Thursday, January 13, 2011

Homeopaths have rallied the troops (Homeopathy gets smackdown on Marketplace - Friday @ 8PM)

While my wife and I were watching television last night, a commercial came on about CBC Marketplace (Cure or Con) and I almost fell out of my chair - it is going to be an investigation into pure stupid Homeopathy.

I did a quick search to find out more information about the show - I entered "Marketplace Homeopathy" into the google search and the first 5 or 6 links (for me) were for Homeopaths and those sympathetic to pure stupid Homeopathy. (Note: a blog follower asked why I capitalize the first letter in Homeopathy since it is so dumb when I often will not capitalize the "g" in "god".  There is only one pure stupid Homeopathy - there are over 2500 gods.) 

The Homeopaths have really rallied the troops - they are calling on people to contact the CBC and demand that it not be aired, demanding that the reporters lose their jobs, claiming that it is all lies, etc.  On the CBC Marketplace site for this episode (http://www.cbc.ca/marketplace/2011/cureorcon/), the vast majority of comments are from people who support pure stupid Homeopathy - which tells me we have a lot of work to do.  (The work isn't in making sure people know that Homeopathy is pure stupid, but in helping people understand science, the scientific process and what constitutes evidence in the realm of science.)

I have tried to comment on the Marketplace site but, as of a few minutes ago, the comments are still waiting for moderation. 

Let your family and friends know to watch CBC Marketplace this Friday at 8:00PM - especially if they think that pure stupid Homeopathy works.  (Yes, "think" and "Homeopathy" seldom belongs in the same sentence.)

Some links about Homeopathy:
http://www.howdoeshomeopathywork.com/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HxMz-4IKzew

http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=9762

Updates
The following updates may be considered rude, offensive and childish.  And, if they are, I nailed it!  Homeopathy is stupid.

It is often said that you fight fire with fire but, in response to the comments on this blog (and on Cure or Con), I'm going to fight stupid with stupid.

Homeopathy benefits patients, at best, by means of the placebo effect.  You can argue it any way you wish but in a double-blind clinical trial with Homeopathy, placebo and a control, Homeopathy does no better than placebo.  Period.

The first comment suggests that there are no new complaints against Homeopathy and, though incorrect, does not make Homeopathy work.  It was stupid 200 years ago and it is stupid today.  Medicine has progressed (in leaps and bounds) in the past 200 years and Homeopathy hasn't changed a bit (okay maybe it did become more of a religion like Chiropractic). 

We know that patients (though they may not like to hear it) should be treated based on statistics - some will do better and some will do worse but treating the patient based on what they self-report as their problems fails the basic tests of science.  Science requires data to not have been f#$ked with - a self-report is weak and easily manipulated.  All that Homeopathy does, in claiming to make a specific treatment for the "whole person" is spend time with the patient - one of the key components for eliciting the placebo response. 

Homeopathy doesn't work if you don't believe in it.  Period.  Antibiotics? They work whether or not you believe in them.  Someone receiving a specially formulated treatment (for them) from a Homeopath but told that it is a placebo - do not see the same benefits as people who receive a placebo but are told it is a specific Homeopathic nostrum formulated specifically for them.  This screams placebo.  That's all it is, that is all it can ever be.  An expensive and dangerous one at that.  (People skip real medical treatments/diagnoses because of the bullshit that is peddled by these snakeoil sales people.)

"It can't be placebo because it works on babies and animals" is f#$king stupid.  Anyone making that claim should not be allowed to breed.  The placebo response does not solely rely on the patient expecting an outcome - that is not what we've ever claimed and it is not what actually happens.  Expectations can and do affect the outcomes but they are not necessary.  The placebo response can be triggered by simply increased attention (the Homeopath gives a patient a shoulder to "cry" on and listens to their problems - the benefit derived from that is a placebo) - babies recognize additional attention.  More cuddling, the parent taking care to keep the baby comfortable, feeding the baby comfort foods, staying home from work to be with the baby (instead of putting them into day care), etc.  Conditioned responses are seen in animals and babies all the time.  Stop using that lame response to a claim that something is placebo.  It is old, it is tired and it is stupid (just like Homeopathy).

Other comments include:
Comment: Homeopathy is natural and doesn't contain all the chemicals/toxins that "Big Pharma" puts into medicine.
Me: Stupid.  Everything is made of chemicals.  The toxin is in the dose (water is toxic and so are most vitamins).  Natural does not mean safe.  Shit is natural - so is mercury, lead, anthrax, mushrooms, cocaine, asbestos, carbon monoxide, etc.

Comment: It works for me, you can't tell me this stuff doesn't work.
Me: It doesn't work and it didn't work for you.  There is not a single binary outcome that is changed by Homeopathy.  Consider the natural history of the disease, regression to the mean, etc.  Take a cold medication and your cold goes away in 7 days.  Don't take one and it is gone in a week.  Amazing!

Comment: Allopathic.
Me: Scratch anything that anyone says if they use the term "allopathic".  They're sheep and they've been screwed by their shepherd (sounds like something that happens at churches).

Comment: As a result of Homeopathy my energy levels have increased. 
Me: No, no.  That's because of your Power Balance bracelet.  Don't confuse them.  I bet you'd have more energy if you didn't have to waste your time going to the store to buy the pure stupid.

Comment: Homeopathy is a science that has been around 200 years.
Me: Homeopathy is not a science.  To accept Homeopathy, we'd have to throw out physics, biology, chemistry and theology (just kidding - but can we just throw out the last one anyway?).  You know what else has been around for 200 years?  Slavery.  Oppression of women.  Mumps.  Measles.  Rubella.  Pertussis.  Anything that hasn't been revised or updated in 200 years is out of date or obsolete.  When Samuel Hahahahman (something like that?) invented pure stupid out of whole cloth, people often didn't live to reproductive age, the average live span was less than 50 years.  Science, however, has increased that to well over 75 years.  If we weren't wasting billions of dollars on sCAMs like Homeopathy, imagine where we'd be!

Comment: Unbalanced reporting.  Biased reporting. (Re: Cure or Con)  (Actual quote: "I would ask you to ensure the people you are interviewing for this segment are from both sides of this debate - it is unreasonable to assume that interviewing someone who potentially has a vested interest in a subject will give you an unbiased and fair interview.")
Me: Stupid doesn't deserve a platform to spew stupid.  In a debate, the truth does not necessarily sit somewhere in the middle of the two viewpoints.  One side can be completely wrong (Homeopathy in this case).  Who doesn't have a vested interest in something that would speak about it?  Homeopaths have a vested interest, people seeking the truth have a vested interest.  People who use Homeopathy (have invested money in stupid) have a vested interest - whether they think it worked for them or not.  What people are trying to argue is "big pharma is paying scientists to lie about Homeopathy so they can't be trusted" but "trust a Homeopath, why would they lie?". 

Comment: "Big pharma"
Me: Big placebo.  And by that, I mean, if following the money makes one suspicious, I suggest that we can't trust big placebo (I think this is a horrible argument either way.).  They're in it for the money as well.  Oh, and much of the market for sCAMs (Homeopathy, "natural shit", etc.) are dominated by big business (including the same pharmaceutical companies you're arguing against). 

Comment: (Actual quote) "Wow. A lot of support for Homeopathy in the comments. I didn't realise that many Canadians were total ret@rds. There is no scientific merit to Homeopathy and no evidence that it works. It's water ffs. Homeopaths are dangerous as they encourage people to abandon real medicine (especially preventative, specious reasoning and all that) for diseases such as malaria and cancer. They're a dangerous plague and if this support is representative of the Canadian population then I'm afraid I'm going to have to scratch the entire country of my Atlas of Relevant Non-Idiot Countries (U.S. and a number of others gone already). I was hoping I could keep SOME of North America but I guess that's just not to be... :("
Me: I can't believe that got through the moderators.

Comment: (Actual quote) "numerous clinical trials and double blind tests have been conducted in

Europe that were set up to disprove the efficacy of homeopathic remedies by the allopathic community, only to prove that they DO work. "
Me: F#%k me sideways! Then aren't the Europeans stupid? They get positive studies (you suggest) and, from that, decide that it's time to stop funding Homeopathy in Britain?  And Germany?

Comment: (Actual quote) "Question: Why did the CBC not consult with leading Homeopathic doctors for conclusive evidence on the efficacy of Homeopathy? It seems your research is lacking thoroughness."
Me: Two words: Coutier's Reply. You want a few more?  You don't need to know what they claim about Homeopathy and how it is supposed to work if it simply does not work (and it doesn't).

Comment: (Actual quote) "My family and I have been using homeopathic remedies for the last 9 years, with great success. I used homeopathic teething tablets when my daughters were babies; the results are nearly instantaneous for stopping crying, reducing swelling and red cheeks."
Me: Jesus Christ on Crutches!  Does death cause a baby to stop crying, have reduced swelling and stop their cheeks from being red?

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

Myths about homeopathy 1:

"It is all mumbo jumbo, and modern science has shown it to be nonsense"

This myth is rarely stated as baldly as this, perhaps because it is so easy to disprove. Virtually every argument against homeopathy which is used today was used within the first 50 years of the discovery of its principles. For example, in a UK television programme on Channel 4 in 2007 Professor Dawkins compared the preparation of a remedy to adding a single drop to the ocean, an argument specifically countered by Hahnemann in 1827 (Samuel Hahnemann, 'How can small doses of such very attenuated medicine as homoeopathy employs still possess great power?' (Reine Arzeneimittellehre vi, 1827, reprinted in Lesser Writings (New Delhi: B. Jain Publishers Pvt. Ltd., 2002) p.729).

In fact, the only really new argument (that homeopathy is proved ineffective during scientific trials) is fundamentally flawed. In the 1950s the dramatic failure of the methods of testing drugs (such as Thalidomide) led to the proposal that double blind randomised control trials (DBRCTs) should be used. These trials were proposed because the large number of unknown factors affecting such tests made it impossible to assess accurately the effects of a new medicine. Since then these factors have remained unknown, and drugs have still been withdrawn after being adopted on the basis of DBRCT results (such as Vioxx). In other words, this approach has shown itself to be inadequate, but there has still been no significant development in medical science which could allow it to be replaced with a more accurate method of testing. This also means that there has been no significant development in medical science capable of disproving homeopathy, despite the claims of its opponents.

In the field of biology the modern understanding of the body as a homeostatic system (a reworking of knowledge already in existence in Hahnemann's day) leads necessarily to homeopathic treatment being the correct approach. In the field of physics there is increasing evidence pointing in the direction of an explanation for how homeopathy works.

Anonymous said...

Myths about homeopathy 3:

"Homeopathy is only the placebo effect"

This myth is one which is often adopted by people who know nothing at all about homeopathy. A so-called "pop-myth".

Before addressing this myth, it is necessary to make it clear that the placebo effect is not an imaginary benefit. Often this claim is meant to imply that the patient has not really got better, they just think they have. But this overlooks the fact that people who benefit from the placebo effect really do get better.  In fact, for conventional doctors the only difference between getting better from a conventional treatment and a placebo is that they cannot explain why the placebo has made someone better. In a sense, the fact that conventional medicine has a problem with explaining homeopathy means that it is by definition a placebo for them. Of course any new treatment they cannot yet explain is theoretically a placebo too.

The placebo effect is also dependent on the patient expecting a particular result. So with the huge investment in marketing conventional drugs, one should logically expect an enhanced placebo effect from use of those drugs. The idea that an unconventional treatment, which is regularly ridiculed by conventional medical practitioners and experts, has a more powerful placebo effect than would happen with conventional drugs, is a denial of the principles of the effect.

In fact, when it comes to the details, the myth breaks down completely. In the conventional placebo effect the symptoms which the patient believes are being treated get better, but the reaction to a homeopathic remedy is much more complicated. In some cases the patient does claim to feel better, but there is no indication of real change in the symptoms, and for a homeopath this is the true placebo effect. Where changes are observed they reveal a great deal about the case. For example, a homeopath can identify that:

a there is a serious problem of pathological change in the body's tissues
b the patient is only being palliated by the remedy
c the patient is being made worse by the remedy
d the patient has not reacted
e the patient is getting better, but the potency is not the best one
f the patient is getting better but the remedy is not the best one
g the patient is getting better and the choice of remedy and potency are exactly rightThis range of reactions cannot be explained by the conventional placebo effect.

The myth also breaks down when you consider how remedies are tested to find out what they can do. Homeopaths test substances for use as remedies by giving healthy people a potentised form of the substance (usually 30c). This is exactly the same form of dose given to patients, and it is given until the provers (the people testing the remedy) start to have symptoms. The symptoms that follow are recorded in as much detail as possible, including the time and speed of onset, the precise location and nature of the symptoms, and the things which make them better or worse. By gathering this information from a number of different people of different ages and both sexes, it is possible to establish a picture of the way the remedy acts. This is impossible to explain by placebo effect and proves that the remedies can act on the human body in precise ways, even if the mechanism of action is unknown.

Evidence of remedies working on babies and animals also disproves the placebo effect theory, since they do not understand the world about them sufficiently to be able to believe that a remedy is going to do them good.

Anonymous said...

Myths about homeopathy 3:

"Homeopathy is only the placebo effect"

This myth is one which is often adopted by people who know nothing at all about homeopathy. A so-called "pop-myth".

Before addressing this myth, it is necessary to make it clear that the placebo effect is not an imaginary benefit. Often this claim is meant to imply that the patient has not really got better, they just think they have. But this overlooks the fact that people who benefit from the placebo effect really do get better.  In fact, for conventional doctors the only difference between getting better from a conventional treatment and a placebo is that they cannot explain why the placebo has made someone better. In a sense, the fact that conventional medicine has a problem with explaining homeopathy means that it is by definition a placebo for them. Of course any new treatment they cannot yet explain is theoretically a placebo too.

The placebo effect is also dependent on the patient expecting a particular result. So with the huge investment in marketing conventional drugs, one should logically expect an enhanced placebo effect from use of those drugs. The idea that an unconventional treatment, which is regularly ridiculed by conventional medical practitioners and experts, has a more powerful placebo effect than would happen with conventional drugs, is a denial of the principles of the effect.

In fact, when it comes to the details, the myth breaks down completely. In the conventional placebo effect the symptoms which the patient believes are being treated get better, but the reaction to a homeopathic remedy is much more complicated. In some cases the patient does claim to feel better, but there is no indication of real change in the symptoms, and for a homeopath this is the true placebo effect. Where changes are observed they reveal a great deal about the case. For example, a homeopath can identify that:

a there is a serious problem of pathological change in the body's tissues
b the patient is only being palliated by the remedy
c the patient is being made worse by the remedy
d the patient has not reacted
e the patient is getting better, but the potency is not the best one
f the patient is getting better but the remedy is not the best one
g the patient is getting better and the choice of remedy and potency are exactly rightThis range of reactions cannot be explained by the conventional placebo effect.

The myth also breaks down when you consider how remedies are tested to find out what they can do. Homeopaths test substances for use as remedies by giving healthy people a potentised form of the substance (usually 30c). This is exactly the same form of dose given to patients, and it is given until the provers (the people testing the remedy) start to have symptoms. The symptoms that follow are recorded in as much detail as possible, including the time and speed of onset, the precise location and nature of the symptoms, and the things which make them better or worse. By gathering this information from a number of different people of different ages and both sexes, it is possible to establish a picture of the way the remedy acts. This is impossible to explain by placebo effect and proves that the remedies can act on the human body in precise ways, even if the mechanism of action is unknown.

Evidence of remedies working on babies and animals also disproves the placebo effect theory, since they do not understand the world about them sufficiently to be able to believe that a remedy is going to do them good.

Jason said...

Frankly, I have used Homeopathic medicine known as TRAUMEEL for my sports injury.
Its not a narcotic or a steroid.
It works and Homeopathic medicine works for me and my family.

RealityinSarnia said...

The nutters are all out tonight!

Homeopathy is Bullshit. You are all wasting your money and time that you could be taking real medicine that will actually do something.

If it worked, it would be called medicine but it doesn't.

Anonymous said...

You should do more posts like this. I loved it! Sarnia needs more like you.

Anonymous said...

http://saveyourself.ca/articles/reality-checks/traumeel.php

Gail said...

Here's one of many announcement about the benefits of 'real medicine'

November 19, 2010 — The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has asked that propoxyphene, sold under the brand names Darvon and Darvocet by Xanodyne Pharmaceuticals, be removed from the US market. The decision will also affect generic manufacturers and the makers of propoxyphene-containing products.

New clinical data showing that the drug puts patients at risk for potentially serious or even fatal heart rhythm abnormalities has prompted regulators to act. An estimated 10 million patients have used these products.

Sara Coyne said...

My baby was teething and I used Camilia - a homeopathic medicine . The homeopathic medicine worked fast and settled by child. I support the use of Homeopathic medicine. My Naturopathic Doctor prescibes them for my family and for myself. I have benefited greatly . Thank you.

Carl said...

Gail, you are fucking retarded. Science is self-correcting and knowledge advances. Your tooth-fairy science is a cult with no evidence. Homeopathic treatments have been recalled too - what's your fucking point?

200 years and no evidence sounds like something you should put your trust in. I hope they deny you real treatment when you need it because you've just insulted the professions that have enabled you live to twice as long as people could when your messiah came up with his absurd cult (homeopathy).

Sara. It didn't work for you. Look up 'natural history' of the disease and look up 'regression to the mean'. Put your anecdotes aside and present the evidence or put your head further up your ass and stop breeding. Did you not even read this guys blog? A teething 'treatment' was recalled - these products are not tested for efficacy and safety before they hit the shelves.

Anonymous said...

Go Carl!!!!!!!!!!!

Jason said...

I just noticed that someone selected a specific link to TRAUMEEL, but failed to post other links to the studies.

Here are the scientific publications to TRAUMEEL

http://www.traumeel.com/upload/Publications_484.pdf

I'll still use the TRAUMEEL after my hockey games.

Sarah Coyne said...

I sense your frustration Carl and even your anger. Its quite obvious.

I recommend seeing a Naturopathic or Homeopathic Doctor.

Homeopathic medicine is the fastest growing form of medicine because it works.

Do you really think it would continue to grow in popularity if it didn't work ?

I stand by my earlier statement. Homeopathy & Naturopathic Medicine works for me, for my baby and for my husband, for my friends and it will work for you.

Anonymous said...

OMG, this is hilarious to read as with so many other blogs about Homeopathy.


No wonder Homeopathy is growing. There seems to be alot of people using this stuff.

I'm going to smoke my weed - its natural and it works.

Anonymous said...

You should learn the science before you start posting stupid blog entries. By the way, your grammar and writing is horrendous.

sarniaskeptic said...

Wow Carl.

First, it appears that maybe only carl actually read the blog entry.

I checked out the link to trarumeel - the link is another blog but it does reference a number of studies - none of which appear to support any claims of efficacy. If you can find any such studies, post the links here. Note that anecdotes are not studies.

I'm not surprised by the responses from the people who support homeopathy - they accept it because they lack the basic understanding of science and logic. Not a single claim in favour of homeopathy has been anything but a logical fallacy.

Let's consider them:

Argument from popularity (argumentum ad populam)
Popularity of something does not mean anything other than it is popular. Or, as Tim Minchin would say, just because ideas are tenacious does not mean they are worthy.

Argument from authority
In other words, if someone you respect tells you something it doesn't make it true. The argument is either valid or it isn't - it doesn't matter who is making it (many on the marketplace site were referring to scientists and doctors and nobel laureates who they claim accept homeopathy)

Argument from anecdotes
I've said this many times before - the plural of anecdotes is NOT data. Point me to the science that shows it works - I really don't care if you think it worked for you because simply arguing from anecdote means you don't know 1.) logical fallacies and 2.) how science works and, therefore, you almost certainly don't understand the natural history of the diseases/problems you are claiming to have cured and you must certainly don't understand regression to the mean. This point was addressed clearly in my blog and carl made a reference to it.

The placebo effect is all that homeopathy can be and it is something that can be see in babies and animals - it is not simply expectation bias. And I do have concerns with the ethical implications of lying to people to achieve placebo. Mostly because the placebo effect doesn't change anything binary - it can't/doesn't cure anything. At best people might think they're better or report being better. Informed consent also comes to mind but, possibly more importantly, trust in science is undermined if they realize we are lying to people (though people still trust Homeopaths even though they simply lie to people) just to make them think they're feeling better. It also falsely suggests some level of causation as it relates to a change in condition when the natural progression of the disease, itself, is the real cause.

Carl also makes a valid point or two (and I giggled at his approach). When homeopathy fails for you, I pray (not really) that you are somehow unable to get real medical attention - your delayed diagnoses and treatment should not mean an increase in my healthcare costs. If you deny real treatments to your children and they are harmed by it, I hope that you spend a long time behind bars for neglect or manslaughter (now that you've been informed, why not murder?)

Now, homeopathic sympathizers, get back to not thinking for yourselves.

RealityinSarnia said...

Too bad the comments section on the CBC web site is closed well before the show aired...... Maybe someone should have posted the show ad up on Pharyngula before to get all those real skeptics to post comments to flood out the nutters.

The homeopath followers are not listening to logic and reason. Sounds just like the religious nutters..... Wait, they are the same people in most cases.

I would have liked to have joined their Homeopathy OD demonstration but I think it would be just throwing money away on sugar candy and making those marketers richer.

Maybe a mass demonstration of overdosing in front of the Ontario Parliament is in order. Probably wouldn't do anything because they don't listen to logic as well.

sarniaskeptic said...

Reality: the comments section isn't closed. You have to create an account or login first. I have posts on both the blog and the story.

RealityinSarnia said...

S.T.
Posted on January 14, 2011 5:07 PM

That was the last comment they posted. I am logged in. AM I missing something? There is 278 comments since that time.

Anonymous said...

http://is.gd/AFebFy

skepticnotcynic said...

I'm against homeopathy too. And I also wrote an article on it. Check it out.