It's Official: Homeopathy Is A Load Of Old Bollocks

The Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has released a new draft paper on the effectiveness of homeopathy following an in-depth analysis across 68 different health conditions. Unsurprisingly, the paper concludes that there is no reliable evidence that homoeopathy is effective for treating any ailment. Rather, it's a potentially dangerous pseudoscience that can dupe patients into rejecting conventional and effective treatments.

Homeopathy picture from Shutterstock

The NHMRC commissioned professional research group Optum to analyse more than 400 published research papers and testimonials relating to homeopathy. This included systematic reviews, information provided by homeopathy interest groups, clinical practice guidelines and government reports on homeopathy published in other countries.

The report could find no compelling evidence to support the effectiveness of homeopathic remedies:

There were no health conditions for which there was reliable evidence that homeopathy was effective. No good-quality, well-designed studies with enough participants for a meaningful result reported either that homeopathy caused greater health improvements than a substance with no effect on the health condition (placebo), or that homeopathy caused health improvements equal to those of another treatment.

When you consider the driving principles behind these remedies — namely, that substances become more potent the more you dilute them and that ‘like cures like’ — it really shouldn't come as much surprise. Indeed, some homoeopathic medicines do not contain a single molecule of starting material, so how effective could they truly be?

According to Friends of Science in Medicine vice-president Professor Rob Morrison, the NHMRC paper offers a convincing conclusion that homeopathy comprises of "useless treatments" that waste taxpayers' money.

"You have to wonder why well researched reports of this kind, which clearly distinguish between health treatments which work and those that don't, and which could save millions of dollars spent on useless treatments are so few and far between," Morrison said in a statement.

"The report might also have included a section to show that, if homeopathy actually did work, the well-established, scientifically-validated principles of chemistry, physics, physiology and pharmacology must all be wrong." We believe that's what the scientific community refers to as a 'burn'.

Fellow Friends of Science in Medicine VP Professor Alastair MacLennan also pulled no punches in his statement:

"The Australian NHMRC has found no evidence for its efficacy and no plausible scientific reason why it should work. However, this report will be of no value and give no protection to the public if the government does not stop all direct and indirect subsidies to homeopathy through insurance payments and does not pass legislation that severely penalises false health claims for homeopathy.

"Sadly the TGA and the health department have a very bad record for effectively policing the non-evidence based claims of alternative therapies. They have been influenced too greatly by the vested-interest lobby groups of the vast alternative health industry. The government must now ensure that Australians are not sold snake oil.”

NHMRC draft Information Paper: Evidence on the effectiveness of homeopathy for treating health conditions [NHMRC]

See also: ACCC Needles Homeopathy Website For Anti-Vaccine Claims | Science Calls Time On Uni Alternate Health Courses


Comments

    This confirms a long-held view of mine; water with the slightest hint of medicine will not cure your illness, because that just sounds stupid.

      Except it's not even the slightest hint of medicine, it's the slightest hint (if any) of what got you sick in the first place.

      Whilst for the most part I agree, particularly when it comes to life threatening illness, I think this is a rather broad brush here... There are many, many plants and chemicals that are efficacious in a lot of illnesses. There was a series on the ABC last year about the original Pharmacies, and they basically experimented with o a lot of plants and chemicals, of which many were very efficacious...! :)

        Yes, there are several plants and other "natural" remedies which have been scientifically proven to work. The difference is that their efficacy was validated through rigorous scientific testing, which is something that alternative medicines like homeopathy have failed time and time again.

        The article is not about all "alternative" medicine (or the "many, many plants and chemicals that are efficacious in a lot of illnesses"). Its specifically about homoeopathy, which is a crock of shit:

        >The preparation of homoeopathic medicines consists of repeated dilution and shaking called >‘potentisation’. Homeopaths believe this process renders the remedies capable of stimulating the >body’s natural healing forces. After the 12th dilution, there is no discernible chemical trace of the >original substance left in the medicine, but homeopaths believe the preparation retains the >qualities of the original substance.

        i.e. they get some bark\flowers and mix with water. They then dilute this until there is no bark\flowers left in the water. They then sell you this pure water as a "cure".

        "experimented" and "efficacious". Very important words. Unless a treatment can use both of those words in the same sentence without also using 'not', then that treatment should not be promoted by anyone. If it hasn't been tested and shown to be efficacious, it has also not been shown to be NOT dangerous.

        Last edited 09/04/14 2:33 pm

        Sure, you find plants that work, then you turn them into medicine, instead of eating plants. Medicine that is formulated, made more potent and effective, instead of chewing plants that MIGHT kinda work.

        Not to mention if plants do cure something, they are very soon turned into medicine and aren't exactly homeopathy anymore.

    Just in time for World Homeopathy Awareness Week next week :)

    "Alternative medicine has either not been proved to work, or been proved not to work. You know what they call alternative medicine that's been proved to work? Medicine." - Tim Minchin

      "You know what they call alternative medicine that's been proved to work? Medicine." - Tim Minchin

      Priceless...

      Ha - came here just to post that. But I believe there were others who said it before Tim.

    While I don't doubt that the vast majority of beneficial claims regarding "treatments" made by homeopathic practitioners are total BS, the NHMRC is not an unbiased agent in this. They're the peak body for conducting medical research in Australia, and their report finds that claims of efficacy in homeopathic remedies do not meet their required standards. Given that homeopathic medicines don't aim to meet their standards - and in fact, often argue against them - the findings here are no different to those of any industry group finding that a competing industry isn't up to their standards by their own measurements. The Heartland Institute's findings of the lack of reliable evidence on climate change doesn't mean that AGW is "A Load Of Old Bollocks", and nor does this - though it certainly does a better job of punching holes than those nutters at the HI.

    None of that is to say people shouldn't be very, very wary of the supposed health benefits derived from homeopathic medicine - they should. But homeopathic practitioners generally don't seek to utilise medical research practices for a host of reasons - a small number of reasons are valid, but most are that they'd get found out as frauds. From my own experience, I can say that I've seen a homeopathic treatment keep a family member alive for nearly 20 years, after doctors gave them 12 months to live. I can't point to the science that achieved this, and neither can the neuroscientists who gave the initial prognosis. But after medicine and prayer failed to help, homeopathic did (by mechanisms unknown). That doesn't mean that medical science is wrong or misplaced - just that it doesn't have all the answers, and whether by luck or design, in this case homeopathic remedies did.

    We should keep in mind, too, that medical research standards are not without they're inherent flaws - one of my favourite journal articles of all time comes from peer-reviewed medical journal The Lancet, in an article by two medical practitioners called "Parachute use to prevent death and major trauma related to gravitational challenge", which argues that given that the use of parachutes in preventing death due to hitting the ground very fast hasn't been subjected to stringent double-blind testing required by organisations such as the NHMRC, it can't be considered an effective, evidence-based treatment. The real enemy of good medical (or any) research is blind, unquestioning acceptance of anything - including the acceptance of non-acceptance.

      None of that is to say people shouldn't be very, very wary of the supposed health benefits derived from homeopathic medicine - they should. But homeopathic practitioners generally don't seek to utilise medical research practices for a host of reasons - a small number of reasons are valid, but most are that they'd get found out as frauds. From my own experience, I can say that I've seen a homeopathic treatment keep a family member alive for nearly 20 years, after doctors gave them 12 months to live. I can't point to the science that achieved this, and neither can the neuroscientists who gave the initial prognosis. But after medicine and prayer failed to help, homeopathic did (by mechanisms unknown). That doesn't mean that medical science is wrong or misplaced - just that it doesn't have all the answers, and whether by luck or design, in this case homeopathic remedies did.

      Answer - placebo (or luck, or both)

        I'd go with mis-diagnosis as the most reasonable answer. Failing that, it's far more reasonable it was the prayer that prolonged the unfortunate family member's life, but a lack of faith prevented anyone realizing it. Magic water cannot trump wishful thinking.

          I'll tell you what, @lies. You go have a chat with the Head of Brain Sciences at a certain unnamed sandstone university in Sydney and tell them that based on your superior knowledge of the situation, you've determined that we've got a case for wrongful diagnosis.

          I'll wait...

          Last edited 09/04/14 8:08 pm

            Ok. I'll do it.
            You give me his details and enough info about your relative so that he knows who I am talking about and I will ask him.
            And I will ask him if he thinks magic water had any actual effect on whatever condition he diagnosed...
            I will do that.. And I WILL put his reply right here... You just give me the details. I am more than happy to have that conversation with an expert.
            I'll wait....

              Given how much you apparently already know, you shouldn't need those details. You can easily figure out which researcher I'm talking about. I'm not sure how much info about an individual they'll discuss with a complete stranger with no connection to the patient, but that shouldn't be a problem for a clever person like you. I'm sure if you give them your scientific credentials, they'll make the time to see you, won't they?

              Last edited 09/04/14 10:19 pm

                The convenor Professor Simon Killcross? @ UNSW? (I might be wrong here, just did a quick search and the head/convenor might have changed since he diagnosed the condition). He probably won't discuss confidential things. But if you did ask him, being related to the patient, I'm sure he would be willing to discuss. Would be better for you to post his response here, but I highly doubt that will happen.

                  Don't want to go down the road of identifying them.

                  The point I was trying to make with is that if they want to insult and throw stones at me, I can take it. But to feel justified in being able accuse one of the leading specialists in the country of misdiagnosis based on bugger all knowledge of the case is not cool. I'm dead certain that they're not smarter or more knowledgeable on brain science than the several treating specialists, and so an accusation of misdiagnosis - which is a very serious accusation - is a dick move.

                Instead of being evasive, just tell me. I've never claimed to know anything that might suggest i know who you are talking about. I think everyone here would benefit from knowing exactly what the "Head of Brain Sciences" thinks of homeopathy.

                In short, I am calling you out on your bullshit. Give me the source and I will go to it. I will ask the very simple question: "In your opinion, could homeopathy have had any material benefit to with regards to ?" Better yet, do it yourself. Instead of using a flimsy argument from personal experience, ask the expert yourself. If he doesn't give you the answer you want, it doesn't mean he is unscientific or wrong.

                Your argument, which boils down to "my relative was taking homeopathic treatment at the same time as she didn't get worse and die" is totally unconvincing to anyone who was not emotionally involved. The only person you are convincing is yourself.

                Last edited 09/04/14 11:28 pm

                  You're the one being an arse by claiming a superior knowledgable position with no detailed knowledge of a specific case by genrealising from other cases - and I'm assuming you've had no direct experience with degernative brain disorders. If you're hiding a qualification in neuroscience, you're doing a damnd good job of hiding it. But, if you do have the superior knowledge of my case that you've already been claiming based on your definitive statements, you don't need the details from me, do you?

                  I don't need to ask - I've already had the conversations, on account of actually being involved. And as the specifics aren't mine, they're someone else's, you're managing to demonstrate you have no idea of how the relationship between a physician and patient actually works. I can give general details based on the conversations I've been involved in and observations I've made, but the permission would have to come the patient. And based on your condescending, rude and generally abusive behaviour, why would I ask them to expose themselves and their personal details to you, particularly as you think a superiority complex and a foul mouth is an effective mode of inquiry? Then let me put it in your terms: go fuck yourself. What have you done to earn that privilege? What constructive efforts have you made to discuss this? What understanding of the situation have you demonstrated? None.

      Regarding your anecdote, unless there was another patient of similar age, sex, and general health, with the same medical condition living in the same conditions who didn't receive homeopathy as a treatment, and then repeated this scenario across many pairs of similar patients, then you cannot use this as a demonstration of homeopathy's "effectiveness". Under the overwhelming majority of cases, homeopathy has been shown to be ineffective. That's the difference between an anecdote and data.

      And the parachute article is a bad analogy. Firstly, parachutes aren't a "treatment". Secondly, millions of people have died due to falls from high places. You don't need a double blind test to figure out that a working parachute would help prevent deaths from falling, you just need to have a rudimentary understanding of physics.

        The counter to your point about the anecdote is that it worked despite the data not supporting it. This is the reason it's not always appropriate to dismiss anecdotal data - you're saying that because the data doesn't support the outcome, the outcome is invalid. But a member of my family is alive when the science says they shouldn't be - no amount of data can contradict that fact. There are a number of techniques for analysing anecdotal data, and while medical research shouldn't be required to include anecdotal evidence, the fact that the evidence is anecdotal shouldn't be the sole basis for invalidating it.

        The parachute article was pointing out exactly what you said - that you shouldn't have to engage in a full body of research to prove something that is self-evident. However, many medical journals and practitioners require that such trials be the only basis by which an intervention can be considered valid. The authors (jokingly) suggested that proponents of such requirements should have the courage of their convictions and include themselves as part of the control group in a full trial of parachute use.

          I get that your family member is alive despite having the odds stacked against them, and that's fantastic. My point however is that you can't attribute their survival to the homeopathic treatment. When homeopathy has been shown time and time again to be ineffective (or no more effective than a placebo), then from a scientific standpoint it is far more likely that your family member would've either, (a) survived regardless of whether they were getting homeopathic treatment or not, (b) survived due to the placebo effect, or (c) survived due to some other environmental factor not measured.

          I'm not saying that the outcome is invalid because it doesn't support the data. I'm saying the outcome is invalid as a demonstration of homeopathy's efficacy because an anecdote is not the same thing as a controlled, scientific study.

            You are all missing the key point and scientific validity of @sparhawk0's claims.

            Without 2-3 litres of Homeopathic remedy a day, we'd all be dead. Water is keeping their family member, and the rest of us, alive.

            I'm not saying that the outcome is invalid because it doesn't support the data. I'm saying the outcome is invalid as a demonstration of homeopathy's efficacy because an anecdote is not the same thing as a controlled, scientific study.

            I'm sorry that the efficacy isn't to the level of satisfaction you require based on your expectations of what constitutes evidence and your superior knowledge of the events of this illness against mine, my family's, and the eminent physicians involved. I can see how from your perspective, that allows you to tell me that our knowledge and experience isn't valid. I'll let the medical researchers who've been in contact with us over the years know that @dman said that we "can't attribute their survival to the homeopathic treatment" and leave it at that.

              It's not about my expectations of what constitutes evidence, it's about science's expectations of what constitutes evidence. As I'm sure you know, "validity" in science has a different meaning to how "validity" is used in every day language.

                No, it's that you and I have different ideas about what "science's expectations" constitutes. You seem to have a narrower, more empirical definition of science than I would. This isn't a right or wrong question, though. The boundaries of what constitutes "science" are not fixed. They are - and should - be regularly challenged. And that isn't about weakining or diluting scientific methods - as many "hard science" advocates will protest. Since the early 20th century and the development of social research methods, there's been a recognition that science isn't an altar of absolutes upon which things either are or are not "valid", and that for better or worse, there are grey areas in ourselves and in our world, were we have to tolerate ambiguity. Not accept it, not just throw it in the "too hard basked" and leave domains of inquiry alone, not accept "pseudoscience" as science, but to tolerate outcomes that defy our ability to explain them for the moment - and possibly forever (and I can't emphasise enough here the difference here between "tolerate" and "accept").

                It sounds like you have a different view, and that's great. That's genuinely great, because science is about debate and challenging orthodoxes, and if we all agreed uniformly and absolutely about what science is and what it constitutes - as it was the case a century ago - that leads to a stifling of innovation and scientific development. But, it doesn't give you the right to say what you consitute scientific enquiry to be is the only definition allowed, and that dissenters such as myself should go back to their caves or churches. It doesn't mean you can say that I'm not allowed tat the table and my knowledge isn't valid because they're different to yours, and that makes me stupid or inferior. That's not scientific, or even rational.

          The logic in your claim "that it worked despite the data not supporting it" is flawed. You have no evidence to claim that it worked. You have no evidence to support the claim other than taking your word for it. That's what "anecdotal" evidence is.
          Correlation does not imply causation.
          e.g. Correlation = Hot women never try to pick me up because I wear a wedding ring.
          Causation = Hot women never try to pick me up because I'm ugly and I smell bad.

            Correlation in the absence of any viable alternative, though, is the basis for more research. The evidence we have is that there was no medical remedy after an exhaustive - and ultimately physically damaging - battery of tests, trials and treatments, and that the commencement of a homeopathic treatment coincided with an halt in the progress of the illness. The explanations available are 1) The homeopathic treatment worked; or 2) Uknown. That is after several more years of exhaustive tests and research. Believe me, the physicians and medical researchers involved are not happy that they can't explain it either - and these are not just the local GP and some guy with beads hanging off the door - I say with no exaggeration that these guys are the best in their field in this country. Their conclusion has been that there is no viable alternative explanation. They don't like that answer - and neither do we (try living with a condition that you can't name or explain, held at bay by a treatment that has no scientific explanation for its efficacy) - but that's what we're left with.

      I think your a bit confused about the role of the NHMRC. Their primary role is to fund PROMISING medical research. Their standard is: having been subjected to preliminary scientific enquiry, is this treatment potentially efficacious. The reason they made this ruling is because there has been plenty of scientific research on the efficaciousness of homeopathy, and the consensus is that it doesn't work. It would be a bad area to spend limited research funds in the future. Believe me, there are lots of other treatments this applies to - many of which had a much stronger rationale than homeopathy. It's always disappointing when a researcher has to abandon what seemed like a promising cancer treatment when they began their careers.

      I'm happy to hear your relative lived an additional twenty years. Unfortunately, this doesn't mean much from a research perspective. Your anecdote may well have happened regardless of what they took. Indeed, we have control groups because people have spontaneously recovered from cancer after being given placebos. After a couple of decades of research, its pretty clear that homeopathy is no more effective than a placebo.

      By the way, for those who don't know, the Lancet publishes a joke edition each year. The point the authors were making was that a lot of research is unnecessary because we can already intuit the results from other observations. I'd argue that this also applies to homeopathy, because its theoretical rationale is completely non-sensical.

        The issue with clinical research trials for homeopathic remedies is that they aren't cheap - quite the opposite. Much of the reason for anger at "big pharma" charging so much is that the trial process is incredibly expensive. Homeopathic remedies don't have the resources for this, so they don't engage in it. Hence, there is scant material for the NHMRC to make a judgement over. To me, the primary point is that the NHMRC judged homeopathic remedies to not meet the standards that the NHMRC governs for medical research, but that homeopaths rarely seek to be judged by those standards, so it is hardly surprising - but it is also hardly fair.

        As for my anecdote, that it doesn't "count" as research data is flat out obstinate. After 12-18 months of medical interventions, another 6 months of prayer after the medical options ran out, my family member turned to a homeopath because they had nothing to lose. There's was a straight-line correlation between the homeopathic treatment commencing and arresting their deteriorating condition. If it doesn't "mean much from a research perspective", to me it says there's a flaw in research methodologies. I hate that there is no rational, provable scientific link between the two events. I really hate having to give credit to what I always did - and mostly still do - consider a crock. But given the certainty in the original prognosis and the correlation between treatment and outcome, it would be even more absurd to put it down to luck. The only viable alternative would be it was an "act of God", and I can't go that far. That just leaves the homeopathic remedy.

        I'd again make the point that there are models for incorporating anecdotal data into medical research, but these are frowned upon in the medical research community because they don't constitute "hard" data. To me, that is a weakness in medical research - that inconvenient data is ignored because it doesn't meet the required definition of data. Other hard sciences have seen the merit of incorporating at least some of the social science methodologies for data analysis - even if only alongside traditional methods. I know that introduces potential issues around data quality, but that is a discussion that should be had, particularly as techniques for validating anecdotal data continue to evolve and improve.

        I'd slightly disagree with the point of the Lancet article, in that I think the authors were trying to say that a lot of practitioners were forced to undertake (arguably unnecessary) expensive research activity to provide the evidence base for results that should be self-evident.

          Your confused about the reasons why homeopathy doesn't have adequate funding. Believe it or not, scientists don't just get funding (in any discipline) to throw stuff against the wall and see what sticks. The reason homeopathy has not received a lot of research funding to date is because their was never a clear rationale or proposed mechanism for why it might potentially work.

          Your point about anecdotal evidence is just wrong. You'll find a lot of medical research begins with anecdotal observations. The difference is, the researchers are able reconcile those anecdotes with previous observations or theories. Homeopathy is basically incompatible with basic chemistry and biology, hence why the anecdotes were never taken seriously.

          Many herbal remedies, for example, receive research funding based on anecdotal evidence to see 1. If they work; and 2. If they do work, why. The difference is, the researchers actually presented some theoretical explanation as to how these treatments might work. Homeopathy, on the other hand, was basically impossible to reconcile with basic chemistry and biology. Further, if they are found not to work (and believe me, homeopathy has had a fair shake simply because researchers got sick of dealing with proponents and wanted some hard data), we stop funding research of them.

          By the way - that is the point of the Lancet article. Which is why we've wasted too much time on homeopathy already.

            The reason homeopathy has not received a lot of research funding to date is because their was never a clear rationale or proposed mechanism for why it might potentially work

            The counterpoint is that homeopaths have not sought to do this. Generally, their outlook is counter to established medical practice and research methods. Which means obviously that their "results" do not fall within the standards required for medical practice - in a similar way to standards on watch repair do not meet the standards required for seaworthiness of merchant vessels. If they don't seek to meet those standards, judging them by it is an exercise in futility. So that leaves the research to be done by those who favour such practices, which leads to the second issue...

            Further, if they are found not to work (and believe me, homeopathy has had a fair shake simply because researchers got sick of dealing with proponents and wanted some hard data), we stop funding research of them.

            Isn't that flat out saying that the researchers sought to prove the remedies ineffective? Or at least, were coming at the question from a perspective that could cloud the results? It certainly brings into question the credibility of their research as impartial and objective (which isn't the same as questioning the reliability of their research). And that's without considering that their ability to be funded and continue researching to some extent relies on minimising the alarming amount of money being diverted into so-called "alternative medicine".

            For the record, I'm not advocating homeopathy over medical treatment, or quackery over science. Just that there is ground for the two to coexist - this isn't a zero sum game. And also that the NHMRC is not an impartial player in this area - they have a vested interest like any other peak body for research - be it the Centre for Independent Studies, or the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - and so their finding here shouldn't be accepted blindly. That isn't the same as not accepting it at all - at no point have I said that - but that as rational, inquisitive, intelligent human beings, we should be aware of what biases exist to skew the results, and what motives might exist to drive results in a particular way. That's not impugning the quality or reliability of their findings - just the completeness and universal applicability.

          The issue with clinical research trials for homeopathic remedies is that they aren't cheap... hence .. they don't engage in it
          I call bullshit. Utter, utter bullshit. If homeopathy showed the slightest promise in being effective, it would revolutionise medicine. The desire to know how it worked, what the pathways it used etc. would be researched in universities the world over. It would change everything. 'Big Pharma' could not stop researchers doing pure research. The knowledge gained in knowing about our physiology would be priceless to human kind. "Homeopathy" would not fund this kind of thing, governments would.
          Research is expensive. Researching shit that we already know doesn't work is a waste of expensive resources better spent looking for things that might.

            Reminds be of a video on youtube where a BJJ instructor said, "This (defense) is shit and this (referring to another defense) is utter shit.

      Diagnoses and prognoses are based on probabilities. There are always people with a given condition that wind up being outliers in survival terms. Some people respond to treatment differently to others. To say that the sugar water was the cause of the unexpected extension of life is just magical thinking.

      And homeopathy is precisely the definition of magical thinking. Dilute, cast magic spell. Repeat.

        In this case, there was no response to medical treatment. More because the cause of the illness was - and remains - undiagnosed, than due to any flaws or inconsistencies in treatments themselves. The treatments were really medical "hail marys", for want of a better term, since they didn't know what they were treating, which makes outcome measurement hard, but the arrest of deterioration was well outside the expected time-frames for a treatment response. Mind you, one of the treatments introduced an additional deterioration to their quality of life unrelated to the original illness, but that's a separate story.

        The problem with ignoring outliers is that it is still a conscious decision to ignore contradictory data. Valid reasons for doing it, valid reasons for acting on it, but it is still saying some data doesn't count because it doesn't fit the explanation. In this case, said explanations go hand-in-hand with obscene amounts of money, either in terms of the amount of money spent on pharmaceuticals and health care, or the amount of money wasted on "magical" cures, which makes me ... skeptical of this finding. Not disagreeing with it, just not willing to accept it unquestioningly and categorically.

        My concern is that the NHMRC has a sizable horse in this race (as does the "alternative medicine" industry), which wasn't declared in this article.

          You keep using the word data, but your describing an anecdote. It's not data, because their is no control. We have no idea why they lived longer - it could have been homeopathy, or it could have been that they had a good sleeping pattern.

          The other thing I find a bit odd about your anecdote, is your putting a lot of stock into their longevity, when the doctors couldn't even diagnose the problem. How do you know that the disease wasn't a lot slower acting than they thought it was?

            Scary,

            I am sorry that the extension of this persons life has challenged your philosophic presuppositions. It's quite obvious that your are predisposed to ruling out that in this instance, homeopathy worked. Off the bat you have ruled it out by positing other possible reasons. This is an irrational response. Although you have said "it could have been homeopathy", I suspect that you mean to say "it wasn't homeopathy".

              The only thing that's irrational is believing that homeopathy was what cured this person, when it has been scientifically demonstrated time and time again to be no more effective than a placebo. Sure, it could have been homeopathy, in the same way that the mysterious hole I found in my front yard yesterday morning could've been dug by a unicorn.

                So without knowing the condition or the treatment, you say that it would be irrational to think it effective. Pot, meet kettle.

                  @lies

                  I'm not arguing that my position is superior - I'm just arguing that yours isn't as superior as you think. I don't need to be right for you to not be.

              The thing is, it didn't challenge my philosophical presupposition. My philosophical presupposition is that efficacious treatments can observed under controlled conditions, which rule out confounding variables. I was pointing out that that the anecdote linking homeopathy to a positive outcome doesn't rule out many potential confounds (especially seeing as the diagnosis was vague).

              In a way though, your right, I don't think it was homeopathy. Why? Because I'm not considering the anecdote in isolation. When homeopathy has been assessed in controlled trials, it was no better than a placebo. This suggests that, in the anecdote presented by the OP, it was some other variable that prolonged their life.

                That's inductive reasoning, though. There's no direct evidence that there are any other variables in play. As I've said, I'm not in love with the idea of the homeopathic treatment working - I think it's mostly rubbish. But, I've seen direct evidence of it working in this case, with no alternative offerred (the comments here aside, since I haven't supplied anywhere near enough data for anyone to form a conclusion). I've spoken to the scientists who would be in a far better position to provide an alternative explanation, and they couldn't provide one. They were happy that someone was alive that by their estimations should've been dead. My preference is that the treatment worked because it possessed and unidentified impurity that acted as a counter-agent to what was causing the problem. But, that still means that the treatment worked, and is slightly more plausible than your "some other variable". If you think that this "some other variable" is the explanation, that's an inductive leap of faith - fine, but claiming otherwise is disingenuous.

                My philosophical presupposition is that efficacious treatments can observed under controlled conditions You're wrong. That's not a philosophical presupposition, its an axiom because it's demonstrably true and doesn't need to be proven every time it's asserted. ;-)

            An anecdote is a form of data. It is a fact (in that it is incontrovertible that it actually happened - in this case, the person lived when medical science said they should die), it is measurable (in that there was an initial instance, an intervention, and an outcome, and states were measured at all those points), and it has an objective reality (I can write down a description of the event as an (non-objective)observer). This all fits within the definition of data, which is "facts and statistics collected together for reference or analysis". Your argument seems to be that a sample size of one makes it invalid, which it doesn't. It limits the application of the data, but not the fact that it is data.

            The prognosis was based on the trajectory of deterioration. It occurred over a period of about 3 years, and was consistent - basic motor functions became increasingly impaired, measurable decrease in the areas of brain activity, etc. The prognosis was based on the disease continuing as it had, because like most degenerative brain diseases, there was no reason for it to stop. Medical treatments didn't halt the deterioration. The deterioration halted at the time the homeopathic treatment started. If you can give me a compelling counter argument that isn't based on luck, God, or "just one of those things", go ahead.

            Last edited 09/04/14 3:24 pm

              remember homeopathy? that's the thing that's just been proven worthless.
              Your points seem to be around a straw man argument that a family member didn't die when 'medical science said they should die' - this person wasn't saved by homeopathy.
              It's proven to be positive attitude, sugar pills and drops of tap water... (which add up to a Placebo)
              Maybe the positive thinking was all that was needed to turn your family member's condition around?

                I don't know what the straw man would be in this scenario - I'm not arguing against medical research. I'm trying to argue for sober analysis and a degree of tolerance (if not acceptance) of pluralism.

                You're view about positive thinking may be valid - though they were chronically depressed at the time on account of the whole "I'm dying" thing, so it's a stretch. Again, that isn't a more valid explanation, though. It's an alternative one, and it has been observed in other cases. It wasn't in this case, but it may have been missed, so i can't rule it out.

              An anecdote is factual data indeed. Its very much like a case study which is an accepted form of research in the scientific literature (in which there are often no controls). So I'm happy to run with that sort of reasoning. Good that our relative is alive and well. Onto the possible explanations (counter arguments).

              The deterioration might have halted at the same time as homeopathic treatment started. It is possible that A) homeopathic treatment caused the deterioration to stop B) something else (i.e. a third unknown factor) caused the the deterioration to stop C) a large complex combination of multiple and interrelated factors caused the deterioration to stop D) It was a coincidence and E) not really a separate explanation but still relevant: perhaps a misdiagnosis.

              They might not be compelling per se, but they are plausible alternative explanations (when causality is defined loosely as most people such as myself would understand it).

                Those possibilities are all valid, however, they are successively unlikely. That the homeopathic treatment was the cause of the halt in deterioration requires a single coincidence. The others require at least two, with the exception of D. And in the case of D, "shit happens" is about the least compelling scientific rationale there is.

                The point is, I accept all your alternative as plausible, however, each is less plausible than the simplest explanation, which is that the treatment worked.

                Now there is definitely an argument that arguments that are the "most plausible" shouldn't be the criteria for scientific truth. But you will rarely if ever find them in "hard science" research, so that leads to a paradox, in that the most plausible argument is the least acceptable, in this case. Which again, goes to my point of "don't accept unquestioningly".

                Last edited 09/04/14 4:12 pm

                  But here's the rub - although homeopathy requires only a single coincidence, it also the most like of those things to be just a coincidence. Why? Because when we get into a lab, we can't replicate it. Further, it doesn't have a sound (or remotely plausible) explanation drawn from our observations of chemicals or biology.

                  The most unlikely coincidence is still infinitely more likely than the impossible. To quote Prof. Rob Morrison, "... if homeopathy actually did work, the well-established, scientifically-validated principles of chemistry, physics, physiology and pharmacology must all be wrong".

                  In other words, homeopathy violates the natural laws that govern the world around us. ...each is less plausible than the simplest explanation, which is that the treatment worked.To say "the treatment worked" is actually not the simplest or most plausible explanation. It is in fact the most complex explanation by far, as you now have to rework entire fields of science just to account for how this treatment has appeared to have worked.

                  @thom

                  The inability to replicate it doesn't invalidate the outcome in this case. I agree it has no sound explanation drawn from our observations of chemicals or biology, but our understanding in these domains is not complete. I'm sure that eventually, there will be an explanation that will measure and account for the variables in this case to deonstrate why the treatment worked. That there isn't one at the moment is a limitation on the science, but that limitation shouldn't be a justification for further limitations - that's moving towards anti-science.

                  @anguskidman

                  Not "well outside". But at best no more plausible.

                  In this case, the placebo effect would imply that the brain arbritrarily decided to self-destruct, progressed to a certain point, and then arbitrarily tricked itself into stopping based on a treatement that appeared no more (and in actuality, far less) viable than any other treatment. We know placebos have some incredible, almost "miraculous" (for want of a better word) effects, but that explanation is an out there one even by those standards.

                  Shame on you for using your moderator powers to push a reply in below the reply limit! :P

                  Last edited 09/04/14 9:10 pm

                  @dman

                  That's a zero sum argument - that "one can't suffer the other to live" (I'm sure I'll get some snippy comeback about choosing that as a quote, but bugger it).

                  There's no need to rework science in this case - just to expand it to encompass a valid explanation for why in this case the treatment worked - or prove that it was something else. I would be far happier with that than having to put it down to "magic water". Unfortunately, at the moment, that's all I've got.

                  I do hard science. Every day. From a philosophical standpoint, the likelihood of those explanations are arguably the same. Also I understand the concept of parsimony very well thank you.

                  IMO, the likely explanation in this case is was C). Specifically, either coincidence OR the placebo effect was correlated with the homeopathic treatment which both preceded the improvement in health. It leads to some concluding that the treatment was responsible for the improvement and others that the placebo effect was responsible for the improvement. I tend to believe it was the later and here is my reasoning.

                  If homeopathic treatment were indeed the cause of improved health then it should be systematically replicable even if we can't explain the mechanisms of HOW it worked. . That is to say, homeopathic treatment should improve health over and above varying other factors.

                  Since the improvement after homeopathic treatment is difficult to systematically replicate (even if we can't explain the mechanisms of HOW it worked), the treatment is probably not the cause of the improvement in health. So, even when we vary other factors, the effects of homeopathic treatment are difficult to replicate.

                  Therefore the improvement in health was not caused by the homeopathic treatment (and was likely caused by other factors or was just a coincidence).

                  @ninjaman

                  I feel like I have to apologise for slighting you in some way, going by the tone of your reply. If you feel that I have done so in some way, I do genuinely apologise. That was not my intent.

                  The logic for your case is impeccable - it is a plausible explanation, as I've acknowledged. But as you've said, it is your opinion based on your experience and knowledge. Based on my experience and knowledge, I think the outcome also arguably fits within C), but that's because the homeopathic treatment could be one - or conceivably all, depending on the nature of the concotion - of the "large complex combination of multiple and interrelated factors [that] caused the deterioration to stop". Surely you'd have to concede that? If not, you'd have to disregard the treatment having any role as well as come up with an alternative, which is a more complex and harder to validate explanation than the treatment working. Sure, it's galling - believe me, I get that - but it's there.

                  I'm not asking you to endorse homeopathy in whole or in part - I wouldn't, becuase I don't, either - but in this particular case, the balance of probabilities leans ever so slightly to it being successful, if only because there is no definitvely better alternative explanation based on the available data. It's not validating all - or in a general sense, any - homepathic remedies, it simply recognises that by luck or design (and I definitely favour the idea it was at least partially luck), there was at least one case where it worked. And if it worked and someone didn't die, then medical science should be robust enough to take it on the chin and be satisfied with its dominance in pretty much every other case. To my mind, when facing death, being cured by quackery is better than dying by science. I don't think it's a huge ask, but if it is a bridge too far for you, I can accept that, as long as it doesn't require anyone else to die when they might be saved, by being denied an option, no matter how ludicrous it is (or appears).

              You have a point about an anecdote potentially being data. However, its not very useful data in an explanatory sense, because your anecdote has no control. It doesn't matter what else you know about the situation, you can't isolate what resulted in an improvement from what was just stuff that also just happened around the same time. For example, for all we know the improvement was from drinking more liquids, rather than the nature of those liquids (homeopathic or not).

              Counter argument that isn't God, luck or "just one of those things": placebo. They took what they thought was a medicine, and they felt better. Placebos have even been known to stave off cancer. Fucking cancer! It doesn't mean the placebo is a bonafide treatment.

                The placebo argument would hold if they hadn't tried every other alternative before then. In this case, they genuinely didn't think the treatment would work, since everything from large scale medical interventions to religious pilgramages to (literally) consulting with witch doctors had been tried and failed. The homeopathic treatement was taken with no expectation of success. The doctors who measured the halt in progress were reluctant to attribute a placebo effect based on this. It is possible, but it is at least just as unlikely.

          I'm pretty sure this is all total BS. First the guy was given a set amount of time to live. Now it turns out he was never diagnosed with anything.

          After homeopathy he magically lives. How did you know what homeopathy stuff to treat him with if you still don't know what the initial problem was?

            For starters, it was a woman, so well done for getting that wrong.

            The condition was unable to be diagnosed, but the effect - that brain cells were dying - could be. Why they were dying was - and is - the unanswered question. The prognosis was based on the deterioration continuing until the brain was no longer able to function.

            Treatments were employed for a range of "like" illnesses such as those used for Parkinsons and MS, but none worked. After all treatments failed, they were given 12-18 months to live. In desperation, they were recommended a homeopath (the doctor's involved had no objection, since there was nothing else they could do), they started a homeopathic treatment, and the deterioration halted.

            Last edited 09/04/14 3:11 pm

              Correlation... the doctor gave up and hoped that placebo could help. turns out it did. why not be thanking the doctor for admitting that?

                The doctors never "gave up" (that's really insulting, by the way), and they didn't recommend a homeopath - they just didn't object, as they felt by that point there was nothing to lose.

                I've thanked the doctors several times for not giving up, and for their continued interest (which has at times been an inconvenience to us, but if it helps the science, we think it's worthwhile).

                Last edited 09/04/14 9:36 pm

          sparhawk0,

          So far you're response has been the most mature, and objective out of all comments thus far. Most of these comments illustrate a willful ignorance and extreme bias. If we all required hard empirical evidence in order to believe something, we'd believe in nothing. This type of attitude is unscientific, and does not comport with reality. I'm happy that your family member's life was extended, and admire your strength of character.

            If we all required hard empirical evidence in order to believe something, we'd believe in nothing.
            We can believe anything without empirical evidence or when we assume our conclusions to begin with, but that doesn't mean our beliefs are valid or true. Not knowing the cause of an illness but knowing it was magic water that cured it is no different from saying "I don't know where my tooth went, therefore it was the toothfairy that put the money under my pillow".

            Also, calling people "willfully ignorant" because they demand hard evidence shows a lack of understanding of what both "willful" and "ignorant" means.This type of attitude is unscientific, and does not comport with reality.Unless you were attempting irony, you should look up the scientific method .. and irony.

            Last edited 09/04/14 3:35 pm

              "We can believe anything without empirical evidence or when we assume our conclusions to begin with, but that doesn't mean our beliefs are valid or true."

              You've misunderstood my point. All you've illustrated is humans have the capacity and cognitive freedom to arbitrarily believe something/anything. You're exercising this freedom right now. Can you prove your statement empirically? Plus, you're implying that either myself, or sparhawk are appealing to circular logic. Can you show this?

              "Not knowing the cause of an illness but knowing it was magic water that cured it is no different from saying "I don't know where my tooth went, therefore it was the toothfairy that put the money under my pillow" - That is a terrible analogy. Where is the logic here? You've compared a treatment, that is based in the natural world around us, that exists in reality, to the tooth fairy - a
              mythical creature that only exists in the stories parents tell their children.

              You are displaying willful ignorance by your automatic, non-evidence based dismissal of what worked in this instance, and your language, i.e "magic water" clearly indicates your attitude, which it seems, is dominating your thinking. How much research have you personally done, in order to arrive at your conclusions? If it's zero, your statements are even more anecdotal than homeopathy.

              Lastly, "knowing" is a psychological state. Sparhawk made a rational conclusion based on the evidence at hand. If you wish to dismiss it, no problem. You are free to do that.

                This post reminded why I don't normally bother with this stuff on the net. If you ever get sick, I hope that whatever you decide to do helps. Obviously its not up to me. Regardless, best of health to you.

                  I'm surprised you engaged, SM, though I suspect you've worked in medicine and/or medical research, so I can understand why and don't blame you. I'm sure we've had this debate before (not on homeopathy, but on a similar topic) and ended up agreeing to disagree. I welcome the debate though. At least when we disagree, we're (relatively) civil about it!

                *Sigh*
                You've compared a treatment, that is based in the natural world around us, that exists in reality That's the thing, homeopathy IS NOT BASED on anything in the natural world! To quote the article: "...if homeopathy actually did work, the well-established, scientifically-validated principles of chemistry, physics, physiology and pharmacology must all be wrong".
                The analogy to the tooth fairy was sound. The "efficacy" of homeopathy is just as mythical as a winged creature that exchanges your teeth for money.
                How much research have you personally done, in order to arrive at your conclusions? If it's zero, your statements are even more anecdotal than homeopathy. Have you personally been to the moon? If not, then you must be silly for believing in the anecdotes of the astronauts who claim to have been there. For all you know, they could all be lying and the moon is just a giant hologram projected into the sky!

                Medical scientists around the world conducting hundreds of studies have found no evidence for homeopathy being a valid treatment. That's not anecdotal, that's scientific data. I wonder if you could outline your educational background for us, as I think it may be sorely lacking.

                Last edited 09/04/14 5:40 pm

                  "That's the thing, homeopathy IS NOT BASED on anything in the natural world!" Wow. So Homeopathic medicines don't make use of diluted substances? These substances do not originate in nature? Are these substances abstract objects? Another emotionally based response.

                  "To quote the article: "...if homeopathy actually did work, the well-established, scientifically-validated principles of chemistry, physics, physiology and pharmacology must all be wrong".

                  You are validating my point for me. That statement is a false dichotomy and you are simply parroting this. One emotionally driven response based on another.

                  "The analogy to the tooth fairy was sound. The "efficacy" of homeopathy is just as mythical as a winged creature that exchanges your teeth for money." Do you know what efficacy means? What you are in fact saying is that homeopathy has no more ability to produce a desired effect than the tooth fairy. If you see nothing wrong with this assertion then I can't help you.

                  "Have you personally been to the moon? If not, then you must be silly for believing in the anecdotes of the astronauts who claim to have been there." No I haven't, but we don't need to believe, or disbelieve the astronauts statements regarding this. Why? Oh I don't know, but I think the reams of video+audio, documenting the 12 manned missions to the moon is sufficient. No statements are required and no data needs to be interpreted. It's a brute force fact. You walked into that one.

                  Asking for ones educational background, in your case, is a veiled insult. So, when someone else challenges your opinions/beliefs, they are stupid/ignorant? Ouch. You're certainly displaying a lack of maturity.

                  I wonder if you could outline your educational background for us, as I think it may be sorely lacking.

                  I'm a researcher with 15 years experience (on and off). I don't work in medical research, but I've been involved in quite a bit of it, by "luck" rather than design. I have 2 UG degrees, 2 diplomas, a masters, and some other miscellaneous quals. Three-quarters of my immediate family work in "proper" health care (hospitals and medical research). It'd probably be all my immediate family, if not for the aforementioned illness.

                  Am I allowed to have an opinion now?

                  Thankyou for explaining the obvious. I'm giving up. It's seems like a waste of time and effort to help people who not only don't want to be helped.
                  Both chrispy and sparhawk0 remind me of a story of the proud mother, watching her son graduate from army recruit camp... At the grad parade, she beemed: "Look at my son, he is the best soldier, he's the only one of them marching in step".
                  No amount of reason is going to convince the mother that her son can't march...
                  And no amount of explanation will help chrispy understand that analogy.

                  @chrispy

                  Your "rebuttals" are laughable at best, and painfully ignorant at worst.
                  "That's the thing, homeopathy IS NOT BASED on anything in the natural world!" Wow. So Homeopathic medicines don't make use of diluted substances? These substances do not originate in nature? Are these substances abstract objects? Another emotionally based response. I was obviously referring to the mechanism by which homeopathy claims to work. The mechanism of diluting something until there is essentially nothing left but water and then using that to cure disease IS NOT something that is based in the natural world or in science.
                  "To quote the article: "...if homeopathy actually did work, the well-established, scientifically-validated principles of chemistry, physics, physiology and pharmacology must all be wrong".
                  You are validating my point for me. That statement is a false dichotomy and you are simply parroting this. One emotionally driven response based on another.
                  It's not a false dichotomy, anyone who understands science knows that homeopathy is impossible given the fundamental principles of relevant scientific disciplines. That's not emotion at all, it's scientific fact.
                  Do you know what efficacy means? What you are in fact saying is that homeopathy has no more ability to produce a desired effect than the tooth fairy. If you see nothing wrong with this assertion then I can't help you. Yes, that is exactly what I'm saying. Homeopathy has no more ability to produce a desired effect than the tooth fairy because both homeopathy and the tooth fairy are unscientific hogwash. If you can't see this then I can't help you.
                  No I haven't, but we don't need to believe, or disbelieve the astronauts statements regarding this. Why? Oh I don't know, but I think the reams of video+audio, documenting the 12 manned missions to the moon is sufficient. No statements are required and no data needs to be interpreted. It's a brute force fact. You walked into that one. Oh, you mean the astronauts have evidence? Like how thousands of medical scientists all over the world have reams of evidence gained from hundreds of clinical trials that homeopathy simply doesn't work? It's a brute force fact. You walked into that one.
                  Asking for ones educational background, in your case, is a veiled insult. So, when someone else challenges your opinions/beliefs, they are stupid/ignorant? Ouch. You're certainly displaying a lack of maturity. So in other words, no you don't have a scientific background (as I suspected). I don't think someone is stupid just for challenging my beliefs. In fact, I welcome it, as long as their argument is an educated one. However I do think someone is stupid if their beliefs are clearly based on misinformation and ignorance, as yours are. From your responses it is obvious that you have no understanding of fundamental scientific concepts or the scientific method, clinical trial methodology, or even how to construct a coherent argument. This is the last reply I am making to you as there's no point in even trying to debate with someone who doesn't even understand the subject area they're trying to argue in, and I honestly feel like I'm talking to a child (maybe I am).

                  Good day.

                  @sparhawk0

                  To be fair, I was questioning chrispy's educational background, not yours. I could see from your responses that you were an educated person (even though I disagreed with your conclusions). Which is more than I can say for @chrispy. For the record, I also have a Masters degree in a scientific field and am currently working in applied research, although not for as long as you have.

                  Am I allowed to have an opinion now? Everyone's allowed to have an opinion, just don't expect anyone to take that opinion seriously if it's based on ignorance and misinformation (not saying yours necessarily are).

                  Last edited 10/04/14 11:54 am

                  @dman.

                  Fair point. I'd say you've done more scientific research than me, though. Most of my research is "on" scientific research than "in" scientific research. It's a bit "meta", in that my work is generally "in" ontology, epistemology and scientific reasoning and philosophy. It makes a kind of jack-of-all-trades, in that I'll spend months looking at clinical research data, then at business research data for few months. The clinical research stuff has dominated partly at the behest of supervisors, and partly ... I don't know, synchronicity, I guess. I've spent more time on it in the past 5 years than the previous 10, despite never looking for it. That, and for whatever reason, I always wind up surrounded by current or ex-nurses. Just weird. It makes the ever increasing, ever looming prospect of my doctorate slightly more terrifying than it is exhilarating at the moment.

                  I suppose that's what makes me so effusive on this topic - I can't just accept the NHMRC finding - I've got to dig at the whys and the hows and the underlying assumptions (not, as has been said here , though, the "cognitive biases" - the NHMRC is far too a robust and reliable body to justify that sort of accusation without some evidence). Science has ruined me, and it has never felt so good :)

            All the medical and technological luxuries you take for granted today have been the result of the scientific method and the use of "hard empirical evidence". Are you seriously trying to argue that requiring empirical evidence is "unscientific"? You are clearly extremely ignorant and actually have no understanding of what science is.

              That's a pragmatic argument besides the point, and you've also missed my point. Quite spectacularly I might add. I'm simply saying that it is unscientific to base your statements on emotion, presupposition or on the conclusions of others. It's an uninformed opinion, ergo, unscientific.

                Thats technically incorrect especially if "the conclusions of others" are based on scientific fact.

                  You are confusing "scientific fact" with raw data. Data does not speak for itself. It needs to be interpreted. You are appealing to a fallacy that says "data can only ever tell one story." Reality does not work like the show CSI, where "objective" scientists simply go where the evidence leads them. Your rebuttal doesn't hold up at all. I still stand by my statement.

                Here are some words that you like to use that you don't seem to understand :
                willfully ignorant
                scientific
                empirically
                reality
                false dichotomy
                efficacy

                And everything in this is wrong:
                That's a pragmatic argument besides the point, and you've also missed my point. Quite spectacularly I might add. I'm simply saying that it is unscientific to base your statements on emotion, presupposition or on the conclusions of others. It's an uninformed opinion, ergo, unscientific.
                BUT ....

                What you are in fact saying is that homeopathy has no more ability to produce a desired effect than the tooth fairy.
                you hit the nail on the head there. That's exactly what I am saying. What took you so long to understand that?

                  I've understood from the very beginning, however, as your analogy was a terrible one , I thought I would ask you if you actually knew what efficacy meant - it was not meant to be insulting in any way.

                  And everything in this is wrong:
                  That's a pragmatic argument besides the point, and you've also missed my point. Quite spectacularly I might add. I'm simply saying that it is unscientific to base your statements on emotion, presupposition or on the conclusions of others. It's an uninformed opinion, ergo, unscientific.
                  - Can you explain where? I'm sorry but saying "you're just plain wrong" or "you don't understand xyz" is not an argument.

              I was obviously referring to the mechanism by which homeopathy claims to work. The mechanism of diluting something until there is essentially nothing left but water and then using that to cure disease IS NOT something that is based in the natural world or in science.

              You've just contradicted yourself. You've admitted that a natural mechanism exists, but then said it's not something based in nature. Surely you don't think this mechanism you've mentioned is metaphysical in nature? At this point I'm really wondering whether you understood my words "based in nature".

              Dman, through the course of our discussions, I've allowed you to make assumptions about me in order to bring to the surface your dogmatic adherence to statements made by certain medical bodies. If you go through my posts, you'll discover that I've never stated my position regarding homeopathy either way, and I've certainly never claimed it can cure disease, nor would I. You come across as a fundamentalist christian who throws scripture at people, with no understanding of the scriptures themselves.

              It's not a false dichotomy, anyone who understands science knows that homeopathy is impossible given the fundamental principles of relevant scientific disciplines. That's not emotion at all, it's scientific fact.

              It is emotion, considering your responses are becoming more agitated and nonsensical with every response. You are digging yourself deeper, and also displaying a certain level of elitism. "Homeopathy is impossible" - do you feel comfortable saying this? Can you prove this? Do you understand the difference between "scientific fact" and conclusion? There is data, and the conclusions scientists make based upon them. This data is interpreted through a lens based upon a worldview. This is inescapable. Yes there are brute force facts, but you seem incapable of determining fact from conclusion/interpretation.

              I don't like to persist but you've once again, admitted that "fundamental principles of relevant scientific disciplines" and homeopathy cannot coexist. That, my friend is a false dichotomy, and it's based on your preconceived ideas and beliefs regarding the world around you.

              Yes, that is exactly what I'm saying. Homeopathy has no more ability to produce a desired effect than the tooth fairy because both homeopathy and the tooth fairy are unscientific hogwash. If you can't see this then I can't help you.

              Didn't we cover this already? The tooth fairy is a mythical creature. I'm sure we agree on that. As such, its not scientifically testable. By throwing homeopathy into the same boat, you are in effect saying that it is also scientifically untestable. Would the scientific community agree with you? Dman, in all seriousness, I think you should go over your posts and examine your assertions.

              Oh, you mean the astronauts have evidence? Like how thousands of medical scientists all over the world have reams of evidence gained from hundreds of clinical trials that homeopathy simply doesn't work? It's a brute force fact. You walked into that one.

              You are equivocating on the word evidence. We have a mountain of video footage, that requires no interpretation - it's not data that has been produced from various tests, and repeated experimentation. It can be seen and understood by people of virtually any level of intellect, and is not contingent upon culture, beliefs, biases etc. This differs from scientific evidence which is produced/discovered by people with specific goals, biases, and then interpreted by these people's world views. You seem to think that evidence = fact. Evidence can, and does tell multiple stories. The data does not speak for itself, as I've said earlier. I have a question. If you believe that homeopathy is not based in the natural world, as you've stated, can you explain to me how hundreds of clinical trials can be done? Science can only verify/falsify something in the natural world. The fact that trials can be done proves that your statement doesn't hold water (magic).

              "So in other words, no you don't have a scientific background (as I suspected). I don't think someone is stupid just for challenging my beliefs. In fact, I welcome it, as long as their argument is an educated one."

              Summary of your inner thoughts - "If you had a scientific background", you would agree with me. Truth is, I've concluded you don't like being challenged, and when you are, you call for qualifications. The reason I know you have no formal qualifications of a scientific nature, is due to the fact that all of your posts are full of hot air, assumptions, and assertions. You've provided no evidence to back up your assertions, other than regurgitate the conclusions of others - if you really believe that this is sufficient, I am making the reasonable conclusion that you have no qualifications. This is my last post as well.

            Thanks, @chrispy.

            Though, in the interests of full disclosure, you didn't see the message I sent to Chris and @anguskidman when they forgot to turn the comments for this post on. Possibly not my finest or most dignified bit of feedback (sorry, Chris!).

      This illustrates the two major points that come out of most homeopathy supporting arguments which really annoy me. 1. The "traditional medicine" people can't invalidate our work because they have vested interests" 2. "I know somebody who knows somebody who was healed / kept alive by X, therefore it works."

      Neither of these arguments have a legitimate place in scientific discourse or general logic.

        In answer to one, they can invalidate anything according to their own methods, and so they should. I'm certainly not saying that they should do anything else. Doctors as a rule shouldn't be referring patients to homeopaths (I wouldn't say absolutely shouldn't, as I know of a couple of genuine, practicing GPs who are also accupuncturists, but that doesn't mean they can't make an accurate diagnosis of a medical condition). The point I'm trying to make is that homeopaths in general don't seek or care for the "approval" of medical science, that they continue to make money, and that the NHMRC benefits if the "status" of homeopathy is diminished and this money goes to the lucrative orthodox medicine market instead of the lucrative alternative medicine market. This doesn't make the NHMRC a "baddie", it just means that they are not impartial, and that can be a problem.

        As for 2, it happened. That's how medical research also presents it's data with a single addition: we know of n number of people who were healed/ kept alive by X, and n number of people who weren't healed/ kept alive by doing nothing, therefore it works. Sounds like you'd rather that people die to ensure that scientific research remains the only basis for life-saving treatments. Hardly logical.

          1) ". Doctors as a rule shouldn't be referring patients to homeopaths" Why do you say that if you are under the belief they work? (although you think most are BS?).

          Homepaths can still get the approval of the NHMRC without making boatloads of money. They just can't because its ridiculously difficult to validate the benefits of homeopathy.

          2) The number of N is important. Basically, replication is important to ensure that the variable of interest was causally related to the effect and not just the result of a coincidence. In a nutshell, the more people you test the more confident you can be that the result was the product of manipulating the variable of interest and was not the product of chance or some other variable. Its pretty much what p values (statistics) are all about. For most simple comparisons p values are 0.05 which means that you can be 95% sure that the effect was not the result of chance (or some other factor). If you have fewer people it is likely the p value is higher and therefore more likely due to chance. P values can be corrected baed on number of conditions/comparions.

          "Sounds like you'd rather that people die to ensure that scientific research remains the only basis for life-saving treatments. Hardly logical." Also thats BS. Also, medical studies now generally require that there is an equivalent treatment rather than or in addition to placebo.

          Last edited 09/04/14 10:49 pm

            1) ". Doctors as a rule shouldn't be referring patients to homeopaths" Why do you say that if you are under the belief they work? (although you think most are BS?).

            I do think most homeopaths are snake oil salesman. But if there is no treatment available to save a dying person, the absolute worse that a homeopath could do is kill them faster. I'd say there's also the risk of increase the levels of pain or further reduction in quality of life between now and their death, but as I've said and have observed first hand, medical interventions can and often do do the same thing when it comes to life threatening illnesses. So there's no expectation of additional harm in providing it as an option to someone who is going to die anyway.

            On your point two, I agree that the N is important, but it isn't absolute. P values are great unless you happen to the in the 5% as we have been. And the rub there is that you get told - as I have been told here repeatedly (not by you, I don't think, though) - that because our experience is outside those expectations, it isn't valid, that we're delusional or lying or ignorant or that we "don't get it". And that's the thing - you've got to remember that you're dealing in probabilities, not absolutes, and that defying the odds is a valid outcome. The fact that homeopathy in this case saved a life doesn't invalidate those probabilities, it just reminds us that they're not absolutes. As a great fictional scientist/doctor once said, the problem when people allow themselves to view those probabilities as facts is that "they don't alter their views to fit the facts. They alter the facts to fit their views. Which can be uncomfortable if you happen to be one of the facts that needs altering."

            Last edited 11/04/14 1:11 pm

          @ sparhawk0

          No room to reply below your other comment. This is a crazy amount of responses in this thread. All good. I didn't feel slighted. Thanks for the consideration though. Debates/arguments over the internet lack tone which can mean the tones of the things that are said can be very different. I think we're pretty much on the same page...for the most part. I suppose we just don't agree on whether homeopathy was the cause. Which is totally fine. Also for the record, I'm sorry if you've felt attacked/swatmed over your views of homeopathy (particularly having read over your responses and realising that you don't actually endorse it). I say that because I kinda feel you have. I think I better understand where you are coming from (though still don't agree) and sincerely apologise if Ive offended you in any way/have seemed rude in my responses.

            Thanks, @ninjaman.

            I agree, in that we're arguing (in the investigative sense) over the applicability of generalities to specifics. For the most part, I don't feel slighted - certainly not by you or @thom or @dman - and I thank you for being engaging in that way. It's all been robust, mostly constructive debate, which - while not always comfortable - is good. I've tried to be reasonable and dispassionate, but I know I haven't always succeeded - mostly when I felt that there were digs at the treating physicians, who are unarguably among the smartest people in this country (and despite the circumstances, I feel privileged to have been able to meet and talk to). It's possible (probable?) that some or even all commenters here are smarter than me, so those barbs may be deserved, but I defy anybody to prove they're smarter than those physicians and researchers - digs at them make me very angry. Which is why I was concerned that I might have offended you in some way, by being intemperate in my response to you when it was not directed that way. It's really good to hear that you don't feel that way, and I can affirm that neither do I.

          Not exactly scientific or rigorous though, is it? Where's your control? How many people do you know personally who chose to do nothing about cancer? Where's your adequate sample size? One? Lmfao.

          You can't prove it's life saving, therefore yeah, I'm not going to let people die by using it. Especially when we do have proven treatments. Not every patient lives, but let's stack up the records against each other, hmm?

            "Not every patient lives" in the same comment as "lmfao". Great empathy there, pal. Try saying that to the family of someone who didn't live. The little bit of medical research work I have done has been in palliative care. Most people in that siuation don't give a damn about the science when the science says they're going to die and nothing can be done. It's very cold comfort. Even if it saved just one life in the history of it's use, you're response is that they should just die so your expectations aren't challenged? Great outlook.

              It hasn't saved one life. Not even one. Prove that it has.

              Not every patient lives no matter what treatment you give, pal. It's pure statistics. No matter what you do, some will recover, some will die. Bullshitopothy points to those extreme outliers as 'proof'. Real medical science points to the millions of reliable studies and living/healed patients as proof.

              If I say "Alakazam" to 100 cancer patients, some will live. Does that mean saying "Alakazam" cures people? Nice logic, paaaaal.

              I used to live with a palliative care nurse who witnessed many, many people die after being told lies about cures for cancer and other terminal illnesses. They don't care about 'science' because they're desperate, they'll believe anything. So that's who you market your bullshit to? That's disgusting.

                It hasn't saved one life. Not even one. Prove that it has.

                I've seen it save one (and only one) life. Prove that it didn't.

                If I say "Alakazam" to 100 cancer patients, some will live. Does that mean saying "Alakazam" cures people? Nice logic, paaaaal.

                Of course it doesn't, and I never claimed it did. But an unverified, untested intervention might save someone by pure luck. That doesn't mean replacing medical treatment, but it also doesn't mean that only medical treatment should be used. Homeopathy might in some very rare cases be considered by a patient as an addition to treatment, not a replacement.

                I used to live with a palliative care nurse who witnessed many, many people die after being told lies about cures for cancer and other terminal illnesses. They don't care about 'science' because they're desperate, they'll believe anything. So that's who you market your bullshit to? That's disgusting.

                OK, clearly you're making your claims without bothering to check what I've said. Not once have I said that homeopathy is an alternative to medical treatment, or suggested anything like that. You're the one who has said that only medical treatments should be used, and that if there is an unscientific alterative that has even the slimmest chance to provide a cure after all medical interventions have failed, we should prefer that people don't use that treatment and die so that your closed-minded, irrational view of the world can remain intact. I've put that to you twice now, and you've made no effort to deny it. That's disgusting.

                Last edited 14/04/14 8:23 am

                  "I've seen it"

                  That's not proof. You're just an idiot.

                  What's disgusting is that you think it's okay to tell dying people that they can be saved by what is basically a dose of water. You're either making money from desperate people, or you're stupid enough to be conned.

                  So you're now saying that it should be used in conjunction with proper medicine? Oh, but it was the water that cured them, riiiight. Go back to primary school.

                  @sockparty

                  You're either making money from desperate people, or you're stupid enough to be conned.

                  No, I am not a homeopath, have never practiced any form of alternative medicine, have never made any money of homeopathy or alternative medicine, and would not recommend one to anyone who required medical treatment. Perhaps I am "stupid enough to be conned", but unless you're hiding your omnipotence behind childish name-calling, you're demonstrating your ignorance, not mine.

                  So you're now saying that it should be used in conjunction with proper medicine?

                  No, I'm saying that for terminal cases where all medical treatments have been tried and failed - as as it was in the case I experienced - what is the harm in trying non-medical treatments?

                  The harm in trying homeopathy when nothing else works is that it gives false hope to a dying person, primarily because medical science (and common sense) can prove that it doesn't work. If you think that's okay, you're an awful human being.

                  @sockparty

                  One, medical science can't "prove" it doesn't work, it can only assert that it has a very, very, very, very low probability of success. Two, as long as that probability is provided (as it would be by any medical practitioner), how does it give false hope? Medical science has already left them to die. I can't fathom why you think it is better to tell someone that they'll definitely die and they should just wait and morphine themselves out of existence, rather than they'll definitely die and if they want to try alternative treatments when there is no expectation for success, that is the prerogative of the patient - the palliative care facilities aren't going anywhere. I think that makes you an awful human being, so I guess we're just going to have to have different views about what is "humane".

      "Given that homeopathic medicines don't aim to meet their standards - and in fact, often argue against them - the findings here are no different to those of any industry group finding that a competing industry isn't up to their standards by their own measurements"

      So homeopathy doesn't aim to be reliable and thinks that reliability is a poor measure of effectiveness?

        Simple answer is "yes".

        You and I don't agree with that view, but they're not seeking our approval. In fact, given the counter-culture views of many of them and their clients, they probably prefer that we don't approve.

        I think the point, though, is that given they're not seeking that approval, the finding isn't a finding, it's reinforcing an orthodoxy. And it's an orthodoxy that justifies the existence and work of the NHMRC. Which is fine, but it diminishes the authority of the finding, in the sense that I don't think that anyone was at all surprised by it. And given that it doesn't even confirm - just reinforces - that view, what's the point, other than confirming that they see homeopathic treatment as a threat? I doubt this is going to change anyone's mind - there aren't too many fence-sitters in this "debate".

        There are climate scientists who think that climate change doesn't exist. There are doctors who use homeopathic treatments. If the NHMRC think they're wrong and dangerous, that view is driven by a vested interest* in that finding, and it's different to whether you and I think the same thing.

        * EDIT: I should clarify that the "vested Interest" includes saving people's lives by not having them put their health entirely in the hands of people who wave purple crystals and say "ooga-booga" and treat it as medical intervention. But it also includes not letting people see homeopaths at all, which when all genuine medical interventions have failed, runs the risk (albeit very small one) of letting someone die who might otherwise live.

        Last edited 11/04/14 1:18 pm

    Amazing, you're telling me that drinking water with extremely diluted stuff in it WON'T cure my illness? What a load of rubbish. Next thing you know people will be claiming Phrenology is bunk science as well.

      Hehehehe.. The sarcasm is strong with this one. =D
      Phrenology is still used widely today. Its called magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)....heheheh

    So I suppose it will be removed from the shelves of pharmacies and supermarkets? No? It's too profitable? Oh well. As long as someone is making money.

    One down, many to go...

    Can they do Reiki or crystal healing next please?

    The only surprising thing about this story is that it's a story at all. Practitioners, promoters, marketers (whatever you want to call them) should now be open to prosecution as far as I am concerned.
    Chiropractors, naturopaths, acupuncturists should all be next. As far as I am concerned, they are all frauds profiteering from people who need actual medical treatment.

    I am pretty sure Tim Minchin also said something like I went to a chiropractor and all I get was another appointment.

      Chiropractors can be useful for muscular skeletal issues. They cannot however cure cancer, asthma etc.

      Acupuncture has been tested and found to have benefits too.

      I've never dealt with naturopaths but they sound like someone you go to when you don't believe doctors. Probably similar to homeopaths.

        Chiropractors are no more effective than the unskilled giving muscular massage. Muscular massage has many benefits, but can be just as effectively given by partner, child or trusted neighbour. The Chiropractor neck cracking (or whatever they call it) has not only caused permanent paralysis in adults and children alike, it has resulted in the deaths of people. That's a high price to pay to have an ear infection cured with magic. (and yes, I do mean magic. Palmer himself said it was spiritual healing, or some such nonsense)

        Acupuncture is no more beneficial than placebo and has been shown as such in multiple studies. Acupuncture promoters seem to think 'as good as placebo' is a bonus. One study I read about showed that random university students jabbing 'patients' with sharp bamboo sticks(non-penetrating) was just as effective as genuine acupuncturist using their needles. It's placebo. No more. Don't waste your money.

          Chiropractors cannot cure ear infections. If people believe that they are stupid. Are you also implying that masseuses are frauds as they have no special skill?

          I would never try acupuncture but it has shown to be more effective than a placebo in treating some types of pain. Some.

            I never even implied that masseuses are frauds. Chiropractors are not masseuses. My statement clearly equate Chiropractors to the UNSKILLED. Having said that, I am totally ignorant about what qualifies one as a 'masseuse', if anything.

            I'd love to see the acupuncture study(s) showing pain relief beyond placebo.

              A kid can do a massage as well as a professional who has been trained in the human body and muscle groups (chiro), it's logical to assume that a masseuse is a fraud too.

              For acupuncture have a quick google search of use Wikipedia as a springboard.

              Cheers :)

    1000s of positive findings here
    http://homeobook.com/research-articles/

    Evidence from Australia itself
    http://www.homeopathyoz.org/whatisResearch.asp

      Unless those articles are peer reviewed by an scientific committee of some sort (i.e. experts in scientific methodology, statistics and a population of interest), then they don't really mean squat. Show me an article in a peer reviewed journal that is positive towards homeopathy and I will (likely) show you an article that probably shouldn't have been published (due to poor methodology and inadequate statistical analysis and the like). better yet, show me an article that indicates that homeopathy results in measurable changes in the haymodynamic, neuromagnetic, electroencepholographic response or anatomical, functional or structural connectivity of the brain that are at least equivalent to if not better than the changes caused by traditional medicines for the treatment of any condition, sickness, disease, disorder or dysfunction (loosely defined to encompass pretty much anything).

      Last edited 09/04/14 3:26 pm

    As in the past...Multinational allopathic pharmaceutical are behind this.
    This is purely an emotional blackmailing aimed at diverting public from approaching homoeopathy for their ailments

    1000s of positive findings here
    http://homeobook.com/research-articles/

    Evidence from Australia itself
    http://www.homeopathyoz.org/whatisResearch.asp

      Also, you evidently don't know much about research. Researchers are required to declare conflicts of interest (such as if they were sponsored by pharmaceutical companies to conduct the research). If there is no conflict of interest, there is nothing to piss and moan about there being some big conspiracy theory about diverting people form using homeopathy. Granted, they don't always do it (i.e. I can't prove every single one is legit), but not all research papers are backed by these companies (and you cannot prove that every single one is not legit).

      Fair call...goes away to take a look at the links provided..........Yep, pretty much junk science. Most articles referenced are from something called 'homeopathyjournal.net' - pretty sure there's no bias in that publication; some of the links don't work at all, or actually do link to peer-reviewed articles in peer-reviewed journals that have nothing to do with Homeopathy outside of some similar-sounding methodologies/terminology ie Nano-something.

        Nano-something? I thought it was all quantum-something. I can't keep up with all these scientific advances in alt-med. It's jargon-ly convincing and it must be true.

        Last edited 09/04/14 4:40 pm

        I first read it as "homobook.com/research" and was like WTF... I realised I'd read it incorrectly, and took a look and was still like WTF.

        Last edited 09/04/14 5:59 pm

      Please point me to the published, peer reviewed scientific papers that show how homeopathy works please. Just one will do. I will personally give the authors Nobel prizes.
      Yes, I give out Nobel prizes. If you don't believe me, it's because of the Norwegian multinationals trying to divert public attention away from my powers of Nobel.
      I also invented the Internets.

      Last edited 09/04/14 4:17 pm

      Dr Mansoor.. DOCTOR????
      Hahahahah.. I just noticed that. You're hilarious. I wish I had thought to call myself doctor. But, if wishes were horses, we'd all be eating steaks.

    Does this mean Homeopathic A&E will have to close.
    http://youtu.be/HMGIbOGu8q0

    What's the harm in Homeopathy you may ask - we know it isn't medicine, but there's more to it than that - the following was written by Simon Singh:

    When critics point out to politicians or regulators that homeopathy is not backed by any good evidence and is just a placebo, one response is "What's the harm?". In other words, if the placebo effect is positive and the side effects are zero, then what's wrong if people want to waste a bit of money on sugar pills? But is homeopathy really safe?

    Unfortunately, homeopathy can have surprising and dangerous side-effects. These have nothing to do directly with any particular homeopathic remedy, but rather they are an indirect result of what happens when homeopaths replace doctors as sources of medical advice.

    For example, many homeopaths have a negative attitude towards immunization, so parents who are in regular contact with a homeopath may be less likely to immunize their child. To evaluate the extent of this problem, Edzard Ernst and Katja Schmidt at Exeter University conducted a revealing survey among UK homeopaths. Having obtained e-mail addresses from online directories, they sent an e-mail to 168 homeopaths in which they effectively pretended to be a mother asking for advice about whether or not to vaccinate her one-year-old child against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR). This was in 2002 when the controversy over MMR was subsiding and the scientific evidence was clearly in favour of vaccination. Of the 77 respondents, only two advised the mother to immunize, so it is clear that the overwhelming majority of homeopaths will not encourage immunization.

    Perhaps the greatest danger occurs when homeopathy replaces a conventional treatment. I first encountered this problem in 2006 when I tried to find out what homeopaths would offer to a young traveller seeking protection against malaria. Working with Alice Tuff and the charity Sense About Science, we developed a storyline in which Tuff would be making a ten week overland trip through West Africa, where there is a high prevalence of the most dangerous strain of malaria, which can result in death within three days. Tuff, a young graduate, would explain to homeopaths that she had previously suffered side-effects from conventional malaria tablets and wondered if there was a homeopathic alternative.

    Before approaching homeopaths, however, Tuff visited a conventional travel clinic with exactly the same storyline, which resulted in a lengthy consultation. The health expert explained that side-effects were not unusual for malaria tablets, but that there was a range of options, so a different type of tablet might be advisable. At the same time, the health expert asked detailed questions about Tuff's medical history and offered extensive advice, such as how to prevent insect bites.

    Next Tuff found a variety of homeopaths by searching on the internet, just as any young student might do. She then visited or phoned ten of them, mainly based in and around London. In each case, Tuff secretly recorded the conversations in order to document the consultation. The results were shocking. Seven out of the ten homeopaths failed to ask about the patient's medical background and also failed to offer any general advice about bite prevention. Worse still, ten out of ten homeopaths were willing to advise homeopathic protection against malaria instead of conventional treatment, which would have put our pretend traveller's life at risk.

    The homeopaths offered anecdotes to show that homeopathy is effective. According to one practitioner, 'Once somebody told me she went to Africa to work and she said the people who took malaria tablets got malaria, although it was probably a different subversive type not the full blown, but the people who took homeopathics didn't. They didn't get ill at all.' She also advised that homeopathy could protect against yellow fever, dysentery and typhoid. Another homeopath tried to explain the mechanism behind the remedies: 'The remedies should lower your susceptibility; because what they do is they make it so your energy � your living energy � doesn't have a kind of malaria-shaped hole in it. The malarial mosquitoes won't come along and fill that in. The remedies sort it out.'

    The investigation took place in the run-up to the summer holiday season, so this became part of a campaign to warn travellers against the very real dangers of relying on homeopathy to protect against tropical diseases. One case reported in the British Medical Journal described how a woman had relied on homeopathy during a trip to Togo in West Africa, which resulted in a serious bout of malaria. This meant she had to endure two months of intensive care for multiple organ system failure. In this case, the placebo effect offered no protection.

    That's the harm.

    The thing is - homeopathy is almost right. Just not close enough.

    Take antibodies, for instance. If you inject someone with a small [inert] dose of a virus, their antibodies attack it - and build up your immunity. Thus, should an annual booster flu shot be considered a form of homeopathy?

    The other tenet is diluting active ingredients, to reduce harmful side effects. To paraphrase the movie Blade Runner, "the candle that burns half as bright lasts twice as long". If you want to dilute a drug by a factor of billion, sure you'll have less side effects. It should even keep working: provided you consume all one billion doses.

      Stimulation of your own immune system to promote memory and resistance and homeopathy are entirely different things. Vaccination is using an agent to promote a specific response to a particular pathogen. Homeopathy is taking ingredients which may or may not have a pharmacological effect, shoving it in water, then diluting it so much that any effect the ingredients might have once had are effectively lost. Homeopathy isn't even close to being right.

      It's only about as 'almost right' as phrenology was 'almost right' about different parts of the skull being related to different parts of personality and thought. Yes, different parts of the brain have different functions, but phrenology is still a load of nonsense.

        So true. Also i liked the reference to phrenology. Ahhhh the good ol days.

    This is the best explanation of homeopathy ever
    http://darryl-cunningham.blogspot.com.au/2010/06/homeopathy.html

    @sparhawk0

    No room to reply below your comment. This is a crazy amount of responses in this thread. All good. I didn't feel slighted. Thanks for the consideration though. Debates/arguments over the internet lack tone which can mean the tones of the things that are said can be very different. I think we're pretty much on the same page...for the most part. I suppose we just don't agree on whether homeopathy was the cause. Which is totally fine. Also for the record, I'm sorry if you've felt attacked/swatmed over your views of homeopathy (particularly having read over your responses and realising that you don't actually endorse it). I say that because I kinda feel you have. I think I better understand where you are coming from (though still don't agree) and sincerely apologise if Ive offended you in any way/have seemed rude in my responses.

    Last edited 09/04/14 11:43 pm

    The attraction of homepathy (and other alternative treatments) is that the practitioners take the time to sit with their clients and make them feel like their health concerns are being heard and addressed, even if the actual treatment offered is just snake oil. It's not unfair to say that the bedside manner of many GPs and specialists leaves a lot to be desired. Most GPs are more like a smash repairer than a mechanic. They can fix you if something is obviously wrong, but the regular servicing is less encouraged. Just one example that comes to mind is weight loss. The mantra of "just eat a healthy diet and get some regular exercise" falls far short for what most people need to lose weight. They need a detailed plan, and good advice about kilojoule counting, how to exercise and what to eat. Hence the massive weight loss industry and its plethora of miracle diets and supplements.

    Personally, I think if the health system placed a MUCH greater emphasis on preventative health measures, then they would be just as attractive as the "wellness" snake oil sellers. It would probably save a lot of money too.

    On a side note, a report emerged in the UK this week that Tamiflu is ineffective for treating flu and that governments have most likely wasted millions in stockpiling the drug. This is what science is for - to evaluate the evidence and help us to work out when we're doing it wrong.

    http://www.bbc.com/news/health-26969811

    @sparhawk0

    "It might work"

    I have a rock. I have never been attacked by a Tiger. Now I have a rock that is 100% successful at repelling tigers. You can't prove that it's not true.

    --> Doesn't make it true.

    False hope isn't hope, it's misery, and you're hurting their family as well as the patient. You can't imagine their suffering as they die, thinking they'll get better only to visibly see they're getting worse. That's the pain you're causing. I hope you get to die of cancer so you can experience the pain you're espousing for other people.

      I hope you get to die of cancer so you can experience the pain you're espousing for other people.

      Classy. I did wonder if I was talking about this with someone who has serious mental health issues, and wishing someone to die from cancer would seem to indicate that is the case.

      Again, if you'd bothered to read my posts from the beginning, you'd see that I already have been able to "experience the pain" that I'm not actually "espousing".

      I don't hope you get to die of cancer, but good luck with your unfortunate "being an infantile dick" illness.

      Last edited 17/04/14 7:34 am

        I hope you recover from your views that hurting other people is okay.

    Homeopathy has helped me when conventional medicine couldn't. The conventional medicine cost me thousands of dollars and in some instances made me worse. The homeopathy was very inexpensive. It's nice to have alternatives.

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