I think I have a new hero…

…and his name is Edzard Ernst.

And here’s the reason why.

Anyone who can rile up homeopaths that much is my kind of guy.


  1. #1 Dr Aust
    June 19, 2008

    Sorry for cross-posting – mentioned this on the David Katz vs the Blogosphere thread, but anyone wanting an intro to Ernst and his work could usefully start here, where he succinctly skewers the various evasions CAM people use to argue that there shouldn’t be proper efficacy trials for CAM.

    Note that Ernst is a “Professor of Complementary Medicine”. However, as the article quotes him as saying, he takes this to mean that he should be investigating the evidence (or more commonly lack of it) for efficacy for complementary interventions, rather than doing what many academic Woo-meisters do and simply promoting the stuff.

  2. #2 DLC
    June 19, 2008

    Hahnemann’s Folly should have fallen by the wayside decades ago.

  3. #3 thalarctos
    June 19, 2008

    I’ve been a fan of Edzard Ernst and his EBM-based CAM work for years, and had the pleasure of meeting him in Albuquerque in 2005 at a massage-research conference. He’s a warm man with a self-effacing sense of humor, and very encouraging to students, as I was then. Nice to see his work getting wider exposure.

  4. #4 angry doc
    June 20, 2008

    I am pretty sure that homeopathic remedies, in sufficient amounts, cure dehydration.

  5. #5 DS
    June 20, 2008

    Pshhht. I posted that days ago 😉

    I’m a big fan of Simon Singh as well, who co-authored a book on the topic that basically lead up to this. He is clearly a voice of reason in the U.K.


  6. #6 sailor
    June 20, 2008

    “I am pretty sure that homeopathic remedies, in sufficient amounts, cure dehydration.

    Posted by: angry doc | June 20, 2008 8:12 AM ”

    Very funny! But even so, it the equivalent amound of water was given to the control group you still would not get your 10 thouand.

  7. #7 Shygetz
    June 20, 2008

    Very funny! But even so, it the equivalent amound of water was given to the control group you still would not get your 10 thouand.

    You just didn’t dilute it enough.

    If homeopathy works, I should be able to dilute water to generate a cure for drowning.

  8. #8 wfjag
    June 20, 2008

    Dr. Aust:

    Thanks for the link. Also available on-line in pdf (which I don’t know how to link, but can be found using Altavista) is E Ernst, Adverse effects of spinal manipulation: a systematic review, J R Soc Med 2007;100:06-0100.1-9 (july 2007). That article has gotten the CAM practictioners’ nickers in a wringer, too. It states, in pertinent part:

    “Results The searches identified 32 case reports, four case series, two prospective series, three case-control studies and three surveys. In case reports or case series, more than 200 patients were suspected to have been seriously harmed. The most common serious adverse effects were due to vertebral artery dissections. The two prospective reports suggested that relatively mild adverse effects occur in 30% to 61% of all patients.

    The case-control studies suggested a causal relationship
    between spinal manipulation and the adverse effect. The survey data indicated that even serious adverse effects are rarely reported in the medical literature.

    Conclusions Spinal manipulation, particularly when performed on the upper spine, is frequently associated with mild to moderate adverse effects. It can also result in serious complications such as vertebral artery dissection followed by stroke. Currently, the incidence of such events is not known. In the interest of patient safety we should reconsider our policy towards the routine use of spinal manipulation.”

  9. #9 Abel Pharmboy
    June 21, 2008

    Unlike thalarctos, I have yet to meet Dr Ernst but have done some editorial work for him and his group. I have always been impressed that he is open to applying the scientific method to all aspects of CAM, even those without biological plausibility. And CAM advocates can’t fault him as an ignorant outsider since Ernst actually holds a homaeopathy degree – perhaps it was this experience that motivated his current challenge that Orac notes.

    To give some more background on Dr Ernst and the activities of his research group at the University of Exeter’s Peninsula Medical School, let me plug two recent books from their team:

    Healing, Hype or Harm?
    Ernst E(Ed). Published by Societas Imprint Academic, Exeter 2008.
    ISBN 978-1-84-540118-4

    The Oxford Handbook of Complementary Medicine
    Ernst E, Pittler M, Wider B, Boddy K. Published by Oxford University Press, Oxford 2008.
    ISBN 978-0-19-920677-3

  10. #10 paulb
    June 22, 2008

    My favourite quote from the original article:

    Frederiek Maddock, a homeopath from Crediton, said: “Dr Ernst does not appear to have done his research properly and is very selective in what he decides to believe.”

    I think they hit the nail on the head with the second part of the statement 🙂

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