MD, PhD, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd

The purpose of the study was to compare utilization of conventional psychotropic drugs among patients seeking care for anxiety and depression disorders (ADDs) from general practitioners (GPs) who

  • strictly prescribe conventional medicines (GP-CM),
  • regularly prescribe homeopathy in a mixed practice (GP-Mx),
  • or are certified homeopathic GPs (GP-Ho).

The investigation was an epidemiological cohort study of general practice in France, which included GPs and their patients consulting for ADDs (scoring 9 or more in the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, HADS). Information on all medication utilization was obtained by a standardised telephone interview at inclusion, 1, 3 and 12 months.

Of 1562 eligible patients consulting for ADDs, 710 (45.5 %) agreed to participate. Adjusted multivariate analyses showed that GP-Ho and GP-Mx patients were less likely to use psychotropic drugs over 12 months, compared to GP-CM patients. The rate of clinical improvement (HADS <9) was marginally superior for the GP-Ho group as compared to the GP-CM group, but not for the GP-Mx group.

The authors concluded that patients with ADD, who chose to consult GPs prescribing homeopathy reported less use of psychotropic drugs, and were marginally more likely to experience clinical improvement, than patients managed with conventional care. Results may reflect differences in physicians’ management and patients’ preferences as well as statistical regression to the mean.

Aren’t we glad they added the last sentence to their conclusion!!!

Without it, one might have thought that the observed differences were due to the homeopathic remedies. In fact, the finding amounts to a self-fulfilling prophecy: Homeopaths tend to be against prescribing conventional drugs. This means that patients consulting homeopaths are bound to use less drugs than patients who consult conventional doctors. In that sense, the study was like monitoring whether consumers who go to the butchers buy more meat than those shopping in a shop for vegetarians.

The only result that requires a more serious consideration is that homeopathically treated patients experienced more clinical improvement than those treated conventionally. But even this difference is not hard to explain: firstly, the difference was merely marginal; secondly, patients with ADD are bound to respond particularly well to the empathetic and long therapeutic encounter most homeopaths offer. In other words, the difference had nothing to do with the alleged effectiveness of the homeopathic remedies.

70 Responses to Homeopathy is effective for anxiety and depression disorders!!! Or isn’t it?

  • Stunningly mad attempt at logic.

  • And which is why this study was only published in a journal of alternative medicine.
    Quod erat demonstrandum. Res ipsa loquitur.

    A consultation with a homeopath about ADD (which can also stand for ‘attention deficit disorder’), is bound to have some effect on anxious patients. Some call it ‘TLC’.
    Homeopathic remedies have no discernible effect greater than placebos. i.e. – they are placebos.
    Homeopaths, and camees – get over it and move on, please.

  • I found this very interesting article regarding homeopathy, and the ‘fight’ against the constant stream of misinformation, in the comments section of another article. What makes it so interesting isn’t statements such as homeopaths claiming that “It is so great because it is so small, Then ‘twould be greater were it none at all”, but rather that this article was published in the Sydney Morning Herald in 1867. Nothing has changed since!

    http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/13152240

  • No Dr Rawlins. It is you who will be moving on-in due course naturally. There are just too many of us who like our homeopathy TLC. The Save NHS homeopathy petition which I first saw when Alan Henness surprisingly retweeted it, has already almost reached 10000.
    No sceptic petition could get anywhere near that number. Not enough of you.
    Plenty of people like magic tricks though.

    • JK, science is not a popularity contest.

    • @JK: I agree with your underlying premise: we humans seem to need magic…some just seem to crave it more than others. So the primary question persists: is it ethical for a ‘doctor’ to prescribe a placebo?
      Clearly since only 45% of the possible participants continued in the study perhaps more than 50% of us really don’t want to try a ‘magic’ treatment since we’d prefer to actually get real help?

  • Ah, that old “1.5 billion catholics can’t be wrong” line. Marketing is no route to reliable opinion, but it’s a great way of harvesting cash from those who don’t scrutinise the gibberish put to them.

  • Edzard

    “The only result that requires a more serious consideration is that homeopathically treated patients experienced more clinical improvement than those treated conventionally. But even this difference is not hard to explain: firstly, the difference was merely marginal;”

    For 20 years you and your team were paid by the Complementary medicine at Exeter. The requirement would have been to teach the practitioners of Complementary medicine, new evaluation processes, so that complementary medical systems could improve and find its rightful place. All you did was to bite the hand that fed you. Use every opportunity to run it into the ground. The question is, who really paid for your work for 20 years?

    “secondly, patients with ADD are bound to respond particularly well to the empathetic and long therapeutic encounter most homeopaths offer. In other words, the difference had nothing to do with the alleged effectiveness of the homeopathic remedies.”

    “Your hands on treatment in homeopathy” (?) showed lot of time spent on individual patient. You don’t remember one remedy indication from materia medica, neither the time you spent on your training, but surely remember this fact.

    Can you calculate the time taken for one patient where the doctor consults over 50 patients in an 8 hour shift? Does this time period qualify for the ” empathetic and long therapeutic encounter”? This is the time a senior doctor uses on a patient in his clinic or the clinic may not be economically viable.

    And if this is so important, and known to you for over 20 years, what has the expert done about it, other than misusing the information? Allopaths know you for what you are, have no belief either and do not follow your advise either?

    • by Jove you are ignorant!

      • This is called “ad hominem”?

        Try answering some questions instead with your 20 years of paid service for Complementary Medicine.

        • no, it’s called a fact

        • Fellow Iqbal, there is no such thing as “allopathy” or “allopaths“. When you begin talking about reality without distorting it to the extent needed (which is quite a lot in your case), so that it best suits your imagination (viz. cognitive dissonance), maybe you can regain a “worth-providing-an-answer-to” status.

          Until then, calling you ignorant when you demonstrably are is no “ad hominem“. Calling a doctor an “allopath” is… just as is calling someone anything that is the opposite of a word,
          which is (subjectively) imbued with positive connotations, even though only in your fantasy for the matter at hand.

          Finally, as there are multiple pieces of work after the same title, whenever you talk about your favourite Materia Medica, please try to use the epithet homeopathic in front of it, so that people in here can understand that you are unambiguously referring to that specific collection of uncontrolled make-believe toxicology experiments, scarce fragments of anachronistic knowledge and the latest advances in sympathetic magic, a sum total which is almost completely irrelevant to modern medicine.

          • James

            “…………there is no such thing as “allopathy” or “allopaths“.

            You, a little while back, located an important paper showing allopaths using homeopathic remedy in drug form. What happened to these allopaths after using the homeopathic remedy, they stop being allopaths? These guys are not supposed to use herbal remedies because of quality concerns, but that does not matter, does it?
            https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3760822/

            And it seems in India, other than homeopathic combination remedies, allopaths merrily recommend ayurvedic medicines like :LIV 52 etc.
            https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3757582/

            Every where they are referred to as allopaths. What is your problem? Try Googling “list of allopath doctors in Germany” and check results.

          • Fellow Iqbal, you can find many words on the internet. The fact that some people, places and articles kindly tend to your fantasies does not turn them into reality.

            It seems that in India, anything can happen. Doctors in India are heavily influenced by the health system guidelines, which merrily recommend homeopathy and various “fantastic” practices. I am afraid I will need more than a UII (Used-In-India) seal of approval to accept whatever it is that the word “allopath” means.

            Do we have any allopath with us in here? Anyone?

            The funny* thing with homeopathy practitioners is that they attack conventional medicine, saying that it should be avoided, and then they go on to sell their own special natural technology. Then they accuse others of greed over money. KEWL

            (*at least if one considers hypocrisy funny, that is…)

    • The requirement would have been to teach the practitioners of Complementary medicine, new evaluation processes, so that complementary medical systems could improve and find its rightful place. […] All you did was to bite the hand that fed you.

      So what you are saying is that the Professor should have fabricated results to please the sponsors. You really are not thinking straight, dear Iqbal.

      where the doctor consults over 50 patients in an 8 hour shift? […] This is the time a senior doctor uses on a patient in his clinic or the clinic may not be economically viable.

      …and you really have a limited insight in proper health care. You can without doubt find such examples in poorly regulated health care environments – like in India or Pakistan perhaps? But this notion of yours is in no way representative of or common in civilized health care environments.

      Apart from the inanity of your notions, the discussion here is about the efficacy of homeopathy, not about real medicine. Even if genuine medicine was twice as bad as you have decided to think it is (which is well below the truth) it would not make the play medicines of homeopathy work or justify replacing real drugs with shaken water soaked sugar pills.

  • It is just about personal experience and choice. You see I used to believe 100% in the NHS and EB medicine. My personal anecdotes are not important to you but they are important to me. Now like many others I chose when I use EB and when I use Camistry. The more you deny individual experiences with the EB mantra the more resistance you will meet by those whose experiences don’t fit in neatly with your paradigm.

    • This EB mantra… it’s called reality, you know. There is no room for the word paradigm in your sentence, as you are misusing the term, albeit unwittingly, I hope. Doctors that are all for reality (your EB mantra) don’t struggle to proselytize disbelievers, they struggle to help people live healthier lives. Nobody denies individual experiences here on the EB counter, it’s just that evidence-based medicine’s job is to provide treatments that help the majority of the people. Your personal anecdotes and individual experiences may not work for someone else. Massive volumes of anecdotally efficacious treatments have been thoroughly tested using state-of-the-art experimental designs and the most honest and reliable results have been accumulated and analyzed. Whichever treatment appeared to systematically help a significant majority of people for a specific condition, by providing benefits that reasonably outweigh the risks and adverse effects, was adopted and is in use. As for the rest, you are free to pick your placebo-of-choice, just make sure you don’t pay too much money.

      • Improve the reporting and data collection of trials and I might join you on the altar of EB medicine. Meanwhile I have had enough of your EB reality with some treatments I have seen that not only dont work as well as they are supposed to but are dangerous.

        • @JK
          The subject of this blog is what is mostly referred to as CAM, not EBM or problems within genuine health care and medical sciences. Your comment is typical of the incessant attempts by apologists of fake medicine replicas (e.g. homeopathy) to derail the discussion by bloated, very often wrong and sometimes beligerent referral to problems within real medicine. Such comments only serve to demonstrate the ignorance of the commenter and give an impression of intellectual inferiority.
          I suggest that if you wish to be taken seriously, you start by telling us why we should take your opinions seriously (e.g. education and experience) and then give us your opinion of the subject at hand, which has nothing to do with EBM.

          • The only reason I use CAM is because your wonderful EB medicine so often makes things worse. That is my point.
            Homeopathy helped me and if you want to call it placebo then fine. If you read the scientific lierature you will see Scientific Americam Power of placebo Dec 2010 and more recently University of Harvard/Basel study that placebo works even when the patient is told the medicine is a placebo. Note ‘even when told it is a placebo’! This is amazing and could revolutionise medicine. I believe that more work should look at this aspect of the placebo effect
            People like you are just going to say that they already know about the placebo effect and ignore the fact that the placebo effect may work even when the patient is advised it is a placebo.
            If doesnt fit in with your nice cosy EB belief system does it?

          • JK, of course it does. When an EB medicine is given, the patient gets the placebo effect PLUS the intrinsic effect. When a fake medicine is given there is only placebo effect. Remember that these studies only looked at pain, which is very highly affected by expectation. I don’t know of evidence that placebo can for example accelerate clearance of pathogens, or reduce malignant tumours.

          • @ JK
            The definition of “placebo” is simply an inert replica of a medicine or medical intervention. It is by definition useless, it has to be. Placebo is used in trials to control for the so called placebo effect, which is a complex mixture of confounding effects that may make it impossible to draw useful conclusions of the study. The main component in this confounding is called regression to the mean. In simple words, the part of the outcome that is to be expected if the intervention was useless. Older studies that tried to analyse and explain the placebo effect erroneously ignored this and infered that there might be a specific effect to be expected from the patient believing they were being treated with an effective intervention. This has later been convincingly refuted.
            If something has the same or similar effect as placebo means that it is useless, not that it has some mystical effect inherent in taking a pill and thinking it works.
            The childish nonsense initiated by Ted Kaptchuk about placebo having effects without the deception does not warrant discussion as it is based on what has been called tooth fairy science.

            I do not have time to find ref’s just now but suggest you have a look at David Colquhoun’s blog where you can find a recent post on the placebo question. Also look up papers by Hrobjartsson and colleagues and regarding your own positive experience from CAM I suggets you look up Barry Beyerstein’s classic article “Why bogus therapies seem to work.” It will change your mind, if it is open and educable.

        • That is fair talk on your part. I don’t deny the shortcomings of medicine. This is not robots, it’s humans doing the job. We humans have a tendency to screw up at times. We screw up in politics, we screw up in relationships, we screw up in science, we screw up in medicine. A good positive balance is the key to advancement. We do our best to screw up less often and succeed and be honest more often. You can join humanity in this direction.

          The one thing you need to take into account, is that you are comparing a real thing with nothing. EB medicine is guided by observations and reality primarily. Alternative medicine is guided by prejudiced belief in fancy ideas primarily. When people are guided by belief, they are far more prone to misconstrue evidence than when guided by observations alone. There are countless examples of how we misinterpret reality all around us if you wish to get a taste. What is hard, is to change our minds when faced with true evidence.

          Doesn’t it bother you that almost no alternative medicine practitioner ever switches back to reality after they take the turn? They hold very strongly to their beliefs, discarding most of the evidence, as if the gods of alternative medicine would punish them otherwise. So, as I said earlier, you should know, at least, that most alternative medicine practices do not have any specific effect on the body. I understand they can be fun at times, so, at least, try not to spend significant amounts of money on that.

  • Thank you very much for pointing to that remarkable study. Remarkable IMHO since it shows the flaw of many clinical studies (To be honest, I just read the abstract and didn’t download the whole study – our library refuses the free access to the journal).

    The premisses are so fuzzy that any result has no meaning. What does ADD stand for in reality? A bunch of symptoms which are in most of the case the result of multiple causes Furthermore the treatment within the three cohorts is not standardised. How is it possible that a study with this initial flaws passes review boards and is published by a publisher which has any reason to protect its scientific reputation?

  • I don’t know what happened to Mr John Benneth, I hope he is well though.

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

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

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

    End of quote

    It is worth asking: is conventional medicine efficacious in treating anxiety and depression?

    Dr Rawlins, may pop up with his favourite: no that is tu quoque. Aren’t you guys tired of hiding behind your wall of logical defenses for conventional medicine?

    Please just answer the question:is conventional medicine efficacious in treating anxiety and depression?

    Thank you.

    • “Aren’t you guys tired of hiding behind your wall of logical defenses for conventional medicine?”
      IS GREG NEVER TIRED OF RECRUITING TO MOST DELUDED HOMEOPATHS FOR HIS NON-ARGUMENTS?
      ” conventional medicine efficacious in treating anxiety and depression?”
      GO ON MEDLINE AND YOU FIND 81375 ARTICLES UNDER ‘ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION’;
      GO ON COCHRANE AND YOU FIND: There are 288 results from 9979 records for your search on ‘ANXIETY DEPRESSION in Title, Abstract, Keywords in Cochrane Reviews’
      WHEN YOU HAVE READ ALL OF THEM, COME BACK TO US.

      • Edzard: you stated:
        ‘My two favourite examples of end-stage homeopathic delusionists are John Benneth and Dana Ullman. The final stage on the journey from ‘sceptic scientist’ to delusional disciple is characterised by an incessant stream of incoherent statements of vile nonsense that beggars belief.’

        The point of writing blogs and comments is to state your view but what do you do: give me a reading list.

        I take it that if you don’t answer with something like: yes, conventional medicine is efficacious for treating anxiety and depression then it is because you can’t state it.

  • Edzard: where did I state a refusal to read the 81375 articles?

    Are you implying that because there is a LOT of articles on this topic that the questioned is answered as a ‘yes’ for you? You surely can’t be suggesting this because there are hundreds of thousands of books and articles on homeopathy that are nonsense; having more of something does not make it true.

    I asked for your view because I am interested to know what your answer is. If you don’t want to state it then it is not necessary to TRY to be insulting: all you need to say is 1. nothing 2. I don’t care to answer your question.

    Now, why is that difficult for you to do?

  • In future, Edzard it is better for you to say nothing. Period.

  • Are antidepressants better than placebo? I recommend listening to the interview with Irving Kirsch from this podcast:

    https://www.madinamerica.com/mia-radio-landing/mia-podcast/

    Of course, this doesn’t have a direct bearing on whether homeopathy is more than placebo, but it may shed some light on the broader context.

  • “Are antidepressants better than placebo?”
    An interesting question Tom. The correct answer is of course yes, when the correctly chosen antidepressant drug is properly used for the correctly chosen patient. The commonly ignored fact in a discussion like this is that antidepressant medications are many and varied and work on different types and situations of dosease. When used on the wrong indication such medications are not only useless but often worse than nothing (i.e. placebo) because drugs always have adverse effects. Using antidepressant medications for simple uncomplicated reactive depression may e.g. produce more problems than effects. It may be difficult to know if a drug will work beforehand, you may have to do a therapeutic trial. Antidepressants are commonly improperly used. That does not mean they are useless. That does certainly not mean replica medicine i.e. placebo such as homeoremeedies or acupuncture works.

    • I have to say you don’t paint a pretty picture of ‘real’ medicine @Bjorn – drugs that have unavoidable adverse effects, and which are commonly improperly used. And this despite all the checks and balances of EBM. Is it any wonder patients are tempted by alternatives?

      • It seems you have misinterpreted the premises somwhat Tom. When saying “many and varied”, it literally means a whole lot! Depressive disorder has a multitude of causes and it is not always easy to know which are in effect and which to tend to. Multiple biochemical pathways have the potential to cause similar symptoms when disrupted in isolation to others. However, sometimes they are disrupted in tuples, which makes it very hard to discern, even with exhaustive testing. This is why it is often unavoidable to at experiment with what works and what not. The most significant help of evidence is to direct the path of experimentation, i.e. what works more often, what should be tried next etc.

        Mental disorders (such as bipolar disorder, depressive disorder, etc.) are one of the hydras in medicine. However, it must be stated that a fair deal of progress has been made and a large number of cases is treated with more-than-partial success. EBM is doing great in that respect, compared to alternative nothingness. The primary reason patients are tempted by alternatives is not that EBM screws up, but because they are told so by alternativists all around them. Patients have long lost the ability to make informed choices because alternative whateverists are always on the run to blame medicine and offer alternatives (at a cost, of course).

        Two things must be kept in mind dear Tom:

        1) Anything and everything is blamed on doctors, but a far-from-negligible number of patients lie or hide the truth from the doctors (this is what happens when alternativists copiously disperse fear, uncertainty and doubt). When faced with trimmed evidence from patients’ accounts, doctors must play it as safe as possible. That is to say, anyway, that patients often don’t really help the situation and, in fact, make it worse. My opinion is that patients are less often to blame of couse, because they are usually the victims of this fear, uncertainty and doubt campaign against EBM by alternativists.

        2) Some alternative pseudomedical practices charge large amounts of money, usually establishing such a relationship that money flow is both high and steady over time. You should know that when patients pay more money, they get a higher placebo response, one that includes placebo and make-believe. Such a thing happens with home appliances, electrical equipment, clothes, and alternative medicine… You see, you have to justify to both yourself and others where all this money went. Nobody wants to be taken in as a sucker in real life. And this is why you hear ALL the time those anecdotes about best money ever spent. Patients lie even to themselves, which is also why you cannot always have an objective account of outcomes.

        A wrist watch has only one useful function and that is to show the time accurately. The rest is just various fairytales we fabricate ourselves, in order to socially justify the money spent.

      • @Tom
        You are of course free to interpret my words to your fit your commercial needs, but that does not make your “alternatives” any more worthwhile. I am always surprised how a seemingly reasonable person like you, can fail to assimilate simple and straightforward reasoning that harmonises with well known and established facts. All biologically active drugs and interventions have a potential for adverse effects. This should not be so difficult to understand. This is something we are constantly taking into account when using drugs. The fact that some medicines and other interventions are being sometimes misused and overused is something the medical community and sciences is constantly dealing with. Progress may be slow within medicine but it is ongoing and it has contributed to fantastic developments. In contrast, progress is practically non-existent in CAM, apart from the invention of new theatricals of course. Purveyors of health care pantomime, such as yourself, are of course prone to exagerate and misappropriate medical shortcomings to serve their marketing agenda, you are regretably no exception.

        Please Tom, instead of talking about problems in a complicated field of which you do not have the facilities to understand, try to show us credible proof of the efficacy of your needling and other oriental entertainment antics as antidepressant interventions ( apart from the temporary entertainment value of the accompanying theatricals, of course 😉 ), I am not aware of any.

  • There’s plenty I could say in response to the two messages above, but I really can’t be bothered with sarcasm and arrogance. I’m glad to say I’m in close touch these days with a fantastic group of medical professionals who are knowledgeable, open-minded, collaborative and humble. These are the traits that lead to real progress and the best outcomes for patients, and that’s where I’ll focus my energy.

    • Disagree with Björn Geir and His Royal Humbleness will advise that you don’t have the facilities to understand at his high level.
      Disagree with Edzard and you are a belligerent twit.
      Disagree with Dr Rawlins and you will have committed one or more logical fallacies.
      Disagree with James and you get a patronising, arrogant monologue.
      Disagree with Alan Henness and you will get a ‘bizarre!’ and/or a ‘good grief!’.

      This site is pure comedy.

      • Disagree with facts and reality and you have “JK”

      • So, because Tom used the word arrogance, you go on to assume it is valid. Did you actually read the comments? You know, just because you or aomeone else says something about someone, this doesn’t make it true. Instead of explaining in depth why you disagree, you go on making arrogant aphorisms…about arrogance. But this proves precisely one single point. You wouldn’t know arrogance even if it hit you right between the eyes.

        Now, take a step back, reread the comments, see how Tom exhibits arrogance himself by dismissing us saying that “he can’t be bothered” with , and then try to express an opinion of your own. Unless Tom is your therapist, of course.

        And, by the way, i spent a fair amount of time to write these comments here, so the least I would expect from you is to show me what exactly it is that you find patronizing or arrogant. Is it truth that hurts you? Certain things cannot be expressed in a much more polite way, unfortunately, especially when they are blatant violations of reality.

      • JK, this site is a circus but it can’t compete with : WDDTY (https://www.wddty.com/) on con. med.

        It is possible that Dr Rawlins has nightmares about WDDTY whilst it seems Edzard is trying desperately to keep readers focused on the foibles of alt. med.

        It seems to be the case that for persons stuck with illness, they are stuck between a rock and a hard place.

      • So, Dr. Greg, what is your prescription? Do you believe it is possible for us to revert this site’s “circus” status by agreeing more often?

        • James, the predictability factor is almost 1 that responses to pro homeopathy/alt.med comments will be according to what JK worked out:
          Disagree with Björn Geir and His Royal Humbleness will advise that you don’t have the facilities to understand at his high level.
          Disagree with Edzard and you are a belligerent twit.
          Disagree with Dr Rawlins and you will have committed one or more logical fallacies.
          Disagree with James and you get a patronising, arrogant monologue.
          Disagree with Alan Henness and you will get a ‘bizarre!’ and/or a ‘good grief!’.

          Well done JK.

          Maybe Edzard will ‘pass’ this comment to ‘publish’?

          • Well not precisely, but you were close enough there. Let me patronise a bit by correcting you (we have to stick to our roles, don’t we? The customer is always right):

            -The predictability factor is actually a book.

            -The probability, which is what you meant, is a lot less than 1.

            -What you wanted to say is also wrong but I won’t patronise on that, you are simply wrong.

            -The correct expression is:

            The conditional probability is almost 1 for the event (A) that responses will be according to what JK worked out, given the event (B) that the pro-homeopathy/alt.med comments implement a particular form of argumentation.

            Oh, and I would spare the word “arrogant” from the assessment, if you want to get close enough to 1 there.

    • @TK: Always interesting when low-level thinkers opt out of answering or discussing questions & viewpoints that are succinct, well explicated and perspicacious….they instead choose to “focus” on deliberately vague yet self-aggrandizing platitudes about how they are diligently “working with medical professionals and pursing the cause of improved patient outcomes”….
      Perhaps it IS best to shut up since any answer or ‘insight’ is doomed to be unimpressive, trite and typical.

    • I cannot really say there is too much arrogance or sarcasm in the two messages above.

      I really hadn’t actually taken any look at your webpage but… “qi” Tom? Et tu, Brute?

      Do you believe in this thing or you use it to attract customers from far-eastern countries as well?

      Acupuncture does not work for anything other than some degree of analgesia every now and then, especially when you disguise Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation (TENS) as electro-acupuncture. This is not a problem of open/closed mindedness, it is a problem of cognitive dissonance. There is a very simple fact:
      (quote from Do certain countries produce only positive results? A systematic review of controlled trials.)
      “[…] all trials originating in China, Japan, Hong Kong, and Taiwan were positive“.

      Your “fact sheets” over at your page reference trials from all over these countries. Can you not understand that it is impossible to have an entire body of completely uniform findings in medical research? Have you never worried about this singularity?

    • Kirsch is an advocate of open label placebos. If homeopathy and acupuncture etc were to be sold as such it would be a better situation than at present where patients are sold these treatments under false pretenses. Open label placebo trials have been represented as showing positive results, but close scrutiny suggests some massaging of the facts.

      • I should clarify that positive results in this context means open label placebos showing the same “benefits” as deceptive placebos.

  • I dropped in here to share an interesting podcast, an interview with Irving Kirsch, Associate Director of the Program in Placebo Studies and a lecturer in medicine at the Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. His reasoned opinion, having studied the evidence far more closely that any of us, is basically that antidepressants don’t work. I didn’t even present that opinion as my own, but felt it was relevant to the discussion. I also stated that the picture Bjorn painted of the state of conventional medicine was rather bleak.

    As a result, I’ve been told I ‘don’t have the facilities’ to grasp the complexities of the subject; I’m a ‘low level thinker’; it’s implied that my motives are primarily financial; patients are described as brainless, gullible liars; the material on my website is wildly misrepresented, and so on. MK perhaps sums up the situation best when he states that anything I might say is ‘doomed to be unimpressive, trite and typical’ – could you encapsulate the closed-mindedness of this community any more perfectly?

    ‘In the interests of patients, we need ‘a healthy dialogue between the medical and the acupuncture communities’’ (Ernst, E: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Edzard_Ernst/publication/7351167_Acupuncture_-_A_critical_analysis/links/5418219f0cf2218008bf2727/Acupuncture-A-critical-analysis.pdf).

    The Prof must be very disappointed.

    • Let’s commence a healthy dialogue then. Do you worry at all that China, Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan (the grand majority of your fact-sheet references) produce exclusively positive studies about acupuncture? What is your interpretation of this observation? Does it not paint a rather suspicious picture of acupuncture?

      Please, come round! I, personally, don’t mean any disrespect, I am just trying to understand your opinions on matters other than conventional medicine, which is under constant attack in here. Oh, and antidepressants are effective in my opinion, if prescribed properly and as part of a careful plan to detect responsiveness to medication as early as possible to make the proper adjustments.

      And, mind you, it is not closed-mindedness, it is just a group of fed-up people, who are exhausted of reading fallacious attempts at reasoning. I apologize on my behalf if you were insulted by my commentary, although I did not detect anything arrogant or aggresive in my responses to you. You may feel like you have found yourself under collateral fire, but try to understand that you are not helping the situation so much yourself either. So, better talk with questions and answers for a while. I have posed one such above, to begin with…

    • On second thought, I think it is very hard to have a healthy discussion, since you are wildly and almost malevolently misrepresenting what I told you. However, I will give you a break and explain a few things to the audience, just in case someone believes you.

      1) “Patients are described as brainless, gullible liars”
      Tom is way beyond his bad intentions by saying that. What I said, in simple words, is that some patients are confused by the alternative medicine attack on doctors of conventional medicine, and sometimes don’t tell everything important, or even lie to doctors. They may lie or hide the truth (as in not saying something because they didn’t think it was relevant) for a variety of reasons and this has the potential to complicate things for the diagnosis, at times leading to medical errors. The doctors are not always to blame for everything.

      Also, I said that human beings often enjoy vanity. When you buy 20$ worth of some L-carnitine or collagen supplement, you are going to feel a lot better anyway by it because the alternative is to feel that you have been tricked into buying it. The same goes with treatments. Whoever in here believes it is easy to accept and admit that you have been tricked when you spend 50£ for an unproven treatment, go on and correct me. If even this example is hard for Tom to accept, think about regularly consuming bottled water instead of tap water, just because… How can you explain to someone that he has been paying for merely a feeling of quality, rather than for something actually different? If even this example is also too difficult for Tom to accept, maybe he can understand in simpler and more familiar terms. Tom spent about 30,000£ for his 3 years of studies in acupuncture. How would he let anyone or anything make him believe it was even the least bit in vain?

      So, we sometimes spend resources (cf. money, time…) in futility (or despair) and then we fall victims of cognitive dissonance. We make believe that we feel better… And that’s how lots of anecdotes are born!

      You went on to say, however, Tom, that I said that patients are brainless, gullible liars. Are you serious? Don’t make accusations through oversimplifications.

      2) “The material on my website is wildly misrepresented”
      Did anyone else miss the word “qi” over there? Did I not see well?
      And do the fact sheets not make references that, in over 90% are from China, Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong? Did I miss something there?

      3) “don’t have the facilities to grasp the complexities of the subject”
      Really, Tom? A BSc in acupuncture (Hons) gives you the facilities to understand pharmacokinetics, brain physiology, molecular biology, and how antidepressants exert an effect on the body? Of all that I expected from you, this was a little too farfetched. For whomever feeling a bit annoyed by my certainty, allow me to share the type of knowledge taught to chinese medicine and undergraduate BSc (Hons) programmes in acupuncture (courtesy of dcscience), in which they have to, of course, successfully pass a final exam.

      Now, let’s move on to the health discussion with a second question. Do you think that electro-acupuncture has anything more to it than Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation (TENS)?

      • “I think it is very hard to have a healthy discussion, since you are wildly and almost malevolently misrepresenting what I told you.” The misrepresentation technique seems to be a common phenomenon among defenders of pseudo-medicine: see my comment, earlier today, on this thread.

        “Tom spent about 30,000£ for his 3 years of studies in acupuncture. How would he let anyone or anything make him believe it was even the least bit in vain?” (Upton) Sinclair’s law: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!”

      • @James, OK, let’s try again then. I’m sorry if you feel I misinterprested your original message. I won’t waste time going over that again – others can decide whether there was arrogance or sarcasm in there.

        Do I worry about results from the Far East? Yes, it seems highly likely that results from those countries can’t all be trusted. But that certainly doesn’t make me worry about acupuncture itself; it makes me consider such evidence with more scrutiny. A lot of evidence has emerged from other countries too.

        The fact sheets linked to on my website (produced by the British Acupuncture Council), are an attempt to present a summary of evidence, and while they may not be complete and may need updating, I think they’re a good starting place. As for your claim that the sited studies are ‘over 90%’ from the Far East, are you sure? I went through the first 5 out of interest, and found 13 out of 64, just over 20%. I haven’t gone through the reviews to see where all the included trials are from, but is it possible you’re exaggerating for effect? In a similar way, perhaps, to your claim that I spent ‘about £30,000’ on my training, which is completely wrong? Similar, in fact, to the way you link to a single exam paper from a different institution/course to pour scorn on my training? Who was it that said ‘Don’t make accusations through oversimplifications’?

        Yes, I spent money on my course, as any student of any course does. How much does a psychiatrist spend on training? Do you think that has any bearing on how they interpret the research, or is it just ‘alternativists’ that have this problem? As I’ve said several times before on this blog, I try to take into account all evidence (anecdotal, experiential, experimental) in order to help guide the way I help my patients. It’s one reason I drop by this blog.

        In response to a couple of your other points, no I am not a trained psychiatrist. How may people commenting on this thread are? (I’m not sure whether you are because you choose to hide your identity). Using that logic, nobody here has the facilities to understand it. And have you (or anyone else) studied Chinese medicine to degree level? If not, do you have the facilities to understand it?

        I asked a question that sparked all of this: ‘Is it any wonder patients are tempted by alternatives?’ I asked that because of the bleak picture Bjorn painted, but also because my patients regularly tell me they are looking for alternatives because of their experiences with conventional medicine. For the record, I am full of admiration for doctors – they have a complex and difficult job, and most of them no doubt do their very best for their patients.

        Can you provide your evidence for the statement that ‘The primary reason patients are tempted by alternatives is not that EBM screws up, but because they are told so by alternativists all around them’?

        P.S. I don’t use electro-acupuncture personally. I agree that the type of acupuncture used in any given trial should be made clear.

        • This is good, because I really wished to make my points, I wasn’t being arrogant or anything. I am sorry if you felt insulted or anything, this is definitely not the purpose of me or anyone else in here, elsewise, it would ruin the entire purpose of this site… as I understand it, at least.

          The fact sheets of your website, I rechecked, somewhat at least. The truth is I just opened one of the files and took a look, it so happened to be full of Chinese names. In any case, I stand corrected there. Also, there may be a considerable number of studies referenced, which stem from Far-Eastern trials, but even so, this is also probably not your own setting, you were simply collecting the data.

          The fact that I was wrong about the over 90% of the trials referenced being from the Far East does not automatically make me wrong on the other two assertions. First of all, did you follow the link provided? Let me quote:

          UK/EU FEES: £9,250 — INTERNATIONAL FEES: £12,500 — DURATION 3 YEARS.

          I just did the simple multiplication. So, if you did not spend about 30,000 pounds, it is not me who is wrong, it is probably the university that is wrong, or you had some kind of support or discount for whichever reason. I, however, do not know what they charged when you attended.

          With respect to the second assertion, you can feel free to correct me there. Was there any course regarding the endocannabinoid system, for example? Some kind of biochemistry anyway? You know, I linked the exam paper because I didn’t find other exam papers. The true question is, is that NOT the type of knowledge provided by the relevant courses? Qi and flow of life force through meridians, and weird linkage between different organs? And stuff… To be honest, if I wanted to criticize the specific courses in extent, I don’t think I would ever be able to do it as rigorously as David Colquhoun. In any case, the institution is very (notorious)familiar to most people in the premises, primarily Dr. Ernst. It is not like you can evade this type of questioning on your training. Personally, I don’t “pour scorn on your training“, I am just saying that if anyone is to apply treatments for therapeutic purposes, it would be nice for clients to rest assured that this “anyone” has been trained on how the body really works, which is not very effectively covered by the courses listed over there at your former institution. The university content is such, that you enter the programme with knowledge about foundational biochemistry (I hope this is what “foundation courses” include at least, under the name “Chemistry II: Bio-Organic”) and you end up receiving totally contradicting knowledge about life force flowing through meridians? How do you expect anyone in here NOT to be so skeptic?

          Yes Tom, if you were taught about Chinese medicine, which is fraught with pseudoscience, you cannot make mentions about degree levels and facilities to understand it. It is very well understood that, although it has some things to offer, it does not stand very well next to modern science.

          So, even if I was wrong and spurious about the assertion about the 90% of your cited studies being from the Far-East, which you tacked effectively, in excess of 50 words, and correctly of course, it does not follow that I would be automatically wrong about the other two assertions.

          To also clarify in extent (so that you and others don’t see any “arrogance” in that), you mentioned:

          […] my patients regularly tell me they are looking for alternatives because of their experiences with conventional medicine.

          This does not mean anything at all as a point. What are the chances that they wouldn’t tell you such a thing? You offer a shelter for whoever did not have success with conventional medicine. You cannot deduce that many patients look for alternatives because your patients tell you they are come to you because they were looking for alternatives. This is like a doctor deducing that a large number of people in the world are very unhealthy, because he/she has never met anyone healthy in his private practice (spoiler: almost exclusively, ill people go to the doctor, not healthy ones).

          So, if your patients regularly tell you that they are looking for alternatives because of their experiences with conventional medicine, you first need to consider what the other patients would also tell us.

          You requested evidence for what I said (“The primary reason patients are tempted by alternatives is not that EBM screws up, but because they are told so by alternativists all around them”). This should suffice to begin with. Also…
          when all alternativists keep ranting about how medicine doing more harm than good… What do you expect people around them are going to make of this? I, personally, already know people who won’t vaccinate their kids because they believe all this ranting (tip of the iceberg, anyone?).

          On the bright side, however, I think your site contains a fair level of honesty and standards. One thing I would like to point out to you, however, so that you can comment on it as well. You state in that webpage:

          However, when it comes to acupuncture, how do you apply a placebo needle? One attempt to provide a placebo control is to neelde some patients at ‘real’ acupuncture points, and others in places not considered as ‘real’ according to the text books. The problem with this is that putting needles anywhere has measurable physiological effects such as endorphin release, and therefore cannot be considered an inert placebo. This, in my view, is one reason why so many trials show little or no differrence between the ‘real’ and ‘sham’ groups.

          This last sentence there is almost like trying to have readers believe that the fact that so many trials show that (acupuncture is ineffective) “real” and “sham” groups don’t have difference in outcomes can be explained somehow and it is not a fact that needling just about anywhere provides the same (placebo) effect. Yes, it is well established that non-inert needling evokes physiological effects. But this means that the majority of the literature performed thus far is negative with respect to the significance of needle positions, and unreliable with respect to needling itself. Not that there is some “alternative” explanation. Also, I am not sure if you are aware of some long available alternative that has been shown enough times to be an effective inert placebo. Since then, evidence has been gathering and positive or tentatively positive effects were found in5 out of 32 Cochrane reviews, updated to 6 out of 21.

          This is not a very strong effect, I may dare say, and, more importantly, the availability of the improved placebo needles is not referenced on your research webpage, which, I believe, would be important to you (that’s why I wanted to bring it to your attention).

          All I wanted to say in the beginning is, however, that when one sets out to study the evidence, it is important for them to keep in mind the necessity of a plausible mechanism, with qi flowing through meridians really not being a very strong one. I would very much like to understand what is the mechanism that you believe underlies the potentially proposed effects of acupuncture.

          • 👍👍👍👍 All that’s left is the cryin’

          • @James

            ‘The truth is I just opened one of the files and took a look, it so happened to be full of Chinese names.’

            So not only did you use a tiny sample to jump to a sweeping conclusion, but you didn’t even bother to check whether the ‘Chinese names’ were people working in China or not?! Well, I genuinely admire your willingness to admit your mistake (not a common trait on this site I’ve found), but I can’t say this gives me much faith in the rigour of the other opinions you express with such apparent confidence.

            ‘The fact that I was wrong about the over 90% of the trials referenced being from the Far East does not automatically make me wrong on the other two assertions.’

            I completely agree – I wasn’t suggesting there was anything automatic about it. But your other two assertions were completely wrong/misleading anyway.

            ‘I, however, do not know what they charged when you attended.’

            Exactly! But you saw fit to make a public statement about it anyway! I took the course a decade ago, and not that it’s relevant or any of your business, but it cost me less than half what you suggested.

            As for the content of the course, as well as the traditional concepts of acupuncture (it would be strange if they weren’t included in a course teaching traditional acupuncture, wouldn’t it?), it also covers:

            Biology and Human Biology
            Chemistry I: Inorganic and Physical
            Chemistry II: Bio-Organic
            Anatomy and Clinical Skills
            Human Physiology
            Pathophysiology
            Research in Clinical Practice

            What you did was link to a single exam from a single topic, and not even from my course or institution! It’s very hard not to conclude that you care very little for the facts, despite your love of the scientific method. You seem to (somewhat ironically) cherry-pick whatever fits your agenda. I’m sorry if I sound annoyed and unfriendly, but I don’t appreciate people taking such liberties in a public forum.

            ‘The true question is, is that NOT the type of knowledge provided by the relevant courses? Qi and flow of life force through meridians, and weird linkage between different organs?’

            On to your mockery of traditional concepts. There was a strong theme of critical thinking taught on my course, and many ways of interpreting and using the traditional framework were presented. You’re welcome to laugh it all off – that’s your prerogative – but I don’t think a dismissive, cursory approach is likely to lead to much of value. I’d suggest the book ‘The Web That Has No Weaver’ as a good starting place if you wanted to develop a better understanding of Chinese Medicine, but I suspect you’d rather stick with your position. On a very simple level, what the TCM framework does is present a systems model of health and disease. Conventional medicine, despite all the wonderful things it has achieved, still has a tendency to compartmentalise. Chinese medicine has recognised for a very long time that there are complex interactions and connections between the internal organs, and that a person’s emotional state profoundly influences their health, for example. Of course, some of the terminology and concepts sound strange if you haven’t explored them (and even if you have). But in my experience, many people find the reframing of their health in these terms to be useful and empowering. And please note, I don’t present these concepts as ‘facts’; I present them as a conceptual tool.

            ‘I, personally, already know people who won’t vaccinate their kids because they believe all this ranting (tip of the iceberg, anyone?).’

            I’m not a fan of ‘ranting’, so perhaps we share some common ground there. But obviously there are legitimate concerns amongst the rants – I don’t think anyone is suggesting there aren’t serious problems within conventional medicine. In no way do I dismiss it – I value it tremendously – but I feel much could be learned on both sides through better dialogue.

            ‘the availability of the improved placebo needles is not referenced on your research webpage, which, I believe, would be important to you’

            Yes, it’s been a long time since I updated this info, and I will try to do that before long. But it won’t surprise you to hear I will have a different slant than you. As I’m sure you’re aware (unless you just dipped into one or two papers that seemed to confirm your own opinion) this is a complicated and controversial area. This paper explores some of those complications: Appleyard, I., Lundeberg, T., & Robinson, N. (2014). Should systematic reviews assess the risk of bias from sham–placeboacupuncture control procedures? European Journal of Integrative Medicine, 6(2), 234–243. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.eujim.2014.03.004

            ‘I would very much like to understand what is the mechanism that you believe underlies the potentially proposed effects of acupuncture.’

            Personally, I’m interested in any breakthroughs in this area, but I think we’re a long way from fully understanding the physiological mechanisms of acupuncture. Various ideas have been proposed, and perhaps all these and more are involved (Cabyoglu MT, Ergene N, Tan U. The Mechanism of Acupuncture and Clinical Applications. The International Journal of Neuroscience. 2009. Available from: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/figure/10.1080/00207450500341472?scroll=top&needAccess=true). I find Helene Langevin’s work on connective tissue mechano-transduction particularly interesting, as it seems to overlap with traditional approaches: http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/35301/title/The-Science-of-Stretch/#ref

            Perhaps in the end, we’ll have to agree that you see the evidence one way, because of your biases and opinions, and I see it another way, because of mine?

          • Dear Tom,

            let’s go over it again. Yes, I jumped to a sweeping conclusion because of prior experience on the subject. Yes, I made a mistake, so I apologized. Your using this mistake to assume I only make mistakes is a farfetched fallacy.

            I also didn’t say you paid ~30,000 pounds, your university said so. It appears they are charging more now after all. It’s none of my business, of course, how you spend your money, but I am glad to know you paid less than half, I don’t think it is worth 30,000 pounds at all. It’s relevant alright, because if you hadn’t paid for it, it would be easier for you to detach yourself from the farfetched claims. You have to make up for the money now, although I hope you have already compensated for your past spendings.

            A public statement is something DIFFERENT to some comment on some blog.

            I am glad the courses did cover basic anatomy, physiology and chemistry. The link I provided was not from your institution because I didn’t find one from your institution. I don’t have any agenda, only a fair interest in debunking pseudoscience. And I didn’t cherry pick… do you probably care to provide exam papers so that we can see what exam papers from your institution, in courses on chinese medicine, look like? Maybe a bit like this?

            I don’t mock traditional concepts. Their place is in history books. The perpetuation of their implementation in practice only serves to establish double standards in medicine.

            I have attempted to commence the reading of books on alternative medicine of various sorts, but I am so much baffled and disillusioned by the stuff I read that the feeling of wasted time usually takes over and detaches me. I don’t mind the historical aspects and I really respect the multitude of ideas ancient civilizations did come up with to explain natural phenomena of all kinds, including health-related observations. It is the natural course of events. But as time goes by, ideas serve to provide insight for better methodologies, and when new methodologies take over, they provide insight to more and more complicated methodologies. After a long time goes by, ancient ideas lead to ancient science.

            The primary problem here, Tom, is that my experience with science far predates my first experiences with alternative medicine and pseudoscience. The inverse chronological order was probably the case for you, maybe? And your mentor, maybe?

            When you start off with history, religion, philosophy, and get deep in the world of alternative medicine and its extraordinary claims, such as Ted Kaptchuk, you have to do things the right way (in your own mind of course). At least he did:

            How did you end up at Harvard Medical School?
            I was interested in science for a long time. In college, I studied religion and philosophy. Then I studied Chinese medicine in China and I came back and was a practitioner of Chinese medicine. When people became interested in alternative medicines, they asked me to help out at Harvard Medical School. I realized that in order to survive there I had to become a scientist. So I became a scientist.

            Critical thinking is an oxymoron when you study the things you believe in advance. You present these concepts not as facts, but as conceptual tools? Good, I hope you don’t use them in your practice then.

            About the sham needles performing very well as a placebo, I trully wasn’t expecting a lack of evidence to the contrary. There is a bunch of research and positive trials about homeopathy as well. This is not proof of efficacy, and isn’t proof of controversy either. Research continues to be carried on in incredible research fields, just like religions of all sorts have been carrying on with their existence for centuries on end. Speaking of the European Journal of Integrative Medicine, I wouldn’t expect to find criticism against acupuncture anyway. However, as you have shown your respect, I will make an attempt to read in depth the paper you have cited when I have the time.

            You are very honest when you state that you are interested in breakthroughs in the area of mechanisms behind the various proposed effects of acupuncture. You think we are a long way from fully understanding the physiological mechanisms. The theories of But your other mentor are interesting to you because you believe them in advance, as I said above.

            As for the ideas proposed, such as this, those are relatively consistent with the effects of puncturing yourself with pins and needles, naturally. What is even better, it demonstrates that acupuncture shares a number of mechanisms with sexual intercourse.

            If you like pain or its effects on the various mechanisms of the body, you can inflict it in whichever way you like. If a similar amount of research were carried out on the effects of rough sex on the various health-related conditions, the results would be much more promising. You wouldn’t want to replace some good wild sex with acupuncture, right?

            Perhaps in the end, we’ll have to agree that you see the evidence one way, because of your biases and opinions, and I see it another way, because of mine?

            By “my” biases and opinions, I suppose you mean the conventional scientific view on those things, right? Well, for me, it came natural that utterly incredible pseudoscientific practices started to smell from far away. I didn’t need anyone to take me by the hand on skepticism. When you see at many different levels and from countless various perspectives how the world functions, the appearance of information that conflicts with a clear and established view of reality in countlessly many ways would necessitate a significant volume of solid evidence to lead to revision or reconsideration. But what about your own biases and opinions? I think I do not misrepresent anything by simply quoting from your online webpage:

            […]. This lifestyle gradually took its toll. My asthma and allergies worsened, I developed various back, neck and shoulder pains, and my energy levels began to fade. Someone mentioned acupuncture, so I gave it a try. I was amazed at the results I got, especially for my aches and pains. I also felt more relaxed than I had for ages, and my energy levels picked up too.

            These experiences led me to look into the training options for acupuncture, and as it happens the deadline to apply for Westminster University’s acupuncture degree course was fast approaching, so I just went for it. I’m glad I didn’t have time to talk myself out of it, because I haven’t looked back since.

            You see, you got that part right, to some extent:

            I was amazed at the results I got, especially for my aches and pains.

            Acupuncture has some effect on pain and ache mitigation (simply by distracting the body with a new source of more diffuse, blunt pain-like disturbance, of course, but that’s another bedtime story). But the point is that you began to investigate something that you started believing in advance. It is impossible for you to be critical with respect to acupuncture Tom, you went after it and it is your job. It suits you to believe it works.

            On the other hand I think it would be fair to say, on my behalf, that I trust your honesty and integrity with respect to studying acupuncture and its efficiency. Judging by your comments, you make me think you truly want to know how it works and are prepared to employ careful and sound methodological standards, but you have long accepted that it does work. If you can take a step back and reconsider IF it works, prior to studying the purported ways and mechanisms and whether there is anything special to them to justify its use for conditions other than pain, and apply your objective methodological standards, you would reach a much more unstable conclusion. One of liquid evidence and mixed results. From then on, the “wishful thinking” part would come to you naturally. Liquid evidence and mixed results is the telltale recipe that screams: “It’s time to stop”.

            Your apparent determination and care with respect to organizational matters, and your meticulous mentality with respect to research kind of makes me sad that you chose to follow an area of wishful thinking. I get that rare melancholic feeling that you would have offered so much more if you had become a doctor instead…

    • Tom, this adticle will ( I hope) interest you, with ref. to I. Kirsch, a man famous for his tunnelnvision agenda against antidepressant medicines. Plenty of credible refutations, here one with eference also to your favourite pastime:
      https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/systematic-review-claims-acupuncture-as-effective-as-antidepressants-part-1-checking-the-past-literature/

      • Yes, interesting – I haven’t had a chance to read it all thoroughly, but of course there are other ways of looking at the evidence, and no doubt Kirsch’s viewpoint isn’t infallible.

        I was disappointed not to find any mention of cricket though (my favourite pastime).

  • @Tk:
    The ‘skeptic’ ‘can’t’ be imposed with the burden of ‘proving a negative’, or ‘disproving a statement forwarding a claim’….like western (rational) law one isn’t forced to prove their innocence. Thus when NO proof (or just the same old shit) keeps coming forward insults and a lack of civility are often a natural consequent….you must be used to it by now(?)
    Acupuncture, like Chiropractic has had AMPLE time to prove itself….but it only manages to supply lies, falsity and more intense circling-of-the-wagons….and always defended with unimpressive, trite and typical propositions.

    Rationalists (i.e. those who discount acupuncture as idiotic, made-up, implausible foolishness on a par with innumerable other specious human foibles driven by hoped-for aggrandizement and ultimately financial payoff to its purveyors) get viscerally sick by the apparent futility of those unwilling to be comprehensivly rational. These ‘folks’ always answering EVERY inquiry with zero value-propositions ANYONE with no real knowledge or insight would say e.g. “I don’t care what anyone says I know it works”….”science doesn’t know everything” and “god has imbued me with special insights”….blah, blah, blah.
    Much like the idiots claiming an alien-abduction NEVER have ANY real information about science….only that the aliens said: “we need to live in peace”….pseudoscience never says anything profound.
    IF you paid me (enough) to defend a rationally indefensible position (i.e. Acupuncture, homeopathy, detox, subluxation, Scientology, Sharia law, astrology, Mormonism etc etc etc) I’d say exactly what the defenders would say….I’d obviate, obfuscate and reiterate nonsense and use Tu quoque.
    I’ve never found a pseudoscientist that didn’t disappoint me.

    Why don’t you tell us of a pseudoscience YOU find utterly implausible and let us know what criteria and rational argument(s) you’ve used to make that determination….?

  • Haha James, I have heard of Maybot and Edbot but now we have a Jamesbot getting sniffy about predictability and conditional probability.

    Good grief, this is beyond your faculties: you are a belligerent twit:
    See Edbot: how to end discussions with belligerent twits.

    • You know, the alternative option is to allow all your lies, mistakes or misrepresentations to go unnoticed. I have not been programmed for that.

  • @James, I must say I’d feel more comfortable carrying on this discussion if I had some idea of who you were and what your background was. Care to reveal your true identity, or are you a masked superhero of skepticism?! I’m not sure what the costume would look like, but I’m sure the catchphrase would be in Latin 😉

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