Examples of Homeopathic Debate

July 24, 2009 at 9:17 pm (Bad Science, Homeopathy) (, )

Here, a homeopath leaves a message on a blog post at gimpyblog. Here, again on Gimpy’s blog, the comment is repeated – and later in the thread comments in a similar vein are added. This post carries repeats of the comments in the second thread I linked to. A similar comment was also added to a post I’d written.

When this commenter first responded to one of my posts, I googled the exact phrase as it seemed familiar to me. I got 15 hits once Google had omitted the similar results. That is now 51 hits. The commenter has certainly been busy. Too busy, in fact, to actually discuss homeopathy rather than leave identical  (often far from meaningful) comments on a number of blogs. The commenter once proposed a test of homeopathy on the Think Humanism forum (on 7th March 2009). They have yet to get back to the TH forumites regarding her proposal, despite them starting a thread dedicated to the proposal and repeatedly reminding her of it.

Rather than engage in debate and answer questions posed, some commenters seem to be inclined to conduct the equivalent of blog “drive-bys” or (as AP Gaylard described the tactic) to Misinform and Move on. Given that the post I link to is from August 2008, I think it is safe to assume that Dana Ullman has no intention of clearing up the misstatements that he has scattered across the internet. One of the links given by Gaylard is to the Hawk/Handsaw blog, where there seem to be some unanswered questions that were asked of Dana in 2007.

Apart from individual homeopaths commenting on blogs, are there any other examples of homeopathic debate that I should be looking at? Perhaps the discussion forum of the British Homeopathic Association would be a good place to start? A thread about NHS funding of homeopathy that digressed into discussion of the flaws that have been uncovered in the Shang et al paper seems to have ended rather unsatisfactorily. One commenter claimed that “the results of the Shang study was questioned and effectively debunked by later analyses published in 2008 by Ludtke et al, and Rutten et al” but is yet to respond to criticism of their use of papers by Rutten and Stolper & Ludtke and Rutten to support their claim that the Shang paper has been debunked.

Perhaps submissions to journals would find more realistic examples of homeopaths conduct debate? The author of Hawk/Handsaw had a comment published in the journal Homeopathy. The authors of the original article that was criticised had a chance to respond. Here is a description of their response:

the reply by original authors Rutten and Stolper is an exercise in evasion and obfuscation, and doesn’t really address most of the points that I made. This seems to be fairly typical (and to be fair isn’t only restricted to non-science like homeopathy).

The blogger also described the original article as “an outrageous slur on what is a perfectly reasonable paper, if you understand it properly”. The paper was the study by Shang et al, which is also the subject of discussion on the BHA forum and two of the Ullman issues that were listed by AP Gaylard. Gaylard has written that he is becoming a collector of misconceptions about the Lancet paper published by Shang et al. It seems to me that until and unless homeopaths have accurate information about, and a good understanding of, the Shang et al paper of 2005 there will be more people involved in more frustrating attempts to debate with homeopaths who are relying on misconceptions about the Shang paper. I look forward to reading those that are conducted online.

14 Comments

  1. zeno said,

    Because of Nancy’s behaviour, I will be making much the same comment about her abandoning her homeopathic test on any blog I come across where she has done the same drive-by stunt.

    BTW Love your ‘Favourite Fan Mail’ quotes! Might start my own.

  2. Mojo said,

    Nancy is so far the only homoeopath to have personally submitted entries to the Homoeopaths say the darndest things thread on JREF. Her efforts there include “Homoeopathy lacks a metaphysical model of understanding pathogenesis and as such have failed to come up with a model that could be used for research” and (my favourite of hers) “Homoeopathy is post-modern medicine”, but she didn’t manage anything as funny as the entry submitted on behalf of Bellavite and Signorini. Many of her efforts were deleted as spam, and she was soon banned.

  3. skepticat said,

    The comments beneath youtube vids on homeopathy are good places to see how homeopaths ‘debate’. Critics are generally either censored or abused.

    I had to dedicate a whole blog post to homeopushing apologist Peter Boulderstone, founder of Helios, who has a vid on youtube, claiming to explain homeopathy better than Randi. Funnily enough, he doesn’t allow any comments through if they challenge anything he says.

    http://skepticat.wordpress.com/2009/07/19/homeopathy-2/

  4. Andy said,

    Nancy’s one of my favourite commentors – if only because she keeps coming back. I’ve deleted a few because she posts the same damned comment on two different articles but here’s some of her best entries on my blog:

    Homeopathy: Micro Doses Mega Results

    Homeopathy is evidence based modern medicine for the 21st century

    Not every physician is a homeopath physician, and not every medicine is a homeopathic medicine

    Not every physician is a homeopath physician, and not every medicine is allopathic

    She’s nothing if not succinct.

  5. jdc325 said,

    Thanks everyone.

    @Mojo: I’ve just looked through that HSTDT thread at JREF and it’s quite brilliant. Thanks for the link.

  6. Mike said,

    I haven’t clicked any of the links in your post but I think I know exactly who you mean.

    We’re still waiting for a reply on Think Humanism, Nancy!

  7. rside said,

    Interesting concept JDC- that all you and other haters of homeopathy really want is a discussion and debate. And then you are victim of the poor homeopaths who don’t want to face the hatred and bile spewing forth.

    Let’s face it, skeptic debate and gimpyblog in general are more this spewing of accusations at anyone who supports homeopathy rather than an actual discussion or debate.

    It is always interesting that after homeopaths on gimpyblog are repeatedly called derogatory names such as cunts, hoes, murderers you then say ‘why aren’t you staying to have a discussion’?

    Get real. Tone down the hatred and bile and perhaps there can be a reasonable debate. Some homeopaths and blogs, like Laughing my socks off attempted it but the same repeated hatreds reared their tiresome heads. Those who don’t share your hatred simply choose not to engage.

  8. jdc325 said,

    Que? Did you read the threads I linked to? They tend to run as follows: homeopath posts comment; sceptic responds politely; homeopath ducks out. On the Think Humanism forum, they even offered to help the homeopath in question with the design of a test she had proposed.

    I don’t think that anyone on the comments threads that I linked to on my blog or Think Humanism has been rude, let alone hateful or bilious.

    I am aware that some rather blunt comments have been made on Gimpy’s blog, but IIRC they tended to refer to homeopaths who were conducting unethical trials or promising to cure Aids rather than referring to homeopaths who were involved in debate there.

    “Those who don’t share your hatred simply choose not to engage.”
    I don’t have a hatred of homeopaths and I’ve had comment threads that have been perfectly polite, but when homeopaths have visited these threads they have posted drive-by comments and swiftly left the thread. As AP Gaylard points out, the point seems to be to misinform and move on. You can see the same thing in the threads at the Hawk/Handsaw and A Canna’ Change the Laws of Physics blogs where Dana Ullman has been involved. There is a failure to engage with the politest, most reasonable criticism of homeopathy that cannot be explained by a characterisation of sceptics as hate-filled or bilious.

  9. AndyD said,

    Just had a new comment from Nancy

    Homeopathy 4 Everyone, the world’s largest and most popular e-journal on homeopathy with 37,000 active subscriptions in 200 countries. It’s free. It’s available at hpathy….

  10. Nash said,

    Hoe is just a contraction of Homeopath, in the same way that Doc is a contraction of Doctor. Can’t see what the problem is.

  11. rside said,

    Nash- You know full well what a hoe means and you use it in with this derogatory intent.

    JDC- Yes, the web is sometimes spread politely at the very first but quickly into most “discussions” the spider pounces- they are very mean spirited and derogatory. And then end with the ‘I’m just an innocent discussion science person’ bullshit. You and Nash are doing it here.

    And you can continue to make conclusions about all homeopaths based on a few that frequent the posts but then again, that is simply creating more prejudice, distortion and hatred.

  12. jdc325 said,

    “You and Nash are doing it here.”
    Doing what? Being very mean spirited and derogatory? I’m baffled if you think that is the case.

    “And you can continue to make conclusions about all homeopaths based on a few that frequent the posts but then again, that is simply creating more prejudice, distortion and hatred.”
    I don’t see that this post creates prejudice, distortion and hatred. It’s not even simply about those particular individuals who are noted for leaving drive-by comments on blogs – I also pointed out that a submission to a journal was characterised as “an exercise in evasion and obfuscation, and doesn’t really address most of the points that [the author of Hawk/Handsaw] made”. It seems to me that evasion and obfuscation are not uncommon in homeopathic debate.

  13. Nancy said,

    Triple Blind studies, Double-Blind Randomised Placebo-Controlled Trial, Systematic Reviews & Meta Analysis, Evidence-base

    130+ studies in support of homeopathy medicine published in 52 peer-reviewed international journals

    http://knol.google.com/k/dr-nancy-malik-bhms/scientific-research-in-homeopathy/pocy7w49ru14/2#

    Medicines for specific disease conditions, Ultra-molecular dilutions, Structure & Memory of Water, Animal Studies, Plant Studies

  14. zeno said,

    Hey!

    Nancy asked me for a reciprocal link when she spammed my blog with the same nonsense here:

    I replied:

    Nancy

    I haven’t deleted your spam comment because I want everyone to know how pathetic your knol page is.

    Nancy Malik (or to give her her full medical title Nancy Malik) tries to maintain that these 130-odd papers actually support homeopathy.

    They do nothing of the sort.

    Xtaldave utterly demolished the vast majority of them in his blog post: Scientific evidence for homeopathy?.

    I have edited your comment to make the link to your knol page a rel=”nofollow” link so you don’t get any Google credit from your spamming here.

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