Retraction Watch has alerted us to a “Paper urging use of homeopathy for COVID-19 appears in peer-reviewed public health journal”. The paper in question is readily available on the Internet. Here is its abstract:
Today, humanity is living through the third serious coronavirus outbreak in less than 20 years, following SARS in 2002–2003 and MERS in 2012. While the final cost on human lives and world economy remains unpredictable, the timely identification of a suitable treatment and the development of an effective vaccine remain a significant challenge and will still require time.
The aim of this study is to show that the global collective effort to control the coronavirus pandemic (Covid 19) should also consider alternative therapeutic methods, and national health systems should quickly endorse the validity of proven homeopathic treatments in this war against coronavirus disease.
Subject and methods With the help of mathematics, we will show that the fundamental therapeutic law on which homeopathy is founded can be proved.
Results The mathematical proof of the law of similarity justifies perfectly the use of ultra – high diluted succussed solution products as major tools in the daily practices of homeopathy.
Conclusion It is now time to end prejudice and adopt in this fight against Covid-19 alternative therapeutic techniques and practices that historically have proven effective in corresponding situations.
And the full conclusions from the body of the paper read as follows:
Today, it is imperative that ever-safe medicinal products such as homeopathic ultra – high diluted succussed solutions are tested in this pandemic. Epidemiological research has to be carried out to include homeopathic treatment and compare it to established treatments. Patients should be assigned randomly in two different groups of at least 200–400 individuals, and receive respectively established and homeopathic treatment. The evaluation of the results from both groups could reveal which group has a superior outcome in survival, general health conditions, etc., and to what extent.
If there were a competition for the craziest paper published on so-called alternative medicine (SCAM) during 2020, this one would, I am sure, win by some margin! The authors seem to have little idea of the nature of evidence in healthcare or medicine; and they use mathematics like a drunken man uses a lamp-post: not for enlightenment, but for support.
So, who are the authors of this showcase of pseudoscience?
They are D. Kalliantas, M. Kallianta, Ch. S. Karagianni from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, School of Chemical Engineering, NTUA, GR15780, Athens, Greece; the National Technical University of Athens, 9 Heroon Polytechniou Str. Zografos Campus, 15780 Athens, Greece; and the School of Dentistry, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens, Greece.
The first author has previously published weird stuff including a self-published book: Kalliantas D (2008) The Chaos theory of disease. Kallianta A Publications, Eleusis, Greece. On Medline, I also found this paper by two of the three authors:
Trituration is a mechanical process (a form of comminution) for reducing the particle size of a substance. In this manuscript, six different Raw Solid Materials (RSM) which are used in Homeopathy after successive grindings are studied before they are turned into homeopathic solutions. The impact of trituration, with the presence of α‑lactose monohydrate (milk sugar) seems to be quite great and interesting because of the variety of grain size which largely differentiate the properties of the materials. The grain sizes obtained triturations by hand according to C. Herring’s suggestion leads, finally, measurement scale dimensions. The obtained results can be useful information for all the pharmacy industries, as well as for preparing any kind of powder.
Sadly, this renders my suspicion unlikely that the new article is a hoax in which some pranksters were trying to show that any odd nonsense can pass the peer-review of a scientific journal.
And which journal would publish a paper that looks like a hoax but is none? It is the Journal of Public Health: From Theory to Practice (Springer). On the website, the journal tells us that:
The Journal of Public Health: From Theory to Practice is an interdisciplinary publication for the discussion and debate of international public health issues, with a focus on European affairs. It describes the social and individual factors determining the basic conditions of public health, analyzing causal interrelations, and offering a scientifically sound rationale for personal, social and political measures of intervention. Coverage includes contributions from epidemiology, health economics, environmental health, management, social sciences, ethics, and law.
- An interdisciplinary publication for the discussion and debate of international public health issues
- Includes contributions from epidemiology, health economics, environmental health, management, social sciences, ethics, and law
- Offers a scientifically sound rationale for personal, social and political measures of intervention
- 94% of authors who answered a survey reported that they would definitely publish or probably publish in the journal again.
The twice mentioned term SCIENTIFICALLY SOUND does not quite ring true in the present instance, does it?
“A couple of engineers and a dentist try to use MATHS to prove homeopathy will cure COVID-19. An excellent batty paper.”
Rejection of the nonsensical unscientific paper
That page is brilliant. Worth linking to, Edzard.
A lovely paper. It brings back memories of the Worm Runner’s Digest.
SCIgen would have done better.
My comment: http://scienceblogs.de/gesundheits-check/2020/07/27/von-trump-lernen-teil-18-fasse-dich-kurz-wenn-280-zeichen-reichen/
the paper is about to get retracted!
Has Dana been yammering about this paper anywhere? It would be fun to rub his nose in it.
not as far as I know.
We should also remember Dr. Hümmer.
But perhaps the “paper” itself is too fantastic and obscure even for these two gentlemen to accept it as proof of the effectiveness of homeopathy. Or they do not understand the mathematics behind it. Or both.
Not even the authors understand the mathematics. Belief in homeopathy and competence in mathematics are not compatible qualities.
I do not understand why so much scandal, even though the paper is somewhat chaotic, the equations are simple to understand something that deserves to be taken into account. The authors simply demonstrate that similarity reasoning is possible to be mathematically modeled. I read everything that has been written on Altimetric, a video, 3 blogs that talked about retracting it and several threads on twitter, but not one single refutes or criticizes the paper.
In the replies, mathematician professor Jevin West,co-author of the book Calling Bullshit (and posting under that name) rips the concept and the maths to bits. One of the paper’s authors also contributes.
Lenny, as I’ve told you repeatedly, you never bring anything to the discussion. A group of anonymous trolls making tantrums is not a refutation.
Er.. I’ve named the mathematician who systematically deconstructed the nonsense. The paper WAS RETRACTED because it was COMPLETE BOLLOCKS.
It’s strange, isn’t it.
Homeopaths claim evidence supports their medical claims.
The evidence-based medicine specialists explain why it doesn’t.
The homeopaths claim that chemistry supports their claims.
The chemists explain likewise.
Similarly the biologists, the physicists, the quantum physicists, the mathematicians..
Meanwhile you jam your fingers in your ears and shout “LALALA”
200 years, Popsykins. 200 years of being laughed at. The first 100 of which was without the competition of proper medicine and surgery. And yet still you claim validity.
Look at yourself.
You are right.
Bjorn, explain to me where you find errors in handling the equations.
This paper came to my attention yesterday, as someone who is not expert in the field of homeopathic treatment but who has found its treatments beneficial. As a physicist, I was drawn to the mathematical modelling aspects of the paper, only to find that the mathematics was very confusingly and unconvincingly presented.
Disheartened, I was about to re-read the paper… but instead did a web search for others who might have had the same experience…only to find the online heading: “Journal Will Retract Homeopathy-COVID-19 Paper – Medscape”.
This comes as a relief!
As a physicist, perhaps you should take some time off from your spherical cows and go find a chemist to explain Avogadro to you.
Maybe it’s the ‘theoretical” in his his official title, that went a bit off the rockers?