Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Toronto School of Homeopathic 'Medicine' responds

In response to the CBC Marketplace story "Cure or Con" that investigated Homeopathy, the Toronto School of Homeopathic 'Medicine' posted a blog entry yesterday.  (I don't have time to respond to it right now but I wanted to capture it for a number of reasons - not the least of which the scary promotion of Homeopathy instead of vaccines.)  Following the video (the actual show they are responding to) is their response.

Their response:
CBC Marketplace Cons The Public
We were expecting a biased program on Homeopathy by CBC Marketplace, but the final product was not only the worst example I have ever seen of so-called “investigative journalism”, it became obvious quite early on that there was a set agenda from the beginning.

I was disappointed that CBC Marketplace did not make any attempt to investigate the fundamental principle of homeopathy- the Law of Similars of ‘like cures like’. Of course, people will not feel any symptoms when taking large doses of Homeopathic remedies of Arsenicum Album or Belladonna if they do not have characteristic symptoms that match to either of those remedies.

Are these skeptic groups qualified or trained enough to be consulted for an unbiased and educated examination of Homeopathic medicine? I would say no as their knowledge about the science of Homeopathy was almost non-existent. These skeptics are really “pseudo-skeptics”. The original definition of "skeptic" was a person who questions ALL beliefs, facts, and points-of-view, including their own, in light of OBJECTIVE EVIDENCE. This is obvious not the case. Media skeptics frequently and fraudulently make claims that there are “no studies” that support Homeopathy and therefore no evidence to support its efficacy. This is a lie. In addition to 200 years and roughly 25,000 volumes of clinical literature, there are almost 200 random controlled trials that indicate a positive outcome for Homeopathy.

A standard tactic that Marketplace uses when investigating natural medicines is to take it to get tested at some special laboratory. As a viewer, there is no room to question the scientific methodology, the parameters of the study or if that lab had the necessary equipment to properly measure Homeopathic remedies. Any first year student will know that it will be difficult to find material substances left in a homeopathic remedy of 30C since it is above Avogardo’s number with chemical testing. Secondly, the studies of several well-known scientists, such as Dr. Rustom Roy and Dr. Iris Bell, were not consulted.

Finally, Marketplace suggested that homeopathic prophylaxis is dangerous to the point of implying that those who chose to get them were ignorant. Again, this goes against the facts. Look at the recent results of the largest homeopathy study ever done in Cuba on Leptospirosis in 2008. Bracho, Gustavo et al. Large-scale application of highly-diluted bacteria for Leptospirosis epidemic control. Homeopathy, 2010; 99: 156-166.

There were so many lies presented about Homeopathy that it is likely that CBC Marketplace purposefully and willfully had an agenda to denounce Homeopathic medicine. I would have loved to see a balanced investigation into Homeopathy exploring both sides of the issues, or consulting patients who have experienced positive results for conditions that Western Medicine was unable to treat. Why weren’t some of our leading Homeopaths, such as Dr. Joseph Kellerstein and Dr. Andre Saine, consulted?

The CBC should be ashamed for presenting such a farce as journalism. Check out the website Extraordinary Medicine which gives excellent information about Homeopathy, the scientific evidence and what is really happening with the pseudo-skeptics. http://www.extraordinarymedicine.org/

My response, on their blog was (if it has been removed - which it appears they're doing):
You, my friends, will have blood on your hands when someone dies as a result of the misinformation you are providing. Using homeopathy instead of a proven vaccine is possibly the craziest idea ever from the homeopathy camp (and that says a lot given your made-up, completely, 'law' of similars, your claims that dilution increases strength and claiming water has a memory yet forgets all the crap it has had in it).
Amadeo, I'm sure, would also prefer you spell his name correctly - at least then when you (and others) search for it, you'll understand what it means. Avogadro's number - do look it up. Homeopathy - there's nothing in it.
200 studies that suggest what? That homeopathy is better than nothing? Homeopathy does not and has not cured anything but thick wallet syndrome. How many studies have been done that shows homeopathy has no effect? Add to those the studies that have shown it to be equivocal to placebo and then compare that number to the 200 paltry studies you suggest exist. We'll ignore the quality of your 'positive' studies and the controls just to be kind to you and you have overwhelming evidence to suggest that the benefit of homeopathy (placebo) is not worth what it takes to achieve it (lying to the patient).  
A "Joan" responded with:
I placed a call to the CBC and spoke in person to a customer relations representative. I respectfully challenged their declaration that the program was investigative journalism when the agenda from the outset was so obviously biased against the topic. I spoke of the many well educated scientists, teachers, and medical professionals with great knowledge of quantum physics who could have shed some light on the mechanisms of energy medicines. Instead the program focused on skeptics and scientists with virtually no knowledge or understanding of the depth or scope of any form of energy medicine but with lots of biased opinions based in ignorance.
The CBC should be ashamed of such a prejudiced presentation.
 This was the focus of my phone call not the pros and cons of homeopathy as I felt the CBC needed to be called to task on this disgraceful approach to supposedly educating the public.

I felt it necessary to speak my opinion in this way even though it is probably filed in "nowhere land".
To which, I responded:
Joan: You know nothing about quantum physics. That is clear because you suggest that quantum physics explains homeopathy.

To accept Homeopathy, we'd have to throw out everything we know about biology, chemistry and physics. There is no such thing as energy medicine; you're just making crap up.

If a treatment doesn't work, we don't care how it is supposed to. The evidence is clear - if Homeopathy is ANYTHING, it is PLACEBO. And, to be sure, placebo isn't anything either. No binary outcomes are altered by placebo. Subjective and self-reported metrics might change but it doesn't matter if you simply feel better if you're not actually better. "Well, it feels like my cancer is gone" is not the same as "My cancer is gone".

Appeals to authority don't mean anything, popularity does not mean anything, anecdotes don't mean anything - the evidence matters and the evidence suggests that if it is okay to lie to people to elicit placebo then, and only then, is it okay to use homeopathy and only for diseases that are self-limiting and conditions that are simply subjective.

Homeopathy works (and only for non-binary outcomes) if you think they work. If you receive a treatment but are told it is placebo, the result is not the same as if you receive a placebo and are told that it is a treatment. Compare that to medicine - antibiotics, of example, work whether you believe in them or not.

The CBC program was an investigative piece - sure it didn't cover everything, it only had 23 minutes to do so and, guess what, the conclusion would have been the same. Homeopathy is bunk - it is a con and they called it as they saw it. There is no such thing as "balance" when it comes to a ridiculous proposition.


Robert Hughes said...

Bravo. Well done.

Skepticat said...

Yeah, thanks for taking the time.

I love how the homeoquacks say it's not investigative journalism because it actually exposes this worthless pre-science cult therapy for what it is. Then again, I wish the programme did cover the so-called 'Law of Similars' in a bit more detail because it is just as absurd as the dilution=potency nonsense.