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November 21, 2005

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The unfortunate thing is the creduloids will continue to use this as proof their baseless ideas are true.

Hmm... no controls, vague assesments... It's almost as if this thing was designed to get positive results.

Wait just a minute here.

Isn't "Absurd Homeopathy" more than a little redundant?

Cheers,

Naked Ape
Department of Reduncancy Department

The real problem lies with the news media who would sometimes prefer to have a controversy or mystery than report the truth. The reporting of fashionable untruths is preferable to the reporting of unfashionable truths because it keeps the readers interested and the money rolling in. If the fraudulent nature of homeopathy was reported as entusiastically as the false claims made for it it would have died long ago. The same for astrology, whose predictions seem to appear on a daily basis in the pages of otherwise reputable news outlets. It's all about defrauding the ignorant and getting rich.

Okay, Peter, when exactly did you climb into my brain and steal those thoughts? ;)

"The real problem lies with the news media who would sometimes prefer to have a controversy or mystery than report the truth."

No, the REAL real problem is that too many people have grown up thinking that 'there are more things in heaven and earth' is a really profound slapdown to science. It's not just that credulous articles are crowd-pleasing, it's also that the journos themselves are part of the credulous crowd.

I heard about this study on BBC radio 4 as well. Not only was the study flawed from the start for the reasons given, but one of the co-authors also admitted that the patients studied were also still undergoing conventional treatments in many cases. And they got better? Who'd have thunk!

The study, regardless of how ridiculous, suggests that typical chemical based medications also have a 'placebo effect'.

Of course they have a placebo effect. But due to the sloppiness of the protocols, you can't separate placebo from the real effects. That's why sloppy protocols are bad, and why double-blind control tests are the gold standard.

Oh, and as for "chemical based medications"...

Well, do what I do for bull[corn] detection: Replace the word "chemical" with the word "stuff", because they mean almost exactly the same thing.

The study, regardless of how ridiculous, suggests that typical [stuff] based medications also have a 'placebo effect'.

Of course, the placebo effect sometimes isn't enough to justify the miracles of homeopathy. It's actually such a fragile science: http://thesecondsight.blogspot.com/2005/11/yet-more-homeopathic-wonders.html, with just about everything in the universe apparently working against its marvellous healing efforts.

"Just the placebo effect" is the continual whining by self-righteous skeptics over alternative medicine, when the real question should be - HOW do people actually get better just by "thinking" they are being cured? That's the amazing thing you are missing in all of your "superior" intellectualism. Just take a second to consider the full implications of the placebo effect. Think. Really think about it.

Stephanie:

"I just know it works" is the continual whining by self-righteous homeopaths over double-blind studies, when the real question should be - DO people actually get better just by taking sugar pills? That's the amazing thing you are missing in all of your "superior" rationalization. Just take a second to consider the full implications of all the failed homeopathy double-blind studies. Think Stephanie. Really think about it.

That's that little rhetorical device again, right?

PS - I love you
PPS - In a Viking way, I'm hetero...

The placebo effect isn't a magic positive thinking healing effect, stephanie. It's a combination of multiple factors.

First, psychological:

Confirmation bias & regressive fallacy (patient gives extra weight to the times he's feeling better, and rationalizes away the worst times)

False reporting: Many people don't want to offend people of apparent authority, such as doctors. Sometimes they'll report nonexistent improvements, or ignore problems, if that's what they think the doctor wants to hear.

Quirk of human thinking: Humans live by understanding the world around them. That's what's helped us survive in the world without railroad spikes for teeth or monstrous strength. The downside is that when we have the illusion of understanding and the illusion of performing an appropriate action, we feel better. That's what causes superstitions: They give us the feeling of control, allowing us to trick the "understanding = feeling good" reaction in our brains.

And the physical:

Coincidental recovery: Many diseases naturally go away. It's common for small stuff, such as colds. It's not unheard of for even some forms of cancer to go into spontaneous remission.

That's pretty much all the placebo effect is. It's very well understood, even by laymen like me. The "mysteriousness" is the result of mass media lying through their teeth, or at least being astoundingly lazy in their research.

Until homeopathy can produce credible results, there's nothing to explain. Show us it works. THEN we have something to talk about.

A question. Is placebo effect possible on babies? My youngest daughter (1yr old) has never taken an antibiotic just homeopathy and has cured shortly from relentless fevers and stomach diseases, even when the alopathic pediatrists were warning us to give her the antibiotics or she would suffer terrible consequences.

We learned from our older son what antibiotics can do to children (endless cycles of disease after disease by washing out the defenses) until we learned about homeopathy, "magically" the cycle stopped and he has been healthy ever since.

The only thing we regret is following the alopathic doctors instructions on the early years of our son whom now has 6 years and his brand new teeth are stained forever thanks to the "scientifically proven antibiotics".

My wife recovering from her cesarea didn't take any of the antibiotics, just homeopathy and got no infection as the alopathic doctors had warned.

I know dozens of people that have cured from diseases such as kidney problems, bladder, flaccid tissues (which "real" doctors had no better idea than surgery. For a 72 yr old woman with high blood pressure! What a stupidity!) and so on.

Isn't a plausible reason for all of this studies to prove homeopathy doesn't work that they are funded by industrial consortiumns universities and laboratories commited to alopathy against an alternative that is much cheaper, effective, and has less side effects (if any)?

The homeopathy has abase and unless you try it your self you can't refute based on studies which might be biased.

Thanks

A question. Is placebo effect possible on babies?

Despite what a lot of people like to say, the placebo effect isn't some "power of positive thinking" sort of thing: It's a combination of psychological tricks we play on ourselves, like confirmation bias (paying attention to moments of relief while ignoring or rationalizing away worse periods), the regressive fallacy (when a disease is at its worst, followed by it going back to average), as well as coincidental recovery: Dumb luck that natural healing kicked in shortly after the treatment.

The homeopathy has abase and unless you try it your self you can't refute based on studies which might be biased.

Anecdotes are inherently biased. I won't try it myself because I don't trust in my objectivity. Studies, done with proper protocols, however, are designed to reduce or eliminate bias. That's what blinding is about: A properly blinded liar can't even force a bias onto the results.

Combined with peer review and independant replication, it gets even harder. For a false study to survive, it would require a conspiracy of millions.

Skeptico replies to Chris Maldonado

Re: A question. Is placebo effect possible on babies? My youngest daughter (1yr old) has never taken an antibiotic just homeopathy and has cured shortly from relentless fevers and stomach diseases

Alternative therapies such as homeopathy often appear to work for a number of reasons, namely:

• Placebo
• The cyclical nature of the illness (it goes away by itself)
• Incorrect diagnosis to start with
• Temporary mood improvements due to the personal nature of the treatment
• Psychological investment of the patient in the success of the therapy
• Other medicines the patient is taking.

In addition, with a baby, you have the problem of who decides if the baby has got better. Since the baby can’t talk, it is up to the parents and perhaps the alternative practitioner to decide. They (especially the alternative practitioner), are subject to confirmation and other biases.

The rest of your post is just what we call “anecdotes”. Unfortunately, anecdotes are worthless in determining whether or not a therapy works. That’s why we have double-blind placebo studies.

Re: Isn't a plausible reason for all of this studies to prove homeopathy doesn't work that they are funded by industrial consortiumns universities and laboratories commited to alopathy against an alternative that is much cheaper, effective, and has less side effects (if any)?

Not really. If homeopathy worked there would be good studies that show it works. The plausible explanation is that homeopathy is bunk – distilled water or sugar pills are not medicine.

Re: The homeopathy has abase and unless you try it your self you can't refute based on studies which might be biased.

No, homeopathy has no base. In fact, homeopathy is unmitigated pseudoscientific nonsense that was simply made up by its founder, Samuel Hahnemann, 200 years ago. It’s based upon two false premises as I explained here.

I understand that you have tried homeopathy and you think it worked for you, but “try it yourself” has proven to be an unreliable method to determine what works. Answer me this: if homeopathy works, why can’t an independent double-blind study show that it does? Why do all well designed studies show no difference with placebo?

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