MD, PhD, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd

A recent interview on alternative medicine for the German magazine DER SPIEGEL prompted well over 500 comments; even though, in the interview, I covered numerous alternative therapies, the discussion that followed focussed almost entirely on homeopathy. Yet again, many of the comments provided a reminder of the quasi-religious faith many people have in homeopathy.

There can, of course, be dozens of reasons for such strong convictions. Yet, in my experience, some seem to be more prevalent and important than others. During my last two decades in researching homeopathy, I think, I have identified several of the most important ones. In this post, I try to outline a typical sequence of events that eventually leads to a faith in homeopathy which is utterly immune to fact and reason.

The epiphany

The starting point of this journey towards homeopathy-worship is usually an impressive personal experience which is often akin to an epiphany (defined as a moment of sudden and great revelation or realization). I have met hundreds of advocates of homeopathy, and those who talk about this sort of thing invariably offer impressive stories about how they metamorphosed from being a ‘sceptic’ (yes, it is truly phenomenal how many believers insist that they started out as sceptics) into someone who was completely bowled over by homeopathy, and how that ‘moment of great revelation’ changed the rest of their lives. Very often, this ‘Saulus-Paulus conversion’ relates to that person’s own (or a close friend’s) illness which allegedly was cured by homeopathy.

Rachel Roberts, chief executive of the Homeopathy Research Institute, provides as good an example of this sort of epiphany as anyone; in an article in THE GUARDIAN, she described her conversion to homeopathy with the following words:

I was a dedicated scientist about to begin a PhD in neuroscience when, out of the blue, homeopathy bit me on the proverbial bottom.

Science had been my passion since I began studying biology with Mr Hopkinson at the age of 11, and by the age of 21, when I attended the dinner party that altered the course of my life, I had still barely heard of it. The idea that I would one day become a homeopath would have seemed ludicrous.

That turning point is etched in my mind. A woman I’d known my entire life told me that a homeopath had successfully treated her when many months of conventional treatment had failed. As a sceptic, I scoffed, but was nonetheless a little intrigued.

She confessed that despite thinking homeopathy was a load of rubbish, she’d finally agreed to an appointment, to stop her daughter nagging. But she was genuinely shocked to find that, after one little pill, within days she felt significantly better. A second tablet, she said, “saw it off completely”.

I admit I ruined that dinner party. I interrogated her about every detail of her diagnosis, previous treatment, time scales, the lot. I thought it through logically – she was intelligent, she wasn’t lying, she had no previous inclination towards alternative medicine, and her reluctance would have diminished any placebo effect.

Scientists are supposed to make unprejudiced observations, then draw conclusions. As I thought about this, I was left with the highly uncomfortable conclusion that homeopathy appeared to have worked. I had to find out more.

So, I started reading about homeopathy, and what I discovered shifted my world for ever. I became convinced enough to hand my coveted PhD studentship over to my best friend and sign on for a three-year, full-time homeopathy training course.

Now, as an experienced homeopath, it is “science” that is biting me on the bottom. I know homeopathy works…

As I said, I have heard many strikingly similar accounts. Some of these tales seem a little too tall to be true and might be a trifle exaggerated, but the consistency of the picture that emerges from all of these stories is nevertheless extraordinary: people get started on a single anecdote which they are prepared to experience as an epiphanic turn-around. Subsequently, they are on a mission of confirming their new-found belief over and over again, until they become undoubting disciples for life.

So what? you might ask. But I do think this epiphany-like event at the outset of a homeopathic career is significant. In no other area of health care does the initial anecdote regularly play such a prominent role. People do not become believers in aspirin, for instance, on the basis of a ‘moment of great revelation’, they may take it because of the evidence. And, if there is a discrepancy between the external evidence and their own experience, as with homeopathy, most people would start to reflect: What other explanations exist to rationalise the anecdote? Invariably, there are many (placebo, natural history of the condition, concomitant events etc.).

Confirmation bias

Epiphany-stuck believers spends much time and effort to actively look for similar stories that seem to confirm the initial anecdote. They might, for instance, recommend or administer or prescribe homeopathy to others, many of whom would report positive outcomes. At the same time, all anecdotes that do not happen to fit the belief are brushed aside, forgotten, supressed, belittled, decried etc. This process leads to confirmation after confirmation after confirmation – and gradually builds up to what proponents of homeopathy would call ‘years of experience’. And ‘years of experience’ can, of course, not be wrong!

Again, believers neglect to question, doubt and rationalise their own perceptions. They ignore the fact that years of experience might just be little more than a suborn insistence on repeating one’s own mistakes. Even the most obvious confounders such as selective memory or alternative causes for positive clinical outcomes are quickly dismissed or not even considered at all.

Avoiding cognitive dissonance at all cost

But believers still has to somehow deal with the scientific facts about homeopathy; and these are, of course, grossly out of line with their belief. Thus the external evidence and the internal belief would inevitably clash creating a shrill cognitive dissonance. This must be avoided at all cost, as it might threaten the believer’s peace of mind. And the solution is amazingly simple: scientific evidence that does not confirm the believer’s conviction is ignored or, when this proves to be impossible, turned upside down.

Rachel Roberts’ account is most enlightening also in this repect:

And yet I keep reading reports in the media saying that homeopathy doesn’t work and that this scientific evidence doesn’t exist.

The facts, it seems, are being ignored. By the end of 2009, 142 randomised control trials (the gold standard in medical research) comparing homeopathy with placebo or conventional treatment had been published in peer-reviewed journals – 74 were able to draw firm conclusions: 63 were positive for homeopathy and 11 were negative. Five major systematic reviews have also been carried out to analyse the balance of evidence from RCTs of homeopathy – four were positive (Kleijnen, J, et al; Linde, K, et al; Linde, K, et al; Cucherat, M, et al) and one was negative (Shang, A et al). It’s usual to get mixed results when you look at a wide range of research results on one subject, and if these results were from trials measuring the efficacy of “normal” conventional drugs, ratios of 63:11 and 4:1 in favour of a treatment working would be considered pretty persuasive.

This statement is, in my view, a classic example of a desperate misinterpretation of the truth as a means of preventing the believer’s house of cards from collapsing. It even makes the hilarious claim that not the believers but the doubters “ignore” the facts.

In order to be able to adhere to her belief, Roberts needs to rely on a woefully biased white-wash from the ‘British Homeopathic Association’. And, in order to be on the safe side, she even quotes it misleadingly. The conclusion of the Cucherat review, for instance, can only be seen as positive by most blinkered of minds: There is some evidence that homeopathic treatments are more effective than placebo; however, the strength of this evidence is low because of the low methodological quality of the trials. Studies of high methodological quality were more likely to be negative than the lower quality studies. Further high quality studies are needed to confirm these results. Contrary to what Roberts states, there are at least a dozen more than 5 systematic reviews of homeopathy; my own systematic review of systematic reviews, for example, concluded that the best clinical evidence for homeopathy available to date does not warrant positive recommendations for its use in clinical practice.

It seems that, at this stage of a believer’s development, the truth gets all too happily sacrificed on the altar of faith. All these ‘ex-sceptics’ turned believers are now able to display is a rather comical parody of scepticism.

The delusional end-stage

The last stage in the career of a believer has been reached when hardly anything that he or she is convinced of resembles reality any longer. I don’t know much about Rachel Roberts, and she might not have reached this point yet; but there are many others who clearly have.

My two favourite examples of end-stage homeopathic delusionists are John Benneth and Dana Ullman. The final stage on the journey from ‘sceptic scientist’ to delusional disciple is characterised by an incessant stream of incoherent statements of vile nonsense that beggars belief. It is therefore easy to recognise and, because nobody can possibly take the delusionists seriously, they are best viewed as relatively harmless contributors to medical comedy.

Why does all of this matter?

Many homeopathy-fans are quasi-religious believers who, in my experience, have degressed way beyond reason. It is therefore a complete waste of time trying to reason with them. Initiated by a highly emotional epiphany, their faith cannot be shaken by rational arguments. Similar but usually less pronounced attitudes, I am afraid, can be observed in true believers of other alternative treatments as well (here I have chosen the example of homeopathy mainly because it is the area where things are most explicit).

True believers claim to have started out as sceptics and they often insist to be driven by a scientific mind. Yet I have never seen any evidence for these assumptions. On the contrary, for a relatively trivial episode to become a life-changing epiphany, the believer’s mind needs to be lamentably unscientific, unquestioning and simple.

In my experience, true believers will not change their mind; I have never seen this happening. However, progress might nevertheless be made, if we managed to instil a more (self-) questioning rationality and scientific attitudes into the minds of the next generations. In other words, we need better education in science and more training of critical thinking during their formative years.

80 Responses to The ‘homeopathic epiphany’ and its role in creating true believers

  • If they were truly skeptical then some evidence could be convincing, the moment further investigation showed the complete lack of evidence then a skeptic would correctly place the original evidence as anecdote and move on. As those who make this statement and support homeopathy are not skeptic and can never have been skeptical, why do they make this statement? No doubt, some, cannot distinguish baseless antagonism to their belief from the request to back up their claims with evidence. The rest say it because it makes a better story, that is, it is a lie. This behaviour is often seen in the greatest example of evidenceless belief, religion. Interestingly, they have similar standards of veracity.

  • Belief, whether it be in Jesus as one’s “personal savior”, or homeopathy, is all the same thing, none of it requiring anything more than the personal revelation that converts describe. This is some kind perhaps that is why it is irreversible once it occurs.

    On another (relatively unimportant) note, perhaps it is one of those American/British language things but here in the States we get “bowled over”–“balled over” would be something else entirely and not a phrase I’ve encountered, although I hear things like this from my teenaged grandkids. I realize English is not your first language, so perhaps it is just a slight misunderstanding. 🙂

  • ” it is truly phenomenal how many believers insist that they started out as sceptics”

    That’s because their idea of being a sceptic is someone who thinks, “Ooh, that sounds a bit sounds unlikely – I’d better try it for myself!”, as opposed to, “Ooh, that makes perfect sense to me, I’ll try it for myself.”

  • The truth is that some of the reviews you refer to arrive to different conclusions than yours :

    For instance :

    “If homoeopathy (or allopathy) works for some conditions and not for others (a statement for which there is some evidence4), then interpretation of funnel plots and meta-regressions based on sample size is severely hampered. Since sample size is not independent of the disease, intervention, and outcome, it is impossible to separate the influence of bias from the true effect size by this method. Therefore, restricting an analysis to the largest studies risks producing a false-negative result. Furthermore, since the main analysis is based on only eight and six (probably unmatched) studies, the outcome could easily be due to chance, as is suggested by the large confidence intervals. Given these limitations, Shang and colleagues’ conclusion that their findings “provide support to the notion that the clinical effects of homoeopathy are placebo effects” is a significant overstatement.
    “http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(05)67878-6/fulltext

    Are all the other authors deluded ? Maybe.

    Also keep in mind this conclusion from your review:

    a “case of bladder cancer was judged as ‘direct AE’ of homeopathy based on the following sentence/quote:

    “(…) the patient developed cancer of the bladder, that occurrence suggesting that even after a correct homeopathic remedy has been prescribed, a patient may subsequently contract a cancerous condition” Geukens (2001)

    would be regarded highly irrational.

    • The truth is that some of the reviews you refer to arrive to different conclusions than yours :

      For instance :

      That isn’t actually a review, it’s a letter to the editor of the Lancet.

      And it’s funny that you didn’t quote this bit: “We agree that homoeopathy is highly implausible and that the evidence from placebo-controlled trials is not robust.”

      What was it that the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee said? Let’s see: “We regret that advocates of homeopathy, including in their submissions to our inquiry, choose to rely on, and promulgate, selective approaches to the treatment of the evidence base as this risks confusing or misleading the public, the media and policy-makers.”

      • Isn’t a delusion to believe that authors who state in writing – objecting Shang’s findings believe that homeopathy = placebo and agree with Dr Ernst? They do not believe it is proven of course but they do not believe it is all placebo either.

        This is what they cite to support their statement.

        “If homoeopathy (or allopathy) works for some conditions and not for others (a statement for which there is some evidence4), then interpretation of funnel plots and meta-regressions based on sample size is severely hampered. ” really concur with the notion– citing their own work

        for instance :

        “Three independent systematic reviews of placebo-controlled trials on homeopathy reported that its effects seem to be more than placebo, and one review found its effects consistent with placebo. There is also evidence from randomized, controlled trials that homeopathy may be effective for the treatment of influenza, allergies, postoperative ileus, and childhood diarrhea.

        One can have his/her own ideas about homeopathy but one must be really delusional to say that these authors concur with the statement that homeopathy = placebo.

        • This is what they cite to support their statement.

          “If homoeopathy (or allopathy) works for some conditions and not for others (a statement for which there is some evidence4), then interpretation of funnel plots and meta-regressions based on sample size is severely hampered. ” really concur with the notion– citing their own work

          It isn’t a statement that homoeopathy works better than placebo, is it? It’s not even a statement that homoeopathy works for some conditions and not for others; it’s a statement that there is some evidence that it works for some conditions and not for others.

          for instance :

          “Three independent systematic reviews of placebo-controlled trials on homeopathy reported that its effects seem to be more than placebo, and one review found its effects consistent with placebo. There is also evidence from randomized, controlled trials that homeopathy may be effective for the treatment of influenza, allergies, postoperative ileus, and childhood diarrhea.

          That comes from the abstract of a narrative review. The review itself isn’t so positive about postoperative ileus, stating that “In several other conditions, most notably postoperative ileus (44), asthma (45), and arthritis (46), the evidence from controlled trials is inconclusive”. Its assessment on influenza is based on a Cochrane review which has since been withdrawn and replaced by one that concluded “There is insufficient good evidence to enable robust conclusions to be made about Oscillococcinum® in the prevention or treatment of influenza and influenza-like illness”. The positive papers it cites on allergies are an analysis of a series of studies by the same team that states that its results “may be slightly biased” and a series of trials of homeopathic immunotherapy by Taylor et al., mention of which is followed by “A larger study using a similar protocol did not reproduce this clinical effect”. The conclusion on childhood diarrhea is supported by three trials by the same team. You have already had shortcomings of these studies explained to you by Norbert Aust on other threads; additionally this review was not able to take into account a later and larger negative study by the same team.

          The systematic reviews (see table 2, page 395) say things like “available evidence is positive but not sufficient to draw definitive conclusions”. The most positive one (“Results not compatible with the hypothesis that all homeopathy is placebo. No firm evidence for any single condition”) had its conclusions heavily qualified by its authors in a later paper that concluded that it had “at least overestimated the effects of homeopathic treatments”. You may have noticed that its first and last named authors state in the letter you have cited that it “has unfortunately been misused by homoeopaths as evidence that their therapy is proven”.

          Here are the conclusions of the review:

          Despite skepticism about the plausibility of homeopathy, some randomized, placebo-controlled trials and laboratory research report unexpected effects of homeopathic medicines. However, the evidence on the effectiveness of homeopathy for specific clinical conditions is scant, is of uneven quality, and is generally poorer quality than research done in allopathic medicine. More and better research is needed, unobstructed by belief or disbelief in the system. Until homeopathy is better understood, it is important that physicians be open-minded about homeopathy’s possible value and maintain communication with patients who use it. As in all of medicine, physicians must know how to prevent patients from abandoning effective therapy for serious diseases and when to permit safe therapies even if only for their nonspecific value.

          Is this really the best you’ve got?

          • You are in denial :

            As I said the authors do not believe homeopathy is proven of course but they do not believe = placebo either.

            They themselves summarize their paper saying:

            (I think they are more qualified to summarize or approve the summary of their paper than you – don’t you think?)

            “Three independent systematic reviews of placebo-controlled trials on homeopathy reported that its effects seem to be more than placebo, and one review found its effects consistent with placebo. There is also evidence from randomized, controlled trials that homeopathy may be effective for the treatment of influenza, allergies, postoperative ileus, and childhood diarrhea.”

            Saying that Ernst concurs with their view and there is not significant difference —– it is a delusion and you are allow to have it – if it makes you feel better.

          • you have to stop foaming from the mouth; it’s not good for your health.

          • If you want to know what a paper says, you need to read the paper, not the abstract.

  • One of the most intriguing things I have found with homeopathy, is the number of practicing pharmacists who then study homeopathy. Why? Similarly doctors. The Australasian College of Nutritional and Enviromental Medicine (ACNEM) is full of them. I could never figure this out! You would think that their training and experience would preclude homeopathy!

  • Rachel Roberts’ account is most enlightening also in this repect:

    And yet I keep reading reports in the media saying that homeopathy doesn’t work and that this scientific evidence doesn’t exist.

    The facts, it seems, are being ignored. By the end of 2009, 142 randomised control trials (the gold standard in medical research) comparing homeopathy with placebo or conventional treatment had been published in peer-reviewed journals – 74 were able to draw firm conclusions: 63 were positive for homeopathy and 11 were negative.

    By the way, when a similar claim was more recently made in an advert, the ASA upheld a complaint about it. See item 3 of this adjudication:

    We noted H:MC21’s reasoning for not including the percentage of studies that had inconclusive findings. However, we considered that the statement was likely to be interpreted by the average reader as a claim that RCTs on homeopathy demonstrated that the science behind homeopathy was substantiated because more “positive” than “negative” results were achieved. We noted the assessment of the Faculty of Homeopathy, the British Homeopathic Association and the Complementary Medicine Research Group at the University of York to the Commons Science and Technology Committee evidence stated that 44% of findings reported positive results, 7% reported negative results and that 49% reported “inconclusive” results. We considered that within the context of the claim “… more randomised trials are positive than negative”, the 49% of inconclusive results was a significant piece of information and should have been included in the ad because it indicated that under RCT conditions, inconclusive results had occurred more often than positive results. Because this information was omitted, we concluded that the ad was misleading.

  • I am preparing for a public presentation and figured the following course of argument might be able to scatter a little of the autistic denial of outside evidence. Starting point would be an epiphany-anecdote that has to be challenged successfully to open the way for discussion. But this approach has to be proved yet.

    First is to make the opponent aware, that his perception can easily be misled. Any optical delusion is evidence of this fact. There are simple ones that you can draw on any sheet of paper or a flipchart. For instance start with theree parallel lines of equal length. Then add outward pointing arrow-heads to the inner one and inward pointing ones to both the outward lines. This will make the inner line look shorter. So even when the opponent did witness how the sketch was done – maybe even done it by himself – his/her perception plays a dirty trick on him/her that cannot be avoided.

    Second would be to make them aware that their memory is selective. Of course this epiphany experience is clear cut in memory, every detail can be told. Okay, the question to ask then what this person had for dinner the evening before that fateful event. I wager, he/she does not know any more. Of course, this should not indicate that this meal was responsible for the course of events – just to prove that only those facts survived in the person’s memory that fell in line with the revellation.

    Well as I said, I still have to try how this would work – maybe George could lend a helping hand. All our friends – lamentably many of them believers in CAM-medicines – would not stand any more discussions of this matter, this could well be seriously endangering their friendship – but it might be worth trying on strangers.

  • I wonder if the ‘totally opposite’ initial stance shows that someone is thinking in a black and white (from CBT) and sets up the ‘epiphany’ process. It seems like a domino effect of then re-evaluating your life story in light of the new belief – I also wonder if the ‘whole life story’ bit functions to prevent cognitive dissonance, if you perceive yourself taking a 180 on core beliefs?

    I know when I first thought ‘homeopathy works’ there was no reasoning whatsoever. My 3 month old baby was screaming with what was diagnosed as a middle ear infection. I was told that my two options were ‘give him antibiotics for a 6 month old & risk them making him ill or leave him screaming for 2 weeks’. (I wouldn’t take that from a doctor now, but as a petrified sleep deprived young mum I was desperate & worried). Some book or pamphlet I had lying around the house said to use belladonna for a safe method of treating babies (I know!). Son stopped crying 15 mins after a belladonna tablet, and thus I was convinced – now I’d say he was mis-diagnosed.

    After another weird experience that had me re-evaluating my life and the choices I make, a friend said: ‘yes an unusual experience but it doesn’t mean it’s anything to build the rest of your life on’. Due to my lack of critical thinking skills, that was the first time someone had made me take pause and look at my own thinking patterns. So I’m always thinking about my thinking, especially when strong emotions blow in.

    I liked the book ‘The Believing Brain’ by Shermer and it’s fascinating looking at the similarity of ‘epiphany’ moments (I think it’s a widespread cultural narrative, but I like pondering the philosophy of consciousness). I am still very disquieted by Marsha Linehan sharing her epiphany (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/23/health/23lives.html?_r=0). It is so like the epiphany of the plumber in Shermer’s book. Marsha has devised the only treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder that has been able to garner a scientific evidence base. Because of an epiphany. So this kind of thinking can be psychologically beneficial, but…..

    If someone is thinking that homeopathic treatment is true, based on a strong emotional experience and then throw ‘science’ out of the window and re-evaluate their life choices from that new position – it’s almost like an archetypal tale and I imagine are ‘over reported’ over stories that don’t have that ‘epic’ feel. (eg It worked on a cold, so I tried it again, didn’t really work, so I don’t know really). Making a space to reflect on thinking and using descriptive labels – I think it’s a good move. I did feel like a total doofus when my friend pointed out my erroneous A+B=C thinking – making it safe for people to go ‘arggh I did that’ and revise their thinking might be good too!

  • Yes, this is the same dispenser of vile fact referenced in the author’s epiphany, the truly deluded John Benneth. Here are some more vile facts, this time from Lionel Milgrom, a chemist, taken from a letter by him to Rod Liddle. published in the March 2012 issue of Forsch Komplimentarmedizin: .

    “It is disappointing you accept so uncritically the claims of sceptics that there is no scientific basis for homeopathy. Have you ever bothered to investigate this for yourself? Thus, by end of 2010, 156 Randomised Controlled Trials (RCTs) of homeopathy (on 75 different medical conditions) had been published in peer-reviewed journals of which 41% had a balance of positive evidence, 7% had a balance of negative evidence, and 52% were not conclusively positive or negative [24].
    “A cursory glance at these statistics might cause one to think the ratio of positive to negative trials was clearly in homeopathy’s favour … except when one takes into account the number of trials for which no conclusions either way can be drawn, i.e., >50%. But when one then looks at similar statistics for RCTs of conventional medicine, something odd appears.
    “So data, obtained from an analysis of 1016 systematic reviews of RCTs of conventional medicine, indicate that 44% of the reviews concluded that the interventions studied were likely to be beneficial (positive), 7% concluded that the interventions were likely to be harmful (negative), and 49% reported that the evidence did not support either benefit or harm (non-conclusive) [25].

    “Homeopathy fairs no better or worse in RCTs than conventional medicine. Therefore, rejecting homeopathy on RCT data is false and biased as many conventional drugs/procedures should on that basis be similarly rejected but aren’t.” El Dib RP, Atallah AN, Andriolo RB: Mapping the Cochrane evidence for decision making in health care. J Eval Clin Pract 2007;13:689–692.

    • Yes, this is the same dispenser of vile fact referenced in the author’s epiphany, the truly deluded John Benneth. Here are some more vile facts, this time from Lionel Milgrom, a chemist, taken from a letter by him to Rod Liddle. published in the March 2012 issue of Forsch Komplimentarmedizin:

      According to their website, there wasn’t a March 2012 issue of Forsch Komplementmed; Vol. 19 No. 1 was February 2012 and Vol. 19 No. 2 was April. Do you have a reference for this letter?

    • the sentence was:
      ” The final stage on the journey from ‘sceptic scientist’ to delusional disciple is characterised by an incessant stream of incoherent statements of vile nonsense that beggars belief.”
      facts are not vile but the nonsense is.

    • Yay, copypasta! FYI, there is no 2012 March issue of Forschende Komplementärmedizin, you were copying from the June issue – Forsch Komplementmed 2012; 19: 120-122 (if you can copy it you can provide a correct reference).

      It’s really funny to claim that “homeopathy fairs [sic] no better or worse […] than conventional medicine”, citing a review of Cochrane Reviews that showed 44 % of the Cochrane Reviews of conventional medicine were positive, 7 % negative and 49 % inconclusive – it might have slipped your (and Milgrom’s) attention but last time I checked all Cochrane Reviews of homeopathic treatment were either negative or inconclusive! I wouldn’t even want to compare the 44 % with the “positive” reviews of homeopathic treatment (I’m quite sure if someone were to evaluate the outcome of all reviews of conventional treatment the percentage of positive ones would be higher, which would be what “homeopathy reviews” would have to be compared to), let alone comparing it to the outcome of individual RTCs!

      • yes, they are funny!
        as I said, they should be viewed as a contribution to medical humour.

      • The figures for the trials of homoeopathy seem to come from a document on the British Homeopathic Aassociation website that included RCTs “Up to the end of 2010” (it has since been updated to include trials up to the end of 2011). The “52% [of trials of homoeopathy that] were not conclusively positive or negative” are those in which there was no significant difference between homoeopathy and a control, usually placebo, as is made clear by the evidence submitted by the BHA to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee’s “Evidence Check” in which they exaplain the categorisations they use (see paragraphs 3.1.4-3.2.1). This is the result that would be expected for an ineffective treatment, so these trials should really be categorised as negative.

        • I was going to point that out too; I think the INCONCLUSIVE category is most misleading. trials test a hypothesis and have either to confirm or reject it.

          • That’s an interesting additional argument, but I think my argument is the “core”.
            Figuratively speaking, what Milgrom/Benneth are doing is comparing someone’s year 8 marks to another person’s GCSE grades, claiming that since both are in the same range, these two people have equal knowledge in the subjects concerned – that’s not a valid comparison, so the argument falls flat. If you then find out that person 1’s marks aren’t even what’s on their report card, but are the marks their mum thinks they should have received, that’s good to know, but even if they’re going to use their real marks from now on, it’s still not a valid comparison.

    • John Benneth said:

      156 Randomised Controlled Trials (RCTs) of homeopathy

      Were these trials all of the same quality?

  • Everything Ernst talks about could be applied to allopathy. True believers all. And when the study data doesn’t conform to expected/desired results the data is manipulated or studies are not presented for FDA or public scrutiny. How many more so-called ‘science’ fiascos need to occur before the true believers stop trusting in bogus research and downright fraudulent marketing spin. The one big difference that no one seems to talk about is how research and education is funded. Most money is given to allopathic institutions for research. Big Pharma virtually owns the FDA so whatever they present is readily accepted. Even when some FDA scientists raise strong questions or downright rejected, the Big Pharma or Big Chema representatives that sit on advisory boards or decision-making committees of the FDA override them. How many more lawsuits will be brought against these drug corporation with massive fines before people like Ernst will open their minds to the fact that the medical industry is based on an economic profit model and not a health model? Recently Merck, producer of the MMR vaccine was fined $$millions for perpetrating fraud about this vaccine. It was revealed that the vaccine was never successful in building immunity to these diseases and actually caused them in large numbers of people. Merck always knew this. It weakened people’s immune system and made them sick causing them to go to a doctor where more drugs would be prescribed and sold. More money for the corporate bottom line. When will people take in the many similar examples of the drug/medical industry.

    Cognitive dissonance is a wonder and people like Ernst are big examples of their inability to look at their own faith based believe systems while they write about this in others. When will the Ernst’s of the world look at why so many allopathic doctors leave that system for homeopathy or other holistic protocols. Their stories all talk about the failure of allopathy, the frustration of not being able to effect cures with that system, the high levels of harm from that system, and the limits placed on them by agencies like the AMA and FDA for actually trying to cure people without causing harm. These are not loonies but people who are recognized as having a high level of intelligence and ability to think for themselves. Ah yes, that is the problem–thinking outside the box. Ernst attacks anyone who doesn’t sit in his box, which by the way, is well paid for by the drug/medical industry. This industry is well known for paying doctors and people like Ernst to spew their propaganda about drugs. You can put all the lipstick on a pig but it still oinks.

    • is there not a homeopathic treatment for paranoia?

      • I think there is a serious point to be made here. A lot of people may view homeopathy as daft but harmless, since it has no active ingredients, isn’t going to cause side effects and is mainly used to treat minor self limiting conditions. They may not realise that some people recommend homeopathy for pretty much anything, paranoia included.

        I happened across Total Wellbeing (by Dr Hilary Jones and Dr Brenda Davies) in my local library and out of curiosity, decided to borrow it. I hadn’t heard of Davies, but Jones is a well known TV doctor, and while I had concerns about his apparent enthusiasm to endorse unproven/disproven treatments, I wouldn’t put him on a par with Benneth and Ullman.

        The book has an A-Z of health conditions and recommends dubious treatments (homeopathy included) for all of them. The section on schizophrenia is quite shocking. It begins: “Homeopathy is perhaps the complementary therapy with most to offer in this illness. There are a number of remedies that may have quite a marked beneficial effect”.

        It goes on to recommend various homeopathic treatments. For example, Anacardium orientale is said to help where there are hallucinations, inappropriate moods, obsessional features and a feeling of outer controlling forces. Lachesis is indicated where paranoia is a prominent symptom and where things seem to be worse in the mornings. The book goes on to say, quite rightly, that schizophrenia is not a condition that lends itself well to do-it-yourself treatments and then advises that you consult a homeopath with experience in treating mental illness.

        I wonder how many homeopaths there are with experience in treating mental illness, including schizophrenia? To be clear, the book was published in 1999, but the last time I checked, it was still available from the library.

    • tayna said:

      people like Ernst to spew their propaganda about drugs

      Where?

    • @tanya

      Recently Merck, producer of the MMR vaccine was fined $$millions[citation needed] for perpetrating fraud[citation needed] about this vaccine[citation needed]. It was revealed that the vaccine was never successful in building immunity to these diseases[citation needed] and actually caused them in large numbers of people.[citation needed] Merck always knew this.[citation needed] It weakened people’s immune system[citation needed] and made them sick[citation needed] causing them to go to a doctor where more drugs would be prescribed and sold.[citation needed]

      I’ve flagged up a few unsupported claims you’ve made there. Any chance of some evidence?

    • Tanya there isn’t a shred of joined-up thinking in anything you’ve written. It’s nothing more than a well rehearsed, fabricated justification. Lots of assertions and nice sounding phrases but, as with homeopathy itself, totally devoid of supporting evidence.

      There is no such thing as “allopathy”, except in the minds of homeopaths. All talk of “allopathy” is basically delusional, meaningless nonsense. All your other delusions follow from that.

      Remember homeopathy is simply, and incontrovertibly, water, with maybe a smidgin of alcohol, and sugar pills; you cannot deny it nor demonstrate anything to the contrary. Or, to put it another way, homeopaths are dispensers of liquid refreshment and confectionery masquerading as medicine (which I believe is more rightly described as “medical fraud”).

      • we ought to remember that ‘allopathy’ is a term coined by Samuel Hahnemann, the inventor of homeopathy, to insult the (rather terrific) conventional medicine of his time.

        • I assume that you’re using the word “terrific” in its original sense, meaning “dreadful” or “terrible”, or perhaps “excessive”, rather than the more colloquial modern meaning of “really good”. You can probably expect to be quoted out of context here…

          • TRRIFIC like in appalling, awesome, awful, disquieting, dreadful, excessive, extreme, fearful, fierce, frightful, harsh, horrible, horrific, monstrous, severe, shocking, terrible, terrorizing, upsetting

  • I think it’s about time that all the people who are Big Pharma mouthpieces started sharing their money about with others like me who share their logical sensible view of the world but not their riches. Please can all those bloggers send me a cheque? I need money for lipstick. Thanks. BTW just the one cheque please, as you’re all the one person aren’t you?

  • Oh, I don’t know, we can probably think of some patients who probably should receive homeopathic remedies… http://www.gomerblog.com/2013/11/look-alike-sound-alike-medication-praised-er-physicians-everywhere/

  • Dr. Ernst who is foaming ? I just said that your views on the effectiveness of Homeopathy differ from this view :

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?cmd=Search&term=Ann+Intern+Med%5BJour%5D+AND+138%5BVolume%5D+AND+393%5Bpage%5D

    “Three independent systematic reviews of placebo-controlled trials on homeopathy reported that its effects seem to be more than placebo, and one review found its effects consistent with placebo.”

    and I think it is delusional to deny that.

    Please read carefully– I did not say that the above proves homeopathy – it is just another point of view.

    I don’t think this is kind –

    – Even if I disagree with you – I do believe that your contribution is really useful — you provide the best scientific arguments for the non effectiveness of homeopathy.

    • I am glad you are not foaming.
      as to the article you quote: I already pointed out in my post that there are many more systematic reviews than those cited by Jonas [a ‘true believer’, if there ever was one]. so you can forget about this publication which is an ‘overview’ and obviously relies on cherry-picking.

    • http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?cmd=Search&term=Ann+Intern+MedJour+AND+138Volume+AND+393page

      Ant the result:
      The following terms were not found in PubMed: MedJour, 138Volume, 393page.

      No items found.

      I guess you were hoping no-one would bother to check.

      • @Tetenterre:
        George just messed up the syntax of his search, he forgot the brackets. Try this link:
        PubMed

        (Here’s some information about the Samueli Institute – it seems to be similar to the German “Carstens-Stiftung”.)

        • Thanks for the information, Vicky. George, I apologise unconditionally for failing to apply Hanlon’s Razor before I replied 🙂 .

          So, what we appear to have is a decade-old opinion-piece from an outfit with a pro-quackeryCAM agenda. perhaps, George you could:
          * Cite references to where the “Three independent systematic reviews of placebo-controlled trials on homeopathy reported that its effects seem to be more than placebo” have been replicated and confirmed.
          * Tell us why you think Jonas et al failed to mention the hundreds of studies/trials of homeopathy that found no advantage of homeopathy over placebo (if you need examples, go to http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/cochranelibrary/search , enter “homeopathy” into the search bar, then select “Trials” in the menu on the LHS of the resulting page — many of those were published before Jonas’s opinion-piece).
          * Tell us why you think there is an inverse relationship between the quality of a clinical trial for homeopathy and the likelihood ofit being positive for that particular species of pseudomedicine.

          Thanks.

    • George said:

      I just said that your views on the effectiveness of Homeopathy differ from this view :

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?cmd=Search&term=Ann+Intern+MedJour+AND+138Volume+AND+393page

      “Three independent systematic reviews of placebo-controlled trials on homeopathy reported that its effects seem to be more than placebo, and one review found its effects consistent with placebo.”

      and I think it is delusional to deny that.

      Please read carefully– I did not say that the above proves homeopathy – it is just another point of view.

      Your link is malformed but you cherry-pick from the conclusion of Jonas et al. It goes on to say:

      There is also evidence from randomized, controlled trials that homeopathy may be effective for the treatment of influenza, allergies, postoperative ileus, and childhood diarrhea. Evidence suggests that homeopathy is ineffective for migraine, delayed-onset muscle soreness, and influenza prevention. There is a lack of conclusive evidence on the effectiveness of homeopathy for most conditions. Homeopathy deserves an open-minded opportunity to demonstrate its value by using evidence-based principles, but it should not be substituted for proven therapies.

      Do you agree with Jonas?

  • It’s ironic that you, Edzard Ernst, characterize homoeopathy as delusional, when you have reported how popular it has become, like a man who in his delusions of grandeur sees anyone who questions him as a persecutor and ends up seeing everyone against him.

    Well here I am, your number one inquisitor. Now, where are all those RCTs that prove your placebo hypothesis, Prof. Ernst? Where’s the science for that? None of the credible meta analyses has ever concluded that the clinical effects of the homoeopathic application of ionized pharmaceuticals (Cucherat, Kleijnen, Linde, the Scofield review, Fisher) is solely due to the placebo effect. Shang was easily discredited and your Systematic Review of Systematic Reviews mostly references your own work and interpolates Linde.

    You say it is remarkable that so many of us started out as “homeopathy” skeptics (I for one) as if only a “scientist” would question the chemistry of apparently inocuous, inert substances . . but it doesn’t take a scientist to wonder how the hell little sugar pellets can have an effect on anything. And it doesn’t take a leap of faith to understand that the “radioactivity” of ionized pharmaceuticals, the EM signal of homoeopathic medicine, does not come from a chemical reaction, where there’s a change in the electron shell, but from a nuclear reaction, where’s there’s a change in the nucleus.

    You say it’s just water? Well, you can also say that about Tritiated water, used as the trigger in the hydrogen bomb. But the bottom line is that you don’t need “science” to understand homoeopathy. You don’t need a microscope to prove it works, you don’t need to see the action in vitro to know that ionized pharmaceuticals have biological effects.

    You can give yourself a longstanding difficult condition by abusing ionized materials, you can cause old tumors to suppurate, you can kill people with ionized drugs.

    And you should also know that the way we know what the index of action for ionized medicine is, is by testing it on volunteers, which you can do.

    The danger of what you’re suggesting is that legal pharmaeuticals in the class of low energy radio pharmaceuticals, akin to medical isotopes, are inert. Clinically and biochemically they’re demonstrably not, and I think you know it.

    You can always say the clinicals are due to poor reporting, or the placebo effect, but just as you avoid admitting tjhere is no scientific evidence for the placebo hypthesis, you have always avoided reporting the published biochemical tests of which there are dozens and which can be objectively replicated, immune to the placebo effect.

    And what you’re also doing is interfering with legal interstate trade. You’ve turned this into a stupid game. The basophile degranulation test has been replicated over two dozen times, some by highly credible workers, like Ennis, as have ultured cell tests by It’s ironic that you, Edzard Ernst, characterize homoeopathy as delusional, when you have reported how popular it has become, like a man who in his delusions of grandeur sees anyone who questions him as a persecutor and ends up seeing everyone against him.

    Well here I am, your number one inquisitor. Now, where are all those RCTs that prove your placebo hypothesis, Prof. Ernst? Where’s the science for that? None of the credible meta analyses has ever concluded that the clinical effects of the homoeopathic application of ionized pharmaceuticals, Cucherat, Kleijnen, Linde, the Scofield review, Fisher, is solely due to the placebo effect. Shang was easily discredited and your Systematic Review of Systematic Reviews mostly referenes your own work and interpolates Linde.

    You say it is remarkable that so many of us started out as “homeopathy” skeptics (I for one) as if only a “scientist” would question the chemistry of apparently inocuous, inert substances . . but it doesn’t take a scientist to wonder how the hell little sugar pellets can have an effect on anything. And it doesn’t take a leap of faith to understand that the “radioactivity” of ionized pharmaceuticals, the EM signal of homoeopathic medicine, does not come from a chemical reaction, where there’s a change in the electron shell, but from a nuclear reaction, where’s there’s a change in the nucleus.

    You say it’s just water? Well, you can also say that about Tritiated water, used as the trigger in the hydrogen bomb. But the bottom line is that you don’t need “science” to understand homoeopathy. You don’t need a microscope to prove it works, you don’t need to see the action in vitro to know that ionized pharmaceuticals have biological effects.

    You can give yourself a longstanding difficult condition by abusing ionized materials, you can cause old tumors to suppurate, you can kill people with ionized drugs.

    And you should also know that the way we know what the index of action for ionized medicine is, is by testing it on volunteers, which you can do.

    The danger of what you’re suggesting is that legal pharmaeuticals in the class of low energy radio pharmaceuticals, akin to medical isotopes, are inert. Clinically and biochemically they’re demonstrably not, and I think you know it.

    You can always say the clinicals are due to poor reporting, or the placebo effect, but just as you avoid admitting tjhere is no scientific evidence for the placebo hypthesis, you have always avoided reporting the published biochemical tests of which there are dozens and which can be objectively replicated, immune to the placebo effect.

    But what you’re really doing is interfering with legal interstate trade. And you’ve turned this into a stupid game. The basophile degranulation test has been replicated over two dozen times, some by highly credible workers, like Ennis; and cultured cell apoptosis by Frenkel at the MD Anderson Clinic in Houston and Jonas at the NIH. Look at Hirst’s raw data and you find that he confirmed Benveniste.

    If you look at Hahnemann’s development of these materials, you’ll find that he was up until the end trying to ameliorate their effects.

    In dismissing me and Ullman as delusional, you have to dismiss Nobel laureates like Behring, Josephson and Montagnier as well, plus countless millions which include 100’s of MD’s, and even an occasional astrophysicist, Mark Twain, Rockerfeller, the Royal family of the UK, Paul McCartney, Bill Clinton, Charles Darwin, Disraeli, Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi and Hitler.

    And if you’re so sure it couldn’t be done, why did you withdraw your $10,000 offer to prove it?
    If you look at Hahnemann’s development of these materials, you’ll find that he was up until the end trying to ameliorate their effects.

    In dismissing me and Ullman as delusional, you have to dismiss Nobel laureates like Behring, Josephson and Montagnier as well, plus countless millions which include 100’s of MD’s, and even an occasional astrophysicist, Mark Twain, Rockerfeller, the Royal family of the UK, Paul McCartney, Bill Clinton, Charles Darwin, Disraeli, Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi and Hitler.

    And if you so sure it couldn’t be done, why did you withdraw your $10,000 offer to prove it?

    It’s one thing to argue the impact of ionized pharma, but to say that it’s effects are delusional is in itself . . delusional.

    • I think you need help!

    • John Benneth said:

      It’s ironic that you, Edzard Ernst, characterize homoeopathy as delusional, when you have reported how popular it has become, like a man who in his delusions of grandeur sees anyone who questions him as a persecutor and ends up seeing everyone against him.

      Your first sentence is a non sequitur., and, having started on a low point, you head downhill from there.

      Well here I am, your number one inquisitor.

      LOL!

      Now, where are all those RCTs that prove your placebo hypothesis, Prof. Ernst? Where’s the science for that?

      No. Where are all the RCTs that demonstrate homeopathy is effective?

      None of the credible meta analyses has ever concluded that the clinical effects of the homoeopathic application of ionized pharmaceuticals (Cucherat, Kleijnen, Linde, the Scofield review, Fisher) is solely due to the placebo effect.

      Is ‘ionised water’ now the name du jour? It’s difficult to keep track of all the sciency-sounding phrases homeopaths dream up. But most of those reviews concluded that the research they look at was extremely poor: can you say what homeopaths have been doing to rectify that diabolical situation?

      Shang was easily discredited

      Was it? Where?

      and your Systematic Review of Systematic Reviews mostly references your own work and interpolates Linde.

      So, what do you believe was actually wrong with Prof Ernst’s review of reviews?

      You say it is remarkable that so many of us started out as “homeopathy” skeptics (I for one) as if only a “scientist” would question the chemistry of apparently inocuous, inert substances . . but it doesn’t take a scientist to wonder how the hell little sugar pellets can have an effect on anything.

      Well, that’s begging the question, isn’t it? First you would have to provide good evidence that these little sugar pellets do actually have an effect. You’ve not, so far.

      And it doesn’t take a leap of faith to understand that the “radioactivity” of ionized pharmaceuticals, the EM signal of homoeopathic medicine, does not come from a chemical reaction, where there’s a change in the electron shell, but from a nuclear reaction, where’s there’s a change in the nucleus.

      Ah! ‘Leap of faith’ covers it admirably.

      You say it’s just water? Well, you can also say that about Tritiated water, used as the trigger in the hydrogen bomb.

      Red herring.

      But the bottom line is that you don’t need “science” to understand homoeopathy. You don’t need a microscope to prove it works, you don’t need to see the action in vitro to know that ionized pharmaceuticals have biological effects.

      But you do need good evidence, something that you’ve not provided to back up your assertions.

      You can give yourself a longstanding difficult condition by abusing ionized materials, you can cause old tumors to suppurate, you can kill people with ionized drugs.

      [citation required]

      And you should also know that the way we know what the index of action for ionized medicine is, is by testing it on volunteers, which you can do.

      Oooh! A clinical trial? I sincerely hope that whoever carried out these tests obtains full approval as required in the country they are performed?

      The danger of what you’re suggesting is that legal pharmaeuticals in the class of low energy radio pharmaceuticals, akin to medical isotopes, are inert.

      Non sequitur.

      Clinically and biochemically they’re demonstrably not, and I think you know it.

      If only you could provide good evidence for that.

      You can always say the clinicals are due to poor reporting

      Well, you can – and should – if they clearly are.

      or the placebo effect, but just as you avoid admitting tjhere is no scientific evidence for the placebo hypthesis, you have always avoided reporting the published biochemical tests of which there are dozens and which can be objectively replicated, immune to the placebo effect.

      I thought you said you didn’t need in vitro tests? Anyway, you say these ‘can be objectively replicated’, yet provide no such evidence. But you need to have an open mind that allows in the possibility of a great deal more than just placebo effects if you want to present any such evidence as being robust.

      And what you’re also doing is interfering with legal interstate trade.

      Oh! *I wasn’t aware Prof Ernst was that powerful! Please tell us how he manages to do that.

      And you’ve turned this into a stupid game.

      No. Challenging the misleading claims and bad science made by homeopathists is not a game, stupid or otherwise; not when people are being misled into thinking homeopathy is a medicine when there is no good evidence to support it.

      The basophile degranulation test has been replicated over two dozen times, some by highly credible workers, like Ennis; and cultured cell apoptosis by Frenkel at the MD Anderson Clinic in Houston and Jonas at the NIH. Look at Hirst’s raw data and you find that he confirmed Benveniste.

      [citation required]

      If you look at Hahnemann’s development of these materials, you’ll find that he was up until the end trying to ameliorate their effects.

      Irrelevant.

      In dismissing me and Ullman as delusional, you have to dismiss Nobel laureates like Behring, Josephson and Montagnier as well, plus countless millions which include 100′s of MD’s, and even an occasional astrophysicist, Mark Twain, Rockerfeller, the Royal family of the UK, Paul McCartney, Bill Clinton, Charles Darwin, Disraeli, Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi and Hitler.

      Appeals to celebrity or authority won’t work here. But if they are wrong, then they are rightly dismissed, regardless of what political power they may once have wielded.

      It’s one thing to argue the impact of ionized pharma, but to say that it’s effects are delusional is in itself . . delusional.

      If an when you can provide good, robust unequivocal, repeated evidence that your precious homeopathy has the effects you want to claim for it, I’m sure Prof Ernst will revise his views. However, in the absence of that and on the basis of the current evidence and scientific knowledge…

      • Do you really want me to start posting citations to the published pre-clinical reports? The biochemical citations alone will double the size of this blog.

        Benneth

        • LOL! Please just try to answer the questions. If you want to cite any research, why not start with whatever paper you believe is the best one that supports your assertion and we can take it from there?

          • But this is it, Alan. By Ernstian reckoning and your assertions, biochemical testing of ionized pharma (high dilutes) should prove that they’re inert. But what if you were to find that 75 years of biochemical testing confirms the action that 200 years of clinical use has reported? . . that these materials cause a biological response that can be seen biochemically?
            Or are you afraid that the shock would put you in the psych ward?
            You either didn’t know about these tests and built your “Placebo Hypothesis” without them, or you did know about them and would be waving them under my nose as proof that the materials used in homoeopathy are inert.
            But we both know you haven’t done that, neither has Prof. Ernst. Prior to their sudden “epiphany” here (LOL), they didn’t exist, certainly not in Ernst’s Systematic Review of Systematic Reviews. Biochemical testing
            Rather than spend the rest of my life pitching dozens of papers at you to pick a part, one by one, why don’t we trade? For every published study you have confirming the Placebo Hypothesis, I’ll post a published pre-clinical test, starting with the biochemicals, i.e. tests that show the action of highly diluted materials used as medicine in homeopathy. Please rate your tests of the Placebo Hypothesis for Homoeopathy with the following criteria. The total number of possible points for that criterion is the number that folows in brackets:
            1.) OBJECIVE: Award one point for the stated objective of the test. If it is an investigation of the Placebo Hypothesis, the test should define what is meant by “placebo.” If the objective is clearly stated and placebo defined, give it one point (1).
            2.) CONTROLS: Award one point if the study declares the use of controls, an extra point if they are adequate and minus one point if they are not (2)
            3.) BLINDING: Award one point if the test is blind to its conductor. (1).
            4.) RANDOMIZATION: Award one point for stae of the art randomization of samples. (1)
            5.) CONSISTENCY: Award one point for finding similar results in two or more test series.(1)
            6.) STANDARDIZATION: Award one point for standarized use of a buffer or medium of prepared materials; and one point for standardized teMperature and incubation time. (2)
            7.) STATISTICS: Award one point for the declared or described use of statistics. (1)
            8.) RESULTS: Award one point for a comprehensible presentation of results. (1)

            So now where’s all this wonderful “skepticism” for what you’re peddling in the absence of “homeopathy”?
            Tell you what I’ll do. I’ll post them on my blog at http://johnbenneth.wordpress.com and you can have at them there with all the force, fury and denial you think you’re so famous for.
            There’s a new one waiting for you now!

          • thank you for posting this: http://johnbenneth.wordpress.com/2013/12/09/the-epiphanies-of-edzard-ernst/
            you are such a brilliant researcher that you did not even get my nationality right!

          • Your attempt at diversion and to reverse the burden of proof is noted, but fails.

            If you can’t answer the questions and criticisms and provide the evidence, please just say so.

          • I am rather surprised that Mr. Benneth doesn’t honor Dr. Ernst with one of his crafty Youtube productions. Only a blog post with a rather thin attempt at a charade of Dr. Ernst work. I would have thought Dr. Ernst would by now have earned a video at least. Or maybe I missed the “Ernst-video”?
            Mr. Benneth has developed a rather special and disquieting cinematographic style which leaves no-one in any doubt about his intellectual abilities.

          • in the one where he did mention me, he called me a Nazi and a “puffter”, if I remember correctly. comedy gold!

          • There will be a homeopathic ‘remedy’ for that. There always is.

          • of course, but, as always, it does not work

    • “…ionized…”

      Wot no “clathrates”?

    • […] does not come from a chemical reaction, where there’s a change in the electron shell, but from a nuclear reaction, where’s there’s a change in the nucleus.

      You might want to brush up your chemistry skills – nuclear reactions are chemical reactions. If you’re going to claim that “homeopathy cannot be studied chemically because XY”, you ought to make sure XY cannot be studied via physicochemical methods.

    • You say it’s just water? Well, you can also say that about Tritiated water, used as the trigger in the hydrogen bomb.

      You’re saying the bomb people also shake their water in an extra special magicky kind of way so that it becomes radioactive? Did not know that…

  • Oh dear! The ability of John Benneth to spout utter nonsense and remain completely clueless about any aspect of science remains undimmed through the years. His inability to string a credible argument together would shame the average teenager. Like that other uber-troll, Dana Ullman, he has truly earned his position in the Encyclopedia of American Loons http://americanloons.blogspot.co.uk/2010/05/22-john-benneth.html

  • With the move from scientific skeptic to religous convert I think this is often a re-write of ones personal history. How often have you heard the expression “I was skeptic at first…then…” I think Rachel is simply following this well trodden narrative to bolster her claim. By claiming to be a scientist before hand is a technique to boost ones credentials for making such an outlandish claim about pseudoscience.

    If you really had completed a Masters in Neuroscience and were onto a PhD you are in one of the most important areas to contribute to humanity in this era. Why on earth would you go off to do a 3 year homeopathy course if you were so inclined and resourced! Crazy!

    • it is remarkable how often she seems to decorate herself with this PhD which she almost embarked on but actually never did. I find this most revealing.

  • dear Edzard,

    the truth is that you are clearly against homeopathy. I dont understand what is the point to be against it on this site where you are supposed to get opinions from other people and healers who have experience with homeopathy and share insights. I am a homeopath and not a “believer” in homeopathy. It has nothing to do with my belief system. It has to do with the results I have seen in my life and I am not against traditional healing either. Why not to look for people who were seriously ill and have been helped by homeopathy if you want evidence? And honestly am not interested in evidence or that homeopathy will be widely accepted by people who are basically against it. Healing is healing and i am happy when i can help people. And no matter what we would say to those who are against homeopathy..the only thing that would convince them would be that after trying everything conventional medicine can offer…only the right homeopathic remedy would heal them. Why to say anything till then?

    • No Violetta. The truth is that there is no good, independent evidence from robust trials that homeopathy is any more than a placebo.

      And you amply demonstrate with your anecdote that you do not understand biases and the reason why such independent trials are necessary. It is not us who need to open our minds.

      • Of course there is some independent evidence that homeopathy works better than placebo but the problem is that YOU don’t want to accept this evidence – even though it is demonstrated using the same statistical tools used in conventional medicine—-

        (Aust wrote an entire paper criticizing Jacobs meta analyses on homeopathy for applying the same statistical tools used in conventional medical research..pretending that he did not know that typically all conventional research uses the same applications with the same way )

        Regarding the implausibility of homeopathy—-

        In general- several scientists say — The rules of chemistry are not like mathematical theorems, which cannot be broken . chemistry’s rules can be broken, because impossible only means slightly impossible – one needs to find conditions where these rules no longer hold.

        • There is also independent evidence that Father Christmas spreads joy and happiness among children of the world and distributes gifts on Christmas night. It does not however prove that he exists.
          Homeopathy is also a fable from the past. But it sells like hot dogs thanks to the powers of delusion and greed.

          Here is a typical example of false research made up and used in marketing homeopathy: Pharmacoeconomic comparison between homeopathic and antibiotic treatment strategies in recurrent acute rhinopharyngitis in children. Published in “Homeopathy” If you cannot spot the deception from the title alone, then you really do not know much about medicine. Anyway this article is repeatedly cited by homeopaths as yet another proof of the power of shaken water because it sounds very sciency indeed.
          If it were not for “Hanlon’s razor” one would think an article like this was made up by dishonest sellers of shaken water. Probably these authors are just deluded and stupid.
          You can concoct scientific looking research like this till hell freezes over. It will not change the indisputable fact that shaken and serially diluted water does not carry any memory of anything over to sugar pillules and even less likely that it will leave any magic in the glas when it dries up.

  • George:

    Of course there is some independent evidence that homeopathy works better than placebo…

    Spot the difference in the comment George was replying to:

    …there is no good, independent evidence from robust trials that homeopathy is any more than a placebo.

  • good examples are here [http://edzardernst.com/2015/07/a-pharmacists-defence-of-homeopathy/] and here [https://worldofhomeopathy.wordpress.com/2012/07/04/an-interview-with-peter-fisher/].

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