An "I don't understand science" letter

By Michael Edmonds 15/07/2011 91


Came across this letter in North and South last night. Can a letter be hypocritical if the person writing it doesn’t realise they are being hypocritical? Or is it just ironic?

Science Piqued

Margo White’s June column (Social Studies) was brilliant.The exposition of our innate tendency to believe whatever we want to believe despite evidence or lack thereof was superbly (but perhaps unwittingly) illustrated by the Skeptic Society’s dismissal of homeopathy. Despite so much scientific evidence that homeopathy is an efficacious branch of medicine, people such as Kylie Sturgess and those involved in the “10:23 Challenge” still choose to believe what they want to believe and dismiss everybody else as complete fools.

Perhaps White could do some investigation into homeopathy. It is incomprensible to me that there is an observable phenomenon denied by scientists because it does not fit current scientific explanation. Surely such a phenomenon should pique the interest of the scientific community- not to mention the medical community?

What is wrong with this letter?

First, there is NOT “much scientific evidence that homeopathy is … effacious”. Most research shows that homeopathy has no more than a placebo effect. Over the past few years every time a supporter of homeopathy has claimed that “here is a paper that supports homeopathy”, I have tracked it down and read it. In most cases, the research is being misrepresented, and it is obvious that the supporter has not read past the title of the paper. In other cases the research is of such poor quality that the conclusions are unreliable. In other cases, the research is so poorly run that the results have not reliability or validity.

Second, suggesting that homeopathy is a branch of medicine is absurb. Next we will have aura reading claimed as a type of medical imaging!

Third, most skeptics are well aware of confirmation bias, which the author of this letter describes, yet the author completely misses the fact that her own argument is based on a strong confirmation bias regarding her belief in homeopathy.

Fourth, very few skeptics I know view believers in homeopathy “as complete fools.” Rather, many of us consider the public to be misinformed about homeopathy. Several years ago a survey showed that over 90% of people did not realise that homeopathic solutions contained no active ingredients – a figure that hopefully campaigns such as “10:23” will reduce over time.

Finally, the author of the letter is correct on one point. IF there was anything in homeopathy, scientists would be trying to work out how it works. IF it worked, an explanation of how it worked would virtually guarantee at least one Nobel prize, possibly more (medicine, physics AND chemistry). However, the reality of homeopathy is that in the two hundred years that it has existed there has been no reliable scientific evidence that it works beyond the placebo effect, despite multiple attempts to prove so.


91 Responses to “An "I don't understand science" letter”

  • Hear, hear.

    There’s very little to add apart from an observation on belief: “…choose to believe what they want to believe…”

    Belief (= faith) is what the users of homeopathy have.

    The scientific community has knowledge (about homeopathy)derived from two hundred years of scientific experimentation.

    There’s no place for belief in science.

  • “Second, suggesting that homeopathy is a branch of medicine is absurb. Next we will have aura reading claimed as a type of medical imaging!”

    Adsurb !?? Perhaps “absurd” was meant !

    And Sixth, if Homeopathy were indeed the preposterous nonsense that this blog claims it to be, not even worthy of being called a branch of medicine, and it might be nonsense though I do not think so, then why on God’s good green earth do we see this apparent necessity, nay, even URGENCY on the part of these bloggers and so called sceptics, to continue with this endless and tiresome, often misrepresenting innuendo, propaganda, denunciations, scientizations and strident condemnations against this HOMEOPATHY???

    Is this not a confirmation, to the letter, of the warnings about New Fundamentalism and Scientism given us by a scientist chemist AND HOMEOPATH Lionel Milgrom (cf. Beware Scientism’s Onward March” in which he specifically and categorically refuted the claims that the evidentiary basis of Homeopathy was insufficient and that the arguments being used against it subsumed a narrow and anti-intellectual, rather positivistic exclusion of all evidence excepting the artificially lab based statistical double blinded randomized placebo controlled tests which were, we must remind, designed for pharmaceutical drugs which actually DO have molecules of themselves in the product. ??

    Is this anti-Homeopathy-ism not in violation of the exposure of the insufficiency, indeed even outright falsehood and wholesale manipulation of figures in the Shang meta-analysis which dares to have the presumption to make the sweeping conclusion that Homeopathy = placebo on the basis of taking hundreds of tests, applying various questionable exclusionary criteria and then daring to draw its wrong headed conclusion from the remaining 8 (yes eight!) tests – all the while ignoring similar meta-analyses, published right there in Lancet, which came to totally the opposite conclusion?

    Listen to the overweening arrogance and anti-scientific condemnation coming from this attack against Homeopathy – not just before all the evidence is in, but before the very research now in progress has even begun to draw preliminary hypothesis regarding the Homeopathic curative phenomena – oops I forgot, the dedicated doctrinaire scientism-ist DENIES that evidence too.

    The anti-Homeopathists are welcome to their opinions, there is indeed plenty to criticize about Homeopathy, I for one am rather sceptical of this nonsense about bottling sunlight or the light from Venus or any other damned place and then selling it as a remedy with supposed curative properties. In addition, their official doctrine, a 200 year philosophical tract with wishful thinking, a theory of disease uninformed by modern science and a lot of other totally unintelligible stuff somehow necessitated that it’s final edition be hidden for decades before finally being released, apparently in the fear that its modifications would upset the faithful.

    But, unfortunately for the anti-Homeopathist scientism-ists, deep in their pontifications about “science” and “evidence”, the science AND THE PRAXIS of Homeopathy shows that for some remedies and for some conditions some sort of curative effect is indeed happening and it is crying out for rational research and investigation. The hysteria of the anti-Homeopathists is only IMPEDING the scientific investigation of the phenomena and it is easy to see why. For some reason, the possibility of Homeopathy, like other so called alternative systems of medicine, threatens the world view and the cozy medical hegemony of the sceptics and the now established system which is rapidly bankrupting the health care systems of even major well endowed countries with its emphasis on treatment rather than cure. Or for related reasons. The Homepathists don’t have enough, yet, to prove their system but neither do the anti-Homepathists have enough to disprove it, except in the imaginative fervor and hostility inside their heads, fueled by infantile conceptions of “evidence” at odds with a fully rational and objective consideration of ALL the “evidence” thus necessitating them to equate all Homeopathic induced curative effects as placebo, deny the obvious research which supports it and go on these endless propaganda campaigns and street corner “demonstrations” in which the kids eat whole bottles of remedy and then observe that “nuttin ‘appened”. Is this REALLY about the validity of Homeopathy, or is there, as Milgrom suggests, a whole lot more, and socio-politically dangerous stuff involved? Read his article, easily found, and with PLENTY OF CITATIONS of EVIDENCE and THEN decide.

  • Oops, sorry Edmonds, just recalled after I posted that you’re negative on caps. My stupidity for forgetting. Just toss the dumb thing if it offends. SB

  • Scepticsbane,

    I have already read Lionel Milgrom’s work and was decidedly underwhelmed, for many of the reasons I discussed in my blog above.

    “endless and tiresome, often misrepresenting innuendo, propaganda, denunciations, scientizations and strident condemnations against this HOMEOPATHY???”

    If you would care to point out where in my blog I have used any of the above, please feel free. However, if you care to actually read what I wrote, all I have pointed out is that the “evidence” most supporters of homeopathy refer to is either misrepresented or of dubious quality.
    On the other hand you may want to reflect on your own use of innuendo, propaganda and denunciations.

    “The Homepathists don’t have enough, yet, to prove their system ”
    Either there is evidence that homeopathy works or there isn’t. There have been multiple studies which show that it does not.

    ” then why on God’s good green earth do we see this apparent necessity, nay, even URGENCY on the part of these bloggers and so called sceptics,”

    You know, I wouldn’t bother if all homeopathy was used for is to treat neurotic people for disease that will heal themselves.
    However, it has been demonstrated AGAIN and AGAIN that homeopaths give unsuspecting patients dangerous advice – such as suggesting they use homeopathic preventatives for malaria.

    You have suggested above that “The Homepathists don’t have enough, yet, to prove their system ”
    Don’t you find it to be somewhat immoral then to be promoting treatments for life threatening diseases for which there is no proof that they work?

  • ScepticsBane may wish to change his/her handle to ScepticsBlessing as rants and ravings such as this, with little attention to the rules of grammar or logic, can only do the scientists good!

    If homeopathy (note, little ‘h’ not big ‘h’) would like to be taken seriously, perhaps its proponents would like to produce some evidence that it works.

    Non-scientist but firm-sceptic, over and out. 🙂

  • @Michael Edmonds who states:
    You have suggested above that “The Homepathists don’t have enough, yet, to prove their system ”
    Don’t you find it to be somewhat immoral then to be promoting treatments for life threatening diseases for which there is no proof that they work?

    Good question. The answer is complicated by two things:
    1. The definition of what proof is – as you know Milgrom criticizes an overly narrow interpretation of this in medical matters pretending as though it were mathematics or physics. But the tens of thousands of human physiological processes which act to sustain life are in some cases not even linear. Did not Spinoza try the same thing in philosophy? And I have already criticized the use of DBRCTs in Homeopathy as possibly inappropriate and/or inapplicable given the molecular constituents of their remedies.
    2. A constantly and quite adroitly changing double standard which allows some things in conventional medicine but then disapproves of the same things in Homeopathy. Take anti-depression drugs, some of which, we now know, have the rather self defeating property of increasing the risk of suicide in those that take it. Is it immoral, Edmonds, for Doctors to prescribe them when this risk is known to be present? Others simply don’t work as Milgrom’s comments on Prozac seem to indicate. Was it immoral to prescribe them?

    Regarding malaria and other more serious illnesses to which Edmonds refers, no I do not believe it is proper to be prescribing stuff which does not have some sort of demonstrable basis in science or testing – but there are two exceptions, note carefully the conditions:
    1. No other conventional or better tested and proven medicines are available, for example in wartime. Then the Homeopathist, if present, should explain that mainly anecdotal evidence is the only basis, that use of the remedy is unproven and experimental – exactly as conventional medicine Doctors prescribed aspirin for decades before its mechanism was known and no they most certainly did not, for the most part, refer to studies in using it.
    Note, in the malaria example, for over a century, while quinine was being used, the Chinese herb qing hao (artemesia) had been used for centuries to treat it – the WHO several years ago acknowledged that artemesia was an acceptable alternative (some Chinese would say better) – so for all the long time that the Chinese were benefiting from it without the sort of testing that Edmonds requires. Were the Chinese herbalists immoral in using it? You see? Experiential Inductivism plays a role here – an important one. It is a kind of knowledge and contributes to a kind of proof even though not definitive.
    2. The patient who does not like conventional medicine and who therefore may be prescribed the Homeopathic remedy for whatever illness, if they want it, but only after a full explanation of the risks and theoretical insufficiencies. That is merely fundamental freedom of medical choice, which must be granted to the individual. (Side note, Milgrom’s article implies that this freedom may be at risk under the attacks of the scientism-ists. I believe he is right, that there are fundamental socio-politico-economic reasons backing the attacks on so called alternative medicine, but that is a topic of another post.)

    A final point:
    I have in front of me a book Homeopathy in Epidemic Disease by a conventionally trained MD Dorothy Shepherd who practised in the first half of the 20th century. Her examples in treating and in prophylaxis of the dangerous so called whooping cough epidemics using only Homeopathy is of relevance and great interest today. She indicates that hundreds of school children were treated, successfully by her with Homeopathy and gives examples. It is not proof and not scientifically validated and yet the examples are impressive. Considering recent epidemics in California and elsewhere, I would like to know why the Homeopathy companies or even public health authorities have not set up some conventional testing (though I think special testing more elaborate than conventional ways, are needed for Homeopathy, again another topic) for this and other diseases so that we could learn, once and for all, if there is a basis to it. It is hard but can it be all that hard – or would it be the massive media outrage against the mere thought of using such remedies, sure to be launched by the anti-Homeopathists, and their corporatist instigators, that is the sticking point? In the 70 or so years since that book was published we still don’t know.

    I suspect, having reviewed the Homeopathic literature myself, without great success, hoping to find inklings of how in the hell the techniques of prescription were taught, that the closing of their medical schools caused the loss of core knowledge. This led to the gradual devolution of theoretical knowledge among the practitioners so that there is perhaps only 1 in 100 Homeopaths who actually knows what the hell they are doing today (whatever that means!) – the rest seem to be bumbling about, improperly trained, medically illiterate, and/or subject to various distortions of the core Hahnemannian theory by media Homeopaths busy selling books, articles and seminars. The closest book I could find to actual training in the art and science of Homeopathic prescriptions was Harvey Farrington’s Homeopathy and Homeopathic Prescribing which was used to bring conventional MDs up to speed in Homeopathy way back in the 1930’s and 40’s. Barely an outline, and it is the only such book I could find. I am not well read in conventional Homeopathic testing research but as far as I know the only testing on large populations is the Leptospirosis testing done in Cuba – yes with impressive results but the methodology is under some perhaps justified criticism and so we must still await the research which will distinguish fact from fiction in Homeopathy.

  • “The definition of what proof is.”

    Proof is fairly straightforward – it is where, under appropriately controlled conditions, an effect can be demonstrated. You can try as much as you like to make “proof” of treatments seem difficult but it is in fact fairly straightforward.

    “Note, in the malaria example, for over a century, while quinine was being used, the Chinese herb qing hao (artemesia) had been used for centuries to treat it ”

    1) Natural medicines are NOT the same as homeopathy, as natural medicines contain active, sometimes quite potent, compounds.
    2) The Chinese use of artemesia is valid because they OBSERVED a beneficial effect and then utilised it. By observing its effect, they had PROOF that it worked. This effect can be verified by modern scientists.
    Homeopathy has never effectively demonstrated a similar effect.

    “I have in front of me a book Homeopathy in Epidemic Disease by a conventionally trained MD Dorothy Shepherd who practised in the first half of the 20th century. Her examples in treating and in prophylaxis of the dangerous so called whooping cough epidemics using only Homeopathy is of relevance and great interest today.”

    But how does she demonstrate that her treatment works? What controls, experiments did she conduct OR if her research is observational, how did she compare those on her treatment with those who weren’t?

    “or would it be the massive media outrage against the mere thought of using such remedies, sure to be launched by the anti-Homeopathists, and their corporatist instigators, that is the sticking point?”

    Sigh, do you really have to invoke conspiracy theories to defend homeopathy? My opposition to homeopathy has nothing to do with “corporatist instigators” rather it is the lack of supporting evidence and the absurd theories that are proposed about how it works.

  • ‘Proof’, or rather, evidence is very simple SB.

    Find a disease that is mean to be treatable by homeopathy. Do a trial. See what happens.

    How’s that work out for homeopathy?

  • @ScepticsBane

    Either homeopathy works, or it doesn’t work.

    If it works then it has an effect that can be measured (patients get better).

    For two hundred years people have been looking for an effect from homeopathy. The only effects ever found in that time are the same as from sugar pills or water, otherwise known as placebo effects. Some people may believe otherwise, but belief has nothing to do with whether homeopathy works or not.

    I’m not particularly anti-homeopathy, I just don’t see the point in something that has never been shown to work.

  • @Stuartg, M. Edmonds et al.

    “Either homeopathy works or it doesn’t work”.

    I agree fully.

    “For two hundred years people have been looking for an effect from homeopathy. The only effects ever found in that time are the same as from sugar pills or water, otherwise known as placebo effects.”

    I disagree fully. A review of their literature indicates complete impossibility that the observed effects were all attributable to placebo effect. Something else is occurring.

    You will note carefully the double standard in play in the comments of Edmonds, whose comments otherwise are completely acceptable. This is a key characteristic of what Milgrom calls scientism (see link below) and by now, it is so internalized here that nobody even realizes it is being done. Example:
    Edmonds states correctly that :
    1)” Natural medicines are NOT the same as homeopathy, as natural medicines contain active, sometimes quite potent, compounds.”

    Commentary: Indeed so, however note the implication here, completely lacking in proof, that the Homeopathic (yes yes, should not be capitalized I know) remedies, not containing “active, sometimes quite potent compounds” are therefore of nonexistent therapeutic effect! This is, in fact, what is under discussion and yet Edmonds has quietly assumed logical veracity to his position, declared victory and ended the discussion before the claims of the Homeopaths can even be examined. But the best is yet to come, read on to 2).

    2) The Chinese use of artemesia is valid because they OBSERVED a beneficial effect and then utilized it. By observing its effect, they had PROOF that it worked. This effect can be verified by modern scientists.
    Homeopathy has never effectively demonstrated a similar effect.”

    Ha !! Having read Edmonds in some of his other blogs, some of them quite good, I do realize he is convinced with certainty of this. Let’s just stop and analyze this logical switch that he has just, apparently quite without realizing it, thrown. He states:
    “The Chinese use of artemesia is valid because they observed a beneficial effect and utilized it. By observing its effect they had PROOF that it worked”.

    Did everyone see that statement. OK, good. Now stop and think for a moment. Note carefully Edmonds’ use of the word “proof” here. Now consider…what in hell’s bells do you think the Homepaths have been doing for 200 years? They too, observed beneficial effects and have been utilizing them. In their crazy repertories and, to me, undecipherable prescription methods, they have consistently demonstrated certain remedies appear to work for certain ailments for certain conditions for certain people. Just as with the Chinese,
    as Edmonds says, “By observing its effect they had proof that it worked”. And, I hate to point out, the Chinese were using their inductively and experientially discovered remedies for centuries before any verification whatsoever from modern science.

    Now let us move on to Stuartg’s comment, again stated quite openly and yet unintentionally containing concealed epistemologically disastrous hidden assumptions which we will now expose.

    “For two hundred years people have been looking for an effect from homeopathy. ”

    Indeed so. And for two hundreds years people have been using and benefiting from it. Are we to accept the unstated assumption here that the patients were fooled into thinking they had been cured and that some of the best medical minds of their era were self deluded fools? Or was there genuine therapeutic effects? Major meta analyses appeared in Lancet supporting both sides of the issues. One of the more recent ones, the famed Shang meta analysis was part of a campaign against Homeopathy launched in 2005 by the editor of Lancet itself which included an editorial “The End of Homeopathy?”
    This attack came shortly after Prince Charles gave a speech in favor of Complementary and Alternative medicine at the World Health Organization.

    The mistaken conclusion of the Lancet published Shang analysis, that Homeopathy=placebo came under widespread criticism both in its methodology and in its manner of conclusion, even from some opposed to Homeopathy.

    Let us continue with Stuartg’s comments:

    “The only effects ever found in that time are the same as from sugar pills or water, otherwise known as placebo effects.”

    A review of the Homeopathic literature completely contradicts this statement. Additionally this statement also commits the errors of presumption and assumption without scientific basis, in other words, the “it’s just water” argument. But materials scientist Rustum Roy refuted this quite some time ago by pointing out that diamonds and graphite are “just carbon” and yet they both differ astoundingly in properties. It is, of course, molecular structure as well as chemical constituents that determines properties.

    Does science say anything at all about the possibility of high dilution substances having any biological effects at all? Alas for the Homeopathy skeptics, it does, as I tire of mentioning, the Ennis experiments (Journal of Inflammation Research, Vol 53, p181), which have been repeated in several labs and which remain an open and as yet unexplained scientific anomaly.
    Please don’t mention the BBC Horizon documentary which supposedly “repeated” her experiment which added a chemical not in her protocol and which was never published in any scientific journal. Ennis remains, correctly I believe, a skeptic of Homeopathy and has recently requested that labs coordinate in uncovering the answers to this now 20 year old mystery. There are other experiments, involving high dilutions affecting frog thyroid, for example which I will forego citing here, having lost the link.

    Stuartg continues:
    ” Some people may believe otherwise, but belief has nothing to do with whether homeopathy works or not.”
    I quite agree.

    Let’s cut to the chase, is it proper to accept the unstated scientism assumptions, by now so internalized that poor Edmonds does not even realize he is holding them? Do we accept Stuartg’s and Edmonds and others’ scientistic narrowing of the concept of “proof” to mere artificial laboratory tests which may not even be appropriate for Homeopathy (no molecules…remember !!) – a narrowing so extreme when applied to Homeopathy, but suddenly OK to be broadened to Chinese and conventional medicine when it suits them, flipping the “switch” back and forth at will while loudly maintaining cries of “science” and “proof”. Is this not exactly what Milgrom is talking about and condemning? Hence my reluctance to go along with the positions against Homeopathy even though I’ve got plenty of reservations about at least some of what they say and do. I’m done.

    The following quote is from a speech by Sir Michael Rawlins, himself a Homeopathy skeptic, quoted by Milgrom in his article “Beware Scientism’s Onward March(see link below)
    “RCTs, long regarded as the ‘gold standard’ of evidence, have been put on an undeserved pedestal. Their appearance at the top of hierarchies of evidence is inappropriate; and hierarchies are illusory tools for assessing evidence. They should be replaced by a diversity of approaches that involve analysing the totality of the evidence base.”

    http://www.anh-europe.org/news/anh-feature-beware-scientism’s-onward-march

  • ScepticsBane said…
    How is your homeopathy hero, Dr. Rustum Roy, that you’ve quoted here on SciBlog previously?

    I quoted Dr. Roy the paper following paper in an online discussion:

    Ultrafast memory loss and energy redistribution in the hydrogen bond network of liquid H2O by Prof. Thomas Elsaesser, et al, which was published in Nature journal about 5 years ago. I have already quoted you the paper to get it and read because it will open up your mind to reason, rather than your blind faith in homeopathy, but it appeared that you haven’t done so. You instead, prefer to quote Dr. Rustum (Hocus Pocus) Roy as a material scientist as somehow his misguided opinions is an authority.

    Just listen to his nonsense about the structure of water on this interview.

    How homeopathy works

    Here is something for you to look think about. If water has no memory which in reality it doesn’t (read the paper I cited above), then on what physical basis that you cling to, in justifying that homeopathy does work? Water memory has been demolished, and you should deal with that fact. The question to ask the likes of you and all homeopathy proponents, is why do you insist that homeopathy works?

    WHY? WHY? WHY? Unbelievable.

    BTW, if you want to read that paper above but can’t get access to it, then I can send you a copy to read. That may open up your mind to reason via facts and not blind faith. Indicate back here, and I can send a copy to Peter Griffin (SciBlog manager) so he can send it to you (only if you wish).

  • ScepticsBane, if you go to Dr. Roy’s website and take a look at the following, of how he desperately tried to link genuine Chemistry/Physics researches of others into homeopathy.

    The Structure Of Liquid Water; Novel Insights From Materials Research; Potential Relevance To Homeopathy

    The Roy’s article is a handwaving at best. He quoted some researches from Prof. Eugene Stanley (Director, Center for Polymer Studies – Boston University):


    Is there a second critical point in liquid water?

    Roy’s stating facts from others researches, but those facts have nothing to do with homeopathy at all. It is synonymous with mystics who often quoted quantum mechanics as somehow, consciousness/mysticism are one and the same, but quantum mechanics has nothing to do with mysticism as claimed by misguided its’ proponents.

    PS :I’ve just sent an email to Prof. Eugene Stanley to ask his opinion/s on the misrepresentation of his researches by mystical researcher’s such as Dr. Roy.

  • by misguided its’ proponents.

    should be:

    by its’ misguided proponents.

    ScepticsBane, if you want to read more about the physics/chemistry of water, then the best place for you to start is Prof. Eugene Stanley’s site (Boston University – Center for Polymer Studies), where his papers are freely available for download.

    Water Research: Publications

    I suggest you do some reading on the topic (start with Stanley’s site), because it is obvious that you don’t have any scientific facts to back up your arguments on this blog.

  • Scepticsbane,

    You really do seem to be missing the point I am trying to make, probably because you are trying to fit what I have written to your own beliefs, so let me try and explain again.

    The use of artemesia in Chinese medicine was taken up before modern science could verify that it contains compounds that were anti-malarial. One assumes this was discovered through trial and error, and when it was observed that this plant had a beneficial effect in treating malaria it was taken up as a treatment. It is this observed effect, that I consider evidence.

    You seem to assume that I am dismissing homeopathy only because modern science could not explain how it worked. However, this is not correct. IF there was an unexplained beneficial effect due to homeopathy that would be enough to consider it more seriously. However, there is simply not enough evidence to take homeopathy seriously.

    A review of their literature indicates complete impossibility that the observed effects were all attributable to placebo effect. Something else is occurring.

    I disagree. As I have previously stated I have followed up and checked references that those who believe homeopathy works provide as proof and have found that the research is either poorly carried out or more often being misrepresented.

    Given that you repeatedly claim that there is evidence that homeopathy works, perhaps you could list the top 5 papers or pieces of evidence that you believe best support that homeopathy work? Instead of repeatedly talikng about all the evidence there is for homeopathy, how about providing some specific evidence to back up your claim.

    It is good to note we have at least some areas of agreement. You acknowledge that there is no adequate explanation for how homeopathy works. It seems that we only disagree on whether there is convincing evidence to show that it works. Perhaps by examining this proposed evidence more carefully we can make some progress?

  • @ScepticsBane

    Nowhere in medicine has it been shown that there is any effect from homeopathy apart from the placebo effect.

    We would welcome any evidence that any other effect has ever been recorded. So far it hasn’t.

    If I can achieve the same effect as homeopathy by lying to my patients and then giving them a sugar pill, this goes against my entire ethical position. Why should I do this when there are many medications (even herbs) that are proven to work better than placebo (or homeopathy)?

    Sorry, I’m going to use things that work rather than homeopathy. Harry Potter’s magic doesn’t work in the world I live in.

  • Just stumbled across this blog. I guess I’d be wasting my time by commenting, but I have to keep an open mind and give you guys a chance.

    But first, let me respond to some previous comments.

    Stuartg (=StuartG?):
    You say, There’s no place for belief in science.

    Are you serious? I’m deducing from your other comments in this thread that you’re a doctor, maybe a GP? If you seriously believe what you have stated (and I use the word believe intentionally), then surely, you will have to either admit that what I’m guessing you practise (medicine?) is NOT science, and is really not even very scientific, or you’ll have to give up practising? The simple truth is that MOST of what you doctors (sorry if I’m making an incorrect deduction) believe about the workings of the human body is exactly and only that: BELIEF. In reality, our modern understanding of how the human body and all its multitude, intricate and complex bio-chemical processes really work is truly primitive and infantile.

    All the research conducted (and half of that contradicts itself or has no clear outcome) and all the THEORIES we have about how it all works, is only just starting to scratch the surface of the deep, complex and highly sophisticated bio-chemistry that we are, that we so much take for granted.

    So, what you mostly have is theories, ideas, notions, educated guesses. And a bit of beginner science. You have simplistic, generalised observations. Fact is, all your science cannot even predict which drugs will have severe side effects in which patients, and which won’t. You can’t even be certain that any particular drug will necessarily cure any particular condition. It’s all a lot of trial and error, and a lot of error at that. It’s a huge amount of Suck it and see, Let’s give this one a try, Hopefully, this new drug will fix it, etc, etc.

    The question really, is does that hope even reach the level of belief? I don’t think so.

    The reality is that much of science is based on belief, which is based on observation, which is often not the complete picture. Just look at Newton’s Laws. The best at the time, but really only approximate, and close enough in most situations. But not the full story.

    Sometimes, a new discovery completely demolishes the old beliefs, and replaces them with a new set (Yes, of BELIEFS!). It is extremely hard to say that we have the final answer at any particular point, and the newer the science, the more this is true. So, human biological science is really very new, and vastly more complex than simple physics, so don’t be getting on your high horse too soon!

    Another fact is that Pharmaceutical use (call it misuse if you want to avoid facing the truth), is actually making a huge mess of things. More and more drugs are becoming useless or less and less reliable at least, as bacteria and viruses evolve and become resistant, and swiftly outsmart your science.

    All you so-called scientists can scoff, criticise and condemn Homoeopathy, you can bury your closed-minded heads in the sand if you like, but the fact is that Modern Medicine is clearly starting to lose the war against human disease. (And a short little war it was!) Just take a look at the stat’s, at the recent, marked rise of new, horror diseases and the resurgence of old ones.

    Look also at the way some so-called Immunisations have failed. If that isn’t an example of a medical BELIEF, tell me what is. Fact is, there is very little real evidence that many immunisations actually work. Much of the previous (simultaneous) declines in many of the targetted diseases can genuinely be attributed simply to rising standards of nutrition, hygiene and general living conditions. And there is now real evidence that some immunisations INCREASE the risk of epidemics – not to mention other diseases. What happened to that belief?

    Oh, go ahead and explain to me how mercury became such a widely used Dental material? Isn’t Dentistry a branch of medicine? Surely, that was based on firmly established science! Not! The use of mercury as a curative is actually how the name Quack was invented, from the German name for quick silver. And isn’t it now true that we have recognised that there is no safe level for mercury, that it’s simply a poison to human biological processes, along with lead?

    While you are at it, tell me that fluoride is beneficial to growing teeth – so beneficial that the entire population – adults, unborn babies, everyone, should be subjected to this poison. Get Real! Fluoride is an extremely reactive, mono-valent halogen. How is that going to help make teeth stronger and more resistant to decay? What’s the theory? What’s the chemistry? What’s the science? Really, it’s BS. The whole mythical origin of the fluoridation scam was, at best, based on an assumption, not double-blind, proper science. And what about the damage such a highly reactive halogen does to the rest of the body? Where is the Cost-Benefit Analysis for that? Of course, there isn’t one.

    It’s the same with Homoeopathy. It’s all about Big Business and Money. Sickness is how you guys make your money. You (and Big Parma especially) don’t want a healthy population. Where’s the money in that? Likewise, there is just no money to spend on finding out that Homoeopathy really does work. It’s far too good, far too cheap, to allow it to erode Big Pharma’s profits. So they vilify and condemn it, and you anti-‘s are just handy pawns in their game. Good on you!

    I hope your ethics can cope with that. I mean, with spreading lies and misinformation that you have simply accepted as true (Decided to BELIEVE) purely because that’s what you were told, without actually doing any real research of your own. If you truly had open minds, well, you would look at who provided the information, what vested interests exist, what hidden motivations there might be, and what the real evidence is. Of course, it IS A LIE, to say there is NO EVIDENCE that Homoeopathy actually works. It all depends on what you ACCEPT as evidence, and if you are biased, then you will reject real evidence and confirm yourselves to be unscientific. Let’s see the evidence that you guys have open minds! Meantime, cut the crap about Science being infallible. It’s NOT! Science is merely a product of human endeavour, and guess what…

    There’s so much more I’d like to say about the incredible value of Homoeopathy, but I’m afraid I’d only be wasting my time.

    I hope you don’t mind if, meanwhile, I consider you folk the spreaders of lies, propaganda and misinformation.

    What do you say, any of you?

  • Double Blindness

    “There’s so much more I’d like to say about the incredible value of Homoeopathy”

    Why is it that proponents of homeopathy, talk about evidence but never provide an example of it?
    You can repeat as many times as you like that there is “evidence” for homeopathy but until you actually provide some evidence it is a bit hard to take you seriously.

    “If you truly had open minds, well, you would look at who provided the information, what vested interests exist, what hidden motivations there might be, and what the real evidence is.”
    Been there, done that. I’ve read the papers that many proponents of homeopathy put forward as evidence, and in most cases it is obvious that THEY did not read the paper themselves. I get tired of this double standard – proponents who say that I do not understand the literature on homeopathy, when in fact it is clear to me that many of them do not read past the title or possibly the abstract.

    “You (and Big Parma especially) don’t want a healthy population.”

    Sigh, conspiracy theories, really?
    Most medical professionals and scientists I know, work in these areas because they want to make the world a better place. For you to suggest that they/we don’t want a healthy population is offensive. It is also ironic when there are homeopaths who claim they can cure AIDS and prevent malaria using their “treatments.”
    And if you want to talk about multimillion dollar companies you might want to look a little closer at how much homeopathic solutions earn the companies that produce them. After all, more than $15 dollars for a small bottle of water which contains no active ingredient? It’s money for nothing, literally.

    My own views about health is to stay as healthy as I can through diet and exercise and I only take medication when it is absolutely necessary. However, when I do take medication I want something that works.

    It is also ironic that you accuse medical professionals of only having some “beginner science”. Your comments about fluoride and mercury show you have only a limited grasp of chemistry.
    Fluorine is a highly reactive gas, Fluoride ions are a different species with different properties. And fluorine compounds, again are different in terms of their properties.
    Also your assumption that if one challenges the use of homeopathy that one must also support the use of fluorides in the water supply is incorrect. I’m personally not convinced that fluoridation of water supplies is a good idea.

    Basically your whole post provides no evidence about homeopathy but just makes unfounded attacks on other commenters, and silly claims about conspiracies.
    If you want to challenge my criticisms of homeopathy, you will have to do a lot better.

  • Double Blindness

    My what a poor stream-of-conscience-though style post.

    Y’know however badly behaved the pharmaceuticals are (and they have been guilty of some awful crimes), does not make some other medicine more or less effective, it must do that on it’s own merit.

    Maybe science IS based on belief, though.

    I believe, based on the evidence I have seen and read that homeopathy is no more effective that a similarly administered placebo. But given compelling evidence (and given the impausible nature of the claim it would need to be pretty robust) I would change my belief.

    But then based on the evidence I believe that if I jump from a 10 storey building onto spikes I won’t survive. I believe that the theory of gravity and existing evidence is strong enough for me to accept this as fact until a better theory is proposed.

    The limitations of medical science are known, and that is why it hasn’t stopped researching, but because it don’t have ALL the answers doesn’t deminish the answers it has.

    To illustrate, there is no widely accepted unifying theory for general relativity and quantum mechanics. Yet the application of each is demostrably successful given that we have space-flight, correct prediction of motion of the heavenly bodies and the ability to conduct this communication using technology designed on the principles of quantum mechanics.

    So belief, maybe.

    That was the last coherent point on your post, it decended into a hissing cat noise of

    consiracy theory – sigh – do you know who is the biggest threat to profit of a big pharma? No it’s not homeopathy, or hopi-ear candles or prayer it’s other big pharmaceuticals and they spend millions on one-up-man-ship. The follow the money line leads here, not to some back-street quack peddling sugar pills & healing crystals.

    Then we had badly researched and irrelevant etymilogy. Copy pasta!

    Followed by confusion between a compound and an element.

    If you want to be taken seriously, either get a better education or better still simply make coherent researched points with some evidence to support them!

  • “Proof is fairly straightforward – it is where, under appropriately controlled conditions, an effect can be demonstrated. You can try as much as you like to make “proof” of treatments seem difficult but it is in fact fairly straightforward.”

    Cool definition… now, can you provide a link to any such fairly straightforward proof that the MMR vaccine works for preventing measles? As far as the Cochran Reviews are concerned, no such evidence exists…

  • It’s late, I see my post has just appeared, plus various replies…. I’ll get back to that.

    Just want to comment on a couple of points for now:

    Ron Law comments on what was stated earlier, that, “Proof is fairly straightforward – it is where, under appropriately controlled conditions, an effect can be demonstrated. …”

    Maybe. But so limiting. Is it deliberately worded so as to make (for example, Homoeopathy) all the more difficult to prove?

    What do you do when you cannot “appropriately control” the conditions, but can only record them?

    Does that mean you cannot prove something when you cannot control the conditions? I don’t accept that.

    And, more relevantly, what DO you do when you are trying to prove that something that operates by a mechanism which your existing science has not yet discovered, and which you have no measuring instruments by which to measure or even detect it, is real?

    I certainly accept that science has not yet discovered the mechanism by which Homoeopathy works. But history is littered with similar examples, where mankind initially did not know or understand, but only through very careful testing and observation and sometimes a lot of luck, we came to discover these things. Einstein’s theories are an example, where the errors in Newtonian mechanics only appeared under certain conditions. Einstein, being the genius he was, would not, I am sure, dismiss Homoeopathy so casually.

    I certainly also accept that the dilutions (e.g. 10:23 or whatever) that Homoepathy uses are such that there is probably not a single molecule of the original “active” compound left in the final solution. I also therefore completely accept that the effect that Homoeopathy involves has nothing to do with the presence of molecules of the original compound.

    What that clearly means, if, as I say, Homoeopathy works, is that the effect by which it works can therefore ONLY be by way of something else, that we don’t yet recognise, haven’t yet discovered.

    I frankly cannot believe the arrogance with which many scientists seem to approach the subject of Homoeopathy. You don’t know how it works. I don’t know how it works (but I have inklings). The Homoeopathic community admits it doesn’t know how it works. No one yet can even detect the unknown “influence” which it seems to employ. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t one, and that it doesn’t exist and isn’t real.

    Just to go off on a bit of a tangent, a few years ago, very few people accepted that UFOs (a la Alien Spacecraft) were real. Now, governments around the world have come out and opened their files, which show that the UFO phenomenon is a massive mystery, and very worthy of serious investigation. The phenomenon exists at the very edge of our knowledge and powers of perception. That does not alter at all whether it is real or not. All it shows so far is that all the scoffers were, basically, WRONG!

    My point is, HOW do you (or does anyone) design a reliable test (or set of tests) to prove that something we cannect even detect, has a predictable influence or not.

    I say, Yes, we can detect that an effect has taken place. But even that is not so easy to prove. The first problem (and shame on all you scientists for apparently not even considering this), is that EVERY single human being is different. EVERY SINGLE ONE.

    Now, you do know that some drugs work for some people, and some – well, don’t. Some people even have allergic reactions. But those issues do not seem to bother you at all.

    Now, let’s say (since it is true) that the Homoeopathic effect is FAR, FAR, FAR more subtle than the effect of any drug.

    The very first thing I think you scientists need to realise is that the effectiveness of any Homoeopathic remedy does NOT depend on the remedy. You are looking in completely the wrong direction, and trying to force something comparable to Einsteinian physics to conform to your Newtonian understandings. You miss the point completely, by attacking it from the point of view of what you BELIEVE, of what you think you know. Frankly, from the arrogant position of thinking you already know all you need to know to solve this mystery, while on the other hand, you claim to be open minded scientists, ever searching for new answers, new knowledge.

    I say you are a pack of hypocritical bigots!

    You, for the most part, from what I’ve read in this thread, have already decided that Homoeopathy is Quackery, and now just want to convince the rest of the world of this fallacy. Oh, you fools! Fools, fools, fools!

    As I was saying, the effectiveness of Homoeopathy is not down to the remedy itself. It works in a COMPLETELY different way from Pharmaceutical medicine (or even herbal remedies), so trying to test it in the same way is only going to fail. And all those of you who gleefully think that proves that Homoeopathy is therefore pseudoscience – well, shame on you!

    Let me draw a simple example. I write a simple English word on a piece of paper. I then hold it up in front of the open eyes of a blind man who does not speak English. I then ask the man, in English, what the word is. He does not answer.

    And you say to me, “See, that proves it: you cannot even write!”

    The point I’m trying to make is that it’s not the transmitter, and it’s not message that matter. It’s the receiver. (It’s not the drug, not the remedy…)

    IF the receiver cannot, for whatever reason, receive the message, then the message appears to be worthless.

    Does that prove there is no message? I think not!

    THAT, is the essence of Homoeopathy.

    So, using tests that involve randomly selected, unknown and untested receivers, what result can you expect?

    That is the first thing I think you scientists need to understand about all your so-called scientific, presumed to be authoritative tests that show that Homoeopathy doesn’t work. You haven’t even BEGUN to prove (or disprove) it. It seems to me, since you have already made up your minds that it’s quackery, that you don’t even need to TRY to understand how it might, just might, work. So you don’t.

    What ARROGANCE!!! What a bunch of PseudoScientists!

    As for you Frank Norwich:

    “My what a poor stream-of-conscience-though style post.”

    Gee, thanks for your opinion. That’s real big of you. Maybe you would also like to show me the courtesy of pointing me to a suitable website where I can learn how to compose better posts, so they meet with your approval!?

  • DB,

    I’m afraid not so many members of the homeopathic community concede that a mechanics for homeopathy is not established, and I’ve heard tales of clathrates, and white holes, misrepresentation of quantum mechanics, etc, but of course this does not mean it doesn’t work.

    It’s the failure to demonstrate efficacy that draws such contempt for scientists. The implausible practice is merely an explanation as to WHY it fails.

    Now, I’m as guilty as most in breaking online etiquette but if you really want some netiquette tips:
    http://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc1855

    Feel free to point out how numerous my infringements of these are.

  • Homoeopathy is superstition. Modern society tries to avoid superstition when it comes to things like medicine or law. I agree with an earlier commenter that homoeopathy wouldn’t/shouldn’t be an issue if it wasn’t used in some circumstances where it may cause harm through a lack of effective ‘mainstream’ treatment. It is an ethical issue, and one which requires evidence-based practice, not the faith-beliefs of random members of the public.

    And while we’re on the topic of belief, Double Blindness seems to like throwing out ironic statements such as (to paraphrase):

    1) “Science doesn’t prove anything because it always changes!”

    While breathlessly charging:

    2)”You need to prove homoepathy doesn’t work”

    While again

    3)”You can’t prove it doesn’t work because the science hasn’t been invented yet!”

    First of all, yes. Science changes. That’s kinda the point. Theories change as more evidence is found. But note the change is always in one direction (i.e. the more we know the better our theories). Secondly, the burden of proof lies on the shoulders of those who hold anomolous views. It is beholden on homoepathy to proove itself, not on modern medicine to disprove it. Thirdly, the convinient ‘you can’t prove it doesn’t work because you don’t understand it’ is lazy thinking and a logical fallacy. Convinient because it is a common tactic used by pseudoscientists when all else fails as a sort of deus ex machina, and lazy because such a stance gives you no good reason to believe in it in the first place.

    Another issue with your use of the word ‘belief’ is that you imply that all beliefs are equal. You are attempting to allign some weird relativist epistemology with the epiricist epistemology of science. Epistemology is the study of knowledge, how it works, its scope. Philosophers of science and epistemologists have worked through what constitutes a belief and how we arrive at knowledge. Tomes of books on the subject.

    Finally, I find it strange that someone would come on to a scientist’s blog and lecture them on science while completely stuffing up basic scientific concepts themselves. Add to this your tirade that scientists are all biggots because they don’t drop all their research and rush over to the nearest homoepath to run tests on all their potions – immagine a world where professionals had to stop doing their actual job and verify or otherwise the claims of whatever amateur stumbles along claiming whatever they claim. I can’t imagine much getting done at all! Why don’t the homoepaths go and do the hard yards at university, study medical science or biochemistry, learn where the scientists are coming from, and then conduct their own research into it?

    I think though, the biggest giveaway, is that despite being asked repeatedly to supply some compelling evidence – a simple and reasonable enough request I would think, given your claims – you haven’t given a single bit of evidence. Just rhetoric and tantrums. I think you are the one with the closed mind.

  • Apologies for poor spelling – it’s rather late and I’m still doing some scientific research myself, bigot that I apparently am.

  • So Double Blindness,

    It cannot be explained in scientific terms, agreed.

    It cannot be tested in a RCT because of the individual nature, OK.

    So how CAN we know that it has any effect rather than, placebo, luck, regression to the mean etc?

  • Double Blindness,

    Your post was delayed because I am away from Christchurch on holiday and my access to the internet is intermittent. Sorry you feel your post was “late.”

    Your posts continue to consist largely of insults with very little reasoning or logic. If you wish to debate the effectiveness of homeopathy you would be better served to supply evidence.

    You also seem to be a bit confused over what science is, and what an effective medical treatment is.

    Science is about studying the natural world, typically through observation and experiment. Because homeopathy has provided no evidence of its effectiveness via either, then scientists must therefore question it’s validity.
    Your suggestion that those who refuse to accept homeopathy because there is no evidence to support it are pseudoscientists shows you do not understand what science is about.

    “Now, let’s say (since it is true) that the Homoeopathic effect is FAR, FAR, FAR more subtle than the effect of any drug.”

    So subtle perhaps, as to not exist?

    So far you have offered little more than insults and poor reasoning despite my suggestion that proponents of homeopathy might best be served to actually provide some of the evidence that they claim proves homeopathy works.

    Also you have made the statement that
    “the effectiveness of Homoeopathy is not down to the remedy itself. It works in a COMPLETELY different way from Pharmaceutical medicine (or even herbal remedies), so trying to test it in the same way is only going to fail.”

    Could you please therefore explain how homeopathy can be tested, as the methods of science cannot apparently be applied? Or are we just expected to accept your word that it does work without evidence?

    I’m tempted to threaten you with a ban if you continue to submit messages that consist largely of insults and poor reasoning, However, I’m not inclined to do so yet, as they only emphasise the lack of reasoning behind those who plead for homeopathy to be accepted without evidence, and one can only hope that you might actually learn something.

    Given you are such a strong proponent of homeopathy, yet demonstrate at least some critical thinking by not accepting some of the spurious explanations for how it works, perhaps you could explain why you believe it works? Is it based on personal experience?

  • Blindman said…
    In reality, our modern understanding of how the human body and all its multitude, intricate and complex bio-chemical processes really work is truly primitive and infantile.

    That’s an idiotic statement. We all know that. You’re restating the obvious. It is more like saying that physicists’ understanding of how nature of the universe works is truly primitive. You know that its a fact. Physicists’ knowledge of how the Universe works is still primitive, even we have made tremendous progress since Newton. Its similar to other branches of sciences. There is no need to restate that fact as it is a redundant argument.

    Blindman said…
    All the research conducted (and half of that contradicts itself or has no clear outcome) and all the THEORIES we have about how it all works, is only just starting to scratch the surface of the deep, complex and highly sophisticated bio-chemistry that we are, that we so much take for granted.

    Redundant argument. We all know that as I have stated above.

    Blindman said…
    So, what you mostly have is theories, ideas, notions, educated guesses. And a bit of beginner science.

    That’s how all science started. Newton didn’t propose relativity theory because he had a vision of it via some psychic dreams. He proposed his theory based on his observation and a bit of some educated guesses. In science educated guesses is modified/eliminated if further observations confirmed or contradicted them. After 300 years since Newton put forward his theory, physicists had made progress with new theories to replace Newton. Again, that’s how science work. So, you haven’t put forward an argument. Homeopathy? 200 years and there has been no concrete proof backed up by observations to confirm it.

    Blindman said…
    You have simplistic, generalised observations. Fact is, all your science cannot even predict which drugs will have severe side effects in which patients, and which won’t.

    Again, that’s how science work. You start with a specific case, then try to see if it is generalize. Newton thought his theory generalizes but physicists after him, found out that Newtonian mechanics doesn’t generalize, which lead to the birth of General Relativity (GR) and Quantum Mechanics (QM). These 2 pillars of physics are still at odd with each other, but physicists are trying to unify them, the ultimate generalization or some other general theory whereby GR & QM are subsets of that general theory. Similar to Newtonian, which is a subset of GR (when speed of objects are very small compared to that of light, then Newtonian equations are recovered from GR).

    Blindman said…
    You can’t even be certain that any particular drug will necessarily cure any particular condition.

    So, you think that scientists think like GOD or have knowledge like a GOD? To know everything in the universe? Your assertion above is ridiculous. Human’s knowledge is progressive and you should deal with that fact. If scientists have God-like mind to know everything, then there wouldn’t be any science exist at all, would it? Why study science, after all, scientists already know everything in the universe (if they have a God-like brain)?

    Blindman said…
    It’s all a lot of trial and error, and a lot of error at that. It’s a huge amount of Suck it and see, Let’s give this one a try, Hopefully, this new drug will fix it, etc, etc.

    Again, science propose theories and then try to confirm via observations. They either be accepted, modified or dismissed if they don’t fit the observations. Homeopathy? There is no shred of evidence that it fits observations. All it offers are false beliefs and nonsense. The suckers of the society fall for it.

    Blindman said…
    Sometimes, a new discovery completely demolishes the old beliefs, and replaces them with a new set (Yes, of BELIEFS!). It is extremely hard to say that we have the final answer at any particular point, and the newer the science, the more this is true.

    Redundant argument. You’re restating the obvious. We already know that. Your point is? None?

    Blindman said…
    So, human biological science is really very new, and vastly more complex than simple physics, so don’t be getting on your high horse too soon!

    Redundant argument. We already know that. Jeez! Primary school kids already know that.

    Blindman said…
    It is also ironic when there are homeopaths who claim they can cure AIDS and prevent malaria using their “treatments.”

    That’s anecdotal and not evidence. Some faith healers have also claimed that they can just pray for AIDS or cancer sufferers and their diseases are cured. You must believe that too, huh?

    Blindman said…
    Another fact is that Pharmaceutical use (call it misuse if you want to avoid facing the truth), is actually making a huge mess of things. More and more drugs are becoming useless or less and less reliable at least, as bacteria and viruses evolve and become resistant, and swiftly outsmart your science.

    What should they do? Employ psychics to dream up new drugs or perhaps shut shop and close down their businesses as their products are useless according to anti-Pharma idiots like you? We can all take homeopathy water pills and that’s what’s the world needs? Umm! The only countries in the world with high death rates in various diseases are those 3rd world countries who are still relying on mysticism for medical treatments. Yep, the modern medicines and pharmaceutical drugs haven’t been widely adopted by those societies. I hope that’s the world you want to live in. How about Somalia?

    Blindman said…
    All you so-called scientists can scoff, criticise and condemn Homoeopathy, you can bury your closed-minded heads in the sand if you like, but the fact is that Modern Medicine is clearly starting to lose the war against human disease.

    I will remain close minded until I see some proof, presented by proponents of homeopathy, until then, homeopathy has to be dismissed no ifs no buts. I’m also close-minded to the existence of God since there is no credible evidence that such omnipotent entity exists. Science relies on empirical studies/evidence. So, far, homeopathy (& God) proponents haven’t presented any so far to date. Zilch!

    Blindman said…
    (And a short little war it was!) Just take a look at the stat’s, at the recent, marked rise of new, horror diseases and the resurgence of old ones.

    New diseases are bound to emerge in the future. That’s called evolution and it has less to do with advanced of modern medicine/science. Hey, but modern medicine/science will be our savior when new horrible diseases arise in the future. Homeopathy? Nah, we all die, if we take homeopathy treatments.

    Blindman said…
    It’s the same with Homoeopathy. It’s all about Big Business and Money. Sickness is how you guys make your money. You (and Big Parma especially) don’t want a healthy population. Where’s the money in that?

    Blah, blah, blah, … nonsense? And your argument is? None. There is more to modern medicine that just Pharma companies. There are companies that manufacture devices & scanners (PET, etc,..). Are those manufacturing companies in business for the reason that they don’t want the population to be healthy? .Should those companies shut shop too? You’ve presented no arguments here at all except displaying a hissy fit like a little kid.

    Blindman said…
    Likewise, there is just no money to spend on finding out that Homoeopathy really does work.

    You can’t spend money for R&D on something that has no proof at all that it exists? That’s the nature of doing business in this world. You spend money on something that doesn’t give a return on investment and soon you’ll find your self going under.

    Blindman said…
    It’s far too good, far too cheap, to allow it to erode Big Pharma’s profits. So they vilify and condemn it, and you anti-’s are just handy pawns in their game.

    Here is a fact that you have overlooked. Pharma companies hire doctorates to do R&D. They purchase modern electronics & equipments to help their researchers. These costs are in the billions. Seriously, Pharma companies can’t spend billions on R&Ds for the reason that they’re afraid that inexpensive homeopahty product developments & products will outsell them in the markets. Why spend billions in expensive R&Ds and employing and army of PhDs while all they need is to hire my grandma (who doesn’t have a PhD – also can’t read/write), who is an expert in mixing grass juices to work for them?

    Surely, big Pharms don’t need an army of PhDs, besides, my grandma is very cheap to employ. All she needs is perhaps a $1000 year for new dentures. But pharma companies wouldn’t want to employ my grandma. WHY? Because, even if my grandma can convince big Pharmas that her grass juice had cures certain diseases from sufferers in her village, Pharma representatives won’t buy into that as there is no proof at all. Anecdotal is not proof.

    Blindman said…
    Good on you!

    Good luck to you too. I hope that one day, you will wake up and think, Umm! How could I have been so naive to believe in the nonsense of homeopathy.

  • Frank… that’s not a study… it’s a press release!!!!! LOL If homeopathy supporters posted such a link as evidence of proof of efficacy they’d be rightly laughed out of town…

    Come on Michael… post a link to a study showing a study of measles MMR vaccine that meets your criteria that “Proof is fairly straightforward – it is where, under appropriately controlled conditions, an effect can be demonstrated. You can try as much as you like to make “proof” of treatments seem difficult but it is in fact fairly straightforward.”

    According to the gold standard, The Cochran Reviews, no such evidence exists!

  • @Blindman
    the mechanism by which Homoeopathy works
    We have yet to see any evidence that it does work; certainly you haven’t provided any.
    Now, let’s say (since it is true) that the Homoeopathic effect is FAR, FAR, FAR more subtle than the effect of any drug.
    So subtle that its effects have yet to be detected.
    Einstein, being the genius he was, would not, I am sure, dismiss Homoeopathy so casually.
    Easy to say since he’s dead & can’t be quizzed about his feelings on the issue. However, given how clearly & scientifically he thought, I’d not be as sure as you on this one.
    Now, governments around the world have come out and opened their files, which show that the UFO phenomenon is a massive mystery, and very worthy of serious investigation.
    Where do you get your ideas from? Yes, files have been made public. No, they don’t show that UFOs as in ‘alien visitations’ actually exist.

  • Falafulu Fisi,

    Your comments to Double Blindness provide some good points about science and how it works, hopefully it will clarify a few points for him/her.
    However, I would prefer it if you used his/her chosen log on name and not change it. It detracts from the rest of your post.

    Ron, in case you missed it, the focus of this discussion it is about homeopathy not vaccines. Do your own research and read the sciblogs that are actually about vaccines.

  • Dr Michael,

    Thanks for your explanation of why my post took a while to appear. I sympathise with you, living in Christchurch. We are (so far!) just so lucky here in Akld. Anyway, being my first post to this blog, I was beginning to think the delay was indication that my post had been rejected. I’m very glad that it wasn’t, so thank you again.

    Regarding your comment: “Your posts continue to consist largely of insults with very little reasoning or logic”, I’d have to say I’m sorry to hear that you think that. If I have undeservedly, personally insulted any individual in this thread, my apologies. The vast majority of my insults, I do believe, have not been directed at any one individual, but at “scientists” in general. And, in my opinion, with some justification. Many scientists, and here in particular, continue to insult and vilify Homoeopathy, and dismiss it as nonsense, BS, a fraud or whatever. I take exception to that.

    And, I’m willing to bet that the very vast majority of those “scientists” have not even done any research into the subject at all, but are quite content to act like a troupe (or a tribe) of chimpanzees in a killing frenzy over territory. (The analogy is very apt, IMHO.) I mean, everyone here, who has not conducted a real investigation of their own, but has slammed Homoeopathy as false, is, in reality, guilty of the same “insane, crowd frenzy” kind of behaviour. Aren’t they?

    Is it really acceptable to just believe what some other scientist has said, and join the attack on an area of human endeavour just because that other scientist has condemned it? Is that truly acceptable? I, personally, don’t think so.

    There have been so many examples of this kind of appalling human behaviour throughout human history. (Shall I mention the Holocaust?) Why must it continue, especially among so-called intelligent scientists?

    As for insults… It seems to me that I am already the recipient of many quite intense, personal insults from others on this thread. So, I don’t see that as grounds for banning me, unless you want to ban all of them also. And maybe yourself too? If you like, I can highlight all the insults already directed at me personally, beginng with Frank Norwich, just in case it’s not clear who has really been insulting who, though I think that would be a big waste of time.

    However, I am very disappointed to read this insult from you:

    “…with very little reasoning or logic.”

    I would like to ask you: Please explain. I accept that I don’t know a lot about fluoride as a mass-applied poison via the water supply, and that I didn’t put that very well. It was only by way of example. But I do know that’s how people who know they are facing an “unacceptable” truth commonly respond – by attacking not the central point, but some trivial and irrelevant error by the presenter of the argument. They attempt to discredit the person, not the argument. Ad hominem attack, right? Frank Norwich? Falafulu Fisi?

    But, since my “irrelevant” example has been attacked: I do accept that water fluoridation is about as unproven as Homoeopathy, at this point, and a hell of a lot more potentially harmful. I mean, you yourself consider there is nothing whatsoever remaining in a diluted Homoeopathic preparation, so on that basis, it’s “only water”, which is not harmful in small quantities. Fluorine, or as a dissolved salt in the water, certainly is not so innocuous, My point is that scientists are not infallible, and well, basically, so far, after how long, science still hasn’t even decided what the truth is about fluoride…

    Why don’t you all go and attack Fluoridation as a massive, toxic fraud? Why are you so hateful of Homoeopathy? This is crowd frenzy behaviour, isn’t it? Fluoridation would make a far better target.

    I mean, isn’t it just “simple” chemistry? There’s nothing teriibly mythical or magical about it, so why is there still all the debate? (Actually, on the basis that Homoeopathy DOES work, water fluoridation MIGHT be something else altogether. Now THERE is a terrifying thought. That’s why I never drink the crap! It’s bad enough that I have to wash in it because the inhaled shower mist is probably having the same effect. You scientists might like to think about that. Why Fluoridation? WHY?)

    I have a lot of other things to get on with today so I’ll finish here for now. I have already achieved the first thing I set out to do. Thanks to all who have responded.

    I’ll be back!

  • Alison,

    I’m disappointed in you. I went off and viewed a You Tube video you referred us to. Very relevant, I thought. Good link. Thanks.

    You want me to present evidence that Homoeopathy works… Why? You are the scientists, no? I am doing exactly what the YT video told me to do.

    Anyway, how many posts have I made now? You want me to give you all the evidence in a few hundred words. We are nowhere near to that point, I’m sorry. So far, NO ONE here, NO ONE, has even responded in a way that suggests they have even “got it” about what the little I have said so far. Everyone, yourself included, is still on the attack (except Ron, I think).

    Maybe you should all go away and watch that video first, then have a little think.

    As for the UFO question, that was just another Red Herring really. And you have attacked that and me too. Are you a scientist? Are you looking for the truth, or merely to find fault?

  • Alison again:

    “We have yet to see any evidence that it does work; ”

    There are NONE so blind as those who will not see!

  • that was just another Red Herring really
    And your point would be? Why add it to your post if it’s irrelevant? Incidentally I fail to see how my question was an attack on you.
    it would have been useful to hear what sources you consider to provide valid information.
    And I’m afraid that because you’re asserting that homeopathy works, you do have to put up the evidence that you consider supports your assertion.

  • Alison,

    You insulted me by continuing Falafulu Fisi’s use of “Blindman”.

    Okay, you have now apologised, but at the time, I accepted that you, being an accurate observer (as in scientist) did that deliberately, to insult me.

    You insulted me (ok, only very mildly, it’s much more of a subtle but tangible put down) by asking:

    “Where do you get your ideas from?”

    Regarding:
    “Yes, files have been made public. No, they don’t show that UFOs as in ‘alien visitations’ actually exist.”

    Really? Have YOU personally studied lots of those files and decided that for yourself? Have you EVER conducted any investigation into a UFO sighting? [We had one here in New Zealand (actually, a whole epidemic of sightings, including airport Control Tower visual contact and Radar tracking, triangulation, multiple witnesses, etc) in the late ’70’s. I later met and interviewed a few of the witnesses myself, and there is ABSOLUTELY NO WAY that was the lights of Squid Boats or distortions in the plane windscreen. And guess what? The Air Traffic Control tapes “mysteriously disappeared”. How convenient.]

    I’m sorry Alison, but if you can’t see why I have included certain examples in my posts, then I can only conclude that you really and truly DON’T want to understand what I am trying to say. Do you REALLY want me to answer your questions?

    And NO, I don’t “have to” put up any evidence (here) that I consider supports my assertion. I’m sure you have heard the expression “To cast pearls before swine.” (I don’t mean to insult you, but you asked me some questions.)

    I am here in the hope that some of you have the ability to open your minds enough to begin an intelligent discussion about Homoeopathy. So far, I have NO EVIDENCE that anyone here has that ability. Until I have that evidence, I would be casting pearls before swine. (Yes, it is about evidence, isn’t it? Can you give me any?)

  • Brilliant!

    Dr Michael, you are the authority here (I think), but even you can misinterpret things. Just to clarify, my comment:

    “It’s late, I see my post has just appeared, plus various replies…. I’ll get back to that.”

    I meant “It’s late” as in time of day. It’s late (at night)! The comment was nothing to do with the delay, except my use of the words “just appeared”. I think you were being a little “sensitive” in choosing that interpretation? It’s certainly not what I meant, but it does show how easy it is to misinterpret what we see. I meant “… and I don’t have time to respond to everyone & everything right now” (indicated by the ellipsis?) Or, does everyone else interpret what I wrote in the way Michael apparently did? Am I from another planet, Alison?

  • Double blindness,

    “Why are you so hateful of Homoeopathy?”

    Asking for evidence of homeopathy is hateful?

    You have been asked a number of times to provide some evidence to show homeopathy works.
    You still have not provided any.

    The discussion here is about homeopathy not water fluoridation or UFO’s, so you might want to focus on the topic at hand.

    Alison, made an error with your name (probably taken from someone else’s posting) and apologised for the error. She then asked a question, “where do you get your ideas from?” which you have perceived as an attack (?) I interpret it as a way of trying to understand where you get your information from.

    Perhaps you would actually like to consider answering some of the questions you have been asked about homeopathy?

    You really do not seem to understand what science is about, despite it being explained to you several times. Scientists cannot accept homeopathy as there is no evidence to support it.

    And you still have not answered my question – if current scientific methods cannot detect the “effects” of homeopathy then what methods do YOU think can be used to prove that it works?

  • Double blindness,

    Agreed, anyone can misinterpret things that’s why an open dialogue is important.
    My comment about the your post being delayed was simply me explaining why it had been delayed. Perhaps you have misinterpreted my message?

  • There have been so many examples of this kind of appalling human behaviour throughout human history. (Shall I mention the Holocaust?) Why must it continue, especially among so-called intelligent scientists?
    Michael! We’ve been Godwinned! 😉

  • And NO, I don’t “have to” put up any evidence (here) that I consider supports my assertion. I’m sure you have heard the expression “To cast pearls before swine.” (I don’t mean to insult you, but you asked me some questions.)

    It’s quite possible to answer questions without being insulting, so I can only assume that the insult was intended. Again, you are the one claiming that homeopathy works, & so the onus is on you to provide evidence supporting your assertion. As Michael has just said, the fact that you don’t feel it necessary suggests that you are not clear on how science operates.

  • DB,

    Here’s the thing. Not mattter what magic has to happen to make homeopathy work, you can test it. Start a trial, have half the patients meet a homeopath, talking about their complaint and develop a treatment for them. Have the other half to the same interview etc but don’t give them the ‘right’ treatment. See if the treatment group do better than the other.

    If homepathy worked, you’d see a difference

  • Hi Michael,

    This is hilarious!

    Who asked first?

    “And you still have not answered my question – if current scientific methods cannot detect the

    “effects” of homeopathy then what methods do YOU think can be used to prove that it works?”

    Did I say that:

    “current scientific methods cannot detect the “effects” of homeopathy”? I don’t think I did.

    Can you show me where?

    As I see it, the relevant “effects” of Homoeopathy are that the patient gets measurably better.

    Science, surely, can measure that, no?

    THE PROBLEM is how do you prove that Homoeopathy caused it? I mean, when you can’t even “see”

    any mechanism by which it works?

    I think, if you analyse this problem scientifically (and properly, sincerely, truly – and

    that’s before even trying to test a hypothesis), you will find that setting up a true,

    worthwhile, authoritative test for Homoeopathy is going to be very difficult.

    I gave, above, the example of the visual message to the blind man. That is very much what we

    are dealing with in Homoeopathy. We don’t have a F*&$ing clue how it works, but some of us KNOW

    that it does. But how can you reliably test such an elusive phenomenon?

    How do you set up the experiment, to test something that doesn’t always work (just like drugs),

    but which, to make matters so much worse, works by an unknown mechanism?

    (It’s like the Cold Fusion debate – some people can apparently get it to work, some can’t. Why

    don’t you attack that?)

    Okay, as I said, that’s only scratching the surface. It’s not even as simple as that. As I said

    above, it doesn’t matter that the message is real, valid, correct, whatever, if the receiver is

    off tune (or blind).

    That’s where I tried to raise the fact that every person is different. Even identical twins. In

    effect, what I’m saying is that every person’s “Receiver” is tuned slightly differently. The

    same remedy doesn’t even necessarily work for two people (who are different), even though they

    may have the same illness.

    But this DOES NOT mean that Homoeopathy doesn’t work. (And what if it successfully cures one

    of them?)

    You could liken it to trying to trigger off a floating mine, by shooting at it with a slug gun.

    You have to hit exactly the right spot, then: KABOOOM!!! You could ping away at it day and

    night, and not hit the detonator on the end of the stalk (whatever these things are called).

    But your aim is off, you miss each time, and nothing happens. So, do you assume that the mine

    is a dud? Go Ahead! 🙂

    Does that mean that the mine is not going to go off when you bang into it with your ship? I

    don’t think so. Not until you know, conclusively, that you have hit each “nail on the head”

    hard enough, and waited long enough to be sure that the internal timer hasn’t just started

    ticking, that the damn thing doesn’t work.

    This is the problem with Homoeopathy. As far as I am concerned, it is THE GREATEST MEDICINE

    ever discovered, but, if the Receiver isn’t tuned right, how do you get through?

    I know the answer (sort of). Can you tell me?

    Okay, now let’s get down to tin tacks. You and others here have repeatedly stated (as fact):

    “Scientists cannot accept homeopathy as there is no evidence to support it.” (Not sure

    how to highlight, trying basic HTML).

    Are you absolutely sure?

    There is ABSOLUTELY NO EVIDENCE?

    Or are you being biased and unscientific?

    Would you please clarify this assertion for me, first?

    P.S. Do you think I misinterpreted this:

    Sorry you feel your post was “late.”

    I CAN tell you, it is not what I felt, nor what I meant to convey.

  • Have I been banned?

    My last post is not appearing.

    Please let me know.

    Thanks,
    Double Blindness

  • DB is still demanding that science disproves his/her unsubstantiated claims. But the burden of proof falls on the shoulders of those who hold anomolous views. If he/she wants to change the current consensus on homoepathy, then he/she is required to supply good arguments and evidence.

    It’s pretty simple.

    I or any other scientist or scholar needs to argue why a particular model or theory should work, and provide evidence to back it up, before it gets accepted by our peers. I fail to see why homoepathy and DB should think any differently.

    Here are some quick references with regard to epistemology and the burden of proof which might help you see where ‘science’ (a monolithic entity apparently) is coming from. Prove us all wrong, and I’ll be the first to congratulate you.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophic_burden_of_proof

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russell%27s_teapot

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_burden_of_evidence

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legal_burden_of_proof

  • Hello all,

    What an interesting debate / argument. Pity things got a bit heated.

    Can I ask david winter: what you say makes sense to me.

    Has somebody already done it, and where can we read the reports?

  • Double Blindness,

    No, you have not been banned, as you can see above. I did ask to be able to moderate some replies, including yours.
    Comments of yours such as “I say you are a pack of hypocritical bigots!” push the bounds of what I consider acceptable so rather than ban you I have elected to moderate your messages more carefully.

  • Double Blindness,

    Despite your repeated claims that homeopathy “works” you have not provided any evidence to show that it does.
    You have insulted others, made many tangential and irrelevant arguments but when it comes down to it you have repeatedly avoided providing any evidence to support your belief that homeopathy works.

    Why is this?

  • Hi again Michael,

    Many thanks for that. It’s too bad I can’t edit my posts myself. I certainly accept that I got a bit hot under the collar this morning, and went overboard. Obviously, Homoeopathy (as someone has already commented somewhere) is something I feel very strongly about.

    What I see happening (here and in many other places) is a broad campaign to discredit Homoeopathy, and, no doubt, ultimately to impose harsh new laws to restrict its availabilty, and I think that would be a terrible result, especially at a time when so many diseases are starting to become incurable by “conventional” means. That worries me greatly, and yes, I do sometimes get a little agitated about it! But I will endeavour to keep a better reign on myself in future.

    Not sure where to pick up from now. I see a lot of people are insisting that I present evidence that Homoeopathy does work. I know that any evidence I offer will be attacked with immense ferocity, and I’m not ready to invite that as yet. There are other, in my view, more important issues to address first.

    I have asked for evidence that the people here are able to discuss the subject fairly and reasonably but it doesn’t seem to be forthcoming. So why would I want to go any further?

    You see, from the way you (Michael) presented the intial article on this blog about the letter in North&South, and the tone and wording of many of the responses, I clearly sensed immense hostility towards Homoeopathy. A kind of hatred, even hysteria. At least, a deliberate propaganda campaign against it, with a bunch of other scientists all joining in. Okay, I know you are going to think I’m being insulting to all you scientists again, but, if it’s true, what is wrong with saying it? A cat may look at a king, and I am seriously struggling to get this point across (that prejudice and closed-minded hostility are not good examples of the scientific approach), and being graphic sometimes works better than being timid. (My impression is that this whole site is dedicated to improving the public image of science etc, and in my view, much of what has been posted by qualified scientists really wouldn’t do that!)

    It seems to me that almost none of you are prepared to look at this. I am well surprised by this.

    I still discern a lot of “clever” answers to my posts, that very studiously avoid the point I am trying to make. To me, none of that is scientific, open minded or intelligent.

    Regarding meta-analyses of all the studies of Homoeopathy, I don’t see how that is really going to help. If, as you (Michael) assert, many of the studies on Homoeopathy are flawed and/or faulty (and certainly, I won’t disagree with that), what use is it going to be to throw all those into the cauldron? It’s surely only going to darken already muddied water. Therefore, I don’t see any real point in even doing it, and even less in trying to claim it proves or even indicates anything.

    Accordingly, it really puzzles me why so many professional scientists posting here are so adamant that Homoeopathy is worthless quackery. Where’s the real evidence for that?

    Okay, so the British Government is now less confident than it was that Homoeopathy is efficacious. There are other perfectly sound explanations for that apart from, “Homoeopathy is quackery and doesn’t work.”

    I don’t know what standards exist for the training and regulation of Homoeopaths in the UK, but what I DO know is that Homoeopathy is an extremely complex field of endeavour. One that, in my view, is really beyond many current practitioners. I have found it very difficult to find truly good Homoeopaths here in Auckland. Unfortunately, the one I relied on for many years died suddenly a few years ago, and I have struggled to find an equal.

    So, in my view, a very real factor in the difficulty in proving that Homoeopathy really does work is the ability of the prescribing Homoeopath. Which, of course, equally doesn’t prove that Homoeopathy doesn’t work. It’s not that different from complex surgery, or complex medical prescribing. It requires considerable knowledge and skill.

    But is anyone here really interested?

    I think you are absolutely right in what you said initially:

    “IF it worked, an explanation of how it worked would virtually guarantee at least one Nobel prize, possibly more (medicine, physics AND chemistry).”

    And I still say, it works! But who really wants to understand?

    Who is genuinely willing to make the attempt?

  • Double Blindness,

    Thanks for your most recent post. I think you have found a good balance in expressing what you believe and what your concerns are without being insulting. I’m sure anyone responding to your points will be as civil as you have been in this post (not so subtle hint, people).

    As a scientist, I form my views based on the evidence at hand, and from what I can see there is no quality scientific evidence to show that homeopathy works. However, if good evidence comes along that does require that this position is reviewed.

    Your experience tells you that homeopathy works, although you haven’t shared too many details about why you think it works. In describing homeopathy you talk about it being a very individual treatment, which if I am understanding you correctly means that it will take a homeopath some time to find the “right” treatment for a patient. My interpretation of that is that while the homeopath spends time finding the “right” treatment it gives the patients own body time to sort out whatever ailment is being treated (or if it is being used concurrently with conventional treatments it could be giving them time to work).
    This is why one of the points I made about testing something scientifically involves controlling the variables (although it would have been better to say control or account for the variables).
    One of the challenges with testing any type of health or medical treatment is trying to make sure any beneficial effect is coming from what you are testing and not something else.
    You did make the point that some drugs are no better than placebo and this is a valid one. Many doctors are now taking a closer look at how effective some drugs are and challenging their use. I think this is a good thing, and other science bloggers elsewhere do write about this.

    The reason that variables need to be controlled/accounted for is because human beings are very susceptible to confirmation bias – whereby we have a tendency to see what we want to see – to accept evidence that supports what we believe, and ignore evidence that doesn’t. This is why random double blind trials are considered to be one of the best techniques to work out whether a treatment works or not. This is not to say that other methods cannot be used, just that random controlled double blind experiments most effectively control the variables.

    There are still some researchers doing research on homeopathy and while I can’t argue with you that some scientists will immediately dismiss all homeopathy research, if something substantive and reliably done did reveal some homeopathic effect I am confident it would be accepted by the scientific community once sufficient evidence was produced.

    I personally have no problem with those that attempt to do careful research on homeopathy. What I do have a problem with is homeopaths who risk the health of others by claiming they can cure AIDS or prevent malaria, and in doing so they put people’s lives at risk. I also have a problem with the homeopathic organisations who refuse to exert any control over their more wayward members, who make such outrageous claims.
    The other thing about homeopathy which I think some of your posts mentioned is that it’s effects are so hard too observe, and that it is so individualistic, does this make it a useful technique? For all those who believe that homeopathy has helped cure them of an ailment, how many are there that do not find it any use? Has anyone done unbiased research to look at how successful homeopaths are in treating their patients ailments?

    Thank you again for most recent post. It’s clarity and tone make it much easier to absorb your position and to try and express my own views hopefully as clearly.

  • “Who is genuinely willing to make the attempt?”

    No disrespect, but if you’re going to write this you have to do this yourself, y’know.

    People here seem to have made a sincere effort, but you’ve given rudeness back, along with out-of-hand dismissal of what been offered.

    With that in mind, where is the genuine effort from you to attempt looking at evidence against homeopathy (and lack of evidence for it) and discuss it?

    I’m not really a part of this discussion (after all, you appear to have ignored my earlier comment pointing at substantive material), but I really can’t see that you doing what you are asking of others here.

    “ I see a lot of people are insisting that I present evidence that Homoeopathy does work.”

    To say that a treatment—of any kind—“works” evidence to back that statement is needed or it’s just an empty claim: saying that “homeopathy works” is an empty claim until you back it.

    As another example, you can’t justifiably offer homeopathy as being a better that existing treatments without evidence showing that is the case. (Studies to date show homeopathy is no better than placebos. Given that, it’s not going to be better that current treatments.)

    I have asked for evidence […] but it doesn’t seem to be forthcoming.

    I for one did (others probably have too; I haven’t time to read all the comments), but you went on to dismiss it out of hand (see below).

    A kind of hatred, even hysteria.

    Creating straw men like this isn’t helpful.

    Okay, I know you are going to think I’m being insulting to all you scientists again, but, if it’s true, what is wrong with saying it?

    What’s wrong with it is that much of what you say is not true. In particular, you’re saddling others with stances they don’t hold and actions they haven’t done. Scientists deal with evidence, not personal attacks. Trying to point at people—as you have done—will never resolve what is right or wrong. (Can you see that you are in essence doing things you accuse others of?)

    I still discern a lot of “clever” answers to my posts, that very studiously avoid the point I am trying to make.

    You do need to present *substance* if you want to make a point, not hearsay or make straw man arguments.

    “Regarding meta-analyses of all the studies of Homoeopathy, I don’t see how that is really going to help. If, as you (Michael) assert, many of the studies on Homoeopathy are flawed and/or faulty (and certainly, I won’t disagree with that), what use is it going to be to throw all those into the cauldron? It’s surely only going to darken already muddied water. Therefore, I don’t see any real point in even doing it, and even less in trying to claim it proves or even indicates anything.”

    So, is the bottom line that you want to dismiss evidence out of hand and self-justify not looking at it? In that case you (not me or others) will never know if homeopathy works or not. You will only resolve that if you *look* at what the evidence actually says.

    “Accordingly, it really puzzles me why so many professional scientists posting here are so adamant that Homoeopathy is worthless quackery.”

    Perhaps you might try learn why, rather than be dismissive about it?

    There are very good reasons it’s quackery. This post I wrote some time ago for example touches on that the excessive repeated dilutions used (or claimed to be used) in homeopathy eliminate any active ingredients:

    https://sciblogs.co.nz/code-for-life/2010/01/25/homeopathic-remedies-in-nz-pharmacies/

    With no active ingredient, the homeopathic “remedy” is just a sugar pill, or whatever the ‘base’ ingredients of the pill are; ditto for liquid remedies.

    Where’s the real evidence for that?

    Follow what the links I provided earlier in my earlier comment. The surveys will have references to the original research. I pointed to the surveys as they conveniently gather the references in one place.

    Okay, so the British Government is now less confident than it was that Homoeopathy is efficacious.

    Your reply is missing the point, I think. The report from the medical community, etc., says that it’s no better than a placebo – to quote them:

    “Homeopathy is not efficacious, i.e., homeopathy does not work beyond the placebo effect”

    The government’s response is not about the science per se but their political choice of how they have decided to act.

    There are other perfectly sound explanations for that apart from, “Homoeopathy is quackery and doesn’t work.”

    If so, why don’t you offer these explanations? That’s your claim to back.

    I don’t know what standards exist for the training and regulation of Homoeopaths in the UK, but what I DO know is that Homoeopathy is an extremely complex field of endeavour.

    Complexity it itself has nothing to do with if something is right or not, or works or not. Consider: is a complex lie any less a lie than a simple one? (And vice versa for truths.)

    One that, in my view, is really beyond many current practitioners.

    Sorry, but this is pleading “oh, others just couldn’t understand it” – showing evidence would be better.

    So, in my view, a very real factor in the difficulty in proving that Homoeopathy really does work is the ability of the prescribing Homoeopath.

    No, as David pointed out earlier, you can test if a remedy works by simply comparing the outcomes regardless of how “complicated” the remedy itself might be, etc.

    And I still say, it works!

    But you offer no evidence to back your statement “And I still say, it works!”, therefore I’ll consider your emperor has no clothes until you do. (Just a fancy way of saying it’s an empty claim until you offer evidence to back it.)

    But who really wants to understand?

    No offence, but if you’re going to ask this of others, I would suggest you make an effort to do the same first.

  • Michael, this was about an “I don’t understand science” letter…

    You give a wonderful definition of proof … and yet you don’t apply it yourself… LOL… and scientists wonder why people don’t understand scientists…

    I ahve searched for evidence similar to your standard regarding the benefits of measles vaccine… NONE EXITS!!!!!! And yet a double standard pervades sciblogs… gold standard evidence based medicine is used to debunk homeopathy (and I’m not arguing with that…) and yet the the same standard is ignored when it comes to vaccines such as measles…. sometimes “I don’t understand science…” until I remind myself… it’s not the science that’s wrong… it’s the scientists…

  • Ron,

    Given the overwhelming evidence that MMR protects children from measels, would you OK a double blind trial of MMR? Leaving hundreds of kids unvaccinated to prove something already known to be true? I wouldn’t…

    I never read anyone saying double blind placebo controlled experiments were the only standard of proof we should use, just that it would be easy to design one for homeopathy and when they have they’ve failed to find an effect.

  • Hello Dr Michael,

    Thank you for your most agreeable response! I am temporarily at a loss for words! Of course, I certainly wish to continue our dialogue.

    However, Dr Grant Jacobs has added his extensive comments and as they are now rather out of the flow of our exchange, I would like to respond to him first. Please forgive me for this delay and likely breach of etiquette. I would like to progress our discussion, but the points Dr Jacobs has raised demand a proper response. That will take me a little time…

  • This from the Cochrane collaboration (2005):
    Plain Language Summary
    Using the combined vaccine for protection of children against measles, mumps and rubella
    Measles, mumps and rubella are three very dangerous infectious diseases which cause a heavy disease, disability and death burden in the developing world. Researchers from the Cochrane Vaccines Field reviewed 139 studies conducted to assess the effects of the live attenuated combined vaccine to prevent measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) in children. MMR protects children against infections of the upper airways but very rarely may cause a benign form of bleeding under the skin and milder forms of measles, mumps and rubella. No credible evidence of an involvement of MMR with either autism or Crohn’s disease was found. No field studies of the vaccine’s effectiveness were found but the impact of mass immunisation on the elimination of the diseases has been demonstrated worldwide.

    The authors note that design for reporting &assessment of adverse events could be improved but they are hardly saying that vaccination doesn’t work.

  • Thanks Alison… The Cochran review provides a paradox here… “No field studies of the vaccine’s effectiveness were found but the impact of mass immunisation on the elimination of the diseases has been demonstrated worldwide.”

    The Cochran reviews standard of evidence is meta-analysis of randomised double blind placebo controlled trials… they could not find any such evidence… their statement, “but the impact of mass immunisation on the elimination of the diseases has been demonstrated worldwide.” is the same level of evidence used by supporters of homeopathy… in their world the “impact of [homeopathy] has been demonstrated worldwide.”

    I contacted the authors of the cochran study regarding such a statement… I was informed [email on file] that their study was amended prior to publication for political purposes…

    David, of course these products should be proven to work… the hundreds if not billions of dollars being spend could then be put to better use providing better water and sanitation.

  • I believe that the UK has high standards of sanitation & water supply. In recent years vaccination rates there have dropped significantly, following (among other thing) the discredited Wakefield study. The incidence of measles infections, morbidity, & mortality has soared. This does rather suggest that vaccination is important in preventing disease.

  • I see Ron Law has succeeded in segueing (part) of the discussion off to one of his hobby-horses and is using what amount to distracting word games* to imply things that are not true.

    The (apparent) lack of DBPCTs doesn’t take away or oppose the other evidence that exists.

    (DBPCT = double-blind placebo controlled trial.)

    Curiously, one of the studies listed as used in that Cochrane review says in it’s title: “double-blind placebo-controlled trial”. (It may be a more modest-sized study, but Mr Law can’t categorically state there are no DBPCTs if there is one. There may be others, too, that haven’t stated it in their article titles; Mr Law can check for himself.)

    is the same level of evidence used by supporters of homeopathy… in their world the “impact of [homeopathy] has been demonstrated worldwide.”

    This is silly. Mr Law is saying that epidemiological studies, serological studies, single-blind trials, etc., etc. are equivalent to an anecdotal statement? Yeah, right.

    PS to Mr Law: It’s Cochrane, ending in an ‘e’.

    (* It’s like the old magician’s trick – try get people focused on one thing [DBPCTs, or an apparent lack of them in this case] to distract them from action happening elsewhere.)

  • Ah, Nancy, wondered how long it would be before you dropped by…

    Just a quick comment – many of the papers in Nancy’s list have nothing to do with homeopathy. For example, #3 deals with hormesis – substances that are toxic at high doses may not be so at low dose. A well-known example would be arsenic, which was once taken as a tonic! However, a hormeotic dose still has measurable concentrations of the active principle present. Strike one.

    One other example: The Montagnier paper is fatally flawed: no data on background readings & in fact it looks suspiciously like they were measuring background noise (http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/the-montagnier-homeopathy-study. Strike two.

    And many of the ‘peer-reviewed journals’ are, well, in-house: titles like Homeopathy & the Journal of Complementary & Alternative Medicine. These are not mainstream science journals. Sorry, Nancy, but you appear to be trying to pull the wool over people’s eyes here 😉 Strike three…

  • Grant, I’m honoured that you should think I should be addressed as Mr Law… such reverence!! :-))

    In general, the hierarchy of studies for obtaining evidence is:

    Systematic reviews of randomised controlled trials (RCTs).
    RCTs.
    Controlled observational studies – cohort and case control studies.
    Uncontrolled observational studies – case reports.

    However, the hierarchy is dependent on the issue being researched. The Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine (CEBM) has recently published a table to identify the different levels of evidence for different types of questions (e.g. prognosis, treatment benefits), including:4

    For issues of therapy or treatment, the highest possible level of evidence is a systematic review or meta-analysis of RCTs or an individual RCT.
    For issues of prognosis, the highest possible level of evidence is a systemic review of inception cohort studies.

    Expert opinion must not to be confused with personal experience (sometimes called eminence-based medicine). Expert opinion is the lowest level of acceptable evidence but, in the absence of research evidence, may be the best guide available.

    etc, etc.

    Alison, can you give the reference for the randomised, double blind placebo controlled study showing that MMR prevents measles? I can’t find it…

  • Alison, measles in the UK has hardly soared… sure. it may have increased, but the use of the term soar involved a degree of exaggeration… For the fluctuations in case number since 2006 go to fig 1 here… http://www.hpa.org.uk/hpr/archives/2011/news2111.htm#msls

    It’s also stretching things to claim that deaths have soared since the Lancet article in 1998 published by a dozen or more scientists…

    This from the UK HPA website…

    In 2006 there was one measles death in a 13 years old male who had an underlying lung condition and was taking immunosuppressive drugs. Another death in 2008 was also due to acute measles in unvaccinated child with congenital immunodeficiency whose condition did not require treatment with immunoglobulin. Prior to 2006, the last death from acute measles was in 1992.

    All other measles deaths, since 1992, shown above are in older individuals and were caused by the late effects of measles. These infections were acquired during the 1980s or earlier, when epidemics of measles occurred.

    http://www.hpa.org.uk/web/HPAweb&HPAwebStandard/HPAweb_C/1195733835814

    By the way… can you post the reference for the RDBPBC study showing efficacy of measles/MMR vaccine?

  • Hi Guys,

    Sorry, just back from a busy weekend, no time to write response to Grant’s post.

    But I have to say, Ron Law stole some of my thunder with his comments about Double Standards here on Sciblogs.

    To that end, Alison:

    “I believe that the UK has high standards of sanitation & water supply.”

    Belief is a good thing, but it’s not evidence. Can you give some?

    “In recent years vaccination rates there have dropped significantly, following (among other thing) the discredited Wakefield study. The incidence of measles infections, morbidity, & mortality has soared.”

    Evidence? (For both assertions.)

    I mean, you scientists can’t reasonably attack me for not supplying evidence, then expect to get away with simply doing the same. That would be hypocrisy, wouldn’t it?

    “This does rather suggest that vaccination is important in preventing disease.”

    Gee, that would be Confirmation Bias, wouldn’t it?

    What about the multitude of other possible causes, such as increased poverty / declining living standards, over-crowding, the rise of fast foods (declining nutritional standards), increased pollution and environmental and food contamination by pesticides, plastics, food additives, increased levels of EMFs, etc etc, etc – which all tend to produce lowered immune system functioning.

    There’s a lot more I could say, but it’s late…

  • Sorry, I forgot to include Viral Evolution / increased viral resistance as possible causes, and what about the possibility that vaccination also contributes to virus evolution and increased viral resistance?

    I understand that there have been instances of measles epidemics among fully or extensively vaccinated populations (but I don’t know where to find the reports).

  • Nancy,

    Your claim of 204 “studies” that support homeopathy is one that I addressed in my post.

    “Over the past few years every time a supporter of homeopathy has claimed that “here is a paper that supports homeopathy”, I have tracked it down and read it. In most cases, the research is being misrepresented, and it is obvious that the supporter has not read past the title of the paper.”

    Simply repeating over and over that there is evidence to support homeopathy – when in fact there isn’t, is not going to work here.

    At least Double Blindness, despite some emotive outbursts, expresses a more selective approach to what he/she considers evidence.

    Your continued claims of evidence shows that you have no understanding of the 204 studies you claim are evidence for homeopathy.

    And since when have homeopaths been entitled to use the title Dr?

  • A message to ALL contributors,

    Please drop the snarky comments. They contribute nothing to the discussion here.

  • can you post the reference for the RDBPBC study showing efficacy of measles/MMR vaccine?
    Ron, as I’m sure you’re aware, the ethical issues associated with such a trial mean that any proposal to do one wouldn’t get past any institution’s ethics committee. David has already suggested this. RDBC studies are done for examining the efficacy of new vaccines, however. And in such trials, as for all novel drug treatments for existing conditions, the appropriate method is a comparison of existing treatment & novel treatment, not placebo. This is because the novel treatment might very well do better than placebo, but worse than the current treatment, in which case there’d be little value in using it.

  • Drat, didn’t close the html tags. Help, Michael! Should be normal font from ‘done for examining…’ onwards. (Wretched flu, brain is still fuzzy!)

  • Hello Dr Michael,

    A couple of brief posts I made last night don’t seem to have appeared. Did you censor those, and if so, would you please tell me which part(s) you object to?

  • Ron,

    Grant, I’m honoured that you should think I should be addressed as Mr Law

    I was writing to whoever is reading in general, not you, as should be clear – hence third person. I wasn’t trying to be rude, but offer what I could in passing for others (your side-track seems well off the original topic, after all).

    In general, the hierarchy of studies for obtaining evidence is:

    Why offer this cut’n’paste? (A link would be better, by the way.)

    The hierarchy offered is for one type of study: surveys of diseases, etc., not evidence in general. As they wrote “However, the hierarchy is dependent on the issue being researched.”

    As I and David pointed out earlier there is more than epidemiological-type or survey/trial-type evidence.

    On topic, one reason you can offer RDBPCTs for homeopathy is that it’s reasonable to offer no treatment for the illnesses they claim to address. Most of the illnesses the likes of homeopathy claim to tackle are minor illnesses that self-resolve and don’t cause long-lasting harm.

    As David pointed out), that’s not the case for measles. It‘s unethical to fail to give a treatment when you know that not offering that treatment will result in people being harmed. (Update: I see Alison has just sneaked past me with the same remark. Never mind, I’ll let it stand.) The ‘not giving the vaccine’ “test” has already been done several times, as others have pointed out (a resurgence in the disease the vaccine targets results). Furthermore, that Cochrane review is not saying that the MMR is not effective or not useful. It observes an apparent lack of field trials, not calls for them.

    There are retrospective surveys, of course. (I had intended to write about one of them in fact, but Orac’s coverage of it was so good I couldn’t see the point.)

    Alison, can you give the reference for the randomised, double blind placebo controlled study

    I believe you mean me, not Alison – I wrote where the reference was earlier (try re-reading).

    Regards your reply to Alison, to focus on deaths is standard fare on anti-vaccine forums – it ignores the affected, those that were hospitalised, who suffered long-term injury, etc. (This is an example of the ‘magician’s trick’ I referred to – I wasn’t being rude with this, just offering a simple analogy for others to see that pointing insistently at one thing can distract attention from the larger story.)

    re: RDBPBC, I think you mean RDBPCT.

  • Double Blindness,

    “A couple of brief posts I made last night don’t seem to have appeared.”

    Just approved them. Sorry with it being the beginning of term, don’t have time to check the blog all of the time.

  • Ron,

    So you are saying that 334 cases of confirmed measles cases with an onset date between 1 January and 30 April 2011 is not a soar in the number of cases when compared to a total of 374 cases for the whole of 2010? (taken from your source)
    So that’s 334 cases in the first four months of 2011 compared to 374 cases in all twelve months of 2011?
    You might want to read your source a bit more carefully before claiming confirmed measles cases are not soaring. You might also want to note that measles cases tend to surge between May and July of most years.

  • As this thread appears to have been co-opted to debate MMR vaccines, and not homeopathy which was it’s original topic, I will close the thread in 24 hours.
    I’m sure there are other open threads actually on vaccines where people could debate vaccines?

  • Alison said, In recent years vaccination rates there have dropped significantly, following (among other thing) the discredited Wakefield study. The incidence of measles infections, morbidity, & mortality has soared.

    I provided evidence proving that this is not true… there has been no significant increase in deaths… as noted in the UK government’s website… There are 60 million people in the UK… a few hundred cases is hardly ‘soaring.’

    Grant if there was a RDBPC study showing the effectiveness of measles vaccine then the Cochrane reviewers would not have said no such evidence existed….. Which is the study you are referring to?

    Murray, the MMR issue isn’t about MMR… it is about challenging scientists claim that evidence is what defines science… and then being unable to present evidence to support claims that are not supported by evidence.

    There is no evidence in western/developed societies that measles vaccine caused the decline in measles deaths,… they had declined way before vaccines were introduced.

    What about this RDBPC study which demonstrates that selenium methionine supplements prevent a large portion of cancer…. is that valid science? If not, why not?
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9634050

  • Ron,

    Which is the study you are referring to?

    For goodness sakes. I told you where find the reference & that your should re-read my comment to pick it up. Let me repeat for you: “one of the studies listed as used in that Cochrane review” Can I be more black and white?: it’s listed in Cochrane review.

    Also—seeing you seem to need things spelt out—I just said it’s curious that one is listed. (By the way, *you* are the one you restricted ‘such evidence’ to RBPPCTs – you don’t seem to be cognisant of that.)

    In any event this focus on this one paper, and limiting things to “only” RDBPCTs is a distraction from the wider picture as has already been pointed out – hence the magician’s trick analogy I raised earlier.

    Murray, the MMR issue isn’t about MMR…

    Who is Murray?

    it is about challenging scientists claim that evidence is what defines science… and then being unable to present evidence to support claims that are not supported by evidence.

    No, it’s about you playing games.

    You’ve already had it pointed out to you several times that Cochrane reviews are only one form of evidence. (Besides overstating your case regards the review, you appear to be selectively ignoring replies and repeating yourself. Repeating wrongs won’t make them right.)

    There is no evidence in western/developed societies that measles vaccine caused the decline in measles deaths,… they had declined way before vaccines were introduced.

    This seems to be more about trotting out standard anti-vaccine arguments than something about what evidence is or not.

    What about this RDBPC study which demonstrates that selenium methionine supplements prevent a large portion of cancer…. is that valid science? If not, why not?
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9634050

    Why don’t you offer why or not? After all you imply you know better than scientists. (I’ve better things to do, frankly, esp. as the final sentence of conclusion gives a pretty broad clue that your (i.e. not their) description of what the paper claims to do is off.)

  • Excuse me for feeling exasperated at Ron’s inability to find a reference. Surely there is only one Cochrane review that we’ve been talking about – the one Alison quoted from. I’m puzzled as to why Ron thinks it could be some other review. I explicitly referred to ‘that review’—referring to Alison’s quoting of it—and he referred to it himself as ‘the review’, also referring to Alison’s quote from it.

    If he has that review at hand, he only needs to look up the References section.

  • Grant… I have… what reference are you talking about… like the authors, I can’t see one that is a RDBPC study showing mmr reduces the incidence of measles… What am I missing… if it’s so obvious then please put me out of my misery… neither you nor Alison have provided any references… and Alison’s claim of soaring death rates was patently false.

  • Grant… LOL… a science blogger should be able to argue their position based on science… why don’t you front up with evidence when challenged? The header for this thread is about “I don’t understand science”… I fully understand science… but sometimes I have a great deal of difficulty understanding scientists…

  • Ron,

    I’m ignoring the ridiculous trolling.

    The reason I’m exasperated is that you claim to offer advisory services, yet you can’t seem to locate a simple reference without me spelling out step by little step how to do it. *Search the page.* Command (or control) F, enter text, press return…

    I explicitly quoted the portion of the title so it’d be easy for anyone with basic WWW skills and the reference list to find.

  • Grant, I’ve just re-read the Cochrane Review…. I cn’t spot any RDBPC study showing the efficacy of MMR… I can find this statement by the authors… “We were disappointed by our inability to identify effectiveness studies with population or clinical outcomes.”

    Are you are referring to Peltola 1986 {published data only}
    Peltola H, Heinonen OP. Frequency of true adverse reactions to
    measles-mumps-rubella vaccine. A double-blind placebo-controlled trial in twins. Lancet 1986;1(8487):939–42?

    In which case you may have missed the key words in the title…. “Frequency of true adverse reactions to
    measles-mumps-rubella vaccine” It is not a study of efficacy at all….!!!!

    I’m not much cop at cryptic science… so if that’s not your reference, then please spell out the reference you mean…

  • I should add this heavy emphasis on this one reference is a distraction from the wider point – I really can’t see the value of fussing over it.

    (Unless Ron is perhaps (still) back-pedalling from his original claim that “As far as the Cochran Reviews are concerned, no such evidence exists…”, whereas Alison pointed out a Cochrane review did exist and it supports the MMR vaccine, and that he’s wishing to “dismiss” out-of-hand of distract attention from the wider evidence so that he might cling to his claim, etc., etc. This is already past getting old…)

  • Ron,

    I’m discontinuing this as you are just playing games. If you go back and read what I actually wrote, you’d not make these silly and incorrect claims about me and what I have written. It’s pretty rude, certainly at the very least very sloppy. You are—literally—putting words in my mouth, making out I’m wrong about things I haven’t even said in the first place. You’re also circling around offering again statements that have already been answered as if they were new. I’m not interested in that style (or any style for that matter) of word games.

    (My previous comment crossed over.)

  • Grant… How disingenuous… So you are unable to back-up your claim that such evidence does exist…. It was me who referred to the Cochrane Reviews study and it says no such evidence exists… It is true that it concludes, “We could not identify studies assessing the effectiveness of MMR that fulfilled our inclusion criteria even though the impact of mass immunisation on the elimination of the diseases has been largely demonstrated.”

    I contacted the authors and asked why they added the statement, “even though the impact of mass immunisation on the elimination of the diseases has been largely demonstrated.” when this is contrary to their guidelines… they said it was added by others for political reasons…! (email on file.)

    So now, being unable to back up your claim that there is at least one RDBPC study showing efficacy, you now say that this has become a distraction… That’s the problem you have… scibloggers should be able to back up claims with evidence… when they can’t, they really do enter the realms of ‘alternative science.’ ie, scientific claims not supported by evidence… is this any different to claims that homeopathy is a sham?

    I’ve made my point… science should be about evidence… claims should be supported by evidence… It’s not the science that’s the problem… its the proclaimers… whether sceptics, homeopathy supporters or scientists… science would be much more credible in public eyes if people were able to communicate facts, and when asked for them, simply present them without trying to score points and turning issues into protagonist/antagonist debates. The simple evidence is: Measles deaths and confirmed cases had largely declined prior to the introduction of measles vaccines and no RDBPC studies appear to have been done which demonstrate mmr efficacy for measles. That’s not anti-vaccine… it’s simply an evidence-based statement.

  • Ron,

    Please stop putting words my mouth (again) and making misleading statements about others (myself included). I will not be bullied into your silliness by taunts like these, nor should I have to put up with them.

  • Grant… just provide the evidence… you claimed a reference existed… appears you misunderstood the title of the paper and it doesn’t support the claim that evidence existed… bullied? Silly? Misleading? taunts? …mmmm… what about simply asking for you to back up your claims… after all… you are the sciblogger… who’s belief system supposedly is based on evidence… all I have done is challenge that premise… scibloggers should be able to put up evidence to support their claims… if you can’t do that then that is not my problem… it is not my credibility at stake… and that is why scibloggers would be much more credible in public eyes if people were able to communicate facts, and when asked for them, simply present them without trying to score points and turning issues into protagonist/antagonist debates.

  • I’m ending this thread now.

    The discussion over the last couple of days has been spoiled by continued off topic posts about vaccines.
    In future posters should keep on topic.

    However, as there have been a number of posts on vaccines, let me address a couple of points.

    As has been pointed out a number of times random controlled double blind experiments are not appropriate in testing every medical treatment. Alison explained this quite clearly in an earlier post so I would suggest readers take a look at her explanation.
    Hence it is rather ridiculous for Ron to keep requesting a random controlled double blinded experiment that proves the MMR vaccine works.

    With regards to Alison’s comment that “the incidence of measles infections, morbidity, & mortality has soared’, upon looking at this more closely I haven’t been able to find any evidence which FULLY supports this statement in regards to mortality in the UK. However, Ron’s own reference http://www.hpa.org.uk/hpr/archives/2011/news2111.htm#msls does suggest that there has been a substantial increase in the incidence of measles infections. However, I’m not convinced that this is enough evidence to show there is a correlation between decreasing vaccinations and increased incidence of measles (but this should not be taken to mean that such a correlation will not be revealed with more data/evidence).

    I would also further suggest that ALL posters look more carefully at any evidence they put forward to support their position on any topic. The use of cherry picked/unverifiable data or misrepresenting data, only serves to confound the discussion.

    I will also remind all posters that I take a dim view of comments which attack other posters rather than talk about the topic at hand. I will be looking more closely at my options regarding moderating this blog.

    All views are welcome here so long as they focus on the topic at hand, discuss it in a civil manner, and focus on the evidence.