Who wants to smear homeopathy?

I think its a smear campaign.

Kaviraj and I have given them more than enough time to respond to our challenge. All we have asked of the critics of homeopathy, like Edzard Ernst, John Beddington, Ben Goldacre, Andy Lewis and their dopey proxies, is to please show us the evidence that homeopathic remedies are “placebos.”

Show us just one scientific  study that proves it. Please. Just one. That’s all. It’s not too much to ask.

But here we are, empty handed.

Boo hoo.
All we got in here is nothing more than blandishments, rhetorical questions, empty assertions, vague references to something seen on TV, ridicule, rants and accusations, but not one published study. Not one! Nothing to prove the claim that homeopathy is a placebo, nothing to lead us to the truth, not from them!

Instead, we have public figures, people who should be taken as authorities on the subject, such as Edzard Ernst, professor of complementary medicine at Excreter Univeristy in England, and Professor Sir John Beddington, Chief Science Advisor to the British government, presenting to the public a conclusion that has dual, contradictory meanings: One, because it is a placebo, homeopathy does not work; and two, the placebo effect can be a powerful one, and so if there is a cure from homeopathy that doesn’t seem like to be a coincidence, it is likely to be because of that.

So why would Beddington, Ernst or anyone with half a mind make a statement like that, that homeopathic medicine is a placebo, when the action of two and a half million (2,500,000) doses of homeopathic medicine was reportedly seen in Cuba to stop epidemic of chronic swamp fever?
Is Beddington going to call that the effects of placebo, or is he going to call the Cubans liars?
You don’t need to be partial to homeopathy to see that the criticisms of it aren’t adding up until, perhaps, I point out that Cuba is one of the few places in the world where drug companies like Pfizer can’t so easily get to.

“Homeopathy is very difficult to write about for a contemporary medical audience. In an ideal informational world, in which science is unbiased information and scientists and academics are unbiased consumers of such information, it would not be so difficult. Unfortunately, it is painfully obvious that science is biased, consumers of scientific information are biased, and science is routinely used to advance personal political and economic agendas that have nothing to do with increasing the store of generalizable knowledge.” (Dean review)

Intelligent people, people in positions of authority, are making stupid statements, that homeopathy is a placebo. Beddington said it in the Guardian just the other day, and that it is scientifically unsupported.

Conversely, one researcher, in making an exhaustive review of the clinical literature, found 205 prospective controlled clinical trials performed in the contemporary research environment from 1940 to 1998. He found evidence of homeopathy’s safety and efficacy in trials of high internal validity. He also found usefulness for homeopathy in areas that are problematic for orthodox medicine. On the basis of trials reviewed, he concluded that homeopathy is clinically relevant and that there are certain conditions in which pragmatic trials of homeopathy versus standard treatment would be useful, for example, in unexplained female infertility, postviral fatigue syndrome, influenza, and atopy. (Dean)
The review of his book then says something very interesting: “Sociologic data show the use of data for this purpose is ineffective. That is, scientists are not convinced by data. That a significant body of data shows homeopathy is more than placebo is now indisputable. Since homeopathy is a school of medicine, and not an ad hoc therapeutic modality or technique, one can conclude that data showing homeopathy is not explainable by placebo are data that go toward confirming the entire school of homeopathy and its claims, not simply that this or that remedy works for this or that disease entity.” (Dean review http://www.sld.cu/galerias/pdf/sitios/mednat/research_on_homeopathy_state_of_the_art_(3).pdf)

Well, this is just wild, like Oscar, and it gets wilder, even more than Thornton.

As you can see, first revealed in my previous blog, a review of the literature by the most respected reviewers provided no real evidence for the placebo effect. Researcher Michael Emmons Dean isn’t alone in that assessment. There is no published, scientific support for the placebo charge against homeopathy, yet that’s the claim that the Chief Scientist to the UK government is making, along with the holder of the only chair for complementary medicine, and there appear to be hordes cheering them on, when in fact, in view of the data, the opposite should be happening.
I have never seen anyone, who has taken a vituperative stand against homeopathy, ever recant in the face of the evidence for it. They just slink away or keep yarping the same old bark over and over again, as if they don’t even look at it.
I’ve seen it happen up close and personal. I was friends with Jerry Andrus, a world renowned magician who was on the advisory board of the National Council Against Heath fraud. (NCAHF). Jerry was convinced there was no evidence in support of homeopathy. When I finally put a stack of studies in front of him that showed there was, he literally pushed it away and replaced it with a small pad of paper he was carrying and a pencil, and asked me to list some other stupid things I believed in, like witches, fairy tales and of course, astrology. When he saw the look in my eyes, he quickly withdrew it, confessing that he guessed that wasn’t fair.
It never is. Although they claim science, and demand it from you, when you present it to them, they ignore it at first, or try to pick it apart based on poor statistics.
When challenged to respond with facts over assertions, they simply ignore it. It’s not the behavior of scientists pursuing a concordant truth, its the behavior of people who are legislating. They won’t and can’t face the evidence. If they did, they’d have to stand down. Read the commentary in response. They aren’;t responding to the science with the science they first demanded. They have none. It’s all on the side of homeopathy.

Who is Sir John Beddington? When we look at some of his statged beliefs, an even stranger picture emerges as to why he is denouncing homeopathy. 

DEAN, Review of Michael Emmons Dean, “The Trials of Homeopathy: Origins, Structure, and Development” http://www.homeopathy.org/research/research_reviews/acm-2005-11_15.pdf
Jonas W, Kaptchuk T, Linde K. A critical overview of homeopathy.
Ann Int Med 2003;138:393–399.
Fisher P. Homeopathy: A multifaceted scientific renaissance.
J Altern Complement Med 2001;7:123–125.

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56 comments on “Who wants to smear homeopathy?

  1. ISayISaw says:

    John Benneth

    “when we ask YOU to show us the science that proves that our meicine is a placebo, YOU’VE GOT NOTHING!”

    You simply don’t understand how to interpret controlled trials.

    Lewith’s paper used dual controls to test whether homeopathic pills are placebo. He found they are. But, that’s just one paper, though it does specifically test that hypothesis.

    However, the accumulated trial data, shown by meta-analysis also show that homeo pills have no effect over placebo. That means the homeo pills are placebos at best. This is the point you have failed to grasp. The reported effects of homeo pills are either placebo effect or the result of coincidence and various types of biased reporting.

    Placebo is the best they can be. In most circumstances the placebo effect is pretty weak, so in those circumstances giving homeo pills is the same as doing nothing and the apparent effects are entirely due to coincidence and biased reporting.

    This is not difficult stuff, John. I wonder why I bother trying to explain it to people like you. The reason I do is that I like the challenge of trying to find explanations do clear that even an idiot or someone being deliberately obstructive cannot reasonably oppose them.

    Like

  2. ISayISaw says:

    Lest we forget, here are those unanswered questions again;

    You claim to have evidence of homeopathy’s efficacy against malaria, but it’s a secret. How many people were enrolled in the trial? How were blinding and randomisation performed?

    You are surely aware that homeopathy was not the only intervention used in the treated region of Cuba. Why do you claim that the reduction in the number of cases was due to homeopathy?

    In both of these instances, there is no personalisation and individualisation of the remedy that is given. Nor is there any in the lab-bench experiments that you assert support homeopathy. Will you confirm explicitly that you do not require individualisation to be used in valid trials of homeopathy?

    Like

  3. warhelmet says:

    Isn’t it bliss?
    Don’t you approve?
    One who keeps tearing around,
    One who can’t move.
    Where are the clowns?
    Send in the clowns.

    Like

  4. MadGav says:

    Fair do’s, John, it’s your blog and if you wish to wield your ban-hammer then that is your prerogative.

    However, I do feel compelled to say that you haven’t been able to direct me toward specific comments that would represent abuse and that you have failed to identify which of my statements you believe to be lies.

    I’m sorry that you apparently feel unable to engage in a discussion with someone whose viewpoint differs from your own.

    It would have been both useful and interesting to hear your responses to the questions I and others have posed.

    Like

  5. ISayISaw says:

    Oh, what the heck, let’s put this to our resident purveyors of magic water:-

    Provide one incontrovertible example, with proper references, of homeopathy curing a non-self-limiting disease or ailment.

    Search the web with variants of those terms and you will find it has been posed repeatedly to homeopaths and I struggle to find even a single answer that deserves a follow-up discussion rather than merely howls of derisive laughter. Usually it is met with stonewalling and empty rhetoric. But, maybe Kaviraj or John Benneth have some brilliant examples to hand.

    For the avoidance of doubt, this is not an appeal for anecdote to trump controlled trial data and such an example would not constitute proof, but it could be the springboard to meaningful discussion and investigation

    Like

    • johnbenneth says:

      I presume you’re also prepared to provide one incontrovertible example, with proper references, of allopathy curing a non-self-limiting disease or ailment.
      After being diagnosed with cancer, Kaviraj himself was cured of it after being treated with homeopathy, without allopathic treatment. Kevin Morris, who has posted commentary here, also was cured of cancer after homeopathic treatment.
      The MD ANderson clinic recently has done both some in vivo and in vitro studies on the effects of high dilutes as used in homeopathy on cancer:

      INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF ONCOLOGY 23: 975-982, 2003
      Ruta 6 selectively induces cell death in brain cancer cells but proliferation in normal peripheral blood lymphocytes:
      A novel treatment for human brain cancer
      http://www.virtualtrials.com/pdf/ruta6.pdf

      Breast Cancer Treatment and Homeopathy
      A Journal of Oncology Finds Homeopathic Remedies May Hold Benefits
      http://www.suite101.com/content/homeopathy-and-breast-cancer-a209984#ixzz17Rd4S1mg

      Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011; 2011: 867151.
      Use of Homeopathy in Pediatric Oncology in Germany
      Alfred Längler,1, 2* Claudia Spix,3 Friedrich Edelhäuser,2 Genn Kameda,1 Peter Kaatsch,3 and Georg Seifert4
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2958565/?tool=pubmed
      2009 Bhattacharjee Indian Journal of Biochemistry & Biophsyics vol 46 August Homoepathic drugs Natrum sulph and Carcinosin prevent dye induced heptocarcniogenesis in mice
      http://nopr.niscair.res.in/bitstream/123456789/5799/1/IJBB%2046(4)%20307-318.pdf

      Can homeopathic treatment slow prostate cancer growth?
      Jonas WB, Gaddipati JP, Rajeshkumar NV, Sharma A, Thangapazham RL, Warren J, Singh AK, Ives JA, Olsen C, Mog SR, Maheshwari RK.
      Integr Cancer Ther. 2006 Dec;5(4):343-9
      Samueli Institute, 1700 Diagonal Road, Suite 400, Alexandria, VA
      There was a 23% reduction in tumor incidence (P < .0001), and for animals with tumors, there was a 38% reduction in tumor volume in homeopathy-treated animals versus controls (P < .02). At time of killing, experimental animals with tumors had a 13% lower average tumor weight (P < .05). Tumors in these treated animals showed a 19% increase in apoptotic cell death (P < .05) and reduced PCNA-positive cells. CONCLUSIONS: The findings indicate that selected homeopathic remedies for the present study have no direct cellular anticancer effects but appear to significantly slow the progression of cancer and reduce cancer incidence and mortality in Copenhagen rats injected with MAT-LyLu prostate cancer cells.

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17101763?ordinalpos=9&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel

      Effects of homeopathic preparations on human prostate cancer growth in cellular and animal models.
      Integr Cancer Ther. 2006 Dec;5(4):362-72
      Department of Physiology and Biophysics, Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, DC 20007, USA.
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17101766?ordinalpos=7&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum

      BMC Cancer. 2009; 9: 293. Published online 2009 August 22.
      Stimulation of lymphocyte anti-melanoma activity by co-cultured macrophages activated by complex homeopathic medication
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2749867/

      Ann Oncol. 2009 Oct 25. [Epub ahead of print]
      Characteristics of cancer patients using homeopathy compared with those in conventional care: a cross-sectional study.
      Guethlin C, Walach H, Naumann J, Bartsch HH, Rostock M.
      Institute for General Practice, Johann-Wolfgang Goethe-University, Frankfurt/Main.
      BACKGROUND: There are only few studies on cancer patients who are treated in complementary and alternative medicine clinics and comparing them with patients in conventional care. We will present the comparison of characteristics of two patient cohorts: one was treated in a homeopathic cancer care clinic and one was treated in a conventional oncology care (CC) outpatient clinic. PATIENTS AND METHODS: Six-hundred and forty-seven patients were included in this cross-sectional cohort study and had to fill in questionnaires [health-related quality of life (QoL) (Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-General Scale), depression and anxiety (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale), fatigue (Multidimensional Fatigue Inventory) and expectancies toward treatment]. Clinical data were extracted from medical records. This study presents the comparison of both cohorts. RESULTS: Patients in the homeopathy cohort are younger, better educated and more often employed than patients in the CC cohort. The most pronounced differences indicate longer disease histories and different diagnostic and clinical pretreatment variables. Despite the clinical differences, QoL as well as anxiety, depression and fatigue was similar in both the groups. CONCLUSIONS: Homeopathic treatment is sought by cancer patients at a different phase during the course of the disease, which has particular implications for research. However, expectancies toward the benefit of the treatment as well as QoL data are similar.
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19858085?itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum&ordinalpos=22

      BMC Cancer. 2010 Mar 25;10:113.
      In vitro and in vivo anticancer properties of a Calcarea carbonica derivative complex (M8) treatment in a murine melanoma model.
      Guimarães FS, Andrade LF, Martins ST, Abud AP, Sene RV, Wanderer C, Tiscornia I, Bollati-Fogolín M, Buchi DF, Trindade ES.
      Laboratório de Pesquisa em Células Inflamatórias e Neoplásicas Depto de Biologia Celular, Setor de Ciências Biológicas, Federal University of Paraná, Brazil.
      Abstract
      BACKGROUND: Melanoma is the most aggressive form of skin cancer and the most rapidly expanding cancer in terms of worldwide incidence. Chemotherapeutic approaches to treat melanoma have had only marginal success. Previous studies in mice demonstrated that a high diluted complex derived from Calcarea carbonica (M8) stimulated the tumoricidal response of activated lymphocytes against B16F10 melanoma cells in vitro.
      METHODS: Here we describe the in vitro inhibition of invasion and the in vivo anti-metastatic potential after M8 treatment by inhalation in the B16F10 lung metastasis model.
      RESULTS: We found that M8 has at least two functions, acting as both an inhibitor of cancer cell adhesion and invasion and as a perlecan expression antagonist, which are strongly correlated with several metastatic, angiogenic and invasive factors in melanoma tumors.
      CONCLUSION: The findings suggest that this medication is a promising non-toxic therapy candidate by improving the immune response against tumor cells or even induce direct dormancy in malignancies.
      PMID: 20338038 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20338038?ordinalpos=1&itool=PPMCLayout.PPMCAppController.PPMCArticlePage.PPMCPubmedRA&linkpos=1

      Now before you start criticiing these sudies, please provide similar evidence for allopathy. If you attempt to criticize these studies without first posting similar studies for chemo and radiation, you'll be sanctioned from further commentary.

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      • ISayISaw says:

        ” If you attempt to criticize these studies without first posting similar studies for chemo and radiation, you’ll be sanctioned from further commentary.”

        Ooh, tetchy.

        You could just have said you had none rather than producing those hoary old chestnuts.

        And just to be clear, the testimonial given here;

        http://safe-medicine.blogspot.com/2010/06/cancer-and-homeopathy-3.html

        does not count for lack of adequate documentation.

        Treatment of Type 1 diabetes and Addison’s disease will serve as examples from real medicine.

        Only the naive would tout chemotherapy of radiation as general cures for cancer, but then real medicine is not burdened with the claim that it is a “complete system” providing “permanent cures”. It’s a pragmatic mix. But, only a fool would rely on homeopathy if they actually had something seriously wrong with them.

        Doesn’t one homeopath, ironically called Saine, bang on about allegedly being able to cure rabies with homeopathy? If you could produce one or two properly documented cases of rabies being cured by homeopathy, I’d take some notice.

        Anyway, it’s your blog John Benneth. You can block or delete any posts you want to, though that would strike me as rather cowardly and suggest that the person taking such action wished to hide their own embarrassment.

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      • ISayISaw says:

        Since John Benneth is obsessed with linkable factoids from the interweb, if anyone should doubt the strength of the claims made for homeopathy, put these terms into Google: homeopathy + “complete system” + “permanent cure”.

        No mucking about with weak claims there! No adequate evidence for them of course, but one has to admire the sheer chutzpah of those making them.

        Like

  6. ISayISaw says:

    By the way, Kaviraj, I’ll echo MadGav’s point about side effects and RCTs. RCTs are designed to whether a useful biological effect occurs. Side effects can be detected by the same methods, but in the real situation the Main effect should occur in a large proportion if treated subjects and is easy to pick up. In contrast a Side effect can affect either a large or a small proportion. Serious and common side effects are readily picked up by RCT. Identifying rare dude effects is harder and may depend on post-marketing surveillance. This is not ideal, but medicine had to deal in pragmatism not ideals.

    Real medicine has real Side effects because it has real Main effects. Homeopathy has no biological Side effects, but it also has no Main effect either.

    I hope that is clearer for you because you seem to be labouring under a number if rather serous misconceptions. This makes you quite scary when sick people are exposed to them.

    Like

    • Kaviraj says:

      You are the one who is scary. You deliberately make them sick with your pharmaceutical quackery, which is worse than the disease.

      That is not your only misconception you are labouring under. All the rest follows from that and has been proven disastrous for health.

      That is not scientific. That is criminal. and as a result the people you praise as scientistshave been indicted of criminal activity – not just once, but countless times.

      If those are the people you admire and consort with, it explaines the level of your conversation – criminally ignorant.

      Like

      • Guy Chapman says:

        {{citation needed}} as we say on Wikipedia.

        Is the average life expectancy in India greater than in Europe? The use of homeopathy is. Is life expectancy in Europe now better or worse than it was a hundred years ago? How about infant mortality? If modern medicine was poisoning people as you assert then this would be visible in mortality statistics. Actually the stats are improving – and most authorities put that down largely to better medicine.

        Like

      • Kaviraj says:

        The average age in India is often higher than here because the people eat healthy. It is not yet all poisoned by western pharmaceutical and agricultural interests that poison the people. It is due to the slums, where conditions are unhygienic moretality is high and ages are short. Compared to lifestyle, those Indians with one similar to ours live as long and often longer.
        You are again employing the bookkeeper’s trick and compare apples and bananas. Compare the bananas to the bananas and theirs taste better.

        Like

      • So, Kaviraj, what’s the average life expectancy in India right now compared with the UK? Here’s a hint for you: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2102rank.html

        Like

      • MadGav says:

        “You deliberately make them sick with your pharmaceutical quackery, which is worse than the disease.”

        Wouldn’t that depend on the pharmaceutical, the disease being treated and the individual’s response to medication?

        Anyway, this is another groundless attack that avoids the central argument and instead focusses on your misunderstanding.

        Doctors don’t deliberately make patient’s ill and I really do wish you’d state your sources when you say things like:

        “That is criminal. and as a result the people you praise as scientistshave been indicted of criminal activity – not just once, but countless times.”

        Because you do seem to be saying that you evidence that the “people you praise as scientists” have been found guilty of countless crimes… and you really ought to provide evidence to back up such assertions (assuming you really mean ‘crimes’ and are talking about specific, nameable scientists, rather than indulging in a little hyperbole).

        Like

      • Kaviraj says:

        Pfizer, GSK, Pasteur-Aventis have recently been indicted for fraud. Pfizer to the tune of 4 billion. You don’t read papers?

        Like

      • MadGav says:

        Oh… I thought when you said ‘people you praise as scientists’ you meant an identifiable person upon whom at least one poster here had lavished praise (ideally for their work as a scientist).

        Just so were clear then that none of the ‘people *I* praise as scientists’ have been indicted.

        Like

      • Guy Chapman says:

        And one of the more amusing things about this is that the people who are most active in identifying and publicising the problems of drug company bias in medical research, are often the same people who are pointing out the flaws in homeopathy.

        Like

  7. ISayISaw says:

    John Benneth

    “If that isn’t enough, water suface tension and water bubbles, droplet formation is LAS, so how do you explain that in picoseconds?”

    Um, because these are stable long-term statistical properties of fluids. They do not preserve detailed and stable structural information that would differentiate one solute-free body of fluid from another. If anything, the blanking out of specific detail by these bulk statisticsl processes rather makes your opponents’ case for them.

    I’m still not sure while you continue to harp on about having given a talk at the Cavendish. Claiming credibility for your assertions from the venue in which you make them is taking argument from authority to a ridiculous limit.

    Like

  8. ISayISaw says:

    Kaviraj

    “If 15% has benefited from this remedy, then the statistics command they should investigate that 15% to discover what common charactersistics they had that made Arnica work. Once these characteristics are collated, they would know that anyone presenting with those characteristics will immediately be helped by Arnica. Thus they can have a 100% sucess rate with that same remedy that in a RCT will not score more than 15% Thus the RCT teaches INDIVIDUALISATION.”

    This is just plain wrong and shows you really don’t understand the need for and purpose of experimental controls. This is also clear from your repeated assertions about historical epidemics.

    This inability to grasp how to make causal inferences from messy data is common among homeopaths; they think they can ‘know’ what is causing the changes that occur in their customers. Sorry, Kaviraj, the fact that you don’t understand numerical methods doesn’t invalidate them. Your personal inability to pilot a jet aircraft does not embarrass you and cause you to sit foolishly at the controls proclaiming you practises an alternative aeronautics while you make whooshing sounds with your mouth and waggle random switches. Yet when it comes to medical and scientific knowledge that you equally fail to understand you do insist you have an alternative understanding and laboriously, and pointlessly, pore over your sacred texts to decide which bottle of differently labelled but identical sugar pills to sell. 

    Your ignorance of science and medicine are, in themselves, a cause for pity. What makes your activities offensive is the fact that you apply your ignorance to real people who may actually be ill.

    So, Try again. There is no need to go into the fine details of the methods that need to be applied, just explain the general principles. I’ll take the question back a step because I assumed understanding that you clearly don’t have. 

    I have a treatment and I have 10 patients. I give the treatment and 6 report improvement.

    How do you propose to work out whether the drug is better than doing nothing?

    This is not a trick question and it’s so easy that it is part of the primary school curriculum.

    Over to you.

    Like

    • Kaviraj says:

      No it is not plain wrong. That is no scientific argument at all. That is denial, and you have nothing else.
      It is scientific to investigate what RCTs teach you. But that is science and you talk bookkeeping, like your other monkish mate.
      Keep it up, because you do not use scientific arguments at all. You try to distract away from the conclusion, because you know it is right. I suggest to do a course in scientific thinking.

      Like

  9. ISayISaw says:

    Kaviraj

    “That is because you armchair “scientists” are less than scientific in your arguments and blab on about statistics. Pathetic!”

    Ah, the perpetual cry of the innumerate.

    I have a treatment and I have 20 patients. I give the treatment to 10 and not to the other 10. In the treatment group 6 report improvement. In the other group, 4 report improvement.

    How, oh man without statistics, do you propose to work out whether the drug is better than doing nothing?

    Like

    • Kaviraj says:

      First you explain the scientific evidence, from which statistics are derived. That evidence is in contradistinction to what you present. Yours is manipulation of numbers. Ours is objective observation. You go into an epidemic, you armschair scientist. Go out in the real world. You have never done any such work – real work – in your entire life. I speak from experience and that counts for more than just armchair opinions on matters beyond your scope of thinking. You have no scientific arguments. you just blab statistics. You have never in your lives been anywhere near the situation and done such RCT’s. So to educate you a little I shall teach you about the real scientific significance of the RCT.

      RCT’s, What Do They Really Mean?

      Medical science prides itself on the RCT the Randomised Clinical Trial as the gold standard for pharmacology. They also note in summary the side effects, which they wished were not there and ignore in all their treatment. 60% of the doctors know nothing about side effects and gloss over it when the patient complains about them – it is dismissed as the “body getting used to the treatment” or “that is just a minor incovenience”.

      If modern medicine wants to try out a certain homoeopathic remedy, it is for the purpose of deriding homoeopathy and the attempt to put another nail in its coffin. Invariably the headline in the paper screams: ARINICA STILL USELESS, CHAMOMILLA NOT A PAINKILLER, EVENING PRIMROSE NOT HRT REPLACEMENT and so on. Then triumphantly, the article goes on to tell us that at 15% the remedy appeared not to be better than placebo. That is as far as any RCT is ever investigated and understood.

      However, are we to believe that is the only thing we can learn from this RCT? If this were so, it would be a pisspoor type of test, which we do better without and replace with its real implications.
      If 15% has benefited from this remedy, then the statistics command they should investigate that 15% to discover what common charactersistics they had that made Arnica work. Once these characteristics are collated, they would know that anyone presenting with those characteristics will immediately be helped by Arnica. Thus they can have a 100% sucess rate with that same remedy that in a RCT will not score more than 15% Thus the RCT teaches INDIVIDUALISATION.

      We need to throw back their own reports in which we show they have it half-baked and misunderstood – either by ignorant accident or by deliberate ignorance; I could not really say which is worse. The first points to lousy education coupled with little critical and scientific thinking and the second denotes sectarian bias enforced by lousy education and the partisan media.

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      • MadGav says:

        Kaviraj, you really have to try to stop insulting people who disagree with you, it doesn’t advance your argument (in fact quite the opposite).

        Please state your sources that 60% of doctors know nothing about side-effects…

        Moving past that, it’s difficult to tell if you’re joking about the 15% figure in RCTs or if you just don’t understand the principles behind them.

        If only 15% of people exposed to Arnica benefitted… and that is found to be statistically non-significant… that tells you that there is no difference between giving Arnica or a placebo (so, by your logic, we should also be exploring the characteristics of placebo responders in order to individualise their treatment).

        Perhaps you would be better served reading a basic textbook on statistics rather than dismissing the subject so eagerly?

        Are RCT’s perfect? No… are subjective reports of patient satisfaction better?… No (not *just* because of the whole ‘subjective’ part… but that’s a pretty good part).

        That’s why I really think you need to lay this whole ‘armchair scientist’ argument to rest…

        Like

      • Kaviraj says:

        Like the good bookkeeper you are, you maanipulate numbers according to the wishes of your paymasters. You are obviously not a scientist, because the scientific conclusion I mentioned lies outside the scope of the bookkeeper. All you have is enumeration, classification and compilation. That is 13th century monkish work. Like the monk, you cannot think outside your belief system – which is what statistics is and your boiss tells you to solely look for. As the saying goes, there are lies, damn lies and statistics. Unlike you, I do not talk bookkeeping. I talk scientific conclusions, which are beyond you, as we all can see.

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      • MadGav says:

        *sigh*

        And more fact-free insults instead of anything resembling evidence.

        I’m sorry that you see statistics as somehow beneath you, (although it does explain at least some of your misapprehensions when it comes to appraising scientific papers).

        It’s hard to know how to respond to someone who claims to be a scientist but who apparently believes that mathematics is a belief system.

        Perhaps we are using ‘science’ to descibe two completely different things?

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        • johnbenneth says:

          Madgav You flaming hypocrite. You complain about fact free insults, when tht’s all you’vve got after we’ve been hitting you with study after study while calling for you to give us the science for placebo. Either you’re goint to start treating Kaviraj with a little respect and start asking some intelligent questions or providing factual answers or you’re banned fromthis discussion. Tell your lies on your own blog, not mine.

          Like

      • MadGav says:

        John, if you could show me where I’ve insulted anyone here, rather that pointing out the errors in their argument, then I will offer a full apology.

        However, if your complaint is that I am not showing Kaviraj sufficient respect, I would simply point out that respect is something that needs to be earned. Not understand the way in which research is carried out (and yet wanting your opinion to be treated as having validity is not a good way, in my opinion, of fostering respect).

        Likewise, if you can point out where I have lied (rather than expressed an opinion contrary to yours) I will immediately withdraw the remark and once again offer an apology without reservation. My hope would be that you would offer me the same ‘respect’ if you are unable to do so.

        Like

        • johnbenneth says:

          You got to be kidding me if you’re not kidding yourself. Your entire system of capitalistic allopathic medicine is based on abuse and it shows in your writing, your name, everything about you says abuse. I am here putting a picture of my face above my true legal name, while you sit in self appointed juddgment of the information we bring to you. We show you the scinetiic studies that support our business and y0u respond with arguments over its credibility, while in the meantime your crap is killing people, and when we ask YOU to show us the science that proves that our meicine is a placebo, YOU’VE GOT NOTHING! I call that hypocritical and abusive, that you would question my eivdence while you are totally incapable of showing ANYTHING in support of your arguments eplicit and implied.
          Lookat the arguments of your friends. I gave a rare lecture at one of the world’s leading scientific institutions, and all your firends can do is try to put me down and quote my host in order to humiliate me, while any discussion of the physics of water goes totally undiscussed. I call that abusive.
          Has anyone ever thanked me for my efforts to asnwer their questions? No, I am only questioned and insulted more. I call that abusive.
          And it is not as if I am alone in this. Some of the top American material scientists have established the physics for homeoapthy, not me. French researchers have produced physical tests that are concordant with the American; German researchers have reviewed the literature for pre-clinicals and it too is concordant with clinical claims that these are real phyical substances with intrinsic biological and biochmeical action. Nobel laureates have gone so far as to actually establish the information I am drawing upon, so why is it that I am the one who’s being called names and treated like I am making wild claims and being unsscintific? I call that abusive. Homeoapthy, so far, is the only thing you’ve been skpetical about here. Icall that abusive. So if you’re going to be “skeptical” here, apply it gloablly here or get lost.
          Go through the comments, go through the blogs, starting at the first, and you will find I have posted study after study after study, dosens of them, so has Kaviraj, and 97% of the comments in response are to criticize them, without showing anything to support your allegations. I call that abusive.
          So, either apologize to Kaviraj and me now or I’ll ban you from this list for good and you can spread your abuse on your own stupid blog. And if you don’t like it, that’s too bad.

          Like

  10. MadGav says:

    I’m a little confused by the apparently dismissive view of ‘statistics’ suggested above. How would you decide whether the outcomes seen in a trial occurred due to chance or through the action of whatever treatment was being trialed, Kaviraj?

    Oh… and you got a word wrong in your comments about the Bristol study… patient satisfaction reports are ‘subjective’ evidence (obviously). But you were absolutely right about the huge variety of bias that can affect the perceptions of patients (especially a self-selecting group).

    Like

  11. jeff garrington says:

    Kaviraj, you haven’t read the published trial have you. I have no idea where you get the 84% figure from. Judging from your previous comments, you’ve made it up, but believe it to be true. Anyways what about ethanol having a memory (if you have read the paper you will know that its a water and ethanol mixture used for the dilution and shaking.) Also the Bristol satisfaction survey was not written by the UK government and it is just that a satisfaction survey, but then you wouldn’t understand why its seen as worthless.
    Come on Kaviraj answer some questions no more bluster…

    Like

  12. Kaviraj says:

    You saw you saw and yet you are completely blind to the facts. We have given you countless and you claim they are of poor quality. One single study you cite against over 200 from ours, which are the high-quality studies, but those you have shoved aside.

    The information on the malaria remedies can be found everywhere, provided you know where to look, which you either ignore or are ignorant of, because you don’t know where to look.

    Yet you come here with your loud mouth and sneering remarks, without providing a scientific debate. You only want to talk statistics. Then I suggest you google the Bristol Report, written by the government – the most objective report you can find on patient satisfaction. I bet you will even deny patient experience as a valid way to come to cognition. That is because you armchair “scientists” are less than scientific in your arguments and blab on about statistics. Pathetic!

    Like

    • Guy Chapman says:

      No, not “countless”, and you’re ignoring what you’re being told. “We conclude that in the study set investigated, there was clear evidence that studies with better methodological quality tended to yield less positive results.” – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10391656.

      John and you demand that people “prove” homeopathy is not placebo, but that is a reversal of the burden of evidence. Review studies and primary research show that homeopathy performs no better than placebo, but actually that’s not an answer either. If you want us to believe it is not placebo then you have to provide evidence that it is not placebo. The evidence has to address the two fundamentally implausible tenets of homeopathy, the “law of similars” and the “law of infinitesimals”. Arguments in science ar not solved by endlessly conducting similar experiments and saying “look, something must be going on”, nor by asserting that this (asserted but unproven) thing is necessarily the thing you say it is; ask anybody who has spent more than ten minutes reading up on the history of “cold fusion” and the relentless attempts of its apologists to prove they are right by endlessly producing “excess energy” without explaining the purported mechanism.

      Science does not like hypotheses which go against entire bodies of knowledge, science holds such claims up to particular scrutiny. You have chosen to play on the field of science, the scrutiny has shown your field to be wanting in several key areas. You can either address those areas or abandon claims to science and recast yourselves as a belief system, like Scientology. I don’t mind which.

      Like

      • ISayISaw says:

        Guy

        “John and you demand that people “prove” homeopathy is not placebo, but that is a reversal of the burden of evidence.”

        I think you may have missed a subtlety in John Benneth’s misunderstanding of placebo. Homeopaths actually often seem relatively unashamed if their therapy is called a placebo. They think this means they are harnessing the placebo effect in a special way (internal contradiction? yes). Benneth is from the camp who can’t admit to merely having a placebo effect, but basically he is preaching to the other half of his own choir not to the rest of us.

        In reality, the placebo effect is of trivial significance in medicine; homeopathy equates to doing nothing and the majority of its apparent successes are regression to the mean, biased reporting and outright lies

        Like

    • ISayISaw says:

      Kaviraj, you silly little man, the “Bristol Report” was a client satisfaction survey published by Spence et al in 2005. It is not a government report. It consisted of patients being asked leading questions about the outcome of their care by their own therapists for conditions that are chronic and fluctuating, so of course patients will report relative amelioration at some point even if you do nothing. Without randomised controls it is utterly meaningless. However, this has not stopped twerps like you citing it as proof of homeopathy’s specific efficacy. I don’t suppose having this pointed out will stop you, but try to understand that it just makes homeopaths look like a fools when they do it. It’s almost as if you don’t understand what counts as evidence.

      Your calling it a “government” report yields an interesting insight into the mindset of homeopaths who are desperately in thrall to argument from authority originating in their dependence on the literal truth of their founding father Hahnemann’s revealed wisdom. The “Bristol Report” would carry neither more nor less evidential weight for being a government report. Either way, it was a politically motivated piece of tosh not something from which any valid inferences can be drawn deployed for cynical PR purposes by homeopathy’s representative organisations.

      Like

    • Kaviraj says:

      And if you want statistics, then look at the REAL statistics of any epidemic in which homoeopathy is or has been involved and you see the death rates drop by 90% plus and the infection rates by the same amount.
      The falsified statistics you present are the percentages overall, in all areas. In the are where homoeopathy was used they DID come down by 84% and more. Bad luck for you, but these are the facts.
      In the Spanish flu of 1913, which killed off large swathes of the population, the areas where homoeopathy was used show more than significant positive difference in diseased and death rates. 6-12% as opposed to 40-60% for pharmaceutical quackery. This is the case in every epidemic I have been in and there are more of those, than there are years in your life. So spare me the armchair “scientific” view of you and your ilk. Go do the work for 10 years, in a country in Africa, with people that are dirt-poor and have no sanitary facilities. Do it next to a homoeopathic one and then we shall talk again. For the rest, you guys are armchair heros, and have no idea what you are talking about, even when working in the NHS. You ain’t seen nothing yet.

      Like

      • MadGav says:

        You, of course, have some sort of evidence to back up your assertion about those death-rates (as well as some vague explantion as to how the medicine that was practiced in the 1900’s is comparable to the medicine used now… despite the myriad advances over the intervening century).

        Like

    • Kaviraj says:

      And if you want statistics, then look at the REAL statistics of any epidemic in which homoeopathy is or has been involved and you see the death rates drop by 90% plus and the infection rates by the same amount.
      The falsified statistics you present are the percentages overall, in all areas. In the are where homoeopathy was used they DID come down by 84% and more. Bad luck for you, but these are the facts.
      In the Spanish flu of 1913, which killed off large swathes of the population, the areas where homoeopathy was used show more than significant positive difference in diseased and death rates. 6-12% as opposed to 40-60% for pharmaceutical quackery. This is the case in every epidemic I have been in and there are more of those, than there are years in your life. So spare me the armchair “scientific” view of you and your ilk. Go do the work for 10 years, in a country in Africa, with people that are dirt-poor and have no sanitary facilities. Do it next to a homoeopathic one and then we shall talk again. For the rest, you guys are armchair heros, and have no idea what you are talking about, even when working in the NHS. You ain’t seen nothing yet.

      Youtalk statistics and have aboslutely no scientific objections, because you not only have none, but because they do not exist. You rumble in the margins of statistics and their interpretation. Just like you don’t accept ours, we won’t accept yours, because statistics are irrelevant to the scientific conundrum, when you blab about placebo. You do not define the placebo and so your motives are suspect. What substance is a pure placebo?

      Water.
      Sugar is not, because a diabetic will react to it.
      Since you claim we give only water, then what we call verum, is tested against it. That is a real placebo trial and since all homoeopathic medicine is easily soluble, the patient cannot know the difference.
      All other medicines should be taken with this placebo and all tested medicines must be dissoluble, to have a true comparison to the real placebo – plain water.
      Everything else is s smokescreen in which you guys are past-masters, but not good enough, because our foghorn is still heard.

      Keep talking about homoeopathy in a negative way. It keeps us in the news and makes more and more people curious. Thanks to the skeptics, interest in to homoeopathy is on the rise. Thanks for all the free advertising. People are not stupid. Everything that seems about to disappear because of suppression, will, like a festering sore, consume the whole body. So do us a favour and keep giving your smokescreens and we shall expose it as such.

      Like

  13. ISayISaw says:

    Typo above: You’re not empty-handed but you ONLY seem to pay attention of the poorest quality evidence and the unsupported claims of homeopathy’s fanboys

    Like

  14. ISayISaw says:

    “Kaviraj and I have given them more than enough time to respond to our challenge. All we have asked of the critics of homeopathy, like Edzard Ernst, John Beddington, Ben Goldacre, Andy Lewis and their dopey proxies, is to please show us the evidence that homeopathic remedies are “placebos.”

    Show us just one scientific  study that proves it. Please. Just one. That’s all. It’s not too much to ask.

    But here we are, empty handed.”

    http://rheumatology.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2010/11/08/rheumatology.keq234.full.pdf

    You’re not empty-handed but you don’t only seem to pay attention of the poorest quality evidence and the unsupported claims of homeopathy’s fanboys. 

    I asked you three questions in the “protocols” blog. Here they are again:

    You claim to have evidence of homeopathy’s efficacy against malaria, but it’s a secret. How many people were enrolled in the trial? How were blinding and randomisation performed?

    You are surely aware that homeopathy was not the only intervention used in the treated region of Cuba. Why do you claim that the reduction in the number of cases was due to homeopathy?

    In both of these instances, there is no personalisation and individualisation of the remedy that is given. Nor is there any in the lab-bench experiments that you assert support homeopathy. Will you confirm expliciyly that you do not require individualisation to be used in valid trials of homeopathy?

    Like

  15. jeff garrington says:

    Gosh John you go on and on about the trial in Cuba, have you read the paper? do you understand it, perhaps a qoute from your friend Brian Josephsonmight illuminate your understanding of science.
    “Brian Josephson posted a defense of his reasons for allowing the talk and did appear to show some reservations about it. He said that,
    This talk was an experiment, somewhat of a gamble perhaps. John Benneth is an ‘enthusiast’ for homeopathy, not a scientist, and what he said in the seminar might well have made him (and myself) look foolish.
    Josephson went on to say that Benneth showed a “failure to understand particular scientific issues”, and that there were “clear deficiencies in the presentation”.
    None the less as posted before the Cuba paper.
    “The incidence rate for Leptospirosis for the whole of 2007 was 16.7 cases/week per 100,000 inhabitants for the Intervention Region (IR) and 3.5 in the rest of Cuba. In 2008 these weekly rates ran at 2.7 and 4.3 respectively.
    The un-spun truth is that in both treated and untreated regions, the Leptospirosis rate was in the same “3 – 4 cases/week per 100,000″ range over the course of 2008 (Roniger and Jacobs, 2010). The untreated region did just as well as the treated one. Not a message that the Faculty of Homeopathy wants anyone to spot.” Or Mr John Benneth.

    Like

    • Kaviraj says:

      Jeff, jealous much, that an armchair amateur like yourself could not pull off a talk at the Cavendish in 1000 years, even if you paid them a million for the chance to speak. Speak coherently on scientific matters that even Josephson praises, which you conveniently leave out.

      The leptospirosis critique is but an attempt at muddying the waters, since the percentages of reduction lay in 84% and higher. You misrepresent as usual the science and manipulate numbers as a conjuror, obfuscation the entire study. May look clever, but is all too transparent.

      Like

      • ISayISaw says:

        Kaviraj

        “Jeff, jealous much, that an armchair amateur like yourself could not pull off a talk at the Cavendish in 1000 years, even if you paid them a million for the chance to speak. ”

        Why do you find that to be impressive?

        Like

    • Guy Chapman says:

      So this is a simple case of regression to the mean? No surprise there, I guess.

      Like

      • Kaviraj says:

        Speak for yourself, Guy. Where are your 200 reports, to match ours and to prove it is placebo? I have 450 on animals that prove it is not placebo and over 100 on plants. Your placebo argument so far does not hold any water.

        Like

      • Guy Chapman says:

        Placebo is the null hypothesis, the burden of evidence is with you not with the null hypothesis.

        Like

    • johnbenneth says:

      You’re skipping over the biggest embarrassment of all, which is that a dumb ass like me managed to find his way into the Cavendish Labortory and in the face of all you gaped jawed pseudosccinetists expose a fallacy of “hydrogen bonding” in one word.
      According to brilliant theorests like Professor David Colquhoun of London City University, the liquid aqueous structuring (LAS) required for “the memory of water” cannot be sustained because of the split second duration of the hydrogen bond, which really isn’t a bond at all, but an attraction. That LAS can’t occur is falisfied by the simple observation of clathrates. If that isn’t enough, water suface tension and water bubbles, droplet formation is LAS, so how do you explain that in picoseconds?
      If any of you were real scientists, you’d knock off the personal attacks and talk science.

      Like

  16. Guy Chapman says:

    Way to miss the point, John. You can’t be smeared if you don’t misrepresent yourselves. Somebody on Twitter the other day was punting hoeopathy as a cure for frostbite and hypothermia, serious and potentially life-threatening acute conditions. Do you feel like addressing the evidence base for homeopathy as an intervention in acute life-threatening conditions?

    I’ll say it again: you have chosen to play on the field of science. That is the standard by which you are being judged. Ben Goldacre is absolutely scathing about the pharmaceutical industry’s manipulation of clinical trial data, he’s not having a go at homeopathy because is homeopathy but because it is, like the book title says, bad science. Most of Bad Science is *not* about homeopathy, and most of it you would find entirely to your liking, though the pharmaceutical industry would not.

    Like

    • Kaviraj says:

      The only ones misreprtesenting themselves are people like you Guy. You bluffed me into a list of reports that you would produce. You have none. You are just a loudmouth, and a hero in your own eyes and the eyes of your stamp. You have nothing but the eternal denial of all we present, because you have nothing to refute it with but innuendo, personal attacks and denial. In other words, you have no legs to stand upon with both feet in the mouth and then wondering why you fall over, time and again. Pathetic! What a sucker!

      Like

      • Guy Chapman says:

        Only one of us is doing this for money, and it’s not me.

        I did not say I would produce a list of reports, I don’t have to, you are the ones making extraordinary claims, you’re the ones that have to prove them. Instead you lambast those who ask for proof and continually recycle the same tiny number of often deeply flawed studies (and yes hundreds is a tiny number, there have been hundreds of thousands of clinical trials conducted over this period).

        There is no plausible mechanism by which homeopathy can work. If you want to be taken seriously you have to address that. Insults and proof by assertion do not fit the bill.

        Like

        • johnbenneth says:

          No, a man is innocent until proven guilty. The burden of proof is on the accuser, or he is traditionally given the penalty he was seeking for the accused. Homeopathy isn’t receiving the biggest ciriminal fines in history, but your drugs are. Yourm drugs are the ones that need extraordinary proof, not ours. Your pharmacy is the one that is killing people, not ours. Ours has been a consistent practice for 200 years, and many of our medicines now are the same tried and true ones we used then, in the beginng.The burden of proof is on you, not us. And you have failed miserably to provide any proof whatsover for your lies. We’re still waiting Guy with the Lie, for you to show us one study that proves placebo. Where is it? You said you had 100s of trials to prove it. Where are they?

          Like

      • Guy Chapman says:

        Sorry, you’re missing the point again. In science, you raise a hypothesis, it is then up to you to prove it. Science does not permit one to claim extraordinary things and then challenge people to disprove them, that’s not how it works.

        You (homeopaths) have based an entire field on two claims that have no objectively provable basis in fact: similars and infintesimals. The more we understand about the world, the less plausible these seem. You could get away with such ipse dixit pronouncements in 1796 when we had no proof of molecular structures, now we do.

        Like

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