There’s been some letters to the eCAM journal http://ecam.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/eletters/4/1/7. The e-letters from Daniel Chrastina, Austin Elliot and Simon Baker make for interesting reading. Lionel Milgrom responds to these letters with a rant about Edzard Ernst ‘bringing up the Third Reich’.
My response to Milgrom’s Nazi complaint follows.
Lionel Milgrom complains that “Ernst concludes his paper “The truth about homeopathy” by referring to ‘lost’ research trials undertaken by the pro-homeopathy Nazi leadership that were so “Wholly and disastrously negative” they have been deliberately covered up by German homeopaths ever since” and compares this to the work of Dan Brown, further stating that “one should… question its motivation” and asking “why bring up the Third Reich’s involvement with homeopathy now?”
I don’t believe that Prof. Ernst was highlighting the Nazi involvement in homeopathy in order to strike a popular chord, rather that he was highlighting the trial results and the suppression of these negative studies. It seems clear to me that Prof. Ernst brought up the Third Reich in order to point out not only that the trials undertaken were negative, but also that the results were covered up by German homeopaths. These points are extremely pertinent to the debate on homeopathy as the first relates to the efficacy (or inefficacy) of homeopathy and the second relates to the question of whether the study of homeopathy by its supporters is grounded in science.
Like Mr Milgrom, I disapprove of the use of emotionally-charged phrases being used in serious scientific debate. For instance, I find this appalling: “Nick Cohen’s comments on homeopathy are as ignorant and about as offensive as those who quote the ‘Protocols of Zion’ to justify anti-semitism”. This quote is taken from responses to Nick Cohen’s excellent recent article on homeopathy that can be found here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/story/0,,2200815,00.html.