MD, PhD, FMedSci, FSB, FRCP, FRCPEd

A friend alerted me to this website: Hungarian Academy of Sciences statement proposing the same scientific standards for homeopathic drug registration as for normal drugs

Members of the Section of Medical Sciences of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (HAS) voted unanimously on 9 November 2015 for supporting the earlier proposal of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. The Swedish statement requested that the homeopathic remedies should go through the same efficacy trials as normal drugs should.

The Hungarian statement refers to various recent scientific statements for example to the study of the Australian Government’s National Health and Medical Research Council that analysed 175 publications and concluded that there was no reasonable scientific proof for the efficacy of homeopathy for any health conditions. The HAS also refers to the European Academies Science Advisory Council that is allegedly considering an investigation among the academies of the UN countries about this topic. The statement points out that another Hungarian scientific body (Health Science Committee – Egészségügyi Tudományos Tanács) had made a similar statement already in 1991 and opposed using and registering those drugs for that efficacy had not been proved and that had not gone through adequate research procedures.

József Mandl – biochemist, member of HAS, president of Health Science Committee said: “The Australian and Swedish statements had raised the interest of the Hungarian scientific community and now members of the Medical Sciences Section of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences voted unanimously to join the Swedish initiation… Science has well defined, rigorous methods and systems. Homeopathy can’t be fitted to these. Homeopathic remedies don’t meet the criteria of evidence based medicine. There might be various hypotheses, theories, but everything should be proved. This is what science means and this is what we would like to highlight now.”

Well said, indeed!

It is high time that the authorities concede that there can be only one standard in medicine regulation. The ‘free ride’ homeopathy has had for 200 years must now come to an end.

This notion also seems to be increasingly supported by the legal profession. An Australian lawyer just published this abstract:

The 2010 report of the United Kingdom Science and Technology Committee of the House of Commons and the 2015 report of the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council have overtaken in significance the uncritical Swiss report of 2012 and have gone a long way to changing the environment of tolerance toward proselytising claims of efficacy in respect of homeopathy. The inquiry being undertaken in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration during 2015 may accelerate this trend. An outcome of the reports and inquiries has been a series of decisions from advertising regulators and by courts rejecting medically unjustifiable claims in respect of the efficacy of homeopathy. Class actions have also been initiated in North America against manufacturers of homeopathic products. The changing legal and regulatory environment is generating an increasingly scientifically marginalised existence for homeopathy. That new environment is starting to provide effective inhibition of assertions on behalf of homeopathy and other health modalities whose claims to therapeutic efficacy cannot be justified by reference to the principles of evidence-based health care. This has the potential to reduce the financial support that is provided by insurers and governments toward homeopathy and to result in serious liability exposure for practitioners, manufacturers and those who purvey homeopathic products, potentially including pharmacists. In addition, it may give a fillip to a form of regulation of homeopaths if law reform to regulate unregistered health practitioners gathers momentum, as is taking place in Australia.

As though this is not enough, today it was reported that the UK NHS is considering to blacklist homeopathic remedies:

The Good Thinking Society has been campaigning for homeopathy to be added to the NHS blacklist – known formally as Schedule 1 – of drugs that cannot be prescribed by GPs. Drugs can be blacklisted if there are cheaper alternatives or if the medicine is not effective. After the Good Thinking Society threatened to take their case to the courts, Department of Health legal advisers replied in emails that ministers had “decided to conduct a consultation”. Officials have now confirmed this will take place in 2016.

It seems to me that the position of homeopathy as a form of health care is less and less tenable. Its place is in the history books. To satisfy the need for consumer/patient choice, the remedies should be moved to the confectionary shelves of the supermarkets.

122 Responses to More very bad news for homeopathy

  • At last it looks like this quackery is being met head on. Today there was news in the UK that MPs will start to look at whether GPs should be allowed to prescribe homeopathy treatments. It’s a start, but more importantly the NHS homeopathy hospitals should be closed as well.

  • I think it is very good news for homeopathy. Maybe not so good for the homeoquacks, but then, they should never have engaged in charlatanry to begin with. Time for homeopathy to get a well-deserved rest and go the way of the phlogiston theory, and that was at least a genuine theory, even if it turned out to be wrong.

  • Dear Edzard,

    I do object to your hounding of homeopathy. I don’t use these products myself but it’s clear that thousands of people subjectively report improvement in symptomology. That our scientists don’t have a mechanism of action yet is not significant. Most major scientific discoveries follow the investigation of previously inexplicable phenomena.

    If we consider, for example, the treatment of depression, then it’s clear that the majority of symptoms are assessed subjectively. If patients report something as working for them then this cannot just be dismissed. To negatively marginalise a treatment for any condition that is predominantly both reported and assessed subjectively is, I submit, inhuman.

    The more we use scientific method to investigate the more the true scientist realises how little we actually know. The modern human brain is the result of aeons of evolutionary pressure strongly biased towards survival and procreation. It’s great that we can seek truth but the brain was in no way designed for this pursuit.

    Systematic, materialist analysis of phenomena actually eventually leads to the realisation that some cornerstones of scientific method are actually themselves very vulnerable.

    And so, in the final analysis, if something works for people then it is actually only arrogance that will oppose it.

    Regards

    Dev

    • IT’S NOT THAT ‘SCIENTISTS DON’T HAVE A MECHANISM OF ACTION YET’ (LIKE WITH LOTS OF OTHER TREATMENTS), IT’S THAT SCIENTISTS KNOW THAT NO MECHANISM OF ACTION CAN EXIST FOR DILUTIONS OF ABOUT ONE MOLECULE PER UNIVERSE! DO YOU SEE THE DIFFERENCE?

      • Yes. Indeed many homeopathic solutions are so dilute that very likely not even one molecule of the original substance remains.

        So what?

        This fact in no way diminishes the points I’m making.

        Dev

        • Oh yes, it does diminish the point you try to make! Because you would suggest that we need to ´fool´ our patients about the homeopathic treatments we offer. Actually many patients do not know, that they get better under homeopathic treatment because they are getting placebo therapy. Thus it works (at least a little). But if you would tell them the truth, what would be only honest, they would not like to be treated that way. Or would you?

    • Dev, you are missing a key point. Extraordinary claims need extraordinary evidence, and homeopathy is most certainly an extraordinary claim. The imagined mechanism, comprising `like cures like’ and the `law of infinitesimals’ is more extraordinary than anything else I can think of. This is a claim that science can test. Please remember that the scientific method is what has told us what we know about the universe – not just about medicine but about everything. It is really not at all difficult to test the homeopaths’ claims, and guess what? The better the trial the weaker the evidence:

      http://www.medicine.ox.ac.uk/bandolier/booth/alternat/homequal.html

      Does that not tell you something? If you now want to say that science is unable to test homeopathy (the special pleading fallacy) then you have to cast doubt on everything else that science has told us about the universe. Well there is nothing wrong with questioning what scientists claim, but is it reasonable to accept without question the science that makes your satellite navigation system work, and to reject what science tells us about homeopathy?

      You seem to be using another fallacy, that there’s no harm done if people believe homeopathy helps them. In decision making there is always an opportunity cost – we decide one course of action and have to reject another one. How do we know which one has better value? Only by looking at the evidence. There are many many documented cases of people suffering real harm, even death, by choosing homeopathy. For example:

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/1546326/Patient-died-after-being-told-to-stop-medicine.html

      It’s not valid to align the assessment of depression with self-reporting of responses to homeopathy. The tools used for measuring responses to psychotropics are extremely well validated and sophisticated rating scales. In reality they are not really subjective, because raters score patient responses – usually verbal ones – to standard questions. Raters have to be tested to ensure that they are consistent in the scores they assign. Homeopathy in contrast relies on great volumes of totally unstructured anecdotes, which are usually self-selecting. Not the same thing at all.

      • Les, regarding your last paragraph. Verbal descriptions of internal states are inevitably subjective. (Assuming we leave the notion of heterophenomenology aside). I agree they can be “objectivised” to a degree by good preparation from the analyst and large sample sizes. But there still subjective.

        Patients invariably report depression subjectively and report treatment outcomes the same way.

        To me it’s undeniable that a significant number of people believe homeopathy has relieved their depression. They feel better.

        I wouldn’t care of they attributed this to the man in the moon. Practically it clearly works for some.

        Now, given the other options from industry – supposed short term interventions like SSRIs or tricyclics, I’d say if some people say homeopathy works for them then this is to be celebrated and more researched.

        Dev

      • Actually, present day science is unable to ascertain the mechanism of homeopathy. It’s interesting to see the high cost, poisonous medicine folks circling the wagons just when people are getting a bit less enamored with the real effects of the pharma cartels.

        • >>Actually, present day science is unable to ascertain the mechanism of homeopathy.<<
          Wrong. http://www.howdoeshomeopathywork.com/

          Has it occurred to you that there is something not entirely right with the minds of people who are attempting to find out how something works, if it doesn't work in the first place?

          Maharishi Mahesh Yogi gave us a mechanism for flying through the air. It is really great, except for the not-so-minor detail that it doesn't work. Which is why we are still using airplanes.

          Homeopathy is no different. It is a hoax, perpetuated by ruthless charlatans who don't care about what is true, only about how easily they can take people to the cleaners.

          >>It’s interesting to see the high cost, poisonous medicine folks circling the wagons just when people are getting a bit less enamored with the real effects of the pharma cartels.<<
          Has it occurred to you that while there are indeed expensive medicines, many of them are not much more expensive than candy, with the added advantage that they actually work? Compare that to the outrageous prices for homeopathic sugar pellets that have no other demonstrable effects than to make you obese and bankrupt if you devour too many of them.

        • Dev and David are both utterly wrong in one very simple respect.

          We DO know how homeopathy “works”: it’s called the placebo effect.

    • @Dev Sandberg
      If “thousands of people subjectively report improvement in symptomology” to a treatment that contains nothing, then simple scientific reasoning suggests that either there wasn’t much wrong with them in the first place or their disease was self-limiting (very many are). You are therefore arguing for self-delusion as something to be respected and supported.
       
      For conditions such as depression where, indeed, subjective symptoms are the main problem, there are perfectly reasonable methods devised to allow objective scoring of symptom severity (patient diaries, questionnaires etc.) which can form the basis of scientifically controlled trials of purported treatments.
       
      Whenever therapies of any kind are tested double-blind there are always positive responders in the placebo arms of the trial. This is not evidence that the placebo does anything pharmacological, just that individual bodies differ in their ability to resolve disease.
       
      “It’s great that we can seek truth but the brain was in no way designed for this pursuit.” Please advise us by whom the brain was ‘designed’. From where I sit the human brain has been seeking the truth, with ever-incresing rates of success, for millenia.
       
      “And so, in the final analysis, if something works for people then it is actually only arrogance that will oppose it.” I guess it’s similarly pure arrogance that leads governments to attempt to eradicate the practice of smoking when there are millions of people who claim it works for them. Ditto junk food, bad diets and the rest. If regarding homosexuality as an illegal activity works for lots of people then it must be arrogance that steers through the legitimising of gay marriage. Preventing females from voting worked for half the population, but once again arrogance had its way.
       
      Some of us see as desirable a society in which people are sufficiently educated and enlightened NOT to respect every ludicrous claim (astrology, parapsychology, quack and witchcraft medicine and the rest) just because “the true scientist realises how little we actually know”. Edzard has posed you a question in screaming capital letters. DO YOU SEE THE DIFFERENCE? If not, you belong to that sad but large portion of the population who know too little to realize how little they know. (And, yes, I know that comment can be characterized as arrogant, but in my experience, if you think you’re good you’re comparing yourself with the wrong people, which applies to me too.)

      • Frank, I’m pointing out that the human brain is the result of a billion years of environmental pressure, acutely strongly biased towards procreation and survival, of course also including how to respond to threats. You demonstrate the truth of this admirably with the tone of your response!

        This is basic evolutionary psychology. Check out Instinct Blindness.

        This of course does not mean it cannot seek truth. It is simply to be aware that it may or may not be fit for purpose here.

        Now just let that possibility stand for a moment, without letting your threat response circuit kick in.

        And we move on. Are you a materialist? Would you agree that consciousness is the result of brain activity? That the mind is what the brain does? Yes? Good, me too. So, what does this say about the notion of there existing an observer, an absolute cornerstone concept in scientific method?

        Answer me this and we can start to look at homeopathy.

        Dev

        • @Dev Sandberg
          I am looking at homeopathy right now. We all do, daily.
          I have a glass of water before me.
          I think that is what made a quite nasty bout of lumbago better so quickly the other day. I take a glass of water regularly. Especially when I swallow the anti-inflamatory pain killers and sweat from hiking and training. But it must be the water.
          The water probably hit some Arnica Montana when it rained, and maybe some Arnica? Then it must have sizzled past some Sodium Chloride. Table salt is called “Natrum Muratricum” in homeospeak. Very fancy names they give to common ingredients, these homeopathic scholars. Probably to avoid people thinking they are stupid or something, making medicine out of shaken water that once contained table salt.
          And the water probably also hit some other marvelous minerals, like Calcium phosphate and Calcium Carbonate on its way through the ground. These are among other earthly goods, supposedly useful for preparing remedies for LBP.
          The water then got thoroughly succussed (shaken) in the pipes and pumps and that must be why I got so much better from drinking it.
          How lucky I was!

          And by the way.
          Good you brought up “Instinct Blindness” , an interesting term, but not so common. It refers to…

          …the lack of attention and resulting lack of memory traces from tasks that have become automatic (or that started out that way – hence the term instinct).

          I think you hit the nail on the head. You bring up another good theorem to add to the collection of reasons that keep homeopaths from making themselves useful instead of potting about in a fatuitous world of make-believe medicines.
          The facts are right there in front of them, kicking and screaming, but they are so high on their instinctual[sic] dogmatisms that they totally fail to observe physical facts blearing at them. Of course there are many more theorems, e.g. cognitive dissonance, confirmation bias and monetary gratification at play
          Not that I expect “Dev Sandberg” or any of our other attending homeopaths to get this past their cognitive defences. I am foremost addressing the probably perplexed general audience when I write this little essay about some very interesting human fallacies.

          • @myself

            I think you hit the nail on the head.

            I just realised I was wrong… “Dev” hit the nail on his/her thumb 😉
            Rx: Arnica 30C* and (s)he’s fit to play the fiddle again in only one week instead of seven days.

            * 30C means one part of an extract of a poisonous plant, thinned serially in 1000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000 parts water. Just remember to shake well at every step in the thinning process. That’s what’s supposed to make the magic.

            Now that’s what I call facts screaming at you.Do you?

          • Hi Bjorn, I’m not a homeopath and I don’t use the remedies. I don’t believe in that stuff so I doubt it would work for me.

            What I am saying is twofold. 1) people do report subjective benefits from these remedies for conditions where other approaches don’t work for them. Plus they’re cheaper than some traditional drugs.

            2). Science and scientific method in particular are actually nowhere near as strong as most scientists are wont to believe. There is actually a glaring epistemological hole in the very fabric of scientific method. Put simply, objectivity fails under materialism. It has to. It cannot be real, unless you descend into dualism.

            Instinct Blindness, cognitive impairment brought on by the brains evolutionary history, blocks easy recognition of just how incredibly weak science is as a tool to understand reality. It’s great for creating utility, making life easier for humans, but relatively useless for understanding what’s really going on.

            Given these two above personally I’d cut homeopathy a little slack

            Dev

          • @Dev
            You have not given us any reason to “cut homeopathy slack”. Homeopathy is false and is used for financial gain and can be dangerous when it interferes with proper medical care.

            There are very well known and easily understood reasons why some people perceive a false benefit from homeopathy and or their remedies. That matter has been well defined by science and common sense. I am not sure why you say that it is cheaper? Water, sugar and a few hours of labour, obviously costs less than proper pharmacological medicine. Do you think you are talking to idiots?

            Here’s what a specialist has to say about your ramblings on science:
            “Of course science doesn’t know everything. Science knows it doesn’t know everything, otherwise it’d stop! That science doesn’t know everything does not mean that you can fill in the gaps with whatever fairy tale most appeals to you.”

            As I tried before to feed you (and others who think there might be something in homeopathy) with a spoon, very simple arithmetic says that there is no (= absolute zero) difference between a homeopathic remedy and a glass of water.

            Please explain why we should “cut homeopathy a little slack” and even contemplate that there is any possible benefit in mixing water with something like sulphur or a ground up housefly, shake-diluting it to ridiculous extremes, drop it on sugar pills, let it evaporate and serve it as a medicine for whatever ailment??
            Please come up with something better and more rational than your own philosophical musings about the shortcomings of science.

          • ‘There is actually a glaring epistemological hole in the very fabric of scientific method. Put simply, objectivity fails under materialism. It has to. It cannot be real, unless you descend into dualism.’

            Pure post modernistic gobbledygook.

            For a non seller/user you sure hit all the bullet points used by the scammers.

        • @Dev
          “what does this say about the notion of there existing an observer, an absolute cornerstone concept in scientific method?” Errm, I think you’re maybe thrusting too much philosophical ‘cerebral anything goes’ into something that’s relatively straightforward. The ‘observer’ in science can be, and often is, machinery. Where’s the subjective in a cloud chamber photograph? In radioisotope dating? The whole concept of the prospective, randomized, double-blind clinical trial of purported therapies is aimed to make the ‘observer’ as devoid as possible of subjective qualities.
           
          When it comes to homeopathy, the fact that lots of people think it helped them is utterly irrelevant. Would a dispassionate, machine-objective observer think the treatment did something beyond the normal bounds of a person’s subjective self delusion? Most unlikely, because the concepts underpinning the therapy are complete bollocks by the terms of everything that objectively observed science has managed to establish over the past several millenia. If you want to throw away the latter because scientists indeed acknowledge that science is a process of constant revision of what we ‘know’ then please feel free to step out of a tenth floor window because gravity is only a theory.

          • Frank,

            I agree entirely with your first paragraph.

            But you are still mistaking what is socially useful for what Is true. Objective awareness, a sense of firm subject-object boundaries (indeed a sense of there being a subject at all), is an emergent property of human consciousness. You get a couple of lower order processes up and running and, hey ho, it emerges. Agreed? Humans have a sense of limited self, of being someone, because this illusory feeling is so useful. It evolved through adaptation.

            But it is not real. You have to learn the difference between what is real and what is a social convenience or a survival aid.

            Science has progressively bigged itself up on the back of a phantom emergent brain state, but if you are a strict materialist you can see through the bs.

            Dev

          • But it is not real. You have to learn the difference between what is real and what is a social convenience or a survival aid.

            In other words, you are advocating lying to people.

            That was still considered acceptable when I was in med school, over 3 decades ago. It no longer is. For good reason. Lying to people is extremely paternalistic and arrogant, and it willfully deprives people of the ability to make their own decisions. It is revolting.

          • Bjorn,

            Point me to this “specialist” please that we might discuss emergent brain states, and what t they’re good for and what they’re not. Let us see what is real and what is not.

            Dev

          • @Dev Sandberg:

            Bjorn,

            Point me to this “specialist” please that we might discuss emergent brain states, and what t they’re good for and what they’re not. Let us see what is real and what is not.

            Your “instinct blindness” seems to be preventing you from seeing the answer lying right before your mouse-pointer 😀 Have a look again at my post. One click and you will be enlightened. That is if your cognitive dissonance allows you to fully peruse the wonderful performance of said “specialist”. He says it all in the video.

      • Perhaps one question might be to wonder if giving a dangerous substance as a placebo is better than giving a substance that my or may not be useful, depending on belief system, but at least is not dangerous.

        • Perhaps one question might be to wonder if giving a dangerous substance as a placebo is better than giving a substance that my or may not be useful, depending on belief system, but at least is not dangerous.

          Not even remotely so. No one is advocating dangerous substances as a placebo, except for the alternologists, who are advocating dangerous treatments that are known not to have a physical effect.
          ‘Usefulness’ does not depend on a belief system. Something is useful or it is not, unless personal financial gain of the quack is considered useful. Then, of course, there is very little that is not useful, and the patients, well, who cares anyway, except perhaps for actual doctors, nothing a quack would worry about.

          • Bart, I’m not advocating lying to anyone. I’m diluting the potency of scientific method by trying to point out the gaping holes that scientific investigation reveals in itself! Asked to assess the true value of scientific method a machine intelligence would do a great deal better than a human intelligence. Not because it’s brighter, it isn’t, but because it isn’t encumbered by aeons of defensive programming.

            Scientists famously struggle to understand the brain and consciousness as a purely material phenomenon. Francis Crick made himself a laughing stock in philosophical circles some years back. They can’t point that objective awareness back to it’s purported source because evolutionarily-derived defensive programmes kick in. A machine would have no such problems.

            I tell you straight, there is a gaping, epistemological hole in scientific method that even now only a few scientists and thinkers are starting to grapple with.

            There is a gap between homeopathy and double blind trialled medications. But it is nowhere near as big as you think.

            Dev

          • … only a few scientists and thinkers are starting to grapple with…
            LUCKILY WE HAVE YOU!

          • There is a gap between homeopathy and double blind trialled medications. But it is nowhere near as big as you think.

            True. It’s a lot bigger, and fantasy play will not change that. You may want to look at the difference between the language of quackery and that of science.

            Quackery often uses the same words as science, but while science uses these words to describe reality as best scientists can in our current state of development, quackery uses these words to describe fantasy as best quacks can in their current state of mental confusion.

    • Sorry Dev, it looks like you have a lot going on here.

      I’m not sure I get you when you suggest that medical science is opposed to homeopathy because it doesn’t understand homeopathy (sorry if I’ve have misread you). If you have a treatment that defies the known laws of biophysics, shouldn’t work, and under controlled conditions practically never works, but anecdotally some patients and most prescribers think it does work, then I think medical science has a good idea about what is going on. It seems to me your ‘little slack’ for homeopathy, is a little slack for any medical deception – including the moon – where the best outcomes correlate with the best liars. I personally would want guarantees that my GP knows his/her medicine, and is being honest with me. This idea of cutting a little slack to a few arbitrary deceptions for as long as solipsism holds true, makes no sense to me at all.

      Thanks.

      • LUCKILY WE HAVE YOU!

        Ah, defensive posture #47, I know it well!

        In this world of change I guess it’s also quaint to see you Dualists are still out there, fighting for your beliefs. Do you celebrate Descartes’ birthday?

        Please let me know when you feel you’re able apply rigorous scientific logic, from the ground up, and with no investment in results, and I’ll show you something that will shake your belief system to the core.

        Dev

        • Help me out Dev. Why does concluding that homeopathy’s therapeutic effects are placebo make me a dualist? (Please don’t give me one of those “You are beyond help” responses – I am genuinely interested.) And why (unassumingly) is monism sympathetic to homeopathy?

          • Help me out Dev. Why does concluding that homeopathy’s therapeutic effects are placebo make me a dualist? (Please don’t give me one of those “You are beyond help” responses – I am genuinely interested.) And why (unassumingly) is monism sympathetic to homeopathy?

            Hi Adam,

            Well, I have to admit that this position isn’t one even I would fancy arguing! Which is likely why I didn’t state it.

            It is not that monism is sympathetic to homeopathy. It is that monism (monist materialism) more accurately asserts the true value of scientific method.

            Viewed from the “platform” of objective awareness, it seems ridiculous that homeopathy could be of value when assessed against treatments that have been double-blind validated. No doubt about it. It seems ridiculous.

            But what I’m pointing out is that this mode of conscious awareness – objectivity – is not as solid as we are prone to believe. Simple materialist logic utterly undermines objective awareness. Objectivity is an emergent. This, of itself, does not undermine it. Many things are emergent phenomena. But it is of a class of emergent phenomena which is most definitely illusory and primarily arising as a socially-useful evolutionarily-derived state.

            Scientists tend to laud objectivity as an unassailable standpoint from which to make meaningful pronouncements and value judgements about the nature of reality. Unfortunately it is not this.

            Do you follow me so far?

            Dev

          • Thanks Dev. I think I’m following:: there is no such thing as absolute objectivity, and it is impossible to experience reality directly. As much as some ‘materialists’ think science provides absolute truths, it does not.

            Go on…

          • Thanks Dev. I think I’m following:: there is no such thing as absolute objectivity, and it is impossible to experience reality directly. As much as some ‘materialists’ think science provides absolute truths, it does not.

            Go on…

            Hi Adam,

            Uhm, not really. I think we left Plato’s Cave some time ago, well hopefully anyway.

            Materialism, in a sense, actually does provide absolute truth. It’s just that this truth doesn’t look the way most scientists want it to look. Or, more accurately, the way their brains have been programmed to accept it. Materialism undermines objectivity. Because objectivity, of its very nature, requires some level of functional dualism to exist. There has to at least “seem” to be a limited observer, a “you” doing the observing. But, under materialism, there absolutely cannot be any observer, any experiencer. There are no back doors here. This is how it has to look under materialism.

            And this is the problem. Our brain is the product of a billion years of natural selection. And, practically, this means it has layer upon layer of defensive programming to absolute resist the realisation that there is no self. To the human brain this realisation is the equivalent of death! Thought-based processes will twist themselves round in circles, struggling to resist the conclusion by creating and adhering to defense narratives – “get out clauses.” Our brain is programmed to absolutely resist, by any means necessary, the crystal clear outcome of material investigation into the brain and consciousness.

            Any clearer?

            Dev

          • Thanks Dev.

            Yes, I think I get you. I think it was Nagel who taught us that there is no such thing as the view from nowhere. This all still sounds like solipsism to me, and I’m waiting to hear why this all means we should cut homeopathy a little slack; and why me thinking that we shouldn’t (because I assume we all have to draw a line where slack is and isn’t given) makes me a dualist?

            Thanks.

          • Thanks Dev.

            Yes, I think I get you. I think it was Nagel who taught us that there is no such thing as the view from nowhere. This all still sounds like solipsism to me, and I’m waiting to hear why this all means we should cut homeopathy a little slack; and why me thinking that we shouldn’t (because I assume we all have to draw a line where slack is and isn’t given) makes me a dualist?

            Thanks.

            Adam,

            There is actually only the view from nowhere! This is pure materialism. It never ceases to amaze me just how confused scientists get with this. It’s like they adopt the materialist mindset to join a social group they feel is in line with their profession. They didn’t read the small print! I’ve been on many philosophy and science subforums observing professional scientists trying to get to grips with Parfit’s Teletransporter, for example. They drive themselves crazy!

            Thomas Nagel – is there something it is like to be a bat? Wasn’t it? Yes, I remember. Something like that.

            I didn’t say that if you don’t believe in homeopathy it makes you a dualist!

            Dev

          • Okay, I admit, now you do lose me. If your view that there is only the view from nowhere, comes from nowhere, why is it worth listening to another word you say?

            I’m sure you implied that critics of NHS-funded homeopathy had dualist leanings, which was why you asked if they still celebrate Descartes’ birthday? Was that not you (I’m writing from my phone, and can’t scroll)?

            Could you cut me a little slack now, and get to the nub of why all this interesting philosophical meandering means we should cut publically-funded homeopathy a little slack please?

            Thanks.

          • “professional scientists trying to get to grips with Parfit’s Teletransporter”

            Oh dear, that’s like Russell’s Paradox for Dummies. Perhaps you need some better scientists?

          • “professional scientists trying to get to grips with Parfit’s Teletransporter”

            Oh dear, that’s like Russell’s Paradox for Dummies. Perhaps you need some better scientists?

            /////////

            So, you’d have no problems being killed if an identical copy of you took your place? You agree that nothing substantial is lost in this? It merely seems to be to non-materialists?

            You agree that no materialist can object to being killed painlessly and replaced with an identical copy?

            Dev

          • And if that is all that is happening, from one millisecond the next, would you object to it stopping happening? Which all means, in terms of publically-funded homeopathy, what exactly?

          • @Dev
            Thanks for reinforcing my suspicion that philosophy has moved so far away from any reality it’s become merely a cauldron of words. If you just think your way through the world you can move from Parson’s Green to Mornington Crescent without paying. If you live in the real world you take the Tube.

  • What do they want to do the Hungarians?
    They know what they want?
    Dr Csilla Pozsgay, the Director-General of OGYE, homeopatias agent has no impact . Children recommends homeopathic medicines
    Gyerekeknek ajánlja a többnyire hatástalan homeopátiás szereket az állami intézet

    http://hvg.hu/itthon/20151111_Gyerekeknek_ajanlja_a_tobbnyire_hatastala

  • And if that is all that is happening, from one millisecond the next, would you object to it stopping happening? Which all means, in terms of publically-funded homeopathy, what exactly?

    ………………

    Well I’d certainly agree that we’ve diverged a little from the OP! But the underlying point remains valid. It is not that homeopathy is so wonderful. It is that scientific method is not anywhere near as strong as widely believed. You have go at least a little in materialist philosophy to understand this. Try Dan Dennett, perhaps. Likewise understanding the perspective emerging from Evolutionary Psychology, where the brain is seen as a purpose-driven evolutionary adaptation, rather than the more trad sci view that it’s some wondrous mechanism to establish truth.

    And this is not an attempt merely to establish “reasonable doubt.” There are serious underlying epistemological flaws in our whole scientific approach. Assuming our society continues to develop I can’t imagine that this will do anything other than become more obvious. Science is in Trouble. It’s just that most scientists don’t see it yet.

    I’m just another small boy in the crowd trying to point out that the King’s clothing, whilst not entirely absent, are actually a great deal more threadbare than the fawning scientific herd are wont to believe.

    Dev

    • I’m afraid Dev, you lose me. You quote Dennett to promote the idea of the brain as a flawed evolved organ (and by the way, I have read most of his books), yet that theory only makes sense for the scientific evidence. It seems you’re saying science tells us not to trust science; or put another way, you are using reason against itself. I think you may be committing, what Stephen Law calls, ‘going nuclear’: i.e obliterating the entire intellectual landscape by leaving yourself no position from which to make an argument about anything.

      It is my view that the scientific method is the least imperfect method we have for winnowing deep truths from deep nonsense (as Carl Sagan put it). I believe it is no coincidence that medical science has overtaken every other method for understanding and treating injury and illness. I think this is the best method we have for estimating what works and what doesn’t in medicine, and the fact that homeopathy is unable to pass any of its tests has to be homeopathy’s problem, not science’s. If you nod through homeopathy due to the incompleteness of science as an arbiter of absolute truth, then why not literally everything else? (Even stuff that does direct harm can only be proven to do so.) Maybe Google Dr Trossel’s bovine stem-cell treatments – does your solipsism cut him a little slack too?

      I’ll stop there I think.

      Thanks for your time.

    • “It is not that homeopathy is so wonderful.”

      No, we “know” scientifically that homoeopathy doesn’t work, because it cannot work. We “know” this because we know Avogadro’s number, and so-called “proving” is a theatrical nonsense.

      “It is that scientific method is not anywhere near as strong as widely believed. You have go at least a little in materialist philosophy to understand this. Try Dan Dennett, perhaps. Likewise understanding the perspective emerging from Evolutionary Psychology, where the brain is seen as a purpose-driven evolutionary adaptation, rather than the more trad sci view that it’s some wondrous mechanism to establish truth.”

      Nah, you can create as much word salad as you like but it doesn’t diminish the value of science. There is little doubt the brain is the product of evolution and, for many people, truth is secondary to their own perceptions. Unsurprisingly, that is one of the aims of the prof’s blog; to try to educate people who don’t have a scientific mindset.

      “And this is not an attempt merely to establish “reasonable doubt.” There are serious underlying epistemological flaws in our whole scientific approach. Assuming our society continues to develop I can’t imagine that this will do anything other than become more obvious. Science is in Trouble. It’s just that most scientists don’t see it yet.”

      And you do? About the only thing I see, in the above paragraph, is a little too much self-affection. If science is “in trouble”, will you cease, on principle, to avail yourself of advances gained by science, including medical science? If a cure for a cancer was found and you developed that cancer, would the “epistemological flaws” make the receipt of the cure too troubling for you?

      “I’m just another small boy in the crowd trying to point out that the King’s clothing, whilst not entirely absent, are actually a great deal more threadbare than the fawning scientific herd are wont to believe.”

      Please, if you are going to put an argument, by all means, please do. Please, however, do not resort to vomitous crap like this.

      Finally, while you think you are a genius, I don’t share that view.

    • Dev,

      Decades ago, as a teenager, I read about solipcism and excitely explained it to a friend. He hit me hard in the face and asked “Did you feel that? If so, stuff the hypothetical crap.” You think your floccipaucinihilipilification of science is intellectually wonderful. Several other posters on this thread have suggested your philosophical constructs are not so smart as you believe. Like Frank Collins, I hope you will have the strength and courage of your convictions to refuse any of the technological spin-offs of science.

  • @Dev
    Thanks for reinforcing my suspicion that philosophy has moved so far away from any reality it’s become merely a cauldron of words. If you just think your way through the world you can move from Parson’s Green to Mornington Crescent without paying. If you live in the real world you take the Tube.

    ……………

    Hi Frank,

    No problem! Your use of the word “suspicion” here, BTW, is very honest, I think. You “suspect” that something may be the case and then you examine someone’s behaviour and feel your “suspicion” is confirmed. Well, I’m going to suggest something kind of old fashioned here, though also these days very radical. You ready? How about you actually investigate something?

    Dev

  • Dev, can you explain what the flaw is in using controlled trials to test homoeopathy?

  • Dev,

    Decades ago, as a teenager, I read about solipcism and excitely explained it to a friend. He hit me hard in the face and asked “Did you feel that? If so, stuff the hypothetical crap.”

    /////////////

    That’s not actually a refutation of solipsism, more one of Idealism.

    Solipsism fails to materialism, to my mind, as it takes the personal self as a given. Materialism doesn’t.

    Which is my point. The personal self is a highly favoured evolutionary adaptation. There is no actual observer or experiencer of life and this view is pure materialism. This means that, in reality, there is no actual objectivity. It’s just a highly favoured illusion. As I’m endeavouring to point out, there are ramifications for scientific method here.

    Scientists, in general, cannot get their head around this, largely because it’s a human head. And it’s programmed strongly to resist the notion that there is no personal self.

    //////////////////////////////

    Several other posters on this thread have suggested your philosophical constructs are not so smart as you believe.

    ///////////////////////////////

    Yes, Frank. More “suspecting” and “suggesting”, more associating. I don’t need to believe, Frank. I look. I investigate. That’s the difference between you and me (to quote Dr Dre)

    Dev

  • There is little doubt the brain is the product of evolution and, for many people, truth is secondary to their own perceptions.

    //////////////////////////////////////

    Hi Frank #2,

    Great. Good start. Now go one step deeper, and away from utility and into truth-seeking. Who’s perceptions actually are they? Please stick with pure materialist investigation.

    /////////////////////////////

    If science is “in trouble”, will you cease, on principle, to avail yourself of advances gained by science, including medical science? If a cure for a cancer was found and you developed that cancer, would the “epistemological flaws” make the receipt of the cure too troubling for you?

    ////////////////////////

    Well, what I said was that science is fine for utility. It’s not so fine for truth-seeking. There are epistemological issues here. And even given this situation, it’s not that science is thrown out with the bathwater entirely. There needs to be re-assessment. That’s not happening because as of 2015 so few scientists actually grasp the deeper ramifications of the materialist perspective on the brain and consciousness.

    For a start the personal self (as in experiencer or observer) is gone. It cannot exist under materialism. It’s just a highly favoured adaptive illusion. Secondarily, distance cannot be real. Not a chance. It’s useful, for sure. But it’s not real. Time, I’m not sure about. This is not remotely complex, just highly counter-intuitive. About as counter-intuitive as it gets.

    A machine intelligence would have no problem discerning this. It doesn’t have a billion years of evolutionarily-derived programming telling it to spout dubious, arrogant nonsense in these kinds of situations. And we’re not talking super-computer here. We’re talking Sinclair ZX. We’re talking Apple II. We’re talking 1981.

    I’m sure you’re an intelligent chap, Frank. I’m sure on pretty much any topic you could beat the Sinclair ZX hands down. But I tell you, man, it would kick your ass on the ramifications of materialism!

    Dev

    • “Well, what I said was that science is fine for utility. It’s not so fine for truth-seeking.”

      So it is fine to know if homeopathy works or not as a medecine (medicine is ‘utility’). End of the story. All this bable and flashy, fancy, relativist masturbation when all you need is just, one, clear, stab.

      • I would completely agree that from the perspective of trad scientific method homeopathy doesn’t have a leg to stand on.

        I’m pointing out that trad scientific method itself is actually not secure under materialism.

        This does not mean that we need to hurl empiricism out of the window. It means that these insecurities need to be recognised and factored in.

        I’m all for sceptism. I don’t like pseudo-science. But the trouble is that often the most vocal sceptics invariably seem to have almost no grasp of the deeper issues. They rant and rattle on unaware the platform they’re standing on is falling apart! Susan Blackmore, Richard Dawkins, if I read these guys it’s clear they see the problems. But you guys here, I see no hint you even know what materialism actually is. It’s woeful.

        Dev

        • It seems your view of the dissonance of materialism and science isn’t all pervasive;
          __________________________________________________________________________
          http://infidels.org/library/modern/richard_vitzthum/materialism.html

          Finally, reductive materialism applauds and identifies itself with the stunning success of the reductive program of 20th century science as a whole. It regards such triumphs of human intelligence as the establishment of the periodic table of elements and of the standard model of elementary particles as surely among humanity’s greatest achievements. The periodic table and the standard model are outstanding examples of the relentless effort of scientists in this century to uncover deeper and deeper levels of physical explanation and to reduce their findings to more and more comprehensive and fundamental theories. Equally outstanding has been the effort to unify the four basic forces of nature at greater and greater levels of generalization. Already it has been proven that two of the four forces, electromagnetism and the weak nuclear force, were unified at energy levels that are theorized to have existed until a billionth of a second after the Big Bang had passed, after which they split. At a still earlier moment, it’s theorized that the electroweak force was unified with the strong nuclear force, and at a still more primordial moment before that — the so-called Planck era, when the universe was still less than 10 to the minus 43rd seconds old and seethed with a thousand million billion billion volts of energy — the electroweak and strong nuclear forces were still unified with the fourth force, gravity. Modern scientific reductionism has succeeded in showing that the manifold phenomena of physical nature — light, heat, rocks, flora, fauna, consciousness — are probably manifestations of a single, foundational, material reality, perhaps ultimately describable in the terms of some future human science. Materialism welcomes this success as further confirmation of its 2500-year-old hypotheses.
          ___________________________________________________________________________

          Nor is your staunch assertion of its correctness;

          ___________________________________________________________________________
          https://philosophynow.org/issues/42/What_is_Materialism

          Michael Philips on the shaky foundations of the most popular philosophical theory of modern times.

          Most academic philosophers these days will tell you, without hesitation, that they are materialists. Materialism asserts that everything is or can be explained in relation to matter. This would be straightforward enough if we had a clear and stable idea of matter. But do we?

          Unfortunately, we don’t. There have been big changes since Descartes introduced his version of the mind/body problem in the 17th century.
          __________________________________________________________________________

          And you can cut out this nonsense;
          “But you guys here, I see no hint you even know what materialism actually is. It’s woeful.”.

          It makes you seem like some second year philosophy student who is so assured of their view, they just know it is completely right, without the sense to realise it make not be as universal as you believe.

          • Finally, reductive materialism applauds and identifies itself with the stunning success of the reductive program of 20th century science as a whole. It regards such triumphs of human intelligence as the establishment of the periodic table of elements and of the standard model of elementary particles as surely among humanity’s greatest achievements. The periodic table and the standard model are outstanding examples of the relentless effort of scientists in this century to uncover deeper and deeper levels of physical explanation and to reduce their findings to more and more comprehensive and fundamental theories. Equally outstanding has been the effort to unify the four basic forces of nature at greater and greater levels of generalization. Already it has been proven that two of the four forces, electromagnetism and the weak nuclear force, were unified at energy levels that are theorized to have existed until a billionth of a second after the Big Bang had passed, after which they split. At a still earlier moment, it’s theorized that the electroweak force was unified with the strong nuclear force, and at a still more primordial moment before that — the so-called Planck era, when the universe was still less than 10 to the minus 43rd seconds old and seethed with a thousand million billion billion volts of energy — the electroweak and strong nuclear forces were still unified with the fourth force, gravity. Modern scientific reductionism has succeeded in showing that the manifold phenomena of physical nature — light, heat, rocks, flora, fauna, consciousness — are probably manifestations of a single, foundational, material reality, perhaps ultimately describable in the terms of some future human science. Materialism welcomes this success as further confirmation of its 2500-year-old hypotheses.

            //////////////////

            Hi Frank,

            All great. Now please turn the page and get onto the brain and consciousness.

            ////////////////////

            Michael Philips on the shaky foundations of the most popular philosophical theory of modern times.

            Most academic philosophers these days will tell you, without hesitation, that they are materialists. Materialism asserts that everything is or can be explained in relation to matter. This would be straightforward enough if we had a clear and stable idea of matter. But do we?

            Unfortunately, we don’t. There have been big changes since Descartes introduced his version of the mind/body problem in the 17th century.

            /////////////////////

            Yes, we call it physicalism these days, but what you’re posting is actually not relevant to this context.

            The assertion of materialism is that consciousness is the result of brain activity. We’re not talking subatomic brain activity, we’re talking neuronal. It does not matter what the brain is finally made of. It has interlaced neurons, glia etc and all the evidence we’ve thus far gathered points directly to activity at this level as being the sole source of consciousness.

            Next!

            Dev

        • The Dev has “dazzled” us with a veritable vocabulary of philosophical terms. Solipsism, materialism, dualism and whatnot. A dictionary devil s(he) is!
          But what is s(he) trying to say with this mixed menu of word-sallads? Are there ideas, skills and wisdom behind the veil?
          S(he) tells us that we are “unaware that the platform[we are] standing on is falling apart” and that Susan Blackmore and Richard Dawkins are smarter than we. And so on, and so on…. In so many words that we are lesser beings. But compared to what? Is there a hint somewhere that the Dev is genuinely superior to us lowly creatures and knows something her/himself about that mysterious something that s(he) we supposedly don’t know?
          Is it spiritual, is it quantum, is it Qi…?
          I looked over her/his grandiose rantings and saw no indication of anything other than her/him shaking up a salad of fancy words and names that anyone can pick up from philosophical writings, without any substance, Without really saying anything about what it is s(he) we don’t know. Other than science doesn’t know all of course. I already pointed out with reference that we already know very well that science doesn’t know everything 🙂

          No. The Dev is nothing more or less than the simple, name-dropping old troll trying to provoke and belittle without really having anything enlightening to add. No “grasp of deeper issues” of her/his own either.
          Of course I will now get a telling-to about how this little essay reveals my intellectual shortcomings and ignorance of higher understandings. But what to expect… The trolls are out 😀

        • Dev you are like a true armchair theoricist, and miss the point. Or maybe you are those kind of philosopher speaking about science and that never ever done science or read anything about science (and it seems that you really don’t know what it is). But sure like the big words.

          The fact is that materialism (or whatever-ism) is what it is : metaphysics. Science and scientific method are about physics (it should give you a hint). It doesn’t matter that consciousness arise from matter, anti-matter, black matter or a Boltzman brain, at the end of the day our perception is still the same and we can’t go out of this. Science is true to our perception of reality, the method is true and reproductible in time and space and doesn’t disapear when one die. We don’t give a damn of what materialism say (actually, materialism try to give a damn about what science say, but absolutely not reverse that would be absurd). If you use science for what it is : knowledge about our perception of reality, there is no problem or ‘insecurities’. There is no scientific talking about ‘absolute truth’ (for wtf that would mean) but truth that homeopathic is non-sense to the law that define our collective reality.

          • Science is true to our perception of reality

            /////

            No.

            It is not. That’s the whole point here. Scientific investigation into the brain as the source of consciousness reveals a colossal error in conscious perception – You.

            Even without philosophy or metaphysics this statement remains true.

            Dev

          • What scientific investigation into the brain shown anything about consiousness ?

            You are taking all this backward. You are applying your metaphysics point of view (loosely materialist but from like, 30 or 40 years ago and bordeline relativist) onto physics, but you are into the wrong paradigm. You should read about scientific method and what is the aim of it, and how it work. We do not care about eventual error about what is true perception of reality, we build about what we see and can perceive and hold into time and space. Science or reality doesn’t change from and individual to another, or from a point to another, because it is collective. Gravitationnal force haven’t stopped when Newton died.

            Stop mixing all the suff, learn science, then philosophy and try to write something coherent about it.

    • “Secondarily, distance cannot be real.”

      Given that distance (more correctly, displacement) is one of the physical properties of matter, how can it not “be real”?

      • Hi Frank,

        Good question. I can’t answer it. Wish I could but I can’t. I can only assure you that distance cannot be what it seems to be. This is how I read materialism.

        Dev

        • “Good question. I can’t answer it.”

          How are you able to determine the “failures” of science without understanding even basic science? It sounds as if you have drifted out of materialism into metaphysics. Matter has properties and is dynamic, as it reacts with energy. Inertia is resistance to force with gives displacement.

          https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/General_Chemistry/Properties_of_Matter/Basic_Properties_of_Matter

          Without a frame of reference, science has no basis; without acknowledging and understanding those terms of reference, materialism is without foundation. As stated above, without it, you are in the land of metaphysics.

  • To be fair, I think I first brought up solipsism, but the rest, yeah…

    /////////////////

    Yes, my experience is you can’t have much of a discussion about these things before some scientist (er, a scientist on Fantasy Island, that is) accuses you of solipsism. Being a solipsist seems to be a perjorative worse than being a child molester or something to the scientific mindset. They trot it out as some kind of handy “back door” / escape route at the slightest sign of trouble.

    Problem is, materialism is finally a great deal more mystical than solipsism ever could be.

    Dev

  • You are taking all this backward. You are applying your metaphysics point of view (loosely materialist but from like, 30 or 40 years ago and bordeline relativist) onto physics, but you are into the wrong paradigm. You should read about scientific method and what is the aim of it, and how it work. We do not care about eventual error about what is true perception of reality, we build about what we see and can perceive and hold into time and space. Science or reality doesn’t change from and individual to another, or from a point to another, because it is collective. Gravitationnal force haven’t stopped when Newton died.

    /////////////////////

    Quark,

    Look, just drop this whole thing about philosophy or metaphysics. It’s not actually necessary here. Instead, let’s look at some facts and logical deductions drawn from modern scientific research.

    FACT: Well over 99% of modern scientific research into the brain points to one direct, coherent conclusion – consciousness is the sole result of brain activity at a neuronal level. As of 2015 this is pretty much universally agreed. Barely anyone working anywhere near this field would dare dispute this any more. And of course this is a massive reinforcement of materialist philosophy, but let’s not go there, as this seems to be troublesome here.

    Logical deduction: Consciousness must be an emergent, arising from brain activity. There’s no other option. It therefore cannot matter what the brain, or neurons, or glia cells are actually finally “made of.” We don’t need to know what matter finally “is” in order to understand consciousness. It’s an emergent. Examining matter at an atomic or subatomic level is meaningless in this context. It’s like trying to understand triangularity by putting three matchsticks in a mass spectrometer.

    Logical deduction: If consciousness is arising purely from brain activity there simply cannot be an observer of it. Any sense of there being a personal “me,” experiencing life, observing what’s happening, has to be erroneous. Has to be an emergent. Has to be an illusion. This is simple logic. There’s no way out of this conclusion without dropping all modern brain research and descending into dualist fantasy.

    Logical deduction: If there cannot in actuality exist an observing self, then perspective fails. Separation and Distance are definitely struggling. Objectivity is in trouble big time. Empiricism is at least weakened. The whole edifice of the human objective psyche starts to cave in on itself. Every mental construction that’s been internalized at a neural level from early infancy is thrown into question. Selfhood has to be just a combination of learned and instinctual behaviours, not a reality.

    The human psyche has to be in utter horror at this. We know that when we make conclusions about what’s going on in the human brain we’re also talking about OUR brain. We’re also talking about us. If a human mind starts to truly internalize the inescapable conclusions of modern scientific research into the brain then it is going to freak out BIG time. It is inevitably hurled into deep existential crisis. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got a Ph.D. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got a fellowship or even if you’re a Nobel laureate. Multiple defense systems within the brain are going to go berserk pushing away the horrifying logical deductions even a child could make from these researches.

    Quark, do you want to know what neural processing looks like? Then open your eyes. That’s all there is. That’s neural processing right in front of you. And it’s not being seen by anyone.

    When the human mind starts to comprehend the sheer scale of what is being pointed at here, one thing becomes very clear. Homeopathy is the least of your worries!

    Dev

    • Yeah you keep telling the same thing, but i won’t make it a truth or anything.

      So let’s make it easier, you can only answer by yes or no and I will tell you a story.

      1 – Matter, energy and fields are here, interacting, with or without your consiousness ? – universe exist with or without you’ -> Y/N (if no, we can stop here, you are in some sort of solipsim and i will let you dream)

      2 – Then matter and all start interacting, creating very simple or complex construct and with a very large amount of time and probability, some form of life appear -> Y/N

      3 – Life evolve, and because multicellular is better (in some ways) than unicellular, multicellular will evolve further -> Y/N

      4 – Animals will get limbs/organes/etc, and a brain (another organe, bit more complex) -> Y/N

      5 – Brain evolve in complexity to be able to do some more complex task, because it is matter and it can evolve obviously (we could talk about the why but it’s enough i guess), and gain some form of ‘consciousness’ (we will talk about it latter) because it’s easier for sensing thing around -> Y/N

      6 – Brain evolve more and start to use method to continue to evolve, because it’s easier to shape matter around him than to shape himself now, that’s called ‘science and tech’ (R&D). -> Y/N

      7 – Then brain start to ask question about the why of all this. -> Y/N

      8 – At first it believe that there is a reason, that some other intelligence push it (god or whatever…). This is easy and every brain seems to agree (but fight for different form of intelligence) -> Y/N

      9 – But in fact; brain is just what it is : matter. Matter got no purpose it seems, and consciousness is arising from random pattern, and because of brain plasticity and environnemental interaction it give us something that look like identity and self because not all pattern are the same in the end. But it’s probably some just sort of byproduct of the initial intent of the brain (sensing and coordination) -> Y/N

      10 – Brain is so complex that it forgot what it was : Matter. Now brain re-discovered that it was only matter. Hard to believe for some (you look like one getting hard time with it). -> Y/N

      11 – That change nothing to the physics of the universe, because of 1.

      12 – Then brain can tell that homeopathy is utter crap and totally useless to his survival, and that it was only shaped by other brains in order to do money for their survival.

      TL/DR : We are a bunch of complex matter construct that is looking at less complex matter construct to understand how the matter work. And this is quite ironical and funny.

      • So let’s make it easier, you can only answer by yes or no and I will tell you a story.

        ……………….

        Sure, no probs

        ……………..

        1 – Matter, energy and fields are here, interacting, with or without your consiousness ? – universe exist with or without you’ -> Y/N (if no, we can stop here, you are in some sort of solipsim and i will let you dream)

        ……………………

        Well, there isn’t an actual “you” but if this body died then the universe would continue, so Y

        2 – Then matter and all start interacting, creating very simple or complex construct and with a very large amount of time and probability, some form of life appear -> Y/N

        …………………………….

        Y

        3 – Life evolve, and because multicellular is better (in some ways) than unicellular, multicellular will evolve further -> Y/N

        ………………………..

        Y

        4 – Animals will get limbs/organes/etc, and a brain (another organe, bit more complex) -> Y/N

        …………………….

        Y

        5 – Brain evolve in complexity to be able to do some more complex task, because it is matter and it can evolve obviously (we could talk about the why but it’s enough i guess), and gain some form of ‘consciousness’ (we will talk about it latter) because it’s easier for sensing thing around -> Y/N

        Well, now you’re getting into tricky ground. Consciousness is an emergent property of certain types of physical interactions. But essentially Y

        6 – Brain evolve more and start to use method to continue to evolve, because it’s easier to shape matter around him than to shape himself now, that’s called ‘science and tech’ (R&D). -> Y/N

        ………………………….

        At some point in our evolutionary history the capacity to understand, store and transmit ideas became highly favoured. Is this what you mean?

        7 – Then brain start to ask question about the why of all this. -> Y/N

        ………………………

        Y. It’s created an illusory sense of observing self (this again being highly favoured) and then formatted areas of neural hardware to behave as though this illusory sense of observing self actually exists. It starts to believe the illusion and starts to ask questions that inevitably cannot be finally fully answered! Such as Why.

        8 – At first it believe that there is a reason, that some other intelligence push it (god or whatever…). This is easy and every brain seems to agree (but fight for different form of intelligence) -> Y/N

        ……………….

        Y. God of the Gaps.

        9 – But in fact; brain is just what it is : matter. Matter got no purpose it seems, and consciousness is arising from random pattern, and because of brain plasticity and environnemental interaction it give us something that look like identity and self because not all pattern are the same in the end. But it’s probably some just sort of byproduct of the initial intent of the brain (sensing and coordination) -> Y/N

        ……………………………..

        Brain is matter. Mind is an emergent property of certain material interactions. You don’t go around saying I am Brain. You say my brain. But otherwise Y

        10 – Brain is so complex that it forgot what it was : Matter. Now brain re-discovered that it was only matter. Hard to believe for some (you look like one getting hard time with it). -> Y/N

        It is not really the brain “doing” these things. Mind is the emergent property of Brain and it is essentially the interrelationship here that got in trouble. Mind created certain beliefs about its nature which are shown experimentally to be false. So, generally, Y.

        11 – That change nothing to the physics of the universe, because of 1.

        Y

        12 – Then brain can tell that homeopathy is utter crap and totally useless to his survival, and that it was only shaped by other brains in order to do money for their survival.

        …………………….

        It is not the neural architecture of the brain that is mediating these decisions. It is the mind. Whilst Mind needs Brain to emerge from, it is not wholly constrained by Brain. It has some degree of functional autonomy, or certainly appears to have. Thus mind appears to have a choice as to whether it believes scientifically-evidenced medications are the only ones it should consume.

        So N. Because…

        1) Cost-Benefit analysis will no doubt show that successful patient-reported outcome scores are higher when homeopathy is included as a potential treatment modality. Some people believe in it and they report benefit. It’s cheaper than some drugs that can be used as alternatives. Public funded healthcare bodies like the NHS have a duty to pursue financial strategies that reduce costs, regardless of what scientists standing on some illusory podium think about it.

        2) Science is incomplete and there may be new stuff around the corner we don’t know about now.

        …………………….

        TL/DR : We are a bunch of complex matter construct that is looking at less complex matter construct to understand how the matter work. And this is quite ironical and funny.

        …………………

        Who is looking, Quark? Who is looking?

        Dev

        • @Dev
           
          This is just too much! “It is not the neural architecture of the brain that is mediating these decisions. It is the mind. Whilst Mind needs Brain to emerge from, it is not wholly constrained by Brain. It has some degree of functional autonomy, or certainly appears to have.” It appears to have autonomy only to people who think they’re intellectually gifted but in fact haven’t two neurones to rub together.
           
          In focussing on ‘mind’ you have omitted Soul, Chi, Yin and Yang, and all the other nonsense mental constructs that bar-room philosophers all over the world like to favour above reality. This is the ‘consciousness’ stuff that still excites many people steeped in the arts, who believe that the products of human thought processes, whether spoken or written, count for more than painstakingly pieced together evidence.
           
          Your posts have been described as ‘word salad’ by several other commentators on this blog. The expression says it all most politely. I’ll refrain from suggesting anything more trenchant.

          • word salad with a bullshit dressing, I’d say.

          • Whilst Mind needs Brain to emerge from, it is not wholly constrained by Brain. It has some degree of functional autonomy, or certainly appears to have.”

            It appears to have autonomy only to people who think they’re intellectually gifted but in fact haven’t two neurones to rub together

            ,,……

            Hi Frank,

            It appears to have functional autonomy because seeing things this way was favoured during aeons of natural selection.

            I’m more likely to survive an encounter with a sabre-toothed tiger if I believe I have a choice of strategies.

            Likewise science would never have got where it is today if we believed that things just are the way they are. It’s a useful belief.

            But of course it’s not real in the terms of hard science. Monism and determinism rule here.

            Pretty much all human endeavour and progress depend on the belief in a personal self, the belief in a choice.

            BTW the jury is still out on whether mental events can be considered causal.

            Dev

  • word salad with a bullshit dressing, I’d say

    ,…….

    Hi Edzard,

    Well, at least Franks 1 & 2 plus Quark can attempt a rebuttal on empiric grounds, albeit a rather feeble one IMO. (I may be proved wrong).

    Whereas you, well for someone who purports to champion hard science you don’t seem capable of applying even basic principles. Please feel free to prove me wrong.

    Dev

    • and why, pray, would I want to prove you wrong? this would assume that your unappetizing word salads have any importance, wouldn’t it?

      • Well it would if I inherently attached value to your opinion. But, like I said, I’m more evidence-based. You haven’t put anything on the table, so I have no means to assess whether you do actually know what you’re talking about.

        Just pointing out one logical fallacy would do the trick. But I think, like the eldest oyster, you prefer not to leave the river bed. I think you prefer to just snipe a little from the sidelines. Am I getting close?

        Dev

        • “But, like I said, I’m more evidence-based.”

          Really? How about presenting some then?

          This load of crap started when you made this assertion, “I do object to your hounding of homeopathy. I don’t use these products myself but it’s clear that thousands of people subjectively report improvement in symptomology. That our scientists don’t have a mechanism of action yet is not significant. Most major scientific discoveries follow the investigation of previously inexplicable phenomena.”, and you have been trying to Red Herring your way out of it since.

          Science doesn’t understand? No Dev, you don’t understand even basic science, which lead you to make the first ridiculous complaint about “your hounding of homeopathy”. When you understand why it cannot work, try again, but up to now, your Red Herring word salad (with bulsshit dressing) is exactly that.

          • All we really have here is the “science doesn’t know everything…” argument in a cheap and ill-fitting suit.

          • Add to that that *science tells us* [through somehow confirming that the human brain is an evolved and flawed organ] that science doesn’t know everything, and I think I am with you.

  • Mojo on Monday 30 November 2015 at 12:10
    All we really have here is the “science doesn’t know everything…” argument in a cheap and ill-fitting suit.

    ……………………

    Nope. I’m sincerely pointing out that there is actually a whopping great epistemological hole in scientific method. It’s the inevitable by-product of modern brain research. You might not see it or you might not like the idea or whatever. That has nothing to do with me. But as soon as you say that the brain must be the source of consciousness it inevitably begins to develop. It’s a black hole in the scientific mindset and the only way to keep this side of the event horizon is through remaining in delusion and sustained ignorance.

    Don Hoffman published his Interface Theory of Perception a few years ago, and this is the lead-in. Look at it here https://www.ted.com/talks/donald_hoffman_do_we_see_reality_as_it_is?language=en Already nearly 2 million views. The next level is the Observer. It cannot be real under materialism, and the materialist viewpoint is currently utterly dominating consciousness research. It’s only a matter of time before brain research starts to severely reduce the epistemological value of scientific method. I mean, math will almost certainly stay. So it’s not the end of the world.

    There’s more discussion here on this topic here http://www.internationalskeptics.com/forums/showthread.php?s=796afe9a0b5b4d2cbeed7483c1688ccb&t=300960

    Dev

    • Ok… and what do you want us to do with all this newfound knowledge of philosophical prophesies?
      If I am reading correctly into the potpourri of words that pour from your profound wisdom, science is going to fall through a hole anytime soon and the world as we have defined and delineated it will turn out to be something other than what we think it is. You started this whole performance with telling us we should give homeopathy a slacker line. But now you tell us that mathematics will (probably?) survive the pending cataclysm of science.
      Maybe you have not realised it but it is mathematics that tells us with great exactness, that homeopathy doesn’t make any bleeding sense.
      Now why should we start listening to you and start worrying that what we can so clearly confirm with our senses and mathematics, and change our view on that little problem of shaken water having an effect on health?

      See, I can make my own word salad 🙂

    • I’ll repeat the question I asked a few days ago:

      Dev, can you explain what the flaw is in using controlled trials to test homoeopathy?

      • Hi Mojo, see my first post above. Dev

        • OK, I’ve had a look at your opening post.

          Its first paragraph complains that Professor Ernst is hounding homoeopathy, moves on to an argumentum ad populum, says that the lack of an established mechanism is insignificant, and says that major scientific discoveries follow the investigation of previously inexplicable phenomena. The problem with this last point is that it ignores the necessity of establishing that the phenomenon in question actually exists. How would you go about establishing whether homoeopathy actually has the claimed effects?

          The second paragraph says that some conditions are assessed subjectively, but doesn’t establish that this makes them unsuitable for controlled trials.

          The third is the start of your attack on science in general, but says nothing about the suitability of controlled trials for establishing the efficacy of homoeopathy.

          The fourth paragraph doesn’t say anything about testing homoeopathy using controlled trials either.

          And then you conclude with your argumentum ad populum again and an accusation of arrogance.

          Dev, can you explain how Any of this explains what the flaw is in using controlled trials to test homoeopathy?

          • Hi Mojo,

            I have no problem with using controlled trials to test homeopathy. To be honest, I don’t think anyone has a problem with this. It’s not really the issue.

            The issues are…

            * what controlled trials are you going to do? Unless you can find a condition, which homeopathy is supposedly effective at treating, and for which the treatment outcome can be verified objectively, just how are you going to demonstrate effectivity or otherwise? Most conditions which homeopathy is used for are reported subjectively and the treatment outcome is reported subjectively. Double-blind trials against a placebo have not been conclusive here either way far as I know.

            * there is no recognised mechanism of action for homeopathy which is accepted by modern science. Repeated dilution of a substance, succussion, has no basis in today’s science on which to stand.

            And it’s this second issue that makes homeopathy a “prime target” for sceptics – Dr Ernst here, The Good Thinking Society etc. Other complementary practices might have at least some limb to stand on, or at least a toe or two, but homeopathy has nothing in terms of hard science.

            Yet, a lot of people do report it as working for them for recognised conditions. If you ignore the science and look just at cost-benefit analysis, then this would likely IMO come down for it being available on the NHS.

            What I am pointing out, with my Zorro hat on, is that modern science itself is actually not as strong as many sceptic types want to believe. They seem to want a good, solid platform from which to denounce complimentary medicine and I am using my grasp of science and consciousness studies to point out that actually it’s not so solid as they would like to believe.

            Modern brain research starts to create a deeper context into which we can place human consciousness itself. And in that deeper context science starts to shake where previously it looked much firmer

            Dev

          • I have no problem with using controlled trials to test homeopathy. To be honest, I don’t think anyone has a problem with this. It’s not really the issue.

            The reason homoeopathy is criticised, or as you put it “hounded”, is that controlled trials fail to demonstrate efficacy.

            what controlled trials are you going to do? Unless you can find a condition, which homeopathy is supposedly effective at treating, and for which the treatment outcome can be verified objectively, just how are you going to demonstrate effectivity or otherwise?

            Any condition in which it is claimed homoeopathy can make a difference. And it is claimed that it can treat pretty much anything. It isn’t even necessary that it be measurable objectively. There are ways of assessing all kinds of conditions. Adequate blinding is important.

            Double-blind trials against a placebo have not been conclusive here either way far as I know.

            You will never get a definitive negative result from a placebo controlled trial; the possible results are that the treatment is demonstrably effective, or that iefficacy has not been demonstrated. if the results “have not been conclusive here either way” then that’s about as negative a result as is actually possible. The results of published systematic reviews are reasonably clear.

            there is no recognised mechanism of action for homeopathy

            Irrelevant. All a controlled trial looks at is the difference between the groups. Mechanism doesn’t matter.

            And it’s this second issue that makes homeopathy a “prime target” for sceptics – Dr Ernst here, The Good Thinking Society etc. Other complementary practices might have at least some limb to stand on, or at least a toe or two, but homeopathy has nothing in terms of hard science.

            And most importantly, it has nothing in terms of demonstrable results. That’s about as hard as the science gets when you’re talking about a medical treatment.

            Yet, a lot of people do report it as working for them for recognised conditions.

            …and there’s that argumentum ad populum again.

            If you ignore the science and look just at cost-benefit analysis, then this would likely IMO come down for it being available on the NHS.

            Something that is not effective cannot be cost-effective.

            And why ignore the science? There’s a reasonably recent study that included an assessment of costs. It reported that, while “evidence in favour of adjunctive homeopathic treatment was lacking”, on average each patient treated with homoeopathy “cost the NHS £615 more” than each patient in the control group.

            The rest of your post is back to your “science doesn’t know everything…” This is still not relevant, especially given your opening sentence.

          • “The reason homoeopathy is criticised, or as you put it “hounded”, is that controlled trials fail to demonstrate efficacy.”

            Plenty of alternative medications fall within that category. Homeopathy is being hounded because the proposed mechanism of action fails under our existing scientific knowledge.

            “Irrelevant. All a controlled trial looks at is the difference between the groups. Mechanism doesn’t matter.”

            I agree, but this reinforces the prejudice.

            “Something that is not effective cannot be cost-effective.”

            That depends how you define “effective”. If a condition is reported subjectively, and treatment outcome assessed subjectively, all you have to go on is the patient’s self-report of their state. If medication A achieves successfully patient outcomes and is cheaper than medication B then your assertion is disproved. Trials and science won’t make a difference. And the reality is that medicine, like many fields, is being compelled for economic reasons to adopt strategies that work in terms of cost-benefit.

            This is, in admittedly small part, due to the fact that most scientists do not adequately understand the limits of science.

            “And why ignore the science? There’s a reasonably recent study that included an assessment of costs. It reported that, while “evidence in favour of adjunctive homeopathic treatment was lacking”, on average each patient treated with homoeopathy “cost the NHS £615 more” than each patient in the control group.”

            Fair enough.

          • what controlled trials are you going to do?

            By the way, did you notice that your post included an answer to that question:

            Yet, a lot of people do report it as working for them for recognised conditions.

            Perhaps those could be the conditions to test it for.

          • Plenty of alternative medications fall within that category.

            Yes, and this blog sees plenty of whataboutery from apologists for, for example, chiropractic as well.

            I agree, but this reinforces the prejudice.

            Interesting that you see a conclusion arrived at as a result of different lines of evidence converging as “prejudice”.

            If medication A achieves successfully patient outcomes and is cheaper than medication B then your assertion is disproved.

            But we’re talking about a “medication” that achieves the same patient outcomes as placebo, in other words as something that is not a medication at all.

            And the reality is that medicine, like many fields, is being compelled for economic reasons to adopt strategies that work in terms of cost-benefit.

            Identifying and abandoning ineffective treatments is a good way to do this.

            This is, in admittedly small part, due to the fact that most scientists do not adequately understand the limits of science.

            And there’s another irrelevant swipe at those nasty mean scientists.

        • @Dev
          Your first post above concludes: “And so, in the final analysis, if something works for people then it is actually only arrogance that will oppose it.” This is pure argumentum ad populum.
           
          In my first response to you above I drew your attention to many other aspects of our civilization/culture in which several behaviours that “work for many people” have been done away with, without any accusations of arrogance, and with growing acceptance that the “many people” were misguided in the first place. You have never responded to any of this: instead you continue to give us your soundbites from Philosophy 101 as if you know better than the rest of the world.
           
          Much as I dislike direct ad hominems, and I know they’re nominally outlawed on this site, I shall risk saying: I think you come over as thick as two short planks.

  • Yet, a lot of people do report it as working for them for recognised conditions.
    “Perhaps those could be the conditions to test it for.”

    It would certainly be intriguing to perform double blind trials with groups of people who “strongly believed in science” and others who “strongly believed in alternative medicine” and see the results with various conditions and treatment strategies.

    • It would certainly be intriguing to perform double blind trials with groups of people who “strongly believed in science” and others who “strongly believed in alternative medicine” and see the results with various conditions and treatment strategies.

      That might be valid if you were investigating the effects of psychology on the outcomes of medical treatment, but if you want to test the treatment itself you need to randomise the groups so that, ideally, the only difference between them is that one group is given the treatment and the other isn’t. All your proposal would achieve there would be to introduce bias.

  • Yes, and this blog sees plenty of whataboutery from apologists for, for example, chiropractic as well.

    I agree, but this reinforces the prejudice.

    Interesting that you see a conclusion arrived at as a result of different lines of evidence converging as “prejudice”.

    ………….

    Hi Mojo,

    That’s because those lines of evidence converging are disincluding other lines of evidence. That’s prejudice.

    ……………………..
    If medication A achieves successfully patient outcomes and is cheaper than medication B then your assertion is disproved.

    But we’re talking about a “medication” that achieves the same patient outcomes as placebo, in other words as something that is not a medication at all.
    ………………….

    We’re talking about something that may work because people believe in it, or because of some fundamental principle we have not yet uncovered.

    You cannot necessarily simply reproduce belief. If you go out into the world and marginalize or eliminate medications which people report as effective, that may be “working” simply because they believe in them, what are you going to use to replace them? Demand that people believe only in evidence-based medications? Tell them they have to believe in this? It’s dodgy ground for a number of reasons, ethical and scientific.

    …………………….
    This is, in admittedly small part, due to the fact that most scientists do not adequately understand the limits of science.

    And there’s another irrelevant swipe at those nasty mean scientists.
    ……………………

    I have no issue with people who are genuinely interested in science. I am too. What I object to is a bunch of bandwagon-jumping sceptics, who actually understand jack about the real issues, trying to move society in a direction that may prove to be finally not useful for anyone except vested corporate issues, certainly not useful for genuine scientists. I’m actually a member of UCS.

    I’ve been on plenty of skeptic forums. I’m sure you have too. What I like are the people who are sincerely trying to establish what is true. But they are in a minority.

    Of course, if I’m honest, there’s a part of me that does enjoy giving the usual skeptic retards a good battering too. They like to dish it out to new-agers. But they invariably don’t understand anywhere near enough to back up the positions they come up with. And, of course, some new-agers know how to box!

    Dev

    • That’s because those lines of evidence converging are disincluding other lines of evidence.

      What evidence is being disregarded?

      We’re talking about something that may work because people believe in it, or because of some fundamental principle we have not yet uncovered.

      Nope. We’re dealing with something that appears, in anecdotal accounts, to have spectacular and self evident effects, but those effects vanish as potential biases are eliminated.

      • What evidence is being disregarded?

        …………..

        Well, the fact that science predominantly deals with trying to understand the inner dynamics of a 3D workspace that emerged to suit the needs of primates and hunter-gatherers for a start. And thus quite likely is not really a particularly useful model of reality, more a state of addiction.

        The fact that scientists are, for the most part, so heavily locked in to paying attention to thoughts, they are actually unaware that thoughts don’t actually happen to anyone.

        And who are now trying to assert, with subtle corporate backing, that their way of examining the world is the only one that has validity. When it’s actually based on the fact that they’re the ones that don’t have the awareness to see the utter limitations of their viewpoint.

        If you think thoughts happen to someone then your awareness is low, and that’s a simple fact. You have to move out of this addiction to see what is real, and what is not. Scientists, as a rule, think too much to understand the utter limitations of a thought-based reality.

        • My bad. I should have known that I needed to specify evidence relevant to the efficacy of homoeopathy.

        • What are thoughts if not this;

          “If you think thoughts happen to someone then your awareness is low, and that’s a simple fact. You have to move out of this addiction to see what is real, and what is not. Scientists, as a rule, think too much to understand the utter limitations of a thought-based reality.”

          I’ve had enough of your circular logic, epistles without the slightest substantiation, the thought bubbles of bubbles, the manufacturing of a problem that doesn’t exist except in your cranium, and the interminable meaningless word-salad. Take your bullshit elsewhere, to a place where someone might find this crap interesting. You may just have re-written the record on logical fallacies and meaningless prose. Find somewhere to take your expansive ego (and endless self-affection), because your bullshit makes no sense.

          • I’ve had enough of your circular logic, epistles without the slightest substantiation, the thought bubbles of bubbles, the manufacturing of a problem that doesn’t exist except in your cranium, and the interminable meaningless word-salad. Take your bullshit elsewhere, to a place where someone might find this crap interesting. You may just have re-written the record on logical fallacies and meaningless prose. Find somewhere to take your expansive ego (and endless self-affection), because your bullshit makes no sense.
            ……………..

            Frank,

            If you believe that thoughts are happening to someone, then you are simply not particularly self-aware. Paying attention to thought creates the illusion that someone is hearing the thoughts. This is how the brain creates for itself the sense of having, what is technically known as, a mental self – an observer, an experiencer.

            This is why academics, scientists and other great “thinkers” struggle in the field of consciousness research. Their talent for attending to thought is a barrier to realization of what is actually happening.

          • “realization”

            Wrong on two fronts.

        • Dev, I think I may have found someone who agrees with you:

          There are many natural scientists, and especially physicists, who continue to reject the notion that the disciplines concerned with social and cultural criticism can have anything to contribute, except perhaps peripherally, to their research. Still less are they receptive to the idea that the very foundations of their worldview must be revised or rebuilt in the light of such criticism. Rather, they cling to the dogma imposed by the long post-Enlightenment hegemony over the Western intellectual outlook, which can be summarized briefly as follows: that there exists an external world, whose properties are independent of any individual human being and indeed of humanity as a whole; that these properties are encoded in “eternal” physical laws; and that human beings can obtain reliable, albeit imperfect and tentative, knowledge of these laws by hewing to the “objective” procedures and epistemological strictures prescribed by the (so-called) scientific method.

          • Dev, I think I may have found someone who agrees with you:

            …………

            Thanks. I don’t know much about quantum physics. But when I read about it, it seems like it’s pointing directly to a selfless reality where separation is actually an illusion. But within this reality can arise for a while the perspective that subject-object relationships exist.

          • @Dev
            That’s a ‘gotcha’ from Mojo! Hook, line and sinker! The paper is the one Sokal submitted as a spoof to Social text, where it was accepted with enthusiasm by ‘post-modernist’ people who, like you, fall for intellectual-sounding word salad. You can read all about it here

          • This one led me onto the right track:

            …it seems like it’s pointing directly to a selfless reality where separation is actually an illusion. But within this reality can arise for a while the perspective that subject-object relationships exist

            At first I was wondering what herbs “Dev” is smoking that make him write such gibberish. But then it suddenly hit me. I think I have figured out where “Dev” digs up the tripe.

          • Further research into Dev’s dialog has led me to believe I may have been wrong about the origins of his/her gobbledygook. I think this is a more likely source

          • I wonder whether the philosophy guru and intellectual wonder of the world will be too embarrassed to “show his/her face” again? I would be, however, Dev has shown no embarrassment with all of the other tripe posted so I wouldn’t be surprised for a return, then another illogical tangent.

        • By the way, your use of the Pharma Shill Gambit is, of course, a form of ad hominem argument.

    • I have no issue with people who are genuinely interested in science.

      Do you include “most scientists” in that category?

  • The rest of your post is back to your “science doesn’t know everything…” This is still not relevant, especially given your opening sentence.

    …………………….

    This is not really an accurate summary of what I’m pointing out. Though I appreciate that it’s a statement that is a great deal easier to oppose, which I guess is why you and others choose to summarize things that way.

    There actually are plenty of reasons for science to start to reinvestigate some of its core principles, and I maintain that any genuine scientist would be happy to do this, in fact really in to doing this. The only opposition is from those with a vested interest, either corporate or personal/psychological.

  • Nope. We’re dealing with something that appears, in anecdotal accounts, to have spectacular and self evident effects, but those effects vanish as potential biases are eliminated.

    ……………..

    Are you saying that belief in the effectiveness of a treatment cannot affect treatment outcome?

    • Ah Dev! I am pretty sure that everyone you are conversing with here thinks that belief can affect treatment outcome. Placebo science confirms this all sorts of strange and fascinating ways. I am amazed that you had to ask the question after all that has been discussed, which tells me that your position is much more fluid and unfathomable than I had initially realised. Good luck with it.

      • Ah Dev! I am pretty sure that everyone you are conversing with here thinks that belief can affect treatment outcome. Placebo science confirms this all sorts of strange and fascinating ways.

        ……………….

        So if a patient believes a treatment will work for them, and then reports it to be working, and there is no other means to determine treatment outcome, where’s the issue with homeopathy? The only realistic issue can be if homeopathic preparations are too expensive in comparison to others.

        Pragmatically, the NHS could consider starting some type of promotional campaign, instilling great public belief in say the Jolly Green Giant, and his amazing capacity to cure ills. Then recommend treatment via some tuning in to the JGG. I mean, if I was running the NHS I’d be doing this for sure. It would be a lot cheaper to treat conditions where, statistically, it was clear that belief in the treatment was the main factor in treatment outcome. And, anyway not much different than Big Pharma anyway.

        This is not cynicism. I’m just being practical here.

        • too clever by half!

        • Because Dev, as I have pointed out before, you are endorsing a system that necessarily lies to patients to get the effects we know are possible. I believe in principles of informed consent; it would appear that you do not. Does this mean that I had your position worked out from the beginning, and that you would literally nod through any deception as long as it did no active harm? That sounds like a crazy NHS system where you have no idea whether what you’re being told is true or evidence-based, only that your clinician has thought long and hard about how your deception needs packaging. I mentioned Dr Trossell earlier, who was struck off the medical register for treating MS sufferers with expensive, unproven bovine stem-cell treatments. As far as I am aware, there is no suggestion that these treatments proved unsafe; and many patients returned thinking it was making a difference. Would it be fair to say that your only objection to Dr Trossel’s made-up medicine being available on the NHS – if indeed you do object – is that it is expensive?

          http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/8033130/Stem-cell-doctor-Robert-Trossel-struck-off-medical-register.html

          Thanks for your time.

          • Because Dev, as I have pointed out before, you are endorsing a system that necessarily lies to patients to get the effects we know are possible. I believe in principles of informed consent;
            ………………..

            So, generally do I. But what about when informed consent gets in the way of making people feel better?

            ……………………………

            it would appear that you do not. Does this mean that I had your position worked out from the beginning, and that you would literally nod through any deception as long as it did no active harm? That sounds like a crazy NHS system where you have no idea whether what you’re being told is true or evidence-based, only that your clinician has thought long and hard about how your deception needs packaging.

            ………………….

            Yes, we could use a questionnaire initially to assess the person’s belief system and then prescribe accordingly. You sir, Big Pharma – this great pill will cure your ills. You sir, ah the Jolly Green Giant will fix you for sure. Just tune in with his mantra.

            What you need to appreciate, Adam, is that GPs are besieged with people who haven’t got a clear idea what is wrong with them.

            It’s all a matter of packaging. We can rattle on about clinical trials and how wonderful they are, how everyone’s lab coat is whiter than white and they’re all fixed on the lofty goal of helping humanity. Or we can point out that our conscious experience is actually just an emergent 3D workspace that is designed (so to speak) for hunter-gatherers and primates to kill and have sex with each other in. And, who knows, maybe it helps with getting you well again too.

            It’s all a matter of packaging.

          • Thanks Dev. We clearly disagree here, but at least this strand of your argument is coherent. You are up for decieving NHS patients as much as possible in order to harness the placebo effect in their interests (as judged by clinicians). I don’t know why you didn’t just come out with this early on, rather than justify your sympathies with NHS homeopathy through some obscure epistomological understandings that were lost on most of us.

            Do you think medical training should include a module on how to deceive patients in their interests? Maybe a journal dedicated to new and upcoming medical deceptions, and how to deliver them to maximum effect?

            Thanks again for your time.

  • I wonder whether the philosophy guru and intellectual wonder of the world will be too embarrassed to “show his/her face” again? I would be, however, Dev has shown no embarrassment with all of the other tripe posted so I wouldn’t be surprised for a return, then another illogical tangent.

    ………………………….

    Yes, so what. It’s a hoax. Or he’s playing the some game. So what? People working in quantum physics have long been pointing out that the laws which seem via common sense to apply to our world are not all inclusive. They get shuffled off to their own little department. This guy was writing back in the 90s. Now it’s coming from other fronts too – social and evolutionary sciences. Evolutionary algorithms demonstrate that the development of conscious percepts is governed by fitness not accuracy. Our social reality and needs may finally overwhelm so-called physical laws. Or at least form fuzzy borders between the two areas. The great white know-all with his objective mindset is under threat from the very philosophical perspective on which he felt he could most rely.

    • I think you will find that those who are experienced in quantum mechanics have been saying that trying to apply quantum rules to our scale is usually fruitless and that if you don’t know quantum mechanics you cannot just make up nonsense.

      It may be comforting to the woolly minded to learn how to spell some words and then wave their hands about. You probably think it sounds profound and intelligent. I’ll give you a clue, it is neither.

    • @Dev
      “This guy was writing back in the 90s.” Yes, and like he explains, he was writing complete nonsense in order to satirize people like you who keep coming at us with your wordy philosophical perspectives from the Ladybird Book of Postmodernism.

    • Hi Dev. It seems that you think there may even be something deeper going on with Sokal Hoax that is lost on the rest of us. Surely it takes an extreme post-modern position to suppose that Sokal might actually be on to something despite his best efforts to produce incoherent nonsense. Makes me think about monkeys and typewriters, and how many more you would need if they were intent on not writing the complete works of Shakespeare…

    • “Yes, so what. It’s a hoax. Or he’s playing the some game. So what? People working in quantum physics have long been pointing out that the laws which seem via common sense to apply to our world are not all inclusive.”

      It’s a hoax but it’s not a hoax? Que?

  • “Our social reality and needs may finally overwhelm so-called physical laws. Or at least form fuzzy borders between the two areas.”

    When your “social reality and needs” overwhelm the laws of gravity, electromagnetism, motion, and the rest, please let us know? If that happens, it is just as likely Einstein will rise from the dead.

    “The great white know-all with his objective mindset is under threat from the very philosophical perspective on which he felt he could most rely.”

    Which threat is that? From mangled word-salads that are meaningless?

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