This seems to be the question that occupies the minds of several homeopaths.


So was I!

Let me explain.

In 1997, Linde et al published their now famous meta-analysis of clinical trials of homeopathy which concluded that “The results of our meta-analysis are not compatible with the hypothesis that the clinical effects of homeopathy are completely due to placebo. However, we found insufficient evidence from these studies that homeopathy is clearly efficacious for any single clinical condition. Further research on homeopathy is warranted provided it is rigorous and systematic.”

This paper had several limitations which Linde was only too happy to admit. The authors therefore conducted a re-analysis which, even though published in an excellent journal, is rarely cited by homeopaths. Linde et al stated in their re-analysis of 2000: “there was clear evidence that studies with better methodological quality tended to yield less positive results.” It was this phenomenon that prompted me and my colleague Max Pittler to publish a ‘letter to the editor’ which now – 15 years later – seems the stone of homeopathic contention.

A blog-post by a believer in homeopathy even asks the interesting question: Did Professor Ernst Sell His Soul to Big Pharma? It continues as follows:

Edzard Ernst is an anti-homeopath who spent his career attacking traditional medicine. In 1993 he became Professor of Complementary Medicine at the University of Exeter. He is often described as the first professor of complementary medicine, but the title he assumed should have fooled no-one. His aim was to discredit medical therapies, notably homeopathy, and he then published some 700 papers in ‘scientific’ journals to do so.

Now, Professor Robert Hahn, in his blog, has made an assessment of the quality of his work… In the interests of the honesty and integrity in science, it is an important assessment. It shows, in his view, how science has been taken over by ideology (or as I would suggest, more accurately, the financial interests of Big Corporations, in this case, Big Pharma). The blog indicates that in order to demonstrate that homeopathy is ineffective, over 95% of scientific research into homeopathy has to be discarded or removed! 

So for those people who, like myself, cannot read the original German, here is an English translation of the blog…

“I have never seen a science writer so blatantly biased as Edzard Ernst: his work should not be considered of any worth at all, and discarded” finds Sweden’s Professor Robert Hahn, a leading medical scientist, physician, and Professor of Anaesthesia and Intensive Care at the University of Linköping, Sweden.

Hahn determined therefore to analyze for himself the ‘research’ which supposedly demonstrated homeopathy to be ineffective, and reached the shocking conclusion that:

“only by discarding 98% of homeopathy trials and carrying out a statistical meta-analysis on the remaining 2% negative studies, can one ‘prove’ that homeopathy is ineffective”.

In other words, all supposedly negative homeopathic meta-analyses which opponents of homeopathy have relied on, are scientifically bogus…
 Who can you trust? We can begin by disregarding Edzard Ernst. I have read several other studies that he has published, and they are all untrustworthy. His work should be discarded… 

In the case of homeopathy, one should stick with what the evidence reveals. And the evidence is that only by removing 95-98% of all studies is the effectiveness of homeopathy not demonstrable…

So, now you are wondering, I am sure: HOW MUCH DID HE GET FOR SELLING HIS SOUL TO BIG PHARMA?

No? You are wondering 1) who this brilliant Swedish scientist, Prof Hahn, is and 2) what article of mine he is criticising? Alright, I will try to enlighten you.


Here I can rely on a comment posted on my blog some time ago by someone who can read Swedish (thank you Bjorn). He commented about Hahn as follows:

A renowned director of medical research with well over 300 publications on anesthesia and intensive care and 16 graduated PhD students under his mentorship, who has been leading a life on the side, blogging and writing about spiritualism, and alternative medicine and now ventures on a public crusade for resurrecting the failing realm of homeopathy!?! Unbelievable!

I was unaware of this person before, even if I have lived and worked in Sweden for decades.

I have spent the evening looking up his net-track and at his blog at (in Swedish).

I will try to summarise some first impressions:

Hahn is evidently deeply religious and there is the usual, unmistakably narcissistic aura over his writings and sayings. He is religiously confident that there is more to this world than what can be measured and sensed. In effect, he seems to believe that homeopathy (as well as alternative medical methods in general) must work because there are people who say they have experienced it and denying the possibility is akin to heresy (not his wording but the essence of his writing).

He has, along with his wife, authored at least three books on spiritual matters with titles such as (my translations) “Clear replies from the spiritual world” and “Connections of souls”.

He has a serious issue with skeptics and goes on at length about how they are dishonest bluffers[sic] who willfully cherry-pick and misinterpret evidence to fit their preconceived beliefs.

He feels that desperate patients should generally be allowed the chance that alternative methods may offer.

He believes firmly in former-life memories, including his own, which he claims he has found verification for in an ancient Italian parchment.

His main arguments for homeopathy are Claus Linde’s meta analyses and the sheer number of homeopathic research that he firmly believes shows it being superior to placebo, a fact that (in his opinion) shows it has a biological effect. Shang’s work from 2005 he dismisses as seriously flawed.

He also points to individual research like this as credible proof of the biologic effect of remedies.

He somewhat surprisingly denies recommending homeopathy despite being convinced of its effect and maintains that he wants better, more problem oriented and disease specific studies to clarify its applicability. (my interpretation)

If it weren’t for his track record of genuine, acknowledged medical research and him being a renowned authority in a genuine, scientific medical field, this man would be an ordinary, religiously devout quack.

What strikes me as perhaps telling of a consequence of his “exoscientific” activity, is that Hahn, who holds the position of research director at a large city trauma and emergency hospital is an “adjungerad professor”, which is (usually) a part time, time limited, externally financed professorial position, while any Swedish medical doctor with his very extensive formal merits would very likely hold a full professorship at an academic institution.



This was a short ‘letter to the editor’ by Ernst and Pittler published in the J Clin Epidemiol commenting on the above-mentioned re-analysis by Linde et al which was published in the same journal. As its text is not available on-line, I re-type parts of it here:

In an interesting re-analysis of their meta-analysis of clinical trials of homeopathy, Linde et al conclude that there is no linear relationship between quality scores and study outcome. We have simply re-plotted their data and arrive at a different conclusion. There is an almost perfect correlation between the odds ratio and the Jadad score between the range of 1-4… [some technical explanations follow which I omit]…Linde et al can be seen as the ultimate epidemiological proof that homeopathy is, in fact, a placebo.

And that is, as far as I can see, the whole mysterious story. I cannot even draw a conclusion – all I can do is to ask a question:


80 Responses to How much did ‘Big Pharma’ pay for my soul?

  • ‘the usual, unmistakably narcissistic aura over his writings and sayings’

    Very few scientists achieve uncritical adulation of a large group but support a cult of people who feel oppressed because they are unable to enforce their cult on others gives instant stardom and usually a nice little earner. I’ve seen his ignorant comments plastered over Twitter, blogs and forum comments and of course, he has been instantly promoted to ‘internationally renowned’ etc.

    It has been overblown because homeopaths have found it hard to advertise their lies without instant rebuttal, in Hahn they think they have found a gamestopper, as you have shown, they haven’t.

    • Isn’t it “convenient” that you mention that Klaus Linde acknowledged that his 1997 LANCET review had diminished results in favor of homeopathy, but you failed to mention that he NEVER said that this new evidence took away the significance of the evidence FOR homeopathy. In fact, he wrote a letter to the LANCET in 2005 after that “junk science” meta-analysis by Shang, et al. where he and Wayne Jonas tore that review to shreds. It is so convenient what Ernst chooses to mention…and not mention. “Convenient, indeed.”

      • Oh dear indeed.

        Linde 1999:

        The evidence of bias [in homeopathic trials] weakens the findings of our original meta-analysis. Since we completed our literature search in 1995, a considerable number of new homeopathy trials have been published. The fact that a number of the new high-quality trials… have negative results, and a recent update of our review for the most “original” subtype of homeopathy (classical or individualized homeopathy), seem to confirm the finding that more rigorous trials have less-promising results. It seems, therefore, likely that our meta-analysis at least overestimated the effects of homeopathic treatments.

        Linde 2005

        We agree (with Shang et al) that homoeopathy is highly implausible and that the evidence from placebo-controlled trials is not robust…Our 1997 meta-analysis has unfortunately been misused by homoeopaths as evidence that their therapy is proven.

        • Cool…I can quote from Klaus Linde too. Below is his letter to the editor of the Lancet in 2005 in response to the questionable meta-analysis conducted by Shang, et al. I particularly ike the last paragraph that says that the Lancet should be embarrassed by its editorial and that their conclusion is NOT backed by the data. “How convenient” indeed.

          And as for “implausiblity,” it can no longer be said that homeopathy is implausible in light of the compelling research published in LANGMUIR (2010). A more detailed reply to THIS concern will be discussed in a separate comment.

          “We agree that homoeopathy is highly implausible and that the evidence from placebo-controlled trials is not robust. However, there are major problems with the way Shang and colleagues present and discuss their results, as well as how The Lancet reviewed and interpreted this study. We will point out two.

          First, Shang and colleagues do not follow accepted and published guidelines for reporting meta-analyses. In 1999, The Lancet published the QUORUM statement for improving the quality of reports of meta-analyses3 and the Cochrane Collaboration guidelines are listed in the instructions for authors. Shang and colleagues did not follow either of these guidelines, nor did The Lancet intervene. The QUORUM statement clearly requires that meta-analyses present “descriptive data for each trial” and “data needed to calculate effect sizes and confidence intervals”. Shang and colleagues do not report the trials excluded from the review, the quality assessments and odds ratios of all trials included in the review, nor which eight trials were included in the final meta-analysis. This lack of detail is unacceptable in a paper drawing a strong clinical conclusion.

          Second, problems with pooling are not discussed. Pooling of data from clinical trials makes sense only if all the trials measure the same effect. In our 1997 meta-analysis, we justified the pooling of different interventions, conditions, and outcomes on the basis that, if homoeopathy is always a placebo, all trials measure, in principle, the same thing. There are major limitations associated with this assumption. 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.

          The Lancet should be embarrassed by the Editorial5 that accompanied the study. The conclusion that physicians should tell their patients that “homoeopathy has no benefit” and that “the time has passed for … further investment in research” is not backed at all by the data. Our 1997 meta-analysis has unfortunately been misused by homoeopaths as evidence that their therapy is proven. We now find it extremely disappointing that a major medical journal misuses a similar study in a totally uncritical and polemical manner. A subversive philosophy serves neither science nor patients.”

          Shang, A, Huwiler-Müntener, K, Nartey, L et al. Are the effects of homoeopathy placebo effects? Comparative study of placebo-controlled trials of homoeopathy and allopathy. Lancet. 2005; 366: 726–732
          View in Article | Summary | Full Text | Full Text PDF | PubMed | Scopus (426)
          Linde, K, Clausius, N, Ramirez, G et al. Are the clinical effects of homoeopathy placebo effects? A meta-analysis of placebo-controlled trials. Lancet. 1997; 350: 834–843
          View in Article | Summary | Full Text | Full Text PDF | PubMed | Scopus (611)
          Moher, D, Cook, DJ, Eastwood, S, Olkin, I, Rennie, D, Stroup, DF, and for the QUORUM Group. Improving the quality of reports of meta-analyses of randomised controlled trials: the QUORUM statement. Lancet. 1999; 354: 1896–1900
          View in Article | Summary | Full Text | Full Text PDF | PubMed | Scopus (2977)
          Jonas, WB, Kaptchuk, TJ, and Linde, K. A critical overview of homeopathy. Ann Intern Med. 2003; 138: 393–399
          View in Article | CrossRef | PubMed
          The Lancet. The end of homoeopathy. Lancet. 2005; 366: 690

          • “Our 1997 meta-analysis has unfortunately been misused by homoeopaths as evidence that their therapy is proven.”
            Does Klaus mean you here, Dana?

          • As a good scientist, Klaus Linde maintains high standards for the term “proven.” Linde has very sharply criticized the leading review of homeopathic research used by skeptics to assert that homeopathy is only a placebo. Is Linde talking about YOU in this regard?

            It is interesting to note that you seem to be quite good at critiquing any study that has had a positive result for homeopathy, and yet, when any study has had a negative result or evaluation of homeopathy, your sharp analytic skills are nowhere to be found and all-of-a-sudden, you become deaf, dumb, and blind.

            Please point me to your critique of the Shang review.

          • In the recent past, skeptics of homeopathy have insisted that homeopathic medicines were “implausible,” however, recently, new evidence has led to some compelling explanations for how and why homeopathic medicines may work. And as such, it is no longer accurate to say or suggest that homeopathic medicines are “implausible,” except by those people who pretend to be ignorant of this research or simply by those people with an axe to grind.

            Because many skeptics commonly insist that homeopathic medicines are “simply water,” real scientists and academically-inclined individuals will benefit from reviewing the writings of Professor Martin Chaplin, a world renowned expert on water:

            Unless you know something about WATER, saying that homeopathy is “just water” is without any meaning.

            One important experience from homeopathic medicines is its use of “nanodoses” of various plants, mineral, or animal substances as medicines. Skeptics of homeopathy commonly assert that there is “nothing” in homeopathic medicines except water, and yet, such skeptics only “theorize” that such assertions are true and have never proven this in controlled scientific studies. In comparison, research published in the American Chemistry Society’s leading scientific journal, called “Langmuir,” has confirmed in controlled studies that “nanodoses” of homeopathic medicines remain in solution even after they are diluted 1:100 six times, 30 times, or even 200 times (Chikramane, Kalita, Suresh, et al, 2012).

            Skeptics of homeopathy then assert that these nanodoses cannot possibly have any physiological effect on the human body, and yet, such skeptics embarrassingly enough prove their own ignorance of normal human physiology because many of our body’s hormones and cell-signal systems are known to operate at similar nanodoses found in homeopathic medicines (Eskinazi, 1999).

            Ultimately, high quality research showing the efficacy of homeopathic medicines have been published in many of the most respected medical journals in the world, including The Lancet, BMJ (British Medical Journal), Chest (the publication of the American College of Chest Physicians), Rheumatology (the publication of the British Society for Rheumatology), Pediatrics (publication of the American Academy of Pediatrics), Cancer (journal of the American Cancer Society), Journal of Clinical Oncology, Pediatrics Infectious Disease Journal (publication of the European Society of Pediatric Infectious Diseases), European Journal of Pediatrics (publication of the Swiss Society of Pediatrics and the Belgium Society of Pediatrics), and numerous others (Ullman, 2014).

            Why do you think that 95% of French pediatricians, dermatologists, and general family practitioners use homeopathic medicines? Are you so arrogant to condemn them all for using placebos? (

            And if so, how can you explain that homeopathy gained its popularity in the USA and Europe due to its amazing successes in treating infectious diseases of that day and age, including cholera, typhoid, yellow fever, scarlet fever, and many others? This is historical FACT, not any theory.

            For the record, additional research, primarily gathered from conventional pharmacology and material sciences literature by Iris Bell, MD, PhD, and team have explained how and why nanodoses are more able to sift through cellular membranes and through the blood-brain barrier with greater ease than with larger doses (Bell, et al).

            Bell IR, Koithan M. A model for homeopathic remedy effects: low dose nanoparticles, allostatic cross-adaptation, and time-dependent sensitization in a complex adaptive system. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2012 Oct 22;12(1):191.
   (this is an exceptional review of the basic sciences literature that explains how homeopathic medicines may work)

            Bell IR, Sarter B, Koithan M, et al. Integrative Nanomedicine: Treating Cancer with Nanoscale Natural Products. Global Advances in Health and Medicine, January 2014. 36-53.

            Iris R. Bell, John A. Ives, and Wayne B. JonasNonlinear Effects of Nanoparticles: Biological Variability From Hormetic Doses, Small Particle Sizes, and Dynamic Adaptive Interactions. Dose Response. May 2014; 12(2): 202–232.

            Bell IR, Schwartz GE, Boyer NN, Koithan M, Brooks AJ. Advances in Integrative Nanomedicine for Improving Infectious Disease Treatment in Public Health. European journal of integrative medicine 2013;5(2):126-140. doi:10.1016/j.eujim.2012.11.002.

            Chikramane PS, Kalita D, Suresh AK, Kane SG, Bellare JR. Why Extreme Dilutions Reach Non-zero Asymptotes: A Nanoparticulate Hypothesis Based on Froth Flotation. Langmuir. 2012 Nov

            Eskinazi, D., Homeopathy Re-revisited: Is Homeopathy Compatible with Biomedical Observations? Archives in Internal Medicine, 159, Sept 27, 1999:1981-7.

            Ullman, Dana. Dysfunction at Wikipedia on Homeopathic Medicine. (Rather than list the reference for each of the studies listed in this paragraph, this article provides such references.)

          • Prof Ernst said:

            “Our 1997 meta-analysis has unfortunately been misused by homoeopaths as evidence that their therapy is proven.”
            Does Klaus mean you here, Dana?

            Him and all the others…

          • Just two days ago, NATURE INDIA published an important article, “Homeopathic drugs modify gene expression in cancer cells”


            Anyone who discourages the advancement of safe and effective treatments for people with cancer simply prove that they have an axe to grind and/or are maintain an embarrassingly poor scientific attitude and/or are just cruel.

          • Anyone who ENcourages the advancement of BOGUS treatments for people with cancer simply prove that they have an axe to grind and/or are maintain an embarrassingly poor scientific attitude and/or are just cruel!!!
            YOU ARE BLISSFULLY IGNORANT OF ANYTHING TO DO WITH REAL MEDICINE: even if these findings can be independently replicated [which they clearly need], they have then be tested in vivo [in animals, for instance]. if this works, one would consider phase 1 studies…and a long way down the road clinical trials. until we have positive results from clinical trials it is simply irresponsible to advocate homeopathy for cancer.

          • Let me remind Dr. Ernst of the great words of YOURSELF…who recently (actually TODAY!) acknowledged the body of research publication of Michael Frass, MD, of the Medical University of Vienna who directs the The Outpatients Unit of Homeopathy for Malign Diseases at the Department Clinic for Internal of Medicine. In an RCT, you reported that he and his team published: Results suggest that the global health status and subjective wellbeing of cancer patients improve significantly when adjunct classical homeopathic treatment is administered in addition to conventional therapy.


            I found it convenient that you chose to ignore the details of his impressive results.

            Perhaps you need to be reminded of the words of Hippocrtes: “First, do no harm.” It is remarkable that short term memory for your writing (from earlier today!) and that you’ve forgotten about this important finding. Oh well, when you have an axe to grind, you grind it.

          • this is pure comedy gold!
            the post about Frass was to cast doubt on his publications! the post starts with these words:
            “Homeopathy seems to attract some kind of miracle worker. Elsewhere I have, for instance, reported the curious case of Prof Claudia Witt who published more than anyone on homeopathy in recent years without hardly ever arriving at a negative conclusion. Recently, I came across a researcher with an even better track record: Prof Michael Frass.”
            and it ends:
            “How can homeopathy produce nothing but positive results in the hands of this researcher? How can it work in so many entirely different conditions? How is it possible that homeopathic remedies are better than placebo regardless of the methodology used? Why does homeopathy, in the hands of Prof Frass, not even once produce a result that disappoints the aspirations of homeopaths and its advocates? Why are these sensational results almost invariably published in very minor journals? Crucially, why has not one of the findings (as far as I can see) ever been independently reproduced?

            I do not know the answers to these questions.

            If anyone does, I would like to hear them.”

          • @Prof Ernst

            You weren’t expecting a reasoned, rational and well-evidenced argument from Dana, were you?

        • Just this week, NATURE INDIA published an important article that showed the abililty of homeopathic medicines to influence gene expression (1). This study is but one of many that have verified effects of homeopathic medicines on gene expression (2). I sincerely hope that you are not suggesting that gene expression is simply a placebo.

          Based on this work, I now expect a FULL apology to the entire field of homeopathy for your chronic obstructionism and bull-headedness. It is time for you to capitulate…it is only going to get worse in the future for you if you ignore the growing body of evidence for homeopathy.


          (2) Marzotto M, Olioso D, Bellavite P. Gene expression and highly diluted molecules. Frontiers in Pharmacology. 2014;5:237. doi:10.3389/fphar.2014.00237.

          • Well, well, well. Look what the cat brought in, writhing with grandiose ideas and fresh dscoveries of homeopathic tooth-fairy science. This time it sounds like the Nobel prize must be just around the corner, judging by your elation. Wonder where you’ve been the past months Dana. Not that we missed you but your delusional ramblings can be somewhat entertaining at times and simple to deconstruct.

            And by the way, Nature India didn’t publish that article. They only report about it. This very uninteresting lab excercise trying to make-belive an effect into homeopathic water was published in The Journal of Integrative Medicine which I guess publishes anything you throw at it, at least if it sounds “alternative”.
            The other piece makes one fear that the poor sods are doing the Benveniste-mistake all over again.
            Next time Dana, that you get all excited over something where it says “homeopathic” in the title, try to cool down, take some deep breaths and read the whole(!) thing again, slowly, a couple times before you go running off and confirming to the world that you do not have the basic skills required to read scientific texts or understand them.

          • You will find acceptance for homeopathy when results such as these are irrefutably confirmed by reputable workers in cell culture. All the one off badly reported claims about nanobollicks, water memory and silica particles would hardly need considering if it wasn’t for people like yourself selling them as ‘proof’ and endangering people.

            The only two experiments that have received rigorous investigation and attempts of reputable replication are those of Benveniste and Ennis, both were found to be abject failures, not a good average.

            Your behaviour of quote mining, arguing with fallacies, cherry picking, Gish gallops and general ineptitude about science and medicine will remain as your opus.

          • Oh dear, Dana! The article is not a “Nature India” article at all. The paper is published in the “Journal of Integrative Medicine” – a title which rings alarm bells immediately. Impact factor 0.64. The link to the whole paper is :-


            The article proves nothing about the (lack of) efficacy of homeopathy. All it shows is that some substance – which had been prepared in 70% ETHANOL!!!!! – had an effect on some HeLa cells in plastic containers. The “control” cells do not appear to have been exposed to an equivalent solution of 70% ethanol. Massive fail! No “placebo” arm to the study.
            Well, DUH! You need reminding of a basic fact of in vitro study of how cancer cells may respond.


            The study is fatally flawed. It would never pass peer review in any decent journal.
            Many people have tried to educate you – or at least guide to appropriate educational resources – about the critical appraisal of scientific papers. It seems you’re either unwilling or unable to learn.

          • Is this the same Dana Ullman who claimed in a HuffPost article that HarryPotterpathic dilutions cannot possibly be the equivalent of one drop in billions of oceans ‘because we make it in test tubes!’?

            Yes, yes it is. A guy who has wrote books about this gibberish yet doesn’t even understand how dilution works. Or basic maths.

            Either he really is that stupid, or he’s just a liar. No other options.

            Come back when you’re not a laughing stock, Dana – along with your fellow ranting Beliebers trying to sell people essence of Berlin Wall.

            HarryPotterpathy certainly doesn’t work for baldness, hey?

          • @Mark M

            Ullman fully understands the calculation. He would rather attempt to keep such knowledge out of the public sphere, Most who I meet are unaware that homeopaths have thrown away anything that could but probably wasn’t useful. He wasted weeks of editors’ time on Wikipedia trying to prevent a similar example being published.

  • If one is going to follow in the footsteps of Linus Pauling, it would be best to nail down the Nobel prize prior becoming a crank. Once again we have a “respected scientist” who sold his soul to “Big Placebo”. Such a move does not seem to go well with mental health.

  • It seems the vile Sandra Courtney is somewhat obsessed with you lately. She’s likely doing this to distract readers from her absolutely disgusting (and continuing) harassment of a grieving family.

    • Does anyone but her opponents and that Jahnig (her one and only retweeter) even know who she is? Let her shout into the wind.

      The only time the mainstream meets her, like this poor family has, they’re rightfully repulsed. Way to go, Scamdra!

  • One of the reasons I became interested in the “alternative” side of health related services (apart from an accelerating sense of having to protect my patients from the increasing fallacy and fraud they are subjected to) was a compelling need to understand how on earth seemingly normal and educated people could become enthralled in idiotically unreasonable make-believe health-related practices.
    The curious case of Dr. Robert Hahn is one of the best examples I have come across that illustrate such incredible cognitive contradictions in one person.
    In Dr. Hahn we have on one side a renowned, productive and genuine (I am told by my intensivist colleagues) scholar in the extremely significant and heavily science-dependent field of intravenous fluid therapy and on the other an ardent spiritualist and proponent of alternative therapies in general and homeopathy in particular.
    Well, nothing wrong with being either-or, but this practically schizophrenic combination of contradictory qualities in one person defies reason.
    Talking of reason, Dr. Hahn has an interesting take on the relationship of reason and science. Perhaps the best illustration of his confused views is illustrated in a comment-dialog (in english) following a blog post by Michael Eriksson, a Swedish computer scientist living in Germany. There, the two exchange views on this matter:
    The following quote from Dr. Hahn’s comments in this thread I find illustrative:

    The question is – should we believe in scientific data or should we believe is them only if you can accept them by reason? I claim that you should trust the data, in particular if “reason” is provided by a complete outsider. The risk is very great that reason provided by an outsider is completely wrong.

    Dr. Hahn reveals his denial of homeopathy’s implausibility and motivates this view by rejecting reason itself. He seems to be totally blind to the meaning of the term “reason” and presumably therefore blind to his own lack of it.
    As I said, quite a curious case. Perhaps a variant of the Nobel disease?

  • Look as if Prof Hahn has summed things up nicely.

    “Studies depicting homeopathy as ineffective are bogus”
    “Who can you trust? We can begin by disregarding Edzard Ernst. I have read several other studies that he has published, and they are all untrustworthy. His work should be discarded.” 2015

    “Prof. Robert Hahn: My Scientific Article on Homeopathy” 2015

    “.. only by discarding 98% of homeopathy trials and carrying out a statistical meta-analysis on the remaining 2% negative studies, can one ‘prove’ that homeopathy is ineffective” 2015

    (Article in Swedish, Jun 2015 )

    “Homeopathy: Meta-Analyses of Pooled Clinical Data” Review article 17 Oct 2013
    Robert G. Hahn, Research Unit, Södertälje Hospital, Södertälje, Department of Anesthesiology, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden

    Prof Hahn bio: (not a homeopath)

    Could I say also, additional to Hahn’s re-examination, that ‘failure to find’ effect of homeopathy using conventional RCTs proves nothing, certainly does not prove homeopathy doesn’t work. Surprisingly, perhaps. It’s a maths thing. Quite likely heresy in some quarters.
    The hypothesis that homeopathy has no effect beyond placebo is already well refuted. It seems we have seen experiments which contradict established scientific theory. What, I wonder, is Science to do about that? Call on Authority to enforce the Law?

    • The math is very robust for analysis of clinical trials. Small, uncontrolled trials are useless and the vast majority of homeopathy trials are small and uncontrolled therefore they are useless and thus they are discarded from analysis.

      It raises the question of why the majority of homeopathy trials are useless. Partly it is the obvious incompetence of homeopaths. They are incapable of following the scientific method being only interested in finding their sales product to be effective rather than wondering if it is effective. Partly it is sheer dishonesty, there is no doubt they know their product will fail fair testing and therefore choose to unfairly test it.

      A common trait of conmen is the use of logically false argument. Playing the man rather than the ball is often used by homeopaths. When they produce evidence that homeopathic water and sugar is any different from water and sugar then their evidence can be examined, to date the majority of it has been dross and I’m surprised that only 98% is discarded. 100% of the ‘papers’ I see advertised as supporting homeopathy are just a waste of space on line or in print. Hahn is no exception to this, he has moaned at length but produced no data to support the use of homeopathy. He may be a respected doctor locally but this work inspires no confidence in him.

      • “Small, uncontrolled trials are useless and the vast majority of homeopathy trials are small and uncontrolled therefore they are useless and thus they are discarded from analysis.”

        Well, feel to free and show me the document of consensus of small sample.

    • ‘certainly does not prove homeopathy doesn’t work’

      You can’t prove that something doesn’t exist. What you can say is that one alternative is true. Then you can deduce that homeopthay is bogus, because it goes against well know and established physics, chimistry and medicine. What you are are failing to see is that :

      Of course, some experiment contradict what we know about science (and it’s mostly not ‘contradiction’ but unknown mecanism), but they are reproducible and measurable, so there IS something. Homeopathy is not, it’s some ‘magic’ that only homeopath can see, it follow some ‘illusive’ mecanism that no test can evaluate of course… This is straight BS. Some people are just torturing the stat in badly controlled trial to sell sugar at high price.

      ‘he hypothesis that homeopathy has no effect beyond placebo is already well refuted.’

      Well, i would love to hear that. But HOW ? You discard RCT and meta-analysis, so how can you tell that there is an effect beyond placebo ? So much contradiction in your thinking.

      • 1. If “You can’t prove that something doesn’t exist.”, then the belief of “debunk homeopathy” is false.

        2. If “Then you can deduce that homeopthay is bogus, because it goes against well know and established physics, chimistry and medicine”, then show me the evidence of this. Onus probandi.

        3. If conventional experiments are “reproducible and measurable, so there IS something.”… Sorry… Oh no…

        52% significan crisis. You’re an hipocrat.

        4. “You discard RCT and meta-analysis, so how can you tell that there is an effect beyond placebo ? So much contradiction in your thinking.”

        That’s the water mark of Ernst, Acleron and Henness.

    • @ William LaChenal
      Commenting under one’s real name is to be encouraged, applauded and respected.
      I had a look at your net-tracks and found a very interesting comment you made to a post on that repository of anecdotes and imagination, I believe a reference to and analysis of this comment of yours may cast a light on the issue at hand.

      It seems that you are of the fervently doctrinal conviction that, as you put it in said comment:

      …homeopathic potencies DO work…

      In your comment (see under link above) you call, with a clear tone of desperation, for proper proof of the efficacy/effect of homeopathic remedies that you so unerringly believe in. You warn your brethren in faith that ‘we’, the “pseudo-science and EBM crowd” as you call us, “…are not going to accept what they call “anecdote”, even in quantity…”.
      Your declaration, that “they” call anecdotes anecdote, I find very interesting and telling, by the way.

      You list all the mistakes so common in the sciency efforts of homeopaths e.g. “badly designed trials […] poorly construed mathematical inference in academic papers, or [by] marginal results”.
      You call for a “…positive presence in the world press..”. That has certainly been attempted in vain, e.g. by Dana Ullmann who is easily refuted whenever he tries to put together something in support of homeopathy.
      You call for proper demonstration of the memory effects of water, which you admit has failed hitherto:

      So, where are the repeatable (& repeated), incontrovertible in vitro studies that show clear effect beyond Avogadro’s limit?
      Even the best of these that I have seen leave holes to be picked at. Why?

      You call for better science to prove that you and your fellow homeopaths are right:

      Where are the ongoing follow-up comparative studies that demonstrate this, without introducing post-hoc bias?
      Why doesn’t every homeopathic clinic & hospital in the world run such a program?

      It is obvious that you see all the conspicuous shortcomings of homeopathic research and evidence and how homeopathy has failed to assert its effect (beyond the placebo effect of course) despite centuries of trials and experience. It is almost as if you have analysed the work of Professor Ernst and call upon the congregation to please listen to him and not make the mistakes and flaws he has so effectively refuted.

      Now I ask…
      Has it never occurred to you that the answer to all these questions and uncertainties that gnaw at your devotion to homeopathy is very simple? It is really lying there in plain daylight for anyone to see.
      If you read through your own writings in the comment I am referring to, and think for a moment that what you are in effect saying yourself is, that during the two centuries since Hahnemann concocted the first remedy, in effect no one has been able to come up with evidence of its efficacy and workings?
      If you then add the thought that on the contrary, the totality of accumulated knowledge we have collected and repeatedly proven beyond any doubt, about how our physical world is put together and works, what we call science, which explains pretty much our whole existence, simply and positively invalidates the possibility that shaken… sorry potentised water is able to carry forward and exert an influence on our health and well-being from something that used to be in the beaker.
      To put it even more bluntly, has it never occurred to you that what you are calling for better evidence for, simply does not have any evidence at all!?
      Or as Harriet Hall put it, your quest is in effect the equivalent of trying to prove the existence of the Tooth Fairy. You can analyse the stories and you can count all the children, and you can add up all the money left under pillows all over the world. But the Tooth Fairy nevertheless does not exist for real.

    • So we shall see you collecting the Nobel prizes for physics, medicine and chemistry then?

  • An idiot writes this: “The article proves nothing about the (lack of) efficacy of homeopathy. All it shows is that some substance – which had been prepared in 70% ETHANOL!!!!! – had an effect on some HeLa cells in plastic containers. The “control” cells do not appear to have been exposed to an equivalent solution of 70% ethanol. Massive fail! No “placebo” arm to the study.”

    The idiot of William LaChena, don´t never read:

    `were analyzed against placebo 30C (Pl-30) for alterations in gene profiles linked to epigenetic modifications´

    Now, William did you understand?

  • Somebody alerted me on this website. Dr. Ernst spends most of his effort to reply to my article in Forsch Komplemetmed 2013; 20: 376-381 by discussing who I might be as a person. I hoped to see more effort being put on scientific reasoning.

    1. For the scientific part: my experience in scientific reasoning of quite long and extensive. I am the most widely published Swede in the area of anesthesia and intensive care ever. Those who doubt this can look “Hahn RG” on PubMed.

    2. For the religious part that, in my mind, has nothing to do with this topic, is that my wife developed a spiritualistic ability in the mid 1990:s which I have explored in four books published in Swedish between 1997 and 2007. I became convinced that much of this is true, but not all. The books reflect interviews with my wife and what happened in our family during that time. Almost half of all Swedes believe in afterlife and in the existence of a spiritual world. Dr. Ernsts reasoning is typical of skeptics, namely that a person with a known religious belief in not to trust – i.e. a person cannot have two sides, a religious and a scientific. I do not agree with that, but the view has led to that almost no scientist dares to tell his religious beliefs to anyone (which Ernst enforces by his reasoning). Besides, I am not very religious person at all, although the years spent writing these books was quite an interesting period of my life. In particular the last book which involved past-life memories that I had been revived during self-hypnotims. I am interested in exploring many sorts of secrets, not only scientific. But all types of evidence must be judged according to its own rules and laws.

    3. Why did I write about homeopathy? The reason is a campaign led by skeptics in some summers ago. Teenagers sat in Swedish television and expressed firmly that “there is not a single publication showing that homeopathy works – nothing!”. I wonder how these young boys could know that, and suspected that had simply been instructed to say so by older skeptics . I looked up the topic on PubMed and soon found some positive papers. Not difficult to find. Had they looked? Surely not. I was a frequent blogger at the time, and wrote three blogs summarizing meta-analyses asking the question whether homeopathy was superior to placebo (disregarding the underlying disease). The response for my readers was impressive and I was eventually urged to write it up in English, which I did. That is the background to my article. I have no other involvement in homeopathy.

    4. Me and Dr Ernst. I came across his name when scanning articles about homeopathy, and decided to look a bit deeper into what he had written. The typical scenario was to publish meta-analyses but excluding almost all material, leaving very little (of just a scant part of the literature) to summarize. No wonder there were no significant differences. If there were still significant differences the material was typically considered by him to be still too small or too imprecise or whatever to make any conclusion. This was quite systematic, and I lost trust in Ernst´s writings. This was pure scientific reasoning and has nothing to do with religion or anything else.

    // Robert Hahn

    • here is again the crucial section of the article [a ‘letter’ NOT a meta-analysis] that you seem to object to:
      In an interesting re-analysis of their meta-analysis of clinical trials of homeopathy, Linde et al conclude that there is no linear relationship between quality scores and study outcome. We have simply re-plotted their data and arrive at a different conclusion. There is an almost perfect correlation between the odds ratio and the Jadad score between the range of 1-4… [some technical explanations follow which I omit]…Linde et al can be seen as the ultimate epidemiological proof that homeopathy is, in fact, a placebo.

      what material did I exclude here?
      I have published several full systematic reviews [not meta-analyses] of homeopathy. do you claim I omitted ‘almost all material’ there too?
      what evidence do we have that you understand the methodology of systematic reviews?

      • Edzard,

        For starters, where are your references to:

        Taylor, MA, Reilly, D, Llewellyn-Jones, RH, et al., Randomised controlled trial of homoeopathy versus placebo in perennial allergic rhinitis with overview of four trial Series, BMJ, August 19, 2000, 321:471-476.

        Reilly, D, Is homoeopathy a placebo response? controlled trial of homoeopath¬ic potency, with pollen in hayfever as model, Lancet, October 18, 1986, ii: 881-6.

        Reilly, D, Taylor, M, Beattie, N, et al., Is evidence for homoeopathy reproduci¬ble? Lancet, December 10, 1994, 344:1601-6.

        Jacobs, J, Jimenez, LM, Gloyd, SS, “Treatment of Acute Childhood Diarrhea with Homeopathic Medicine: A Randomized Double-blind Controlled Study in Nicaragua,” Pediatrics, May, 1994,93,5:719-25.

        Jacobs, J, Jonas, WB, Jimenez-Perez, M, Crothers, D, Homeopathy for Childhood Diarrhea: Combined Results and Metaanalysis from Three Randomized, Controlled Clinical Trials, Pediatr Infect Dis J, 2003;22:229-34.

        Frass, M, Dielacher, C, Linkesch, M, et al. Influence of potassium dichromate on tracheal secretions in critically ill patients, Chest, March, 2005;127:936-941.

        Bell IR, Lewis II DA, Brooks AJ, et al. Improved clinical status in fibromyalgia patients treated with individualized homeopathic remedies versus placebo, Rheumatology. 2004:1111-5

        • oh dear, oh dear!!!
          either you have not read the ‘letter’, or you are more stupid than I could possibly have imagined:
          “… Linde et al conclude that there is no linear relationship between quality scores and study outcome. We have simply re-plotted their data …”

          • No special pleading is required except to honor the way homeopathy is actually practiced and that is with some degree of individualization of each person’s syndrome. Also, I find it interesting that there are virtual NO double-blind placebo controlled trials on surgical procedures…and yet, no one here asserts that surgery is quackery and requires “special pleading.”

            When high quality research is evaluated, there IS evidence of the difference between homeopathy and placebo:

            Mathie RT, Lloyd SM, Legg LA, Clausen J, Moss S, Davidson JR, Ford I. Randomised placebo-controlled trials of individualised homeopathic treatment: systematic review and meta-analysis. Systematic Reviews 2014; 3:142. doi:10.1186/2046-4053-3-142.

            Further, THIS meta-analysis also acknowledges that FOUR of the FIVE large meta-analyses on homeopathy have found differences between homeopathy and placebo…and the one meta-analysis that didn’t achieve this conclusion has upon re-analysis found to find a difference between homeopathy and placebo: Lüdtke R, Rutten ALB. The conclusions on the effectiveness of homeopathy highly depend on the set of analyzed trials. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology. October 2008. doi: 10.1016/j.jclinepi.2008.06/015.

            As for Linde, his meta-analysis was published in 1997…and did not include many of the studies that I previously highlighted.

            Ernst loves to do ad hom attacks…he does a good Donald Trump impersonation…

          • and the ‘letter’ in question is a re-analysis of Linde – so what are you faffing on about?
            4 0f 5 claim is false.
            Mathie et al has been extensively discussed on this blog – not even the authors of this review see it a solid proof of efficacy.
            one does not need to impersonate Trump [he is a candidate in your country not in mine!] to affirm what I said about your IQ.

          • What typical straw men you create and misinformation you provide!

            Where in my comment did I say that Mathie provided “solid proof of efficacy”? Show me…show us all!

            Here’s what Mathie said: “Five systematic reviews have examined the RCT research literature on homeopathy as a whole, including the broad spectrum of medical conditions that have been researched and by all forms of homeopathy: four of these ‘global’ systematic reviews reached the conclusion that, with important caveats, the homeopathic intervention probably differs from placebo.”

            In this light, whenever you and others of your pseudo-scientiifc ilk say that “there is no evidence” that differentiate homeopathy from placebo, you are lying through your teeth.

            Hahn, in comparison, has no axe to grind…and as such, Hahn embodies a healthy scientific attitude, while you show your belief system more than a scientific attitude.

          • That this is true?

            “not even the authors of this review see it a solid proof of efficacy”

            Well, not even the author of the Ernst reviews it a solid unbiased debunk of the efficay of homeopathy.

        • Ironic mode off:

          In the Ernst muta analysis, Jacobs paper is described as high quality trial. The Friends of Science report (sorry the Australian report) show the oppose.

          • @Egger on Sunday 18 September 2016 at 07:59

            “In the Ernst meta analysis, Jacobs paper is described as high quality trial. The Friends of Science report (sorry the Australian report) show the oppose.”

            This is the procedure objected by Dr. Hahn. Only he is rather polite about it- ” ideological belief”.
            Ernst has used the correct description “sold my soul to big pharma”.

          • @Iqbal:

            The pseudoskeptics from “my” country are more dogmatics and extremely utterly biased. They are a copies of the USA and UK pseudoskeptics. As a mechanized bots that repeat the same lies and notes. Recently, spanish pseudoskeptics need legal help from fraud. They pay a one man (Julain Rodriguez Grainer) for difame to a one practitioner for the supposed death of the own son.

            More recent, the spanish CSICOP (as know as ARP-SAPC) paid to one ex-“homeopath” called Dr. Mauricio, for defame homeopathy in the mass media. I remember the same tactics of Ernst and the suppossed woman german ex-homeopath. Is the same tactics applied around the world.

            Poor Ernst, when the documents begin leaked, he need much, much, help.

          • @Egger on Wednesday 21 September 2016 at 05:23

            ” I remember the same tactics of Ernst and the suppossed woman german ex-homeopath. Is the same tactics applied around the world.”

            There is a group who work in tandem. Ernst has a blog. Andy Lewis runs another blog (the quackometer), Alan Hennesse writing as Zeno, Science Based Medicine among others Gorsky and reproduced as Science blog by Orac, Then they quote each other.
            The quotes, the references, the statements: all the same.

            Interesting possibility.

          • so homeopathy does not work against paranoia either?

      • I’m a little curious on just what exactly did he (Ernst) study. After reviewing the list of studies considered, it appears that anything that showed a positive result for homeopathic remidies was disgarded or rated as “low quality”, while studies that showed no result or negative results were included and rated as high quality.

        The data gathering technique is suspect as every listed independent research study receiving consideration that showed a positive result was deemed to be not credible. An example from bias in Ernst muta-analysis (not meta-analysis):

        “Studies on material dilutions or on remedies not following the like cures like principle of homoeopathy were excluded” (1999).

        Non sense. Ernst in muta-review and biased techinque. He selected five trials:

        1. Lebreque trial: complex homeopathy, not individualized. (-)
        2. Jacobs trial: individualized. (+)
        3. Hofmeyer trial: pilot study, not individualized. Include low potency 7CH remedy. (-)
        4. de Lange trial: individualized. (+)
        5. Lökken trial: not individualized. (-)

        When I exclude the non-individualized trials as the Ernst “objective statement”, the odd ratio is very significant when the likes cure likes applies. It brings to mind the New Church of Pseudoskepticism issues of the middle ages only with the roles reversed… “traditional skepticism” seems to have deemed that anything lying outside of the scientifically accepted norms is nothing more than witchcraft, illusion or amateurism. It appears that they have forgotten their roots and no longer remember that virtually every major scientific advancement of the past thousand years has met the same discrimination and resistance.

        We should also point out that the listed studies in many cases do list significant positive results in favor of homeopathic treatments however the results were excluded for various rather laughable reasons. As an example above, Ernst straighfoward the same line. In 2000 the paper with Morrison and Lifford is more example of PseudoSkepticBabble. Again, the question of wheter the pooled analysis reveal the homeopathy as more than effect placebo or chance events. By the way, Ernst and coworkers based on popperian philosophy, trying play with statistics. More example:

        -They include 23 of 26 trials of the 1997 meta-analysis.
        -In the conclusion:

        “Notwithstanding our finding of positive results even amon small residue of apparentry impeccable trials, there are insufficient data here greatly to influence a person with a prior sceptical belief”

        What does mean a “prior sceptical belief”?

        In the commentary on 2009 Ernst states:

        “The higher the dilution of a remedy the more powerful are its effects (homeopathy).”

        Another comment from Ernst:

        “The notion that“natural”is the same as safe is widespread.But there is nothing natural about sticking needles into patients’ bodies (as in acupuncture) or in diluting substances to such a degree that the medicines contain nothing but dilutant (as in homeopathy)

        On 2008:

        “Homeopathy, by contrast caused no direct adverse effects.”

        As Tuchi said:
        –The general quality of the original case information used by Ernst was poor–

        From the “reploted linear graphic. Ernst and coworker hand wave statistics. I love the cofession of -fraud- with a pathethic joke:

        “one of our aims was to provoke reactions from “homeopathic quarters.” Pity though that he did not notice that our conclusion was deliberately tongue in cheek. Essentially Lüdtke challenges us for omitting two data points in our correlation”

        What are the dots missed? Ernst and coworker didn’t like that it contained in Lüdtke commentary, they didn’t like that the correlation in own Jadad score vs odd ration is no linear. However, Ernst extrapolate the dots that contradicts the simple popperian hypothesis. Fraud ready!

      • “here is again the crucial section of the article [a ‘letter’ NOT a meta-analysis]”

        Wow, the same fraud letter is your evidence agains Hahn review. In fact, the letter is an innocent trick of re-analysis of Linde meta-analysis, early published with Morrison.

        “what material did I exclude here?”

        The Lüdtke critique for example?

        “I have published several full systematic reviews [not meta-analyses] of homeopathy. do you claim I omitted ‘almost all material’ there too?”

        No, Hahn only review the meta-analysis of homeopathy versus placebo independent the condition analized. He is very clear. Read, read!

    • “But all types of evidence must be judged according to its own rules and laws.”

      Do you mean we must suspend the concept of scientific evidence when investigating homeopathy?

      • “But all types of evidence must be judged according to its own rules and laws.”

        Dr. Hahn’s comment contains a cavalcade of fallacious arguments, which reveal a lot about this remarkable man.
        The words above show us what seems to be his governing fallacy, that of special pleading.

        Dr. Hahn is a real medical doctor, an anesthesiologist and a well known and widely respected academic authority in his field of medical expertise, which has (very simplified) to do with use of different fluids in anesthesia and resuscitation.
        But when it comes to other areas of study and knowledge, namely those governed by the rules and laws of religious belief, he seems to drop his analytical standards to a subterranean level of believing whatever fits his ideas and helps defend against the inevitable cognitive dissonance of religion.

        Note his derogatory description of “the teenagers” whom he claims sparked his interest in homeopathy with statements about homeopathic research.
        Dr. Hahn, as anyone plagued by the cognitive dissonance from religious beliefs (such as homeopathy) conflicting with obvious facts, exhibits aggressive contempt for anyone who presents contradictory facts and arguments.
        Dr. Hahn has been having skirmishes with these “teenagers” who are in reality active members of a Swedish society called Vetenskap och Folkbildning (Science and public education) VOF. Many of them are probably young and their writings un-diplomatic but that does not warrant the disrespectful way Dr. Hahn chooses to address them.
        I seriously doubt that his first encounter with these adversaries was in 2010 in the context of public debate about homeopathy and other altmed. I would not be at all surprised if his contempt for “the teenagers” started with them being severly critical of his support of spiritism and reincarnation back in 2004.
        Dr. Hahn is a man full of contradictions.

        • I’m atheist. How the faith beliefs apply with me as biased, and governing fallacies on my discourse?

          I’m waiting your absurd response.

          • @Egger
            Absurd or not, if I am to respond there needs to be something to respond to.
            The text ending with a question mark in the comment above does not make any sense, do you need help with expressing yourself legibly in the english language?
            You have made six comments in a row to this thread without contributing anything worth responding to.

          • @Björn Geir on Sunday 18 September 2016 at 13:44

            “The text ending with a question mark in the comment above does not make any sense, do you need help with expressing yourself legibly in the english language?”

            Earlier, I used the term “yellow belly” for you.

            It seems. I have to look for a term that increases the degree manifold.

        • Bjorn Geir – I read Dr Hahn’s paper about homeopathy quite a while ago; to me, as a mere user of homeopathy, amongst other complementary therapies ( I declare my interest to prevent a certain member of your skeptic club accusing me of being known to Dr Hahn or worse ,as I have previously been accused of potentially killing children , under the delightfully headed post about chiropractic and bovine excrement), it appeared measured and clear. However, what did I miss regarding being derogatory about teenagers? I didn’t read anything derogatory;where is the aggressive contempt?. Dr. Hahn appears to be a considered writer. Because he is an open minded Scientist ie interested in and researching Spirituality (or whatever your term is) that does not nullify his research in other areas; in my view someone with an open mind and without prejudice is someone to take note of.

          When Dr Hahn denied a particular interest in homeopathy beyond that paper ,and his conclusions about Prof Ernst, I believe him; he is after all a very busy man with an open mind.

          • @A
            Please read Dr. Hahn’s comment from september 17 again, item 3.

            His contempt for skeptics and skepticism is well developed and can be found in many texts. It possibly dates back to the beginning of this century when a (gray-haired) skeptic scientist reviewed three of his books publicly and criticised him for, as a scientist, medical doctor and professor (at that time) at the famous Karolinska Institute, to rely heavily on consultations with the holy spirit instead of known facts about serious diseases like schizophrenia, cancer and AIDS.

            Here’s an excerpt I loosely translated from said review (the original contains extensive references to the pertinent locations in 3 of Dr. Hahn’s books):

            Strikingly often, Robert Hahn asks the Holy Spirit for advise, even in medical matters. A recurring theme in the responses he gets is that diseases have a spiritual purpose. The diseases “are meant to increase people’s maturity and to increase our understanding of that something is wrong in her life … We get the diseases that are necessary for our karmic development.” diseases ” are needed for the sick to achieve the insight needed for his karmic development’s sake ” Therefore, doctors” do not cure the disease without the appreciation of the spirit world.

            Hahn returns repeatedly to [the idea] that diseases can be a consequence of events and actions under previous lives. We humans must “take the consequences of our own actions” and there [Dr. Hahn] is referring to behaviour during previous life.

            This review of Dr. Hahn’s books reveals a man infatuated by religious ideas that circle around how diseases and human suffering are governed by supernatural, holy spirits and their origin and existence relate heavily to our actions, namely our sins and misdeeds. The holy spirit(s) give Dr. Hahn advise and he believes he is blessed with healing powers bestowed upon him by these spirits. It is revealed that Dr. Hahn practiced healing in his spare time, at least at the time the books were written.

            One example of the ideology forwarded to Dr Hahn by the holy spirits is that AIDS is bestowed upon humanity to teach them better sexual conduct.

            Of course this would all be quite acceptable if Dr. Hahn’s writings had not contained several questionable medical advises and the reviewer takes the example of proposing to treat schizophrenia by elucidating the patients memories from a prior life.

            These are only a few tidbits from this article which is in Swedish. I tested letting Google’s translation system translate it to english and it returned a surprisingly useful text at least enough to get an idea of all the different items discussed.
            Dr. Hahn is undoubtedly an extremely talented man but the fact that he is no longer a professor at one of the worlds most famous medical institutions is not surprising in light of al this.

            Later, Dr. Hahn has been a stout promoter of an extremely controversial private clinic (Vidarkliniken) in Sweden whose therapy and rehabilitation is based on anthroposophic and homeopathic medicine. It is if I am not mistaken, particularly known for its asthma therapy using anthroposophic methods.
            The skeptic movement (consisting mainly of gray-haired gentlemen, not teenagers) has been active in criticising this clinic and its public funding. Its public funding is now to be terminated thanks in large part to the skeptics ardent work.
            His interests in homeopathy and related quackery seem more than he admits.

          • this sounds very much as though he is close to the Steiner cult.

    • But all types of evidence must be judged according to its own rules and laws.

      Can you give a few examples of types of evidence and the rules and laws according to which they have to be judged?

      • Bjorn Geir – thank you for your indicator to item 3 of Dr Hahn’s post in which I fail to detect anything derogatory: please enlighten me.

        Your response is a vehicle to denigrate a man with opposing views to your’s. I was posting about the paper on homeopathy and his conclusion about Prof Ernst. Why is it anathema that someone who is revered in some circles has an interest in Spirituality? There are millions of people, including me, who believe there is more Ito life than the narrow views of proponents of mainstream medicine and science and empirical evidence.

        Unfortunately, this blog attracts no sensible or balanced debate ( I believe I have been told previously ‘how can you have a balanced debate with the equivalent of the tooth fairy’). The skeptics’ views are largely oppressive and black and white: one cannot support and use allopathic medicine alongside complementary medicine. This is complete nonsense : millions do.

        Here is a little anecdote (the skeptics’ favourite word) I had to have a double tooth extraction this morning and I assume (and I know I shouldn’t) that you approve of a highly regarded dental surgeon? I took the common homeopathic remedy: arnica. However, understandably I was in some pain, and Arnica wasn’t helping it. I had a look at my first aid box and quite frankly any one of 6 remedies addressed dental pain. Although I have been using homeopathy for 40 years, self prescription is not easy. In my mind, it was a case of choosing one and if it didn’t work would resort to the painkiller the dentist had given me. I had absolutely no expectation of the remedy working because I had not felt like doing an indepth study. Nobody was more surprised than me that it worked just like a painkiller, to the extent that 4 hours down the line when the pain returned, I took another one – worked again. Now my experience is your anecdote but I am over the moon with my exoerience. The skeptics’ club, I am sure, are competing to tell me it is placebo, regression to the mean, on and on like the mantra it is on this blog. Meanwhile, once again, unexpectedly I am amazed at the efficacy of complementary therapy – and alongside an approved mainstream medical discipline.

        If someone like Dr Hahn takes the time to research the truth, that balances the heinous attacks against homeopathy amongst other complementary medicine, I for one thank him.

        • @A
          A brief comment:
          I fail to see any valid or supported argument in your impassioned comment. You make several logical mistakes in your reasoning, such as arguing that because millions believe something it must be so, and arguing that homeopathy works just because you think it does. There are several reasons why people think something inert has worked for them. One good overview of them is in a well known essay by Barry Beyerstein:
          I suggest you read it and contemplate.

          I am not attacking homeopathy or Dr. Hahn or anyone else. In a way I rather like Dr. Hahn from what I have seen. He has contributed much to the understanding of fluid therapy for resuscitation. He sees to be a pious and good-willed person but his dogmatic beliefs have evidently led him astray regarding many serious medical issues.
          I am only relating verifiable information regarding Dr. Hahn and I refer to my sources so they can be checked. Do so yourself.
          If you have information that may show what I have written to contain errors, by all means provide it but with references so the sources can be checked and verified.

          Regarding your last paragraph.
          Dr. Hahn is a known and mostly respected scientist in his field of expertise but his research methods when it comes to many other serious medical issues seem to have consisted (according to his own writings) of asking the holy spirit(s) for answers. Alas we cannot rely on such evidence nor take it very seriously because such research cannot be verified or repeated and the answers are very inconsistent and operator dependent, which is useless in science. The only speculation I have put forward about Dr. Hahn regards the reason why he is no longer a full professor at one of the most respected medical institutions in the world. I speculate whether his unrealistic approach to “research the truth” has anything to do with that?

          • Bjorn Geir – with respect, you have completely lost me regarding your response post ….impassioned comment; logical mistakes in reasoning; arguing that because millions believe something it must be so; arguing that homeopathy works because you think it does. Hold on, whilst I understand the nuances Iin posts can be a difficulty, especially on this blog, I was not arguing about anything. Firstly, what would be the point? The Skeptics’ Club is so much entrenched in the view against CAM, that process of the written word,especially from those with differing views, is often missed in the heat of “whatever you post is wrong, and I am always right.”

            There is little point in continuing the discourse because you have not read my comments correctly:
            my first post was about Dr. Hahn’s original paper on homeopathy and Dr. Ernst. However, you chose to negate my comments and expound your views on Dr. Hahn’s life and views: that is pretty underhand and uncalled for; but to be expected on this blog. All I contributed(because in actuality I know very little of him) is if those beliefs are his, then millions also have that view. No argument, just a statement of fact.

            So your view is that homeopathy works because I think it does? Fair enough, you are entitled to that view, What saddens me is that there are powerful and organised groups working hard for it to be removed from the NHS in the erroneous belief it will lose credibility with the public. I shan’t be reading your link, just as I don’t read any advised by the skeptics. Wikipedia seems to be the bible, however, from my experience UK universities advise against using it in theses. If homeopathy works for millions, it works – a statement. CAM isn’t going away.

            You speak of evidence, research etc: but science doesn’t always get it right: in the past few days there has been a call for an independent enquiry into statins, after several years of controversy re side effects, by the BMJ. Although not published in the mainstream press, there are questions around the HPV vaccines, and indeed childhood vaccines, I know this blog has no interest in criticising pharmaceuticals, but the point is Science doesn’t always get it right, yet CAM is the enemy: is this logical ?

            In an era, a long time ago, there was a measured approach to debates, differences; unfortunately, social media has caused a downturn in politeness between those of differing views; is that progress? Half a century ago I would minute take at meetings whereby defence systems or medical systems were brainstormed. There were Scientists, engineers, Admirals, sometimes in large numbers. The ambience was one of calm despite different views; there was a respect for each contributor because each knew the importance of getting the optimum design. We have moved on immeasurably – is it polite that a man’s lifestyle, views etc is in the public debate – does that help your argument? I commented on a single paper and Bjorn Geir you chose to go off piste; thankfully, in those important meetings no one did: they remained on task for the benefit of the safety and health of the public.

            I have no more to contribute to our discourse, but of course you may. Once again, I am reminded of the futility of posting on this blog, but thank you once again Prof Ernst for the platform.

    • Robert Hahn,

      But all types of evidence must be judged according to its own rules and laws.


      Your statement is the core tenet of both the pseudoscientific method and the anti-scientific method, which are, of course, the antithesis of: the scientific method; epistemic logic; critical thinking; Health and Safety legislation; project management; international standards; mission-critical engineering; and 21st Century medicine.

      Almost half of all Swedes believe in afterlife and in the existence of a spiritual world.

      Hopefully, far fewer than half of all Swedes commit your fundamental domain errors (aka category errors; category mistakes):

      … I do not agree with that, but the view has led to that almost no scientist dares to tell his religious beliefs to anyone (which Ernst enforces by his reasoning).

      Scientists who have no religious beliefs are extremely unlikely to ‘dare tell of their religious beliefs’ for the simple reason that they do not possess any religious beliefs.

      NB: Atheism and agnosticism are NOT belief systems. Furthermore, these non-religious stances are shared by circa 93% of those in the National Academy of Sciences:

      Why do people believe in the palpably untrue?, by Robert T. Carroll.

      • More Pseudoskepticbabble from “Skeptic” fan pages. Yeah, , children who read the emotive propaganda of Carroll because some angry Randi lovers believe in False Syndrome Memory Fundation or in the imaginary rigid linear relation of quality vs odd ratio appeared in the Ernst papers.

  • Pete Attkins wrote, on Sunday 18 September 2016 at 11:16

    “This life is nothing short of a redefining osmosis of zero-point inspiration. Healing is the driver of inseparability.”

    A fascinating mirror to pseudo-scientific writing (word salad).

    I’m reminded of the “Change the Subject” distraction ploy in propaganda technique, to be employed when the propagandists are losing the flow. (For readers unfamiliar with such things: ) Astute observers will see clear indications throughout edzardernst com, and in the antipathy that arises whenever homeopathy is mentioned elsewhere.

    Such “big lie” technique is the meat and drink of counter-scientific skepticism often exemplified here; I’d say anyone aspiring to be a scientist should be ashamed to associate themselves with these antics, or with the ‘new inquisition’ (a friend of mine tells me has recently received death threats for supporting homeopathy on twitter).

    Now, the fact that there is a coached & funded campaign to discredit homeopathy (often using the free services of ignorant teenagers and other «полезные дураки» – a project along the lines of Gramsci’s slow march through the institutions) does not in itself do anything to show that homeopathy works, per se – it does, of course – only potentially that it may have some vested interests very worried about loss of market share. Especially in the light of new methods of “precision medicine” an attempt to validate sales of patient-specific medicines, particularly in oncology, which will blow a hole in the usual methodologically-biased RCT analyses.
    However, it is ridiculous to suggest that there is some conspiracy amongst homeopaths to mislead the thousands of patients they are curing. Including the ‘incurables’.

    Can a pseudo-skeptic sell his soul? Time and effort, maybe, but I discern a consensus that skeptics do not have possession of soul. Unlike healers, the majority of skeptics seem not to be on the side of the angels. Edzard?

    • “A fascinating mirror to pseudo-scientific writing (word salad).”

      I count that as a “gotcha!” to Pete Attkins.

    • Oh the distraction tactics of homeopaths being asked for evidence and producing a Gish gallop of refs which are not evidence or string of rather unoriginal insults or tu quoque fallacies about medicine. Is that what you mean?

      “Now, the fact that there is a coached & funded campaign to discredit homeopathy”

      Any evidence for this? After all we don’t have schools of anti-homeopathy but there are schools of homeopathy, often publicly funded.

      So a supporter of a modality that requires a belief and no evidence accuses their critics of lacking something for which there is no evidence either.

      Homeopathy looks more like a religion everyday.

    • @Bill LaChenal

      Rather lame this “New Inquisition” gambit, don’t you think? 😀

      How about showing some real evidence of “…the thousands of patients they [the homeopaths] are curing. Including the ‘incurables’.”
      We’re still waiting for the incurables to be cured… the lame walking, the obese loosing weight, the infertile conceiving, conceptions prevented, blind seeing, deaf hearing, hopeless cancers disappearing, septic shocked recovering… and any other reproducible and repeatable miracles clearly and specifically attributable homeopathic therapy.

      We are still waiting to hear a plausible explanation of how a piece of the Berlin wall, a drop of poison or a leg of a housefly thinned in purified water to one in 1000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000 or more can possibly have a specific healing effect, even if administered after a drawn out hearing of the patients history and an individualised choice of the remedy?? But please spare us the risible story of Chikramane and his incompetent use of an electron microscope or similarly silly attempts at demonstrating the unlikely memory of water or efficacy of ultra-dilutions.

      You said so truthfully yourself in response to your buddy Alan Schmukler’s anguished opus about the evil antagonism homeopathy had to endure, titled “Defending homeopathy” and published 2007 in the (web-)repository of risible homeopathic reveries called “Homeopathy for Everyone”:

      Remember, the true Scientist, the inquistive mind, is not our enemy. (S)he just remains to be convinced.

      I’m sorry, but the pseudo-Science, & EBM crowd are not going to accept what they call “anecdote”, even in quantity. It’s a waste of your breath.
      They are certainly not going to accept long-winded ‘cures’ of self-limiting cases.

      They are not going to respect opinions, even of eminent and accomplished homeopathic physicians. Opinions, except their own, that is.

      They are not going to be conviced by poorly construed mathematical inference in academic papers, or by marginal results.
      They are not going to accept badly designed trials.

      And, please, (I’m not aiming at anyone in particular, here) they are not going to respect bad grammar and spelling, or paper in minor journals without peer review!

      Just do not fight them on that ground.

      We need an available canon of respectable papers that unquestionably prove our basic points.

      Yes. Homeopathy has had two centuries to convince – to prove it is something more than a religion. It is still failing in that respect.

      We, who understand the basic, proven and reliable laws of physics and chemistry and understand the principle of dilution and can do arithmetic with numbers containing tens and even hundreds of zeroes (like in the case of 200C Oscillococcinium) behind the decimal – You can call us “pseudoskeptics” or “inquisitors” or whatever you wish. That however much you wish for it, does not change the facts of life or the laws of nature.
      We are not sitting around waiting for your dreams to come true. We know that will not happen because they are just that, dreams and fantasies.
      Homeopaths have dreams that one day, they will be able to prove the substance of their faith.
      But as you said yourself, you still have only what anyone (beside the homeopaths) will call “anecdotes” – sure you have them “in quantity” but the plural of anecdote is… never mind, you know the adage already 😉
      You have only tellings of “cures of self limiting conditions”. As I said above, we need more than the odd lucky strike. We need to see reproducible, significant efficacy that can be detected clearly in the noise of “got better anyway” cases.
      You have opinions, your own opinions mind you and those are alas not in very much harmony with facts and proven knowledge.
      You have only what you yourself so aptly call “…poorly construed mathematical inference in academic papers, or [by] marginal results”.
      You have “badly designed trials” published in non-respectable publish-for-purpose journals that will publish anything as long as it shows homeopathy in a positive light or, for a fee without critical, independent review. We need to see well designed trials showing definitive efficacy. Those seem conspicuous by their absence.
      When you can show us reproducible, blinded and randomised proof that sugar pills wetted in 30C sulphur or whatever works clearly better than sugar pills without it for more cases than can be expected to self-heal, then we might look up from whatever we are doing and pay attention.

      In short, you have nothing. Nothing but dreams, supported by a blindness to the divisor of the equation, the cases that did not get better anyway (the dividend 🙂 ).
      After two centuries, homeopathy is still nothing more, nothing less than a religion driven by a cult of followers believing in a dream. Just like many other religions have a central dream that their profet or deity will appear or in some other way liberate the congregation from living in a dream and reveal the promised land, the Shangri-La or in your case the take-over of homeopathy from “allopathy” for all practical purposes. Homeopaths are living a dream that one day a scientific breakthrough will show that Santa Claus exists Hahnemann was right. That day we will have to rewrite the entire science section of every library on earth. I am not holding my breath for that.

      Now, for a friendly advise to all homeopats: Go and play with your mortar and pestle and shake loose at your vials of water all you like. Drop the purified, glistening water drops onto the shining sugar pills and imagine the dew will in some mysterious manner leave its magic effect in the sugar globules even after the molecules of water evaporate into the blue skies.
      But please!!!!!
      Please do not play with the fate of those who are seriously ill.
      Please do not tell people they can substitute vaccines for shaken water or sugar pills when they are going into malaria infested territory.
      Please do not send your delusional missionaries to underprivileged areas to try to convince the uneducated to use dreams instead of proven medical resources. These poor people deserve better.
      Please do not try to heal seriously ill children with dreams.
      Please do not entice desperate cancer victims with unrealistic hopes of healing that cannot be fulfilled.

      Should your prophecy be realised – should your dream of resurrection of Hahnemanns hopes ever be realised – when you can with confidence do something more than entertain the uneducated and gullible while nature takes its cause. When you can show that your boastful successes contain more than the select cases of self-limiting ailments, then you’re welcome to demonstrate your proof and I will certainly be the first to congratulate you and help you find the telephone number to the Nobel institute in my Swedish telephone directory app.

      Until then, please don’t throw your rants about trying to claim martyrdom and calling us who doubt the medical efficacy of shaken water, silly names and accuse us of being malevolent and unfair.

      Now have a good nights sleep all. Work is waiting early tomorrow Monday 🙂

      • @Björn Geir on Sunday 18 September 2016 at 23:38

        “Please do not entice desperate cancer victims with unrealistic hopes of healing that cannot be fulfilled.”

        Time you check reality: Cancer treatment has improved dramatically!!!! Or has cancer increased dramatically?

        “The other reason that the analogy is deceptive is that the original moonshot was a much simpler problem to solve than cancer is. That’s not to say the original moonshot wasn’t a very difficult initiative, but cancer is orders of magnitude more difficult. As I’ve pointed out many times before, cancer is not just one disease. It’s hundreds. Even individual cancers are incredibly complex. Thanks to the power of evolution, tumors evolve into masses of heterogenous cells with different genetic makeups, such that tumor cells from a metastasis might well be resistant to treatments to which the primary tumor is sensitive. ”

        The treatment: Surgery, Chemotherapy, Radiation. REPEAT. REPEAT. Until the patient dies.

        Cancer is the disease of the old. Is it? There is a 29% increase in cases in children in GB between 1970 and 2014.

        What is the reason for this increase of cancer in children?

        Dr. Martin Blaser reaches back to the discovery of antibiotics, which ushered in a golden age of medicine, and then traces how our subsequent overuse of these seeming wonder drugs has left its mark on our systems, contributing to the rise of what Blaser calls our modern plagues: obesity, asthma, allergies, diabetes, and certain forms of cancer. Blaser’s studies suggest antibiotic use during early childhood poses the greatest risk to long-term health, and, alarmingly, American children receive on average seventeen courses of antibiotics before they are twenty years old.

        First create a disease and then seemingly cure it. The cure here means long term business for the scientific medicine companies from which they pay Ernst and his team.

        “Childhood cancer survivors are at risk, to some degree, for several possible late effects of their cancer treatment. The risks for each child depend on a number of factors, such as the type of cancer, the specific cancer treatments used, the doses of cancer treatment, and the child’s age at the time of treatment. Some of the possible late effects of cancer treatment include:
        • Heart or lung problems (due to certain chemotherapy drugs or radiation therapy to the chest area)
        • Slowed or delayed growth and development (in the bones or overall)
        • Changes in sexual development and ability to have children
        • Learning problems
        • Increased risk of other cancers later in life”

    • William LaChenal wrote:

      Can a pseudo-skeptic sell his soul? Time and effort, maybe, but I discern a consensus that skeptics do not have possession of soul. Unlike healers, the majority of skeptics seem not to be on the side of the angels.

      Many/most pseudo-skeptics, alternate-to-medicine apologists and practitioners, and religious apologists, are convinced that they have a soul, and that angels and devils exist.

      Conversely, many/most skeptics — who rely on critical thinking skills combined with replicable evidence — are unconvinced that souls, angels, and devils exist.

      However, it is ridiculous to suggest that there is some conspiracy amongst homeopaths to mislead the thousands of patients they are curing. Including the ‘incurables’.

      It is the claim, by all branches of alt-med, to “cure the ‘incurables'” that I most strongly detest. Why? Because my incurable and slowly-degenerative chronic illness, which started forty years ago, has not been cured (not even has its degeneration been halted) by any of the dozens of alt-med practitioners that I’ve seen over the decades — practitioners who each assured me during my first appointment that a long course of their treatment modality would cure my condition.

      Fortunately, I read the book Trick or Treatment?, by Simon Singh and Edzard Ernst, which saved me from spending what little was left of my money on yet more alt-med ‘treatments’. The only people who have ever been totally honest with me about my medical condition are the GPs and the specialists appointed by the UK NHS.

      There are very sound evidence-based reasons why the Chief Medical Officer for England, Professor Dame Sally Davies, stated that homeopathy is ‘rubbish’. That’s because homeopathy has been nothing other than rubbish — abject nonsense — for two hundred years. Our ancestors were made aware of this fact more than 150 years ago, by:

      Dan King, MD.

      Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

    • I agrre with the coment. Even the bullshit around of pseudoskeptics is outstanding… Total Pseudoskeptic-babble ofuscating the science with massive disinformation. The #19:

      Ignore proof presented, demand impossible proofs = “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidenci” dictum plagiarized from Sagan.

  • Acleron said:

    After all we don’t have schools of anti-homeopathy but there are schools of homeopathy, often publicly funded.

    Woah! Slow down there. Every school that teaches basic science inherently teaches against homeopathy…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please answer the following: *

Recent Comments

Note that comments can now be edited for up to five minutes after they are first submitted.

Click here for a comprehensive list of recent comments.