10:23 Not Quackbusters but Denialists (2) A sad day all round

Well it’s all happening in the world of Twitter.  The last blog post flew straight down the #ten23 tag line and produced a vertical trajectory on the blog counter.  In the interests of efficiency, Part 2 addresses some of the comments on that blog.

And it’s a sad day.

Sad that all the effort of 10:23 is focused on a fatally flawed understanding of homeopathy.  What follows is offered to any of the real Skeptics that might have been swept up into the Denialist camp.

Comments:

Zyaama:

“Wow, amazing. Is there any logical fallacy missing from this post?

Science has evaluated homeopathy. The results are clear: Homeopathy does not work. Nothing close-minded about that. Unless you can prove that the research is wrong (an homeopaths have a 200 year history of ailing to deliver any proof), there is nothing to discuss. You want to teach the public about homeopathy? Go ahead. But stop lying to yourself and others. Tell people the facts, and they can decide for themselves. That is what this campaign is about.”

Hmmmm Standard response that begins with the first logical fallacy.  SCIENCE  has NOT yet evaluated homeopathy.
You might say Science is still trying to catch up with homeopathy (see Articles ).
A number of attempts have been made to assess efficacy but as explained in a previous post the methodology is fatally flawed. It’s not possible to evaluate a system of medicine using a method that is incapable of accurately assessing that system of medicine.  Amazing then that there are actually some positive results at all and a real scientist would find that fact alone intriguing.

It may be that you don’t understand the homeopathic method sufficiently well to fully appreciate this and it’s a common challenge for Skeptics (Zyaama not suggesting you are a Skeptic – it’s for any Skeptics that might be reading) -  homeopathic philosophy and principles are not a simple undertaking, especially for those who have been living within an allopathic framework – it’s easy to get caught up and distracted by an obsession with Avogadro’s number, missing the point entirely since homeopathic medicines are NOT simply high serial dilutions. IF they were, there would be nothing in them :-)

Sadly all the jokes about a drop in the Pacific Ocean, olympic sized swimming pools and etc therefore don’t work.
If you have any interest in learning about the fact that material scientists can now measure the difference between water and homeopathic preparations there are many published research papers out there for you to enjoy with a cuppa.

The analogy given by Alan Schmukler in his article on this blog might be helpful.  If you asked a chemist to analyse a CD they would tell you it was plastic.  If you put it into a data reader you would discover it contained the Encyclopedia Britannic – or the works of Shakespeare – or hours of mind numbing Heavy Metal – even though to the eye all the plastic disks looked to all intents and purposes identical.  And there’s the problem.  You can’t use a chemist to measure homeopathic medicine…….

Sometimes it’s difficult being 200 years ahead of the game but thankfully science is starting to catch up – which might make some people wonder whether the current urgency of 10:23 to “educate the public” so they can make “an informed choice” is a race against time.

200 years of clinical evidence and millions of successful cases cannot be dismissed as anecdotal – any scientist with even a crack of an opening in their mind should be intrigued.

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Andy from merseysideskeptics.org.uk

“  ’10:23 Homeopathy – there’s nothing in it” is just the latest and best organised in a series of orchestrated campaigns that have been run in the UK over the last several years by a group of people who call themselves Skeptics.’

That’s very kind of you.”

And then Andy again:

“Apologies, I got my own email addy wrong. See above”

If this was a standard Denialist blog it would first make a meal of the fact that Andy can’t even get his own email right so what right has he got to comment on anything else – but no descent into personal attacks on this blog – so thanks Andy for reposting your correct address.

Yes latest and best organised – and how sad that all that energy, effort and presumably money, is channelled into such misguided activity.
Unfortunately the vast majority of Denialists simply requote – reblog – and nowadays retweet fundamental misinformation about homeopathy.  Apart from meta-analyses which by definition cannot adequately evaluate the homeopathic system (see above to Zyaama) and the latest published by a man (Ernst) who in the same breath calls for a closed mind – what information do you really have to say “there’s nothing in it” ?  Have you studied homeopathic philosophy and principles for yourself?  Have you read any of the research? Do you ask what other agendas might be being served by this campaign – or do you already know?

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Becky

“As asked on many other blogs: Do you think that homeopathy can be used to cure non-self limiting conditions, if so could you provide an example of one, you only need one, incontrovertible example, with references, of homeopathy curing a non-self-limiting condition?”

Ahhh Becky it seems like such a simple question – but it shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the homeopathic system.  So I have a question for you.

Do you think that conventional medicine can be used to CURE non-self limiting conditions, if so could you provide an example of one, you only need one, incontrovertible example, with references, of conventional medicine CURING a non-self limiting condition?

Definition of cure being removal of symptoms, improvement in overall level of health, not followed by iatrogenic disease or by a more serious chronic complaint assessed according to the hierarchy of symptomatology?   Oh wait in the world of conventional medicine that would be seen as a totally separate, new and unrelated diagnosis and nothing to do with the previous complaint, even though they both occur in the same patient with the same immune system.  See how different the two worlds are, and why it’s so difficult to communicate in such simplistic terms?

Homeopathy is not like conventional medicine where first there must be a diagnosis and a disease name attached to the patient – so that the currently agreed treatment for that disease name can be prescribed.
Homeopathy is fundamentally different – it treats the patient with the disease – if you think about this for a few minutes you will be able to discern this key and crucial difference.

But back to your question – there is no question that homeopathy is effective for non-self limiting conditions – any number of disease names could go on the list.  The problem of course – and this is as much of a frustration for homeopaths as it is for any skeptic (not Denialists because they’re just not interested) – getting cases published in “reputable” journals has thus far proved impossible. You are probably well aware that what is published in journals is subject to all kinds of shenanigans that have nothing to do with the ‘truth’ – a fact that has been so well exposed by Dr Goldacre.

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Mark W

“Science doesn’t regard homeopathy as ineffective because it’s “impossible”, it regards it as ineffective because there is /no/ evidence that it works any better than placebo. None whatsoever.

True, current scientific ideas of physics, chemistry and pretty much everything else DO say that homeopathy IS impossible. However, if it was shown to actually work, those ideas would have to change.

So, try putting the horse before the cart. Prove it works better than placebo. Prove that and scientists will positively relish trying to figure out how.”

Music to a homeopath’s ears Mark W !  It’s true – scientists would relish the challenge of figuring out how, and they should begin immediately.

But the work should carry a SERIOUS HEALTH WARNING: Before undertaking research into anything homeopathic or anything that can be seen to be related to homeopathy, you should know that:   you will be ridiculed for suggesting it as a research project – your funding for other projects may be withdrawn – you will be ostracized by your colleagues – your previously accepted qualifications will be called into question – and possibly also your sanity – you may even lose your job – and at the end of the day should your results look remotely positive – you will not find a single reputable journal willing to risk publication – so after all that effort and sacrifice you will publish in a small journal – or an alternative  journal – or you may have to start your own journal to get your work out into the world – and you will be castigated for that too.

No doubt this will be seen as another homeopathic excuse for the current situation, but it’s just a sad fact of life that a homeopath lives with every day.  Mark if you are a scientist willing to make the personal and professional sacrifices such research would entail, then let’s talk, you’ll relish what you find.

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James Herron

“I agree. Let’s have “Rational argument, debates, evidence, clinical cases.” Please start this by providing all the large scale, clinically rigorous, double-blinded studies that show evidence of homeopathic efficacy beyond the placebo effect.”

James please see previous answers to other comments.  Show us the money, give us the freedom to design an appropriate research methodology and a journal willing to publish the results.  In the meantime try reading what research there is – not just meta-analyses which are by definition flawed (see above).
As for large scale clinically rigorous studies – try the Cuban research into prevention of Leptospirosis – is 2.5 million subjects enough?  Carried out by a prestigious vaccine research institute?  Oh no that example won’t do, the research team are still looking for a journal willing to risk publishing the results.  Sigh.

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So there you have it  – 10:23 – a massive outpouring of a disparate group – some confused, some outraged, some in it to make lame jokes at homeopathy’s expense (believe it homeopaths have heard them all already), some enjoying a little kudos with their mates for their ridiculing abilities – some certainly with a political agenda that’s a lot bigger than this latest campaign – and perhaps a few genuine truth seekers swept up in the excitement of 10:23.  To a man and woman all fundamentally mis-informed.

Read “Homeopathy = Placebo?  Politics, politics, politics” and see how crazy “there’s nothing in it” starts to sound.  Is there not one scientific mind among you?

btw this blog is for thinking people only – see the About page. In the interests of space and time comments which simply repeat the same issues discussed above will be deleted.

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