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

fallacy

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Acute tonsillitis, which includes tonsillopharyngitis, is a common condition, particularly in childhood. It is mostly caused by a viral infection. Symptomatic treatment is of high importance. But which treatment is effective and which isn’t?

For this expert consensus, 53 physicians from Germany, Spain, Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, and Hungary with at least one year of experience in anthroposophic paediatric medicine were invited to participate in an online Delphi process. The process comprised 5 survey rounds starting with open-ended questions and ending with final statements, which need 75% agreement of experts to reach consensus. Expert answers were evaluated by two independent reviewers using MAXQDA and Excel.

Response rate was between 28% and 45%. The developed recommendation included 15 subtopics. These covered clinical, diagnostic, therapeutic and psychosocial aspects of acute tonsillitis. Six subtopics achieved a high consensus (>90%) and nine subtopics achieved consensus (75-90%). The panel felt that AM was an adequate therapy for acute tonsillitis.

The authors of this paper concluded that the clinical recommendation for acute tonsillitis in children aims to simplify everyday patient care and provide decision-making support when considering and prescribing anthroposophic therapies. Moreover, the recommendation makes AM more transparent for physicians, parents, and maybe political stakeholders as well.

I found it hard to decide whether to cry or to laugh while reading this paper.

Experience in anthroposophic paediatric medicine does not make anyone an expert in anything other than BS.

Expert consensus and clinical guidelines are not conducted by assembling a few people who all are in favour of a certain therapy while ignoring the scientific evidence.

AM for acute tonsillitis in children is nonsense, whatever these pseudo-experts claim.

Imagine we run a Delphi process with a few long-standing members of ‘the flat earth society’ and ask them to tell us about the shape of the earth …

…I rest my case.

The Academy of Homeopathy Education is a US-based accredited teaching institution offering homeopathy education services to professional and medically licensed homeopathy students. This study reports on clinical outcomes from the teaching clinic from 2020 to 2021.

Data were collected using the patient-generated outcome measure, the Measure Yourself Concerns and Wellbeing (MYCaW). Mean MYCaW values for initial and subsequent consultations were analyzed for the degree of change across the intervention period in 38 clients. Each client listed up to two complaints. MYCaW scores between initial and subsequent consultations were analyzed for the degree of change (delta) across the intervention period.

A total of 95 body system-related symptoms were analyzed for change in intensity following the homeopathic intervention. Statistically significant improvements in the intensity of main symptoms were observed between initial and subsequent follow-ups. The main symptom scores showed a mean change in intensity (delta MYCaW) of −0.79 points (95% confidence interval (CI), −1.29 to −0.29; p = 0.003) at first follow-up, a mean change of −1.67 points (95% CI, −2.34 to −0.99; p = 0.001) at second follow-up compared with the initial visit, and a mean change of −1.93 points (95% CI, −3.0 to −0.86; p = 0.008) at third follow-up compared with the initial visit. For clients with four or more follow-ups, the mean delta MYCaW was −1.57 points (95% CI, −2.86 to −0.28; p = 0.039).

The authors concluded that statistically significant improvements as well as some clinically meaningful changes in symptom intensity were found across a diverse group of individuals with a variety of long-term chronic conditions. The improvement was evident across different body systems and different levels of chronicity. There are limitations to the generalizability of the study due to the research design. Further research and investigation are warranted given the promising results of this work.

There are, of course, not just limits to the generalizability of this study! I’d say there are limits to the interpretation of any of its findings.

What was the cause of the improvements?

Here are just a few questions that I asked myself while reading this paper:

  • Are the guys from the Academy of Homeopathy Education not aware of the fact that even chronic conditions often get better by themselves?
  • Have they heard of the placebo effect?
  • Are they trying to tell us that the patients did not also use conventional treatments for their chronic conditions?
  • What about regression towards the mean?
  • What about social desirability?
  • Why do they think that further research is needed?
  • Are these really results that look ‘promising for homeopathy?

To answer just the last question: No, these findings are in perfect agreement with the fact that highly diluted homeopathic remedies are pure placebos (to be honest, they would even be in agreement with such remedies being mildly harmful).

 

‘WORLD HOMEOPATHY DAY’ is upon us and the Internet is awash with pro-homeopathy comments, e.g.:

  • World Homeopathy Day is observed annually on April 10th to commemorate the birth anniversary of Samuel Hahnemann, a prominent figure in the development of homeopathy. This day celebrates the principles and practices of homeopathy, an alternative medicinal approach that emphasizes treating ailments by utilizing natural substances and stimulating the body’s inherent healing abilities.
  • The theme for World Homeopathy Day 2024 is ‘Empowering Research, Enhancing Proficiency: A Homeopathy Symposium”. This theme underscores the significance of continuous research in homeopathy and the need to upgrade capability in its training to give better medical care results.

Even slightly less biased sources cannot bring themselves to a more realistic approach, e.g.:

The significance of the World Homeopathy Day is said to be as follows:

  • Raising Awareness: World Homeopathy Day has successfully brought homeopathy to the forefront of public attention, generating dialogue and interest in its principles and practices.
  • Bridging Communities: The Day serves as a platform for bringing together homeopaths, practitioners, researchers, and individuals interested in alternative medicine, fostering collaboration and knowledge exchange.
  • Focus on Education: World Homeopathy Day emphasizes the importance of education and ethical practices within the field, promoting responsible usage and informed choices for individuals seeking homeopathic care.

World Homeopathy Day is about understanding and exploring the potential of this alternative medicine system while keeping an open mind and prioritizing evidence-based healthcare practices.

So, let me try to counter-balance these texts by showing you what my recently published 7 key points about homeopathy tell us:

Homeopathy is popular, particularly in India, Germany, France and parts of South America. It was invented more than 200 years ago and still divides opinions like few other subjects in alternative medicine.

  1. Homeopathy was invented by the German physician, Samuel Hahnemann (1755–1843). At the time, our understanding of the laws of nature was woefully incomplete, and therefore Hahnemann’s ideas seemed less implausible than today. The conventional treatments of this period were often more dangerous than the disease they were supposed to cure. Consequently, homeopathy was repeatedly shown to be superior to ‘allopathy’ (a term coined by Hahnemann to denigrate conventional medicine) and Hahnemann’s treatments were an almost instant, worldwide success.[1]
  2. Many consumers confuse homeopathy with herbal medicine; yet the two are fundamentally different. Herbal medicines are plant extracts that contain potentially active ingredients. Homeopathic remedies are based on plants or any other material and they are typically so dilute that they contain not a single molecule of the substance advertised on the bottle. The most frequently used dilution (homeopaths call them ‘potencies’) is a ‘C30’; a C30-potency has been diluted 30 times at a ratio of 1:100. This means that one drop of the staring material is dissolved in 1 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 drops of diluent (usually a water/alcohol mixture)—and that equates to less than one molecule of the original substance per all the molecules of the universe.
  3. Homeopaths claim that their remedies work via some ‘energy’ or ‘vital force’ and that the process of preparing the homeopathic dilutions (it involves vigorous shaking the mixtures at each dilution step) transfers this ‘energy’ or information from one to the next dilution. They also believe that the process of diluting and agitating their remedies, which they call potentisation, renders them not less or not more potent. Homeopathic remedies are usually prescribed according to the ‘like cures like’ principle: if, for instance, a patient suffers from runny eyes, a homeopath might prescribe a remedy made of onion, because onion make a healthy person’s eyes water. This and all other assumptions of homeopathy contradict the known laws of nature. In other words, we do not fail to comprehend how homeopathy works, but we understand that it cannot work unless the known laws of nature are wrong.
  4. According to Hahnemann’s classical homeopathy, homeopaths are focussed on the symptoms and characteristics of the patient. They conduct a lengthy medical history, and they show little or no interest in a physical examination of their patient or other diagnostic procedures. Once they are confident to have all the information they need, they try to find the optimal homeopathic remedy. This is done by matching the symptoms with the drug pictures of homeopathic remedies. Any homeopathic drug picture is essentially based on what has been noted in homeopathic provings where healthy volunteers take a remedy and monitor all that symptoms, sensations and feelings they experience subsequently. Thus, the optimal homeopathic remedy can be seen as a diagnosis which makes homeopathy also a diagnostic method.[2]
  1. Today, around 500 clinical trials of homeopathy have been published. The totality of this evidence fails to show that homeopathic remedies are more than placebos.[3] Numerous official statements from various countries confirm the absurdity of homeopathy, for instance:
  • “The principles of homeopathy contradict known chemical, physical and biological laws and persuasive scientific trials proving its effectiveness are not available” (Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia)
  • “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.” (National Health and Medical Research Council, Australia)
  • “Homeopathic remedies don’t meet the criteria of evidence-based medicine.” (Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Hungary)
  • “The incorporation of anthroposophical and homeopathic products in the Swedish directive on medicinal products would run counter to several of the fundamental principles regarding medicinal products and evidence-based medicine.” (Swedish Academy of Sciences, Sweden)
  • “There is no good-quality evidence that homeopathy is effective as a treatment for any health condition” (National Health Service, England)
  1. Yet, many patients undeniably do get better after taking homeopathic remedies. The best evidence available today clearly shows that this improvement is unrelated to the homeopathic remedy per se. It is the result of a lengthy, empathetic, compassionate encounter with a homeopath, a placebo-response or other factors which experts often call ‘context effects’.[4]
  2. Whenever homeopaths advise their patients (as they often do) to forgo effective conventional treatments, they are likely to do harm. This phenomenon is best documented in relation to the advice of many homeopaths against immunisations.[5]
[For references, see the original text]

I do not expect fans of homeopathy to be impressed by my evidence-based assessment of their cult. In fact, just looking what is currently being posted on ‘X’ today about the ‘WORLD HOMEOPATHY DAY’ seems to justify my expectation. Here are the 10 first postings that appeared on my screen about an hour ago:

  1. Today, on #WorldHomeopathyDay, we celebrate the birth anniversary of Dr. Samuel Hahnemann, the founder of homeopathy. Let’s embrace the principles of natural healing and holistic well-being.
  2. On #WorldHomeopathyDay President #DroupadiMurmu to inaugurate 2-day Homeopathic Symposium at Yashobhoomi Convention Centre Dwarka, New Delhi. Organized by Central Council for Research in Homoeopathy (CCRH) based on theme of ‘Empowering Research, Enhancing Proficiency.’
  3. Dr. Ashvini Kumar Dwivedi, Member, Scientific Advisory Board, Central Council for Research in Homeopathy, Ministry of Ayush, Government of India, and #ASSOCHAM Ayush task force member, underlined the significance of #WorldHomeopathyDay, observed on April 10th each year
  4. Today, we celebrate #WorldHomeopathyDay 2024, embracing the gentle healing power of nature.
  5. Happy #WorldHomeopathyDay!  Let’s celebrate the holistic approach to health that homeopathy offers, honoring its contributions to alternative medicine and its focus on individualized care. Here’s to exploring natural remedies and supporting wellness for all! #HolisticHealth
  6. Happy World Homeopathy Day Embracing the gentle yet powerful healing of homeopathy, let’s cherish its holistic essence, promoting balance and well-being worldwide. Here’s to the harmony it brings to mind, body, and spirit.
  7. #WorldHomeopathyDay: President #DroupadiMurmu to inaugurate 2-day Homeopathic Symposium at Yashobhoomi Convention Centre Dwarka, New Delhi. Organized by Central Council for Research in Homoeopathy (CCRH) based on theme of ‘Empowering Research, Enhancing Proficiency.’
  8. Celebrate #WorldHomeopathyDay with us & enter to win these two enlightening reads by renowned homeopath Dr. Mukesh Batra. What inspired you to explore homeopathy? Share your story in the comments section & get a chance to win a copy of #HealWithHomeopathy and #FeelGoodHealGood!
  9. #WorldHomeopathyDay is celebrated on April 10th, promoting awareness of the principles and benefits of homeopathic medicine. It aims to address the whole body, including hereditary predispositions and disease history, and encourages people to pursue homeopathy as a profession.…
  10. On World Homeopathy Day, we celebrate Dr. Samuel Hahnemann, the pioneer of homeopathy. His gentle remedies, made from natural substances, have helped countless people heal without side effects.

_______________________

In view of this volume of pure BS, I encourage everyone to post (here, or on ‘X’, or elsewhere) some evidence-based comments on homeopathy, Hahnemann and the ‘World Homeopathy Day’.

Let me make a start:

Homeopaths are as deluded as their remedies are diluted

There are many variations of acupuncture. Electroacupuncture (EA) and Laseracupuncture (LA) are but two examples both of which are commonly used. However, it remains uncertain whether LA is as effective as EA. This study aimed to compare EA and LA head to head in dysmenorrhea.

A crossover, randomized clinical trial was conducted. EA or LA was applied to selected acupuncture points. Participants were randomized into two sequence treatment groups who received either EA or LA twice per week in luteal phase for 3 months followed by 2-month washout, then shifted to other groups (sequence 1: EA > LA; sequence 2: LA > EA). Outcome measures were heart rate variability (HRV), prostaglandins (PGs), pain, and quality-of-life (QoL) assessment (QoL-SF12). We also compared the effect of EA and LA in low and high LF/HF (low frequency/high frequency) status.

43 participants completed all treatments. Both EA and LA significantly improved HRV activity and were effective in reducing pain (Visual Analog Scale [VAS]; EA: p < 0.001 and LA: p = 0.010) and improving QoL (SF12: EA: p < 0.001, LA, p = 0.017); although without intergroup difference. EA reduced PGs significantly (p < 0.001; δ p = 0.068). In low LF/HF, EA had stronger effects than LA in increasing parasympathetic tone in respect of percentage of successive RR intervals that differ by more than 50 ms (pNN50; p = 0.053) and very low-frequency band (VLF; p = 0.035).

The authors concluded that there is no significant difference between EA and LA in improving autonomic nervous system dysfunction, pain, and QoL in dysmenorrhea. EA is prominent in PGs changing and preserving vagus tone in low LF/HF; yet LA is noninvasive for those who have needle phobia. Whether LA is equivalent with EA and the mechanism warrants further study.

Looking at the affiliations of the authors, one might expect that they should be able to design a meaningful study:

  • 1Division of Hemato-Oncology, Department of Internal Medicine, Branch of Zhong-Zhou, Taipei City Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan.
  • 2Institute of Traditional Medicine, National Yang-Ming Chiao Tung University, Taipei, Taiwan.
  • 3Department of Traditional Medicine, Branch of Yang-Ming, Taipei City Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan.
  • 4Department of Traditional Medicine, Branch of Kunming, Taipei City Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan.
  • 5Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Branch of Yang-Ming, Taipei City Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan.

Sadly, this assumption is evidently mistaken.

The trial certainly does not show what they claim and neither had it ever the chance to show anything relevent. A clinical trial is comparable to a mathematical equation. It can be solved, if it has one unkown; it cannot produce a result, if it has two unknowns.

The efficacy of EA and LA for dysmenorrhea are both unknown. A comparative study with two unknowns cannot produce a meaningful result. EA and LA did not both improve autonomic nervous system dysfunction, pain, and QoL in dysmenorrhea but most likely they both had no effect. What caused the improvement was not the treatment per se but the ritual, the placebo effect, the TLC or other non-specific factors. The maginal differences in other parameters are meaningless; they are due to the fact that – as an equivalence trial – the study was woefully underpowered and thus open to coincidental differences.

Clinical trials should be about contributing to our knowledge and not about contributing to confusion.

Yesterday, someone (hopefully) unknown to me (hiding under the pseudonym ‘Queristfrei’) tweeted this rather bizarre comment [in German, my translation]:

This trivialisation of the unjust GDR state, in which people died for political reasons, shows how “lost” the people are who @amardeo, @Skepges, @EdzardErnst and the @Skepges respect and defend. That’s historical fabrication to the power of ten! #GWUP

Normally, I would have discarded the comment as just one of those many irrelevant idiocies posted by cranks that I am constantly exposed to on social media. However, the mention of the GWUP, the German skeptics organisation, links it to the current woke-motivated destruction of the GWUP and thus gives it special significance.

‘Woke’ and the various related terms are in fashion and polute discussions on far too many subjects. To be blunt, I don’t like ‘woke, WOKE, anti-woke, unwoke, wokerati’, etc. – so much so that, for the purpose of this post, I will invent an umbrella term that captures all of these words: ANTI-UNWOKERATI, AUWEI for short (yes, there might be a German root in this abbreviation. I know it is a silly acronym but, in my mind, the subject deserves nothing serious).

As already mentioned, I am anti-AUWEI which means I am as much anti-woke as anti-antiwoke. Or, to put it differently, I feel that the world would be a better place, if ‘woke’ had never become en vogue. Here I have listed (in no particular order) several reasons why I dislike AUWEI:

  • AUWEI means different things to different people and is thus a fertile basis for misunderstandings.
  • Every Tom, Dick and Harry uses the AUWEI terminology pretending to be an expert without expertise.
  • Much of what is said and written in the name of AUWEI is pure bullshit.
  • AUWEI has become an ideology.
  • Even worse, it is a straight jacket of the mind that makes us pre-judge a subject regardless of the evidence.
  • Worse still, it is abused by all the wrong politicians.
  • AUWEI serves many as a replacement for evidence.
  • Even worse, it often seems to be an alternative to critical thinking.
  • Most AUWEI-obsessed people seem to have lost their humor (or never had any).
  • AUWEI renders complex issues falsely simple.
  • AUWEI inhibits free thought.
  • AUWEI inhibits nuances and puts you in one camp or another – black or white.
  • AUWEI is unnecessarily devisive.
  • AUWEI invites intolerance and unproductive dispute.

Personally, I like to make up my own mind about things; to do this, I want to see the evidence. Once I have understood it, I go where the evidence leads me – not where AUWEI dictates me to go.

There are many AUWEI subjects that do not interest me and perhaps even more that I find outright silly. Personally, I don’t want AUWEI to tell me that I must have an opinion on them or quietly follow that of my AUWEI ‘peers’.

No, really; AUWEI is not for me.

A we have heard from our homeopathic friend, Dana Ullaman, homeopathy works well for plants. Unfortunatley, he was unable to provide any good evidence for his claim. To show what a nice guy I am, I herewith help him out and present a recent study on the subject:

Given the seasonal climatic characteristics, forest fires in “cerrado” areas in Central Brazil are not infrequently, with permanent damage. Due to its physicochemical qualities acting in biological regulation processes, water has been considered the primary vehicle for propagating signals from homeopathic ingredients, as suggested by previous studies carried out with solvatochromic dyes. Therefore, such inputs could, in theory, be inserted into watercourses to stimulate the regeneration of the biome destroyed by fire. This hypothesis motivated this case study.

A slow dispersion device was developed aiming at promoting continuous environmental regeneration, containing hydrocolloid and calcium carbonate as a solid base soaked in a homeopathic complex specifically designed for this purpose, composed of Arsenicum albumArnica montanaStaphysagriaIgnatia amara, and Phosphorus, all at 30cH. The case occurred in Nascentes do Rio Taquari Park, between Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul state, Brazil. It is a “cerrado” area, with multiple springs that feed the Paraguay River, occupying an area of 26,849 hectares over the Guarani and Bauru aquifers.

After the fire in early September 2020, the devices were fixed at 9 strategic points in the park (P1 to P9) over 10 days, between September 29, and October 11, 2020, in water courses close to the main springs. To assess the restoration signs of the post-fire environment, the technicians responsible for monitoring the park made observations of flora and fauna recomposition in different locations close to four device-insertion points (P3, P5, P7, P8).

Signs of recovery were observed 40 days after the fire was over. A rapid pioneer plant restructuring was noted, with a significant regrowth of grass, herbaceous and shrub species, such as Mutamba (Guazuma ulmifolia), Murici (Byrsonima spp.), Inga (Inga sp.), Brachiaria (Brachiaria sp.), Jaraguá grass (Hyparrhenia rufa), Colonião grass (Panicum maximum), Gabiroba (Campomanesia sp.), and Pixirica (Miconia sp.). Some species, such as Mimosa (Mimosa sp.), Colonião grass (Panicum maximum), and Jaraguá grass (Hyparrhenia rufa), were not detected in the area before the fire, probably by the seed bank stimulation caused by the heat. There was rapid forest regeneration (4 months after the fire) and restoration of most of the burned trees, both for resisting the fire and for being free of invasive species highly aggressive to native plants, which were controlled by the action of fire. Concerning the fauna, a vast animal population was detected, especially birds, highlighting the “Tuiuiú” (Jabiru mycteria) and “Socó” (Tigrisoma lineatum) close to a water body with a waterfall area (P3). Both species belong to the “Pantanal” biome close to the park. Such species began to frequent the park’s lakes, being observed until February 2023 (the last survey date). The park’s inventory of lichens and fungi showed an unusual tolerance to fire in species that adhered to burned trees and remained active.

In this way, it is suggested that installing slow dispersion devices in watercourses can contribute to the regeneration of other “cerrado” biome areas subjected to fire, protecting the local biodiversity. More studies of this nature are needed to know the real impact of this method on the recovery of different biomes.

Convinced?

I suspect Dana might be (he seems to be particularly prone to confirmation bias) – but rational thinkers do probably have questions; let me just mention two:

  • Was there a control area with which the findings were compared?
  • Was the outcome measure objective?

As the answers are NO and NO, I fear that we need to disappoint Dana yet again:

homeopathy is a placebo treatment no matter whether we apply it to humans, animals or plants.

Dragons’ Den is a British reality television business programme, presented by Evan Davis and based upon the original Japanese series. The show allows several entrepreneurs an opportunity to present their varying business ideas to a panel of five wealthy investors, the “Dragons” of the show’s title, and pitch for financial investment while offering a stake of the company in return.

It has been reported that Giselle Boxer began selling needle-free acupuncture kits for ears after being diagnosed with myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME). She said the technique had helped improve her own health. Ms Boxer worked for advertising agency before starting her business. A researcher on the show had contacted her to ask if she would like to take part.

Entrepreneur and former footballer Gary Neville was so impressed with her pitch he made her an offer in full before the Dragons had a chance to begin asking questions. She said the impact on the business since the show aired had been “bonkers”. “It’s just been a complete whirlwind,” she said.

Acu Seed kit

The tiny beads are a needle-free form of auriculotherapy, designed to stimulate specific points of the ear to address physical and emotional health concerns. “It completely transformed my life alongside lots and lots of other things like diet, lifestyle changes, meditation, breathwork and movement,” said Ms Boxer. She has since had a child and claimed she was fully healed within a year. “It was like a full overhaul of my life,” Ms Boxer said. Her business, Acu Seeds, sells kits for people to use at home and made a £64,000 profit in its first year, she added.

On the Acu Seed website, we learn the following:

Ear seeds are a form of auriculotherapy, which is the stimulation of specific points of the ear to support physical and emotional health concerns. They are a needle-free form of acupuncture that have been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for thousands of years. TCM teaches that the ear is a microsystem of the whole body, where certain points on the ear correspond to different organs or body parts. Energy pathways (or ‘qi’ or vital life energy) pass through the ear and ear seeds stimulate specific points which send an abundant flow of energy to the related organ or area that needs attention. Think of it like reflexology, but for the ears instead of feet.

Ear seeds also create continual, gentle pressure on nerve impulses in the ear which send messages to the brain that certain organs or systems need support. The brain will then send signals and chemicals to the rest of the body to support whatever ailments you’re experiencing, releasing endorphins into the bloodstream, relaxing the nervous system, and naturally soothing pain and discomfort. Some people use ear seeds alongside acupuncture treatments as they may help the effects of acupuncture last longer between sessions.

I am impressed by the lingo used here:

  • support physical and emotional health concerns – the seeds support the concerns but not the health?
  • a needle-free form of acupuncture – sorry, the seeds don’t puncture anything; they exert pressure; therefore it’s called acuPRESSURE.
  • have been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for thousands of years – no, it was invented just a few decades ago by Paul Nogier.
  • TCM teaches that the ear is a microsystem of the whole body – TCM teaches plenty of nonsense but not this one.
  • Energy pathways (or ‘qi’ or vital life energy) pass through the ear –Qi is nothing more than a figment of the imagination of TCM advocates.
  • send an abundant flow of energy to the related organ or area – only if you believe in your own fictional form of physiology.
  • Think of it like reflexology – which btw is also nonsense.
  • nerve impulses in the ear send messages to the brain that certain organs or systems need support – only if you believe in your own fictional form of physiology.
  • The brain will then send signals and chemicals to the rest of the body – only if you believe in your own fictional form of physiology.
  • help the effects of acupuncture last longer – help the non-existing effects of acupuncture last longer?

One the website, we also learn what for which conditions the treatment is effective:

Ear seeds may support a broad spectrum of health concerns including anxiety, stress, headaches, digestion, immunity, focus, sleep and fatigue. Our ear seed kits include the protocol ear maps for these eight health concerns and each protocol uses between 3 to 5 ear seeds. Ear seeds have also been found to support with women’s health issues like menstrual issues, libido, fertility, postpartum issues, inflammation, menopause and weight loss. The ear maps for these issues are given in our women’s health ear seed kit bundles. The specific combination of seed placements will support your chosen health concern. Further issues that they may support with are addiction, pain, tinnitus, vertigo, thyroid health and more.

Here, I am afraid, we might have a major problem:

THERE IS NO GOOD EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT ANY OF THESE CLAIMS!

I thus do wonder whether the venture of Giselle Boxer might be a case for the Advertising Standards Authority.

When I decided to write my recent post about bizarre things going on with the GWUP (the German Skeptics), I knew, of course, that it would cause a few ripples. As a member of the GWUP scientific committee, I had been on the receiving end for the best part of a year of virtually hundreds emails and other exchanges directly releted to the matter. Initially, I had decided to stay out of all this. Therefore, I had read most of this material but had not responded to it even once.

Eventually, I had come to the conclusion that I ought to resign from the GWUP. There were two main reasons for that conclusion:

  1. Even though I had had plenty of time and information to form my own opinion, I had little to contribute to the affair.
  2. At the best of time, I am not a person who fits well into or likes to belong to clubs, associations, etc., and I was getting increasingly frustrated with the whole ting.

Before formulating my resignation letter, I discussed the GWUP with a trusted friend. This changed my attitude: I now felt that, before resigning, I should give it a try and make my position public in the hope that this might help the GWUP to get their act together.

Consequently, I posted my article precisely a week ago, well-aware of the fact that this would be controversial and might lead to attacks on my integrity. Having previously survived much bigger battles than that, I was not worried – at least, here I will be dealing with rational people, I thought.

As predicted, the reactions to my blog post (which was later translated and also published in German) were multipe, often fierce, and occasionally insulting. As not predicted, my assumption about dealing with rational people was erroneous.

I received (and posted) ~ 120 comments on the blog (only discarding less than a handful that were too far below the belt) and even more on social media. Many of you asked questions, and I tried to answer them the best I could. I even added a clarification to my original post. Soon I had to realize that emotions were flying high and reached into spheres that I understand little about and had even less intention to go into.

With hindsight, would I do it again?

Probably not!

Why not? Mainly because my attempt to help the GWUP was naive. I got the feeling that the rift amongst the German skeptics is too deep, too emotional, and too irrational. More than once I got the impression that it might be beyond repair.

More worringly perhaps, I also feel that some people who think of themselves ‘skeptics’ lack some of the qualities that I consider to be hallmarks of skepticism – to name just three: openness, rationality, and (self)critical thinking.

If someone voices his/her opinion (as has happened repeatedly, e.g. on social media) that I have been mistaken in what I stated about the GWUP, openness and rationality require, in my view, that this opinion is substantiated by stating exactly where I was mistaken. Just claiming “you were misinformed”, for instance, is hardly enough! After all, my post was written not least with the intention of identifying errors and misunderstandings. I never assumed that I am infallible, and therefore I invited my critics to use my blog for pointing out any errors, mistakes, misunderstandings, sources of misinformation, etc. Quite frankly, I was reminded of Randi’s bon mot: “The first thing a cult does is tell you everyone else is lying.”

And what happened?

Were my critics able to demonstrate where I have made errors or false allegations?

No – at least, I am not aware of such demonstrations which, of course, would require written statements that can be checked not just by me but by everyone else who is in the know.

Based on this situation, I feel tempted to conclude that the multiple claims of me having made false allegations are, in fact, false allegations.

Of course, I could be wrong!

And because I could be wrong, I am issuing herewith yet another invitation: if you are in possession of facts that contradict my previous post, here is your chance to disclose them by posting a comment below.

_____________________

And where do we go from here?

I will postpone my decision to leave the GWUP for a few weeks and hope that, contrary to my pessimism, the GWUP might manage to get its act together. The more I try to understand the reasons for the rift, the more I feel that they are emotionally hyped trivialities. With a healthy dose of openness, rationality, and (self)critical thinking, the rift might still be repairable.

 

 

Following on from my recent post about chiropractic denial, I feel like elaborating a little on an argument that is regularly used by those who try to defend the indefensible:

YOU ARE NOT COMPETENT TO CRITICIZE!

The notion is extremely popular not just with chiropractors but with virtually all practitioners of so-called alternative medicine (SCAM).

  • Discuss with a chiropractor the merits of chiropractic, and she will soon ask you for your qualifications in the subject. If you are not a qualified chiropractor, she will say something like: sorry, but you are not qualified to discuss this because chiropractic is a complex subject that requires a lot of study to fully understand.
  • Discuss with a homeopath the merits of homeopathy, and she will soon ask you for your qualifications in the subject. If you are not a qualified homeopath, she will say something like: sorry, but you are not qualified to discuss this because homeopathy is a complex subject that requires a lot of study to fully understand.
  • Discuss with a energy healer the merits of energy healing, and she will soon ask you for your qualifications in the subject. If you are not a qualified energy healer, she will say something like: sorry, but you are not qualified to discuss this because energy healing is a complex subject that requires a lot of study to fully understand.
  • Discuss with a osteopath the merits of osteopathy, and she will soon ask you for your qualifications in the subject. If you are not a qualified osteopath, she will say something like: sorry, but you are not qualified to discuss this because osteopathy is a complex subject that requires a lot of study to fully understand.
  • Discuss with a acupuncturist the merits of acupuncture, and she will soon ask you for your qualifications in the subject. If you are not a qualified acupuncturist, she will say something like: sorry, but you are not qualified to discuss this because acupuncture is a complex subject that requires a lot of study to fully understand.
  • etc. I’m sure you get the drift.

The first question to ask oneself here is this: what are these SCAM qualifications? Once you look into it, you might find – depending on national differences – that they consist of a series of courses that are more akin to brain-washing than to proper study. In other words, the arrogant pretence of SCAM practitioners to have more knowledge than the opponent is nil and void. What they do have is mostly pseudo-knowledge aquired during the brain-wash they assumed to be study.

But this is not what I wanted to explore today. I am more interested in another aspect of the ‘YOU ARE NOT COMPETENT TO CRITICIZE’ argument.

It has the effect that, from the persective of the SCAM practitioner, criticism voiced by people who are not experts in the SCAM in question can be dismissed. These people are simply not competent to criticize!

Consequently, criticism can only be considered, if it originates from someone who is an accepted expert in the SCAM. This means that:

  • Only a well-versed chiropractor can legitimately criticize chiropractic.
  • Only a well-versed homeopath can legitimately criticize homeopathy.
  • Only a well-versed energy healer can legitimately criticize energy healing.
  • Only a well-versed osteopath can legitimately criticize osteopathy.
  • Only a well-versed acupuncturist can legitimately criticize acupuncture.
  • etc. I’m sure you get the drift.

To perfect this culture of avoiding criticism, a final step is essential: a definition of what constitutes a ‘well-versed’ practitioner. A ‘well-versed’ SCAM practitioner is someone who is fully trained and understands and subscribes to the assumptions on which the SCAM in question is based. ‘Fully trained’ means, of course, that he/she went through the process of brain washing where the dogmas of the SCAM in question are internalized.

Should someone disagree with them (i.e. begin to criticize the SCAM) he/she is thus easily identified as being a heritic who is insufficiently ‘well-versed’ and incompetent to criticize. Consequently his/her criticism can be declared as invalid and can be ignored: a heritic would, of course, disagree – what else do you expect? – but that has no relevance because the maveric does not understand the subtleties of the SCAM and is quite simply incompetent.

Bob’s your uncle!

Criticism has been successfully averted.

No legitimate criticism of SCAM has ever been formulated.

SCAM practitioners are thus on the right track and should carry on as always.

 

 

PS

In order to make a clear point, I occasionally exaggerate – but only slightly.

 

TOXIN BUILDUP CAN CAUSE:

  • Brain Fog
  • Irritability
  • Exhaustion
  • Stress Induced Muscle Aches
  • Inability to Concentrate
  • Tiredness
  • Restlessness
  • And Many More Problems

At least this is what we are being told on the Nuunu website which appeared in my emails recently (how did they know that I am full of toxins?). Here is some more of the infinite wisdom promoted by Nuubu:

Improve your body and mind with a natural Asian solution!

  • Traditional Wisdom: Nuubu was inspired by Centuries-old traditional Asian knowledge, passed on by generations. True trust is earned by passing a test of time. Nuubu is made of natural herbs and herbal extracts. Forget about harmful, toxic chemicals and embrace the soothing power of nature!
  • Detox Through Sweat: Nuubu is a revolutionary detox foot patch that can greatly increase your sense of wellbeing. Nuubu supports the body’s natural way of removing toxins through activated sweat glands.
  • Holistic Approach: Tackle the cause, not the symptoms – your body is riddled by toxic elements, which may harm your wellbeing and increase stress. Using sweat detox and vitamin infusion Nuubu helps you to strengthen your mind, body and soul!

Natural Body Toxin Removal:
Amazing
New Way to Improve Your Life

  • A Secret to a Stress-Free Living

    Tired? Stressed? Fatigued? You are not alone – our lifestyles are extremely taxing on our bodies and minds alike. Headaches, bad sleep and stress are the unfortunate hallmarks of fast-moving modern life. Active ingredients that are found in the Nuubu foot patch are known for their ability to remove accumulating harmful elements from your body, which can greatly improve your sense of wellbeing!*

  • Traditional Medicine gets Modern Upgrade

    According to Japanese traditional knowledge, the human body has over 360 acupuncture points, with more than 60 points found on the soles of the foot. Nuubu combines tried-and-true Asian techniques with a sleek and modern approach – attach the herbal-remedy based patches to your feet and wait a few hours for the toxin removal through your sweat glands. It has never been that easy!

  • Natural Approach

    Are you tired of hazardous man-made chemicals being used in every aspect of your life? There is a better way to harmonize your lifestyle! Nuubu foot patches are made using natural herbs similar to ones found in the remote East-Asian mountainsides. Forget the harmful toxicity and side effects!

Traditional Wisdom

Traditional Asian wisdom that has been passed down through the ages is what inspired the Nuubu Patches. The test of time is what allows us to provide you with a product that you can trust. Forget about hazardous, dangerous drugs and enjoy nature’s calming influence instead.

Only the most natural herbs and herbal extracts are used to make the Nuubu Patches. We have blended together ancient herbal therapies to create the ultimate in cleansing wellness.

The soothing herbal aroma of Mother Nature’s finest plants and botanicals allow you to know that the Nuubu Patches are doing their job and providing you with optimal wellness.

______________________

I hope you are as impressed as I am!

So, I searched for the evidence?

Does detox work? Specifically, does the Nuubu reduce my:

  • Brain Fog
  • Irritability
  • Exhaustion
  • Stress Induced Muscle Aches
  • Inability to Concentrate
  • Tiredness
  • Restlessness
  • And Many More Problems

No matter how hard I searched, I did not find any evidence. Eventually, I had to conclude that the patch does not work.

Hold on!

The website might be correct with one claim: it helps you to strengthen your mind

… to such an extend that you will

never fall for the lies of detox entrepreneurs!

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