29 June 2013

Why hounding homeopaths is both batty and arrogant.

“Ultimately what Nightingale is attacking is the intelligence and judgement of people who are trying to find an effective way to heal themselves. If homeopathy, which even its most virulent critics cannot claim is remotely likely to be harmful, works for you, then someone needs to combine serious arrogance with real battiness to believe they have the right to stand in the way.”

 Body of Evidence

There is no shortage of villains in the world. Psychopaths – domestic and national – whalers, toxic waste dumpers, global eavesdroppers, billionaire tax avoiders and their army of accountants –  all well worth campaigning against with the aim of getting them banged up or forced to cough up.

There is also an infinite supply of people who are mildly irritating who misplace apostrophes, wear Croc shoes, do crochet, litter their sentences with “you know” and text using their middle finger.

However most of us can tell the difference. In fact mixing the two categories up is a pretty reliable indicator of a serious level of battiness . Picketing shops that sell Crocs or campaigning to forbid the sale of mobiles to clumsy texters puts you firmly in the mild-to-fairly-irritating and definitely-a-bit -potty class.

Step forward the Nightingale Collaboration, earnest and self-styled defender of rationalism, whose seriously potty members have got…

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29 May 2010

Skeptics becoming sceptical about Skeptic events

Filed under: bad science,science,scientism — homeopathy4health @ 6:45 pm
Tags: , , ,

I am pleased that skeptics are becoming aware of the pseudo-religiosity of Skeptic in the Pub movement and the financial exploitation of the skeptic population by the James Randi Foundation:


20 December 2009

‘The trouble with skeptics’, ‘illiberal liberals’ and skeptic projection

I appreciate jdc325’s piece on inappropriate skeptic attitudes and behaviours, having been subject to them on this blog.  I’m pleased to say however that generally the skeptic tone is much better than two years ago: Skeptic insults to homeopaths daily count: December 4th 2007.  I’d like to add a skeptic fail of my own: making up facts based on logic, or ‘flact’ for short.

Also of interest this week is Brendan O’Neill’s piece in Spiked online on the illiberal, anti-free speech treatment of Johnny Ball’s scepticism of man-made climate change at a ‘religious style get together of rationalists’ including freedom-of-speech-for-scientists and anti-homeopathy campaigners. Further evidence that science or scientism is the new orthodox fundamentalist religion.  Update: even Randi is being subject to the same treatment

And finally I agreed with homeopathyblogs that Goldacre et al are projecting onto homeopaths their own unscientific and biased approach as detailed by William Alderson’s review of Ernst and Singh’s Trick or Treatment.  The printed version of  Goldacre’s notorious anti-homeopathy piece in the Guardian contained cartoons projecting pharma’s love of its pills and forcefeeding them to innocent patients.  Given that Goldacre is involved in psychiatric work you would think that he would recognise this, unless of course he was wilfully using it to influence.

26 November 2009

Parliamentary Science and Technology Evidence check for Homeopathy

Thanks to ‘Voice of (not so) Young Homeopathy’ for their comments on this week’s Parliamentary Science and Technology Evidence check for Homeopathy here:


You can watch the whole meeting here:   http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Main/Player.aspx?meetingId=5221

Vo(ns)YH promises a transcript too.

Some funny moments: I thought Goldacre’s comment that he wasn’t interested in Physics quite hilarious given that homeopathy allegedly ‘goes against all its laws’, and Ernst saying that he thought it was the long consultation that helped homeopathic patients REALLY begged the question: ‘is there any evidence for that? and if there is then why does the NHS only allow 10 minutes?’ and David Colquhoun got a dishonourable mention about going around collecting anecdotal evidence.

I’m disappointed that no-one mentioned that only 13% of NHS treatments are backed by solid evidence: http://clinicalevidence.bmj.com/ceweb/about/knowledge.jsp

Update: Here is the evidence supplied to the committee:


5 April 2008

Homeopathy for animals under threat

From www.homeopathyworkedforme.org

Homeopathy for animals under threat – 22 March 2008

If you treat your animals with homeopathy then you need to know that the British Veterinary Surgeons Act is currently under review by a Parliamentary Committee and they are inviting information and comment. The homoeopathic vets are facing the same sort of attacks from others in their profession as homeopaths are, and it is vital that owners write to their MPs in defence of the right to treat their animals.

Letters to MPs and to DEFRA (especially those asking a question and therefore needing a reply) are actually noted and that it is surprising how few are needed to have an effect. Letters sent to the Committee should state that:
the owner has used homoeopathy;
the owner has found it to help the problem;
the owner would like to have the freedom to choose the type of treatment for their own animals;
the veterinary profession is not able to offer this service;
homoeopathy should be specifically included within the remit of the Act;
lay professionals should be able to treat animals.

You can get information about contacting your MP at: http://www.parliament.uk/directories/directories.cfm

At present, by strict interpretation, homoeopathy given to animals by anyone other than a vet or an owner is illegal, no matter how well qualified the practitioner, and only about 250 vets are qualified in homoeopathy. Apparently a survey in a vetinary magazine two years ago reported that 65% of owners want homoeopathic or other alternative.

Further information is available at: http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Main/VideoPlayer.aspx?meetingId=1246

2 April 2008

The ‘New Age of Water – the most significant scientific discovery of this century’.

Filed under: Homeopathy,homoeopathy,science — homeopathy4health @ 7:28 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

More food for thought on how interesting and unknown the science of water is. Not simple and never ‘just water’ as I’ve said before: Homeopathy myths: it’s just water and Homeopathy myths: it’s just water 2

The Institute of Science in Society “Liquid Crystalline Water at the Interface” 31/3/08

Just add sunlight for energy and life Dr. Mae-Wan Ho 

“Why does water vaporized into the sky form clouds instead of just spreading out evenly in space? Where does lightning come from in a storm? How does Jello hold so much water inside without it leaking out? How does the water bug walk on water?

If you never had your curiosity aroused by these natural phenomena that have exercised generations of scientists still in search of a definitive answer, try this.

Two identical beakers are almost filled with water and placed next to each other with the rims touching. The beakers of water are connected to a power pack and a current is passed through a positive electrode placed in one beaker and the negative electrode in the other. Instantly, a bridge of water forms between the beakers, looping over the adjoining rims and connecting the two bodies of water. The beakers are then moved apart slowly, the water bridge stretches and lengthens, but remains intact, even when the beakers are separated by a gap of several centimetres. And furthermore, the water bridge is still passing electricity from one beaker to the other, like a stiff, transparent cable. There is no doubt that water conducts electricity, as our readers will be aware [1] (Positive Electricity Zaps Through Water Chains, SiS 28). But what makes the water stiffen up to make a bridge?

The beginning of an answer to all of these questions, and the key to many more surprisingly phenomena readily demonstrated on the ordinary lab bench and some even on the kitchen table, turns out to be “liquid crystalline water”, water that is ordered and aligned like liquid crystals [2]. It gets my vote for the most significant discovery of the present century so far. It also turns out that liquid crystalline water and sunlight are practically all we need for energy and life.

Water is one of the simplest chemical compounds (see Fig. 1). Yet its remarkable ‘anomalous’ properties have resisted all attempts at a consistent scientific explanation; that is, until quite recently. A remarkable collection of dedicated researchers on ‘interfacial water’ have been homing in on the secret of water [3] (see New Age of Water series (SiS 23, 24, 28, 32); and one of them may have just got it.

Figure 1. The water molecule with positive and negative charges at opposite ends and how it could stack up with opposite charges next to each other (courtesy of physicalgeography.net)

Bioengineer who loves water

Gerald Pollack, Prof. of bioengineering, recently received the highest honour that the University of Washington at Seattle in the United States could confer on its own staff. He was to give the 2008 Annual Faculty Lecture on his research, entitled, “Water, energy and life: Fresh views from the water’s edge”. I watched the hour-long lecture via the video link [2] with great fascination.

I am no stranger to Pollack’s work, having reviewed his book, Cells, Gels and the Engines of Life [4] published in 2001 (see  Biology of Least Action, SiS 18)[5]; and featured the amazing discovery from his laboratory a couple of years later [6] (Water Forms Massive Exclusion Zones, SiS 23).

What strikes me above all is the elegant simplicity of his experimental approach that takes our understanding of the most abundant, most vital substance for life on earth a quantum leap forward. Many of the experiments can be done on the kitchen table, and you don’t even need a microscope to see the results. Add to that a highly congenial and unassuming personality, and no wonder Pollack is attracting undergraduates and graduates like flies, not to mention many collaborators around the world.

EZ water is liquid crystalline

The initial discovery that Pollack and his colleague Zheng Jian-ming reported in 2003 [6] was that water forms a massive ‘exclusion zone’ (EZ) next to the surface of hydrophilic (water-loving) gels. The EZ is so-called because it excludes solutes, i.e., substances dissolved in the water. By putting into the water solutes large enough to be seen under the microscope, or even with the naked eye, the EZ shows up as a region completely clear of the solute. Thus, when a suspension of microspheres 0.5 to 2 mm in diameter is put into a chamber with the gel, a clear zone, free of microspheres soon develops next to the gel and typically ends up hundreds of microns thick  (see Fig. 2). This EZ is stable if undisturbed, for days and weeks once it is formed.

The scientific community greeted the initial discovery with much scepticism. Interfacial water – water next to surfaces – is generally recognized as being restricted in motion, relatively ordered, and having somewhat different properties from water existing in the bulk. Using sophisticated techniques and big machines such as NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance) X-rays, and more recently, neutron diffraction, researchers have found no more than one or two layers that have altered properties compared to bulk water [6]. But the EZ is so enormous that at least hundreds of thousands of layers are involved.

Figure 2. Clear exclusion zone next to gel surface free of microspheres

Gilbert Ling, doyen of the breakaway biological water researchers, had long argued that all water in the cell (typically 70 percent by weight) is ordered with very unusual properties [7] (see Strong Medicine for Cell Biology [8], SiS 24). More recently, Ling proposed on theoretical grounds that the ordered layers could extend infinitely under ideal conditions [9].

Pollack and his team spent a year ruling out all kinds of artefacts and extended their results, showing that the EZ of water is a very general phenomenon. What’s more, it had been discovered as far back as a hundred years ago; only to be consigned to oblivion after the ‘polywater’ controversy of the late 1960s, when the claim of ‘polymerised’ water was finally attributed to contaminants [10].

Pollack’s team found that a wide range of hydrophilic gels gave EZ in water: polyvinyl alcohol, polyacrylamide, polyacrylc acid, Nafion (used as a proton exchange membrane in fuel cells), and biological tissues such as a bundle of rabbit muscle or collagen [11]. In fact, a single layer of hydrophilic charged groups coated on any surface is sufficient to give an exclusion zone. The requirement is to have chemical groups that can form hydrogen bonds with water molecules. Similarly, solutes need not be microspheres, they could be red blood cells, bacteria [2], colloidal gold, and even molecules such as serum albumin labelled with a fluorescent dye, and a fluorescent dye molecule as small as 200-300 daltons. All of these are excluded from EZ water.

Most interestingly, EZ water was found at the air-water interface. The EZ layer, thick enough to be seen easily with the naked eye, was sufficiently stiff to be lifted up with a glass rod without breaking (Fig. 3). This readily explains how the strong surface tension of the EZ layer allows water bugs to walk over it without falling in. Also if such water forms next to hydrophilic surfaces inside the Jello, it would not fall out. And, we can see how the water bridge of EZ water could form between the separated beakers. Of course, an electric field will improve the alignment of the water molecules and hence its crystallinity and stiffness .

Figure 3. Glass rod lifts up stiff EZ layer at water air interface

Now that EZ water can be produced in bulk, it is easy to demonstrate other altered properties.  NMR measurements confirm that the layer is associated with decreased mobility (increased ordering) relative to the bulk water, while infrared imaging showed it emitted much less than bulk water, again indicative of increased order.

Pollack refers to EZ water as “liquid crystalline water”, and says it was in fact biologist William Bate Hardy who first suggested almost a hundred years ago that water molecules at the interface could exist in many layers approaching crystalline order. This is very much in line with the discovery in my laboratory that organisms and cells are liquid crystalline [12] (The Rainbow And The Worm), and that water is intrinsic to the liquid crystallinity of organisms [13] (The Liquid Crystalline Organism and Biological Water, ISIS scientific publication).

But more surprises are in store. 

A water battery

There was already a hint that the EZ has unusual electrical potential when pH sensitive dyes were used as solutes to see if they too, were excluded from the EZ. Indeed, they were, but they also showed up a zone of unusually low pH (red band) right above the clear EZ (see Fig. 4). A low pH means high concentration of protons (H+) immediately next to the EZ, and decreasing away from it.

Figure 3. Proton rich region above EZ with dye excluded when a pH sensitive dye was used (still captured from video [2])

An excess of protons suggests that charge separation has taken place in the water molecules as follows:

H2O —› H+ + OH                                            (1)                                           

So where did the negatively charged OH ions go? A measurement of electrical potential shows that away from the EZ, the bulk solution had the same electrical potential everywhere, however, as soon as the measuring electrode enters the EZ, the electrical potential dropped sharply to –120mV or more, depending on the gel involved, remaining at that level well into the gel itself (see Figure 5).

Figure 5 Electrical potential measured at different distances from the gel surface located at 0

This macroscopic separation of charges is stable, as is the EZ itself. It is in fact a water battery. A battery, like any other, could be used to power light bulbs or your labtop, and could be the most exciting application of liquid crystalline water (see Fig. 6). But what charges up the water battery? It takes energy to separate the charges, so where does the energy come from? That too was a surprise.

Figure 6. A water battery

Light charges up water

It turns out that water is sensitive to light, as is revealed by the exclusion zone next to a gel. It thickens on being exposed to light, which means that light enhances the formation of liquid crystalline water. The entire spectrum of sunlight is effective, but the peaks are in the visible blue and especially the invisible near-infrared (3 000 nm) regions. A mere 5 minutes exposure to the infrared light will cause the EZ to thicken several-fold. And if you connect up the EZ and the bulk water above to an external circuit, there is a measurable current, which lasts for a considerable time after the infrared light is turned off.

Green plants and especially blue-green bacteria have been splitting water according to equation (1) for billions of years, in order to obtain energy from the sun; and in the process fixing carbon dioxide to make carbohydrates and other macromolecules to feed practically the entire biosphere. The separation of charges in the formation of liquid crystalline water is essentially the same process.

Pollack asks tantalisingly: Can water replace oil? The applications of liquid crystalline water are wide-open. His laboratory is already working on a water-purification device based on separating liquid crystalline water of the EZ from the bulk water. (Liquid crystalline water is reputed to have health-promoting properties, though that is still unconfirmed.) Another application is anti-fouling agent: a coating that essentially prevents any impurities in water from sticking.

One invention I would love is a web suit that would enable me to glide over the water like a water bug!

Pollack’s findings have fundamental implications for our understanding of physics, chemistry and biology.

Of colloid crystals, thunder clouds and self-organisation

One puzzle that is immediately solved is the formation of colloid crystals (see Fig. 7) – literally crystals made of colloid particles arranged in an orderly way in solvents – which is very topical in the manufacture of nano-structured electronic and photonic devices.

Figure 7. Colloid crystals, scale bar 20 microns

Norio Ise and his colleagues in Osaka, Japan, first discovered colloid crystals forming in water more than 20 years ago [14] (Water and Colloid Crystals, SiS 32), and they explained the colloid crystals in terms of a long-range attraction between the colloid particles, though the precise mechanism has remained elusive. The major difficulty is that the colloid particles have the same charge and it is impossible, according to conventional theory for like charges to attract one another.

Pollack’s findings provide just the mechanism required. Colloid particles and microspheres are like the hydrophilic gel surfaces that form layers of liquid crystalline water or EZ. In the case of the gel, the EZ has an excess of negative charges with excess positive charges in the region outside (see Fig. 6). In the case of the microspheres and colloid particles, each is enclosed in a shell of liquid crystalline water with excess negative charges, while the positive charges are also driven outside (see Fig. 8). The repulsion between the negatively charged particles is exactly balanced by the attraction to the positive charges in between. In the space between two particles, there will be an excess of positive charges compared to elsewhere, which is why the particles end up being attracted to one another.

Figure 8. How like attracts like (see main text)

The same mechanism may explain why clouds form. Clouds are essentially minute water droplets nucleated on particles, and these too would end up attracting one another. The mechanism of charge separation explains at least where the enormous amount of energy unleashed in a lightning flash comes from. Storms could perturb the equilibrium of charged swarms in the atmosphere, leading to violent electrostatic discharges. The discharge heats up the air so much that it set up a shock wave, which is why thunder follows lightning. Obviously the details need to be worked out, but at least the major mechanism is clear.

The long-range attraction between like particles is also the main mechanism for self-assembly of molecules and particles inside the cells. It is the organizing principle that has long eluded biology, or as Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, Nobel Laureate and father of biochemistry said: “Life is water dancing to the tune of molecules.”

Perhaps it is the other way around as well: Life is molecules dancing “

27 March 2008

Wholesale scorn on complementary medicine is unscientific.

Madeleine Bunting (at my least favourite newspaper ‘The Guardian’ since ‘I’m a cuddly junior doctor/you’re-making-it-up-psychiatrist’ Ben Goldacre’s devoid of any twisted homeopathic facts propaganda piece) makes some pertinent points about the state of Sceptic-Woo wars in complementary medicine.  I disagree that homeopathy is ‘just placebo’ as the benefits of homeopathic treatment can be much more profound than just ‘feeling better’ or ‘removal of symptoms’ but otherwise I agree with her thinking:

“Suckers: How Alternative Medicine Makes Fools of Us All; Snake Oil Science; and next month sees another, Trick or Treatment: what these new books have in common is varying degrees of frustration at the seemingly inexorable rise of complementary medicine. It seems the aim of some of these authors is to finish off a burgeoning health industry that they believe is based on charlatans and quacks preying on the gullible and desperate.

The books reflect the growing exasperation in some quarters that public opinion is not as amenable to persuasion and scientific evidence as they would hope. The language gets lurid; the mood music to pronouncements on complementary medicine is increasingly alarmist – we are living in dangerous times, an unEnlightenment looms as tides of irrationality threaten to overwhelm the palisades erected by science. “Reason is a precious but fragile thing,” declared Richard Dawkins in his series, The Enemies of Reason, last autumn. “Reason has liberated us from superstition and given us centuries of progress. We abandon it at our peril.”

What so troubles these science warriors is that it is estimated a third of people in the UK now use complementary medicine, at a cost of £1.5bn a year. In the US, the figures are substantially higher; it has been calculated that more visits are made to healing therapists than to doctors. There is an extraordinary paradox here: a half-century of astonishing conventional medical advances has not succeeded in eliminating complementary medicine. Quite the reverse: the breakthroughs in conventional medicine have been accompanied by the proliferation of other forms of healing – many of which have little or no evidence base to prove their efficacy. Indeed, it only takes a short surf on the web to discover that the wilder shores of this burgeoning industry are, well, pretty wild.

To the science warriors, this bizarre state of affairs can only be explained by irrationality. They bemoan the state of science education and lament how, contrary to expectation, literacy and access to information have failed to eradicate superstition. Meanwhile, in this increasingly sharply polarised debate, complementary medicine practitioners are equally exasperated by what they see as blinkered scientific reductionism.

So it takes a brave scientist to launch into this territory and risk getting attacked from both camps by daring to ask a simple question: is there anything science can learn from complementary medicine? That is precisely what Kathy Sykes is doing in her current television series, Alternative Therapies (the second programme is on BBC2 tonight). As Bristol University’s professor of public engagement in science and the director of the Cheltenham Festival of Science, no one can challenge her credentials as a scientist, yet her scrutiny of particular therapies throws up serious challenges to conventional medicine.

Sykes is too good a scientist to give complementary medicine an easy run. Tonight she examines reflexology, and gives it pretty short shrift. There are 30,000 reflexologists working on a million British feet a year. They base their work on a theory that parts of the sole of the foot correlate to organs in the body. The only problem is that Sykes could find no one, reflexologist or scientist, who could explain how these correlations might work. Furthermore, it turned out that this “ancient” healing system seems to have originated with an imaginative American woman in the 1930s. But patients swear by it. One reflexologist points Sykes to her annual garden party full of babies and children as evidence of the success she has had with infertility problems. This is the point where most scientists snort with derision at the use of personal anecdote as evidence, but Sykes presses on and it takes her into two areas of scientific research. First, she digs up new research on the importance of touch, which can have a profound impact on the brain. Even the hand of a stranger reduces anxiety and that of someone with whom one has a close relationship is even more significant. In fact, Sykes finds some scientific underpinning which goes beyond placebo in many of the therapies she looks at. But it is placebo which emerges as a recurrent and crucially important thread in her quest, and it leads her to the work of several American scientists who are trying to identify what placebo is, who it works for, and why it works.

This is one of the most common charges made against complementary medicine – that most of it is no better than placebo. But there is a way of turning that accusation around: perhaps complementary medicine is an effective way to harness placebo as one of the most powerful – and cheapest – of healing processes. Rather than being derogatory about the phenomenon as “just” placebo, perhaps we should see it as one of the most remarkable and little understood aspects of the human body.

That line of inquiry has taken Sykes to the US several times over the course of the two series she has made. There placebo has become a new frontier in medicine. In a range of studies with startling results – even sham knee surgery can be as effective as the real thing – many factors contribute to placebo: the confidence of the doctor; the social, cultural expectations around the procedure; the empathy and warmth of the patient-doctor relationship; the patient’s degree of faith. Get all these right, and the outcome can be remarkable. Harvard professor Ted Kaptchuk is publishing a study this week which shows that placebo is as good as any conventional treatment available for irritable bowel syndrome. Given that the eight most industrialised nations spend $40bn a year on medication for this condition, that’s revolutionary stuff.

This kind of research into placebo gives some insight into why complementary medicine has boomed and why there are so many people who cite their own experience to passionately defend it. The average consultation with a GP is 4.6 minutes, while the complementary therapist can devote an hour to taking detailed personal histories. That time and relationship provide a context and an opportunity for the ritual and recasting of personal experience which Kaptchuk believes are the crucial elements of placebo.

Complementary medicine is most popular where conventional medicine fails, such as with musculoskeletal conditions and mental health – stress, depression, anxiety (the recent revelations about the inefficacy of Prozac were another reminder of how shaky the science is in a large area of conventional medicine). Several complementary therapies are particularly effective at pain relief – you had to see Sykes’s footage of hypnotism helping a woman to have teeth extracted without anaesthetic to believe it. Kaptchuk argues that pain is not a static given but can be experienced dramatically differently.

Conventional medicine prolongs life but is less successful in prolonging good health – we can expect to spend more years of our life in poor health, as a government report showed last week – and in producing wellbeing. So people are voting with their feet, trying to find other ways to fill the gaps left by conventional medicine. We need scientists to help to identify what they are looking for and why, rather than pouring scorn indiscriminately on the whole field and on the relations between belief, mind and body, of which science still has such a fragmentary understanding.”

18 February 2008

Water research scientist’s view of homeopathy

Martin Chaplin BSc PhD CChem FRSC Professor of Applied Science, Water and Aqueous Systems Research, London South Bank University has this to say about Homeopathy which I extract and highlight here:

Re Jacques Benveniste’s research

“A controversial paper in Nature [132] containing data from several laboratories, claiming to prove the efficacy of extreme dilution (the ‘memory of water‘ [1112])a has not been generally accepted after the results were reported as not reproducible under closely controlled and observed (by Nature’s self-acknowledged biased observers), but strained, overly-demanding and unsympathetic, conditions with negative results from only one laboratory being cherry-picked from amongst otherwise positive results [133]. The original results [132] were, however, confirmed in a blinded study by the statistician Alfred Spira [346e] and also in a rather bizarre Nature paper purporting to prove the opposite [346b],b and were subsequently comprehensively confirmed by a blinded multi-center trial [346a]. In spite of this apparent confirmation by several laboratories, there are still doubts over whether the experiments are truly reproducible and whether the noted effects may be due to the origin of the biological samples or human operator effects [1362].”

Re structural change from potentisation, the effect of glassware and thermoluminescence: 

“A thorough investigation into the structural differences previously reported between homeopathically potentized (that is, succussed and extremely diluted) and unpotentized nitric acid solutions showed that the effect was lost or changed if different glassware was used [495]. Changes in the thermoluminescence of ice produced from ultra-diluted water have been noted [500a] but can be explained by remaining trace amounts of material (due to poor mixing, impurities, absorption, nanobubbles (that is, nanocavities) [500d] or other causes) being concentrated between ice crystals [500b]; an explanation supported by later work [500c].”

Re meta-analyses and The Lancet:

“Meta-analysis of 89 placebo-controlled trials failed to prove either that homeopathy was efficacious for any single clinical condition OR that its positive clinical effects could entirely be due to a placebo effect [121a], thus leaving the scientific door open both ways. A further analysis of this data, however, indicated that some of these studies may have failed to avoid bias and that studies using better methodology yielded the less positive effects [121b]. It should also be noted that placebo effects constitute real clinical effects [121c], should be judged positively and probably account for a significant proportion of the success of prevailing established medicine. A recent analytical review has reinforced the, more negative, view concerning the clinical effectiveness of homeopathic remedies [527]. Further, a recent quality assessment of published experiments on homeopathic preparations has concluded that many were performed with inadequate controls [651]. ”

Re television investigations: 

“Although a scientific trial of homeopathy conducted for the BBC and similar work reported on ABC News’ 20/20 program both failed to show any homeopathic effect, the experiments they reported have been subject to serious criticism including that of careless scientific methodology. In August 2005 [840], the medical journal ‘The Lancet’ controversially argued for halting any further research into homeopathy concluding it has no effect other than as a placebo. This judgment was based on a comparative study of 110 matched placebo-controlled trials of homoeopathy and conventional medicine [841]. The conclusion was reached, however, in spite of the study apparently showing little evidence of differences between the two groups (homeopathy and conventional) when all the data was considered. There were differences when a tiny percentage of unmatched larger trials were cherry-picked for further analysis (that is, 102/110 of the homeopathy studies and 104/110 of the conventional studies were discarded).c The remaining 6% of the studies, however, still showed positive (if not conclusive, possibly as the number of trials left in this final grouping was so small) evidence in favor of a homeopathic effect over placebo. Although this study has come in for considerable and rightful criticism, as above and [1381, 1382], it is often put forward in support of the view that homeopathy works no better than as a placebo, a fact that it clearly does not deliver.”

Re bias: 

“Many laugh homeopathy out of serious consideration as a clinical practice, sometimes resorting to unscientific, unbalanced and unrefereed editorial diatribe. One of the main reasons concerning this disbelief in the efficacy of homeopathy lies in the difficulty in understanding how it might work. If an acceptable theory was available then more people would consider it more seriously. However, it is difficult at present to sustain a theory as to why a truly infinitely diluted aqueous solution, consisting of just H2O molecules, should retain any difference from any other such solution. It is even more difficult to put forward a working hypothesis as to how small quantities of such ‘solutions’ can act to elicit a specific response when confronted with large amounts of complex solution in a subject. A major problem in this area is that, without a testable hypothesis for the generally acknowledged potency of homeopathy, there is a growing possibility of others making fraudulent claims in related areas, as perhaps evidenced by the increasing use of the internet to advertise ‘healthy’ water concentrates using dubious (sometimes published but irreproducible) scientific and spiritual evidence.”

Re possible explanation for homeopathy:

“A key feature of any difference between water before and after its use in preparing homeopathic dilutions is likely to be the vigorous shaking (succussion) that must be carried out between successive dilutions, and which may produce significantly increased concentrations of silicate, sodium and bicarbonate ions [335, 1207] by dissolution of the glass tubes and increases in nanobubbles and redox molecules [1066] from the atmosphere, respectively.

How water may show a memory is explored further in the ‘memory of water’ page

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