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Harvard Medical School: Veritas for Sale (Part III)

In Parts I and II of this series* we saw that from 2000 to 2002, key members of the Harvard Medical School “CAM” program, including the Director, had promoted quackery to the legislature of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. We also saw other explicit or tacit promotions by Harvard institutions and professors, and embarrassing examples of such promotions on InteliHealth, a consumer health website ostensibly committed to “providing credible information from the most trusted sources, including Harvard Medical School….”

Those points were made in an essay that I sent in the spring of 2002 to Daniel Federman, the Senior Dean for Alumni Relations and Clinical Teaching at Harvard Medical School (HMS). I also sent Dr. Federman a treatise on homeopathy, including several examples of credulous Harvard professors and misrepresentations aimed at students, patients, and the public. Much of the content of that treatise has been covered by the series on homeopathy† with which I began my stint here on SBM, so here I’ll post only the parts relevant to promotions by academic physicians, including those at Harvard. There is a bit of redundancy involving InteliHealth, but please bear with me if you’ve made it this far; the discussion will be meatier than the short summary in Part II.

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Modern Academic Promotions of Homeopathy

Dr. Holmes must be rolling in his grave. Homeopathy is now being given credence by mainstream academic ‘CAM’ programs of the best pedigrees, including Harvard’s. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) even takes homeopathy seriously: the former Director, Wayne Jonas, is a practicing homeopath and continues to receive public funding from the NCCAM for homeopathic “research.” At a hearing of Rep. Dan Burton’s House Committee on Governmental Reform in November 2001, Jonas called for homeopathic solutions to bioterrorism threats, praising Jacques Beneviste in his prepared statement. Current Director Stephen Straus cautioned that such remedies should not be substituted for proven measures, even as he bowed to what now seems to be the polite way of discussing quackery:

The prophylactic benefits of exceedingly dilute substances are more in doubt than those of conventional vaccines.”

And, a bit later:

Even though there is some doubt that these products could be effective, we cannot prove the claims to be entirely specious….Exploration of such approaches should first involve careful studies in animals using contemporary methodologies to discern whether they hold any promise against diseases associated with biological weapons.”

Harvard Medical School

Harvard Medical School now presides over several promotions of homeopathy, both as a clinical method and as a subject of uncritical education and research. Descriptions of the practice and its basis are frequently erroneous in Harvard-based literature, as the following examples attest.

From 1997 until March 2002 InteliHealth, a joint effort of HMS and Aetna to provide web-based health information, had this to say about homeopathy:

One of the basic principles of homeopathy is that when a substance in large doses causes certain symptoms, in small doses it can help heal a person suffering from an illness that has those same symptoms. Some treatments in conventional medicine rely on this like-cures-like principle: vaccines, for instance, introduce small doses of an illness-causing agent to cure or prevent disease.

Conditions that respond well to homeopathic treatment include arthritis, migraines, asthma, eczema, attention-deficit disorder, depression, anxiety, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, chronic-fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, back pain, gastritis, peptic-ulcer disease, ear infections, and strep infections.

To receive an information package and a directory that lists trained homeopaths in your area, send $10 to the National Center for Homeopathy, 801 North Fairfax Street, Suite 306, Alexandria, VA 22314, or use the center’s free searchable directory online at www.homeopathic.org. Contact the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians at 206-298-0125 to find a qualified naturopath in your area.

The vaccine analogy is, of course, erroneous. Vaccines do not “introduce small doses of an illness-causing agent,” since what they actually introduce are non-virulent, attenuated, or non-viable variants of such agents. Furthermore, the dose of the agent in a vaccine is substantial and determined by rational dose-response curves. The dose of the purported active agent in a homeopathic preparation is miniscule or nonexistent, and determined by homeopathic “provings,” which are invalid as a basis for therapeutic decisions.

There is no evidence for any of the therapeutic claims made in the second quoted paragraph. The “supportive research” section of the article may look impressive to the naïve reader. In fact, some of the references support the non-efficacy of homeopathy and the others are hopelessly flawed.

The third quoted paragraph consists of two advertisements.

Homeopathy, “Integrative Medicine,” and Ethics

The new InteliHealth homeopathy article is more circumspect, but still misleading. It is a good example of what now passes for a “balanced” treatment of the subject:

While homeopathy is relatively safe, it should be a complement to, not a substitute for, standard medical care.

This is a well meaning but naïve attempt, by advocates of “integrative medicine,” to coax pseudoscientific methods into the fold of rational practice. An example of the futility of this approach has already been offered above, in the case of licensed homeopaths advising parents against having their children immunized. It turns out that “standard medical care” is specifically proscribed by the most influential of all homeopathic treatises, Hahnemann’s Organon of Medicine:

§ 52 Sixth Edition

There are but two principle methods of cure: the one based only on accurate observation of nature, on careful experimentation and pure experience, the homœopathic (before we never designedly used) and a second which does not do this, the heteropathic or allopathic. Each opposes the other, and only he who does not know either can hold the delusion that they can ever approach each other or even become united, or to make himself so ridiculous as to practice at one time homœopathically at another allopathically, according to the pleasure of the patient; a practice which may be called criminal treason against divine homœopathy.

So much for homeopathy and “integrative medicine.” There is plenty of evidence that Hahnemann’s stern admonition is taken seriously by contemporary homeopaths (available upon request). Even if some disagree with his stance, it does not follow that homeopathy is thus rendered an acceptable practice. To paraphrase physicist John Farley, homeopathy is no more “complementary” to rational medicine than is alchemy to chemistry, astrology to astronomy, or creationism to evolution. It is theoretically true that if all practitioners of homeopathy also practiced, or referred patients for, rational medicine, and if no patients were seduced into substituting homeopathic preparations for rational treatment, there would be no medical disasters referable to homeopathy per se. After all, homeopathic “remedies,” at least those that are unadulterated, are inert. In reality, such contingencies can never be assured: on the contrary, they are undermined by endorsements, however well intended, from bastions of modern medicine and science.

Here is an example. The aforementioned Dana Ullman is among the most well known homeopaths in the United States today, and certainly one of the most influential in “Integrative Medicine” circles. His several popular books and his website, Homeopathic Educational Services, are recommended by many academic CAM programs, including the Rosenthal Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at Columbia University and the Zakim Center for Integrated Therapies at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. One of his books was recommended in the first Intelihealth article reviewed above. On his website, Ullman identifies himself as “an instructor in a course on homeopathy at the University of California at San Francisco” and states that he “serves on advisory boards of alternative medicine institutes at Harvard and Columbia schools of medicine.” Ullman is listed as a member of the advisory board of Integrative Medicine: the Worldwide Authority on Integrated Care, a position he shares with four representatives of the Harvard Medical School CAM project along with representatives of the medical schools of Johns Hopkins, George Washington University, SUNY Stony Brook, and the Universities of Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Maryland, and Minnesota. If the “integrative medicine” movement has embraced any homeopath, it has embraced Dana Ullman.

Yet it is difficult to imagine that his medical school patrons have read Mr. Ullman’s writings, even as they recommend them to the public. If they had, they would know that Ullman issues dire warnings to parents about “dangerous conventional medicines” and that for strep throat, for example, “you should start with homeopathic treatment” and “it is reasonable to forego antibiotics even for children since rheumatic fever is so rare today.” They might also have noticed an article in last October’s Utne Reader, for which Ullman lists himself as the “health book reviewer,” in which he recommended homeopathic “nosodes” for the prevention of anthrax (Ullman also offers an Anthrax Nosode and Accompanied Remedies Kit, for $33, on his website). Are these recommendations indicative of the benefits of “integrative medicine?” One can only hope that Harvard and the other medical schools that endorse Ullman do so out of ignorance, because the alternative explanation is even more troubling.

Another argument frequently given for the acceptance of homeopathy is the popular demand for a practice that is not intrinsically unsafe, wholly apart from its capacity to divert patients from rational medicine. If for whatever reason it makes some people feel better, the argument goes, why not welcome it? There are several answers to this. The first is that this essay addresses the appropriate role of trusted societal institutions such as medical schools and government, not the choices of a free citizenry. These institutions should be providing education, and doing so with the utmost integrity. At least some of the current demand is due to the very sorts of misleading promotions described here. The second answer is that those who seek homeopathy will always be able to find it, as they have in the past. In the U.S. it has been a tiny, fringe practice for almost 100 years, and it would behoove the public health for it to remain as such. The recent bandwagon-style
promotion of this and other CAM methods, to a large extent fueled by the misleading hyping of Dr. Eisenberg’s telephone surveys, has only served to move homeopathy closer to the popular mainstream—even as the evidence for it remains nonexistent.

Homeopathy was quackery in 1980 and nothing, other than “spin,” has changed. In any case, its capacity to appear to make some patients feel better cannot be divorced from its capacity to divert them from effective therapies. How many children reporting that their sore throats feel better after swallowing homeopathic belladonna or arsenicum, for example, would it take to justify each excess case of rheumatic heart disease?

Mainstream endorsements of irrational claims are also damaging in other ways: they are confusing to a scientifically challenged public, they waste research dollars, they help line the pockets of quacks, and they are embarrassing to the work of the great majority of physicians and medical scientists and to the reputations of the medical schools that feature “CAM” programs. Finally, if practicing homeopathy to the exclusion of rational medicine is unethical, it does not follow that “integrating” it with rational practice would make it any less so, even if it were to become technically safer. A lie is still a lie.

More Harvard Homeopathy Hype

Back to the new Intelihealth article:

It is also a highly controversial form of medicine because it lacks a scientific explanation for why its treatments might work.

Well, not exactly. Rational medical doctors know that it is a classic example of a popular delusion, and that there are perfectly good explanations for why its treatments might, at times, appear to work.

Homeopathic remedies consist of highly diluted preparations of natural ingredients. The ingredient may be diluted 30 to 50 times, sometimes to the point where no molecules of active ingredient remain.

The ingredients are actually diluted far more than 30-50 times, as correctly suggested by the second part of the sentence. Typical dilutions are 10^12-10^60 fold. There is no rational, repeatable basis for determining what might be the “correct” dilution for a given “remedy.”

But an analysis of 89 clinical trials published in a major medical journal, The Lancet, in 1997 found that the clinical effects of homeopathy are not entirely due to placebo effect.

A 1991 analysis of 105 clinical trials published in the British Medical Journal found that 81 of the studies showed positive clinical results while 24 found no positive effect from homeopathic treatment. The researchers concluded that the evidence was positive but insufficient to draw any conclusion regarding the efficacy of homeopathic treatment, and they recommended that additional well-designed studies be undertaken.

These are the kinds of equivocal reviews invariably cited by proponents of homeopathy and of further homeopathy research. Not stated in the InteliHealth article is that all such reviews find that the studies showing “positive effect” tend to be among the most methodologically flawed, whereas the better studies are more likely to show no effect. For this and other reasons such reviews actually support the non-efficacy of homeopathy, and further homeopathy research can be predicted to yield an endless cycle of equivocal results. In the meantime, the conclusions cited in the passages above—that there is some “positive” evidence and that homeopathy therefore needs further research—merely serve to give the practice an unearned appearance of legitimacy. Hence this sort of article—typical among modern, medical school based “CAM” treatises—is not really “balanced,” but implicitly promotional.

The Family Education and Resource Program of Children’s Hospital promotes homeopathy in a brochure aimed at patients and parents. Highlights of the brochure include a misleading definition of “alternative treatment” (“a kind of treatment you don’t usually receive at a regular doctor’s office or clinic”); a sub-heading (“How does homeopathy work?”) that presumes homeopathy to be effective; a misleading suggestion that homeopaths are astute clinicians (“Homeopathic practitioners wish to understand their patients well. Homeopathic remedies are very specific to the patient’s particular symptoms, daily routines and personality”) that is actually an allusion to the nosy, largely irrelevant “symptom” gathering previously described; and spurious suggestions of efficacy: “homeopathy may be helpful for people suffering from allergies, bruises and sprains and for children with diarrhea.” The brochure invites its readers to call the Center for Holistic Pediatric Education and Research at Children’s Hospital, whose national advisory board includes the president of the American Institute of Homeopathy, for “a list of pediatric homeopaths in the Boston area.”

The “information resources for consumers” webpage of the Caregroup/Harvard Medical School Center for Alternative Medicine Research and Education (CAMRE) promotes homeopathy indirectly by the following advice:

Please consult your local telephone yellow pages under these categories:

Acupuncture
Chiropractic
Holistic Practitioners
Massage – Therapeutic
Naturopathic Physicians

Homeopathy is an integral part of the practice of “naturopathic physicians,” as documented elsewhere in these materials, and is also frequently offered by others on the list.

Homeopathy Research and Education at Harvard

Modern homeopathy research is taken seriously at Harvard but, like the endorsement of Dana Ullman, it is shrouded in a veil of ignorance. After Drs. Reilly and Eisenberg had chastised the conventional straw-man at the 2001 Harvard CIM conference, Reilly likened the concept of ultra-dilute homeopathic preparations to examples of small quantities of substances known to exert a biological effect: pheromones, vitamins, and pollen desensitization regimens. These analogies are false, but Reilly was not challenged. In his own syllabus Dr. Eisenberg listed three homeopathy articles under the heading, “Articles/Consensus Reports Suggesting Efficacy,” but none under the heading, “Articles/Studies Suggesting Lack of Efficacy.” Of the three listed articles, two actually support the lack of homeopathic efficacy, and the third is misleading and uninterpretable.

The Faculty Development and Fellowship Program in Complementary and Alternative Medicine at Harvard Medical School lists a homeopath among its faculty members. Here is a quotation attributed to this homeopath:

Quoting from Edward H. Chapman, M.D., Dht, President of the American Institute of Homeopathy, and Clinical Instructor at the Harvard University School of Medicine: “For those who need support in their struggle with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder … they can be assured from two hundred years experience using homeopathic medicines that they are safe. Your conventional doctor may be skeptical if you choose to use homeopathy. Don’t let that stop you. Seek assistance from well-trained homeopathic providers who are willing to work with you and your doctors.”

Is Harvard Medical School developing more faculty members with views such as this? Are fellows, in addition to patients, now being encouraged to think that homeopathy is a valid clinical practice or, at the very least, worthy of research? The Course Description for “Complementary, Alternative, Integrative Medicine” at HMS, which includes homeopathy on its list of covered topics, is hardly reassuring. It defines “CAM” as “refer[ring] to medical techniques not in conformity with the beliefs or standards of the conventional medical community…,” as if to suggest that knowledge has nothing to do with it. What distinguish modern medicine from homeopathy and most CAM claims are not “conventional beliefs” or even standards, but reason and facts. Isn’t this what should be stressed to medical students, fellows, and patients?

An Example of Homeopathy Research and More Ethical Mischief

Harvard’s Dr. Chapman also “uses homeopathy as the primary treatment for AOM” (acute otitis media) in children, according to a recent paper authored by himself and Dr. Eisenberg, among others. This paper is a useful example of modern “homeopathy research” in Boston and another illustration of the mischief that can result from misleading promotions of “CAM” popularity. It is a “pilot study” of homeopathic treatments of AOM in children. The authors justify this by stating that “homeopathy is a frequently used alternative therapy for AOM,” citing Dr. Eisenberg’s first telephone survey as evidence. That survey, however, involved only adults and reported that 1% of the 1539 adults queried, or about 15, had used homeopathy for any reason in the past 12 months; of these about 1/3, or a total of five, had seen a “provider.” The survey mentioned neither AOM nor any other disease in relation to homeopathy.

The homeopathy paper refers to the “principle of similars” as an “observation,” and states as fact the very claim that would seem to be at issue:

Choosing the appropriate medication for an individual patient is time-consuming and challenging, and it depends on the skill and experience of the homeopathic practitioner.”

As discussed earlier, homeopathic “symptom” gathering and “provings” are not valid clinical tools. Most troubling of all, 22 out of the 24 children in the study received nothing but homeopathic “remedies” for a disease that calls for antibiotics† (the other two received antibiotics only after 13 and 28 days, respectively). This appears to be a violation of the Declaration of Helsinki of the World Health Organization, which states, in part:

In any medical study, every patient — including those of a control group, if any — should be assured of the best proven diagnostic and therapeutic method.”

Nevertheless, the study was “approved by the Human Studies Committee at Boston Medical Center.” It would seem that “CAM” has spawned a new era in medical ethics together with its redefining of medical science.

Dr. Eisenberg, who has promised that the HMS “CAM” project will be guided by scientific integrity, seems to use science selectively when considering homeopathy. In testimony to the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy (WHCCAMP) in May 2001, he said:

I have given in your handout examples of I think the best examples we have to date, most of them from the last five years, where the evidence suggests that there is some efficacy of CAM therapies for particular conditions…Two studies, meta-analyses suggesting homeopathy as distinct from placebo… You are aware of these. These are sort of the examples of good research suggesting positive effectiveness.

Well, no. These are examples of research that is poor but nevertheless good enough, in the face of a vanishingly unlikely 200 year-old claim, to put the matter to rest once and for all. At the 2001 Harvard CIM conference Dr. Eisenberg, (mis-)quoting Carl Sagan, had declared that “exceptional claims require exceptional evidence.” Here, he seemed to have forgotten that truth.

Later in his WHCCAMP testimony Dr. Eisenberg offered a curious view of science, as it pertains to homeopathy, in responding to a question from homeopath and former NCCAM Director Jonas:

Wayne, I completely agree and I put up this slide to really humbly reflect on how the trajectory has gotten rather cockeyed, that in the absence of a robust basic science program, certainly the scientists in the medical community will continue to be irritated… So, I am agreeing with you.

I would say it a little differently, though. I think my suggestion in a positive, in a way to give a friendly amendment to what has happened, I think it has happened because it has happened. I mean, you know, if the first study was a basic science study of the mechanism of homeopathy, we would have a very different trajectory, but that didn’t happen.

Except that basic science did happen, as irritated scientists know. They might remind Dr. Eisenberg that there is an abundance of basic science pertaining to the “mechanism” of homeopathy: physics (the second law of the universe and no basis for “water memory”); chemistry (molecular theory and Avogadro’s number); biochemistry, physiology and pharmacology (pharmacokinetics, dose-response curves, the law of mass action, molecular receptors); pathology and pathophysiology (the natural history of disease and the classification of diseases according to real biological phenomena, as opposed to treatments based on irreproducible, subjective interpretations of “symptoms”).

A scientific study of the “mechanism” of homeopathy must also consider psychology and experimental design and interpretation for an appreciation of bias, cueing, selective attention, practitioner expectation, patient expectation, confirmation bias, the “Stockholm effect,” cultural predilections, the placebo effect, inadequate controls, error, fraud, chance, statistical pitfalls, publication bias, and more. These are the myriad reasons, i.e., “mechanisms,” by which any dogmatic therapeutic claim with little or no basis in nature can be expected, when subjected to clinical trials, to yield equivocal—as opposed to consistently negative—results.

As for the naïve assertion that even wholly negative results would dissuade true believers of homeopathy or any other magical healing “system,” which is the standard highbrow justification for the existence of the NCCAM, the HMS CAM project, and for the collective acquiescence of all who should know better, the last word must go to the good Dr. Holmes:

… it is impossible not to realize the entire futility of attempting to silence this asserted science by the flattest and most peremptory results of experiment. Were all the hospital physicians of Europe and America to devote themselves, for the requisite period, to this sole pursuit, and were their results to be unanimous as to the total worthlessness of the whole system in practice, this slippery delusion would slide through their fingers without the slightest discomposure, when, as they supposed, they had crushed every joint in its tortuous and trailing body.

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† American Academy of Pediatrics. Judicious Use of Antimicrobial Agents. In Redbook 2000: Report of the Committee on Infectious Diseases, 25th edition. pp. 647-648. I am aware that subsequent to that time, new guidelines provide for a period of observation without antibiotics in some cases of acute otitis media. These were not in place at the time of the homeopathy trial, nor would they have applied to most of the experimental subjects in that trial. The children in the homeopathy trial, moreover, were also not given analgesics and antipyretics.

Next: A summary, and Hints that the Fix was In.

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*The Harvard Medical School series:

  1. Dummy Medicine, Dummy Doctors, and a Dummy Degree, Part 2.3: Harvard Medical School and the Curious Case of Ted Kaptchuk, OMD (concluded)

 

 

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The Homeopathy Series:

  1. Homeopathy and Evidence-Based Medicine: Back to the Future – Part I
  2. Homeopathy and Evidence-Based Medicine: Back to the Future – Part II
  3. Homeopathy and Evidence-Based Medicine: Back to the Future–Part III
  4. Homeopathy and Evidence-Based Medicine: Back to the Future Part IV
  5. Homeopathy and Evidence-Based Medicine: Back to the Future Part V
  6. Harvard Medical School: Veritas for Sale (Part III)
  7. The Dull-Man Law
  8. Smallpox and Pseudomedicine

Posted in: Health Fraud, Medical Academia, Medical Ethics, Science and Medicine, Science and the Media

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45 thoughts on “Harvard Medical School: Veritas for Sale (Part III)

  1. Canucklehead says:

    Interesting series of posts, makes you wonder how many heads this particular monster has.

  2. DanaUllman says:

    Kimball Atwood is obviously trying to throw mud at Harvard and at homeopathy, but when you throw mud, you get dirty…

    One cannot help but notice how little research is referenced. Instead, Atwood made snide remarks without much substance. He plays a guilt by association game, and if he cannot get enough mud from peer-review academic journals, he explores the public press and doesn’t seem to do any fact-checking (one would hope that someone who calls for “veritas” who seek it).

    He criticizes Wayne Jonas, MD, the former director of NIH’s Office of Alternative Medicine for being a practicing homeopath, though he seems unfamiliar with Dr. Jonas’ research and his list of publications.

    – K. Linde, N. Clausius, G. Ramirez, Jonas, WB, et al., “Are the Clinical Effects of Homoeopathy Placebo Effects? A Meta-analysis of Placebo-Controlled Trials,” Lancet, September 20, 1997, 350:834-843. Even critics have called this meta-analysis “completely state of the art.” It reviews 186 studies, 89 of which fit pre-defined criteria for its meta-analysis. Homeopathic medicines had a 2.45 times greater effect than placebo. Even a leading skeptic who wrote an editorial in this issue of the Lancet referred to this meta-analysis as “completely state of the art.” No other meta-analysis on homeopathy has been acclaimed by both sides of the fence.

    – WB Jonas, TJ Kaptchuk, K Linde, A Critical Overview of Homeopathy, Annals in Internal Medicine, March 4, 2003:138:393-399.

    – Jennifer Jacobs, WB Jonas, M Jiménez-Pérez, Dean Crothers, Homeopathy For Childhood Diarrhea: Combined Results And Meta-Analysis From Three Randomized-Controlled Clinical Trials. Pediatrics Infectious Disease Journal. . 2003;22:229-234. Three double-blinded clinical trials of diarrhea in 242 children ages 6 months to 5 years were analyzed as one group. Combined analysis shows a duration of diarrhea of 3.3 days in the homeopathy group compared with 4.1 in the placebo group (p=0.008). The meta-analysis shows a consistent effect-size difference of approximately 0.66 days. (p=0.008).

    Atwood considers any comparison between homeopathy and vaccination to be inappropriate. And yet, it was none other than Emil Adolf von Behring (1854–1917) who was one of the early scientists to make this assertion. Von Behring won the first Nobel Prize in medicine for his discovery of the diphtheria antitoxin.

    In 1892 Behring actually experimented with serial (homeopathic) dilutions and found paradoxically enhanced immunogenic activity, but he was advised to suppress this experiment due to the aid and comfort it would provide to homeopaths. Only after he won the Nobel Prize did he feel comfortable in making public these experiments (Behring, 1905; Coulter, 1994, 97).

    Behring broke from orthodox medical tradition by recognizing the value of the homeopathic law of similars:

    “In spite of all scientific speculations and experiments regarding smallpox vaccination, Jenner’s discovery remained an erratic blocking medicine, till the biochemically thinking Pasteur, devoid of all medical classroom knowledge, traced the origin of this therapeutic block to a principle which cannot better be characterized than by Hahnemann’s word: homeopathic. Indeed, what else causes the epidemiological immunity in sheep, vaccinated against anthrax than the influence previously exerted by a virus, similar in character to that of the fatal anthrax virus? And by what technical term could we more appropriately speak of this influence, exerted by a similar virus than by Hahnemann’s word “homeopathy”? I am touching here upon a subject anathematized till very recently by medical penalty: but if I am to present these problems in historical illumination, dogmatic imprecations must not deter me.” (Behring, 1905)

    As for Atwood’s words about me, first, thank you for some (not all!) of your kind words, and thanks for your reference to my website (www.homeopathic.com). Even the British Medical Journal (BMJ) named my website their “website of the week” on August 19-26, 2000.

    I was, however, surprised that you chose to make reference to a popular magazine (the Utne Reader) as some type of unimpeachable source. Although I personally like this popular magazine, are you next going to quote the National Enquirer without fact-checking? Ironically, the editor of FASEB also chose to use this same error of fact that was printed in this magazine. It seems as though normally smart people lose all rationality and ethics when they chose to write about homeopathy. When I was granted the right of reply, I chose to reply to sustentative issues on homeopathy rather than specious personal attacks against me. I will simply say that the Utne Reader mis-reported and has appropriately withdrawn that story from their website.

    Also, for the record, I was the health book reviewer about 15 years ago and have not held that position since then. It would be nice if you made a little effort in your own fact-checking.

    I am pleased that you noted that I am a critic of conventional medicine. My concern here is that conventional medicine is inadequately scientific. An Institute of Medicine special report, “Informing the Future: Critical Issues in Health” (published in 2007), noted that 1/3 of Americans today take five or more medications. And yet, even if all of these drugs have been proven “scientifically” to work, each drug was tested individually, not in combination with one or two, let alone five, drugs. When one considers the high number of children and elders who are over-medicated, we are wittingly or unwittingly committed medical child abuse and medical elder abuse…and I hope you join me to expressing real concern for these real problems.

    Atwood also made reference to Edward Chapman, MD, a homeopath who formerly was an instructor at Harvard. It might have been nice for you to have completed a little homework, for you would have discovered a trial that he conducted at a Harvard-affiliated hospital:
    – E. Chapman, R. Weintraub, M. Milburn, et al., “Homeopathic Treatment of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury: A Randomized, Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Trial,” Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation, 14,6, Dec, 1999, 521-542. 60 patients were prescribed an individualized remedy (1 of 18 different ones) at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital (affiliated with Harvard). As compared with placebo, patients given a homeopathic medicine experienced improvement in a subject-rated Function Assessment which was composed of 3 scales: a difficulty with situations scale, a symptom rating scale, and a participation in daily activities scale.

    Atwood made reference to Dr. David Reilly, another homeopath who has lectured at Harvard. Reilly and his colleagues conducted four randomized double-blind placebo controlled trials (two of which were published in the Lancet and one in the BMJ). This trial in the BMJ was a new trial and a meta-analysis of all four trials. Editorials in both the Lancet and BMJ have commended the quality of their work.
    – MA Taylor, D Reilly, RH Llewellyn-Jones, et al., Randomised Controlled Trial of Homoeopathy versus Placebo in Perennial Allergic Rhinitis with Overview of Four Trial Series, BMJ (August 19, 2000)321:471-476. This trial of 51 patients with perennial allergic rhinitis showed a substantially significant difference in the objective measure of nasal airflow in patients given a 30C potency of the specific substance to which they were most allergic, as compared to those patients given a placebo (P=0.0001). There was, however, no statistically significant difference in visual analogue scales. In reviewing the 4 trials with allergy patients (N=253), the researchers found a 28% improvement in visual analogue scores in those given a homeopathic medicine, as compared to a 3% improvement in patients given a placebo (P=.0007).

    Needless to say, those people who are interested in evidence-based medicine are confused that so many normally smart people maintain and even are seemingly proud of having such an unscientific (and embarrassingly uninformed) attitude towards homeopathy.

    For those of you would want to consider taking homeopathy more seriously, I encourage and even challenge you to review the basic science research and the clinical research. At my website, I have written a short list of studies in which to begin your review. It is here:
    – What Skeptics Should Know about Homeopathy: Undeniable Evidence for Homeopathic Medicine: http://www.homeopathic.com/articles/view,132

    Finally, I am forever amazed that Atwood uses O.W. Holmes as his hero. My comments about his unscientific attitude towards homeopathy and his questionable ethics were previously provided in Part II of your recent series on Harvard. Harvard and your readers deserve better.

  3. pmoran says:

    Mr Ullman, all you (still) have is relatively weak, patchy and inconsistent statistical results in certain kinds of scientific study and the ability to ignore the many possible sources of spurious findings that KA mentions.

    Do you not also understand that even taking all your evidence at face value we would scarcely find in it indications of any influence strong and stable enough to form the basis of a dependable and comprehensive therapeutic system — or anything directly demonstrative of any of homeopathy’s purportedly universal principles?

    There is an example of the somewhat erratic results of homeopathy research in one of the metaanalyses you quote, the one where the most recent and presumably most careful study showed that homeopathic remedies had no effect on patient’s allergic rhinitis symptoms beyond placebo (neatly disguised by you as “no statistically significant difference in visual analogue scales”). This contradicted the results of the other three studies included in the review. Why? Yet there were supposedly significant effects on nasal air flow in that study. What can this mean, other than the ease with which such clinical stuides can throw up erroneous but statistically significant results?

    Homeopathy is clearly a placebo. That doesn’t necessarily mean that patients cannot derive benefit from it but it is time, barring startling new evidence, to put any other questions on hold, if not to bed.

  4. Dr Benway says:

    DanaUllman,

    Studies of homeopathy using a p-value of 1/20 are inappropriate. At minimum, a p-value of 1/10000 is necessary. None of the studies cited come close.

  5. Joe says:

    DanaU,

    Any time one sees a report of positive results one must contemplate the possibilities that it is a statistical fluke or that the investigator cheated by using real drugs. http://www.ncahf.org/pp/homeop.html There is an ongoing study of OTC homeopathic preps that finds a lot of them have real drugs in them. An investigator intent on cheating is hard to catch, short of a midnight raid on the dispensary to determine what the subjects are receiving.

  6. Citizen Deux says:

    I find it ironic that Mr. Ullman persistently quotes late 18th century and early 20th century individuals as support for his positions. IN additiona to being nothing more than a ideological zealot, he may be a criminal.

    The purposeful misleading of a patient in the course of medical treatment is considered malpractice in most nations and practicing without a license where the individual is not properly credentialed. It is a sad state of affairs that our nation, and many others, allows politics to trump well founded facts.

    The studies and “evidence” listed by Mr. Ullman has been widely discredited or fails to meet even the most basic requirements of investigative rigor. The infamous 1997 Lancet study, despite the claims of Mr. Ullman was roundly lambasted for methodological flaws and failures. Much like chiropractic’s ridiculous Winsor autopsies, the path to homeopathic belief is littered with seeing things as one wishes to see them.

  7. DanaUllman says:

    Citizen Deux…my comments above cite modern research, and you have cited NONE. You didn’t even cite a single reference to a critique of the 1997 Lancet meta-analysis, but even if you did, I noted that an editorial antagonistic to homeopathy in the SAME issue commended the meta-analysis as “completely state of the art.”

    As for Joe’s reference to homeopathic medicines having “real drugs” in them. Please cite a respectable reference rather than the NCAHF hacks (get real!).

    I love the way you folks play this game. You cite antecdotes, while I cite research.

    Will someone also comment on the IOM survey that showed that one in three Americans is on FIVE or more drugs. Because this is such a common practice, please cite evidence on the safety and efficacy of this practice. When you consider that American mortality rates are on line with Albania, I think that there is not much else to say.

    You folks here have your binoculars on backwards…

  8. Citizen Deux says:

    Mr. Ullman, I do not cite any research or trials as I do not have to. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Thanks to one aspect of government legislation, anyone can now troll endlessly through the NIH database of research and discover what most medical practitioners, scientists and rational people have know for some time.

    Homeopathy is no more effective than placebo. There is no mechanism of action in homeopathic solutions nor is there any basis in science for any efficacy whatsoever. Dr. David Ramey, DVM, has provided a nice and succinct review of the meta-analyses for the layman

    Homeopathy

    Furthermore, the noted CAM researcher and scientist, Edzard Ernst, reports that analysis of homeopathy provides the following;

    1) homeopathy is biologically implausible
    2) its own predictions seem to be incorrect
    3) the clinical evidence is largely negative

    Ernst notes quite clearly that any efficacy is not attributable to the administration of the dilution, but the patient and practitioner relationship. If nothing else, our modern flirtation with homeopathy should be pointing practioners towards higher standards of care and connection with patients!

    Truth About Homeopathy

    And be mindful, I do not address this critique to the “non-homeopathic” dilutions at the 2x-3x levels which can be considered pharmacologically active – and have shown effect due to their components, not the implausible “law of similars”.

  9. DanaUllman says:

    One would think (or hope) that the people here would have good probing minds. Instead, I find that too many people here spout out things that others say or write and simply regurgitate them. I encourage people to continue to read what your fellow skeptics say, but also, consider reading and evaluating the research yourself because you will often find that your colleagues are not always accurate.

    Ramey’s “review” of homeopathic meta-analyses is full of misinformation and simply out of date information. For example, in reference to the 1997 meta-analysis by Linde, et al., he correctly quotes the authors: “The results of our meta-analysis are not compatible with the hypothesis that the clinical effects of homeopathy are completely due to placebo. However, we found insufficient evidence from these studies that homeopathy is clearly efficacious for any single clinical condition.” They further stated: “Our study has no major implications for clinical practice because we found little evidence of effectiveness of any single homeopathic approach on any single clinical condition.”

    First, please note that these researchers concluded that the results of their meta-analysis is that homeopathic medicines are NOT compatible with simply placebo effects. Second, although Linde, et al acknowledged that they found little evidence of any single homeopathic approach for any single condition, it is imperative to know that they defined “proven efficacy” if there were three or more independent studies showing positive results.

    Because this Lancet article was published in 1997, in 1998 was the third large study on Oscillococcinum 200C. Although the clinical result was relatively small, the result was distinguishable from placebo.

    Further, in 2003, a third trial was conducted on childhood diarrhea, each with statistically significant results.

    Ramey also quoted a previous Linde and Jonas meta-analysis (1994) on experimental toxicology. Ramey correctly quoted the authors: “As with clinical studies, the overall quality of toxicology research using SAD (serially agitated dilutions) preparations is low. The majority of studies either could not be reevaluated by the reviewers or were of such low quality that their likelihood of validity is doubtful. The number of methodologically sound, independently reproduced studies is too small to make any definitive conclusions regarding the effect of SAD preparations in toxicology.”

    However, what these authors wrote is true of almost ALL areas of research: the majority of studies (clinical and basic science investigations) are not of “high quality.” Although the author correctly noted in 1994 (!) that one cannot make “definitive conclusions” regarding homeopathic medicines, they did note that when reviewing only the higher caliber studies, they found that animals given a homeopathic medicine excreted approximately 20% more of the toxic substance through their stools, urine, and sweat, when compared with animals given a placebo. The researchers also found that the best studies tended to test homeopathic medicines that were the most dilute.
    The problem with Ramey and with all of the other skeptics’ literature on homeopathy is that they cherry-pick whatever negative comments they can and ignore any potentially positive ones.

    Since this time, there is a considerably larger body of evidence on the effects of homeopathy and experimental toxicology. Do a google or a medline search of “homeopathic arsenic,” and you’ll under a lot more research worthy of your attention.
    Jonas and his colleagues have published several studies on experimental toxicology:

    – W Jonas, Y Lin, F Tortella, Neuroprotection from glutamate toxicity with ultra-low dose glutamate. NeuroReport 2001 Feb 12;12(2):335-9. The protective effects of ultra-low doses (ULD) of glutamate against glutamate toxicity was studied in primary rat spinal, cortical and cerebellar neurons. Neurons were exposed to four subtoxic, ultra-low concentrations of glutamate (10(-18) M, 10(-20)M, 10(-22) M and 10(-30) M) for 72 h and then subsequently challenged with toxic concentrations (25 microM) of glutamate. Neuron viability was consistently 10% higher in spinal and cortical neurons pre-exposed to glutamate concentrations of 10(-18) M and 10(-22) M, and in cerebellar neurons pre-exposed to 10(-20) M and 10(-30) M. Using laser scanning confocal microscopy and the fluorescent calcium probe fluo-3, we found no alterations in intracellular calcium dynamics in the protected cells. This protective effect is consistent with a growing body of evidence for tolerance induced by low-dose toxin exposure but is the first time that such tolerance has been demonstrated with ultra-low glutamate exposure. This data shows that pre-exposure of neuronal cells to ULD glutamate can protect against subsequent exposure to toxic levels of glutamate.

    – W Jonas, Y. Lin, A. Williams, et al., “Treatment of Experimental Stroke with Low-dose Glutamate and Homeopathic Arnica montana, Perfusion, November, 1999, 12,11:452-456,460-462. This study evaluated Arnica’s ability to reduce long-term damage and mortality from brain injury in rats who were experimentally induced into a stroke. After seven days, Arnica 200C reduced by 50% (!) the long-term damage (infarct volume) and mortality (40% died, vs. 66% in the control group) from brain injury but may exacerbate the immediate effects of the stroke, though this was not statistically significant.

    Finally, Citizen Deux acknowledges that his critique of homeopathy does not include 2X or 3X. Good for him…but if and when you explore the literature on hormesis (small dose effects and the bi-phasic response patterns), you will be amazed, even truly amazed, at the power of extremely small doses, even 9X through 18X.

    For the serious history of science buffs here, I’m sure that you’re familiar with Darwin’s experiments of ultralow doses on his Drosera (sundew) plants. Fascinating stuff…

    Soon, you’ll discover that being “against” homeopathy is as stupid as being against antibiotics. Blanket statements are for the dim-minded…

    I sincerely hope that Ramey and others would maintain a higher standard of scholarship that you commonly demand of others.

  10. Dr Benway says:

    DanaUllman,

    Homeopathy is water.

  11. wertys says:

    What fascinates me is that phrenology died out, mesmerism died out, a million other quackeries died out but chiropractic and homeopathy survived. A serious history of science buff would know that the history of science is full of people who go on believing in stuff long after it is discredited. These people are sometimes unkindly called cranks, but they use a combination of willful ignorance, anomaly hunting and pure old-fashioned sales techniques to convince enough unwary folks to buy into their fantasy.

    You would think that having a basic premise which is incompossible with the rest of what is known about the way the universe works would discourage people. This is what truly amazes me about the hypnotic power of 9x through 18x.

    A couple of lame-o positive results vs a mountain of negative evidence tells this rather dim mind that if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and emits subharmonic resonant quantum frequencies like a duck…..

  12. pmoran says:

    Dana, you are apparently on the lookout for reproducible biological effects of homeopathic preparations, although it is not clear how that would fit in with classical homeopathic theory and I am sure you would be quick to point that out if the results were negative (as I am sure they are in innumerable tests that don’t happen to get published).

    Let’s test out this hypothesis of mine. Why the hell won’t dilution and succussion ever enhance the biological effects of my coffee i.e. taste, smell, mental stimulation, diuresis, tachycardia? Why do I keep on having to buy the stuff?

    Seriously, you really do need observations that more directly and unequivocally demonstrate the various biological and physical *principles* that homeopathy claims to be based upon. Until you do, the patchy, inconsistent and generally weak statistical effects you refer to will be regarded as demonstrations of the vulnerability of biological and even some non-biological systems to artifact, contaminants and observer bias.

  13. Joe says:

    wertys on 07 Apr 2009 at 6:09 pm “What fascinates me is that phrenology died out, mesmerism died out, a million other quackeries died out but chiropractic and homeopathy survived.”

    As I recall, Peter Lipson (on another blog) asked if any old quackery had died, and nobody could think of one. Each suggestion was met with “They still do that [someplace].” I have only a vague notion of Mesmerism; it seems to me it exists in the guise of “energy medicine” today. You may be right about phrenology, I just never thought of it as CAM.

  14. DanaUllman says:

    Pmoran…you do not seem to have a CLUE about what homeopathy is or isn’t. Not even a clue…

    And did Mesmerism really die out? Hmmm…has anyone hear ever heard of hypnosis? Eeeeks…you folks are in your own personal worlds…

  15. Dr Benway says:

    I had a glass of homeopathy earlier. Washed a few dishes in some homeopathy. Refreshed the cat’s bowl of homeopathy.

    So I think I know what homeopathy is, thankyouverymuch.

  16. pmoran says:

    “Pmoran…you do not seem to have a CLUE about what homeopathy is or isn’t. Not even a clue…?”

    I know enough, apparently, that you don’t care to take me on in relation to any of the points that I raise.

  17. DevoutCatalyst says:

    “I had a glass of homeopathy earlier. Washed a few dishes in some homeopathy. Refreshed the cat’s bowl of homeopathy….”

    Yeah, but did you succuss much, Gus? If not, you’re a charlatan. Out !

  18. neurondoc says:

    To go off on a complete tangent, but related to the post:

    I graduated from Hahnemann University School of Medicine more than 15 years ago. Hahnemann had its roots in homeopathic medicine, but those teachings were long gone by the time I entered. We used to (tongue-in-cheek) call ourselves “the other H medical school”, referring to Harvard. I didn’t realize that Hahnemann and Harvard would have so much in common some day…

  19. Dr Benway says:

    I see your tongue in your cheek, DevoutCatalyst. I know you know succussing is TOTAL BULLSHIT.

    Srsly, science no can haz teh bullshit.

    Though it gives no pleasure, we are morally obligated to throw tomatoes at DanaUllman if he implies otherwise.

    One exception: if he’s here to share the results of a blinded experiment comparing succussed water to non-succussed water demonstrating that a measurable difference exists, significant beyond a p-value of 1/10000.

  20. Versus says:

    Mr. Ullman:
    I am not a scientist, so I will leave the arguments about what the studies do or don’t say to others. Homeopathy’s biggest failure, it seems to me, is in the court of public opinion. Very few people use it, as even Eisenberg’s surveys show. If it is all that homeopaths claim it is, then why aren’t Americans knocking down the doors of homeopaths and health food stores to buy its
    “remedies?” I think there are two reasons. One, those who have tried it conclude that it does not work. Two, even the scientifically unsophisticated find that it sounds, well, nutty. In my fifty-plus years, I have known only three people who used homeopathy. Two were the most gullible people I’ve ever met: one used irridology and chiropractic (for a non-musculoskeletal problem); the other ordered from the internet pills that claimed to be a reduction of actual fruits and vegetables to give to her children, who wouldn’t eat the real thing. Both of them eventually concluded the homeopathic remedies they were using didn’t work. The third person is still a user — a massage therapists who also offers craniosacral therapy. People who believe nonsense will do so whatever you offer them, be it vegetable pills, irridology or homeopathy. The rest of us can figure it out, even without the studies.

  21. DanaUllman says:

    Benway: Please tell any chemist that stirring NEVER matters and that just dropping a chemical into water has the same effect as stirring it does. Yeah, right. Succussion is critical to the making of homeopathic medicines. Read about the “silica hypothesis” before you embarrass yourself any further.

    Versus: First of all, Eisenberg’s survey dealt with going to go professional homeopaths (you’re right…this is a relatively small #)…but the # of people who USE homeopathic medicines in the U.S. by buying them in health food stores and pharmacies is much much higher.

    Survey research has consistently found that people who tend to use homeopathic medicines are MORE EDUCATED than those who don’t. My book, THE HOMEOPATHIC REVOLUTION, verifies that many of the most respected “cultural heroes” of the past 200 years used and/or advocated for homeopathy, including 11 U.S. Presidents, 7 popes, Charles Darwin, JD Rockefeller, Charles Kettering, and many of the literary greats of the past 200 years.

  22. Citizen Deux says:

    Cultural heroes? The quotations of politicians (even the pope is a politician) is not worth mentioning as an endorsement of homeopathy.

    At its heart, highly dilute remedies are indistinguishable from one another. Homeopathic advocates continually fail to acknowledge the patient / practitioner relationship and its impact on resolution of symptoms.

    Your references to studies of Osc and Ars are interesting, but unreproduced and not demonstrative of any efficacy. Asymptomatic childhood diarhhea is more likely to spontaneously resolve with no treatment and thus studies of efficacy of ANY medication are very difficult to administer or prove. This is due to parental compliance and the nature of the pediatric GI system.

    Detectable amounts of pharmocological materials in a solution is not homeopathy, certianly not by the original definition.

    And by the way, why not address the very recent damning indictments of homeopathy as “non-effective” coming from current journals?

  23. DanaUllman says:

    For those of who think that water is water is water or ice is ice is ice, I suggest that you put down your rotary telephone and your typewriter, and please consider entering the modern age.

    Professor Martin Chaplin’s site on water should have convinced you, but I bet few (if any) of you explored his site.

    Here’s a new finding that is intriguing:
    http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-04/uol-sdp040709.php

  24. Karl Withakay says:

    Dana, thanks for the strawman about ice. (Be careful, strawmen are very flammable and you might melt the ice.)

    I don’t recall anyone here stating that ice is ice, and that only one form of ice crystal is possible.

    Nor does this interesting discovery have any bearing on the validity of homeopathy, the law of similar, succussion, serial dilution, or water memory.

    At best, the discovery illustrates that accepted science can be shown to be wrong, and when shown to be so, it is revised to reflect the new understanding, unlike homeopathy, which close-mindedly persists with the same beliefs in defiance of all high-quality evidence to the contrary.

    The discovery does not fundamentally re-write the books on physics or chemistry like water memory would require, if shown to be true.

    Buy what a clever deconstruction it would have been if we had made any claims about the structure of ice, or it the discovery had been at all relevant to the topic at hand!

    Wo to all them who insisted that the sum total of physics and chemistry would need to be re-written if ice crystals could have another form other than hexagonal! You sure showed them!

  25. weing says:

    Of course water has memory, when it’s frozen, that’s why no two snowflakes are alike.

  26. Dr Benway says:

    DanaUllman,

    Stirring or shaking a solution has meaning. Stirring or shaking liquid water with no solute present has no meaning.

    Homeopathy is water.

    Prove me wrong.

  27. weing says:

    Didn’t Kurt Vonegut write something about ice?

  28. DanaUllman says:

    Benway…you make me laugh. Thanx. If you start with water, you just get water. However, homeopathic drug manufacturers begin with a double-distilled water AND a medicinal substance…which then undergoes vigorous succussion. Professor Martin Chaplin’s site on water has just 2,000 or so references to the mysteries of water, and he has some good references to homeopathy in that.

    The entire field of hormesis has thousands of references from dozens of scientific specialties, all confirming the power of very low dose effects. Heck, follow the research.

    Homeopaths go into even further dilution and succussion than hormesis…but start with hormesis. Then, check out the silica hypothesis…

    The silica hypothesis is quite provocative…

  29. David Gorski says:

    Dana,

    This one’s for you, wherever you are:

    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=452

  30. yeahsurewhatever says:

    Since Mr. Ullman has made himself a target in these comments I can’t help but ask him.

    Wouldn’t the ultimate practical homeopathic panacea be ocean water? Toss some poisons into the Atlantic, go grab a cup of the Pacific, and it’ll cure what ails ya?

    Presumably the “toss some poisons into” part has already been done for everything at least once in history. The oceans are a very popular receptacle for tossed stuff, and they’re all connected.

    We should see coastal communities have much lower rates of sickness than inland communities. Failing to see such a trend refutes homeopathy in a straightforward and undeniable (by the sane) way.

  31. Mojo says:

    DevoutCatalyst wrote:

    Yeah, but did you succuss much, Gus? If not, you’re a charlatan.

    Dana doesn’t seem to think that succussion is necessary either. If he did, he surely wouldn’t keep on referring to Darwin’s experiments with Drosera and non-succussed preparations of ammonium salts as if they had anything to do with homoeopathy (they weren’t so dilute that they wouldn’t have any salt present, by the way).

  32. Mojo says:

    Sorry – messed up the formatting. Only the first line of that was DevoutCatalyist’s.

  33. Dr Benway says:

    DanaUllman:

    If you start with water, you just get water.

    Exactly. At some point in the chain of repeated dilutions, one starts a dilution-succussion iteration with mere water.

  34. Mojo says:

    Dr Benway wrote:

    Studies of homeopathy using a p-value of 1/20 are inappropriate.

    See my comment here.

  35. Mojo says:

    Dana wrote:

    – K. Linde, N. Clausius, G. Ramirez, Jonas, WB, et al., “Are the Clinical Effects of Homoeopathy Placebo Effects? A Meta-analysis of Placebo-Controlled Trials,” Lancet, September 20, 1997, 350:834-843. Even critics have called this meta-analysis “completely state of the art.” It reviews 186 studies, 89 of which fit pre-defined criteria for its meta-analysis. Homeopathic medicines had a 2.45 times greater effect than placebo. Even a leading skeptic who wrote an editorial in this issue of the Lancet referred to this meta-analysis as “completely state of the art.” No other meta-analysis on homeopathy has been acclaimed by both sides of the fence.

    Come on, Dana, we’ve been through this before on this very blog. Remember, when you mischaracterised Linde, Scholz, Ramirez, Clausius, Melchart and Jonas: “Impact of Study Quality on Outcome of Placebo-Controlled Trials of Homeopathy”, J Clin Epidemiol vol 52 No 7, pp 631-636 as having been based on newer research rhather than having been a reanalysis of the same data, and called it a “letter” (complete with scare quotes)?

  36. Mojo says:

    Dana wrote:

    Read about the “silica hypothesis” before you embarrass yourself any further.

    …and:

    Then, check out the silica hypothesis…

    The silica hypothesis is quite provocative…

    I notice that you don’t actually say anything about what the “silica hypothesis” is. Probably quite wise in view of this and the response it got.

  37. Badly Shaved Monkey says:

    “He criticizes Wayne Jonas, MD, the former director of NIH’s Office of Alternative Medicine for being a practicing homeopath, though he seems unfamiliar with Dr. Jonas’ research and his list of publications.”

    Poor, poor Dana. He keeps citing Linde and Jonas’ 1997 meta-analysis and its weak conclusion of slight support for homeopathy. But he obviously is “unfamiliar” with their 1999 reassessment of the same data and revision of even that weak conclusion.

    It is the 1999 paper that found, unsurprisingly, that better studies tend to yield less positive results for homeopathy.

    Well, I say Dana is unfamiliar…I’m not sure how unfamiliar someone can be when they have had the 1999 paper cited to them on multiple occasions over several years.

    I don’t know, what would you call it, Dana, when you continue to trot out Linde’s 1997 paper but the 1999 paper keeps slipping your mind? Is that really unafmiliarity?

    Am I wrong to see a pattern here, Dana, of you cherry-picking only the papers you like even if they have been discredited?

    It’s almost as if you have nothing better to say in support of your claim that sugar pills have magic effects.

    As Mojo has already pointed out, we seem to have been here with you time and time again. Does your resistance to correction on this subject have any connection at all with the fact that you make your living from those who retail sugar pills as medicine?

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