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View Poll Results: Which is more scientific? Homeopathy or Allopathy
Homeoapthy 13 61.90%
Allopathy 3 14.29%
Can't Say 5 23.81%
Voters: 21. You may not vote on this poll

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  #71 (permalink)  
Old 13th September 2008, 11:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Similibus View Post
Why so much faith in RDBPCT's?...

Isn't a scientific experiment supposed to be designed in such a manner as to rigorously test the specific hypothesis? Why insist on one that does not?
I cannot think of a medical hypothesis which cannot be tested by such trials. You believe that homeopathy is exempt, and I believe that you are only saying that because it fails RDBPCTs: special pleading.

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Originally Posted by Similibus View Post
Anecdotal/statistical evidence is is a far better measure of homeopathy's effectiveness. Why refuse to accept it?
Anecdotes have their place. Without anecdotes, people probably wouldn't try testing anything in the first instance. But if anecdotal evidence was appropriate for proving medical interventions worked to any degree of significance, were safe within reasonable tolerances, etc, why do you think that we don't see conventional medicine held to this anecdotal standard?
Because it's a poor standard.
Let's see:
1) Doctors from country X says that it has been curing cancer for years with special leaves.
2) Books have been written about how crystals can heal people. Many people believe it and have stories to tell.
3) Many people in the population swear that moving their furniture around brings them luck and money. Books have been written about this and many people believe it.
4) etc.

These are examples of things we don't take on "faith". Anecdotes, regardless of whether a lot of people say they're true are still just stories until they pass some sort of standard.

If my friend comes into the room and casually tells me in the course of conversation that she can cure asthma, what should I think? I ask her how, she says using some method untestable by science. I ask her to show me and she says that she's cured loads of people, I shouldn't need to see. I should trust her. We've been friends for years. How can I not trust her?

As I tried pointing out to Gina before, if you are prepared to accept one anecdote that homeopathy works, will you accept an anecdote saying it doesn't? How about a thousand? If not, why not? Is anecdotal evidence only good if it favours your hypothesis? Or is it no good at all?

RDBCTs are the best we can do. I used that phrase before and I think there might have been some confusion as to what I meant. I meant that RDBPCTs are the best we can do, and I didn't mean that nothing, or a tiny bit more than nothing was the best we can do. I think.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Similibus View Post
The way pharmaceutical medicines are developed through RDBPCT's and prescribed through trial and error, often without understanding the full effects of the medicines used, is decidedly hit and miss...

Where is the science theory?

What are the Laws governing the science?
I'm assuming you're talking about physical laws, and not legal ones? Like your Law of Similars?
There are markedly few things given the status of Laws in science. It's practically an outmoded terminology - nowadays we still call laws laws but new ones are called "accepted theories"
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Originally Posted by Similibus View Post
If there are no Laws how can we even call it a Science?
This sentence confuses me. It seems to be based on a strange idea of what science is. Science is a method which leads us to define laws (or accepted theories, anyway)
We don't just make up a law and then assume that science will fit to it. Where would we get that law from? Science. That's circular, isn't it? If you are saying that we should base our science on "laws" we just made up out of thin air, well then, we have a problem.

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Originally Posted by Similibus View Post
Is a 'biochemical nothing' a 'something'? If so, how can this be possible?
Not as far as I'm concerned. It can't.

Last edited by moopet; 13th September 2008 at 11:04 AM. Reason: I can't type and I like spelling
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  #72 (permalink)  
Old 14th September 2008, 07:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moopet View Post


y...?

y is a variable (placebo effect) that is used like a constant to gauge the unknown effect of x. It is not a case of 1 = 1, it is a case of x = y.

Q: How can you know the value of either?

RDBPCTs use a variable (placebo effect) as a baseline against which to measure an unknown (drug effect).

Q: Does this sound like a sound scientific method to you? Please explain?
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  #73 (permalink)  
Old 14th September 2008, 09:14 PM
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Originally Posted by moopet View Post
I cannot think of a medical hypothesis which cannot be tested by such trials[1]. You believe that homeopathy is exempt, and I believe that you are only saying that because it fails RDBPCTs[2]: special pleading.
You have still not answered my question - you have given a non-answer - my questions still stands!

In response to your non-answer:

1. Immunisation? Psychotherapy? There are many.

2. Homeopathy does not fail RDBPCT's. The criticism is that the trials were not 100% watertight (what trial is?) in terms of the protocol that was used; or some minor technicality was sufficient to cast doubts on the findings. The truth of the matter is that homeopathy has held up very well in RDBPCT's (despite their drawbacks) but attempts to discredit this evidence have been made and have been successful.

Where did I say that I believe that homeopathy is exempt from scientific scrutiny?

I, along with the rest of my profession, would welcome a thorough scientific evaluation of homeopathy and its effectiveness. In fact we are positively calling out for this!

We simply have a situation where the scientists (who are supposed to be clever by the way) are insisting on trying to verify homeopathy with experiments that were designed to test a different hypothesis, specifically the effectiveness of pharmaceutical medicines.

The same experiment does not / cannot/ will not accurately evaluate the efficacy of homeopathic medicines. This is the qualified and considered opinion of the homeopathic profession, who are best placed to know this after all. We have stated this again and again until we a tired of repeating it. Yet the scientific community does not seem to be able to hear it.

I shall repeat it again-

Homeopathy does not lend itself well to RDBPCT's. Homeopathic treatment is highly individualised in that it relates to the patient as much as the condition being treated. A trial that tests drug A for condition B is likely to yield a misleading result.

Q: Can you explain why it is that the scientific community insists on this ill-fitting experiment to evaluate homeopathy?

Q: Can you explain why the scientific community refuses to design an experiment that WILL evaluate homeopathy effectively?

Q: Also how the scientific community can justify its position that homeopathy is not scientifically validated when it has made no real attempt to validate it?

Q: Is this how science works?

Q: Is it the fault of the homeopath or the scientist if the scientist fails to use an experiment tests the hypothesis?


Quote:
Originally Posted by moopet View Post
Anecdotes have their place. Without anecdotes, people probably wouldn't try testing anything in the first instance. But if anecdotal evidence was appropriate for proving medical interventions worked to any degree of significance, were safe within reasonable tolerances, etc, why do you think that we don't see conventional medicine held to this anecdotal standard?
This is no argument. I could just as easily say to you:" if evidence from RDBPCT's was appropriate for proving medical interventions worked to any degree of significance, were safe within reasonable tolerances, etc, we would never have had the horrors of Thalidamide or Seroxat".

My original question to you stands.


Quote:
Originally Posted by moopet View Post
1) Doctors from country X says that it has been curing cancer for years with special leaves.
Q: Can you provide a specific example of where a medically qualified doctor from another country has made this kind of claim?


Quote:
Originally Posted by moopet View Post
2) Books have been written about how crystals can heal people. Many people believe it and have stories to tell.
3) Many people in the population swear that moving their furniture around brings them luck and money. Books have been written about this and many people believe it.
etc..........If my friend comes into the room and casually tells me in the course of conversation that she can cure asthma, what should I think? I ask her how, she says using some method untestable by science. I ask her to show me and she says that she's cured loads of people, I shouldn't need to see. I should trust her. We've been friends for years. How can I not trust her?
This is a somewhat flippant response. What you have described is somewhat different from statistics provided by medically qualified doctors at homeopathic hospitals to conform with legal requirements for all hospitals at the time.

Here are some examples of anecdotal evidence for homeopathy (examples of anecdotal evidence that the scientific community are currently refusing to accept as evidence for the validity of homeopathy as an effective intervention in the treatment of disease). The examples are naturally from a time when homeopathy was at its peak. There is a vast amount of this kind of evidence for homeopathy, but, it is not scientifically valid- apparently.

1. Among the outstanding early professional accomplishments of Hahnemann, we shall mention but one. During the scourge of Leipsic, when tens of thousands were dying "like flies" from the Plague, and when every victim of the epidemic was committed to the "dead house, " Hahnemann with his homeopathic prescribing saved 183 consecutive cases (most of which were considered moribund).

2. The Russion Consul General reported that of 1,270 cases of Cholera treated homeopathically in the year 1830, 1,162 were cured and only 108 died. The mortality rate in allopathic hospitals in Russia at that time was 60 - 70%.

3. Homeopathy's success in the treatment of cholera in Vienna led the Minister of the Interior to repeal a law relative to the practice of homeopathy. Two thirds of patients at the homeopathic hospital in Vienna survived, while two thirds of those in other hospitals died.

4. The aggregate statistical results for allopathic treatment in the treatment of cholera in Europe and America show a mortality rate of 40%; statistics for homeopathic hospitals show a mortality rate of less than 9%.



Q: Can you explain specifically why this kind of evidence is not considered valid by the scientific community?


Quote:
Originally Posted by moopet View Post
I'm assuming you're talking about physical laws, and not legal ones? Like your Law of Similars?There are markedly few things given the status of Laws in science. It's practically an outmoded terminology - nowadays we still call laws laws but new ones are called "accepted theories"
Obviously I am not referring to legal laws as this is a discussion about science. I hope I am not going to have to spell out every detail for you Moopet - that would be a little tedious.

'Accepted theories' are not new Laws. Laws are proven, immutable, constants. Theories are unproven, and very often unverifiable. Accepted Theories are just theories that the scientific community agrees are the most plausible theories presented thus far- they are not the same as Laws.

Your statement that markedly few things are given the status of Laws in science just goes to show how much of the science we value so highly is nothing more than theory.

Most of the Laws which govern the Pure Sciences were discovered during the period of history known as the Enlightenment. Laws are not 'outmoded terminology' at all. It is likely that all of the Laws that underpin the Pure Sciences have already been discovered. This does not mean that 'Accepted Theories' are the same as Laws. Newton's Accepted Theory of Gravity?

Samuel Hahnemann lived towards the end of the Enlightenment period and discovered the Laws relating to Medical Therapeutics (the administering of medicines in order to cure disease). It is these Laws which govern the Pure Science of Homeopathy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by moopet View Post
This sentence confuses me. It seems to be based on a strange idea of what science is. Science is a method which leads us to define laws (or accepted theories, anyway).
You do not know the definition of the word science? Your definition is correct but the word science can also refer to 'a branch of knowledge or study dealing with a body of facts or truths systematically arranged and showing the operation of general laws, e.g. the mathematical sciences'.


Quote:
Originally Posted by moopet View Post
We don't just make up a law and then assume that science will fit to it. Where would we get that law from? Science. That's circular, isn't it? If you are saying that we should base our science on "laws" we just made up out of thin air, well then, we have a problem.

My understanding is as follows: objects which are influenced by the Forces of Gravity are subject to it's Laws. Objects which are moving are subject to the Laws of Motion. Scientific Laws are the foundations of the Pure Sciences. Science Theory relates to untested Hypotheses. Science Method is the testing of these Hypotheses to see if they conform with reality. If they do they become Facts.

Q: Where did I say that we should base our science on Laws we just made up out of thin air?

Quote:
Originally Posted by moopet View Post
Not as far as I'm concerned. It can't.
Q: Is a "biochemical nothing" a 'nothing' or a 'something'? As far as I am aware it has to be one or the other!!!
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  #74 (permalink)  
Old 14th September 2008, 09:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Similibus View Post
y is a variable (placebo effect) that is used like a constant to gauge the unknown effect of x. It is not a case of 1 = 1, it is a case of x = y.

Q: How can you know the value of either?

RDBPCTs use a variable (placebo effect) as a baseline against which to measure an unknown (drug effect).

Q: Does this sound like a sound scientific method to you? Please explain?
I've actually got lost on this part of the thread. If I find my way, I'll get back to you.
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  #75 (permalink)  
Old 14th September 2008, 09:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Similibus View Post
You have still not answered my question - you have given a non-answer - my questions still stands!

In response to your non-answer:

1. Immunisation? Psychotherapy? There are many.
You could test immunisation using RDBPCTs. It just might not be so ethical. Psychotherapy? Opinion in the scientific community is divided as to its efficacy, and I don't pretend to know the ins and outs of it. It's not a useful comparison, because it's not a drug.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Similibus View Post
2. Homeopathy does not fail RDBPCT's. The criticism is that the trials were not 100% watertight (what trial is?) in terms of the protocol that was used; or some minor technicality was sufficient to cast doubts on the findings. The truth of the matter is that homeopathy has held up very well in RDBPCT's (despite their drawbacks) but attempts to discredit this evidence have been made and have been successful.

Where did I say that I believe that homeopathy is exempt from scientific scrutiny?

I, along with the rest of my profession, would welcome a thorough scientific evaluation of homeopathy and its effectiveness. In fact we are positively calling out for this!
What do you think of the studies that have shown no effect? Do you consider them to have been ill-formed?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Similibus View Post

We simply have a situation where the scientists (who are supposed to be clever by the way) are insisting on trying to verify homeopathy with experiments that were designed to test a different hypothesis, specifically the effectiveness of pharmaceutical medicines.

The same experiment does not / cannot/ will not accurately evaluate the efficacy of homeopathic medicines. This is the qualified and considered opinion of the homeopathic profession, who are best placed to know this after all. We have stated this again and again until we a tired of repeating it. Yet the scientific community does not seem to be able to hear it.

I shall repeat it again-

Homeopathy does not lend itself well to RDBPCT's. Homeopathic treatment is highly individualised in that it relates to the patient as much as the condition being treated. A trial that tests drug A for condition B is likely to yield a misleading result.

Q: Can you explain why it is that the scientific community insists on this ill-fitting experiment to evaluate homeopathy?
Because if you can't show that an effect exists, there is no point in wasting more money or time on it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Similibus View Post

Q: Can you explain why the scientific community refuses to design an experiment that WILL evaluate homeopathy effectively?
Because whatever experiment is designed, if it fails, it will get called inappropriate (my opinion).
Quote:
Originally Posted by Similibus View Post

Q: Also how the scientific community can justify its position that homeopathy is not scientifically validated when it has made no real attempt to validate it?
There have been a lot of scientific studies of homeopathy. It failed to show any promise, and failed to make any sense.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Similibus View Post

Q: Is this how science works?
Yes.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Similibus View Post
Q: Is it the fault of the homeopath or the scientist if the scientist fails to use an experiment tests the hypothesis?
If the hypothesis is untestable it's not science. That's part of the definition. There is usually a way to test something.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Similibus View Post
This is no argument. I could just as easily say to you:" if evidence from RDBPCT's was appropriate for proving medical interventions worked to any degree of significance, were safe within reasonable tolerances, etc, we would never have had the horrors of Thalidamide or Seroxat".
I'd disagree. It's practically impossible to make trials over a long enough term to check for every eventuality. It's a risk/benefit game.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Similibus View Post

My original question to you stands.
OK, the faith question. I have faith in the scientific method. RDBPCTs are a good product of the scientific method, with a proven track record. By extension I rate them as a high-probability of success tool for measuring efficacy. Higher than anecdotes, higher than guesses, higher than authority voices.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Similibus View Post
Q: Can you provide a specific example of where a medically qualified doctor from another country has made this kind of claim?
No, it was a fictional example. The second and third examples weren't because I ran out of imagination, otherwise it would all have been hypothetical.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Similibus View Post
This is a somewhat flippant response. What you have described is somewhat different from statistics provided by medically qualified doctors at homeopathic hospitals to conform with legal requirements for all hospitals at the time.

Here are some examples of anecdotal evidence for homeopathy (examples of anecdotal evidence that the scientific community are currently refusing to accept as evidence for the validity of homeopathy as an effective intervention in the treatment of disease). The examples are naturally from a time when homeopathy was at its peak. There is a vast amount of this kind of evidence for homeopathy, but, it is not scientifically valid- apparently.

1. Among the outstanding early professional accomplishments of Hahnemann, we shall mention but one. During the scourge of Leipsic, when tens of thousands were dying "like flies" from the Plague, and when every victim of the epidemic was committed to the "dead house, " Hahnemann with his homeopathic prescribing saved 183 consecutive cases (most of which were considered moribund).

2. The Russion Consul General reported that of 1,270 cases of Cholera treated homeopathically in the year 1830, 1,162 were cured and only 108 died. The mortality rate in allopathic hospitals in Russia at that time was 60 - 70%.

3. Homeopathy's success in the treatment of cholera in Vienna led the Minister of the Interior to repeal a law relative to the practice of homeopathy. Two thirds of patients at the homeopathic hospital in Vienna survived, while two thirds of those in other hospitals died.

4. The aggregate statistical results for allopathic treatment in the treatment of cholera in Europe and America show a mortality rate of 40%; statistics for homeopathic hospitals show a mortality rate of less than 9%.



Q: Can you explain specifically why this kind of evidence is not considered valid by the scientific community?




Obviously I am not referring to legal laws as this is a discussion about science. I hope I am not going to have to spell out every detail for you Moopet - that would be a little tedious.
Hang on a sec. I specified scientific laws because either one seems - from my point of view - equally bizarre a thing to ask.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Similibus View Post

'Accepted theories' are not new Laws. Laws are proven, immutable, constants.
Law of gravity? Newton? Einstein?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Similibus View Post
Theories are unproven, and very often unverifiable. Accepted Theories are just theories that the scientific community agrees are the most plausible theories presented thus far- they are not the same as Laws.

Your statement that markedly few things are given the status of Laws in science just goes to show how much of the science we value so highly is nothing more than theory.
That's what science is all about, though. Have you a different definition of science to me? Theories are ways of explaining what we see. They are falsifiable but not necessarily provable, and not provable at all without other axioms. Nothing more than theory sounds a bit like when creationists dismiss evolution as "just a theory".
Quote:
Originally Posted by Similibus View Post

Most of the Laws which govern the Pure Sciences were discovered during the period of history known as the Enlightenment.
That's because back then they thought they were right. They thought that they'd uncovered nearly everything the universe held secret. Nowadays we don't have so much hubris.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Similibus View Post
Laws are not 'outmoded terminology' at all. It is likely that all of the Laws that underpin the Pure Sciences have already been discovered. This does not mean that 'Accepted Theories' are the same as Laws. Newton's Accepted Theory of Gravity?
...as above, would now never be called a Law because it isn't correct in all cases. And it was pretty well discussed with hostile peers, it wasn't something he just made up one day.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Similibus View Post


Samuel Hahnemann lived towards the end of the Enlightenment period and discovered the Laws relating to Medical Therapeutics (the administering of medicines in order to cure disease). It is these Laws which govern the Pure Science of Homeopathy.
He discovered the Laws? Didn't he just make a couple of cognitive connections and announce them as laws? Wasn't one of them based on nothing but a dislike for the establishment anyway?
More to the point, who cares who invented the thing? I don't care who invented the car. Well, ok, I do, but only because I'm interested in history. It makes no difference to cars now who invented them, why, or whether they called the steering wheel a "law of steering".
Quote:
Originally Posted by Similibus View Post

You do not know the definition of the word science? Your definition is correct but the word science can also refer to 'a branch of knowledge or study dealing with a body of facts or truths systematically arranged and showing the operation of general laws, e.g. the mathematical sciences'.


My understanding is as follows: objects which are influenced by the Forces of Gravity are subject to it's Laws. Objects which are moving are subject to the Laws of Motion. Scientific Laws are the foundations of the Pure Sciences. Science Theory relates to untested Hypotheses. Science Method is the testing of these Hypotheses to see if they conform with reality. If they do they become Facts.
We may disagree on some points but they're not important while staying on topic.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Similibus View Post

Q: Where did I say that we should base our science on Laws we just made up out of thin air?
You said, "if there are no laws how can we call it a science".
OK.
If it's not a science without laws, then laws are a prerequisite for science.
If you can't make the law with reference to science, what do you make it with? This is obviously nonsense. A branch of science can exist with any number of "laws" associated, including zero.
This seems to me a misleading argument, you're trying to make homeopathy seem valid because it has "laws" associated with it. But those laws did not come from any other branch of science. They came to support homeopathy. And now homeopathy is supported by those laws? This is circular, and pointless.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Similibus View Post
Q: Is a "biochemical nothing" a 'nothing' or a 'something'? As far as I am aware it has to be one or the other!!!
It's a nothing. OK, I'm making up a phrase to use in my argument. Water is a biochemical nothing. Water is clearly not nothing. It doesn't have any medical benefit or harm other than affecting things like hydration, which aren't what the studies are about.

When it comes to it, if a homeopathic remedy has any effect, it should be observable. Or the homeopathic dilution should be discernable from the solvent. These are testable. That's all there is to it.
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  #76 (permalink)  
Old 14th September 2008, 10:06 PM
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Hello Moopet

It is a brave individual that argues for allopathy on a homeopathy forum! I appreciate your contribution, without which there would be no discussion. However, our discussion is becoming increasingly fragmented and difficult for others to follow. Perhaps we should stop nit-picking and develop our arguments more fully?

You asked 'why do homeopaths have issues with RDBPCT's?'. I believe I have presented a cohesive argument as to why.

In return I have asked you:

'What is the reasoning behind your stance that RDBPCT's are the only acceptable method to validate homeopathy? You will have to develop an argument as to why they are suitable for homeopathy, and why they are more suitable than other methods to fully answer this question. I have also suggested that RDBPCT's are of little value in assessing the effectiveness of anything (because placebo effect is so widely variable), so you will need to justify the logic of using an unknown variable as a control for a trial as well.

I posited that if pharmaceutical medicines were truly effective, placebo effect would be a non-issue and raised the question: why shouldn't we expect a medicine with potential toxic side effects to show a high success rate in the cure of disease- i.e why shouldn't the minimum standard be 60% or greater success rate? I hope you will also address this in your response and also why the examples of anecdotal evidence in favor of homeopathy, such as I have provided, are not considered valid by the scientific community? Or at least why they are not considered valid enough to warrant serious investigation into homeopathy?

And there's still the "biochemical nothing"! I would like to know what you meant by this? What is a biochemical nothing?

Can you do it without quoting me?

Kind regards
Sim
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  #77 (permalink)  
Old 14th September 2008, 10:59 PM
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Sure. I'll try to answer as comprehensively as I can.

Ok, to clarify: I don't think RDBPCTs are the only way to validate homeopathy. Or at least not for patient trials. I think anything that shows a physical effect, like demonstrating the memory of water or the existance of identifiable "hyperdilute" solutions. The demonstration that succussion does... well, anything.

I think RDBCTs are more suitable than anecdotal data because I don't put much if any stock in anecdotes, regardless. I recognise there is a place for them, I just don't see it in medical trials. I don't like the "individualised" trials homeopaths suggest and try because they're not blinded. Even discounting anything straightforwardly scientific, without the rigour of such controls, the results could be staged. I'm not picking on homeopaths.
The could make a halfway attempt by controlling which practitioner gets placebo in his vials.
Placebo is variable, sure, but when there's a large enough group of patients it's an average that the statisticians are interested in. It's not like you're comparing the drug with a placebo trial from last year in a different environment.

Homeopathy is divided obviously into the half that require individualised and the hald that says remedy X will treat condition Y and should be available over the counter. The latter is trivial to test. Agreed?
It's the former that we have problems with. What it comes down to is that I'm not sure how the best way would be to go about testing at this stage.
I think the individualisation requirement is special pleading, but I don't have anything to back that up at the moment.

You ask why we shouldn't expect a high rate of success in conventional drugs. But you also recognies that people are different. For example, two people might share the same symptoms but the cause might be different. A sneeze could be an allergy or the common cold. Conventional medicine will attack this in several ways: remove the disease, halt the progress of the disease, slow the progress of the disease and lastly minimise the symptoms if that's all we can do. Combinations of one drug with another will possible interfere benificially or harmfully.
What you can say to a greater extent is that a particular drug will have a particular chemical effect. That effect is predictable and observable and will consistently be observable in all patients with the same make-up. I reserve that because obviously a fictional chemical that binds to mercury for the removal of the heavy metal from a patient is not going to have any useful effect in a patient who is already mercury-free,or who has mercury in a different part of their body inaccessible to the drug, for whatever reason.
Thus if someone had mercury in their bones, an injection into the bloodstream would probably be useless, and an injection into the bone would be useless for someone with mercury in the lungs. Or something, the idea is confused by my writing style, but it should be fairly obvious.
So the results will vary. Why is it important to have a high success rate?
90% is great. So is 50%. 10% is great. It shows that some people benefit from some chemicals. Those 10% of people who are likely to get the disease have something in common, maybe a dodgy gene. Why is this not good news to medicine? It is, anything the works or furthers knowledge is good news. Any result that is clearly above statistical noise is good, it shows we're on the right track to one possible solution to the problem.
This fictional chemical will have its effect in a petri dish. Why can't we do that with homeopathy?

As to why your anecdotal examples aren't considered useful, well, the reliability of the source has something to do with it. Anecdotes from impartial outsiders would be more notable. The problem is compounded when there is no other evidence. When all the scientific evidence is negative and all the anecdotal evidence is positive, it's hard to give much weight to the anecdotes. A lot of homeopathic anecdotes are from a long time ago, when scientific investigation was a lot more lax, or sponsored by someone with a vested interest. It's difficult to say. I don't say dismiss it, just take it with a pinch of salt. And you just can't include salt-pinched data in a scientific paper.

I'll try to write better later, it's late.
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  #78 (permalink)  
Old 15th September 2008, 12:44 PM
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Ahh, finally a little real debate here. I think the below post is a good place to chip in.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Similibus View Post
y is a variable (placebo effect) that is used like a constant to gauge the unknown effect of x. It is not a case of 1 = 1, it is a case of x = y.

Q: How can you know the value of either?

RDBPCTs use a variable (placebo effect) as a baseline against which to measure an unknown (drug effect).

Q: Does this sound like a sound scientific method to you? Please explain?
Q1: You can't, but hang on....

Q2: No, it is not scientific.

Now for the explanation:

You seem to misunderstand the placebo control method. It is not x=y. It is (x+y) - y = x.

A placebo-controlled trial has two groups. One gets placebo, the other gets verum. However, the placebo effect is the effect you will get whether the drug works or not.

Thus, the placebo group shows placebo effect, whereas the verum group shows placebo effect + verum effect. Therefore, provided no confounders (of importance) exist, any difference between the groups can be assumed to be the effect of the verum.

Since the placebo control method is simply a method of isolating one effect from all the others, it is valid for all systems. It is therefore also valid for homeopathy.

Of course, the special doctrines that exist in homeopathy, in particular individualisation, pose extra challenges when designing and performing a trial, but none that cannot be overcome.

And at any rate, initial trials need not bother with individualisation; there are plenty of claims within the homeopathic community of single remedies for certain indications. A very good example is Arnica for acute pain: My guess is that 80% of homeopathic practitioners (and I'm even being VERY conservative, here) will prescribe Arnica for, say, beneign cases of blunt trauma, without bothering with individualisation.

Hans
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Old 15th September 2008, 01:34 PM
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More stuff.....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Similibus View Post
You have still not answered my question - you have given a non-answer - my questions still stands!
I haven't unravelled the thread to find out what the Q and A were, but in general, take care not to mistake an answer you don't like for a non-answer. If you really find an answer invalid you should explain why.

Quote:
2. Homeopathy does not fail RDBPCT's. The criticism is that the trials were not 100% watertight (what trial is?) in terms of the protocol that was used; or some minor technicality was sufficient to cast doubts on the findings. The truth of the matter is that homeopathy has held up very well in RDBPCT's (despite their drawbacks) but attempts to discredit this evidence have been made and have been successful.
I'm afraid you are mistaken. You may be able to enlighten me, but I'm currently unaware on even a single blinded randomized trial, of a quality comparable to the minimum requirements for conventional meds, that shows a positive outcome for homeopathy.

Quote:
Where did I say that I believe that homeopathy is exempt from scientific scrutiny?

I, along with the rest of my profession, would welcome a thorough scientific evaluation of homeopathy and its effectiveness. In fact we are positively calling out for this!
I'm afraid calling out does not cut the cake. You are the ones who must perform it. It is your claim, so the burden of proof is on you.

Quote:
We simply have a situation where the scientists (who are supposed to be clever by the way) are insisting on trying to verify homeopathy with experiments that were designed to test a different hypothesis, specifically the effectiveness of pharmaceutical medicines.
Not at all. The method (RDBPCT) is designed to show ANY effect of ANY method, as long as it lends itself to blinding.

Quote:
The same experiment does not / cannot/ will not accurately evaluate the efficacy of homeopathic medicines. This is the qualified and considered opinion of the homeopathic profession, who are best placed to know this after all. We have stated this again and again until we a tired of repeating it. Yet the scientific community does not seem to be able to hear it.
We hear. However, we are suggesting the well established, well validated, and well trusted method that we know. If YOU feel that another method should be used, well fine, design it.

Quote:
I shall repeat it again-

Homeopathy does not lend itself well to RDBPCT's. Homeopathic treatment is highly individualised in that it relates to the patient as much as the condition being treated. A trial that tests drug A for condition B is likely to yield a misleading result.
In several debates, a perfectly workable potocol has been suggested, that allows for full individualisation.

Quote:
Q: Can you explain why it is that the scientific community insists on this ill-fitting experiment to evaluate homeopathy?
It is not the task of the scientific community to invent an alternative method for homeopathy. If such a method must be invented, it is the task of the homeopathic community to do so.

Quote:
Q: Can you explain why the scientific community refuses to design an experiment that WILL evaluate homeopathy effectively?
It is the opinion of the scientific community that the known method IS valid also for homeopathy.

Quote:
Q: Also how the scientific community can justify its position that homeopathy is not scientifically validated when it has made no real attempt to validate it?
Excuse me, but if it has not been validated, whether this is due to lack of success or lack of effort, the fact remains that it is unvalidated.

In reality, however, it is not lack of effort. There are numerous experiments attempting to validate homeopathy on record.

Quote:
Q: Is this how science works?
Yes. As long as something is not validated, it is unvalidated.

Quote:
Q: Is it the fault of the homeopath or the scientist if the scientist fails to use an experiment tests the hypothesis?
It is the fault of the homeopath. The homeopath makes a claim and therefore has the burden of proof. This burden includes showing an acceptable method for validation, if none is considered to exist.

Quote:
This is no argument. I could just as easily say to you:" if evidence from RDBPCT's was appropriate for proving medical interventions worked to any degree of significance, were safe within reasonable tolerances, etc, we would never have had the horrors of Thalidamide or Seroxat".
I'm afraid you are mistaken. RDBPCT is only effective for showing the primary effects of a drug. Long-term, or rare, side effects must be, and are, found using other methods, most notably long-term follow-up studies.

Interestingly, not even the slightest attempts have been made at performing such follow-up studies in homeopathy, despite persistent claims of permanent cure.

Quote:
Here are some examples of anecdotal evidence for homeopathy (examples of anecdotal evidence that the scientific community are currently refusing to accept as evidence for the validity of homeopathy as an effective intervention in the treatment of disease). The examples are naturally from a time when homeopathy was at its peak. There is a vast amount of this kind of evidence for homeopathy, but, it is not scientifically valid- apparently.

1. Among the outstanding early professional accomplishments of Hahnemann, we shall mention but one. During the scourge of Leipsic, when tens of thousands were dying "like flies" from the Plague, and when every victim of the epidemic was committed to the "dead house, " Hahnemann with his homeopathic prescribing saved 183 consecutive cases (most of which were considered moribund).
Unverifiable, and details are lacking: Were Hahnemann's patients representative of the patient base as a whole? A: We don't, and cannot know.

Quote:
2. The Russion Consul General reported that of 1,270 cases of Cholera treated homeopathically in the year 1830, 1,162 were cured and only 108 died. The mortality rate in allopathic hospitals in Russia at that time was 60 - 70%.
Again, were the patients representative? Were the conditions otherwise comparable?

Quote:
3. Homeopathy's success in the treatment of cholera in Vienna led the Minister of the Interior to repeal a law relative to the practice of homeopathy. Two thirds of patients at the homeopathic hospital in Vienna survived, while two thirds of those in other hospitals died.

4. The aggregate statistical results for allopathic treatment in the treatment of cholera in Europe and America show a mortality rate of 40%; statistics for homeopathic hospitals show a mortality rate of less than 9%.

Q: Can you explain specifically why this kind of evidence is not considered valid by the scientific community?
The outcome of the mentioned diseases is massively dependent on a number of factors, such as: Patients' basic condition; cleanliness in the hospital; risk of re-infection in the hospital environment; food and general treatment standard in hospitals.

We are here comparing hospitals run by dedicated avantgarde practitioners, populated mainly with people from the more privileged part of the population, with standard, run of the mill, low budget, epidemic wards of the era, the practices of which were frankly well known to be deplorable.

Quote:
'Accepted theories' are not new Laws. Laws are proven, immutable, constants.
No. There may be some, but preciously few, proven, immutable constants in this universe.

Quote:
Theories are unproven, and very often unverifiable. Accepted Theories are just theories that the scientific community agrees are the most plausible theories presented thus far- they are not the same as Laws.
No. That is not the way the term "theory" is used in the scientific community. For instance, you will notice that we are still talking about the "theory of relativity", although the same has by now been verified to an extent where it would send shockwaves through science if anything put a noticeable dent in it, at least on the macro level.

Quote:
Newton's Accepted Theory of Gravity?
Which was in fact seriously dented by the theory of relativity (and special relativity).

Quote:
Samuel Hahnemann lived towards the end of the Enlightenment period and discovered the Laws relating to Medical Therapeutics (the administering of medicines in order to cure disease). It is these Laws which govern the Pure Science of Homeopathy.
No, he did not. He had a nasty habit of declaring any theory of his "an indubitable law of nature", but in fact most of his theories are quite loosely founded, and have moreover in many cases been seriously discredited by later research.

Quote:
Q: Where did I say that we should base our science on Laws we just made up out of thin air?
Right here above, actually. If you study Hahnemann's basic assumptions, on which he bases his "Pure Science of Homeopathy", you will actually find them resting on a very good approximation of thin air. For instance, please, using only statements from Hahnemann, please describe the basis for the thesis of like cures like.

Hans
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  #80 (permalink)  
Old 15th September 2008, 08:41 PM
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Hello MRC_Hans.

Welcome back to the discussion.

You have some very good arguments and have made some interesting points.

Moopet & I have discovered that the discussion quickly becomes fragmented and difficult to follow when responding to posts with comments after quotes such as your post above. If I were then to quote you- to respond to your specific point- nobody would know what your specific point originally referred to (including ourselves) - and the posts get longer and longer as the discussion expands.

This is proving to be an enjoyable debate. Attempting to keep quotes to a minimum and to post well-developed arguments should ensure it continues to develop intelligently. I hope you will agree.

Kind regards
Sim
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