I almost missed an article that Swiss Hugo Stamm (no, I don’t know him) has written about me. It is not entirely accurate but made me giggle quite a lot. Here are some passages that I translated for you:

… [Charles] wanted to obtain scientific evidence for the efficacy of homeopathy. It was therefore no surprise that Queen Elisabeth’s homeopath also sat on the appointment committee. The choice fell in 1993 on the German physician and scientist Edzard Ernst, who until then had taught and researched at the University of Vienna. The royal expectations were clear: Ernst was to produce the desired results.

But the professor was not prepared … to fulfill the royal expectations blindly. He first wanted to conduct research according to scientific standards and examine the available studies on homeopathy. In the process, doubts soon surfaced in his mind about alternative medicine. When he then set up randomized, placebo-controlled double-blind studies, he saw himself confirmed: The results were devastating and in some cases did not even reach the values of placebo effects.

Ernst felt obliged to his scientific conscience and published his studies against the will of his “client”. Charles was appalled and instructed his personal secretary to intervene. The latter wrote to the university administration that Professor Ernst had violated the agreed confidentiality. The university buckled after the royal scolding and opened disciplinary proceedings against the rebellious professor. The commission cleared him of all charges in 2010, but his department was closed.

“I was researching alternative medicine with my team; Charles, on the other hand, did not want to question it, but to propagate it. As I found more and more evidence that many alternative medicine procedures were not effective and sometimes even dangerous, tensions between me and Charles increased.” Edzard Ernst

Ernst did not allow himself to be muzzled by the prince and current king and, in 2022, published his book “Charles, the Alternative Prince”… In an interview with the Standard, Ernst said: “For as long as homeopathy has existed, the British royal family has been among the homeopathy advocates. However, Charles has not only promoted homeopathy, but also many other alternative medical procedures. What is striking about this is that he always picks out only the most bizarre and implausible ones and leaves aside those that are rudimentarily evidence-based. This may be because he always prefers the mystical and anti-scientific. Even as a young man, he was led down this path by Laurens van der Post, a South African-born esotericist and self-proclaimed guru.”

… For better understanding, it should be added that homeopathy grossly violates four basic scientific findings. It does not take an education in chemistry or medicine to recognize this.

  • Mistake number 1: Cure like with like. Example: Someone who has lead poisoning is given globules made from lead in a diluted form. So, according to homeopathy, lead cures blood contaminated with lead.
  • Mistake number 2: Dilution. The tinctures are diluted to such an extent that they contain only a few to no molecules of the alleged active substance. Nevertheless, a healing effect is attributed to them.
  • Error number 3: Potentiation: The stronger the dilution, the greater the effect. If a globule still contains many molecules of the active substance, it has less effect than if it contains no molecules at all.
  • Misconception number 4: Water absorbs information: By shaking the diluted liquid, information of the active substance supposedly jumps over to the water. This theory also contradicts all scientific findings. If water were to absorb such information, it would be so poisoned that we would no longer be able to drink it.
    What probably few consumers of homeopathic remedies know: Globuli are made from countless substances. For example, from whale droppings, stomped ants, highly poisonous black belladonna or from the poison atropine.

But back to Charles: A prince has become a king overnight. But his attitude towards complementary medicine will not change. As a king, he certainly cannot admit to having been wrong all his life. Even if the scientific facts are clear.


In case you are interested in a full account of this story, you might try my memoir.


35 Responses to A journalist’s take on my tumultuous time at Exeter University

  • Are you sure about mistake 1 – like cures like?

    What about the case of the man who suffered chronic lead poisoning due to a contaminated water supply throughout childhood. He blamed that for his developmental problems which he said led him into a life of crime. But when during a bungled armed robbery he was shot by police his symptoms immediately ceased.

    If that’s not proof of like cures like I don’t know what is!

  • Well, strictly speaking, I think his “Mistake number 1” is describing Isopathy, an approach with which not all homeopaths agree, and which is not quite the same as homeopathy. Homeopathy is not “same cures same” but “like cures like”.

    Though as far as I am aware, there is no clear definition of how similar or how different the “remedy” symptoms should be from those of the malady……

    • #1 sound just a bit like Radiation Therapy for cancer…. a well-accepted medical science.

      • #1 sounds nothing whatever like radiation therapy for cancer.

      • No 1 sounds like mistletoe for cancer……. a well accepted scam.

      • RG on Tuesday 23 June 2020 at 23:59

        @Lollypop & Dr. Hummer

        “It’s really not worth spending time on this blog. It’s full of dogmatists who think they own the truth, talk about science but actually engage in mere rhetoric full of fallacies. It’s better to spend time doing basic, theoretical and clinical research.”

        I’ve been posting here for about 18 months now. I came to the same conclusion about nine months ago. I spend more of my time elsewhere now. I just hang around to be an arse‑hole to the prima donnas here, and to keep sticking my knife in far enough to occasionally stir the pot.

        [my emphasis]

      • It does, if you have no idea about radiation, radiotherapy or cancer.

  • Quote: “… For better understanding, it should be added that homeopathy grossly violates four basic scientific findings. It does not take an education in chemistry or medicine to recognize this.”

    HOMEOPATHY does not violate KNOWN scientific findings because we dont know the mechanism of action yet. As Hahnemann said 220 years ago, it acts with some as yet unknown energy. There is lots that science cant explain, for example consciousness.

    Mistake number 1: Cure like with like.

    Every conventional drug has as “SIDE EFFECTS” the very symptoms that it is meant to treat e.g. headaches for aspirin. They are treating Something somewhat similar with something somewhat similar, and getting temporary suppression instead of cure. If they used their drugs homeopathically ie. matching the patient’s entire constellation of symptoms on all levels – mental, emotional and physical – they would actually cure as sometimes accidentally happens. Dr Hahnemann initially used drop doses of the undiluted substance to treat. He just found that the diluted medicines were more effective which anyone interested can prove to themselves.

    Mistake number 2: Dilution.
    Error number 3: Potentiation:

    Anyone skeptical can try it out by doing a homeopathic proving. Thousands have been done over the years and universally show the effects that diluted remedies have. Hahnemann challenged skeptics 220 years ago and they are still unwilling to take up the challenge..

    Misconception number 4: Water absorbs information:

    Remedies have very little water in them usually. That water has “memory” is just one of many theories of the mechanism of homeopathy. Other substances can carry the information and have the effects of remedies. A more likely explanation is panpsychism – all matter carries consciousness.

    • @stan

      Thousands [of provings] have been done over the years and universally show the effects that diluted remedies have.

      Sorry chum, but you are wrong. Even after 226 years, homeopaths cannot come up with EVEN ONE homeopathic dilution 12C or higher that shows consistent effects in independently repeatable experiments.

      Provings are totally useless, because participants usually know EXACTLY what to look out for (no blinding), and are also encouraged to record even the most ludicrous details they think they experience – which, together with a lack of a control group, will guarantee that ‘effects’ are recorded. You might just as well ask a class of six-year-olds what effects they can make up for a fictitious magical potion and then call that a ‘remedy’.

      As soon as provings are done in a proper scientific way, no consistent effects whatsoever are found, apart from some occasional statistical noise.
      The most galling thing is that homeopaths have been told this a gazillion times, but that they choose to just run around with their fingers in their ears going “LALALALA I CAN’T HEAR YOU WE FIND LOTS OF EFFECTS IN PROVINGS HOMEOPATHY WORKS’. They are an absolute insult to human intelligence.

      I won’t waste any time on the rest of your drivel; let’s just say that I shall be looking forward to the retraction of Frass’s dung beetle feast of a paper, and any evidence of scientific misconduct that is found.

      • Most Provings are blinded and Provers dont know what they are taking. And most provings have placebo control.
        Read The Dyanmics and Methodology of Homeopathic Provings by Jeremy Sherr in which he lays out the process for conducting a blinded, placebo controlled proving.

        This is an experiment that has been repeated over and over successfully for 220+ years. Dr Hahnemann did a proving of Belladonna and carefully recorded the results. 100 years later there was skepticism about the process so they did another proving of Belladonna with provers and supervisors all over the world who had no idea what they were taking. The resulting new symptoms that provers experienced reproduced Hahnemann’s results.

        If there is some aspect of this scientific experiment that you distrust, you are welcome to reproduce it.

        • Curious how non-believers are unable to reproduce the results that homeopaths find in their “provings”, Stan.

          And Jeremy Sherr?

          Oh please.

          His (alleged) proving of homeopathic light from the Pole Star is available to buy if you want.

          • That is a bs study. In that study they asked the provers about an insignificant number of symptoms. What they should have done is a real proving where you do a health intake for the prover before the proving and find out what changed during the proving. Then they could have tried to match their new never-before experienced symptoms to the very extensive, very unique matera medica for Belladonna.

            I did a proving of a remedy and experienced only one symptom that is very characteristic of it but not one of the well-known more highly probable symptoms, that a study like this might have chosen. A proving is an intersection of the susceptibility of the individual prover and the remedy.

        • Oh and the reproducible proving of belladonna?


          Here’s what happens if it is trialled correctly.


        • @stan
          Please show me peer-reviewed papers about replicated provings carried out by actual scientists, not the fairy tales and fantasies from a bunch of deluded fools. Here’s a prime example of such a ‘proving’:

          First off: no word about any blinding, and just two (2) placebo controls. Then there’s this most telling comment:

          “I experienced strong symptoms from the remedy even though I did not take it”

          So homeopathic substances can even have effects when NOT taken? Not for a second did it occur to this deluded person that he was simply imagining stuff, caused by expectation bias – oh no! As he says, “I … believe that placebo provers and sensitive supervisors were influenced by the morphic field of the remedy.”

          Oh deary me … not just water memory, but now also ‘morphic fields’ …

          Anyway, the most shared ‘symptoms’ of being gloomy and irritable are easily explained by a rather common condition called seasonal affective disorder – the symptoms of which match those of the deluded fools to a tee. This also perfectly matches the time at which the proving started: November 1st.

          Also note that not only are there LOTS of ‘symptoms’ mentioned, vastly increasing the chances of overlapping symptoms between participants, especially the more mundane ones such as ‘remembering dreams’, yet that many are ALSO inconsistent, contradictory or alternating. But instead of attributing this hodgepodge of experiences to perfectly normal swings in the human state of mind, these imbeciles claim that it was all caused by their shaken water. Yeah, sure.

          The simple fact is that there is not even one single homeopathic preparation 12C and up that shows clear and consistent effects in an independently repeatable experiment(*). The best result ever was two replications of a (minute) positive result by Ennis – most probably as a result of a methodological flaw in her experimental setup. All other scientists who attempted to replicate her results failed to find anything.

          *: Quite contrary to the countless millions of real substances out there, the existence and any effects of which can always be demonstrated in experiments, without fail.

          • The comical guff spouted by homeopaths to try to validate their pointless nostrums is truly headshaking. Read if you will this lengthy account of the alleged ‘proving’ of homeopathic falcon. The levels of self-delusion on display are quite staggering.


          • Picking out one poorly conducted proving doesnt discount 220+ years of well conducted provings.
            Just like Dr Ioaniddis, Dr Marcia Angell and Dr Richard Horton have reported lots of bad science, with poor rates of reproducibility, it doesnt discredit all the good science.
            Why dont you do a proving yourself? Just because you dont like the results of provings, because they dont fit with your world-view, doesnt discredit them all.

            “Similar conflicts of interest and biases exist in virtually every field of medicine, particularly those that rely heavily on drugs or devices. It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of The New England Journal of Medicine .”
            Dr Marcia Angell, 2009

          • @stan

            Picking out one poorly conducted proving doesnt discount 220+ years of well conducted provings.

            There is no such thing as a ‘well-conducted proving’. Virtually all provings are conducted by people who believe in the kindergarten magic of shaken water, not by competent scientists. The few provings that have been done in a scientifically acceptable manner showed no effect whatsoever.

            Why dont you do a proving yourself?

            Because it is a very stupid waste of time and effort. Also, you will most certainly reject my results, as homeopaths have rejected scientific results for some 200 years now. But what we could do is supply you with a couple of dozen coded vials containing two ‘different’ types of homeopathic sugar crumbs. (‘Different’ between quotation marks because there if of course no difference.)

            YOU can then perform all the provings and other tests you want with these, in any way you deem right and proper. Then you report back with your the (haha) ‘symptoms’ you think you registered, which should clearly show if a particular numbered vial contains homeopathic substance A or B. Our gracious host may even allow us to publish the results here, so your list next to my unblinded list.

            There is of course the issue of you having to trust me (or my supplier(*)), but there are ways to deal with that.

            *: I suspect that there are plenty of homeopathic suppliers who simply sell inert sugar pellets, without going through the whole laborious process of repeated diluting and shaking of troublesome ingredients. After all, nobody will (or even can) notice any difference.

            Just like Dr Ioaniddis, Dr Marcia Angell and Dr Richard Horton have reported lots of bad science …

            This is completely irrelevant. MILLIONS of substances can be detected and tested in experiments, to prove that yes, they are really there, and yes, they have certain chemical or biological effects – this even goes for pharmaceutical products that do not perform as intended or as claimed. You can absolutely demonstrate that yes, they’re there, and have such-and-so chemical composition.

            This, however, is not the case for homeopathic substances. There is NOT ONE homeopathic preparation 12C+ that clearly shows effects in independently repeatable experiments.

        • The Homeopathic Proving of Plutonium Nitricum by Jeremy Sherr, The Dynamis School

          Pluto, son of Uranus,(Chronos), was eaten by his own father before being spewed out from the darkness of his parent’s belly. … A central theme of Plutonium is a deep feeling of suffering originating from one’s forefathers, like a punishment echoing down the generations. Hence its affinity with DNA, bone marrow, and very serious pathologies such as Cancers, Leukaemia, Radiation, AIDS, Thyroid problems and deep mental pathologies. Heaviness, fatigue and burdened responsibility show up in the Proving, alongside lightness and floating – confirming its up / down axis, and similarities with other remedies such as Helium and Hydrogen.

          Plutonium is, of course, a remedy for our times – where nuclear arms proliferation runs amok alongside our toxic environment, made ever more so as nuclear reactors spew out their 24,000-plus years of indestructible waste into it.

          This very thorough proving will give you an insight into the element, planet, mythology, astrology and themes of Plutonium. There is also a look at some successful cases – together with radioactive isotopes as a group and their effects on cellular tissue, and some not so well known factoids regarding the effects of radiation from Chernobyl.

          A fascinating Must-Read of enormous relevance to today’s patients.

        • Most Provings are blinded and Provers dont know what they are taking.

          But the people conducting the proving and deciding which symptoms are significant are well aware of what remedy they are proving.

          • In a properly conducted proving the supervisors interacting with the provers recording their symptoms and the provers both dont know what is being proven. But when the number of people involved is limited shortcuts may be taken. There is a lot of work involved – pre-proving health history intake of the provers, daily check-ins for the first week (less often thereafter), and then processing all the results to determine which symptoms are actually new for the provers. The only determination of significance is based on whether the symptoms were never previously experienced by the provers.

            There is no way to know what symptoms to expect, even if the substance is known and never been proven. Its a trip into the unknown. For example who would think that a remedy made from bald eagle would cause serious depression and a desire to leave and go into isolation? Just one of thousands of surprising examples.

      • Skeptics dont understand that homeopathy is self-correcting. If the wrong remedy is given to a patient for a short time it has no effect. Only when the remedy is truly homeopathic i.e. matching almost the patient’s entire constellation of symptoms – mental, emotional and physical – will it be curative, as has been shown for two centuries.

        As a result since homeopaths are not trying to satisfy skeptics when they do a proving of a new substance they take shortcuts sometimes. Doing a proving with many provers over a long period and managing and publishing the data is a lot of work. Also it is hard to find enough provers sometimes to get a significant picture of the remedy.

        So EVEN if the proving is done without blinding and no placebo group as sometimes is the case nowadays it doesnt have a significant impact on the results, because homeopathy is self-correcting.

        If it is a new remedy, how are provers supposed to imagine and create symptoms of something that has never been proven? The provers dont discuss it with each other. So how could they develop a similar constellation of symptoms mental, emotional and physical as happens in a proving? If I picked out a random plant and gave it to you in potency, how would you know what symptoms you are supposed to develop for it, and then develop those symptoms. But most of the time they dont even know the substance they are proving.

        Then at the end of the proving period when the data is collated and sent out to other homeopaths, only those symptoms that are seen cured in patients get high visibility when the remedy is written up. Rare and insignificant symptoms are there in the proving materia medica but over time they are ignored. As more and more experience is gained using a remedy, it becomes clearer what the salient essential points are so that it can be prescribed effectively. The rest is left on the cutting room floor or stored in the film vault, so to speak.

        This is not entirely different from conventional medicine where a new drug has identified side effects, like erections with Viagra, that then become indications for the medicine. The main difference is that we are not giving toxic substances to sick people. The potentization dilution process assures this.

        • “Skeptics dont understand that homeopathy is self-correcting.”
          I don’t know about ‘skeptics’ but I do understand that this is homeopaths’ belief.
          What you don’t understand is that belief is the opposite of evidence.

          • That rubbish 1835 Salt Test so-called proving gets dragged out every time like it proves something.
            Here is a remedy. Go home and take it. Come back in a month and tell us what happened.
            Does that go for science in your book? I guess that is why you dont understand homeopathy.

            Why would I reject your results of your proving?

            I did a proving with a lawyer who was bringing a lawsuit against California homeopathy pharmacies for consumer fraud.
            He was a total skeptic, of course. I accepted his results. Not a waste of time at all by his own admission.

            What I did with him and would be willing to do with you. A pharmacy provided 10 different coded vials with 10 different remedies. You pick one at random and do a proving, checking in with me on a regular basis. I try to guess the remedy. Then we break the code and compare your results with provings and clinical results (the materia medica) of that remedy.

          • “A pharmacy provided 10 different coded vials with 10 different remedies. You pick one at random and do a proving, checking in with me on a regular basis. I try to guess the remedy. Then we break the code and compare your results with provings and clinical results (the materia medica) of that remedy.”


          • “Doing a proving” is a process more rigorous than just taking a remedy home and reporting later. Rigorous, as in something that is publishable, meant to prove homeopathy to the world? No it is not

            That doesnt seem possible. Skkeptics point to the studies that demonstrate homeopathy and say “bad science”. And homeopaths point to the studies that skeptics will accept, and say “bad homeopathy”. The two sides in this debate will never agree on the science studies. As Dr Hahn pointed out meta-analyses are just means to prove your own biased viewpoint. The Shang et al meta analysis of homeopathy in Lancet ended up using just 8 studies. A previous meta analysis of homeopathy published in Lancet used quite a few more.

            But I have found that the only thing that convinces anyone is personal experience.

            You said “I dont think that is true”. What are you referring to? The proportion of medicine that is EBM? About 50% is a number that I remember reading. Here are some academics discussing that question. They all feel there are large areas of medicine that are not evidence based. Unless you want to include clinical experience as evidence, which it is.

          • I do no converse with anybody starting to sound like a troll

          • What is your definition of troll? Anyone that disagrees with you? They make you angry?
            The dictionary says of trolling: make a deliberately offensive or provocative online post with the aim of upsetting someone or eliciting an angry response from them.
            What have i said that is particularly offensive or provocative. I am just laying out the case for homeopathy. If you really arent interested – I thought that was what this blog was about – I will move on.

          • Conventional doctors have been using published clinical results as long as there has been clinical publishing. It goes for evidence for them. Probably half of all conventional medical practice is based on such evidence. It will never be supported with the vaunted RCTs because the drugs are off patent.

            In the same way, Homeopaths rely on of 220+ years of well-documented clinical evidence.

          • I don’t think that’s true
            evidence please

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