MD, PhD, FMedSci, FSB, FRCP, FRCPEd

Over on ‘SPECTATOR HEALTH’, we have an interesting discussion (again) about homeopathy. The comments so far were not short of personal attacks but this one by someone who called himself (courageously) ‘Larry M’ took the biscuit. It is so characteristic of deluded homeopathy apologists that I simply have to share it with you:

Ernst grew up with homeopathy [1], saw how well it worked [2], and chose to become a so-called expert in alternative medicine [3]. To his surprise, he met with professional disapproval [4]. Being the weak ego-driven person that he is [5], he saw an opportunity to still come out on top. He sold his soul in exchange for the notoriety that he now receives for being the crotchety old homeopathy hater that he has become [6]. As with all homeopathy haters, his fundamentalist zeal [7] is evidence of his secret self-loathing [8] and fear that his true beliefs will be found out [9]. It’s no different than the evangelical preacher who rails against gays only to be eventually found out to be a closeted gay [10].

There is not much that makes me speechless these days, but this comment almost did. There is someone who clearly does not even know me and he takes it upon himself to interpret and re-invent my past, my motives and my actions at will. How deluded is that?

After re-reading the comment, I began to see the funny side of it, had a giggle and decided to add a few elements of truth in the form of this blog-post. So I took the liberty to insert some reference numbers into Larry’s text which refer to my brief points below.

  1. This is at least partly true; our family doctor was a prominent homeopath. Whenever one of us was truly ill, he employed conventional treatments.
  2. I was impressed as a young physician working in a homeopathic hospital to see that patients improved on homeopathy – even though, at medical school, I had been told that the remedies were pure placebos. This contradiction fascinated me, and I began to do some own research into the subject.
  3. I did not ‘choose’, I had a genuine interest; and I don’t think that I am a ‘so called’ expert – after 2 decades of research and hundreds of papers, this attribute seems a trifle unfitting.
  4. The disapproval came from the homeopathy fans who were irritated that someone had the audacity to undertake a truly CRITICAL assessment of their treatments and actions.
  5. The amateur psychology here speaks for itself, I think.
  6. Yes, I am no spring chicken! But I am not a ‘hater’ of anything – I try to create progress by convincing people that it is prudent to go for treatments that are evidence-based and avoid those that do not generate more good than harm.
  7. This attitude is not a ‘fundamental zeal’, it is the only responsible way forward.
  8. This made me laugh out loud! Nothing could be further from the truth.
  9. My ‘true belief’ is that patients deserve the best treatments available. I have no fear of being ‘found out’; on the contrary, during my career I stood up to several challenges of influential people who tried to trip me up.
  10. This is hilarious – does Larry not feel how pompously ridiculous and ridiculously pompous he truly is?

This might be all too trivial, if such personal attacks were not an almost daily event. The best I can do with them, I have concluded, is to expose them for what they are and demonstrate how dangerously deluded the advocates of quackery really are. In this way, I can perhaps minimize the harm these people do to public health and medical progress.

44 Responses to Homeopathy and the ‘closeted gay’ ???

  • I have just been told that ‘Larry M’ is, in fact, doctor Larry Malerba ( http://drmhomeopathy.com/about-us/ ); he says he ‘Served a term for the New York State Board for Professional Medical Conduct’ – so sad that he did not learn medical conduct there or anywhere else, apparently.

  • Yeah, ‘DocMalerba’. He occasionally dips his toe into an argument with some inane ad hominem, before scuttling back to his anti-science QuackLair, GreenMadInfo, where, if he decides to deem a comment a personal attack, he is apt to ban the commenter.

  • Homeopaths refuse to accept that one possible reason why people reject homeopathy may be the lack of evidence. That there *is* a lack of evidence they don’t even deny themselves — they themselves insist it is methodologically impossible to find evidence for it — “It can’t be tested.” (At least for brief periods of time they insist this – for about as long as one or two sentences, then it’s back to citing crappy studies again… but then they swing back to saying it can’t be tested once the tests are debunked, or the EU asks them to do some more better designed tests).

    Really you guys, how hard would it be to say “Dr Ernst has noticed that, as we intermittently say, there is no evidence for homeopathy, and is not prepared to simply take our word for it. We disagree due to our interpretation of our personal experiences, but we understand and respect his position. Perhaps one day we will have some good evidence to cite, if anyone ever figures out how to test this stuff.” At least you should be able to manage that much, for that half of the time you are saying it can’t be tested.

    • @Yakaru on Friday 30 September 2016 at 11:23

      “Homeopaths refuse to accept that one possible reason why people reject homeopathy may be the lack of evidence.”

      This is not correct. More so coming from this blog.

      https://www.karger.com/Article/Pdf/355916
      http://homeopathyusa.org/uploads/Research/SebastianErnst.pdf

      The head of Complementary Medicine …….. goes out of his way to fudge data to prove complementary medicine (Homeopathy) does not work.

      His responsibility as part of complementary medicine program is to play around with data and evidence:
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1297497/

      “Really you guys, how hard would it be to say “Dr Ernst has noticed that, as we intermittently say, there is no evidence for homeopathy, and is not prepared to simply take our word for it. We disagree due to our interpretation of our personal experiences, but we understand and respect his position.”

      He seems to forget and has to continually remind himself: Have I sold my soul to big pharma!

      “Perhaps one day we will have some good evidence to cite, if anyone ever figures out how to test this stuff.”

      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12634583
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3085232/
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1379831/
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1297497/

      Send this data to Ernst, he will turn it against complementary medicine.

      “At least you should be able to manage that much, for that half of the time you are saying it can’t be tested.”
      The difficult part for Ernst is that many other disciplines seen to be indirectly proving reasons why homeopathy works.
      It is good for Ernst that Price Charles found his boot first as other wise at the end of his 3rd decade at Exeter, he would have been asked to clean up 25 years of work.

      Medical article: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00011-003-1242-0

      “Three of the four labs involved in the trial reported a statistically significant inhibition of the basophil degranulation reaction by the ghost histamine solutions compared with the controls. The fourth lab gave a result that was almost significant, so the total result over all four labs was positive for the ghost histamine solutions.
      The result, shortly to be published in Inflammation Research, was the same: histamine solutions, both at pharmacological concentrations and diluted out of existence, lead to statistically significant inhibition of basophile activation by aIgE, confirming previous work in this area.

      “Despite my reservations against the science of homoeopathy,” says Ennis, “the results compel me to suspend my disbelief and to start searching for a rational explanation for our findings.” She is at pains to point out that the pan-European team have not reproduced Benveniste’s findings nor attempted to do so.

      Jacques Benveniste is unimpressed. “They’ve arrived at precisely where we started 12 years ago!” he says. Benveniste believes he already knows what constitutes the water-memory effect and claims to be able to record and transmit the “signals” of biochemical substances around the world via the internet. These, he claims, cause changes in biological tissues as if the substance was actually present.”

      • You don’t need to convince me of this. Try convincing German homeopaths that they no longer need their exemption from standard medical testing. Go on. According to you, they are needlessly weakening their position by still wanting exemption.

    • There is a simple answer to your question :

      -> Homeopathy must work (because it used around the world)
      -> This is enough, because it work, then we have evidence.

      If one reject homeopathy for its lack of evidence, it appear that the sole reason why people are using it is faith… right ? But homeopath consider themselves scientist and not believer… So they will violentely reject the idea that there is no evidence for homeopathy.

      • what is your point?

        • Quark is quite right of course.
          The fact that many millions of people believe in God proves that he exists.
          Or like whatever.

      • The only evidence which matters is cure. There is more than two centuries of evidence of Homeopathic cure – the fact that science cannot yet explain how it cures is for the moment, irrelevant.

        • I see! You ARE from another planet.
          Here on earth, we need evidence and the appeal to tradition is considered to be a classical fallacy.

        • I hear that claim a lot from homeopaths. I always say, it’s not me you need to convince — try telling that to the “It works for me” campaign and other lobby groups trying to get the EU to exempt homeopathy from normal medical testing. Try telling the government’s medical committee in Germany that they cancel their embarrassing exemption for homeopathy, and base their “medical status” on real evidence instead of legislative assertion…. And stop your fellow homeopaths each time time they claim “homeopathy can’t be tested”.

          I always tell them that, and they always silently move on to somewhere else where they suddenly spring up and repeat their troll act with exactly same vacuous set of lies.

        • “The only evidence which matters is cure.”

          Correct. And when rigorously tested it is found that it doesn’t actually do that.

          • A lie repeated remains a lie. Meanwhile Homeopathy continues to cure as it has done for more than two centuries.

          • Ah! I see the lie there that you are talking about.

            But in all seriousness, regardless of your preferred reality you still live in a world where the results of rigorous, good quality testing doesn’t match your preferred outcome.

  • Well, he’s at least par for the course – same thing with creationists etc – in claiming that anyone who criticises his beliefs is bitter and twisted and malevolent, and probably mentally damaged in some way. I’ve been quite hotly criticised on this site and others for making fun of deranged and wilfully gullible people and their beliefs, but as I replied, when your opponent not only can not, but WILL not, engage in reasoned debate, then there are occasions when ridicule has to be considered as a possible option.

    • Hilarious post from derry-prone Barrie; nothing new there. “Claiming that anyone who criticises his beliefs is bitter and twisted and malevolent, and probably mentally damaged in some way,” charged Barrie in this latest mindless rant of his which also criticized other posters’ unwillingness to engage in reasoned debate. The vast majority of this forum’s contributors refuse to engage in conversations which force them to acknowledge the many flaws within “modern medicine, instead emphasizing such flaws within the paramedical professions. Most provide no intelligent commentary, only snark.

      • Didn’t really understand that Logos-Bios reply.
        Still, not to worry. It’s so jumbled and clueless, I doubt whether even Logos-Bios did either.

        • Barrie should augment his reading skills and his vocabulary. Perhaps then he might be able to understand clearly written comments.

      • “The vast majority of this forum’s contributors refuse to engage in conversations which force them to acknowledge the many flaws within “modern medicine, instead emphasizing such flaws within the paramedical professions.”

        Are any of those conversations happening on post *about* the flaws within modern medicine? If not, perhaps that would be a reason why.

        Do any of those conversation add to the conversation around the actual topic of the post? Much of what Edzard posts about is Alt-med. If these conversations added in a positive manner to the actual topic I would be surprised if they were not addressed. But if done the way it has here, completely off topic, then I think commenters would be fair in not addressing the comment in order to remain on-topic.

  • Ernsts law is constantly being confirmed 😀

  • Professor Ernst, Thanks for this blog! You are top-notch. You continue to make an incalculably valuable contribution to this world. I like your humor, especially in the face of moronic drivel like that of DocMalerba. I enjoyed Trick or Treatment, and I’m off to Amazon right now to buy A Scientist in Wonderland.

  • If you truly believe patients deserve the best treatments then surely Integrative Medicine would be your first choice where all medical modalities, including Homeopathy are available and patients may choose.

    Homeopathy works. We know that, or it would not be possible for one MD, hospital, medical school, university or Government in the world to touch it and many do, particularly in Europe as you know.

    The only unknown is how it works and that is because modern science cannot yet understand how it might work and is locked into a materialist reductionist belief system which prevents it from even considering how it might work.

    Ironically, the third biggest killer today is iatrogenic – Allopathic doctor or medical induced – most of it from prescribed medication, and given that studies show most science-medical published research is just plain wrong, we can understand why. And yet the finger points at Homeopathy because science cannot explain how it works. Really???????

    • “Homeopathy works. We know that…”
      FROM WHAT PLANET ARE YOU?
      http://edzardernst.com/2015/03/the-final-verdict-on-homeopathy-its-a-placebo/

    • Crikey!
      A cliche I know- but does this person think that all ‘modalities’-there’s a word that gives the game away-should be made available as options?
      Including voodoo, bloodletting, trepanning,distant healing, reiki, etc?

    • And that’s before we get into the lies and delusions at the end.

    • Roslyn

      I’m not sure what disappoints me more: your inability to think critically (as amply demonstrated by your comment) or your inability to correct your errors after they have been pointed out to you on so many previous occasions. It’s almost as if you have a closed mind and/or are incapable of learning.

    • “Homeopathy works. We know that, or it would not be possible for one MD, hospital, medical school, university or Government in the world to touch it and many do, particularly in Europe as you know.”

      In spite of the fact that this clearly fallacious argument has been debunked more times than she’s ingested worthless sugar pills, Roslyn continues to trot it out ad nauseum. I’m beginning to wonder if Ros is, in fact, a bot. If so, she’s badly in need of reprogramming – preferably by someone with a brain larger than a pea.

      Given humankind’s history of using ineffective and/or dangerous treatments, how daft is the suggestion that “It must work because doctors use it”?

      Answers on the back of a talking donkey please, Ros.

    • We all know that science works.

      And yet the finger points at science because homeopaths cannot explain how it works.

    • Ros, you need some new material. All your fallacious arguments have been busted repeatedly. Just re-pasting them all over the internet is, you know… disingenuous.

    • “If you truly believe patients deserve the best treatments then surely Integrative Medicine would be your first choice where all medical modalities, including Homeopathy are available and patients may choose.”

      Homeopathy isn’t medicine. The best quality studies we have to date conclusively demonstrate that. I’m really sorry that you don’t like the conclusions.

      “Homeopathy works.”

      Until rigorously tested.

    • “Homeopathy works. We know that, or it would not be possible for one MD, hospital, medical school, university or Government in the world to touch it and many do, particularly in Europe as you know.”
      Still fantasizing about Europe as if it were a mysterious exotic country where medicine is oh so different I see.
      I will repost what I already posted to you back at Naturopthic Diaries :
      Regarding France, where I live : the fact that homeopathy is widely used is hardly surprising given that one the biggest homeopathy labs, Boiron, is french. However, the “Conseil national de l’ordre des médecins”, which regulates medical practice, has clearly stated recently that homeopathy’s efficacy is not proven. A pretty official non-endorsement. (see here page 4 for example)
      http://www.conseil-national.medecin.fr/sites/default/files/cn_webzine/2015-07/www/index.php#/page-4
      You also forget the fact that homeopathy regulation, in France like in other countries, follow a double standard compared to other drugs : no evidence of efficacy needed. Thus why it is possible to use it.

  • By the way on more than one occasion I’ve been accused of being ‘derry–prone’.
    Anybody help me out here?

  • Roslyn Ros’ recent comment ‘A lie repeated remains a
    Ie’ has disappeared, or at any rate I can’t find it.
    But then since she follows that up immediately with a lie, which is that ‘Homeopathy continues to work, as it has done for centuries’, perhaps even she realised the absurdity of her position.
    Or maybe it was an oblique admission of defeat, as in ‘Homeopathy continues to work, as it has done for centuries, I.e. not at all’.

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