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← James Randi Explains - Homeopathy

James Randi Explains - Homeopathy - Comments

Mr Blue Sky's Avatar Comment 1 by Mr Blue Sky

Yep, once you believe in magical thinking all things are possible! SO many gullible people out there and so many vested interests.

Thu, 18 Feb 2010 07:52:00 UTC | #442065

passutoba's Avatar Comment 2 by passutoba

“An infinitely thin slice of nothing, with the crust trimmed off and the center removed.”

A lovely quote....I'll remember that and keep overdosing......

Thu, 18 Feb 2010 08:28:00 UTC | #442069

MarkOnTheRiver's Avatar Comment 3 by MarkOnTheRiver

How dare you impugn the reputation of my august scientific body.

You'll be hearing from my solicitors shortly. . . as soon as they've finished crucifying Simon Singh!

Thu, 18 Feb 2010 08:52:00 UTC | #442072

agentwhim's Avatar Comment 4 by agentwhim

It is a shame that Randi didn't point out why Homeopathy appears to work, through the placebo effect and regression to the mean, and the damage it can do, by delaying proper treatment. Without this element, gullible people will just think: "Well, I know people who have had good experiences with homeopathy and it can't do any harm."

Thu, 18 Feb 2010 09:10:00 UTC | #442076

Roland_F's Avatar Comment 5 by Roland_F

I thought the “concentrated” A30x means a 1:100 ratio dilution repeated 30 times ( 100**30 = 10**60) which would mean 60 zeros.
Anyway whether 1 single Arnica molecule expected for the molecules of the solar system or for the entire galaxy or whole universe doesn't mean the big difference any more to cause a medical impact.

And the A200x would mean then the 1:100 dilution repeated 200 times (100**200 = 10**400) e.g. 400 zeros … well 1 single molecule for several multiverses.

Thu, 18 Feb 2010 10:31:00 UTC | #442088

aussieatheist_111's Avatar Comment 6 by aussieatheist_111

Apparently Arnica gel (when used at a decent concentration) has a little evidence to support it. Why must they dilute it to nothingness though? Sheer lunacy.

Thu, 18 Feb 2010 10:59:00 UTC | #442093

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Comment 7 by Jos Gibbons

Comment #461809 by Roland_F

You've confused X with C. Think Roman numerals. 1C = 2X etc.

Thu, 18 Feb 2010 12:10:00 UTC | #442100

AJD48's Avatar Comment 8 by AJD48

Homeopathy and the principle of "like cures like" is true, as is my own system of medicine,
Kideopathy, whose central principle is "tyke cures tyke" In Kideopathy, "tyke cures tyke" means that, for example, a five year old child is treated by another five year old (although on occasion a six year old may do the treatment, but no older).

Some of you may spurn Kideopathy but, I assure you, it works every bit as well as Homeopathy.

Thu, 18 Feb 2010 12:12:00 UTC | #442101

Luciani's Avatar Comment 9 by Luciani

I noticed on the site that someone links to JB explains Homeopathy better than James Randi:

JB then responds to a challenge of producing a trial that has a positive outcome over placebo. He responds as such:

[quote]You ask for one scientifically positive-proven survey about homeopathy. I will do better than that. I will give you 5 META ANALYSES:
Cucherat etal 2000* 16 Hi-Qt studies POSITIVE.
Linde& Melchart 1998* 32 Hi-Qt studies POSITIVE.
Lindeetal 1997* 89 studies POSITIVE.
Boissel etal 1996 15 Hi-Qt studies POSITIVE.
Kleijnenetal 1991 105 studies POSITIVE.
Will you allow your prejudice or scientific mind to win out. You have lost the argument but your prejudice is much more comfortable, isn't it?[/quote]

Linde & Melchart 1998: "when the analysis was restricted to the methodologicall y best trials no significant effect was seen ... The evidence, however, is not convincing because of methodological shortcomings and inconsistencies ."
I also noticed it was published in J Altern Complement Med.
Not exactly a Cochrane meta-analysis (a very professional institution specializing in meta-analyses). It would also be interesting to compare these results to a funnel-plot test of the trials selected to exclude publication bias.

On another note: I could not find any of the other mentioned articles on pubmed (the recognized database portal for ALL clinical trials). Links, good sir, links.

Something people also tend to forget: statiscally speaking in the scientific community, we recognize a trial as significant when there is less than a 5% chance, that the result is because of pure chance.
When there have been conducted trials for ca. 200 years there are bound to be quite a few trials that have positive results based on chance.

That is why it is exceedingly important that meta-analyses are based on stringent, transparent criteria so as to avoid cherry-picking of even the most well-conducted trials on homeopathy.

We all ridicule the fundamentals of homeopathy (with damn good reason) but what to do when they respond with trials back? By critically evaluating them as with every other article.
Do not be bullied by references to absolute crap articles when scrutinized. There is a reason the scientific community condemns this sort of quackery. And especially do not be put down by a doctor or scientist endorsing it.

A quote comes to mind, which I am para-phrasing:
"There isn't a hypothesis stupid and ridiculous enough that you can't find at least one Ph.D. to endorse it" Frighteningly true. Which is why authority is no substitution to the scientific method which ANYONE can practice.

Thu, 18 Feb 2010 12:45:00 UTC | #442107

PJG's Avatar Comment 10 by PJG

There is a problem with being given evidence of efficacy for homeopathy in the form of "proper trails published in peer-reviewed journals".

When I have followed these up I have generally either been unable to track down the papers at all (online) or they have not offered the support for homeopathy that the person had claimed. Very often, proper references or links are not given so it can be too time consuming to bother with. However, one which I was told "proved" that homeopathy worked is mentioned on the NHS Directory Complementary therapies site - it says:

"In another study (Belougne-Malfatti et al, 1998), it was found that homeopathic doses of aspirin had significant effects on platelet aggregation and in reducing bleeding time. As normal doses of aspirin increase bleeding time, it was predicted that homeopathic doses would reduce it, a prediction that was verified in this study."

The NHS site doesn't appear to give proper references (tut tut) but if it says the study exists, it MUST be true mustn't it? [/sarcasm]

Does anyone know anything about this - or have the time to track it down?

Thu, 18 Feb 2010 14:04:00 UTC | #442128

Coppo's Avatar Comment 11 by Coppo, so the NHS study says that normal doses of Aspirin increase bleeding time (sudden recall of James Robertson Justice here), whereas Homeopathic Aspirin - i.e. Aspirin that has no Aspirin in it, would reduce the bleeding time. Like DOH! Bleedin' obvious, or what!?

who agreed to this criteria as a measure of homeopathic effectiveness?

Let me see, hitting someone on the head with a hammer causes severe injuries.... However, using a homopathic hammer will reduce the injury rate...

WTF... there are times when....

Thu, 18 Feb 2010 14:44:00 UTC | #442133

Luciani's Avatar Comment 12 by Luciani

Comment #461853 by PJG

Only article by the aformentioned author in 1998 here:

"Thromboembolic Complications Several Days After a Single-Dose Administration of Aspirin"

There was nothing in the article, where they even mention extreme diluted concentrations of aspirin with this as the protocol of the study.

This is actually worrying.

I understand when scammers, New-Ageists, religious and immoral commercialists lie to advance their agenda; but the NHS?!

Thu, 18 Feb 2010 15:20:00 UTC | #442141

PJG's Avatar Comment 13 by PJG

Thank you Luciani

In fact, it looks as if the one they are referring to is in a link next to that one:

Combination of Two Doses of Acetyl Salicylic Acid: Experimental Study of Arterial Thrombosis
Thrombosis Research
Volume 90, Issue 5, 1 June 1998, Pages 215-221

Is there a doctor in the house?

Thu, 18 Feb 2010 15:56:00 UTC | #442150

canatheist's Avatar Comment 14 by canatheist

gullible people will just think: "Well, I know people who have had good experiences with homeopathy and it can't do any harm."

Homeopathy doesn't do any harm because it doesn't do any good.

As to why there are so many gullible people in the world.... if you believe in the Bible, it's not much of a stretch to believe in other forms of "magic"

Thu, 18 Feb 2010 16:16:00 UTC | #442152

Luciani's Avatar Comment 15 by Luciani

Thanks for the correct link, PJG. That puts me a lot more at ease concerning governmental funding!

I've taken a quick peek at the article already and have some questions raised concerning their choice of parameters in the "in vivo" setting.

I'll post a more detailed response later, when I have a moment.

Thu, 18 Feb 2010 16:32:00 UTC | #442157

PJG's Avatar Comment 16 by PJG

Thanks again Luciani.

I'll look forward to it.

Thu, 18 Feb 2010 16:55:00 UTC | #442165

sundiver's Avatar Comment 17 by sundiver

I dunno, I don't mind if people use homeopathic shit, of course it'd be best if they haven't reproduced yet.....ducks and runs.....

Thu, 18 Feb 2010 17:47:00 UTC | #442177

Mitch Kahle's Avatar Comment 18 by Mitch Kahle

Do they use homeopathic sperm at infertility clinics?

Thu, 18 Feb 2010 18:07:00 UTC | #442179

Border Collie's Avatar Comment 19 by Border Collie

The thought of water "remembering" everything that's been in it is making me seriously gag at this moment ...

Thu, 18 Feb 2010 21:19:00 UTC | #442206

Duff's Avatar Comment 20 by Duff

Good one, Border Collie. I'll avoid your water and you avoid mine.

Thu, 18 Feb 2010 21:56:00 UTC | #442219

Mr DArcy's Avatar Comment 21 by Mr DArcy

How the hell does an electron "know" which proton to orbit anyway?

"Hey man, I'm a free agent. I can do what I like. I'm gonna break outta this shell an' see some other proton. Yeah, yeah, I got my tunneling equipment right here, so bye bye baby!"

As for molecules. We all know they have far better memories than mere atoms.

Thu, 18 Feb 2010 22:05:00 UTC | #442222

Roland_F's Avatar Comment 22 by Roland_F

Comment #461821 by Jos Gibbons :

Thanks for the info. As there were some earlier articles stating 30 times 1:100 and other articles coming up with 30 zeros. So there are 30X and 30C diluted versions, beside 200 (X or C) or whatever fancy descriptions they use.

Anyway more likely to win the lottery every weekend for the next year than finding a single molecule of arnica in a small homeopathic bottle.

Fri, 19 Feb 2010 02:27:00 UTC | #442249

Border Collie's Avatar Comment 23 by Border Collie

Does the lucky twit who possibly eventually actually finds the molecule get cured? Wait, no, there aren't enough people on the Earth to drink all the oceans in the Universe to find it. Oh, well.

Fri, 19 Feb 2010 03:41:00 UTC | #442258

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Comment 24 by Jos Gibbons

Comment #461974 by Roland_F

You exaggerate. The probability of finding at least 1 molecule of an active agent in a small homeopathic bottle is 10^n where n is in the dozens, whereas the probability of winning 52 consecutive jackpots is 10^n where n is in the hundreds. On the other hand, if you're talking about enough molecules to in any way make a difference, good or bad, then I expect that you're correct.

Fri, 19 Feb 2010 07:37:00 UTC | #442261

Nunbeliever's Avatar Comment 25 by Nunbeliever

I have to say I have stopped caring about homeopathy. If people are so damn stupid that they believe in homeopathy... well, bad luck! If they die due to delayed proper treatment at least we have a few less nutcases in this world.

In contrast to christians I have never heard of homeopath missionaries.

Fri, 19 Feb 2010 13:38:00 UTC | #442318

Roland_F's Avatar Comment 26 by Roland_F

24. Comment #461986 by Jos Gibbons
I know the Lottery 6 out of 49 in my home country, which means the odds are 1: 13,9 million, ergo in 52 week 1: 723 million (just 9 zeros).
Not sure how large the macromolecule of Arnica is though e.g. grams/Mol -- and how many ml of 30C or 30X diluted water is supposed to be mixed into the small sugar pills.

Fri, 19 Feb 2010 14:05:00 UTC | #442334

Luciani's Avatar Comment 27 by Luciani

Fri, 19 Feb 2010 15:06:00 UTC | #442361

Luciani's Avatar Comment 28 by Luciani

Comment #461890 by PJG

I read the article and must admit that the results did seem quite valid at first. There were some methodological faults such as lack of blinding, which is also important in these kind of tests as it is a known phenomenon, that you can subconciously skew your results (and these guys could be homeopaths).

But then I noticed one flaw that really stuck out and explains it all in my opinion:

They dilute their ultra-low-dose ASA in distilled water while their control dose is an isotonic 0.9 % NaCl saline water.

This explains why the blood vessels react differently to the homeopathic solution. Hypotonic solutions in vivo cause damage. Isotonic all good.

Ridiculous mistake to make, but puts that article to rest.

Fri, 19 Feb 2010 15:14:00 UTC | #442363

SaintStephen's Avatar Comment 29 by SaintStephen

Apologies in advance if it has already been posted, but here is an essay on religion by James Randi, from the same Scientific Indians website.

Sun, 21 Feb 2010 07:12:00 UTC | #442709

Half_Cut's Avatar Comment 30 by Half_Cut


Correct me if I’m wrong

A sugar pill can remember the properties from a drop of water that dries on its surface, a substance that has never come into contact with that drop of water and induces the symptoms you are trying to treat.

It doesn’t make much sense until you remember that the mixture is bashed on a magic leather pad ten times before each dilution.

Mon, 22 Feb 2010 11:45:00 UTC | #443069