And they ended because they reached a frustrating "there's nothing we can do".
I do not like discussions to end that way. Also i prefer discussions here instead of over at hpathy.com, because there i cannot jump in and voice my thoughts(i cannot register at hpathy.com, where they also frequetly struggle).
AFAIK problems are different categorising of diseases and how a succesful cure looks like, anti doting and effect of placebo control and double blinding upon the abilities of part taking homeopaths.
I think its possible to avoid those problems. My idea, which i hope is new, to have a further interesting discussion, is to test homeopathy with animals, more precisely with well known lab rats.
Test with animals would have several advantages(at least for unsensitiv cold hearted people like me):
-Nearly any test, no matter how dangerous for patients, is possible, without breaking laws.
E.g. cutting upon major arteries, giving arnika(just a random suggestion, i do not know if arnika is said to be slowing bleeding) and waiting to see if bleeding does not kill or does not kill as fast as with a placebo control group, is not legal or moral to do with humans, bt could be at least legal to do with animals. Or giving lethal poisons and trying to heal them with homeopathy, is also illegal and immoral to do with humans, but could at least be not illegal with animals.
-Nearly perfect control of conditions(especially diet) before, during and after tests, no anti doting or whatever, except for the point, that animals will have to be confined in some way, e.g. cages, though modifications on this can also be implemented to a limited extent.
-To some limited extent, test subjects can be acquired, that are rather simliar in living conditions, age, general health, previous medical records to homeopathic and allopathic standards. Even a similarity on genetical basis could be possible with a lot of effort(i think, its possible to wait till the intial cell splits and then seperate these two cells and get twins out of this, though i do not know whether its possible to get 100 similar animals this way).
-Redoing same test is no problem, you can always breed new animals and raise thein the same way, they will only differ genetically to the previous groups, but i think this might be even controlled in a limited way.
-Its even possible to create a situation, where both homeopaths and allopaths would say that test subjects are suffering from the same general problem: Both homeopaths and allopaths check with their methods, that the animals do not suffer from any disease(=are healthy?) and immiediately after that you give the animals some poison, which quickly produces some reactions. I think in this situation, the wonder could occur, that the diagnosis from allopaths and homeopaths would be very similar(e.g. "animals have been poisoned and had nothing beforehand, so poisoning is probably, what causes the reactions now to be seen")
-DBPC easy to do with animals in labs.
-Rats would make perfect test subjects, cheap, numerous and lot of labs, which have vast knowledge about rats in lab situations.
-DBPC might not be neccessary, maybe there are some illness, that can be caused in rats, that cannot cure through self-healing, misinterpretation and placebo, then a DBPC is not needed, just heal the rats
-Maybe (very, very maybe) even possible to create a situation, where the individualization, can be limited or even neglected to some extent. For this we would need a repeatable way to cause a illness, which in a big enough(>75%) part of the test subjects yield a similar sympton totality and therefore this part then would receive the same remedy. The test would be then a DBPC with X as medical substance in the case of subjects being healthy and aplying above cause. If X is working very good, the X group will fair better than the placebo group, even if X is for the 25% with different or slightly different symptons the totally wrong treatment.
-Maybe (very, very maybe, depending on what homeopaths think can be healed) even possible due to first point to find a mutually accepted criteria of succesful treatment: Survial.
What else would mark succes, when treating a rat poisoned with 5 gramm of potassium cyanide(which if i not misread is more than 5 times the lethal dosis for humans)?
-If some highly potentized remedy can also show visible proving symptons in animals, it could make an excellent test, as the normal problems that make DBPCs with provings difficult(damn test subjects keep on living their lives) are far better to control.
Due to all this points it could be possible, that such a tests would be very good or even perfectly to repeat and is acceptable to both homeopaths and anti-homeopaths.
Depending upon test a positive result could not be ignored by science(e.g.several rat surviving large doses of potassium cyanide due to feeding pure sugar could not be argued away with test conditions), while a negative result would at least proof for homeopaths, that there are certain limits to homeopathic treatment of animals(e.g. heavily poisoned rats are beyond hope, which maybe they already know, but now science would have proven it).
This might stir further thought upon where the limits of homeopathy are(e.g. is it the high dose, is it being an animal or a bit of both why healing could not be achieved? Does that also mean there could be similar limits about the treatment of humans?) and could bring up ideas how to explore these boundaries via scientific test, which in return would give homeopathy give some respect from science(finding out what you cannot do is always the first step).
Though "could", because there are ven some bad points i know about and there could be more i do not know about:
-Talking to animals in a way as detailed as with humans is AFAIK not possible(anyone saying its possible, will receive a "care to win a million?" in response, i warned you), therefore when treating animals a homeopath always faces the problem that the part of the sympton totality, that can be described with "sensations and feelings" of the patient, can be slightly or not so slightly wrong, or even be completely missing. But as also a lot of pets are treated homeopathically i assume there is a way round this problem. Question is, if it can be adapted to lab testing.
-Succesful homeopathic treatment is said to require experience. As i do not think many homeopaths have experience with treating caged rats, this might blow it up.
-What can be healed homeopathically with lab rats?
-Could be that the above "maybe"s are too big and the thing would end in allopath claiming "this rat is still suffering from cancer although symptons are gone, my measurements show that, and will die in three months", while homeopath claims "your measurements show only unimportant material aspects, the vital force of the rat is fine again, as one can see from the lack of symptons". After 6 months poor rat dies and allopath then argues "see i told you, rat died from cancer, i cut it open and the cancer in the area got far bigger in ladt 6 months and caused important organ to stop working, so rat died". Homeopaths answer "if your gibberish about old cancer killing is true in any way, then it should have happened 3 months ago, this is either a new cancer that developed or your whole cancer thing is faulty. And the way you treated the rat last 6 months was against the restrictions i set during treatment, so no wonder the rat acquired a new or even the same disease"
Would like to know, what others think how these problems could be dealt with and also would be interesting to know thoughts from homeopaths, how good animals can be healed under lab conditions. Also remember rats would be just the cheapest choice, could also be down with other animals.
So it boils down to the following i think:
Can homeopathy do something just through remedies for poor caged rats, that are tortured by evil scientists with various dangerous or lethal substances and what they call "viruses and bacteria"?
Actually, veterinary homeopathy is even more controversial than the human version. You mention some of the problems yourself:
- Difficulty in case taking.
- Difficulty in evaluating results.
- Lack of individualization.
Other, and perhaps more fundamental, problems are:
- Remedies from the MM are proved on humans, not animals. We cannot assume that the effects of remedies are species independent.
- Dosing. Dosing is subject of considerable debate in humans, add the vastly different range in body weights and metabolism rates in animals, and you're seriously in the deep end.
Some of your ideas are quite interesting, though. For instance individualization; it is possible to obtain populations of test animals (especially rodents) that are close gentical relatives, and this should reduce the need for individualization.
The idea of induced disease should also make the results more comparable and thus more useful for statistical analysis.
A big problem is cost; perhaps counterintuitively, experimenting with animals is often more expensive than with humans. This is, of course, because good lab animals are expensive to purchase and keep, whereas human test subjects only get moderate financial compensation for their participation.
You have a right to your own opinion, but not to your own facts.
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