Homeopathy

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Craig McInnes & Scott McKellar

Scott McKellar and Craig McInnes are chemists and rational thinkers who provide an undiluted version of their opinions.

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18 Responses

  1. Feba says:

    That’s concerning that this would be published within a student community, which, one would think, should be curious, educated and independent.

    It isn’t true that there isn’t any proof that homeopathy works – I assume this is what you refer to as “cherry-picked results”. I guess you also won’t like the argument that there are hundreds of thousands of cases of successful homeopathic treatment, only few of which are displayed on homeopathy websites by “die-hard homeopathy fans”. So let me start differently. It’s true that there isn’t any scientific proof of HOW homeopathy works within our scientific method. However, this is hardly a basis to completely dismiss it. I’m going to stick my head out here and say, that we don’t yet know all of the workings of the Universe. To claim that something isn’t valid, just because we as humans cannot yet explain it, is extremely rich. Aspirin had been used for centuries before its mechanism of action was understood.
    It is unfair and ignorant of you to quote the water memory theory to debunk all of homeopathic community. It has been one of many theories and no homeopath is citing it as an authoritative explanation – that is yet to discover. Look into Kuhnian paradigm theory to realise that you’re ticking every box, and that paradigm shift is not unheard of. New areas are developing, like regulatory biology and bioelectronics, with their new concept of life, as well as discoveries in physics itself, incl. nonlocality or BET, which may lead us someplace interesting. They have already found traces of nanoparticles in homeopathic remedies, something that should satisfy your “rational” minds (Prashant Satish Chikramane, Akkihebbal K. Suresh, Jayesh Ramesh Bellare, Shantaram Govind Kane, Extreme homeopathic dilutions retain starting materials: A nanoparticulate perspective, Homeopathy, Volume 99, Issue 4, October 2010, Pages 231–242) and it’s only a matter of time before we develop more tools and hence discover more about how the world works. If you’re forgetting that stumbling upon something new should be exciting, then I recommend that you spend some time with our good old Mr. Feynman.
    I agree that there isn’t much similarity to conventional medicine, but this can hardly be used as an argument against alternative solutions. Once again, I find it rather odd to resort to mechanistic view on nature as its ultimate description and reject everything outside of that frame of thinking. Are we back in the Medieval times?
    18 minutes well spend: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4gFi285OhrQ&feature=share&list=PLC-Fnx4h5p7D4tMd2txIlUXkDSdb5SZmQ A talk which was banned from TED of all places, which only goes to show what times we are living in. Even what you think we know is not necessarily what we actually know.
    I understand the argument, that misuse of homeopathy can be dangerous. However, this is a social issue and not the problem with homeopathy itself, so you’re barking up the wrong tree. There will be many idiots offering you homeopathy and many idiots wanting to take it when they don’t know any better. Giving a scalpel to a butcher will bring horrific results as well, but it’s no reason to dismiss surgery as a legitimate treatment. No skilled homeopath will suggest only homeopathic treatment for serious injuries or illness where life is at risk. Homeopathy is a complimentary treatment and should be used as such. If you insist on letting out your anger, I suggest that you channel it towards lack of education and bad policy making. So attack patients who don’t bother to become informed enough, and attack the policy makers who allow non-doctors to practise homeopathy (a practice which is only allowed in a very few European countries in fact: UK, Germany, Estonia, Finland, Ireland and Sweden, and can be changed).

    There is just so much more that can be said. I just wish people did their reading before writing angry articles.

    • Upto the end of year 2010, there have been 11 meta-analysis and 8 systematic reviews including 1 cochrane review (out of approximately 20 systematic reviews published) published in 14 medical journals in evidence of homeopathy. Out of 11 meta analysis, 5 are comprehensive, 5 on specific medical condition and 1 on super-avogadro dilution effect. These 19 peer-reviewed studies are part of the total 303 human studies in evidence of homeopathy upto the end of 2010.
      Ref: http://drnancymalik.wordpress.com/article/meta-analysis-and-systematic-reviews/

    • Erinaceous says:

      The “nano particles” found in homeopathic water are most easily explained by the fact the researchers didn’t use pure water or effectively remove surface contaminants on the glass they used. And the material that was found…. exactly what you’d expect if this were the reason, not some other exotic matrial just contaminants. Poor science that uncritical people grasp at as proof of their delusion. It is quoted over and over again despite the criticism of the methodology, smacks of desperation and delusion.

  2. Craig McInnes Craig McInnes says:

    We (the authors) are educated and independently-minded enough to not fall for the non-sense baiting of an internet troll. Allow us to provide you with a few brief points (in retort to your grossly misguided comment) before ignoring you forever. Homeopathy does not work any better than a placebo. Providing us with a reference from the journal homeopathy could not better demonstrate what we really meant by cherry-picking and I suggest that the reading you do begins with the phrase conformation bias. The closest evidence we came across in our (extensive) research was a paper concerning homeopathic treatment as a replacement for antibiotics in cows. We came to the conclusion (as did other reviewers) that the trial was poorly designed and on far too small a sample set to provide reliable evidence. The fact that this debate has dragged on for decades and remained in the realm of hand-waving and stubborn assertions should ring some alarm bells that there is a serious lack of hard evidence in support of homeopathy. We are professional scientists and understand what constitutes an exciting discovery and what warrants more evidence; I suggest that you spend some time with Mr. Professor Feynman before casually dishing out that advice. Perhaps, too, you should question what you hear when watching a presentation based on The Science Delusion and understand that not all medicines on the market are there with the full knowledge of their mechanism of action. The first thing they must demonstrate is if they work at all; something that homeopathy just hasn’t done. We’ve never said that surgery isn’t a legitimate treatment and we emphatically hate that ‘straw-man’ approach to arguing a point. Maybe you should listen to our rhetological fallacies podcast and realise just how silly you sound. I was almost sick on my computer screen when I read how idiotically you had interpreted non-locality and allow me to tell you this, before you say it to someone in person; you sound like a moron when you say that. Perhaps the most offensive thing you have suggested here, though, is that we “attack patients who don’t bother to become informed enough”… Are you serious? The NHS is there to protect its patients and not peddle them snake oil and then chastise them for not knowing any better. The reason we (the authors) write angry articles is because we’re constantly confronted with people like you. Get a grip!

  3. Erinaceous says:

    Thank you for this article highlighting the insanity of homeopathy.

    Expect more trolls:
    http://homeopathynotes.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/62913-anti-homeopathy-has-1-supporter.html

    Actually the comments by the supporters of homeopathy often do more to highlight the insanity even further, eg the first one here. Well done a good example of the genre.

    Homeopathic sugar pills have been prepared from some interesting things, eg the light of Venus, a shipwreck, and the Berlin Wall. The latter so potent It had to be stored in the makers shed. Really…

    Some homepaths believe in paper homeotherapy. This requires the “treatment” to be written down and the victim to carry the paper, or a glass of water placed on the paper and later drunk by the victim. Predictably they are very reluctant to discuss their belief in this particular delusion as even the most incredulous might find this a bit of a stretch.

    Homepaths are often conspiracists eg on the site mentioned above sceptics are described as “probably paid” to debunk this stupidity.

    The main form of defence of homeopathy is to attack medicine. Whatever the failings of medicine it does not in any way lend support to the homeopathic delusion. The debate can become sidetracked and that’s what they want as they can’t defend or prove any of their assertions for an effect above that of a placebo. They will typically be very reluctant to discuss the basis and process of homeopathy which has barely changed in 200 years.

    Don’t expect any rationality from them. It’s been diluted to oblivion by dogma.

  4. Katalin says:

    All this arguing back and forth is ridiculous. There is an old saying: Proof of the pudding is in the eating. Those of us who have tried it and have seen the results are beyond grateful for Homeopathy’s healing effects. You can keep your placebo arguments and whatever all else you can pick apart. The bottom line is that countless patients have been healed and freed up from a variety of health conditions and diseases that were unsatisfactorily treated by allopathic means. One cannot turn a blind eye to this fact. As Homeopathy enters the main stream you will see an ever increasing growing population finding long desired relief from debilitating conditions. I pray the day come soon. And those that still wish to pursue the allopathic route, go in peace and do so. but leave those people who wish for true long lasting health and quality of life through Homeopathic means alone. Give us the dignity of recognizing that we have the intelligence, capacity and freedom to discern and choose our own method of healing. That is the basis of a true democratic and free society.

    • Erinaceous says:

      Katalin,

      “All this arguing back and forth is ridiculous” If so then why join in? Self-defeating comment. However, it is not, it is worth every second to highlight the stupidity of homeopathy. Some homeopaths are pushing their magic in places such as Africa and treating people with conditions such as HIV and Malaria. Some are claiming homeopathic vaccines will prevent disease. People die as a result of using homeopathic treatments rather than medicine.

      “There is an old saying: Proof of the pudding is in the eating” A billion flies eat dung and appear to thrive on it, that doesn’t suggest to me I should do likewise. A saying is a saying, it doesn’t prove anything. The proof of the pudding is in proof. In a myriad of tests there is no proof homeopathy has any effect, other than as a placebo. It’s a fact. Anecdote is not proof. Why, if it works, and always works, isn’t it incredibly easy to prove it does? 200 years of abject failure.

      ” One cannot turn a blind eye to this fact. ” see the last paragraph, Homeopaths turn blind eyes to many facts, including that there is no efficacy, no plausible mechanism of action and harm results through its use. They turn a blind eye to the facts and act on faith and anecdote.

      “I pray the day come soon. ” You don’t tell us which of the 2-3000+ Gods you are praying to, but when studied objectively pray either has no effect or possibly slight harm. That’s evidence vs. anecdote.

      “leave those people – snip- alone.”
      So parents who leave their child to die as a result of choosing homeopathic sugar pills over medicine should be left alone to express their “democratic rights”? The paranoia at been caught out believing something totally stupid is interesting. A plea that their “rights” are being abused is hilarious. It’s the same feeling the mythical Emperor must have felt when people stopped believing in his imaginary clothes. Believe what you want, but don’t inflict your beliefs on others or promote them as true without expecting to be challenged ever step of the way, and don’t moan about it when it happens.

      ps note the predicted attack on medicine was at the core of Katalin’s comment.

  5. ChristyRedd says:

    I’m one more homeopathic patient who is so very grateful for what it’s done for me. Con med couldn’t do anything for me after a disabling auto accident, but homeopathy had me back on my feet, working, gardening and taking on family responsibilities I couldn’t handle before. Before finding homeopathy I suffered from chronic insomnia. (Everyone knows how frustrating and enervating insomnia can be.) Con med could only offer addictive pills. Homeopathy resolved the problem safely, gently, dynamically, permanently and inexpensively.

    Homeopathic medicines are non-toxic and have been proven in large studies to be safe for infants, children, nursing mothers and pregnant women.

    Homeopathy is famous for its cures of chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, diseases that are considered incurable in conventional medicine. For case records google “homeopathy cured cases”.

    There are 200 studies published in 102 respected, national and international peer-reviewed journals that show it produces significant to substantial health benefits in a wide array of conditions. Some of them can be seen at the web site for the National Center for Homeopathy.

    There are also a number of videos providing personal testimonies on You Tube. Search “homeopathy worked for me”.

    From years of experience I would have to recommend it very highly to anyone.

  6. Erinaceous says:

    ChristyRedd Propaganda and misinformation.

    Safe…no not true.

    http://discoverhomeopathy.co.uk/?page_id=116

    Many published studies claim efficacy, but when subject to scrutiny do not prove efficacy. There is a difference. Critical review of published studies is required, not blind acceptance of what validates your own beliefs.

    ps again, as predicted the medicine bad, homeopathy good brigade is out in force. Maybe this is evidence for my psychic ability…. not.

  7. Sandra Courtney says:

    I must have missed it in the comments sections here where any of those who oppose homeopathy could speak as a physician, a homeopath, a pharmaceutical chemist, or someone actively involved in any of the health care sciences or even been personally treated by a classical homeopath. At least I can speak as a certified medical transcriptionist and teacher, as well as a person who has personally benefited from homeopathy.

    As it has for over 200 years, homeopathy will continue to survive unless the people who rant against this choice in health care conduct book burnings, shut down the newspapers and magazines, fire all the judges, attorneys, stop social networking through the internet, and imprison people who spread the good news of homeopathy through contact from friend to friend, family member to family member, co-worker to co-worker, club members to club members, church group members to other members.

  8. Erinaceous says:

    Sandra
    So I guess you are probably SAHC who used almost identical words amongst many other homeopathic diatribes here
    http://conversation.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/your-view-do-pharmacists-and-homeopathy-mix/comment-page-2/

    Your comment here doesn’t really make much of a case for homeopathy.

    You don’t seem to have learnt anything if you think someone has to speak as a physician, a homeopath, a pharmaceutical chemist etc in order to understand how fundamentally flawed homeopathy is. The chief scientific officer and the chief medical officer of the Uk government aren’t impressed, if you want a medical opinion, Dame Sally describing homeopathy as “ rubbish”. But that isn’t that important, it is the failed trials that show homeopathy does not work -other than as a placebo. I haven’t been treated by a practitioner of trepanning, and don’t need to, in order to understand why it’s nuts. The last person I would talk to about any medical issue is a homeopath as they have already publicly demonstrated their lack of critical thing and belief in magical thinking – why would anyone trust someone who publicly admits their delusion? Rhetorical.

    • Sandra Courtney says:

      Learnt? I have learned a lot about both con med and homeopathy.

      Thanks for that link, I had not saved that response in my files for future reference. Now, I have it.

  9. Erinaceous says:

    An interesting day for the deluded…they may need some very “potent” diluted water to treat their latest headache.

    The ASA has published an adjudication on claims by the Society of Homeopaths
    http://asa.org.uk/Rulings/Adjudications/2013/7/Society-of-Homeopaths/SHP_ADJ_157043.aspx

    In essence they can’t make any claims to treat any medical condition (So the outrageous claim made by a commentator on this site that Homeopathy can cure diabetes would not be allowed, and quite right too-utter nonsense).

    and an interesting commentary on this ruling and a previous one.

    http://www.nightingale-collaboration.org/news/152-landmark-decisions-for-homeopaths.html

    it is a shame there is no regulation of their claims in some African countries where they continue to make outrageous claims to treat medical conditions and push their magic water and sugar on the vulnerable.

    A good day for common sense, at least in the UK.

  10. Feba says:

    To the authors:
    Before ignoring me forever? What kind of thing is that to say for a person who just put out an opinion piece, and an extreme one at that, for everyone to see?
    Forget the nanoscale paper, I only bring it up to illustrate the point, which – it seems – you’ve missed or ignored. Lack of scientific evidence is no bases to say that something cannot be true, it is only saying that it doesn’t work within our scientific method, which, in the face of real-life experiences, means very little. (Yes, the homeopathy allegedly hasn’t proven itself, you said, stay with me)
    Feynman, the man who couldn’t care less for his titles, should be read and listened to by everyone and anyone who forgets to wonder. There is a continuous inflow of positive patients’ testimonies – how does that fail to ring any alarm bells for you? You talk about something that’s either an exciting discovery or something that warrants more evidence. You can place homeopathy in both or either one and still there is no justification for harsh critique of the whole thing. Many theories have waited many years for a proof.
    The non-locality example, which I didn’t interpret but merely mentioned, comes from a professor of physics, I’ll pass on that you think he sounds like a moron. Beyond being just plain rude, would you care to explain? I’ll be glad to discuss it further with him when I get a chance. All anomalies can surely be explained if approached without prejudice and with the mind open to different possibilities, including those outside of Newtonian paradigm. It’s enough to realise how deceiving are our senses which we tend to trust indiscriminately. All is subject to consciousness, and even study of consciousness is still considered protoscience.
    “this debate has dragged on for decades” precisely because there is plenty of evidence, clinical evidence. Medicine’s entire purpose is to help people. Well, turns out it does, and more often than it doesn’t. E.g. no less than 70% of homeopathic hospital patients admit to positive changes after treatment. Those are better odds than much of what conventional medicine has to offer. Besides, the two are complimentary, perhaps the most important point of it all. Homeopathy works differently (obviously) and requires different than one-size-fits-all approach to verifying its effectiveness. Try tracking an accomplished homeopath’s treatment history to observe that their success rate is much more than accidental. Needless to say that health practitioners who once get into homeopathy rarely abandon it later, to various extents realising its benefits.
    I question “The Science of Delusion” as much as I question everything else. Sheldrake highlights uncertainty, which is why I bring it up and why I deliberately use “not necessarily” when talking about what we think we know. I am absolutely the subject to confirmation bias. That is because I’m trying to find a common ground for your surprisingly confident viewpoint and my direct, extensive and repeated experience to the contrary, professional and otherwise. If you look hard enough, Internet can provide you with infinite number of “evidence” supporting virtually any claim you can think of, which is why I won’t argue for anything that wasn’t based on experience – the only trustworthy source these days. I am yet to come across a scientist who is an enemy of homeopathy but can hold up their argument without resorting to scientism.
    “Straw-man approach to arguing a point”? That from the men who use “and despite the fact that the notion is just plain stupid” in print? You know very well that this, again, just illustrates the point that good tool in hands of unqualified person is no good. I wouldn’t pick you for my debate team either, but bickering like this is unnecessary. I think you misunderstood my argument about patients having to be informed. What NHS should do is to provide anything that makes people better. If it happens that a patient chooses to be treated by a non-doctor and refuses conventional medicine against advice of doctors and when it’s appropriate, then it’s of no fault to the method, but a problem of misuse and lack of understanding of what homeopathy can and cannot do – that of the patients and that of homeopaths. To protect the patients it is a matter of regulating homeopath’s competencies. All this is irrelevant to the validity of homeopathy as treatment.
    Please try to focus less on picking apart the examples and more on the points that are being made.

  11. Erinaceous says:

    Well Sandra/SAHC has moved on to evangelise to GPs here http://www.pulsetoday.co.uk/news/clinical-news/homeopathic-health-claims-broke-advertising-code-of-practice-watchdog-rules/20003522.article#.Udhidcu9KSM

    And as can be seen her and her friends don’t really seem to understand that just because a study is published that it is not necessarily true. It just works.
    One of the devotees (she posts in many of the same places as Sandra/SAHC) posted this on a different site and it speaks volumes about their view of the word
    ——
    Christine Jahnig
    The ASA hired an expert to assess the homeopathic literature. That expert is trained only in………..pharmacology.
    ——

    As opposed to medical transcription I suppose? Oh I forgot “certified”. Quite.

  12. Erinaceous says:

    Feba
    I’ll let Scott and Craig do most of the legwork on this on, they’ve done well so far. They’ll probably be pretty succinct based on previous experience 🙂
    You say

    There is a continuous inflow of positive patients’ testimonies – how does that fail to ring any alarm bells for you?

    And? What’s your point? Fans of Celtic will testify they are fantastic, fans of homeopathy will tell you it is fantastic. Opinion is not evidence, let me repeat that opinion is not evidence, now go away and don’t repeat such silly comments again please. I was polite I said please.

    “this debate has dragged on for decades” precisely because there is plenty of evidence, clinical evidence.”
    There’s lots of publications but no evidence that can satisfy the ASA, the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee – Fourth Report Evidence Check 2, Cochrane reviews, The Chief Scientific advisor to the Uk government, The Chief medical Officer of the UK, myself and quite a few other people who review the publications and find them wanting.

    and the usual special pleading: “Homeopathy works differently” differently in the sense of doesn’t work

    We agree on one thing

    All this is irrelevant to the validity of homeopathy as treatment.

    Yes it doesn’t have any validity. When some good quality evidence turns up I am sure we’ll take a look at it. 200 years on you still repeat the same old dogmas and “it works It works I used it and it worked” please spare me…

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