indeed being offensive – as gaiatherapy points out, but hopefully you’ll be able to realise that as well? We have a popular saying in Russian, suggesting that “you should look at yourself from aside”, just kind of step aside and objectively consider what you are doing and saying. This is a useful exercise to do from time to time.

    So watching the discussion on another thread I have noticed that when someone mentioned that inappropriate usage of remedies can be harmful – recently there was one person ranting about proper regulation for homeopaths, who has started regular bouts of hypertension for 6 months after taking a 10M of a remedy, which equally promptly disappeared as soon as they started, 6 months later on a new remedy with a better qualified homeopath, how’s that for a placebo effect? – the sceptics did not stop to go on asking homeopaths not about how they would explain this, but whether they would accept LEGAL AND MORAL LIABILITY if somebody got sick after their treatment – thus we see that it’s not the point about homeopathy, but the point about a possibility to legally sue the homeopaths and just find a means to prevent them from practicing. I found this amusing – why do you think I am offended by what you write? Not at all!

    Comment by ez — 9 August 2008 @ 7:25 am

  78. Also gimpy you said about conventional drugs “They are proven to cure disease”- I’m not sure which drugs you are referring to but in the case of most chronic diseases they don’t cure they simply treat the symptoms of disease- a big distinction which is relative to my experience with homeopathic remedies curing a number of diseases in myself, my family and friends.

    There is a distinction between curative and palliative treatments. It looks like you’re implicitly claiming here that homeopathy can cure chronic diseases conventional medicine can’t. I put it to you that this claim is unsupported by evidence and, in fact, false. Ironically, the placebo effect that homeopathy has is perhaps at its most useful in palliative care, a section of medicine you imply homeopathy doesn’t bother with.

    Andrew – you write: “Nobody wants to stop you using homeopathy by force,” – oh, but you do, it’s your goal, isn’t it? Because if the financing aids in Britain will be withdrawn from homeopathy, a certain number of people will be FORCED NOT TO GO TO A HOMEOPATH because they will not be able to pay the fees of the private practice!

    You genuinely can’t see the difference between oppressing homeopathy and simply not subsidising it, can you? You remind me of the Christian zealots who were angry at plans to limit the Church of England’s Parliamentary power and repeal the blasphemy laws as they felt they were being “attacked”, when in fact they were merely losing privileges they had never deserved in the first place.

    If and when you prove homeopathy works, I’ll join the fight to get it more public money. Until then, I say it should get none. If people want to indulge in made-up quack therapies, they can foot the bill themselves. It’s only shaken water. Frankly if you lot are charging so much for that that people can’t afford it without public subsidy then you’re the ones who don’t care about patients.

    ez, there is a huge world of difference between being good at mathematical logic and being good at critical thinking.

    You say that you can become an “unprejudiced observer”. That’s quite a claim, but okay, say that’s true. I can also become an unprejudiced observer. I do it routinely as part of my research: I use automated analysis by computers in place of subjective judgements by humans, we blind, control and randomise trials to remove effects of placebo, observer bias and so forth. I mean, maybe we could just become unprejudiced as you are suggesting, and then we wouldn’t need to do all of that, but why would anyone believe us? Everyone thinks they’re unprejudiced.

    Of course, the really interesting thing is that whenever homeopathy is tested by these “unprejudiced observers” it seems to work, and yet whenever it’s tested in these conditions, carefully designed to remove any remaining prejudices, it doesn’t. How can you explain the discrepancy between the observations of two unprejudiced observers?

    I explain it by rejecting the premise that anybody can make unprejudiced observations without the carefully controlled conditions of an RCT or similarly well-designed study scenario.

    Comment by Andrew — 9 August 2008 @ 11:41 am

  79. Well, I’ll just keep recommending homeopathy to my friends and acquaintances. I say it worked for me and then the people can decided if they want to do it themselves. I’m sorry but in the current climate many of the RTC have gotten a bad rap since some drugs prove to be harmful and then peoples sue doctors and drug companies. Many of these lawsuits get large publicity since thousands of people sue at one time.

    I still don’t see why you Andrew and gimpy are so threatened by someone suggesting to a friend homeopathy worked for them. You both say that for the most part conventional medicines cures most diseases and most governments and scientists accept that some death is inevitable when using them. And to you this shows they are even more effective. It seems like drug companies are doing quite well, (even without your help) so I don’t think homeopathy is really threatening their base or business.

    I’m glad Andrew you said that you don’t want to stop those from using homeopathy.

    So, I’ve mellowed with this but I don’t have time to keep discussing.

    Comment by Galley — 10 August 2008 @ 5:51 am

  80. Galley, again you are using faulty logic. I’m sorry but ‘drug trials sometimes don’t detect all the side effects therefore homeopathy works’ is not a sensible argument. Nor for that matter is your personal experience, with all the cognitive bias that entails, a substitute for RCTs. I am not threatened by the fact that you feel homeoapthy worked for you, I am concerned by the fact that homeopaths take unreliable personal experience and extrapolate to make grand claims about cancer, autism, alzheimers and indeed just about every disease known to man that flatly contradict the findings of physics, chemistry and biology. You undermine modern medicine and have the potential to cause great harm should somebody listen to your theories of medicine.

    Comment by gimpy — 10 August 2008 @ 9:21 am

  81. ez, I have no idea what it feels like to be as certain as you in your belief that you are an unprejudiced observer. I am acutely aware of the fact that there are a great deal of people smarter and more knowledgeable than me so I am always careful in the presentation of my ability. I know for certain that I am not without prejudice. I frequently judge people, at first anyway, on the basis of their appearance, accent and attire. I find it difficult at first to accept ideas that do not confirm to my assumptions and am certain of the fact that I am quite often guilty of seeing things the way I want to see them and not how they are. I see these traits in others too, this is why I believe that RCTs are necessary to investigate the effectiveness of treatments and why blinding should be carried out whenever possible during experimentation.

    Perhaps you could tell me how I can overcome the problems with my observational and analytical skills to become as confident as you in my ability?

    Comment by gimpy — 10 August 2008 @ 10:10 am

  82. gimpy – I should say that internet is not the best place for such conversations, as a lot of “context” is cut off due to lack of time or on-going distraction of the writer – at least, this is so in my case.

    I did not mean to say that I am an unprejudiced observer, only that people who wish to practice homeopathy are made very aware of the issue and are encouraged to work in that direction, and I’m one of such people. I know I’m prejudiced, probably, in many areas, but I also have noticed that I’m less prejudiced than I used to be – the more you learn and think about things, the more different aspects of each event you are able to see, and the less “prejudiced” – that is, biased you are. The williness to learn and the actual process helps a lot.

    However, when I see that you and Andrew and other people continue to repeat that they do not need to know anything about homeopathy to make their judgements, obviously, the issue of bias comes to mind – and all your statements are not really credible.

    As I said I am not familiar with all the RTC and problems with them, so I cannot really comment about someting I do not know, not that I do not wish to learn, but I just cannot right now – things that one person can do are quite limited, you’ll agree, – I have too many other urgent commitments, but the study with Belladonna that Andy Lewis was so enthusiastic about in the laughinsocks’ thread about “Sugar pills” is clearly unreasonably designed so – GIGO – it really does not say anything at all except that the authors do not know much about homeopathy. Yet, you hail the results as supporting your opinions – well, I really cannot see how you expect to be credible, but again – obviously you have no doubts in this opinion of yours that “homeopathy does not work” – so where’s your awareness of the possibility of bias in your views? You are trying to relegate the serious research to someone else – well, as I said many times, people are busy, and if you really want to have any answers – you’ll have to find them yourselves and not wait till someone finds time for satisfying your queries.

    I was quite happy as a homeopathic patient, so I wanted more people to benefit, and that’s why I study – and will continue to do so. As soon as I will start seeing people being harmed by what I do – I will revise my stance, so far I did not need to do this in terms of the general approach, while I had to reassess several details.

    ANd the only advice I can give to you is to diversify your expertise – it really always helps. (Not that I do not doubt whether you were seriously asking for any advice.)

    Comment by ez — 10 August 2008 @ 1:32 pm

  83. Andrew – you write “when in fact they were merely losing privileges they had never deserved in the first place.” probably suggesting that homeopaths are in a similar position – are you aware when and why homeopathy was included in the system? It appears it was not in there from the start.

    Comment by ez — 10 August 2008 @ 1:34 pm

  84. In the findarticles.com piece, there are several references to the success rate of Ramakrishnan’s cancer treatments but I was unable to find the published, peer-reviewed papers that these percentages came from. The only reference seems to be to a book written by Ramakrishnan and Coulter. Apparently, “this book is based on Ramakrishnan’s clinical experience from his patient records of 1974 to 2000 during which time he has treated more than 5,000 cancer patients in India”. How reliable are the figures given by Ramakrishnan? Did he include all his cancer patients or were any excluded? What were the reasons for exclusion of patients? How were the patients diagnosed with cancer and who was diagnosing them? Were they being treated with conventional medicine plus homeopathy or with homeopathy alone? This is a problem with citing books or poorly referenced internet articles – we aren’t given the answers to any of these questions and in order for us to know whether the homeopathic treatment was really successful, we need the answers to these questions.

    Some trials of homeopathy for cancer have already been published – including some randomised clinical trials. Milazzo, Russell and Ernst conducted a meta analysis on trials of homeopathy for cancer and found “insufficient evidence to support clinical efficacy of homeopathic therapy in cancer care” – Eur J Cancer. 2006 Feb;42(3):282-9. [PMID: 16376071]

    If there are already properly conducted trials of homeopathy and cancer, why would anyone need to cite internet articles based on a non-peer-reviewed book written by a homeopath? Because the trials fail to show that homeopathy works. The book also fails to show that homeopathy works for cancer but because it suggests that it does [without providing appropriate evidence], it is cited. That’s how homeopathic evidence works – you keep looking for weaker and weaker evidence until you find some that is positive. It’s a kind of ultra dilution of the truth isn’t it?

    Comment by jdc325 — 10 August 2008 @ 1:54 pm

  85. If people with cancer symptoms around the world are being treated successfully with homeopathy then the current scientific methods used to measure homeopathy’s effectiveness in artificial conditions are weak.

    Comment by homeopathy4health — 10 August 2008 @ 4:10 pm

  86. Ramakrishnan claims 80% success rate in treating breast cancer and prostate cancer. If that’s true, it’s absolutely fantastic. Those are two common, pernicious types of cancer and many people would benefit from a treatment with that kind of success rate.

    Yet curiously, as alluded to in my earlier post wondering why cancer charities ignore homeopathy, all the organisations around the globe with a mission to help people with breast or prostate cancer ignore his work and homeopathy in general. Why would that be? It can’t be that they don’t know about homeopathy – it’s massively well-documented and discussed. It can’t be because homeopathy is too expensive or has dangerous side effects – we all, sceptics included, know that it’s dirt-cheap to research and administer and that it is completely safe.

    The only explanation I can think of is that the cancer charities and cancer organisations do not think that homeopathy works, at least not for cancer. But these are organisations which are desperate to find a way to reduce human suffering, they are looking for anything that might alleviate or cure cancer.

    If Ramakrishnan genuinely does have a method of treating breast and prostate cancer that is 80% successful, then by not presenting his data to peer-reviewed cancer journals, he is deliberately maintaining the impression that there is no evidence for this treatment’s efficacy beyond his own say-so. If he has genuine 80% success rate data, every cancer journal in the world would jump at the chance to publish it. His work could then be duplicated across the globe and millions of people diagnosed with breast/prostate cancer could be cured.

    Ramakrishnan is either saying things which are not true (possibly mistaken, possibly lying, possibly a bit of both) in which case it is surely the duty of every honest person to point this out – or he is deliberately withholding evidence of a miracle cure for a terrible disease, condemning millions who could be effectively, cheaply, safely treated to a life shortened by a terrible condition,

    A miracle cure for anything should be shared with the world, do you not agree? But Ramakrishnan and his acolytes are simply claiming a miracle cure without offering even the most basic evidence. So which do we think is the case: is the man a liar, or is he (by default) a murderer?

    Comment by M Simpson — 10 August 2008 @ 4:41 pm

  87. Send someone to investigate…I know, send ‘Nash’ he went to investigate the RLHH and never reported back…

    Comment by homeopathy4health — 10 August 2008 @ 4:49 pm

  88. the study with Belladonna that Andy Lewis was so enthusiastic about in the laughinsocks’ thread about “Sugar pills” is clearly unreasonably designed so – GIGO – it really does not say anything at all except that the authors do not know much about homeopathy. Yet, you hail the results as supporting your opinions

    That’s not how it works. A good trail aims not to prove something but to disprove something. It’s easy to gather observations consistent with the hypothesis “homeopathy works”. Any idiot can do that. The sky is blue. I have legs. Cats are nice. All of these are consistent with homeopathy. The trick is to engineer a situation whose results are unambiguously inconsistent with the statement “homeopathy does not work”. Once you’ve disproved that hypothesis, the only rational conclusion will be that it does.

    An RCT is ideal because it is a situation designed carefully to remove several common factors that render even compelling positive trends consistent with the null hypothesis. They never prove the null hypothesis, that is impossible, but they mean that you haven’t disproved it either.

    (In fact it’s more complicated than that, since you really should do a trial of every homeopathic remedy — one trial for the whole system simply won’t do. That said, proving anything beyond 30C would net you the Nobel Prize.)

    PS. I’ve not read the study you refer to so I won’t comment on its quality.

    You are trying to relegate the serious research to someone else

    I’m not trying to relegate (or delegate) the research anywhere. If you want public funding, damn well justify it first. If you want to be taken seriously, gather evidence that you’re right rather than just shouting until everyone else proves you wrong — and then ignoring them when they do.

    Andrew – you write “when in fact they were merely losing privileges they had never deserved in the first place.” probably suggesting that homeopaths are in a similar position – are you aware when and why homeopathy was included in the system? It appears it was not in there from the start.

    I can only presume that homeopathy was included prior to the advent of evidence-based medicine. We’ve raised the bar since then, and homeopathy has quietly failed to raise its evidence base to match. But homeopathy has numerous vocal supporters, so excising it from the system has proved politically difficult. However, until the system is proven, excision remains the correct response.

    If people with cancer symptoms around the world are being treated successfully with homeopathy then the current scientific methods used to measure homeopathy’s effectiveness in artificial conditions are weak.

    The indisputable facts are as follows:

    1. When homeopathy’s anti-cancer efficacy is measured carefully, it doesn’t seem to work.
    2. When homeopathy’s anti-cancer efficacy is measured in a non-careful way, it does seem to work.

    How is the conclusion here that care is bad? You can’t say “I know the answer, if the experiment doesn’t show it then the experiment is broken”. Run a trial with more statistical power. Or go and design a better experiment, and if you can’t, and your mind isn’t sufficiently open to accept even the possibility that your initial assumption was wrong, then you shouldn’t be doing research. Or medical practice.

    Comment by Andrew — 10 August 2008 @ 8:12 pm

  89. Andrew – “The trick is to engineer a situation whose results are unambiguously inconsistent with the statement “homeopathy does not work”. ” – Yet the authors could not conclusively conclude this, because part of the study showed that some responses were clearly not falling into this category, so they were perplexed with the results and their conclusions clearly read as “we don’t know how to interpret the results”. So still this study does not provide any conclusive results both ways, that’s what I meant, at least we can say that they indeed have failed to “engineer a situation that are unambigously inconsistent with the statement “homeopathy dose not work”” – or the opposite statement as well. Therefore any references to it are meaningless, don’t you see?

    Comment by ez — 11 August 2008 @ 12:08 am

  90. The idea is that you can only prove things that are true. That’s the whole point. If you could prove any old hypothesis, true or not, the system would be a nonsense. That means you can’t always control the outcome of a trial: the idea is to find the truth, not prove your pet theory. Also, no matter what you test, it can’t always be conclusive. Sometimes a trial just won’t work — that’s life.

    You engineer a situation such that one specific outcome would prove unambiguously that the null hypothesis — in this case “homeopathy has no effect” is no longer tenable. If your study is well designed then whether or not you get the result you want is out of your hands, as it should be: it now depends ~95% on whether your medicine works and ~5% on chance. If you do, and it’s reproducible (to eliminate the 5%), then well done, you’ve proved your medicine works (or is harmful). If you don’t, then you’ve proven nothing. Might work, might not. Such is life, though, and that’s how the system is supposed to work. You can repeat the trial or design a better one, or increase the dosage perhaps. Sometimes you’ll get a result (p≈0.15, maybe) that seems to go against the null hypothesis but doesn’t conclusively disprove it. That’s okay — that’s a result and you can quote it and say “more research is needed”. You can do one better and actually do more research, then meta-analyse the whole thing, and you’ll get a more conclusive results — although be warned that if you do it properly it will swing to whatever’s true rather than whatever you were hoping for.

    If you repeatedly do these trials and it never shows an effect, then eventually you should just accept that you’re on a wild goose chase — an effect that small is probably not clinically useful anyway, however safe it may be.

    But in any trial you’ll get a few subjects who seem to support the null hypothesis, and some who support each alternative hypothesis. They prove nothing on their own. When you’ve finished you take averages, because even if you gave everyone no medicine at all, some would recover and some would get worse. They’re outliers, and the statistics account for them.

    Comment by Andrew — 11 August 2008 @ 8:58 am

  91. Andrew,

    You seem to be fond of statistics, which is not a bad thing. However, there is a great difference in how conventional medicine and homeopathy defines “improvement” of a condition, stemming from the different outlook at notions of “health” and “disease”, which makes it very difficult to sufficiently simply define what events would qualify as “unambiguously inconsistent” with a hypothesis. Obviously, you need to know a lot about homeopathy to design a meaningful trial. A homeopath who at a follow-up hears from their patient that “they have gotten better” is satisified just with this statement and writes this case down as “successful” – is a pure fantasy, existing in the minds of people like Andy Lewis. In reality, there are a lot of criteria homeopaths use for judgment if there really was an improvement, or it’s just a random/independent of the treatment event in the patient’s history. The treatment is often long term, say 6 months, if you include various events checked for say 2 times a month, you’ll get a pretty large space of events etc. that will still need to be adequately interpreted… I’m sure as there will be more and more homeopaths – the students in good homeopathic schools so far seem to be on the rise, – there will be hands open to deal with this serious research work – given that anti-homeopathy prejudice does not hamper it too much and so-called “serious” journals will consider to publish any such paper.

    But for a start – can you provide me references for trials of homeopathy related to cancer which say that homeopathy does not works, please?

    Comment by ez — 12 August 2008 @ 12:38 am

  92. However, there is a great difference in how conventional medicine and homeopathy defines “improvement” of a condition, stemming from the different outlook at notions of “health” and “disease”,

    Really? Only I could define “disease” as “having too much money” and design a very effective and profitable system of medicine to deal with that. I’d say that a patient is “healthy” if they feel good and are capable of doing things and have no imminent prospect of death assuming no attacks or accidents, and “unhealthy” otherwise. What possible alternative definition is useful?

    Heck, for something like cancer, you could use “did the patient die” as an outcome in an RCT. Surely even homeopaths can agree that a surviving patient is preferable to a dead patient?

    All of the above notwithstanding, you can run any test you like. If you can find any outcome — anything you like, literally — which reproducibly separates 30C homeopathic remedies from placebo, then you will have disproved the hypothesis “homeopathy has no effect”, proved that water has a memory, and knocked down the biggest wall stopping many scientists from taking homeopathy seriously. And you’ll probably get a Nobel Prize.

    You pick the outcome. You pick the remedy. Individualise it if you like. Then give the remedies to me, and half of them I’ll decant into my own bottles, and half I’ll swap for my own bottle of tapwater — from the same source as your water — and give the bottles to the appropriate patients. The only difference will be that half are potentised. Then you can judge all the patients any way you like, and tell me how much each one has improved. If the stats separate the groups then that’s a positive result. That would be my proposal. What part, if any, of that would you object to?

    But for a start – can you provide me references for trials of homeopathy related to cancer which say that homeopathy does not works, please?

    According to a paper by Ernst, there are exactly five. One used very low dilutions which means it could at best prove the least contentious of homeopathy’s claims. One was positive, the other three negative. Assuming they worked to p=0.05, overall that would be pretty poor evidence even for a system with reasonable a-priori plausibility, which homeopathy does not have. Here’s the paper:

    http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1948867

    It’s worth mentioning that it isn’t MY responsibility to prove my position; it’s your responsibility to prove yours, because you’re the one who wants to sell people medicines — seems only polite to makes sure they work first.

    Comment by Andrew — 12 August 2008 @ 9:12 am

  93. Andrew,

    Indeed, I did not say you have to prove anything, actually, and thank you for the link, I have never seen the so widely discussed article, so it’d be interesting to read what does the person say rather than to hear what others report him to say. Although the very beginning, where he writes “HAhnemann postulated …[the 3 principles]” is already not correct, he did not postulate anything, but arrived empirically at the statements listed after that, and in addition the statements are not correctly represented either. But thank you anyway, I’ll read it as soon as I’ll find time to get to it.

    You also write: “it’s your responsibility to prove yours, because you’re the one who wants to sell people medicines — seems only polite to makes sure they work first.” I came to homeopathy as patient first, and had plenty of occasions to experience the proving effects (not at all curative) before it dawned on me that I need to find a skilled practitioner for my chronic problem, and also learn how to put the remedies to effective use. If you will tell me that acquiring car-sickness while trying to get rid of a lingering cough (without the cough really affected) is consistent with the idea of a placebo effect, then I really don’t know what you mean by “placebo effect” in the first place. (I have, in fact, recently discovered, that placebo effect itself is not really much studied as such, although the words are often used in various contexts. So when I hear someone say “placebo effect”, I begin to suspect that they do not know quite well what they are talking about.) Both the cough (which took a lot of treatment) and car-sickness (which disappeared promptly) were affected curatively as soon as I started my treatment with a skilled homeopath and received a well-suited remedy – the difference in responses of the two complaints also not being quite consistent with the statement “homeopathy does not work” and assumption that the same “placebo effect” or whatever governs the response, not to mention various situations, which are not treatable conventionally, like a finger crushed by being caught in a car door – it is not typical for such fingers to recover within one hour without even the signs of bruising (not even a tiny black spot), and I know what happens when you do that, I had my own finger crushed like this as a child and I remember just how much trouble it caused, not to say that the nail remained disfigured, but it took about 3 months to heal, and luckily it did not go septic, sometimes it does. However, when my little son did that, he was pain free within a minute of taking HYpericum 200, which I repeated about an hour later when the pain seemed to return, and there is NOTHING at all, as I said, not even any sign of the bruising. He also injured his big toe by dropping a very heavy thing – juicer, – right onto it and it looked awful, despite the fact that I gave him Arnica 200 first, it continued to get worse until I thought that Hypericum was more indicated for finger and toe injuries, so as soon as I changed Arnica to Hypericum – the pain was gone within minutes, the bruising subsided within a couple fo hours… Here I go telling you the anecdotes again, but having seen all that with my own eyes and experienced the proving effects before curative myself has served for me a sufficient argument for starting to learn truly effective way of using the remedies as well as helping other people, to whom I used to give out remedies for free, by the way, telling them that they do not need to pay if they felt it did not work. I said this because I was – and still am – a student, so I am not always sufficiently confident with my remedy choices, but after a while they started telling me that I should charge them a reasonable amount for the remedy and advice or they would not feel morally at ease being helped by me and the remedies for free. They return for prescriptions with various problems, so I have to conclude that homeopathy works for them, and in addition this coincides with the holistic assessment of their state of health as moving towards better health rather than degrading.

    Not that I would not like to see how varoius lab tests are changing in response to well-chosen – and maybe even not so well chosen remedies, that would certainly a very interesting thing to research, and in fact I think that such research will contribute a lot to our understanding of the exact interrelation of biochemical pathways within our bodies, which are not understood except for minor details and a very general overall picture, as far as I can judge at present. My father is a biochemist and he was intrigued by the idea, but he does not have a lab and financing to do such wide-scale research at the moment…

    Comment by ez — 13 August 2008 @ 12:16 am

  94. Andrew,

    But none of the papers mentioned in the Ernst’s paper have to do with cancer as such! Just some inquires into the possibility of alleviating the side effects of conventional treatments, plus the studies mention questionable settings, namely, very strange selection of remedies in the first, and third study, in addition to the fact that combination remedies are a very bad idea in general, but even they, of course, do have their effects, not always positive, though.

    My friend’s mother used some homeopathic remedy to alleviate the side effects of the radiotherapy for stomach cancer and she had literally no side effects at all – in sharp constrast with the rest of the patients from the same medical department, and much to the bewilderment of the doctors. In addition, it seems that her “survival time”, if I may say so, is greatly increased compared to the rest of the patients, whom she came to know during her period of treatment, most of whom have relapsed or died from some other complicating condition traceable to cancer treatment, or so I’m told. The last part is hearsay, though, but the first part – no side-effects, – I have heard from the woman herself.

    But going back to Ernst’s article, it is disappointing to learn that after stating how rigourous and uncompromising your apporach to things is, you choose to base your judgements on such questionable sources supplied along with bits of false information about the method being researched, that is homeopathy. I hoped your reference would be something at least resembling a serious research, I’m sorry to say it does not qualify as scientific by my standards.

    Comment by ez — 13 August 2008 @ 4:16 am

  95. You know what the funniest thing is about homeopaths? The way that, when they start telling you their personal anecdotes it so often involves homeopathy NOT working. So your son whacked his toe and you gave him Arnica because that can cure bruising – except it didn’t, the bruising got worse. So you picked another bottle of different water and the bruising got better. Wow! Here’s a newsflash: bruises get worse and then get better, all by themselves, often very quickly.

    Arnica for bruises – works every time, except when it doesn’t.

    And you had a lingering cough which was cured by homeopathy? Wow, every lingering cough I have ever had has eventually gone away by itself. Do you not find that? Or do you think that a lingering cough, if untreated, will continue till you’re in a coffin, six feet under?

    Car sickness? Holy cow, car sickness never goes away naturally. No, that’s never happened. Curing car sickness – uncanny.

    I’m impressed by the way you can directly compare your son’s crushed finger with the one you had as a child. Do you not think there’s the slight possibility that yours was crushed in a slightly different, worse way? Depending on how the finger gets trapped for how long with how much force applied is clearly (well, clearly to most of us) going to result in very different levels of pain and bruising.

    Perhaps you’ve noticed, perhaps you haven’t, that small children’s pain can’t be quantified because they scream in exactly the same way irrespective of whether the pain from their injury is mild or acute. My son fell down a steep cobbled street when he was three and screamed the houses down but, amazingly, a kiss and a cuddle and his favourite toy penguin and he was right as rain within ten minutes. And all the bruises had gone within 24-48 hours.

    Holy crap, he must have a homeopathic penguin!

    Sorry, but everything you describe in post 93 is stuff that happens naturally anyway and if that convinced you that homeopathy works then perhaps you would be interested in buying this large London landmark which I am offering for sale.

    Comment by M Simpson — 13 August 2008 @ 6:43 am

  96. M Simpson,

    I have learned to appreciate your posts, holy cow! Thanks for that one!

    Comment by ez — 13 August 2008 @ 7:22 am

  97. the difference in responses of the two complaints also not being quite consistent with the statement “homeopathy does not work” and assumption that the same “placebo effect” or whatever governs the response

    Actually, they are. It’s known that different conditions respond differently to placebo, and in any case, doesn’t carsickness normally clear up faster than a cough?

    various situations, which are not treatable conventionally, like a finger crushed by being caught in a car door – it is not typical for such fingers to recover within one hour without even the signs of bruising (not even a tiny black spot)

    Mine did. It just wasn’t damaged to begin with. If I’d taken homeopathic medicine shortly after it got trapped, then I’d have been tempted to give it the credit, too. I was younger then. Children have softer bones. Takes more to hurt them seriously.

    but having seen all that with my own eyes and experienced the proving effects before curative myself has served for me a sufficient argument for starting to learn truly effective way of using the remedies as well as helping other people

    Yeah. That’s sensible. That’s great. You’ve proved to your own satisfaction that it works. But there are people with similar stories for any load of nonsense you care to name — they can’t all be right. To prove it properly you have to do it under controlled conditions.

    Feel free to give out unproven medicines of course — homeopathy’s as safe as you like so you won’t hurt anyone — just don’t encourage them to rely on it in leiu of actual treatment, because that could hurt people. And don’t charge people unless they also know it’s unproven, because otherwise it’s verging on fraud.

    But none of the papers mentioned in the Ernst’s paper have to do with cancer as such! Just some inquires into the possibility of alleviating the side effects of conventional treatments

    That’s pretty well all I found in the literature as well — I doubt if you’d get ethical approval to run a trial on cancer patients, because the patients would be put at needless risk. Start small, I think. Maybe try to cure something fairly harmless and work your way up.

    it is disappointing to learn that after stating how rigourous and uncompromising your apporach to things is, you choose to base your judgements on such questionable sources supplied along with bits of false information about the method being researched, that is homeopathy. I hoped your reference would be something at least resembling a serious research, I’m sorry to say it does not qualify as scientific by my standards.

    I’ll be honest: I skimmed it myself. I don’t need research to tell me that homeopathy doesn’t work, in the same way that I don’t need research to tell me there isn’t a giant pool table on the moon or that dowsing is a load of rubbish. “Doesn’t work” is the default assumption. I’ll need to see very compelling research to convince me it does work. That’s not prejudice, that’s just a healthy skepticism and an understanding of the burden of proof.

    In any case, any skeptic could do a trial of homeopathy, find it doesn’t work, and the homeopathists would just say “well, you did the homeopathy wrong”. That happens all the time. That’s why your lot have to do the research.

    Comment by Andrew — 13 August 2008 @ 9:23 am

  98. Andrew,

    “That’s why your lot have to do the research.” I think I’ll agree with you on that one, but as you have stated earlier that you treat with mistrust anything that a homeopath or a homeopathy related journal would write – we’re just stuck here, don’t you think? How would you propose to solve this?

    Car-sickness – I did not mean the actual episode of sickness, of course, it stops every time you get off the car and have some rest, plus there are ways to alleviate the fit. What I meant was the tendency to get the fits of motion sickness. I never had them in the past, I was extremely prone to them in the period that I described, it was really weird to get so sick at every turn, and I’m not prone to it at all now – as I was originally. Concerning the children’s injuries – do you think I’m that dumb that I’m rushing in with a remedy for every little hurt? WHat M Simpson generously shares as advice is what I’m usually telling (well, trying to tell would be the right word, because they don’t tend to listen) to the mothers in the neighbourhood etc. Of course, I had a very close look at the finger, and I know that children heal quickly. In the case of the toe, though, I did not change the remedy fast enough to save the nail, it went off, and took a month to grow out again, so I hope you’ll realise it was not just any injury. YOu should have seen how the little boy was walking with his toe bend upwards – an adult will not be able to do this, and how it was swollen and purple, and oozing and threatening to go septic, and how 10 minutes after the right remedy he was running with the toe in the normal position and after an hour the swelling went away… I know your reservations, but the time-schedule with which this all happens just does not occur naturally – you see the pace with which it’s getting worse(if you observe well enough), so you get the grasp on just about how quickly this is going to evolve, and then after the right remedy it suddenly changes to a sort of a fast-forward video if you do it with the picture turned ON – or rather a rewind mode, as it suddenly and very quickly returns to normal. If you’d seen this once, you’ll be in no doubt that something’s happening here out of the ordinary – but I’m not sure how you would measure this? Maybe, start collecting average recovery times for placebo and homeopathy treated similar injuries, though the severity of the injury is to be somehow assessed and accounted for? One would need an experienced surgeon to do the assessment, maybe X-rays taken.

    I also thought that taking brain-activity patterns of people taking an indicated individualised remedy (starting with the beginning of the consiltation and for some time after the actual remedy was taken) and placebo might be an interesting idea. After a well-chosen remedy people often report sleepiness, with acute complaints they just fall asleep and are almost well when they wake up (if the right potency was chosen), so there must be a detectable change in the waves… After all it’s the biological activity of the treatment that we are trying to detect by some measurement?

    Comment by ez — 14 August 2008 @ 1:53 am

  99. “I know your reservations, but the time-schedule with which this all happens just does not occur naturally”

    … which strongly suggests that the recovery had nothing to do with the remedy you gave him. It means that to all the other massively unlikely aspects of homeopathy, you are addng the capability of whatever healing factor is in the magic water to travel from the patient’s stomach directly and specifically to their injured toe in only a few minutes.

    Comment by M Simpson — 14 August 2008 @ 6:13 am

  100. you have stated earlier that you treat with mistrust anything that a homeopath or a homeopathy related journal would write

    I think that most if not all of the homeopaths here are basically honest and genuinely believe in the medicine, so I trust your word if not your judgement. But CAM journals are just there to publish studies nobody else wants. I don’t trust them on any level.

    fits of motion sickness. I never had them in the past, I was extremely prone to them in the period that I described, it was really weird to get so sick at every turn, and I’m not prone to it at all now – as I was originally.

    That sounds to me like an eminenetly plausible story, with or without a little potentised water. Do you see how it doesn’t sound like compelling evidence when you consider that what you’re essentially saying is “I was sick for a while but I got better”?

    YOu should have seen how the little boy was walking with his toe bend upwards – an adult will not be able to do this, and how it was swollen and purple, and oozing and threatening to go septic, and how 10 minutes after the right remedy he was running with the toe in the normal position and after an hour the swelling went away…

    I had a toe like that once. Seriously. Infection rather than impact, but purple and swollen. I used prescription antibiotics. I found it only hurt when I put pressure on it, and the pain went away when I cunningly stopped doing that. I think I walked around with my toe held up or something — which I can still do. And I still have my original nail :p

    with acute complaints they just fall asleep and are almost well when they wake up (if the right potency was chosen)

    That happens to me, too, only I don’t bother with the homeopathy bit. That’s almost the definition of an acute complaint.

    Comment by Andrew — 14 August 2008 @ 9:54 am

  101. Andrew,

    “But CAM journals are just there to publish studies nobody else wants. I don’t trust them on any level.” Mmm, I’m afraid that does not solve the problem, can you imagine Lancet etc. publishing a real good test of homeopathy?

    “That happens to me, too, only I don’t bother with the homeopathy bit.” – “It’s good to be younger, to be close to the year… Greensleeves, you’re all my joy” – Indeed, this does happens sometimes to healthy people, and it is indeed a healthy response often encountered in basically healthy, especially young, people, but if you have a small child suffering from fever, headache and maybe something else like bellyache and simply unable to go to sleep from the discomfort no matter what the mother does for hours, suddenly calm down and fall asleep within 5 minutes of taking a remedy… The timing is very important here – and the idea of the natural course of the disease, and it is not possible to explain this over the internet, I’m afraid. Medical doctors, who are open minded enough to try a homeopathic remedy on their patients, or happen to have witnessed the outcome by chance, are often the most eager converts to homeopathy. Why? Because they know from practice what the natural pace of various complaints (of various severity) is, and they see at once that the response they see with homeopathy is simply not consistent with what they are used to see – that’s how they often explain it. At least, I have heard the story many times.

    “Do you see how it doesn’t sound like compelling evidence when you consider that what you’re essentially saying is “I was sick for a while but I got better”?” – Timing, my dear, timing is the key. It’s too much of a coincidence that such “coincidences” occur strangely close to taking the right, I would like to stress RIGHT, remedies (as this does not happen with the wrong chosen ones) and I have already the number of such coincidences approaching 4-5 dozens, and this keeps repeating itself, so I have told you the facts (thank you for the trust), you are free to make your conclusions, of course, and I have already made mine.

    Your toe might have responded to a dose of Belladonna (but I cannot be sure without more details) 30C taken at 2-4 hour intervals. It is much cheaper than antibiotics, by the way, if you use it cleverly.

    Anyway, I am in no position to conduct any trials now, so that’s about all I can say here for the moment. But I’ll keep thinking about a good design for a meaningful trial, I think you have kind of inspired me in that direction, so I’d like to thank you for that.

    Best!

    Comment by ez — 14 August 2008 @ 1:44 pm

  102. The Homeopathy Research Institute might be interested in your trial or give you support.

    Comment by homeopathy4health — 14 August 2008 @ 2:08 pm

  103. Mmm, I’m afraid that does not solve the problem, can you imagine Lancet etc. publishing a real good test of homeopathy?
    The internal politics of medical journals are not my area, I’m afraid. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if everyone is sufficiently convinced now that homeopathy is bunk that they’d treat any negative result as uninteresting and any positive result as highly suspect — and anyone running a trial of it as probably dubious.

    That’s arguably a problem, but then there’s only so much time it’s worth spending testing the same thing over and over again.

    Timing, my dear, timing is the key. It’s too much of a coincidence that such “coincidences” occur strangely close to taking the right, I would like to stress RIGHT, remedies
    Well hang on, since we’re defining “the right remedy” to mean “whichever you take immediately before you get better” (which is almost deliberate recall bias) the odds of this coincidence arising are [interval considered impressive]÷[length of time between remedies]. Add to that the placebo effect and the well-established fact that the timings in a remembered anecdote are invariably far more impressive than they were in reality (to the point where events occur in different orders and people will be astonished if they see a video of the actual events), and the fact that in order for me to be having this discussion with somebody requires only one of the billions of English speakers out there to have this experience, and the whole thing becomes deeply unimpressive, at least from my perspective. Especially since, as MJ Simpson pointed out, some of your timings are too impressive for the remedy to possibly have had anything to do with them by any known biological pathway — homeopathy’s implausible enough without introducing a third miracle. (By my count — the other two being Water Memory and the curious violation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics required for 30C to be better than 20C.)

    Again, there are people with similar stories about any quack therapy you care to name — we have to take such stories with a pinch of salt or else we’d all be wearing magnetic rings and hanging crystals from the tops of pyramids while dowsing for health with pins sticking out of our backs and asking friends to pray for us. And I think we can both agree that that probably wouldn’t help matters.

    Comment by Andrew — 14 August 2008 @ 2:55 pm

  104. “It’s too much of a coincidence that such “coincidences” occur strangely close to taking the right, I would like to stress RIGHT, remedies”

    No it’s not! If I used smilies I’d put one here of somebody laughing their head off. The reason that the positive result always happens after the right remedy is because the ‘right remedy’ is defined as ‘the last one taken before a positive result.’ The only reason you call that remedy ‘right’ is because the patient got better after it. If the bruise disappears after using Arnica, then Arnica is ‘the right remedy’. But if nothing happens, then suddenly Arnica is the wrong remedy and let’s try Hyperwotsit. And if that doesn’t work, keep trying different remedies until the self-limiting condition limits itself and then claim success.

    This, more than the nonsense about like-cures-like or the ultra-dilution malarkey, is the essence of homeopathy. You just keep trying one thing after another until the patient recovers and then credit the last thing used with that recovery.

    Are you familiar with my ‘swearing at traffic lights’ analogy?

    Comment by M Simpson — 14 August 2008 @ 9:19 pm

  105. One more positive trial – of the homeopathic proving just posted at a homeopathic forum,
    have a look.

    http://jop.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/22/5/543

    Comment by ez — 15 August 2008 @ 1:41 am

  106. M SImpson,

    “The reason that the positive result always happens after the right remedy is because the ‘right remedy’ is defined as ‘the last one taken before a positive result.’ ” I never had to go further than 3 remedies, but quite often it’s the first one which is right (the reason being they are not chosen at random, at least by me). I wonder how many you will have to use “before arriving at the right remedy?” Have you ever tried? Let’s compare the average length of the chain – that’d be fun, don’t you think? (If you’ll choose them at random – then I already know the answer.)

    Comment by ez — 15 August 2008 @ 1:45 am

  107. Andrew,

    I said I respect your criticism which is fully understandable considering the lack of any personal experience on the subject – and sufficiently well designed trials. (I did not check the new one that I’ve just posted.)

    “Second Law of Thermodynamics required for 30C to be better than 20C” – can you explain what you mean by that? And what “better” means here? In what way better? Who said it was better?

    Comment by ez — 15 August 2008 @ 1:49 am

  108. I probably have to add a comment here saying that I’m only talking about really acute complaints here, of course, injuries. I know the times in the story about my son simply because I was checking the clock to see if he’s made sufficient progress and is not going to relapse so that I would need to repeat the remedy, so I checked every 5 minutes in the beginning and then every 30 minutes for another 4 hours, but he was doing well, so I did not need to repeat it that day, only gave one more liquid dose the next day and that was it.

    If the timing surprises you, you may want to have a look at Dorothy Shepherd’s “Homeopathy for the first aider”, which I use as a guide to the remedies often if I cannot make out the characteristic symptoms of the complaints. She gaves good despcription of the remedies, all the timings – as she worked in the medical department and all these details have been recorded by her and her stuff, plus she noted them simply because they kept repeating themselves in various cases. As an example from her book – what I remember right now is that she writes that pain subsides in cases of second degree burns within 7 minutes of Causticum in potency (I guess she used 30C), and the healing proceeds quite well if the remedy is repeated internally upon each return of the pain, usually about once in an hour initially, and once in 4 hours afterwards.

    Just the other day a friend stopped by on her way home and her son had an episode of wheezing which olready lasted for a couple of days, did not feel well, but they all had to go to visit some relative, so she was wondering if there was something acute – and chronic – for him. I cannot yet prescribe with confidence for chronic cases, and she never has time to tell me all the story, so I have to do educated guesses for her from time to time, which do not always bring about the desired results, but this time I had in idea about his chronic remedy, which I told her, and asked about the acute symptoms, a remedy seemed appropriate, she gave it while in the car on her way home. The reaction was precisely “falling asleep – and well after waking” – it takes 20 minutes from us to her house by car, and as she says that he fell asleep almost at once and slept all the way, that makes it within 5-10 minutes of taking the remedy. Somehow he got from the car and into the home, where he continued to sleep till the evening, and when he woke up there was no more wheezing. It just was not there and he felt quite fit and cheerful otherwise. If you will try to tell me that it’s typical for wheezing to get well after a good sleep… Mmm, then maybe it would be agood idea to just stop providing all conventional care for such conditions, replace them with hugs, cuddles and kisses for children, and maybe good rest for adults. By the way, I do not doubt that quite a number of people will actually get much better only with these changes, but a homeopath will only be glad to see them, because that will create sufficient time to deal with really serious cases, and if with time these get better as well – any homeopath will certainly find himself a different creative occupation, because good homeopaths tend to be “knowledgeable and intelligent”, as GSAC has once wrote in the other thread at laughingsocks, – so true! I am aspiring for this ideal too – but I realise that I personally have a long way to go yet.

    So, if the timing seems just wrong and there is “no known biochemical pathway”, then having witnessed these things we have to acknowledge that there must still be unknown ones, and maybe they are not necessarily biochemical in nature. How long does it take you to feel the pain from a prick of a needle? Surely not minutes?

    Comment by ez — 15 August 2008 @ 3:05 am

  109. H4H,

    Thank you for your suggestion, I have seen it. I’ll try to discuss something with my biochemist father to see if he might any testable ideas, as he is well versed in this sort of experiments.

    Comment by ez — 15 August 2008 @ 8:09 am

  110. Excellent.

    Comment by homeopathy4health — 15 August 2008 @ 8:53 am

  111. “Second Law of Thermodynamics required for 30C to be better than 20C” – can you explain what you mean by that? And what “better” means here? In what way better? Who said it was better?

    As far as I understand these things, a 30C remedy is imagined to be more “potent” than a 20C one. Neither contains even a single molecule of the active ingredient, so the credit is normally given to some kind of structure or vibration in the water. Dilution would destroy this — if you stack ten blocks and then pour on a load of other blocks at random, they won’t arrange themselves into little neat piles (even creationists know that) — and succussion would destroy it also, because when you put energy into a system it gets more disordered — think of the neat structure of ice and the gaseous nonsense of steam. What you do to a 12C dilution to turn it into a 13C one is exactly the kind of thing that would remove any vestige of structure inherited from the original substance, unless you can reverse the normal effects of the Second Law.

    So, if the timing seems just wrong and there is “no known biochemical pathway”, then having witnessed these things we have to acknowledge that there must still be unknown ones, and maybe they are not necessarily biochemical in nature. How long does it take you to feel the pain from a prick of a needle? Surely not minutes?

    You think perhaps homeopathy works by electric?

    Just so we’re clear, is this your position: if you take a substance that should, by rights, make your condition worse, dilute it until it’s gone, dilute it some more to destroy any effect it may have ever had, and then drink a tiny amount of the resulting tapwater, your body will quickly work out what it is and send the appropriate electrical signal through your nervous system to instruct whatever bodypart is injured to heal itself, which it would otherwise have not bothered to do? Which part of that sounds reasonable to you?

    Comment by Andrew — 15 August 2008 @ 9:42 am

  112. Andrew,

    It has been noted that if a dilution WITHOUT SUCCUSSION (please, forgive my Capitals, I have not other means to emphasize the parts I think important), even if you start with a working potency, it loses the activity on the way. I cannot recall where I have read it, so I cannot give you the reference – that is, in case you were interested. This fact has been established, so repeating that dilution is everything is actually leading you to miss an important point.

    And no, I did not mean that homeopathy works by means of electricity. What I meant, is that when you feel the prick of the needle, what happens is that you react to it very quickly and retract the pricked part, don’t you? (For the most part it is essentially what you have said, but somehow your formulation does not seem right to me, it’s kind of too crude, I’ll have to think why did I think so, and will write you if I come up with an answer.) What has happened is that some signal stimulated the body (if we now only concentrate on the physical (not psychological) level of the living beings) to produce the response. That’s what hoemopathy seems to do, indeed, it stimulates the body in a certain way – and the body then does what it has to to produce a response that would minimise the discomfort – like you jerk away from the needle.

    You seem to say that it is ridiculous to assume that the situation in which “it would otherwise have not bothered to do” – but that does constitute a disease! THere are people who do not react at all to any pricks of any needles – their sensitivity is lost – due to disordered state of their nervous system. This is part of their disease, of course. So this should give you an analogy permitting to see that such situations are possible – for some reason they fail to produce corrective responses. But there are ways to stimulate the living entity to make it produce the needed response by mimicking the totality of the situation, adding other details, in case of the needle-prick – that’s pure imagination, of course, but depending on the person, some might respond to a noise from the same direction, maybe the steps of the person who has come to prick them, which would make them turn and visually notice the needle, and move away from it even if they do not feel it, for example. You know, of course, that blind people are often very sensitive to all sorts of other impressions, to make up for the missing sight facility. What I mean to say here, is that there are adaptive mechanisms in our body, even if something is irreparably distorted (at least, not readily regenerated as in cases with clear physical pathology), there are a lot of means to obviate the usual pathway, which does not work, and virtually create a new one – the self-repairing facility of the living things – I hope you will not deny the existence of such facility? Otherwise, how would your cuts and burns heal all by themselves – as M Simpson likes to remind us?

    Discussion of the causes for such disfunctions here would lead to pure speculation, I think, but the fact remains that the body is capable of producing curative response if adequately stimulated. And it is the body itself which does all the biochemistry interactions – there is no need for the “healing agent”. So that’s what we observe with homeopathy – it is analogous to an impact on the nerve system, if we were to judge by the speed of the response, but as this subject has not been studied at all due to our inability to measure the “signals” the remedies give in the first place, I would not venture to propose any theory for a mechanism, but as I continue to tell you I regularly observe the healing responses.

    Comment by ez — 15 August 2008 @ 1:12 pm

  113. This fact has been established, so repeating that dilution is everything is actually leading you to miss an important point.

    My point, though, is that dilution and succussion are exactly the kind of activities I would expect to nullify the effects of any former solutes. It seems highly unlikely that the combination of the two would have the opposite effect. I realise the claimed importance of succussion — I think that most of homeopathy’s sceptical opponents to by now — but personally I casually use “dilution” to refer to both, partly because I don’t think that succussion has any effect but mostly because I don’t want to use the word “potentisation” to describe the process because I don’t think that any potency is being produced.

    You seem to say that it is ridiculous to assume that the situation in which “it would otherwise have not bothered to do” – but that does constitute a disease! THere are people who do not react at all to any pricks of any needles – their sensitivity is lost – due to disordered state of their nervous system. This is part of their disease, of course. So this should give you an analogy permitting to see that such situations are possible

    Yes, I used to know a girl with something like that.

    That’s actually a pretty good analogy. I would, however, say that it’s a slightly misleading one. Take the example of someone perfectly healthy who drops a juicer on his toe. Evolution has equipped such people with the ability to heal from that injury, or at least from similar injuries inflicted by whatever primitive proto-juicers our feral ancestors used. You know — rocks. It clearly would not be useful to them, and therefore wouldn’t have evolved, if the healing mechanism was knocked out by the same injury it’s supposed to correct. It is entirely plausible that there are diseases which stop the body from repairing itself without being prompted. Type 1 diabetes is similar to that: the body is perfectly capable of converting sugar to glycogen but doesn’t do so because it lacks the signalling hormone insulin. Injecting the hormone reminds the body that it should be storing the sugar, and it starts to do so. But that kind of thing really needs the body to be somehow defective — it isn’t the same at all as something like bruising, which should heal automatically in an otherwise healthy body.

    Many alternative medicine modalities claim to stimulate the body’s own healing systems, but unless you have some kind of disorder the body is quite capable of doing that itself — that’s what pain is.

    Comment by Andrew — 15 August 2008 @ 2:08 pm

  114. Andrew,

    I was writing with my children running around, now I managed to put them to bed and still have some housework – and a spare minute to finish the bit about the importance of succussion. Another analogy, even two – you would know that an iron rod is not a magnet in a normal state, but you can turn it into a magnet by vigourous friction against a magnet… For certain types of surfaces, vigorous friction (again) of one against the other causes both to become charged with static electricity – well, my idea is that something similar happens to water upon succussion, and in addition for the first 3 centisimal potencies most remedies are prepared through prolonged rubbing of the powdered substance with milk sugar. So it’s not just the dilution, simple dilution is not equal to potentising.

    Comment by ez — 15 August 2008 @ 2:08 pm

  115. Magnetisation works because you’re dragging force across it in a carefully ordered way, rather like combing your hair. Just mindelessly scrubbing an iron rod with a magnet won’t work. To my knowledge, the actions involved in succussion are — and I’ve heard conflicting reports on this — either ten sharp shakes in three mutually perpendicular directions or else one sharp bash against a leather-bound book. That’s more like shaking your head vigorously. It increases the entropy of your hairstyle, (unless you have that kind of hair that just falls neatly into place, in which case I hate you).

    Also of note is that when you magnetise, the order comes from your actions, not from the amplification of some order already present in the metal.

    Comment by Andrew — 15 August 2008 @ 4:08 pm

  116. Homeopaths bang on and on about succussion as if it’s some special thing but, you know, when people dilute things they normally bang them about. That’s what causes things to mix up. If you put tow liquids into a test tube in a science lab, you get them to mix by holding the tube on a mixer, a little device with a concave rubber doodad that shakes the bottom of the test tube whole you hold the top. That’s basically the same thing. The rubber bangs repeatedly against the vessel, causing the liquids to mix.

    Or if you want a more obvious example, just think of a cocktail shaker.

    But Andrew is spot on. In all other circumstances, adding vibrations to a vessel containing a mixture of liquids increases the level of disorder. What is different between two liquids being mixed (99:1) for homeopathy or two liquids being shaken to make a cocktail. How does one system know to become more disordered and one to become more ordered?

    “It has been noted that if a dilution WITHOUT SUCCUSSION (please, forgive my Capitals, I have not other means to emphasize the parts I think important), even if you start with a working potency, it loses the activity on the way.”

    How was this noted? In a blind, comparative experiment? Because if this is the case, you have a way to prove to us all that you’re right and we’re wrong. Or was it just yet another example of homeopathy always working except when it doesn’t?

    You’re claiming here that somebody has identified a clear difference in effect between two homeopathic remedies, one succussed, one not. This goes against current accepted belief that the only way to distinguish the remedies is by the label. All you have to do is determine, from the results that you get when applying remedies to patients, which have been succussed and which haven’t. If there is a difference, you should be able to tell them apart. But if you can’t tell them apart, there’s no difference.

    But really, this is intriguing because you are describing a comparitive experiement and we thought that homeopaths didn’t do them, in case they produced any data.

    Comment by M Simpson — 15 August 2008 @ 9:52 pm

  117. Andrew,

    “Also of note is that when you magnetise, the order comes from your actions, not from the amplification of some order already present in the metal.” I’m not quite sure what is it that you are trying to say, but if you rub a piece of iron against something that is NOT a magnet, you’re not likely to produce a magnet even if you do everything in exactly the same way. And if you rub a piece of wood against a magnet it simply will not get magnetised no matter how much you do it, it might even start to burn if you overdo it. Thus the things that you apply your actions to should fit some requirements, for your actions to produce desired results.

    But I still don’t see your point here. What you descirbe resembles plussing of the remedies when you take them in liquid form. When you move from one potency to the other in the process of preparing the remedy you do the bang (against the leather surface – whatever, sufficiently resilient and hard at the same time – that’s what it should be like) 100 times. Don’t forget that you are dealing with a liquid, and not a solid (or other rather rigidly structured) object.

    Comment by ez — 16 August 2008 @ 12:44 am

  118. M Simpson,

    “This goes against current accepted belief that the only way to distinguish the remedies is by the label.” – That belief is accepted by whom?

    If you use the remedies in clinical situations, you’ll notice very quickly that the pills from this particular bottle seem inert. I use remedies from Helios, England and Ainsworths from time to time, so far they did not fail me, but sometimes I hear that a remedy from one source – some local “suspicious” company failed to work, but when, say, Helios, or other producer’s reliable remedy was used, the effect was clealy present. I hope this answers your remark. “All you have to do is determine, from the results that you get when applying remedies to patients, which have been succussed and which haven’t. If there is a difference, you should be able to tell them apart.” This is possible, I think I wrote you already that people usually can tell (although not at once, it might take several repitions) of a plain sugar pill – sometimes given to them when there’s the risk of overdosing, – and the real remedy. My husband certainly does, and he can tell it at once, from the first try I mean, so I gave up giving him placebos – plain sugar pills, he comes for the actual remedy right away, saying “somehow this last one you gave me did not have any impact at all.”

    “What is different between two liquids being mixed (99:1) for homeopathy or two liquids being shaken to make a cocktail.” – Basically none. If you run a proving on your cocktail – you’ll be able to use it as a homeopathic remedy, if you wish, because then you’ll be aware in what cases it is indicated, you’ll get the “syndrome” of your cocktail.

    THat’s how it works – if you recall how I said about the Nux Vomica patient – whenever you see a Nux Vomica patient you only have to give him the Nux VOmica and see how he/she improves. The question is how do you “see” a Nux Vomica (this involves, of course, all the issues that GSAC and laughinsocks mentioned) – or any other ” XX remedy patient”. In the case of the boy with wheezing I mentioned above, the syndrome was not just “wheezing”, this was only the most pathological of his symptoms, but the prescription was not based on this, but on the whole syndrome with following symptoms:
    – Wheezing,
    – Greatly aggravated in a warm room,
    – Craving Icecream, he just did not eat anything else for several days before that.
    – Almost thirstless despite being hot – and the hot summer,
    – Very much better for company,
    – and (to summarize it to sound close to the Repertory rubric) consolation ameliorates.

    I guess most of the homeopaths will be able to say what remedy I gave – we can even make a quiz, if you wish, this was done on a homeopathic forum some 5 years ago. People gave characteristic symptoms of real cases, and other participating homeopaths “guessed” the remedy, and in all 3 cases mentioned almost all homeopaths sent in the same remedy to the doubting person, even the same potency, which surprised the doubting person greatly.

    So now we have our syndrome, and what happens when you give the remedy is that not only the most pathological complaint goes away, but that part of the syndrome which is potentially pathological, like here it was lack of thirst, eating only icecream (faulty nutrition as a result!), and poor tolerance of indoor warm air – very limiting to him, made him suffer a lot in this hot summer that we have here – they have also disappeared (I think I had to check the rest, but as usual the mother had no time to talk). Actually, describing this case to you made me realise the importance of Kent’s remark that when you assess reaction to your remedy before the next prescription (when the patient comes for a follow-up) you have to go over the original indications (specific symptoms – as it’s called in the reference I gave above of a recently published article), the whole syndrome, symptom by symptom, and if they are not affected, then you cannot be sure that it’s your remedy that has worked – as you always point out, by the way. This material is in my current study Unit, so thank you for your help in my studies! (No irony here, although I realise that nothing can be further from what you desire than this outcome.)

    I also mentioned that I think I have finally found this boy a good chronic remedy – and this remedy is noted to often follow the acute remedy (the one that treats syndroms such as described above), and – very interestingly, as we have just discussed the car-sickness, this chronic remedy has this symptom in its “syndrom” picture. I know about this, of course, but I did not include this symptom in my summary of the syndrome, and did not tell the mother about it, so she does not know. And guess what – as soon as the wheezing went away, he complained of a headache and the mother decided to try the chronic remedy. And on that day again they had to go by car somewhere again, – and he did not have that car-sickness to everybody’s great surprise – he had it ever since birth, at least, ever since they could figure out that he tolerates car-travel very poorly. No car-sickness – for the first time ever, he’s already in the 6th grade. And they did not seek to treat it, they did not realise this was treatable, permanently, I mean. That just simply cannot be any random placebo effect, can it? The headahce also went away promptly, but this – taken by itself, – is not going to mean anything to you, of course.

    Comment by ez — 16 August 2008 @ 1:29 am

  119. “Also of note is that when you magnetise, the order comes from your actions, not from the amplification of some order already present in the metal.” I’m not quite sure what is it that you are trying to say, but if you rub a piece of iron against something that is NOT a magnet, you’re not likely to produce a magnet even if you do everything in exactly the same way. And if you rub a piece of wood against a magnet it simply will not get magnetised no matter how much you do it, it might even start to burn if you overdo it. Thus the things that you apply your actions to should fit some requirements, for your actions to produce desired results.

    Alright, let’s get this all cleared up: I have a master’s degree in physics. Can we please assume that I know you can’t magnetise wood?

    The magnet you rub against the iron exerts a force on the atoms in the iron. If that force is applied in an ordered way then that order is transferred to the atoms and their magnetic dipoles align with the force producing a magnet. If the force is just applied at random then nothing will happen. Just like you can’t comb your hair, even if you do everything right, if your comb has no teeth or you have no hair.

    My point is that when you magnetise something, you directly apply order to it so it’s no surprise the thing becomes more ordered (the only difference between a magnet and a block of regular iron being the relative degree of order). Succussion isn’t ordered — at least not on a molecular level — so can’t do that. So simply pointing at magnetisation and saying “look, that’s superficially similar” doesn’t, I’m afraid, make succussion any more plausible.

    Comment by nullopathy — 16 August 2008 @ 1:52 pm

  120. ““This goes against current accepted belief that the only way to distinguish the remedies is by the label.” – That belief is accepted by whom?”

    By the Society of Homeopaths.

    From the minutes of evidence given to the UK Government’s Select Committee on Science and Technology.

    Lord Broers (committee member): “I have a simple, technical question about homeopathy and drugs. Is it possible to distinguish between homeopathic drugs after they have been diluted? Is there any means of distinguishing one from the other?”
    Kate Chatfield RSHom: “Only by the label.”

    Who is Kate Chatfield? “Kate divides her time between private practice, teaching, and research. In addition to teaching at University of Central Lancashire, she is a director at the Galway College of Homeopathy. She sits on the Research and the Research Ethics Committees of The Society of Homeopaths, of which she is a co-founder, and is a coordinator and board member for the European Network of Homeopathy Researchers. She has an active international practice consulting on matters of research in homeopathy and in curriculum development for homeopathic education.”

    So this leading homeopathic researcher thinks there is no way to distinguish between unlabelled homeopathic remedies. You think there is. WQho is right?

    What you’re claiming here EZ – not claiming as some special ability unique to you but claiming as common occurrence – is something which nobody has ever been able to demonstrate that they can do. If you, or anyone else, were to demonstrate that you can differentiate between unlabelled 30C remedies in any way at all, then all us sceptics would drop our scepticism like a red hot brick (provided the experiment was done properly of course).

    Has anyone actually tried to do this? Do you have any record of any homeopath being given unlabeled remedies and then telling them apart. You wouldn’t even have to identify what they were. You could take six bottles labelled A-F, put 30C belladonna in three of them and 30C arnica in the other three. Do you think that an experienced homeopath could then – using any method and taking as long as they like – determine which three were belladonna and which three were arnica?

    This is a very simple experiment, testing something which you think is a commonplace occurrence. It would shut all but the most extreme sceptics up once and for all, leaving us with egg on our faces. It would open up vast amounts of research funding for homeopathy of all sorts, it would vastly increase the call for homeopathy from both individuals and healthcare organisations, it would lead to a massive boosst in geeneral public health while saving the NHS millions of pounds a year. And the homeopath who does this is virtually certain of a Nobel Prize (not to mention James Randi’s million dollars).

    All that, just for showing that something which you see on a regular basis is real. Why would you not do that?

    If I was sure that I could distinguish between, say Pepsi and Coke while other people claimed that there was no difference whatsoever and the two were indistinguishable, and if demonstrating that ability would net me riches, glory and respect while silencing my foolish critics – I would be at that experiment like a bull at a gate. Easy money.

    So go on, why not try it? Do it by yourself to start with, just get a friend to put the arnica and belladonna into the test tubes and seal the answer of which is which in an envelope. Then do your tests, see if you’re right. If you are, demonstrate it in front of other people. The world is yours. Everyone working in the ‘soft drinks industry’ is adamant that Pepsi and Coke are identical in every respect, even at a molecular level. You, as a practising colapath, know they’re not. Prove us wrong. Humiliate us. What are you waiting for?

    Comment by M Simpson — 16 August 2008 @ 3:14 pm

  121. just to clarify – ‘nullopathy’ is Andrew Taylor.

    Comment by homeopathy4health — 16 August 2008 @ 4:09 pm

  122. Andrew,

    Obviously, I did not think you didn’t know about wood, I was trying to see what your point is. Thanks for clarifying.

    But I have problem with your dismissal of succussion, as I said, you are dealing with a liquid – water, or alcohol, – I am not sure that it is valid to compare it to liquid in the sense that you are doing it, I mean, ordering the molecules, can you maybe try to explain it? What is an “ordered state” in a liquid? Or do you deny an existence of such a thing in principle? And what if the “ordered” state is “transferred” gradually, as several molecules only happen to be in the “right position”, next it will be another several molecules – a liquid is not as “rigid” as iron in this sense, is it? THe molecules can turn around almost freely. As I said, it’s not one succussion, but 100 succussions each time.

    And what about the static electricity thing? You obviously know about it too, first hand, if you have ever used a plastic hair-brush – your hair stand on end as a result, a very unpleasant thing? It’s especially “good” with plastic which is an organic molecule, just as sugar is. With this one no ordered motion is needed, if I recall correctly? Maybe it’s a better analogy – for you?

    Comment by ez — 17 August 2008 @ 12:04 pm

  123. M SImpson,

    “So this leading homeopathic researcher thinks there is no way to distinguish between unlabelled homeopathic remedies. You think there is. WQho is right?” I think Kate understood the question in the direct sense, that is, if you have just bought two different bottles of remedies and have not done with them anything yet, is there any way to actually measure by some technical means to see whether the labels do indeed say what they are supposed to say.

    GIven that there are about 4000 remedies out there, and your patient needs only one, I cannot even guess what time would be needed to try out all of the possibilities on the patient. In principle, it should be possible but it’s not realistic to say that one can in practice tell apart bottles containing completely, unless you do a simple thing – just prove what’s in those bottles, obtain a remedy picture, and see if it coincides with those of some already existing remedies. This is also a lengthy process, and requires involvement of at least 20 people I’d say, because not all people are sensitive to particular remedies in the same way, just “me and my friend” would not do, because both of us might turn out to be insensitive to the particular remedy and besides it also takes about 2 years to complete the proving process. But this is realistic, and maybe it’s a good idea to suggest this to some homeopathy school which normally does the provings once in a while – like this we’ll have a remedy reproved, hopefully getting some good additional symptoms as a bonus if it were a not very well proven remedy.

    But I think this is what has just been done in the article in the Pharmacology Journal the reference to which I just gave several posts above – they did a blinded proving study of KNOWN remedies, and found that these remedies indeed tend to produce symtpoms that they are supposed to be indicated for. Do you have access to the SageJournals? Have a look! The reference is in post 105 of this thread.

    Comment by ez — 17 August 2008 @ 12:21 pm

  124. What is an “ordered state” in a liquid?

    To the best of my knowledge, no such thing exists. The whole point of a liquid is that the molecules have enough energy that they don’t need to huddle together in an ordered state. Things like polymers and liquid crystals are a little different, but these things need far larger and more complex molecules than water. (Personally, I think of the “phases of matter” as a convenient fiction. I’m not sure how much truth there is in this, but with glasses, rubbers, gels and so forth the distinction between solid and liquid gets at least a little blurred.)

    And what if the “ordered” state is “transferred” gradually, as several molecules only happen to be in the “right position”, next it will be another several molecules – a liquid is not as “rigid” as iron in this sense, is it?

    This is exactly how ice crystals form. A sharp tap actually can help with this — as this video shows — but the crystal formed is an ordered solid.

    It is possible that a crystal could start to form from a seed and continue to grow when the seed was removed, but not in a liquid.

    A liquid is not as rigid as iron in almost any sense.

    And what about the static electricity thing? You obviously know about it too, first hand, if you have ever used a plastic hair-brush – your hair stand on end as a result, a very unpleasant thing? It’s especially “good” with plastic which is an organic molecule, just as sugar is.

    –ergo procter hoc!

    With this one no ordered motion is needed, if I recall correctly? Maybe it’s a better analogy – for you?

    You’re right that no ordered motion is needed.

    When you statically charge your hair, it causes your hairs to repel each other. This means there is a significant energy saving to be made by arranging themselves into a formation where they are far apart: standing on end. This increases the energy required to overcome this order above the energy of the hair. I have not tried this, but I would bet that you would find it easier to generate this effect on a cold day than a warm day. (For example, if I recall correctly, if you heat a magnet enough it will lose its magnetisation.) Notably it isn’t possible to influence what shape the hair forms — this isn’t “memory of hair” being discussed.

    It’s especially worth noting that homeopaths don’t even agree that water’s ‘memory’ effect works by any kind of instilled order: Milgrom, for example, wants to credit quantum entanglement, despite not apparently having any idea about what it is.

    Comment by Andrew — 17 August 2008 @ 12:55 pm

  125. But I think this is what has just been done in the article in the Pharmacology Journal the reference to which I just gave several posts above – they did a blinded proving study of KNOWN remedies, and found that these remedies indeed tend to produce symtpoms that they are supposed to be indicated for.

    I’m sure they did. How does that even suggest that an ultra-molecular dilution of them could cure the same conditions?

    If I said I had a unicorn in my garden, would you accept as evidence a plan of my house clearly indicating that I have a garden?

    Comment by Andrew — 17 August 2008 @ 1:40 pm

  126. Andrew,

    “It’s especially worth noting that homeopaths don’t even agree that water’s ‘memory’ effect works by any kind of instilled order:”

    Well, I have thought a bit about it through the day, and I think that all attempts at finding this sort of analogy are actually – well, most probably, misleading, because in any other way this something which is transferred from one substance to the other in the process of potentisation – we do not really know any other properties that it has, as we have not exact theory at its “physical” properties, so maybe it’s not analogous to magnetism, or maybe not. We just do not know, and we have to wait till fundamental science stumbles into something that might give us a clue (of ever). THerefore, before this happens all our discussions are indeed about pink unicorns, and are based on our ideas, which are clearly different, so we’ll never agree, that’s only natural.

    We are forced therefore to treat the whole phenomenon as a black box – like gravity. Here, I would like to stress, the analogy is relevant, because we do not know just how gravity can be measured directly, we can only use several parameters derived from indirect knowledge from our experiments of its influence on other objects. THat’s exactly what, I think, happens with homeopathy.

    “How does that even suggest that an ultra-molecular dilution of them could cure the same conditions?” – It does not suggest this, and is not supposed to do so, but it shows that provings produce repeatable results, therefore they can be useful. In my answer to M Simpson I wrote that in my opinion, this is the only truly reliable way to tell the remedies apart. The fact that same conditions can be cured was empirically established, not theoretically derived from anything.

    By the way, I know of quite a few homeopaths who used to prove the remedies themselves to check whether they do indeed produce the symptoms recorded in the books. Of course, such experiments are not blinded, but the very first provings were blinded by definition, because almost no prior information was available to the provers, except the with poisons, but again, poisonings are often only useful for purely physical acute complaints of specific areas of the body, the effects of the substances on all other areas had to be determined through careful provings for a prolonged period of time.

    What has come to my mind, though, is that Kirlian photography can be useful as a method of measuring remedies’ charaacteristics, do you know what it is? It’s photography of objects placed into the field of high frequency currents, and it was found to show the “biofield” around living objects, which reproducibly permitted to distinguish between various states of health. Kirlian were a married couple who worked together, and they have even found out that it is possible with certainty to determine the cause of death of a person – whether it was voluntary (suicide), involuntary (murder), due to illness or accident – I wonder whether this is true, though, as this is mentioned in the Russian site, and all sort of let’s say “incorrect” information is widespread in Russia at the moment, but the site mentions the existence of the research materials left by the couple, and if these materials were available, it should be easy to test – just try to reproduce the methods, they are known for being very thorough in their descriptions of what they did, and see if the same results are obtained. I really have no idea if their work is known in the West, so I’m asking you if you have heard about them at all.

    Comment by ez — 18 August 2008 @ 6:48 am

  127. “Kirlian photography is alleged to detect all types of disease (even before physical signs appear) and emotional states. Many “energy healers,” “clairvoyants,” and other occult practitioners still rely on it today. “Supernaturally gifted” people are claimed to generate unusually dramatic photos. However, scientific investigation has found that the outcome depends on the type of film, the voltage, the skin resistance (which can be affected by perspiration and the amount of pressure of the finger on the film), how well the subject is electrically grounded, the humidity of the room, the exposure time, the photographic development time, and even the order of the photograph in a series . Moreover, coins and water droplets can generate Kirlian “auras” as effectively as living things. In fact, at least 22 physical, chemical, and photochemical characteristics can influence the coronal discharges seen in Kirlian photos.”

    Comment by jeff garrington — 18 August 2008 @ 7:24 am

  128. What’s your point Jeff?

    If so many parameters are known, why can’t we just control them and try to reproduce whatever photograph we need under the exactly the same conditions?

    Comment by ez — 18 August 2008 @ 7:36 am

  129. “and even the order of the photograph in a series ” – and what does this mean?
    (Sorry for all my typos in previous posts)

    Comment by ez — 18 August 2008 @ 7:42 am

  130. Well, I have thought a bit about it through the day, and I think that all attempts at finding this sort of analogy are actually – well, most probably, misleading…

    We are forced therefore to treat the whole phenomenon as a black box – like gravity. Here, I would like to stress, the analogy is relevant, because we do not know just how gravity can be measured directly, we can only use several parameters derived from indirect knowledge from our experiments of its influence on other objects. THat’s exactly what, I think, happens with homeopathy….

    The fact that … conditions can be cured was empirically established, not theoretically derived from anything.

    If it has been empirically established that different homeopathic remedies cure different conditions (and indeed that they work at all) then everything I’ve quoted above is true.

    If it has been empirically established that different homeopathic remedies cure different conditions (and indeed that they work at all) then why does Lionel Milgrom expend so much sophistry explaining why attempts to empirically establish this fact never work?

    The point is that for homeopathy to work requires several well-established laws of physics to be rewritten, so you can understand if scientists would rather see some proper evidence rather than taking your word for it.

    What has come to my mind, though, is that Kirlian photography can be useful as a method of measuring remedies’ charaacteristics, do you know what it is? It’s photography of objects placed into the field of high frequency currents, and it was found to show the “biofield” around living objects

    “Biofield”? Adding more things that science doesn’t accept exist is unlikely to make this any more plausible.

    Comment by Andrew — 18 August 2008 @ 9:32 am

  131. Ez.

    Pointing out papers like that is exactly the thing to do. Unfortunately my institution doesn’t by that journal in. I will see if I can obtain the article by nefarious routs.

    Comment by Derrik — 18 August 2008 @ 2:54 pm

  132. Bring in Kirlian photography and ‘biofields’ as part of an argument in favour of homeopathy is like trying to persuade people that the Loch Ness Monster is real by saying that the goblins have seen it.

    Comment by M Simpson — 18 August 2008 @ 6:45 pm

  133. unicorns…loch ness monster…goblins, comparing homeopathy to mythical creatures doesn’t actually make it a myth I’m afraid. Got any others?

    Comment by homeopathy4health — 18 August 2008 @ 6:58 pm

  134. We sceptics like to use mythical creatures as examples or analogies for things which we can all agree are a priori pretty damn unlikely.

    We’d like to use daft things like Kirlian photography and biofields, but apparently we have to step it up a notch to find something homeopaths won’t quite happily go along with.

    Comment by Andrew — 18 August 2008 @ 7:21 pm

  135. I’d keep away from analogies if I were you, skeptics don’t seem to understand them very well….

    Comment by homeopathy4health — 18 August 2008 @ 8:50 pm

  136. H4H, how do you know the Loch Ness Monster is a myth? Plenty of people are adamant that they have seen it. Lots of photographs have been taken that show… something. It’s a perfect analogy for homeopathy because it’s something for which there is a tiny amount of weak evidence in its favour, plenty of strong evidence against and a fairly clear schism between those who fervently believe it’s real and those who see no evidence but will very happily revise their views if and when evidence is presented.

    You seem very keen to dismiss the existence of Nessie despite the vast amount of anecdotal evidence supporting the idea. On what basis do you do this?

    And I compared Krilian photoagrph top goblins because I really, really didn’t think anyone still believed in that nonsense.

    Anyway, the point (which I will spell out for you) is that trying to back up an argument about something ccontentious with something even more contentious is self-defeating (and not a little funny, to be honest).

    Comment by M Simpson — 18 August 2008 @ 9:08 pm

  137. “You seem very keen to dismiss the existence of Nessie despite the vast amount of anecdotal evidence supporting the idea. On what basis do you do this?”

    You’ll debate anything?

    Comment by homeopathy4health — 19 August 2008 @ 7:50 am

  138. H4H,

    I guess you are right about using analogies, except that my feeling is that not many among sceptics are really participating with the view of understanding something, they have, of course, a different agenda.

    I don’t agree at all with the way they view Kirlian photography – it’s a fact that there is some image upon photographing and this means that some energetic phenomenon is present, which should be researched, although it may turn out to be not exactly what various types of people (healers or sceptics, etc.) beleive it to be. The fact that coins and drops of water may have the “auras” actually supports the idea that remedies can act on people, because many remedies are prepared from “inanimate” objects like minerals, so it would be only natural if such “inanimate” objects under certain conditions were observed as displaying/producing (whatever) this same energetic phenomenon. I should have called it “so-called biofield” for this very reason, but never mind.

    I think I’d keep away from such discussions from now on, although I thought I might write my ideas – not to actually argue with the sceptics, but for potential readers out there, so they could get some stimulus to learn more about things, including homeopathy. But I really have other things to do right now, I’m sorry.

    All the best to everyone.

    Comment by ez — 19 August 2008 @ 7:51 am

  139. Oh, and to Derrik,

    please, tell me if you’ve managed to get the full text, my husband’s University does not take this journal either, but I’d like to see the full text to be sure what they found and how they interpret it.

    Comment by ez — 19 August 2008 @ 7:54 am

  140. Thanks for your input ez, and perhaps write your ideas as a blog – you can always switch the comments field off if you want.

    Comment by homeopathy4health — 19 August 2008 @ 8:06 am

  141. ez, Kirlian photography is wholly explicable by science. The image is due to corona discharge, a very well researched phenomenon relevant to both animate and inanimate matter, not your ‘so-called biofield’. You can’t ignore reality based explanations for phenomena such as Kirlian photography in favour of non-evidence based theories that are meaningless without supporting evidence.

    Comment by gimpy — 19 August 2008 @ 8:39 am

  142. You’ll debate anything?

    Nobody here is willing to debate Nessie. We all agree it’s fiction. The point is, though, that it’s fiction with a tiny amount of poor evidence and a lot of vocal support, which makes it a lot like Kirilian photography or homeopathy.

    please, tell me if you’ve managed to get the full text, my husband’s University does not take this journal either, but I’d like to see the full text to be sure what they found and how they interpret it.

    I can read it. I’ll probably have a proper look tomorrow evening.

    Comment by Andrew — 19 August 2008 @ 8:58 am

  143. ‘We all agree it’s fiction’ Do we? Can you always speak for everyone? I’d beware of making categorical statements if I were you…

    Comment by homeopathy4health — 19 August 2008 @ 9:39 am

  144. I can safely speak for all sceptics when I say “we don’t believe in Nessie”. Anyone who does is a pretty lousy sceptic. (Unless they have some good evidence, of course, which they don’t, because there isn’t any, because Nessie is fiction.)

    It’s not a gross generalisation, it is merely part of the definition of a sceptic.

    I concede that you might well be able to find a few homeopaths mental enough to think the Loch Ness Monster is real. How this helps your case, beyond making argument seem more futile, is unclear.

    Comment by Andrew — 19 August 2008 @ 11:51 am

  145. you brought it up in support of your case as I remmember…

    Comment by homeopathy4health — 19 August 2008 @ 12:32 pm

  146. Actually, it was M Simpson who brought it up. I know you like to think everyone who disagrees with you is part of the same well-organised denial consiracy, but we’re really all individuals and many of us don’t even like each other very much. If you’re going to talk about “categorical statements”, you should avoid lumping all sceptics into one mental box marked “the enemy”.

    Anyway, you’re the one who contested the claim that nobody here believes in Nessie. Sorry if that offended you, but frankly anyone who thinks there might actually be a Loch Ness Monster shouldn’t be anywhere near a discussion of medicine, much less its practice (except perhaps the receiving end of heavy sedation).

    Comment by Andrew — 19 August 2008 @ 12:59 pm

  147. …opinionated and insulting…interesting that you don’t even like each other…bit sad that. But none of you strike me as very likable so not surprising really.

    I stand corrected, M Simpson brought it up to support the skeptic case.

    My point is that you can not possibly know what “everyone” here thinks about anything actually.

    Comment by homeopathy4health — 19 August 2008 @ 3:15 pm

  148. “I can safely speak for all sceptics when I say “we don’t believe in Nessie””

    – and I can, with reasonable confidence add: “But we would really like Nessie to be real and if the day comes when someone presents unambiguous evidence that Nessie is real, we will accept that we were wrong.”

    Exactly like homeopathy. There isn’t a sceptic on the planet who wouldn’t rejoice at the discovery of a cheap, safe, effective, widely applicable, easily administered form of medical treatment. Because there isn’t a sane person anywhere who wouldn’t welcome that. And if that discoery is ever made – and proven – then we will admit that our previous opinions, though based on the best available evidence at the time, were wrong.

    The difference between ‘us lot’ and ‘you lot’ is that when you really want something marvelous to be true, you search for reasons why it IS true, you look for confirmation. Whereas when we really, really want something marvelous to be true, we search for reasons why it’s NOT true, we look for contradictions. It’s called caution. Many of the great mistakes of history have been caused by people who looked only for support for their beliefs, instead of exercising caution.

    Comment by M Simpson — 19 August 2008 @ 3:39 pm

  149. “Many of the great mistakes of history have been caused by people who looked only for support for their beliefs, instead of exercising caution”

    ..such as what exactly?

    Comment by homeopathy4health — 19 August 2008 @ 4:09 pm

  150. And so if you really want Nessie to be true say, you look for reasons why it’s not true and don’t therefore find Nessie..

    Comment by homeopathy4health — 19 August 2008 @ 4:14 pm

  151. ““Many of the great mistakes of history have been caused by people who looked only for support for their beliefs, instead of exercising caution”

    ..such as what exactly?”

    Well, there was this fellow called Napoleon, and another German chap whose name escapes me because I don’t want to invoke Godwin’s Law

    There are plenty of famous hoaxes, from Piltdown Man to the Hitler Diaries (damn!) where people have either been fooled or fooled themselves because they wanted something to be real. The world is full of frauds, charlatans, self-deceivers and loonies all with their own extraordinary theories about how they’re right and everyone else is wrong. It would seem sensible to treat such theories with caution until their is enough evidence to either dismiss or accept them.

    Although, as we saw earlier with Kirlian photography, the presence of such evidence holds little weight for those who believe and say things like “it’s a fact that there is some image upon photographing and this means that some energetic phenomenon is present, which should be researched”, oblivious to the fact that this phenomenon has been researched already and has been thoroughly explained within the current framework of scientific knowledge.

    “And so if you really want Nessie to be true say, you look for reasons why it’s not true and don’t therefore find Nessie..”

    Do you really not grasp this? If you look for reasons why Nessie (or anything else fabulously exciting) is true, you’ll find them, irrespective of whether the thing is true or not. So you still don’t know whether it’s true. If you look for reasons why it’s not true, you either find them – in which case, what a shame, if only – or you don’t, in which case you eventually have to start considering, cautiously, whether it might be true after all.

    We’re still waiting to hear why you dismiss the massive body of anecdotal evidence, backed up with a number of equivocal scientific studies, which supports the idea that there is a large creature resident in Loch Ness. You seem absolutely sure that Nessie isn’t real. How do you know this?

    Comment by M Simpson — 19 August 2008 @ 4:34 pm

  152. I don’t think you get it M Simpson.

    There are 250,000 trained homeopaths in India who have graduated from various colleges many with rigorous requirements. There are 4000 medical doctors in one organization alone in Germany who practice homeopathy. Homeopathy is integrated into major hospitals in Israel where there are homeopathy departments and in many other hospitals around the world.

    In your narrow view you may think all homeopaths are either perpetrating a hoax or a victim of one but many are medical doctors and many have Masters and Phds in other science fields.

    You can keep perpetrating YOUR hoax that homeopathy is only practiced by idiots on idiots but it is completely false and slanderous.

    Comment by doctorhomeopathy — 19 August 2008 @ 6:39 pm

  153. In that case there should be no problem in you – or some other homeopath – rising to the following extraordinarily simple and basic challenge:

    ‘Please give one – remember, you only need one – incontrovertible example, with references, of homeopathy curing a non-self-limiting condition.’

    This challenge has been made many times and no homeopath has ever provided such an example. I wonder why that is…

    Comment by M Simpson — 19 August 2008 @ 8:10 pm

  154. By your evasive answer and your previous slanderous and false statements you have proved to me that you distort and lie. So there is absolutely nothing homeopaths need to prove to you or to your cohorts that join you in the distortions and slander.

    Comment by doctorhomeopathy — 19 August 2008 @ 8:42 pm

  155. Doctorhomeopathy, what exactly was I evading in my previous post? My post 151 was discussing the plausibility or otherwise of the Loch Ness Monster. You somehow interpreted this as being about homeopathy in a post which, search as I might, does not seem to contain a question. You think my ‘answer’ is evasive but I can’t see what it is you think I’m evading. Perhaps you would like to be more specific in your requests.

    I have made a specific request. Here it is again for the hard of reading: ‘Please give one – remember, you only need one – incontrovertible example, with references, of homeopathy curing a non-self-limiting condition.’

    I’m sure that one of these thousands of qualified homeopaths must have, at some point, properly documented such a case. So why is no homeopath prepared to point it out to sceptics?

    You would also be more credible if you knew what ‘slander’ meant.

    Comment by M Simpson — 19 August 2008 @ 9:09 pm

  156. OK- libel or defamation. Whatever. I picture you as a big gossip spouting your lies as facts to whomever will listen.

    You are simply hiding your viscousness and backtracking when in fact you did say in the discussion:

    “Exactly like homeopathy.”

    You make such general and sweeping opinions about homeopathy and dress them up as facts and then spread the lies. This is very pertinent to the discussion on homeopathy here because you then state that because homeopaths do not answer your nasty accusation couched in a question they are somehow guilty of being all the things you accuse them of. A silly and nasty and libelous trick that from what I can see you have been playing for a few years now.

    Comment by doctorhomeopathy — 19 August 2008 @ 10:01 pm

  157. Did you read the bit before the phrase “Exactly like homeopathy”?

    Unless your next post actually addresses the issues being discussed here, or at least shows some evidence that you have read the posts you’re replying to, we can all just consider you a troll and ignore you.

    Here’s a tip. There is no point just saying somebody is lying. To have any impact or relevance at all, you have to specify what they said that was untrue, then explain what the actual truth is – and ideally back up your claim with some sort of evidence or at least an informed opinion.

    Comment by M Simpson — 19 August 2008 @ 10:27 pm

  158. Screw off with the dictates and your nonsense. My main piece of evidence is your accusation couched as a question.

    Get with it and stop the lies. If you did your research into homeopathy and those practicing homeopathy better, such as the MDs in Germany, you would know even better the deceit that you are spreading.

    Comment by doctorhomeopathy — 19 August 2008 @ 11:30 pm

  159. doctorhomeopathy, nobody is trying to insinuate that only idiots practice or use homeopathy. Some ignorant people do as well.

    You should also be aware that none of us are lying. If we are wrong about homeopathy (which seems fantastically unlikely) then it’s an honest mistake. I believe that you genuinely hold to the opposite hypothesis. So one of us must be wrong, and that means the only way to settle this is with evidence. And that means proper evidence, not just criticising M Simpson’s phraseology.

    And since there are loads and loads of quack therapies, almost all of which must be wrong, each with hordes of supporters, the onus is on the alternative practitioners to provide evidence for their particular modality.

    Comment by Andrew — 20 August 2008 @ 9:13 am

  160. Andrew your response is littered with pejorative language. You provide nothing except your smart ass opinion and sarcasm as a basis for your nasty insinuations about homeopathy and homeopaths.

    Homeopaths have nothing to prove to YOU or Simpson since your intention is not to change your opinion but only to show superiority and to continue your weird fetish with homeopathy and homeopaths.

    Comment by doctorhomeopathy — 20 August 2008 @ 3:06 pm

  161. doctorhomeopathy

    Homeopaths have nothing to prove to YOU or Simpson since your intention is not to change your opinion but only to show superiority and to continue your weird fetish with homeopathy and homeopaths.

    Homeopaths have to prove to their customers and to the worlds health services that their treatments do what they claim though. But regardless, think of the boost the profession would get if you could persuade the world that homeopathy is the wonder cure that you claim. Think of the patents, the money, the adoring crowds, the Nobel prizes and so on. You’d be hailed as heroes and great visionaries, statues would be built in your honour and your names recorded in the history books as the saviours of mankind. What are you waiting for?

    Comment by gimpy — 20 August 2008 @ 4:21 pm

  162. gimpy- I’m glad you believe that homeopathy has the potential to succeed in the way you describe. Thank you for your positive encouragement.

    Comment by doctorhomeopathy — 20 August 2008 @ 4:56 pm

  163. doctorhomeopathy, I’m just spelling out the consequences of proving homeopathy works for you. What are you waiting for? Prove it works.

    Comment by gimpy — 20 August 2008 @ 5:36 pm

  164. Andrew your response is littered with pejorative language.

    …smart ass opinion and sarcasm … nasty insinuations … your intention is… only to show superiority … your weird fetish ….

    Is there a homeopathic preparation that can cure rampant hypocrisy?

    Comment by Andrew — 20 August 2008 @ 6:48 pm

  165. Yes there are remedies for that Andrew. And thanks again gimpy for adding to your positive post.

    Comment by doctorhomeopathy — 20 August 2008 @ 7:10 pm

  166. Does this mean you’ve found a substance that causes hypocrisy in healthy patients? What it is? Tabloids? Grind up the Daily Mail and dilute it?

    I’m not at all sure I go along with the ethics of “curing” undesirable personality traits.

    Comment by Andrew — 21 August 2008 @ 9:14 am

  167. M. Simpson wants one incontrovertible case of a person with a nonself-limiting illness being healed with homeopathy. I have that.

    I present myself as the case. I had an illness – diagnosed more than once via MRI, and noted as being 100% incurable, with no allopathic treatment of any sort available for it – called arachnoiditis. I was near death – had reached the point of my digestive system almost stopped, a near-sure sign that death is approaching. That was only one symptom. I was losing the ability to walk. Gasped for breath. In pain that few cancer patients feel, and not only localized, but throughout my body. Vision was deteriorating. Reflexes below the waist, which had been hyper, were completely gone.

    The disease is neurological, affecting the central nervous system and contains an autoimmune aspect. Scar tissue grows inside the thecal sac (where the cerebrospinal fluid is) and pushed nerve roots aside. My MRIs showed that the cauda equina nerve roots had been pushed to the edge of the thecal sac.

    That was several years ago. I am alive today, walking normally, without pain, exercising (no breathing problems), no digestive problems, no vision problems. Reflexes are back to hyper. I’m left with some neurological damage from damaged nerve roots, but am otherwise fine. The reason, and the only possible reason, is homeopathy. It was a method that I did not believe in at the time, but agreed to try when asked by someone very close to me.

    My pain doctor, while I saw him after healing and during withdrawal from massive doses of morphine, methadone, oxycodone, and baclofen – not to mention surgical removal of an intrathecal pump that had provided methadone and baclofen directly to my spine – that pain doctor was stunned to see my return to health, and used me as an example of how alleviating pain could provide a patient with a means to find a solution to an otherwise incurable condition.

    Comment by gaia-therapy — 21 August 2008 @ 5:49 pm

  168. And presumably your case was documented somewhere? It is common, where extraordinary medical situations occur, for the doctor concerned to describe the case.

    I’m also puzzled how you are sure that homeopathy was “the only possible reason” when you also say you had “massive doses of morphine, methadone, oxycodone, and baclofen”. How do you know that these drugs did not contribute to your recovery?

    What we ask for is a case *with references*. Because – and please don’t take this as a slur on your character – anyone can come along and say ‘I was sick, now I’m healed.’ This is a remarkable anecdote but it is only an anecdote (and we have plenty of those!) until you can tell us where to find your case in the medical literature.

    Comment by M Simpson — 21 August 2008 @ 6:32 pm

  169. The idea that morphine, methadone, oxycodone, or baclofen could possibly have contributed to my recovery is so bizarre, it leaves me speechless – but I shall recover from that. The suggestion is ridiculous. The first three are pain relievers, and morphine has some muscle relaxant qualities. The last is baclofen, which is the most potent muscle relaxant. To even try to suggest that one of these drugs could have had any contribution to recovery is really reaching.

    When a disease is iatrogenic – as mine was – the medical profession tends to hide it. Doctors do not generally describe such a case in the medical literaturre. In fact, when I’ve since told doctors, and they’ve had the medical records documenting it, the response has been universally (with the exception of the pain doc) ho-hum. Unless you’ve been through such an experience, it’s hard to believe, but that’s the reality of the situation. It’s also true that most doctors do not publish anything ever, so why would you assume that any doctor would describe the case of any extraordinary medical situation? It’s an assumption on your part, not based on fact.

    You did not originally say you wanted references, but now you do.

    My point in bringing out my case is that I do have hard evidence of its existence and degree of severity. The simple fact that I’m able to write this today is evidence that something healed me. The only possible explanation – since there are no reversals of arachnoiditis and no treatments in allopathic medicine – is that something else caused the healing. The fact is that I started to recover when homeopathic treatment was provided and when nothing else was applied or tried or changed.

    Imagine yourself, if you can, in the same situation I was and am in. Healed of an impossible-to-heal disease. Now, try to imagine what it’s like to have people like you quibble with the story, imply that it can’t possibly be true because it simply doesn’t fit within your world view. And that doctors choose to ignore your story, even faced with the evidence, for precisely the same reason. How would you suggest that the individual in such a situation proceed? Get on with it and tell the story occasionally, when it seems to fit the situation? Or get hung up in trying to get everyone to believe what happened?

    I told my story because you asked for proof, and I offered myself. In response, I’ve gotten a slur on my character, preceded by a statement that I shouldn’t take it as one. I’ve gotten an absurd suggestion that drugs with well-known and documented effects, none of which could possibly have helped heal, might have been the reason for cure. And the suggestion that extraordinary medical situations are routinely reported, based on nothing but the presumption or desire that it be true.

    Comment by gaia-therapy — 22 August 2008 @ 9:21 am

  170. The idea that morphine, methadone, oxycodone, or baclofen could possibly have contributed to my recovery is so bizarre, it leaves me speechless

    More bizarre than the idea that a glass of water with no medicine in contributed? You’re aware of how silly that sounds to a sceptic, right?

    The other problem is that (assuming your story is true, and I have no particular reason to doubt or believe it) there’s no way of knowing it wasn’t a spontaneous remission. These things happen, even with incurable diseases. It seems likely that when they do, sometimes the patient is in desperation trying some form of alternative medicine and it’s easy to misplace credit in that kind of situation. The ones who die rarely recount the tale.

    That’s why control groups are important: a group of people with arachnoiditis, some of whom don’t get homeopathy and some of whom do, then you can say “look, so many more people in the homeopathy group recovered that it can’t be chance”. “Incontrovertible” is a big ask.

    Comment by Andrew — 22 August 2008 @ 10:08 am

  171. gaia-therapy, please don’t take the questioning of your statement personally. Understand that the question

    Please give one – remember, you only need one – incontrovertible example, with references, of homeopathy curing a non-self-limiting condition.’

    means that you must provide compelling objective measurements. This means you cannot rely on the subjectivity of personal statements to prove the point but must provide scientific data. A starting point in your case would be to see proof that you were correctly diagnosed in the first place, that there is no conceivable way your medication could cause remission, and that your remission is permanent rather than cyclical.

    Also, there are reports in the literature of remission or reduced symptoms of arachnoiditis over time consistent with your experience. I’m afraid that this casts considerable doubt on your assertion that homeopathy successfully treated your condition and it was not other medication or simply time.

    Comment by gimpy — 22 August 2008 @ 10:54 am

  172. Sorry, but there are no spontaneous remissions with arachnoiditis – and even that would not explain the reversal of some neurological symptoms. It is truly a disease with no hope, other than for a few people who got it through surgery, and then only within the first two years. Other than that, there are no spontaneous remissions. It requires undoing nerve damage, including to the spinal cord. (By the way, I was well past those two years.)

    To you, the evidence I gave is not incontrovertible. I accept that. To me, though, there is no other way to look at it, other than as an act of god – and I don’t believe in such.

    Yes, it would be more bizarre for any of those drugs to have a positive effect on arachnoiditis than for a glass of water with no discernible medicine in it to have an effect. We know the material effects of those drugs quite well, we use them for those material effects, and they cannot do that sort of thing. The argument about a glass of water assumes that the only factor is water, and that’s not the case with homeopathy. Whatever it is cannot be measured in a material way, at least not now. But not knowing what creates its effect is far different from claiming that there is no effect because there cannot be an effect – a good example of circular logic. (“It isn’t true because it can’t be true” is that nature of your argument. You argue as if we have full knowledge of the world and what it consists of – something that is far from true.)

    The problem with the sort of study you’re asking for is finding the funding and the will. What allopathic sources would be willing to do an honest study of this sort? What homeopathic sources have the funding or the means? I agree that such a study would be great – if done in a manner that works with the methodologies of homeopathy – but there are enormous barriers to getting one done.

    So, you choose not to believe that homeopathy works. You have that right. But why is it so important to you to argue with those who believe it works? Until my own experience with homeopathy, I thought it was as absurd as you do. But, I would never have gone out and tried to argue with homeopathists that what they’re doing is false. I came to my belief in it in spite of it being contradictory to my world view. But, honesty required that, when confronted with information that didn’t fit, the thing that had to give was my view of the world. Most likely, it will take something equivalent for you to make such a change – and perhaps even then, you wouldn’t.

    Why you feel compelled to argue with the author of this blog and those who have experienced and seen the benefits of homeopathy seems odd to me. Why do you feel the need to try to prove that we’re wrong? Why do you feel it necessary to impose your world view on a bunch of people who clearly see things from a different angle? Do you see yourself as a crusader who is going to vanquish the evil homeopathist?

    Comment by gaia-therapy — 22 August 2008 @ 11:03 am

  173. Sorry, gimpy, the particular cases you’re referring to are initial exposure to spinal insults – the early stages of potential arachnoiditis or something else entirely, a steroid flare, whcih can result in misery and many strange symptoms, but is not permanent.

    The abstract you referred to did not deal with a chronic condition, but a condition that might indicate that the chronic condition might develop. That is not what my situation was.

    Notice also that the abstract you linked to referred only to “characteristics of spinal arachnoiditis”, not to arachnoiditis or adhesive arachnoiditis.

    So, no, there are no reports of spontaneous remission of established chronic arachnoiditis.

    Comment by gaia-therapy — 22 August 2008 @ 11:13 am

  174. Sorry, but there are no spontaneous remissions with arachnoiditis – and even that would not explain the reversal of some neurological symptoms.

    Did you read the link I provided? It quite clearly states that symptoms can decline over time, there are also other studies indicating that certain types of arachnoiditis can go into spontaneous remission, albeit only 18%.

    If it were the case that arachnoiditis cannot improve over time or go into spontaneous remission then your case would be unique, but its not the case. You may be exceptionally lucky in that your condition has improved but you are not unique in this situation.

    Comment by gimpy — 22 August 2008 @ 11:18 am

  175. …there are no reports of spontaneous remission of established chronic arachnoiditis

    Even if it’s never been recorded, it’s not impossible — spontaneous remissions in general are fairly common and there’s no particular reason to suppose it is impossible with any particular disease you care to mention or contract.

    When we’re faced with two alternative explanations, we have to pick the most reasonable. Here, they are “a rare spontaneous remission from a serious disease”, which is highly unlikely but plausible, and “water with no medicine in cured a serious disease”, which is highly unlikely and implausible. I for one prefer the first, as it doesn’t require me to add a load of extraneous guff to my world-view, like vital forces, water memory and so forth. It’s simple application of Occam’s Razor.

    In 1991 there were no reports of people wandering around fields with sticks drawing geometry in the corn. Doesn’t make crop circles real. There’s a first time for everything, as they say.

    Comment by Andrew — 22 August 2008 @ 11:27 am

  176. gaia-therapy, there is also a further factor that chronic arachnoiditis is difficult to diagnose and categorise symptomatically (the intro of this review highlights this). There is a credible possibility that you may have been misdiagnosed or that it was thought that the disease was more serious than it was.

    Given that there are cases of spontaneous remission of arachnoiditis, symptoms declining over time and it is hard to accurately diagnose there are a number of explanations for your remission other than the healing power of a vial of water, especially a vial of water that would have to break the constraints of the known physical laws of the universe to work as its proponents say.

    Can you see where we are coming from?

    Comment by gimpy — 22 August 2008 @ 1:03 pm

  177. Chronic arachnoiditis is generally quite easy to diagnose from an MRI. If there is an empty thecal sac, then you’re dealing with arachnoiditis. If the cauda equina nerve roots are clumped and pushed into the thecal sac, it’s arachnoiditis. There is no other condition that causes clumping of nerve roots, especially progressive clumping. When the onset of the condition is clearly known, as in my case, the MRI documentation is clear proof of the condition.

    That article makes more than one false claim. First, it claims that the disease is very rare. It is not. It’s hidden behind other diagnoses and claims that there is nothing wrong. If you’d lived with the disease, you’d know that to be true. Dr. Charles Burton, who is considered an expert on the disease, estimates that there are at least 1,000,000 cases in the United States. That’s hardly rare. (There are, of course, varying degrees of illness with it, and not everyone is completely devastated. Often, it takes many years for a person to become debilitated.)

    It is also true, and has been documented many times, that epidurals can and do cause it, including epidurals done during labor. The manufacturer of one of the primary drugs used for epidurals acknowledged that they can and do cause arachnoiditis. A copy of the letter the manufacturer sent to doctors is here: http://groups.msn.com/DepoMedrolDidItHarmYou/pusinternaldocument.msnw. In light of this, it’s obvious that there are flaws in the claims of the study you reference, as the fact that DepoMedrol is the most commonly used drug in epidurals, including in childbirth, makes clear that it’s highly unlikely that no one has been harmed.

    The article claims that the arachnoid membrane is the principle barrier to drugs penetrating. That may be so, but it’s also true that it does not act as a barrier in any real sense. Drugs (and almost anything else) go right through it. That includes (as the article notes) blood, which is also toxic in the intrathecal space and noted for being a major cause of arachnoiditis.

    One or two articles, produced by a profession that has every reason to hide the truth about it, do not provide adequate documentation about arachnoiditis.

    There is no spontaneous remission of established arachnoiditis. Symptoms do not decline. It is not usually hard to diagnose. (There are exceptions, but my case was definitely not one of them.) Reading one or two articles does not come anywhere near comprehending the disease.

    Physical laws are not cast in concrete. Our understanding of them changes as we learn more. The idea that you must force what you observe and experience into a pre-existing definition of reality is entirely contrary to what science is about. Anecdotal evidence leads to hunches that lead to experiments to test for why something that seems not to fit a conception of the world doesn’t fit it. To suggest that something can’t be simply because it can’t be – which is what you’re doing – is circular logic.

    Comment by gaia-therapy — 22 August 2008 @ 3:50 pm

  178. “You did not originally say you wanted references, but now you do.”

    I would refer you to posts 153 and 155 and ask you to bear in mind that it is not possible to edit comments once posted.

    “The simple fact that I’m able to write this today is evidence that something healed me.”

    No, it is evidence that you are alive and reasonably well. There is no evidence, other than your word, that you were seriously ill in the past. Perhaps you were but people do make up stories about illnesses and misdisgianoses do occur. So when all we have is the word of a stranger, how are we to distinguish between truth and mistake or (self)deception?

    That is why we make the simple, reasonable request for a documented case rather than personal anecdotes. The fact that no homeopathic practitioner or patient has yet been able to offer a single example does rather cast doubt on the whole thing.

    Comment by M Simpson — 22 August 2008 @ 3:56 pm

  179. So let me get this straight. This is a very common condition, affecting anything up to a million people in the USA. So presumably your doctor has treated many other patients with this. He has seen extraordinary results in you from using homeopathy, so presumably he now uses homeopathy routinely on patients with this condition (if not, why not?) and cures them too. And yet, he seems to have made no effort to let the world know that (a) he has found a cheap, safe cure for a condition previously thought incurable and (b) he has established a precedent of proven efficacy of homeopathy which has the potential to revolutionise medicine accross the globe (as well as netting him a Nobel prize and James Randi’s million bucks).

    Hmm… something smells fishy there.

    “To suggest that something can’t be simply because it can’t be – which is what you’re doing – is circular logic.”

    It is also a straw man. However, to claim that something can’t be because repeated tests to see whether it exists consistently fail to find any evidence for it, that’s a reasonable deduction. And one which almost every sceptic on the planet would change in an instant if real evidence were presented.

    Comment by M Simpson — 22 August 2008 @ 4:03 pm

  180. gaia-therapy,

    Perhaps you missed the point in my posting the article on epidurals, it was the introduction I was referring ot, I made no comment on whether epidurals can cause arachnoiditis, the heated follow up commentary to that paper suggests this is a controversial area. However, no critics took issue with the introduction on the difficulties in diagnosing arachnoiditis.
    Also, your wholesale dismissal of scientific research on arachnoiditis as ‘produced by a profession that has every reason to hide the truth’ suggests that you are bringing a considerable amount of subjectivity to your arguments.

    To suggest that something can’t be simply because it can’t be – which is what you’re doing – is circular logic.

    No, I am suggesting you consider other explanations before needing to rewrite reality. Remission, spontaneous or otherwise, is entirely plausible without having to rethink how the universe works, homeopathy is not. Apply Occam’s Razor.

    Comment by gimpy — 22 August 2008 @ 4:39 pm

  181. That doctor did not apply the homeopathy. He was a pain doctor, and he stayed with his profession. He did not find a cure for my condition. He was a bystander who observed that it happened. Your sarcasm is entirely unwarranted. I never implied that he’d had anything to do with homeopathy, only that he’d seen what happened – and accepted it. He does not author papers. Very few doctors do. He tries to help people in pain, nothing more or less.

    The real point of that paper had nothing to do with whether arach is easily diagnosed, so why would people quibble about that point? I brought it up to point out that the paper is full of flaws and is definitely not a reliable source of information about arachnoiditis, since it was presented here as evidence that my information about the disease is not accurate. Clearly, it does not stand up to the facts and does not justify the comments made about arachnoiditis. You know nothing of the disease – simply found a reference on the net that makes claims that you thought proved my statements were false.

    You made the statement that my argument about circular logic is a straw man. No, it isn’t. A straw man argument is a claim that is false, attributed to the opponent, and then knocked down. Calling your argument circular logic is not a straw man in any sense. It is a statement of the nature of your argument against homeopathy, which basically says that it doesn’t work because it can’t work. The conclusion and premise are the same.

    The one really clear point here is that you aren’t interested in other people’s experiences if they don’t coincide with your view of the world. With that, I’ll stop, as you are becoming insulting and derogatory. That is not debate. It is mean-spirited and does not help in any manner.

    Comment by gaia-therapy — 22 August 2008 @ 5:37 pm

  182. gaia-therapy, who are you responding to? It seems to be a mixture of Andrew, M Simpson and myself. Personally I have not been insulting or derogatory to you. I have merely offered alternative hypothesis backed up with evidence to your assertion that homeopathy cured you.

    Could you explain exactly why the introduction to the paper, which cites a lot of research, is wrong? Merely asserting it is wrong and biased does not make it so. Also, could you provide peer-reviewed references stating that arachnoiditis is easily diagnosed? Again merely asserting it is does not make it so.

    You are quite right in stating that I know little of the disease beyond the few papers I read when I had a spare moment today. However, by asserting that you know more than me therefore your arguments are right is a fallacious appeal to authority, in this case you. This is why providing references, preferably peer-reviewed papers published in scientific journals, is an absolute necessity because it means arguments can be conducted solely on evidence not assertions.

    Comment by gimpy — 22 August 2008 @ 6:09 pm

  183. “You made the statement that my argument about circular logic is a straw man. No, it isn’t. A straw man argument is a claim that is false, attributed to the opponent, and then knocked down. Calling your argument circular logic is not a straw man in any sense. It is a statement of the nature of your argument against homeopathy, which basically says that it doesn’t work because it can’t work. The conclusion and premise are the same.”

    But that’s not our claim. We don’t claim that it doesn’t work because it can’t work, we claim that it doesn’t work – based on the simple truth that no-one has ever successfully demonstrated that it does work – and we point out that this is not surprising because, according to our current understanding of the universe, it can’t work. The sceptics’ claims of lack of efficacy are based on documented experimentation, giving a result which does not contradict our current model of the universe. The homeopaths’ claims of efficacy are based on anecdote (which is what you are providing to us) and sometimes on experimental studies which are either irreproducible or of astoundingly poor quality and, if true, would require a massive change to our current model of the universe.

    Note that it’s our *current* model of the universe and it is constantly changing as new discoveries are made, some of which contradict what was believed to be true by demonstrating better evidence. Science is not dogmatic, science is a process of discovery which constantly changes our model of the universe *in small, incremental ways*. The level of change to that model required for homeopathy to be effective is so huge that it is highly, highly unlikely. But not impossible. If clear evidence is presented that homeopathy works – in any way for any condition – then our model of the universe can be, must be and will be revised accordingly. Just as it will be revised if anyone ever offers clear evidence that there is a plesiosaur in Loch Ness, that human beings can communicate with their minds, that there is life after death or that extraterrestrial beings have ever visited this planet.

    Comment by M Simpson — 22 August 2008 @ 6:44 pm

  184. gimpy, your point that you know little about arachnoiditis was obvious – as well as with the other writers. I did respond to a mixture of people, as the arguments were much the same. No, you were not rude, at least not like another writer.

    Yes, I do know more about arachnoiditis than most people – more, in fact, than most doctors. You don’t have to accept that if you don’t want.

    No, I’m not going to provide peer reviewed articles, as I do not consider them necessarily the best sort of documentation. They are often wrong and far from unbiased. The peers who review the articles tend to have the same bias as the authors. Most such journals – medical ones – are in the pockets of pharmaceutical companies and doctors making money off the procedures that they’re discussing and the studies that they do.

    You may call that statement biased, but taking the opposite viewpoint, that most of the articles are legitimate, is also a bias. My bias comes from experience and awareness. Otherwise, how is it that statins continue to be written about in the journals as if they prevent heart attacks? They don’t, except possibly in people who’ve already had heart attacks – and even that’s doubtful. That’s clearly bias of the wrong sort. And it is not rare. I believe it’s more the rule than the exception. In any case, you win no points by calling me biased, as I’m no more so than you, with your assumption that such journals are the best source of information.

    I’ve already explained what’s wrong with the Springerlink article. It is not dealing with established arachnoiditis, but rather with the earliest incidence of it. In those cases, I agree. Not all go on to become full-fledged arach. But that article has nothing to do with me or with chronic arach.

    As to whether arach is easily diagnosed, there are no peer-reviewed articles on it, only statements made as if it’s true. However, my pain doctor showed me how to diagnose it from an MRI. Except in rare cases of some other spinal anomalies, it’s easy to spot. Clumped nerve roots stand out like a sort thumb, especially in a transverse view. (Before MRIs, diagnosis of arach was very difficult, and not definitive until after death.) It can also be done by myelogram. However, myelograms are very risky, especially if someone might have arach, because the chances of aggravating it are high. It is a significant cause of the disease.

    Comment by gaia-therapy — 22 August 2008 @ 7:00 pm

  185. Yes, I do know more about arachnoiditis than most people – more, in fact, than most doctors. You don’t have to accept that if you don’t want.

    No, I’m not going to provide peer reviewed articles, as I do not consider them necessarily the best sort of documentation. They are often wrong and far from unbiased. The peers who review the articles tend to have the same bias as the authors. Most such journals – medical ones – are in the pockets of pharmaceutical companies and doctors making money off the procedures that they’re discussing and the studies that they do.

    Oh for goodness sake gaia-therapy. This is descending into farce. You assert that you are a leading expert in arachnoiditis, you assert that because you say so you are right, you claim that scientific journals and doctors are paid stooges of pharmaceutical companies but you don’t provide a single bit of evidence in support of your claims and you expect me to accept that homeopathy works based on them. But strangely you also say I am free to disbelieve you claims. So how do I know if you are right? Evidence. You cannot provide any so I will treat your claims with the appropriate degree of scepticism. I provided evidence, but you claim my evidence is biased big pharma propaganda, but you provide no evidence to support this claim.

    Is this really the best you can do in support of homeopathy? A series of baseless claims?

    Comment by gimpy — 23 August 2008 @ 6:49 am

  186. You mischaracterize my words. I did not say that I’m a leading expert. I said only that I know more than most about arachnoiditis, including doctors. That’s hardly a claim of expert status. It’s not even a strange claim, since many people with diseases that are largely ignored by doctors find it necessary to inform themselves.

    Yes, I do claim that scientists and doctors are often – not always – shills of pharmaceutical companies. Consider Dr. Biederman of Harvard, who is the person most responsible for the massive psycho-drugging of children. He has been taking money from pharmaceuticals, at least $1.6 million, and hid the fact. Because of him and his false claims for both efficacy and safety, along with false claims of frequency of mental disorders in children, millions have been subjected to mind-altering and destroying drugs. He is widely published in journals.

    Pharmaceutical firms are deep inside the medical schools, often funding the salaries of professors. Obviously, such professors are going to be inclined to write papers showing the companies that sponsor them in a good light.

    Pharmaceutical firms pay for most of the tests of their drugs. They do not publish negative results, which are usually found only through court orders or the Freedom of Information Act. That alone skews results published in journals.

    Here’s more support of my claim:

    http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/326/7400/1193
    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4696316
    http://www.cmaj.ca/cgi/content/full/171/2/149
    http://ww1.cpa-apc.org:8080/publications/archives/CJP/2004/september/procyshyn.asp
    http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/290/7/921
    http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract;jsessionid=DD1D25A2366A7DA0E84F8E0401684D71.tomcat1?fromPage=online&aid=522832

    Read the resignation letter of a former president of the American Psychiatric Association: http://www.critpsynet.freeuk.com/Mosher.htm
    He quit because the APA had become little more than a shill for pharmaceuticals. (Since the APA produces several journals, this is specific to the issue.)

    There’s also the fact that pharmaceutical firms are major funders of medical journals through ads. That obviously skews what is and is not published.

    Here’s an example from a study published in September, 2007 in the New England Journal of Medicine, claiming that thimerosol is not harmful to children aged 7-10. The lead investigator was a former Merck employee. Other investigators were consultants to pharma companies, and received grant money and lecture fees from them. The pharma companies included GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis, Merck, Wyeth, SanofiPasteur, MedImmune, and Abbott. If you look at studies, you’ll find the admitted ties to pharma remarkable. The hidden ties, though, are not disclosed. These can include things like funding of an author’s position at the university.

    It seems to me that believing that medical journals are honest is incredibly naive. It’s quite obvious how pharmaceutical firms have permeated every aspect of the medical system. Go to any doctor’s office in the US and you’ll see ads and products from pharmaceuticals. Nearly all doctors go to continuing education training that has been sponsored by pharmaceuticals. Medical journals rely on pharmaceutical advertising. The AMA and APA are deep in the pockets of Big Pharma.

    gimpy, your comments are nasty and twist what I’ve said. You don’t have to agree with me. But your means of debate are debased. You twisted what I said about my knowledge of arach. You say I made baseless claims about the connection between pharmaceutical firms and medical journals.

    Just look at how drugs end up being recalled after years of use and ask how they got on the market in the first place. (Read about how Prozac was approved. The company that made it went through many trials that showed it didn’t work, but they persevered. In the end, they twisted a tiny sample of the data they’d gotten and had it published and approved.)

    It’s painfully obvious that there is something deeply wrong involving pharmaceutical firms and the medical system. To assume that their publications are untainted strikes me as quite naive. Accusing me of making baseless claims about that, when the evidence is so obvious, is what sounds farcical.

    Comment by gaia-therapy — 23 August 2008 @ 12:18 pm

  187. gaia-therapy, those references critical of the bias towards manufacturers product in trials organised by said manufacturers are published in medical journals. The same medical journals you claim are in hock to big pharma. Journals publishing papers critical of big pharma. I would have thought you would have applauded such openness and reflection.
    However, your links do nothing to support your arguments. All they show is that some trials display bias and funding source may have a role to play in that bias. It does prove that medical journals will only publish data favourable to big pharma, it does not say that big pharma are influencing researchers to publish false conclusions regarding arachnoiditis. You have told me that you do not trust medical journals because advertising and some research is paid for by pharmaceutical companies. By that logic why should I believe anything you say in support of CAM? You clearly have vested interests in defending it as you are a practising alternative therapist. Using your logic everything you say cannot be trusted.
    Journals, academics and any other body that receives money from a source that may compromise impartiality should declare it and for the most part they do. Such honesty is necessary so results can be scrutinised and any potential bias taken into account. This system is not perfect, but nothing is, and as long as due diligence is paid it is the only viable option we have.
    However even if your claims that big pharmaceuticals are convincing researchers to lie to protect their profits were true, homeopathy still would not work. Believe it or not most science is not conducted to benefit pharmaceutical companies, it is to further human knowledge and most researchers have no financial interest in the outcome of their research. Everything we know from physics, chemistry and biology suggests it is implausible. It seems the only way you have to ignore this conclusion is to imagine there is some grand conspiracy suppressing the truth. It really is quite tragic.

    But this is all a distraction from your initial claim that you were living proof homeopathy works. A bit of reading suggested that in your situation recovery was not implausible and could be attributed to a wide range of factors ranging from misdiagnosis to spontaneous remission rather than the implausible homeopathy. That your reply to evidence presented in support of this was to imagine that the dark hand of big pharma was manipulating data behind the scenes suggests that you have real issues with the medical profession that fundamentally cloud your ability to assess evidence.

    PS I have no interests to declare.

    Comment by gimpy — 23 August 2008 @ 5:05 pm

  188. The fact that there are a few articles that are not clouded by pharmaceutical firms does not alter the reality of the bias of most medical journals. As always, you twist things. You change the subject and move the bar when you don’t get the response you thought you’d get.

    Again, you put words in my mouth. I never said that you should trust CAM journals. I don’t necessarily think anyone should. Certainly not at face value.

    You have a bias, whether you acknowledge it or not. We all do. Your assessment that my so-called issues with the medical system cloud my judgement is nothing but a result of your own bias. It’s interesting that you consider the articles I pointed out to be biased based on their funding sources – without any information about what those sources are – yet do not consider ones that support your point of view to be biased.

    Yes, the “dark hand of pharma”, as you put it, most assuredly is manipulating data behind the scenes. You stated that you wanted documentation from the sort of journal that I found it in. (Thought I wouldn’t be able to find it?) I provided it. Now, you discount it. That’s not legitimate.

    You deny my tale of healing because it conflicts with your view of the world. You believe it can’t be true for that reason. For some reason, it bothers you that others don’t see the world as you do. So, you go on the attack, posing along the way as someone who has the truth. What’s the point?

    In the end, you come down to the same old argument, the idea that you won’t believe what I say, basically because of what I believe, even when you are given the documentation that you demanded. So, you end up attacking me personally, rather than simply my arguments. This is quite tiresome. If you want the last word, go ahead.

    Comment by gaia-therapy — 23 August 2008 @ 5:53 pm

  189. gaia-therapy, I think you have misunderstood me, I apologise for not making myself clear.

    You are a conspiracy theorist who wilfully ignores and misinterprets evidence that conflicts with your dearly held beliefs.

    You have no answer to the charge that homeopathy lacks a plausible mechanism and the proof you cite, your purported cured arachnoiditis, is explicable by more plausible phenomena. When I provided references to show this you then made accusations that the medical and scientific profession is fundamentally crooked and in hock to the interests of big pharma. Your entire arguments are based on belief and not evidence.

    I have just one final question for you.

    What would convince you that homeopathy does not work?

    Comment by gimpy — 24 August 2008 @ 10:59 am

  190. Presumably then, by the same token you will also believe in Reiki, crop circles, Islam and atheism, all at once, until people stop believing in those, yes?

    What would convince you that you and the rest of the know it all doctors of conventional medicine dont know everything? Got an answer for that smart guy?

    Since the question is nonsense, it’s hard to answer, but it’s worth explaining that (a) nobody thinks science knows everything, and (b) it’s less an issue of convincing us it doesn’t work: we start by assuming that and make people prove that it does. Anything in the realm of “evidence based medicine” has been shown to work.

    Comment by Andrew — 28 August 2008 @ 12:27 pm

  191. Andrew, I assumed Yeastrol was a spoof, it is hard to tell though.

    Comment by gimpy — 28 August 2008 @ 1:45 pm

  192. New Year’s Resolutions for the Drug industry

    http://www.theepochtimes.com/n2/content/view/27304/

    Comment by homeopathy4health — 2 January 2010 @ 11:29 am


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