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Historic College of Pharmacy to Honor Homeopathy Leader

I am a graduate of the institution known formerly as the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science (PCP&S) – the first college of pharmacy in North America, established in 1821.  The college, now called University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, counts among its alumni John Wyeth, Silas M. Burroughs, Sir Henry Wellcome, several members of the Eli Lilly and McNeil families, and other historical figures in pharmacy among founders of what have now become large pharmaceutical companies.

Although I was among the 35% of students in the “and Science” side of PCP&S, earning a BS in Toxicology, I was there at a time before Big Pharma had acquired much of the bad name it often carries today and we took great pride in our college’s rich history and contributions to modern medicine.  In particular PCP&S graduates were critical players in combating snake oil hucksters in the early 1900s and establishing chemical standards, safety, and efficacy guidelines for therapeutic agents.

So it is with disbelief that I learned my alma mater plans to award an Honorary Doctorate of Science to a major leader in homeopathy – on Founders’ Day, no less.  The press release is here.

I’ve just sent the following e-mail to University President, Philip P. Gerbino, Pharm.D., and Provost Russell J. DiGate, Ph.D.:

—–
Dear President Gerbino and Provost DiGate:

On Friday, I received from the Office of Alumni Relations an invitation to the Founders’ Day celebration to be held on February 19th.

In the e-mail, I learned that the University will award an Honorary Doctor of Science degree to John A. Borneman III, P’52, RPh, chairman, founder, and past president of the Homeopathic Pharmacopeia Convention of the United States.  President Gerbino is quoted in the press release stating that the award will recognize, “[Mr. Borneman's] entrepreneurial spirit and leadership in the homeopathic medicine industry and continued dedication to innovation and excellence.”

As an alumnus of the University, I wish to register my strongest objection to the recognition and University endorsement of an individual who has led an organization dedicated to the most egregious form of pseudoscience in pharmacy: homeopathic medicines.  Awarding Mr. Borneman an Honorary Doctor of Science is an affront to every scientist who has ever earned a degree from the University and, I would suspect, all current faculty members who are engaged in scientific investigation.

Homeopathy is a fraudulent representation of pharmacy and the pharmaceutical sciences that continues to exist in the United States due solely to political, not scientific, reasons. Indeed, homeopathic remedies are defined as drugs in the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act [21 U.S.C. 321] Section 201(g)(1) as a result of the 1938 actions of U.S. Senator Royal Copeland (D-NY), a noted homeopath of his time. But scientifically, homeopathic remedies are nothing more than highly-purified water misrepresented as medicine based upon an archaic practice that is diametrically opposed to all pharmacological principles.  The mental gymnastics required to teach chemistry, pharmacology, and therapeutics while also embracing homeopathy are beyond the skills of anyone trained in the scientific method.

In awarding an Honorary Doctor of Science to Mr. Borneman, the University will be endorsing an “entrepreneurial spirit” that seeks to defraud health care consumers with “potentized” water as a medicine to treat and prevent disease.  On a day when we are to recognize the 68 visionaries who established our hallowed institution in 1821, it would be a supreme disservice to their selfless efforts and reverent memory to acknowledge homeopathy in the name of science.

When the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science became the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia in July, 1998, our institution took a giant step forward in service to the state, the nation, and the world, to provide diverse, highly educated professionals in the sciences whose ethics and expertise are beyond reproach.

To reward Mr. Borneman’s leadership of a pseudoscience practice and its marketing to a public that holds pharmacy among the most trusted of professions is to return to the days of snake oil and deception that our founders worked tirelessly to remedy.

Sincerely yours,

David J. Kroll, Ph.D., ’85TX

—–

(Note added: the response from Dr. Gerbino is presented in my 3 Feb 2009 follow-up post):

As an aside, many of you are aware from the great reporting at WSJ Health Blog over the weekend that preceded yesterday ‘s announcement of Pfizer’s $68 billion purchase of Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, founded by 1854 PCP graduate, John Wyeth (the “S” was added in 1921). Wyeth and his brother, Frank, began with a pharmacy on Walnut Street in Philadelphia and were instrumental in providing medicine to Union troops during the U.S. Civil War. Interestingly, this period coincided with another civil war: that between Philadelphia homeopaths and pharmacists offering real medicines.

Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

Posted in: Homeopathy, Pharmaceuticals, Science and Medicine

Leave a Comment (67) ↓

67 thoughts on “Historic College of Pharmacy to Honor Homeopathy Leader

  1. scotth says:

    Wow, that is just nauseating. What could they possibly be thinking?

  2. David Gorski says:

    I feel for you, my friend. I really do.

    Of course, it’s not as though my alma mater is blameless. Sadly, the University of Michigan is a leader in “integrating” dubious CAM/IM therapies into its curriculum, which is one reason why I am very reluctant to answer its frequent appeals for donations. I suppose it could be worse. My university could have been Andrew Weil’s current home, the University of Arizona, or the place where “alternative” medicine is part of the mandatory medical curriculum, Georgetown.

    I did learn one rather interesting tidbit, though, that I had been unaware of. Apparently, the University of Michigan once had a Homeopathic College in the late 1800s. It’s almost something I wish I hadn’t known…

  3. overshoot says:

    What could they possibly be thinking?

    Could I impress James Randi by thinking the word “endowment?”

    As for the “my alma mater is sinking lower than yours” contest, I’ll toss in the University of Arizona, once home to myself, my sweetie, and two of my children. Need I say more?

  4. Chris says:

    My alma mater, the University of Washington, goes with the woo by having joint studies with Bastyr Univ. Ugh.

  5. wertys says:

    I for one admire the entrepreneurial spirit of someone who can make tons of money from selling water. What I can’t admire is that person’s professional ethics and integrity.

  6. DanaUllman says:

    John A. Borneman, III, is in good company in his appreciation and advocacy for homeopathic medicine. Users and/or advocates of homeopathy included Charles Darwin (http://www.homeopathic.com/articles/view,128), Sir William Osler (who asserted, “No individual has done more good to the medical profession than Samuel Hahnemann.” Time magazine, May 27, 1940), Emil Adolph von Behring (father of immunology), Charles Frederick Menninger, MD, August Bier, MD (the “father of spinal anesthesia”), Harold Griffith, MD, and so many others.

    And the University of Michigan is not the only medical school that had departments of homeopathic medicine. Some of the other schools included Boston University, Ohio State University, Hahnemann Medical College (of Philadelphia), New York Medical College, University of Minnesota, and even that “radical” University of Iowa.

    Today, virtually ALL of the leading medical schools have coursework in alternative and complementary medicine. Put away your typewriters, rotary phones, and mechanistic views of the human body. Wake up and smell the coffee.

  7. Chris says:

    Dana Ullman said “Put away your typewriters, rotary phones, and mechanistic views of the human body. Wake up and smell the coffee.”

    So says a guy who promotes something that has not changed in over two centuries.

  8. DanaUllman says:

    Not changed? Are you kidding? THAT simply shows how little you know about homeopathy.

    Did you know that most American and European homeopaths use expert system software to help us individualize selection of medicines? There are hundreds of medicines that have been added in the past 10-20 years, but guess what, our “old” medicines are still around because they still work (in contrast with the short-life on conventional pharmaceuticals).

    I love it when arrogant people provide clear-cut evidence of “knowledge.”

  9. maliath says:

    DanaUllman,

    Do you have any links to web resources detailing what criteria the software uses to tailor which homeopathic medicines to individuals? I think everyone here at science based medicine would be VERY interested in reading about it. Thanks in advance.

  10. Ex-drone says:

    DanaUllman writes:

    I love it when arrogant people provide clear-cut evidence of “knowledge.”

    I take it that you are being intentionally ironic. If not, perhaps you could list the peer-reviewed articles that have been published in credible scientific journals that provides evidence of the efficacy of homeopathy.

  11. Dear Mr. Ullman, perhaps you don’t know my background but I have actually been a strong proponent of complementary and alternative medicine coursework in health professions education – for one example, please see this 1998 American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education survey and curriculum recommendations (link to PDF here).

    In fact, I even support the inclusion of alternative practitioners to participate under the condition they recognize that students will be charged with objectively evaluating their practices to a critical, literature-based, analysis. All too often, academic medical centers include CAM practitioners in lectures but fail to provide a science-based follow-up to any presentations.

    Most of my colleagues here feel differentlyabout taking time from a very tight curriculum to address CAM. But I feel that some CAM coursework can be of long-term value in providing medical care and counseling. Asking a homeopath, for example, to defend the practice by providing the mechanistic basic science underlying its purported activity and science-based clinical literature provides a valuable learning opportunity for future pharmacists, physicians, nurses, PAs, etc. This foundation cultivates trust in the physician-patient relationship if the practitioner demonstrates an objective interest in CAM practices and counsels patients accordingly based upon scientific mechanisms for each conventional and CAM approach.

  12. Mojo says:

    Dana is a “Mr.”, by the way.

  13. David Gorski says:

    I took the liberty of fixing it for David. :-)

  14. My apologies. I had not heard of Dana Ullman previously.

  15. Mojo says:

    You must be new to discussing homoeopathy on the internet. :-)

  16. Harriet Hall says:

    Translating what Dana has said:

    “You should believe in homeopathy because some other people do.”
    “We have computerized our nonsense and continued to develop more new remedies by the same nonscientific method of “provings.” We are pretending that more of same and the adoption of computers constitutes “change”.

  17. DanaUllman says:

    Harriet is wrong (again). I was responding to Chris’ inaccurate assumption that homeopathy hasn’t changed.

    As for Mojo’s links to Darwin’s homeopath, they are laughable because they actually assert that Gully was not a homeopath (ha!). Excuse me, but within ONE month of Darwin seeing Gully, Darwin said that he was dying AND that he could not work 1 day in every 3! Oh…and this was 10 years before he completed his seminal work. Oh…and Darwin was skeptical of homeopathy, so we KNOW that this was not a placebo response. Thank you!

    As for research, consider these:

    References to water and homeopathic medicines:
    –Site of Professor Martin Chaplin, a world renowned expert on water: http://www.lsbu.ac.uk/water/homeop.html and http://www.lsbu.ac.uk/water/memory.html

    WB Jonas, TJ Kaptchuk, K Linde, A Critical Overview of Homeopathy, Annals in Internal Medicine, March 4, 2003:138:393-399. Although this is not a meta-analysis, it is still a very good review of the clinical literature in homeopathy.

    Vickers AJ. Homoeopathic Oscillococcinum for preventing and treating influenza and influenza ‐ like syndromes. Cochrane Reviews. 2007. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/485935. Four treatment trials (N=1,194) found “promising” results from Oscillococcinum in the treatment of influenza or influenza-like syndrome. Three prevention trials (N=2,265) did not find efficacy of Oscillococcinum in the prevention of these conditions.

    J. Jacobs, WB Jonas, M Jimenez-Perez, D Crothers, Homeopathy for Childhood Diarrhea: Combined Results and Metaanalysis from Three Randomized, Controlled Clinical Trials, Pediatr Infect Dis J, 2003;22:229-34. This metaanalysis of 242 children showed a highly significant result in the duration of childhood diarrhea (P=0.008).

    Frass, M, Dielacher, C, Linkesch, M, Endler, C, Muchitsch, I, Schuster, E, Kaye, A. Influence of potassium dichromate on tracheal secretions in critically ill patients, Chest, March, 2005;127:936-941.

    Bell IR, Lewis II DA, Brooks AJ, et al. Improved clinical status in fibromyalgia patients treated with individualized homeopathic remedies versus placebo, Rheumatology. 2004:1111-5. Participants on active treatment showed significantly greater improvements in tender point count and tender point pain, quality of life, global health and a trend toward less depression compared with those on placebo. People on homeopathic treatment also experienced changes in EEG readings. “Helpfulness from treatment” in homeopathic patients was very significant (P=.004).

    Belon P, Banerjee P, Choudhury SC, Banerjee A., Can administration of potentized homeopathic remedy, Arsenicum album, alter antinuclear antibody (ANA) titer in people living in high-risk arsenic contaminated areas? I. A correlation with certain hematological parameters. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2006 Mar;3(1):99-107.

    Sunila ES, Kuttan R, Preethi KC, and Kuttan G. Dynamized Preparations in Cell Culture, eCAM. October 3, 2007; doi:10.1093/ecam/nem082

    Complement Ther Med. 2007 Jun;15(2):128-38. Epub 2007 Mar 28.
    The in vitro evidence for an effect of high homeopathic potencies–a systematic review of the literature.
    Witt CM, Bluth M, Albrecht H, Weisshuhn TE, Baumgartner S, Willich SN.
    From 75 publications, 67 experiments (1/3 of them replications) were evaluated. Nearly 3/4 of them found a high potency effect, and 2/3 of those 18 that scored 6 points or more and controlled contamination. Nearly 3/4 of all replications were positive.

    Banerjee, P.; Biswas, S. J.; Belon, P.; Khuda-Bukhsh, A. R. A Potentized Homeopathic Drug, Arsenicum Album 200, Can Ameliorate Genotoxicity Induced by Repeated Injections of Arsenic Trioxide in Mice. Journal of Veterinary Medicine, Series A, Volume 54, Number 7, September 2007 , pp. 370-376(7).
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1439-0442.2007.00945.x

    Elia, V, and Niccoli, M. Thermodynamics of Extremely Diluted Aqueous Solutions, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 879, 1999:241-248.

    Rey, L. Thermoluminescence of Ultra-High Dilutions of Lithium Chloride and Sodium Chloride. Physica A, 323(2003)67-74.

    People who say that there isn’t a jot of evidence for homeopathy don’t know their jots.

    Once again, please put down your rotary phones and join the present. Stop repeating old and inaccurate information about homeopathy…

  18. Joe says:

    Brave Sir Dana (MPH!) has been repeatedly admonished that testimonials are not evidence. Moreover, his cherished claim that Darwin endorsed homeopathy is not only irrelevant; but wrong. Darwin went to the “hydrotherapist” James Gully http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Manby_Gully

    Somebody, more attuned than I, can cite the evidence that Darwin recognized homeopaths as fools.

  19. Jules says:

    Just a tiny little quibble with your closing:

    19th century medicine was, um, basically nonexistent. There were only a few drugs that worked, and the rest was about as scientific as homeopathy, so it’s no wonder that there was a major tiff.

  20. Joe says:

    The typical quack, data-dump offered by Dana (MPH!) includes the article in Chest by Frass, M, Dielacher, C, Linkesch, M, Endler, C, Muchitsch, I, Schuster, E, Kaye, A. Influence of potassium dichromate on tracheal secretions in critically ill patients, Chest, March, 2005;127:936-941.

    It has been analyzed and found to be inadequate, continue into the comments http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2007/07/homeopathy_in_thecringeicu_1.php The benefit attributed to homeopathy was more a benefit from not being as ill from the start. That always helps a person.

  21. Harriet Hall says:

    Dana is not playing by the rules of science. See http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=337
    He has disqualified himself from serious consideration by rational scientific thinkers, and has lost the right to participate in any discussion of science-based medicine. He is like a child butting into an adult discussion to say “There really is a Tooth Fairy and I can prove it because here’s the money she left me.” He is not even capable of understanding why his arguments fail to convince us, even though it has been explained to him many times in great detail. We should have compassion and be kind to the handicapped, but we shouldn’t have to pay any attention to their ravings.

  22. Joe says:

    Brave Sir Dana (MPH!), can you reduce your data-dump to just those articles you imagine support clinical use of homeopathy?

  23. maus says:

    “Not changed? Are you kidding? THAT simply shows how little you know about homeopathy. ”

    Water memory is water memory is water memory. Nothing has changed. The foundation remains rotten and unproven and unobservable.

    “Did you know that most American and European homeopaths use expert system software to help us individualize selection of medicines?”

    And some astrologers use calculus. It’s an needlessly complex system put in place on a bed of pseudoscience.

  24. maus says:

    Dana no amount of handwaving, complicated and unnecessary ritual will legitimize the principles behind homeopathy, not just to our eyes but to reality and the objective world.

  25. tarran says:

    One of my big frustrations with woo peddlers is the conspiracy theory that doctors or pharmacists want to make people suffer.

    Let’s take drugs A and B. They both are equally curative of some condition, however drug A causes liver failure in 10% of patients, while drug B does not. Does anyone think that doctors would go for A reasoning that liver failure would mean more money for them? Most doctors don’t want their patients to get sick!

    Now let’s say that A and B both have the same side effects, but B is a better treatment than A. How many doctors would pass up the chance to reduce their caseload by treating people with B?

    Honestly, if homeopathy worked, doctors would be jumping at the chance to save money by buying cheap homeopathic treatments instead of expensive, less effective pharmaceuticals.

  26. Mojo says:

    Dana: “As for Mojo’s links to Darwin’s homeopath, they are laughable because they actually assert that Gully was not a homeopath (ha!).”

    This would be the same Gully who wrote, in 1861, “It may shock the homœopathic world when I say that I never much cared for the doctrine of “like curing like”; and that I do not believe it to be of the universal application that they suppose”. I know your definition of homoeopathy is somewhat flexible (generally including anything that appears to work or was used by people you approve of, while rejecting anything that has failed to give a positive result or was used by someone you think people won’t like), but surely even you can’t abandon “like cures like” as part of the definition.

    Gully was a quack, Darwin bemoaned and derided his use of homoeopathic medicines, and there is no likelyhood that any of the treatments Gully used (other than fresh air, diet and exercise) did Darwin any good at all.

    Joe: “Somebody, more attuned than I, can cite the evidence that Darwin recognized homeopaths as fools.”

    There are plenty of links in the quackometer posts and the JREF thread I linked to above, but see in particular:

    http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/darwinletters/calendar/entry-1352.html

    “You speak about Homœopathy; which is a subject which makes me more wrath, even than does Clair-voyance: clairvoyance so transcends belief, that one’s ordinary faculties are put out of question, but in Homœopathy common sense & common observation come into play, & both these must go to the Dogs, if the infinetesimal doses have any effect whatever. How true is a remark I saw the other day by Quetelet, in respect to evidence of curative processes, viz that no one knows in disease what is the simple result of nothing being done, as a standard with which to compare Homœopathy & all other such things. It is a sad flaw, I cannot but think in my beloved Dr Gully, that he believes in everything— when his daughter was very ill, he had a clair-voyant girl to report on internal changes, a mesmerist to put her to sleep—an homœopathist, viz Dr. Chapman; & himself as Hydropathist! & the girl recovered.”

  27. Mojo says:

    Oh, and as for Gully being “Darwin’s homeopath”, it is clear from Darwin’s letters that Darwin went to Gully for the “Water Cure” (that means hydropathy, not the water of which homoœopathic medicines consist, by the way).

    Here is Darwin’s description of his treatment regime under Gully:

    http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/darwinletters/calendar/entry-1234.html

    “As you say you want my hydropathical diary, I will give it youf1 —though tomorrow it is to change to a certain extent.— 1⁄4 before 7. get up, & am scrubbed with rough towel in cold water for 2 or 3 minutes, which after the few first days, made & makes me very like a lobster— I have a washerman, a very nice person, & he scrubs behind, whilst I scrub in front.— drink a tumbler of water & get my clothes on as quick as possible & walk for 20 minutes—f2 I cd. walk further, but I find it tires me afterwards— I like all this very much.— At same time I put on a compress, which is a broad wet folded linen covered by mackintosh & which is “refreshed”—ie dipt in cold water every 2 hours & I wear it all day, except for about 2 hours after midday dinner; I don’t perceive much effect from this of any kind.— After my walk, shave & wash & get my breakfast, which was to have been exclusively toast with meat or egg, but he has allowed me a little milk to sop the stale toast in. At no time must I take any sugar, butter, spices tea bacon or anything good.—f3 At 12 oclock I put my feet for 10 minutes in cold water with a little mustard & they are violently rubbed by my man; the coldness makes my feet ache much, but upon the whole my feet are certainly less cold than formerly.— Walk for 20 minutes & dine at one.— He has relaxed a little about my dinner & says I may try plain pudding, if I am sure it lessens sickness.—

    After dinner lie down & try to go to sleep for one hour.— At 5 olock feet in cold water—drink cold water & walk as before— Supper same as breakfast at 6 oclock.— I have had much sickness this week, but certainly I have felt much stronger & the sickness has depressed me much less.— Tomorrow I am to be packed at 6 oclock A.M for 1 & 1⁄2 hour in Blanket, with hot bottle to my feet & then rubbed with cold dripping sheet;f4 but I do not know anything about this.— I grieve to say that Dr Gully gives me homoœopathic medicines three times a day, which I take obediently without an atom of faith.”

    The homoœopathic medicines seem to have been only a small component of these shenanigans.

  28. DanaUllman says:

    Joe: Cool. You define Gully as a “hydrotherapist,” but then, why was he a member of the British Society of Homeopaths? Hmmm. Denial is the first step to ignorance, not science.

    Then you incorrectly say that the COPD study wasn’t valid because the homeopathic group was healthier than the placebo group. Actually, they were the same, except 4 placebo patients had moderate to severe COPD and only 1 treatment group did. Ok, then simply take OUT the three best responding patients from the homeopathic group…and tell me you find: still highly significant results. Mis-information is the second step to ignorance, not science.

    Mojo quotes Darwin’s disbelief in homeopathy, which I also acknowledge. I was, however, pleased that you provided the entire quote which also included Darwin’s observation that despite the weird treatments given to the girl, SHE RECOVERED. Mis-direction is the third step to ignorance, not science.

    And despite Darwin’s skeptism, please tell me what happened to most of Darwin’s most serious symptoms, such as fainting spells, spots before his eyes, severe boils, and heart palpitations? He had ALL of these symptoms for between 2 to 12 years (!)…and yet, they all disappeared within the first month of treatment…and most within the first two weeks. Are you saying that hydrotherapy is THAT effective? Ok…who wants to put THAT statement into the record? THIS one is all three steps to ignorance combined.

    And yet, Harriet has the chutzpah to saying Dana Ullman isn’t following the rules of science! Is there a mirror in the house?

    You folks make this way too easy…

  29. Chris says:

    Dana Ullman said “And yet, Harriet has the chutzpah to saying Dana Ullman isn’t following the rules of science! Is there a mirror in the house?”

    Do you often refer to yourself in the third person?

  30. BillyJoe says:

    Chris, I noticed that as well, and not for the first time.

    But, wouldn’t you distance yourself from yourself by refering to yourself in the third person if you were Dana Ullman? :D

    I have seen all his arguments and references comprehensively refuted time and again but, never mind, he just continues to trot them out again and again and again and again…..

  31. HCN says:

    DUllman said: “Actually, they were the same, except 4 placebo patients had moderate to severe COPD and only 1 treatment group did.”

    From http://dcscience.net/frass-homeop-icu-05.pdf … a table of a couple of lines (modified for blog posting)…

    Patients____________Homeopathy (n=25)_____Placebo (n=25)
    Stage of COPD‡______ 1.08+/-0.4 (1–3)____1.20+/-0.5 (1–3)
    Need for long-term
    oxygen therapy, No.-_______5________________ 9

    Note the stage of COPD is higher for the “placebo” group, and that almost twice as many were on long term oxygen therapy. Figuring that the COPD stages only go from 1 to 4 (I to IV), there is a difference statistically between 1.08 to 1.20. Doing some simple math, the placebo group should have enough patients at level II (2) to raise the average by almost 12%.

    (Since COPD is measured in whole numbers, we can figure out that 1.08 * 25 = 27, so that 23 were at Stage I, and 2 were at Stage II… 23*1 + 2*2 = 27 —– then for the “placebo” group, 1.20 *25 = 30, so that only 20 were at Stage I, and 5 were at Stage II… 20*1 + 5*2 = 30 —— over twice as many much sicker people, as evidenced by almost twice as many needing long term oxygen)

    The groups are not statistically equivalent, exacerbated by it being a small study.

    Plus, they all did get standard treatment.

    He has been told this over, and over, and over and over again… yet he refuses to understand. He is being willfully ignorant.

    Also, DUllman likes to quote this paper:
    J. Jacobs, WB Jonas, M Jimenez-Perez, D Crothers, Homeopathy for Childhood Diarrhea: Combined Results and Metaanalysis from Three Randomized, Controlled Clinical Trials, Pediatr Infect Dis J, 2003;22:229-34. This metaanalysis of 242 children showed a highly significant result in the duration of childhood diarrhea (P=0.008)

    He neglects Jennifer Jacobs most recent papers on the same subject (it seems she has been told how to do science better):

    Jacobs J, Guthrie BL, Montes GA, Jacobs LE, Mickey-Colman N, Wilson AR, DiGiacomo R., Homeopathic combination remedy in the treatment of acute childhood diarrhea in Honduras., : J Altern Complement Med. 2006 Oct;12(8):723-32 …. “The homeopathic combination therapy tested in this study did not significantly reduce the duration or severity of acute diarrhea in Honduran children.”

    Can we say “cherry picking”?

    Or is he willfully ignorant? Or just a compulsive liar?

  32. HCN says:

    Oh, wait, while playing on PubMed I found this paper:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17285788?

    Mayo Clin Proc. 2007 Jan;82(1):69-75.
    Altunç U, Pittler MH, Ernst E.
    “Homeopathy for childhood and adolescence ailments: systematic review of randomized clinical trials.”
    Complementary Medicine, Peninsula Medical School, University of Exeter, Exeter, United Kingdom

    “CONCLUSION: The evidence from rigorous clinical trials of any type of therapeutic or preventive intervention testing homeopathy for childhood and adolescence ailments is not convincing enough for recommendations in any condition.”

  33. DanaUllman says:

    Hey HCN,

    You still don’t get it. The “new” Jacobs trials tested a homeopathic combination medicine, where every treated child was given the same formula, as distinct from her previous THREE trials that tested individually chosen medicines for the kids.

    You’ve been told this several times before. Is your skull that thick or your brain that small, probably both?

    Instead, you prefer to throw out offensive (and inaccurate) terms like “liar” and “ignorant.” Obviously a case of a abused nerd who now likes to abuse anyone who disagrees with him.

    When you consider that the WHO considers childhood diarrhea to be one of the most serious public health problems in the world today, due to the millions of deaths that occur from dehydration from diarrhea, one would hope and assume that people here would become advocates to ANY cost-effective method to reduce childhood deaths. But no, people here seem to prefer to have children die than be given potentially helpful (and safe) therapeutic measures.

    If the tables were turned, you’d probably now call me a “child-killer.”

    By the way, all of the Jacobs’ trials utilized oral dehydration therapy in conjunction with homeopathy or placebo, and in the 3 trials with individualized homeopathic treatment, the children given ORT and homeopathy received more benefit than those given ORT and placebo.

    As for the COPD study, you love to quote percentages when it suits your needs…but when you use real numbers, it doesn’t. The bottomline is that even when one accounts for the SMALL numbers of differences between the treatment and control groups, the homeopathic group STILL got a lot better. THAT is why this article was published in this prestigious journal, AND that is why two other universities are presently working to replicate this study. I’m so glad that HCN considers himself of greater knowledge that the editors at CHEST. Come out of the closet HCN and show us your list of publications. I’m still waiting.

    Is it any wonder that so many people here remain anonymous? No, because their views are so reactionary and backward, they might be ousted from whatever jobs they have.

  34. Dr Benway says:

    So water cures people? Oh, not just water, but water plus magic? That’s nice.

  35. Harriet Hall says:

    Real scientists have looked at ALL the published literature and even people like former homeopath Edzard Ernst have admitted that homeopathy is “a bogus industry that offers patients nothing more than a fantasy.” Yet Dana is still trying to convince us by presenting a few cherry-picked studies, studies whose flaws have been pointed out to him before. He has clearly lost contact with reality. I don’t think he deserves any more of our time.

  36. Mojo says:

    Chris wrote: “Dana Ullman said “And yet, Harriet has the chutzpah to saying Dana Ullman isn’t following the rules of science! Is there a mirror in the house?”

    Do you often refer to yourself in the third person?”

    Yes, he does:

    http://forums.randi.org/showthread.php?postid=2621616#post2621616

  37. Mojo says:

    Dana, I notice your objection to “the new Jacobs trials”: “You still don’t get it. The “new” Jacobs trials tested a homeopathic combination medicine, where every treated child was given the same formula”

    Does this mean that:

    Vickers AJ. Homoeopathic Oscillococcinum for preventing and treating influenza and influenza-like syndromes;

    Frass, M, Dielacher, C, Linkesch, M, Endler, C, Muchitsch, I, Schuster, E, Kaye, A. Influence of potassium dichromate on tracheal secretions in critically ill patients;

    and

    Belon P, Banerjee P, Choudhury SC, Banerjee A., Can administration of potentized homeopathic remedy, Arsenicum album, alter antinuclear antibody (ANA) titer in people living in high-risk arsenic contaminated areas? I. A correlation with certain hematological parameters

    Can also be disregarded?

  38. Mojo says:

    Dana wrote: “Mojo quotes Darwin’s disbelief in homeopathy, which I also acknowledge. I was, however, pleased that you provided the entire quote which also included Darwin’s observation that despite the weird treatments given to the girl, SHE RECOVERED. Mis-direction is the third step to ignorance, not science.”

    It has been repeatedly explained to you that there is no way of knowing whether any of the quackery used by Gully (hydropathy, homoeopathy, mesmerism, and clairvoyance) had any effect whatsoever, and why, and that it is highly likely that none of them did. Characteristically, you continue with your misdirection.

    “And despite Darwin’s skeptism, please tell me what happened to most of Darwin’s most serious symptoms, such as fainting spells, spots before his eyes, severe boils, and heart palpitations? He had ALL of these symptoms for between 2 to 12 years (!)…and yet, they all disappeared within the first month of treatment…and most within the first two weeks. Are you saying that hydrotherapy is THAT effective? Ok…who wants to put THAT statement into the record? THIS one is all three steps to ignorance combined.”

    Again, it has been repeatedly explained to you that it is not remarkable that Darwin’s condition, which waxed and waned over the last four decades of his life, improved after he sought medical attention when it was at its worst. As for whether I consider hydropathy to have been effective, if you had read and understood what I have already posted in this thread you would know the answer to this, but I’ll repeat it for you: Gully was a quack. His treatments were almost certainly ineffective, apart, possibly, from the few and uncontroversial exceptions I mentioned above, which certainly don’t include hydropathy, homoeopathy, clairvoyance, mesmerism or spiritualism (another of Gully’s enthusiasms).

    You repeatedly cite the same small group of cherry-picked studies, and as a result you have seen them repeatedly pulled to pieces, but never manage to take any of the criticisms on board.

    Do you see the pattern here?

  39. wertys says:

    @Ullman

    I am happy to call anybody who presents magical thinking as science a liar and a fraud if they choose to deliberately misrepresent research which they don’t like, and ask for the known laws to the universe to be anulled on their behalf. All you ever do is quote individual positive studies and ignore the negative ones, as well as ignoring the simple and inescapable fact that homeopathy and medicine are incompossible.

  40. DanaUllman says:

    Harriet refers to ONE “homeopath” (E. Ernst) who is now skeptical of homeopathy, though Ernst was hardly trained…and big deal anyway, there are tens of thousands of MDs who have once practiced conventional medicine and who now practice homeopathy. Your N=1 is more than a tad inconsequential.

    Thanx Mojo for showing your ignorance (again). ALL of the studies to which you refer used SINGLE medicines, not ixtures or formulas.
    – the COPD trial used Kali bic 30C
    – the influenza trials used Oscillococcinum
    – the arsenic trail used Arsenicum 30C (and have any of you found the dozen or so mice trials using the 30C or the 200C, including those in conventional journals…do a google and see)

    And what a coincidence that the symptoms that Darwin experienced for 2 to 12 years consistently just happened to disappear within a month of seeing Gully. Because it happens so often after seeking homeopathic care, does anyone out there see a pattern?

    I have no problem acknowledging negative trials. If you had any real understanding of homeopathy, you’d know that there are usually good reasons for the negative results that have little to do with the system of homeopathy but are the result of the experimental design. Did Edison only report on his negative trials after he figured it out or did he report on what worked?

  41. Must we recycle rebuttals to Mr. Ullman’s tiresome litany of fallacies each time he submits them?

    E.g.,

    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=35#comments

    And:

    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=42

    It’s high time to invoke a new, utterly ad hominem rule similar to Scopie’s Law (see: http://rationalwiki.com/wiki/Scopie%27s_Law)

    It will be called the “Dull-Man Law.” It reads:

    “In any discussion involving science or medicine, being Dana Ullman loses you the argument immediately…and gets you laughed out of the room.”

    I realize that this brings attention to Mr. Ullman beyond the considerable amount that he has managed to garner for himself, and that he will wear it like a badge of honor. Nevertheless it is justified, because Mr. Ullman is every bit as deranged as John Scudamore, but substantially more dangerous:

    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=35#comment-836

    And:

    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=35#comment-843

    It will also save everyone alotta time.

  42. Mojo says:

    Dana: “Thanx Mojo for showing your ignorance (again). ALL of the studies to which you refer used SINGLE medicines, not ixtures or formulas.
    – the COPD trial used Kali bic 30C
    – the influenza trials used Oscillococcinum
    – the arsenic trail used Arsenicum 30C (and have any of you found the dozen or so mice trials using the 30C or the 200C, including those in conventional journals…do a google and see)”

    I take it that you don’t consider lack of individualisation to invalidate the results of trials of homoeopathy then.

  43. Mojo says:

    Dana: “ALL of the studies to which you refer used SINGLE medicines, not ixtures or formulas”

    The only conclusion to take from this is that it is the use of a “[m]ixture” or “formula” that you are objecting to. What, then, would be your opinion of this article, which recommends the use of “homeopathic formulas”, described as “combinations of 2 to 10 ingredients” which are marketed for a specific disease name, and also involve no individualisation?

  44. maus says:

    “Do you often refer to yourself in the third person?”

    A definite sign of a Narcissistic Personality Disorder :p

  45. DanaUllman says:

    Hey Mojo…I just wish you could at least try to do a little homework before you again show how little you know.

    Here’s one study for ya…though there are many more.

    Gripp-Heel(R) is a homeopathic formula preparation frequently used in the treatment of respiratory viral infections such as various types of influenza and the common cold. The antiviral activity of Gripp-Heel was studied in vitro on human pathogenic enveloped and nonenveloped RNA and DNA viruses (Glatthaar-Saalmuller, 2007). Before the antiviral assays, in vitro cytotoxicity of Gripp-Heel was determined with cells used for the infection experiments (HeLa, HEp-2, MDCK, BGM) as well as with mitogen-stimulated peripheral blood mononuclear leukocytes. A concentration of 0.5 of the commercially available product slightly reduced cell viability and proliferative capacity, and experiments on antiviral activity were determined starting with a dilution of 0.2 of the commercially available product. The antiviral activity was determined against a broad panel of enveloped and nonenveloped DNA and RNA viruses with plaque reduction assay, cytopathogenic assays, virus titrations, analysis of the viral proteins in virus-specific enzyme immunoassays, and haemagglutination tests. Control substances were acyclovir (10 mug/mL), ribavirin (6 mug/mL), and amantadine hydrochloride (5 mug/mL), depending on the virus type. Gripp-Heel demonstrated dose-dependent in vitro activity (significant reductions of infectivity by 20% to 40%) against Human herpesvirus 1, Human adenovirus C serotype 5, Influenza A virus, Human respiratory syncytial virus, Human parainfluenza virus 3, Human rhinovirus B serotype 14, and Human coxsackie virus serotype A9.

    Glatthaar-Sallmuller, B. In vitro Evaluation of the Antiviral Effects of the Homeopathic Preparation Gripp-Heel on Selected Respiratory Viruses, Can J Phyiol Pharmaocl. 2007 Nov;85(11):1084-90.

    As for you, Maus…you decision to resort to psycho-babble seems befitting. Now, get out of your armchair and do something real.

  46. Chris says:

    Mr. Ullman, you still seem to be cherry picking by citing a paper in an obscure journal.

    While doing a bit of digging I found this page:
    http://www.quackometer.net/blog/2007/12/homeopathic-revolution-by-dana-ullman.html

    There is a comment with a question directed towards you and other homeopaths. Did you ever answer it? It has been a year, you must have by now. What is the answer? Here is the query from a “BSM” (it is repeated by several others in the comments):

    “GIVE ONE, YOU ONLY NEED ONE, INCONTROVERTIBLE EXAMPLE, WITH REFERENCES, OF HOMEOPATHY CURING A NON-SELF-LIMITING CONDITION.

    Options include, AIDS, metastatic melanoma, rabies, Addison’s disease, Type 1 Diabetes.”

  47. Harriet Hall says:

    Dana,

    What makes you keep posting the same claims (that have been repeatedly debunked) on a forum where no one believes those claims or accepts the kind of evidence you can provide?

    It is as ridiculous as a non-physicist posting on a physics forum and claiming that he could do cold fusion in his kitchen or had invented a perpetual motion machine.

    Your perseverating posts only make us laugh at you, hold you up as a bad example (the Dull-Man Law), and question your sanity. Why do you persist? You only dig yourself deeper with every comment. Can you possibly believe that we are so stupid and gullible that simple repetition of a falsehood will convince us that it is true? Are you so desperate for attention that our contempt is preferable to being ignored?

    This is a science-based medicine blog. Homeopathy has been tested by the scientific process and has failed. Nothing you can say will change that. You can only try to justify using it as a belief-based treatment

  48. pmoran says:

    While this view has been attacked from many angles Dana still seems to think that homeopathy can stand or fall on statistical data provided by error-prone studies involving unstable and unpredictable biological systems.

    In such studies, experimental artefact, other sources of error or even frank fraud will always be considered more likely reasons for statistical positivity than the highly improbable and otherwise undemonstrable processes and forces that homeopathy relies upon.

    What homeopathy needs is unequivocal, every time, objective evidence of medical activity for at least one of its preparations — something similar to the urine-promoting effect of a diuretic, or the every-time destruction of H Strept by penicillin in a Petri dish, or the ability of radiotherapy to cause a BCC to shrivel up *every time* it is used. Medicine is not reluctant to use such very different cla

    IN the background of our skepticism there is an impression of what effective medical treatments should look like. We cannot accpet that a whole system of medicine exists that cannot produce a single comparable example of such tangible medical activity.

    can be based there
    o system of medicine can survive when it is unable to produce unequivocal, every time, and and evidence for medical activity. Look at how a diuretic willu the imputed , something that works on every example and every time

    We should perhaps stop critiqueing such studies and try to get him to understand what an effective medical tretament may be encouraging this when we get involved in analyzing

    What homeopathy needs is not statistical fata of any kind — if it is a valid system of medicine there must be at least one homeopathic activity or phenomenon results in
    These are actually harming homeopathy because the biases in such studies lie in such a way that regular negative findings have to be given more weight.

  49. Chris says:

    pmoran said “We should perhaps stop critiqueing such studies and try to get him to understand what an effective medical tretament may be encouraging this when we get involved in analyzing”

    This assumes that Mr. Ullman is willing to learn. I am looking through his Wikipedia history (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User_talk:Danaullman … and at the talk page on his own biographical entry). It seems that he was reluctant to learn the rules of that website and has been banned from there for a year.

    He seems to be a person who is immune to reason and education. Not unlike many religious fundamentalists and conspiracy theorists. He has no interest in learning anything, all he wants is to push his agenda on us.

    I would say that Dr. Atwood’s proposed “Dull-Man Law” is justified. Indeed, “In any discussion involving science or medicine, being Dana Ullman loses you the argument immediately…and gets you laughed out of the room.” … has a certain truth.

  50. weing says:

    I wouldn’t be so quick to say that. Remember that a broken clock is correct twice a day.

  51. pmoran says:

    Sorry my last post was garbled. I think that in general we do have to treat other people with a basic respect and not let frustrations lead us into name-calling. We have a valid point of view on homeopathy but it is based upon a composite of low level, almost instinctive, “machine language” considerations that may have taken us much of a lifetime to learn. We rarely attempt to fully explain those to others or even to analyze them for our own enlightenment. Until involved face-to-face with CAM supporters we never needed to.

    Another example is the intended use of prior plausibility to enable us to dismiss certain study results. Just why are certain medical claims implausible? What makes them so?

    That is a similarly sophisticated, composite, high level judgment that may have some meaning for similarly inclined academics, but to the average person it will carry little or no weight. Indeed, that Babelfish in the ear of the well-trained CAM supporter will in, an equally instinctive reaction, instantly translate prior implausibility into “the opinion of biased white-coat wearers”. It is a lot more than that and we need to develop some facility in explaining exactly what we mean.

  52. Mojo says:

    Dana: “Hey Mojo…I just wish you could at least try to do a little homework before you again show how little you know.

    Here’s one study for ya…though there are many more.

    [snip cherry-picked study of homoeopathic formula remedy]”

    OK, so you have no objection to studies of homoeopathic formulas.

    Would you like to explain what your objection is to the “new” Jacobs trials?

    Is it just the result that you don’t like?

  53. Joe says:

    That cherry-picked study fails in many ways. Four (of five) components in the product (Grip Heel) are in the 3X to 5X range- meaning that it actually contains ingredients. In addition, as is usual with homeopathy, there is no way to know if that product was not adulterated with known drugs. Finally, it is not a clinical study- in vitro activity rarely translates to clinically useful products.

  54. Dr Benway says:

    Just why are certain medical claims implausible?

    1) Any claim that relies upon magic is right out.

    2) Ditto for any claim that involves water remembering stuff.

    Even when we don’t understand some mechanism of action in detail, there is at least some relationship between what we know about the body and what a drug does.

    When someone proposes that ingesting substance X will slow hair loss, but can’t relate substance X to hair follicles, blood supply to hair follicles, hormonal influences on hair follicles, etc. we should wonder about that. If an effect is overwhelming and obvious, surely there’s a way to explain it biologically.

  55. pmoran says:

    Dr Benway, I agree, but I have in mind something even more basic. What separates “magic” from the real world? Why do we think water cannot have memory for solutes in any way that would enable it as medicine?

    I can’t claim to have answers that can be conveyed in a few words to those needing a better understanding of the reasons for skepticism.

    One difficulty is that there seems to be no innate positive signal of “silliness” by which implausible medical claims can be judged. The lack of credibility seems to lie in the coming together of negatives — what is lacking. As just one example, there are no instances known to man where diluting a solution consistently increases its physical, chemical or biological properties. Homeopaths grasp at very faint experimental straws but cannot produce observations that go even close to supporting the principles of homeopathy as the basis for a dependable and generally applicable system of medicine (other than via placebo-related phenomena).

    Yes, there are negative feed-back loops in biology, but that is a property of specific, complex, biological systems, not the fundamental property of either solutions or biological systems that homeopathy theory requires.

  56. Dr Benway says:

    pmoran:

    Dr Benway, I agree, but I have in mind something even more basic. What separates “magic” from the real world? Why do we think water cannot have memory for solutes in any way that would enable it as medicine?

    Water as a liquid is made of molecules constantly in motion. No information can be recorded in a glass of water. Ice, however, is another story.

    When I was ten I got a book of magic for Christmas. Over school vacation I mastered the sleight-of-hand for one simple trick using a piece of string. It went like this:

    “Here’s an ordinary string. I’ll take one end in my left hand, one in my right. Then I’ll tie a knot without letting go of either end… See how easy? Here, you try…”

    That trick was ace. However, some of my friends failed to be as amazed as expected. They didn’t catch on to the fact that tying a simple, overhand knot in a string without letting go of either end is impossible. For them, the knot-tying seemed a matter of skill –e.g., “it’s all in the wrist, isn’t it?” Although the trick seemed tricky, in their eyes it wasn’t magic.

    Magic tricks are interesting because they’re impossible. Anyone unaware of the boundary separating the possible from the impossible will, sadly, miss the wonder of magic.

    To judge whether an answer is legally permitted or not, a person must have some capacity for abstract or mathematical reasoning. Without this one is forced to rely upon personal familiarity. Example: “I’ve never heard of a car that doesn’t need gas or batteries, so I don’t think there is such a thing” verses “To get energy out of a car you have to put energy in.”

    A good general science education helps. Even when people forget much of what they learned, they often retain a sense of the pertinent limits or principles, and they can refresh what they once understood if motivated.

    Thinking is an active skill. Good thinkers solve problems all the time, every day. Like music, thinking ability rests upon practice, practice, practice.

    In sum, the magic-blind lack either:
    - the capacity for abstract thought
    - an education in the laws of nature or
    - frequent practice with real-world problem solving.

    But even with the above a mind can still fill with wool. Tempting voices whisper against the rules. “NOMA,” they say… “Spirit,” they say. “Death isn’t what it seems,” they say. “You’re special,” they say.

    As humans, everything we see, hear, and remember, passes through the filter of what we feel we need. We can’t escape these feelings anymore than we can escape our bodies. Science is like a respite from the prison cell for a brief walk around an excercise yard. The larger perspective is precious, but it’s no escape.

  57. I have a new internet law to propose!!! Based on this quote from a blog-buddy:

    “Perhaps their homeopathic philosophy suggests to them that any arguments are made more potent if they are greatly diluted with tens of thousands of meaningless words.”

    –jaycueaitch, Letting Off Steam

    I submit for the readers’ consideration that this is the best technical description of all homeopaths’ internet arguments EVER and should henceforth be known as JQH’s Law! If the argument is so dilute as to contain not a molecule of substantive argument, the homeopath loses over 9000 internets.

  58. DanaUllman says:

    Hey Joe,

    Thanx for being just one more skeptic who shows his/her ill-informed state about homeopathy. You wrote: “That cherry-picked study fails in many ways. Four (of five) components in the product (Grip Heel) are in the 3X to 5X range- meaning that it actually contains ingredients.”

    Actually, a large number of the over-the-counter homeopathic medicines are in “material” doses, under 24X or 12C.

    But, heck, that doesn’t stop skeptics from painting homeopathy with a wide (and sloppy) paintbrush. Your assertions tend to show your ignorance and your sloppy scholarship…and yet, still with the chutzpah to think of yourself as “defenders of science.”

    And even more amazing is some skeptics even think that they are getting the better of homeopathy and me. You are…if winning means having the greatest ignorance and the largest blinders.

  59. Mark Crislip says:

    I intend to open up a homepathic bar.

    The more my martini’s are diluted (and the martini shaker is the perfect vessel for secussion), the stronger the effect of the alcohol.

    My overhead will be minimal since I will only need one bottle of each alcohol.

    My martini’s will be a ‘true hair of the dog that bit you’ if you are hung over after going to an allopathic bar; they will cure the hangover.

    And no DUI’s in my patrons.

    Win win for everyone, and if I can just make them detox…..

  60. Chris says:

    Repeating because I never did see the answer…
    Here is the query from a “BSM” (it is repeated by several others in the comments):

    “GIVE ONE, YOU ONLY NEED ONE, INCONTROVERTIBLE EXAMPLE, WITH REFERENCES, OF HOMEOPATHY CURING A NON-SELF-LIMITING CONDITION.

    Options include, AIDS, metastatic melanoma, rabies, Addison’s disease, Type 1 Diabetes.”

  61. Joe says:

    DanaUllman on 01 Feb 2009 at 4:29 pm wrote “Actually, a large number of the over-the-counter homeopathic medicines are in “material” doses, under 24X or 12C.”

    Don’t change the subject. The problem with your citation is that it was an in vitro study, not a clinical study. The fact that the product contains “material” doses simply explains why it is unsurprising that something was seen in the lab.

    There is no compelling clinical evidence for the efficacy of a homeopathic prep in any non-self-limiting condition, not to mention all the thousands of claims made by homeopaths.

  62. Dr Benway says:

    DanaUllman:

    You wrote: “That cherry-picked study fails in many ways. Four (of five) components in the product (Grip Heel) are in the 3X to 5X range- meaning that it actually contains ingredients.”

    Actually, a large number of the over-the-counter homeopathic medicines are in “material” doses, under 24X or 12C.

    Uh… Okay. But there’s a big difference between 3x-5x and 24x dilution.

  63. Mojo says:

    There is no compelling clinical evidence for the efficacy of a homeopathic prep in any non-self-limiting condition…

    …or in any self-limiting condition.

  64. Joe says:

    Mojo, thanks,

Comments are closed.