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.