World Homeopathy Awareness Week

April 4, 2012 at 8:47 pm (Homeopathy) (, , , , , )

From 10th to 16th April, we are in World Homeopathy Awareness Week. I thought I’d do my bit to help raise awareness.

This year, the focus of WHAW is infertility. There’s no good reason to think that homeopathy can help with infertility. Or with anything else, for that matter. As Steven Novella wrote in response to an article by an advocate of alternative therapies:

We agree that homeopathy is not a drug or chemical – it’s literally nothing.  Homeopaths would have you believe that complete absence of any possibility of an effect is an advantage. In fact what it means is that homeopathy cannot work. And, in fact, when studied clinically it does not work – for anything. So if homeopathy cannot work by any established laws of physics, chemistry, or biology, how do homeopaths say it works? The answer – by magic. Of course they disguise the word “magic” in a Gish Gallop of scientific-sounding gobbledigook.

Here is another comment in an article titled “homeopathy and science”:

If homeopathic remedies are effective, there is a mechanism by which they work. It is a fact that the mechanism of action by which they might work has not been established. If the remedies do work, they must do so in a manner which would appear to violate established principles of physics, chemistry and pharmacology or they must work in a manner which is yet to be discovered. As one early critic of homeopathy wrote, “Either Hahnemann is right, in which case our science and the basis of our thinking is nonsense, or he is wrong, in which case this teaching is nonsense.”

As the Skeptic’s Dictionary puts it:

the known laws of physics and chemistry would have to be completely revamped if a tonic from which nearly every molecule of the active ingredient were removed could be shown to be effective

Despite homeopathy being incompatible with the laws of physics, chemistry and biology, researchers have spent (or wasted, depending on your perspective) time, effort, and research funding on studying it. Randomised controlled trials, meta analyses, and systematic reviews (even systematic reviews of systematic reviews) have found that homeopathic remedies are no better than placebo. See, for example, Shang et al.

Let’s take a look at the available evidence relating specifically to homeopathy and infertility.

Searching for homeopathy and fertility finds just nine papers in pubmed.

Here’s a quick summary: these papers do not show that the highly diluted remedies most often used in homeopathy can help infertility. They don’t even come close. The best evidence is the single RCT that has been conducted into homeopathy for infertility. This trial was tiny and looked at an atypical homeopathic remedy (i.e. it was not a highly dilute remedy containing not a single molecule of the purported active ingredient, rather it contained a mixture of herbs).

This paper looks at personal attitudes and contact with the Norwegian health service. This paper is interesting but does not look at whether homeopathy works, it simply notes that some male partners in infertile couples have used alternative medicine such as homeopathy.

This looks a lot like an opinion piece. In fact, it’s not dissimilar to this opinion piece. I’m not sure it’s right to post this link, given that I have written above “let’s take a look at the available evidence“.

This paper claims to review three alternative therapies. It’s not clear from the abstract whether this is a systematic review or an opinion piece. Given that I can find no trials of homeopathy for infertility on pubmed that were published prior to this review, I can’t imagine what evidence the author would have been able to review.

This looks like another opinion piece. One which begins with the contentious and, frankly, rather revealing statement: “Complementary therapists take a more holistic view of inferitility treatment than do allopathic health professionals.”

Here, at last, we have a trial. It appears to be a trial of a mixture of herbs at a D5 dilution. A D5 dilution is one part per hundred thousand and, unlike the most popular (and allegedly most potent) homeopathic remedies, is likely to contain some amount of active ingredient (bizarrely, such remedies are referred to by homeopaths as ‘low potency’ and more diluted remedies containing no active ingredient are ‘higher potency’). The abstract appears to be positive, although the authors note that “there was no significant effect when viewing the whole group” and they appear to be basing their positive comments on a sub-group analysis of “women with oligomenorrhea in the Phyto Hypophyson L group compared to the placebo group”. There were only 67 participants in the entire trial, and the abstract fails to make clear how many were in each group (or subgroup). So we have a small trial with an unclear abstract and a mixture of results claimed to be significant or not significant (it is also unclear whether the authors made adjustments for the number of comparisons they made), and the therapy in question is not a typical homeopathic remedy.

Next, we have a paper that reports on a trial of individualized homeopathic therapy. This is a prospective observational pilot study that can do no more than recommend a controlled trial is conducted.

Here we have an overview of various alternative treatments. How they can give us an overview of homeopathy in infertility, I don’t know. There’s scarcely any evidence to look at. At the time this overview was published, there were only two trials on homeopathy and fertility indexed on Pubmed. Neither of which (as far as I can tell) looked at endometriosis.

This paper looks at the British Homeopathy Journal in 1985 and can therefore be safely ignored (given the chronology of the papers above).

Here, we have a paper that looks at homeopathy for infertility in a single bull. I kid you not: link.

That’s all there is. Opinion pieces, a pilot study, a case study involving a bull, and one small controlled trial. Call me demanding, but for a treatment that is incompatible with the laws of physics, chemistry and biology I’d want a bit more evidence than that before I seriously considered whether there might be some point in using homeopathy for infertility. Despite the lack of evidence, the World Homeopathy Awareness Organisation chose homeopathy for infertility to be the focus of their World Homeopathy Awareness Week.

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68 Comments

  1. Martin said,

    There’s plenty of evidence for homeopathy (“it worked for me”, and him, and him, and her, and them) but as you sort of say it has to be weighed against evidence that not only shows that it didn’t work for that other him, and other her, and those other thems, but also the evidence that supports the theories of how the world works that give us no reason to believe it *could* work.

    I can see there being some ‘it works for me’ due to changes in the ways that the couple try for children, following the advice of the adviser (homeopath, doctor, etc). In such cases, warm ‘holistic’ advice might be better than the cold advice of a doctor recommending a pill, but I don’t think it really works that way.

  2. Oliver Dowding said,

    I’m amazed. You are like a bunch of kids. I’m afraid I’m going to cite the many years I spent treating animals with homoeopathy, who were infertile. Under the supervision of a fully qualified veterinary surgeon who didn’t agree with homoeopathy. But that won’t persuade you, because you blind when it comes to that kind of realisation.

    The reality is, that many women, and many animals that have repeatedly recovered their fertility problems by utilising homoeopathy. I don’t expect you to agree with that possibility, never mind the reality.

    I’ll leave you to reside in your belief that everything pharmaceutical would solve everything you’ve got going wrong with you.

    Au revoir

  3. Paul Lawrence Hayes said,

    “Despite homeopathy being incompatible with the laws of physics, chemistry and biology, researchers have spent (or wasted, depending on your perspective) time, effort, and research funding on studying it. Randomised controlled trials, meta analyses, and systematic reviews…”

    It’s not a matter of perspective or opinion, James: it’s an inescapable consequence of inferential calculus – the rational foundation upon which any genuine science *must* be built – that all of that homeopathy clinical ‘research’ is meaningless nonsense.

    “Call me demanding, but for a treatment that is incompatible with the laws of physics, chemistry and biology I’d want a bit more evidence than that…”

    More to the point, it’s incompatible with the mountain of much stronger evidence that has established those laws. And that mountain is large and solid enough that it actually isn’t even logically possible for a clinical trial to produce (contradictory) evidence. It’s not just that positive evidence from homeopathy CTs “can’t begin to /compete/ with all the other evidence”, as Alan Sokal put it: in fact, as Jaynes has pointed out, any such evidence must necessarily be interpreted as evidence not of homeopathic efficacy but of error – some uncontrolled-for physical cause other than homeopathy. That’s why a CT of homeopathy just isn’t a scientific test of homeopathy at all. Ab initio, it’s futile. Pure cargo cult science.

  4. Oliver Dowding said,

    To those who cling on to the House of Commons initial findings on homoeopathy, you’ll find this analysis interesting http://bit.ly/HGL1Bl
    Without doubt, except for the ardent sceptic, this report from Switzerland is clear in it’s conclusions. I’m sure some of those ardent sceptics will be doing their best to pick holes in it, rather than ask how they might embrace it.

    You might also find this short film on “the Powers of 10″ interesting as well. http://vimeo.com/819138

    The “laws of physics, chemistry and biology” are only what they are as of now. As with goodness knows how many previous discoveries, there were often people doing whatever some scientist subsequently showed to be actually possible long before the scientist popped up. It didn’t mean that just because the scientist hadn’t delivered his oration that the thing that the people were doing didn’t work.

  5. cybertigerx said,

    Professor Edzard Ernst has been blogging at the BMJ again,

    http://blogs.bmj.com/bmj/2012/04/02/edzard-ernst-i-dont-care-how-treatment-works-as-long-as-it-helps-my-patients/

    That awfully clever scientist wrote,

    “Therefore the argument applies in an almost classic way: “I don’t care how homeopathy works, as long as it helps my patients.” In a way, it sanctions the use of a disproven treatment for the sake of pleasing the patient.”

    In fact what duffers like Ernst are really saying is that,

    ‘we don’t know how homeopathy works, but we certainly know it doesn’t’

    Ernst is a cuckoo; that’s a proven scientific fact.

    What Ernst says is a bit like saying,

    ‘one of the only certain things we know about autism is that it’s not caused by vaccines’

    …which, of course, is what other pseudo-scientific cuckoos – like Professor ‘Voodoo’ Colquhoon – are always quacking,

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/blog/2012/apr/03/homeopathy-why-i-changed-my-mind?commentpage=all#start-of-comments

  6. doomrock said,

    @Oliver. Have you got a link to the actual Swiss report rather than this “overview”?

  7. Oliver Dowding said,

  8. doomrock said,

    Paywalled. Handy.
    From the little that I could read it’s good to see that it “examines not only the efficacy of a particular intervention, but especially it’s ‘real world effectiveness’ “.

  9. TimW said,

    Never mind, if you can’t read the report, just watch the Powers of Ten film instead ;-)

  10. doomrock said,

    I watched the film and while slightly burnt by the stupid I am now utterly convinced of the efficacy of Google maps.

  11. Me said,

    I think all this publicity is just diluting the homoeopaths message.

  12. cybertigerx said,

    doomtwat said,

    … “while slightly burnt by the stupid” …

    The ‘rock of doom’ proves to be just a little hilarious. Twit! ‘Me’ too!

  13. doomrock said,

    God you’re good Electropussy. Now fuck off.

  14. Cybertiger said,

    Ernst & Colquhoon: haven’t these two rascal homeophobes passed their sell by date? Professor David ‘bollocks’ Colquhoon is 76 years old and Professor Edzard ‘the goon’ Ernst was supposed to have jumped off his high-chair at Exeter University last year. Of course, I’d be telling this comic duo to do a ‘doomrock’, if their act were not so patently hilarious.

  15. jdc325 said,

    I’m amazed. You are like a bunch of kids.

    Opening with an insult. Classy.

    I’m afraid I’m going to cite the many years I spent treating animals with homoeopathy, who were infertile. Under the supervision of a fully qualified veterinary surgeon who didn’t agree with homoeopathy. But that won’t persuade you, because you blind when it comes to that kind of realisation.

    And I’m going to point out, for the umpteenth time, that I’m not likely to be convinced by the anecdotes of an organic farmer when all reliable evidence suggests that homeopathy cannot and does not work.

    The reality is, that many women, and many animals that have repeatedly recovered their fertility problems by utilising homoeopathy. I don’t expect you to agree with that possibility, never mind the reality.

    That’s a claim that can easily be tested by running a fair trial of homeopathy. As you well know, the best-designed, most reliable trials show homeopathy doesn’t work. For any condition.

    I’ll leave you to reside in your belief that everything pharmaceutical would solve everything you’ve got going wrong with you.

    Au revoir

    I see you didn’t leave me for long Oliver and have commented again this morning. Still, thank you for leaving me that straw man to keep me company. I don’t think I’ve ever implied, let alone stated explicitly, that “everything pharmaceutical would solve everything you’ve got going wrong with you”. This seems to be an invention of yours. That said, pharmaceutical drugs do have their uses. Unlike homeopathic ‘remedies’.

  16. jdc325 said,

    To those who cling on to the House of Commons initial findings on homoeopathy, you’ll find this analysis interesting http://bit.ly/HGL1Bl
    Without doubt, except for the ardent sceptic, this report from Switzerland is clear in it’s conclusions. I’m sure some of those ardent sceptics will be doing their best to pick holes in it, rather than ask how they might embrace it.

    The report is certainly positive. Which isn’t surprising given that it comes from non-experts relying on a single report from biased observers and ignoring more objective, more recent reviews. There’s discussion of the Swiss report here: link.

    The “laws of physics, chemistry and biology” are only what they are as of now. As with goodness knows how many previous discoveries, there were often people doing whatever some scientist subsequently showed to be actually possible long before the scientist popped up. It didn’t mean that just because the scientist hadn’t delivered his oration that the thing that the people were doing didn’t work.

    If the laws of physics, chemistry and biology are wrong and homeopathy works then why does it consistently fail fair tests Oliver? You have two problems to overcome: the mountain of indirect evidence that contradicts homeopathy (the evidence that supports the laws in question); and the mountain of direct evidence in the form of clinical trials that contradicts homeopathy.

  17. jdc325 said,

    @Martin

    There’s plenty of evidence for homeopathy (“it worked for me”, and him, and him, and her, and them)…

    I’d argue that such evidence cannot support homeopathy. All such anecdotes can tell us is that some people feel better after a consultation and/or a prescription. People are free to say “all I know is that I feel better after…” and I don’t think I could refute that – but they cannot possibly know whether the improvement was due to the placebo effect, regression to the mean, or other factors.

  18. jdc325 said,

    @Paul Lawrence Hayes

    More to the point, it’s incompatible with the mountain of much stronger evidence that has established those laws. And that mountain is large and solid enough that it actually isn’t even logically possible for a clinical trial to produce (contradictory) evidence.

    I think you should expand on that and write a guide to why homeopathy cannot work and clinical trials cannot show otherwise.

    Pitch it at the level of the scientifically illiterate layman (i.e. me) and I’ll post it as a blog here if you like ;)

  19. Oliver Dowding said,

    @jdc
    “If the laws of physics, chemistry and biology are wrong and homeopathy works then why does it consistently fail fair tests Oliver? You have two problems to overcome: the mountain of indirect evidence that contradicts homeopathy (the evidence that supports the laws in question); and the mountain of direct evidence in the form of clinical trials that contradicts homeopathy.”

    I’ll leave you with your “mountain of evidence”, and invite you to leave me with mine. The physical evidence seen repeatedly by hundreds of farmers in this country, many veterinary surgeons, and many multiples of this in other countries around the world. I should be careful how you ignore this “mountain” in case you walk into it.

    You say “I’m not likely to be convinced by the anecdotes of an organic farmer when all reliable evidence suggests that homeopathy cannot and does not work.”

    Now why doesn’t that surprise me that you’re not likely to be convinced? I’m not going to try to convince you, because you can ignore all the experience and evidence gained by all the farmers and veterinary surgeons globally if you like, as that’s your prerogative. As I’ve pointed out countless times before, I’m not interested in setting up a trial on your terms, because that’s not the basis upon which homoeopathy works. We don’t seek to find, for example, 100 cows with mastitis and give them all the same homoeopathic remedy, and then give a connected bunch of 100 cows the same antibiotic, and see which gets better the best etc. The hundred cows homoeopathic remedies will not be all the same, being matched to the individual cow, and to the individual type of mastitis, from a likely collection of about seven different homoeopathic remedies. They might even be the same remedy but at different potencies. I don’t expect you to understand this, because I doubt you’ve ever been in the position of actually having cows present themselves to you with mastitis, hundreds of them over long periods of time, had to assess the type of mastitis, had to select the remedy, and then observe the results. Had you done so, as I and those who worked for me you would appreciate the high success rate that homoeopathy delivered.

    Please note, as said before, that nobody involved had a financially vested interest in the outcome, whatsoever, apart from the veterinary surgeons who were of a conventional persuasion and who could arguably said to have had a vested interest in proving that the homoeopathy failed but had to admit that it succeeded. However, I have no doubt that you and others who dismiss homoeopathy will once again suggest that this is no more than anecdote. There’s not much I can do about it if you’re going to think that. I could have taken that view one point, and never have discovered the value and potency of homoeopathy, had I exhibited a closed mind at the outset.

  20. Paul Lawrence Hayes said,

    “and the mountain of direct evidence in the form of clinical trials that contradicts homeopathy.”

    What “mountain”? There are, according to Ernst, only “about 200 clinical studies of homeopathic remedies available to date” and most of those don’t pass review/analysis-time quality control:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1874503/table/tbl2/

    If we adopt the appallingly poor inferential/scientific standards of the orthodox statistics trained and accept it as evidence, the most we can justifiably say is that a few homeopathic remedies don’t work.

  21. Paul Lawrence Hayes said,

    @jdc325 :) It’s funny you should say that: I’ve been thinking quite hard recently about whether I ought to do something more than just post comments all over the ‘net about this. Your offer is greatly appreciated and I may well take it up at some point.

  22. Cybertiger said,

    jdc523 said,

    “Pitch it at the level of the scientifically illiterate layman (i.e. me) …”

    You ‘av to larf at the modesty … and idiocy … of the layman homeophobe. Plonker!

  23. Cybertiger said,

    John Briffa is a medically qualified, scientifically literate blogger, and clearly at the opposite end of the cerebral spectrum from jdc253.

    This recent blog post from Dr Briffa reveals one of the truly massive deceits of modern medicine and science,

    http://www.drbriffa.com/2012/03/28/why-the-new-cholesterol-busting-drug-is-nothing-to-get-excited-about/

    Briffa says,

    “Having doctors believe that cholesterol reduction must somehow translate into better health down the line is one of the big deceptions of modern medicine.”

    And today, John Briffa has written more about the problems of the ‘lower is best’ cholesterol hypothesis …

    http://www.drbriffa.com/2012/04/06/can-low-cholesterol-cause-cancer/

    …. and backed it up with evidence. Be afraid, be very afraid … but not of homeopathy or homeopaths.

  24. jdc325 said,

    As I’ve pointed out countless times before, I’m not interested in setting up a trial on your terms, because that’s not the basis upon which homoeopathy works. We don’t seek to find, for example, 100 cows with mastitis and give them all the same homoeopathic remedy, and then give a connected bunch of 100 cows the same antibiotic, and see which gets better the best etc. The hundred cows homoeopathic remedies will not be all the same, being matched to the individual cow, and to the individual type of mastitis, from a likely collection of about seven different homoeopathic remedies. They might even be the same remedy but at different potencies.

    And, as I’ve pointed out countless times before, individualised trials of homeopathy are not only possble – they have actually been conducted. Either you’ve forgotten this or your argument here is dishonest.

    I’ve even pointed out that there is at least one trial that tested individualised homeopathy in cows with mastitis. I did so in this blogpost, the second comment highlights the individualised nature of the trial, and you have commented several times yourself.

    So, Oliver – are you forgetful or dishonest? Which is it?

  25. Mojo said,

    @Oliver Dowding:

    “Without doubt, except for the ardent sceptic, this report from Switzerland is clear in it’s conclusions.”

    A bit odd, then, that the Swiss government doesn’t seem to have been convinced by it, and only reinstated funding of homoeopathy (for a trial period from 2012 to 2017 during which it must demonstrate its efficacy) as a result a referendum vote.

  26. mike said,

    The Health Technology Assesment from the Swiss Report is abstracted here:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16883077

    Note the following concerning “cost effectiveness”
    “A general health-economic statement about homeopathy cannot be made from the available data.”
    “Reliable statements of cost-effectiveness are not available at the moment.”

  27. Cybertiger said,

    Are we to assume that ‘Mojo’ is not a democracy enthusiast?

  28. mike said,

    Interesting that Dana Ullman has published an article on Huffington Post specifically touting the idea that the Swiss report “validated” the cost effectiveness of homeopathy, in stark contradiction to the findings of the report itself.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dana-ullman/swiss-homeopathy_b_1340506.html

    If he drops by here to comment, we will be sure to ask him why he did so.

  29. Cybertiger said,

    ‘mike’ seems to be one of those tedious touts who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. Ugh!

  30. Robert said,

    World Homeopathy Awareness Week?

    Remember to carry an umbrella.

  31. Cybertiger said,

    Oh dear, Prof. David ‘Voodoo’ Colquhoon seems to have a lot of time on his hands.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/blog/2012/apr/03/homeopathy-why-i-changed-my-mind?commentpage=1#start-of-comments

    Tedious twat!

    PS. That goes for risible ‘Robert’ too. Hilarious!

  32. Oliver Dowding said,

    @jdc “And, as I’ve pointed out countless times before, individualised trials of homeopathy are not only possble – they have actually been conducted. Either you’ve forgotten this or your argument here is dishonest.”

    I’m most certainly not dishonest, and resent that you decide to choose that word. I’m not infallible in the memory department. I suspect that most people, including all those here, will admit to a degree of fallibility on that trait. I also don’t specialise in nitpicking, which seems to be a prevailing trait of many who get on to these forums seeking to dismiss homoeopathy. I’m sure there aren’t any here…… or are there? I’ve always thought it better to try and find out why something works, whether or not one has the personal experience of whatever it is. If Joe Bloggs is managing to treat illness with something that we don’t think works, be that a drug, or a homoeopathic remedy or something else, surely it’s more sensible to try and work out why he’s having that success, rather than simply denigrate him because our bank of knowledge doesn’t accept that it can be possible.

    However, and far more importantly, you are absolutely right that an individualised trial would be possible. However, in trying to explain to you why it’s unrealistic, I refer you to my point which is far more prescient in terms of using homoeopathy properly on-farm. There are many different types of mastitis, and many different remedies, with different remedies set each different type of mastitis, caused as they are by different organisms. If you know a way to provide 100 cows all with the same strain of mastitis, with the same level of infection, then we can select a single remedy to pitch against the antibiotic, which is almost always capable of treating a broad spectrum of mastitis cases. Otherwise, may I suggest that you take it as read from those who’ve used and understand homoeopathy in an animal context that because of this huge variation a trial, as you see it, is not practical.

    I’ve encountered worse suggestions. At the Bath sceptics meeting I attended, a fully-fledged doctor, probably in his mid-50s, suggested I undertake the trial by splitting the herd into two, treating half with the homoeopathic remedy, and the other half with water. He didn’t deviate from this course when I suggested that it would be akin to animal cruelty if one was using water to try and treat mastitis, following which the animal’s health would necessarily decline. In fact, he became incredibly loud and arrogant in pushing his view. I was gobsmacked. So, as a matter of interest, were quite a few other people who had attended the meeting and who came up to me afterwards to express that opinion, even though not being supportive of homoeopathy. I’m pleased I wasn’t one of his patients.

  33. jdc325 said,

    If Joe Bloggs is managing to treat illness with something that we don’t think works, be that a drug, or a homoeopathic remedy or something else, surely it’s more sensible to try and work out why he’s having that success, rather than simply denigrate him because our bank of knowledge doesn’t accept that it can be possible.

    How do you know if Joe Bloggs is successfully treating illness? How do you and Joe know whether the improvement was due to Joe’s treatment, the placebo effect, regression to the mean, or other factors?

    Once Joe has demonstrated that it is the treatment that is responsible, we can talk about why it works. Talking about why something works when there’s no good evidence that it does indeed work is premature.

  34. jdc325 said,

    However, and far more importantly, you are absolutely right that an individualised trial would be possible. However, in trying to explain to you why it’s unrealistic, I refer you to my point which is far more prescient in terms of using homoeopathy properly on-farm. There are many different types of mastitis, and many different remedies, with different remedies set each different type of mastitis, caused as they are by different organisms. If you know a way to provide 100 cows all with the same strain of mastitis, with the same level of infection, then we can select a single remedy to pitch against the antibiotic, which is almost always capable of treating a broad spectrum of mastitis cases. Otherwise, may I suggest that you take it as read from those who’ve used and understand homoeopathy in an animal context that because of this huge variation a trial, as you see it, is not practical.

    Oliver – you don’t seem to understand how individualised homeopathy can be tested. This is unfortunate, given that one of the main planks of your argument for homeopathy is that individualised homeopathy cannot be tested (or, in weaker forms, that it is impractical or too difficult). See here for an explanation of how to test individualised homeopathy.

    You can prescribe different remedies for different cows. There is no need to have 100 cows all with the same strain of mastitis and the same level of infection, being given the same remedy – this is your misunderstanding.

    Say you have 100 cows with mastitis and assign them randomly to two groups, placebo and homeopathic remedy. The vet can prescribe whatever remedy he or she likes to each individual cow based on their symptoms. Half the cows actually get the prescribed remedy (whatever it is – the vet can prescribe 100 different remedies for the 100 different, individual animals if they so wish) and the other half get an identical placebo pill. Neither you nor the vet knows which 50 got the homeopathic remedy and which 50 got the other, non-magic sugar pill (because you’re both blinded). You have now tested individualised homeopathy in a DBRCT.

    Of course, this has already been done. In cows. With mastitis. But for some reason, you didn’t like that study. Perhaps because it wasn’t positive.

  35. Oliver Dowding said,

    I think you’ve made my point. You would end up with 50 cows receiving no treatment for mastitis. Therefore the mastitis would get out of control for the unfortunate cows in your control group, and ultimately the cow would need to be culled, as even if she got “better” she wouldn’t be very productive, which is the aim of a dairy farm. Any other ideas? Useful ones! There are benefits to being a farmer and understanding what one is talking about in connection with farming.

    I understand fully what we were doing, and how we were doing it, what remedies we were using, and what success we were having. So do the veterinary surgeons who attended the farm. All points that I’ve made before, and all of which you try to dismiss as placebo. It certainly wasn’t and isn’t.

  36. jdc325 said,

    I think you’ve made my point. You would end up with 50 cows receiving no treatment for mastitis.

    You’ve made an unwarranted assumption that the cows would not be receiving a treatment that might actually help – such as antibiotics. You could run the test as described above on cows that were already receiving antibiotic treatment.

    More obviously, you’ve made an unwarranted assumption that homeopathy works.

  37. jdc325 said,

    I understand fully what we were doing, and how we were doing it, what remedies we were using, and what success we were having. So do the veterinary surgeons who attended the farm.

    I very much doubt that.

    All points that I’ve made before, and all of which you try to dismiss as placebo. It certainly wasn’t and isn’t.

    You can’t possibly know that Oliver. For reasons that I’ve explained previously. At length. I’ve also previously listed a number of other factors in perceived therapeutic effect. Which you also dismiss out of hand.

  38. Mojo said,

    Are we to assume that ‘Cybertiger’ is an argumentum ad populum enthusiast?

  39. doomrock said,

    No, he’s just a disgraced doctor and a cunt.

  40. Cybertiger said,

    @doomtwat

    I got your measure and I wasn’t wrong. Arsehole!

  41. mike said,

    Oliver, I take it you are against the giving of homeopathy for any condition for which there is effective conventional therapy.

    That is the only conclusion one can draw from your comment about it being unethical to test homeopathy for bovine mastitis for exactly that reason.

    I agree with you.

  42. Cybertiger said,

    @mike

    Arsehole too! Bigwun!

  43. Oliver Dowding said,

    @jdc

    I now appreciate your slightly different approach to trialling. I dare say it might work, but as you know I no longer have heard, and therefore it will be for somebody else to consider doing.

    As for your comment (“I very much doubt it”) that I didn’t know what I was doing, how we were doing it, didn’t know what remedies I was using, and whether the animal recovered or not, I’m surprised you say that. However, if you want to think that I didn’t have a clue what was going on, you carry on with that sort. All those who were working for me and myself were quite clear, as was the (conventional) veterinary surgeon team who worked with us. Basically, what you understand the level to which you’re prepared to go doesn’t facilitate you accepting that something else is possible. But one time I would perhaps have been the same. However, through trying something different, we gained an Isaac Asimov moment, except we didn’t think it was funny but marvellous.

    @Mike
    You’re wrong. It’s a mischievous interpretation of words if you think that. I don’t for one moment think it’s unethical to test homoeopathy on bovine mastitis. I know what I think.

  44. Cybertiger said,

    @jdc325

    You’ve been prattling on about the use of placebos in trials on animals. How does the placebo effect work in cows? Of course, I realise you’re only a “scientifically illiterate layman”, but I thought you might have a clever explanation.

  45. Robert said,

    It works on the people reporting the results. That’s why trials are double-blinded not single-blinded. “Blinding” the cows doesn’t help much. How does a doctor get to be a doctor without understanding how a double-blinded trial works?

  46. Cybertiger said,

    I’m sorry but I don’t find ‘Bob the Builder’s’ story very convincing. And ‘Bob’ shows the distinct lack of imagination, characteristic of the “scientifically illiterate layman”. Everyone knows that tomatoes grow bigger and better if you sing and dance with them …

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-478558/So-Charles-right–talk-plants-scientists-discover.html

    … so the placebo effect works for them. So what about cows? Does the mastitis get better because Oliver talks to his herd? Come on Bob, get a grip!

  47. Robert said,

    You blind the people who administer the treatment and report on the trial results because otherwise their knowledge of which participants have received which treatment can affect their behaviour and observations. That effect can happen whether the partcipants are people or cows.

    That’s why trials are double-blinded, it’s not only the participants whose knowledge can bias a trial.

  48. doomrock said,

    Hahaha! The disgraced and mad old cunt linked to the Fail! Hahahahahahaha!!
    Got a job yet Moggy?

  49. Cybertiger said,

    @jdc352

    At 1:26 pm on April 7, 2012 ‘doomtwat’ dumped another warm turd onto your front lawn. You tend to be judged by the company you keep and if you lie down with turds, you get up smelling like a fresh one. Nothing new there then!

  50. Cybertiger said,

    The Ernst & Colquhoon comedy duet (aka The Unfunny Goon Show) continues over at the Guardian.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/blog/2012/apr/03/homeopathy-why-i-changed-my-mind/print

    Voodoo (Number 2 Goon) is getting all excited about dog-turd homeopathic remedies (aka “excrementum caninum”).

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/discussion/comment-permalink/15540639

    Bearing in mind the homeopathic ‘like cures like’ principle, I’m getting all excited about the prospect of getting rid of doggy-turds like ‘doomtwot’.

  51. Cybertiger said,

    In amongst the hilarity of the Unfunny Goons, I noticed these pertinent questions from ‘Stuart71′,

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/discussion/comment-permalink/15538097

    Stuart71 asks,

    “Are there not more offensive things in the world to rail against?”

    And the answer is a resounding, YES!

    Down with TURDS!

  52. Mojo said,

    @Robert:

    “You blind the people who administer the treatment and report on the trial results because otherwise their knowledge of which participants have received which treatment can affect their behaviour and observations. That effect can happen whether the partcipants are people or cows.”

    Or rats: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17233886

    “In the first phase of experiments, some statistically significant effects of homeopathic remedies (Apis, Lachesis and Phosporus) were observed (the reduction in paw volume increase ranging from 10% to 28% at different times since edema induction). In the second phase of experiments, the effects of homeopathic remedies were not confirmed.”

    The first phase was single-blind, the second double-blind.

  53. Cybertiger said,

    Hallelujha Mojo! It works! This sounds like scientific evidence for the placebo effect in rats

  54. Oliver Dowding said,

    Besides all the hot air, and off-topic (sort of) here is a story that really is sick and sad all in one. Medics hardly covering themselves in glory through poor diagnosis etc etc

    http://www.elladis.webs.com/

  55. Campanha 10:23 « COMCEPT said,

    [...] revela uma “coincidência cósmica”!  Durante os dias 10 a 16 de Abril comemora-se a semana de sensibilização da homeopatia. No dia 17 de Abril, um blogger português estará presente em tribunal para responder a um [...]

  56. Campanha 10:23 Portugal « COMCEPT said,

    [...] revela uma “coincidência cósmica”!  Durante os dias 10 a 16 de Abril comemora-se a semana de sensibilização da homeopatia. No dia 17 de Abril, um blogger português estará presente em tribunal para responder a um [...]

  57. Skepticat said,

    Nice post, J. A right load of crap from Oliver, as usual.

  58. World Homeopathy Awareness Week: all your questions answered « Short and Spiky said,

    [...] World Homeopathy Awareness Week (jdc325.wordpress.com) [...]

  59. ChrisP said,

    Oliver Dowding seems to have pulled out the old canard that because evidence-based medicine is not infallible, that proves homeopathy works.

    Except in this case, it is more that a random person on the internet thinks vaccines are harming their child, therefore homeopathy works.

    Even if this random person on the internet was correct, that would not mean that evidence-based medicine was wrong or that homeopathy worked.

  60. Cybertiger said,

    @ChrisP

    You really are a vile and stupid creature – evidence-based, naturally.

  61. ChrisP said,

    Tiddles, is it correct that you are a disgraced doctor and mad old cunt?

  62. doomrock said,

    I heard that rumour ChrisP. I also heard that he’s a vile and stupid creature.

  63. Settimana mondiale dell’omeopatia » Ocasapiens - Blog - Repubblica.it said,

    [...] “Ricerche” in tema [...]

  64. Geoff said,

    I know that it’s ‘de rigeur’ to make fun of dim people on the internet, but I think you’re being a bit hard on cybertiger. It’s quite clear he has some mental issues, so I don’t think it’s at all fair to lay into him like this.

    I dare say it would be more obvious if you met him in real life and maybe you’d ease back. But the anonymity of the net isn’t an excuse to be extremely rude to people who have difficulties.

    You must be aware that it is not normal for someone to communicate in the way he does (I have seen his responses on other threads and they really are alarming and, if you have any compassion, rather tragic), and there must be something wrong.

    So, I ask you to consider this next time he posts. Remember that he is, like you, just a human being. It is a shame that someone close to him is not responsible enough to monitor what he is doing – they would surely appreciate his troubles if they did.

    To cybertiger… Perhaps posting on forums like these is cathartic for you. But I would urge you to consider seeking appropriate help at some stage (it doesn’t need to be medical, just discussing it with someone you trsut is a step in the right direction), even if you feel that your current actions are helping.

    Geoff

  65. doomrock said,

    And what are you using to make this diagnosis Geoff? Perhaps you should read up on Tigger. He’s not dim. He’s a cunt.

  66. ChrisP said,

    Geoff, I think you might have the wrong end of the stick here. This is our worthy correspondent cyberpussy

    http://www.bedfordshire-news.co.uk/News/Sacked-GP-hits-out-after-losing-claim.htm

    http://www.bedfordshire-news.co.uk/News/Gp-called-fellow-doctor-a-wimp-after-public-row.htm

    I fully agree with you that it is not normal for someone to communicate like cyberpussy, but doomrock is correct in their assessment.

  67. World Homeopathy Awareness Week: all your questions answered » Short & Spiky said,

    [...] World Homeopathy Awareness Week (jdc325.wordpress.com) [...]

  68. World Homeopathy Awareness Week: all your questions answered | A Plague of Mice said,

    […] World Homeopathy Awareness Week (jdc325.wordpress.com) […]

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