/ Health

Your view: the homeopathy debate roars on

Lion roaring

When we rounded-up your views on homeopathy and pharmacists we didn’t expect another 800 comments to roll in! That, and the fact it’s World Homeopathic Awareness Week, has re-fuelled our homeopathic fire…

In a first for Which? Conversation, this week’s ‘Your view’ is based on a previous round-up. If you’ve had enough of the word ‘homeopathy’ then bear with us for another week because it’s clearly a popular topic.

That said, previous discussions haven’t been problem-free. Many contributors have threatened to leave the debate and warnings have been issued.

So it is with a little trepidation that we broach the subject one more time with a short summary of your main points and themes…

The role of pharmacists

Our first Convo came out of our snapshot investigation which found that 13 out of 20 pharmacists failed to explain that there’s no clinical evidence that homeopathy works. Amy, a retired community pharmacist, found this surprising.

‘I have never advocated the use of homeopathic medicine and can see no scientific reason as to why it should have any place in modern medicine. If it does work it is probably due to the placebo effect or blind faith!’

BobH agrees:

‘Should pharmacists offer homeopathic solutions to medical problems? Probably not, unless you also think that it would be reasonable for them to ask you to bring in eye of newt and toe of frog and they’d make up a potion for you. People expect pharmacists to offer something that, in their professional opinion, will treat the illness presented.’

But SAHC says we should apply the same theory across all medicine:

‘If a pharmacist chooses to warn a customer against the use of homeopathy, that is up to him or her. I would vote that it should be up to a pharmacist’s personal conscience and belief. Conversely, should a pharmacist be required to warn his customers of the adverse side effects of mainstream drugs? Oh, that might not be a good idea… it would take up too much time, would it not?’

How is homeopathy being sold?

Robin spoke to his local Boots’ pharmacist about our investigation:

‘He was very aware of the Which? survey. He said Boots had sent out information and training reminders to them as a result. I take some comfort from this, and credit is due to Boots for taking some prompt action. Perhaps if everyone reading this also politely asked their local pharmacist if they were aware of the survey results and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society policy it might help even further.’

But Wavechange still feels let down by the way that homeopathic labelling works:

‘I have been looking at the Boots website and am disappointed to see that it lists various homeopathic properties. There are some guarded statements, but to have words such as “pain relief” shown without qualification on the front of the packet is little short of disgraceful.’

Where does homeopathy stand with science?

The issue of science has been discussed at length in both previous Conversations, and Wavechange sums up many people’s views here:

‘It is not up to us to disprove homeopathy but for you and your fellow believers to get together and prove that it works to command respect from the scientific community.’

Dr Lionel Milgrom responds:

‘Thank you: with this, I think you have at last verbalised the gigantic hubris under which many on this site labour. And that is proving or disproving how and whether homeopathy works, and gaining the respect of the scientific community have very little to do with patients’ democratic right of access to safe, cost-effective healthcare. Quite clearly many want homeopathy. The reason the pseudo-sceptic movement is so rife in the UK is because patients can still have homeopathy on the NHS if they choose to.’

ChrisP says homeopathy should not be seen as an alternative medicine:

‘The science plainly shows it can be as potent as a placebo, not that it actively heals. I doubt any doctor or pharmacist would treat an illness as significant as type 1 diabetes with homeopathy alone, whereas many members of the public would genuinely hope their chronic stress, indigestion or pain can be solved by homeopathy as it will be safe, not make them experience side effects nor directly kill them, which wrongly (or in some cases rightly) they may believe is always possible of traditional medicine.’

But Robin worries that homeopathy will still be used in the wrong way:

‘The only fly in this non-ointment is some homeopaths are claiming it can treat serious conditions such as cancer, aids, malaria etc. It is clear some are promoting the view that homeopathy is not just a placebo, as an adjunct to medical care, but a primary treatment. Others claim homeopathic “vaccines” have efficacy.’

So, do you agree with 71% of voters who say that pharmacists should only recommend remedies backed by science, or will you continue to buy and use homeopathic treatments?

Comments
wev says:
30 June 2013

Guy, you said earlier that some cancers disappear unexpectedly without any treatment.

Which cancers, and what’s the most likely explanation for why it happens?

It’s called spontaneous remission. It’s one of a number of factors that lead quacks to falsely claim to have cured cancer. Misdiagnosis, claims of “possibly malignant” as malignant, claims of “tumour” as “cancer” (when it could be benign) and indolent cancers are other sources of falsely claimed cures.

I recently read a dissection of the bogus claims of the Banerji protocol (all the “evidence ” for which seems, amazingly, to have the name Banerji as author or co-author). These are big on diagnosing cancer form symptoms that are consistent with other causes.

Wev,
there is also this take on “Spontaneous Remission” with what is described as “unlikely remission” or “unexpected remission”…
http://noetic.org/noetic/issue-seventeen-december/unexpected-remission/

Interesting post as well made by a Medical Oncologist as the first comment in the comments section.

“Skeptics United” no less.

Say, you guys (no pun intended) ever tried homeopathy with any degree of objectivity? and if you have, you would know it wouldn’t work, because you knew from the outset it wouldn’t work. Right?

Not sure either as to where the ASA received their information, but probably the RPS, or have you pseudo-skeptics been applying pressure to bear in high places.?

Thank goodness we have the Europeans in charge, and follow their directives to save us all from you Scientismists.

Here’s some of the science that you lot have ignored or were not even aware of……………….

The fact that homeopathy became extremely popular during the 19th century primarily because of its impressive successes in treating the infectious disease epidemics that raged during that time is a fact that is totally ignored by skeptics (3) (4) (5)

(3) Coulter HL, Divided Legacy: The Schism in Medical Thought. Volumes 2 & 3. Berkeley: North Atlantic, 1975, 1973. (Note: Dr. Harris Coulter, a world renowned medical historian who specialized in the history of homeopathic medicine, passed away in October, 2009.)
(4) Rothstein, W. Physicians in the Nineteenth Century. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1972.
(5) Ullman Dana. The Homeopathic Revolution: Why Famous People and Cultural Heroes Choose Homeopathy. Berkeley: North Atlantic, 2007. http://www.HomeopathicRevolution.com

More than 150 placebo controlled clinical studies, most of which have shown positive results, either compared with a placebo or compared with a conventional drug (6-10).

(6) Jonas WB, Kaptchuk TJ, Linde K, A Critical Overview of Homeopathy, Annals in Internal Medicine, March 4, 2003:138:393-399.
(7) Linde K, Clausius N, Ramirez G, et al., “Are the Clinical Effects of Homoeopathy Placebo Effects? A Meta-analysis of Placebo-Controlled Trials,” Lancet, September 20, 1997, 350:834-843. (In 1999, Linde acknowledged that some new research reduced the significance of this review, but he never said or implied that the significance was lost. In fact, in 2005, he sharply criticized the Shang review of homeopathic research.) Also, Kleijnen J, Knipschild P, ter Riet G, “Clinical Trials of Homoeopathy,” British Medical Journal, February 9, 1991, 302:316-323.
(8) Ullman, D, Frass, M. A Review of Homeopathic Research in the Treatment of Respiratory Allergies. Alternative Medicine Review. 2010:15,1:48-58. http://www.thorne.com/altmedrev/.fulltext/15/1/48.pdf
(9) Ullman Dana. Homeopathic Family Medicine: Evidence Based Nanopharmacology. An ebook. http://www.homeopathic.com/ebook
(10) M. Weiser, W. Strosser, P. Klein, “Homeopathic vs Conventional Treatment of Vertigo: A Randomized Double-blind Controlled Clinical Trial,” Archives of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, August, 1998, 124:879-885.

If that were not enough, studies testing the effects of homeopathic medicines on cell cultures, plants, animals, physics experiments, and chemistry trials have shown statistically significant effects. (11-16) Needless to say, the placebo effect in these basic science studies is virtually non-existent, while the effects from homeopathic doses are significant and sometimes substantial.

(11) http://avilian.co.uk/ –This site provides references and links to many high quality basic science studies.
(12) Witt CM, Bluth M, Albrecht H, Weisshuhn TE, Baumgartner S, Willich SN. The in vitro evidence for an effect of high homeopathic potencies–a systematic review of the literature. Complement Ther Med. 2007 Jun;15(2):128-38. Epub 2007 Mar 28.
(13) Rey, L. Thermoluminescence of Ultra-High Dilutions of Lithium Chloride and Sodium Chloride. Physica A, 323(2003)67-74.
(14) Elia, V, and Niccoli, M. Thermodynamics of Extremely Diluted Aqueous Solutions, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 879, 1999:241-248. Elia, V, Baiano, S, Duro, I, Napoli, E, Niccoli, M, Nonatelli, L. Permanent Physio-chemical Properties of Extremely Diluted Aqueous Solutions of Homeopathic Medicines, Homeopathy, 93, 2004:144-150.
(15) International Journal of High Dilution Research. http://www.f*g.unesp.br/~ojs/index.php/ijhdr
(16) HomBRex – a database on Basic Research experiments on Homeopathy. http://www.carstens-stiftung.org/ — a database of over 1,400 basic science studies, accessed 12-31-09.

Studies at the University of Vienna showed “substantial significance” in treating patients with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease…the number four reason that people in the USA die!)(34) and severe sepsis (a condition which kills 50 percent of patients in hospitals who are inflicted with it, and yet, homeopathic treatment has been found to cut this death rate in HALF!).(35)

(34) Frass M, Dielacher C, Linkesch M, et al. Influence of potassium dichromate on tracheal secretions in critically ill patients. Chest 2005;127:936-941. (This journal is consider THE most respected journal in respiratory medicine.)
(35) Frass M, Linkesch M, Banyai S, et al. Adjunctive homeopathic treatment in patients with severe sepsis: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in an intensive care unit. Homeopathy 2005;94;75-80.

A challenge to you Skeptics…………

The vast majority of homeopaths throughout the world are medical doctors or some other licensed or certified health professional who practice family medicine and who see patients with varied acute and chronic ailments. Therefore, I personally challenge ANY skeptic of homeopathy to try to maintain a family practice and only dispense “sugar pills,” rather than real homeopathic medicines. My challenge is simple: while seeing a wide variety of children and adults with various acute and chronic problems, take them off all of their conventional drugs (with the exception of insulin and a small selection of drugs of “medical necessity”), and prescribe only sugar pills…for just one week.

When you consider that homeopaths do this for 52 weeks of the year, skeptics of homeopathy should not have any problem IF they think that homeopaths are only prescribing placebos. Let`s see how many patients complain, call you late at night expressing concern about the ineffectiveness of your “medicine,” and simply do not return for future health care. Any skeptic of homeopathy will be “cured” by this experience in humility.

And how true this is…………..

“Professional skeptics who are self-appointed vigilantes dedicated to the suppression of curiosity” (huffingtonpost, Dec 27, 2009). When such people do not want to learn from the past, do not even read the research (or only read those studies that confirm their own point of view), and maintain a high degree of arrogance, such “skepticism” isn`t skepticism at all: it is bad scientific thinking; it is an unhealthy attitude towards science; and it is a model for how not to learn”…………Deepak Chopra MD.

And on a final note…………..
Mark Twain once asserted in 1890, “you may honestly feel grateful that homeopathy survived the attempts of the allopathists [conventional physicians] to destroy it.”

[This comment has been edited for breaking our guidelines. Thanks, mods.]

Alan Henness says:
4 July 2013

“Say, you guys (no pun intended) ever tried homeopathy with any degree of objectivity? and if you have, you would know it wouldn’t work, because you knew from the outset it wouldn’t work. Right?”

And in those few words, you illustrate all that is wrong with homeopathic thinking.

“Not sure either as to where the ASA received their information”

Not sure why you don’t know this. The ASA gets all its information from the advertiser. They are the ones who made the claims and they are the ones who have to provide the evidence to substantiate those claims. Simple, really.

“but probably the RPS”

Wrong (for reasons, see previous answer).

“or have you pseudo-skeptics been applying pressure to bear in high places.?”

Wrong (for reasons, see previous answer). But are you implying corruption? That would be a serious accusation, wouldn’t it? Is it mere speculation or wishful thinking on your part or do you have any evidence?

“Thank goodness we have the Europeans in charge, and follow their directives to save us all from you Scientismists.”

What are you talking about?

“Here’s some of the science that you lot have ignored or were not even aware of……………….”

It’s not us you need to send that to if you think it’s so good. If you think the SoH is unaware of it, perhaps you should send it to them? I’m sure they will be very happy for the help.

“A challenge to you Skeptics…………

The vast majority of homeopaths throughout the world are medical doctors or some other licensed or certified health professional who practice family medicine and who see patients with varied acute and chronic ailments. Therefore, I personally challenge ANY skeptic of homeopathy to try to maintain a family practice and only dispense “sugar pills,” rather than real homeopathic medicines. My challenge is simple: while seeing a wide variety of children and adults with various acute and chronic problems, take them off all of their conventional drugs (with the exception of insulin and a small selection of drugs of “medical necessity”), and prescribe only sugar pills…for just one week.”

No. That would be unethical.

Have a look at the ASA adjudication and it mentions only a single complaint, so it it does not look like a great conspiracy to discredit homeopathy. Maybe next time. 🙂

This is the modus operandi of homeopathists, the Gish Gallop. By citing long lists of studies they hope people will not notice that the studies do not in fact validate their claims.

Some are obvious (Ullman’s mendacity in the service of his belief is the stuff of legend, the Jonas and Linde papers are superseded by their subsequent work showing the effect of study quality on outcome – the better the study the less positive the outcome, fancy that).

But most of it amounts to citing the Gospels as proof of the truth of the Bible.

There’s a more fundamental error.

Clinical trials – RCTs – are usually powerful because they are large, because the intervention is known to have a valid biological pathway, because it has been shown to have an effect in vitro and in animal models, and because small scale trials have shown objectively measurable outcomes.

Even then, as we know thanks to the diligent work of epidemiologists, they get it wrong a lot of the time. They habitually overstate benefit, and this is due in no small part to the people running the trials having subtle or not so subtle biases. Why would one imagine that this would apply only to real medicines?

Homeopathy is predicated on the idea that like cures like by a dynamised energy in the remedy acting on the vital force. The sole basis for this is an idiosyncratic reaction to chinchona bark, the active principle in which, quinine, cures malaria. In fact, quinine cures malaria by a selective action against the parasites which we now know cause malaria. So every single thing about the canonical first proving is wrong. Quinine does not cure in small doses a symptom is causes in larger doses (unless you have an idiosyncratic reaction); it does not do it by dynamised energy; it does not do it by influencing the vital force; it does not du it when diluted below the level of pharmacological activity; it does not do it better when diluted more (in fact, quite the opposite).

Every subsequent proving is a sort of medical pareidolia; looking for patterns in randomness. The fact that the occasional cloud is shaped like a whale does not imply any causal link between clouds and whales.

So we are invited, again and again, to set aside the fact that there is absolutely no plausible reason to think homeopathy should work, that key parts of it have been convincingly refuted, and that there has never been an even remotely plausible mechanism of action, and look instead at the type of evidence which we know to be most prone to manipulation and error at the margins – and which is often dismissed in the very next breath as being manipulated by “big pharma”.

The reason there appears to be a positive effect in homeopathy trials is simply explained by the null hypothesis. Biases cause people to see a result that doesn’t exist (and detailed reading of many of these papers will show things like use of secondary or proxy outcomes when the primary outcome fails to show benefit). As with any religion, belief is taken as its own evidence.

Fall back to any properly objective test that cannot be manipulated by expectation, selective interpretation and the like, and you get a big fact zero.

And the really striking thing is the total failure of homeopathy to yield anything useful other than to believers. Think about it. You input low grade random energy into a system, and that causes an increase in order and information content, that is not only permanent but also transferrable even when the carrier medium is evaporated.

That is quite something.

Or at least it would be if it were true.

Alan: It would be interesting to see how a homeopathist defines “medical necessity”, and by what objective criteria they might decide that insulin may not be replaced by homeopathy while, say, warfarin may.

And would the homeopathist define iron for anaemia as “medical necessity”? Is it a drug? It is available only on prescription at therapeutic doses, and it is toxic in overdose.

We seem to be dealing with Humpty-Dumptathy, where medicine means just what the homeopathist chooses it to mean, neither more nor less. I suppose that’s a natural consequence of living in homeopathy’s dream world where nothing is objectively verifiable.

Alan,
you missed out this for consideration under my heading: A challenge to you Skeptics……..

“When you consider that homeopaths do this for 52 weeks of the year, skeptics of homeopathy should not have any problem IF they think that homeopaths are only prescribing placebos. Let`s see how many patients complain, call you late at night expressing concern about the ineffectiveness of your “medicine,” and simply do not return for future health care. Any skeptic of homeopathy will be “cured” by this experience in humility”.

I have never heard a single person complain that they have been let down by their religion, yet it seems unlikely that all religious beliefs can be valid.

Alan Henness says:
4 July 2013

Chris

Why do you think that makes it any less unethical?

Oh. And your additional text simply demonstrates even more the problems with homeopathic thinking skills.

And another ‘oh’. Oh. You might like to look up the full Sam Clemens quote to better understand what he actually said in context, rather than cherry picking an incomplete quote, not what homeopathists think he said or would have liked him to have said about homeopathy.

Homeopaths only hand out placebos. When they are treating the worried well (as they mostly do) this does not necessarily cause immediate harm. The harm comes when their converts become ill, and succumb to the pseudoscience, anti-medicine rhetoric and other nonsense.

Or when they travel to Africa with no effective protection against malaria.

Maybe antimalarials are another of those things that are deemed essential medicine and not appropriate for homeopathy? That’s certainly the view of the Society of Homeopaths, though not, it seems, of their members. Of course once again we are in the position of a dispute between believers that cannot be authoritatively resolved because nothing about homeopathy is objectively testable.

Alan,
Sam Clemens (aka Mark Twain’) full quote from Harper’s Magazine, where he wrote………………….

“When you reflect that your own father had to take such medicines as the above, and that you would be taking them to-day yourself but for the introduction of homeopathy, which forced the old-school doctor to stir around and learn something of a rational nature about his business, you may honestly feel grateful that homeopathy survived the attempts of the allopathists [conventional physicians] to destroy it, even though you may never employ any physician but an allopathist while you live.” (Twain, 1890)

Okay, so you skeptics “believe” that homeopathic remedies probably work only because of the placebo effect, but what you and others ignore is that they also often work effectively with babies and animals, neither of which are open to suggestibility.
And studies testing the effects of homeopathic medicines on cell cultures, plants, animals, physics experiments, and chemistry trials have shown statistically significant effects. The “placebo effect” in these basic science studies is virtually non-existent, while the effects from homeopathic doses are significant and sometimes substantial.

So how would any of you explain away the substantial benefits of homeopathic medicines in babies and animals who are not susceptible to “placebo”? Interesting.

Further, despite the ruling of the ASA and the “beliefs” of you “pseudo-skeptics”, you all have a monumental task on your hands in trying to eradicate what is essentially the second largest system of healthcare in the World. Good luck.

Wavechange, you said……………
“Have a look at the ASA adjudication and it mentions only a single complaint, so it it does not look like a great conspiracy”…………………………….

Should read, and I quote from the ASA’s link…………….

“Following the online remit extension in 2011 the ASA received a large number of complaints about claims relating to homeopathy that appeared on a number of websites. The ASA therefore made the decision to conduct an investigation…………..”.

The false belief that homeopathy “works” for children and animals has been addressed before in this debate. It is due to a combination of factors including the “white coat effect” (told your pet will improve therefore look for signs of improvement with the expectation of finding them), regression to the mean and natural course of disease, and you communicating calm to the patient rather than worry.

It “works” in exactly the same way as kissing it better.

All this is well understood and prosaic. The alternatives preferred by homeopaths invoke mysticism an unverifiable hypotheses.

Wavechange: And have you noticed how believers in alternatives to medicine (like believers in UFOs, crop circles and conspiracy theories) consistently reject any prosaic explanation? The statues on Easter Island are too big for one man to have stood up, therefore aliens. That sort of thing.

Alan Henness says:
5 July 2013

chrisb1 said:

“Alan,
Sam Clemens (aka Mark Twain’) full quote from Harper’s Magazine, where he wrote………………….”

Well, that’s part of it. But never mind.

“Okay, so you skeptics “believe” that homeopathic remedies probably work only because of the placebo effect, but what you and others ignore is that they also often work effectively with babies and animals, neither of which are open to suggestibility.”

Surely this has already been covered? It really is very simple.

There is a list of possible explanations for the observed effects in animals. Your problem is that the memory of water, potentisation and all the other stuff dreamed up by homeopathists is right at the very bottom if it’s ordered by probability. There are so many parsimonious – and everyday, understood – explanations that need to be examined first and eliminated as an explanation before getting to the bottom items on your list – the ones that require re-writing of physics, chemistry and biology textbooks.

So, chrisb1, the onus is on you to explain why we should reject the far more plausible explanations or jump right down to the bottom of the list to exclaim that homeopathy works!

By the way, here’s a simple explanation of some of those items you need to consider – and reject, giving reasons – first, before hailing that it was the magic water wot did it:

Homeopathy Does NOT Work On Babies or Animals!: http://punkpsychologist.blogspot.co.uk/2010/02/homeopathy-does-not-work-on-babies-or.html

“And studies testing the effects of homeopathic medicines on cell cultures, plants, animals, physics experiments, and chemistry trials have shown statistically significant effects. The “placebo effect” in these basic science studies is virtually non-existent, while the effects from homeopathic doses are significant and sometimes substantial.”

I really don’t understand why homeopathists are fixated on thinking skeptics think it’s all just placebo! There is much more than that. In the case of in vitro, it’s frequently bad experimental technique, ignorance of basic science or one of the many, many other sources of error and bias that can creep in. I’m sure I’ve already pointed out to you the introductory article on Wikipedia on bias: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Experimenter‘s_bias. It’s a good place to start.

“So how would any of you explain away the substantial benefits of homeopathic medicines in babies and animals who are not susceptible to “placebo”? Interesting.”

See above.

“Further, despite the ruling of the ASA and the “beliefs” of you “pseudo-skeptics”, you all have a monumental task on your hands in trying to eradicate what is essentially the second largest system of healthcare in the World. Good luck.”

How can you still be so wrong! Who said anything about trying to eradicate homeopathy??? All we want are homeopaths and others to stop making misleading claims and abide by the same rules all other advertisers have to. It is very simple.

“Wavechange, you said……………
“Have a look at the ASA adjudication and it mentions only a single complaint, so it it does not look like a great conspiracy”…………………………….

Should read, and I quote from the ASA’s link…………….

“Following the online remit extension in 2011 the ASA received a large number of complaints about claims relating to homeopathy that appeared on a number of websites. The ASA therefore made the decision to conduct an investigation…………..”.”

So? A large number of people were concerned that consumers were being misled by misleading claims by homeopaths. How does that make anything a conspiracy? Stop inventing yet more nonsense.

Guy,
“The false belief that homeopathy “works” for children and animals has been addressed before in this debate”.

Yes it has, but not satisfactorily resolved.

AND………
“It is due to a combination of factors including the “white coat effect” (told your pet will improve therefore look for signs of improvement with the expectation of finding them)”,

I see, so babies and animals are influenced by people in white coats?

AND……………..
“regression to the mean and natural course of disease, and you communicating calm to the patient rather than worry”.

That is all very well, but that does not explain when the results of this “natural course of the disease” are far superior and significant with homeopathy than without it?

AND……………
“It “works” in exactly the same way as kissing it better”.

Is this meant to be a serious comment?

Homeopathy is actually successfully used by veterinarians to treat animals. They use homeopathic medicines to treat domestic pets such as cats, dogs and birds, as well as barnyard animals like goats, horses and cows, all of which of course are influenced by the “placebo effect”.

Therefore the evidence of remedies working on babies and animals actually does disprove the placebo effect theory, since they do not understand the world about them sufficiently to be able to believe that a remedy is going to do them any good (unless they believe that people standing around in “white coats” and have a wonderful “bedside manner” would definitely resolve their illness).

The argument then is that when substances are diluted in the process of making potentised remedies, there comes a point when no molecule of the original substance is left, and as you pseudo-skeptics have highlighted. This apparently is calculated by using Avogadro’s number (the number of carbon-12 atoms in 12 grams of carbon), and the 12c potency is regarded as the one where no original substance is left in the remedy. However, provings demonstrate that potencies much higher than this cause effects, and so clearly the argument based on chemistry is not sufficient.

So when homeopathic remedies are “potentised” they are not only diluted, and as you know they are also succussed (banged, or shaken vigorously); banging, apparently, is known to make iron magnetic, a property which cannot be identified by the methods of chemists but only by those of physicists. Homeopaths have always stated that a property in the remedy is enhanced by the banging, and Hahnemann investigated the different effects consequent on varying the number of succussions and the rate of dilution. As a result he developed three scales of potentisation, one of which usually acts in a very different way from the other two. If there were nothing in the remedies, the action would be the same regardless of the method used, so this tends to confirm the view that it is incorrect to assume that remedies can be explained by chemists.

In addition, 45% of GPs consider Homeopathy useful. 60% of the doctors who use Homeopathy do so because of good experience of Homeopathy as an effective treatment, and also because of anxiety about the hazards of conventional treatment”.

Not that any of this will do any of you any good, but I believe (yes believe) that there should be a homeopathic remedy to cure your “pseudo-skepticism”, which in and of itself, is strongly being recognized as a disorder of sorts.

Alan,
“So? A large number of people were concerned that consumers were being misled by misleading claims by homeopaths. How does that make anything a conspiracy? Stop inventing yet more nonsense”.

I would wager that these large number of complaints from consumers against homeopathy were from pseudo-skeptics, or do you suppose that the ASA did some background checking to verify the nature of these complaints?

It also makes you wonder why harmless “sugar pills” that have no pharmacological or biological effect other than placebo, are classified as a category of drug within Europe, and are controlled by the very same Directive as pharmacological drugs (licensed medicinal products)?

You would do well to read and absorb this…………..
http://www.homeopathyheals.me.uk/site/homeopathy-articles/96-the-truth-about-homeopathy-dispelling-the-myths-that-surround-it

And this…………
research detailing successful homeopathic treatment of E Coli in piglets: This was a double blind RCT study.
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1475491609001246

Or even this one, published in the International Journal of Oncology………..

‘Biological activity’ of homeopathy demonstrated in new cancer study (published in the International Journal of Oncology, February 2010)……………….
http://www.spandidos-publications.com/ijo/article.jsp?article_id=ijo_36_2_395

After further research……………

The inappropriateness of RCT’s in homeopathy………………….

Some conventional medical treatments cannot be tested using the RCT model, and so evidence of effectiveness is based on the clinical evidence of cases. One example is surgery, another is psychiatry, and it is even the case that some drugs are prescribed on the basis of clinical evidence, rather than on the evidence from RCTs. In addition, drugs are usually withdrawn on the basis of the clinical evidence revealing dangers not identified in the RCTs, so clinical evidence is actually considered more important in the evaluation of treatment than RCTs. Homeopathy has an unequaled level of detail in its case histories which makes it possible to verify the success of treatment by study of clinical practice, and there are also good reasons for it not being easily tested using RCTs. As a result the demand for evidence from RCTs is inappropriate and intended to distort the truth, because the remedy has to be individualize, and the sequence of remedies has to be individualized. 

Interesting as well that Hippocrates, ‘The Father of Medicine’ of Ancient Greece, said there were two Laws of Healing: The Law of Opposites and the Law of Similars. Homeopathy utilises the Law of Similars, orthodox medicine uses the Law of Opposites, e.g. antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, anti-convulsants, anti-hypertensives, anti-depressants, anti-psychotics.

The idea that something is “not satisfactorily resolved” because it conflicts with fervent beliefs, is a false one.

Science can explain every observation in relation to homeopathy without recourse to unproven and/or refuted hypotheses such as “vital force”, “miasms”, “like cures like” and so on.

There are a number of factors in play, all well understood. Placebo effects, conformance to authority, cognitive biases, regression to the mean, natural course of disease – cognitive biases and confounders are well enough understood by now.

Set against that we have claims that are in fundamental conflict with the laws of physics, has never been observed in any context other than believers who are actively looking for it, and are in any case founded on a posited connection between “remedy” and disease that is refuted. The explanations offered by homeopaths are not even internally consistent, let alone externally consistent.

There is, in short, absolutely no rational reason why anybody should discard prosaic explanations and prefer what amount to invocations of the supernatural.

Yes, it “works” in exactly the same way as kissing it better. That is a serious comment. Obviously it is in conflict with the religious beliefs of homeopathists, but any parent will readily understand that kissing it better is a good example of an inert intervention applied to a child which has an apparently tangible effect. Substitute the sugar pill for the kiss and there you have it.

The number of GPs who believe in homeopathy is not actually relevant – nor is the figure quoted necessarily reliable. The figure actually reflects the number who will “prescribe” homeopathy when asked; the number who offer it unprompted is very much smaller. Most GPs will be fully aware that homeopathy is just a placebo, and other research shows that most GPs are willing prescribe a placebo where they believe the patient is not actually ill but demands a prescription anyway. I think this is a problem, I am with Phil Hammond in that you should not medicalise everyday life, but that is the way it is.

The term “pseudosckepticism” does not apply to skeptics of homeopathy, because homeopathy is, by common consent of those who actually understand the science around the claims being made, ridiculous; skepticism reflects the scientific consensus. Pseudoskepticism applies to climate change “skeptics”, holocaust “skeptics”, 9/11 “skeptics” and others who prefer tiny minority views rather than the consensus view of the reality-based community. You can study these bonkers views for yourself on crank websites like whale, where they are asserted as fact.

Obviously those who prefer quackery do use terms like pseudoskeptic, pharma shill and so on, as an exercise in framing, in order to manage the cognitive dissonance caused by the collision of observable reality with their cherished beliefs. Rather like creationists who use the term “scientism” to try to wave away the overwhelming evidence in favour of evolution over billions of years as the best explanation for life on earth as currently observed.

Karl Rove asserted that the Bush administration made its own reality. History shows that all they created was a web of self-delusion, because reality has a way of asserting itself in ways that cannot be ignored.

Guy,
try not to go down the “creationist” route as a good chap, and stick to the subject in hand, but if you insist………….

The theory of evolution contradicts the First Law of Thermodynamics which states that the total quantity of matter and energy in the universe is constant. It also contradicts the Second Law of Thermodynamics ((entropy tends to increase) which states that matter and energy always tend to change from complex and ordered states to disordered states.
http://www.doesgodexist.org/JulAug06/TheLawsofThermodynamics.html

The first and second laws of thermodynamics apply to closed systems. Earth is not a closed system. Earth receives a constant flow of inbound energy including high energy radiation courtesy of the fusion reactor in the middle of the solar system.

There is nothing about the evolution of life on earth that contradicts the laws of thermodynamics. Anyone who claims that it does, does not properly understand either evolution or thermodynamics.

Alan Henness says:
5 July 2013

chrisb1 said:

“Alan,
“So? A large number of people were concerned that consumers were being misled by misleading claims by homeopaths. How does that make anything a conspiracy? Stop inventing yet more nonsense”.

I would wager that these large number of complaints from consumers against homeopathy were from pseudo-skeptics, or do you suppose that the ASA did some background checking to verify the nature of these complaints?”

It matter not one jot who submits a complaint because that does not affect the validity of the complaint – it stands or falls on its own. The ‘nature’ of the complaint is in the content of the complaint, not in the name it came from. Would this complaint have been any less valid if it had been submitted by a disenchanted homeopath? Or a crystal healer? Or a creationist?

“It also makes you wonder why harmless “sugar pills” that have no pharmacological or biological effect other than placebo, are classified as a category of drug within Europe, and are controlled by the very same Directive as pharmacological drugs (licensed medicinal products)?”

They are so classified because that’s what homeopathists pushed for in Europe! Of course they are not medicines: all this demonstrates is that homeopaths were vocal and politicians gullible.

But, although there are some common rules in place, homeopathic products are most emphatically not subject to the same laws or regulated in the same way as conventional medicines. They are given a free ride because they don’t have to provide…what’s that elusive word I’m searching for…ah! ‘evidence’ of efficacy.

“You would do well to read and absorb this…………..
http://www.homeopathyheals.me.uk/site/homeopathy-articles/96-the-truth-about-homeopathy-dispelling-the-myths-that-surround-it

Oh dear. I would have hoped the discussion would have progressed beyond such hilariously wrong nonsense!

“The inappropriateness of RCT’s in homeopathy………………….”

Whoah! You cite RCTs in (apparently) support of homeopathy, and in the next breath, you say RCTs are not appropriate for homeopathy? Can you spot the slight problem you have here?

Alan: There is a germ of truth in the claim that RCTs are not appropriate for homeopathy. Ethically, an RCT – or indeed any human or animal trial – can only be justified where there are credible grounds to believe that the therapy in question might work, and that the class of individual partaking in human trials will be likely to benefit from the therapy under investigation.

Things like homeopathy, therapeutic touch, reiki, crystal healing and the like are so completely implausible that it is hard to see how any ethical justification could be advanced for trying them on humans.

I know the pyramid of evidence places review studies at the top, followed by RCTs and so on, and basic science at the bottom, but that’s because it is predicated on the pyramid being built from the ground up. It’s like a real pyramid: you can’t claim it’s a workable pyramid when the bottom 3/5 and the top 1/5 are missing, and you really should have to show that the bottom three levels are in place before working on the fourth level. That’s what happens in the real world of medicine, albeit that things like biological plausibility and credible mechanisms of action are often taken on trust – if any good reason is given to disbelieve those assumptions, and they are found to be false, then it’s unlikely the (necessarily fallible) RCTs will stand alone – either a new mechanistic explanation must be found or the analysis of human trials must be repeated against a much higher bar, demonstrating a substantial effect which can’t be accounted for by the null hypothesis.

That, as I know we both agree, is the fundamental flaw with homeopathy: the purported supporting evidence is always consistent with the null hypothesis and is not actually capable of refuting it. With medicine, refutation of the null hypothesis must take place *before* clinical trials, with homeopathy it never takes place at all.

Guy, you say……………..
“The first and second laws of thermodynamics apply to closed systems. Earth is not a closed system. Earth receives a constant flow of inbound energy including high energy radiation courtesy of the fusion reactor in the middle of the solar system”.

Ok, let’s rephrase that: the Second Law of Thermodynamics or, The Law of Entropy, dictates that energy/matter are in a constant state of decay, that is; the universe is “winding down”, going from a state of order to a state of chaos and dis-organization. It is true also that the earth is an “open” system. There is only one thing that makes use of all that solar energy___chlorophyll! Solar energy will destroy your paint job on your car; it’ll destroy the roof of your house, it’ll destroy your house! Only that little chlorophyll cell can make use of solar energy…and just that one little cell is more complicated than the space shuttle!
This Second Law, is but one of MANY scientific laws and evidences that deal a devastating blow to evolution!
You had better read this……………
http://www.icr.org/article/entropy-open-systems/

and this………..
http://www.icr.org/article/barrier-evolution/

In saying that the earth is an open system, and therefore the input of energy from the sun permits processes to experience negative entropy presupposes that evolution is possible in the first place. The exposure of randomly assembled prebiotic chemicals to light of any frequency ensures that they would never combine into anything approaching even a simple protein.
The Miller-Urey experiment demonstrated this. Sure, they came up with some complex organic compounds, but no matter how long they ran the experiment, the compounds never progressed beyond a certain point because of the 2nd Law effects.

AND……………….
“There is nothing about the evolution of life on earth that contradicts the laws of thermodynamics. Anyone who claims that it does, does not properly understand either evolution or thermodynamics”.

As you have just revealed and highlighted.
Many thanks.

The second law of thermodynamics states that the entropy of an isolated system never decreases. This is not in conflict with evolution as none of the systems involved in evolutionary biology are isolated. The Sun’s energy arrives here in the form of electromagnetic radiation at various frequencies, including high energy particles.

The role of chlorophyll is clear: plants use chlorophyll to synthesise energy from sunlight, animals typically do not, animals get their energy by eating things which have used chlorophyll (plants) or things that have eaten things that use chlorophyll (other animals). Not all lower orders use photosynthesis, not all food chains terminate at plants (think of the weird creatures around deep sea thermal vents).

Entropy will increase in a human being as soon as the process of energy conversion stops. This is a common occurrence and we have a word for it: death.

Life is a process of staving off entropy through energy conversion. The ICR’s silly model of thermodynamics is not incompatible with evolution, it is incompatible with life, full stop. Luckily it is a silly model fantasised around a conclusion, not a scientific model drawn from observation.

A living organism is a localised pool of lower entropy, and the reduction in entropy it creates is compensated by increases in entropy it creates around it. I take a plant, an ordered structure, I make its structure less ordered by breaking it down through digestion, in doing so I can absorb some of the energy encapsulated in its order, but more energy is wasted.

Evolution is not about suddenly having life from no life, it is about tiny incremental changes in the way life manifests, changes which are pro-survival. The three things necessary for evolution to occur are reproduction, (heritable) variation, and selection. All three of these can be demonstrated in the laboratory and observed in nature.

Thermodynamics has pretty much nothing to say about evolutionary biology, the ICR’s argument basically claims that life cannot exist, not that it cannot evolve. Any thermodynamic theory that allows life to exist allows evolution, because the mutations that are inherited involve infinitesimal quantities of energy compared with life itself.

There is a school of thought that says thermodynamics predicts evolution, because a pro-survival mutation requires less energy to sustain in its environment (look at the resources required to maintain life in people with genetic disorders). I think this is an example of trying to make every problem look like a nail because the only tool you have is a hammer. It is sufficient for me that thermodynamics self-evidently does not require all components of a system to have identical entropy, and that the history of the universe is one of increasing universal entropy albeit with localised areas of order.

The relevance of this to homeopathy is clear: in both cases believers assert that others “do not understand” some fundamental scientific principle, because non-believers look at the same set of facts and draw a different and more parsimonious conclusion.

The only people who conclude that thermodynamics is incompatible with evolution are those with an emotional attachment to some idea that is in conflict with evolution. There are, to a good first approximation, no non-religious creationists.

Ok, a play on words, so lets refer to your belief system as: “pseudo-healthskeptic” or even pseudo-diseaseskeptic”.

You can use terms like “pseudo-healthskeptic” or “pseudo-diseaseskeptic” if it helps you maintain your cherished beliefs in the face of reality, but neither of them has any objective validity for the reasons already stated. Skepticism about homeopathy is the consensus view in science, and there is nothing fake about requiring evidence to support claims which very obviously conflict with everything we observe about the nature of matter and human physiology, and which offer nothing which is found to be useful or verifiable outside the minds of believers.

No doubt Blondlot felt the same way about people who disputed his N-rays. He was wrong too.

Guy,
“cherished beliefs” can and do rely on “robust evidence” that supports that “belief”, and therefore a “belief system” ensues, not something that we have conjured up out of thin air.

This is not about creationism, and just to remind you, you were the one that raised this “red-herring” in the first place.

Cherished belief based on good evidence: theory of gravitation, evolutionary theory, big bang theory.

Cherished belief conflicting with all relevant good evidence: special creation, young earth, homeopathy.

Yes, I understand the difference. No scientific observations fundamentally conflict with the theories of gravity, evolution or big bang cosmology. No scientific observations are better explained by the theories of special creation, a young earth or homeopathy.

Some people seeking to support cherished beliefs mistake the nature of scientific evidence and falsely believe that anecdote is “robust”. Scientists endeavour not to make this mistake, due to the many cases in which it has been decisively proved that the human capacity for self-delusion and self-deception is ubiquitous. Blondlot’s N-rays are a canonical example.

The fact of belief does not make the belief a fact.

Guy,
“Cherished belief based on good evidence: theory of gravitation, evolutionary theory, big bang theory”.

Note the word “theory” here.

AND…………….
“Cherished belief conflicting with all relevant good evidence: special creation, young earth, homeopathy”.

For your information Guy there is as much scientific evidence to support the view of creationism and a young earth, including homeopathy, that you have chosen to ignore; this is quite typical of your “stance” and inflexible views on the matter.

AND………………..
“Yes, I understand the difference. No scientific observations fundamentally conflict with the theories of gravity, evolution or big bang cosmology. No scientific observations are better explained by the theories of special creation, a young earth or homeopathy”.

Then you know nothing of, or are unaware of the science that conflicts with establishment views on “special creation and a young earth” or even the “big bang theory”: note that word again: “theory”.

AND…….
“Some people seeking to support cherished beliefs mistake the nature of scientific evidence and falsely believe that anecdote is “robust”. Scientists endeavour not to make this mistake, due to the many cases in which it has been decisively proved that the human capacity for self-delusion and self-deception is ubiquitous. Blondlot’s N-rays are a canonical example”.

These “cherished beliefs” as you call them, are born out of experience Guy (no not placebo) and a common experience in thousands as well.
Self-delusion and self-deception? Merely means you are stretching the boundaries of belief, but then you would know all about belief, as you quote it so often.

AND……………
“The fact of belief does not make the belief a fact”.

Absolutely, I couldn’t agree with you more; but when a belief is born out of personal experience, (a conviction of the truth of some statement, or the reality of some being or phenomenon, especially when based on examination of robust evidence) and that just happens to be endemic to the users of homeopathy, then it is a belief born out of fact, rather than what you are suggesting: make-believe.

One of the harms done by creationism is to undermine public understanding of the nature and meaning of a theory in science.

A scientific theory is a well-substantiated description consistent with all the facts as observed.

Nobody understands how gravity works, it is “only a theory”, feel free to ignore it.

It has famously been said that the most dangerous words in medicine are: “in my experience”.

Again, the key term is robustness. In science, robust evidence is that which stands up to the tests of skeptical inquiry. Evolutionary biology, quantum statistical mechanics and climate change are good examples. All were resisted as fundamentally inconsistent with cherished beliefs (in creation, determinism and economic libertarianism respectively). As a result, all were heavily scrutinised. Every inconsistency with observed fact has been picked apart and addressed within the theory. As a result the science is exceptionally robust and the scientific consensus behind them approaches unanimity. Naysayers tend to be non-scientists with a religious or political agenda.

Alan,
the link you provided that states…………..
“Homeopathy Does NOT Work On Babies or Animals”.

Does not provide any proof that it is “just placebo”.
In fact the author states: “here is my list of “possible” mechanisms”, as to why homeopathy may work in babies and animals.
Hardly a scientific assessment now is it?

Proof required with strong evidence such as from RCT’s please.

Many thanks.

The claim that homeopathy works on children and animals, is a claim made by homeopaths.

It is up to homeopaths to prove this claim. In so doing they must convincingly refute the null hypothesis, which includes the factors Alan noted.

The starting point would have to be an evidentially supportable link between remedies and conditions, and a plausible mechanism by which such remedies might then work in vivo. Neither of these exists, neither has ever existed.

Alan Henness says:
5 July 2013

chrisb1

I see you still don’t seem to understand this kind of thing, but glad to see Guy has saved me from having to explain it to you. However, perhaps you can see that, when there are far simpler, more prosaic explanations for an observation, intellectual integrity requires you to eliminate those more plausible explanations first by demonstrating they are not plausible explanations for the observations before invoking implausible ones?

Alan,
“The inappropriateness of RCT’s in homeopathy………………….”

You say…………
“Whoah! You cite RCTs in (apparently) support of homeopathy, and in the next breath, you say RCTs are not appropriate for homeopathy? Can you spot the slight problem you have here”?

No, no problem at all, because although we know that RCT’s are not a good or reliable test as to homeopathy’s effectiveness, it is people like you and Guy and Robin and so on that rely on this method of “proof”, so we have endeavored to provide some. Perfectly sensible.
Can you spot the slight problem you have here?

The unsuitability of RCTs is not a view shared by all homeopathists, of course, as evidence the large number who try. It tends to be asserted only after the event when the results are not as they wish.

A good example of the post-hoc rationalisations used by homeopathists is found in “Homeopathy has clinical benefits in rheumatoid arthritis patients that are attributable to the consultation process but not the homeopathic remedy: a randomized controlled clinical trial” (doi:10.1093/rheumatology/keq234) where, despite the apparent impossibility of conducting an RCT on homeopathy, the investigators did exactly that: a three armed trial of two methods of homeopathy (one of which was classical individualised homeopathy) and placebo.

The result clearly showed that the “remedies” have no effect, and that all effects are down to the consultation. Obviously the authors, as homeopathists, hypothesise some magic facet of the *homeopathic* consultation, therefore unicorns, but what they actually showed, form the primary outcome measure, is that the remedies are (as expected) inert.

The idea that science claims RCTs as the only form of proof is simply false, and this has been pointed out several times. For some treatments there is no ethical way of conducting an RCT (immunisations, emergency surgery etc). For others the RCT is absolutely the appropriate way of judging comparative efficacy.

The problem with RCTs for homeopathy is that they simply add confusion. The inherently variable nature of any trials on humans, the impossibility of unpicking all confounders, and simple randomness, mean that the results will sometimes be positive and sometimes be negative, with results tending towards the negative with increasing study quality; no such trial can ever definitively prove or refute the null hypothesis. It is sufficient by this time to say that over two centuries of work have produced no compelling evidence of effect, that there is a strong correlation between increasing methodological quality and negative outcome, and the fundamental tenets of homeopathy are all either refuted, ridiculous or completely unproven. It is striking that homeopathy has no parallels at all in reality. No physicist, chemist, pharmacist or biochemist has ever independently discovered anything even remotely like the claims of homeopathy.

The ideas of homeopathists are a walled garden populated solely by believers and as I said above, trials of homeopathy amount to medical pareidolia: looking for pictures in the clouds. No homeopathist will ever change the scientific consensus without decisively addressing the fundamental absence of credible evidence to support the core doctrines of homeopathy.

Instead they come up with water memory (bestowing a shelf life in picoseconds) and quantum entanglement of non-entangled non-quantum objects (aka “quantum flapdoodle”).

Guy,
“The idea that science claims RCTs as the only form of proof is simply false, and this has been pointed out several times. For others the RCT is absolutely the appropriate way of judging comparative efficacy”.

If you’d like to list (in detail) the other forms of “proof” I would be most obliged.

RCTs are not proof, they are a form of evidence. Wikiversity has a list of forms of evidence ranked according to their generally accepted reliability in the field of evidence-based medicine:

1a: Systematic reviews (with homogeneity ) of randomized controlled trials
1a-: Systematic review of randomized trials displaying worrisome heterogeneity
1b: Individual randomized controlled trials (with narrow confidence interval)
1b-: Individual randomized controlled trials (with a wide confidence interval)
1c: All or none randomized controlled trials
2a: Systematic reviews (with homogeneity) of cohort studies
2a-: Systematic reviews of cohort studies displaying worrisome heterogeneity
2b: Individual cohort study or low quality randomized controlled trials (<80% follow-up)
2b-: Individual cohort study or low quality randomized controlled trials (<80% follow-up / wide confidence interval)
2c: 'Outcomes' Research; ecological studies
3a: Systematic review (with homogeneity) of case-control studies
3a-: Systematic review of case-control studies with worrisome heterogeneity
3b: Individual case-control study
4: Case-series (and poor quality cohort and case-control studies)
5: Expert opinion without explicit critical appraisal, or based on physiology, bench research or 'first principles'

There is a dissenting view that says we should start with prior plausibility. Since every single form of human trial is vulnerable to bias, if your treatment violates well-established principles of science (perhaps it requires supernatural intervention, empirically unverifiable forces, demonstrably incorrect physiological models or whatever) then it should be rejected until you have credible evidence of the underlying theory.

Anything founded on humours or parapsychology would undoubtedly fall into this category. A positive trial demonstrates only that your trial design is broken in some way.

RCTs are not even an exclusive form of evidence in evidence-based medicine, nor are they always considered appropriate. No RCTs were done to isolate the effect of smoking on lung cancer. With ECMO, the trials actually caused more deaths, because there was substantial independent evidence of efficacy already. For immunisation, RCTs are generally unethical.

RCTs are generally considered the most reliable form of _human_ trial because they attempt to eliminate some of the systemic biases that affect small trials, observational studies and so on, but they are certainly not infallible.

One particular problem with RCTs is at the margins close to zero effect; they work best when the effect is clearly large because history shows that small effects are much more likely to be the result of bias or chance. This is why there are positive trials of drugs that work barely better than placebo if at all – some forms of antidepressant, homeopathy and so on – or which work no better than much cheaper generics – many of the "me-too" or "me-again" drugs.

I can't offhand think of a valid treatment whose efficacy is systematically _under_estimated by RCTs, though there may be one.

An article I just saw highlights neatly the problem with “research” conducted by true believers. Take-home quote:

“Being a scientist requires having faith in uncertainty, finding pleasure in mystery, and learning to cultivate doubt. There is no surer way to screw up an experiment than to be certain of its outcome.”

http://nautil.us/issue/2/uncertainty/certainly-not

Guy,
re’ RCT’s in homeopathy…………………

There are two particular reasons why homeopathy cannot be tested properly in RCTs……….

#1. The remedy has to be individualized. RCTs are based on giving the same treatment to a large number of people and looking at the results, compared with those for a group which has been given an “inactive” treatment. If you give the same remedy to a large number of people who nominally have the same illness, but whose individual symptoms do not indicate that the remedy is appropriate, then it is an “inactive” treatment for some proportion of those people. The result is that you are comparing an “inactive” treatment not with an “active” one, but with a combination of “active” and “inactive” treatments. This will dilute the difference between the groups and make the treatment appear ineffective.

#2. The sequence of remedies also has to be individualized. The best RCTs are generally conducted so that neither the patient nor the practitioner knows who is getting the “active” treatment and who the “inactive” one (double blind). In homeopathy, however, the practitioner needs to assess the patient’s reaction to the previous remedy in order to decide how to proceed with the case. A lack of reaction to the remedy is important information as it may indicate that the wrong remedy or the wrong potency has been prescribed. Study of the case will lead to a decision about whether to change the remedy or potency. If the practitioner does not know whether the patient actually received the remedy, then it is impossible to make any accurate assessment of the case, and so the treatment becomes confused. This again will dilute the difference between the groups and make the treatment appear ineffective.

Homeopathy is reported to contradict the laws of science, but this is just another myth which depends on “believing” that the only scientific laws which matter are those of chemistry. In point of fact it is modern conventional medicine (based on the idea that everything about us can be explained by chemistry and biology), which attempts to contradict the known laws of science.

Our knowledge of biology has revealed that living organisms (like us) are homeostatic, which has been mentioned before now. This means (for your understanding) that they make sure that their internal environment is maintained within a range of “normal” limits, controlling the pressure of blood in different parts of the body, the temperature of the body, and the rate of different processes in the body. Any change which takes the body outside these limits is met by balancing changes to bring it back to normal. Fairly obvious examples include sweating in order to cool down, shivering to get warm, increasing the heart rate to supply more oxygen to muscles when running, increasing acid production in the stomach in order to digest food, and so on.

In illness the same process takes place: the fever in ‘flu kills the virus infecting the body; white blood cells are delivered to cuts to deal with infection; and vomiting and diarrhea expel poisoned food. Sometimes it is not possible for the body to return to a normal state, and symptoms persist as a chronic illness. The laws of homeostasis indicate that the correct way to treat such an illness is to stimulate the body’s reactions against the “symptoms”, WHICH IS WHAT HOMEOPATHY ACTUALLY DOES..
Conventional medicine, however, attempts to stop the symptoms directly, and the result is that the body reacts against the drug, producing side effects and sometimes rebound effects.

That might be persuasive if it weren’t for the following:

First, there are already RCTs of individualised homeopathy and indeed of individualised medical treatments (gene-targeted cancer therapies, for example).

Second, it’s blatant special pleading. All you need to do is follow the identical protocol for two groups of patients but randomise the dispensed remedy against placebo. This allows one arm to get personalised remedies and the other to get placebo, and the practitioner carries on as normal.

Third, the core of the claims of individualised homeopath rely on the following scenario:

1 Patient presents
2 Patient is given remedy
3 Patient better? Claim cure, exit
4 Change remedy
5 Go to 3

This is repeated until either the patient is better (“cured”) or dies (in which case it was “too late”).

There is no way this can ever yield a result other than a claimed validation of homeopathy.

There really is no point shouting because WHAT HOMEOPATHY ACTUALLY DOES is nothing. The idea that it does anything is founded on the belief that like cures like, which is long refuted, the belief that dilution increases potency, also refuted, and the belief that there is some unmeasurable quantity which is imparted by the process of shaking and persists even when the water or alcohol solvent evaporates. Since nothing remotely like this has ever been observed other than by homeopathy believers who were looking for it, science files it with N-rays.

Homeopathy does not stimulate anything, there are no “laws of homeostasis”, only processes that control it and are not in any measurable way affected by the administration of homeopathy’s inert remedies. Homeostasis is what causes the body to excrete excess vitamins and most other supplements, it has nothing to say about homeopathy because there is no way homeopathy can affect it; it’s simply another post-hoc rationalisation seeking to wave away the fact that there is no remotely plausible mechanism by which it might work.

Guy,
your post which begins……………………

“That might be persuasive if it weren’t for the following”

…………..is essentially nonsense.

Please explain the result of these RCT’s with honesty in mind. No doubt you will find some implausible reason such as placebo (in piglets) or some other hokum that is entirely irrelevant……………….

Research detailing successful homeopathic treatment of E Coli in piglets: This was a double blind RCT study.
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1475491609001246

Or even this one, published in the International Journal of Oncology………..

‘Biological activity’ of homeopathy demonstrated in new cancer study (published in the International Journal of Oncology, February 2010)……………….
http://www.spandidos-publications.com/ijo/article.jsp?article_id=ijo_36_2_395

Alan Henness says:
6 July 2013

chrisb1 said:

“Or even this one, published in the International Journal of Oncology………..

‘Biological activity’ of homeopathy demonstrated in new cancer study (published in the International Journal of Oncology, February 2010)……………….
http://www.spandidos-publications.com/ijo/article.jsp?article_id=ijo_36_2_395

Demolished and left in tatters by a biologist here: A giant leap in logic from a piece of bad science

http://scepticsbook.com/2010/02/14/a-giant-leap-in-logic-from-a-piece-of-bad-science/

Alan,
the study I referred to in the Journal of Oncology that you say was demolished by a biologist, mentions……………….

“After rigorous evaluation, the NCI concluded that there was sufficient evidence of efficacy to warrant further research of the Banerji protocol. As documented by the clinic, 21,888 patients with malignant tumors who were treated only on the Banerji protocol were followed at PBHRF between 1990 and 2005. Of the patients, 941 had breast cancer. Clinic physicians reported that in 19% of the patients, the malignant tumors completely regressed, and in 21% the tumors were stable or improved with treatment. For patients with stable tumors, follow-up continued for at least 2 years and for as long as 10 years”.

AND………
“In 2003, Pathak et al reported that an ultra-diluted dose of the homeopathic remedy Ruta graveolens, commonly prescribed as the standard Banerji protocol therapeutic agent for brain cancer, selectively induced death in glioblastoma multiforme cells while promoting the proliferation of normal peripheral blood lymphocytes”.

AND………..
“Our findings suggest that ultra-diluted homeopathic remedies prescribed in the ‘Banerji protocol’ exert preferential cytotoxic effects against the human breast carcinoma cell lines MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231. Further, we found that these effects resulted from altered expression of cell cycle regulatory proteins, which causes cell cycle delay/arrest as well as induction of cell death by activation of the apoptotic cascade”.

The title of the website from which the biologist debunks the study really says it all…………….
“The Skeptics Book of Pooh-Pooh”.

In other words………………

There are “Lies, damned lies, and statistics”………..Benjamin Disraeli and popularized by Mark Twain amongst others.

Alan Henness says:
6 July 2013

chrisb1

You appear to have correctly quoted from that paper. However, as I said, the nonsense in that study has been thoroughly debunked – it seems that the title of the blog is entirely apt, given the subject matter, regardless of your attempt at an ad hominem.

Alan,
“You appear to have correctly quoted from that paper. However, as I said, the nonsense in that study has been thoroughly debunked – it seems that the title of the blog is entirely apt, given the subject matter, regardless of your attempt at an ad hominem”.

Not really Alan, as the study and its approval was done under the auspices and guidance of:

1 The Integrative Medicine Program……………………..
Barnes P, Bloom B and Nahin R: Complementary and alternative medicine use among adults and children: United States, 2007. National Health Statistics Reports; no. 12 National Center for Health Statistics, Hyattsville, MD, 2008

2 Department of Molecular Pathology…………………..
Johannessen H, von Bornemann Hjelmborg J, Pasquarelli E, Fiorentini G, Di Costanzos F and Miccinesi G: Prevalence in the use of complementary medicine among cancer patients in Tuscany, Italy. Tumori 94: 406-410, 2008.

3 Department of Melanoma Medical Oncology, The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA………………………….
Trager-Maury S, Tournigand C, Maindrault-Goebel F, Afchain P, de Gramont A, Garcia-Larnicol ML, Gervais H and Louvet C: Use of complementary medicine by cancer patients in a French
oncology department. Bull Cancer 94: 1017-1025, 2007

4 P. Banerji Homeopathic Research Foundation, Kolkata, India……………………..
Banerji P and Campbell DR: Cancer patients treated with the Banerji protocols utilising homoeopathic medicine: A Best Case Series Program of the National Cancer Institute USA. Oncol Rep 20: 69-74, 2008.

The Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA, just happens to be one of the most prestigious cancer centers in the World.

So even when you have the actual evidence placed before you on a plate, you are still in denial. Speaks absolute volumes.

PS. You still haven’t debunked the RCT study on piglets, unless you believe that piglets are subject to the “placebo-effect”, or even influenced by men in “white coats” with a superlative “bedside manner”.

Alan Henness says:
6 July 2013

chrisb1

No. It matters not (in the first instance) who did the research, who approved it, who typed it up, who drew the pretty pictures or who made the tea. What does matter is whether the study is sound. As I’ve shown you, the study is seriously flawed and unless and until you can refute the criticisms, it remains demolished.

PS If you have any criticisms of it, I’m sure the Dr Maggie would love you to comment below her article.

PPS I really can’t be bothered to refute your piglet study – it’s been done many times before and I’m sure either Guy or I have already tried to educate you on why a study on animals (or babies) might appear to be positive, when it isn’t and when there has been no attempt to eliminate or even control for the more parsimonious, far more likely explanations, rather than invoking magic water ‘explanations’.

Alan,
your reply to me which begins…….”No. It matters not (in the first instance) who did the research”.

Is so predictable that I could have saved you the time by writing it myself (blindfolded).

So, you can’t be bothered to refute the piglet study, or do you mean you are not able to? because you and/or this skeptic-biologist have not debunked “anything”, and you know it.

Let’s face it, you are in denial, (because of your belief-system) as are the rest of your “club” who will attempt (unsuccessfully) to debunk anything remotely considered to be “Alternative”, and whether this is proven to work or not.

Just trying to find the words to truthfully explain this kind of approach, but it would be edited, so unable to.

Alan Henness says:
6 July 2013

chrisb1

Now you’re just getting very, very silly.

Alan: Has Chris just suggested an explanation for the tedious inevitability of the endless circular arguments by homeopathists? It does look very much as if they view science through a blindforld…

Alan Henness says:
7 July 2013

Guy

Yes but chrisb1 said my reply

“Is so predictable that I could have saved you the time by writing it myself ”

Maybe that means he is learning after all? 🙂

Patrick: I would like to be very clear here. I like people, I can only think of two or three people in nearly 50 years on this planet who I have tried to work with and like, and failed. People are interesting and maddening and they make the human world the fascinating place that it is.

Ideas, though, do not demand respect, they have to earn it. Ridiculous claims are fair game.

I think I can safely speak for Alan here when I say that either of us would happily sit down with Chris and have a chat. I don’t think either of us feels even remotely threatened by his ideas. We are both, I think, pretty comfortable with our understanding of evidence and the scientific method, and confident that this yields far and away the best understanding of any natural phenomenon. Importantly, we have both stated several times the type of evidence that would prompt us to change our minds about homeopathy.

I have yet to see a homeopathist state what they would consider compelling disconfirming evidence. This is not really a surprise: if a refutation of like cures like or the doctrine of infinitesimals would persuade them to stop believing, then it would already have done so as both doctrines are already refuted. I know intelligent people who have believed in homeopathy, when the truth of its claims is explained they pretty much always stop believing. They tend not to be very happy about it, admitting you’ve been duped is not easy, but they do tend to stop believing.

As far as I can see, I would not like Fred Phelps. He is a hateful person. I don’t think Chris is hateful, I just think he has a lot of ideas that are pretty odd and mainly wrong. There is a benefit in exploring the difference between the ways we construct arguments and the kind of sources we consider reliable.

Alan, you said…………….
“It matters not one jot who submits a complaint because that does not affect the validity of the complaint – it stands or falls on its own”.

So it is of no consequence that the large number of complaints against homeopathy received by the ASA, could have been from people such as yourself, who had probably never used it, and just had a bias against it?

The mind boggles it really does.

Alan Henness says:
5 July 2013

chrisb1 said:

“Alan, you said…………….
“It matters not one jot who submits a complaint because that does not affect the validity of the complaint – it stands or falls on its own”.

So it is of no consequence that the large number of complaints against homeopathy received by the ASA, could have been from people such as yourself, who had probably never used it, and just had a bias against it?

The mind boggles it really does.”

Oh dear. The ASA judge all complaints on the merits of those complaints, not on the their inside leg measurement, the colour of their hair or even whether they have been misled by homeopathic advertising. The CAP Code states that it is the duty of the advertiser to hold evidence for claims when they make them and to provide that evidence when challenged. In this case, the ASA judged that the advertiser did not hold the required standard of evidence and ruled against them.

Is your mind still boggling? Mine isn’t.

When an advertiser makes false representations, there is no requirement to buy the product before reporting the false representations.

The reasons for this are obvious, and a related example from Australia shows why.

In Australia there was a requirement that people had to demonstrate actual harm before reporting a false medical claim to their Therapeutic Goods Agency. This meant that it was impossible to address a potentially dangerous false claim (specifically in this case the claims made by the Australian Vaccination Network – AVN – an anti-immunisation propaganda group) until someone was actually provably harmed by it, and then only that person could report the issue.

AVN relied on this to fight off complaints about its dangerously false and scaremongering claims. The problem was of sufficient importance that a cross-party group of MPs brought forward legislation to amend the Act, and now anyone can report a false health claim regardless of whether they have bought the product or service or been caused actual harm; all that’s necessary is to demonstrate that the claim is potentially harmful.

This is of course a necessary protection for consumers. A recall is mandated on a fault found in a model of car regardless of whether it has actually killed or injured anyone yet, and there is no reason for health products to be subject to a less stringent rule.

So yes, if you find a false advertisement in a magazine, newspaper or website, on a billboard or on TV or radio, you can report it and it will be investigated by an independent body funded by the entire advertising industry, at arms length, so they have no idea who put in how much or for what product or medium.

Most people think this is a good thing.

I see so………….
“The problem was of sufficient importance that a cross-party group of MPs brought forward legislation to amend the Act, and now anyone can report a false health claim regardless of whether they have bought the product or service or been caused actual harm; all that’s necessary is to demonstrate that the claim is potentially harmful”.

So anyone can report a false health claim, regardless of whether they have bought the product or service or been caused actual harm.
So exactly “how” is it “demonstrated” that the claim is potentially harmful if not based on an opinion?

You have it the wrong way round. The claims that fall foul of the rules are themselves based on opinion, the rules require that claims are based on provable fact.

Claims that black salve cures cancer, drinking bleach cures AIDS, homeopathy prevents malaria, MMR causes autism and so on, are based on fantasy, not fact. As it happens we have good evidence that they do cause actual harm but there is no good reason to wait for the actual harm to occur.

MMS is a good example. Its proponents claim that the stomach cramps, vomiting, bleeding and so on are a sign of it “working”. Only one person is known to have died directly as a result of using the product, but there is absolutely no reason to believe it should work and when used anywhere else the chemical is marked as hazardous. Advocates loudly claim that there is no proof anybody has ever been harmed by it, conveniently forgetting the harm they write off as evidence of it “working”, and point to the many testimonials for its efficacy, all of which appear to be either self-limiting conditions or traceable to Jim Humble, the snake oil salesman who invented it.

MMS prepared as per Jim Humble’s instructions is an aqueous solution of chlorine dioxide. You can bleach clothes with it, and you’d be insane to drink it. There are books with pictures of healthy-looking people drinking sparkling clear “MMS” on the cover. There is no reason whatsoever to allow this kind of thing.

Okay, I see,
“Claims that black salve cures cancer, drinking bleach cures AIDS, homeopathy prevents malaria, MMR causes autism and so on, are based on fantasy, not fact”.

Speaking of claims………..

Very much like chemotherapy then while promising to “treat” cancer, in reality it offers virtually no improvement whatsoever in life expectancy, and it severely harms ALL patients who undergo it.
In 1990, the German epidemiologist, Dr. Ulrich Abel from the Tumor Clinic of the University of Heidelberg, conducted the most comprehensive investigation of every major clinical study on chemotherapy drugs ever done. Abel contacted 350 medical centers and asked them to send him anything they had ever published on chemotherapy. He also reviewed and analyzed thousands of scientific articles published in the most prestigious medical journals. It took Abel several years to collect and evaluate the data, and his epidemiological study, was published on August 10, 1991 in The Lancet; this came to the conclusion that the overall success rate of chemotherapy was “appalling.” According to this report, there was no scientific evidence available in any existing study to show that chemotherapy can “extend in any appreciable way the lives of patients suffering from the most common organic cancers.”

Chemotherapy has a good historical evidence base as an adjuvant therapy, and as a primary therapy for liquid tumours. It can completely cure some lymphomas.

As surgical and radio therapies have improved, the differential effect of chemo in solid tumours has declined. It is also being recognised that for hopeless cases quality of life may trump quantity.

Science found a treatment, science evaluated it, science continues to evaluate it an continues to search for replacements, and when that happens chemo will be dropped, as some drugs already have been.

Now lets look at the process of evidential review an self-correction in homeopathy.

Oh, there isn’t one. We have, it seems, stumbled on a field of human endeavour which considers itself infallible. Bit of a red flag, that.

Autism Epidemic Linked to Epidemic of Vaccine Induced Diabetes.

“Claims that black salve cures cancer, drinking bleach cures AIDS, homeopathy prevents malaria, (MMR causes autism) and so on, are based on fantasy, not fact”.

OR………….
“Toxins are another issue in that as defined by SCAM they, along with (vaccine-induced autism), autism enterocolitis, candidiasis, subluxation and many other staples of SCAM, do not exist”.

Then how do you explain this away…………….

“BALTIMORE, July 12, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — The following release was issued by Classen Immunotherapies, Inc.

A new peer reviewed study was published in the current issue of Open Access, Scientific Reports (Volume 2, Issue 3, 2013) linking the autism epidemic to the epidemic of vaccine induced type 1 diabetes. Growing evidence shows that a large percentage of cases of autism have an inflammatory or autoimmune component. The new data shows autism is strongly linked to type 1 diabetes another epidemic inflammatory disease where the epidemic has been proven to be caused by vaccines. The new paper is authored by immunologist J. Bart Classen, MD.

“We have been publishing for many years that vaccine induced inflammation is causing an epidemic of type 1 diabetes and other diseases. Our new data, as well as the extensive data from others regarding the role of inflammation in the development autism, leaves little doubt vaccines play a significant role in the autism epidemic,” says Dr. J. Bart Classen, MD.

Dr. Classen’s research indicates that the large number of vaccines given to patients is leading to an epidemic of chronic inflammation resulting in epidemics of autoimmune diseases, allergies, and a comprehensive inhibitory response manifesting as obesity and metabolic syndrome.

“The best data indicates that vaccine induced chronic disease is now of a magnitude that dwarfs almost all prior poisoning of humans including poisoning from agents like asbestos, low dose radiation, lead and even cigarettes. Most patients don’t even realize that they are suffering from the adverse effects of vaccines. Even more concerning patients and or their parents are being harassed, accused of practicing poor dieting and exercise habits leading to development obesity and diabetes when in fact they suffer from vaccine induced obesity and diabetes,” says Dr. J. Bart Classen.

Copies of many of Dr. Classen’s papers can be found on the website http://www.vaccines.net.

http://online.wsj.com/article/PR-CO-20130712-904463.html

[Do not post contact details on Which? Conversation. Thanks, mods.]

Guy,

Headline………..
Autism Epidemic Linked to Epidemic of Vaccine Induced Diabetes.

If vaccines do not cause autism how would you explain this away…………….

“BALTIMORE, July 12, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — The following release was issued by Classen Immunotherapies, Inc.

A new peer reviewed study was published in the current issue of Open Access, Scientific Reports (Volume 2, Issue 3, 2013) linking the autism epidemic to the epidemic of vaccine induced type 1 diabetes. Growing evidence shows that a large percentage of cases of autism have an inflammatory or autoimmune component. The new data shows autism is strongly linked to type 1 diabetes another epidemic inflammatory disease where the epidemic has been proven to be caused by vaccines. The new paper is authored by immunologist J. Bart Classen, MD.

“We have been publishing for many years that vaccine induced inflammation is causing an epidemic of type 1 diabetes and other diseases. Our new data, as well as the extensive data from others regarding the role of inflammation in the development autism, leaves little doubt vaccines play a significant role in the autism epidemic,” says Dr. J. Bart Classen, MD.

Dr. Classen’s research indicates that the large number of vaccines given to patients is leading to an epidemic of chronic inflammation resulting in epidemics of autoimmune diseases, allergies, and a comprehensive inhibitory response manifesting as obesity and metabolic syndrome.

“The best data indicates that vaccine induced chronic disease is now of a magnitude that dwarfs almost all prior poisoning of humans including poisoning from agents like asbestos, low dose radiation, lead and even cigarettes. Most patients don’t even realize that they are suffering from the adverse effects of vaccines. Even more concerning patients and or their parents are being harassed, accused of practicing poor dieting and exercise habits leading to development obesity and diabetes when in fact they suffer from vaccine induced obesity and diabetes,” says Dr. J. Bart Classen.

Copies of many of Dr. Classen’s papers can be found on the website http://www.vaccines.net.

[Do not post contact details on Which? Conversation. Thanks, mods.]

Chris, Classen is a crank. it is trivially easy to find numerous well-writtena nd thorough rebuttals of his claims.

Vaccines do not cause autism or diabetes.

Dr. Classen’s research has been published in numerous journals and featured in national news reports.
Rebuttals are two a penny Guy, and just tow the party line: which I fully understand as a career would be at stake.
Funny how you dismiss MD’s and other qualified personnel, (on this occasion an Immunologist) as cranks, including their research. So he is just making this up then, as pure fiction?.
The truth here is that his research just doesn’t “square with” your own or Mainstreams agenda.

Guy,
even if you believe there is no association between vaccines and autism or any other disease, this won’t make very pleasant reading as here are the facts about vaccines and their role in disease prevention.
Try not to critique the website and examine the actual evidence that vaccines had no impact on disease prevention efforts from the early-mid to late 20th century. The presented data contradicts widespread misinformation campaigns by mainstream medicine, which claim that vaccination led to immunization and a subsequent decline in infectious disease.
http://preventdisease.com/news/13/052413_Irrefutable-Evidence-Historical-Application-Vaccines-No-Health-Benefit-Impact-on-Prevention-Infectious-Disease.shtml

The problem is exactly the same as every other time. You are cherry-picking lone contrarians and presenting their self-serving claims as if they contradict and supersede the scientific consensus.

Classen has a vested interest in his predefined conclusions, and is a crank. The volume of scientific evidence showing no link between vaccines and autism is vast, his results depend on an earlier hypothesis which (surprise, surprise) is also his own and also has no significant support in independent work.

There is no way of ever correcting an incorrect view such as yours, if you consistently seize on every contrarian voice as validation while ignoring the many thousands of (usually much more authoritative) voices that flatly contradict them.

An illustration: a radio show pitted a skeptic and a paranormalist. A caller said that her piano would sometimes play notes at night. The skeptic noted that as the frame cooled, there might be differential movement within the instrument causing the sounds. The paranormalist said that sometimes fairies come at night and play the piano. The caller decided she preferred the fairies hypothesis.

It’s called confirmation bias. The scientific community listened to Wakefield, tested his hypothesis, and found it to be false. The existence of lone voices in the wilderness, promoted by and preying on those who do not want to hear the conclusions of the scientific community, does not change the conclusion. Science goes on being true whether you believe it or not.

Guy,
I think you will find that the scientific consensus you mention is not infallible and on many an occasion has been proven to be incorrect: Galileo springs to mind here as does HRT.
It does sometimes need an individuals research to overturn the majority view and where this has happened time and time again within science.
To dismiss Classen as a crank is rather naive, unless you can fully explain his alleged hidden agenda.
You have merely demonstrated now, as you have always done, to keep your blinkers firmly fixed in place.
Wakefield is another issue, but with the passage of time, I think you will find he will be exonerated, with much embarrassment to the Medical Profession generally, and the potential dismantlement of the BMA, along with the other legal ramifications rightly due to Fiona Godlee and Brian Deer.

No, the scientific consensus is not infallible. However, cherry-picking dissenters whose views you prefer is vastly more fallible and pretty much guaranteed to ensure that you are not only wrong, but consistently wrong over time.

That’s the point.

Scientific consensus develops by following the evidence, crank magnetism works by looking for views you like the sound of and then trying to find others who support those views.

Classen’s agenda is not hidden. He has a clear and evident vested interest in promoting the idea of causal agents for autism.

Classen begins by asserting that vaccines cause diabetes based on citations ot his own studies but ignoring several that show *no* increased risk; Duderstadt et al. studied over 2 million individuals and found a significantly *reduced* risk of Type I diabetes with vaccinations including hepatitis B, MMR and yellow fever. Blom et al. also showed that MMR vaccination was associated with a lower risk for Type I diabetes. So his base premise, and sourced to himself, is contradicted by much larger studies. And he knows he’s wrong because he was part of a panel at Johns Hopkins that reviewed the data, pointed out the errors in his methodology, and concluded that there was no risk.

His autism claim is based on an identical error. If you fix his data to correct the diabetes claim, the autism claim also vanishes.

And guess what? He runs Classen Immunotherapies, a company “dedicated to understanding the chronic effects of vaccines and developing safer immunization methods for those who choose to be immunized” – a clear conflict of interest, as I said, and also a staple of the antivaccination movement – the “I’m not racist but” claim that they are not anti-vaccine, but pro “safe” vaccine, with no acknowledgement of the fact that without vaccines there is a much higher risk of serious and often fatal vaccine preventable diseases.

Wakefield will not be exonerated. Even if MMR did cause autism (and there is an immense amount of data now that shows it does not), it was his methods not his conclusions that got him struck off. He will not be exonerated from the undeclared conflicts of interest and ethical violations because they are matters of fact, not opinion or consensus.

Amazing how conflicts of interest and ethical issues are only a problem when they lead to conclusions the crank community don’t like.

Cherry-picking what you refer to as “dissenters” that just happen to support my own views on health Guy is a rather simplistic approach to what I actually believe.
After sifting through the evidence from, and concerns of parents whose children have been reported to be damaged by vaccines, is the only logical and sensible conclusion: nothing to do with seeking out these viewpoints that fit into my own agenda, but more to do with an an objective and impartial assessment of what is really happening.
I have mentioned before now, that I accept much of Mainstream medicine and its approach to healthcare, but have rejected that which is practiced by it and proven to be of little efficacy; some of which may do more harm than good.
Perhaps you may have a change of heart after discussing the after effects of a vaccination programme with the parents of those children who were developing normally prior to vaccination, but were severely damaged thereafter.
Wakefield mentioned the discarded and large minority of vaccine-damaged children, who are deemed expendable in favor of the majority, but ethically unacceptable to him and many others such as myself.
Little to no research into this field has been done, and with good reason, because this would adversely affect the vaccination programme itself, to the distinct detriment of those promoting and gaining from the same.
It always takes just one individual to mention that the “emperor has no clothes” before any worthwhile action is taken, and then taken too late, so what you consider to be “dissenters” within the field of natural health, are actually those who know the truth, and are non-conformist through experience, rather than lap-dogs of the status quo.

Your problem is the same as it has been at every other point in the debate. Instead of saying “where does the evidence lead us?” you say “what evidence can I find to support my beliefs?” – this is absolutely guaranteed to prevent you from ever correcting your beliefs when they are wrong (which the evidence shows they generally are).

When you say “perhaps you may have a change of heart after discussing the after effects of a vaccination programme with the parents of those children who were developing normally prior to vaccination, but were severely damaged thereafter”, you are repeating one of the core fallacies of the vaccine-autism cult -= the fallacy of begging the question. Every single child whose records have been independently analysed, shows signs of autism prior to the vaccination – generally from birth, in fact. Symptoms may be detected anything up to a year afterwards and still attributed to the vaccines, which is ludicrous as the vaccine has long since been metabolised by then. There is absolutely no temporal association, and autism rates are identical whatever the trends in vaccination rates and whatever the preservatives used in the vaccines. It is a classic piece of a**e-backwards reasoning, a sort of epidemiological pareidolia. If instead of asking “how can I show the vaccine caused this” you ask “is there any good reason to suppose this is associated with or caused by the vaccine”, the answer comes back “no”. Repeatably. In hundreds of studies covering hundreds of millions of children over several decades. Consistently, the only people who find a link are the ones who are already emotionally or financially vested in finding one.

You discuss Wakefield again. As always, he is engaging in self-serving rhetoric. This does not change a thing: he conducted experiments and invasive procedures on children without going through the proper ethical controls. Short of killing people, that is about as evil as a doctor gets. If a mainstream doctor had done this I have absolutely no doubt that you would be at the head of the mob with the pitchforks and the burning torches, but Wakefield’s wrong views coincide with your own wrong views so instead you paint him as a martyr to the faith. There is nothing that can be done to fix your problem through rational debate, because your position is simply not rational.

Now, I don’t care if you want to adopt irrational positions based on irrational and fallacious arguments, that’s your prerogative, but there is no way you will ever carry a debate with people who have a scientific background using those techniques. The autism crank community know this, which is why they have their own walled garden of conferences and publications where the faithful confirm their faith by listening to other faithful. This leads them ever further down the rabbit hole: appeals to ill-defined and nebulous “toxins” to justify genuinely toxic chelation therapy on children for conditions that have absolutely no prospect of being cured by chelation, for example. It’s a vile abuse of the vulnerable, but because it supports their agenda they not only condone it, they support it. When opinion trumps fact, there is no objective way of separating opinions – any nonsense goes, in the name of “choice” and “support”. Personally I think that you can’t support people with autistic children by allowing them to believe nonsense. False hope is much worse than no hope. But that’s just the evil reductionist in me, I suppose.

Regressive autism occurs when a child appears to develop typically, but then starts to lose speech and social skills, typically between the ages of 15 and 30 months.
The first MMR vaccination is given at 12 months here in the UK.

[This comment has been edited for breaking our guidelines. Thanks, mods.]

And the rates of regressive autism are not correlated with vaccination rates, and the diagnosis period is not correlated with the vaccine schedule, and the purported physiological evidence for a link is refuted, and current research finds signs of autism form birth (and in some reports even before birth).

So: you have stated two unconnected facts and drawn a line between them which is not supported by the evidence, because you want to believe it.

I’ve pointed out why that kind of reasoning is more or less guaranteed to ensure that you are wrong and remain wrong.

wev says:
1 August 2013

Guy, can you please read page 2 of the autism discussion at the British Medical Journal I posted earlier?

http://www.bmj.com/content/346/bmj.f2095?page=1&tab=responses

What do you think about what Brian Hooker, Associate Professor of Biology at Simpson University, said?

Guy,
there has been a staggering increase of Autism in post vaccinated children; Autism, was virtually unknown before the early 1940s when it was found in small numbers. A steep increase in autism rates was noted in the United States starting in the late 70’s and in the United Kingdom after 1988 following the extensive use of the MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) vaccine in both countries.

It is true that symptoms of autism have been noticed shortly after birth, but lately many of the affected children are healthy and developmentally normal in the first 12 to 15 months of life. Sometime between 15 and 18 months of age, they suddenly stop acquiring new skills and then start regressing, losing speech and social dexterity. This just happens to coincide with neurological, immune and gastro-intestinal symptoms: some of the children develop seizures, recurrent infections, and treated with courses of antibiotics: some start with peculiar eating habits and severe diarrhea, obstinate constipation or a combination of both.
Some parents have also reported that their children, after improving on special diets, supplements and behavioral therapy, regressed a second time around the age of 5 years shortly after receiving their MMR booster. This double-hit situation has actually been accepted in courts and by a committee of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) as proof of causation.

Bernard Rimland, Ph.D., Founder of the Autism Society of America and Founder/President of the Autism Research Institute (ARI) in San Diego, has stated: “Late onset autism, (starting in the 2nd year), was almost unheard of in the ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s; today such cases outnumber early onset cases 5 to 1”. Dr. Rimland bases his statement on information derived from the Autism Research Institute’s huge database, the largest nationwide.

So no one is saying that this proves causation, but only association/correlation, and where Wakefield pressed for further research and study to this end.

You’re both continuing to cherry-pick dissenting voices in the wilderness – again, asking “what can I find to support my belief?” Rather than “is my belief correct?”.

This is the core of the problem with all forms of SCAM, including homeopathy, and it is guaranteed to ensure that when you are wrong you not only stay wrong but you become more wrong over time.

There is no causation, there is not even any association. The hypothesis is refuted.

Come back when there is a peer reviewed article in the BMJ which shows a link and explains a plausible mechanism, rather than something buried in the pages of rapid responses. I’d love I if winning the debate in BMJ rapid responses was a valid and authoritative scientific conclusion – I totally spanked the homeopaths last time out – but it’s not.

I’ll say this again for you Guy: this is not about what you refer to as “cherry-picking” voices in the wilderness, but about those research scientists who are not afraid to speak out about the safety of vaccines, and the erroneous conclusions of the flawed study reported on by Brian Hooker.

In addition this has absolutely nothing to do with “beliefs”, but actual doubts about vaccines raised by prominent scientists, and something you seem to dismiss rather easily by stating unequivocally: “There is no causation, there is not even any association. The hypothesis is refuted”.
Quite a bold statement that may need to be retracted in due course.
Most all medical scientists will abide by the status quo, rather than risk their own careers for questioning authority, and biting the hand that feeds them.

You had better read this again in its entirety Guy, to gain the full impact of what has been said…………….
http://healthimpactnews.com/2013/can-we-trust-the-cdc-claim-that-there-is-no-link-between-vaccines-and-autism/

CDC produced yet another study refuting the vaccine-autism link, and you instead take a lone crank’s word, published on a crank website, that the “real” story is that it doesn’t. Each time you come up with some new wrong statement, it turns out that you are wrong for pretty much the same reasons. Your approach is wrong, and ensures that you will not only remain wrong, but will become more wrong over time.

CDC’s work relies on large numbers of well qualified scientists, none of whom start from the position that their children are “vaccine damaged” but instead asking whether the evidence shows that vaccines cause damage. They follow the evidence where it leads, Hooker looks for evidence to support his convictions. That’s why, like you, he is wrong, remains wrong, and gets more wrong over time. Once again you have picked a crank website quoting a lone dissenter as if this somehow counters the scientific consensus, rather than the supermajority view, which entirely supports the CDC’s conclusion.

One of the more telling things is that the antivaxers have switched from claiming it’s thiomersal in childhood vaccines (after it was pointed out to them that there was no change in rates after it was removed) and are now speculating about thiomersal in vaccines given to the mothers, usually long before pregnancy. The rationale changes but the bogeyman remains the same: it’s always the vaccines, it’s always been the vaccines, it always will be the vaccines, because the “autism biomed” community simply does not want to hear that autism is probably genetic and sometimes shit just happens. They want to blame someone, they want the someone not to be themselves or their own genes, and by God they are going to blame someone.

I am sure I could find you someone somewhere who is totally convinced of the veracity of Velikovskian catastrophism. That doesn’t make it correct. There are any number of cranks out there: Truthers, Birthers, young earth creationists, germ theory deniers, HIV/AIDS deniers, holocaust deniers, climate deniers. You can find them all on mad sites like the whale. Their existence does not validate their ideas, their ability to find others who believe the same mad things does not validate their ideas. Scientific consensus represents the best knowledge we have right now, it adapts to new emerging data (as it did with h. pylori and peptic ulcers), and it is self-correcting. Cranks cannot self-correct as they always work back for a conclusion.

In other words, come back when the CDC concludes there is a link.

Guy,
“come back when the CDC concludes there is a link”.

Perhaps you would like to explain why the CDC are withholding their research since 2004, that supposedly shows there is no link between mercury in vaccines and autism, and refusing to comply with the “Freedom of Information Acts” ?

Unless they have something to hide perhaps?

“Dr. Brian Hooker, a PhD scientist, has been fighting the CDC since 2004 in trying to get them to comply with Freedom of Information Acts to see the CDC research that supposedly shows there is no link between mercury in vaccines and autism. The CDC apparently believes they are above the law regarding the Freedom of Information Act, and have fought to withhold most of the information Dr. Hooker has requested”………………………
http://healthimpactnews.com/2013/can-we-trust-the-cdc-claim-that-there-is-no-link-between-vaccines-and-autism/

If you demand that an agency provides things that exist only in your paranoid fantasies, they tend to be unable to comply, and thus validate your paranoid fantasies.

http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2013/04/03/brian-hooker-criticizes-a-vaccine-safety-study-hilarity-ensues/ demolishes Hooker rather comprehensively. Crank, recycling crank tropes on crank websites. Situation normal, world continues to turn.

Now please stop quoting lone cranks as if their a**e-backwards reasoning somehow negates decades of careful scientific study by thousands of open-minded scientists who asked not “how can I prove this thing I believe?” but “how do we test whether this thing is true?”

New Published Study Verifies Andrew Wakefield’s Research on Autism.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=U83U0AWTnmg

Very interesting and affirmative of Wakefields’ work. I found it refreshing for a scientist to say that the needs, concerns and health of these children were tossed aside for political reasons. Not many Doctors will publicly take that position.

If you demand that an agency provides things that exist only in your paranoid fantasies, they tend to be unable to comply, and thus validate your paranoid fantasies. I’ve posted a number of links (early this morning) but they’re not approved yet. Redux: Hooker has wasted prodigious amounts of public money, time and effort on a blatant fishing expedition, which has revealed precisely nothing to back his claims.

I agree that the bogus “MMR-autism” claim is off topic, but antivaccination activism is strongly intertwined with homeopathy; there was a story over the weekend about an Australian homeopath who claimed to offer “immunisation”, and British homeopath Steve Scrutton (director of the Association of Registered Homeopaths, admittedly not an organisation with any official recognition) also promotes the standard anti-vaccination tropes (e.g. http://safe-medicine.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/measles-moral-panic-in-swansea.html) – Scrutton also continues ot make claims to treat or cure disease despite being sanctioned by the ASA after failing to provide evidence to back his claims (http://asa.org.uk/Rulings/Adjudications/2012/8/Steve-Scrutton-Homeopathy/SHP_ADJ_151142.aspx).

It is hard to unpick the claims specific to homeopaths from the claims that are generic tot he alternative-to-medicine community; homeopathy is mainly important as being diagnostic of complete absence of any objective standards of truth, so promotion of homeopathy is a reliable marker for credulous nonsense, and you’d expect examples of credulous nonsense that repudiate homeopathy, but they are hard to find.

I think it was Wallace Sampson who coined the term “sectarian medicine” for the world of alternatives to medicine. It seems to be the case that the defining criterion is not acceptance of one or another of the competing and mutually exclusive models of disease and cure (e.g. homeopathy vs. acupuncture vs. chiropractic), they seem to define themselves primarily by the repudiation of the mainstream – which means a repudiation of scientifically informed evidence-based practice, even while pretending to be evidence based. The British Association of Homeopathic Veterinary Surgeons tried to claim that homeopathy is the original evidence-based medicine, based on the “database of cures”, but of course this ignores the fact that there is no documented verifiable case where homeopathy has cured anything, the results are all compatible with the null hypothesis and if they did follow the evidence they’d have had to fundamentally rethink after the mechanism proposed after the canonical “proving” of chinchona was refuted, and after Hahnemann’s claim that matter is infinitely divisible was refuted.

You can’t be evidence based in a field that relies on opinion as its source of authority, and homeopathy is the most prominent example of such a field; the elevation of the subjective above the objective is the defining characteristic of homeopathy and this establishes it as a core part of the alternative to medicine movement. it is precisely this reliance on subjectivity, especially when it’s contradicted by scientific facts, that leads to the creation of crank communities, of which the autism crank community is one of the best known.

Indeed, one homeopathy-based organisation is preying on parents of autistic children specifically.

Yes Guy,
but that does not nullify the comprehensive epidemiological study on chemotherapy by Dr. Ulrich Abel, published in August, 1991 in The Lancet.

I suppose Medicine doesn’t “claim” anything to do with chemotherapy, (they daren’t) because for the most part it is essentially fraud; exceptions are in cases of select cancers such as testicular cancer and Leukemia, where it is quite successful apparently.
However, for the majority of cancers such as colon, breast and lung and others, chemotherapy is a dismal failure.

The usefulness or otherwise of chemotherapy as adjuvant therapy for some types of tumour has no relevance to homeopathy, except as an example of the kind of self-examination and challenge which is inherent in medicine and absent in homeopathy.

Chemotherapy works for many liquid tumours as a primary therapy. Different chemotherapy drugs have different levels of effect on solid tumours as primary or adjuvant therapy. Older drugs are being replaced by newer ones, surgery and radiotherapy are making the additional benefit of chemo marginal in in some cases. A complex landscape full of careful testing, scientific research, skeptical evaluation and openness to error.

Clearly a much more nuanced situation than shouting “IT WORKS!”. No wonder the quacks have such a high rate of recruitment of victims.

Guy, in response to your comment…………….

“No wonder the quacks have such a high rate of recruitment of victims”.

Just to clarify what is really meant by the term: “quack”.
http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/quacks-quack-doctors-and-quackery

Here’s another…………
http://www.nationaldailyng.com/comments-and-issues/the-menace-of-quackery-in-medical-practice

And another………….
http://cegant.com/Battling-Quackery.pdf

Happy reading.

The term quack comes from the Dutch Dutch kwakzalver (hawker of salve), the term kwak for hawker is from the Middle Dutch quacken (to brag, boast; to croak).

Quackery in general use means ineffective, unproven or fraudulent medical practices. Examples include chiropractic, homeopathy, therapeutic touch, patent remedies, a host of cancer quackery including laetrile, black sdalve, Gerson and Hoxsey therapies and so on.

A quack is one who pretends to medical knowledge they do not possess. That would include live blood analysts, lay homeopaths, cranio-sacral therapists and so on.

Informally it is also used as an ironic reference to real doctors, almost exclusively in general practice (coincidentally the area which is most prone to falling short of evidence-based standards).

Some doctors are quacks or charlatans. One could make a good case for calling Andrew Wakefield a quack, for example, since he succumbed to hubris and self-delusion (a great shame, my doctor trained with him and says he was a decent bloke back then).

However, failing to accept a non-mainstream claim does not make anyone a quack. Obviously peddlers of alternatives to medicine would like it to be otherwise, but they are wrong. The way to fix the fact that science rejects your claims, is to do better science. Science is neutral as to sources. Many new drugs originate in nature, there is no bar to testing anything where there is credible evidence.

Quacks are their own worst enemies. Note how when science discusses a treatment it does so in terms of percentage changes, types of patients who benefit versus those who don’t, stages of disease for which a treatment is effective, statistical confidence intervals and so on. Quacks typically simply claim that X “WORKS!” and produce a hundred anecdotes. They then wander off into the long grass talking about holistic woo and how everyone is different, conveniently forgetting that their original claim posits that everyone reacts identically. That’s one reason they don’t get taken seriously.

The other reason they don’t get taken seriously is that typically they have no actual understanding of physiology, disease or biochemistry. One live blood analyst of whom I am aware claims that eating juiced vegetables will add chlorophyll to your blood and allow you to photosynthesise oxygen. Quackery is definitely the word to describe this.

So, quackery: pretending to medical knowledge. That is a perfect description of most homeopaths. The few who are also medically trained, I will confess leave me baffled. Hahnemann reserved his greatest contempt for those who simultaneously practised homeopathy and “allopathy”. The theories of homeopathy and medicine are mutually exclusive. One cannot believe in homeopathy and simultaneously accept that homeopathy is valid, unless one does not actually understand either. Homeopathy is a humoural practice which denies germ theory, it repudiates the dose-response relationship used in prescribing, and it has been defined from the outset by its mutual exclusivity with the practice of medicine.

That one, I will concede, is a poser.

Guy,
round 30…gong.
“The term quack comes from the Dutch Dutch kwakzalver (hawker of salve), the term kwak for hawker is from the Middle Dutch quacken (to brag, boast; to croak)”.

Yes I am able to use a dictionary as well, or even research definitions on the WWW, so a rather superfluous sentence.

AND……………..
“Quackery in general use means ineffective, unproven or fraudulent medical practices. Examples include chiropractic, homeopathy, therapeutic touch, patent remedies, a host of cancer quackery including laetrile, black sdalve, Gerson and Hoxsey therapies and so on”.

Your treading on dicey ground here Guy with calling Chiropractic as well as Homeopathy, Gerson and Hoxsey, as quackery. Strange how people dismiss therapies such as these without ever having tried them.!!!
Chiropractic for example is actually “evidence-based”: Spinal manipulation therapy gained prominence in 2007 when the American College of Physicians and the American Pain Society recommended it as a treatment for chronic or subacute low back pain, alongside exercise therapy, acupuncture and yoga.
There have also been around 70 randomized control trials and 10 systematic reviews which support its use to treat lower back pain.
Perhaps most notably, a 2004 study published in the British Medical Journal compared spinal manipulation therapy with exercise and reported better outcomes with spinal manipulation. Studies have also shown that chiropractic can alleviate headaches, migraines and other conditions, and today’s chiropractors are very effective in alleviating neuromusculoskeletal disorders.

AND…………
“A quack is one who pretends to medical (health) knowledge they do not possess”.

Absolutely.

AND………………
“Informally it is also used as an ironic reference to real doctors, almost exclusively in general practice (coincidentally the area which is most prone to falling short of evidence-based standards)”.

Love the use of the word “real”.!!

AND…..
“One could make a good case for calling Andrew Wakefield a quack”; my doctor trained with him and says he was a decent bloke back then.”

Still is.

AND…………..
“Many new drugs originate in nature, there is no bar to testing anything where there is credible evidence”.

Yes, many new drugs do originate in nature and the reason the Pharmaceutical Companies have to alter the molecular structure of the “medicine” (usually plants and herbs and so on) to reap the benefits of a “Patent”. They know full well that patents are not allowed on the original source.

AND……………….
The other reason they don’t get taken seriously is that typically they have no actual understanding of physiology, disease or biochemistry”.

Huge whopper that one: so we can include a long list of “quacks” as: Dr Al Sears MD; Dr Oz MD; and that loooong list of MD’s and PhD’s and Professors I posted on much earlier. Well done. There are thousands more of course.

AND…………………………….
“Eating juiced vegetables will add chlorophyll to your blood and allow you to photosynthesise oxygen. Quackery is definitely the word to describe this”.

You must have misunderstood what the blood analyst had to say (quite typical here as well), because that should have read: drinking plant sourced chlorophyll is beneficial to health because it delivers a continuous energy transfusion into our bloodstream, replenishing and increasing red blood cell count; and since hemoglobin carries oxygen to our cells, increasing hemoglobin thereby increases the ability of red blood cells to carry oxygen and delivers us increased levels of oxygen.

Just thought I would clear that one up for you.

The rest of the post and some other parts are just medical propaganda, but thanks anyway.

Guy,
Just so that you understand the action of Chlorophyll more and derived from juices (green)……………..
http://www.hippocratesinst.org/well-being/chlorophyll

Chiropractic is based on the idea that all disease is caused by disruptions in the flow of innate through the spine. This is nonsense. Chiropractors are known for “practice building”, code for sales patter persuading perfectly healthy people to keep coming back. They subject patients to whole spine X-rays for no supportable reason, they diagnose “subluxations” which are empirically unverifiable (and inconsistent between chiropractors) and occasionally they disable or kill their patients through rapid twisting of the neck – a signature move for the profession with no known benefit and a well documented risk. Chiropractic is also rife with antivaccinationism and other anti-medicine propaganda.

Chiropractic is not evidence-based, it is anecdote-based. This is a crucial difference that has been explained many times but does not seem to be getting through. The entire foundation of chiropractic is anecdote, right from the very first adjustment that was D. D. Palmer’s “eureka moment”

It is reasonable to describe chiropractic as quackery. Perhaps you have not studied it and do not realise quite how ridiculous (and indeed dangerous) it is.

The idea that pharmaceutical companies change molecules in order to be able to patent a treatment sounds like more conspiracist nonsense. They isolate a substance, but changing the molecule generally means they no longer have the same molecule and therefore it’s not the same substance. The exception would be “me-again” drugs, which are actually a manipulation to extend patent rather than a way to gain a new patent. There has never been a problem patenting new molecules taken form nature and applied as pharmaceuticals, as far as I’m aware – since this is the normal route to market it would be a bit of a surprise.

As to “medical propaganda”, that is pure paranoia. It will be abundantly clear by now that what people like Alan and I admire is the scientific method. It finds problems in medicine and fixes them. It finds problems in quackery but alas can’t fix them because quacks ignore science or pretend it’s all a vast conspiracy to suppress them.

Which is of course where this entire debate started.

chrisb

“…drinking plant sourced chlorophyll is beneficial to health because it delivers a continuous energy transfusion into our bloodstream, replenishing and increasing red blood cell count; and since hemoglobin carries oxygen to our cells, increasing hemoglobin thereby increases the ability of red blood cells to carry oxygen and delivers us increased levels of oxygen.”

Hmmm. Now why is that not in any textbook of human biochemistry and physiology. Is this from a dodgy website by any chance?

The claim made by the live blood analyst was that chlorophyll adds to the blood’s oxygenation ability by allowing conversion of sunlight to oxygen.

Not only is this patent nonsense (light does not penetrate to the bloodstream), it is also patent nonsense (food entering the bloodstream happens only when you are really very ill indeed). At least it is in this way consistent with everything else that live blood analysts say, all of which appears to be patent nonsense

Perhaps little green men from Mars could carry out photosynthesis, Guy. After all, we manage to make vitamin D when our skin is exposed to sunshine.

It would be really good to get back to our topic. 🙂

True, and homeopathy is even more ridiculous than live blood analysis. I think I mentioned, the ASA gave both of them a resounding kick in the anecdotes last week.