An Opportunity for Homeopathy

By Michael Edmonds 05/05/2011 33


In the April 7th edition of Nature there is a disturbing article about the lack of production of new antibiotics. Despite the rise in the number of antibiotic resistant micro-organisms, only 4 new classes of antibiotics have been produced over the last 40 years. The World Health Organisation is concerned that sooner or later this lack of new antibiotics will result in disaster.

However, drug companies readily point out that the cost of developing a new antibiotic is costly. Just the final stage of drug development – Phase III clinical trials – can cost around US $70 million. Given the challenges in developing antibiotic drugs via traditional approaches, perhaps it is time the multi-national companies which pull in millions of dollars with their off the shelf homeopathic remedies starting working on homeopathic antibiotics. After all, homeopathic remedies take very little money to produce – they are after all only water, and supposedly become more powerful the more they are diluted. Hence the only cost to the company will be the testing, unlike the conventional drug industry which must also spend billions finding/analysing/synthesising their drugs.

So what about it all you companies selling homeopathic remedies? Surely if you believe your remedies work, you can see you are missing out on a very lucrative and cost effective market for new antibiotics?


33 Responses to “An Opportunity for Homeopathy”

  • Hi Sam

    I’ve never seen a homeopathic remedy exploited as a potential antibiotic (I wonder why – perhaps because most infections are not self limiting and a body count doesn’t tend to effectively sell a product).
    However, it does appear some homeopaths are willing to claim they have products which work as such.
    http://www.mirandacastro.com/articles/a_rotten_case.html

  • Given the challenges in developing antibiotic drugs via traditional approaches, perhaps it is time the multi-national companies which pull in millions of dollars with their off the shelf homeopathic remedies starting working on homeopathic antibiotics.
    Homeopathy comes with all these?

  • ScepticsBane comments regarding the post of M. Edmonds:

    FIrst off, as regarding a recent previous homeopathic article in which there was consternation among the posters here regarding a link to a woman homeopath who, apparently, treated her son’s septicemia with Homeopathy,said link being reproduced in the post above by Edmonds, there is the following interesting experiment (which, however, raises ethical questions regarding the experiment itself, a topic for some other discussion, to be sure)…
    “Adjunctive homeopathic treatment in patients
    with severe sepsis: a randomized, double-blind,
    placebo-controlled trial in an intensive care unit”
    by Frass, et al.
    http://www.otcpharma.co.za/newsletter_articles/October2010/Frass2005.pdf

    And now on to Antibiotics. We see in Herr Edmonds’ response the exact same misapplication of theory and contextual shift at the root of many anti-Homeopathy arguments and we thank him for his explicit and clear statement illustrative of this error.

    Edmonds tells us that he’s never seen a homeopathic remedy exploited as an anti-biotic and wonders why. In a similar obvious error, we have posters in this forum, I believe Grant is among them, who tell us that double blinded randomized placebo controlled tests are paramount in testing homeopathy. Yet in both Edmonds’ statement and in Grant’s understandable misidentification, the attempt is smuggled in to pretend as though homeopathic remedies act in some known biochemistry manner as do conventional pharmaceuticals when, a study of the homeopaths own literature indicates that can’t possibly be. So why the double standard, the deliberate avoidance of the homeopathic conceptions? Let us investigate.

    In point of fact, do not the homeopaths tell us that their remedies do not “cure” anything and that they instead somehow “stimulate” the body’s own immune system to activate its own healing therapeutics? Now, that stuff in the “Organon” is beyond me but that seems to be the crux of what the homeoapathic types are telling us. So why, then, do we continue to see attempts made, persistently, to treat the issue in terms of standard biochemical conceptions….?

    Homeopathic antibiotics? The very statement is an oxymoron.
    And so, once again, we see the diversion of attention, conceptual confusion and contextual shifts at the root of the “scientism” of the anti-homeopaths’ argumentation.

    What’s the matter, is there not enough to criticize in the homeopaths own theories or is there enough there to strike fear into the hearts of those, convinced of its utter impossibility, who are still unable to address it on its own stated terms and who must therefore assume the mantle of pseudo science themselves by arguing against homeopathy as though it dared pretend to be valid biochemistry when quite clearly it does not?

  • Scepticsbane

    Thanks for the reference, I’ll look at it when I get the chance

    ” We see in Herr Edmonds’ response the exact same misapplication of theory and contextual shift at the root of many anti-Homeopathy arguments and we thank him for his explicit and clear statement illustrative of this error.”

    Looks like typical pseudoscientific double talk to me.

    And why are you using a German honorific? This is an New Zealand site.
    If you do feel a need to follow German protocol, which is typically formal with people you do not know well, Dr Edmonds would be appropriate, otherwise feel free to use my first name, Michael, which would be the traditionally informal New Zealand approach.

    “So why, then, do we continue to see attempts made, persistently, to treat the issue in terms of standard biochemical conceptions….?”

    Probably because the alternative approach is “it’s magic, just accept it” doesn’t sit well with me, and the literature suggests that it DOES NOT work.

    Having taken a quick look at the paper, (while ignoring the pile of marking on my desk for just a bit longer), it appears that homeopathic treatments were offered alongside conventional treatment so there are some issues with that. Will try and muddle my way through the stats a bit later, unless someone else beats me to it.

    And just to be clear that I understand your understanidng of homeopathy – you believe that homeopathy does not work like an antibiotic or other mediciations in targeting specific diseases but instead it works by “stimulating the bodies own immune system to activate its own healing therapeutics”.
    Can you define what you mean by a “healing therapeutic” or is this just a conceptual term?

  • ScepticsBane, it is a waste of time to argue with you really. First, homeopathic is based on bullsh*t proposition. Water has memory? First, this defies causality. Homeopathic medicine don’t contain active ingredients. If it doesn’t contain active ingredients to constitute a cause, then how can you claim that the treatment should have an effect? Where is the causality there? It is basically none, isn’t it?

    BTW, have you read the article from Nature on the experiment that found that water has no memory? If you’re serious about scientific debate then pay for the article and download it to read if you don’t subscribe to Nature.

  • ScepticsBane responds to both Herr Dr. Edmonds and to FF:

    With regards to the query by Herr Dr. Edmonds on what my opinions about Homeopathy are and what is meant by my reference to healing therapeutics….

    After reviewing the Homeopathic literature it is apparent that some sort of massive curative effect, at times apparently unpredictable, is evident. I do not know that it has anything at all to do with the theories advanced in the Organon – it may conform to them exactly as predicted or we may be faced with an unknown curative effect which was discovered but never properly explained by the Hahnemannians. Next I only repeat the explanations of the Homeopaths that their remedies work by some sort of supposed stimulation of the “immune” system (interesting because there was no understanding of the “immune” system at the time homeopathic theory was being formed – and yet, taken at an inductivist and symbolic level, some of their explanations could be construed to have meanings in that direction). At times the Organon reads like a patent filing – all the bases are attempted to be covered. I do not know, at all, and await research, to confirm these theories and therefore my position, like everyone else’s here on this, is mere opinion. But…

    A key element – the high dilutions leave no molecules of the curative substance remaining. Can these remedies even be distinguished? Conclusion – this would be determined by research regarding their structure, currently ongoing. See this link for Materials Scientist and famed professor Dr. R. Roy’s presentation:
    http://www.extraordinarymedicine.org/2011/01/14/extraordinary-evidence-homeopathys-best-research/

    Next testing. And here we enter the completely fallacious approach at the heart of my criticisms of numerous posters here, including Edmonds’, Grant’s and others. We must accept the explanations of the homeopaths at face value, that certain of their remedies, lack any molecules of the curative substance, so we absolutely cannot assume they operate in biochemical manners known to established science.

    Therefore the conclusion follows immediately that Dr. Edmonds insistence that he will “study” the paper I referenced and analyze its “statistics” is yet another exemplification of the flawed approach to the problem, characterized by chemist-homeopath Lionel Milgrom as “scientism” pure and simple. That is, an attempt to narrowly restrict the scientific boundaries of focus of the investigation to realms more appropriate in known biochemical operations and actions which most certainly is not the case here.

    In taking this approach, the scientism-ist purports to immediately decide the issue based on these narrow, inappropriate, flawed, fallacious, and restrictive supposedly scientific analyses, so sanctified by the scientism-ist himself who then enters every debate, every discussion, every evaluation of opinion with this unstated premise, attempting to terminate all debate if those of other opinions refuse to conform to this predecided formalism.

    In the paper “Beware Scientism’s Onward March”, (links to it everywhere, no need to give it again here) by Milgrom, it is argued that far wider evaluative criteria, particularly in a situation like Homeopathy’s individuated remedies, where so many unknowns apply, are not only appropriate but essential to the determination of efficacy and, most importantly, the justification for funding of research. This will be misconstrued by the skeptics as a “violation” of scientific approach forgetting that this approach is never applied consistently to many of the current medical procedures in conventional medicine itself.

    The often denounced “anecdotes”, because of this, and particularly based on their organization into volumes of case studies, analyses and case histories in journals in some cases extending over centuries must in fact acquire relatively greater importance and therefore are elevated to a central deciding factor, until more detailed research arises.

    We now have seen multiple instances of scepticemia being treated, or attempted to be treated by Homeopathy. One case was a homeopath treating her son in a case with clear and classic symptoms of septicemia. The others were multiple instances studied in an exploratory test. Other instances will be found. Will they all be dismissed based on scientism statistics while allowing some rubbish like the final 8 trials of the Shang meta-analysis to continue to be regarded, in its sweeping conclusions of lack of homeopathy efficacy above placebo?? Double standards are a warning flag of error ! I am indeed curious exactly how far the scientism-ists wish to go, as was the case in the discovery of the bacterial involvement in pyloric ulcers, before reality itself bongs them on the head and provides the necessary wake up call.

    You see? I need not even support homeopathy to expose the errors of the pseudo skeptical attacks against it. But of course, I do!

  • ” the conclusion follows immediately that Dr. Edmonds insistence that he will “study” the paper I referenced and analyze its “statistics” is yet another exemplification of the flawed approach to the problem, characterized by chemist-homeopath Lionel Milgrom as “scientism” pure and simple.”

    So you provide a reference to a scientific paper in an attempt to provide evidence that homeopathy, and then when I suggest I will read the paper and the statisitcs which are included in the paper you say this is an erroneous approach?

    You can’t have it both ways. You can’t use this paper as evidence that homeopathy works and then attack the methodology that it uses.

    Your reply is evasive, contradicts itself and engages in the vague waffling of pseudoscience.
    Bacterial involvement in pyloric ulcers was discovered by scientists who then used evidence to convince a skeptical medical community that it was true. Admittedly it took them a few years to do so.
    Homeopathy has had 200 years to prove itself. It has not.
    Use the strawman of scientism all you like – it’s a weak attempt at insult, which does not work here.

  • Edmonds -> No, the link to the paper was for tentative evaluational purposes only and by my standards could not, does not and should not be used as “proof” that the homeopathy remedies worked for septicemia ! Evidence of possibility, requiring much more testing, certainly, but not proof. For judging if it might be worthwhile for additional research, fine. To analyze as a possible repeatable curative anomaly with implications for refinement of testing of homeopathy, fine. But proof? Never. The very nature of this curative phenomenon requires far more data collecting, far higher standards than is now done. And it is nowhere until a proper scientifically explained mechanism is definitively proposed – probably worth a Nobel if it happens. All the evidence must be collected, weighed, considered. That’s the point I try to make, that we now have two documented reports of septicemia supposedly being cured or influenced or treated by homeopathy in some unknown way. One anecdotal, the other a formal test but insufficient by my standards. There are probably others. Is there some common denominator? To know that, exact minute by minute readings of the patients’ bodily systems, and other massive data collections would need to be made. If no common denominator then the probability rises that the homeoapthy curative effect is not related to the remedies.

    Alison-> Pardon my ignorance, what means implied Godwin??

  • Your use of ‘Herr Edmonds’ (not once but twice, the second time after Michael had objected to this usage) could be taken as implying he takes a Nazi-like attitude to those he disagrees with. In science-blogging circles such an invocation is termed a ‘Godwin’.

  • Skepticsbane,

    I’m trying to understand your position but the more questions I ask, the less clear it seems to become.

    “The very nature of this curative phenomenon requires far more data collecting, far higher standards than is now done.’

    More data is often quite useful, but what of the hundreds of homeopathy studies that have been done so far, most of which indicate little more than a placebo effect? What has been wrong with these studies?

    Also what are the “far higher standards” you are referring to? You have made it clear that you do not consider the scientific method/double blind experiments appropriate, so what do you mean by “far higher standards”?

    You are most welcome to just refer to me as Michael. You seem content to address other contributors by their first names.

  • Alison-> Thanks for explanation.

    Michael->”More data is often quite useful, but what of the hundreds of homeopathy studies that have been done so far, most of which indicate little more than a placebo effect? What has been wrong with these studies?”

    I already said it. Design methodology of those studies are for regular pharmaceuticals which actually do have molecules of the curative substance in them. When applied to Homeopathy, not much use since no molecules. However Homeopathy may work, if it does, conventional biochemistry cannot explain. A clue seems to be, as Dr. Roy suggests, a study of the structural properties of water as to possible (of course speculative) temporally stable molecular rearrangements. I believe this might be possible. For example a cloud constantly has millions of water molecules associating and disassociating. Yet, despite all this, the cloud remains temporally stable until dissipates because the association-disassociation molecular phenomena happens asynchronously (in other words never in lockstep), until, eventually, weather conditions trigger a higher rate of disassociation. Big difference in time scale, so maybe bad analogy but you get the picture as to a like phenomenon happening at the water molecule level.

    So researchers, not me, must redesign experiments targeted to the additional complication of unknown biochemical mechanism. This requires vastly higher complexity, higher amounts of data collection and, quite possibly, evasion of the lab double blinded placebo controlled artificial environment with all the psychological alterations accompanied by people knowing that they are in a test and knowing that some of them will get placebo pill.

    One last point. Michael and many others damn Homeopathy by saying that it has had 200 years to “prove” itself. It most certainly has not. The lab anomalies reported regarding, for example, gut bacteria related phenomenon went on for decades before h. pylorii was discovered by Marshall. Also the scientific lab instrumentation necessary to uncover the true nature of the homeopathic curative phenomena, if genuine, such as the flow cytometer device, various imaging devices and other related devices, has only become available in the last 50 – 60 years or so. Meanwhile, the reports and studies of the anomalies, for example the preposterous idea that infinitesimal doses of rotted meat can help septicemia, continue to mount. Who will investigate and isolate what is happening, using real tests and stop this charade which dismisses all investigation on the basis of wrong tests, misrepresentation, misidentification with placebo effect and dismissal based on personal feelings of implausibility?

  • ScepticsBane,

    So researchers, not me, must redesign experiments targeted to the additional complication of unknown biochemical mechanism. [etc – stuff omitted]

    The existing tests are fine. The mechanism itself isn’t was is tested – the outcome is. This applies to all kinds of medical treatment: pharmaceutical, herbal, whatever. They test the outcome to the patients of applying the treatment in the prescribed fashion.

    Those tests show homeopathy has no effect beyond that of a placebo.

    Whatever “mechanisms” Dr. Roy or whoever else offers is irrelevant to clinical trials. Likewise your reference to the cause of ulcers isn’t relevant either. (There you know the outcome, you’re trying to find the cause.)

    There are examples of pharmaceutical drugs where the detailed mechanism was not known but they had demonstrated effects. It’s not that uncommon. (Aspirin is one example that comes to mind; I’m out of time to elaborate.)

    FWIW, I have some familiarity with how waters behave around molecules and I can assure you water have no “memory” of a solute; there isn’t even really a water structure when the solute is present, never mind when the solute is removed.

  • Grr. Late night editing errors. Sigh

    ‘The mechanism itself isn’t tested’ for ‘The mechanism itself isn’t was is tested’.

    Sorry.

  • Skepticsbane,
    I see you have not answered my question about what your so called “higher standards” are. You criticise existing and proven techniques such as double blind experiments but provide no reasonable substitute.

    “Dr. Roy suggests, a study of the structural properties of water as to possible (of course speculative) temporally stable molecular rearrangements”

    speculative = without evidence? Might as well suggest it was all done by aliens.

    There is no evidence that water can maintain any sort of non-random structure that can exist beyond the nanosecond timescale. Unless of course you are referring to ice.

    ALthough you argue that homeopathy has not had 200 years to determine a mechanism because in your view the equipment to work out such a mechanism was not available, these 200 years could have been used to gather data and develop scientific methods meeting your “higher standards”. Furthermore other, quite complex theories and mechanisms, were derived over this period of time.
    The argument that the theory/mechanism must exist but that we just don’t have the technology to work it out is a bit silly. It’s a bit like the “there is a invisible dragon in my garage” argument where by I contend there is an invisible dragon in my garage and everytime someone suggests a way of detecting it, I say “no but that won’t work because it makes no sound or absorbs radar etc.
    When it comes down to it you are willing to believe in a pseudoscientific treatment based on belief alone plus anecdotal stories + a scientific paper that you do not believe the methodology of.

    In the words of Bertrand Russell

    “Never let yourself be diverted either by what you would wish to believe or by what you think would have beneficent social effects if it were believed. Look only at . . . the facts.”

  • Micheal E ->I see you have not answered my question about what your so called “higher standards” are. You criticise existing and proven techniques such as double blind experiments but provide no reasonable substitute.

    Michael, this is for scientists and researchers to do. My modest suggestions are but a cry for them to do it, instead of relying on what I believe are inadequate and inappropriate testing compounded by over reliance on the resultants of those tests.

    Michael E (quoting ScepticsBane) ->“Dr. Roy suggests, a study of the structural properties of water as to possible (of course speculative) temporally stable molecular rearrangements”

    Michael E. comment on the quote ->speculative = without evidence? Might as well suggest it was all done by aliens.

    No ! speculative = insufficient evidence! And to condemn those doing the research means “end of career” for those who dare – an additional unnecessary burden. Exactly the same unnecessary scepticism which was heaped on Barry Marshall and no doubt contributed to his decision to “prove” his theory the hard way! Unreasoning scepticism can be “scepticemic” to new ideas, a poisoning of a free and open research atmosphere by ossified dogma and refusal to remove the blinders. Research scientists are not aliens !!

    Michael E continues ->”ALthough you argue that homeopathy has not had 200 years to determine a mechanism because in your view the equipment to work out such a mechanism was not available, these 200 years could have been used to gather data and develop scientific methods meeting your “higher standards””.

    But they did! To defeat Homeopathy you must read the literature and their books and accept their accomplishements before attempting theoretical denunciations or refutations. It is essential. During those 200 years, a great schism and debate started between the low and high dilutionists, and an, in my opinion, popular but failed trend towards prescribing homeopathic remedies in an allopathic manner, by disease instead of individuated by patient, which persists to this day and continues to give homeopathy a bad name. Their occasional successes are more by accident than in accordance with the key Hahnemanian principles and reflects inability to accept the radicalism which those theories entail.
    I myself am sceptical of them but know enough that they must be followed if one is to practice real homeopathy. Dorothy Shepherd, was equally sceptical but put that aside, experimented and documented an amazing series of cures and improvements over a 4 decade period to the early 1950’s. See her books, she was a conventionally trained MD.
    Last but not least, the homeopaths evolved their own double blinded testing method which, in my opinion, has too many subjective elements involved in it, but the “coincidence” across observers and across centuries in provers’ reports of their experience trying different infinitesimal doses of various substances, is intriguing and deserves attention from both physiologists and psychologists. It is those homeopaths who have come closest to the mind-body divide, an area at the edge of our maps of human medicine marked by some as “there be monsters here”. It is research by genuine scientists, not wild condemnations nor narrow minded allegiance to the wrong tests which will point the way.

  • Exactly the same unnecessary scepticism which was heaped on Barry Marshall and no doubt contributed to his decision to “prove” his theory the hard way!
    Well, yes, but then – Barry Marshall went on & did demonstrate that the
    H.pylori/ulcers link was a causal relationship. He & his colleague convinced the scientific community by providing incontrovertible evidence in support of their case. Rustrum Roy et al. have so far failed (resoundingly) to do the same. And that is not ‘opinion’, that is fact.

  • ScepticsBane,

    See my earlier comment.

    And to condemn those doing the research means “end of career” for those who dare – an additional unnecessary burden.

    The wider problem is how they do that research (which you’re leaving out). See Alison’s comment in this respect; immediately above this one.

    To defeat Homeopathy you must read the literature and their books and accept their accomplishements before attempting theoretical denunciations or refutations. It is essential.

    Not really. You could choose to, it’s one thing you might do. If these books proved to be ‘just words’, anecdotes, ideas, etc., the time would have been wasted. Another, more definitive, thing to do would be to test the product. That is what matters in the end, after all: the product. Where that’s been done it’s been found that homeopathic remedies have no more effect than a placebo.

    NB:

    1. Homeopathy has actually been looked at by the way; it’s relegated to ‘(mal)lingering historic curiosity’ by critics for a reason. If you look past the many ‘self help’ or ‘promotional’ books, you’ll find serious accounts deconstructing homeopathy and giving a history of it and the wider vitalism, etc., movements.

    2. Reversing the logic, you’re trying to do, doesn’t work if your statements are false. One of the values of blinded testing (as is used in well-designed conventional trials) is it isn’t confounded by the sort of arguments you present; they stand independent of them – hence they should be used.

  • Scepticsbane

    “Michael, this is for scientists and researchers to do. My modest suggestions are but a cry for them to do it, instead of relying on what I believe are inadequate and inappropriate testing compounded by over reliance on the resultants of those tests.”

    So essentially what you are saying is that modern science does not prove what you believe, so you expect scientists to stop using the valid, verifiable methods that have serves us so well, and “invent” a new approach that works better to prove your beliefs.
    I am astounded by your arrogance. You criticse what you do not understand, and expect others to “prove” your beliefs.

    “To defeat Homeopathy you must read the literature and their books and accept their accomplishements before attempting theoretical denunciations or refutations.”
    Been there, done that, didn’t get the tee-shirt. I have read all the papers suggested by various proponents of homeopathy and have never found anything that could not be explained by the placebo effect or by poor experimental design.
    While many of us who argue that homeopathy does not work HAVE read the various papers and “explanations” for how it is suppose to work, it is clear that you and many other proponents of homeopathy ahve not read or do not understand how science works. How hypocritical that you accuse us of not reading the homeopathic “evidence” when in fact it is you who refuses to read/understand about the “other side” i.e. the scientific side of the debate.

    And I reassert my point that if homeopathy really worked then it would have displaced what is now modern medicine over the 200 years that it has been around. Human beings are extremely pragmatic and if homeopathy truly worked it would have been a mainstream treatment. The fact that modern medicine and the pharmaceutical industry developed through a need to treat real diseases with real medications speaks volumes about the lack of effectiveness of homeopathy. The development of pharmaceuticals has been an expensive and intellectually challenging process – if another valid treatment option was available it would have ben taken up in a moment.

    As to anecdotal evidence, particularly the mother who “believes” that homeopathy cured her son’s septiciemia,
    http://www.mirandacastro.com/articles/a_rotten_case.html this anecdote is only reported because the child got well. This is referred to as selective bias, as I’m sure if the child had not been cured it would not have been reported.
    Very seldom are the failures of homeopathy in such cases reported, though you can see an example here:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/sep/28/homeopathy-baby-death-couple-jailed

  • Scepticsbane

    “she was a conventionally trained MD.”

    While I have meet many medical doctors who do understand science well, there are some who do not. Very few medical doctors actually learn about the scientific method in their studies.
    The suggestion that having an MD means you understand how science works is an erroneous appeal to authority.

  • Alison (re her comments on Barry Marshall) -> Agreed.

    Grant (re his argument that the blinded tests represent an logico-scientific invariant, therefore impervious to ScepticsBane’s criticism) -> My disagreement is now a matter of record and unnecessary to repeat.

    Micheal (re his comment that MD training does not necessarily include training in the scientific method) -> agreed. However, there was no intended appeal to authority regarding mention of Shepherd’s MD status, rather, it was to attempt to demonstrate her as one of many conventionally trained MD’s who were as skeptical of Homeopathy as you or I, but who, experimented and ultimately proved (to themselves) the viability and apparent effectiveness of the Homeopathic approach.

    I sense a rift between the modern lab sciences and their idea of “evidence” and “science” and the clinically practicing MDs and other health professionals. I repeat again, the falsity of the implied premise of this erroneous point of view, that human beings can be regarded as machines with “parts” that wear out, needing to be repaired, replaced, or removed. And worse, that this view represents a reductionism of human value, as well as an erroneous basis of medical praxis. Particularly curious happening there, as New Zealand is a country most wonderful in its enforcement and pro environmentalist policies, in some ways a model for other countries to emulate.

  • ScepticsBane,

    re his argument that the blinded tests represent an logico-scientific invariant, therefore impervious to ScepticsBane’s criticism

    This isn’t what I wrote. I wrote that one of the values of blinded tests is that they aren’t confounded by the sorts of arguments you present, but stand independent of them. That’s true for everyone, not just you. (The point of blinding is to mitigate against any bias in those doing the testing.)

    I wrote considerably more than what you refer to. Excuse me for saying this, but your responses seem to avoid what I’ve pointed out or “overlook” them. I would respectfully suggest you would help resolve your issues with this topic if you would take on board what’s been offered.

    Related to the point you do refer to: you can’t change, or discard, data (something I’ve previously written about; it might be worth reading). Unless data is genuinely fraudulent, it always stands. You can’t make them “go away”; you can change the ideas, but not the data. Data from the tests indicate homeopathy to be no more effective than placebo effect.

    I sense a rift between the modern lab sciences and their idea of “evidence” and “science” and the clinically practicing MDs and other health professionals.

    False dichotomy.

    that human beings can be regarded as machines with “parts” that wear out, needing to be repaired, replaced, or removed.

    Straw man.

    (The reductionist view this might imply isn’t warranted either. A lot of modern medicine would come under what can (and is) called systems biology – i.e. looking at whole systems with all the interacting components taken into account.)

    And worse, that this view represents a reductionism of human value,

    This is often offered in the guise of anti-atheist sentiment by various religions parties; it’s pretty stilly to be frank about it.

    I really suggest you read what I wrote earlier. Repeating your assertions won’t make your them right if they’re untrue. You need to question your own statements before you can resolve this for yourself. I pointed out a few places where they don’t work that might help you resolve your questions/assertions.

  • Scepticsbane,

    You last comment seems to have substantially shifted topic, this time erecting a strawman of substantial proportions.

    ” the falsity of the implied premise of this erroneous point of view, that human beings can be regarded as machines with “parts” that wear out, needing to be repaired, replaced, or removed. And worse, that this view represents a reductionism of human value, as well as an erroneous basis of medical praxis.”

    Reductionism is an important part of science, but modern science is also about looking at how things work together, about looking at complex systems, synergies etc.

    Reductionism as part of science does not equate to reductionism in human value. Many of the scientists I know are driven because they care and are passionate about humanity and the wider environment.

    The reductionism = cold uncaring science and scientists is a convenient scapegoat for people who find that science doesn’t show what they want it to.

  • I just dropped in to Scepticsbane’s overlord Dr. Roy, and made the following comment.

    Dear Dr. Roy,

    I just want to ask you a very simple question about the causation in homeopathy treatments. Since water has no memory according to the following paper:

    “Ultrafast memory loss and energy redistribution in the hydrogen bond network of liquid H2O”, Nature 434, 199-202 (10 March 2005) , by M. L. Cowan, et al.

    can you elaborate on what physical basis (ie, the physics) about the notion in homeopathic medicines which obviously contain no active ingredients (as to constitute a cause in the first place, ie, causality) can have a healing effect in its treatment capability?

    Would it be acceptable to say that someone (a priest for instance) can just use holy water or just bless a glass of tap water by praying and then that glass of water can be claimed to be effective as a treatment as a homeopathic treatment? If not, then why not? The blessed glass of tap water is no difference to a homeopathic one, since both of them have no basis for causation which can lead to an effect?

    Thank You,
    Falafulu Fisi.

    I hope that Dr. Roy will reply back to me (personally) and then I can discuss/debate (perhaps a series of exchanges) with him about the non-causal homeopathic claims.

  • Strawman? Strawman? No. An integrated view and extrapolation of scientism leads directly to my comments. There is no statistical test or numbers… you must think logically and of the causal implications. The consternation amongst you, I’m guessing, is that someone dares expose the full implications of the charade which you then deny vehmently but without argument by claims of “strawman”.

    Again, reductionism forces those of you in disagreement to strike out the observations rather than deal logically with them. This is not debate, it is the avoidance of debate. It is like the middle ages when someone said the earth might not be the center of the universe and the immediate response was “heresy”!!

    I leave you, gentlemen and ladies with the following cautionary information, from the article “Lies, Damned Lies and Medical Science” by David H. Freedman,citing researcher John Ionnides, which appeared in “The Atlantic” magazine of Nov. 2010,
    and which was cited in the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons bulletin Vol 67, no. 4, April 2011…

    -> 90% of published medical info is flawed
    -> “Intellectual conflict of interest”…”pressures researchers to find whatever it is that is most likely to get them funded”. (Note from SB, that of course includes negative findings as well).
    -> of 45 major cited studies, only 11 underwent retesting.
    -> Excessive complexity in patient treatment cannot let every possible situation have a study. “Doctors need to rely on instinct and judgement to make choices”.

  • ScepticsBane said…
    I leave you, gentlemen and ladies with the following cautionary information, from the article.

    ScepticsBane, please come back. We’ve just started out the scientific discussion and now you’ve chosen to pike out? WHY? I thought you have some good scientific arguments to bring to the table?

    Just hang around because I may have some updates to this thread on when I have some communications or discussions with Dr. Roy.

  • Scepticsbane

    “There is no statistical test or numbers… you must think logically and of the causal implications. The consternation amongst you, I’m guessing, is that someone dares expose the full implications of the charade which you then deny vehmently”

    I’m afraid the only charade is by those who claim that water with no active ingredient has healing properties aside from keeping one hydrated.
    Logic involves taking in ALL of the available data, whether it involves statistics or observation in order to identify any causal relationships.
    Your previous arguments that support homeopathy (for septsis) on the basis on anecdote and a scientific study (which you then query the validity of) is neither logic or how one finds a causal relationship.
    I’ve come across the Ionnides report before. If I remember correctly it indulges in vague and unsubstantiated claims based on biased and dodgy interpretation of the medical literature.
    Even the “statistics” you quote (funny how you previously dismissed statistics as a form of evidence in your last comment) are vague:
    “90% of published medical info is flawed.”
    Flawed in what way? Missing full stops, poor referencing perhaps? Or does this data merely show that medicine adapts as new techniques and therapies are developed so that a technique described 80 years ago in the medical literature is indeed considered flawed? A number of medical journals were estalbished decades ago so of course, in the light of more reent discoveries, their content is flawed.
    I’m sure homeopathy has been discussed in early medical literature – such papers would certainly be considered flawed by todays standards.
    In science whenever we see statistics we are required to work out exactly what they mean. Just throwing around such vague statistics does not fool a scientist, neither do vague statements such as

    “Intellectual conflict of interest”…”pressures researchers to find whatever it is that is most likely to get them funded”. (Note from SB, that of course includes negative findings as well).”

    So how often does this occur and at what level. What evidence is there that this statement is true?

    or

    “of 45 major cited studies, only 11 underwent retesting.”

    Not every study needs retesting. If it’s outcome is obvious, or if it’s content is superseded by a newer medicial approach retesting is not necessary.

    ““Lies, Damned Lies and Medical Science” by David H. Freedman,citing researcher John Ionnides, which appeared in “The Atlantic” magazine of Nov. 2010,
    and which was cited in the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons bulletin Vol 67, no. 4, April 2011…”

    An article published in a magazine holds little sway here, neither does being cited in a professional bulletin.

  • ScepticsBane

    Thank you for your reference to the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. I thought it sounded familiar. Although the title makes it sound like a reputable medical organisation it is described by Rational Wiki as:

    “The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons is a small group of “conservative” quacks, cranks and fundamentalist zealots which likes to rail against such timeless evils as abortion, vaccination and the idea of universal health care coverage.[1]
    ……..
    It is listed as a quack organization by Quackwatch[2] and is sufficiently batshit insane to have retained Andrew Schlafly as its general counsel. ”

    A sourcewatch description of this association can be found at
    http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Association_of_American_Physicians_and_Surgeons

    The professional medical organisation for surgeons in America is the American College of Surgeons.

  • That’s an interesting point made at “bad science” blog on the article about Dr. Roy. If water is claimed to be the magic in homeopathy as its proponents say, then therefore, some causal explanation must be produced to account for every & all materials that homeopathic water had come into contact with in the past, well may be in the last 1000 years or more in the entire duration of their existence on this planet). Does the water molecules remember every materials that it came to contact with when it went thru (e.g., toilet flush) in the past? Or perhaps it does somehow loss its memory about those nasty toilet chemicals it came into contact with?

    The fact is, the water that we use today had been recycled from many different sources in their past history of existence. May be the glass of water that I drank this morning had been thru Stalin & Hitler’s stomach from over a half a decade ago. I’m wondering if I may have the propensity to go for a shooting spree & kill people in Queen St, this afternoon, simply because the water in my body will impart those killing spree memories held by those water molecules during their time spent in Stalin & Hitler’s brains from more than 50 years ago.

    How about that for a homeopathy cause & effect hypothesis?

  • FF-> You are unlikely to get a response from Dr. Roy. He died on Aug. 26, 2010.

    Thanks to all of you for an interesting discussion.

    SB