Homeopathy kills

By Phil Plait | June 5, 2009 10:03 am

[Note: This post may upset some people. It damn sure upset me. If you are easily upset by pediatric medical stories that do not end well, then you might want to skip reading this. The title alone may be all you need to know.]

Homeopathy is the antiscientific belief that infinitely diluted medicine in water can cure various ailments. It’s perhaps the most ridiculous of all "alternative" medicines, since it clearly cannot work, does not work, and has been tested repeatedly and shown to be useless.

And for those who ask, "what’s the harm?", you may direct your question to Thomas Sam and his wife Manju Sam, whose nine-month-old daughter died because of their homeopathic beliefs.

The infant girl, Gloria Thomas, died of complications due to eczema. Eczema. This is an easily-treatable skin condition (the treatments don’t cure eczema but do manage it), but that treatment was withheld from the baby girl by her parents, who rejected the advice of doctors and instead used homeopathic treatments. The baby’s condition got worse, with her skin covered in rashes and open cracks. These cracks let in germs which her tiny body had difficulty fighting off. She became undernourished as she used all her nutrients to fight infections instead of for growth and the other normal body functions of an infant. She was constantly sick and in pain, but her parents stuck with homeopathy. When the baby girl developed an eye infection, her parents finally took her to a hospital, but it was far too late: little Gloria Thomas succumbed to septicemia from the infection.

Thomas and Manju Sam were convicted yesterday of manslaughter in Australian court. As a parent myself I cannot even begin to imagine the pain they are going through, the anguish and the emotional horror. But let us be clear here: their belief in a clearly wrong antiscientific medical practice killed their baby. Homeopathy doesn’t work, but because they were raised in an environment that supports belief in homeopathy, they trusted it. They used it, and they rejected real, science-based medicine. And their daughter suffered the consequences.

And suffer she did. The accounts of the pediatricians who tried too late to help little Gloria Thomas are simply harrowing.

Every time I hear about something like this — a baby dying due to "alternative" medicine, or the lies and disinformation from the antivaccination movement, or some other belief system that flies in the face of reality — a little bit of me dies as well. I held my daughter shortly after she was born, and I would have done anything to protect her, and that included and still includes protecting her against people who fight so adamantly against reality.

The reality is that the antivaxxers’ work will result in babies dying. The reality is that belief in homeopathy will result in more babies dying. The reality is that denying science-based medicine will result in more babies dying.

And I know these words will fall on many deaf ears. And I will guarantee the comments to this post will contain many loud and irrational arguments supporting homeopathy and the antivaxxers. I’ve seen it before, and I know that many of those people are completely immune to reason and logic. And if you wonder what might wake them up, the answer may very well be nothing. Just read what Gloria Thomas’ father — the man just convicted of the manslaughter of his own daughter — had to say:

But even after Gloria died, Thomas Sam adhered to his belief that homeopathy was equally valid to conventional medicine for the treatment of eczema.

He told police: “Conventional medicine would have prolonged her life … with more misery. It’s not going to cure her and that’s what I strongly believe.”

He and his wife face 25 years in jail, where they will have plenty of time to rethink their convictions.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Antiscience, Piece of mind, Science

Comments (362)

Links to this Post

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  3. Homeopathy killed a little girl « Why Evolution Is True | June 6, 2009
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  20. Homeopathy kills | Gifts For Babies | October 6, 2009
  21. A morte de Gloria Sam: Homeopatia, arrogância e… cientificismo? | ..:: In Nomine Dei ::.. | October 17, 2009
  22. Homeopathic Health Solutions – Medical Truth VS Fiction | US Life Daily | February 10, 2010
  23. British Medical Association: homeopathy is witchcraft « U S C M A – United States Colombian Medical Association | May 17, 2010
  24. If it quacks… « Life of a Lab Rat | September 21, 2011
  25. Toby Wardman — The point about homeopathy | September 4, 2012
  1. May they rot… Another entry to whatstheharm.net…

  2. Murff

    I can’t wrap my mind around having something this horrible happen to my own kids.

    I imagine they will stand behind the Homeopathic treatment if for no other reason than to protect their own sanity. If they actually realize that they killed their own child, they’d probably lose it. Better to justify it by saying conventional medicine wouldn’t have worked either, just caused more pain.

    I hope they don’t get early parole

  3. nichole

    If I was the judge, I would’ve tacked on some extra time for that guy refusing to admit his beliefs are total bunk.

  4. Lawrence

    Stupidity kills….ranks right up there with Christian Scientists & their rejection of everything but prayer to cure.

  5. Dave M

    He’s clearly in the denial stage of grieving. Trying to trick himself into thinking it’s not his fault.

    It’s sad when things like this have to happen, but perhaps this will cause enough other lives to be saved just from second guessing homeopathy.

  6. Peptron

    Well, he got a point about life being pain.

    Other than that, I have always wondered that if such parents had gone through what their child went through, would they have REALLY abstained from trying to get any help at all and just let themselves die a slow and painful death?

  7. I’m not familiar with the Australian legal system but I’m forced to wonder if they draw a distinction between manslaughter and negligent homicide.

    Even in the US the distinctions between the terms vary greatly depending on where you go but the point being, there’s a difference between doing something that accidentally causes someone’s death that was preventable but not foreseeable and committing an inaction that you should know for a fact can result in someone dying.

  8. Chris

    The Skeptics Guide to the Universe #198 has an interview with Rachael Dunlop from Australia’s SkepticZone podcast (“Dr. Rachie Reports”). She talked about that case, and even mentioned that when the family was in India the mother went to a real hospital for gall bladder treatment — when all the while her little girl was crying in pain!

  9. Talk about the ultimate Parenting Fail! But I’m not surprised they have stuck to their believe in magic and woo. They had to be deluded to such an abnormal degree and so willfully ignorant of the facts to do what they did that they can’t let the fact of her death change their minds. Very sad.

  10. Matt T

    On one hand, holy crap, the little tyke died from *eczema*??? Yes, that demonstrates the harm of homeopathic fairy dust. On the other hand, they just lost their kid and now they’re doing time for it. Let’s be careful with our comments here (and elsewhere) ok? The woo-defenders will be here, you know it, so let’s remember to show some humanity *while* pointing out that this is the cliched “tradegy that could have been avoided”. Can we dial down the venom, please? Honey, vinegar, flies, etc.

    (Just a preemptive public service announcement/plea. Kthxbi.)

  11. Brian Schlosser

    I don’t think the parents should spend 25 years in jail. Like Dr. Plait said “they were raised in an environment that supports belief in homeopathy, they trusted it.” The loss of their child, I think, is punishment enough.

    The people who need to be punished are the snakepoil pushers who sell the worthless stuff. A few jail terms for the people who knowingly sell plain water and wax as medicine might really save some lives.

  12. Dedinspace

    This sickens me. Your voice is louder than most. Continue to demand a better world. In the words of Chuck D, “Fight the Power!”

  13. Dom

    @Brian: The father is one of those snake oil pushers.

  14. He strongly believes that medical science would have only “prolonged her life … with more misery” and not cured her eczema? Eczema’s pretty common for babies. Both of my sons had it and they’re perfectly fine today. Even if her case was more severe than the one my boys had, if they had treated it earlier instead of waiting until she was near death, I’m sure little Gloria would have been just fine. Not to sound heartless, but I don’t feel bad that these parents lost their little girl. It was their idiocy that led to their daughter suffering and dying. I feel bad that the little girl had to suffer and die because her parents were idiots. I’d have rather seen the little girl taken away from the parents earlier, treated with real medicine, and given to another family fully healed.

  15. ndt

    I have no compassion for people who kill children. I think that’s very human of me.

  16. @Matt T

    Thanks for your post reminding people to keep their tone under control.

    @Brian Schlosser

    From the article, it seems like Mr. Sam himself was a practicing homeopath. Unclear whether that’s truly the case, though.

  17. Patimus

    They rejected treatment, knowing there was something wrong. That’s far more irresponsible than rejecting a vaccine that could prevent illness.

    Is there an eczema vaccine? I know it can be treated, but prevented through immunity?

    There is a distinction between vaccination and treatment, right?

  18. Murff and Dave M have it right, I think. It will be a very long time, if ever, before this father will be able to admit, even to himself, that it was his own fault that his daughter died.

    But the rest of us know the truth. And anyone who is as removed from the situation as we are, and doesn’t have such a heavy emotional investment, must realize that homeopathy is quackery, and does not work. I have too much sympathy for these parents to call them any sort of name, but anyone who can read this story and still believe in homeopathy is a brainless idiot who should never even think of procreating.

  19. Oded

    Strongly agree with Brian Schlosser here.

    Putting them in jail for 25 years is just weird. I don’t see the logic in it.
    Did they see any homeopathy doctors during this time? Who recommended for them the “right” homeopathic medicine? These people should be put in jail.
    Did the medicines they buy have ads on them promising certain abilities? These people should be put in jail…

    Edit:
    12. Dom Says:
    @Brian: The father is one of those snake oil pushers.

    … wow. No further comment.

  20. TheBlackCat

    @ Brian: Did you read the quote from the father? He still thinks that he did the right thing. He doesn’t seem to feel punished at all. If he had shown some indication that he had learned from this pointless tragedy I would be much more sympathetic.

    And these people would be in jail, at least in the U.S., if there weren’t specific exemptions in the laws regarding the FDA that let people sell useless or even dangerous substances with practically no regulation as long as they are vague enough about what they do.

  21. Rift

    @ Lawrence

    I was raised a Christian Scientist, you are buying into the media BS surrounding it.

    It is against Church by-laws to disobey local and national laws, and until a child is 21 it is against church by-laws to treat the child metaphysically (prayer). The extremest who only treat their children by prayer are [i]breaking Christian Science law[/i].

    Until a child is old enough (21) to choose, you [i]must[/i] take him/her to a doctor according to church law.

    I was taken to the doctor. My brother and sister were taken to the doctor. Every child in our local church was taken to the doctor until 21. Don’t color the whole of Christian Science with a few extremist.

    At 21 I decided not to follow the Christian Science way and what happened? Nothing. I’m still friends with all the people I went to church with. I was in no way ostracized or coerced to change my mind. My parents weren’t upset, nor was anyone else.

    Letting children die because of withholding treatment from them is wrong. That is the Christian Science Mother Church stance.

    Only nutjobs and extremest believe otherwise. I would do a little research Lawrence before I become so intolerant.

  22. Lawyer

    My deepest prayers for the child that passed away.

    c’mon Phil! Don’t you think you and the Aussies are being a bit harsh for a SKIN disease that is ONLY TREATABLE BY APPLICATION OF OVER THE COUNTER OINTMENT (http://www.webmd.com/allergies/guide/eczema – see treatment- goes to next page).

    I completely hate that homeopathetic stuff… But still to give a 25 year sentence for something that can be treated with over the counter ointment… I seriously doubt the homeopathy caused the death and would justify the harsh sentence.

    Depending on a sound causality, short of the Eczema (a rash) being located directly on something deadly (like a skin tumor), I think a 2-5 year sentence would have be sufficient.

  23. Patimus

    If prayer works, why doesn’t everyone just pray for nothing bad to happen?
    If homeopathy actually works, why did they go to the doctor? The fact they gave up should tell us that it is pseudoscience.

  24. Dom

    @Oded: They haven’t been sentenced yet; 25 years is the maximum for this charge.

  25. TheBlackCat

    Another issue is that this is not so far removed from anti-vaxxers as it might first appear. It is one thing if they are dealing with heart disease or cancer, but what about when they try to treat infectious diseases with homeopathy? They put other people at risk with this, people who have no say in the matter.

  26. @ rift: So, at 21, they can still treat people with prayer?

    That is completely stupid.

  27. ndt

    Brian Schlosser Says:
    June 5th, 2009 at 10:56 am
    I don’t think the parents should spend 25 years in jail. Like Dr. Plait said “they were raised in an environment that supports belief in homeopathy, they trusted it.”

    It’s precisely because they chose to trust it that they deserve to spend 25 years in jail. People have a responsibility to educate themselves. These people had several months to notice that their treatments were not relieving the eczema. They had access to conventional treatments for excema and access to information about the effectiveness of those treatments.

  28. TheBlackCat

    @ Rift: Do you have a source backing this up? You may very well be right, but there are enough cases of these “nutjobs and extremists” amongst Christian Scientists that I wouldn’t dismiss it so quickly.

  29. They won’t get 25 years. Probably in the single digits — my guess is around 5 years (less for the mother), out in 3. Australia isn’t the United States when it comes to punitive sentencing (which is a good thing, in general, even though some people may not get as much time as they deserve).

  30. and it’s “extremists”. look it up. Defending people because, for a while, they do something sensible, is no kind of defense. “We mostly aren’t idiots, at least until a certain age, which has been imposed upon us by the outside world. Except some of us ignore that.”

    Not very compelling.

  31. Rift

    @garth

    Of course. That is their right as adults.

    Stupid? Perhaps. An intolerant view however. They are adults, it’s their body.

    I rejected that view and am now an atheist, but I strongly believe in the Freedom of Religion for adults.

    The issue is they don’t inflict this view on children. That’s media bunkum.

  32. Rift

    @TheBlackCat

    Simply look it up in the Christian Science by-laws, sheesh.

  33. Lawrence

    Rift – my apologies for painting with too broad of a brush. Unfortunately, there are sects of Christian Scientists that do believe that prayer is always the answer – and children have died because of it.

  34. ndt

    Rift, I have too much experience with religion to expect members of a church to actually follow (or even be aware of) church bylaws.

    And yes, it’s stupid for adults to refuse medical treatment on religious grounds. Do they have the right to do so? Of course. And I have a right to call them stupid for making a stupid decision.

  35. Rift

    @garth

    Everyone has nutjobs, Christian Scientists don’t try and protect those who endanger children.

    Are you saying that as an adult you HAVE to do things a certain way? again, not very tolerant.

  36. Rift

    @ndt

    Why do you think I made the choice I did at 21? You have that right to call them stupid, but they still have the freedom of religion to do something that is stupid.

    The church by-laws were laid out and explained to me at a very early age.

  37. Elmar_M

    Its natural selection at work. These two parents are going to die out (at least I hope they dont have more children).

  38. jen

    “Putting them in jail for 25 years is just weird. I don’t see the logic in it.
    Did they see any homeopathy doctors during this time? Who recommended for them the “right” homeopathic medicine? These people should be put in jail.
    Did the medicines they buy have ads on them promising certain abilities? These people should be put in jail…”

    I could swear that I’d read somewhere else that over the baby’s short life, people occasionally convinced them to take her to an actual medical doctor and get actual medical treatment … And every time they did, she’d start to improve … And every time she started to improve, dad took her off the medicine and went back to the homeopathy.

    According to this article – http://tinyurl.com/qwvqds – her father “practised and taught” homeopathy. It says the parents had taken her to India for 2 months, so an uncle could provide homeopathic treatment. She saw multiple doctors, and apparently at least two doctors set up appointments with dermatology specialists, but her parents didn’t take her to the appointments.

    And the caption indicates that Gloria died in 2002, and shows dad holding a young boy. So, what? They let one child die and then had another? Would they follow doctors’ advice if their son got sick?

  39. There is a similar effect at work for both homeopathy and the rejection of vaccines. In both cases, there is a distrust of science and the medical community. And where they crossover even more is in the offering of homeopathic vaccines.

    I googled “homeopathic vaccines” and got a number of sites that not only promoted homeopathic vaccines (HVs), but reinforcing the anti-vax sentiments that vaccines cause all kinds of damage and harm, while HVs do not produce any harmful side effects.

    The result of this is a rather dangerous combination of double-woo.

  40. Jamesonian

    There’s plenty of blame to go around in this complex circumstance, but how much belongs on the parents? Most? All? Like us, they are products of their culture and “were raised and educated in India where homeopathy is accepted as equivalent to conventional medicine”. How then would this death have been handled in India? We can blame the parents for not being Westernized enough to trust medical professionals, or we can blame them for just being idiots if you like, but the real blame should be put squarely on the backwards, superstitious cultures which continue to both allow and encourage medical mumbo-jumbo. The USA has banned it. Maybe India should do the same.

    Anti-vaxxers are a completely different situation. Here we have educated intelligent adults who were raised within Western scientific culture and have allowed their grief to override their intellect. They choose to trust their guts more than their brains and are probably strong proponents of “truthiness”. While I pity them for the grief and misery which disease and genetics have brought to their lives and loved ones, they are far worse than the Sams.

  41. I’m seriously thinking that the amount of STUPID out there is nature actually actively trying to thin our heard. A way of clearing out the over-population on the planet.

    You keep hearing that people are dying, but the ones following the homeopathy and anti-vax movement ignore what is out there.

    I wonder if they’re allowed or even capable of using sharp instruments to cut their food.

    I’m sorry Phil, just needed to rant. I wonder if I can get NASA to send me on a one way trip to Mars. I volunteer, as long as I can take my parrot with me.

  42. #22. Lawyer:
    “I completely hate that homeopathetic stuff… But still to give a 25 year sentence for something that can be treated with over the counter ointment… I seriously doubt the homeopathy caused the death and would justify the harsh sentence.”

    You’re right. The homeopathic medicine didn’t kill her. The fact that the parents were negligent in getting proper medical attention killed her. It was their belief in homeopathy that killed the little girl.

  43. Scott K

    @Patimus: It isn’t curable, but it is treatable/manageable through the miracles of modern chemistry. Left untreated as it was, it can be fatal due to resultant infections.

  44. rob

    Wizard’s First Rule:

    “People are stupid; given proper motivation, almost anyone will believe almost anything. Because people are stupid, they will believe a lie because they want to believe it’s true, or because they are afraid it might be true. People’s heads are full of knowledge, facts, and beliefs, and most of it is false, yet they think it all true. People are stupid; they can only rarely tell the difference between a lie and the truth, and yet they are confident they can, and so are all the easier to fool.”

    from Terry Goodkind’s book “Wizard’s First Rule”

  45. TheBlackCat

    I haven’t found the Christian Science bylaws yet, but I have found this within the FAQ: http://christianscience.com/questions-christian-science-faq.html

    An adult choosing prayer and not medical help is one thing, but how can you make that decision for a child?

    Christian Science parents are like any other parents—they love their children and want the very best care for them. They also know they’re under a moral and legal obligation to ensure that their children receive this care. Parents who choose Christian Science treatment for a child do so because they’ve seen the effectiveness of this treatment in their own lives.

    Why do you lobby for exemptions to health laws that allow you to keep your children from going to doctors?

    Christian Scientists aren’t seeking exemptions from the law, but accommodations within it. Meaning, they’re trying to ensure that laws provide every citizen a choice of healthcare, including the system of spiritual prayer that Christian Scientists have found to be effective.

    So they sure haven’t gone out of their way to draw attention to that particular law, and from the sound of the second FAQ there they are actively trying to remove rules forcing their children to get normal medical treatment. That does not make much sense if their own laws require that they do this anyway.

  46. Ray

    @ Phil

    “As a parent myself I cannot even begin to imagine the pain they are going through, the anguish and the emotional horror. ”

    You assume that the parents have the same emotional grounding as you. An assumption that is likely incorrect.

  47. If you read the father’s words closely you’ll see that he did not want the girl to live. Whether or not he thought she would die of the disease ( which in severe cases is terribly unsightly) or simply didn’t want the medical burden, the parents deliberately chose the action that would take their child’s life. 25 years is about right.

  48. This is a truly terrible tragedy. But… I don’t feel good about the parents being charged with manslaughter. They’re wrong, yes. Maybe they’re stupid, I dunno. Are they criminals, or are they, themselves, victims? Maybe both. Even if they’re criminals… manslaughter?

    Some of the comments here, saying they should rot, or that being wrong and stupid deserves extended jail terms… guys, that’s pig-ignorant.

  49. Ray

    @ Brian

    “I don’t think the parents should spend 25 years in jail. Like Dr. Plait said “they were raised in an environment that supports belief in homeopathy, they trusted it.” The loss of their child, I think, is punishment enough.”

    Yeah, I was raised in an environment where robbing banks is OK. I should be able to rob banks with no consequences.

    Please.

  50. Matt McEwan

    In my experience, Homeopathy users get really defensive when I gently raise their awareness about what it isn’t. I guess deep down they know it’s a lie? The same thing happens when I question someone religious.

  51. TheBlackCat

    @ Rift: You are going to have to help me out here. I have not been able to find the bylaw you have mentioned. Can you point me to a link that contains the full text of the bylaws, or can you tell me the specific location of the bylaw?

  52. Kehil

    It’s interesting how evolution makes its way through the thick barriers we built to neglect it. The ones who are not able to tell the real science from the pseudo-sience and the ones who simply don’t use their most precious gift from evolution – their brain – are in some cases determined to vanish from life.
    I am of course terribly sorry for the child, but seeing the parents she would have had a great chance to become similar to them.

  53. I take a topical steroid for when the rare occasions I have an Eczema breakout that lotion can’t handle, and the ointment clears it up right quick. It is not hard to treat at all. Eczema can be very painful if you do not treat it, especially if it is around hands and other places that require the skin to constantly stretch and retract. Also it usually takes a few days for the skin to be dry and cracked enough where an infection can really set in and take hold. So this girl could have been in sever pain for several days before the infection even set in. While I think the total of 25 years may be a bit much, the obvious lack of regret by father is concerning to me (especially if they have other children). They should definitely be locked up for a while, but in the end it won’t make any difference, they won’t learn anything helpful, and will continue to think they did the right thing. Wouldn’t be surprised if they landed a book deal

  54. BJN

    Unless the parent’s intentions could be shown to be malicious, I think the sentence should be living with the pain of losing a child. Homeopathy and many other alternative treatments are worthless. However, medical science and its practitioners are far from perfect.

    One cost of living in a free society is you have to give wide leeway to the beliefs of others, however pernicious or ignorant you think they are. If this really is a case of parents doing what they sincerely believe to be best, then jailing them is an exercise in authoritarianism. What’s the scientific evidence that a decade in prison is the rational action to prevent future harm by these individuals vs. the cost and damage imprisonment create?

    When it comes down to it, all this talk of rationalism is just that. This post isn’t objective, it’s emotional.

  55. Brian Schlosser

    @Ray

    The problem with that argument is that, in most western societies, parents ARE allowed to dictate the course of their children’s health, even if it proves detrimental. Non-interference in child rearing is a pretty rock-solid cultural value. Its only been recently, it seems, that parents in these situations are prosecuted (neglect due to religious beliefs, not regular neglect).

    That being said, in regards to my earlier comment, if the dad is, in fact, a homeopathist, there goes my sympathy. Lock him up.

    But still… where is the line drawn? Clearly, this baby shouldn’t have died. But who should have stepped in? At what point should The Authorities decide that a parents beliefs endanger their child’s well being? I know the “slippery slope” argument is an overused one, but I can’t help but be afraid that what starts as a good intentioned way to make sure all kids are being taken care of medically could turn into religious and/or political oppression.

    And yet, I still want kids like this to be protected… hmmm…

  56. Elmar_M

    They were not living in India anymore at the time. So they have to be punished by the laws of the country they live in.

    Hey, in some countries it is OK to to just kill someone of a different tribe (Rwanda, Hutus and Tutsis anyone?). So when a Hutu comes to say the US and kills a Tutsi, he should not be punished because it is not illegal in his own country?
    Or the “honor- killings” in some islamic countries. Someone who practices this in the US, should not be punished? Of course they should be! These are our countries and our laws. They chose to live here, they better stick to our laws, or else!
    So I think they should be punished as hard as applicable. I also think that the manufacturers of the Homeopathic remedies should be punished equally, if not harder.

  57. I had eczema as an infant and occasionally I still have problems with it. While it is nothing more than an annoyance now, it was very upsetting to my mother who made sure that I was always comfortable and that my skin was always moisturized. Honestly the simplicity of the treatment for eczema is why I find this case so awful. This 9 month old only needed her mother to bathe her and moisturize her skin often and make sure she didn’t scratch herself. It requires LOVE and TIME on her parents part and a good lotion. I can’t comprehend a caring mother watching her baby get undernourished and her tiny body covered in rashes and open cracks and not doing EVERYTHING in her power to make sure she doesn’t suffer anymore. They sat back , listened to her cry, and let her die. You can say that their culture led them to make those choices and that maybe they don’t deserve a harsh punishment, but an even deeper worldwide cultural/evolutionary imperative is for a mother to protect her child at any cost!
    These parents are missing that.

  58. Simple solution that might prevent future incidents like this: enact laws and regulations requiring proof of efficacy for homeopathic preparations, just like actual medicine.

  59. OtherRob

    while HVs do not produce any harmful side effects

    Technically true, of course, since homeopathy has no effects whatsoever… :)

  60. Parents are charged with the care of their children, also citizens with a right to life. When they fail in that charge, they are criminally negligent and culpable for their actions.

    The only way to support a belief in homeopathy is through willful ignorance. When such willful ignorance endangers a child, it should be punished to the fullest extent allowed by the law.

    What I have to ask though is if there are no remedies in Australia to preserve a child against such neglect? Where were the doctors whose advise was ignored? Where were the authorities? This sort of thing should not simply be allowed to happen and punished in retrospect. It is a failure not just of parents, but of a whole society when it does.

  61. ndt

    jbrydle, if people take actions that a reasonable person would understand would lead to a child’s death, then they have committed a crime. What is so hard to understand about that? What is “pig-ignorant” about wanting to punish people who killed a child?

  62. That’s not entirely true, OtherRob. homeopathic remedies have the same effects as other needlessly expensive waters. For example, they can quench thirst and deplete a wallet.

  63. ccpetersen

    Perhaps because she was a girl, they chose this path. If it had been their only son’s life on the line, maybe they would have heeded a doctor’s advice so as not to lose the all-important male heir.

    If so, it sucks even more, if such a thing can be even more heinous.

  64. OtherRob

    That’s not entirely true, OtherRob. homeopathic remedies have the same effects as other needlessly expensive waters. For example, they can quench thirst and deplete a wallet.

    Of course. How could I have overlooked those effects??? ;)

  65. madge

    Like Phil I cannot understand how someone can stand by & watch their child get progressively worse and do nothing about it. If my kids get sick I give them medicine. If the medicine doesn’t help I go to the doctor to get advise. If his prescriptions don’t work I go back until we find something that does. Doing nothing is not an option. If the remedy was to give up one of my own organs I would do it without question.Hell if it was choice between between them or me I would give my life for my children.
    This ties in with Simon Singh’s fight against the BCA. Scientists must be able to question these woo merchants, to demand evidence, to insist that they back up their claims.And the likes of Jenny McCarthy and her mindless cronies should be held to account for the misinformation and lies that they spread.
    Let science BE the candle.Light the darkness.Dispel the demons

  66. @ Todd W

    > Simple solution that might prevent future incidents
    > like this: enact laws and regulations requiring proof
    > of efficacy for homeopathic preparations, just like
    > actual medicine.

    Amen, brother. A market that’s 6 times bigger than the vaccine market can spend some of their profit margin running clinical trials. The fact that you can market something as medicine while still letting the vendor stick a, “These claims have not been verified by the FDA” label is unbelievable.

  67. rob: I’m surprised I don’t see that quoted more by skeptics. I read that books when I was probably 13 or 14, that rule has always stuck with me and probably had a little influence on my becoming a skeptic.

  68. I am with Jameson, Brian et al here. These parents may be stupid, but to argue that they intentionally caused the death of their daughter is just ridiculous. FYI, in India homeopathy is accepted as a valid medical system. There are government-run homeopathic hospitals, and homeopathic medical colleges (here is one of them -> http://www.ghmct.edu.in/). When I grew up in India, a lot of parents (including mine) believed that homeopathic treatment is better for small kids since it does not have the side effects that the allopathic medicines usually have. (As kids, we preferred the homeo medicines too because they came in the form of small sugar nodules, and the allopathic ones were bitter :) ) So I can totally understand this guy’s mindset. Note that he was even trained as a homeopath.

    The other thing to consider also is that hardly anybody dies of eczema (at least, in my limited knowledge). So before accusing them of intentionally killing their children, probably we should try to see what the root cause here is, and then try to attack that. As far as I am concerned, the loss of their child itself is enough punishment, and making them serve time behind bars is not going to add to anything to their misery (punishments are supposed to be all about making the convicts miserable, right?).

  69. Patimus

    @Scott K
    did you even read what I typed?

    I read the article above as well, so I realize the subsequent secondary infections can be fatal, otherwise we wouldn’t be discussing it.

    I was pointing out that a vaccination (preemptive) would not have benefited them, though they would have benefited from a sane form of treatment (not homeopathy).

    I am simply of the understanding that vaccinations are used to prevent illnesses, not treat them.

  70. What is it about Australians?

  71. Daffy

    I have said this a million times: if homeopathy works, why don’t they sell homeopathic chlorine for swimming pools?

  72. Patimus

    I am grateful we can treat a wide array of illnesses through chemistry.

    That being said, I think more time and $ should be spent educating people about disease prevention, but then who would fill the hospitals?

  73. @ JediBear

    > The only way to support a belief in homeopathy is through
    > willful ignorance.

    Ignorance, you betcha. Willful… well, trust isn’t that simple an issue. People support beliefs in homeopathy because they trust people who have beliefs in homeopathy.

    People outsource trust all the time, to all sorts of agents… they have to, or they’d never be able to get anything done. Even skeptical people do it; once they verify trust in an agent, they very rarely go back and apply the same level of skepticism to everything the agent claims… it takes something truly remarkable to get people to re-assess trust relationships.

    In fact, if you didn’t do this to a major degree… you’d be a security nut. It only takes a couple of nudges to turn a security nut into a paranoid, so this isn’t anything to brag about. :)

    This isn’t really a matter of “willfulness”, or even stubbornness, it’s human nature. If early in life you have multiple agents that you regard as trustworthy telling you several somethings and the aggregate of those somethings is generally true, you’re going to establish a trust relationship with those agents. If later in life you meet a new agent who tells you something you believe but also something that you already don’t believe, the human programming is to reject both claims… as opposed to use the new agent’s claims as reason to re-evaluate previously held beliefs.

    Just because someone isn’t an active skeptic, a security nut, or a paranoid doesn’t mean that they’re *willfully* ignorant – for one thing, you’re presupposing that being a rational empiricist is going to always result in understanding. Unfortunately, not everybody is smart. At best, they’re misled and not capable of actually figuring out why. Next step down would be normal, average, everyday people. At worst, they’re smart people who are lazy.

    Now, none of that excuses the story in question. You can honestly believe something that is wrong, for what are (in human terms) normal human reasons, and that doesn’t absolve you of the responsibility for the outcome of your incorrect belief. This story (as described here, of course, full context is missing but likely more damning than less) is absolutely criminal negligence on behalf of the parents.

  74. jen

    “This is a truly terrible tragedy. But… I don’t feel good about the parents being charged with manslaughter. They’re wrong, yes. Maybe they’re stupid, I dunno. Are they criminals, or are they, themselves, victims? Maybe both. Even if they’re criminals… manslaughter?”

    From what I understand from other articles and the one I posted above, when dad’s homeopathic treatment didn’t work, these parents took their daughter from Sydney back home to India so an uncle could do the homeopathic treatment. The homeopathic treatments weren’t working, so they took the girl to multiple doctors, but failed to follow up on the specialist appointments those doctors arranged. They used steroid creams for short times, and stopped as soon as they helped.

    On the airplane home from India, other passengers were alarmed because of how this baby was crying. But the parents waited almost 10 days before taking her to the hospital – too late.

    Sorry, but I have a hard time seeing either parent as a victim in this. They *saw* that the homeopathy was not working. They *saw* that the medical treatment was. And they made the choice, again and again, to stick to their ideology rather than use what worked to heal their daughter.

    Then defended themselves with the absurb claim that continuing to live with eczema would have been living in misery – well, maybe if they continued to only treat her with water, rather than the prescription meds that are available!

  75. Brian M

    I guess we have to debate what the purpose of a jail sentence is. Is it to punish or serve as a deterrent to others? You can’t deter stupid, it’s like the energizer bunny. But as far as outlawing homeopathy, as useless as it is, I’m twitchy about that kind of control. I personally take a lot of vitamin C and, having tried with and without, I’m convinced I get sick less often when I take it. But there are plenty of people who swear mega doses of vitamins are a useless waste of time. But I don’t want them making that decision for me. So, if people want to waste their money, I say “it’s a free country”, at least for the moment. As for these people, maybe we need a modified Darwin award for people who take their own children out of the gene pool…

  76. davem

    I’ve suffered from eczema for 30 years now, and it drives me mad. However, it can be eased by a simple moisturising cream (I spend £2/$3 for 500ml of the stuff). It completely stops the cracking and splitting, if not the itching. It can be further treated by topical steroids. Some of the milder ones are available over the counter, even in the UK. The moisturising cream is all it would have taken to save this girl’s life.

  77. TheBlackCat

    I disagree, Brian. Things marketed as a medicine or medical device needs to be tested for safety and efficacy. If they are not, they should not be sold. I do not believe there should be arbitrary exemptions from this rule, especially not because a random group selling what they claim to be medicine has a powerful lobby and a few friends in congress.

  78. BJN

    Unless the parent’s intentions could be shown to be malicious, I think the sentence should be living with the pain of losing a child.

    Laws that consider neglect and protecting those who can’t protect themselves from those who should be protecting them are there for a reason.

    And

    Homeopathy and many other alternative treatments are worthless. However, medical science and its practitioners are far from perfect.

    So much logical fail it’s stunning.

    What exactly is your point there?

  79. @Brian M

    So, if people want to waste their money, I say “it’s a free country”

    Agreed. However, the manufacturers don’t get that kind of free pass from me. If they make a health claim, or even imply a health claim, in connection with their product, then they should be required to support it with evidence.

    But there are plenty of people who swear mega doses of vitamins are a useless waste of time.

    It depends on the individual and the vitamin in question. For a person who eats a generally well-balanced meal, mega doses of vitamins are useless and a waste of time. If they eat only hamburgers and nothing else, then mega vitamins would help. Then there are the harmful effects. Certain vitamins, if taken in excess, can cause toxicity with some pretty nasty results. So, mega vitamins should only really be taken with the guidance and advice of a medical professional.

  80. Muzz

    BlackCat: You’ll probably have to dig up a copy of the CS manual someone has put up. I don’t think that’s generally available to the public, but it’s not secret.
    I found this one here. But I don’t know if it’s up to date (or if that’s relevant). That is generally where I was told the rules were, not that Ive read it however.
    As a fellow lapsee, I personally can’t recall anything as specific as what Rift says, but it’s partly true. They’re generally not as bad as it often sounds. If it got to the point of something really obviously physiologically bad (like bleeding or anything with big symptoms) you would get taken to the medicos. Waiting until then can have its own problems, of course. It is also rather difficult to underestimate the implicit sense of failure in having to do that. And the zeal with which people practice the faith can vary wildly in a single congregation.

  81. Adrian Lopez

    The girl’s parents believed that a product commonly sold by pharmacies as real medicine would help treat their daughter’s condition. Why, then, are the parents the ones in jail instead of the executives who run the companies that make these homeopathic “remedies”?

  82. ndt

    Zebu Bull Says:
    June 5th, 2009 at 1:15 pm
    I am with Jameson, Brian et al here. These parents may be stupid, but to argue that they intentionally caused the death of their daughter is just ridiculous.

    We’re not arguing that they intentionally caused the death of their daughter, but that they negligently caused the death of their daughter. I don’t know about Australia, but in most US states, that’s manslaughter. If they exhibited “depraved indifference” instead of negligence, it would be murder.

    Note that he was even trained as a homeopath.

    Which means he had even more access to information that homeopathy is ineffective.

  83. fos

    25 years isn’t long enough!

  84. @Adrian Lopez

    Why, then, are the parents the ones in jail instead of the executives who run the companies that make these homeopathic “remedies”?

    The father and his uncle were homeopaths, according to the articles. So it is likely that they were the ones creating the “remedies”.

  85. Oded

    49. Ray Says:

    @ Brian

    “I don’t think the parents should spend 25 years in jail. Like Dr. Plait said “they were raised in an environment that supports belief in homeopathy, they trusted it.” The loss of their child, I think, is punishment enough.”

    Yeah, I was raised in an environment where robbing banks is OK. I should be able to rob banks with no consequences.

    Please.

    Believe it or not, that is not a stupid argument. Imagine traveling forward in time and eating a hamburger in public, then all of sudden the police arrest you for killing cows, and you get a life sentence. But, you were raised in an environment where killing animals is fine!

    We are deeply shaped by our current cultural values. It is a cliche to mention this, but it really is true, a hundred years ago, homosexuality was a crime, slavery was legal and well accepted, and women had no voting rights. So if someone is raised to believe that homeopathy is the best thing he can do for their children, then it is a failure of society (together with his own personal failure, but a smaller one!) that that is what he believes.
    This is why I hold that the biggest criminals are the peddlers of this nonsense. The next big criminal is the human brain, shaped by evolution, to do irrationality and bad statistics. Unfortunately, no-one is accountable for the latter…

  86. @Adrian Lopez
    Also at least in the USA(not sure about other countries), most Homeopathic products/remedies (using the term loosely of course) say, “Not evaluated by FDA”. So by that very statement they’re passing off the responsibility to whomever buys the product to be responsible. many also include the statement that the products work best when used in conjunction with prescribed medications…go figure, even the jerks making these products think real medicine should be used

  87. Patimus

    1 in 3 cows practices homeopathy

  88. PhilB

    Argh!!!!!!!!!
    Our birthing class just had a reunion of sorts and there had to be the one couple who raved about a homeopathic remedy their naturopathic “doctor” gave the mother to induce active labor. I had to hold my tongue but internally I was screaming. She was already in transitional labor. Surprise, surprise she went into active labor after taking the homeopathic sugar pill.

    Now a story like this comes along and thinking of the suffering that girl went through just leaves me shaking.

  89. “And I will guarantee the comments to this post will contain many loud and irrational arguments supporting homeopathy and the antivaxxers.”

    The woowoos actually stayed away from this thread.

    I wonder why.

  90. Anon

    “especially not because a random group selling what they claim to be medicine has a powerful lobby and a few friends in congress.”

    Are you describing big pharma here, or the homeopaths? I’m not equivocating the two, but I also think it’s naive to assume that governmental oversight is always scientifically well reasoned and free of influence.

  91. CatBox

    While I can understand the parents views on homeopathy and resistance to vaccinations, I find what they did (or didn’t do) inexcusable.

    For a few years now, my family has shifted our lifestyle to a more natural course, including exploring different types of alternative medicine. I can understand their point of view on not using conventional practices because of actual evidence that the usage of pharmaceuticals can cause many adverse side effects on the body. I don’t know much about this family, but from my knowledge and experience I believe as a society a lot of us accept whatever the doctor says and overuse pharmaceutical drugs. For example, as a child I would get sick and be perescribed many antibiotics, which over the years significantly weakened my immune system, causing me to continually get sick and have to take more drugs; this also caused my liver to become overloaded and the enamel on my teeth to wear out. I also had asthma as a child and was prescribed Ventolin and another type of medicine to take twice everyday. It never made my asthma any better, so I gave up on it and slowly afterwards it got better and better; now I no longer have it and can run as much as I like. Another example: a few years ago I had a doctor offer me prescribe me Accutane merely because I had a few pimples, even though Accutane is known to cause liver damage.
    Don’t take me wrong though, these examples are not rejecting modern conventional medicine, by these examples I’m just trying to say that we shouldn’t accept everything a doctor prescribes: if your child has a cold, don’t give them a handful of drugs, just give ‘em some chicken noodle soup, rest and foods with Vitamin C to help them fight it off themselves.

    Now, diseases and serious illnesses are another thing. If Gloria’s Eczema was that severe, why would her parent’s only treat her homeopathically when it has already proven to not treat help her at all? Even if they didn’t believe in conventional medicine, they should have looked at other alternative medicines as well. Any good parent would have looked for other ways to treat her. Did they even try and buy some sort of lotion? That’s just the part I don’t get.

    While my mom was looking for different methods of alternative medicine to help me, we tried homeopathy as well, but it didn’t work. What we did then was try something else! We looked until we found something that actually worked. That’s what Gloria’s parents should have done.

  92. John Foudy

    “Homeopathy and many other alternative treatments are worthless. However, medical science and its practitioners are far from perfect.”

    aka The Nirvana Fallacy

  93. This is so very sad. As a parent with children who have their own “special” needs (but what child doesn’t) and as someone who lives with chronic illness I understand this need to find alternatives. HOWEVER, just like any modern medical treatment you undergo, you need to research it fully. That is the part of informed consent. It is never enough to just accept someone’s word that these so called natural and homeopathic remedies will work. I just find it so irresponsible.

    I understand the panic and fear that parents go through when there is something wrong with their child and the grasping at straws for any quick fix. I understand that some parents fall into those quick fix fallacies out of desperation to cure and fix their children. That does not mean that I condone these quick fixes, just that as a mother, I get it.

    *sigh*

  94. So….

    While all this is going on, how about the Americans here lobbying Congress to give the FDA the authority to go after the “homeopathic” murderers, which the law as presently constituted expressly forbids them to do, thanks to a corrupt and venal Congress some time ago?

  95. Tuiliq

    Just submitted to Urban Dictionary.

    homicideopathy
    The system of pseudo-scientific beliefs that killed Gloria Thomas.
    The Australian judge sentenced Thomas Sam and Manju Sam to 25 years in jail for homicideopathy.
    by Tuiliq5 on Jun 5, 2009

    tags: homeopathy, homicide, quackery, sympathetic magic, credulity

    – I doubt they will publish it, but it felt good to submit it.

  96. Calli Arcale

    Patimus:

    I was pointing out that a vaccination (preemptive) would not have benefited them, though they would have benefited from a sane form of treatment (not homeopathy).

    I am simply of the understanding that vaccinations are used to prevent illnesses, not treat them.

    That is not entirely true. Most vaccinations are given to prevent illnesses, but some are actually meant as treatment. For instance, if you are exposed to rabies but have not yet shown symptoms, a massive does of rabies vaccine can rally your immune system to fight it off before it overwhelms you. (By the time your immune system has recognized rabies, it’s too late. If you vaccinate during the incubation period, however, you stand a fighting chance.) Also, there are vaccines now to treat a few other diseases, including one or two cancers. They’re not vaccines like we’re used to; they don’t produce immunity to cancer. They do, however, train the immune system to attack the cancer. (Which means those vaccines have to be tailored to the individual patient and the individual tumor, so they’re quite different from, say, Gardasil.)

    It doesn’t matter for eczema, though, since there is no pathogen involved (generally) and therefore nothing against which to vaccinate.

  97. Alex

    When the mother suffered from gall stones, which I’ve been told is a very painful condition, they didn’t use homoeopathic treatments, they went for functional treatment in a hospital:

    http://www.smh.com.au/national/parents-put-social-life-above-babys-ill-health-court-told-20090505-atd7.html

    I think that says it all.

  98. jaday

    I understand your anger, but let’s remain objective. Homeopathy did NOT kill the eczema sufferer. Untreated eczema killed the sufferer. Hindsight makes finger pointing easy. Confronted with an illness, everyone is confronted with difficult choices. Somtimes “normal” western medicine has “killed” patients, as you put it.

  99. Terrence

    While I believe that every avenue should be explored for a persons health and that nothing should necessarily be discounted. It seems like these folks got bad advice and were doing whatever it is they thought to be the right choice. This article is pure nonsense, hasn’t anyone heard of people dying from malpractice by use of traditional means of medicine? It happens all over the spectrum, please be objective and conscientious in your thought before you condemn. Critical thinking is a must when reading this trite.

    Follow the paper trail, my friends, however diluted and twist-turned around it may be. You may be surprised to find out where the money is coming from. Mind you that is speculation and I admit to that.

    There are no absolute truths but only half truths, please be mindful and love each other.

  100. Jason

    The reason you can’t rely on prayer to stop bad things from happening, is that someone else is praying for the exact opposite.

    For instance, both sides in a war pray to God for victory. A maximum of one side will get it.

    Both teams in a sporting event will often pray for victory. One’s going to lose.

    You may well be praying for a sick loved one to live, but they themselves might be praying for the release of death.

    It all cancels out, leaving the deciding vote to science.

  101. Jason

    Let’s be very clear about this. Homeopathy did not kill this child. As clearly stated, homeopathy does nothing.

    Stupidity and unreasonable adherence to dogma and bad science killed this child.

    I’m not defending homeopathy or the people who practice it, but the title of this article is as wrong as the claims of homeopathy itself.

  102. blomp

    Sadly (yet for the benefit of our species), Darwin wins again.

  103. Tina

    Modern western medicine and eastern medicine have both healed, and both have killed as well. If you don’t believe modern medicine doesn’t kill and harm as well, listen to all the disclaimers.

    The trick is to research both and work as a team with both sides. When one aspect isn’t working, say next, and keep looking. The crime isn’t alternative medicine, the crime is the blind faith.

  104. TheBlackCat

    “especially not because a random group selling what they claim to be medicine has a powerful lobby and a few friends in congress.”

    Are you describing big pharma here, or the homeopaths? I’m not equivocating the two, but I also think it’s naive to assume that governmental oversight is always scientifically well reasoned and free of influence.

    Last time I checked, “big pharma” was very heavily regulated, while homeopathy is totally unregulated. It is true the regulation is not perfect, but there is a huge difference between imperfect regulation and no regulation whatsoever. Just compare what happened with Vioxx to what happened with ephedra.

  105. Nameless

    Yes the parents are at fault. But the opening statement here is the equivalent of saying guns kill. Homeopathy is a not a substitute to medicine and it is not taught as such in schools. Homeopathy is intended to educate and assist people in living a healthy lifestyle ie. dieting, excercise, and yes the “whacky” stuff like acupuncture that aid in preventing the majority of illnesses that when neglected require more invasive techniques. The two are supposed to work together. But hey, such a well written blanketed title like “Homeopathy Kills” got you 97 comments so maybe you’re on to something. Science doesn’t just happen. It requires research and forethought. Two things lacking in this post.

  106. For those of you saying homeopathy didn’t kill this child: you are wrong. Homeopathy very much is what killed this child. The parents ignored real medicine in preference to homeopathy.

    Nameless (#106), guns do kill, of course, but no one says guns cure disease either. Homeopathy is touted by its practitioners as medicine, but it isn’t. And when people substitute it for real medicine, they can die.

    Homeopathy kills. I stand by that title.

  107. TheBlackCat

    Homeopathy is intended to educate and assist people in living a healthy lifestyle ie. dieting, excercise, and yes the “whacky” stuff like acupuncture that aid in preventing the majority of illnesses that when neglected require more invasive techniques.

    No, it is not. Homeopathy is a long-disproven pre-scientific notion that a harmful substance that causes certain symptoms but has been diluted so much that none of it is actually left can cure serious illnesses with similar symptoms. Diet and exercise can be included along with homeopathy, just like they are a critical component of evidence-based medicine, but they are not what homeopathy is.

    And it very much is treated as a substitute to medicine by a great many practioners. There are many homeopaths right now prescribing it as effective at preventing malaria for people traveling to Africa, for instance. Some homeopathic organizations claim that that is against their official policy, but refuse to take any action against homeopaths who do it when they are alerted about it. And right now they are going to villages in Africa and telling people there that homeopathy is a safe, effective, and low-cost cure for things like pertussis, tuberculosis, malaria, and AIDS.

  108. fizzyb

    @Nameless ““whacky” stuff like acupuncture that aid in preventing the majority of illnesses…”
    Study after study has indicated that acupuncture is ineffective as a treatment, so this statement is simply incorrect.

  109. Elmar_M

    Homeopathy kills. I am with Phil on that.
    Those that produce homeopathic snakeoil should be charged with fraud and be put into prison.

  110. Roger

    Well, I’ll wade in on behalf of homeopathy. For years a brooding medical outrage has been waiting for the perfect case where someone dies from a “placebo” and here it is! Well, not exactly. This death is because a person with a belief and maybe some self-absorbed distractions didn’t go to a regular doctor. Well, come on now people. American doctors lose over 200,000 patients a year to their own iatrogenesis. Each event causes deep regret for the doctor and a professional review for the facility. But does it produce a smug mob of angry carpers mad at the whole practice of medicine? Folks, get a sense of proportion! In March Wyeth tried to rewrite federal law so it’s responsibility for public safety would end with FDA approval -meanwhile it’s spending a billion a year marketing to the public it wants to write-off. Glaxo’s one year of marketing alone is bigger than the entire homeopathic world. Finally after two hundred years homeopathy rears it’s ugly head: one tragically dead child and two bereft parents. If you were trying to track the blood-trail of the monster, it ain’t exactly what you’d hoped, but who cares?

  111. José

    @Rift
    It is against Church by-laws to disobey local and national laws, and until a child is 21 it is against church by-laws to treat the child metaphysically (prayer).
    Laws aren’t always exactly clear cut when it comes to refusing medical treatment. When my cousin was a baby, she became ill. Her Christian Scientists parents did seek medical attention, but refused the specific treatment that would have saved her life. The law didn’t see fit to charge them with anything, and their church certainly never faulted them.

  112. José

    @Terrence
    This article is pure nonsense, hasn’t anyone heard of people dying from malpractice by use of traditional means of medicine?

    What does medical malpractice have to do with anything? Nobody holds parents responsible for malpractice. It’s not their fault. In the case of a parent refusing treatment, it is their fault and they should be held accountable.

    Follow the paper trail, my friends, however diluted and twist-turned around it may be.

    Does it lead to Big Eczema? What are you talking about?

  113. kkozoriz

    The parents should get a reasonable sentence that includes sterilization. They’ve lost one child. They shouldn’t be allowed to have another.

  114. Frank

    I agree that these parents are stupid.

    However, is homeopathy illegal? If not, the ‘Dr.’ who advised the parents and treated their child should also be responsible for malpractice.

    As long as it’s legal, the stupid uninformed folks will flock to it everytime.

    I see it as not completly the parents fault, but also the practicioners that told the parents this crap works.

    If it’s crap, it should be make illegal.

    Same with the church. If some church advises parents not to take their children for medical treatment and tells the parents they are going to hell if they do, they should also be held responsible when the child dies.

    My 2cents.

  115. Alex

    The parents need a better lawyer. The problem is that the term Homeopathy has been used for incorrect methods, damaging it’s reputation. I know that here in California, positive results are experienced from Homeopathic remidies. Strange. I know several prestigious doctors who don’t deny it’s usefullness.

  116. Jamie

    I’m not sure what one anecdotal story proves. Here’s a story: A couple’s child was ill. They took him immediately to the hospital. He died.

    Does this mean hospitals are bad and kill children?

    No. Neither does the anecdote in the article.

    There are some studies that show homeopathy is bunk. Some show that homeopathic medicines do have a clinical and measurable effect.

    As for the parents in the article, I think they are insane. But their stupidity is not relevant to the discussion of homeopathy.

  117. jc

    Homeopathy actually does work, and has for a long time. But it is not for everyone- just like allopathic medicine is not for everyone. i personally have been using homeopathy nearly exclusively for approximately 12 years. why did i start? because i had a health issue in my life and went to allopathic doctors and they did not even have a clue to what it was. it was then that i went to try something different and found a homeopathic doctor who saw what it was right away and treated me within an hour and the next day the symptoms were GONE. i said to myself, “holy cow” and since then i have been using that medicine with great results. I of course would not go to a homeopath if i broke my arm, or if i have a cavity to be filled, etc. it is a balance. each side is good at certain things, but in general, one cannot use a single approach to fix everything that surfaces in life.

    Now, in the case of this story- we do not really know what happened- just because a doctor says that someone has eczema doesnt mean for sure they have eczema. doctors misdiagnose often- that is why they have malpractice insurance, right? and maybe the homeopath misdiagnosed, or misdosed the proper remedy. we are all human here, and humans make mistakes. I think they make way more mistakes than they even can really say. I have heard a saying, “science is always wrong” and it seems true. science is constantly updating itself, saying “oh well we thought this was how it is, but we’ve discovered its not totally like that- this is what we know now…” for example, my friend the other day was telling me the other day that he remembers when they used to spray everything with DDT. even kids. science thought that was OK back then, but what does science think of that practice now?

    we are evolving. everyone, everything. science and doctors make lots of mistakes daily, and so can homeopaths. just because science has not proven in the limited way that something is not true does not mean that it is. there are many things that science cannot explain- homeopathy is just one of them. if it works for one person (like me, for example) but not for another- does that mean it doesnt exist, or that it’s not real?

    The writer of this article we are all responding to, and many of the people responding to it sound very narrow minded to me. I would not fault them for that- for they are evolving as well. We all are. But to lay judgement and blame so quickly on something we know really nothing about- how is that showing wisdom?

  118. @jen: “They *saw* that the homeopathy was not working. They *saw* that the medical treatment was. And they made the choice, again and again, to stick to their ideology rather than use what worked to heal their daughter.”

    That’s what gets me most. From the reports, the parents had multiple “trials” with a crossover design ;-) with a 1:1 correlation between medical treatment -> getting better, and homeopathy -> worse *and they chose to ignore that evidence* (alongside all the other actual clinical trial evidence, of course, but that wasn’t right in front of their faces like the former). That sort of blind thinking absolutely beggars belief – especially when it relates to one’s children.

    I’m probably not surprised that there wasn’t child welfare intervention, as I don’t know that this would have been notified. In fact I suspect not; the information the doctors had would depend to a significant degree on what they were told. If the parents subsequently didn’t show up to an appointment (probably in the private system; too much health care here is “private practice” though government funded), that’s not really sufficient grounds to make a notification.

  119. Tara

    Phil, your passionate writing never ceases to amaze and impress me. Please keep up the fight.

  120. shawmutt

    My 20-month old son has suffered from severe eczema for well over a year now. It is one of the most stressful things my wife and I have gone through in our marriage–thankfully he’s a pretty happy kid otherwise. Other than the bad outbreaks that leave him whimpering in pain at night (and making us feel like horrible parents for not being able to do anything but try and comfort him), he’s cheery and pleasant.

    I can see, in a way, how folks can go to any lengths to relieve their kid of this kind of pain–even as it leads them down the rabbit hole of alternatives to medicine. I can also empathize with the frustration of seeing pediatrician after pediatrician, being told the same things over and over, and given medicine upon medicine that just doesn’t work. As Phil said, there is no cure, only management–and it’s a damn frustrating reality.

    That being said, I am a parent. My duty is to my children, and when my son is in rough shape, it is my responsibility to do whatever it takes to fix it. We had make a load of phone calls and beg and plead and drive three hours away (isn’t US healthcare just the bestest in the whole world?? ;-) ) to finally see a pediatric dermatologist just this week, but that’s what parents do. We sacrifice, we learn the best we can, and we do what’s right for our kids. Sometimes this involves letting go of sacred cows, admitting we don’t know everything, and trying something new.

    Wishful thinking and magic water may work wonders for aches and pains in the minds of the delusional, but it doesn’t do jack for bacterial infections. Stories like this disturb me to my core and make me want to shake some sense into these parents in not such a nice way. There is no excuse for this level of negligence–none.

  121. G

    Interesting how quick people are to try and destroy homeopathy. Let me tell you of my experience.

    When my daughter was born she suffered from cholic. This was so severe that we called out the doctor, who prescribed Infocol. This is normal procedure, however, at the time this product had only just returned to prescription after being withdrawn on safety grounds.

    We persisted with this treatment for two days without success, and so turned to a homeopathic alternative – Chamomelia. We noted an immediate improvement and continued to provide this cure fore 2 years without the symptoms returning.

    Often people accuse homeopathy as being effective due to the placebo effect, and yet this should have been equally true of Infocol.

    Whilst I was skeptical of its efficacy at the time, I have since taken homeopathic remedies for other ailments and some have been successful. I also admit that, on occasions, homeopathy has not worked, but this is also true of conventional medicines.

    We should be very careful about condemning things that we do not, as yet, understand. Unlike prescription medicines, homeopathy does no harm – the same is not true for steroid creams, that are the common remedy prescribed for eczema.

    I would also like to take this opportunity to remind people that when reading reports that criticise alternative medicines, that you should look at where the vested interests are for them and that you should follow the money trail. Corporations, especially pharmaceutical corporations are notorious for paying for studies that are deliberately biased towards their own profit motive.

  122. Mark Hansen

    Alex, positive results can be gained through homeopathy – the same results that can be achieved through giving the same patient a placebo. That’s why it is known as the placebo effect. Many prestigious doctors know of the placebo effect.

  123. Bjørn Leer Christoffersen

    It acured to me that if ppl do belive that water has “memory” and thats how homeopathy works, then they shuld think of where their drikning water comes from. Just think of all the plases our water has been, its not a plesant thout if you belive that infact water has “memory”

  124. @ Roger

    > American doctors lose over 200,000 patients a year to
    > their own iatrogenesis.

    There’s a difference between making an honest error, working off of the best information you can find… and making an honest error, working off of known to be flawed information.

    If a doctor misses a diagnosis, in virtually all cases that’s human error (yes, there are malpractice cases, granted). If a homeopath gives someone a treatment, that’s… not the same thing. That’s giving someone something that is (very likely) already known to be ineffective, or at best of unknown virtue altogether.

  125. Stone Age Scientist

    Hi Phil,

    Ignorance kills. But luckily, with sites like yours, education can be spread to the general public. Thank you for this passion.

  126. Sane

    @Daffy You’re an idiot

  127. May

    My eczema was very severe before seeing a dermatologist; it was all over my body. A week after my appointment, my condition was under control. Hearing about this child’s suffering is quite horrifying.

  128. Keith

    Reading the story made me feel worse than a Christian Scientist with appendicitis.

  129. Mobius

    Dude, start another blog for your anti-science passion. Folks check in here for astronomy news. Or at least, they did …

  130. Dan I.

    Man if I was prosecuting this case in a U.S. court (I hope to be a prosecutor when I finish law school) I so would have gone for second degree murder under the “depraved heart” theory.

    If I couldn’t get it then sure, manslaughter as a lesser included, but this IMO definitely meets the “extreme reckless disregard for human life” that it takes to get “depraved heart murder.”

  131. midnight

    Had me right up until “The reality is that the antivaxxers’ work will result in babies dying.”. This statement has nothing to do with the article, or the people in it.

    As far as childhood vaccination goes, generally a good idea, sure. There’s been some scares in recent years though, so I think it’s not only rational but necessary to demand better information and more stringent methods of quality control and production – before allowing some substance to be injected into our little ones.

    Your follow up of making the argument that anyone who doesn’t completely agree with you is immune to reason is awfully arrogant too. I realize you wrote a rant here, but for a pseudo-scientific site you could be a bit more objective.

  132. Instead of 25 years they should be given an infection that if left untreated they will die and let them try to cure themselves solely with “water”

    Also someone said this form of treatment is preferred because it has less side effects then real medicine. ITS WATER, of course it doesn’t have side effects, it has no effects.

  133. TheBlackCat

    Nice, Keith. Tom Lehrer FTW.

  134. katUSA

    There is a tremendous amount of ignorance on this thread. Most medicines in use today are based on homeopathic remedies. By example, the indigenous peoples of the Amazon rainforests use homeopathic remedies and pharmaceutical companies research the ingredients and exploit those homeopathic remedies by refining the active ingredients into pill form.

    Secondly, the theories about what would happen in an American court are absurd. The law student’s logic is so flawed that it’s clear that he probably won’t make it through – at the very least he will be failing crim law and crim pro.

  135. C. Augusto Valdés

    What kind of monsters let their infant girl die a horrible death? Really stupid monsters.

    Hanlon’s Law; Highly severe incompetence is indistinguishable from Evil.

  136. ThomasZ

    May the parents get some strange, deadly and painful disease in jail, then let’s see if they have the balls to stick with their precious homeopathic snake oil.

  137. I pity the family that lost their dauhter through their misrust of traditional medicine as practised here in the USA. However, I personally understand their mistrust and share it myself. While I do not beleive in homeopathy as anything except snake-oil, lumping homeopothy with those who make the scientific determination that vaccines are not a medical panacea that the drug manufacturors claim doesn’t make me a nut or someone that endangers my children.

    When my son was about 2 years old, I followed the advice of our pediatrician and allowed my son to receive his next round of vaccinations. Within a few hours he developed a high fever, developed red blotches all over his skin and proceeded to scream the entire night. I repetitively called our doctor and was told that this is a normal occurance and to give hime tylenol. After that his fever dropped but he became listless and somewhat unresponsive. Repetitive calls to our pediatrician brought no other advice other than to say it was normal. Within days he started to drift away and within a month he developed what we would later learn to be severe autism.

    Since this time, I have literally met with hundredsof parents arount the country who have experienced the exact same thing with their own children. Yet, for some reason when we ask more research, we are told that we are nut jobs for seeing what we have seen with our own eyes. If you physician tells you that medical science has shown that your child can walk on water yet you put them in a pool and they drown, it doesn’t take a genious to tell that the medical community is wrong. So it goes with the big vaccine lie.

    Their has never been any research showing the long term safety of vaccines or their additives. This is the truth. However, big pharma and the American Academy of Pediatrics refuse to acknowledge this fact. they have done short term tests with a handfull of subjects and skewed the results to match heir own financial best interests. However, when they look at studies from universities around the country showing a strong probable causation, those studies are ignored completely or called “bad science”. dr Healey, former head of the National Institute of Health has admitted that it’s past time for physicians to look much stronger into the probable causation of vaccines towards autism. Then immediately following that comment, she was suddenly allowed to step down from her position. If physicians and medical researchers around the world have seen a potential cause and effect relationship, why are those who have lived through this derided in the press? It’s time to wake up!

  138. Mobius (#130): read my policy on my posting on politics and religion. It applies here. If you only want astronomy, then only check the posts tagged astronomy. It’s my blog. I’ll write what I want to.

  139. reverend Loush

    this story has many things that are not factual. homeopothy does work for a great many people. i myself have been cured by homeopathic treatments and know first hand the great bennifits from it. i know a great many people who have been healed by homeopathic treatment. to call homeopothy unscientific, while espousing western medicine to be science is just foolishness. i have come to reject almost all forms of western medicine as i know first hand what poison it is, what harm it can do, how many thousands of people have been harmed and killed by it, and how un-effective, and unscientific it really is. most western medicine goes against common sense in fact. no one knows what really happend and what the facts of the case are except the homeopathic doctor on the case, the parents, and God. for the author of this story to tell this story in the way they did is unethical and iresponcible!

  140. I’m so, so sorry to hear this. As a parent, I can’t imagine a worse tragedy. The fact that this was completely avoidable — well, that completely floors me.

  141. JimB

    G and reverend Loush; Would you tell us exactly how you think WATER cured what ever ailment you had? You do realize that is what Homeopathic medicine is right? It’s WATER!

    A group of us were together tonight and this subject came up. A couple of people thought that homeopathic medicine was some type of alternative medicine (ok it is alternative), they were thinking far east alt meds or something like that. So I showed them a few web sites.

    It’s WATER. Why would anybody buy homeopathic medicine, when you can get it for free from your tap.

    Geez people, do a little research before you start talking about the efficacy of homeopathic medicine.

  142. A lot of the arguments in this case related to the parents’ Indian heritage as a defence of their faith in homeopathy. But the reality is Australia is as much to blame in this case.

    Thomas Sam has been practicing homeopathy in Australia for 12 years! But it’s far worse that that, he was also a senior lecturer – teaching this religion to others – some of whom will no doubt ignore every prosecution argument put forth in this case and go on to administer some lethal ignorance of their own – in Australia! So what has this case achieved really? It will still be legal to advise patients to forgo medical attention for serious health problems so long as the patient doesn’t die as a direct result, or so it seems.

    Thomas Sam’s entry on The Natural Health pages was removed last week but Google has cached it Thomas Sam, Homeopathy

    It’s a depressing read and it’s quite alarming that our supposedly rational western government allows this sort of belief to be sold in “colleges”. I believe Australia’s state and federal governments share some responsibility in this case. They protect us from ourselves when it comes to seat belts, speeding, smoking and all manner of other issues, but don’t raise an eyebrow against ignorant health practices being foisted on a gullible public – and usually through lies and scare tactics.

  143. reverend Loush

    it is not just water …you sir need to research things a little more. water is just the base. and many wonderful medicines have a base consisting of water. water is one of the three most important things that sustain life. water infused with medicine is an ancient and well tried method that has helped millons of people over the eons. you can’t get homeopathic medicine from your tap. that is just silly. see you think you can tell people like me what is and is not true, and what we have expearince and first hand knowledge of. well you can’t. as an alternative healer and client i know the bennifits of many alternative medicines. before you say something is only water, you should do more research and think about the word only. water by itself can be very healing if used in certain ways. that is just a fact. now i don’t know the real story of these parents, only the stuff that was written here which is of no real value, as it doesn’t tell the whole true story. i will say that as an alternative practitioner, these paretns should have kept on trying as many natural medicines as possible till they found one that showed them more efective results. however since none of us know the real stroy i don’t think we are in a position to judge the parents. so many psudeo facts have been written here that no one knows the truth. in any case sir…as i said i know what homeopathic medicine is, you obviously do not, and need to do more research into it. we are talking about a meidicne that works on a molecular level in the water. that is to say the molecular structure of the water has been altered by being infused with a meidicine. the ultimate principle is not that far off from the idea of vaccinations and booster shots. except that it is a thousand times less harmful. maybe in the future you should do more research before suggesting that someone is uninformed. maybe you should know about a medicine before you speak of it. in the end, to each their own. i have seen the evils of western medicne and the few good things about it. i have also seen so many positive things arise out of alternative medicine that i dedicated my lifes carrer and vocation to brining its message to the world every bit as much as my religion. everyone has their own experiances and i leave you to yours. i suggest a study of molecular structure, and quantum physics for you sir. just a thought!

  144. kikilis

    i cannot understand why in my country (lithuania) homeopathy is on the shelves in a normal drug store? is it so in the whole world?
    Then in a hospital there should be a shaman’s office and a medium’s diagnostic office.. and some lizard eye potion infusion systems…

    @reverend
    please do yourself some research, especially the clinical trials of homeopathy.

  145. @Pat Calahan:

    No, we’re talking willful ignorance. The evidence is out there. The evidence was right in front of their faces. They chose to ignore it. That’s willful ignorance, and it’s negligence.

    @A lot of other people:
    I agree. Homeopaths are the problem, more than the people who buy what they sell. The father was one of the homeopaths in question, and fully deserves his sentence.

  146. Ironically, smallpox vaccines in rare cases can cause serious, potentially life-threatening eczema.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eczema_vaccinatum

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s an argument against vaccination. I’m totally for vaccination.

  147. HawekeyeMD

    As a pediatric resident, this story both saddens and sickens me. It’s nothing to the grief the parents must be feeling, however negligently I believe they were in their actions, but the sorrow of the doctors and nurses who tried their best to save this poor little girl when it was too late also should be remembered. It hurts us too, when we can’t help, and it hurts more when we could have helped but weren’t allowed to try until it was too late.

    I don’t see what the parents can do at this point EXCEPT cling to their beliefs; anything else would lead to madness. It’s just terrible that it had to come to this point.

    I agree with Phil’s title. I’d even expand it: Ignorance kills.

  148. Whitt

    I personally use homeopathic remedies for chronic tonsillitis. My tonsils swell up whenever I’ve been too active and not got enough sleep, or when I’m stressed. I use this homeopathic medicine when I first feel them swell up, and they usually go down again within a day or so.
    I realise this might be from other factors but I personally believe them to be effective.
    HOWEVER, when I don’t take the homeopathic, my tonsils get larger and I get exhausted. Under these circumstances I take antibiotics, but antibiotics have strong side effects on me, which is why I use the homeopathics as a first option.
    I think they definitely do something – I can often feel the change within an hour or two. Though I don’t think they’re the only, or the best, way to deal with any and all problems.

  149. Saying that it wasn’t homeopathy that killed the baby reminds me of that old saying “it isn’t the fall that kills you, it’s the sudden stop at the end”.

    Those who argue this is a case about “personal freedom” might have a point if the events took place in a country where the government never plays a role in protecting people from their own gullibility or stupidity. But Australia is not that country.

    Last year a device called the Moletech Fuel Saver was released in Western Australia. Months later, the WA government regulator banned the sale of the device on the grounds that it didn’t work. They didn’t say “Oh look, it doesn’t actually cause any harm so you can keep selling it”, they banned it because it didn’t do anything it was claimed to do. They also didn’t say “Oh darn it, if people want to think this will save them fuel and they don’t mind paying 300 bucks for a fancy piece of nothing, then who are we to stop them?” THEY BANNED IT!

    No one was likely to die or suffer serious (or even mild) health issues as a result of fitting the Moletech device yet the government decided the WA public needed to be protected from it. We can still buy homeopathic products that are no more effective than the fuel saver device in relation to the respective claims made for each.

    You might say there is some evidence behind homeopathy but the Moletech people made that same claim. They had a WA professor backing them up, plus a paper from a Californian environmental engineering facility. It was still banned, because it didn’t work.

    If the manufacturers and promoters of that product have an ounce of sense, they will be selling homeopathic treatments instead these days because they could then make grandiose (though carefully worded) claims without having to make a product that works – and the WA state government will apparently NOT ban that product. They could even open schools and colleges extolling the virtues of their product.

    So, given this situation, I’d argue that the Australian public have an expectation that our government generally attempts to protect us from products that might be ineffective or dangerous – or at least alerts us to them. This does not happen with widely advertised alternative health practises so how can members of the general public be held entirely responsible for their own ignorance in such matters?

    Having said that, Thomas Sam was a senior lecturer in Homeopathy. He surely should have known more about it than most.

    Phil – please do keep covering these issues along with astronomy. Reason needs every voice it can muster.

  150. Bill

    The opposite side of this discussion is the voodoo science going on behind the closed doors of the Pharmaceuticals. I don’t believe in nor trust homeopathic medicine (my wife works in the medical profession and relates story after story of how once healthy people have seriously jeopardized their health by knocking natural equilibriums out of balance) but I also have a growing mistrust of medicine based upon corporate science. Even though the companies are forced to list side-effects now, most of their products are rushed to market well before long-term studies can be done. Worse the FDA is bought and sold regularly. So I say take a very long look at any kind of, “medicine,” before swallowing.

  151. reverend Loush

    iggnorance kills is right! a fact western medicine would do well to remember. everyone is talking about this one death from homeoptehic medicine. well how about the millions who have been injured or killed because of western medicine? what about those of us who have ben hurt by western so called medicine and drugs. what about all the people who have been killed by chemo so called therapy? what about all the children who went crazy and killed themselves because of rittelin? what about all the kids who now have developed autism because of vaccination and booster shots? what about those like me who were turned into a zombie for years because of western medicines idea of blood preasure medicine? iggnorance is right, but who are the iggnorant ones? there are not even any homeopaths here to defend their practice. this is biased and unfair. there is a tragedy here. one much worse then that poor childs death. the tragedy here is the witchhunt that is brewing against alternative forms of mdicine that are already well used and documented and taken seriously in other countires around the world. but no…not here in the good ol u.s.a. here we prefer our alopathic chemical poisons to the medicines that nature has provided us. this country makes me sad sometimes. but i am holding out hope because of the brave doctors like the kind at baylor medicle center in dallas texas. these people have instituted complementory medicine where the patient gets to excercise their right to choose. in other countries this wouldn’t be an issue. but here you say child and everyone gets crazy. i want to find the parents and help comfort them, and tell the father not to give up, because even though he lost one child he might save a hundred in their place. i am so disgusted by what western medicine has become. this blog is nothing but another fear tactic. i for one will not be fooled by the intent here.i remember the damage that western medicine did to me and many people and family members that i love. we will continue to move foreward not backward. water based medicines, plant medicines, herbs, flower essences, and essential oils are the past and future fronteirs of meidicine. and there will be many people like myself who western medicine has hurt that will turn to newer safer, more natural forms of mdicine. those of us who use and practice alternative medicine are not going away. we will stay and fight for our rights, because we have lost too many of them already. i have no legal recorse for the damage so called western medicine caused to my body. i so wish i did. i wish i could sue the western medical community and industry, and the pharmacudical companies for all they were worth. i can’t. but what i can do is reply to things like this when i see it, and hopefully help one person to be brave enough to get reeducated and try alternative medicine; and give it a real place in their lives so their lives can improve and change for the better the way mine did!

  152. David M

    Let’s not lose sight here. A baby died from a easily treatable skin disorder. Sure, natural therapies can be tried, but once seen not to work, any sensible parent should have done all they could to arrest the problem. No, not these two.

    Ignorance and denial of medical science caused this little girls death. Just as it contributed to my 4 week old daughter’s death from whooping cough this year. Whooping cough has killed 3 other babies in Australia this year. All too young to be vaccinated!

    We can’t deny facts or treatments that can cure or prevent illness. To argue is pointless and deadly, as it’s been proven to me in the most unacceptable way.

  153. davem

    @ rev Loush “. i suggest a study of molecular structure, and quantum physics for you sir.”

    I’d suggest that you know as much about quantum physics as you appear to know about spelling and grammar. Not much. We know what the molecular structure of homeopathic medicines is. It’s identical to pure water. Because it IS pure water, containing no medicine whatsoever. The supposed ‘memory effect’ is pure quackery; nothing less, nothing more.

    “that is to say the molecular structure of the water has been altered by being infused with a meidicine”

    No it hasn’t. That’s the entire problem. Quacks are selling it as medicine, when it is nothing of the sport. It’s distilled water. I can buy that for a pittance. It’ll do me just as much good, and I won’t be filling the bank accounts of quack doctors like yourself.

  154. Mark Hansen

    rev Loush, your posts looks identical to a Poe so if that’s what it is, you’ve done it exceptionally well. However, on the chance that you are serious, think very carefully about this. Infusion of water occurs all the time. Every time you use a flush toilet, you are infusing the water. When the toilet is flushed, the water is agitated and the solution diluted, just like homeopathic water. Why doesn’t the water retain the memory of what you added to it then?

    Oh, and good old Mother Nature can be a real bitch with her floral and herbal remedies. The natural treatment for malaria (quinine) is a fine example. Cinchonism is an unpleasant side effect of quinine. But it’s all natural.

  155. Reverend Loush: You’re one of the nut bags Phil predicted. Rot in hell you vile, evil, person.

  156. James

    reverend loush, how many people have had to suffer and die because you sold them medicine that was actually water? you are evil incarnate. a cancer on humanity.

  157. sailor

    katUSA Says:
    “There is a tremendous amount of ignorance on this thread. Most medicines in use today are based on homeopathic remedies. By example, the indigenous peoples of the Amazon rainforests use homeopathic remedies and pharmaceutical companies research the ingredients and exploit those homeopathic remedies by refining the active ingredients into pill form.”

    KatUSA NO medicines are based on homeopathic remedies as homeopathic remedies are just water. Your example refers to herbal remedies, something completely different.

  158. Jean Hoagland

    How badly does the author feel when approved conventional medicine kills? That happens far more often. Homeopathic medicine itself does not kill. For accurate information google the National Center for Homeopathy.

  159. TheBlackCat

    @ Mobius: Did you read the “About Bad Astronomy” on the right hand side of the page. You should particularly read the last sentence:

    He is a skeptic, and fights misuses of science as well as praising the wonder of real science.

    You also appear to have also missed the “bad” part of “bad astronomy”, and are further apparently ignorant of the original purpose of the website. It was originally established to deal with bad science like the moon hoaxers, planet x-ers, and the equinox egg-balancing myth. The good astronomy was a later addition. So if anything he should make a new blog for his astronomy news, since the bad science came first.

  160. People, don’t forget, some homeopathic solutions are not water; they also use alcohol as the base. So, we have some that are just water (with none of the original substance in it) and some that are just alcohol (with none of the original substance in it).

    And to reiterate sailor’s comment to KatUSA, you’re confusing your alternative medicines.

  161. wackyvorlon

    I do not believe American law allows ignorance as a defense. Simply because you did not know it would kill the child, does not absolve you of criminal guilt for the child’s death. The matter is a very simple, and all the philosophical rambling in the world won’t change these simple facts:

    1- The parents believed in homeopathy.
    2- They denied their daughter treatment for an extremely painful and life threatening condition.
    3- They attempted magic to heal her instead(homeopathy).
    4- Even though they may be ignorant of it’s inefficacy, ignorance is not a defense.

    To jail they go, IMO.

    @katUSA: I don’t think you know what homeopathy really is. A lot of people think it’s just the use of herbs, it’s not.

  162. TheBlackCat

    we are talking about a meidicne that works on a molecular level in the water. that is to say the molecular structure of the water has been altered by being infused with a meidicine. the ultimate principle is not that far off from the idea of vaccinations and booster shots. except that it is a thousand times less harmful.

    First, no homeopath has been able to actually show any affect on the molecular structure of water, any mechanism by which the change in molecular structure could be made, any mechanism to make the change in molecular structure remain stable for more than a few thousandths of a second (the bonds between atoms in molecules vibrate randomly, which would quickly erase any changes), any mechanism by which this could survive passage through the human digestive system, bloodstream, extracellular matrix, cell membrane, and cytoplasm, any mechanism by which it could alter biological function, or any mechanism from preventing all of this from occurring in tap water constantly.

    Quantum physics, despite being a standard fallback of antiscience (“it is weird and I don’t understand it, so nobody else does either”), shows exactly what shows homeopathy is bogus. According to quantum physics, you can’t “alter the molecular structure of water” in a stable way (while it remains water). Because of water’s electron structure, there is only one stable configuration for water molecules. There is some room for bending in the structure, but the bends are constantly changing in a random and unpredictable manner and there is no way under quantum physics to either change this bending pattern (at least in a simple molecular like water) or to stabilize it in any particular configuration (except by reducing it to absolute zero). Plus, even if it did, the water has to pass through special membrane channels called aquaporins in order to get into the body. Quantum physics tells us that these aquaporins deform the water molecule as it passes through, erasing any changes to the molecular structure your homeopathic remedy might have made.

    I also find it ironic that you keep calling it “western medicine”. Homeopathy was originally developed by Samuel Hahnemann, a German, in 1796. It is far more “western” than your so-called “western medicine”, since huge advances in “western medicine” have been made throughout the globe. In fact Asia is currently having a huge boom in medical science.

  163. TheBlackCat

    @wackyvorlon: “Any legal system where ignorance of the law is not a defense, but where there are too many laws for any one person to know and remember, is by definition unjust”.

  164. wackyvorlon

    rev Loush makes me want to dig out my red pen… Ignorance is spelled with one g! It’s ritalin, not rittelin! bah!

  165. Peter B

    #111 Roger said: “American doctors lose over 200,000 patients a year to their own iatrogenesis.”

    Source please. And the nature of the deaths too, please.

    If a person has been seriously injured in a car accident and dies in the Emergency Room, does that count in those 200,000? Or does that figure include only people who have been killed by mistakes?

  166. Jason

    For a little experiment, I went to the first site linked from google for “eczema homeopathy”. After filling out the symptoms I could glean from the articles for Gloria Thomas, the site ended up recommending me a “200C potency solution of sulphur.” 200C is a “high potency” solution, recommended, because the eczema was both chronic and acute, whereas “low potency” was recommended for mere chronic conditions.

    Let’s take this through its steps. First, I checked out WebMD, to see the indications for eczema, and was unable to find anything mentioning sulphur, but hey, let’s play along.

    Next, let’s examine what “200C potency” means in homeopathy. The C part of it (there are other letters) means that each dilution is diluted at a 1/100 proportion, i.e. 1 drop from the previous mixture is added to 99 drops of water or alcohol or whatever the solvent is (it is alcohol in this case). The 200 means that this is done TWO-HUNDRED TIMES.

    Let’s do the math. Starting from what it said is a 1 part sulphur in 99 parts 70% alcohol solution, let’s see what we end up with.

    Step Proportion
    1. 1/100 = 10E-2 parts sulphur
    2. 1/10000 = 10E-4 parts sulphur
    3. 1/1000000 = 10E-6 parts sulphur
    4. 1/100000000 = 10E-8 parts sulphur

    199. 10E-398 parts sulphur
    200. 10E-400 parts sulphur

    Yes, that is 1 in 10E400 parts. Some of you may remember Avogadro’s number from chemistry class. This is the number of molecules in a mole (= atomic number grams) of a substance, approx. equal to 6.022E23 molecules. This would be the number of atoms in 16 grams (atomic number) of elemental sulphur. My bottle was 1 oz = 28.34 grams. Since it was mostly alcohol as previously stated, we’ll use the molar mass of methanol instead: 32.05 g/mol, leaving us with approx. 5.32E23 molecules in the entire bottle.

    Now, we had our ratio of sulphur as previously described, of 10E-400 parts sulphur. This dilution ratio means that for 1 in every 10E400 molecules, there will be 1 atom of sulphur. Since our bottle does not contain that many molecules, there is not a single atom of sulphur in the entire tincture, or if there is, there is a 1/10E377 chance that it does.

    The visible matter content of the entire universe is thought to be on the order of ~10E80 atoms.

    It’s alcohol. And even if it weren’t, does sulphur even cure eczema? And even if it did, would perhaps 1 stray atom of sulphur cure an entire body covered in eczema?

    It’s note clear whether Mr. Sam was using a water-based or alcohol-based “solution” on Gloria, but let’s hope for her sake it was at least only water.

    (On a side note, they were also offering 3X = 1/10000 solutions of belladonna. I don’t know the LD50 of belladonna, but that seems rather a lot of poison… Furthermore, this 3X solution is considered a “low dosage” tincture in homeopathy, whereas the 200C I talked about earlier was a “high dosage”; yes, they’re that stupid.)

    TL;DR — Homeopathy is quackery of the finest order, and Thomas and Manju Sam deserve whatever their sentence ends up being for killing their child with stupidity.

  167. TheBlackCat

    @ Jason: How do you have something that is both chronic and acute? I thought those were antonyms?

    And it looks like the LD50 of the purified belladonna alkaloid is 400,000 micrograms per kilogram, or 0.4 grams per kilogram, so 1 part in 1E12 is probably safe, especially if it is the whole plant.

  168. Jason

    TBC: I know, and agree. I was going from the potency note on their site ;) I assume they meant that it was long-term, but suddenly flared up in intensity… But who knows.

    Thanks for the LD50 on belladonna. I forgot to correct the zeros on that one, though; it should have been 1/1000, giving 1E11 in your final estimate. Still sounds safe, though. (Where “safe” means “not enough to kill me for my mild condition, when prescribed in this dosage by someone who thinks more of a substance is less potent”.)

  169. Elmar_M

    Homeopathy is quackery and it is NOTHING BUT PURE WATER (or whatever the basis is).
    What does get people confused sometimes is that some remedies are called Homeopathic even though they are not. E.g. here a lot of herbal medecine also gets sold as “homeopathic”. Then people think “hey that is an “old house remedy” and my grandma used it, so it Homeopathy got to work”. Well, whether the old self made remedies of grandmas are always so great is beyond my capabilities to test and to disprove or approve right now. Personally I think that any modern medecine beats grandmas receipes big time.
    Still people think that way. However, people need to realize that “real” Homeopathy has absolutely no chance of working. It is nothing but water!!!!

  170. TheBlackCat

    The thing that really gets me are homeopathic pills. Here not only do you have to accept that water has memory, but that memory can somehow be transferred to sugar pills, survive the sugar being broken down by your digestive system, and still have an identical effect to what the water would have had.

    That brings up another issue. Water, alcohol, and sugar are totally different chemically. They are very different in size and contain different collections of atoms with radically different bond types, strengths, and angles. They are treated completely different by the digestive system and the body in general. In the end there is practically nothing in common across all three. Yet somehow, magically, the diluting effect creates changes in the atomic structure, changes that must be very different, yet that are somehow interpreted identically by the body.

    Further, water is constantly broken down and re-formed when in the liquid state, so I find it hard to see how the supposed changes to the molecular structure could survive.

  171. Mobius

    @Phil #139

    Of course it’s your blog, and you can write what you want to. That’s kind of a juvenile reply. I’m sure your defenders will be all over this, but self-righteousness is an annoying trait. Proselytizers, whether the cause is worthy or nuts, have something one “needs” to know. Like souls will tune in with the hosannas, others whom you might want to reach likely won’t. At any rate, it won’t be me. Arrivederci …

  172. Jason

    No wonder people get so angry at what is on TV: they can’t yell and tell the world when they’re changing the channel.

  173. reverend loush

    i find it more then amusing that all the people here damning me to hell and talking all around the quesations that i posed, talking about crap like my bad spelling can’t seem to answer my questions. first i hve heard physics talked about on here not quantum physics. but all of this is irrelavent. answer my questions people? what about all the deaths and injuries caused by western medicine? what about all the harm so called conventinal medicine has caused? why are people trying to railroad alternative medicines yet the f.d.a. and the pharmacudical comapanies are allowed to keep killing people all the time. how many commercials do we see where an f.d.a. approved medicine has been recalled due to the fact that it is killing or harming people? why are they not being talked about on here or being riped apart? i suggest research into the water science being done by people like doc. emoto, and the video called what the bleep.
    i just find it more then amusing that i am being called evil because i dared to point out that i and many people that i know were victims of western medicine. i can see that this blog is filled with skeptics and biased that are based on nothing. western medicine made me a victim and alternative medicine set me free from that victim-hood. that is just the fact. and as i said that is my experaince and i know other people have theirs. they are welcome to it. and i don’t care too much about spelling and grammer on blogs like this by the way. if i need to type something professional that is what spell check is for and the dictionary. it is a way of skirting around the fact that people are dieing at the hands of doctors and western medicine. my experiance is this. western medicine tried to end my life and alternative medicine gave me a new one. and to answer one person on here. no i am not a homeopath and have never given anyone that type of medicine. i said that i was cured by a homeopathic medicine when i had a particular condition. however i am not a homeopath. my medicine that i practice is massage. i also teach reiki, i am an aromatherpist, a ritual herbalist, and a shaman. i found these things and they saved my life after a western doctor nearly killed me with their poisonious so called medicine. anyway as i said i leave everyone to their own experiance.

  174. Stuart Van Onselen

    reverend loush: Just because you say it’s so, don’t make it so. Except inside your own head.

    You’re not only using “alternative” medicine, you’re living in an alternate universe!

  175. Yojimbo

    Why is if that people like ” reverend loush” complain that nobody addresses their questions or reads what they say, following bunches of resopnses that exactly address their questions and comments?

    That’s a rhetorical question, of course. Another case of the human diode.

  176. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    Tragic fail. (;_;)

    And its sickening that I didn’t make it before the crackpots/trolls appeared. Here is one outstanding _example_ of when the woo didn’t work, while statistics says ordinary medicine keeps excema at bay. Yet the denial, and lies, and dodges.

    Is there an eczema vaccine? I know it can be treated, but prevented through immunity?

    I believe there is, ironically enough. Don’t know about effectiveness.

    There is a distinction between vaccination and treatment, right?

    Why shouldn’t a cure be a treatment, as well as mitigation et cetera are?

  177. Gary Ansorge

    177. reverend “loush”

    Reminds me of “louse”. Another mis-spelling, perhaps?(massage is not medicine, even though it may precipitate the release of endorphins.)

    Some folk here are consistently mis-apprehending naturalpathic remedies (herbs, tree bark, etc) with homeopathic (diluted drugs to the point of the infinitesimal ,ie, zero active ingredients).

    As far as vitamins are concerned, I take 200 mg/day b complex and 2 grams/day vit c. Why? Because I don’t eat large quantities of fresh veggies and fruit every day. So it just makes sense to ingest in a cheap pill form what I’d probably get (naturally) if I lived on a farm. Those vits. are water soluble and exit the organism in our urine every day. I guess the bacteria that feed on my wastes are probably really healthy(snark). On the other hand, they(vits) may only be producing a placebo effect (gotta love that placebo effect. It’s so dang powerful,,,)(I wonder why???)

    For those with asthma, I have three in my immediate family and all responded to “traditional western medicine”. Hey, what can I say? They must be freaks,,,(my daughters’ asthma was much less severe than their mothers. Can anyone here say “genetic interaction with environment”?).

    People have a right to believe what they want, as long as it has NO deleterious EFFECT ON SOMEONE ELSE.

    HAving said that, I suggest to homeopaths, here is a cure for the vacuum inside your heads. Take a one liter bottle of distilled H2O, mutter incantations over the bottle, then shove it where the sun don’t shine,,,

    ,,,and to all those espousing sugar over vinegar,,,sorry. I’m fresh out of honey,,,Hey, according to the Good Book, even God loses patience,,,
    after a while,,,

    GAry 7

  178. Damon

    Oh no, somebody died from Homeopathy. Big deal.

    How about the millions dead from misdiagnoses and prescription drug abuse in the medical/pharmaceutical industry?

    Try again, Phil. Come back when you have some real evidence that discredits the hundreds of thousands of satisfied customers of Homeopathy.

  179. reverend loush

    yoga, massage, tai chi, excercise, and nutrition, as well as vitamens, minerals, herbs, and essential oils are forms of medicine. medicine to me is not just pills that you engest. and to yojimbo ….my questions were not addressed at all. my question is “why is the western medical industry not being held accountable for the millions they have harmed and killed”? and to stuart…thanks for the complement i do indeed live in an alternate universe. i am proud of it. i left your so called reality because in that america people are being arressted and tried for excercising their divine right to treat themselves and their offspring in a manner they consider to be appropriate. it is a fact that western medicine kills. lets adress that! lets also address the fact that this country is becoming more socialized and communist by the day. yall are so busy insulting me that you have still not answered my question…which again is….”why is the western medical industry not being held accountable for the millions they have harmed and killed”?

  180. OtherRob

    Oh no, somebody died from Homeopathy. Big deal.

    Are you actually dismissing the death of a little girl from a painful disease? I believe the internet phrase for this is: Epic Fail!

  181. TheBlackCat

    what about all the deaths and injuries caused by western medicine?

    Argument from consequences fallacy. Yes, people die from evidence-based medicine. They die for two reasons: people are fallible, and medicine has an effect on the human body. If you combine these two things, you get an obvious result: occasionally medicine will have an effect different than the one you hoped for. This may be because someone was given the wrong medicine, too much medicine, too little, too early, or too late. However, the number of people saved by medicine far outstrips the number harmed. For instance the number you cited, apparently plucked out of thing air since you have refused to provide a source, is 200,000 people being killed by evidence-based medicine every year. For instance treatments of tuberculosis alone have saved around 30,000 people a year.

    Homeopathy, on the other hand, kills people as well. The difference is that homeopathy kills people because it does not work. This is simply one of a great many cases where someone has died of an easily treatable disease because they relied on homeopathic treatments instead of simple, effective treatments.

    People die from cars all the time, but they die because cars are effective at moving people at high speed, which is often a good thing but can lead to problems. People also die because they refuse to move when they are in danger. This is a pointless, wasteful death because there is no reason it should happen. The first case is like medicine, people die because it works. Homeopathy is like the second case, people die because in reality they are not actually doing anything.

    why are people trying to railroad alternative medicines yet the f.d.a. and the pharmacudical comapanies are allowed to keep killing people all the time.

    No one is trying to “railroad” alternative medicine. All we are asking is that it be demonstrated to work better than a placebo. That is it. So far that has not happened. Is that really so much to ask?

    how many commercials do we see where an f.d.a. approved medicine has been recalled due to the fact that it is killing or harming people?

    Very few. The most recent case is I recall is Vioxx, which happened about 5 years ago. The company that makes it was practically driven out of business, despite the fact that there is no evidence that they knew it was dangerous, since they is not that much larger than the control (.4% vs .1%), and even then only for people already at risk for heart attack. That is not to say it is a good thing, and as always scientists are learning from what went wrong and trying to fix it, but it hardly justifies the rhetoric you have been using so far.

    But of course the same thing happens with alternative medicine. Ephedra is one such case that I brought up earlier. So is the more recent cases where herbal supplements where found to have dangerous levels of heavy metals like mercury and arsenic. Or cases where herbal supplements had dangerous levels of stimulants added.

    i suggest research into the water science being done by people like doc. emoto, and the video called what the bleep.

    what the bleep is a well-known work of general crackpottery, you are not going to get support from many people here by citing it. It looks like emoto is not a doctor, taking pretty pictures of ice can hardly be called “research” (especially when he steadfastly refuses to implement proper controls), and he apparently readily admits what he is doing is not scientific so it can hardly be called “water science”.

    Also, I see that, although you go on and one about how “western medicine” tried to kill you (I see you are still using that phrase despite me correcting you earlier), you so far have given us absolutely no specifics whatsoever. You have not told us what disease you had, how you know you had it, how severe it was, what evidence-based treatments you underwent, what the specific results were, what specific alternative medicine treatments you underwent, what the results were, how long they took, how you know it was the alternative medicine that treated it, how long you have been disease-free, how you know you are disease-free, or really anything else of substance.

  182. Gary Ansorge

    183 Reverend Louse:
    “why is the western medical industry not being held accountable for the millions they have harmed and killed”?

    Because, in 99.9 percent of cases, it does exactly what it is intended to do. It CURES disease. One might note: When you’re treating tens of millions of people a day, 1/10th of one percent adverse side effects could SEEM significant,,,but it isn’t.

    GAry 7

  183. At all those who saying western medicine kills, homeopathy rocks.

    There is no such thing as ANYTHING that is completely safe. Nothing we do is safe. There is always some form of risk involved. As I said in a comment on a different board, even something as simple as taking too much vitamin K (found in garlic, cranberries, leafy greens and bunch of other things which normally you are told to eat a lot of for a good diet) will kill people with certain blood clotting disorders.

    REGARDLESS of the risks involved, at least with “western” medicine those procedures have been tested. They can give you INFORMED CONSENT of possible side effects, likeliness of death etc. If you are not asking for that information before blindly taking an RX your dr gave you, then that is your fault for not asking questions and being an active consumer in your medical care. Drs are not gods. But most of them do the best that they can do.

    HOWEVER, this garbely goop of homeopathy does not work. It is ineffective. It has also been studied. The effects are the same as the placebo effect. Yet practitioners of this path put on their blinders and trick certain members of the planet into believing their methods are better than western medicine when they are not. At least in western medicine, you get the warnings. They are available to you. It is not hidden. And anyone who wants to tell me they are, well all you have to do (if you feel you can’t talk to your dr) is go to some side like WebMD and you get all the info you need on any drug.

    So at least when I take the medications that keep my alive with my Lupus, I am fully aware of the risks involved. Some of my meds may even cause death. HOWEVER, if I were not to take them, I know my Lupus surely would. Is western medicine going to cure me? No, there is no cure. Have I looked at natural alternatives? Yes I have with the guidance of my doctor (who is versed in that area as well and we don’t have pharma kick backs here so dont give me that argument) and some of them are very affective and other natural things that for others would do them great, could do worse than western meds. And they have been studied effectively.

    So proof besides some website and some Dr who has their own agenda to push that homeopathy works? Cause there is none! Like I said, at least with western meds, you know the risks, they have been studied and documented and nobody is trying to say differently or that it is 100% safe. Jeebus, even crossing the road is not 100% safe no matter how many times you decide to look both ways before crossing.

  184. I’m not sure one can blame homeopathy for the harm, but rather failure to act rationally. Clearly the homeopathic beliefs are proximate, but that seems a superficial result.

    My reply to Phil is at:
    http://structureddream.blogspot.com/2009/06/diluted-objectivity.html

    Short take: We all have perceptual filters, especially when it comes to what we associate with personal safety, like what we do for a living. Small independent quacks resposible for tragedies make easy, safe targets, but one might hope blogs claiming to be scientific to show better objectivity.

  185. JimB

    ohmanohmanohmanohman

    Up thread it was 200,000. Now we’ve got millions of people being killed left and right. I’m almost afraid to look out the window for fear of seeing people falling dead left and right.

  186. reverend loush

    gary says…
    Because, in 99.9 percent of cases, it does exactly what it is intended to do. It CURES disease. One might note: When you’re treating tens of millions of people a day, 1/10th of one percent adverse side effects could SEEM significant,,,but it isn’t.

    whatever. it is a big deal. if it was your family then you would see it. pick up a western medicine bottle and read the never endlist of side effects. some of them even list death as a possible side effect but hey its no big deal. seriously? why not.

    western medicine poisons millions of people every day and thousands are dieing. but hey its all ok, because the doctors know everything.

    as for blackcat….your arguments against emoto and what the bleep are silly. there are more sicnentists around the world besides emoto proving the same thing in controlled labritories. he is just one of the most prevelent and the first. i have seen how the information he put forth is changing lives. it helped changed mine. and not that my personal detailed medical information is any of your buissness, but i will site one of the things, which is that i had high blood pressure that was high enough to kill me. they gave me western drugs. oh ya they brought my blood pressure down and turned me for two years of my life ino a zombie till i was literally waisting away. then i got tired of the run arounds from my doctors who couldn’t help me at all, and i turned to herbs, meditation, and essential oils which have been tried and tested with fantastic results for thousands of years all around the world. this stuff saved my life and i am truly greatful. and people keep on bringing up the placebo effect. there is no such thing as the placebo effect. it is a fairytale. they should call the placebo effect what it really is; the power of the human mind to change a persons reality. it has been said on here that 99 percent of the time western medicine works and cures. no it does not. first of all western medicine doesn’t cure much of anything. it treats symptoms and does nothing to address the root causes of problems. just recently the doctors almost killed my grandmother because the medication that they gave her caused her to have a series of heart attacks. many people that i know who were suffereing from diseases and cancers found no real healing after all the drugs. but they changed their lives by turning to different alternative medicines. it was said on here that homeopoty can’t cure anything but i myself was healed by a homeopathic remeady from a condition that i had. so i know that it can work. is it the answer for everyone? no! is it the answer for some? yes it is! there are hundreds and hundreds of alternative therapies, some are good and some not so good. however they all do a lot less damage to the human body then the drugs that america seems to prefer. the f.d.a tels people that fake sugar in things like equal and sweet n low which are aspartame are ok to engest> well no they are not they are poisonous nuero toxins. they tell people that splenda is safe when it is not. they tell people that high fructose corn syrup is safe when it is dangerous. oh but thats ok because they are the western medical industry and they are above reproach. whatever. this thread is just sad. but i will stay hopefull because everyday i meet new people who are sick and tired of western medicine and seek alternative therapies. this allows me to know that in the future things will be set right. alopathic medicine is going down. slowly maybe but it is. i am just greatful that unlike many people who let themselves be killed by these western medical crackpot death dealing doctors, i stopped leting them decide what was right for me, and i took my health back in my own hands. as i said before to each their own!

  187. Re. I. P. Freeley

    Proverbs 17:28 Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.

  188. TheBlackCat

    @ Burnt: First, Phil’s statement about homeopathy is completely correct. Homeopaths still claim that their treatments can have real effects beyond the placebo, including curing serious illnesses. The problem isn’t that they are claiming there are no side effects. No one is arguing with that. The problem is that they are claiming that there are effects (beyond placebo), which is simply wrong. And people are dying because of it. This is a particularly noticeable example because it happened in a “developed” country, but right now in Africa homeopaths are going to villages and telling people that they should not take proven effective treatments for diseases like pertussis, tuberculosis, malaria, and AIDS, and should instead rely on homeopathic treatments exclusively. And people are dying because of it. Serious efforts to help people in these villages are constantly hampered by these quacks.

    Second, you claim Phil’s post is “a stream of fallacies and what might be generously called ‘mischaracterizations’”. However, you fail to actually say what they are. Care to explain them to us?

    Third, ignoring the fact that homeopathy itself is a massive industry striving for profits, the fact that harm is done in one area does not mean that we should just ignore the harm in another. Further, Phil does routinely bring light to other problems. I suggest you look at his “Silence is the Enemy” post just a 5 days ago. It would be good to actually check to see whether someone is doing something before you criticize him or her for not doing it.

    And you fail to show how Phil is not demonstrating objectivity. You claim he is, but once again you fail to provide any examples or arguments to back this up.

  189. Rev. I. P. Freeley

    @ reverend loush,

    Proverbs 17:28 Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.

  190. Gary Ansorge

    192: Da Rev I.P., has it nailed. I also like this paraphrase, as my Fodder once said,

    ” ‘Tis better to be silent and thought a fool, than to speak up and remove all doubt,,,”.

    One of these days, even I may learn the lesson, that when responding to fools, one must accept the risk of possible contamination. (“Ack!!! The sticky stuff,,,”)(harking back to a childhood tale).

    GAry 7

  191. TheBlackCat

    whatever. it is a big deal. if it was your family then you would see it. pick up a western medicine bottle and read the never endlist of side effects. some of them even list death as a possible side effect but hey its no big deal. seriously? why not.

    Because it is better than not getting any treatment at all. That is what homeopathy is: absolutely nothing. It is NOT a treatment.

    western medicine poisons millions of people every day and thousands are dieing. but hey its all ok, because the doctors know everything.

    Who ever claimed this? Please stop making up arguments for us.

    there are more sicnentists around the world besides emoto proving the same thing in controlled labritories.

    Such as…? There have been lots of such laboratories, but whenever they are tested with proper controls or replicated by other groups the effects disappear.

    i have seen how the information he put forth is changing lives. it helped changed mine.

    It changed this girl’s as well.

    and not that my personal detailed medical information is any of your buissness, but i will site one of the things, which is that i had high blood pressure that was high enough to kill me. they gave me western drugs. oh ya they brought my blood pressure down and turned me for two years of my life ino a zombie till i was literally waisting away. then i got tired of the run arounds from my doctors who couldn’t help me at all, and i turned to herbs, meditation, and essential oils which have been tried and tested with fantastic results for thousands of years all around the world. this stuff saved my life and i am truly greatful.

    Ah, high blood pressure, a disorder tied to both stress and diet. Exactly the sort of disorder you would expect to be tied to relaxation and changes in diet. What a surprise that treatments emphasizing exactly those things were effective.

    I should also point out that blood lettings was also “tried and tested with fantastic results for thousands of years all around the world.”

    and people keep on bringing up the placebo effect. there is no such thing as the placebo effect. it is a fairytale. they should call the placebo effect what it really is; the power of the human mind to change a persons reality.

    You are obviously not familiar with the extensive research on the placebo effect. The placebo affect is known to be able to trigger the endogenous opiod system, the body’s built in pain-fighting system. But that is all the placebo effect can do. It has been shown that the placebo effect is incapable of affecting anything other than pain. It has been shown, however, to change peoples’ perception of their symptoms even if the actual symptoms are unchanged, which is why all medicines need to be compared against placebos.

    first of all western medicine doesn’t cure much of anything. it treats symptoms and does nothing to address the root causes of problems.

    This is a flat-out lie. Antibiotics cure bacterial infections by killing bacteria. Anti-viral medication cures viral infections by preventing viral reproduction. Anti-cancer treatments kill cancer, prevent its growth, and/or teach the body to kill it. Anti-malaria medication kills malaria parasites. Anti-fungal medication kills fungal infections. The list goes on and on.

    many people that i know who were suffereing from diseases and cancers found no real healing after all the drugs.

    I easily know dozens of people whose lives have been saved by cancer treatments alone. They made a full recovery. Same goes for heart problems, infections, and many other diseases. My anecdotes cancel out your anecdotes. I guess we will have to rely on actual evidence.

    it was said on here that homeopoty can’t cure anything but i myself was healed by a homeopathic remeady from a condition that i had.

    How do you know that you were cured? And how do you know that homeopathy was responsible?

    however they all do a lot less damage to the human body then the drugs that america seems to prefer.

    Tell that to all the people who died from ephedra. Tell that to all the people who go deaf thanks to ear candling. Tell that to all the people who suffer serious harm from chelation. The list goes on and one.

    well no they are not they are poisonous nuero toxins.

    So is water. So is table sugar. So is alcohol. Ironically, these are three primary components of homeopathic remedies. There is nothing, and I mean nothing, that is not toxic. What differentiates a cure from a poison is the dose. Homeopathic remedies can kill you if you take enough of them, because water, sugar, or alcohol can kill you if you take enough of them. There was a story just a few years ago about a woman who died from water poisoning (and I don’t mean drowning, just drinking enough water will kill you).

  192. Lawrence

    So, who exactly is regulating the “Homeopathic” industry? No one!

    At least modern medicines have to pass through an approval process (which yes, can sometimes be flawed, but there is a HUGE incentive for drug manufacturers & doctors to play by the rules – they are called LAWSUITS) that takes years before a drug goes to market. R&D, lab tests, clinical trials (animals), clinical trials (human), and finally distribution. Of course, there are plenty of stages in-between as well – and most drugs in development never make it to market, they fail somewhere along the way – caught in the standard testing process.

    Nobody is saying that the practice of modern medicine is 100% full-proof, but between the regulatory agencies, the lawyers, the AMA, and other oversight groups – at least there is someone awake at the switch.

    In this so called “natural drug” market, there is no testing, no quality control, no one making sure that people aren’t selling highly toxic remedies under the guise of “natural” medicine.

    All one needs to do is read “The Great Influenza” by John Barry to get a sense of what the medical profession was like before the AMA came along in the early 1900′s – and I would hazard to guess that no one would want to go back to the way medicine used to be practiced before the controls were put in place.

  193. Jr

    It may not cure all the things they think it does, but it does help in some cases of allergies. Because it simply makes sense when there’s a matter of quantity.

  194. Prolix

    In the United States homeopathic pharmacies are regulated through the FDA and the Homeopathic Pharmocoepia Committee. Licensed health care practitioners are regulated through their state licensing boards. If you want better regulation, support licensing naturopathic doctors in your state.

  195. Vern

    When people are so demonstrably wrong the only reaction they can accept is to justify to themselves that they are right. It seems like an in-grown self defense mechanism to keep sane. To accept the alternative is unthinkable. The conscience wouldn’t be able to handle it. So being wrong strengthens the resolve that you are right. This is why you’ll never change the minds of people like the antivaxxers. They already have blood on their hands and they now have no choice but to refuse to see it.

  196. Louis

    davem – who has had eczema for 30 years – with cracking, splitting and itching of skin. Try the homeopathic remedy GRAPHITES 30c and you can also get the Nelson’s Graphites cream.
    Have been reading the posts – very amusing.
    Of course it is absurd that this one case has caused so much attention when you consider the thousands every year who die or suffer serious side effects from pharmaceuticals.

  197. devilsown

    I cant understand the use of such medications it is a big shame that common sence was not used in this case “If you get sick, see a doc and then get the meds” , I myself am indian and cant beleive or understand why people that these idiots surrond themselve with, WHY couldnt see what was happening.

    The questions i want answered is if this happened to MR & MRS SAMS would they persist with a treatment that doesnt work ?

    and also have they used modern medication if they were ill

  198. Kris

    I don’t give a crap whether these people were “raised with these beliefs” or not. Religious or otherwise delusional beliefs and the rights attributed thereto DO NOT give ANYONE the right to neglect or outright kill ANYONE else- especially not their own children.

  199. Autumn

    What I don’t understand is why, since to so many here homeopathy is obviously effective, the pro-homeopathy people don’t demand that their homeopathic doctors (which I suppose means doctors who have only a homeopathically diluted knowledge of actual medicine) start the processes to be certified by the FDA. Shouldn’t this clinically effective course of treatment be immediately subjected to the rigorous standards of large-scale, double-blind testing?
    Why do believers in homeopathy want to keep it a secret?
    Subject specific remedies to lots and lots of well-run trial studies.
    Run the studies and publish the results. You aren’t competing with other, allopathic (pronounced “real”), remedies, you are only showing better than chance results.
    Why?

    Homeopathy makes baby Jesus cry.
    (the preceeding statement has not been evaluated by the FDA or the YMCA)

  200. Jason

    Louis@200:

    First, please direct us to any study whatsoever that graphite is indicated for eczema. Then reread my post #170 about the dissolution rate, then BlackCat’s explanation of the molecular bonds that quantum mechanics describes at post #165, so we can get that excuse out of the way.

    Let’s do this again, since I assume you’ll say 200C doesn’t apply here, because that’s a “stronger dose” (= weaker dose, here in Reality™).

    Each dilution of a ‘C’ homeopathic preparation is a 1/100 dilution. 30 means we’re doing it 30 times.

    1. 1/100 = 10e-2
    2. 1/10000 = 10e-4
    3. 1/1000000 = 10e-6

    30. 10e-60 = 1/10e60 parts graphite to water.

    Let’s do a comparison here. Here are our givens (we’ll assume an aqueous solution, because it really doesn’t matter):

    1 mol = 6.022e23 molecules
    18g/mol = water’s molar mass
    1cc of water = 1g
    1 km³ = 1e15cc

    18g/mol * 1cc/g = 18cc/mol

    1e15cc / 18cc/mol = 1e15cc * 1mol/18cc = 55555555555555.55… = 5.55e13 mol
    5.55e13 mol * 6.022e23 molecules/mol = 3.34e37 molecules of water / km³

    1 cubic kilometer of water will still not contain a single molecule of graphite. Let’s scale up.

    The Sun has a volume of 1.412e24km³. That looks about right.

    1.412e24km³ * 3.34e37 molecules of water / km³ = 4.72e61 molecules of water. That’s a touch high, but close enough, because it really doesn’t matter.

    Congratulations, your solution may have 1 molecule of graphite left in it if your bottle was 1/40 the size of the Sun.

    And this doesn’t address the efficacy of graphite for eczema anyway.

    And if you STILL think it retains a “memory,” what happens to the “grey water” from the sewage system? Don’t forget what TBC said in post #165 before you use the Quantum excuse, too.

    If this sounds silly, that’s because it is. This is how ridiculous your claims are.

  201. Corey Parker

    I have a friend who has eczema and has had it to deal with it for as long as she can remember.

    Her biggest medical issue is a bad back stemming from a drunk driver when she was a teenager. Her skin condition? Irrelevant to her day to day life.

    I’d like to deliver a message to the parents on behalf of Gloria, who didn’t get to live long enough to tell them herself, “F**k you!”

  202. brainintact

    The father in this case didn’t make this stuff up; he learned it at an institution and it was reinforced all around him as a miracle cure without side-effects. If we’re going to blame homeopathy for killing that baby, or less hyperbolically her parents’ reliance on it, then we should also blame all the otherwise credible institutions and authority figures who promote and defend it. Don’t even get me started on England and India; in the US, blame the FDA for their decision to grant exemptions to homeopathy to standards that other OTC meds have to meet. We find OTC drugs intermingled with homeopathetic nonsense at our pharmacies so that consumers are led to believe that they are somehow equivalent in credibility. It is sold in many health food stores/co-ops. Blame all the conventionally trained physicians who prescribe homeopathy, and all the mainstream hospitals and universities and government-funded organizations that research homeopathy (because that in itself lends credence to it). Even the reputable evidence-based Cochrane Review leaves the door open to the possibility that homeopathy can be effective for some conditions. (Shame on them for not applying stricter evaluation standards to implausible hypotheses.)

    I used it too before I woke up (did lots of reading!), but now, when I try to spread the word that homeopathy HAS to be utter and complete nonsense (except perhaps if you live in some kind of alternate universe that doesn’t share our same natural laws) , I am often accused of being “closed minded,” or worse, rather than getting thanked for the warning. Homeopathy is institutionalized FRAUD and whoever perpetuated the fraud has killed that baby.

  203. Til

    I was succesfully treated by homeopathy after 7 years of excruciating pain and being turned away by over 10 western doctors who didn’t know how to treat my illness. Most of you need to stop jumping on the band wagon and think for yourselves, we have no idea of the real details of what happened within that family and sitting by your cancer forming computer judging others is, in my view, a waste of time. How many of you smoke around other people, use non-organic cotton (look up cotton farmers suicide on google), have children who use mobile phones, have children who are obese…feeding your children junk is malnutrition and will lead them to die, probably painfully and live with illness their whole life….how many years of prison would you like for that? We’re all dying, however slowly or fast. Enjoy life while you can and if a regular doctor can’t sort out a health problem then go see a homeopath or naturist, think for yourself and decide what’s best for you and your children. There are good doctors and bad doctors, both western and homeopathic, we’ve got to stop blaming everyone else for everything and take responsablity. Vaccines are unnatural and have been proven to have side effects and cause all sorts of health problems. I’m not a scientist and I don’t have evidence but my common sense tells me to eat and live healthily to boost my immune system so I don’t need harmful vaccines. The FDA should be educating us all in how to stay healthy rather than scaring people into spending ridiculous amounts of money of vaccines.
    Think for yourself. Research your answers. Hate causes cancer. Go out and get some fresh air and stop wasting valuable life time judging others based on indirect, probably incorrect information. Thanks.

  204. Peter B

    #183 reverend loush said: “my question is “why is the western medical industry not being held accountable for the millions they have harmed and killed”?”

    Firstly, where’s your source for the “millions” figure?

    Secondly, individuals and companies *are* held accountable where it’s demonstrated they’re responsible for someone’s death. In the British Commonwealth there is such a thing as a Coroner’s Court, in which the causes of suspicious deaths are investigated. I assume similar courts exist in the USA.

    In any case, if homeopathy is as effective as you claim, it should be capable of proving itself with double-blind testing, just like mainstream medicines. I think you’ll find most Skeptics are pragmatists. I know most doctors are. What that means is that if a treatment works, the medical industry will use it. That includes homeopathy. The problem is that most “alternative” medicines have never been subjected to proper double-blind testing.

  205. Nova Terata

    OK, seriously, other than Loush’s “no its not” why has nobody from the homeopathy camp addressed the fact that homeopathic remedies are pure water. I have never seen someone respond to this. They mention only that it has worked for them. But no body mentions that it is pure water or alcohol

  206. Just curious – how many parents of babies killed due to complications from circumcision have been convicted of manslaughter or negligent homicide? Let’s get this straight: irrational beliefs can kill. Homeopathy, a potential killer to be sure, is probably one of the lesser evils.

  207. TheBlackCat

    blame the FDA for their decision to grant exemptions to homeopathy to standards that other OTC meds have to meet.

    It was not a decision by the FDA. The decision was forced on the FDA by congress as part of the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act, which basically gave herbal supplement manufacturers and homeopathic medication manufacturers free reign to do pretty much anything they want as long as they are sufficiently vague about it. If I recall correctly the bit about homeopathy was inserted into the bill by a strongly pro-homeopathy member of congress, even though it has nothing at all to do with the subject of the bill (as you can see from the title, which is itself a classic case of orwelian doublespeak since it strongly limits the FDA’s ability to protect peoples’ health and to educate them).

  208. TheBlackCat

    They mention only that it has worked for them. But no body mentions that it is pure water or alcohol

    Or pure sugar.

  209. Til

    In response to Nova Terata, I wouldn’t refer to myself as “from the homeopathy camp” but I do consider myself to be an educated person who likes to take care of my health in the best way that I see fit and my western doctor also happens to be a qualified homeopath due to the fact that he felt he often couldn’t find the answers he needed in western medicine. Despite being a qualified western doctor he now practices using mostly homeopathy as he finds it works better and is less harsh in most cases (he has been able to avoid removing various peoples organs which previously would have been the answer based on his western training, by using alternative therapies that many if not most western doctors don’t even know about and wouldn’t find the time to carry out even if they did). I know my doctor quite well and have no reason to doubt him though I try to carry out as much of own research about my health as possible. He’s treated me for a debilitating bladder “disease” and also got rid of cysts on my liver that my supposed ‘liver specialist’ told me were untreatable…I have the liver before and after scans to prove it.

    I don’t know where you got the theory from that homepathic remedies are only water and alcohol. I am holding in my hand some homeopathic nose drops that I’m using to get rid of a persistant sniffle apparently caused by bacteria in the sinuses and the ingredients for 100g read as follows:
    Euphorbium D4, Pulsatilla, Luffa operculata, Hydrargyrum biiodatum, Hepar sulphuris, Argentum nitricum, 1 gram of each. Now, I’m not a scientist but I do have some common sense and a degree and that sounds about right to me, most of those ingredients are natural extracts rather than harsh chemicals produced by big companies out to make themselves rich and who are often run by people who have very close links to the FDA, funny.

    The medicine in my hand is produced following HAB regulations (The German Homeopathic regulatory body where Homepathy forms part of the national health service. As I understand in the US you have to spend large amounts of money to pay for your meds…that keep you healthy…or do they keep you sick to keep the money rolling in for the big companies?).

    So enough nonsense about water and alcohol, water keeps you hidrated and alcohol makes you merry on a Friday night, homeopathy is a form of medicine used for centuries that some of us enjoy reaping the benefits of combined with some common sense, period.

    Ahem, sorry Lawrence but this was asking to be said…you can’t spell fool-proof…??!!!

    And in support of The Rational Fools point, how many mothers are reading this that didn’t breast feed when they could have and now rely on vaccines to give their kids immunity…will their kids die in the next flu scare?

    Sorry but sometimes we need a kick to get us out of our traditional mind set, there is more to life than antibiotics (which ofcourse mean anti-life) and headache tablets, ask yourself why you have the headache before you go running to the doctor for some headache pills…you may be dehydrated and literally just need to drink some WATER!!!

  210. Gary Ansorge

    I’m just an old DeadHead but even I can see, most people will cling to their superstitions until they kill themselves(or someone else).

    I walk under ladders(un-occupied) and nothing bad happens. However, I’m sure there are those who can “prove” they had really bad luck after doing so.

    Black cats cross my path all the time and guess what? Nothing bad happens but I’m sure there are some who will passionately argue otherwise.

    I drink water all the time and the only thing it does is keep me properly hydrated. I don’t gain health benefits that might be dilution related but according to homeopaths, all the stuff that was in the water before it was purified SHOULD have a significant effect. They’re wrong but no matter HOW wrong they are, they will continue to espouse their fallacious view points to all and sundry. Why? I think it’s the same thing people do when they’ve just smelled something really disgusting,,,wave it under a friends nose and yell, “Ooh. Gross. Here. SMELL THIS!” which is another way of saying, ” I’ve just been an idiot. I wonder how many others I can drag down with me,,,”.

    No matter how many times we show someone their reasoning is wrong, (it’s likely)they will continue with it until they are dead. AH, DEATH, the great leveler,,,evolutions way of clearing the playing field.

    GAry 7
    PS to Til:

    What you’re referencing in your hand is NOT homeopathic. It’s NATURALPATHIC, which is a whole different bucket of beans.

  211. Don

    “qualified homeopath”… Now there is an oxymoron.

  212. Don

    Here’s a note to those who play the “homeopathy is less harsh” card.

    Of course it is less harsh. It doesn’t do anything, so how could it be “harsh?” It is like saying “drinking water is less invasive than surgery”. Obviously.

    Homeopathy itself doesn’t kill. It doesn’t do ANYTHING AT ALL. The irrational inaction caused by a belief in homeopathy kills, by allowing easily treatable conditions to fester and destroy.

    Homeopaths, like the religious, will not subject their ideas to scrutiny because they know that they will not stand. Period – any true believer who tells you otherwise is deluded or a liar.

  213. TheBlackCat

    Now, I’m not a scientist but I do have some common sense and a degree and that sounds about right to me, most of those ingredients are natural extracts rather than harsh chemicals produced by big companies out to make themselves rich and who are often run by people who have very close links to the FDA, funny.

    I can list some other natural extracts: botulin, tetrodotoxin, ricin, strychnine, curare, some of the most powerful poison known to man. Actually, if you look at lists of known powerful poisons, most come from nature. So is quinine, the main antimalaria drug. So is cocaine and opium. If it was all extracted and then injected a cigar has enough nicotine to kill an adult human. Alkaloids, a large class of drugs and poisons, come primarily from plants. Poison ivy is all-natural. If you look at a list of neurotoxins you will find they come primarily for poisonous invertebrates, snakes, and other organisms that feed by killing their prey quickly.

    The mistake here is to think that natural means good. It doesn’t. Except for fruits and nectar, for the most parts plants do not like to be eaten (forgive the anthropomorphization). So many have evolved elaborate defenses. Some make themselves hard, other make themselves hard to digest or chew (like grass, which has a lot of silica), others have elaborate weapons like spines or thorns. Many, on the other hand, have developed elaborate chemical defenses. They produce cocktails of chemicals that are harmless to themselves but taste bad and/or are toxic to animals that feed on them. These chemicals work as defenses because they have a biological effect, a bad one, on organisms that normally eat the plants. At the same time animals that eat plants are evolving ways to cope with the chemicals, forcing the plants to evolve even more sophisticated and powerful cocktails.

    However, because these chemicals have a biological effect, occasionally, just be shear luck, a few of those chemicals can have a beneficial biological effect in humans. Sometimes it is because the negative effect in large doses can be beneficial in smaller dosages. Other times it is because humans have biochemical differences from the animals that normally feed on the plant. It is also conceivable that humans are able to break down the chemical, and the breakdown products have effects different from the original chemical (I am not aware of such a case, though). Whatever the reason, these plants are not trying to help us. They are trying to hurt us and screwed up or are trying to hurt something else and we got lucky.

    Ultimately the chemicals in plants are little different than the drugs we use. They are chemicals with some sort of effect on the human body, and affect that depends a great deal on the dosage as well as the organism. The big differences are twofold: one, drugs are purified and have a known dosage, while plant extracts have an unknown dosage and an unknown collection of other chemicals (which may or may not also have an effect). Second, drugs were developed (generally) to help, while plant extracts were developed to hurt or kill.

    Nature is not your friend, a place full of pretty flowers and cute fuzzy animals. It is a vicious, cutthroat place where organisms do anything and everything they can to survive, including hurting or killing anything that gets in their way. Poisons are particularly effective means of defense for plants. Animals can pluck out spines, strip away or burrow underneath thorns, and evolve harder beaks and/or teeth to get through hard shells. But an animal can’t avoid poisons if it is part of the stuff the animal wants to eat. So they have become very popular. That is usually bad for us, but occasionally it has proven useful.

  214. Til: From the non-dispute tagged wiki “Homeopathy is a form of alternative medicine that treats patients with heavily diluted preparations that are thought to cause effects similar to the symptoms presented, first expounded by German physician Samuel Hahnemann in 1796. Homeopathic remedies are prepared by serial dilution with shaking by forceful striking (“succussing”) after each step under the assumption that this increases the effect of the treatment; this process is referred to as “potentization”. Dilution often continues until none of the original substance remains.[1]” This is not the same thing as the 100G of herbs etc. in your nasal dops

  215. dionisyusus

    Just plain irrational thinking on the parents part ! Nothing wrong with using both scientific medicine and alternative medicine together.

  216. Wayward son

    Til – “there is more to life than antibiotics (which ofcourse mean anti-life)”

    A bit of a dickish comment considering that Gloria Thomas died of sepsis for which the treatment is……antibiotics.

  217. Rob

    To say that Homeopathy kills is so closed minded and wrong to give this article even with the situation that has occurred. This girl’s parents ignorance to utilize both conventional medicine as well as homeopathic medicine has costs this poor girl’s life, but this is not to blame for homeopathic medicine in all its entirety. The girl died of septicemia (the infection that manifests in the blood). The cause of her death was in part not because of the homeopathic medicine but from the fact that the homeopathic medicine was not enough to truly treat her condition. An infection manifested and her fragile immune system was not strong enough to fight it off, which is very common with many infants; they are susceptible to many illnesses since their immune system is still developing. In many cases, homeopathic practitioners would not solely use homeopathic remedies to treat a condition, but a matter of a few different therapies. I think the article would better be named “ignorance kills.”

  218. brainintact

    Til (#208 and #214) is so far off the mark on almost all of his points, in the name of being educated and using common sense, that it is simply mind-boggling – unfortunately exemplifying much of the faulty and DANGEROUS lack of critical thinking ability that is behind much of the CAM movement.

    Til said: “I’m using to get rid of a persistant sniffle apparently caused by bacteria in the sinuses and the ingredients for 100g read as follows:
    Euphorbium D4, Pulsatilla, Luffa operculata, Hydrargyrum biiodatum, Hepar sulphuris, Argentum nitricum, 1 gram of each. Now, I’m not a scientist but I do have some common sense and a degree and that sounds about right to me, most of those ingredients are natural extracts rather than harsh chemicals produced by big companies.”

    I decided to examine some of the “natural” ingredients supposedly active in his homeopathic nasal spray that supposedly is much safer than conventional medicines because it’s “natural.”

    Euphorbium: causes violent sneezing if inhaled; poor Arab workers who end up harvesting the plant must cover their faces with cloth because it’s so acrid. This drug has been “employed as a drastic purgative, but is now chiefly used as a vesicant in veterinary practice, and also for various technical purposes such as an antifoul for coating ships’ bottoms.” So, it’s a harsh poison, and a 4d potency means the same as 4x, which, as I understand the math, isn’t dilute enough to assure that there is no active ingredient in the container. (from homeopathy text)

    Pulsatilla: “Sedative, anodyne, mydriatic, diuretic, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, resicant, emetic, poisonous — similar to aconite, causing tingling, numbness, reducing respiration, temperature, cardiac and arterial tension, paralysis of motion and sensation; dysmenorrhea, bronchitis, asthma, whooping-cough, gastritis, epididymitis, orchitis, conjunctivitis, eczema, ulcers, meningitis.” (from homeopathy text)

    Luffa operculata: “the lack of scientific evidence about its use, most ENT physicians know of its effects and receive many patients that had used the plant (although some do not report it), presenting adverse reactions such as epistaxis, nasal irritation and olfaction affections.”

    Hydrargyrum biiodatum: Well, hydrargyrum is another name for mercury, and we all know what dangers lurk therein.

    “Hepar sulphuris: ground oyster shell and sulfur are mixed together and then heated in an airtight container. The resulting powder is dissolved in hot hydrochloric acid, then combined with lactose (milk sugar) in a pharmaceutical process of dilution called trituration.” (from herbs2000.com)

    Argentum nitricum: A poisonous crystalline compound with antiseptic and astringent properties, used in the prevention of ophthalmia neonatorum and in the special staining of nervous tissue, spirochetes, and reticular fibers” (from American Heritage dictionary)

    Need I say more?

  219. Rob (#222): No, you are wrong, Saying “homeopathy kills” is exactly correct here. And what you are saying is ridiculous; you might as well be saying “giving her water was not enough to cure her.” Homeopathic “medicine” is water, plain and simple, and nothing more. She needed real medicine, and she didn’t get it because her parents believed homeopathy was more than just a complete fake.

  220. Wayward son

    TheBlackCat (#185) “People die from cars all the time, but they die because cars are effective at moving people at high speed,”

    Nobody ever died from a car using homeopathic gasoline.

  221. “If the average man thinks at all, he does silly things like generalizing from a single datum. He uses one-valued logic. If he is exceptionally bright, he might use two-valued, ‘either-or’ logic to arrive at his wrong answers. If he is hungry,hurt or personally interested in the answer, he can’t use any sort of logic and will discard an observed fact as blithly as he will stake his life on a piece of wishful thinking…Far from aspiring to higher reasoning, he is not even aware that higher reasoning exists. He classes his own mental process as being of the same sort as the genius of an Einstein. Man is not a rational animal, he is a rationalizing animal.”
    Harley ‘Kettle Belly’ Baldwin in “Gulf” by Robert A Heinlein.

  222. OtherRob

    TheBlackCat said:

    Nature is not your friend, a place full of pretty flowers and cute fuzzy animals. It is a vicious, cutthroat place where organisms do anything and everything they can to survive, including hurting or killing anything that gets in their way.

    This reminds me of something my father-in-says: Nature is a hanging judge.

    Sadly true in this case.

  223. valstupendo

    I think it’s hillarious that so many people are so clearly and loudly shouting “homeopathy doesn’t work” when they haven’t tried it?? LOL I myself, as well as almost everyone I know has tried one form of homeopathy or another, with great success! My mother-in-law suffered from many symptoms for years that her doctors, and the ‘medical community’ told her was the onset of diabetes, she was even put on medications for it… but eventually sought out a homeopath and started homeopathic treatments and has since gotten off her medications completely and has no more symptoms!!! So, not only was she misdiagnosed, but the meds she was on could have had long term effects of stomach upset, trouble swallowing etc. that would have worsened over time to the point she would have needed MORE meds to treat those things, and so on!! I might have taken my child to get a second or third opinion before this couple did, and medical science DOES have it’s place, but a warning…. those who rely so heavily on society and the medical community as thier ‘God’ are in for a rude awakening as the world goes down the pooper (which I think we can all agree, it is), when the world falls apart, where will those be that know nothing but conformity? I trust in all kinds of alternative medicines, and my children and I are healthier and better off because of it!

    It is really sad about this poor little girl, and her parents. Until we know the entire story, we shouldn’t be condemming anyone.

  224. Mark Hansen

    Valstupendo, out of curiosity, what homeopathic treatments was your mother-in-law put on? Were any types of homeopathic exercises also recommended?

  225. brainintact

    Just because someone rejects homeopathic notions doesn’t mean that they (literally and figuratively) swallow all of conventional medicine either.

    Had homeopathy been able to hold up to scientific scrutiny over these many years, it would have become a big part of mainstream conventional medicine today, and we wouldn’t be having this discussion. It had its place in 19th century medicine when available treatment was often worse than doing nothing (homeopathy=doing nothing, except for perhaps the placebo effect), and today it probably benefits some people for the same reasons. The human body is pretty good at healing itself much of the time, without medications and their side-effects, but many people feel they just have to take something.

    Every “conventional” medicine’s treatment claims of efficacy and safety, has, by definition of being evidence-based, been scrutinized, and treatments are discontinued when evidence shows that it’s not supportable or that something else works better. It can be hit and miss sometimes, and side-effects can be awful, and doctors and scientists make mistakes, and greed can corrupt any system, but the answer isn’t to retreat into 19th century magical thinking. Evidence-based (aka “conventional”) medicine has been a life-saver, enhancer, and extender overall and generally speaking for humanity.

    [By the way, some meds are called homeopathic while containing some active ingredients, like Zicam's cold remedy (contains some zinc but not dilute enough to disappear), so we can't assume that all things labeled homeopathy are active ingredient-free.]

  226. prochoice

    What about the probability that it is not about homeopathy but gynocide – getting rid of a girl because they wanted sons only?
    In the catholic – birthcontrolforbidding – circles I grew up, denial of treatment was (beyond poverty, which is usually fact, but not mentioned in the respective US child death cases) often a chance to get rid of a born-unwanted child.
    And the last remarks of the father might be empathy, but equally probable the desire of getting rid of a chronically sick child.

    Many homeopaths are fanatical christians, against abortion, birth control, deny the dying painkillers, etc.
    I met a few during my time of fighting the abortionforbidding laws of four different countries!

  227. Vinay

    How can the court convict the couple when the government has allowed homeopathy medicine to exist first of all ( I assume homeopathy is legal in Australia. Correct me if a am wrong )?

  228. Gonzo

    Sad, yes, for the little girl.

    The parents get no pity, and deserve none, from me. if it was within my culture to murder people would anyone here accept that as a defense?

    Stupid is stupid. No two ways about it. And I like the idea that nature is thinning the heard by ridding the planet of this idiocy, slowly but surely those who reject science will find themselves dead, and we will all be better off because of it.

    Too bad if you don’t like it. Sometimes the truth hurts, cry me a river.

  229. Angie

    Babies can die even when they receive “scientifically based” medicine as well. I’m not a antivaxx, nor am I a believer in homeopathy, but this article makes it seem as though science would be the cure-all for this unfortunate baby.

    As a person who has eczema and relies on modern medicines that do nothing but make it itch less, I can say that sometimes eczema gets really bad and I too have had open sores that get infected. The prescription medicines are pretty much useless.

    I feel this article is just some alarmist stuff to get people up in arms and to help them feel superior in their own choices. Yes, the poor child died, but eczema medicines don’t make it go away and I fear the father may have been right….she may have died regardless. :(

    Key point: babies (unfortunately) die every day, with or without modern medicine’s assistance.

    If you guys are so pissed off about someone choosing their course of remedy instead of modern medicine, why don’t you put your money where your mouth is and donate to organizations who provide medicine to people who cannot afford it but want it.

  230. Gonzo

    And yes, if you believe in this garbage (pseudoscience, homeopathy bs) then YES, you are a COMPLETE IDIOT.

    Feel that? It’s the sting of the truth.

  231. Todd

    Why is it that the parents are put in jail, but the criminals who pushed and profited from this treatment never seem to be prosecuted? A doctor can be sued AND put on trial for malpractice, yet people who sell homeopathy never seem to have to pay the price for the harm that their so-called ‘treatments’ cause.

    Yes, these people are dopes, but they did lost their child……I cannot even imagine such a thing.

  232. Just plain irrational thinking on the parents part ! Nothing wrong with using both scientific medicine and alternative medicine together..

  233. @ The Black Cat, my reply is at http://structureddream.blogspot.com

    @Gonzo, murder is made culturally acceptable by calling it military service, defending freedom, protecting our interests, being all that you can be, and other slogans of obfuscation. And yes, it is probably accepted as a defense by most readers here.

    Some would maintain that unjustified certainty in one’s ability to possess infallible truth is more dangerous than lunatic ideas held with cautious doubt. The former often leads believers to condemnation and violence toward others.

  234. appalachia

    Ask the modern Dr. Mukesh Batra of Dr. bATRA’S of Mumbai-India about Homoeopathy and his knowledge and treatments are as bad as this couple. Why not somebody put him to trial

  235. Jason

    @valstupendo
    I think it’s hillarious that so many people are so clearly and loudly shouting “homeopathy
    doesn’t work” when they haven’t tried it??

    Riiiiight… so I should ditch the insulin and try a dilution of sugar then to help me with my type 1 diabetes then. Sounds perfectly reasonable.

    I think that one thing that many people have overlooked is that Gloria had excema for more than half of her 9 month life. FFS you wouldn’t have to be a rocket scientist to see that the homeopathy wasn’t working in that timeframe.

  236. Nigel Depledge

    Rift said:

    Stupid? Perhaps. An intolerant view however.

    Well, no, it’s not intolerant.

    Intercessory prayer has been proven not to work.

    To persist in using it and expect a different result does indeed display a lack of thought. What other word would be more accurate?

  237. Nigel Depledge

    BJN (54) said:

    Unless the parent’s intentions could be shown to be malicious, I think the sentence should be living with the pain of losing a child.

    And send what message to other people, esactly? That child abuse is OK if you didn’t think you were abusing the child?

    Homeopathy and many other alternative treatments are worthless. However, medical science and its practitioners are far from perfect.

    Your point being what, exactly? Are you saying that anything imperfect is valueless?

    Homeopathy has been shown to have no value in this case. Modern medicine has been shown to have a significant benefit, i.e. eczema is manageable to the extent that the risk of infections is negligible.

    One cost of living in a free society is you have to give wide leeway to the beliefs of others, however pernicious or ignorant you think they are.

    That’s true, but it does not apply to the actions of others.

    If this really is a case of parents doing what they sincerely believe to be best, then jailing them is an exercise in authoritarianism.

    No. Society has to bring them to understand that what they did was unacceptable to the standards of a modern society. If they want to live in Australia, they should abide by Australian laws. Their wilful ignorance caused their daughter a great deal of suffering and ultimately cost her life.

    What’s the scientific evidence that a decade in prison is the rational action to prevent future harm by these individuals vs. the cost and damage imprisonment create?

    Is this relevant? What other sanctions can a modern society impose to impress on these people that what they did was wrong?

  238. Peter B

    #235 Angie said: “As a person who has eczema and relies on modern medicines that do nothing but make it itch less, I can say that sometimes eczema gets really bad and I too have had open sores that get infected. The prescription medicines are pretty much useless.

    “I feel this article is just some alarmist stuff to get people up in arms and to help them feel superior in their own choices. Yes, the poor child died, but eczema medicines don’t make it go away and I fear the father may have been right….she may have died regardless.”

    You have my sympathies about your eczema. But you seem to be missing the point about what happened to the child. It wasn’t the eczema which killed her, it was the infection which occured as a result of the eczema. It might not have been possible to treat the eczema itself, but the infection itself was easily treatable – using antibiotics.

  239. Roger Williamson

    OK so homeopathy is bad and the people who believe in it misguided or fools but how come at the bottom of the BA email is a homepathy ad.

    877 ok homeo.com

    What’s goin on here?

    Kind of ironic.

    RMW

  240. Gary Ansorge

    230. Mark Hansen
    Homeopathic exercise? Wow! I wonder if that would have enabled me to play 52 pickup with trucks in my youth??? Sounds SOOOO much easier than the primitive way I lifted weights, you know, thru hard, fraking work???

    MArk, you have OMEGA, the LAST WORD!!!

    GAry 7

  241. brainintact

    Homeopathic exercise means that you do so little exercise that you don’t do any at all. The less you move, the greater the power of the exercise. You must do this in the vicinity of someone who exercised while wacking him/herself against a hard surface between sets (“succession”).

    Don’t anyone steal my idea. This one is marketable! Homeopathic exercise classes, everyone sits around doing absolutely nothing and then walks out wiping off the sweat and taking showers to cool off.

  242. Andres Villarreal

    @Lawyer: (http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2009/06/05/homeopathy-kills/#comment-189068)

    You have everything backwards: the excema did not kill the child. It was the infection that came after the excema was out of control. In a similar case, a bad cut will cause enough loss of blood to kill you, but a visit to the emergency room and twenty stitches will save your life. How much jail time would you give me if I do not take my kid with a bad cut to the ER?

    Or will you say I could never have known that a cut could kill you?

  243. Yojimbo

    I dunno – if they did absolutely nothing they could be so overstessed it might kill them. Blinking and breathing might not be enough stave off total exhaustion. I suggest you have them fan themselves….

  244. Tom Coward

    Apologies if this has been said already on this long thread (and further apologies to Tim Minchin and the many others who have mentioned this before), but…

    Question: What do you call Alternative Medicine that has been scientifically proved to work?

    Answer: It is called Medicine.

  245. Deb

    Disturbing that the most rabid and insulting posts seem to come from those who profess to be the most scientifically-minded contributors …

    I don’t realistically expect to change any views with this post, but you should take a look at the following:

    http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-06/nu-ccd060809.php

    http://ecam.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/6/2/257

    The lack to date of a measurable mechanism to explain the action of homeopathic remedies does not exclude the possibility that one exists, but science has yet to discover it. The lack of knowledge of the exact mechanism by which muscle relaxants work (among many examples) does not stop physicians from using them successfully. Science needs to be open to new possibilities in order to progress. After all, at the beginning of the 20th century, physicists sincerely believed that they had discovered everything there was to know. And then along came Bohr, Einstein et al.

    A disclosure – I am a homeopath. I use this system of medicine because it works. It works for me and it works for many of my clients. Not all, but many. I am not a con artist, I am not in this to make vast sums of money (I don’t know any hugely wealthy homeopaths), and I’m not deluded. If it didn’t work, I wouldn’t be spending my time on it. But I see it working all the time, often in people who have been to physicians and other alternative therapists with no improvement in their health. If these people are so susceptible to placebo effects, wouldn’t they already be better?

    Regarding the tragedy in Australia, I would say that the homeopath concerned made a number of mistakes. Firstly he treated his own child – too much emotional attachment to be able to make rational decisions. Secondly he should have moved to other forms of treatment when it became apparent that the child’s condition was deteriorating despite his efforts with homeopathy. Homeopathy is best used as a complement to conventional medicine, not as a total replacement, although as previous posts have noted, it often works when conventional treatments have failed. Thirdly the child was reportedly severely malnourished, which was a major contributing factor to her death. The parents were negligent in not picking up on this and taking nutritional advice.

    All in all a very sad story, but one which needs to be taken in the context of the vast numbers of people who die or are made worse as a result of conventional medical treatments. Over 100.000 deaths in one year according to a study published in the JAMA in 1998. http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/279/15/1200
    This would make adverse drug reactions the 4th leading cause of death in the USA. Unfortunately no-one seems to get outraged about that.

    The tragic fact that a child died as a result of incompetent homeopathic care does not mean that all homeopathy kills. If we use this argument then we would have to say that no one should use conventional medicine either, because sometimes people die as a result of medical malpractice or side effects of treatment.

  246. brainintact

    Since exercise often leads to a state of exhaustion, which could easily be shown through a homeopathic “proving,” then the remedy for exhaustion would be to take a homeopathic dose of exercise. That means that by sitting and doing nothing (homeopathic exercise), exhaustion will be cured. Hey, that actually makes sense. Resting and doing nothing CAN resolve exhaustion. Therefore, homeopathy actually works and we should all go out and take poisons diluted ad infinitum to solve all our ills.

  247. Mark Hansen

    brainintact and Gary, I asked about exercise and then added homeopathic before posting, not to suggest your idea brainintact, but because I figured that whoever was doling out the water and info would have suggested exercise as a treatment for Type II diabetes and added the magic “H” word to make it more palatable and effective. The same sort of marketing behind any of the “Ab” machines advertised on TV, where “Ab” is the magic prefix. They never call it the “Ab-surd” however, which I think is a pity.

  248. Deb (#251): The problem isn’t a lack of a way for homeopathy to work. The problem is that it doesn’t work. Of course science is open to new possibilities… but when test after test, study after study, show homeopathy to work no better than a placebo, then it’s time for reasonable people to admit it’s just water and nothing more.

  249. brainintact

    Deb, #251, in response to your argument that homeopathy is better than conventional medicine because 100,000 patients suffer serious or fatal Adverse Drug Reactions per year, that certainly is a terrible thing, and thank goodness researchers and now government agencies are looking at this so that improvements can be made. Much reform is needed in our medical care system. That said, did you notice in that 1998 study that you cited that the majority of ADRs were among the most serious medical cases?

    Understand that more chances are taken with drugs when treating the most serious illnesses. You have to consider risk versus benefits; consider that more than 95% of the hospital patients in that study did not experience a serious/fatal reaction, and many of those cases were things that homeopathy probably wouldn’t touch. Homeopathy is generally used to treat self-limiting and mild illnesses, so it’s apples and pears to try to compare homeopathy’s outcomes to the ADRs of patients so sick that they are hospitalized. Homeopathy is only better than evidence-based medicine when doing nothing is better than receiving treatment (because it is nothing).

    Meanwhile, homeopathy and other alternative practices have virtually no oversight, no regulation. Is anyone keeping track of all the serious harm and deaths due to patients refusing conventional treatment while relying on so-called alternative treatments? Is the death of this little baby being counted?

    Which is more offensive: a baby with a bad infection dying because she was given homeopathy (nothing) in lieu of antibiotics (proven to save lives) or a patient with terminal cancer dying from an ADR to chemo?

    Here’s a good article on this: http://www.quackometer.net/blog/2007/07/quack-word-20-iatrogenic.html.

  250. Nigel Depledge

    Deb siad:

    The lack to date of a measurable mechanism to explain the action of homeopathic remedies does not exclude the possibility that one exists, but science has yet to discover it.

    Where homeopathy works, it has a known mechanism: the placebo effect.

    Seriously, homeopathic treatments have been shown to have no more effect than a placebo.

    The lack of knowledge of the exact mechanism by which muscle relaxants work (among many examples) does not stop physicians from using them successfully.

    But the evidence is there from controlled trials that they do work.

    Science needs to be open to new possibilities in order to progress.

    It is. And the purveyors of snake oil need to be open to the possibility that what they sell doesn’t work. Oh, wait, I smell a vested interest.

    In all probability, whomever can prove that homeopathy actually works will win a Nobel prize. Assuming, of course, that it does work after all.

    However, present evidence is that homeopathic treatments are no better than a placebo.

    After all, at the beginning of the 20th century, physicists sincerely believed that they had discovered everything there was to know.

    Not true. Some physicists believed that they had discovered all of the most significant aspects of physics, and that all that remained was filling in details and obtaining more accurate measurements.

    And then along came Bohr, Einstein et al.

    Yah, Einstein was first to shake things up (special relativity, 1905), then Planck (building on some other work of Einstein, in fact, who proposed the quantisation of light to explain the photoelectric effect). I’m not sure Bohr was really a pioneer of QM, but he did some of the most important work in fleshing out the theory.

  251. Nigel Depledge

    Brian Schlosser (55) said:

    neglect due to religious beliefs, not regular neglect

    There’s a difference?

  252. Nigel Depledge

    Other Rob (59) said:

    Technically true, of course, since homeopathy has no effects whatsoever

    Not quite. Homeopathic treatments activate the placebo effect if delivered in the right way.

  253. Nigel Depledge

    Pat Calahan (66) said:

    The fact that you can market something as medicine while still letting the vendor stick a, “These claims have not been verified by the FDA” label is unbelievable.

    Not as unbelievable as the number of people that will buy it despite that label.

  254. Nigel Depledge

    Patimus (69) said:

    I am simply of the understanding that vaccinations are used to prevent illnesses, not treat them.

    This is not always the case. Sometimes a vaccination can help the body to fight an existing infection, especially if the infective agent is one that has evolved a strategy to evade the immune response.

  255. Nigel Depledge

    Oded (86) said:

    Believe it or not, that is not a stupid argument. Imagine traveling forward in time and eating a hamburger in public, then all of sudden the police arrest you for killing cows, and you get a life sentence. But, you were raised in an environment where killing animals is fine!

    We are deeply shaped by our current cultural values. It is a cliche to mention this, but it really is true, a hundred years ago, homosexuality was a crime, slavery was legal and well accepted, and women had no voting rights. So if someone is raised to believe that homeopathy is the best thing he can do for their children, then it is a failure of society (together with his own personal failure, but a smaller one!) that that is what he believes.

    However, he did not travel in time, he travelled to Australia. Since he chose to live there I think it is reasonable to hold him to the standards of that society.

  256. Nigel Depledge

    Terrence (100) said:

    While I believe that every avenue should be explored for a persons health and that nothing should necessarily be discounted. It seems like these folks got bad advice and were doing whatever it is they thought to be the right choice.

    No. Seems like you have not only glossed over parts of the article, but you have not read the rest of the comments.

    Every indication is that, when they treated their daughter with modern medicine, she started to improve, and then they stopped applying it. Several times. Additionally, they (apparently) did not turn up for several appointments with specialists. And yet they turned repeatedly to homeopathy, despite the fact that her condition only deteriorated each time they did this.

    In this case, it is plain that homeopathy did not work and that modern medicine did. This was not a case of people trying everything they could think of – it was a case of people clinging dogmatically to their faith in homeopathy despite obvious contrary evidence.

  257. Nigel Depledge

    Jason said:

    The reason you can’t rely on prayer to stop bad things from happening, is that someone else is praying for the exact opposite.

    For instance, both sides in a war pray to God for victory. A maximum of one side will get it.

    Both teams in a sporting event will often pray for victory. One’s going to lose.

    You may well be praying for a sick loved one to live, but they themselves might be praying for the release of death.

    It all cancels out, leaving the deciding vote to science.

    Oh, please.

    The reason that you cannot rely on prayer to stop something bad happening is because prayer doesn’t work.

  258. Nigel Depledge

    Nameless (106) said:

    Yes the parents are at fault. But the opening statement here is the equivalent of saying guns kill.

    Not really. Guns do what is claimed (i.e. they launch a small projectile at high speed), homeopathy doesn’t.

    Homeopathy is a not a substitute to medicine and it is not taught as such in schools.

    What the hell do schools have to do with it?

    It is the claims of the homeopaths, and the dogmatic asherence of the parents to those claims, that are key in this case.

    Homeopathy is intended to educate and assist people in living a healthy lifestyle ie. dieting, excercise, and yes the “whacky” stuff like acupuncture that aid in preventing the majority of illnesses that when neglected require more invasive techniques.

    You obviously don’t even know what homeopaths actually claim for their “remedies”.

    The core claims of homeopathy are:
    (1) That a substance (typically a plant extract in alcohol) that causes sysmptoms similar to a disease can be used to treat that disease;
    (2) That to be effective it must be diluted in water (and “succussed”) by a stupidly large amount (a 1060x dilution is typical for a weak homeopathic “remedy”);
    (3) That the “remedy” becomes more potent with more dilution (a supposedly highly potent dilution being 1 in 101000, for instance).

    The two are supposed to work together.

    Not according to the homeopaths.

    But hey, such a well written blanketed title like “Homeopathy Kills” got you 97 comments so maybe you’re on to something. Science doesn’t just happen. It requires research and forethought. Two things lacking in this post.

    Heh. Ironic, that you obviously have not researched homeopathy before attempting to defend it.

  259. Nigel Depledge

    Roger (111) said:

    Well, I’ll wade in on behalf of homeopathy. . . .If you were trying to track the blood-trail of the monster, it ain’t exactly what you’d hoped, but who cares?

    I think you have missed the point:

    The child died, not from the malpractice or incompetence of a medical practitioner, but from her parents’ dogmatic adherence to homeopathy as a replacement for something that actually works (i.e. modern medicine).

    This death could very easily have been prevented. That is the point.

    Now, if you have any suggestions about how to make mainstream medicine safer for patients, I am sure there are many organisations that would wish to hear your views. However, modern medicine helps far more people than it harms.

    Homeopathy doesn’t help anyone, except through the pacebo effect. And it causes harm by encouraging people not to seek real medical attention, or to seek it too late.

  260. Nigel Depledge

    Alex (116) said:

    The parents need a better lawyer. The problem is that the term Homeopathy has been used for incorrect methods, damaging it’s reputation. I know that here in California, positive results are experienced from Homeopathic remidies. Strange. I know several prestigious doctors who don’t deny it’s usefullness.

    Homeopathy activates the placebo effect. Sometimes that is all that is needed to make someone feel better, especially if what they have is a minor ailment.

  261. Nigel Depledge

    Jamie (117) said:

    There are some studies that show homeopathy is bunk. Some show that homeopathic medicines do have a clinical and measurable effect.

    Nuh-uh.

    The only rigorous studies that have been performed on homeopathic treatments all indicate that homeopathy is no better than a placebo. But homeopathy is an effective placebo.

    I would strongly recommend Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science to anyone who doubts the power of, or wishes to learn more about, the placebo effect (he includes a useful list of further reading for those who wish to get into the detail of it).

  262. me150

    This report is total TOSH.

    The evidence they provide is weak to say the least.

    What happened to this little girl is the result of the parents using a poor practioner. Good homeopaths do not allow this sort of thing to happen.

    There are also thousands of reports of how people die due to incorrect care from the recognised medical profession.

    In Edinburgh MP’s use homeopaths and many doctors refer patients they cannot help to homeopaths and the patients often recover so quickly the doctors are surprised.

    To put a perfectly effective form of inobtrusive and non chemical method of treatment down because of some poor results, for whatever reason, is down right ignorance of facts and a blatant refusal to consider alternatives to what we have been told, and brainwashed, by the medical profession.

  263. @me150

    What happened to this little girl is the result of the parents using a poor practioner.

    You mean, the father and uncle?

    There are also thousands of reports of how people die due to incorrect care from the recognised medical profession.

    Citations, please. Include the diagnoses and prognoses of the patients, as well.

    In Edinburgh MP’s use homeopaths and many doctors refer patients they cannot help to homeopaths and the patients often recover so quickly the doctors are surprised.

    Same as above. Citations, including diagnoses and prognoses of the patients.

    To put a perfectly effective form of inobtrusive and non chemical method of treatment down because of some poor results, for whatever reason, is down right ignorance of facts and a blatant refusal to consider alternatives to what we have been told, and brainwashed, by the medical profession.

    Please provide links to well-controlled studies showing that homeopathic solutions have an effect beyond placebo, then we’ll talk.

  264. RAD

    As a Christian Scientist I appreciate the opportunity to provide some input on the dialogue between Lawrence and Rift. I think Rift has essentially described the way Christian Science is practiced by most church members I know. While most do not usually seek medical diagnosis or treatment, Christian Scientists tend to have absolute respect for the law. This respect for the law is carried out in the way we practice our religion, especially as it relates to contagious diseases and to caring for sick children.

    While Christian Scientists normally choose a path other than conventional medicine, this choice is not based on ignorance or blind faith. It instead reflects a systematic approach to prayer that has proven to be reliable and effective in the lives of those who practice it (in my own family’s case, for five generations).

    As lifelong Christian Scientists, neither my wife nor I has had much exposure to the conventional medical system. However, when our two children were born, we opted to have the births in a hospital and to have standard prenatal care during the pregnancies. In both instances, the doctors identified complications that were quickly healed through Christian Science and did not require medical treatment. During the first pregnancy, my wife was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. At the urging of the obstetrician, we scheduled an appointment with a specialist. In the meantime, we requested treatment from a Christian Science practitioner. By the time of the appointment with the specialist several days later, the symptoms of gestational diabetes were gone and never returned. When our second son was born, he was diagnosed with a heart murmur. The pediatrician asked us to have it checked by a cardiologist. We again requested treatment from a Christian Science practitioner and again experienced a complete healing by time of the appointment with the specialist.

    Christian Scientists don’t believe or teach that their religion somehow exempts them from the legal and moral obligations that every parent has to provide the best possible care for their children. Indeed, I believe that most feel a heightened sense of this responsibility and consistently practice their faith within that context.

  265. me150

    Todd, the whole reason why there is so much negativity about Homeopathy is exactly why it is not possible to substantiate the facts I present.

    It costs millions to conduct the tests you ask about. Common everyday drugs are supported by pharmas with billions so they can have tests conducted but since Homeopathy is not recognised there is no-one to finance these tests.

    If the tests were conducted I can assure you that you would be surprised by the results.

    I have no inclination to talk to you but I merely state the facts as I see them. If you intend to always want definitive proof before deriving an opinion then you will seldom have an opinion worth listening to.

    It is also obvious you have allowed yourself to be brainwashed with publicity and media prduced by government and medical profession.

  266. me150, that’s baloney, pure and simple. Homeopathy makes billions of dollars as well, yet they never ever sponsor scientifically balanced double blind carefully controlled tests, and only rely on vague anecdotal evidence as you have here. Why do you suppose that is?

    I think it’s probably because all the scientific tests that have been run show homeopathy to be no better than placebos, which means that homeopathic “medicine” is just plain water.

  267. @me150

    So, just because, according to you, homeopathic solution manufacturers don’t have billions of dollars in funding (I’d dispute that, seeing as they have almost no regulatory overhead to soak up their profits), they should not be held to the same standards as manufacturers who produce real medicine?

    The reason that drug manufacturers need to spend so much money on clinical research and development is because of the regulatory requirements for safety and efficacy. They are required to conduct sizable (minimum 1,000 participants over several sites) clinical trials that run for years just for phase II trials. Phase 3 ramps that up significantly, adding many more volunteers and sites. Plus there are the fees they need to pay to file their submissions, the staff required to steward the submissions through, the time taken to meet with FDA investigators and reviewers, etc. And that is only the products that actually make it out of pre-clinical and phase I trials.

    Now, what do homeopathy manufacturers need to do? Register their facilities with FDA and follow current Good Manufacturing Procedures. They do not need to follow current Good Clinical Procedures. The do not need to do stability testing (http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?fr=211.166&SearchTerm=homeopathic). They do not need to include any expiration date (http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?fr=211.137&SearchTerm=homeopathic). They do not need to do any lab testing for purity or strenght of active ingredients before they are released to the market (http://www.fda.gov/ICECI/ComplianceManuals/CompliancePolicyGuidanceManual/ucm074360.htm). They do not need to conduct safety trials. They do not need to conduct trials showing efficacy. Basically, as long as their facility meets regulatory guidelines, they are free to do pretty much whatever they want. Oh, and I almost forgot, they are exempt from regulations limiting the amount of alcohol in an over-the-counter product. Real drugs are limited to .5 percent for children under 6, 5 percent for kids 6-12 and 10 percent for adults and children over 12. That means that children under 6 can receive a homeopathic solution that is 100% alcohol. (http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?fr=328.10&SearchTerm=homeopathic)

  268. Mark Hansen

    me150, perhaps you could take a look at Boiron’s website. In particular, note how much they say that France’s homeopathic market is worth. 300 billion Euro’s. Please don’t ask me to accept that homeopathy can’t afford tests because they don’t have the money. They can’t afford the tests because it would show them as being charlatans.

  269. DF

    The author seems to have an agenda – and that is to bash alternative medicine using this tragic case as a footstool. Terrible as that in itself is – its simply sensationalism to push a bias.

  270. Mark Hansen

    Actually, on re-reading that web page, I think they may have put a “b” in instead of an “m”. Here’s the address; decide for yourself. http://www.boiron.com/en/htm/01_homeo_aujourdhui/realite_eco_homeo.htm. Either way, it’s a lot of money and my conclusion remains the same.

  271. me150

    If any of you really believe that the drugs you are prescribed are properly tested, that test results are never faked etc etc etc then you are foolish.

    I do not regurgetate ‘evidence’ from web sites or otherwise as it is easlily ripped apart, as is your evidence. I have merely taken an unbiased view of all the alternatives, tried them and found what works.

    I am entitled to my opinion, as are you, without having to provide screeds of manufactuired evidence and without having your abuse hurled at me.

    I bet you believe everything you are told by authorities, fool on you!!!

  272. Igor21

    It must be said that placebo effect is an effect so placebo effect must not be confused with “curing imaginary illnesses”.

    As Phil says, homeopathy is absurd but being absurd is not only surviving but has created a prosperous industry. In my opinion this is because two independent facts.

    Firstly world is full of stupid people who understands nothing and mistrust what they do not understand.

    Secondly, traditional medecine has become so impersonal and brutal that people has come to prefere medecines that do nothing administered by human beings, rather than medecines that work but are administered by Dr House-kind doctors (who care a fig what happens to you).

    So in the short term is crucial to keep homeopatic believers inside the system so they can be derived to convencional medecine in the case that “homeopathy does not work” (i.e. placebo and/or spontaneously cure does not happen). In this regard, only proper doctors should be allowed to give homeopaty, as a way to guarantee that the believers do not go to mad ignorants who know nothing. Even the most fanatically homeopathic doctor will recommend an “alopatric treatment” when the simptomes go beyond a certain threshold. Paradoxically, the fact that homeopathy “does nothing” is a big pro since “to not worsen” is a medical principle of action and not all the alternative methods respect this.

    In the long term is clear that the Dr. House attitude is unhuman and causes rejection not only of “traditional medecine” but for the whole Western-cartesian-rational-conventional-alopatric-whatever science (i.e. science).

  273. Nigel Depledge

    ME150 said:

    In Edinburgh MP’s use homeopaths and many doctors refer patients they cannot help to homeopaths and the patients often recover so quickly the doctors are surprised.

    To put a perfectly effective form of inobtrusive and non chemical method of treatment down because of some poor results, for whatever reason, is down right ignorance of facts and a blatant refusal to consider alternatives to what we have been told, and brainwashed, by the medical profession.

    Just because some (or even many) doctors in Edinburgh have been fooled by the homeopaths does not change the facts.

    Homeopathic treatments are no more effective than a placebo.

    Where homeopathy does actually help someone, it does so by activating the placebo effect.

  274. Mark Hansen

    me150, I used a homeopathic company’s own website and their financial report for the amount they make from the French market. Whom do you recommend I quote? And where did I, or Todd W., or Phil Plait (your only responders to date), abuse you? Attempt to disabuse you of a fallacious belief, perhaps, but not abuse you.

  275. Nigel Depledge

    RAD said:

    While Christian Scientists normally choose a path other than conventional medicine, this choice is not based on ignorance or blind faith. It instead reflects a systematic approach to prayer that has proven to be reliable and effective in the lives of those who practice it (in my own family’s case, for five generations).

    So how do you deal with the fact that controlled studies of intercessory prayer have shown no effect?

    As lifelong Christian Scientists, neither my wife nor I has had much exposure to the conventional medical system. However, when our two children were born, we opted to have the births in a hospital and to have standard prenatal care during the pregnancies. In both instances, the doctors identified complications that were quickly healed through Christian Science and did not require medical treatment. During the first pregnancy, my wife was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. At the urging of the obstetrician, we scheduled an appointment with a specialist. In the meantime, we requested treatment from a Christian Science practitioner. By the time of the appointment with the specialist several days later, the symptoms of gestational diabetes were gone and never returned.

    This is a classic example of the logical fallacy post hoc ergo propter hoc. The temporal relationship between seeking aid from a CS practitionaer and the cessation of symptoms is no evidence of a causal link. It could simply be a case of regression to the mean (i.e. that the time at which you sought aid was the time at which the symptoms were at their worst, and they would actually have improved with no intervention at all).

    When our second son was born, he was diagnosed with a heart murmur. The pediatrician asked us to have it checked by a cardiologist. We again requested treatment from a Christian Science practitioner and again experienced a complete healing by time of the appointment with the specialist.

    Again, this is not proof of anything.

    The post hoc ergo propter hoc logical fallacy is a very easy trap into which to fall. It is natural for us humans to assume a causal link when there is an obvious temporal relationship between two events, but without a properly controlled study, we cannot know.

    In the latter case, how can you tell it was not a mis-diagnosis? How can you tell it did not improve by itself? Without a controlled study, you cannot.

  276. Mark Hansen

    RAD, if I may ask, what treatment did the Christian Science practitioner use for the gestational diabetes?

  277. Nigel Depledge

    ME150 (272) said:

    Todd, the whole reason why there is so much negativity about Homeopathy is exactly why it is not possible to substantiate the facts I present.

    This is simply not true.

    Studies have been carried out on homeopathic treatments and the findings are always the same: whenever the trial is suitably rigorous and experimentally controlled, homeopathic treatments perform the same as a placebo.

    It costs millions to conduct the tests you ask about. Common everyday drugs are supported by pharmas with billions so they can have tests conducted but since Homeopathy is not recognised there is no-one to finance these tests.

    Actually, if you do some research into how modern drugs are produced and the type of facilities that are needed, and the kind of documentation and quality systems that are required by law to be in place, you will see that making modern drugs is an expensive business. This is especially true for biopharmaceuticals, which is an emerging sub-field with a huge amount of potential.

    By contrast, homeopaths do not have any regulations with which they must comply (except food standards, which are laxer by far than drug standards). As the BA points out, homeopathy as an industry has a turnover in the billions of dollars, most of which will be profit (compare with Big Pharma, which might have turnovers ten times as much, but with a far lesser proportion going into profit, mainly because of the regulations with which the companies must comply). To suggest as you do that the homoeopathy industry cannot afford to fund actual trials of its products is ludicrous.

    If the tests were conducted I can assure you that you would be surprised by the results.

    How can you possibly know?

    Without actual controlled trials having been performed, how can you know what the outcome of a trial will be?

    Or are you just “thinking with your gut”?

    I have no inclination to talk to you but I merely state the facts as I see them.

    Well, you might call them facts, but if you ever do wake up and smell the coffee, you will notice that you have no actual evidence on which to base that belief. Anecdotal evidence is not evidence, mainly because of the absence of any experiemtnal control. If you do not understand what an experimental control is, then I suspect Wikipedia will enlighten you.

    If you intend to always want definitive proof before deriving an opinion then you will seldom have an opinion worth listening to.

    On the contrary, most scientists and sceptics can form worthwhile and informed opinions based on a preponderance of evidence – after all, there isn’t even any “definitive proof” that the sun will rise tomorrow, yet I can confidently predict that it will.

    At present, the only evidence that has been collected in an adequately rigorous and controlled way indicates that homeopathy is just another placebo.

    It is also obvious you have allowed yourself to be brainwashed with publicity and media prduced by government and medical profession.

    Hah!

    Thus speaks the brainwashee when asked to supply actual evidence to support his / her claims. There is evidence about homeopathy in the medical literature. It shows that homeopathy is just another placebo. Organisations like the BCA are in a position to fund their own trials, but they choose not to. Instead they market their sugar pills with all sorts of wild claims that they know have no evidentiary support.

  278. Nigel Depledge

    DF said:

    The author seems to have an agenda – and that is to bash alternative medicine using this tragic case as a footstool. Terrible as that in itself is – its simply sensationalism to push a bias.

    Well, if sensationalism is what it takes, maybe that’s what’s needed.

    You use the term “alternative medicine” in a way that implies “if you don’t like medicine, this is the alternative”.

    Homoepathic treatments are just sugar pills and water. Yet their purveyors sell them as if they were real medicine. Why should they not be subject to the same regulations as real medicines? Why should they not have to prove safety and efficacy? If they have a biological activity that is beneficial, then they have the potential to cause side effects. If they do not have any biological activity, then they aren’t doing anything.

  279. Nigel Depledge

    Oopsie!

    When I said this:

    Organisations like the BCA are in a position to fund their own trials, but they choose not to.

    I was, of course, thinking about an earlier thread. THe BCA has nothing to do with homeopathy. Instead, I meant that homeopaths must have parallel organisations, and the members of those organisations are certainly making enough money collectively to fund trials.

  280. Nigel Depledge

    ME150 said:

    If any of you really believe that the drugs you are prescribed are properly tested, that test results are never faked etc etc etc then you are foolish.

    Of course we do not.

    Some major drugs companies have been shown to have repeatedly failed to publish negative results from a trial. No-one here is saying that this is ethical.

    That has no bearing on whether or not homeopathy works.

    What we do know is that, for a company to obtain a license for a new drug, they are obliged to conduct trials which:
    (1) demonstrate safety, first in healthy volunteers, then later in patients;
    (2) demonstrate efficacy (i.e. that the drug does what they claim);
    (3) demonstrate some benefit in comparison with existing treatments (e.g. fewer side effects, or whatever);
    (4) are conducted with scientific rigour, e.g. by including appropriate controls;
    (5) are conducted with the informed consent of participants;
    (6) have sufficient statistical power to enable firm conclusions to be drawn.

    If a proposed treatment consistently fails to work, it will not be licensed. If a proposed treatment consistently produces adverse reactions in patients, it will not be licensed (unless the disease is worse than the side effects and there are no other treatments available). The system ain’t perfect, but it does give us some level of assurance that a new treatment is more likely than not to be beneficial, and to have only a small likelihood of severe adverse reactions. Vioxx is an exception.

    For how the system should work, try Googling “TeGenera”. In a Phase I clinical trial in London, six healthy volunteers became severely ill. The reasons for this are quite complex, but it comes down to the fact that the drug was an antibody (a biopharmaceutical) which had two biological activities – one that activated and one that repressed immune cells. In the toxicity studies that had been conducted (another regulatory requirement, BTW), the animal model showed stronger repression than activation, but in humans the situation was reversed, so the drug hyper-activated the volunteers’ immune systems.

    As I understand it, TeGenera is no longer doing business.

    I do not regurgetate ‘evidence’ from web sites or otherwise as it is easlily ripped apart, as is your evidence.

    You really have not the slightest idea about the standards of evidence required by science if you truly believe this.

    The point is that evidence that seems to support homeopathy has been ripped to shreds because it is not good enough. It does not meet the exacting standards of science, standards which are set in place to prevent we fallible humans from fooling ourselves through wishful thinking. OTOH, evidence that has been gathered in a rigorous way, that is strong enough to withstand scientific criticism, all indicates that homeopathy is just another placebo.

    If you think it is so easily ripped apart, I suggest you find some and demonstrate this, otherwise I will not believe you. At present, I do not believe you have even tried looking.

    I have merely taken an unbiased view of all the alternatives, tried them and found what works.

    As I have mentioned to another commenter, without a properly controlled trial, you cannot know what works.

    I am entitled to my opinion, as are you, without having to provide screeds of manufactuired evidence and without having your abuse hurled at me.

    You are entitled to have an opinion, true. But when that opinion is based on ignorance and logical fallacies, we are entitled to point out its worthlessness. Your opinion, based as it is in ignorance and logical fallacies, has no value in this discussion.

    I bet you believe everything you are told by authorities, fool on you!!!

    And you’d be wrong again.

  281. Nigel Depledge

    Todd W said:

    Now, what do homeopathy manufacturers need to do? Register their facilities with FDA and follow current Good Manufacturing Procedures.

    In the UK, I’m not sure that homeopathic remedies are even obliged to be manufactured to GMP. If I have understood correctly, they come under the same regs as dietary supplements.

    And I have one nitpick: it’s Good Manfucturing Practice.

  282. @Nigel Depledge

    And I have one nitpick: it’s Good Manfucturing Practice.

    Thanks for the correction.

  283. Jason

    ME150: It is an integral part of sound experimentation that one should treat one’s personally expected outcomes in an experiment with more skepticism and criticism than unexpected results, or results about which one is dispassionate. This is a foundation of bias elimination and experimental rigor. If, as you claim, homeopathy has a legitimate effect, this would make itself readily apparent in rigorous testing for all to see. The results would show up consistently and repeatably, regardless of who performs the test or where it is done.

    These rigorous tests have been performed, numerous times. It does not work beyond the placebo effect.

    If there were tests that showed consistent, repeatable results and efficacy, without any pleading, explanations, rationalizations, or really any need for any apologetics at all, every single person in these comments would immediately change their mind, and accept your assertion that homeopathy works.

    In fact, I’ll even go further than that: since any efficacy shown by homeopathy beyond placebo would outright defy known biology, chemistry and physics, I would assert that it would be a remarkable breakthrough, and we would all be riveted to learn of the mechanism by which it worked, and would love to see the new medical treatments that would likely come about by using this novel delivery mechanism. No one wants to be sick.

    So given all of that, I ask you, what would it take for you, in spite of mountains of tests and evidence showing that it doesn’t have any effect beyond placebo, to change your mind?

  284. Nigel Depledge

    JC (118) said:

    Homeopathy actually does work, and has for a long time.

    No. It only works by activating the placebo effect. It is no better than a placebo.

    But it is not for everyone- just like allopathic medicine is not for everyone.

    OK, so tell me about studies of people who have contracted TB and have not been helped by “allopathic” medicine (by which I assume you mean mainstream medicine…?).

    Or about people who have had broken legs and could not be helped by mainstream medicine…?

    I think you may find that the most reliable areas of mainstream medicine really are for everyone.

    i personally have been using homeopathy nearly exclusively for approximately 12 years.

    Oh, goody, here comes another anecdote . . .

    why did i start? because i had a health issue in my life and went to allopathic doctors and they did not even have a clue to what it was. it was then that i went to try something different and found a homeopathic doctor who saw what it was right away and treated me within an hour and the next day the symptoms were GONE.

    Your homeopath didn’t have any idea what it was either, he was just pretending. And what made you better was the placebo effect.

    You would have had exactly the same result if the real doctor had told you some mumbo-jumbo and given you a pot of sugar pills to take. However, proper doctors consider this kind of thing unethical these days.

    i said to myself, “holy cow” and since then i have been using that medicine with great results. I of course would not go to a homeopath if i broke my arm, or if i have a cavity to be filled, etc. it is a balance. each side is good at certain things, but in general, one cannot use a single approach to fix everything that surfaces in life.

    Yes, of course. For anything where the placebo effect alone is enough to make you better, homeopathy works. For anything else, you have to fall back on real medicine.

    Seriously, what do you think is meant by the term “critical thinking”?

    Now, in the case of this story- we do not really know what happened- just because a doctor says that someone has eczema doesnt mean for sure they have eczema.

    Several doctors all agreed it was eczema. Eczema is common enough and distinctive enough that I think we can rule out misdiagnosis.

    doctors misdiagnose often- that is why they have malpractice insurance, right?

    Well, human doctors are fallible, but when several reach a consensus you can be pretty sure it’s reliable.

    and maybe the homeopath misdiagnosed, or misdosed the proper remedy.

    Or maybe the proper remedy (supplied several times by proper doctors – you did read the article, right?) was simply not applied as it should have been.

    we are all human here, and humans make mistakes. I think they make way more mistakes than they even can really say. I have heard a saying, “science is always wrong” and it seems true.

    Yeah, I guess it would if you don’t get into the details.

    A more accurate representation would be to say that science is always refining and honing what is known.

    science is constantly updating itself, saying “oh well we thought this was how it is, but we’ve discovered its not totally like that- this is what we know now…”

    Well, except that some things are so well established and supported by facts that they are themselves regarded as facts (evolution, for example).

    for example, my friend the other day was telling me the other day that he remembers when they used to spray everything with DDT. even kids. science thought that was OK back then, but what does science think of that practice now?

    Yeah, and we used to chuck acetone around the labs like it was water. That doesn’t mean it was a good idea. Eating and smoking in labs used to be legal too.

    Our attitudes to safety and the environment have changed dramatically.

    However, in the case of DDT, it was seen as a potent insecticide and used as such. Since, at the doses in which it was applied, it killed only insects and not anything else, it was seen as safe. DDT was the substance that taught us about how some substances are concentrated in the food chain, so each organism up the line receives a higher dose than its prey animal did.

    we are evolving. everyone, everything. science and doctors make lots of mistakes daily, and so can homeopaths.

    Yeah, the differences being, mainly:
    (1) Scientists and doctors have a factual basis for what they do;
    (2) Scientists and doctors are as honest as they know how to be.

    just because science has not proven in the limited way that something is not true does not mean that it is.

    Erm … what?

    If you mean to say that science has not proven that homeopathy cannot possibly work, that is perhaps true but only in a trivial way. If homeopathy did even half of what is claimed for it, enough studies have been done that we would now have some factual basis for it. The fact is that every rigorous, controlled study of homeopathy conducted to date has shown no benefit above a placebo.

    Therefore, either homeopathy does a lot less than is frequently claimed for it, or it really is no better than a placebo. This conclusion is a sound one.

    there are many things that science cannot explain- homeopathy is just one of them.

    No. If homeopathy actually worked, then it would be inexplicable – certainly the “memory of water” nonsense is no basis for an explanation (since most homeopathic treatments are just sugar pills). You seem to be forgetting that, while there are things that science cannot explain – people’s credulous faith in homeopathy being one of them – there are a great many things that science has explained.

    if it works for one person (like me, for example) but not for another- does that mean it doesnt exist, or that it’s not real?

    No, it means that there is no evidence to support it. Your anecdote is not evidence, because it has no control.

    The writer of this article we are all responding to, and many of the people responding to it sound very narrow minded to me. I would not fault them for that- for they are evolving as well. We all are. But to lay judgement and blame so quickly on something we know really nothing about- how is that showing wisdom?

    But we actually do know quite a bit about homeopathic treatments – when tested rigorously, they perform no better than a placebo. Therefore, any perceived benefit from a homeopathic treatment is either coincidence (e.g. regression to the mean, coupled with the post hoc ergo propter hoc logical fallacy) or the placebo effect.

  285. Nigel Depledge

    G (122) said:

    When my daughter was born she suffered from cholic. This was so severe that we called out the doctor, who prescribed Infocol. This is normal procedure, however, at the time this product had only just returned to prescription after being withdrawn on safety grounds.

    We persisted with this treatment for two days without success, and so turned to a homeopathic alternative – Chamomelia. We noted an immediate improvement and continued to provide this cure fore 2 years without the symptoms returning.

    There are several possibilities, but the absence of a control means that you cannot conclude that the “Chamomelia” did anything at all. For instance, if you started using the homeopathic stuff immediately after giving up on the infocol, it it could merely be that the infocol took 2 days to work. Not being a paediatrician, I can’t comment at that level of detail.

    Often people accuse homeopathy as being effective due to the placebo effect,

    It’s not an accusation, it is a demonstrated fact.

    and yet this should have been equally true of Infocol.

    Now, this is an interesting point. How come one substance did not activate the placebo effect while something else did?

    There are several possibilities, and we don’t yet know enough about the placebo effect to be sure about what the answer actually is in any specific case. However, it seems to me that the most likely culprits are either the way in which the treatement was administered, or the amount of attention the child received prior to each treatment being started.

    Either way, we can never know what really cleared up her colic.

    Whilst I was skeptical of its efficacy at the time, I have since taken homeopathic remedies for other ailments and some have been successful. I also admit that, on occasions, homeopathy has not worked, but this is also true of conventional medicines.

    However, conventional medicines are backed up by evidence – they will work for most people most of the time. OTOH, the homeopathic stuff that you take is no more reliable than a sugar pill and a bit of TLC.

    We should be very careful about condemning things that we do not, as yet, understand.

    That’s a good attitude to take.

    Be aware, however, that we do understand homeopathy, and there’s nothing to it. The best data we have available indicate that homeopathic “remedies” act only by activating the placebo effect.

    Perhaps just as telling is the fact that so many homeopaths refuse to make any effort to give their profession a more substantial basis in real evidence.

    Unlike prescription medicines, homeopathy does no harm – the same is not true for steroid creams, that are the common remedy prescribed for eczema.

    Homeopathy does no harm because it does nothing. (Except, as already noted, activate the placebo effect.) Anything that has a genuine biological activity has the potential to induce an adverse reaction.

    I would also like to take this opportunity to remind people that when reading reports that criticise alternative medicines, that you should look at where the vested interests are for them and that you should follow the money trail. Corporations, especially pharmaceutical corporations are notorious for paying for studies that are deliberately biased towards their own profit motive.

    Maybe so, but don’t forget that homeopathy, as an industry, is worth hundreds of millions of dollars a year (at least). Also, if drug companies publish biased studies (or studies with inadequately rigorous methodology), this will be picked up and addressed, either in the peer-review process or by the readership of the technical journals. I do not believe they have a very good chance of getting away with publishing sub-standard trials.

    Remember also that most conventional medicines have a sound theoretical basis (those that do not at present have nonetheless been demonstrated to be effective), whereas homeopathy has none, and it has never been rigorously demonstrated to work.

  286. Silence Dogood

    Responsability for parenting negligence should have a strict regulation, and this was a clear case of it. Never the less, lets remember that jail is not a form of revenge, and it should not be a punishment in itself.

    Jail is a form to reintegrate people to society and to control people who can be dangerous to others. I don’t think society in general is in danger because of this people beliefs, it would be enough to prevent this people from harming their child again with active monitoring from the Goverment (child services).

    Prison should not be a form of punishment, it is there for protection and reintegration, and this guys don’t need that, they need to be strictly watched in case they have children again.

  287. brainintact

    #294 Nigel said: “Now, this is an interesting point. How come one substance did not activate the placebo effect while something else did?”

    My guess for why the real medication that the person used before using homeopathy didn’t provide the same placebo effect is this: Real medicine often has side-effects that would be noted, while homeopathy, it being NOTHING (if diluted past Avogadro’s number), would have few (I say few rather than none because of the “nocebo” effect). On top of that, given that very often it’s actually better to do nothing (as many conditions simply need to run their course, especially things like infant colic), homeopathy would appear better. And, given that many people tend to take (or give their child or pet) medication just when the symptoms are peaking anyway, the homeopathy appears to work. And, given that people who use homeopathy tend to be true believers (it being much more of a religion than a branch of medicine) who view evidence-based meds as part of the evil “western” medical establishment, they would be inclined to give homeopathy higher marks. And, given that there are many peer-reviewed studies out there that appear to favor homeopathy and institutions of higher education, hospitals, doctors, etc. lending credibility to homeopathy, the illusion is created that homeopathy actually works.

    This highlights the fact that we can’t really know what is working or not working based on our own subjective experiences, thus the importance of only looking at random, controlled trials that are heavily “blinded” – which, in the case of homeopathy, has shown that it is NOTHING other than a placebo.

  288. brainintact

    CAUTION, believers.

    Homeopathy, not diluted ad infinitum, is dangerous. Arsenic poisoning: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14705842

  289. brainintact

    And, I’ll add before someone brings up the false equivalency argument that conventional medicine also can be dangerous that I only bring this up because people assume homeopathy is safe because it’s diluted until no poisons are left, but that is not necessarily the case, we see.

  290. Nigel Depledge

    @ Brainintact, I loved this line at the end of that paper’s abstract:

    CONCLUSION: Arsenic used therapeutically in homeopathic medicines can cause clinical toxicity if the medications are improperly used.

  291. Jose Almaraz

    I have never tried homeopathy and probably never will. But maybe what could work about it, I think, is the Placebo effect. The mind is so powerful that has been proved to heal some diseases. Nevertheless, children aren’t that conscious about their sickness and the Placebo effect doesn’t work on them.

  292. brainintact

    Nigel, yeah, that’s pathetic. Worse is that some homeopathic researchers in India in 2003 supposedly showed that highly dilute (beyond Avogadro’s number) homeopathic arsenic countered the effects of arsenic poisoning in mice. Arsenic is sadly found in some of India’s well-water supply and people are very sick from it. In 2005, they tried it in some communities with bad cases of arsenic poisoning, and supposedly it showed a significant lessening of symptoms. They reported that in one community no one would participate unless assured of getting the actual medicine. The researchers were sympathetic and not wanting to be accused of causing injury by withholding the medication, they agreed to give them all the homeopathic treatment, which sadly means they gave all of them nothing but a placebo anyway. The goal was to add the homeopathic potion to India’s water system. I don’t know what happened after that, if they ever did that or not. So deluded; so sad!

  293. Joey

    I live in Australia, and we haven’t seen information here that has the details that you guys have. Obviously, it doesn’t matter tuppence what the parents did: they’re black, and they believe in false gods, and that’s enough: they’re bound to be guilty of something and should be used as an example. But it would be great, wouldn’t it, to hang them for a sheep rather than just cut off their hands for a lamb. Most of you seem to have found out a lot more about this case than any of the newspapers here are reporting. I think some of you have transcripts of the case. So I’m wondering whether those people who know all about what happened can answer any of these questions:

    • The allegation of an illness that somehow diverted proteins, vitamins, and so on for three months that should have been building Gloria’s growing body and used them instead to fight infections that came through this strange eczema: was it proven to be true? What is the name of this illness, and what is it due to? Has it ever been seen before, and should the parents have recognised it?

    • Just when did septicaemia set in: before or after the Sams’ return to Australia?

    • The eczema of a kind that all the doctors “had never seen anything like” before: was it ever finally identified? Did any doctor ever figure out what it was due to, or whether it was any kind of eczema at all, or is it still just an eczema they’d never seen anything like?

    • Why didn’t the paediatrician, two dermatologists, or any of the other doctors know that Gloria had a malnutrition problem, until after she was dead? And if they didn’t know, has it been proven that the parents did?

    • Did anyone testify that the parents did not follow the medical advice they were given? I’ve been unable to find anything like this, except that they missed appointments when they took Gloria to India to see other doctors and homoeopaths.

    • What do the doctors make of Gloria’s improvement during her time in India? Is there some way that that could be due to parental criminal negligence also?

    Any reliable information would be a great help — with references to documented sources, if they exist (autopsy reports, court transcripts, medical records, that kind of thing). We will get these two, guilty or not, and make an example of them to all those killer homoeopaths.

    Oh, one more:

    • Has any baby ever died under the care of a non-homoeopathic doctor? If yes, is it possible that it was because the baby’s medicine didn’t work to her benefit? Is there some kind of proof that no western pharmaceutical medicine (fever and pain medication, vaccination, anything) has ever killed a baby? There’s no evidence, is there, that one has? Or that an orthodox doctor ever slipped up? I hope not, because some people might interpret that the wrong way. You know what they’re like.

    Thanks!

  294. brainintact

    “Has any baby ever died under the care of a non-homoeopathic doctor? If yes, is it possible that it was because the baby’s medicine didn’t work to her benefit?”

    Irrelevant. Silly False Equivalency argument.

    This case probably has more behind it than just believing in homeopathy, but it brings home the point.

  295. Joey

    Dear brainintact,

    If the Sams’ baby had died under either method of treatment rather than under both, wouldn’t the misfortune have been equally great? And wouldn’t dedicated people like your good self be equally keen to apportion responsibility for her death to those most to blame?

    That being so, if the double-barrelled question “Has any baby ever died under the care of a non-homoeopathic doctor? If yes, is it possible that it was because the baby’s medicine didn’t work to her benefit?” is irrelevant to the Sams’ culpability, then how is “Had homeopathy been able to hold up to scientific scrutiny over these many years, it would have become a big part of mainstream conventional medicine today, and we wouldn’t be having this discussion” — granting the assumptions in it — any more relevant to it?

    Let’s be as critical of ourselves as of the killer homoeopaths, shall we?

  296. brainintact

    Joey (#307), I’m confused by what you’re asking me to comment on. In this case, the baby died because of reliance on homeopathy (doing nothing) rather than giving the child real medication that had a good chance of working.

    My point about homeopathy having become mainstream if it had held up to scientific scrutiny all these years seems to be a separate issue. If homeopathy turned out to be plausible and shown to work under proper strict testing conditions (not silly “provings” but actual, real “proving”), our understanding of how things work would be completely different, Avogadro be damned, and yes, homeopathy would have probably replaced much of what is regarded today as medication and treatment.

    I’d be happy to try to share my opinion on your question if I could understand what you’re asking. Can you rephrase it?

  297. Nigel Depledge

    Jose Almaraz said:

    Nevertheless, children aren’t that conscious about their sickness and the Placebo effect doesn’t work on them.

    As I understand it, this is not the case. The placebo effect does work in children – it appears mainly to be triggered by the extra attention they get, and perhaps to some extent by being made to swallow unusual substances.

  298. Joey

    Okay, I’ll have a go at teasing out what I said.

    My question concerning whether a baby has ever died under orthodox pharmaceutical treatment without the help of homoeopathic belief (though not necessarily of orthodox belief) was perhaps as irrelevant as your own remark to the question of whether the Sams’ baby’s death had anything to do with her parents’ beliefs. But

    (1) your own assumptions that

    (a) the fact that we’re finding which way to point the finger

    and

    (b) the fact that the pharmaceutical industry’s only interest in homoeopathy does not seem to lie in actually using it

    result from

    (c) homoeopathy’s ineffectiveness

    are equally irrelevant to that question.

    Your own remark appears to have been made in relation the question of blame that’s to hand; and it’s my contention that my remark is equally pertinent to that question, on the basis of the very assumptions your remark entails. The details are as follows.

    To be a little even-handed about our standards of evidence,

    (2) the readiness or otherwise of pharmaceutical firms to take up the manufacture of medicines that are

    (d) cheap

    and

    (e) plainly nontoxic

    and that

    (f) have a long history of high regard by many millions of eager customers

    is a rejection that not only is unsubstantiated but also makes no business sense whatever, regardless of its effectiveness, until one takes into account that

    (g) favouring the manufacture of a customer’s single ten-dollar bottle of medicine,

    even with

    (h) a profit as high as (let us assume) nine dollars per customer over a year or three,

    would come at the opportunity cost of selling, in the same period,

    (i) many bottles of forty- and eighty-dollar patent medicines (subsidised by taxes),

    upon each of which

    (j) the profit would be some thirty or sixty dollars,

    leaving aside

    (k) several more bottles of patent-expired medicines

    each of which

    (l) would earn its manufacturer a profit of at least a few dollars.

    (3) Looked at in this light, it wouldn’t matter how successful homoeopathy actually was: it would not be worth it to the pharmaceutical manufacturers to either

    (m) make any sales of homoeopathic medicines

    or

    (n) allow other manufacturers to sell them (if there were a way to stop them from doing so)

    in competition with

    (o) those medicines that are so much more profitable to the manufacturer.

    I’m not, though, disputing the relevance of your remark to the conversation in general; I’m only pointing out that

    (4) your remark,

    (p) based though it is on three plausible assumptions, [a] to [c] above, and entailing the further assumption that

    (q) the Sams did not follow the treatments prescribed by the pharmaceutical doctors,

    can be relevant to the Sams’ culpability only by reliance upon several further premises: that

    (r) there is an infant illness (as described but so far not named) that diverts nutrients from maintaining sufficient body mass for survival to attempting to fight off an unnamed chronic or sub-acute infection;

    (s) the Sams should have known that;

    (t) the Sams should have recognised that Gloria had such an illness;

    (u) the Sams should have recognised the onset of septicaemia, and consequently brought Gloria to hospital, sooner;

    (v) the diagnosis as an eczema that none of the many physicians had ever “seen anything like” of a strangely persistent skin complaint was proven and not ad hoc;

    (w) Gloria’s improvement while in India had no proper part to play in the parents’ medical decisions;

    and

    (x) the Sams’ parental judgement was not exercised with due diligence in arriving at the conclusion that Gloria was safer in not taking orthodox pharmaceutical medicines than in taking them,

    this last assumption entailing two further assumptions: that

    (y) that no baby is unsafer being treated by orthodox pharmaceuticals than by being treated with ineffective homoeopathy (leaving aside all possibility that it may sometimes be effective and all discussion of how)

    and

    (z) that the Sams should have known this.

    (5) Given the reliance of your own statement on assumption (x) in particular, it’s easy to see, isn’t it, why the question of whether a baby has ever died under the care of a non-homoeopathic doctor is not after all irrelevant to the Sams’ culpability: it relies only on an assumption necessary to the truth of your own statement that — if you’ll forgive the paraphrasing — we would not be holding this discussion if homoeopathy worked.

  299. Nigel Depledge

    Brainintact (303) said:

    The goal was to add the homeopathic potion to India’s water system. I don’t know what happened after that, if they ever did that or not. So deluded; so sad!

    Uh, yeah. You said it.

    To try to treat arsenic poisoning by adding an ultradilute arsenic solution to the well, that contains a relatively concentrated arsenic solution, makes no sense at all.

  300. Nigel Depledge

    Joey said:

    Obviously, it doesn’t matter tuppence what the parents did: they’re black, and they believe in false gods, and that’s enough: they’re bound to be guilty of something and should be used as an example.

    Except that you have no evidence that anyone here is prejudiced to this extent. Homeopathy is no better than a placebo. To have discontinued applying proper medicine (that worked) in favour of a homeopathic treatment (that didn’t work) smacks of extreme dogmatism.

    By baselessly accusing Phil and the commenters of prejudice, you undermine your own credibility.

  301. Nigel Depledge

    Joey (304) said:

    Has any baby ever died under the care of a non-homoeopathic doctor? If yes, is it possible that it was because the baby’s medicine didn’t work to her benefit? Is there some kind of proof that no western pharmaceutical medicine (fever and pain medication, vaccination, anything) has ever killed a baby? There’s no evidence, is there, that one has? Or that an orthodox doctor ever slipped up? I hope not, because some people might interpret that the wrong way. You know what they’re like.

    This is an absolute red herring.

    The child’s condition was treatable, using any of several modern medicines. Based on information supplied in some of the above comments, the parents stopped applying the creams as soon as they saw an improvement, and went back to the homeopathic stuff.

    Additionally, you and several other commenters have implied that because people sometimes die because real doctors make mistakes, it’s OK for this child to have died and we should not blame the parents for her death. Where patients die in the care of modern medical practice, there could be any of several reasons:
    (1) Their condition was severe enough that the doctors could not save them. This is not relevant to this case.
    (2) A correct treatment was applied but it failed to work for some reason (e.g. allergic reaction in the patient, drug resistance in the pathogen, or simply that some people do not respond to drugs in the expected way). Again, this is not relevant to this case.
    (3) The doctor mis-diagnosed the condition. Again, all indications are that this is not relevant to this case.
    (4) The doctor prescribed the wrong dose of a medication. Again, this is not relevant in this case.
    (5) The patient died while undergoing major surgery (whether related to the anaesthetic or to some mistake the surgeon made). Again, this is not relevant in this case.

    And so on. The fact is that the child died because her parents insisted on returning to a treatment for her condition that does not work, and they refused to persist in applying a treatment that does work.

  302. Nigel Depledge

    @ Joey (309):-

    You seem to be saying that Big Pharma does not manufacture homeopathic treatments because it is biased against them, and that there is some kind of conspiracy to suppress the sale of homeopathic treatments.

    You seem to be ignoring the facts that:
    (a) Homeopathic treatments are in fact, made and sold all over the world;
    (b) The homeopathy industry is worth billions of dollars worldwide (assuming an earlier comment about France’s homeopathy industry to be worth 300 million euros annually is correct);
    (c) All rigorous controlled trials to date of homeopathic treatments indicate that they perform no better than a placebo; and
    (d) Many homeopaths reportedly reject the idea of testing their treatments.

  303. Joey

    Nigel Depledge (312 & 313), the conclusion that you draw and label “fact”, that “the child died because her parents… refused to persist in applying a treatment that does work”, is one you arrived at through an argument that began with the premise, based on “information supplied in some of the above comments”, that “the parents stopped applying the creams as soon as they saw an improvement, and went back to the homeopathic stuff”.

    This circular argument is perfectly valid (i.e., its conclusion follows logically from its premises), but is unsound (i.e., it cannot be relied upon to draw a true conclusion) unless the premises themselves are true. What you’ve said, in effect, is “If all these things that others have said are true, then they’re true”.

    My question, the one you’ve taken such pains to jump in and add your criticism of, is: but are they true? As I thought I’d made plain, many of the premises being dealt in this hand have not appeared even as assertions of the press; unless their authors have special access to documents that most of us are unable to obtain, the premises have merely been invented on the fly for the occasion of a good bashing.

    I’m all for a good bashing when it comes to homoeopathy, of course. It makes such an easy target, after all. But people who repeat each other ad nauseum without bothering to look beyond their petty prejudices are even more fun, because they have no idea where their logic went wrong.

    Conspiracy theories are another easy target. Your own concerning a conspiracy of homoeopathic pharmacists to defraud the public is as easy as any other. I think my meaning was plain enough concerning the illogicality of marketing a cheap product, working or not, to anybody for whom you already have far dearer alternatives into which you’ve invested a great deal that you hope to profit upon.

    If you’re aware that methods of manufacture already in the public domain are unpatentable, then you will know that not a lot of money can be made from any individual medicine, even one bashed into new life, that’s a couple of hundred years old — particularly medicine of a kind that anybody with half a brain need never run out of (just add water and stir, so to speak).

  304. @Joey

    Did you read the articles linked in Dr. Plait’s post? Because it doesn’t seem like you have.

    Regarding the Sams’ stopping use of medical treatment and returning to homeopathy, from the Sydney Morning Herald article, we read:

    The court heard the couple took Gloria to various health professionals, but while they abandoned each conventional medication she was prescribed within a short time of starting it, they solidly pursued homeopathic remedies.

    Further, I imagine, though I cannot say for certain based on the reports available, that the skin condition “unlike anything they had seen before” referred to severity, not type.

    Also from the article, we know that the septicemia resulted from an eye infection.

    And finally, it is reported that:

    even after Gloria died, Thomas Sam adhered to his belief that homeopathy was equally valid to conventional medicine for the treatment of eczema.

    So, based on what was reported by the Herald, we know that:

    a) Gloria had eczema;
    b) Her parents took her to numerous doctors, all of whom identified that she had eczema;
    c) She was prescribed actual medicine, which did improve her condition;
    d) Her parents abandoned use of the medicine each time and switched back to homeopathy;
    e) Her condition worsened under homeopathic care;
    f) The extent of her eczema left her body weakened, diverting nutrients and energy to fighting the eczema, rather than for growing, etc.;
    g) She suffered an eye infection that the Sams believed was conjunctivis;
    h) Due to her weakened state from the severity of her eczema, her body was unable to stave off the eye infection;
    i) Her eye infection became septic; and
    j) The resulting septicemia resulted in her death.

    This all took place over the course of only a few months.

    We also know that:

    a) the prescribed medicinal creams would have been tested for efficacy, following national regulations;
    b) the homeopathic remedies very likely were not tested for efficacy, due to lack of regulatory requirements for such; and
    c) all homeopathic remedies tested under proper, randomized, double-blind controls thus far have shown no benefit above placebo.

    Based on c, we can extrapolate that it is very likely that the homeopathic remedies sought by the Sams also had no effect beyond placebo, while the prescribed creams did have an effect beyond placebo. This extrapolation is borne out by the observations that while the Sams used the creams, Gloria improved, and when they used homeopathic preparations, she got worse.

    Based on all of this, it is therefore reasonable to conclude that her parents’ insistence on using homeopathy and view that homeopathy is valid medicine, despite their actually seeing that it did not work, is directly connected to her rapid deterioration and ultimate death.

  305. Joey

    Todd W.,

    Yes, it’s very common for the world to accord with our preconceptions. Let’s see how else it’s possible to interpret this.

    (a): Gloria had what was called eczema like none ever seen before — perhaps, as you say, of an unprecedented severity; but perhaps of an unknown kind. Which shall we presume?

    (c): The abandonment of each orthodox pharmaceutical medicine is strangely presumed by you to result from improvement. Is it possible that it was instead the result of lack of improvement?

    (e): Gloria’s condition worsened. She was under the care of two homoeopaths and a large number of other doctors. Since the homoeopaths in your view did nothing, it would be equally fair to say, wouldn’t it, “Her condition worsened under orthodox medical care” as to say it worsened under homoeopathic care — particularly as there is no suggestion (except here) that orthodox care, whenever it was in practice, made any difference?

    (f) Yes, the hypothesis of the unknown diversionary illness. Without any such known illness, we could hypothesise anything here, couldn’t we, as a cause for Gloria’s succumbing to infection: at least several dozen reasonable alternative hypotheses.

    (h) Her body was unable due to her “weakened state from the severity of her eczema” — or due to whatever it was due to. This argument is predicated upon quite a few assumptions, isn’t it.

    (a2) You assume that no doctor prescribes untested creams (as in, for instance, clinical trials) or nonmedicinal creams that might simply soothe the skin. I note that at least you do not presume that tests “proved” the efficacy of such creams or what they might be efficacious in: eczema removal, disinfection, restoration of immune function, or whatever you presently hypothesise was required at the moment of prescription. But we could just as readily assume that any creams prescribed were new drugs, immune-suppressive corticosteroids, or from a faulty batch. Which presumption best suits you?

    (b2) Yes, an easy assumption to make look significant, though it appears to be irrelevant.

    (c2) This repetition of unsubstantiated assumption gets boring after a while. The opposite assumption is equally valid until you actually check.

    Based on the holes in your premises so far, I’d say you’ve shown perfectly well that you don’t have the kind of access to reliable information on the case that I asked about. That’s no reflection on you, but mountains of presumption are no substitute for facts, and there’s little reasonableness in drawing hateful conclusions, even merely circular ones, from premises that may be false.

    The point you seem to have missed is that convenient presumptions, whilst comforting to the beliefs that sustain you, offer little by way of certainty of the truth.

  306. @Joey

    You assume that no doctor prescribes untested creams (as in, for instance, clinical trials) or nonmedicinal creams that might simply soothe the skin. I note that at least you do not presume that tests “proved” the efficacy of such creams or what they might be efficacious in: eczema removal, disinfection, restoration of immune function, or whatever you presently hypothesise was required at the moment of prescription. But we could just as readily assume that any creams prescribed were new drugs, immune-suppressive corticosteroids, or from a faulty batch.

    I am not completely familiar with the Australian regulatory framework for drugs, but if it is anything like U.S. laws, any new, untested drug would need to be in current clinical trials. This would mean that either the Sams would have to have enrolled Gloria into the trial (which the reported evidence does not suggest) or the physician would have had to file an exemption for use with Gloria. However, the latter would likely not have been granted, because there are proven alternatives already available with known safety profiles. Australian regulations might be slightly different (though since they are part of the International Conference on Harmonization, I doubt it would be much different, if at all), but if it is similar to the U.S.’s, then your suggestion of a new drug being prescribed is, at best, highly unlikely.

    If it were from a faulty batch, then there would be some reports and possibly a voluntary recall by the manufacturer. These may or may not be readily available over the internet, so that is inconclusive. However, other articles do state that her condition improved with conventional treatment. (http://www.smh.com.au/national/dead-babys-parents-ignored-advice-qc-20090504-asmt.html) Assuming accuracy in reporting, your suggestion that the abandonment of treatment was due to lack of efficacy can be dismissed.

    Yes, the hypothesis of the unknown diversionary illness. Without any such known illness, we could hypothesise anything here, couldn’t we, as a cause for Gloria’s succumbing to infection: at least several dozen reasonable alternative hypotheses.

    The article I linked above also describes the extent of her eczema, that her eczema was “so severe that her skin broke every time her parents removed her clothes and nappy”. Also from that article, “[o]ver time the eczema caused her skin to become thinner and weaker and the constant breaking of the skin allowed infections to enter her body”.

    Further, “a micro-organism which was commonly found in broken skin, was isolated in Gloria’s blood, urine, skin and eyes” (http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/death-of-baby-gloria-sparks-hunt-for-truth/2007/11/05/1194117959740.html).

    I concede that we are working from media reports, rather than medical charts, coroner’s reports, court transcripts, and other primary sources of information. I understand that is the entire point of your playing devil’s advocate. Given the information available, from multiple sources, the conclusions drawn thus far are, tentatively, warranted.

    Going back to your initial post, your statements regarding various prejudices (they’re black and worship strange gods, therefore they’re guilty of something) is completely unwarranted. If there is evidence to suggest that racial/cultural prejudices are in play in the comments, please point to where that is happening.

    True, there are details of the case that we do not know. However, based on the available information, combined with previous experience on the subject, again, reasonable conclusions can be drawn. They may bear revision if further details come to light, but they are likely fairly solid.

  307. Mark Hansen

    Nigel @ 313, the figure was 300 billion Euro’s. I think that it may be an error and really be 300 million. The website definitely says billion though.
    Here’s the article from Boiron’s website, quoted in full:

    Economic reality of homeopathy

    Homeopathic therapeutics is not a market in itself. Like other therapeutics (antibiotherapy, chemotherapy, vaccines, surgery, etc.), it responds to the expectations of patients and doctors.
    Within the pharmaceuticals market, it is important to differentiate between so-called “prescription” drugs that are necessarily prescribed by a doctor from OTC (“Over The Counter”) drugs that may be purchased without a prescription. Homeopathic drugs may be prescribed by a doctor or directly sold without a prescription.
    In certain European countries, single homeopathic medicines may be reimbursed by public health systems.

    The world pharmaceuticals market
    • At the end of 2003, the world pharmaceuticals market was estimated at 466.3 billion dollars (manufacturer’s price), a 9% rate of growth with respect to 2002*. With 49% of the world market, North America is in the number one position, followed by the European Union (25%) and Japan (11%).
    • In the 13 largest consumer countries, the world sales of prescription drugs increased by 9.0% in 2002, reaching 275.8 billion dollars. An 11% increase was noted in the United States (147.4 billion dollars) while an increase of about 6.0% (60.0 billion dollars) was noted in the main European markets (Germany, France, Italy, United Kingdom and Spain).
    • The self-medication market is estimated at 48.2 billion dollars*, that is 13.4% of the world pharmaceuticals market. This market covers a large range of therapeutic classes, in particular treatments applied to disorders of the respiratory apparatus, pain killers, vitamins, minerals and other food supplements.
    Europe is the leading market in world sales of OTC drugs with 15.3 billion dollars, followed by the North American market with 12.8 billion dollars.
    In France, the OTC drug market is estimated at over 770.5 billion euros*.

    Homeopathy: 0.3% of the world drug market

    With almost 1.5 billion euros (manufacturer’s price), the world sale of homeopathic drugs accounts for 0.3% of the world drug market. The growth potential for homeopathy is therefore considerable. Almost 70% of all homeopathic drugs are sold in Western Europe.
    France, with over 300 billion euros, is the largest homeopathy market in the world, followed by Germany (200 billion euros). 40% of the French have already been treated with homeopathy*, and 74% of the patients stated that they are “inclined to follow a homeopathic treatment if prescribed by their doctor”.
    Homeopathy has been making major advances in other regions such as the Mediterranean basin, South America, Eastern Europe or even India.

    The asterisks are in the original but have no footnotes at the end to signify what they mean (presumably quoting sources).

  308. brainintact

    Joey, some skepticism about media reports is healthy, but if we don’t at least agree to accept the report as accurate enough, then there’s no point in discussing that case. Anyway, this discussion isn’t only about that particular case; there are many cases of people injured or dying because they relied on unsubstantiated treatments (the first US president, for one. Ironically, he would have been better off with homeopathy, or doing nothing, same thing).

    On your logic questions, I’m not an expert in logic, and someone can correct me if I was wrong to use the term “false equivalent” for this, but my understanding and my common sense tell me this:

    My premises:

    H (homeopathy) = unregulated, untested treatment practices based on implausible and/or faulty hypotheses (e.g. the “law” of similars that like cures like; greater dilution makes stronger potions; water remembers the active ingredient, but not contaminants; shaking the solution in its manufacture makes it potent; subjective “provings” are valid; potions can lead to positive outcomes but not negative ones, etc.). The efficacy of treatments have not withstood the tests of (quality) scientific scrutiny over a period of about 200 years. Treatments found unsupportable by scientific study are never withdrawn from the accepted list of remedies. It is relatively safe physically (as there is nothing in it to cause side-effects).

    C (conventional medical care) = regulated, evidence-based treatment practices that are based on plausible hypotheses and/or have shown efficacy beyond that of placebo in quality, randomized, controlled, blinded studies. Treatments that fail to significantly exceed the placebo effect, or prove too adverse relative to their benefits, or turn out to have been based on falsified studies, etc., are generally discontinued and lose approval by regulators.

    The argument seems to go like this:

    Because C treatments sometimes results in injury, death, mistakes, adverse effects, and some drugs make it to market based on corruption or greed, etc, etc….

    Therefore, H is a valid system of care and a viable alternative treatment.

    Huh?! That makes no sense! H is still utter nonsense no matter how faulty C may be.
    They are simply not equivalent. One is apples with some rot, the other is imaginary pears with no rot because there is actually no pear.

    Even if the medical establishment became so ineffective and corrupt that receiving no treatment is better than receiving C treatment, H is still simply not necessary, other than to make some people feel better believing that they took “something” instead of doing nothing while in reality they still took nothing (= deluded). Now, this case (assuming the news reported accurately) and many, many other cases serve to demonstrate that it can be a fatal mistake to rely on unsupportable treatment practices when viable treatments are available.

    A more logical conclusion, in my opinion, would be to fix whatever is broken with the evidence-based system: make informed decisions before you receive risky and/or costly treatment, work for better regulation, work to eliminate greed, fund better and bigger studies of (plausible) promising new treatments; improve the scientific method of inquiry and how journals and the media evaluate and report results; demand greater transparency and accountability in the medical system.

    I for one would LOVE to see a “conspiracy” to discontinue funding studies of implausible nonsense so that valuable resources, time and money, can be better spent fixing what we know has great value and potential.

    Let’s not throw the evidence-based baby out with the magic homeopathic water.

  309. Joey

    Todd W. (319), yes, I think we’re in agreement on the certainty factor. These hysterical conclusions and calls for vengeance are based on reports by journalists so unfamiliar with medical realities that nothing they write is specific or certain, and those removed at second-, no, third-, no, fourth-hand from events and relying, for Pete’s sake, on the semi-literate scribblings of journalists are hardly in a position to draw further conclusions from what are already patently confused findings.

    I think that if you look into it, you’ll find that, as in Australia, many times in the U.S., drugs are trialled by doctors on their patients as part of the late stages of clinical trials, regardless of the availability of the alternatives whose faults are glaring at about three years before expiry of their patents.

    Mark Hansen (320), if world sales of all pharmaceuticals are as large as Boiron claims — 466.3 billion dollars in 2003 — then Boiron’s claim that homoeopathic medicines constitute 0.3% of that is consistent with the claim that homoeopathic drug sales worldwide are 1.5 billion euros. It may be that the much higher figure that Boiron gives for France alone — 300 billion euros — represents exactly what Boiron says it represents: the market for homoeopathy, not for homoeopathic drugs.

    brainintact (321), I accept that one cannot move on to more interesting and advanced hypotheses if the premises remain uncertain. The scientific method of discovery, however, entails remaining aware of the limits of one’s certainty, leaving the door open for correction of one’s premises and everything that rests upon them. This discussion has enjoyed little in the way of such tentativeness: it has not only relied intrinsically upon the accuracy of conditions, illnesses, sequences, causes, results, and infectious relationships very vaguely described by experts in hysteria without medical insight of any kind; its participants have gone further than taking these things as articles of faith, claiming and echoing and amplifying claims not even suggested in the media reports themselves — and all in order to apportion blame and declare vehemently the deserved fate of two parents who lost their daughter.

    This is not a discussion; it is a posse. And the sooner that you and your ardent friends realise the ease with which your own unwarranted certainties can lead you into disaster, the sooner you might learn to conduct yourselves with a touch of the humility appropriate to discussion of subjects that are inherently or by circumstance either uncertain or sensitive, or, as in the present case, both.

  310. brainintact

    Joey says: “The scientific method of discovery, however, entails remaining aware of the limits of one’s certainty, leaving the door open for correction of one’s premises and everything that rests upon them.”

    Exactly! That is science at its best. For a second there, I thought you were talking about homeopaths not taking this position. (No such luck, eh?)

    Science, at its best, is self-correcting. Homeopaths dig their heels in from where they were 200 years ago, for the most part.

    Hysterical? A posse? Isn’t that a bit…um, hysterical of you to say that?

  311. Joey

    brainintact (323): Well, it may be that many in the homoeopathic camp are equally oblivious of the uncertainties underlying their understanding. For those who don’t overlook it, though, understanding water to be capable of various states must be a constantly challenging exercise.

    Hysterical to say “hysterical”? So now we’re turning from reiterative hysteria to recursive hysteria? An interesting exercise!

  312. brainintact

    Joey says: “Well, it may be that many in the homoeopathic camp are equally oblivious of the uncertainties underlying their understanding.”

    Equally oblivious?! I give up.

  313. Mr. Chandrak Pandya would like you to view the knol: Beware of Homeopathy Remedies – The Facts. Click the following link where you can read the knol.

  314. gina

    How many kids have died from taking ADHD prescription drugs too? It’s obvious the parents had issues about making good decisions and I would definately try prescription medicine for an ailement if the homeopathy wasn’t helping. I have goats, by the way. I gave a remedy to a uncooperative goat who wouldn’t get close to me. After several weeks, the goat started coming over to me and was much more friendly after that. In fact, she became my favorite goat. She was truly very stand off-ish. Animals don’t understand about this stuff. Somehow it just works. But I’d never turn down a prescription medicine if the homeopathy wasn’t working. Those parents of the girl who passed away just didn’t have any common sense. It wasn’t the homeopathy’s fault. You are only talking about one case here. What about all the kids who have died from complications of ADHD meds? Oh yes…and over 100,000 people die a year due to complications from medication/presciption drugs or surgeries every year.

  315. Tarquin

    Who is the idiot Phil that wrote the blog? Stick to what you maybe know, and I say only maybe know.
    ( I haven’t read any of your other blogs on “Astronomy”.)
    Homeopathy does work. I am sure that you can find 100′s if not 1000′s of cases where maybe it did not help. I say it’s more the fault of the practitioner. History has proven it works. To lay blame on homeopathy for some parent’s deluded sense of what’s right is so WRONG!
    Modern medicine is full of faut paus. Drugs can and do kill. Does that mean they all don’t work? It’s a sad case, but for every failed case of homeopathy, I can find DOZENS of disasters due to allopathic drugs that are far more horrific. There is a middle ground. Unfortunately BIG PHARMA WANTS THE WHOLE PIE.
    As health care practitioners, we all live “First do no harm”. Many Medical doctors have been brainwashed and have forgotten this major part of the Hippocratic Oath. I pray that as human beings we can overcome this.

    Nuff said….

  316. Tarquin

    Black Cat… show me your proof that homeopathy does not work. You idiot! I know it works. Well beyond placebo. Can you say you have that experience? If so, why don’t you tell us all about it….

    I thought so….

    BTW, I am not a traditional homeopath, although I have used and prescribed homeopathic remedies with great success.

    …oh, and my wife is a doctor.

  317. Renee

    Eczema is one of the contraindications of childhood vaccinations. It would be interesting to know whether this child was vaccinated or not. A lot of homoeopaths support vaccination as it is prophylactic .

    Please realise that many people choose not to vaccinate for ethical, moral and spiritual reasons. For example, the rubella vaccine is cultivated on the cells of an aborted human foetus which is abhorrent to some people. Also, year book statistics do not support the myth that vaccines caused the decline in diseases… improvements in living standards caused the majority of the decline (up to 90% for some diseases).

  318. Dr Kamal

    I’ll prove you wrong.

  319. The article is just another article used to promote homeopathy is bad. Just because the parents did not seek appropriate help it is blamed on homeopathy. Has anyone considered that they might have been poorly treated by a homeopath. Or that the patient might have died in a hospital – maybe from some disease they encountered in the hospital. It happens to hundreds of thousands of patients a year worldwide and many of them are children.

    Consider convention medicine where medical error is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. with hundreds of thousands of people die every year just in the U.S. because of appropriately prescribed drugs. Or consider autopsy surveys in the U.S. and U.K. which show that 1/3 of all patients that die in hospitals are being treated for something other than the disease which killed them.

    It is swine flu season. Why isn’t Discover publishing an article that describes how less that a few percent of homeopathic patients died in the 1918 flu pandemic where conventional treatment lead to deaths of about 20% of patients. This includes millions of children unnecessarily dead.

    Real science does not include disinformation wars using emotional stupidity and incompetence as a reason to discard a method of treatment that kills far fewer people than conventional treatment.

    If you insist on emotional stories to make your decisions, how about this one. It is a true story from the leading homeopath in the U.S.

    Patient: My son died yesterday.
    Doctor: Any unusual things happen prior to death.
    Patient: Yes, he got his routine vaccinations the day before he died.
    Doctor: (after doing complete history) The vaccine may have precipitated and immune response that caused the death.

    Patient: (A few weeks later) My second son died yesterday.
    Doctor: Any unusual circumstances?
    Patient: I took the second son in for routine vaccinations the day before he died. My pediatrician told me to do it. (after he killed the first son)

    Does this mean we should avoid pediatricians? I spent 11 years on the faculty of the University of Colorado School of Medicine training these physicians on how to interpret medical studies and how to treat their patients. Many of the them are very good and my children and grandchildren are visiting them. Should we avoid vaccinations? Not on this evidence alone as it is well know that vaccinations kill a small percentage of those vaccinated and public health officials think it is worth it to save the lives of many more.

  320. Beavisbreath

    I fail to see how this constitutes an indictment of Homeopathy. Rather, it is plainly an indictment of the practitioner, who should have seen the deteriorating condition as a clear indication that the prescribed treatment was not only not working, but allowing the condition to grow dramatically worse. A referral would have been in order the moment something went wrong.

    And please, the “they’re killing babies!” routine sounds just like the Reverend Mrs. Lovejoy on “The Simpsons,” and is every bit as LAME! It certainly does not enhance your case.

  321. Jackie

    This case never made it to press. Wonder why?

    Eur Respir J. 1998 Jan;11(1):229-33.
    A childhood asthma death in a clinical trial: potential indicators of risk.

    Warner JO, Nikolaizik WH, Besley CR, Warner JA.

    Child Health, University of Southampton, Southampton General Hospital, UK.

    A 9 yr old girl with a history of eczema and asthma was admitted to our specialist asthma service and recruited into a trial designed to investigate systemic as well as therapeutic benefits of inhaled corticosteroids. Eight months after referral the patient died from an acute asthma attack. This childhood asthma death during an inhaled steroid trial has facilitated identification of risk factors. Despite good clinical response to inhaled corticosteroids, the patient was distinguishable from the other patients by: increased variability of the morning and evening peak flow rates; increased reactivity, though not sensitivity, to histamine; and an unprecedented rise in serum soluble interleukin-2 receptor levels immediately after commencing inhaled steroids. The immunological basis for corticosteroid resistance and immunohistochemical studies on postmortem specimens from asthma deaths suggest that T-cell activation markers may be indicators of the fatality prone asthmatic.

  322. Amruta

    It ws very sad to here that the child died .. but one cannot blame the homoeopathic system of medicine because of the fault of one docter..allopathic medicines dont treat but suppress the immune system. The person who has written this article cannot jusy say blindly that homoeopathy doesnot work.. Allopaths talk so much about the research and their medicines but non of their medicines can CURE, they can only treat and make more harm to the patient by adding side effect of their medicine to the already existing diseases..why they dont have medicines for the cure of hypertension and diabetis, and for that matter for almost all chronic diseases???? .. they surely dont have any answer for that question.AND STILL THEY SAY THAT THEIRS IS A COMPLETE SYSTEM OF MEDICINE.??.just showing one homoeopathically failed case doesnot prove anything.. The allopaths dont see that they are killing lacks and lacks of patients every year because of their symptomatic tretment.i would like to tell the writter to study the homoeopathic system of medicine see how beautifully it CURES ANR THEN ACCEPT AND APOLOGIZE FOR HIS MISTAKE FOR DEGRADING HOMOEOPATHY, WHICH IS A HARMLESS LIFEGIVING HOLISTIC SYSTEM OF MEDICINE..

  323. Amruta (#344); I have studied homeopathy, and I know it is useless. And when people use it instead of real medicine — which is defined as things that actually, y’know, work — then people can die, including children. That’s what happened here. And all the CAPS LOCKS in the world won’t make you right, and won’t bring back to life the people who died due to ignorance.

  324. Carrie

    So just one question? Why are these parents being charged with murder for treating their child with homeopathy but the tens of thousands of parents whose children were killed by pharmaceuticals are not? By and large pharmaceutical drugs cause more deaths every year than almost any other cause yet this isn’t in the news every day! So ok, I have 2 questions. Can anyone answer?

  325. Katelyn

    @Carrie:

    Both of your questions have been addressed multiple times in previous comments, so I’m led to believe that you won’t read my answers to them, either.

    If a parent gives their child a clinically-tested, FDA-approved medication, two things have happened. First, it has been tested and shown to explicitly treat that particular illness or problem such that it is highly unlikely that improvement in the condition that comes after using the medication is a chance occurrence. Second, every FDA-approved medication comes with very clear indications of side effects that were seen during the course of prolonged testing — including death in some cases — for a given medication. If the parent is acting in their best faith to treat their child and the child dies from the medication itself, then the parent has done nothing except become the victim of unfortunate chance. In the Sams’ case, the parents are being held accountable for the death of their child because they were grossly negligent. Their homeopathic remedy was very clearly not working, and instead of trying any number of different remedies that are currently available for treating eczema (Jesus Christ, *eczema*. I still can’t believe this.), they chose to allow their child to suffer and succumb to a bacterial infection that could have very easily been prevented. It is negligence, pure and simple.

    Answering your second question is inextricably tied into the answer to the first. Everyone who takes a medication is told of the risks inherent in doing so. If they decide to take it anyway, they are taking into their own hands the possibility of unfortunate side effects — again including death — to occur. Drugs, by definition, alter the workings of a system in your body. This has the potential to end badly. There is absolutely no denying that people die from prescription drugs. That said, the vast majority of people who take them gain some benefit from them, and the benefits outweigh the risks.

    If you want to take homeopathic medicines and crow about how radically they’ve changed your life for the better, go for it. I’ll tell you how happy I am for you that you feel great and mean it with every ounce of my being. But if your unwavering adherence to an unproven (anecdotal evidence is NOT EVIDENCE, despite its name, folks) method of treatment is resulting in the active harm of someone who is too young or mentally incapacitated to reject it in favor of something that works, you are doing the wrong thing. If they die, you are a murderer, period.

  326. Your Name Here

    We’re going back into the dark ages, friends.

  327. ONE WHO TELLS THE TRUTH

    Homeopathy didn’t KILL! The parents allowing an INFECTION KILLED NOT HOMEOPATHY.

    Simply washing the skin and applying calendula cream would have prevented infection and death.

  328. Katie

    I agree with some of you and others I think are just as bad as the orthodox believers. Homeopathic medicine is not just about using natural remedies it is also about knowing your own limitations reguarding it. I feel that if the parents did not have sufficient knowledge of what they were doing( which obviously they did not) they should have consulted with another member of their community to seek help. And if that didn’t work then move to conventional medicine. I know in my own family we are about 50/50. My children and myself are very sensitive to some modern medications. However when they get seriously sick I take them to the doctors. I do realize that I don’t have to knowledge that a physician has and refer to them for information. I am in med school and I am learning both modern and natural medicine. I think that these parents were very ignorant to the world around them and the abilities of their fellow community members. As far as the medical community rejecting natural medicine they are embracing it. Modern medicine is derived from natural medicine. Most of the medications prescribed today are a derivitive of some plant. Like belladonna, foxglove , aloe. These treat high blood pressure, swelling and contusions. I think that using homeopathic medicine exclusively is crazy. Using it as a supplement to your doctors orders is way smarter.

  329. Josh

    Not to be defensive, but the child died due to negligence and NOT homeopathy. What about vitamin C and echinacea? Those are basic forms of homeopathy that boost the immune system and even shorten the span of illness that the immune system can fight. There are many herbal supplements and vitamins that aid in your wellness and health. Colloidal silver has kicked many of my infection’s (internal or on the skin) butts EVERY single time. Garlic is also a great supplement to take (fresh is great too!) for infection and sore throats. We also gargle with salt water when there is no Listerine for a sore throat, and that works. Was it in my head? Nope, because it works for everyone in my family and EVERYONE we suggest them too. We’re talking just basic vitamins and natural stuff. I’ll admit some people will claim so sort of silly nature voodoo or medicinal wizardry and call it homeopathy. Those people have missed the point and made a gimmick out of something credible. Am I devoid of logic here? This is just simple fact.

  330. Scottish Sage

    I just discovered this web page.

    Reading so much trash has been extremely exhausting.
    All the stupid sarcasm and slanderous slurs are utterly disgusting.
    Some claim mankind has “evolved”, but most bloggers here are very immature.

    Obviously, the whole holistic war here was started by the media, whose AGENDA,
    evidently, for writing this propaganda piece, was stirring up a hornets’ nest of sheer
    emotionalism [hate] – and they, apparently, succeeded in fooling these followers.

    Many so-called “homo sapiens” eagerly jumped on the bandwagon to join in the WITCH HUNT. This angry, vigilante lynch mob dogmatically repeat their delusions endlessly -
    so sickening. Their “wishful thinking” is that by calling us [knowers] LIARS,
    they [magically] alter reality.

    After being tortured by [modern] medicine all my life, and constantly deteriorating,
    Homeopathy SAVED my life. I’m still disabled and can’t afford the traveling and doctoring
    that state Medicaid and other insurance, unfairly, won’t cover, because they are all in bed together. So, I bought the best books I could afford, and have been treating myself ever
    since then. Nothing has ever really helped any condition, except energy medicine,
    especially Homeopathy. I, also, initially read in a [biased] dictionary that the remedies
    are diluted down to “nothing”. Fortunately, with GOD’s help and my superior intelligence,
    I learned true science regarding Homeopathy.

    By the way, true science, by definition, means to SEARCH for truth until it is thoroughly proven, not – as has been the reality in 99% of its history – seeking evidence to “prove”
    one’s [desired] outcome. Furthermore, the word “skeptic” does not mean disbeliever;
    but, like the word “agnostic”, it means that one does not know what s/he believes yet,
    and they keep looking for genuine answers.

    Naturopathic herbals contain [molecular] ingredients. Since, Homeopathy is not chemical reactions, but, rather, ENERGY medicine, the remedies consist of activated water, without [gross] ingredients. In addition, ignoramuses don’t realize that modern drugs came from original herbals like foxglove; and the vaccines they so proudly tout, were merely [modern] medicine’s attempt
    to copycat the action of Homeopathy’s Law of Similars,
    in order to cash in on the market of Homeopathy; because, in the 1800’s it held the popular appeal. Unfortunately, for humanity, the AMA was set up, as a means to start bullying their competition and crushing all of their rights, in order to form their own profitable MONOPOLY.

    No, I’m not stupid, and will not fall for your tricks. My disabilities and experiences are my business. The few obsessive-compulsives who check this blog everyday, so they can continue being argumentative, and try to relentlessly drum their false dogma into some sucker’s head,
    like the domineering bullies they are, can never alter reality or truth,
    like they delude themselves they can. Do they, really, believe their own lies? And, I don’t intend
    to write a book on this site. There are many books to learn from if anyone is sincere, and wishes to improve their health and lives. I will not waste my time, trying to reason with unreasonable people with personality disorders. This summary of important facts is only for the sake/benefit of any innocent and open-minded readers who might happen upon this blog site, as I did,
    sometime in the future.

    And, GOD bless you, Joey; you are the epitome of godlike wisdom, order, and justice.

    P.S.: Like most here, I don’t know all the real facts, just the blogging statements.
    However, without knowing the full story, I must presume the parents’ natural love.
    As a reasonable person, I expect that loving parents really did their best, in a very trying,
    exasperating situation, with a number of doctors, diagnoses, prognoses, treatments,
    and other advice, all battling one another for attention, belief, and support.

    Above all, understanding the immense virtue and value of gentle, curative Homeopathy,
    in contrast to suppressive, harmful allopathy; I would, certainly, do everything
    in my power to see that Homeopathy was given a chance to work; even though,
    both Homeopathy and allopathy can run into complex cases with confusing symptoms
    and incompetent doctors.

    Just how many people have we heard about, who have spent years, even traveling; seeing
    dozens of doctors, even dozens of specialists, and having hundreds of repeated, expensive, dangerous, and painful tests, by allopathic physicians; all in their desperate efforts to find
    a diagnoses and/or a treatment for their illness? None of you want to put these people
    in prison, when their efforts fail and they end up sicker and/or dead; simply because,
    they didn’t “know” that the first doctor was “right”, and blindly follow his orders,
    without question, worshipping the first allopathic physician they saw, like a god.
    You hypocrites.

  331. Reading through all the comments is tiring! Most comments are valid but of course I d have my own opinion regarding this issue.

    I do agree that the child died due to negligence or the lack of urgency when it came to the extent of the childs sickness. Yes, there are times that alternative medicine would work better than modern medicine BUT in this case, maybe the fact that Gloria wasn’t getting better would have been a sign for them to at least consider bringing her to a hospital before it was too late.

    It wouldn’t hurt to deviate from your beliefs/practices. You’ll never know when and what may help you.

  332. Paul A.

    Since homeopathic remedies contain ingredients in such small amounts that it is essentially water, has anyone caught the companies making them cheating by not even doing the dilution process to save money? Basically selling distilled water without adding anything at all?

  333. Julian

    If you were to read Hahnemann, the founder of homeopathy; you would see that he advocates the use of conventional medicine in cases when there is an imminent threat to life, such as an acute infection; cases in which the homeopathy can be too slow. I use only homeopathy but in case of a life threatening infection I would not give antibiotics a skip.

  334. Peggy

    Be careful when you read media articles, to sort the fact from the context. The facts are the girl died of septicemia in her eye because her body was malnourished. She was the weight of a three month old at nine months. Her eczema being treated by homeopathy is a side issue which has been blown up to make homeopathy look bad. People who make money from pharmaceuticals (which I have also abandoned pretty quickly when they fail to heal my skin but will give me arthritis if I use them too long) don’t want cheaper, better alternatives becoming popular. Please, by all means feel sorrow for this baby who had a painful life and probably a needless death, but observe what you are being told for what it is. Find fact where it lies and read insinuation as insinuation.

  335. Dr.George

    “When the baby girl developed an eye infection, her parents finally took her to a hospital, but it was far too late: little Gloria Thomas succumbed to septicemia from the infection.”

    If the Great modern medicine is unable to treat Septicemia, What is the point in saying its the last word for treatment. What was the medicine given for the eye infection? Could that have created the septicemia or possibly the death of the child.
    The body is not a machine, it protects its own organs. The more important organ is given priority than a least important organ like the skin.
    Septicemia from homeopathic medicine is actually impossible.
    Why does a child suffer from asthma after treating simple eczema by topical medicine like the steroids. No eczema is actually cured by the so called modern medicine? the scientific medicine? These actually drive the disease from one part(least important) to a major organ.

    The comments made here looks as if no child have ever died because of the treatment by modern medicines.Very bad.

  336. I simply couldn’t leave your web site prior to suggesting that I really enjoyed the standard info a person provide in your guests? Is gonna be back continuously in order to check up on new posts

  337. Cheryl

    Sorry to burst your allopathic bubble ……I am 67 and have used only homeopathics for the past 31 years …. raised my daughter on homeopathics w/o any allopathic meds till she was 18.

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