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Homeopathy Ramblings

There needs to be a SCAM index, some quantitative tool, a formula for ranking the SCAMs, so one SCAM could reign supreme, to be definitely declared the the goofiest of all SCAMs. Perhaps (number of adherents)x(number of Pubmed publications)x(age of SCAM) all divided by a plausibility factor.

Homeopathy would win and any SCAM index that did not rank homeopathy at number one would have to put up a very convincing argument indeed that their formula was not somehow fundamentally flawed.1

For first time readers, homeopathy is based on several fictions, totally divorced from reality, made up in the 1800′s.

The first law,2 with less reality than Joe Abercrombie’s, is, “similia similibus curentur,” or “let like be cured by like”. Substances which cause specific symptoms can be used to cure diseases which cause the same symptoms.  If like cures like, I am uncertain what moonlight, one of many fanciful homeopathic nostrums, would cure. Lycanthropy?

Say you have a headache. What causes a headache? Being smacked on the head by a hammer. So in homeopathic thinking, being hit on the head with a hammer would cure your headache.

But you would not want to give known poisons like arsenic or belladonna to people in attempt for like to cure like, unless one would classify death as cure. Even the otherwise chemistry-challenged homeopaths know that would be a bad idea.

So there is the second law, that of infinitesimal dilutions, where the substances are sequentially diluted in either water or alcohol, and the potency increases with each dilution. And dilute it they do.

Take the hammer for the migraine. Take 100th of it. Thump the remainder against a Bible to activate it, the succussion of homeopathy. Then take 100th of that. Thump it against a Bible. Then 100th of that. Thump it against a Bible. And so on. Do that 6, or 15, or 30 or even 200 times. When finished you will have the an extremely small, perhaps nonexistent, but potentized hammer with power exceeding Mjölnir. Use that to hit the skull to relieve the headache.

It doesn’t get goofier than that. Homeopathy is one of those topics which demonstrates that I am not a true skeptic. A true skeptic would say that homeopathy is highly implausible. I tend to say it is wackaloon impossible on basic principles. Zero plausibility would make homeopathy infinite on the SCAM index.

Homeopathy and adverse effects

Given that homeopathy is nothing that does nothing, not only would I expect any homeopathic preparation to have no efficacy but also no toxicity. With the caveat that it is the dose that makes the poison. Any product with less than 12 serial dilutions could have an active ingredient, so depending on what was being diluted a homeopathic nostrum could have effects, both good and bad.

I spend most of professional life in the hospital taking care of very ill people with multiple diseases and interventions. Trying to decide what is an adverse event is not always as straight forward as one would like. It is easier if the intervention is physical: a dropped lung from an acupuncture needle or a stroke after a chiropractic neck whack.

Determining what is an adverse reaction from medications is more difficult. Is it an allergic reaction? A toxic reaction? A drug-drug interaction? An unexpected complication of the medication altering the patient’s physiology in known or unknown ways? Adverse reactions have different mechanisms and it is often not clear-cut what is causing the reaction. If you stop the medication and the adverse reaction fades, it is nice but not diagnostic. It would be optimal to rechallange the patient to prove the adverse effect, but given the potential morbidity it is very rarely done.

Imagine my surprise when I stumbled across “Adverse effects of homeopathy: a systematic review of published case reports and case series.” My first thought was – no way! Nothing can’t cause an adverse reaction and I would be skeptical that a homeopath would recognize, much less report, an adverse reaction.

The article was one of the usual complete evaluations by E. Ernst and colleagues. As always he scoured the published literature, finding the most obscure of articles pertaining to the topic at hand, and summarized them nicely.

The abstract flabbered my gaster:

In total, 38 primary reports met our inclusion criteria. Of those, 30 pertained to direct AEs of homeopathic remedies; and eight were related to AEs caused by the substitution of conventional medicine with homeopathy. The total number of patients who experienced AEs of homeopathy amounted to 1159. Overall, AEs ranged from mild-to-severe and included four fatalities. The most common AEs were allergic reactions and intoxications. Rhus toxidendron was the most frequently implicated homeopathic remedy.

Four fatalities from giving nothing? It turns out that most of the adverse reactions were intoxications or allergic reactions and were not from giving nothing after all:

In 94.7% of cases, the potencies were described as below 12 C, the point beyond which the likelihood of a single molecule being present in the remedy approaches zero. It is plausible that low dilutions of homeopathic preparations cause direct AEs, particularly allergic reactions.

People were being given cesium, bromide, petroleum, mercury (at higher doses found in vaccines) and arsenic and getting toxicities. Patients were being poisoned.

Allergic reactions were most common to Rhus toxicodendron given at dilutions where there was a measurable level of the plant. But what is Rhus toxicodendron? Poison ivy. Really? People taking poison ivy and getting an allergic reaction as a result? Who da thunk it?

I wonder if the patients were told they were being given poison ivy, or just given the Latin name. Latin can obscure so well. Who would take duck heart and liver for influenza? Not me. But Anas Barbariae Hepatis et Cordis Extractum sounds like it could be legit.  Latin is the Confundus Charm of homeopathy.

I have to admit when I think of homeopathy I think of water and sugar pills. I do not think of homeopaths as giving measurable amounts of chemicals and poison ivy to people.

But that gets to one of the issues with many SCAMs: poorly educated practitioners providing useless therapies for processes that do not exist when there are real diseases and toxicities they do not understand. I am surprised they found so few adverse reactions, although I suspect it is less an issue of under-reporting and more likely that most homeopaths would not recognize an adverse event.

The authors do indulge in a little classic understated humor:

Evidence of indirect AEs highlight the need for all homeopaths to be adequately trained such that harm of this nature can be avoided in future.

and

The preference of homeopathy over conventional medicine when dealing with serious, life-threatening conditions may cause serious harm, and this issue relates to the question of practitioner training…Again, we would therefore stress the need for making sure all homeopaths are medically competent.

Then they would be, I don’t know, doctors? If homeopaths were adequately trained they would not be homeopaths, n’est pas? Can’t make a silk purse out of a sows ear.

Quantum homeopathy

35 years ago I graduated University of Oregon (Go Ducks) with a degree in physics. There was a time when I really understood modern physics (quantum mechanics and relativity), at least as it was 35 years ago and at the level of the undergraduate. I do not pretend to be a physicist, or even to play one television, although I like to read on the topics to maintain a general understanding. I may not be able to do the math anymore, but I remember the concepts and their limitations.

It is why I grimace whenever I see a SCAM article that attempts to explain its nonexistent efficacy in terms of quantum mechanics. The homeopaths seem to have a special affinity for this approach, starting with LR Milgrom, whose articles are gibberish to me. Yes, I know. If only I were a box of flashing lights I would be able to comprehend the deeper understanding of quantum homeopathy more fully.

Now there is more quantum understanding of homeopathy, A quantum-like model of homeopathy clinical trials: importance of in situ randomization and unblinding. Sorry. It was gibberish to me, and disappointing gibberish as well. The author states:

In order to make the notions of quantum physics more easily understandable, I will draw a formal comparison between homeopathy trials and single-particle interference in quantum physics.

And here I was so hoping they were going fire a series of homeopaths at a double slit to get the smearing effect of an interference pattern. No such luck. So disappointing.  Somehow, and I am not certain how, the double slit is similar to homeopathic efficacy trials and their failure to demonstrate efficacy in randomized clinical trials (RCT):

I draw an analogy between the one-particle interference experiment and homeopathic trials, which appear to have comparable mathematical structures. Indeed, according to the context of the clinical trial (both observables e labels and pair concordance e measured by patient/practitioner vs. ‘external’ measure of labels), either only concordant pairs (CP) (equivalent to detection in D1) or both CP/ discordant pairs (DP) (i.e., equivalent to random detection by D1 and D2) are obtained (Figure 1 and Table 1). This suggested that a quantum (or more precisely quantum- like) model could be built to describe homeopathy trials, including the ‘paradoxical’ failure of homeopathy blind RCT.

And here I thought the failure of homeopathy to be effective in RCT’s was not paradoxical but was due to the fact homeopathy is based on fantasy and that its minimal (homeopathic?) effects were entirely due to bias.  Homeopathy is the archetypal alternative medical beer goggles; it doesn’t alter the reality of disease, just the perception of it.

Our quantum-like model suggests that the correlations between positive outcomes and homeopathy treatment observed in open-label conditions vanish in conditions comparable to blind RCT.

Ioannidis got it wrong. The reason well-done studies show homeopathy does nothing is not because they minimize the confounding factors of

… study power and bias, the number of other studies on the same question, and, importantly, the ratio of true to no relationships among the relationships probed in each scientific field. In this framework, a research finding is less likely to be true when the studies conducted in a field are smaller; when effect sizes are smaller; when there is a greater number and lesser preselection of tested relationships; where there is greater flexibility in designs, definitions, outcomes, and analytical modes; when there is greater financial and other interest and prejudice; and when more teams are involved in a scientific field in chase of statistical significance.

Homeopathy failure in RCT’s is the result of quantum mechanics, not bias in poorly done studies on a fantastical intervention. The cat isn’t dead after all.

I thought it would be fun to finish this entry by explaining, as a joke, that the mechanism of homeopathy is not in quantum mechanics but is the result of dark energy and dark matter. Someone beat me to it, although not as humor:

What is required is just to understand Homeopathy medicines (alcohol) actually extracts this Dark Energy from substances when prepared and thus it’s energy that is in them and not any electrostatic potential, memory, magnetic field etc in them those have been proposed earlier and even then have not given any plausible explanation to Homeopathy. More so it must be clear from now onwards it is Energy in Homeopathic medicines than anything else.

Maybe that is why beer makes me feel good.  Nothing like getting your Dark Energy extracted.

As I learned the day before this post went up, homeopathy is not quantum in its mechanism, but magnetism.

Or maybe it is dark quantum magnetism.  Three for the price of one. Yeah, that’s the ticket.


  1. Get to work guys and gals. Time’s a wasting.
  2. Law here is like a legal law, like “any written or positive rule or collection of rules prescribed under the authority.” Essentially made up. Not like a law in physics, proven by experiment.

Posted in: Clinical Trials, Homeopathy

Leave a Comment (62) ↓

62 thoughts on “Homeopathy Ramblings

  1. Rob Davison says:

    I followed the link on moonlight and found this howler

    NON-TOXICITY

    Homeopathic remedies do not possess any innate venomousness and, consequently, do not result in any side effect. However, homeopathic medicines do lead to reactions, which may sometimes be severe. In effect, these are just a part of the curative process and not any side effect.

  2. Renate says:

    Ever heard of Ondévit? If it’s possible, it is even weirder than homeopathy. In my hometown there is a center that offers it. Actually it seems to be the world headquarter of the foundation. The basic idea seems to be, that if a mother says something comforting to her child, the pain disappears, so words can cure. (At least this is the explanation that can be read in some paper, that is hanging in the window of said headquarter.)
    http://www.ondevit.com/index.php

    1. Janet Camp says:

      So the mother whose child dies of brain cancer just didn’t utter enough comforting words, eh?

      1. Renate says:

        No, I suppose those words should be brought in the right way. The comforting words, seem to be just an example of the healing power words can have.

        1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          …in any way except actually healing. Making someone feel better about their disease is great, but it’s not really “healing” in any meaningful sense of the word.

          1. Renate says:

            Isn’t this what they call ‘cold comfort’? If a child gets a scratch and his mum gives it a kiss and says some comforting words, the child is comforted and might forget the pain. It isn’t curing in any way, though these Ondévit people seem to think otherwise.

    2. Pareidolius says:

      Stunning. Just stunning. I wonder if they’re making money at this? And why, oh why do I have these pesky ethics keeping me from millions of dollars?

  3. windriven says:

    Hmmm, sort of a medical take on the Drake equation with stupidity substituted for the number of civilizations ;-)

    I would like to suggest an addend in the divisor to avoid division by zero that would make, say, reiki indistinguishable from homeopathy. Homeopathy clearly has more adherents than reiki and should therefore have a larger crislip number. The addend could be almost anything. The number of angels that can dance on the head of a pin or the number of numbskulls who graduate Bastyr each year; anything that prevents a zero divisor.

  4. rork says:

    Doh, I see Swanson sells Rhus Tox that is a mixture of 6, 12, 30, and 200X preparations (I think).
    “For example, the preparations up to 12X work on the physical level; preparations between 3X and 30X affect both the physical and energetic levels; and preparations above 30X work primarily on the energetic and mental levels.”
    A “multiplex remedy”. For back pain.

  5. Sastra says:

    Homeopathy, like all alternative medicine, rides on the back of a sacred cow: you’re not supposed to question anyone’s “personal experience.” If someone thinks it worked for them then all the science and physics and contrary studies in the world must be held back in humility and respect. It worked. Take that, Science!

    Apparently the sacred cow has a calf: don’t question anyone’s “personal science” either. If it can be imagined then it can be true and it should never be ruled out: anything is possible (only the arrogant think otherwise.) Alties think scientists think the way they do — make stuff up and see if it “works” for someone.

    There are a fair number of homeopathy advocates, however, who don’t know what homeopathy is. They think it’s the latin word for “home remedy” and means herbs or something.

    1. Janet Camp says:

      You have said it very succinctly–and exposed the source of a great deal of frustration for me in my social relationships. I always thought it was a GOOD thing not to suffer fools, but I am constantly being told that I must not only suffer them, but respect them!

    2. A brilliant explanation. Unfortunately, any time I remotely mention this line of thinking, I’m labeled as being closed minded or a shill. The usual altie gambits.

      1. MS, MT(ASCP) says:

        Sastra’s explanation is brilliant, and I’m going to commit it to memory. I have run across people with similar attitudes when I have challenged them: “You’re just closed minded/You haven’t accepted the truth,” to which I have responded, “What is it, exactly, about what you know (i.e., believe) that should make me want to drop everything I know (believe) and follow you?” The strength of one’s convictions does not have any effect on the how true or false something is.

    3. Anna says:

      > They think it’s the latin word for “home remedy” and means herbs or something.

      Yep. Including a nurse practitioner I saw a couple years back, who suggested I treat a fungal infection “homeopathically.” I balked, but eventually figured that he meant that I use a home remedy of 50% (not 200C) diluted bleach. Unfortunately, he did not seem interested in my explanation of what the word actually means.

      1. calliarcale says:

        Yes. In the intro to one of his later books, the author (and famous cantankerous person) Harlan Ellison mentioned having survived a very unexpected earthquake, and also that he had developed heart trouble. But a new type of drug had saved him — homeopathy! To hear that from someone who normally presented himself as a skeptic was a bit of a shock. I’m sure he actually didn’t know what homeopathy purports itself to be. (Which is perhaps fair, given that homeopaths themselves clearly have some disagreement on the subject, as demonstrated by the struggling attempts Crislip has collected above.) I firmly believe, now, that the main factor in homeopathy’s success is the efforts by homeopaths to obscure what it is they’re actually selling.

  6. Eugenie Mielczarek says:

    Having spent countless hours teaching Quantum Mechanics and Electricity and Magnetism I’m continually amused by the lack of understanding of basic physics and chemistry which inhabits not only the world of CAM but of college graduates in general. Unfortunately NIH ‘s NCCAM has over the last 12 years awarded about $57 million for awards which do not recognize that a homeopathic dilution cannot provide a medical protocol, and many millions for energy healing and application of commercial magnets. It’s amazing that a federal science agency does not recognize concepts which are obvious violations of the laws of physics and chemistry. I’m wondering if new awards will be testing the medical effects of ‘dark energy’. With research funds being heavily scrutinized surely these awards should have never been authorized by the agency.

  7. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    We could use the Crislip like evolutionary biologists use the Darwin, except the Darwin is not crazy. Did you know the evolutionary change of modern horses is measured in kilodarwins? Best. Unit. Ever.

    I think you’d want to have the number of pubmed citations divided by the number of years of existence, to control for the accumulation of proof. Perhaps:

    # patients cured* + # adherents x (# citations/# years in existence) x 2^-(net # positive meta-analyses)

    So homeopathy, with lots of adherents, scores well (let’s say…500,000,000). It’s got lots of citations (nearly 5,000), and has been around for about 200 years. There are 33 meta-analyses, and I’m going to assume all are negative, becuase it’s the rational choice. That gives:

    = 0 + 500,000,000 x (5,000/200) x 2^33
    = 0 + 500,000,000 x (25) x 8,589,934,592
    = 107,374,182,400,000,000,000

    That’s what, roughly 107 sextillion Crislips? Expressed more reasonably, 107 pentillion kilocrislips? 107 million petacrislips? Or, to standardize the unit, one homeoflop. Invert it and you’ve got one femtoverisimilis,** the chance that homeopathy might work.

    *Always zero.
    **I frikkin’ love google translate’s latin feature.

    1. windriven says:

      I don’t know which made me laugh harder, the petacrislip or the homeoflop. But really, I don’t think it should take 107 10^6 petacrislips to equal one homeoflop. That really seems to overvalue the homeoflop ;-)

  8. TwistBarbie says:

    If a homeopath experienced an adverse reaction in one of his/her “patients” he/she would likely call it a “healing crisis” and present it as evidence that the remedy was curing them.

  9. Jayne Thomas says:

    I haven’t checked your site for a week or so and hate the new layout. It’s so limiting, difficult to see what recent topics have been. I think readers are going to miss a lot of information. Please go back to the old format. Thanks, Jayne Thomas

    1. windriven says:

      It’s new. It’s different. We can quibble about details (I, for instance, loathe the way italics are presented). But I don’t see it as particularly limiting.

      Moreover, Dr. Gorski is pretty clear that this site about the ideas, the arguments, the science, more than the presentation. It’s his site. This isn’t a democracy. But the guy who did the redesign has been very responsive to comments posted to the thread covering the redesign. You might share your thoughts with him.

      Beyond that, the choice seems pretty much binary: use it the way it is or don’t.

  10. Healthy Life says:

    Hi!
    Its Awesome thanks a ton for sharing. LoL

    1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      This is yet more spam. It looks like the changes to the website lets more spam through. Were the filters adjusted?

      1. windriven says:

        Yeah, what up with that??? My beautifully crafted bons mots* lay in the moderation queue like squid in the belly of a trawler while this dufus grins like a cadaver and gives all the finger salute.

        *Admittedly, my evil twin sometimes inserts non-PG words occasionally passed through auto-bowdlerizing software to elude the auto-censor software installed by SBM. Still, combing through the mostly banal comments to snatch up the odd poop reference seems a poor use of MD PhD time.

        1. Chris says:

          Yeah, getting every single one of my comments put into moderation is a pain. I am sure the moderators don’t care for it either! I assume they are working on it.

      2. We’re painfully aware of issues with spam/approval, and we’re working on it. Meanwhile, treat it like comedy? Slight distracting comedy …

        1. Chris says:

          ;-)

          (just to make you approve an emoticon!)

        2. Chris says:

          :-/

          Actually, it has made me think “Do I make this silly comment or not? Is it really worth it to annoy the moderators?”

          Then I go: “Who cares? Everything I say is brilliant!”

          (actually, not really, I have actually resisted and not hit “submit.”

    2. Anna says:

      How is spam like this allowed through when, to my knowledge, not a single one of my comments has made it past moderation since the changeover?

      1. We apologize: we’re having technical problems with comment spam and approvals since the new theme was installed. Some non-spam comments are being held for approval and we don’t know why. We are manually approving them as fast as possible.

        1. Anna says:

          Well, now I feel like a jerk! Thanks for looking into it, and good luck configuring the new system to your satisfaction.

  11. Mark Crislip says:

    Homeoflop. Laugh out loud.

  12. mcrislip says:

    wait a minute…except Darwins not crazy……Why I oughta…

  13. Alison says:

    I’m at a loss for what to do right now because my doctor has suggested I try a homeopathic hormone treatment. He’s a real doctor, got his BA in physics first, and I’ve been going to him for years and he’s never prescribed anything but real medicine. I haven’t had the chance to talk to him, we’ve been communicating through his assistant. I’m considering leaving his practice because of this, but it’s hard to find a good doctor and except for this odd occurrence he has been a good doctor.

    1. Egstra says:

      “my doctor has suggested I try a homeopathic hormone treatment.”

      That’d make me think of finding a new MD, too. I would suggest talking to him first, however. Maybe the assistant is confused.

    2. Is it possible his assistant is putting their own spin and suggesting it on his/her own? You can’t say the assistant is practicing w/o license or otherwise outside the scope, because there’s nothing in the homeopathic stuff that’s medicine, but your doc sure needs to discuss with you.

    3. ozob says:

      how is homeopathy any different than the placebo effect?

      I think there’s some popular confusion between different alternative medicines, too — even amongst mainstream practitioners. Maybe, for example, Alison’s doctor meant to recommend a “naturopathic hormonal treatment” or “herbal hormonal treatment.” In other words, maybe he was using “homeopathic” the same way we use “Kleenex” — he really meant to say, “well, why don’t you try one of those alternative thingies?”

      Naturopathy is a decent framework that is not inherent quackery, though. Holistic approaches needn’t be quackish.

      Just a thought…

      1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

        Homeopathy isn’t different from placebo effects.

        Naturopathy is a terrible framework, it’s either bait-and-switch for regular medical advice (“exercise is a natural alternative, doctors never recommend exercise!” which has a healthy dollop of lying attached) or unproven (or disproven) clams. There are a lot of posts on this blog you could read to that end (see here but there are many more), as well as on Medscape (here), and elsewhere. There’s a whole reference page and category, but realistically naturopathy is simply anything a naturopath wants it to be. It’s almost the umbrella SCAM since a naturopath will quite willingly use literally anything and there’s no standard of practice. Diet? Check. Homeopathy? Check. Acupuncture? Check! Primary studies in rats? Check. Antivaccination? Check check check! Herbal medicine? You betcha! There’s an entire series you could read, starting here.

        Naturopathy is indeed inherent quackery. “Holistic” is a meaningless term, not to mention doctors practice “holistically” anyway since they can address mental and physical ailments (“spiritual” isn’t an ailment).

        If naturopathy is recommending something that real doctors recommend anyway, they are redundant. But normally it’s something unproven or disproven, accompanied by a helping of pharmanoia and a dash of “science doesn’t know everything” (which is amusing since their framework is completely unscientific. It’s an inherently unethical profession, based on lies, overselling preliminary research or wholly untested “treatments”. Not to mention, why is “natural” better? Dying of cancer? Natural. Dying of smallpox? Natural. Starvation due to the low calorie yield of unmodified plants? Natural. Diphtheria? Natural. Nature doesn’t care if you live, and it certainly isn’t “designed” to heal your wounds, infections or wear and tear.

  14. Jacob V says:

    If only a stiff drink could cure rigor mortis.

    1. NorrisL says:

      Love it!

  15. Janet Camp says:

    Just changing back to WP–can’t see any way to do it w/o leaving a comment.

  16. phayes says:

    That “quantum-like model of homeopathy clinical trials” ‘paper’ looks like an example of the pseudoscientific application of generalised (quantum) probability rather than of quantum mechanics per se. It is gibberish of course but there is a difference (and some perfectly good QP stuff around) which I think people should be aware of: http://andrewgelman.com/2013/05/15/does-quantum-uncertainty-have-a-place-in-everyday-applied-statistics/#comment-146295 (Aram Harrow hasn’t found something I missed!)

  17. R. Wade Covill MD says:

    I just want to know how to get on this site now that all the changes have been made. Keep in mind that us old guys grew up in the depression when you carried water into the house to cook with and went to a little building outdoors to heed natures call. I did manage to get on this site for an occasional comment, and I follow it everyday, but now all this “social media” stuff leaves us old duffers out in the cold.Tell me how to get back in. I might occasionally have something constructive to share.

    formally, MDoc

  18. R. Wade Covill MD says:

    Gee, that was easier than I thought. “never mind”

    1. Rork says:

      Great to hear, and thanks for the humor.

  19. Stephen H says:

    This study appears designed to give wooniverse defenders ammunition against science. “Our stuff works, it’s your reality that’s at fault”.

  20. David Gorski says:

    Homeopathy would win and any SCAM index that did not rank homeopathy at number one would have to put up a very convincing argument indeed that their formula was not somehow fundamentally flawed.1

    Actually, reiki would have to score pretty much as high as homeopathy, if not higher.

    1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      I’m making jam now, but when I have a bit of time I’ll plug it into the Crislip equation and see how many homeoflops it is.

    2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      My Crislip equation for reiki:

      = # patients cured* + # adherents x (# citations/# years in existence) x 2^-(net # positive meta-analyses)

      # adherents = Roughly 0.4% (1.2 million) of the United States population. Expand that world-wide because, what the hell, we have 28,000,000
      # citations = About 2,000
      # years in existence = Let’s eyeball it at 140
      net # positive meta-analyses = 15, you’re going to have to take my word for it ’cause I can’t figure out how to get a url out of my search parameters (basically # citations + the meta-analysis filter), and once again the reasonable assumption that they are all negative

      From this we get:
      =0 + 28,000,000 x (2,000/140) x 2^15

      = 12,845,056,000,000

      Hm…that’s only 12 billion kilocrislips, or 0.000,000,12 homeoflops. Sadly, the Crislip equation does not take prior probability into account :)

      * Always zero

  21. laproxdoc says:

    @Alison and @Egstra – sometimes some of these homeopathic items get inserted into local medical practice, not because they work or because of any science, but because that is what others use and get high patient satisfaction scores. For example, here in San Diego it has become rather commonplace for many of the Plastic Surgeons and Oral Sugeons to prescribe Arnica in various forms including homeopathic – probably because that is what the “big boys” in the wealthy practices use, and one cannot be out of step…

  22. NorrisL says:

    Ah the Crislip number, one of science’s greatest achievements! As compared to homeoquackery one of pseudoscience’s smallest achievements. Hmm, would that then make it a big achievement in the crazy world of homeopathy?

  23. stuastro says:

    Ah, the Crislip number, one of science’s greatest achievements!

  24. cloudskimmer says:

    Following a link from a local pet supply store led, unfortunately, with recommended homeopathic treatments for animals, including one for snakebite. I wrote to the store telling them how offensive this is; treating a dog or cat with homeopathic water (redundant terms) could kill he animal unless they were fortunate enough to receive a dry bite.
    Use of poison ivy/oak for rashes is baffling, but I wonder about the terminology. Poison Oak used to be Rhus toxicodendron, but the scientific name is now Toxicodendron diversilobum. Does the homeopathic pharmico-whatever stick to obsolete plant names, as they stick to an obsolete method for treating disease?
    Perusing the Boiron display at the pharmacy while waiting to pick up a prescription, I saw that an “ingredient” in a treatment for diaper rash was poison oak. Wouldn’t you think that applying poison oak to a baby with diaper rash might constitute child abuse?

    1. elburto says:

      You’ll love this then…

      *drumroll*

      People are now recommending homeopathic remedies for fish. Yup, those aquatic pets who bloody well live in water!

      Surely it can’t have escaped their notice that if homeopathy actually worked, then fish would never get sick.

      1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

        Except theoretically you’re also homeopathically strengthening all the poop in the water. Unless there’s some sort of magic involved that prevents any “bad” homeopathic preparations from working.

        Oh, that’s right, it’s all magic.

        1. elburto says:

          Yep, and if there’s one thing Goldies are great at, it’s befouling their water. Apparently they’re turning the famously clear Lake Michigan into a mucky cesspool, after being dumped in there by ownerYep, and if there’s one thing Goldies are great at, it’s befouling their water. Apparently they’re turning the famously clear Lake Michigan into a mucky cesspool, after being dumped in there by ownYep, and if there’s one thing Goldies are great at, it’s befouling their water. Apparently they’re turning the famously clear Lake Michigan into a mucky cesspool, after being dumped in there by ownerYep, and if there’s one thing Goldies are great at, it’s befouling their water. Apparently they’re turning the famously clear Lake Michigan into a mucky cesspool, after being dumped in there by owners.

          So homeopathically speaking, in up is down/black is white world,goldfish are super clean!

  25. Pareidolius says:

    I see that despite it’s reputation as “ancient,” Reiki’s only been around since 1922. Does that increase or decrease the number of Crislips (CL)? Do you add or subtract CLs for unintentional racism, i.e., being oh so mysterious and “eastern”

    1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      Age of intervention is taken into account in the divisor of the middle of the equation; a longer period of existence is more time to accumulate scientific results, so an older intervention should be closer to 1 than to 100 heptillion.

      Dr. Crislip didn’t include a fudge factor for unintentional racism, but science is iterative, so the next version could add it.

  26. Jan Willem Nienhuys says:

    There’s a third component of homeopathy: provings. The idea is that you give highly diluted stuff (also sand, salt, charcoal, chalk) to several test persons (unblinded, no controls) and the total of ALL remarkable symptoms (about 1000 per remedy) experienced by ALL subjects in the week following constitutes the ‘drug picture’. This drug picture serves as a guide what to prescribe. No matter how high the dilution, the ‘symptoms’ appear. These high dilutions producing ‘symptoms’ is the true reason homeopaths think these dilutions do something. Beginning homeopaths had to do ‘reprovings’ – unblinded of course – and of course found the ‘symptoms they were supposed to find. In the course of two centuries they came up with various ‘explanations’ in line with what science knew at the time. According to me the ‘memory of water’ explanation dates from the 1980s.

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