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← The trouble with homeopathy

Richard Dawkins's Avatar Jump to comment 9 by Richard Dawkins

It's far too easy for the experimenters to cheat. All they have to do is use a real medicine for the "homeopathic" doses and omit it for the control doses, and then NOT dilute the doses very much.
Obviously any experiment, in any branch of science, is invalidated if the experimenters deliberately cheat. It goes without saying that, in a contentious experiment like this, policing against deliberate cheating would have to be more than usually scrupulous. The point of double blind trials is to guard against not deliberate cheating but inadvertent self-deception. Inadvertent self-deception is what lies behind almost all the alleged 'evidence' in favour of 'alternative' therapies, and other dubious procedures such as dowsing and telepathy. That is what is ruled out by a good double blind design. Deliberate cheating obviously has to be ruled out by other means, in any experiment.


Wed, 24 Feb 2010 12:45:00 UTC | #443718