The Homeopathic Cure of The Economist

It has long been held that unless you have studied the literature surrounding it and put it to an appropriate test, if you can’t say anything good about homeopathy, don’t say anything at all, because it will probably come off looking vituperative, read like a caviling complaint, stupid and flat out wrong.

 On April 1st, 2014, the same day as my last blog . . The Homeopathic Cure of Wikipedia . . The Economist posted another smug anti-homoeopathic cavil, and it will have about as much impact as another day in a 200 year old infection that’s been bugging Mankind, the disease being somewhere north of stupidity and south of deception.

Stupid or deceived, I have a hard time deciding which affliction any particular homeopathy antagonist is presenting, and I’m sure that’s exactly what they wonder of me. Touche’ a droit, et a gauche.

But my explanation for the physics of the homeopathic remedy I think are better than what I’ve got for why homeopathy isn’t accepted pandemically.

The article dodges around the usual rabidity about no active ingredients, the drooling “its just plain water” complaint. Well, the same thing could be said about Tritium, oxygen and hydrogen, the active ingredient of a chain reaction in a hydrogen bomb . .  and this a good corollary for the homeopathic remedy, just plain water except it has become radioactive. And this is not the only thing to blow up in the face of people who play gotcha with homoeopathy.

Homeopaths don’t like that explanation either. The devil they have in skepticism is an easier one to deal with than the one who resides in the physics of homeopathy, which are supramolecular and akin to the piezo electric effect.

But before my physics lecture gets me sued by Sominex for unfair competition by putting people to sleep without charge, or homeopathy for revealing a trade secret, allow me to return to the lies being spread by that rag with a one word oxymoron for a name:

The Economist says, “The most comprehensive review of homeopathy was published in 2005 in the Lancet, a medical journal. Researchers compared trials of homeopathic and conventional medicines. In the bigger, well-designed trials, there was ‘no convincing evidence’ that homeopathy was more effective than a placebo, they found.”

This is a lie. Now don’t take that as an insult, I admire a good liar. Pulitzer prizes are regularly awarded to people who, in a particularly good novel, have demonstrated an unusual talent for prevarication. Isn’t the word “fiction” just a civil replacement for a pack of lies? Of course it is. Story telling is just another way of getting our minds off the grisly truth.

And that’s what The Economist is doing here, the truth being that homoeopathy is a threat to the economics of the medical establishment.

What the smarmy author of The Economist is doing is quoting Shang, a debunked meta analysis of eight clinical trials cherry picked out of over 100 that appeared in Lancet in 2005 after the medical world was made especially miserable by Linde, a previous meta published in Lancet in 1997, of which the top critic of homeopathy at the time, Professor of Complementary Medicine Edzard Ernst of Exeter University, called “technically superb.”

After Shang hit the streets homeopaths began asking, where did they come up with this idea that homeopathics were no better than placebos?

Peter Fisher, MD, the Royal Physician and a practicing homeopath himself, asked to see the data. Shang refused, at first, then finally had to relent.

In a review of the literature for pharmacists, so they might form a more comprehensive view than the one presented by the The Economist, the American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education reported, “In contrast to findings by Kleijnen and Linde, a 2005 meta-analysis by Shang et al that was published in Lancet found that the efficacy of homeopathic treatment was no different than placebo.51 However, this study has been highly criticized for being methodologically flawed on many levels.5261 Of particular concern, the researchers eliminated 102 of 110 homeopathic trials and based their conclusions on only the 8 largest high-quality trials without clearly identifying the criteria by which these trials were selected or the identity of these trials. Odds ratios calculated before the exclusions (on all 110 trials) do not support their ultimate conclusion that homeopathic interventions are no better than placebo.” [1]

So why is The Economist taking sides in such an acrimonious and long standing feud with bogus information sources to support a view less than neutral? Why isn’t it good enough that a growing number of people are asking for homeopathy in their health care? Why is The Economist inserting itself between patients and their physicians? Why is it that The Economist is reporting the conclusions of a highly criticized analysis of homoeopathy and not better ones reporting findings contrary to what The Economist is reporting?

April Fools?

 People will continue going to homeopaths as a last resort, some will report miraculous cures, and others, usually those who haven’t tried it, will cry fraud.

A blog follows The Economist article with commentary by readers.

[1] Am J Pharm Educ. 2007 February 15; 71(1): 07.

Where Does Homeopathy Fit in Pharmacy PracticeTeela Johnson, HonBSc and Heather Boon, BScPhm, PhD

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9 comments on “The Homeopathic Cure of The Economist

  1. Tom Richardson says:

    April 1st is the only day of the year that Homeopathy even deserves a mention.

    Like

  2. Well written Dr. Benneth. Your summation, which I will repeat, puts things in proper perspective:

    “People will continue going to homeopaths as a last resort, some will report miraculous cures, and others, usually those who haven’t tried it, will cry fraud.”

    I just read today (Daily Mail) that 20% of doctors in Scotland have a basic knowledge of homeopathy compared to only 1% fifteen years ago. Conventional “medicine” continues to be its own worst enemy. Skeptics do not recognize it, but health care consumers, thankfully, do!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Bill LaChenal says:

    Back on topic, it may be of interest to note
    http://www.economist.com/economist-asks/should-alternative-medicine-be-taught-medical-schools

    I believe this to be the longest-running Economist poll ever; maybe it is cynical of me to suggest that the editorship has refused to close it off (I’ve prompted them several times), because it doesn’t reach the ‘right’ answer from their point of view.

    There was quite a lively discussion on those pages, worth a read if you have time to spare.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Peter says:

    == Veratrum album ==
    – lie, never speaks the truth
    – Never happy with SOCIAL POSITION
    – censorious, critical
    – censorious, disposed to find fault or is silent
    – cowardice
    – escape, attempts to
    – haughty
    – imbecility
    – insanity, madness
    – untruthful

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Laurie Willberg says:

    It’s telling that pseudo-Skeptics have to rely on a nearly 10 year old farcical research paper that should never have been published in the first place or retracted long ago for water pistol fodder.
    What many don’t know is that the Shang paper was a hastily cobbled effort in response to a leaked pending 2004 WHO report that encouraged world health care systems to make better use of Homeopathy as an effective and more cost effective alternative to drugs.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Bill LaChenal says:

      That would have been just before the sudden unexpected death of WHO director-general Lee Jong-wook, at the 2006 conference in Geneva. This was the WHO conference to which Prince Charles had been invited to speak on the subject of alternatives medicines (the next day).

      Lee Jong-wook had been appointed in 2003, having worked at the WHO since 1983. and was certainly a supporter of the use of local traditional medicines where appropriate, with the caveat that they should be safe & effective. I recall reports of him saying that it would help people without the need to buy expensive Western medicine.

      I would interpret his opinions as being primarily in response to the profits extracted from poorer countries by big pharma, and also their tendency to ‘steal’ intellectual property regarding local herbal cures, prior to patenting synthetic analogues of extracts and getting the original herbs banned where possible.

      A somewhat mealy-mouthed report was issued in 2004, with none of the enthusiasm Lee showed, but a slight emphasis on possible dangers of local alternatives. (But then we only subsequently found out the extent of big pharma influence there.)
      “WHO guidelines to promote proper use of alternative medicines” 2004
      http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2004/pr44/en/

      I don’t belive the possibility of foul play in Lee’s death was ever looked into. After all, how could that be? What could possibly be a motive? Who would have benefitted?
      But that might verge on talk of hidden conspiracies, unless some good standard of proof were to become evident.

      Liked by 1 person

      • johnbenneth says:

        I think you bring up an interesting if not telling point, Bill. The inpsiration of most synthetic pharmaceuticals I think were indeed taken from the traditional materia medica, like Cullen, same place Hahnemann got his.

        Liked by 1 person

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