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

I am not usually a vulgar person, and I do apologise for the title of this post. But, in view of todays’ subject, some vulgarity seems almost unavoidable. This post is about homeopathic provings. In my book, I explain them in some detail:

The term ‘proving’ is a mis-translation of Hahnemann’s term ‘Pruefung’ which means ‘a test’. The English term wrongly implies that some fact is being proven. According to the International Dictionary of Homeopathy, provings (also known as ‘homeopathic pathogenetic trials’ or ‘Arzneimittelpruefung’ as Hahnemann called them), are defined as the process of determining the medicinal properties of a substance; testing in material dose, mother tincture or potency, by administration to healthy volunteers, to elicit effects from which the therapeutic potential, or material medica of the substance may be derived.

In order to individualise their treatment according to the ‘like cures like’ principle, homeopaths need to know what symptoms, or ‘artificial disease’, can be caused by the substances they prescribe. If they treat a patient who suffers from running eyes and nose, for instance, they would be looking for a substance that causes runny eyes and nose in healthy individuals. This is why remedies based on onion might be used to treat conditions like the common cold or hay fever.

But most patients’ complaints are usually a lot more complex. For instance, a person might suffer from frequently runny eyes and nose together with a whole host of other symptoms, many of which might seem trivial or irrelevant to conventional doctors but, for a homeopath, all complaints and patient characteristics are potentially important.

The first proving in the history of homeopathy was Hahnemann’s quinine experiment, which convinced him that he had discovered that this malaria cure causes the symptoms of malaria when taken by a healthy individual. From this observation he deduced that any substance causing symptoms in a healthy person could be used to cure these same symptoms when they occur in a patient.

Provings are normally conducted by administering a mother tincture or a low potency to healthy volunteers who subsequently note in minute detail all sensations, symptoms, emotions and thoughts that occur to them while taking it. These are then carefully registered and eventually form the ‘drug picture’ of that substance.

As a day goes by, we all experience, of course, all sorts of sensations without apparent reason, whether we have taken a medicine or not. Therefore, simple provings are not reliable and might not describe the specific symptoms caused by the substance in question. Realising this problem, most homeopaths now advocate conducting provings in a placebo-controlled manner hoping that this method might generate only symptoms which are specific to the tested substance.

Today thousands of provings have been carried out; most of them are of very low methodological quality. Their results have been published in reference books called ‘repertories’. Homeopaths, once they have noted the full range of characteristics of a patient, can look up the optimal remedy for each individual case. To ease this process even further, sophisticated computer programs are available.

So, essentially, homeopathic provings are experiments where homeopaths give a (often highly diluted/potentised) substance to healthy volunteers and ask them to monitor all sensations that follow. These symptoms are then recorded and eventually form the ‘drug picture’ of a homeopathic remedy. When prescribing a remedy, homeopaths essentially try to match the patient’s symptoms with the drug picture. This is why provings and drug pictures are so very important to classical homeopaths.

Now, imagine that you have just swallowed a substance and start paying attention to all the sensations you feel. As I am writing these lines, I would note all of the following:

  • mild mental irritation,
  • impatience,
  • neck pain,
  • back pain,
  • heavy feet,
  • hot feet,
  • slight ringing in right ear,
  • pressure on abdomen,
  • tickling nose,
  • sweaty hands,
  • acid taste in mouth,
  • need to pass urine,
  • feeling of need to wash hands,
  • itchy scalp,
  • acidity in stomach,
  • itch over right eyebrow.

These are just some of the sensations that come and go with everyday life; they are devoid of any medical meaning or importance. In homeopathy, however, they are elevated to something of fundamental relevance. As I have just had a cup of coffee, the above list could even be seen as a proving of coffea and a contribution to its drug picture. In turn, this would then determine how homeopaths prescribe homeopathic coffea. If others generated similar symptoms after coffee, some of the symptoms listed above might become the part of the accepted drug picture of coffea.

Many of the homeopathic provings are indeed based on little more than that. Modern provings are often conducted a little more rigorously, but there are tens of thousands of different remedies and the drug pictures of many are hardly different from my above-described proving of coffea. If you find this hard to believe, see what two homeopaths noted during a homeopathic proving of another remedy:

Domination and abuse are so intense that they lead to total suppression of oneself. The person develops intense hatred towards  the dominant person, as though they are being tortured. The intensity of the suppressed emotions produces other emotional, mental and physical symptoms: suicidal thoughts, aversion to company, panic attacks with lot of anxiety, low self confidence, arrested mental development, heart palpitations with anxiety, indisposed to talk, aversion to work, compulsive disorder of work, etc.

Low self-esteem and low self-confidence are associated with dependency and fear of failure.There is intense fear of failure and inadequacy, which leads to complete helplessness. This remedy also has aversion to self and a low self image. In this remedy, there are dreams/ thoughts of toilets.

Other symptoms include:

  • Ailments from sexual abuse and rape
  • Mind; colors; charmed by; golden/ colors; desires; golden
  • Delusion or image that body parts/ arms/ legs are smaller, and shortened
  • Dreams lascivious/ seduction/ necked people/ prostitution/ violent sex; Dreams; lascivious, voluptuous; partner, frequent change of/ voluptuous; perverse; girls, about little)
  • Dreams of dogs/ cats, felines
  • Fastidious; appearance, about; personal
  • Music; desires; drums

Believe it or not, the above text is taken from a published proving of excrementum canium – yes: dog shit!

This leads me to conclude that homeopathic provings (and, as provings are the basis for all homeopathy, with it the entire field of homeopathy) are BS.

70 Responses to Homeopathic provings: Bullshit about dogshit

  • The term ‘proving’ is a mis-translation of Hahnemann’s term ‘Pruefung’ which means ‘a test’.

    I’m not sure it is a mistranslation. The English verb ‘to prove’ originally meant ‘to test’, and its current additional and more commonly-used meaning is comparatively recent. This is reflected in the well-known proverb “the proof of the pudding is in the eating”, which is essentially an endorsement of an evidence-based approach. You will also find “nitro-proof” engraved on shotguns, meaning that they have been tested with (comparatively) modern explosive propellants which detonate more quickly than gunpowder. I’m told that my great-grandfather was killed when his shotgun exploded so this is clearly an important thing to get right.

    • I’m not sure it is a mistranslation. The English verb ‘to prove’ originally meant ‘to test’,

      Exactly so. In some contexts, it still does mean “test”, eg “proving” the dough when bread-making, or referring to “[xx%] proof spirit” wrt alcoholic drinks and lab ethanol (eg 190 Proof is 95% pure ethanol and 5% water).

      • Thanks to the above two commenters who have properly put the Easter in his place for spinning facts and fabrications in his best efforts to demean homeopathy.

        The fact that most modern provings are conducted with the 30C is ignored because this wouldn’t fit into his narrative.

        • not all are conducted in this way, Dana.
          and how many have been done in a totally uncontrolled fashion?
          thousands!

          • On what basis do you make that statement? None.

          • By reading published provings, Roger. It’s all out there. Were the early provings controlled? No. Are contemporary ones? None that I have read. There are few if any controls and virtually no blinding. It is utter nonsense. That you and others buy into it and continue to believe it is your problem, not ours.

  • Important post! The whole idea of homeopathic provings is far too rarely discussed by both critics and advocates of homeopathy. Homeopaths nearly always get away with simply asserting that “it is so”, but there is a highly complicated model of physiology that is implicit in this notion, that is even more fanciful than the fantasy physics and chemistry.

    Skeptics nearly always get distracted by swimming pools and and oceans and exponential numbers when debunking homeopathy, without realising they’ve just lost more than half their audience, as well as just confirming that “science still can’t explain how it works” etc. But homeopaths always try to duck this issue or cut discussion of it short.

    • Quit just discussing provings, and actually experience one. I have been not only not ducking the issue of provings but trying unsuccessfully to get the critics to do one. If you think it is fanciful, then do a proving.

      • imagine a pyramid money-making scheme that promises becoming a millionaire in 2 weeks. If you think it is fanciful, then try it.

      • They already did that in 1835, and the one thing this ‘proving’ proved, was the utter failure of homeopathic principles.

        • This 1835 “proving” gets trotted out all the time like it proves something. It is complete dogshit. No health history of the provers was taken. Who knows if the “remedies” were properly made; no evidence in the article. No supervisors for the provers. No evidence that the remedies were repeated properly. In a proving you dont just take the remedy or a vial of remedy once. It has to be taken repeatedly until new symptoms appear. You dont just give everybody the remedy and send them home and ask them later “Anything happen?”. Thats not a proving, sorry. Stop dumping this dogshit on us every time thinking it proves something.

      • Roger: “Quit just discussing provings, and actually experience one. I have been not only not ducking the issue of provings but trying unsuccessfully to get the critics to do one. If you think it is fanciful, then do a proving.”

        What would I learn by doing a proving?

        And why haven’t homeopaths researched their accuracy?

        • What would you learn by meditation, sky-diving, scuba diving…? Nothing, since you are so in-curious. Dont bother. You wont learn anything.

    • The whole idea of homeopathic provings is far too rarely discussed by both critics and advocates of homeopathy

      I absolutely agree. In fact, I think that this whole ‘proving’ circus is even sillier than the dilute-‘n’-shake business.

      Just think about it: a dozen or so healthy people take a homeopathic preparation, they record their experiences, and after a week or so any shared experiences are deemed to be the indication of this ‘new medicine’.

      Not only is a test group of just a dozen people woefully insufficient to say anything about the properties of a substance — this whole proving involves NO PATIENTS and NO ILLNESSES. The new substance is NOT tested on ANY patients!
      Yet homeopaths maintain that this is the best way to find new ‘remedies’ for all kinds of diseases and conditions.

      Yeah, right.

      • Sure! Much better to test an un-tried possibly dangerous chemical on a bunch of sick desperate people, who have all sorts of different symptoms but share a couple of symptoms that a room full of doctors decide to call a disease. But you trick half of the sick desperate patients by only giving them dogshit. First do lots of harm. That is the CON-MED way. And it works so well… Not. When you get really sick RichardR I recommend you go this route.

        A limited proving with a small number of healthy provers, sometimes without placebo control, is done because of the time and resources available. There is no NIH or CDC to dump billions into this work. There is no long queue of healthy volunteers to do the work. But it gives indications for how the new remedy can be used. In practice homeopaths flesh-out the Materia Medica of the remedy as it gets used successfully curing people. And in the process, when it fails, as it will necessarily, it harms no one.

  • IDK Edzard, both canine and bovine excrement are like gold real and tangible , homeopathy is just metaphysical charlatanism. I have much more confidence in the existence of excrement than homeopathy.

  • It always amazes me that ignorant critics of homeopathy are never willing to actually do a proving. Its a repeatable scientific experiment. Take the remedy and new symptoms, never before experienced arise, that wear off after a period of time. If it is a previously proven remedy, one will likely find those same symptoms in the Materia Medica for that remedy. Critics attack homeopathy without actually doing a proving which is the basis of homeopathy.

    I will point out some of the mistakes that were made by you and the critic that you are quoting:

    “Hahnemann’s quinine experiment, …. From this observation he deduced that any substance causing symptoms in a healthy person could be used to cure these same symptoms when they occur in a patient.”

    He didnt just “deduce” it from that one experiment. He and his colleagues spent years doing provings of various substances, and successfully treating his patients based on the principle of like cures like. He waited years to be convinced before publishing his results.

    “Provings are normally conducted by administering a mother tincture or a low potency to healthy volunteers who subsequently note in minute detail all sensations, symptoms, emotions and thoughts that occur to them while taking it.”

    In the early days Dr H. used tinctures for provings but provings are done mostly in medium to high potency now, with none of the substance remaining in the remedy. Prior to the proving a full case history of the patient is done in detail. In a properly conducted proving the provers have supervisors who do inquiry and noting of symptoms. At the end of the proving the organizer of the proving decides which symptoms are new to the prover and thus caused by the remedy being proven.

    “…we all experience, of course, all sorts of sensations without apparent reason, whether we have taken a medicine or not. Therefore, simple provings are not reliable and might not describe the specific symptoms caused by the substance in question. Realising this problem, most homeopaths now advocate conducting provings in a placebo-controlled manner hoping that this method might generate only symptoms which are specific to the tested substance.”

    Yes, placebo control is used in well-conducted provings and only the new symptoms that were not in the pre-proving history of the prover are considered significant. As the remedy is used in treatment over time, the symptoms that it cures become identified more strongly with the remedy. The Materia Medica for that remedy becomes more and more reliable with usage.

    “.. most of them are of very low methodological quality.”

    How was that determined? Read Jeremy Sherr or Paul Herscu’s books on proving methodology. They give quite rigorous methodologies.

    ” Their results have been published in reference books called ‘repertories’. ”

    They are published in detail in homeopathic Materia Medicas. Repertories are just indexes into the MM which simplify the expression of the symptoms for ease of access.

    “So, essentially, homeopathic provings are experiments where homeopaths give a (often highly diluted/potentised) substance to healthy volunteers and ask them to monitor all sensations that follow.”

    The “blinded” prover must monitor the symptoms but the (also blinded) Supervisor acts as objective observer. The organizer of the proving decides if the symptoms are new to that prover and should be considered as part of the Materia Medica for that remedy.

    “If they treat a patient who suffers from running eyes and nose, for instance, they would be looking for a substance that causes runny eyes and nose in healthy individuals. This is why remedies based on onion might be used to treat conditions like the common cold or hay fever.”

    This is a typical gross simplification of the homeopathic process. There are many remedies that have runny eyes and nose in the Materia Medica. One might even prescribe a remedy that is not known for these particular symptoms, if there were other more significant symptoms present.

    • yes, I know: one has to be very clever and highly trained to be a homeopath.
      DREAM ON!

      • Obviously you were neither highly trained as a homeopath nor clever, since you abandoned it without experiencing good results, so you wouldnt know.

    • If I were to break in a homeopath’s apothecary at night, randomly swapped the contents of all those little bottles containing ‘remedies’, and then left without leaving a trace, what do you think would happen?

      Let me tell you: NOTHING would happen. The homeopath would unknowingly prescribe all wrong ‘remedies’ to his victims, but his rate of ‘success’ would remain totally unchanged. Just as before, most people would get better, some people wouldn’t.

      Homeopathic proving is just a very silly part of the process of self-delusion that homeopaths go through. The only real effects of ingesting homeopathic substances happen between the ears of homeopaths(*) and in the wallet of their victims.

      *: Here’s one of my favourites:
      http://hpathy.com/materia-medica/proving-cynomorium-coccineum-hidden-treasure-wanted-known-created/
      Personal experience as a sensitive supervisor
      I experienced strong symptoms from the remedy even though I did not take it.
      (emphasis mine)

      I rest my case.

      • Conducted, I note, using Jeremy Sherr’s methodology as trumpeted by Roger.

        I see no hint of blinding. Or controls. Just reams of laughable nonsense. “someone became pregnant, against all odds, in the lead up to the proving” Wow! It’s that powerful that even thinking about it causes things! Truly they believe this utter crock of self-deluding garbage stacked upon further garbage. And they expect us to take them seriously. All it does is demonstrate in precise detail their utter foolishness. Dana keeps appropriate company.

        • I see no hint of blinding

          The only properly blinded proving that I know of is the famous Nuremberg salt test of 1835 I already mentioned – but perhaps Dr. Ernst knows of some more examples.

          In the dozens of provings that I lookup up on the Internet, blinding was either totally absent (as in: not mentioned at all), or used only for participants of the proving (so that the person collating the ‘symptoms’ still knew what to expect).
          Another great (if you can call it that) example was the proving of an old shipwreck. Unfortunately, it would appear that Mrs. English (the homeopath in question) has taken the Web page with a detailed report of the proving offline, but I recall that the participants’ descriptions of their ‘symptoms’ often read like literal excerpts from the ship captain’s log, as he struggled to prevent his ship from running aground. These provers knew exactly what to expect, and sure enough, matching symptoms promptly manifested themselves.

          But in my opinion, this absence of blinding in order to better experience ‘symptoms’ is only a minor bit of foolishness. The colossal stupidity is that these people are convinced that they can identify medicinal substances without testing on any real patients or conditions whatsoever.
          And even worse: many of these arrogant fools heavily criticize real medicine for all sorts of (mostly made-up) shortcomings.

          • The only thing proper about this 1835 so-called proving was that it was blinded. As I commented elsewhere the rest of it doesnt measure up to a proving. Stop dumping this crap on us.

            The collator of the proving Always knows who was blinded and who was not! They couldnt write up the proving results otherwise! Its the Supervisors and provers that dont know which is which.

          • The only properly blinded proving that I know of is the famous Nuremberg salt test of 1835 I already mentioned – but perhaps Dr. Ernst knows of some more examples.

            There have been others more recently, for example this one (warning: spoiler in title):

            https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14651731/

          • yes there are attempt. but the vast majority of provings on which homeopathy relies today are unbelievably flimsy.

      • RichardR – I am unsure as to who you are responding to as your post appears under Edzard – something about dreams (Frank Odds made a valid plea to commenters – make it clear who the response is for. I kind of lose the will working it out and it puts me off reading this blog sometimes)

        I want to make this point as you seem determined to instruct us, by way of the scenario of randomly changing contents of remedies, and the homeopath prescribing all the wrong remedies to his ‘victims’

        I don’t think we have quite reached the state that billions globally who use homeopathy consider they are victims. There is the possibility that the consumers benefit, or they wouldn’t use it, despite the sceptics’ view we are all gullible.

        My experience ( yes I know – your anecdote) is that in 45 years’ use of homeopathy with different homeopaths and self-prescription informs me that a remedy works or it doesn’t. The efficacy has nothing to do with the interaction with the homeopath: I have been ‘listened to ‘ to my heart’s content but the prescribed remedy hasn’t worked. Sometimes a homeopath has very little time for the ‘counselling’ : but good engagement to ‘get’ the correct prescription. Self prescribing isn’t easy, but works if the correct remedy is taken. I observe children who are not selecting their own remedies and have no concept of what homeopathy is, having absolute ‘cure’ or its totally ineffective. A good homeopath (and I have been fortunate in that regard) will tell you there is no middle ground: a remedy works or it doesn’t, and change your homeopath if it doesn’t.

        The remedy is what homeopathy is about : counselling, bedside manner, random this or that, regress to the mean, expectations etc – all those reasons the sceptics insist makes homeopathy sometimes efficacious is nonsense : according to my 45years’ experience- those little pillules work or they don’t. And when they do, as those billions of users know, we ask for more …….just like Oliver.

        • according to my 45years’ experience-

          Which translates as according to my 45 years of unverifiable anecdotes, enhanced by unknown levels of cherry-picking, subjective validation (aka false cause), confirmation bias, ignoring other plausible hypotheses…

          • experience is the name homeopaths give to their mistakes.

          • Steve Tonkin – from your high pedestal of CCTV viewing you know the process of my 45 years’ experience? It would be quite a skill if not so off beam: CCTV update ? Seriously assumptions don’t cut it. And the difference between you and me is that I wouldn’t want to or have the need to assume I know what you have experienced.

            Ah yes I know, the difference is sceptics of CAM have an all-knowing quality; maybe this could be used for good purpose – Heaven knows the world needs a good sorting. Meanwhile CAM users follow their own path towards wellness, assumptive comments meaning nothing.

          • @Angela, no idea why you chose to introduce CCTV into the mix – another diversion from your spectacular inability to provide even a single piece of evidence for the efficacy of your preferred species of fraudulent pseudomedicine, perhaps? For all your bluster and inability to comprehend the importance of things like subjective validation, this simple inconvenient truth remains and there is nothing you, or your fellow cynically exploitative snake-oil touts, can do that will make it go away:

            There is no such thing as an independently replicated robust-quality double-blinded randomised control trial that demonstrates that homeopathy is distinguishable from placebo for any condition or purpose.

          • Angela,

            Meanwhile CAM users follow their own path towards wellness

            This almost sounds to me like a religious statement. And sure enough, when you look at certain religions, even quite intelligent people manage to fool themselves about even the most obvious everyday facts, e.g. maintaining that our planet is only a few thousand years old, brushing aside a myriad of good reasons why they’re wrong, in order to stick to their false beliefs(*).
            Compared to this, believing in homeopathy is only a small folly. But as this blog is about SCAM and not about religion, we’ll stick to the former here.

            *: And yes, science also offers some very good explanations as to why people stick to their beliefs, regardless what those beliefs actually are.

          • From what I read of your comments our experience of homeopathy amounts to the equivalent of 45 minutes spent reading the Wikipedia article. Gets some real experience then lets talk.

          • From what I read of your comments our experience of homeopathy amounts to the equivalent of 45 minutes spent reading the Wikipedia article.

            ??? I made no comment about your experience. I neither know nor care what it is.

            As for my comments, they are based primarily on the simple inconvenient (for the snake-oil touts) fact that there is no such thing as as an independently replicated robustly conducted double blinded randomised control trial that demonstrates that homeopathy is distinguishable from placebo for any condition or purpose.

        • Angela,
          Up until about a century ago, homeopaths had the excuse of insufficient knowledge of the world around us, with good medical research and test procedures still largely in their infancy, so ‘there might be something to it’ (even though early 19th-century research already suggested that homeopathy was nonsense).

          However, in the light of our modern-day scientific knowledge, and research capable of detecting even minute effects, homeopaths really should know better – but instead of admitting that they have been deluding themselves for two centuries, these arrogant fools keep maintaining that homeopathy actually works(*).

          Homeopathy is 100% deception, fraud of you like, as not a single ‘remedy’ has been proven to work for any condition whatsoever – and no, not in individual prescriptions either. And yes, people who consult homeopaths are victims – if only of financial fraud, paying good money for something they’re promised but never receive: an effective medical treatment. And some people pay with their life for believing what homeopaths claim – I’ve seen one such case happen up close.
          For this reason alone, homeopathy should be treated as any other type of fraud, and homeopaths should be legally banned from treating sick people. But alas: fraud seems to be acceptable as long as you can fool a large enough number of people.

          *: And yes, we know how homeopathy ‘works’ – in fact, Dr. Ernst has written whole books on the subject, showing exactly how homeopaths fool themselves and their victims, with several well-known mechanisms providing perfectly ordinary explanations for why people often get better, or at least feel better (which is not the same at all!), after taking homeopathic substances.

          • RichardR – thank you for your considered (and polite comment) .

            You have an opinion based on your experiences, research etc. My opinion based on my experience is different. It’s what makes the world go round.

            Words are never the same as a face to face discussion : so many nuances, subtleties etc are lost in prose. Regardless of assumptions running free on this blog, it can’t be truth. Politely we agree to disagree as I don’t resonate with your comments, but respect them nevertheless.

            Just in case some of the less polite sceptics want to dive in, I am busy the rest of the day. Happy Sunday

          • Steve Tonkin – the CCTV comment was to demonstrate that , as you are inferring you know more about my 45 years of homeopathic use than I do, I assume you must have seen me experiencing them, therefore, using an aid.(all sensible people would know that saying that amounts to the same as making assumptions)

            The point is you cannot negate my 45 years (whatever I was doing) in a sweeping array of assumptions. Whatever the difference of opinion is, it is based on an exchange of words : this is a blog not the go to forum to be educated. And no you are wrong again, I have no fellow snake oil touts (in fact I have never met one and I am now in my eighth decade).

            If a judge sat before the billions of homeopathy users giving testimony of their experiences , he may say ‘mmmm weight of testimony informs me this is worth consideration in my summing up of the validity ‘
            The point is expounding the science is not working : :homeopathy, from where I am standing, is more popular than when I first discovered it.

            I hope you will forgive me for an add on – he is a fellow sceptic so sure you won’t mind and it saves me hunting the post down:

            Ron Jette – your post about marking and instructing someone about English language ( always the fall back on this blog to try and put a CAM proponent in their place) reminds me once again (apologies for the repeat story) of when I was assistant to the lead professor on the development of the early MRI system; it was incumbent on me to decipher ineligible writing and he had no interest or indeed knowledge of nouns, verbs etc, let alone placement. This professor is understandably revered for what he has achieved in the medical arena. A lecture on language would have got you an icy stare. Knowledge of language does not a professor make.

          • I bet the doctors who treated (and killed) George Washington with bloodletting aso had 45 years of experience.

          • @Angela

            I inferred nothing.

            You made claims that cannot be verified. Hence my comment about them being unverifiable is a truism and doesn’t warrant your ridiculous CCTV response. Every (ie not only yours) unverified human experience is subject to unknown levels of cherry-picking, subjective validation (aka false cause), confirmation bias, ignoring other plausible hypotheses, etc. Again, those are truisms, not assumptions.

            You do know what the word “unknown” means, I presume.

            And you have still not offered any evidence for the efficacy of your favoured species of pseudomedicine/snake-oil.

          • @Angela

            I know you appreciate my (repeated) plea for comments to indicate who they’re aimed at or responding to, but you’re carrying the system to straining point with your response to Ron Jette. He hasn’t posted even one comment in this thread! So you’re expecting readers to know what he said in some unspecified, other thread. Definitely overestimating my powers of clairvoyance: I daresay I’m speaking for others, too.

          • Pseudo-skeptics like you are unwilling to accept any of the research and case histories over the last 200 years that shows long-term homeopathic cures of serious chronic disease. Unwilling to participate in provings which are the underpinning of homeopathy. Happy to cherry-pick the evidence that “proves” their desired conclusion that fits with their paradigm. You can lead a horse to water but you cant make her think.

      • If you knew something about the process of homeopathy you would realize your break-in hypothesis is bullshit. With difficult cases homeopaths will give the wrong remedy initially, maybe even several wrong remedies in a row, (which have no effect or may cause mild proving of the wrong remedy) before giving a curative remedy. How does this square with the hypothesis that homeopathy is placebo? Does the patients faith in their practitioner increase with the number of failures? Not likely. As all therapists know after some period of failure patients move-on.

        The money that homeopaths make is the rounding error on the expensive confidence game that is CON-MED.

        If you think that a proving is a confidence game DO ONE!! Find out through direct experience.

        • @Roger

          “If you knew something about the process of homeopathy …” perhaps you could be kind enough to inform us who “you” is in this sentence, to save readers having to trawl up and down screens full of comments in an attempt to follow the context of this statement from the indentations.

          Do you realize you can right-click on the date in the header of a comment, select “copy link address” then paste the link in your response?

          “With difficult cases homeopaths will give the wrong remedy initially, maybe even several wrong remedies in a row…” Thank you for adding a new strand of hilarity to a topic that is already bursting to overflowing with ridiculous nonsense. What defines a “difficult case”? I wonder if it’s a patient who doesn’t respond to the first remedy prescribed so the homeopath switches to another?

        •  With difficult cases homeopaths will give the wrong remedy initially, maybe even several wrong remedies in a row, (which have no effect or may cause mild proving of the wrong remedy) before giving a curative remedy

          Or, put another way, the homeopath will give a stream of different magic sugar pills whilst the disease goes through its natural progression and then delude themselves that the last type of magic sugar pill did it when the patient recovers on their own. It’s called regression to the mean, Roger. Sometimes you make this too easy.

          • https://edzardernst.com/2019/09/homeopathic-provings-bullshit-about-dogshit/#comment-117165
            This regression to the mean bullshit is always trotted out. Serious chronic disease rarely regresses to a cure by definition. But you can look through the 200 years of documented homeopathy case histories to see lots of cures of the full range of disease including “incurable” diseases, or visit a modern day clinic and see them day in, day out. I have done so, why dont you?

            Yes, if breaking into a pharmacy and switching all the remedies around wouldnt make a difference, why would changing remedies in a chronic case of many years or decades duration, after several remedies have failed, suddenly lead to a cure? Did the patient patient suddenly get religion? It doesnt happen with allopathic CON-MED. Why would it happen with homeopathy so often?

            What is hilarious is your willful unwillingness to look at any evidence that doesnt fit your paradigm, including unwillingness to do a proving and experience it firsthand.

          • Strange isn’t it, Roger, how these magical curative powers seem to evaporate when homeopathy is subjected to correctly-conducted clinical trials.

            Have I got to do a proving?

  • Interesting titbit of information: dog poo was actually a valuable substance in the days before ‘cleaner’ chemistry was developed.

    This means that even dog poo was better than homeopathy in terms of usefulness …

    • have you ever considered seeking professional (i.e. non-homeopathic) help for these persistent delusions?
      do you have any idea how absurd they sound?
      and if homeopathy were in any way real how do you account for the contradictions that would cause with established facts of physics and chemistry not to mention sheer common sense?

      Also how is that no half competent RCT has been able to demonstrate that homeopathy is any better than placebo?
      There is also the rather inconvenient but rather amusing fact that when presented with a vial of their homeopathic silliness none of your practitioners is able to discern by any means whether it is a mildly potent dose of dog poo or a super potent dose of duck liver ONCE THE LABEL IS REMOVED – in other words the distinction between either of these “remedies” (or any other random one) and pure water is ZERO until the label is attached.

      Placebo controlled provings are an hilarious idea and about as scientific as the magical thinking in Hahnemann’s original “like cures like” fallacy. The whole “theory” of homeopathy is a fatuity hidden in an imbecility wrapped up in an inanity.
      It belongs in the same category as creationism, flat earthers and climate change denialism.

    • Thank you Frank Odds- a very good point – I got carried away with expediency to do other things. You are completely correct, apologies to readers.

    • Professor Ernst – have you betted that those that treated (and killed )George Washington had 45 years’ experience because my experience of homeopathy is around that number? Ok – but not sure what the statement tells me. I don’t know about blood letting, but do know that homeopathy helps me ( I am not a Homeopath). Exactly what are you inferring?

      It makes as much sense as – thank you FO for the heads up – as me posting a response to someone on the wrong thread , and the constant referral to aircraft and magic carpets.

      • “Exactly what are you inferring?”

        do you think I was inferring that experience is an ultimately reliable source???

        • Oh I see Professor Ernst – that’s crystal clear. Humanity experiences – it’s why we are here. Those experiences inform us. If science (and whatever RCT’s are current) doesn’t concur with billions of positive experiences, then something is amiss.

          From what I have read , even medical doctors are listening and acting upon patients’ experiences of their prescribed drugs. There is hope.

          • you are yet again demonstrating how many thing you have misunderstood. why don’t you just calm down, focus and try to learn?
            https://edzardernst.com/2012/11/what-is-and-what-isnt-clinical-evidence-and-why-is-the-distinction-important/

          • @Angela

            Humanity experiences – it’s why we are here. Those experiences inform us. If science (and whatever RCT’s are current) doesn’t concur with billions of positive experiences, then something is amiss.

            First; I don’t think any person knows why we’re here. The ‘why’ question is normally very difficult to answer in any context, and it serves no purpose in the present thread.

            Secondly, Angela, you’re missing the point, big time. What you think of as a positive experience is somebody’s subjective evaluation of an experience. That’s vulnerable to all sorts of problems: biases, misconceptions, lack of precise definitions and consistency.

            Scientific experimentation tries to narrow things down to a situation in which only one thing is allowed to vary. (The RCT is science’s least worst approach to achieving single-variable consistency for a medical problem.) When the outcome of an RCT differs from “billions of positive experiences”, nothing is amiss, just that billions of human beings had been fooling themselves, as ever.

      • @Angela

        the constant referral to aircraft and magic carpets.

        The only referral in this thread is your comment – hardly “constant”.

        • Steve Tonkin – ‘the constant referral ‘
          refers to the the amount of times over many years that sceptics use the flying carpet analogy when denigrating CAM.

          I personally don’t use it – the post was referring to this.

        • Professor Ernst – your comment is strange: you assume I need to calm down, I have misunderstood, I must try to focus and learn. And then the link …..

          I don’t want to assume, but it appears when a poster has other opinions you become personal. I am very calm and you have said nothing that changes my mind about my use of CAM.

          You see comments by sceptics comes nowhere close to negating experiences.

          But good luck with the endeavour : you have many onside Professor, so all is not lost: just me, and I am sure in your calm way you can take that for the team. Have a good day.

          • telling you that you misunderstand many things is not personal; it’s factual and constructive

          • Angela,

            I’m sorry you are taking people’s comments personally. This can make it very difficult to have a sensible discussion of any kind. Please be aware that any comments which cannot be supported by evidence are likely to be robustly challenged in this forum, and indeed that it the nature of any academic discussion. It in no way reflects how you are regarded as an individual. With that said, I do take issue with what you have to say.

            When a doctor starts a sentence “in my experience” you can be fairly sure that they have little other justification for what is about to follow. An individual’s experience is necessarily going to be limited and also coloured by their own interpretation, so please don’t expect anybody to be convinced by your conclusions from 45 years’ use of homeopathy. Even if you multiply that by a great many individuals it still stands true. As people are quite fond of pointing out here, the plural of anecdote isn’t data. What you have to say may shed some light on why people hold the beliefs that they do, but it does not help us decide whether those views are justified. A great many people believe all sorts of strange and contradictory things, and very often hold those beliefs dear.

            I would expect a politician to act on the beliefs of large numbers of people, but I would hope for better from a judge. Having said that, science demands a much higher standard of evidence than any Court (compare “balance of probabilities” from a Civil Court, “beyond reasonable doubt” from a Criminal Court and “seven sigma” before a physicist will publish his findings).

            I should also point out that in addition to the lack of good data to support the effectiveness of homeopathy, its basic tenets are also inconsistent with what we know of electromagnetism, atomic theory, physiology and pathology. This in turn is part of current scientific knowledge, which is consistent not only with observational and experimental evidence, but also forms the foundations upon which most, if not all, of modern technology is based. I will give as an example the MRI scanner, which could not possibly work if the ideas behind homeopathy are true, for instance the idea that that diluting something until there is nothing left, and then continuing to dilute it much further, can result in a remedy that has just the effects that the prescribing homeopath intends. If homeopathy does work, then all our scientists and engineers can just go back to the drawing board. This is why we ask for strong evidence (or indeeed any evidence at all) before taking your claims seriously.

          • ” its basic tenets are also inconsistent with what we know”

            Dr Julian, you just identified the basic problem of the pseudo-scientific criticism of homeopathy.

            Its based on what you know, or think you KNOW.

            MAYBE, just maybe there is something you Dont know! is that possible? Could it be? I realize science answered all the questions of the Universe a long time ago. But maybe they missed a thing or two here or there.

            That is why I keep asking for y’all to do a homeopathic proving. Then a little of your know-it-all arrogance might dissolve a bit.

          • MAYBE, just maybe there is something you Dont know! is that possible? Could it be?

            There are lots of things I/we don’t know. That doesn’t mean that every batshit (*) crazy notion that some fruitloop dreams up in an insanity-fueled nightmare automatically deserves credence. It aimply doesn’t.

            * Apologies, Edzard, for introducing another species of excrement into the discussion

            I realize science answered all the questions of the Universe a long time ago.

            You may think that, but no scientist does.
            Clue: The simple fact that scientists do science is sufficient evidence that they know they don’t know everything and that there are questions to be answered.

          • MAYBE, just maybe there is something you Dont know! is that possible? Could it be? I realize science answered all the questions of the Universe a long time ago. But maybe they missed a thing or two here or there.

            And here is the arrogance of the homeopaths. The refusal to accept what science tells them. Their magic shaken water which has been laughed at since Mad Sam dreamed up the concept, which has been failing to demonstrate its efficacy in properly-conducted trials since its inception, which only works when everyone else is looking the other way. All of science has to be wrong. Can’t be the other way round, can it?

            Ooh. Let me guess, Roger. Have I got to do a proving?

            You’re beginning to sound like a cracked record here.

          • Methinks this “Roger” character is repeating itself ad nauseam.

    • richard, I already said it was like gold earlier in the comments !

      • Dr Julian – to clarify (but thank you anyway) I don’t take people’s comments personally. What I said was ‘when a poster has other opinions you become personal ‘. You see when a sceptic says to a proponent of CAM ‘why don’t you just calm down, focus and try to learn’ it detracts from the subject in hand and is unnecessary. There is no added value. I don’t make those personal comments because of that reason.

        I know I am old in the tooth but many decades ago I sat (taking minutes) in meetings with scientists. I observed good debate ( and believe me it was important for the public’s safety that correct decisions were made) ; everyone respected others’ opinions and no one said ‘calm down, focus and try to learn’ even to me, a non-scientist who sometimes struggled with the terms.

        We have come a long way since those days of respect for fellow man. I will say that I take nothing personally on this blog as I save that if need be for the people in my life who mean something. I will reiterate that I think on a blog there is no need to be personal or unkind: the discussion would be so much clearer if the discussion stayed on point.

        Dr Julian because I have different opinions to most who post, either Professor Ernst bars supporters of CAM like me or sets the tone of tolerance for those with different views.

        I have read the rest of your post : thank you. I was told by a doctor many years ago ‘In my experience or rather my wife’s experience ‘(bizarre I know) when trying to persuade me to take a particular drug. Life is certainly a rich tapestry. Best wishes: as I have said before I have the greatest respect for our medical professionals, but I also think CAM has a place in good health, hence it’s popularity.

  • Some remedies I would like to see proved include the following:
    Bat shit
    Flying carpet

    Bat shit to compare with Dog shit and Bull shit

    Flying carpet probably has no relationship with the shit remedies but this subject keeps coming up on this blog. A proving will help clarify things
    Glad to be of help.

    • Dendra, why dont you do the proving yourself, if you would like to see it? I will provide the remedy. It would be a big help if you would provide some clarity here.

  • This comment system is a mess. Its impossible to manage which messages one is replying to, and very inconsistent.

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