British Medical Association: homeopathy is witchcraft

By Phil Plait | May 17, 2010 7:00 am

Oh, how I loves me an alt-med smackdown: at a meeting of the British Medical Association’s junior doctors, Dr. Tom Dolphin, deputy chairman, said:

Homeopathy is witchcraft. It is a disgrace that nestling between the National Hospital for Neurology and Great Ormond Street [in London] there is a National Hospital for Homeopathy which is paid for by the NHS [National Health Service].

Ha! I couldn’t have said it better myself. Despite what homeopaths say, homeopathy has been shown beyond any reasonable doubt to have no effect above that of a placebo. That won’t stop homeopaths from still claiming it works; they’ll use anecdotes, they’ll use evidence distorted and twisted into a Möbius strip, or they’ll simply make stuff up.

At best, belief in provably false things like homeopathy is a colossal waste of money, and at worst belief in homeopathy can kill you. That’s why skeptics are fighting the practice of homeopathy all over the world, from the UK to Australia.

And before you say, "Well, it’s just water so it does no harm, right?" I’ll remind you that people are then drinking plain old water instead of taking real medicine. That’s the real danger of homeopathy (and other alt-med nonsense). So unless the health problem you’re having is dehydration, taking homeopathic "remedies" does in fact do quite a bit of harm.

And that’s why I’m so happy that doctors and the government in the UK are being vocal about this nonsense. Sure, caveat emptor and all that, but when people — especially people with the veneer of a medical imprimatur — are pushing something we know doesn’t work to people who are sick or worried over a sick loved one, then it’s time to step in and do something.

Tip o’ the vial of plain old water to Digg.

Waterglass image from albertopveiga’s Flickr photostream, used under the Creative Commons license.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Alt-Med, Antiscience, Debunking, Skepticism
MORE ABOUT: BMA, homeopathy, UK

Comments (85)

  1. gopher65

    I think you hit the nail on the head in your last paragraph. The reason alt-med is dangerous is because the general public doesn’t have the tools at their disposal to (easily) distinguish between purveyors of nonsense and real researchers/doctors.

    As far as joe-blow-public is concerned, one person in a labcoat or scrubs looks just like any other person dressed the same way. Both groups even use the same sounding big words.

    It’s all well and good for us here to say “well, just go and research it”, but most people don’t *have* research skills. Asking them to develop a whole new skillset (many people here developed that skillset as part of their job) is asking a little bit much.

  2. Pi-needles

    Well the British Medical Association certainly haven’t watered down their conclusion there! ;-)

  3. Kevin

    But what if the problem WAS dehyration? Would you just drink less water?

  4. Kees

    I think I’ll get some more strong coffee from the water cooler while I digest this…

  5. Oh no! Those poor alternative medical practitioners! Don’t you understand? The BMA isn’t trying to fight quack science. They’re just trying to defend their livelihood, supported by mainstream, “corporate” science, who’s goal is to treat you but keep you ill, rather than actually cure you!

    /sarcasm.

    Seriously, though, Phil, keep in mind, this is *exactly* how this will be perceived by the “believers”, and probably a good portion of the general public, too. People have come to distrust science in general, and medical science in particular (hence the rise of these alternative “therapies”, which are nothing more than, as Dr. Dolphin put it, witchcraft), and any attempt to defend real scientific principles, or to debunk this kind of BS simply reinforces the idea, in the mainstream, that science is a closed ivory tower that is unwilling to consider alternatives. It’s garbage, of course, but everyone likes a good persecution story.

    So, in the end, while this is probably a good thing (at minimum, it might mean the NHS wastes less money on quack medicine), I highly doubt it will do anything to convince the public that this stuff is little better than the laying on of hands.

  6. Matt T

    @Pi-needles (2)
    Good thing, too. Otherwise it would have been even stronger.

    Or something. Anyway, here is today’s intert00b for your comment.

  7. Peptron

    What I find the most funny is the existence at home of “non-homeopathic” homeopathic medicine. IE: homeopathic pills for headache that contain as much acetaminophen as Tylenol, etc. Though maybe it’s because they also included an infinitesimal amount of smashed brains in it. mmm… brains…

  8. Daffy

    #1 “As far as joe-blow-public is concerned, one person in a labcoat or scrubs looks just like any other person dressed the same way. Both groups even use the same sounding big words.”

    While I agree completely about Homeopathy being bunk (if it works, why can’t I get homeopathic chlorine for my pool?), but this comment strikes me as dangerously arrogant. Assuming people are idiots and need to be taken care of can lead to tyranny.

  9. Yousuf

    Not defending homeopathy itself, but you have to realize that much that has been criticized to be witchcraft by the Brits has turned out to have much truth to it, later.

  10. @Daffy:

    “Assuming people are idiots and need to be taken care of can lead to tyranny.”

    He didn’t say people were idiots. He said “most people don’t *have* research skills”. His entire thesis was that because people don’t have the skills to research for themselves, and more importantly, to research and differentiate between credible and non-credible sources, they simply don’t have the toolset necessary to distinguish between truth and BS.

    Are you saying that’s not the case? If so, how can you possibly explain the continued belief in psychics, astrology, homeopathy, faith healing, ghosts, aliens, and numerous other, clearly ridiculous beliefs? Are you saying people are researching these ideas and concluding they must be real??

  11. Mapnut

    It’s interesting that none of the defenses offered by homeopaths in the article (in the interests of a balanced article) seem to be claims that homeopathy actually works. “70% of patients felt some improvement?” I always feel better just after my annual checkup!

  12. Tyler Durden

    “If so, how can you possibly explain the continued belief in psychics, astrology, homeopathy, faith healing, ghosts, aliens, and numerous other, clearly ridiculous beliefs?”

    I agree with the rest of your list, but I’d strike aliens from it. Most intelligent people believe there is life elsewhere in the universe. For anyone with even a casual interest in astronomy, it’s a mathematical certainty that *somewhere* in the universe alien life is walking/crawling/swimming around.

    The ridiculous part only comes in if you believe they’re already here, and furthermore that our government knows about it, and has managed to keep it secret for decades… despite being incapable of keeping nuclear secrets secure for even a fraction of that time.

  13. Throbbly

    If the UK currently spends £4 million on homeopathy then, using homeopathic logic, we should get better outcomes if we spend £4, or £0.004 or even £0.0000004. Let’s try that.

  14. Daffy

    Brett, I am saying that anytime someone starts with a premise that they are smarter than the “average joe-blow” it makes me nervous. It may be true, but it still seems a dangerous assumption to make. Where does it stop? Before you know it, we may see people’s lives ruined by being sent to prison for smoking a joint…oh, wait…

    All I am saying is let’s be a little careful in assuming we are so much smarter.

  15. Georg

    Hello,
    I fear, that calling homeopathy “witchcraft” will not
    deter people. On the contrary, a lot of “neopagans”
    or “Witchcraft believers” will turn to homeopathic
    water.
    Georg
    PS
    Some days ago I spoke to a friend of mine since
    days when we studied, who works in a “pharmaceutical”
    company specialized in homeopathics.
    I asked him: why dont You sell plain water,
    nobody can prove whether You did all that
    labour- and warehouse-intensive “thinnery”.
    His answer: too much documentation and too
    many witnesses.

  16. CJSF

    Having research skills != (or , if you prefer) “smart”. I think it is very clear that most people do not have much in the way of research skills. We don’t typically teach it in schools until *perhaps* high school or college in the USA. We don’t teach problem solving either, which often takes research.

    I didn’t see anyone assuming we were “smarter” than any one else.

    CJSF

  17. Steve Jeffers

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/alternativemedicine/7728281/Homeopathy-is-witchcraft-say-doctors.html

    At the end of the article there, it turns out that Prince Charles’ homeopathy charity is closing down because the people running it were arrested for fraud.

    Just fancy that: ‘homeopathy’ and ‘fraudsters’ appearing in the same sentence.

    Also, in the UK, the Liberal Democrats – despite being the party of Dawkins – supported homeopathy on the NHS. That was dropped as part of the deal for the coalition.

  18. Vincent Archer

    @Tyler Durden
    “Most intelligent people believe there is life elsewhere in the universe. For anyone with even a casual interest in astronomy, it’s a mathematical certainty that *somewhere* in the universe alien life is walking/crawling/swimming around.”

    I’d stop shy of saying it’s a “mathematical certainty”.

    Right now, we have a sample of exactly one world in the entire universe with life. While organics (even complex ones like nucleic bases) seem to be moderately abundant everywhere, the ability to self-organise and replicate that organisation (which is what distinguishes life from organic chemestry) is not guaranteed to be such a common occurence (insert weak anthropic principle here).

    So far, we haven’t seen any argument against the commonality of life, true. But no argument for either. At least we know that intelligent-technic life is a rarity.

  19. Kurt_eh

    Do the homeopaths weigh the same as a duck?

  20. Phil – thanks for the cheeky 10:23 linky in there. Needless to say, we at the 10:23 Campaign are beyond delighted to see doctors getting behind the gathering weight of the campaign for reason in the face of homeopathy. This is on top of the recent proposal by the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland to remove homeopathy from the shelves of its members’ pharmacies.

    Now the messiness of the UK election is out of the way, we’ll be stepping up our campaign to have NHS funding for homeopathy removed and raise public awareness of this quackery. Happy to have your support!

    Marsh

  21. Sandra (MedTek)

    Being from the same side of the pond as Phil, but living on the same side as Marsh, I am keen to get the FDA to recognise that

    1. Homeopathy has no efficacy yet the FDA allows homeopaths to make medical claims about remedies without any substantiation whatsoever.
    2. Unscrupulous practitioners and companies are capitalizing on the FDA’s policy on homeopathic remedies to market unknown substances as “homeopathic” when they are, in fact, not (Zicam, anyone?)
    3. Homeopaths are using the FDA’s lax policies on medical claims made by homeopaths to tout cures for cancer, malaria, HIV, and other serious diseases and to market their remedies from US-based websites to countries around the world.

    Most of the pro-homeopathy tweets (“homeopathy works for me!” are from homeopaths. Those non-homeopaths who love homeopathy don’t seem to understand what it is (“trying some homeopathic tea for my allergies”). I spoke to one youngster who thought that it meant “home remedy”.

    A new tack I’ve seen recently is the complete lack of the word “homeopathic” in advertising, mainly around topical painkillers. This new tack may be a symptom of the public being wary of these alternative practitioners, or perhaps a way of appearing more legitimate than homeopathy, which goes to great lengths to appear “natural/herbal”.

  22. Jim

    I find the comparison of homeopathy to witchcraft extremely offensive and think Dr. Dolphin owes followers of Wicca an apology.

  23. Gary Ansorge

    22. Jim

    Excellant!!!

    I just decided to send a dollar to the Poor Homeopaths organization but of course I first had to make a proper dilution(30). I think they’ll receive a quark or two,,,

    Gary 7

  24. @Sandra

    Unfortunately, homeopathy was grandfathered in to the FDA regulations, as it was heavily lobbied when the FDA was being formed. So, as far as the FDA is concerned, they cannot do anything, really, as long as the makers are meeting the regulatory requirements as they apply to homeopathy. What needs to be done is to convince Congress that homeopathy is an empty, washed up bit of magical thinking. A daunting task, indeed.

  25. Eema

    After telling someone I prefer my drugs to be tested in double blind studies, I was told that type of study doesn’t mean that much either. This person was a college graduate and with non science discussions seemed capable of rational thinking.

  26. Dr. P.K.Sethi

    Scientific opinion remains sceptical not just of homeopathy but of any thing which has no rational explanation . Clinical testimony is the only way to observe the effect of homeopathy and i feel Dr. Dolphin do so first instead of witch hunting homeopathy. I invite as i did Ben goldacre to come to my clinic and watch how sick animals are cured .More than 40% of my cases are those which do not respond to evidenced based conventional treatment . People pay not for for what elite scientific community thinks but for the results they get . So Tom pack up and come to me and see what homeopathy does , i assure you a comfortable stay in India.

  27. Jean-Denis

    For the sake of it, I just searched for “homeopathy” in pubmed, and to say the least, the results were mixed, with a number of papers finding positive evidence for homeopathy. Granted, some of those links were papers published in a journal named “homeopathy”, but not all.

    So I think there is a need for a critical review of the literature about homeopathy, a bit similar to the one I remember about acupuncture that I saw on some physicist’s blog (lost the link). It would make it easier to confront homeopathy proponents (including MDs!).

    Does such an up to date review exist somewhere on the intertubes?

    I’d be interested in doing it myself. Unfortunately, as far as I could see, a number of those publications are not available full text.

    Any reference welcome.

  28. cgauthier

    I find the comparison of homeopathy to witchcraft extremely offensive and think Dr. Dolphin owes followers of Wicca an apology.

    While Wicca is certainly less dangerous than homeopathy, it’s equally retarded. In terms of absurdity, the BMA’s double-edged insult applies well, I think. Besides, and correct me if I’m wrong, isn’t Wicca a modern reinvention of historical witchcraft for teens? Didn’t Gerald Gardner cut the ribbon on the first Hot Topic store with a Hello Kitty athame?

    If I’m wrong, all offended Wiccans are free to cast spells in my direction. Then I’ll see how much more effective it is than silly homeopathy…

  29. JS Karkada

    Only mentally handicapped allopathy doctors can make such comments on homoeopathy and other non-allopathy systems of medicine. It is now confirmed that a good percentage of British Medical Association members belong to this category. They need urgent homoeopathic treatment for their mental disorder.

    Anyway, we in India sincerely hope that the British Government will be foolish enough to accept the recommendations of BMA and ban non-allopathic systems of medicine, so that large numbers of British people needing treatment under these other systems will come to India, China, Germany and Switzerland, and get the cure or relief that they could not get in their country.

    Bangalore, India JS Karkada

  30. If I’m wrong, all offended Wiccans are free to cast spells in my direction. Then I’ll see how much more effective it is than silly homeopathy…

    Haw haw!

    That made my morning.

  31. Lawrence

    @26 cgauthier – While I respect your opinion, I don’t think anyone here should denigrate an entire religion (mostly, we go after the idiots that do stupid things in the name of their religion).

    And why would Wicca be dangerous at all?

  32. Mchl

    Libel! Libel!

    I had a great ‘WTH’ moment, when my preconditioned brain saw ‘British Chiropractic Association’ in the post title instead of ‘British Medical Association’. After all BCA was lately much more present on BA blog.

  33. @Tyler Durden:

    “I agree with the rest of your list, but I’d strike aliens from it.”

    Well, I think it goes without saying that I obviously meant “alien visitors”, not just “extraterrestial life”.

    Whether or not there is other intelligent life out there is absolutely a legitimate question. OTOH, whether or not they’ve come here to visit in order to anally probe our citzenry is not.

  34. RMcbride

    The government does have a role to play in protecting the people. Wish the FDA had the courage to stand up to the alt.med crowd and seperate real drugs from the snake oil.

  35. Mchl

    @Brett from Canada: Why would that be not a legitimate question? Unless my English skills fail me, it is a legitimate question, answer to which is ‘given what we know about laws of nature today, it’s highly improbable’.

  36. @RMcbride

    As I mentioned to Sandra, it’s not really a matter of FDA having the courage, but rather the legal ability. They can only do what the law allows them to do. If the law, whether the grandfathering of homeopathy or DSHEA’s supplement loopholes, allows quackery to be on the market, then the FDA can’t really do much. The focus should be on Congress to get them to change the law and give the FDA the authority that they need to ensure that the medical products on the market are not only safe, but that they actually do what they say they can do and that what they do is clinically meaningful.

  37. Lawrence

    It isn’t just the FDA – there are powerful members of Congress that receive tons of money from Alt-Med lobbyists that actively fight against any regulations in this regard.

  38. @Mchl:

    Maybe I should rephrase. Yes, it’s a legitimate question in the same way that “Are there any purple unicorns?”, or “Is homeopathy actually medicine?” is a legitimate question.

    But they’re silly questions, because there’s a straightforward, simple answer: no. The only reason they keep getting asked is because most people don’t have the necessary skills to sift good information from bad, in order to find out for themselves.

  39. Homeopathic pills not dangerous? I beg to differ!

    http://bit.ly/8YkaG7

    …homeopathic lols.

  40. AlecM

    @27 Jean-Denis I think several such meta-studies have been carried out and published in respectable places (yes, even beyond the blogosphere, in dead tree journals), for instance, A Shang et al. (2005), Lancet vol. 326, pp. 726-732. A Select Committee of the UK government recently took a pretty rigorous look at homeopathy (and whether the NHS should pay for it) and reached a very negative conclusion. The report looks at meta-studies among other topics and is worth looking at: http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-archive/science-technology/s-t-homeopathy-inquiry/

  41. amphiox

    “OTOH, whether or not they’ve come here to visit in order to anally probe our citzenry is not.”

    Actually, it is a legitimate question whether or not aliens have ever visited earth or this solar system now or in the past (notwithstanding the anal probing, which in itself would be rather trivial to settle). And looking for evidence thereof – archeological or paleontological evidence on earth (or other solar system bodies), space-born artifacts in orbit around the sun, dead probes in the Oort Cloud, etc, should be a legitimate pursuit of future space exploration.

    And finding such would supply an answer Fermi’s Paradox. (Why haven’t they already come here? They did. They came, saw nothing interesting at the time, and left. Couldn’t be bothered to come back. Yet.)

  42. 31. Lawrence Says:
    May 17th, 2010 at 10:58 am

    @26 cgauthier – While I respect your opinion, I don’t think anyone here should denigrate an entire religion (mostly, we go after the idiots that do stupid things in the name of their religion).

    And why would Wicca be dangerous at all?

    ————————————————————–

    Because all religion deserves to be scorned and mocked. They are nonsense. And I personally don’t believe (for the most part) that people don’t do anything in the name of religion. They do what they want to do and hide behind whatever they claim their religion to be.

    Want to wipe out Muslims? Well, my religion says it must be done.

    That’s on the extreme end.

    On the daily end we have all kinds of people engaged in magical thinking instead of critical thinking.

    We have people that take nonsense on faith rather than believing that which we have substantial amounts of evidence.

    What I find extremely funny is the same people who knock science spend all kinds of hours playing with their iPods, cell phones and surfing the ‘net – all things that science gave us.

    Religion does nothing but hold us back.

    For many years I believed that religion was a barely net positive. The good things it added to people’s lives slightly out-weighed the bad.

    I don’t believe that any more either. For all the good that religion does, more could be done if you took away the religion part of it.

    Think of where we could be if the amount of energy spent on religion was spent doing something actually productive.

  43. Mrs Grimble

    As head of the Union of Cackling Old Witches (UK section), I strongly protest the comparison of homeopathy with witchcraft. This is a serious slur on the reputation of all Cackling Old Witches. Homeopathic remedies consist of nothing but water and are entirely ineffective; whereas we take great pride in producing concoctions containing very high levels of frogs’ legs, newts’ eyes, puppies’ tails and other actual, testable ingredients that have real effects.
    In fact, if any UCOW member were found cheating the public with homeopathic rubbish she would be instantly and summararily relieved of her cauldron, cat and broomstick.

  44. Lawrence

    Well, I really wouldn’t put Wicca at the top of my list of “organized” religions – if anything, it is probably one of the most disorganized and much closer to just “personal beliefs.”

    Just like Athiests have their own “personal” beliefs. It really isn’t like you can complain about the MONOLITHIC Wicca religion, because no one is in charge.

    Sorry, not to get all defensive, but you can paint way too wide of a brush here (as opposed to the more “organized” religions).

  45. Rachel Walmsley

    In terms of actual harm being done by homeopathy, let’s also not forget that what was being talked about originally was homeopathy being paid for by the NHS, which is to say, out of government/taxpayer money. Every penny being spent on this nonsense is a penny that isn’t being spent on education, deficit reduction, welfare, transport, lowering taxes, medicine that actually works, or any of the other numerous things that the government spends money on that are actually worthwhile.

  46. Steve in Dublin

    Homeopathy is witchcraft. — Dr. Tom Dolphin

    Don’t hold back, Dr. Tom. Tell us how you really feel. Tee hee. I almost passed a cup of coffee through my nose when I read that. Bravo!

    It’s the 21st century. Time to lose the woo, people.

  47. jcm

    Perhaps this is relevant to this post:

    source: http://imgur.com/

  48. Sufficient quantities of a homeopathic remedy will also cure the very dangerous condition of being on fire.*

    Unless you use one of the alcohol-based dilutions, in which case FWOOSH AUUUGHH death.

    *not for use with being on fire caused by grease or electricity.

  49. Joseph

    @K.O. Myers That… needs to be on a T-Shirt. May I use it in that way?

  50. Daniel J. Andrews

    If you’re in the need of a good laugh see this youtube video on the homeopathic hospital by comedians Mitchell and Webb. It’s been making the rounds for a while now, but is always good to see again.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMGIbOGu8q0

  51. dragonet2

    Since I just read a whole huge thing about the horrors of idiots who believe a lot of strange things and killed or seriously endangered their children, this article is right on.

    (one example was a couple who feared their kids being obese so much that they fed them a very limited vegan diet. The kids were having seizures, and one of their children died of seizures, but they weren’t called on that one. But then their youngest (who was in her mom when the one that died died) started having seizures that wouldn’t stop and they finally called 911. And were arrested after CPS sent people to get the other two kids at home. They were all at about 20% body weight for their age, and had been starved for a misdirected variety of dietary beliefs. Mom and dad are being sentenced seriously…..)

  52. Gonzo

    “. . . archeological or paleontological evidence on earth (or other solar system bodies), space-born artifacts in orbit around the sun . . . .”

    Someone made a comment on a post on this blog the other day about how woo-woo we’ve all gotten. Everytime Phil posts about one of these woo topics, today homeopathy, the irrational come out of the woodwork.

    As I said, we’re talking about homeopathy and we’ve drawn out an ancient astronaut theorist. I blame the History Channel and the Discovery Channel for mainstreaming this nonsense. My suggestion, stop watching both networks and their many affiliated networks. They are utterly worthless and making people, literally, dumber. Research skills or not.

  53. flip

    Yousuf, #9

    “Not defending homeopathy itself, but you have to realize that much that has been criticized to be witchcraft by the Brits has turned out to have much truth to it, later.”

    Like what?

    Dr PK Sethi, #26

    “Scientific opinion remains sceptical not just of homeopathy but of any thing which has no rational explanation . Clinical testimony is the only way to observe the effect of homeopathy and i feel Dr. Dolphin do so first instead of witch hunting homeopathy. I invite as i did Ben goldacre to come to my clinic and watch how sick animals are cured ”

    Can you say paradox? How do you get clinical testimony from an animal? And if testimony is the only way to judge the effects of homeopathy, how do we know whether or not it is capable of curing the common cold (for example)?

    “People pay not for for what elite scientific community thinks but for the results they get .”

    So how do you measure those results?

    Mrs Grimble, #43,

    LOL!

  54. James Pannozzi

    Placebo effect? Not too useful other than to divert attention from Homeopathy and its curative effect which is so obvious that you’d have to shut off your thinking processes not to see it. Read on.

    Here is some research showing that the incidence of placebo effect conclusions appearing in Homeopathy research is essentially the same as the levels appearing in conventional pharmaceutical research tests.

    Reference: Nuhn T, Lüdtke R, Geraedts M. Placebo effect sizes in homeopathic compared to conventional drugs – a systematic review of randomised controlled trials. Homeopathy 2010; 99(1):76–82.

    An abstract of the study is available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20129180

    Ludtke, by the way, is the person who shot the famous “Shang” “meta” analysis that appeared in the “End of Homeopathy” Lancet issue full of holes. That was the one that was supposed to show that Homeopathy was absolutely positively no better than placebo effect. Only, a close reading of the paper showed that the widely advertised 110 trials and “matching” that were supposed to “prove” something, somehow got boiled down to 8 (eight!!) trials with the “matching” conveniently discarded along the way after various … manipulations of the data. Not too impressive, eh?

    What have we really got here? We’ve got some junior Drs. telling us that Homeopathy is WITCHCRAFT! Witchcraft you say? Well, is that not exactly what the church did back in the dark ages when they condemned people like Galileo??
    What the hell are we coming to? Is this the level of science?

    You go ahead and hate Homeopathy, abhor it, revile it all you want – but by the name of science if you expect anything other than a WITCH HUNT, you’d better have some really good scientific reasons for your position. That would mean DENYING 200 years worth of clinical reports, case studies and analyses by Doctors, many of them who were MD’s or other well qualified people. Oh yes they are significant, very significant. No, don’t run back to your little double blinded tests in the laboratory with the little pretends and assumptions – try real patients with real illness treated by real medical and Homeopathic Doctors in real life.

    You’d have to read the book by Dr. M. Blackie, a former physician to the Queen, “The Patient, Not the Cure”, and then tell us that she was a liar or else a self deluded fool who could not tell the placebo effect was operative in every single one of the cases she discussed. HINT: This woman had a distinguished career, she was NOT a fool. Then you’d have to tell us that the boy she mentioned who was cured of a near fatal attack of hemmorhagic Purpura did so by “spontaneous remission” and that the infinitesimal dose of Crotalus Horidus (rattlesnake venom) given him had absolutely nothing to do with his near miraculous recovery. That’s just one book and one case from THOUSANDS. I’ve heard that Greek Homeopath G. Vitoulkas, the guy from whom the “amazing” Randi appears to have BACKED DOWN on his “challenge”, keeps video records of his more serious cases, with the patient’s consent, which he will make available to those who STILL persist in questioning the actuality of what happened.

    Multiply that by scientific medical journals some of which extend with a continuity of over a century. What are you going to say – that Doctors, scientists and other well qualified professionals were subject to the greatest mass delusion in the history of science? That they were engaging in intentional “deception”?? You go ahead and try saying that, revealing the full level of arrogance and hubris implicit in it.

    The pseudo sceptics are armchair scientists, self appointed experts most of whom have never even seen a patient and wouldn’t know a Homeopathic repertory if it fell on them. Engaging in the worst sort of uniformed misrepresentation, mass hysteria, innuendo and utter stupidity, they set the world of science on a backward course at accelerating speed, attempting to condemn an entire system of medicine which has saved tens of thousands in epidemics, saved people in life threatening illnesses.

    With things like Google book search available, people are easily going to look, search and read. And, like me, as they start encountering information they will compare, correlate it with information from other widely disparate sources – test it, challenge it and then see the challenges met. Across a wide domain of genuine illnesses, conditions and syndromes some of which are so debilitating that the patient is bedridden, unable to be helped by conventional medical therapeutics. This is not like the old days when it would have require months or years of travel to distant University medical libraries, along with the appropriate passes, permissions or special waivers to even gain entrance and to look things up. It’s all right there, a few keystrokes and a download away – the patient reader can search out the Homeopathic literature, make notes, compare, investigate.

    And thus people are GOING TO FIND OUT for themselves that Homeopathy works,
    even while some “scientific” “researchers” with ever greater hysteria, tell us that it does not, or that it does but that’s just “placebo”.

    There’s no stopping it, unless perhaps, you’d like to put some sort of BAN on the information to “protect” us from the “nonsense”? No? I didn’t think so.

  55. truthspeaker

    Sandra (MedTek) Says:
    May 17th, 2010 at 9:18 am
    Being from the same side of the pond as Phil, but living on the same side as Marsh, I am keen to get the FDA to recognise that …

    You’re barking up the wrong tree. The FDA only made those rules because Congress and President Clinton passed a law requiring them to. It’s Congress you should be lobbying.

  56. truthspeaker

    Lawrence Says:
    May 17th, 2010 at 10:58 am
    @26 cgauthier – While I respect your opinion, I don’t think anyone here should denigrate an entire religion (mostly, we go after the idiots that do stupid things in the name of their religion).

    I disagree. I think we should denigrate all religions in their entirety. I’ll start now: all religions are idiotic.

  57. Tyler Durden

    I’ve got a great idea for a start up company. I think I’ll market “homeopathic” dish washing soap.

    See, the detergents will be diluted to minute proportions compared to the other retail brands, but sold at the same price.

    Of course, it will take 40 or 50 runs through the dishwasher to have even a chance of getting a single dish clean, but what do I care? I’ll be laughing all the way to the bank.

  58. Dr. P.K.Sethi

    Flip says #53
    People bring their sick animals for treatment and when they are cured owner pays . Cure is the is the clinical testimony and efficacy of the treatment modality.I think your doubts are clear now !

  59. mb

    #58. Sethi says:
    People bring their sick animals for treatment and then realise I am a troll, so they run off scared.

    Yes, we could tell you were a troll when you renamed yourself “JS Karkada” to make the same stupid point twice. As the song from south park says “dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb…”

  60. Hello everybody

    I do think you should look at the abstract of the first paper referenced by James Pannozzi. It shows the total logical failure of the homeopaths. It’s stunning.

    The placebo claim is: if you give some people sugar pills and give others homeopathic sugar pills then both sets of people get better at the same rate.

    The claim tested is: if you give some people sugar pills and give others the same sugar pills then both sets of people get better at the same rate!

  61. Interesting read. How to make sure people read this and spread the word around? I have tried and failed. People like to believe in miracles rather than in conventional medicine. My husband, a doctor used to say that anything which had no side effects had no effects either. I think it worked.

  62. dr.yogiraj

    Get treated from Homeopath..
    Ask for his fees..
    Take the amount of his fees in your hands..
    deep it in a glass of water..
    remove the currency notes from water..
    keep it again in your pocket after drying for a while..
    Give the glass of water to treating Homeopath..
    & say…
    BELIEVE ME WATER HAS MEMORY..!

  63. SionH

    I heard someone say in a podcast the other day, in response to the news that homeopathy was being used to ‘treat’ mental disorders, “How do you dilute crazy?” LOL!

  64. flip

    Dr PK Sethi, #58

    Thank you for not answering my question. How do you measure ‘cured’? If the cure is the testimony (ie. the pet can not talk English or any other language the human understands, therefore it is the owner of the pet who does the testimonials, therefore how does the owner decide when the pet is cured?) then how do you measure it?

    My doubts are not cleared, only more confused. You see to assume that testimony/anecdote is the same as measuring say, the difference between an x-ray of a broken bone and an x-ray of a healed one. Does the owner just decide at random to ‘report’ the bone is cured?

    Oh, unless you mean you only ‘cure’ things that don’t involve broken bones and severe illness?

  65. Hom

    What homeopathy and supplements needs is regulation. They should be used alongside of the medications big pharma is making billions on.

  66. Hom

    Vioxx anyone?

  67. Maybe many homeopathic so-called remedies are balderdash, but cultures were using healing skill sets, like acupuncture, and natural products from their territories, like Cinchona, as remedies before modern medicine started coming up with all the answers.

  68. ND

    Mark Susskind,

    Yes but how many of those actually worked? Some herbal medicines I can believe may have an affect. They’re basically plants which are chemical factories. And there must be herbal remedies that modern medicine has not yet investigated. But how much has acupuncture been tested critically?

  69. Mark Hansen

    Hom, by supplements I assume you mean vitamins and minerals. These are used alongside other medication where required. Homeopathy, however, isn’t the poor, struggling-against-Big-Pharma™, victim you would like to think it is. Try looking up “Oscillococcinum” to see how easily Big Homeo™ can generate profits from nothing. At least with Big Pharma™ you get something when you hand over your money.

  70. Hom

    Like I said Mark, regulations.

  71. Mark Hansen

    Is that regulations that say that efficacy must be proven? You can kiss homeopathy goodbye in that case.

  72. Greta

    Only recently latched onto the anti homeopathy group in this country and am amazed at the way you are obsessed with it and spend so much time and energy discussing it.Also the anger it invokes is out of all propotion… I wonder why?

  73. Buzz Parsec

    James Pannozzi accused us of hating homeopathy. I don’t hate homeopathy any more than I hate the flat earth theory or idea that mice spontaneously generate from rotting hay.

    What I hate are crooked slimeballs who steal money from desperate sick people by selling them lies and worthless sugar pills and bottles of water at outrageous prices.

    Greta, what is the proper proportion? Homeopathy costs billions of dollars and thousands of lives destroyed every year.

    cgauthier # 28, don’t cross Big Wicca or Mrs. Grimble will get you!

  74. Manish Sharma

    Dr Dolphin seems to be tossing like a dolphin!Shows the fear Allopaths have after decades of stuffing antibiotics into people,even toddlers and not getting any results.
    The reality is Allopathy works great in some cases and so does Homoeopathy and Ayurveda.One has to choose whats best for oneself.
    Its like saying “My religion is the best and all others need to be wiped out from the face of the earth”-does it sound too familier.

  75. Jayan G

    Samuel Hahnimann, Founder of Homoeopathy was an allopathic doctor. A german physician who spend his lifetime doing research to invent an alternative medical treatment
    system.That resulted in homoeopathy. Homoeopathy has proved effective and better
    in several cases, even better than allopathy.There is a clear scientific theory behind this
    system.It is not witchcraft.British medical association’s propaganda is false.
    I’m not a physician.I have no vested interests.But I cannot bear this false allegation.
    Homoeopathy is a better treatment system in the hands of a true Homoeopathic practitioner.

  76. Bret

    My family has been using Homeopathy nearly all my life and I will stand by it. It was conventional medicines inability to make my brother, sister and my self well that lead my parents to making the change.
    Although current scientific methods are unable to prove that it does anything that doesnt really mean all that much, think about it only two hundred years ago the majority of the world though the Earth was flat as they could not prove otherwise, this doesnt not make it true.
    Let people try both and make up their own minds from their own results.

  77. George

    After so many people being burned a couple of centuries ago, ‘witchcraft’ should never be used as a derogatory term again. Incredibly stupid remark.

  78. ABIG LIE

    Watch this to see who is using WITCHCRAFT – its the legal drug industry!!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6ZIT5zwonw&feature=related

  79. Shelley Smith

    I have used alternative therapies ever since I was a teenager! To call it “witchcraft”, the term “witch” meaning “Healer”??? why is everyone so frightened of this? and if you must use this term, Wiccan/Pagans use the saying “if it harms none do what you will?” I believe that the body has a natural ability to heal itself, I rarely use conventional medicines, due to bad experiences with doctors! I avoid them. I think you are all just scared that conventional medicines will become less used and this would be bad news for GP’s. Everyone should have an open mind, I have found that with oriental herbal medicines they are extremely effective….I certainly wouldn’t ever say they are “placebo”. and to say that homeopathics could damage your health is rubbish! Healers are people who wish to promote peace within and wouldn’t intentionally hurt anyone.

  80. Fitz

    I came down with a nasty cold yesterday and today tried homeopathic medicine for the first time (ColdCalm) and have to say it worked, very well I might add.

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