Monday, December 6, 2010

Amanda Brown Responds with what is in Homeopathic 'Treatments': Nothing

After posting the first entry on Watford's own Amanda Brown, I invited her to comment or add something to the discussion.  Another post followed shortly and then, like magic (like Homeopathy?), an email from Amanda.

The content of her email was eerily similar to Homeopathy - empty but with some suggestion of content.

Sarnia Skeptic,

I just wanted to let you know that I have now read both your blog entries, and you obviously have your mind made up about homeopathy and myself! Everyone has a right to their own option. I wish you would have made reference to all the websites that confirm the amzing things Homeopathy helps people to achieve. But like you said, you are Sarnia's very own Skeptic!!! I really do not have anything to add or to comment on, because I believe and stand behind Homeopathy 100%!

Thank you for pointing out my spelling error on my initial consultation form, I will be correcting that today!

Yours in health,
I have, since, responded to Amanda with a request that she not only imply that there are "websites that confirm" but actually include them for us to consider. I suspect our communications have ended as a result - how dare me ask such impossible questions! (Almost a month has passed, as of this posting, and no response.)

I do think that Amanda is sincere in her belief in magic (homeopathy) - I've never met a Homeopath who didn't appear to be.  I think, like all of us, the desire to believe can sometimes allow us to cherry-pick information that agrees with our position (confirmation bias) and ignore the contradictory evidence.

Without a doubt, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of websites that contain countless anecdotes about people overcoming the impossible with the help of homeopathy.  One must be reminded that the plural of anecdote, however, is not data.
In the past, I have linked to studies done on homeopathy (real studies) that show no benefit beyond placebo and I have linked to a couple of tiny studies that suggest further study is required and that there may be a small benefit to homeopathy.  Small studies with limited (no) controls are not what science relies on.  Larger and more complete trials have shown, conclusively, that homeopathy's benefit is simply equal to (if not because of - which I would suggest it is) the placebo effect.
The reality of homeopathy is that it isn't based on reality - to accept that extremely dilute substances, so dilute that they can't possibly contain a single molecule of the 'active' ingredient, can affect the natural history of a disease would require us to forget what we know about biology and chemistry (nevermind physics and modern medicine).

Amanda Brown is pushing products that have no plausible mechanism of altering specific outcomes of a disease but, as a result of seeking homeopathic "treatments", having people delay real treatment can have terrible effects.  Homeopathy is not only silly, it has real potential consequences.

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