MD, PhD, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd.

In a previous post, I have tried to explain that someone could be an expert in certain aspects of homeopathy; for instance, one could be an expert:

  • in the history of homeopathy,
  • in the manufacture of homeopathics,
  • in the research of homeopathy.

But can anyone really be an expert in homeopathy in a more general sense?

Are homeopaths experts in homeopathy?

OF COURSE THEY ARE!!!

What is he talking about?, I hear homeopathy-fans exclaim.

Yet, I am not so sure.

Can one be an expert in something that is fundamentally flawed or wrong?

Can one be an expert in flying carpets?

Can one be an expert in quantum healing?

Can one be an expert in clod fusion?

Can one be an expert in astrology?

Can one be an expert in telekinetics?

Can one be an expert in tea-leaf reading?

I am not sure that classical homeopaths can rightfully called experts in classical homeopathy (there are so many forms of homeopathy that, for the purpose of this discussion, I need to focus on the classical Hahnemannian version).

An expert is a person who is very knowledgeable about or skilful in a particular area. An expert in any medical field (say neurology, gynaecology, nephrology or oncology) would need to have sound knowledge and practical skills in areas including:

  • organ-specific anatomy,
  • organ-specific physiology,
  • organ-specific pathophysiology,
  • nosology of the medical field,
  • disease-specific diagnostics,
  • disease-specific etiology,
  • disease-specific therapy,
  • etc.

None of the listed items apply to classical homeopathy. There are no homeopathic diseases, homeopathy is largely detached from knowledge in anatomy, physiology and pathophysiology, homeopathy disregards the current knowledge of etiology, homeopathy does not apply current criteria of diagnostics, homeopathy offers no rational mode of action for its interventions.

An expert in any medical field would need to:

  • deal with facts,
  • be able to show the effectiveness of his methods,
  • be part of an area that makes progress,
  • benefit from advances made elsewhere in medicine,
  • would associate with other disciplines,
  • understand the principles of evidence-based medicine,
  • etc.

None of these features apply to a classical homeopath. Homeopaths substitute facts for fantasy and wishful thinking, homeopaths cannot rely on sound evidence regarding the effectiveness of their therapy, classical homeopaths are not interested in progressing their field but religiously adhere to Hahnemann’s dogma, homeopaths do not benefit from the advances made in other areas of medicine, homeopaths pursue their sectarian activities in near-complete isolation, homeopaths make a mockery of evidence-based medicine.

Collectively, these considerations would seem to indicate that an expert in homeopathy is a contradiction in terms. Either you are an expert, or you are a homeopath. To be both seems an impossibility – or, to put it bluntly, an ‘expert’ in homeopathy is an adept in nonsense and a virtuoso in ignorance.

13 Responses to An expert in homeopathy – or a virtuoso in ignorance?

  • The problem, Edzard, lies with the dictionary definition of ‘expert’. Just as you say, “An expert is a person who is very knowledgeable about OR skilful in a particular area.” [my caps] But you then go on to revise that ‘or’ to an ‘and’. If an expert is someone who is merely knowledgeable about something, then you can have an expert in anything, regardless of whether it’s fantasy or reality.

    To give the ultimate example of an ‘expert’ in fantasy and wishful thinking, we have the name ‘theologian’ for someone who is expert in ‘theology’ — the practice of religious faith, practice and experience. If society finds ‘theologian’ acceptable, then I don’t agree with your case against an ‘expert’ in homeopathy (or any other faith-based pseudo-medical cult).

    I have sometimes used the term ‘homeopathist’ for someone who appears to argue in favour of homeopathy on the basis of their knowledge of Hahnemann’s writings and the Materia Medica. I’d argue this word is analogous to ‘theologian’.

    The basis of your case is the question “Can one be an expert in something that is fundamentally flawed or wrong?” Well, just google, for example, ‘astrology expert’. You’ll not be surprised to find plenty of hits, including this one, which explains how to become an astrology expert. The piece begins with the magic words: The only way to become proficient at Astrology, as with anything else, is to PRACTICE”, which resembles the nature of lots of comments on this blog from practitioners of many kinds of pseudo-medicine. (By the way, the comments on this link are a hilarious testament to the extent to which humans can delude themselves.)

    Bottom line: I fear that your arguments, for all that they represent an idealized position of right and wrong, ethical and unethical, fail on the grindstone of public understanding and dictionary definition of the word ‘expert’, which can mean merely ‘someone knowledgeable about something’.

    • you are correct, of course.
      there ARE experts in nonsense.
      my argument is that they should not be accepted as experts but as virtuosi in nonsense.

      • 🙂

        Of course, there’s always the definition of ‘expert’ that runs “X is an unknown person and a spurt is a drip under high pressure”.

  • In surgical humour, an expert surgeon is defined as someone who has made all the mistakes in the textbook and learned from them.

    By the same measure, an expert homeopath(-ist?) would be one who has made all the mistakes in Hahnemann’s book and not learned from them.

  • Vithoulkas is the true inheritor of Hahnemann. All other homeopaths know nothing and are doing homeopathy wrong. Sankaran especially. Or so he says.

    Courts tend not to view self-appointed experts in homeopathy as having any standing.

    As for being an expert in the research of homeopathy? Shining laser beams etc through water smacks of amateur desperation. See https://www.wrl-lab.org/ for a good example.

    One thing is for certain, many homeopaths are less than expert in medical or research ethics.

    • “All other homeopaths know nothing and are doing homeopathy wrong.”

      That is my understanding too. If you put 50 homeopaths into one room, there is only one thing they would absolutely agree upon:
      “There are 49 homeopaths present who never really understood homeopathy and consequently do not deploy “real” homeopathy.”

  • I couldn’t agree more!!!
    “An expert in any medical field would need to:
    •deal with facts,
    •be able to show the effectiveness of his methods,
    •be part of an area that makes progress,
    •benefit from advances made elsewhere in medicine,
    •would associate with other disciplines,
    •understand the principles of evidence-based medicine,.”

    All the above makes homeopathy fall exactly within your outlined criteria …homeopathy has extensive research done using doublé and even triple blinded research.

    “Scientific Research in Homeopathy: Advances and Challenges
    Triple Blind Randomised Placebo-Controlled Trial, Systematic Reviews and Meta Analysis, Evidence-base, Body of Evidence”

    https://drnancymalik.wordpress.com/article/scientific-research-in-homeopathy/

    Regards,
    Joe

    • so sorry, I forgot to mention: IT MATTERS WHO PUBISHES THE RESEARCH AND WHERE.
      Malik is hardly a reliable source and her blog is even less trustworthy.
      look at the original research studies and try a bit of CRITICAL evaluation.

    • I thought a triple-blind study was one where the randomisation key had somehow been lost.

      • A triple-blind study is one where the readers of the paper are also blind to the actual results. Judging by most papers of homeopathy trials, I would say this is quite a pragmatic and accurate characterization of homeopathy research… Nobody knows the actual results.

        I wonder how I didn’t come up with this earlier… 😀

    • https://drnancymalik.wordpress.com/article/scientific-research-in-homeopathy/

      I have followed this link and had a quick look at some of the studies referenced. I found keywords such as “quantum structure”, “holistic photons”, “homeopathic photons”.

      Many of the links were broken, so I was unable to view the studies in question.

      Some of the claims made in the others, if true, would describe such ground-breaking physics as to eclipse recent discoveries such as the Higgs boson or gravity waves.

    • homeopathy has extensive research done using doublé and even triple blinded research

      How…allopathic. You should be doing googleplex blinded research at the very least.

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