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

We are all prone to fall victim to the ‘post hoc ergo propter hoc’ fallacy. It describes the erroneous assumption that something that happened after an event was cased by that event. The fallacy is essentially due to confusing correlation with causation:

  • the sun does not rise because the rooster has crowed;
  • yellow colouring of the 2nd and 3rd finger of a smoker is not the cause of lung cancer;
  • some children developing autism after vaccinations does not mean that autism is caused by vaccination.

As I said, we are all prone to this sort of thing, even though we know better. Scientists, journal editors and reviewers of medical papers, however, should not allow themselves to be fooled by overt cases of the ‘post hoc ergo propter hoc’ fallacy. And if they do, they have lost all credibility – just like the individuals involved in a recent paper on animal homeopathy.

Pododermatitis in penguins usually occurs after changes in normal activity that result from being held captive. It is also called ‘bumlefoot’ (which fails to reflect the seriousness of the condition) and amounts to one of most frequent and important clinical complications in penguins kept in captivity or in rehabilitation centres.

This veterinary case study reports the use of oral homeopathic treatment on acute and chronic pododermatitis in five Magellanic penguins in a zoological park setting. During treatment, the patients remained in the penguins’ living area, and the effect of the treatment on the progression of their lesions was assessed visually once weekly. The treatment consisted of a combination of Arnica montana and Calcarea carbonica.

After treatment, the appearance of the lesions had noticeably improved: in the majority of penguins there was no longer evidence of infection or edema in the feet. The rate of recovery depended on the initial severity of the lesion. Those penguins that still showed signs of infection nevertheless exhibited a clear diminution of the size and thickness of the lesions. Homeopathic treatment did not cause any side effects.

The authors concluded that homeopathy offers a useful treatment option for pododermatitis in captive penguins, with easy administration and without side effects.

So, the homeopathic treatment happened before the recovery and, according to the ‘post hoc ergo propter hoc’ fallacy, the recovery must have been caused by the therapy!

I know, this is a tempting conclusion for a lay person, but it is also an unjustified one, and the people responsible for this paper are not lay people. Pododermitis does often disappear by itself, particularly if the hygenic conditions under which the penguins had been kept are improved. In any case, it is a potentially life-threatening condition (a bit like an infected bed sore in an immobilised human patient) that can be treated, and one should certainly not let a homeopath deal with it.

I think that the researchers who wrote the article, the journal editor who accepted it for publication, and the referees who reviewed the paper should all bow their heads in shame and go on a basic science course (perhaps a course in medical ethics as well) before they are let anywhere near research again.

104 Responses to Post hoc ergo homeopathy – the sad story of homeopathically mistreated penguins

  • Homoeopaths are now pretending to treat penguins?
    Is there no end to their delusional thinking?

    What next, pretending to treat frogs for warts?

  • I think that the researchers who wrote the article, the journal editor who accepted it for publication, and the referees who reviewed the paper should all bow their heads in shame

    Good luck with that:

    Homeopathy. 2020 Dec 14.doi: 10.1055/s-0040-1716392

    It’s not scientific research, it’s articles of faith and should be reported as such. Reporting as animal abuse also wouldn’t hurt.

  • The most unhygenic thing about this article is not the funky pododermatitis (the cause of which has myriad etiologies) but rather the foul smelling bs the authors put forth.

    Pododermatitis is a very common condition in zoo animals avians in particularly susceptible (although it can occur in most all species) and has many contributing factors to its development (housing, nutrition, hygine etc…)

    “Infectious pododermatitis (bumblefoot) is a common disorder of birds. It can be either unilateral or bilateral and is characterized by lameness, inflammation, and swelling of the footpad due to localized bacterial infection. Sequelae of infection can include chronic pododermatitis, septicemia, or amyloidosis. It can occur due to injury, infection, inappropriate substrate, obesity, or unilateral limb problems (trauma, arthritis) that result in excess and abnormal weight bearing on the contralateral foot. Treatment includes correction of the primary problem, local and systemic antibiotic and symptomatic treatment, and in more advanced cases, surgery.” from: https://www.merckvetmanual.com/exotic-and-laboratory-animals/zoo-animals/common-disorders-and-procedures-of-zoo-animals?query=pododermatitis

    It seems a breach of the veterinary oath:
    “Being admitted to the profession of veterinary medicine, I solemnly swear to use my scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society through the protection of animal health and welfare, the prevention and relief of animal suffering, the conservation of animal resources, the promotion of public health, and the advancement of medical knowledge.

    I will practice my profession conscientiously, with dignity, and in keeping with the principles of veterinary medical ethics.

    I accept as a lifelong obligation the continual improvement of my professional knowledge and competence.”
    from: https://www.avma.org/resources-tools/avma-policies/veterinarians-oath#:~:text=Being%20admitted%20to%20the%20profession,of%20public%20health%2C%20and%20the

    to abandon science and embrace disproven treatment modality when treating those who cannot speak for themselves.

  • How does the homeopathic vet evaluate the totality of symptoms from a penguin? And using the same remedy on all the birds? What happened to individualisation?

    As ever, a load of self-delusional cobblers from those with a belief in the magic powers of shaken water.

    • “How does the homeopathic vet evaluate the totality of symptoms from a penguin? ”
      Stupid question. The same way a regular vet evaluates the totality.
      “What happened to individualisation?”
      For the same species, the same condition, same symptoms expressing the same way, you might use the same remedy.
      It is individualization.

      What is delusional about seeing the birds cured of a Chronic (non self-limiting condition)?
      Lenny, as usual, not willing to accept something that doesnt fit in his mechanistic paradigm.

      • Either you understand homeopathy and therefore don’t use it
        or
        You use it and therefore don’t understand it.

        YOU, ROGER, BELONG TO THE LATTER GROUP

      • But Roger, as we know, the homeopathic evaluation is far deeper than the narrow, reductionist allopathic one and is vital in the selection of the correct remedy. How is the homeopathic vet to know if the penguin has been feeling as if it is being pulled in many directions by strings or is suffering feelings of isolation during the full moon or a sensation of heaviness after eating smoked meat?

        This “trial” was a shameful exercise in supervised neglect. That you are unable to recognise this is to be expected from a fully signed-up member of the cult of magic shaken water.

        • Lenny, your ignorance of homeopathy is boundless. I can show you cases of homeopaths curing people who initially were comatose. They pulled them out of coma and returned them to health. No feelings involved or discussed. The totality of the case is as much as is presented by the patient.

          So it doesnt matter that the penguins were cured? Only that they werent treated by your preferred medical therapeutics? That is how you define neglect? Seems to be the attitude of the entire tribe of the SS (So-called Skeptics) – medical fascism. That is pretty callous.

          • @ Roger

            please DO demonstrate the comatose patients being recovered by homeopathy. This I would like to see!

          • Yes, that was my thought too!

            By the same token, or at least by a ‘similar’ token, perhaps there is a homeopathic remedy that can produce general anaesthesia?

          • Yeah, right, Rog. Sure you can. And of course you can prove that it was homeopathy which did it.

            Homeopathy. Doing f**k-all for 200 years whilst the patients recover on their own.

            Homeopathy is to medicine what rain-dancing is to meteorology. And until you can substantiate your fatuous claims with robust evidence, we will continue to mock you.

            Prepare for the mockery to continue, Rog.

            Or should I do a proving?

          • I see Roger has resorted to Reductio ad Hitlerum, so I guess it’s all over for science now.

            Checkmate, Allopaths!

          • The claim that homeopaths pulled persons out of coma and returned them to health is so extraordinary that we must surely ask you Roger, to comply with the Red Banner at the top of the Blog, and supply evidence.

            I think it would be appropriate if you made no further posts until you have supplied the requested evidence on this matter.

          • Case of Coma: To be called suddenly to take charge of a person in a comatose state is not a pleasant experience, and as usually it is impossible to get the “history” of the case, a prescription becomes largely a matter of guess work. A case of this sort was that of a young married woman… I was called, as a dispensary physician, late one night to see a woman, whose family I had known for a couple of years, and whom I had treated several months previously…. I found her lying on the bed, surrounded by her weeping relatives, who were expectant of her immediate demise. She already looked quite corpse like. Unconsciousness was complete, respiration was slow and shallow, and the pulse radial, imperceptible. The eye did not respond to bright light, nor did pricking with a needle elicit any evidence of sensation. The extremities were cold, the features shrunken, and the whole appearance as of one who was quietly slipping out of a life …. The only additional facts obtainable, beyond those obvious to the eye, were that she had been slowly sinking for several days, and had gradually fallen into the state in which I saw her. I did not consider it would be of any use to give medicine. And that a constitution never over robust had been weakened, probably beyond repair, by continuous semi-starvation. Yet it would seem heartless not to attempt to do something, and urged on by her sisters, and guided by the peculiar enlargement of the pupil of the eye, an enlargement which displaced the entire iris, I put some pellets of belladonna 200 on her tongue. … in about a quarter of an hour the eyelids which had been closed, twitched slightly, and soon after opened slowly; respiration gradually became deeper and somewhat more frequent; the pulse could again be felt faintly at the wrist; and although there was little change in the death-like appearance, and no evidence of returning consciousness, life was being taken up again… Next day when I called about noon she was sitting on the edge of the bed eating…

            Obviously just placebo and return to the mean.
            American Institute of Hom. journal, G.W.Winterburn

          • “Obviously just placebo and return to the mean.”
            nothing obvious here, except it was neither placebo or regression towards the mean. most likely natural history – it would also happened without your placebo.

          • Here is a link to a list of several cases of comatose patients treated with homeopathy.

            https://hpathy.com/?s=coma

          • and is a link to several Grimm’s fairy tales
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grimms%27_Fairy_Tales

          • @ Roger

            “Here is a link to a list of several cases of comatose patients treated with homeopathy.

            https://hpathy.com/?s=coma

            you still don’t have a clue do you?
            I don’t think you are safe to let out without a responsible adult by your side……..

            anybody can write up this junk – it’s not even photoshopped – it’s just scanned in with the homeopathy stuff added!
            you could have put aliens or anything else in here just as easily!
            do you believe every old bit of rubbish these people feed you?

            In the UK we used to have a newspaper that ran front pages with pictures of WWII bombers found on the moon and stuff – must be real cos they actually had PICTURES! They had loads of these on the front page!
            And some folks used to believe it – just like you.

            Sorry to break it to you – but these idiots are dangerous. they are claiming they can cure coma and cancer with water and sugar cubes. It’s not only daft – it’s irresponsible. In the UK it’s illegal to claim you can treat cancer unless you’re a proper doctor.

            Ever heard of critical thinking?
            And I keep telling you – quoting blogs, books, adverts, websites (especially of ALL things a homeopathy website???????) or kiddy story books – DOES NOT COUNT AS EVIDENCE of anything.
            (did you seriously think that anyone here was going to be impressed with this credulous pap on a homeopathy website of all things? this has to be the absolute least credible site on the entire internet anywhere! this rates as less credible that Breitbart or Fox news!
            It is doubtful if there is a single thing on here that is credible or anything that is in fact true!
            It is a cornucopia of lies, distortion of reality and sheer piffle.
            It is a horrifying testament to delusion, misinformation and malpractice.

  • the other thing that always gets me is that SCAM artists always shout “but it can’t be a placebo effect – placebos can’t work in animals!”

    but they ignore the fact that placebos work very well on animal OWNERS and VETS – and SCAM artists usually forget to double blind any of their ususally crappy studies – so animals wind up getting subjected to all this nonsense courtesy of HRH and other idiots. I especially object to pets getting stuck with needles because of this nonsense.
    Horse chiroquackers are a thing too – hilarious!

    • John.. you didn’t used to work for Warner Lambert, did you?

    • Ranchers are businessmen who use homeopathy on their herd animals. They dont have time or the finances for something that doesnt work. You cant tell me Placebo works on a herd out in the field.

      If you have a chronic condition that is well known not to heal without intervention, then a treatment that works has an implied control group.

      I would assume that this condition would lead to rapid mortality. I doubt that they felt they had the luxury of doing a double blind study.

      • @ Roger

        – what evidence do you have that ranchers use homeopathy on a large scale?

        – as I have stated before the placebo effect works on HUMANS not on ANIMALS – please keep up!

        – many conditions getter better spontaneously – this gives the illusion that homeopathy works – post hoc ergo propter hoc – this fools SCAM artists all the time – confirmation bias

        – reversion to the mean – many conditions are variable and get better and worse. if they revert to the mean after an exacerbation and this coincides with a treatment this gives the post hoc fallacy appearance also

        – people are easily fooled into thinking that things work. there is a long history of perfectly useless “therapies” that have ultimately been shown to have zero therapeutic value. for centuries blood-letting was the sine qua non of treatments but it was actually harmful. and of course these days millions of people use homeopathy believing it to work yet we know it is perfectly useless!

        • https://www.trhomeopathic.us/
          https://www.acresusa.com/products/homeopathy-in-organic-livestock-production
          https://www.earthsongranch.com/equine-nosodes-homeopathics/
          https://8oclockranch.com/blog/blogbeyond-organic/
          https://quiviracoalition.org/susan-beal/
          I have certainly heard claims that using homeopathy on animals is placebo effect. But as I stated you cant be convincing if you claim there is placebo effect at work on a herd of animals. Maybe for an individual pet .

          The definition of a chronic condition is that it doesnt spontaneously remit. It requires an intervention to be cured _by_definition. When a group of animals has a condition that is chronic (rarely remits spontaneously) and is cured by an intervention, you have to assume that the intervention cured.
          So reversion to the mean is the Canard that the So-called Skeptics always trot out when homeopathy cures.
          So-called Skeptics are easily fooled by this nice scientific sounding language.

          • @ Roger

            you are truly hilarious! like all homeopaths you haven’t got the faintest clue as to what constitutes evidence.
            your links are all to books or blogs etc – which just spout the beliefs of like-minded homeopathy believers like yourself.
            The fact that these idiots believe this stuff is just evidence that there are more easily gulled people like you in the world and that they can publish their rantings – it is NOT evidence that their delusions are true!

            truly you are as deluded as you appear to be as evidenced by your demented postings.
            properly conducted trials by contrast do show EVIDENCE that homeopathy DOES NOT WORK. PERIOD.

            Furthermore the whole notion of homeopathy is based on principles of magical thinking which defy logic and science and common sense. Ask any eight year old.

          • Roger:

            The definition of a chronic condition is that it doesnt spontaneously remit. It requires an intervention to be cured _by_definition.

            I think you are using a different dictionary from the rest of the world.

            I was taught at medical school that chronic conditions generally go through periods of relapse and remission. I was also taught that they cannot be cured (by definition).

          • john, my claim is that Ranchers cant afford to use medicine that doesnt work. They are businessmen who cant afford to misperceive what is happening to their herds. I am not saying that this is proof, other than proof that they use it extensively. I am assuming that they see it working.

          • @ Roger

            “john, my claim is that Ranchers cant afford to use medicine that doesnt work. They are businessmen who cant afford to misperceive what is happening to their herds. I am not saying that this is proof, other than proof that they use it extensively. I am assuming that they see it working.”

            How incredibly scientific of you. You hear about something somewhere and just because of that you “assume” it must be working. I have heard a lot about the earth being flat whereas I never hear anyone talking about it being a sphere – so on that basis I guess it must be flat after all.
            Do you believe everything you hear?

            I think your lack of critical thinking abilities might account for your uncritical acceptance of homeopathy with all its inherent contradictions and implausibilities. Did you ever consider that for centuries blood-letting was considered to be the therapy of choice for just about every sickness and was believed to work? They continued to use it in spite of the fact that it DIDN’T work and patients died. By your logic they should have stopped using it but they didn’t.

            Logical fallacies among other things can make people believe things work when they plainly don’t – I have explained this to you before. But you seem to have a comprehension problem. Some successful businessmen are highly superstitious and will only make deals of certain days or in certain amounts based on Feng Shui or numerology or Astrology – they may attribute their success to their superstition but it IN SPITE of it instead and they might be more successful if they could jettison their silly beliefs. Nonetheless they continue to believe. Just like a gambler always believing that the next throw of the dice will be the one that will make all his money back.

            Your “belief” in homeopathy is not based on reason or logic or scientific evidence – instead it akin to a religious faith and it is obvious that you have no interest in seeing any of the scientific evidence around you. You are only interested in the confirmation biased “truth” the one true religion of homeopathy and its founder the holy Hahnemann.

  • A legal decision determined that the CDC never did studies to show that vaccines given in first 6 years of life did NOT cause autism. So the CDC may be lying when they claim vaccines dont cause autism. They dont know. They never studied the issuue for these early life vaccines.

    • what has that to do with anything?

    • The CDC also never did studies to show that vaccines given in the first 6 years of life did NOT cause Incredible Hulkism. (Just ask Dr Jim Laidler.)

      However, if vaccines were causing Incredible Hulkism at a rate higher than that of the general population, this would have been detected during trials or post-trial monitoring. In addition to the trials themselves, there are multiple active and passive reporting systems whose job is to detect and investigate possible adverse effects throughout these and other medical products’ entire life cycles. I mean, really; if Hulks really did start Smashing at statistically higher frequencies, it would be very hard to ignore. Unless you’re one of those conspiracy wombats who thinks there’s a some vast global coverup being orchestrated by Lex Luthor and Gorilla Grodd or something like that.

      Therefore, I must declare your brainless irrelevant wibble to be so much penguin poo, and I only feel sorry for all the poor penguins who had to stand in it long enough to get a footrot that only Homeopathy† can cure.

      But anyway, how is the weather on Htrae today?

      † As opposed to, say, regularly cleaning their pen and changing out the water; because really, this is Husbandry 101, you lazy bums.

      • The CDC is legally required to do the studies that they are not doing. The CDC admits that VAERS reporting only catches _maybe_ 1% of the adverse events. They dont publicize VAERS because the dont want to scare people away from vaccines. Half of their budget, more than 4 Billion, is devoted to buying and selling vaccines. The scientists and their heirs can earn as much as 150k per year from vaccines they develop. The CDC is heavily invested in vaccines both literally and figuratively. If you want to trust them on the issue, feel free. Most of us are not so stupid to trust such a corrupt system.

        The reporting during trials is extremely short term.

        • The CDC admits that VAERS reporting only catches _maybe_ 1% of the adverse events.

          Mild AEs are underreported. This is a known phenomenon, and understandable: what GP is going to write tickets for every itchy arm? Serious AEs—i.e. the ones that land in hospital which we do need to know about—are not.

          And, as already noted, VAERS is not the only post-market monitoring system. The US alone has four.

          Now, are you going to keep making stupid unsubstantiated claims about everyone else, or are you going to stick to making stupid unsubstantiated claims about yourself?

          Because if you’re going to play these stupid tu-quoque games, then you can start by telling us how many in-trial and post-market monitoring systems the 10Bn dollar global homeopathy industry has to catch AEs arising from its products, such as smell-destroying Zicam and baby-destroying teethers. Because I’m wagering as with everything else homeopathic (except for its profits), it’s a bit fat stenching ZERO.

          • I had a client whose child progressed normally until age of four, had a vaccination, regressed and at age 12 when I first saw him could not talk, only made random motions, wore a diaper and had frequent seizures. I wouldnt call that Mild. They had no idea about VAERS. Doctors and nurses typically dont tell their patients about VAERS during vaccination visits.

            After working with him with homeopathy the seizures reduced dramatically. Of course that was all placebo, reversion to some imagined mean or whatever.

            There is no need of a monitoring system for homeopathy. In the 80’s the NIH investigated its records for all the reported incidents of adverse events from homeopathy. The found a handful. Its not a game; put your attention and efforts in cleaning up the house of your own preferred medical system which is killing, maiming and bankrupting millions. The benefits will be enormous compared to your paltry game of scaring people away from CAM.

          • has, you are showing one anecdote of failure of production. It says nothing about the industry’s track record, nor does it imply anything about my honesty.

          • @ Roger

            ” It says nothing about the industry’s track record, nor does it imply anything about my honesty.”

            Homeopathy and honesty do not go well together – anyone selling substances that contain nothing of what is on the label and who believe if fairy magic but still take money from gullible patients have a serious problem with honesty.

            You keep trotting out miraculous “cures” on here but provide not one whit of evidence – where is the honesty in that?

          • Roger: “you are showing one anecdote”

            Also Roger: “There is 200+ years of well documented cures of Chronic disease with homeopathy.”

            And this is why one cannot reason with homeopaths: they cannot even be consistent in applying their own standard of evidence. Never mind consistent in their belladonna dilutions, which caused “anecdotal” FDA recalls and “anecdotal” dead babies.

            I strongly suspect the only thing that isn’t anecdotal in Roger’s alternate reality is the miracle power of his fluids.

          • Nothing stupid about revealing the perfidy of the CDC. Always happy to oblige.

            ICAN, through its attorneys, has obtained documents from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) which evidence that the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) purposely prevented the reporting of vaccine adverse events to the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS). The documents produced show that as of early 2007, the CDC had “strong interest and enthusiastic support for” a Harvard project intended to automate the creation and submission of reports of vaccine adverse events to VAERS. The CDC explained that this effort to automate VAERS reporting “will constitute an important, exciting, and long-awaited advance in the field of vaccine safety.” HHS even provided $1 million in funding to Harvard researchers for this project who then created the system and tracked adverse vaccine events from 2007 to 2010. The researchers identified 35,570 reportable reactions in just 376,452 vaccine recipients (9.4%)! They also determined that “fewer than 1% of vaccine adverse events are reported.”

            After the Harvard researchers made these shocking findings, the investigators on the project explained that, “Unfortunately, there was never an opportunity to perform system performance assessments because … the CDC consultants responsible for receiving data were no longer responsive to our multiple requests to proceed with testing and evaluation.” Despite initially expressing overwhelming support and enthusiasm for this project, the CDC refused to cooperate to finalize the system after realizing that automating VAERS revealed a high rate of adverse events after vaccination.

            Had the CDC cooperated and had this project been completed and the system utilized, it could have been used and perfected for a decade prior to the administration of COVID-19 vaccines, for which an automatic, adequate surveillance system is so desperately needed. It also could have significantly increased knowledge regarding vaccine safety, potentially preventing numerous injuries to infants, children, and adults.

          • @Roger: Once again for the hard of reading:

            Mild AEs are underreported. This is a known phenomenon, and understandable: what GP is going to write tickets for every itchy arm? Serious AEs—i.e. the ones that land in hospital which we do need to know about—are not.

            The only perfidity here I see is Bigtree, Wakefield, et al trumpeting “ONLY ONE PERCENT OF REACTIONS REPORTED!!!1!1!!” as a shock title without actually stating what that really means. Because doing so would require honesty and nuance, and as we well know antivax grifters have none.

            This is just a variation of good old Argument from Incredulity, lying by omission then playing up the suckers’ blind rage and confirmation bias to keep them pliable, profitable, and not asking any searching questions about what that claim really means. Which, admittedly, is not hard to do, because conspiracy theorists are the biggest rubes: able to detect vast, complex conspiracies absolutely everywhere and in everyone… except for the squalid little conspiracy they’re caught up in themselves.

            Ol’ Andy and friends are laughing all the way to their bank. Laughing at you.

  • “placebos work very well on animal OWNERS and VETS ”

    This is a good insight.

    I think the worst version of this is when an animal in PAIN is given an ineffectual scam treatment and the providers stand around patting themselves on the back congratulating themselves on how much they are helping the poor animal.

    • Any evidence for veterinarians and their clients being so lacking in empathy as you suggest? Or is that just your fevered imagination?

      • Zeel product would be a good example of scammers profiteering off of the pain of animals https://www.petplace.com/article/drug-library/drug-library/library/zeel-by-heel-for-dogs-and-cats/

      • @ Roger

        what an obtuse response.
        It’s got nothing whatever to do with empathy! The very obvious point is that the placebo effect is working on the pet owners and the vets -QED! Not on the animals.
        I know SCAM artists are not the sharpest knives in the drawer but I didn’t expect to have to spell this out.
        When the vet or owner know that Fluffie is getting Nux Vomica or whatever then they are influenced by that knowledge and their expectations and subsequent evaluation of the pet’s improvement is thereby subjectively changed. Post hoc ergo propter hoc. It must be the homeopathy whot done it!

        How you managed to drag empathy into it baffles me – but then nearly all of your incomprehensible dribblings baffle me. I realize that anyone who believes that diluted water and pure sugar pills somehow have magik properties must have some serious comprehension and reasoning limitations – but really it would be a good idea to try to engage your brain before touching the keyboard.

        Do let me know if you require any further explanations regarding how the placebo effect works for homeopathy or any other SCAM – of course it is always nice to display empathy towards patients even furry ones -but that has got nothing whatever to do with the point that I was making.
        Do try to pay attention!

        • Talk about obtuse, john, you must be as dense as the So-called Skeptics come. You are saying that it appears to work according to the vets and the owners while it isnt working on the animals. That means that the animal continues to suffer and the Vets and Owners lack the empathy/awareness to realize they are still suffering. I am asking you to give some evidence. Did you understand that?

          • I’ve now read, with sympathetic amusement, the a-method-of-ending-discussions post from 2017.

            I should like – with suitable acknowledgement to Dr Rawlins for his expertise in devising apppropriate new vocabulary – to suggest a small change of terminology:

            “Evangelists” means, literally from the ancient koiné Greek, good news messengers.

            Those making bad arguments about modalities without evidence, are not that. I therefore proffer “Cacangelists” – bad news messengers. Bad news.

          • @ Roger

            no I am afraid that you remain obtuse Roger – what you fail to understand is that part of the placebo effect is that people will see what they want to see.
            It is well known that patients often want to please their therapist and are reluctant to say that a therapy is not working – especially if the therapist is personable and obviously trying to help them. This is one of the many reasons for using placebos in the first place and for properly conducted trials being DOUBLE BLIND.

            So you see you are still woefully failing to grasp the point about placebos and the mechanisms of properly conducted studies.
            Another factor is that therapists – including vets – like to believe that their treatments work. SCAM therapists are particularly prone to this effect. Accordingly any person treating a patient or a pet is more likely to believe that a treatment has worked if they personally administered the treatment and if they in some way have an investment in that treatment e.g. they believe it works.

            For this reason double-blinding is a big help and it also helps to have a different practitioner assess the effect of the therapy from the practitioner who administered it.
            Even owners and vets who are very anxious to help animals are prone to these effects and the fact that you are quite unable to see this is just evidence of your totally unscientific approach to every question that you address.

            I am sorry Roger but your thinking is illogical and muddled. You approach every question from an emotional and irrational angle and seem to believe that you can use gut instinct to get to the obvious answer to every problem.

            The fact that a pet owner for example wants the best outcome for their pet is no assurance that they are the best person to assess the best practitioner or whether or not the pet is in fact improving on any specific treatment.
            As another example scientifically minded vets often use a special contraption which allows for a dog to put each paw on a different pressure plate which measures how much weight the dog is placing on each leg – this shows the degree of lameness. This allows for a re-test to show if in fact any therapy is producing an improvement or not – which is much more valid than vet or owner saying “I’m sure he’s walking a lot better on that leg now that he’s had “X” treatment”.

            Real scientists allow for the fact that we can all be fooled by bias, logical fallacies and many other things. The trick is to use science to try to obviate these things to get at the real truth.
            OTOH SCAM artists like homeopaths claim to treat the “whole person” and the “underlying cause” while disingenuously asking the patient for a long list of SYMPTOMS and then doling out magik sugar/water potions – the indications for each of which is curiously a long list of SYMPTOMS!
            There is nothing genuinely holistic about homeopathy and it is not remotely even a system of medicine – it is a rag-bag of ridiculous placebos with even more ridiculous names looking for a purpose.

        • You are using the same argument only being more verbose. Use a hypothetical example of a pet owner going to a vet with a pet having a long-standing abscess. They give the pet a homeopathic treatment and the abscess does Not improve. The owner and the vet go “that was a wonderfully successful treatment”, because of their faith in homeopathy? They are too lacking in awareness/empathy to see an open wound?

          If the abscess cleared up very quickly after the treatment you always have to assume it was Not the remedy because you have a religious belief in the mechanistic paradigm?

          Let me know when the mechanistic paradigm can explain consciousness.

      • Roger, if you are really objectively interested in the possible links between vaccination and autism, you should look at the very large Danish study which compared the incidence of autism in 2 groups, one of which refused all vaccination and another which accepted vaccination. The incidence as I recall was identical. I think that you might also be interested in Charlotte Moore’s account of having two autistic sons; she looked at the family tree and found ancestors known for their odd behaviour, something which a friend of mine realised when her son as diagnosed as having Asperger’s. She said to me, it was a relief to know that this was what was so wrong with his father, and that was why we broke up!

        • Here is a rebuttal to that study:
          https://thevaccinereaction.org/2019/04/a-scientists-rebuttal-to-the-danish-cohort-study/
          1. Children were notably missing from the study sample
          2. Many of the children in the sample were too young for an autism diagnosis
          3. Failure to eliminate those with autism related to genetic conditions from the sample
          4. Use of two different MMR vaccines
          5. Failure to control for the “dosage effect”
          6. Statistical method failed to capture those children with a delayed diagnosis of autism
          7. Vaccinated male siblings of children with autism show more autism diagnoses
          8. Conflict of interest of the study authors

          • Roger

            If there were problems with that paper as rabid antivax loon Brian Hooker claims, the paper would have been retracted. Because that’s what happens with such papers.

            It hasn’t been.

            Let’s see if we can find a paper which has been retracted, shall we? Oh look.
            here’s one

            Let’s look at it. Oh! It’s a paper by Brian Hooker, claiming to show a link between MMR and autism in African-American boys. What does the retraction say?

            “there were undeclared competing interests on the part of the author which compromised the peer review process. Furthermore, post-publication peer review raised concerns about the validity of the methods and statistical analysis, therefore the Editors no longer have confidence in the soundness of the findings.”

            You know. The things he accuses the Danish paper of. And which are plainly not valid, because the paper still stands.

            Tough luck, Roger, old boy.

          • Lenny, tougher luck, old boy.

            The Danish researcher, POUL THORSEN, “has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of wire fraud and money laundering based on a scheme to steal grant money the CDC had awarded to governmental agencies in Denmark for autism research.” Maybe we shouldnt be so confident in his results.

            As Dr Horton, editor-in-chief of the Lancet put it “Science has taken a turn towards darkness.” His assessment has been supported by Dr Ioannidis and Dr Marcia Angel, former editor of NEJM. Good science has been retracted by powerful interests depressingly often.

          • Explain how one of the researchers nicking stuff invalidates the findings of the paper, Roger.

            Has the paper been retracted?

            No, Roger, old chap, it hasn’t.

            Harsh reality once more interferes with your delusions.

  • There is not enough information in the Abstract for this paper to know whether there is a post hoc ergo propter hoc falliacy involved. If this condition never improves except from some intervention i.e. its chronic, then it is safe to assume that the homeopathic treatment cured the condition.

  • The Abstract doesn’t stipulate, as far as I can see, what homeopathic potency of Calc Carb and Arnica were used. Or why, contrary to the priciples of strict ‘classical’ homeopathy, why more than a single remedy – the similimum – was administered. Or whether they considered one remedy more effective than the other. Or whether the combination of two has different effects from each on its own.

    • Many people dont practice strict classical homeopathy. In the case of vets, where they cant interrogate their clients about there experience, I think there is more polypharmacy, giving multiple remedies. In this case it seems to be successful.

      • I am well aware of the differenced and conflicts of prescribing within the broad category of “homeopathy”. Some do what others condemn, and what Hahnemann would never have sanctioned. There is ‘high potency’ centesimal single-rmeedy prescribing, and ‘low potency’ decimal potency multiple-remedy mixtures. There is isopathy. There are nosodes. There are Bach Flower Remedies, and Schussler Tissue Salts (the latter two not strictly homoepathic in approach at all). And none of these approaches has any evidence of working better than placebo.

        • There is 200+ years of well documented cures of Chronic disease with homeopathy.

          • @ Roger

            documented where exactly?
            pray tell us – in which peer reviewed journals?
            and since chronic diseases are by definition incurable how is this possible unless they were all miracles?

            you do talk a lot of rot!

  • “Pododermitis (sic) does often disappear by itself, particularly if the hygenic (sic) conditions under which the penguins had been kept are improved”

    Is this supported by evidence, and to what degree?
    I failed to find any.

  • I missed that. So then we can safely assume that the homeopathic treatment was effective. Thanks for confirming that.

    • You can make no such assumption safely.

      “It is better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt!” (variously attributed).

      • If a condition is well known to be chronic ie. incurable without intervention, and there is cure after an intervention then one can assume the intervention was curative, even if your mechanistic paradigm doesnt allow you to entertain that possibility.

        • Oh look, Roger’s pretending to medicine again.

          “Chronic” does not mean “incurable without intervention”. Chronic means long-lasting. Let’s see what Dr Wikipedia says:

          A chronic condition is a human health condition or disease that is persistent or otherwise long-lasting in its effects or a disease that comes with time. The term chronic is often applied when the course of the disease lasts for more than three months. … Chronic conditions may have periods of remission or relapse where the disease temporarily goes away, or subsequently reappears.

          You might want to pay particular attention to that last sentence where I’ve bolded it for the hard of understanding.

          And while you’re at it, please explain how you concluded that your pseudo-medical intervention homeopathy healed your penguin feet, as opposed to a non-medical intervention such as improved pen hygene? Which would be the most obvious and correct fix and the first thing that should be beaten into the zoo keepers as a critical part of their job. Please show where the homeoquacks took care to control that variable, e.g. by waiting till the zoo keepers’ backs are turned and crapping in the pool themselves? Oh wait, you can’t. So there could be any number of variables responsible for improvements; and meanwhile you’ve got no control group, so no way to determine which of those variables it actually doing the work. All you’ve got is your endless dribbling faith that whatever it was that really healed the penguins, it’s the Church of Homeopathy that steals all the credit. You see exactly what you want to see, and care for nothing else.

          You’re a fool, Roger; and an abusive, manipulative, self-serving one at that.

          I’d say “for shame”, but know you have none. Just like the rest of your dismal cult.

          So by all means feel free to kill yourselves in service to your idiot beliefs, but leave the penguins and other innocents alone. Because they deserve better than you.

        • Why so egregiously calumniate my paradigm, prithee? What know ye of my paradigm?

        • @ Roger

          you still seem to be curiously unaware of the placebo effect despite it being mentioned many times on this very thread

          also what evidence do you have of all these chronic conditions being cured all over the place?
          re the penguins it’s still post hoc and one swallow does not a summer make – and anyway they’re NOT claiming a CURE just an improvement SO – REGRESSION TO THE MEAN, variations in assessment and a dozen other factors are possible here.

          Where are the photos of the before and after therapy birds? Likely the authors are keen homeopaths and invested in the results so keen to publish a positive result.
          FIVE penguins – not a big study. This is hardly a miracle cure. This is a big nothingburger as Trump would say – hardly a comatose patient brought back to life.

          Frankly I would have to say I am very unimpressed with this as evidence for anything other than another anecdote. No control group no nothing.
          Nothing to see here folks.
          Homeopathy still doesn’t work.

          My personal feeling is that homeopathic treatment of animals is animal cruelty for want of real veterinary treatment.

  • I know that homeopathy has spread to all corners of the globe but I didn’t know that this extended as far as the treatment of stranded Magellanic penguins in Brazil.
    A simple google search reveals that Narita has published before on the treatment of liver conditions for these unfortunate stranded penguins.
    If it wasnt for Narita these penguins would likely be dead so has might want to think about that.
    Thank you Edzard of advising us of this research. Small numbers in this research but great to be aware of this.

    • It wouldn’t be your problem though, would it, Dendra, since you have already said that humans dying through ineffecctive treatments are “not my problem”.

    • Good grief David B!
      Please state your evidence that ‘ humans are dying through ineffective treatments.’
      If you have this evidence then you should go to your medicines agency immediately . Your police force should also be keen to help. Lets put the people behind these ‘ineffective treatments’ behind bars asap.
      You of course have no such evidence but no one can stop you deluding yourself in your bizarre world of fantasy.

      • “Please state your evidence that ‘ humans are dying through ineffective treatments.”
        you only need to read the post marked ‘death’ on this blog

      • What was it you said earlier was “not my problem”, then?

        There is plenty of published evidence of persons dying because of ineffective ‘alternative’ treatments. Just off the top of my head, there was the Australian couple who were taken to court and sent to prison after their daughter died when they persisted in treating her eczema with homeopathy. https://www.cbc.ca/news/world/australian-parents-jailed-for-failed-homeopathy-1.833693#:~:text=Thomas%20Sam%2C%20a%2042-year-old%20college%20lecturer%20in%20homeopathy%2C,their%20nine-month-old%20daughter%20Gloria%2C%20who%20died%20of%20

        I have to say that your sophistical response is more typical of trolling than of reasoned discussion, and with Professor Ernst’s 2017 post in mind, I will not lend myself to any further reponse on this.

        • Have you ever heard of peer review? Do you know the difference between this and an opinion on a blog?
          Was Edzard’s blogpost published anywhere?

          What was the impact?

        • You have to admire the circular elegance to homeopaths’ inviolable logic: “Our product is safe so does not need post-market monitoring”.

          Remember you’re arguing with a religious cult member. Nothing you say will ever change them. You’re doing it to make them hang out their own insanity for the rest of the world to see.

      • @ Dendra

        Really? Please see here – there is a whole website devote ONLY to this!
        It lists a whole litany of harms and deaths and a whole variety of things directly attributed to all manner of SCAMS

        http://whatstheharm.net/

        • OMG there is a website! That confirms it then. It must all be true.
          Thank you for this collection of anecdotes anyway.

          • @ Dendra

            “OMG there is a website! That confirms it then. It must all be true.
            Thank you for this collection of anecdotes anyway.”

            You asked for information – well here it is – a whole website devoted to it
            And it is a whole lot more than SCAM does – where are the efforts that any SCAM artist ever makes to collate or report AEs? They don’t – ever! There has never been any attempt to try to collect and report SCAM AEs – they just ignore and sweep them under the carpet.

            It is one of the biggest criticisms made of studies on SCAMs – that they hardly ever comment on AEs – they are just imagined away.
            This is also one of the biggest criticisms of informed consent in SCAM – that it cannot be properly informed in the absence of proper advice re AEs.
            If SCAMMERS won’t do it then someone has to try to do it for them.
            Pneumothorax from acupuncture is a very dramatic event for example. Burns from Moxibustion.
            Black salve has caused many cases of severe disfigurement.
            Fake allergy diagnoses with Vega testing puts kids on unnecessarily restrictive diets pointlessly.
            There are thousands of cases of real harms from incompetent SCAMMERS causing real harms with their silly paradigms.

            But even more harmful are the cases of people having real diseases missed by incompetent play-doctors when they could have had real medicine – and that is tragic.

            And beyond that is the more public tragedy of the way your pseudoscience erodes the public trust in medicine and science by confusing the general public and getting people to believe in all this hocus-pocus so they don’t know up from down any more. And that is a heavy price for the world to pay for your kind’s dabbling in SCAM.

          • John: I am a user of homeopathy and herbs. I dont use acupuncture or chiropractic which Edzards 2011 research papers covered. In these ever regulated days all CAM treatments should in my view be covered by the reporting of adverse events. So I dont see any problem here.
            However, I like many others who have suffered from some so called evidence based treatments and now use CAM as well as conventional treatments. That is my choice and you cant stop us.

          • who wants to stop you?

          • @EE

            C’mon Edzard…. cut the BS

            You and all your cronies here want the administration of CAM stopped …. everywhere.

          • and I thought it was you who is into BS!

  • Some more on homeopathy in veterinary medicine:

    https://skeptvet.com/Blog/?s=homeopathy

  • If you had any evidence Edzard , rather than a jumble of anecdotes then you wouldn’t just be posting on here. You would be presenting this to the authorities backed by the medical profession. You have no evidence but you do have supportive speculation from David B. That will really help.

  • Thank you Edzard for the 6 links to the published research from 2010/2011.
    Five of these papers were from yourself.
    Where are other researchers on this issue?
    Where are the follow up papers?
    The likes of David B can be easily convinced that ‘people are dying’ because of ineffective treatments.
    It seems though that it is harder to convince other researchers and the medical profession that there is a general problem here and that this is not just about isolated cases.

    Evidence for this is the lack of follow up papers from authors other than yourself.

    • I thought you asked for my published papers; articles of others are available and you can search for them yourself; I am not your librarian.

      • Thank you Edzard. I am just trying to get to the bottom of this. You say that that people are dying but where is the support for this allegation from other researchers?
        Why has your research not been continued by many other researchers from 2010/11. You make very serious allegations that need to be justified.
        I am sure that many people including me would be very interested to have links to other supportive research so you wouldn’t just be acting as my librarian.
        Maybe a blogpost is due on why the regulatory authorities, governments, medical professions seem to have ignored your research up to now?
        If people are being killed then it has to stop.

        • “Why has your research not been continued by many other researchers from 2010/11.”
          and I am telling you that, if you search properly, you would find enough research.
          are you too dumb or unwilling to comprehend?

        • Dendra is not “trying to get to the bottom of” anything. Dendra is trolling.

          • I know, and (s)he doesn’t even do it well.

          • What’s legitimately frightening is that Dendra really does seem to believe that it’s everyone else’s job to prove homeopathy unsafe, not homeopaths’ job to prove it safe.

            The absolute zero concern these holy rollers hold for other people’s safety beggars belief. Do any of them ever stop to ask themselves, “What harms could I do if I get it wrong?”

            I can’t believe they ever have. The only thing they care about is the adulation of their cult.

          • “What’s legitimately frightening is that Dendra really does seem to believe that it’s everyone else’s job to prove homeopathy unsafe, not homeopaths’ job to prove it safe”.

            And that it’s everyone else’s job to prove that it doesn’t work, not homeopaths’ job to prove that it does.

            “The absolute zero concern these holy rollers hold for other people’s safety beggars belief. Do any of them ever stop to ask themselves, “What harms could I do if I get it wrong?”

            I can’t believe they ever have. The only thing they care about is the adulation of their cult”.

            Dendra has said in this blog that it’s “not my problem” if people choose placebos instead of effective treatments. All heart.

  • I was just asking why things havent moved on since 2011 despite all this published research.
    Reasonable question I think bearing in mind the call for evidence in red quite rightly posted on your blog.
    Like you and many on here I expect to see direct links to evidence when huge claims are made.
    Allegations of people dying is a huge claim.
    Directing me to the library is fine but probably wont help save members the public from being killed as has been alleged on here.

    • why thank you Roger and Dendra, I haven’t laughed as much in a long time. And thank you very much Edzard for pigeon chess! Marcella in the Netherlands

  • @ Roger

    “Nothing stupid about revealing the perfidy of the CDC. Always happy to oblige. etc ”
    re VAERS

    of course what you and all your fellow SCAMmers always fail to understand about so-called “adverse events” to vaccines reported to VAERS is that absolutely anything at all that occurs in the aftermath of a vaccine being administered is reported to VAERS – including road traffic accidents, falling down stairs, any coincidentally occurring illness, contracting malaria by visiting Africa although the vaccine was administered in the US, getting frostbite in Antarctica although you got vaccinated in Florida, getting pregnant, getting rabies, and in one famous report that it turned the recipient into the Incredible Hulk.

    The fact that fracturing your femur after being pushed over a parapet and falling 12 feet represents a difficult mechanism of action to justify as an AE for say a Covid vaccine – nonetheless it will be reported as one in VAERS. Equally contracting Rabies as an AE seems equally implausible – but it also would be so classified. Likewise the vast majority of AEs reported under VAERS are in fact coincidental events that are totally unrelated to the administration of the vaccine and would have occurred anyway.

    Just because SCAMmers can never get their heads round the notion of post hoc ergo propter hoc – that one thing happening after another does not mean that the first thing caused the second – doesn’t invalidate it.
    But they continue to ignore its significance.

    Firstly they always believe that if they use their SCAM and someone says they feel better – then it must be the SCAM that did it! First mistake! (Ignoring post hoc, the placebo effect and so on as discussed so many times.)

    Secondly when it comes to vaccines and especially VAERS, they always – ALWAYS – misuse the data quite wilfully by once again ignoring the post hoc fallacy and the nocebo effect. It had been demonstrated repeatedly that VAERS if populated with a vast array of totally impossible AEs that cannot conceivably be related to the related vaccine and a vast array that are exceedingly unlikely given the implausibility of any conceivable mechanism of action.
    Of course this doesn’t stop statistically and critically thinking challenged actors like Roger from gullibly assuming that any and all VAERS reports must be a REAL and TRUE vaccine injury.

    You do realize that absolutely ANYBODY can report a reaction via VAERS? Anyone, no matter how deluded, biased, deranged, misguided, delusional, totally WRONG, or no matter how completely impossible their suspicion might be? That even malicious reports are quite possible?
    That in fact there is no check whatsoever of any kind on the facts of the matter whatsoever – the report will still go through and be registered as an AE?
    And that as a result that all kinds of totally kooky and weird and frankly bizarre reports are made?

    And that a whole bunch of gullible SCAMmers such as yourself believe that all of these kooky reports are in fact factual representations of scientific fact about real AEs because such is your level of scientific ability as practised in your own SCAM.

    Fortunately VAERS is actually analysed by real scientists who are able to filter out the noise and remove the impossible and the implausible. The intention of VAERS is to highlight a warning system of a higher incidence of AEs among a vaccinated population than one would anticipate among an unvaccinated population or an indication of novel AEs. It’s also possible to compare one vaccine with another for rates of AEs. And so on.
    This is how science works – by a systematic and logical approach and not by the uncritical “belief” system that “all vaccines bad” – “all homeopathy good.” This is a mantra – it doesn’t supplant critical thought or real science.

    As mentioned before – homeopathy is simply a form of religious belief. It has no scientific basis. It makes no attempt to justify its existence with science. Hahnemann is its high priest, Ritual dilutions and sucussions are its rites and trappings as are the ridiculous names and numerals used for its nostrums. It has not advanced in 200 years except to add a few more ridiculous “therapies” like “Berlin Wall.”

    The principles of homeopathy – like cures like, that dilution makes a substance stronger, the memory of water, the magical powers attributed to succussion, the attributes of trituration and the extraordinary brain-fart misnamed as “proving.”
    All of these Hahnemann would appear to have dreamt up whilst on an acid trip or something – there is certainly zero evidence of them being based on logical reasoning or scientific research. They are all equally illogical, counter-intuitive and totally unscientific. He then used confirmation bias and motivated reasoning to convince himself that his ideas were correct. He was just too clueless to realize that his remedies were completely useless.

    What is extraordinary is that so many others have continued to fall for this totally contradictory system which defies logic and rationality. It must have something to do with its perversity that accounts for its attraction – or the fact that it really doesn’t matter which nostrum you dish out for which ailment because you can always justify just about anything for anything and who’s going to argue the toss?
    I mean given the fun you could have at a “proving” imagine what a VAERS for a homeopathic nostrum would look like?
    “Berlin Wall” anyone?

    • Irony: antivaxxers claim to be for safe vaccines†, yet they are the ones deliberately poisoning the VAERS well, diluting any real reports of rare AEs in all their manufactured nonsense.

      Fortunately, just in the US alone there are three other passive/active AE reporting systems operating in parallel to VAERS, plus other countries have systems of their own, so antivaxxers unlikely to wreck them all. Still doesn’t make anyone’s lives any easier or safer though, having to wade through all of their BS on top of everything else.

      † This is, of course, a lie: what antivaxxers are for is destroying vaccination, for the power to destroy a thing is Power nevertheless. (See also: Nirvana Fallacy, by which a vaccine that might injure 1 in 100,000 is somehow in their minds horrifically worse than a disease which kills 1 in 1000 and cripples many more. Even Passive-Aggressiveness is forced to admit total defeat.)

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