We discussed the 2015 Australian NHMRC report on homeopathy many times before, e.g.:

In a nutshell, the report was an hugely influential analysis of the effectiveness of homeopathy which came to squarely negative conclusions. Thus it was celebrated as a thorough and conclusive piece evidence demonstrating the madness of homeopathy. Unsurprisingly, homeopaths did not like it at all and produced various criticisms claiming that it was neither thorough nor conclusive.

Now the final evaluation of what has been going on was finally published (ISSUED BY THE COMMONWEALTH OMBUDSMAN, IAIN ANDERSON, ON 4 AUGUST 2023):

The Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman (the Office) has finalised an investigation relating to the National Health and Medical Research Council’s (NHMRC) review of the evidence for the effectiveness of homeopathy, conducted between 2010 and 2015. We commenced this investigation in September 2017 in response to concerns raised with us about how the NHMRC review had proceeded.
The Office conducts its investigations in private, and the Ombudsman generally does not make a public statement in the absence of a formal report. In the circumstances of this matter, including that the then-Ombudsman released a public statement on 4 June 2021 which acknowledged the Office was investigating, we believe it is important to share publicly the information we can, now that the investigation is complete.
Our investigation was finalised in July 2023. We acknowledge the length of time the investigation has taken. This is in part due to the extensive efforts the Office made to source independent scientific expertise to advise us on some detailed and specific questions of scientific methodology that were raised with our Office, including some that were only brought to our attention as our investigation progressed. Despite our best efforts, it was not possible to engage an expert (or experts) to provide independent advice to our Office on this subject. In the absence of independent, expert scientific expertise we have not been able to conclusively determine those matters of scientific methodology. This did not prevent our Office from forming a view on other aspects of the matter.
Our investigation did not result in any adverse findings about the review or the NHMRC. When finalising investigations, we may offer comments and suggestions to an agency about areas for future improvement. In this instance, we offered comments and suggestions to the NHMRC about how it records and publicly explains decisions about its activities. The NHMRC also independently made several improvements to its processes during the course of our investigation.


In essence, this means that the conclusions of the report stand:

Homeopathy should not be used to treat health conditions that are chronic, serious, or could become serious. People who choose homeopathy may put their health at risk if they reject or delay treatments for which there is good evidence for safety and effectiveness. People who are considering whether to use homeopathy should first get advice from a registered health practitioner. Those who use homeopathy should tell their health practitioner and should keep taking any prescribed treatments.

Thus the matter is closed – that is closed for rational thinkers. For irrationalists, the matter will no doubt continue to be a stone of contention. No, homeopath will be able to accept these conclusions simply because a member of a cult ceases to be a cultist once he/she accepts the criticism agaist the cult.

36 Responses to REVISITED: Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council’s review of homeopathy

  • So the likes of Dana who loved to claim that “the NHMRC is currently under investigation by the ombudsman for research fraud” and were told, no, they’re just following due process because the witless quacks at the HRI had a baseless whinge will now shut up.

    But of course they won’t. Because they’re a bunch of ideologically-blinded idiots. But this is also why their inevitable bleatings will be ignored. Nobody pays them any heed.

  • I believe advanced homeopaths make even stronger potions using dehydrated water for dilution.

    Makes sense if you believe in homeopathy

    • What worries me about homeopathic nostra is all the residual fish … piss and shit, plus decaying carcasses in the memory water.

      • Nah, no worries, mate … I’ll let you in on a little-known homeopathic secret: homeopathic water not only has a memory, it also has telepathic properties: it knows exactly what substance the homeopath wants it to remember, and forgets all the other stuff that is inevitably present and/or enters the preparation from the environment, leaches from glassware etcetera during dilution.

        Sure, we’re only talking picograms and less here (maybe a billion or so molecules tops), but in homeopathic terms, that is a HUGE amount, resulting in ‘potencies’ that would otherwise never exceed 6C.

        Yep, homeopathy is truly amazing!

  • The fact of the matter is that the NHMRC showed absolutely no transparency, provided no analysis, declared that the long delay was the result of their determination that they could not find an independent experts with knowledge of homeopathy (and yet, they provided no evidence that there even found one…and further, they provided no evidence that the original authors of their report were indpendent experts on homeopathy). As such, the NHMRC has shown “bad faith” on all fronts.

    If these indictments are not enough, here’s more, quoting from my article published in a peer-review medical journal:!/

    Most recently, the Australian government’s Department of Health finally acknowledged the existence of a “first report” on homeopathy [31] after investigative efforts uncovered its existence [32]. After the release of this original report, the NHMRC acknowledged, “Contrary to some claims, the review did not conclude that homeopathy was ineffective.” Further, this original report asserted that there was “encouraging evidence” for five medical conditions: side effects of cancer therapy, otitis media, fibromyalgia, postoperative ileus, and upper respiratory tract infections. After the release of this original report, the NHMRC acknowledged in relation to the subsequent Optum review, “Contrary to some claims, the review did not conclude that homeopathy was ineffective.”

    FOI requests demonstrated that Prof. Fred Mendelsohn, a member of the NHMRC’s oversight committee, confirmed the first report to be of high quality. Mendelsohn provided expert feedback to the NHMRC saying, “I am impressed by the rigor, thoroughness and systematic approach given to this evaluation […] Overall, a lot of excellent work has gone into this review and the results are presented in a systematic, unbiased and convincing manner” [33].

    Further evidence of ethical misconduct was found among members of the NHMRC committee who misrepresented themselves in terms of reporting conflicts of interest to the committee. Prof. Peter Brooks, who served as the initial committee Chair, was, in fact, a member of an anti-homeopathy lobby group but failed to disclose this conflict of interest [34].

    The committee that reviewed this report for the NHMRC did not include a single expert on homeopathy, despite the NHMRC guidelines and standards mandatorily requiring the presence of such an expert.

    (the references listed above can be found in the link provided above)

    I am no surprised that Ernst and others here support the total lack of transparency…and because Ernst and others here are not experts on homeopathy, it is no surprise that they baste in the ignorance shown in this report and, now, from this Ombudsman report.

    Please note that the Ombudsman would have had to call into question a federal agency, the NHMRC. It is no surprise that they instead chose the easy way out…and that was to pretend to be deaf, dumb, and blind. In doing so, the Ombudman chose to be all 3 blind mice.

    It isn’t enough to call this Ombudsman report to be bullshit because it is more awful than that…it isn’t even elephant shit…it is bigger than that: it is brontosaurus-shit. Yeah, that big…and putrid…all in clear evidence except to those people who prefer to be deaf, blind, and very dumb.

    • The fact of the matter is that you would not recognize rigorous science, if it bit you in the arse.

      • Wow…Ernie…I’m impressed by your deep, thoughtful, and detailed analysis of my comment above.

        When you got NOTHING, go for the ad hom! Thanx for verifying your brilliant and effective strategy.

    • A load of entirely predictable bleating, Dana.

      Remind us of the impact factor of Cureus? Oh yes. 1.2. So utterly insignificant. Has anyone other than you paid any attention to your bit of petulant whining? No.

      The results stand, Dana, Suck it up. Homeopathy remains the nonsense it is and you remain the insignificant, yammering clown that you are. Suck it up.

      • As I wrote in my post:
        For irrationalists, the matter will no doubt continue to be a stone of contention. No, homeopath will be able to accept these conclusions simply because a member of a cult ceases to be a cultist once he/she accepts the criticism agaist the cult.

    • @Dana Ullman
      Let’s recapitulate:
      – The NHMRC spent considerable time researching homeopathy, drawing up several draft versions of its report before publicizing its final verdict.
      – The final, official report concludes that homeopathy is basically useless.
      – One of those not-for-publication draft versions was still marginally positive about homeopathy – but in the light of progressive insight, this was later abandoned.
      – And now you accuse the NHMRC of fraud for changing their mind about this in the course of their assessment, insisting that a previous, discarded draft version must be made the ‘official’ version?

      You look almost as stupid as Donald Trump refusing to accept the 2020 election outcome … And THAT is quite an accomplishment …

      • If you want to summarize the NHMRC’s report, please provide the transparency that they refuse to provide.

        If you cannot do that, you have your feet plants firmly in mid-air. You stand on nothing, as distinct from homeopathy which stands on hundreds of controlled clinical trials and thousands of basic science trials…plus something called “history”. I realize that these concepts are foreign to you.

        • “hundreds of controlled clinical trials and thousands of basic science trials…plus something called “history””
          all of which very clearly incicate that homeopathy is a placebo therapy!

        • as distinct from homeopathy which stands on hundreds of controlled clinical trials and thousands of basic science trials…

          Just a couple of hundred clinical trials? In well over 200 years? Most of which with negative or at best marginally positive results(*)? And yet you still believe that it does anything? You silly man …

          But let’s cut the crap. You can’t even name one (just ONE) homeopathic preparation 12C+ that has ANY consistent effect at all. This alone is very strong evidence that homeopathy does nothing at all, and is just dumb quackery peddled by liars and grifters.
          We can only hope that more organizations follow the NHMRC’s excellent example and relegate homeopathy to its rightful place: the midden of history.

          *: And less positive the higher the quality of the trials and studies.

    • Dana, you do not have to an expert in physics to know that if you jump from 30 feet – you will hurt yourself.
      So many other analogies.

      And let us not forget, ‘Dr’ Crippen (as he liked to style himself, though he had no qualification enabling him to practise regulated medicine in the UK) – was in fact a homeopath.
      Just sayin’.

    • Mr Ullman, you previously claimed in this Blog that “only fools or liars” doubted that it was possible to tell the difference between homeopathic water and other water.

      I have asked you repeatedly to name a laboratory that can make this identification. I have asked you sixty-nine times previously, and now repeat my request, taking it to seventy.

      Instead of answering, you told an outrageous lie in this Blog, saying that you had “many times” answered when you haven’t done so once.

      Why did you tell that outrageous lie?

  • I would honestly be interested to know WHAT it would take homeopaths/Dana to conclude that homeopathy has no effects beyond placebo.

    • It is not possible; if any homeopath accepts the evidence, he/she ceases to be a homeopath – see, for instance, Natalie Grams

      • “It is not possible to accept the evidence and remain a homeopath.” This is clear. But my question is whether there is any evidence at all that would lead them to conclude that homeopathy has no effects beyond placebo. This is an important distinction.
        Both possible answers are in their own way telling.

        • “my question is whether there is any evidence at all that would lead them to conclude that homeopathy has no effects beyond placebo.”
          In my experience, the answer is in the overwhelming majority of cases: NO.

          • Didn’t you start out as a homeopath Edzard? Presumably you believed it at that time so what was it convinced you it was all bullshit?

            I suspect in the end it’s a matter of attitude and open mindedness rather than being presented with any specific facts. After all I doubt there are any facts presented to you which have not been presented to Dana and the rest.

          • yes and no: I worked in a homeopathic hospital, learned the method and practised it occasionally thereafter.
            does that make me a homeopath?
            if so, I was convinced by doing my own research [my 1st study was positive], reviewing what others had done, and considering the plausibility of it.
            the main difference between me and Dana, I think, is that I was trained in science and Dana isn’t.

      • One person (Natallie Grams) vs hundreds of thousands of homeopaths who stayed practicing homeopathy.

        Wow…you’re so good at math!

        • and you are not very good at understanding simple texts; it was not remotely about math.

        • @Dana Ullman

          One person (Natallie Grams) vs hundreds of thousands of homeopaths who stayed practicing homeopathy.

          A couple of hundred thousand homeopaths vs 10 million real doctors who do NOT use homeopathy. Now why would that be? Why is homeopathy almost exclusively used by badly educated quacks, but not by people with a proper scientific education?

      • “If any homeopath accepts the evidence, he/she ceases to be a homeopath” Hum… But when he/she ceases to be a homeopath, does he/she become a scientist? I doubt it. A scientist who became pseudo-scientist wasted a lot of time and became obsolete. Insisting on pseudoscience despite the evidence is a matter of survival.

    • Let’s just put it like this:
      Mathematicians (and most notably Georg Cantor) have found all sorts of interesting things they can do with infinity.
      Homeopaths think this is just child’s play – they have come up with a far more impressive feat: the concept of doing lots of interesting things with absolutely nothing at all.
      So in their view, ‘no effects’ supports the homeopathic doctrine just fine, just like ‘no active ingredients’ and even ‘no evidence’. QED.

    • A good question, John. And one that Dana has, to my memory, never answered.

      We have told Dana what would convince us – a set of robust, well-conducted clinical trials whose results are replicated by at least two fully-independent studies. We would want extraordinarily robust proof because of prior plausibility – homeopathy has none and, as we know, extraordinary claims require extraordinary proofs.

      No such proof will ever be provided because it can’t be. Homeopathy has already been shown to have no effect beyond placebo. Dana doesn’t like this and so continues with his comical, petulant rants, furious that his pet quackery is ignored by all responsible healthcare systems.

      Dana will predictably bleat that conventional medicines don’t have to clear such a high bar (although they do) and yammer that lots of surgical procedures have not been proven by RCTs. (Why this is a foolish assertion has been explained to him repeatedly. He fails to listen or learn)

      • Lenny, Mr Ullman answered it thusly:

        Dana Ullman, the ‘spokesperson’ for homeopathy
        Published Saturday 28 November 2015

        Guy Chapman on Monday 07 December 2015 at 10:44
        Dana, the heart of good science is being open to the possibility that you are wrong. I do note that most papers by homeopaths begin by stating, as an assumption, that homeopathy is valid and based on valid principles. This is especially true of so-called “basic research”, most of which amounts to trying to work out what colour unicorns are.

        I have said what would persuade me I am wrong, I suspect Prof. Ernst would share not dissimilar criteria. You have not answered the simple question: what would persuade you that you are wrong?

        Dana Ullman on Monday 07 December 2015 at 14:18
        It is increasingly obvious that not a SINGLE person here has commented in any substantative way on the body of evidence published in mainstream scientific journals by Anisur Rahman Khuda-Bukhsh.

        It is certainly “convenient” that no one has commented on this work…and I wonder if it is because most of you haven’t read any of this work OR that you have read it and acknowledge that it shows that homeopahtic nanodoses have biological effects…and you CANNOT admit that! You’ve been GOT!

        And Guy, to answer your question, after using homeopathic medicines since 1973 and after seeing thousands (!) of people respond in positive ways to these medicines, even when MANY of them were previously skeptical, there is NOTHING that you or any of your ilk can say that would change reality. [my bolding]

        Now, in comparison, how many people have you given an individually prescribed homeopathic medicine, according to homeopathic principles, and observed the results? Big diff, eh? Who is more knowledgeable and more experienced on this subject?

        • As we thought. Dana is, as we know, a scientifically-ignorant fool, blinded by his own zealotry and utterly unable to comprehend the notion that his ideological biases have rendered him utterly divorced from reality.

          It’s why it is such fun to repeatedly show him how and why he is wrong and watch him stamp and flail in response.

  • So a question for the followers of reason:
    What percentage of homeopaths know that homeopathy is no different to placebo? I am thinking of the many doctors in Germany for example who study and learn using the scientific method but use homeopathy (going against everything they learned during their long studies)

  • Another question: What does an “expert on homeopathy” know that a scientist studying the placebo effect doesnt know?
    What on earth do they “study?” Does anyone know?
    Again, I am interested in the truth.

    (Living in Germany one is confronted with these beliefs all the time and they are considered acceptable and rarely ridiculed.)

    • @John Pooley
      I’d say this provides a nice starting point:
      The videos are also worthwhile, and could be considered hilarious if they weren’t so sadly wrong in almost every respect (e.g. the myth that vaccines are administered intravenously).

      In all, the main thing that homeopaths can be said to ‘study’ is a series of anecdotal cases where sick people got better after being treated with particular homeopathic preparations. Which of course is taking things completely backwards, and only serves to strengthen the Post Hoc fallacy.
      For all the rest, homeopathic education and ‘study’ boils down to more or less blindly accepting unproven assertions – up to and including this all-important ‘law of similars’ that all of homeopathy is based upon, but has never been proven to exist.

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