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

I am pleased to report that our ‘resident homeopathic doctor’ from Germany, Dr. Heinrich Huemmer, posted a review of my new book on Amazon. As his comments are in German, I translated them which was not easy because they are confusing and confused. Now that it’s done, I cannot resist the temptation to show them to you (the references were inserted by me, and refer to my comments below):

First of all, the author, who as a scientist [1] once had a thoroughly positive attitude towards homeopathy [and in a meta-analysis even attested to it significantly positive results in a certain clinical picture [2]], explains the principles and procedures in homeopathy in a clear and objective manner.
In explaining the principle of potentization, however, Ernst’s one-dimensional and completely unscientific matter-bound, quasi-medieval understanding of science shines through for the first time. With the assertion, “both the dilution and the similarity rule contradict the laws of nature” he clearly reveals his unscientific thinking, whereby he could have easily relativized this by an inserted differentiation “presently, known laws of nature”. [3] And not even the following sentence “…we understand very well that it can function only if the known laws of nature would be invalid” is agreed by critically thinking natural scientists. [3] Also the assertion: “The totality of this evidence does not show that homeopathic remedies would be no more than placebo”, is countered by a well-known – belonging to the skeptic movement – expert of the homeopathic study situation with the remark: “Furthermore, you should read my statements and those of the INH more carefully again: Our statement is that there is no robust/reliable/convincing evidence for efficacy beyond placebo. ALSO NOT “NONE” but “none conclusive”, which yes makes a difference in absolute numbers. Just like “no beer” is different than “not a good beer”. ” [4] Since patients usually turn to homeopathy only when so-called scientific medicine negates their illnesses and accordingly has nothing to offer them [5], Ernst’s reference to the fact that patients could “endanger their health” is to be seen as a cheap attempt at discrediting. [6] The reference that this assessment comes from the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council is not without a particularly piquant note, since this NHMRC may have to be held responsible for a particularly infamous attempt at scientific fraud to the disadvantage of homeopathy. [7] Also, the alleged “fact” that “[positive] experiences […] are the result of a long, empathetic, sympathetic encounter with a homoeopath…” can be disproved by immediate – also diagnostically verified – cures, which occurred immediately without a long admission or which failed to appear even after several intensive anamneses under most sympathetic admission against all expectations…..[8] Finally Ernst’s argument “the benefit-cost-argument of homeopathy is not positive” is an absolute air number, because the saving of 1 €/patient and year (in case of abolition of the homeopathy-reimbursement) would not even allow a free new glasses-nose-pad…. [9]

________________________

  1. I am not sure where Homeopathy Heinrich Huemmer (HHH) got the claim from that I, as a scientist, once had a thoroughly positive attitude towards homeopathy. This is not even remotely true! As a very young clinician (40 years ago), I once was quite impressed by homeopathy, never as a scientist (for full details, see my memoir). What HHH seems to display here is his very own misunderstanding about science and scientists: if they are for real (i.e. not pseudoscientists like many of those who research homeopathy), scientists try not to let their personal attitudes get in the way of good science.
  2. I presume that HHH refers here to this meta-analysis: Homeopathy for postoperative ileus? A meta-analysis. I fear that HHH has yet to learn how to read a scientific paper. Our conclusions were: There is evidence that homeopathic treatment can reduce the duration of ileus after abdominal or gynecologic surgery. However, several caveats preclude a definitive judgment. These results should form the basis of a randomized controlled trial to resolve the issue. 
  3. This made me laugh! Does HHH think that only the handful of homeopathic loons who claim that homeopathy has a scientific basis in the unknown laws of nature are truly scientific? And all the rest are unscientific?
  4. I doubt that anyone can understand this passage, perhaps not even HHH. My conclusion that “the totality of this evidence does not show that homeopathic remedies are more than placebo”  merely expresses what even most homeopaths would admit and is unquestionably correct.
  5. This statement is untrue in more than one way. Firstly, responsible clinicians never tell a patient that they have nothing more to offer, simply because this is never the case – there is always something a good clinician can do for his/her patient, even if it is just in terms of palliation or moral support. Secondly, we know that German patients opt to use homeopathy for all sorts of reasons, including as first-line therapy and not as a last resort.
  6. In the book, I refer (and reference the source) to the phenomenon that many homeopaths discourage their patients from vaccination. Unfortunately, this is no ‘cheap attempt’, it is the sad reality. HHH does not even try to dispute it.
  7. HHH does not like the NHMRC report. Fair enough! But he omits to mention that, in the book, I list a total of 4 further official verdicts. Does HHH assume they are all fraudulent? Is there perhaps a worldwide conspiracy against homeopathy?
  8. We all know that HHH is enormously proud of his only publication to which he refers here (on this blog, he must have mentioned it a dozen times). However, in the book, I refer to an RCT for making my point. Which is more convincing, a case report or an RCT?
  9. Here HHH simply demonstrates that he has not understood the concept of cost-effectiveness.

So, what we have here is a near-perfect depiction of a homeopath’s way of thinking. But there is worse in HHH’s comment< I fear.

My book (of 224 pages) scrutinizes – as even its title states – not one but 40 types of so-called alternative medicine (SCAM); 20 of the most effective and 20 of the most dangerous SCAMs. In addition, it covers (in ~ 50 pages) many general topics (like ‘WHAT IS EVIDENCE? or WHY IS SCAM SO POPULAR?). It includes over 200 references to published papers. Yet, HHH reviews and judges the book by commenting exclusively on the meager 5 pages dedicated to homeopathy!

If that does not exemplify the limitations of the homeopathic mind, please tell me what does.

THANK YOU, HHH, FOR MAKING THIS SO CLEAR TO US!

16 Responses to Homeopath Heinrich Huemmer reviewed my new book

  • I guess with that citation of no beer vs. no good beer (your point [4]) HHH refers to me. My remark was as far as i remember embedded in one of the tedious and cycle-like discussions I had with HHH when we referred to studies that came with some positive results on homeopathy but being of poor quality. Those studies exist and may be counted as evidence by homeopaths but will not count as robust/reliable/convincing evidence. I have tried to explain my remark to HHH for a few dozen times, but like a terrier he would not let go of his bite, he chews this bone over and over and over again.

    Q.: “Does homeopathy work in spite of all we know how nature works?”
    HHH.: “Yes of course.”
    Q.: “Why?”
    HHH.: “Because Aust once said there is a difference between no beer and no good beer.”

    Oh boy!

  • Is there perhaps a worldwide conspiracy against homeopathy?
    Definitely! A sinister cabal led by a quiet, unassuming doctor in England heads it. It is financed by Bill Gates and George Soros as part of their plan for world domination. Not even Big Pharma is party to their evil plans.

    • wow!
      tell us more!!!

      • Sorry, I cannot. The secret oaths are too binding. A homeopathic oath (diluted 1,000,000 times) is incredibly powerful. I can hardly speak to order tea.

    • Interesting! Very interesting point.

      Just one flaw in this argument: Why should they do that? What would be the benefit for Soros, Gates and the others? As far as I understand they currently earn (?) money beyond measure. What else do they want?

    • That was supposed to be an ironic remark, wasn’t it?

      The next time should add a “wink smiley” or end your comment with *irony off*.

    • Is there perhaps a worldwide conspiracy against homeopathy?

      Well, yes – or at least: there should be. Just like there is a worldwide conspiracy against fraud, mostly known as ‘Criminal Law’.
      But somehow, homeopathy and other types of quackery have so far been exempt from this legal prohibition of selling people useless products and services under false pretences.

  • What review can be expected by a homeopath retrained from a civil engineer to a physician who, for once in his life, has managed to get a case report (!) published in a second-rate journal and still acts as if he had just won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine?

  • it looks like Dr Huemmer has withdrawn his review from Amazon
    https://www.amazon.de/Alternativmedizin-schadet-besten-bedenklichsten-Methoden/dp/3833877936/ref=sr_1_6
    [just as well I preserved it here]

    • No, that wasn´t me!
      no, no, one of your loyal vassals from the oh so tolerant skeptic sect apparently had it deleted …
      Says a lot about the skeptics’ understanding of freedom of expression, as we experience it everywhere …

      • how do you know that it wasn’t a homeopathy enthusiast embarrassed by the pow level nonsense you posted?

      • @Dr. Heinrich Hümmer
        Your ‘review’ was most probably removed by Amazon because you did not so much criticise the actual book’s contents as launch ad hominem attacks against Prof. Dr. Ernst, and even accused the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council of scientific fraud – which is a very serious allegation.
        As an aggravating circumstance, your biased and slanderous remarks are almost certainly motivated by personal interest.

        no, no, one of your loyal vassals from the oh so tolerant skeptic sect apparently had it deleted …
        Says a lot about the skeptics’ understanding of freedom of expression, as we experience it everywhere …

        To test this hypothesis of yours, I looked up the reviews of several dozen books on homeopathy – yet even books with the most egregious lies and nonsense (such as these horrible books claiming that homeopathy and other quackery can cure and prevent cancer(*)) have almost exclusively positive reviews, with no negative reviews from sceptics at all.
        Also, none of those reviews even came close to your hateful rambling in either tone or content. Which means that Amazon simply filters out less polite reviews, yours included. So your accusation that sceptics have caused your ‘review’ to disappear is probably quite wrong.

        *: And I was appalled (although not surprised) to see that many reviews are from cancer patients, none of whom reported actual remission, even though they clearly believe in homeopathy. In other words: these books are just another way for quacks to take money from desperately sick people by selling them false hope.

      • Oh, triple H.

        You are believing in conspiracy theories? You think that skeptics are so powerful that they could make the review of an arrogant homeopath who is completely convinced of himself disappear so easily?

        Btw, regarding your criticism about the freedom of expression read this comic strip and weep:
        https://xkcd.com/1357/

      • The way you mention skeptics in your post as if being skeptic is a bad thing, borderline an insult.

        Tells you a lot about how you understand what skepticism is, just not being convinced by bad evidence. Homeopathy and alternative medecine have not demonstrated to be any better than placebos, thus skeptic remain unconvinced. Even worse, if we are going simply with the placebo effect, why should we go with homeopathy instead of sugar pills branded as magic pills if they don’t demonstrate to be any different?

        It’s funny how alternative medecine, like religion and religious healings, become less and less common or convincing the better we understand and evaluate the world around us applying the scientific method.

        I hope you come to your senses.

  • HHH is a man who keeps on giving!
    After his review was erased, he now posted a modified version [omitting allegations of fraud].
    And now he gives two stars!!!
    [my book seems to improve with age; just like a good wine?]
    https://www.amazon.de/Alternativmedizin-schadet-besten-bedenklichsten-Methoden/dp/3833877936/ref=sr_1_6

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