As you've probably figured out, I like testimonials. Well, maybe "like' is the wrong world. I'm interested in them, something that goes way, way back into the deepest, darkest mists of blog time, as my earliest "epic" post was about alternative cancer cure testimonials. With that post as a start, I've come back to the topic from time to time. But it's not just cancer. There are testimonials for all manner of cures for all manner of diseases. Rare has it been that I've encountered a testimonial that was really convincing evidence of an anti-tumor effect (or anti-disease) effect due to an alternative medical therapy. (Actually, it's arguably never.)
This testimonial will not ruin that streak. It is, after all, about homeopathy.
Testimonials for homeopathy are, in many ways, perfect "alternative medicine" testimonials. Given how much typical homeopathic remedies are diluted. I know that most of you know this, but I feel obligated to repeat it, in case you happen to be someone who hasn't 30C, or 30 serial dilutions of 100-fold, which translates into a 1060-fold dilution. (Hint: Avagadro's number is around 6 x 1023, which means that a 30C homeopathic dilution is unlikely to have even a single molecule of original remedy in it other than contaminants carried over from the serial dilutions. Homeopathy is, basically, nothing more than water or whatever was the diluent used. It is the perfect quackery, with no effect possible other than whatever effect the water or the sugar pills that homeopathic remedies are often compressed into could have. It can't cure anything, not even thirst, given how small the quantities used are. That makes it the perfect alternative medicine treatment for analyses of testimonials. I know that homeopathy can't possibly be having a therapeutic effect given how its tenets violate the laws of physics and chemistry; so it permits the analysis of the testimonial in light of that fact.
So you just know that I couldn't resist a good homeopathy testimonial, and I happened to come across this one from New Zealand, published yesterday by a man named Nick Summerhayes entitled How homeopathy cured me. Here's a hint: It didn't cure Mr. Summerhayes. In fact, as testimonials go, this is pretty thin gruel. It's worth looking at anyway, though, because it demonstrates common features of alt med testimonials.
First, it begins with the almost mandatory disclaimer that, really and truly, Mr. Summerhayes is a skeptic:
I'm a natural sceptic so I didn't want to believe in homeopathy.
I'm not keen on colour therapy, iridology, crystal therapy, or astral gazing, but I am the last person to criticise anyone who has had positive results from these treatments.
Of course he's a skeptic. That's what he tells himself, but he appears not to know what skepticism is. A skeptic knows that personal experience can be profoundly misleading, and Mr. Summerhaye's testimonial demonstrates a number of these properties. He's a guy who's had eczema, asthma and hayfever ever since he was three years old and was hospitalized at age 15. His story here is inconsistent, though. He says that he was "cured" by a "nice shiny new steroid cream, an anti-histamine and an asthma inhaler," obviously not understanding the meaning of the word "cured," given that all of these are treatments for chronic conditions that aren't really curable. They're designed to alleviate symptoms and prevent complications; they're not cures. Be that as it may, though, he reports that he stopped using these treatments ten years later and noticed no difference, while saying he was "was grateful to conventional medical science for helping me deal with the symptoms."
So did the conventional medical treatments relieve his symptoms for a decade, or didn't they? It's certainly not clear from his account. None of this, however, stops Mr. Summerhayes from proclaiming that the more he learned, the more he thought he should take matters into his own hands. That led him to homeopathy:
I must have been in my early 20s when I heard about homeopathy, but there was a long wait to get public treatment, so I paid to go privately.
My first attempt at using a remedy ended badly. I was off work for two weeks, and within the first few days developed blisters filled with what I assumed was plasma.
A doctor prescribed antibiotics, which, after a while, helped with recovery.
I came away from this experience suspicious of homeopathy but convinced that it certainly had some power and the effect was not psychosomatic.
So let me get this straight. When Summerhayes was in his early 20s, he discovered homeopathy and wanted to try it. I was unaware that New Zealand paid for homeopathy in its national health plan, but it sure sounds as though it does from this account. Otherwise, why would Summerhayes, impatient to start homeopathy and faced with what he describes as a long wait for "public" treatment, decide he had to find a private homeopath? In any case, from his own story, Summerhayes didn't do very well. It makes me wonder whether the homeopath told him to stop taking his regular medications and using his steroid cream. Whether he did or not, for whatever reason, he got a lot worse, and developed blisters and boils, which responded to antibiotics.
What, if this were you, would you conclude? You'd probably conclude that homeopathy wasn't such a good idea, that it didn't work or, even worse, was harmful. You'd probably conclude that good, old-fashioned antibiotics do work. Not Summerhayes, apparently. He decided that homeopathy was "powerful" (probably because he thought it made him worse).
His next encounter with homeopathy didn't go any better:
I began my treatment after answering lots of questions about my habits, tastes, ancestor's health, relationships with others, etc, and then walking away with a single tablet to dissolve under my tongue and report in after a week to indicate whether anything had changed.
My skin got slowly worse. I asked if this was normal and was told that the skin is the last thing to come right and toxins would be excreted through the skin.
I went through about six remedies over the course of four months with varying results (sometimes no change) but generally in a downward direction.
I carried on for another six months but by this time I was ready to give up with the treatment as I was suffering so much. But I went back and was given another remedy.
I've discussed this phenomenon before. When it comes to alt-med, practitioners just keep trying remedy after treatment after remedy, with no science-based rhyme or reason, often with no effect. Then, whenever the patient's symptoms undergo regression to the mean or resolve on their own, whatever treatment the practitioner prescribed just before that obviously must be what cured the patient. That's exactly what happened with Summerhayes. Yes, that "other remedy," seemingly, made him feel much better. But did it? Probably not. Eczema often has a waxing and waning course. Children often "outgrow" it by adolescence. Many have remissions that can last for years. Most likely that is what happened in Summerhayes' case. Asthma, too, is the sort of disease that is not uncommonly "outgrown," at least to some extent, in adulthood. Hayfever not infrequently becomes less severe with age (I, personally, have experienced this, and I don't use any treatment other than the occasional antihistamine or decongestant when my runny nose gets too annoying).
So basically, it matters not at all that Summerhayes took a single pill (which is what this "other remedy" was), after which everything seemed to be better. Like so many alt-med believers, he remembers the seeming "hit" and forgets all the misses that came before it, ascribing his "cure" to the last quackery he was using before his symptoms got better. It is, however, rather amusing to note how the homeopath chose Summerhayes' final remedy:
I asked him what bit of information made him choose the particular remedy and he said it was the fact that I liked chicken skin, steak fat and pork crackling.
This certainly makes me wonder what was in that last homeopathic remedy! Whatever was in it, it was almost certainly diluted to nonexistence. It's just amusing to read the rationale behind the choice of this particular remedy, and I'm curious what it was. Whatever it was, Summerhayes believes it worked, and he is quick to dismiss those who point out that he almost certainly either grew out of his eczema or is in a longterm remission, and remissions are common.
Skeptic. You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
Unsurprisingly, our dear friend Dana Ullman has already proclaimed that "a former skeptic of homeopathy is cured by it", and that this is "a common occurrence" thereby maintaining his record of cluelessness and desperation. https://twitter.com/HomeopathicDana/status/367649127879831553
Only surprise is that he hasn't yet gone on to claim it was quantum nanobollockules or some other pseudoscientific claptrap that did it. I'm sure I'm not the only one whose told him that the observed phenomenon of improvement is called regression towards the mean. Of course, he may claim otherwise but denying science while proclaiming to be a scientist is his standard modus operandi. He claims he posts lots of research https://twitter.com/HomeopathicDana/status/367814450629197824
I don't know if he really truly believes what he says is true or if he knows it's nonsense and is therefore aware that he's promoting nonsense. If he truly believes then there is little hope of changing his mind and all we can do is keep exposing his words as meaningless nonsense that cannot be supported by scientific evidence. I'm sure that people have tried to point him towards an understanding of evidence-based medicine and critical appraisal but it hasn't worked so far. If he knows he's talking nonsense, what does that say about him? I have my thoughts but readers can draw their own conclusions from the evidence.
“I was unaware that New Zealand paid for homeopathy in its national health plan, but it sure sounds as though it does from this account.”
Best as I know the NZ national health doesn't pay for homeopathy. The author appears in the comments following his article under an assumed name (Wes McGuiness from memory) and explains that was when he was in the UK. I’ve pointed out there that the UK has stopped this several years ago after investigating it via an Evidence Report.
“This certainly makes me wonder what was in that last homeopathic remedy!”
Wes McGuinness (24 hours ago):
“I think it was Mezeureum 30C”
No idea what Mezeureum is, but 30C says enough to me.
Pity the girl whose mother chose homeopothy over proper treatment.
I have read some of your writings on Holocaust denial. You claim to be well researched.....before Hitler killed 6,000,000 Jews DID YOU KNOW THAT...6,000,000 Jews were prepping to be massacred in 1906 in Russia...N.Y. TIMES
then 6,000,000 Jews were in a sad plight in 1910 N.Y. TIMES ...
IN 1911 6,000,000 Jews were in real peril
Before the Holocaust there was..the Holocaust
October 31st 1919...American Hebrew former Governor of N.Y MARTIN H. GLYNN..."6,000,000 Jews dying in a HOLOCAUST"....what are the odds???
Opps,forgot about the Jews being holocausted in 1903...N.Y. TIMES
I find it fascinating the horrors Hitler put the Jews through...original sources,even testimony under oath at such events as the Nuremberg trials,Eichmann trials..ect..of Nazis sewing cats into Jews bellies,or Nazis steaming Jews,or Nazis turn Jews into road grit...lololo
did you know there was A HOLOCOASTER...like a roller coaster,Jews rode it straight into the furnace...
...Those bastards also were smoking Jews by electric floors....tossing em into acid pits...and even the ol HOLOCAUST BY BUBBLES...if you would I could provide the original transcripts,testimonies,ect...seeing that your research methods arent really too impressive.
oh yaa...Nazis turn Jews into axle grease...Jews would never lie would they??? Just because you hav'nt the mental capacity to see how the trick works,does not mean all of us do....though it more likely you are a shill ....Have a nice day.
Oh my. Just as you said, the three musketeers - Itchos, Sneezus and Wheezis - are known for their waxing and waning nature.
I was permanently cycling through one asthma or hayfever complication after another from age four until I was 19. I'd had more prednisolone and antibiotics (for chest infections) than a small village, and then my asthma went on sabbatical.
My hayfever cycled through "meh", "FFS!" and "practically housebound" for a few years until... wait for it... I relocated to the countryside. Fields, grass, woods and flowers, a verdant country village, and not a sniffle in sight, possibly due to the lack of traffic fumes. I don't have eczema, but my inverse psoriasis took a break too, presumably because I wasn't so stressed out by seven months of pollen hell.
The following year the asthma returned after an eight year absence, it returned badly, followed the next year by psoriasis so horrible that it needed steroids and was on the verge of methotrexate, until the b12 deficiency was discovered and ruled that out.. Five years on (last year) Lady Hayfever stomped back into town, early and forcefully.
During those years I was subjected to various "treatments" by my mother, the wooligan. Prayer, homeopathy, health food lacking artificial preservatives and colouring, and completely bereft of taste. Various supplements and unguents, more prayer and sugar pills, etc. I was pronounced "cured" or "made well" by all manner of crap, but I'm reality it was medicine and time that did the work's
I'm so glad there was no internet then, so glad.
I wonder what Mr "I'm a real sceptic, really!" will blame if his maladies return? He's pretty lucky he didn't end up seriously ill from ditching his medications. Let's hope his asthma has gone for good, because I'd hate to see him try magic water to treat bronchospasm.
@Graham - that's devastating. But if past cases are anything to go by, the "mother" will probably only get a slap on the wrist.
She'll probably be excused with "She's suffered enough" and "She was only doing what she thought was best", especially if the poor kid dies. That's typically excused with "She's going through the worst punishment now".
Makes me want to scream until my throat bleeds. 2013 and this nonsense is still claiming lives. Quackery kills.
Yes, Elburto - quackery kills. It looks like it's going to claim the life of my best friend's mother. Background: Friend's mum is a huge believer in homeopathy; three years ago her husband developed serious heart and circulatory problems and she had him "treated" by her homeopath friend, who actually told him not to see a doctor. When he got worse, he family intervened to get him into hospital; thanks to that intervention (and medical science, of course) the old man is still alive and healthy. My friend sought legal advice at the time but was told there wasn't anything that could really be done about this quack, since her father wasn't mentally infirm and had apparently consented to the magic "cure".
Amazingly, nearly losing her husband to quackery didn't change my friend's mother's views on homeopathy. When she started getting symptoms of bowel problems earlier this year, she went straight to her nice homeopath friend who "treated" her with diets and magic water - and told her not to see a doctor!
The latest is that she was rushed into hospital yesterday, very weak and seriously ill; the family haven't had an official diagnosis yet but it isn't much in doubt (there are two doctors in the family).
I- well, I'm spitting angry about this.
Yo, Orac - cleanup on aisle #5!
Testimonials for homeopathy are a funny thing. The more people who claim homeopathy worked for them, the less likely it is that they are right. If there were no testimonials at all, it'd be proof of a powerful effect (especially if you give the patients a good shaking beforehand).
Sophia - that's awful, I'm so sorry, you must be sick to your stomach over it.
Hugs. and here's hoping that medicine can, if not resolve her condition, give her a period comfortable and reasonably dignified stability, or even a controlled decline.
Fuc<ing hell, where did #6 come from? I wonder if he can exp... nah, scratch that, I need some brain bleach. Stat.
I wonder why it supposedly took the homeopath supposedly 10 months to supposedly note the supposed significance of his supposed dietary preferences? Well spotted, not.
I'm generally a credulous fool, but I find myself very sceptical of Mr Summerhayes' story. Perhaps his anecdote has cured me of my gullibility.
It does not matter what the skeptics think or say about homeopathy. It will continue to grow in popularity worldwide unless those who oppose it can carry out book burnings, shut down the newspapers and magazines, fire all the judges, attorneys, stop social networking through the internet, and imprison people who spread the news of homeopathy through contact from friend to friend, family member to family member, co-worker to co-worker, club members to club members, church group members to other members. Not going to happen.
One thing that I can't fathom:
many alt med advocates believe that homeopathy ( 'like cures like'/ vanishingly small amounts- ' less is more') is effective and SIMULTANEOUSLY recommend supplements by mega-dose ( working agonistically/ the more the better).
You may find this paradox when you scan product lists. Or read material like TMR.
OH the vicissitudes of life energy are mysterious** indeed.
** but PR isn't.
Sandra, surely you're aware homeopathy's popularity doesn't speak to its efficacy in any way?
Maybe you're right (though I hope the American public is capable of being educated) and maybe it will continue to be popular.
But popular or not it will still be just water and sugar pills, and it will still do nothing to cure or alleviate injury or illness.
It does not matter what the skeptics think or say about homeopathy. It will continue to grow in popularity worldwide ...
That is, unfortunately, true. There's a sucker born every minute, and plenty of predators ready to use their gullibility to victimize them.
Jeez Sandra, feeling threatened and powerless much? Your "you can't stop us plucky mavericks with your evil, cold science" post betrays the feelings I used to express whenever my magic du jour was threatened. It's the equivalent of clamping your eyes shut, plugging your ears and going "la la la la fairies are real, fairies are real, fairies are real!"
I know, it's threatening as hell when your fear-based world-view is being challenged by, well, 99% of the people who practice science. Been there. Done that.
OT - BUT are world-class woo-meisters attempting to break into the luxury spa business EVER truly OT @ RI?
Besides it's mid-August and most of us are greatly in need of a laugh... I know I am, so I share.
Over at Gary Null.com ( Gary Null Power Foods) take a peek at "Gary's Friends and Family Retreat" which documents his recent retreat at his new Texas property ( if you click at right, you will be treated to photos of his OTHER real estate and life story. WARNING- contents may produce nausea).
OK- from what I can ascertain:
he used to do winter retreats at his digs in Florida and other places over the years ( see photos); he went through detailed prep of his audience talking up the need for re-location, retreats, learning how to live more "sustainably", getting into a 'pure' environment- how he was planning the place to be just perfect, like Tuscany with marble columns, fountains, statues and sucklike ( see photos, July 2013)
First of all: he offered a July retreat and is preparing an August one as "fund raisers" for 2 land-based stations ( Pacifica radio) at 2000 USD for a week-
which includes vegan menu, juicing**, exercise classes, yoga, personal training, alt med counselling ( by a woo RN), cooking and gardening lessons, art classes, nightly lectures by the master - however, massage is extra. He has several yoga teachers, trainers, an artist, an RN, his daughter etc involved as well.
He talks this up as a bargain because well-known spas charge 3 times more. Other retreats are planned for October and later.
Is Texas the new Atlantis?
** not the kind of "juicing" may of us are familiar with- these include fruit and vegetables.
Sandra, assuming you're not a drive-by poster I've one simple question: What in your opinion is the single most compelling peice of clinical evidence demonstrating that homeopathy is actually effective at treating non-self limiting injuries or illnesses?
[reply to #3] FWIW, source of "mezereum" is Daphne mezereum, a fairly common early-blooming landscape shrub that I'm fond of. highly toxic in all parts, including berries. Sap causes dermatitis for some individuals, so rationale for homeopaths. Not that it matters at 30C, but some deluded souls use it in non-homeopathic herbalism.
Homeopathy is literally nothing. If you are gullible enough to believe it, well, I guess you literally believe in nothing, too.
Sandra: "(Homeopathy) will continue to grow in popularity worldwide unless those who oppose it can carry out book burnings, shut down the newspapers and magazines, fire all the judges, attorneys, stop social networking through the internet, and imprison people who spread the news of homeopathy through contact from friend to friend, family member to family member, co-worker to co-worker, club members to club members, church group members to other members. Not going to happen."
You underestimate the vast powers of Lord Draconis and his evil minions. A drop of 100C SkepticJuice in the water supply and behold! Homeopathy is no more.
Be afraid. Be very afraid.
I'm reasonably sure that Sandra posted that exact same paragraph, verbatim, months ago. Let's see if I can track it down...
You can hate, you can deny, but you can't Ignore.
Sandra Courtney, you have failed to provide the evidence that homeopathy works for measles. How could have saved the life of the young man in Wales who died from measles pneumonia?
Oh, and "chris" who posted in #5, the holocaust thread is elsewhere. You might try actually reading the articles before you comment. But then again, we might be denied your hilarity.
I realize this story is 3 years old, but it too comes from New Zealand.
"Homeopaths Admit Expensive Concoctions Just Water"
"A public mass overdose of homeopathic remedies has forced the New Zealand Council of Homeopaths to admit openly that their products do not contain any 'material substances.'"
ARD, she posted it today on SBM. She has the same ol' schtick, which unfortunately does not include answer hard questions.
Oh hai there spammin' Sandra!
RI Squad - Sandra doesn't answer questions, participate in debate, or bring anything of value to the table.
She's a true blue wooligan, and simply spits out. copypasta, and weak links that aren't even fully-formed faeces, just sticky caecotropes that I have branded "Woo nuggets".
See her sticky nuggets glistening, at:
@ARD, #23: She or he has; I believe this is the third time I've seen it. Drive-by cut-and-paste.
Ms. Courney is proof positive that homeopathy is nonsense.
Haha, crossposted with Chris!
Also, I love the idea that harmful concepts should apparently be allowed to flourish because they're popular or commonplace.
It does not matter what the skeptics think or say about homeopathy infibulation. It will continue to grow in popularity worldwide unless those who oppose it can carry out book burnings, shut down the newspapers and magazines, fire all the judges, attorneys, stop social networking through the internet, and imprison people who spread the news of homeopathy infibulation through contact from friend to friend, family member to family member, co-worker to co-worker, club members to club members, church group members to other members. Not going to happen.
Popular =/= good, Sandra. Other popular things include racism, sexism, child abuse, homophobia, animal cruelty, drink-driving, binge-drinking, accusing children of kindoki (huge in Africa, has led to fatalities here in the UK), and so on. All have their defendants and supporters, just like homeopathy, and all have claims of their "beneficial" nature, made by foolish adherents.
Your disgusting invocation of oppressive regimes as a comparison to people simply saying "Homeopathy is bollocks, here's why", shows how pathetically weak your "arguments" are.
In vitro tests and unblinded rat studies being debunked does not make your detractors nazis, any more than it makes you Galileo. Yet will not be proven right, ever. History will bear that out.
Errm, isn't anybody going to do a point-by-point refutation of chris's little seagull-posting at #5 before this thread gets too old? Or would this be a good thing for Orac to address in another post?
I know I've heard these claims (and seen a debunking) before, but I wouldn't mind seeing someone as Insolent as Orac take a whack at 'em.
You will not be proven right...
I, for one, would take a whack at debunking him, but I'm honestly not even sure what he's saying. He first posts a few articles about pogroms in Tsarist Russia after the failed 1905 revolution--which, to anyone who knows even a sliver of Pre-Soviet Russian History, shouldn't come as a surprise. Is he saying that Russians did not in fact launch pogroms against Jews?
Then, out of nowhere, he goes and starts babbling about The Jews as if they were some sort of institution known primarily for lying, and something about roller coasters into furnaces, which also seems to come right out of nowhere.
Hard to refute someone if you're not even sure what they're saying.
Is he saying that, because there were only 6,000,000 Jews in Russia before WWI, the Nazis couldn't have possibly killed that many a generation later?
All you need to know is that "chris" posted his/hers weird little rant on an article about homeopathy. This person is just as clueless as the numbnut who put two beer cans in my yard waste container after I put it out for collection. Obviously the fool did not know what the words "Yard Waste Only" means. It must be that "chris" cannot tell the difference between "holocaust" and "homeopathy."
Well they both start with "ho."
It can’t cure anything, not even thirst ...
Orac, you need to add Dr. Boli to your search database.
I'm not going to bother refuting every point of #5. Just google "256 references to 6000000 Jews prior to the Nuremberg Trial " and you'll discover alleged newspaper references to the exact same number of Jews killed in pogroms prior to 1935. You'll see impressive graphics of newspaperclippings, but not many links to actual archives. Somebody with more time than I have will have to track down each of these alleged reports - but I have a feeling they won't actually find many.
It apparently all comes from a book which claims that 6 million is some magic number in Jewish Kabbalism. PROOF that the Holocaust is a lie!
@Lucario - ARD and Chris have nailed it. Don't give the nasty little bell-end the oxygen of publicity.
It does not matter what the skeptics think or say about homeopathy.
I started reading "Sandra Courtney's website to see what evidence had convinced her of homeopathy's efficacy. I was side-tracked, alas, by the quotes heading the page, for she is of the "Purported testimonials from gullible celebrities" mode of argumentation.
A little Googling revealed that there is a small pool of 5 or 6 such citations, in which the opinions of David Beckham, Cindy Crawford and Paul McCartney mingle with equal status with those of Mahatma Gandhi; and they appear on literally *thousands* of homeopathy websites. It seems that every small-town shyster setting up shop in the homeopath racket begins by copying an existing website (often mis-spelling the Mahatma's surname), perhaps succussing the ingredients slightly to increase their potency.
Anyway, I started wondering, did Gandhi *really* announce that "Homeopathy cures a greater percentage of cases than any other method of treatment"? Certainly it would not be out of character (given all the other forms of misery and stupidity and superstition he bestowed upon the Indian population). But within the churning sea of homeopathic plagiarism, there is little concern for the citation of sources.
The best I could find was a reference to the "All India Homeopathic Medical Conference, 1968". It is certainly a testimonial to homeopathy if Gandhi could vouch for it 20 years after his death.
jre@35 -- That guy is really funny. Thanks!
In a similar vein to comment 4, but one that should result in a happy outcome. This was on TV in the UK last night about Neon Roberts, the 7 year old boy with a brain tumour whose mum was so intent on him avoiding conventional treatment she absconded with him. Luckily for Neon, the High Court awarded his dad custody. The man deserves a medal for patience. As for his mum, there was no woo too woeful that she did not want to push upon him. If you can access it, it makes for scary viewing!
Ooh Claire, thanks for the heads up, I missed that!
- herr Dr. Bimmler:
Indians, in my experience, don't consider homeopathy as what we consider it as such. In India, homeopathy is a part of a poorly resolved amalgan of herbal medicine, traditional Indian medicine, Ayurveda, etc, etc. It's still a crock of sh*t, but not the Hahnemann crock.
The bleeding always stops.
I started wondering, did Gandhi *really* announce that “Homeopathy cures a greater percentage of cases than any other method of treatment”?
Further obsessive Googling research reveals that the proximal source is the 1968 "All India Homeopathic Medical Conference". Evidently the Proceedings cite the recollections of one Chittaranjan Das, homeopathic evangelist and shameless opportunist (but I repeat myself), from 1950... Gandhi had been assassinated, which was the prompt for our man Chittaranjan to put words into his mouth of such nauseating sycophancy as to make a maggot gag:
“Homeopathy is the latest and refined method of treating patients economically and nonviolently. Government must encourage and patronise it in our country.
“Late Dr. Hahnemann was a man of superior intellectual power and means of saving human life, having a unique medical nerve. I bow before his skill and the Herculean and humanitarian labour he did.
“His memory wakes us again and you are to follow him, but the opponents hate the existence of the principles and practice of homeopathy, which in reality cures a larger percentage of cases than any other method of treatment, and it is beyond all doubt safer and more economical and the most complete medical science.”
It came as no surprise to find our old friend Dana Ullman purveying the whole story, in his book "Why Famous People and Cultural Heroes Choose Homeopathy".*
From there it has spread out through a process of homeotelepathy, to where we find it on Sandra Courtney's website (comment #13). Which is my excuse for going OT and mentioning it here.
* Ullman also cites Mother Teresa as using homeopathy on the paupers of Calcutta in preference to actual functional medicine; I can believe that story in light of MT's general belief that sickness and suffering were gifts from God, bestowed upon poor people in order to improve their souls.
It does not matter what the WOO BELIEVERS think or say about SKEPTICISM and SICENCE-BASED MEDICINE. It will continue to grow in popularity worldwide unless those who oppose it can carry out book burnings, shut down the newspapers and magazines, fire all the judges, attorneys, stop social networking through the internet, and imprison people who spread the news of homeopathy through contact from friend to friend, family member to family member, co-worker to co-worker, club members to club members, church group members to other members. Not going to happen.
Oh damn I missed some changes in my cut and paste. Hope the gist is clear.
I've a sister-in-law who's started buying into the homeopathy stuff. I've not bothered to try and argue with her over it. I learnt my lesson on that front when I tried to explain that there was a difference between communism and socialism, and that many western governments (including our own) had elements of socialism. The response I got means I'm not even going to try a topic like science or medicine. . .
@T Herling #26: I wonder if the homeopaths are being sort of clever there. If they admit that their remedies don't contain any "material substance", marks, only hearing the snippet, may conclude they contain immaterial magic.
The response I got means I’m not even going to try a topic like science or medicine. . .
I feel your pain. I just spent time with my siblings as we helped my dad clear out some piles of mail. This pile included lots of newsletters from "alternative doctors." He saw me tearing apart a fairly thick catalog and told me to stop because there might be something he needs in it. So I opened it up and read it to him (slightly edited, but actually true to the point) that is said; "Send us money and learn this secret on low cholesterol" or "Send us money on how to live longer!"
Then I told him the secrets they are trying to sell would be like our Aunt Sis's solution to long life: drink two tablespoons of cider vinegar a day. Then I told him someone (Kevin Trudeau) made lots of money making people buy secret to losing weight: do not eat more than 500 calories per day. He got my point and let me toss it out.
Though the next day he would not let me touch the piles on the dining room table.
Oh, and as we were clearing out one room we found literature from a "Christian Science" like church my late step-mother belonged to. She used to send me their ridiculous literature, which I thought was stupid when one essay described how the author fell and hit her head on a table and just prayed to God for help. I told my siblings she should have used the brains her God gave her and called 911. They could not argue against that.
@meg, I too understand completely. There are times when we know we aren't going to win the argument, so it's easiest just to say nothing, or go along with it to a certain extent. My sister-in-law's dad is heavily into the woo, and is constantly trying to sign me up to whatever his latest favourite cure is - colour therapy's the latest one.
I did however recently de-friend someone on FB because I was sick of the constant woo they were sharing. Yes, I could have just stopped them showing up on my newsfeed, bit I decided I didn't want to associate even by proxy on FB someone like that - I only friended them in the first place because we are part of the same SCA group.
During testimony I heard in our legislature, one of the "healers" explained, right out of SBM, how her homeopathic remedies were totally safe because they were so diluted they didn't contain any physical substance.
But then she went on to say they were energy medicines, and used energy to promote healing. The legislators didn't bat an eye, and passed the law permitting quacks to be exempt from medical practice acts.
I thought this might interest people here:
A documentary about the mother in the UK who ran off to stop her son getting radiotherapy for his cancer. I don't know if it can be accessed outside the UK, but it contains an interview with this quack:
Don’t give the nasty little bell-end the oxygen of publicity.
I have been wondering about this epithet since I heard on the Merseyside Skeptiks' Skeptiks with a K podcast. What exactly does it mean and what is the origin of this lovely phrase? All I can associate it with is flared tubing.
*Master of British Ivective
In origin, "bell-end" refers to the glans, and in invective it means "unpleasant man" (certainly I have never heard anyone call a woman a bell-end).
Try googling "New Zealand Press Council Homeopathy"and see how a magazine that points out homeopathy is rubbish get told off for being inaccurate. If doing so be careful to check out who Dr David St George is -pity the Press Council didn"t bother doing that.
I saw the documentary on Channel 4 that several have linked to above, and it was interesting because I found that thanks to reading this site and others of similar ilk I could identify the fallacies and tendencies. It held all the classic alt med stuff:
The mother thought she as a parent should have the right to decide, and it was no business of the state. Oh well, and of course the father as well, but he "didn't understand it", had bought the propaganda so to speak
The father gave the son all sorts of herbal remedies and what not according to a strict schedule the mother had created (because the court dictated rightly that the son should live with the father while this went on)
And some alt-med peddlers that would happily sell you all sorts of treatments and gimmicks to help the healing. That part has to be seen to be believed.
All up scary stuff. I felt sorry for the kid. He made it through the treatment and is healthy now, but the amount of alt-med crap that he will be surrounded by or have to swallow going forward is going to be severe if not equal to downright mistreatment, if the mothers past performance is anything to go by!
It's geoblocked. I can't see it in the US.
We know how easily people can fool themselves, we understand in great detail the cognitive biases that lead people to believe that homeopathy (and other inert or even actively dangerous remedies) is effective. We have known how to eliminate these biases and figure out what really is and isn't effective for over a century. Yet here we are in 2013 and homeopathy is still with us.
This caught my eye:
toxins would be excreted through the skin
That's another CAM trope that deserves to be pointed out. CAMsters have such little faith in the human body's abilities to excrete waste products that they believe it needs help, or it will have to resort to squirting stuff out of the sweat glands, which can be helped by infrared saunas of course. Very little in the way of toxins or other waste products are excreted through the skin, when compared to the organs specifically designed for that purpose, the liver and kidneys. We do accumulate some toxic substances, especially fat soluble ones (dioxins and THC for example), in our adipose tissues, and some such as aluminum in our bones.
[sarcasm] A major excretory path for mercury is, of course, through the hair. You can tell when someone is suffering from mercury toxicity when they have low levels of mercury in their hair, which means they are not excreting it properly. [/sarcasm]
Robert O. Young thinks our bodies give up in disgust, and that they store all the acidic wastes we insist on ingesting in the form of fatty tissue and as cancer.
The number of detoxing herbs and other modalities available on the CAM market is truly astonishing. Few people think to ask what specific toxins are being eliminated in greater quantities with the treatment than without, how these remedies assist this process and what evidence there is that they do (the answers: are none, they don't, and none respectively).
Oh, and as we were clearing out one room we found literature from a “Christian Science” like church my late step-mother belonged to.
Mark Twain on Christian Science is hilarious, the first part anyway - it gets a bit bogged down later on.
I'm puzzled by the intent of Sandra Courtney's post. In a sense, I suppose it could be an equivalent to the Apostles' creed - a statement of her faith that only violent and highly improbable actions (ones that nobody I know of even remotely considers, so potentially a windmill that she perceives as a giant) would decrease the popularity of homeopath. It might also be a taunt that she believes would cause skeptics to fall into spittle-flecked rage, chewing on the carpet and scenery and scaring the neighbor children. I can't imagine anyone caring enough about the statement to have more to wonder about her grip on reality.
sigh, I need to proofread better.
I'm watching that Channel 4 documentary with a growing sense of anger - seeing a brain scan that showed a huge brain tumor and then an alternative therapist claiming the child was not unwell beggars belief.
It’s geoblocked. I can’t see it in the US.
There are ways of watching geoblocked UK TV, such as free UK VPNs or proxies. They can be a bit slow; paid services are faster.
@Christoph Geisler #43
You may be correct in your description of the amalgam herbal treatments in India have become but I was in Vadodara and there is a statue of Hahnemann in one of the many traffic circles.
Is evidence for homoeopathy reproducible? (1994)
homeopathic medicine in 30c on 28 allergic asthma patients does more than placebo
Engystol for treatment of bronchial asthma (1995)
Homoeopathic versus conventional therapy for atopic eczema in children (2009)
Complementary Therapies in Medicine
Homoeopathic versus conventional treatment of children with eczema (2008)
n=118, t=1 year
Well watching that documentary was painful, but things turned out OK. Seeing so many CAM canards on TV (on my Kindle while wandering about multitasking, actually) was a bit weird. The mother clearly believes the toxins theory of everything, claiming that it was her mercury amalgam fillings that caused her son's brain tumor, and there was even a nod to the Geiers with her alternative therapist (who in my opinion should be prosecuted for spreading dangerous lies about cancer treatments) suggesting that his twin sister didn't get cancer because of testosterone affecting mercury toxicity.
She subjects the poor kid to diet quackery ("You're not allowed Weetabix!"), hyperbaric therapy, and fills him up with ghastly green juices, zeolite and other useless junk. She even had a quack technology salesman monitoring microwaves in her home, and selling her a net that miraculously prevents the microwaves zapping her kids.
It's very sad that she will never understand that the treatment her son received has given him the very best possible chance of living a normal healthy life, given our current of scientific knowledge, and that if she had had her way he would very likely have been dead by now. At least she didn't take him to Burzysnki.
From what I have read and seen in my patient population, some get so invested in their position being correct, they become credulous to the possibility of their position being wrong. Their reaction formation becomes their dogma. They can't separate their belief from themselves and therefore defend it at all costs. They fear loss of "self" if their position is wrong. In some cases it would appear delusional or an irrational fear. This is (imo) why they can't be "reasoned" with. As for #5 I think it is med time, go get your nurse.
One of the most incredible " excrete toxins through the skin" protocolsI've heard involved taking a bath ( soak?) in water with a large amount of kosher salt dissolved in it: this would allow the poisons to stream outwards into the water and then go down the drain. Talk about purification rituals!
( heard from a yoga instructor)
Denice - would a dip in the ocean work as well? And what is it about kosher salt - pickling salt dissolves faster.
Enquiring minds ...
And what is it about kosher salt – pickling salt dissolves faster.
Funny you should mention that, as an American recipe for mayonnaise I followed yesterday specified both sea salt (preferably a flaky one like Maldon) and "kosher salt", which is unheard of in the UK (even in stores in Jewish areas - I've tried). "Why 2 different types of salt?" I wondered. I had an idea that kosher salt was citric acid, but luckily a nagging doubt led me to ask an American I keep about the place for just such occasions, and she kindly explained that it is all about the texture, and that the rock salt we had in the cupboard was a close approximation to kosher salt (citric acid is sour salt, it turns out). This proved to be a big mistake. I now have some excellent mayo with great big crunchy spheres of rock salt in it. which is not a pleasant experience at all. I'm seriously thinking about putting it through a sieve.
Anyway, maybe it's also all about the texture in the ablutional purification ritual Denice describes. That extra bit of suffering from bits of undissolved salt on the bottom of the bath may make all the difference.
@ Mephistopheles O'Brien:
I have no idea. Possibly the kosher salt is to insure ritual puirty? ( I'm joking).
I have also heard woo about hot springs and their arcane cure-all powers. Supposedly writer Jack London fancied the bubbling waters near Ukiah, CA. True, sulphurous waters might conceivanly help skin conditions but the woo surrounding mineral baths extends far beyond the surface.
But then, minerals are of the earth, Gaian-born so obviously magical.
More salt woo about Celtic salt , sea salt and Himalayan salt to add to food - more than NaCl because of the minerals. I know someone who insists on Celtic salt,,, and is a celt.
I'll venture a guess why woos lurve this crap ( rock salt, sea salt, kosher salt etc) because it's.....
You buy it and it looks like a rock ( see natural news store) and you have to grind it up to put on food- just like our primitive ancestors did!
Even the celtic salt is grainy ( not neat and fine like the stuff you buy in a food store) because it is harvested from the SEA!
Dr. Nancy Malik
August 16, 2013
Needless to say, non-doctor Nancy Malik (Bachelor of Homoeopathic Medicine and Surgery) is one of the offenders for propagating spurious Gandhi testimonials. I would have thought that if homeopathy *worked*, then it wouldn't matter which celebrities have vouched for it. But then I would also have thought that the average life expectancy in homeopathy-riddled India (compared with the average expectancy in allopathy-riddled Scandinavia) is hardly a great advertisement for Hahnemann's brand of magical thinking.
Other bloggers have already explored undoctor Malik's phenomenal ability to cite papers without reading enough of their contents to realise that they flatly contradict what she claims about them.
On the subject of salt, I've got a colleague who's a big believer in "natural" food. His latest idea is that purified NaCl is bad for you - it's much better to use unrefined sea salt*. The reason why refined salt is bad he did not succeed in making very clear to me - apparently the higher NaCl content (or lower content of everything else?**) causes you to consume more salt overall, and the poison is in the dose rather than the specific chemistry.
* He's very concerned with any additives put into food by humans, particularly if they're in themselves somehow "unnatural", but not at all with naturally occuring impurities.
** Except iodine I guess, but then he's previously expressed objections to adding iodine to table salt. It's unnatural.
I just love being the splinter in the everyone's eyes. :o)
@ Andreas Johansson:
There's a Green Med Info article by Sircus ( sp) of this past February that explains why the refined stuff is so bad for you.
They believe that the sodium content is lower, the extra minerals are healthy ( esp magnesium) and no
Gottverdammte** additives are involved.
There's also material on the celtic sea salt site.
There is a lot of woo concerning salt.
-btw- doesn't salt keep witches away in European folklore?
** I know, I know, it's not Swedish but same language family..
@Krebiozen - I'm sure there's something more about kosher salt, but you're correct that it is coarser than table salt. On the other hand, it is not nearly as coarse as rock salt. I can't imagine what that does for you in mayonnaise, as I'd expect the salt to dissolve (unless you use rock salt, naturally). The rule of thumb is you can use half the volume of table salt as kosher salt (because of the texture - kosher salt takes up twice the volume of the same weight of table salt).
The coarser texture makes a difference sometimes when you don't want it to dissolve completely.
I just love being the splinter in the everyone’s eyes.
Oooh, wait, I know this one. Something about a beam in your own eye.
I guess you hope to be an irritant that could, in time without adequate treatment, blind people. In my humble opinion, it's not working.
I just love being the splinter in the everyone’s eyes.
Actually you, along with Nancy Malik, are perfect examples of how hollow homeopathy and its advocates are. You just spout off empty platitudes, but refuse to answer the hard questions.
Look at what Malik claims: "Eczema
Homoeopathic versus conventional therapy for atopic eczema in children (2009)"
She never looked at the paper which concludes: "Conclusion: Taking patient preferences into account, homoeopathic treatment was not superior to conventional treatment for children with mild to moderate atopic eczema."
And we all know how well it worked for baby Gloria Thomas Sam's eczema.
Perhaps you 3ill now answer the direct question I asked you in post # 19? I'll repeat it for convenience
What in your opinion is the single most compelling peice of clinical evidence demonstrating that homeopathy is actually effective at treating non-self limiting injuries or illnesses?
the most compelling clinical evidence supporting the efficacy of homeopathy for any indication
Nancy Malik, that is conversation. Andre Saine makes this statement: "Many cases of clinical rabies in both animals and humans and experimental rabies have been reported to have fully recovered under homeopathic treatment."
Now, where are the PubMed indexed studies showing rabies is cured with homeopathy?
I am sorry, but we cannot take Mr. Saine's claim without verifiable proof. Show us the peer reviewed data. Or better yet the test done in laboratory animals like mice or rats.
That isn't evidence for efficacy, Nancy. That's an apologetic offered to try to deal with the fact there is no evidence for homeopathy's efficacy.
She just posted Saine claiming homeopathy cures rabies! That needs independent proof with real evidence.
She just posted Saine claiming homeopathy cures rabies!
If Ms Malik regards an unsupported conversational claim as "the most compelling clinical evidence supporting the efficacy of homeopathy for any indication", then imagine what the less compelling clinical evidence must be like!
@ Krebiozen: I may have found a place for you to purchase "Kosher Salt"....which, BTW, is similar to flaked sea salt.
I've been using kosher salt for eons...on salads and on meats that I barbecue or roast. Years ago, I was only able to purchase large cartons of kosher salt and those cartons had directions for koshering meat for those who kept a strict kosher home.
Now, I can purchase much smaller cartons of Morton's kosher salt, with no directions at all for koshering meat; marketed strictly for cooks who prefer the taste and texture of this type of salt.
I believe that "koshering" is rarely done at home now; koshering is done before you purchase fowl or meat at kosher butcher shops.
Hey Nancy, where's the proof that homeopathic "medicine" has ever cured rabies in animals or in humans?
How many human rabies cases have you treated with homeopathy medicine? You've got a whole lot of chances to have the opportunity to treat rabies in India, where 20,000 people, mostly children die of rabies, each year.
herr doktor bimler @39: I couldn't verify that Gandhi quote either, and I have several reliable quotation sites bookmarked (I hate people trying to boost their argument with quotes from famous people).
I would guess the Gandhi site you landed on was this one. Well, Gandhi was supposed to have said it in 1950, and was quoted in 1968. But the links all lead to a Dana Ullman book on Google Books; other links in the article that claim the Mahatma supported homeopathy all lead to various other Google Books; when I tried nearly all of them, I got either 'not found' or books where the name "Gandhi" appears on the same page as "homeopathy"! The one genuine pro-homeopathy quote from him appears to be "Personally, I would prefer homeopathy anyday to allopathy. Only I have no personal experience of its efficacy". But as the book it appears in explains, he said that after he had suffered a bad reaction to some allopathic medicine. So he was almost certainly making a rather laboured joke.
Matthew 7:5, M'oB.
Is kosher salt the same thing as pickling salt? We are winding down the pickling/canning season here, and there's about half a bag left over if anyone wants it. I still have salsa to put up but that doesn't call for pickling salt.
LOL! I see we have both not-a-doctor Nancy Malik and Sandra Courtney (aka @BrownBagPantry) trying their best to argue in favour of homeopathy but having their arguments destroyed by scientific evidence. Their ability to repeat the same deluded nonsense is legendary. Nancy has now reached the stage where, like that other high-profile homeopathy shill Dana Ullman, she has her own article on RationalWiki http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Nancy_Malik
Maybe Sandra Courtney is jealous of Nancy's "fame" and is looking to gain a similar level of recognition.
Whatever the reasons for their persistence, I think it's worthwhile adding their names to the Dullman Law http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Dullman#The_.28D.29Ullman_Law
"Being Dana Ullman, Nancy Malik or Sandra Courtney loses you the argument immediately and gets you laughed out of the room".
Herr Doktor Bimler @39 and sophia8 @88, some time ago I tried to track down the source of that Gandhi quote. So far as I got, I think, was to a reference from Dana Ullman's book saying that it was in address to homeopathy students in, I think, September 1936. However, I could not find the speech in Gandhi's Collected Writings, and what he did say about homeopathy in his correspondence from the collected works made me doubt the veracity of the quotation. I think it was probably made up by the homeopathy shill herr dokter bimler cited, after Gandhi's death.
I just love being the splinter in the everyone’s eyes.
You mean annoying as hell and cause for disease?
Oh sweetheart, you are.
I couldn’t verify that Gandhi quote either, and I have several reliable quotation sites bookmarked (I hate people trying to boost their argument with quotes from famous people).
I would guess the Gandhi site you landed on was this one.
That was one of them, yes.
It's mendacity all the way down. Supposedly Gandhi spouted his astonishing paean of homeopathic praise -- which reads like someone's profession of devotion to Stalin in the midst of a loyalty purge -- in 1936, in private conversation with Chittaranjan Das. This was after the latter bullsh1t artist had convinced Gandhi of the superiority of homeopathy... except he did not get around to recollecting this conversation (and enlisting Gandhi as a devotee of Hahnemann) until 14 years later, in 1950 when Gandhi was dead and not issuing refutations.
Then Chittaranjan's unsupported, self-serving ventriloquism act went dormant for 18 years until it resurfaced in a 1968 homeopathic jamboree. Finally Ullman's dumpster-diving introduced it to the Intertubes where it has been churned endlessly ever since... In the company of the considered medical opinions of David Beckham and Cindy Crawford, and a twisted, out-of-context put-down from Mark Twain.
Shay - pickling salt is finer than table salt and kosher salt is coarser than it. However, kosher salt and pickling salt are similar in that they're not iodized and often don't have anti-caking agents.
M'OB, that's right. My SO is an one of the best artisan cheese-makers in this Province, and many of her textbooks recommend Kosher salt for home cheese making.
Love how Malik's 'best evidence' is basically special pleading to avoid providing any evidence at all. Tells you all you need to know about accepting her claims.
sheepmilker - is your SO's artisan cheeses based on sheep's milk or ... ? Just curious.
Orac should do an article called "no - chemotherapy didn't cure you" and reference the doctor in Michigan who falsely diagnosed people with cancer so he could bilk millions out of the system. Homeopathy is fraudulent?
Here is what the article says
The complaint further alleges that Dr. Fata directed the administration of unnecessary chemotherapy to patients in remission; deliberate misdiagnosis of patients as having cancer to justify unnecessary cancer treatment; administration of chemotherapy to end-of-life patients who will not benefit from the treatment; deliberate misdiagnosis of patients without cancer to justify expensive testing; fabrication of other diagnoses such as anemia and fatigue to justify unnecessary hematology treatments, and distribution of controlled substances to patients without medical necessity or are administered at dangerous levels.
Dude, that is so six days ago.
And just because Person A is a creep doesn't mean that Person B can't also be a creep.
M'OB, when we had our own dairy, we did solely sheep milk cheese. We were then employed by a much larger artisan dairy that did sheep, goat and cow (now sadly defunct).
JGC: I hope the American public is capable of being educated..
Oh, that's funny.
JGC: I hope the American public is capable of being educated..
Oh, that’s funny.
And that is irony writ large.
No homoeopathy is not funded at all by government in New Zealand. It does though have a aremarkably strong and uninformed following. I was quite shocked to find we have a medical person Dr David St George working for our Ministry of health under the title "Integrative Health Advisor". He was the one who fisked the North and South article for the homoeopath who laid the complaint. It surprises me he acts for the government in what I think should be an unbiased role, and yet quite biased and pseudoscientific in his defence of homoeopathy.
But looking into the background our Advisor in Integrative Care is not unbiased at all.
I am a man of science. I am not saying that homeopathy works or that it is quackery. What I am saying is be careful when you make such definitive statements as homeopathy violates the laws of physics and chemistry. At one time current science said the world was the center of the universe. Now with the advent of quantum mechanics we know that Newtonian physics is only partially right. All we can say is that something does not jive with our current scientific knowledge. There are numerous medications in "real medicine" that work while we don't have the foggiest idea of why they do. Please don't be closed minded.
Homeopathy *does* violate the laws of physics and chemistry. That is true regardless of whether or not we will someday learn the laws of physics are incomplete; it violates them as they're known today. It also makes claims that are internally inconsistent, which makes it very hard to imagine any changes in the laws of physics which could make homeopathy make any sort of sense.
In any case, you bring up medicines that work without a full understanding of why. There's one of the crucial differences between medicine and homeopathy. We know those medications work. There is no reproducible, controlled evidence that homeopathy works. Without evidence *that* it works, it's pretty much a waste of time to wonder *how*.
Some things are tried because they are scientifically plausible, but there is no evidence yet that they work. Some things are used because there is evidence they work though the mechanism isn't fully understood. Homeopathy doesn't manage to fit either of these categories -- there's no reason to think it would work, and no evidence that it does either. I am willing to be convinced by evidence of either, but it hasn't happened yet.
Hammad: "I am a man of science."
No you are not. Especially if you do not understand the relative values between Avogadro's Number and the dilution required for 30C, which is 10^60 (a one with sixty zeroes after it).
You need to both review high school chemistry and algebra.
Hammad "I am a man of science".
Really Hammad? What is your field of study and what type of medicine do you practice?