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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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  #81 (permalink)  
Old 16th September 2008, 03:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Similibus View Post
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
Thank you.

Nevertheless, I have also found it very useful to quote the questions, because it makes it easier for everybody to keep track of the questions. However, one needs to keep pruning the posts to keep them readable. So ideally, you might quote my questions and type your answers, and I will quote your answers and type my own comments/new questions.

This method is a bit cumbersome, but in my experience it is quite effective for keeping a discussion on track, espcially in the cases above, where I choose to reply to a post that is a little way back in the conversation.

We can of course use a combination. After all, the content is important, not the form.

Hans
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  #82 (permalink)  
Old 20th September 2008, 09:40 PM
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As long as the discussion stays on track and continues to move forward I am happy to continue to debate this interesting question. However I would make it clear at this stage that if the discussion slips into the format where I present a cohesive argument to make a certain point, and others criticise specific, minor points while leaving the main argument unanswered (nit-picking), I may soon lose interest in debating the issue. It is tedious to have to continually defend minor, insignificant, inconsequential points from inaccurate or unfair criticisms while having to repeatedly ask for a response to the main argument. In a verbal debate, this nit-picking would necessitate constant interruptions, which would prevent the speaker from developing the main point, which would be poor etiquette, especially when there is little regard as to whether the criticisms are in any way justified or correct.



Such as:

1. When the criticism completely contradicts an earlier comment made by the same individual in the same post:

Quote:
Originally Posted by moopet View Post
........If the hypothesis is untestable it's not science. That's part of the definition. There is usually a way to test something......................................... .....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".
You can argue it one way or the other- but when you try and argue it both ways- well, you are just being argumentative.



2. When the criticism is just plain ridiculous:

Quote:
Originally Posted by moopet View Post
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.
Moopet seems to suggest that we should take all scientific observations made before the turn of 20th century with a pinch of salt because "scientific investigation was a lot more lax". I especially like the bit about "sponsored by someone with a vested interest" which has never been more true than it is today in relation to the pharmaceutical companies.

By Moopet's rationale we should be suspicious of all scientific observations from more than 100 years ago and should certainly discount just about every RDBPCT that has ever been undertaken because the sponsor (the pharmaceutical company) has a vested interest! I'm inclined to agree on the latter point though!




3. When the comment is fictional (imagined by the poster) yet presented as an example of concrete reality:

Quote:
Originally Posted by moopet View Post
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.




4. When the comment has obviously been written before reading the whole of the post, therefore without any consideration of the wider argument:

Quote:
Originally Posted by MRC_Hans View Post
More stuff.....Unverifiable, and details are lacking: Were Hahnemann's patients representative of the patient base as a whole? A: We don't, and cannot know.............Again, were the patients representative? Were the conditions otherwise comparable?....................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.
Were the patients representative?

I would say that the "The aggregate statistical results for allopathic treatment in the treatment of cholera in Europe and America[40% mortality]...................................[compared to] ...................... statistics for homeopathic hospitals [< 9% mortality]" would be considered fairly representative, wouldn't you?

And no, these were not avant-garde practitioners with loads of cash - these were places like the London Homeopathic Hospital, part of our NHS and hugely underfunded compared to other NHS hospitals at the time. A scientist does not make assumptions.



5. When the comment is written in such a way that it appears to disprove a point when it is actually supporting it! -

Sim wrote: "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."

Quote:
Originally Posted by MRC_Hans View Post
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.
It may have been verified to an extent where it would send shockwaves through science if anything put a noticeable dent in [but only] on the macro level. It is still largely unproven and so it correctly remains a theory, which is what i said isn't it.?



6. Or misses the main point completely:

Quote:
Originally Posted by moopet View Post
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".
The point here being that homeopathy is a system of medical therapeutics which is founded on the basis of Scientific Laws and Principles that have remained pretty much constant since the dawn of time (like all other true Sciences) and that pharmaceutical medicine is not founded on anything. This is why the fundamental practices of homeopathy have not changed in the last 200 years; why we continue to use the same medicines as we always have, prescribed on the same indications despite the myriad new 'diseases' that afflict modern society. It is why, once a homeopathic medicine has been added to our Materia Medica, it remains there forever to grow and expand, as more and more information is gathered about it's uses and effects, becoming ever more powerful in the fight against disease.

Pharmaceutical medicine, in comparison, has spent billions of pounds on so called medical research (committing many grave atrocities in the process, i.e vivisection) and then uses the general public as guinea pigs to test the long term effects of medicines, which are almost always detrimental to health.

Quote:
Originally Posted by moopet View Post
It's practically impossible to make trials over a long enough term to check for every eventuality. It's a risk/benefit game.

Example: A new medicine is released onto the market with great excitement! It is going to cure Obesity!!! It becomes all the fashion for a few years until the full consequences of taking this drug start coming to light. It is swiftly withdrawn from the market, never to be heard of again, (before any expensive law-suits are filed) only to be replaced with another 'new-improved' version of the drug or a 'newer better drug' and so the cycle begins again.

Experience teaches us that pharmaceutical medicines carry far more risks than benefits. Only fools do not learn from experience. Pharmaceutical medicines are poisons - if you take too many you will die! How can a crude poison restore a weakened constitution to health? How can a practice such as chemotherapy - chemo is Latin (I think) for poison- so how can a practice like poison therapy ever seem like a good idea?

But then there is evidence from RDBPCTs! A pharmaceutical company's best friend! They use a variable (placebo effect) as if it were a constant to 'prove' that their medicines have an effect! When we consider the fact that, as a general rule, a pharmaceutical medicine will only work on 30% of the population with the condition for which it is prescribed, and we compare that with the overall average for placebo effect, which is also around 30%, what does this Meta Analysis suggest? - well, as Moopet says - 1 = 1 doesn't it? Another quote from Moopet:

Quote:
Originally Posted by moopet View Post
Placebo is variable, sure, but when there's a large enough group of patients it's an average that the statisticians are interested in.!


7. When the answer is a non-answer or extremely confused...

Quote:
Originally Posted by moopet View Post
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..............What you can say to a greater extent is that a particular drug will have a particular chemical effect.
We were discussing RDBPCT's - giving medicine A for differential diagnosis B. As far as I am aware clinical trials do not relate to spefic symptoms, like sneezing. Why shouldn't we expect a dangerous medicine (poison)to have a high rate of success in clinical trials (60%) in order to justify the obvious risks?

Any fool can criticise an argument presented by another, but it takes a degree of intelligence to develop a cohesive argument of ones own. Every time an unjust, inaccurate or just plain ridiculous criticism is made the record must be put straight, if only for the sake of the record. But the debate goes nowhere because the larger arguments remain conveniently unanswered. I sympathise that those arguing for allopathy are attempting to defend the indefensible but attempt to defend it they must, if there is to be any useful debate at all.

So what do you say guys? Are you interested in a serious debate of this question or are you just here to nit-pick and have a bit of fun? If you are interested in serious debate- I'm in. If you are just looking to have some childish fun at my expense - well, I'm not very interested in that.
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  #83 (permalink)  
Old 20th September 2008, 09:54 PM
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Default Anecdotal Evidence

Anecdotal Evidence


Quote:
Originally Posted by MRC_Hans View Post
..................You are the ones who must perform it. It is your claim, so the burden of proof is on you........... The homeopath makes a claim and therefore has the burden of proof...........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.....................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........................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...................................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.
The main hypothesis in homeopathy is that a highly diluted potentised medicine, prescribed on the basis of symptom similarity (Law of Similars) will prove curative both in terms of the patient and their disease. This is very easy to put to the test. Prescribe a potentised medicine according to the Law of Similars and see whether there is an observable effect- a very simple but effective scientific experiment that rigourously tests homeopathy's specific hypothesis. Any effect from the medicine at all on anything other than " simple self-limiting conditions and short-term pain problems" is evidence that a medicine in the incomprehensibly high dilutions used in homeopathy has an effect. Any effect that goes on to be curative validates the hypothesis in its entirety. Owing to the complexity of this process, considerable skill and expertise, along with a special knowledge of homeopathy, are required. One has to first determine the one similar medicine from a list of thousands for each individual patient and then correctly interpret the response and respond accordingly at each individual stage of the process, of which there may be many, often over many months.


Each prescription a homeopath makes tests this hypothesis. There is a library load of books written by medical doctors who have published their cases that were cured with homeopathy. Each case is a detailed account of the testing of this hypothesis. Each case is a cured case and therefore, if accepted, validates homeopathy. There are certainly tens of thousands of these published cases, there may even be hundreds of thousands of them all published by qualified medical practitioners (doctors) in books and journals. This is quite a weight of evidence in itself. The evidence of a doctor on a medical issue carries much force - the opinion of a single doctor may be sufficient to convict someone in a court of law or send somebody to a mental institution against their will. What other system of medicine (other than pharmaceutical) has so many medically qualified doctors paying testimony to it?

And if we are gathering anecdotal and statistical evidence we must also factor in the number of people practising homeopathy worldwide, the hundreds of thousands of case histories neatly filed away in hospitals in India and other parts of the world, the millions of pounds people spend on homeopathy, the millions of people that access homeopathy, and the millions that have testified they found it beneficial. The fact that homeopathy is the fastest growing and second most popular system of medicine in the world, that it has been a part of our national health service since it was established, that you have to be a doctor to practice homeopathy in some countries, even that a pharmaceutical company has gone to the trouble of obtaining a patent for a potentised medicine! I could go on & on & on & on & on & on & on & on & on & on & on & on.

How do you account for this incredible phenomenon that is homeopathy? Do you think it is some sort of hoax? Do you really that all homeopaths are quacks and are just sticking to their story and hoping that nobody will find out the truth? How do you account for the significant minority of the medical profession that devote their lives to the study and practice of homeopathy? If homeopathy isn't valid - if it's all based on thin air - just what is it that you think these intelligent people, who are qualified in medicine, are dedicating their life's effort to?

The weight of the anecdotal/ statistical evidence in favour of homeopathy is overwhelming. Homeopathy has been validated one million times over - with every successful homeopathic prescription! When the anecdotal evidence is overwhelming but the scientists say the scientific evidence is lacking, this is usually an indication that there is something that the scientists don't understand.

But then the medical research scientist and the homeopath see the world in very different ways - and the homeopath understands that the scientist will never be able to measure the rose of homeopathy with his ruler- because the homeopath is aware of - not just a branch of science - but an ENTIRE PURE SCIENCE that the scientist DOESN'T EVEN KNOW EXISTS! The Science of Medical Therapeutics or Homeopathy. And what is more, the homeopath is well-learned in it!

Imagine if you were an expert in Physics and I were not aware of anything remotely related to it. I would believe in magic, I would think the earth was flat and the Sun was God. How different our worlds would be. Of course you would be able to see very clearly why I perceived the world that way but there would be little point in trying to explain it to me. "Excuse me kind Sir from the Dark Ages, allow me to tell you about this fellow Eistein. He figured out this formula: E=MC2 which means that...."

Perhaps you can appreciate the difficulties we are having.





One final point on anecdotal evidence.

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?
Because it's a poor standard................Anecdotes, regardless of whether a lot of people say they're true are still just stories until they pass some sort of standard.
Quote:
Originally Posted by moopet View Post
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.
Quote:
Originally Posted by moopet View Post
You could test immunisation using RDBPCTs. It just might not be so ethical.
If vaccines have never been subject to RDBPCT's what evidence is there in support of mass immunisation?

Let me answer that for you. The preponderance of evidence used to validate immunisation is....ANECDOTAL!!! Interestingly, much of the anecdotal evidence that supports immunisation is from exactly the time in history as much of the published evidence in support of homeopathy.

Q: If anecdotal evidence is good enough to justify mass immunisation, especially considering the current concerns of some of the medical community regarding this practice - why isn't anecdotal evidence considered valid in relation to homeopathy?

Q: In light of the overwhelming weight and volume of anecdoatal evidence in support of homeopathy (100,000s of cases, etc) and if it were true that "all the scientific evidence [for homeopathy] is negative" (which it is not). wouldn't the most likely explanation be that the scientist does not know how to go about investigating homeopathy?
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  #84 (permalink)  
Old 20th September 2008, 09:58 PM
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Default Randomised Double Blind Placebo Controlled Trials

Randomised Double Blind Placebo Controlled Trials

Quote:
Originally Posted by moopet View Post
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.
For a medicine to be a homeopathic medicine it must be prescribed according to the Law of Similars. This is the Law which defines homeopathy and gives it it's name (homeopathy means similar suffering). It is possible to prescribe a Specific Potentised Medicine solely on the basis of disease name but, without reference to the patients symptoms, this could never be called homeopathy. This is the crucial point and so I will labour it - if a medicine is not prescribed on the basis of symptom similarity it is not a homeopathic medicine. Therefore it is not possible to give medicine A for Differential Diagnosis B and say it is homeopathy- it is not. I hope I have made my point clear!


Quote:
Originally Posted by MRC_Hans View Post
It is the opinion of the scientific community that the known method [RDBPCTs] IS valid also for homeopathy.
I like Moopet's idea of one group of homeopaths working with medicines and one group working with placebo. I think that would be a very good test of homeopathy's efficacy in relation to placebo. However RDBPCTs will never be a suitable investigation into the validity of homeopathy because they can only ever investigate the ability of the prescriber to select the similar medicine, i.e. the homeopath's competence rather than homeopathy itself. Even then, the prescriber is likely to feel additional pressure when participating in a trial and so already the results will not reflect normal prescribing circumstances.


Quote:
Originally Posted by MRC_Hans View Post
You seem to misunderstand the placebo control method. It is not x=y. It is (x+y) - y = x.
(x+y) -y = x is just a complicated way of writing x = x!!! What is the value of x! Anyway, I wasn't trying to come up with a formula for RDBPCT's but if I were to guess at it I think it would look something like this: x - y = r

x = placebo effect + drug effect in study group
y = placebo effect in control group
r = result (drug effect)

The glaring assumption here is that placebo effect will be the same in both groups, which highly improbable. How do we know that placebo effect didn't affect 20% in the control group but 43% in the study group, thereby lending an additional 23% to the effect of the drug! If 10% above statistical noise is enough for Moopet this is a little concerning, is it not?



Quote:
Originally Posted by MRC_Hans View Post
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.
The important phrase here is "provided no confounders (of importance) exist". How about the fact the fact that placebo effect is a variable! The chances of placebo affecting exactly the same percentage of people in both groups is about the same as the chance of finding a single molecule of original substance in a potentised medicine! Science method is supposed to remove the influence of chance, if not entirely then at least as far as possible.



Quote:
Originally Posted by MRC_Hans View Post
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.
This is part of the problem. The trials conducted by homeopaths will probably not be "of a quality comparable to the minimum requirements for conventional meds" because homeopaths are not research scientists.


Yet we are told:

Quote:
Originally Posted by MRC_Hans View Post
....................You are the ones who must perform it. It is your claim, so the burden of proof is on you........... The homeopath makes a claim and therefore has the burden of proof.
And so the situation we find ourselves in is one where

a) There is an overwhelming volume of reputable anecdotal/ statistical evidence for homeopathy.

b) We have a perfectly good experiment to test homeopathy (prescribing a homeopathic medicine) and have published thousands of cases documenting the results of this experiment (which validate the homeopathic hypothesis) but which the scientific community refuse to accept, because it can't be Blinded.

c) The scientific community insists that we must prove the effectiveness of our medicines through RDBPCTs because they believe all medicines can be tested by this method. They know nothing about homeopathy yet they ignore the consistent advice of homeopaths that RDBPCT's will not test homeopathy effectively.

c) By way of compromise some RDBPCTs are conducted by homeopaths. The funding is raised, ethics committees are approached, pilot studies conducted, and finally the trial itself, including compiling and publishing the data. This takes years. The trial shows a positive result for homeopathy but the scientific community refuse to accept this result (from a RDBPCT) this time claiming it is not valid because the trial was not 'of a quality comparable to the minimum requirements for conventional meds' , usually because of some minor technicality.

d) Homeopaths conduct another trial, being extra careful to follow protocol to the letter this time. In fact a hundred trials are conducted but just about every trial that shows a positive result for homeopathy is criticised as not 'of a quality comparable to the minimum requirements for conventional meds'.

d) The homeopaths suggest the research scientists design a trial, but the scientists don't listen to the homeopaths when it comes to designing it. Their trials do not show a positive result for homeopathy (which the homeopath predicted because the trial does not test homeopathy) and so

e) The scientists conclude that homeopathy does not stand up to scientific scrutiny, cannot be validated and is not worthy of further research!



If the scientific community keeps shouting 'not good enough!' every time we present them with evidence in support of homeopathy they will soon lose all credibility! The general public are fast losing faith in a community who, only twenty years ago were branding the people advocating a wholefood diet as 'health food freaks' and frantically denying global warming. This is the trouble with the scientific community. They only accept evidence for new paradigms once the paradigm shift has occurred. In other words they are usually the last to accept a new idea about our reality. Even when almost everyone else in the world has adjusted their world view, the scientists are still claiming it could not possibly be the case. Who today would try and argue with the good sense of maintaining a healthy diet? The allopaths used to, and not that long ago either. Such is the way of medical science, which has become so darn clever it has lost all perspective and common sense, and is too often used in modern society to distract from reality, rather than to investigate it objectively.

Quote:
Originally Posted by moopet View Post
Science is a method which leads us to define laws (or accepted theories, anyway).
Q: What Laws or Accepted Theories have been defined in Allopathic Medicine, specifically in relation to the administering of medicines in order to cure diseases (pharmaceutical medicines) after 200 years of research (costing billions of pounds and justifying the most horrific atrocities [vivisection] and frank violations of nature [cloning/ embryonic stem cell research] in the name of medical science)? What Laws or Accepted Theories have been defined in Allopathic Medicine as a result of this so called 'science'?
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  #85 (permalink)  
Old 21st September 2008, 12:40 PM
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Sorry, I have to call you on these.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Similibus View Post
1. When the criticism completely contradicts an earlier comment made by the same individual in the same post:
They don't contradict. They say the same thing?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Similibus View Post
You can argue it one way or the other- but when you try and argue it both ways- well, you are just being argumentative.
Read it again. Both those comments from me say exactly the same thing. Hypotheses lead to theories, which are testable. If they're not, they're not science.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Similibus View Post
2. When the criticism is just plain ridiculous:

Moopet seems to suggest that we should take all scientific observations made before the turn of 20th century with a pinch of salt because "scientific investigation was a lot more lax". I especially like the bit about "sponsored by someone with a vested interest" which has never been more true than it is today in relation to the pharmaceutical companies.

By Moopet's rationale we should be suspicious of all scientific observations from more than 100 years ago and should certainly discount just about every RDBPCT that has ever been undertaken because the sponsor (the pharmaceutical company) has a vested interest! I'm inclined to agree on the latter point though!
Scientific ideas from the past are not reliably used today unless they can be demonstrated to still be applicable/work with our current understanding of the world. So for example, astrology is out, even though it might have been considered science fact, and pasteurisation is in because it can be demonstrated to work. Pasteurisation can be demonstrated to work and has been trialled and investigated hundreds of times since, by other people not standing to benefit from patents, etc.
And yes, you should be skeptical of any modern trial sponsored by people with a vested interest until it is repeated by others without the same bias. This is not a double-standard, it's common sense.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Similibus View Post
3. When the comment is fictional (imagined by the poster) yet presented as an example of concrete reality:
I see no problem with hypothetical examples. They're there to present an idea without getting bogged down in the nitty-gritty details. They're a metaphorical example. Please explain what's wrong with that?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Similibus View Post
6. Or misses the main point completely:

The point here being that homeopathy is a system of medical therapeutics which is founded on the basis of Scientific Laws and Principles that have remained pretty much constant since the dawn of time (like all other true Sciences) and that pharmaceutical medicine is not founded on anything. This is why the fundamental practices of homeopathy have not changed in the last 200 years; why we continue to use the same medicines as we always have, prescribed on the same indications despite the myriad new 'diseases' that afflict modern society. It is why, once a homeopathic medicine has been added to our Materia Medica, it remains there forever to grow and expand, as more and more information is gathered about it's uses and effects, becoming ever more powerful in the fight against disease.
Where did these Laws get discovered? They didn't. There was no science involved. I could say there has been a law since the dawn of time making ginger hair an indicator of virility. I could write it in a book and tell people never to change it. I probably would not get any more chicks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Similibus View Post
Pharmaceutical medicine, in comparison, has spent billions of pounds on so called medical research (committing many grave atrocities in the process, i.e vivisection) and then uses the general public as guinea pigs to test the long term effects of medicines, which are almost always detrimental to health.
Inflamatory words, but my standpoint is the risk/benefit model I mentioned before. Does it make me sound like an inuman monster to suggest using a drug that cures 1,000,000 people and kills 10? This thread is about the scientificy (if that is a word) of homeopathy vs evidence-based medicine, not social morals and ethics. Derail.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Similibus View Post
Experience teaches us that pharmaceutical medicines carry far more risks than benefits.
That's not what experience teaches me, though. Only you, and other people who have an anti-medicine standpoint in the first place, and that standpoint is only there because medicine rejects your ideas.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Similibus View Post
Only fools do not learn from experience. Pharmaceutical medicines are poisons - if you take too many you will die!
If you take too much water you will die. If you take too much oxygen you will die. That is why, when the doctor tells you to drink plenty of fluids he does not say, "drink 30 litres of water by noon". This is a pointless accusation.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Similibus View Post
How can a crude poison restore a weakened constitution to health?
Firstly, that's exactly what homeopathy claims it is doing with the law of similars - all remedies are based on something poisonous otherwise they wouldn't mimic the symptoms. Assuming there is any active ingredient.
Second, you need to get off this "poison" thing, because the answer is clear to anyone with the faintest idea of medicine. I do have a faint idea indeed, and it's plain to me. Strawman.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Similibus View Post
How can a practice such as chemotherapy - chemo is Latin (I think) for poison- so how can a practice like poison therapy ever seem like a good idea?
Firstly, yes, I think chemo came out of experiments with mustard gas originally. When it was found to have interesting effects, it was tested. And re-tested. And advanced. And re-tested. And refined. It's getting better, and it's another example of the risk/benefit idea. I don't care what it's called. It could be called "deathray therapy" for all that it's cogent.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Similibus View Post
But then there is evidence from RDBPCTs! A pharmaceutical company's best friend! They use a variable (placebo effect) as if it were a constant to 'prove' that their medicines have an effect!
This has been explained a couple of times. If there's still a problem, I suggest another thread dealing with them specifically.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Similibus View Post
When we consider the fact that, as a general rule, a pharmaceutical medicine will only work on 30% of the population with the condition for which it is prescribed, and we compare that with the overall average for placebo effect, which is also around 30%, what does this Meta Analysis suggest?
First, where do you get your general rules from?
Second, apples and oranges. Placebo effect can account for, say, a temporary relief in back pain. It can't account for the relief of gangrene, say. In this twist, 1 != 1, or rather 30% != 30% because they're a different 30%, measuring different things.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Similibus View Post
7. When the answer is a non-answer or extremely confused...
Well, given the structure of this thread now, I suggest knocking off extra threads to talk about the specific problems you have with science.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Similibus View Post
Any fool can criticise an argument presented by another, but it takes a degree of intelligence to develop a cohesive argument of ones own. Every time an unjust, inaccurate or just plain ridiculous criticism is made the record must be put straight, if only for the sake of the record.
And you have presented a whole series of them here. If you're not misrepresenting my quotes you're knocking science in general, which goes nowhere to answer the thread topic.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Similibus View Post
But the debate goes nowhere because the larger arguments remain conveniently unanswered. I sympathise that those arguing for allopathy are attempting to defend the indefensible but attempt to defend it they must, if there is to be any useful debate at all.
That's exactly how I feel about those trying to defend homeopathy.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Similibus View Post
So what do you say guys? Are you interested in a serious debate of this question or are you just here to nit-pick and have a bit of fun? If you are interested in serious debate- I'm in. If you are just looking to have some childish fun at my expense - well, I'm not very interested in that.
Well, serious debate, sure. But one thing I've learnt since coming here is that proponents of homeopathy seem to fit the classic pseudoscientist/conspiracy theorist mold. Knocking scientific methods doesn't add anything to your own ideas, and defending them with circular logic doesn't achieve anything at all. I suggest, again, that you were right to say that the nit-picking and quote-on-quoting was getting overwhelming. But then you just did it again, even worse! If you want to get something out of this discussion, I think we should agree on a couple of main topics and split them into different new threads, where people can quote and it won't disintegrate like this.
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  #86 (permalink)  
Old 21st September 2008, 04:37 PM
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Default Similibus' questions

I'm sorry to but in but I stumbled across this fascinating discussion and was struck by Similibus' questions.

To recap, the questions are:
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?

I won't go through them all, but will attempt to provide a little context.

IMHO there are two reasons why people like myself care at all about homeopathy:

First that homeopaths receive substantial amounts of public money be spent on homeopathy. For example, in the UK the National Health Service has spent millions of pounds per year on it. A government can only spend a tax pound or dollar once. If homeopathy should get government money it needs to show that it is more deserving than any other treatment. (And similar cost-benefit analysis are carried out with other treatments).

Second, homeopaths have advised people to take homeopathy as a means of treating or preventing potentially fatal illnesses such as AIDS or Malaria. See here for an example concerning malaria: BBC - Press Office - Homeopathic remedy claims are disputed

Concerning malaria, we have conventional medicines that can dramatically reduce the chances of visitors to an affected area catching the disease. If homeopaths are to prescribe malaria prophylaxis then there needs to be a good standard of evidence that the pills will actually reduce a person's chance of catching it.

I doubt that more than a handful of people would care at all about homeopathy if it didn't receive public money and didn't prescribe homeopathic remedies for potentially fatal illnesses.

So to your questions. I really think that its the homeopaths, and not the scientific community, that should be responsible for producing the evidence. Homeopaths have everything to gain from producing the results and publishing them - the rest of medicine will carry on regardless.

There are ample resources available to homeopaths to produce the studies. In the UK alone there are several university departments that offer courses in homeopathy, there are six homeopathic hospitals and numerous doctors who are trained in homeopathy. All these could produce high quality trials.

As has already been mentioned, several methods have already been suggested that could exclude the placebo effect and still allow the homeopath to provide an individualised treatment.

As for the money, that also exists in abundance. In the USA the national Centre for Complmentary and Alternative Medicine specifically carries out research on "medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not presently considered to be part of conventional medicine" and this research has included homeopathy. In 2007 it had a budget of USD 121 million. (See here for more: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine [NCCAM] - nccam.nih.gov Home Page)

Boiron, one of the leading firms making homeopathic remedies, had a turnover in 2007 of over 268 million euros made a profit of EUR 24 252 436 during 2007. It spent circa EUR 5 706 000 on research and development in 2007 alone (much of the research seems to be on treatments for arsenic toxicity). See the company accounts at: BOIRON - Economic and Financial Data

Similarly, the Weleda Group, another manufacturer of homeopathic remedies, had a turnover of some 200 million euros in 2007 and made a profit of some six million euros. ´╗┐Weleda Group turnover breaks through 200 million euro barrier

There is big money in homeopathy, and in my opinion there is certainly enough to fund some very interesting trials.
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  #87 (permalink)  
Old 22nd September 2008, 09:55 AM
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WOW! That is a rather impressive tirade from somone who just spoke against posts full of quotes, and against nitpicking arguments. Perhaps you should take a peek in the mirror, here?

- Nevermind; let us try to move on, shall we? I have chosen this post of yours as it contains several useful arguments:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Similibus View Post
Randomised Double Blind Placebo Controlled Trials

For a medicine to be a homeopathic medicine it must be prescribed according to the Law of Similars. This is the Law which defines homeopathy and gives it it's name (homeopathy means similar suffering). It is possible to prescribe a Specific Potentised Medicine solely on the basis of disease name but, without reference to the patients symptoms, this could never be called homeopathy. This is the crucial point and so I will labour it - if a medicine is not prescribed on the basis of symptom similarity it is not a homeopathic medicine. Therefore it is not possible to give medicine A for Differential Diagnosis B and say it is homeopathy- it is not. I hope I have made my point clear!
Yes, that is entirely clear, at least when using classical homeoapthy. However, you have thereby distanced yourself from a significant proportion of contemporary homeopaths, and you have denounced the majority of published trials for homeopathy.

Let us try to go on from there, however (although this distinction is going to come back to you, later).


Quote:
I like Moopet's idea of one group of homeopaths working with medicines and one group working with placebo. I think that would be a very good test of homeopathy's efficacy in relation to placebo. However RDBPCTs will never be a suitable investigation into the validity of homeopathy because they can only ever investigate the ability of the prescriber to select the similar medicine, i.e. the homeopath's competence rather than homeopathy itself. Even then, the prescriber is likely to feel additional pressure when participating in a trial and so already the results will not reflect normal prescribing circumstances.
Please be more specific in your reservations about this trial design. After all, surely you are not claiming that homeopathy shall be rendered inefficient by the practitioner being under a little pressure?

Quote:
(x+y) -y = x is just a complicated way of writing x = x!!! What is the value of x!
No, it does not equal x = x, because (x+y) and y are objective quantitives (the outcomes of the two groups). The value of x is the difference we observe between the two groups.


Quote:
Anyway, I wasn't trying to come up with a formula for RDBPCT's but if I were to guess at it I think it would look something like this: x - y = r

x = placebo effect + drug effect in study group
y = placebo effect in control group
r = result (drug effect)
Yes, that is really the same formula. (Because r = (x+y) - y )

Quote:
The glaring assumption here is that placebo effect will be the same in both groups, which highly improbable. How do we know that placebo effect didn't affect 20% in the control group but 43% in the study group, thereby lending an additional 23% to the effect of the drug!
How should the placebo effect be significantly different? Experience shows that the placebo effect for a given set-up is fairly constant.

Quote:
If 10% above statistical noise is enough for Moopet this is a little concerning, is it not?
This is mainly a question of using sufficiently large groups.

Quote:
The important phrase here is "provided no confounders (of importance) exist". How about the fact the fact that placebo effect is a variable! The chances of placebo affecting exactly the same percentage of people in both groups is about the same as the chance of finding a single molecule of original substance in a potentised medicine! Science method is supposed to remove the influence of chance, if not entirely then at least as far as possible.
No, the placebo effect can be expected to level out. However, you need to realize that we are talking about two different placebo effects, here:

In general, "placebo effect" refers to the fact that patients often report an improvement even if the medicine they receive is known to have no effect on their disease.

However, in the contect of a controlled trial, the "placebo responce" not only contains this effect, but also a number of other effects that are common to both groups, such as (but not limited to):

- Effect of general health advice given by the practitioner.
- Natural recovery.
- Various reporting and observation bias.

Quote:
The trials conducted by homeopaths will probably not be "of a quality comparable to the minimum requirements for conventional meds" because homeopaths are not research scientists.
That is not a valid argument. First of all, it is a d*** poor excuse: "We will not test what we are doing because we are not smart enough to do testing". Secondly, the proper design of test protocols is a simple textbook matter. Any competent medicine student can help them do it.

Quote:
And so the situation we find ourselves in is one where

a) There is an overwhelming volume of reputable anecdotal/ statistical evidence for homeopathy.
You can scratch statistical. There is none. There is a lot of anecdotical evidence, but even for anecdotical evidence, some of it is of poor quality.

Quote:
b) We have a perfectly good experiment to test homeopathy (prescribing a homeopathic medicine) and have published thousands of cases documenting the results of this experiment (which validate the homeopathic hypothesis) but which the scientific community refuse to accept, because it can't be Blinded.
You are contradicting yourself here. If it cannot be blided (or otherwise provide a valid reference), then it is NOT a "perfectly good experiment".

Quote:
c) The scientific community insists that we must prove the effectiveness of our medicines through RDBPCTs because they believe all medicines can be tested by this method. They know nothing about homeopathy yet they ignore the consistent advice of homeopaths that RDBPCT's will not test homeopathy effectively.
Two points here:

1) RDBPCT is the industry standard. There are other valid methods, but the onus of proof when using one of them will be on homeopaths.

2) The reason that argument is largely ignored is that homeopaths provide no VALID arguments for why homeopathy should not lend itself to RDBPCT.

Quote:
c) By way of compromise some RDBPCTs are conducted by homeopaths. The funding is raised, ethics committees are approached, pilot studies conducted, and finally the trial itself, including compiling and publishing the data. This takes years.
Oh, cry me a river. Yeah, testing is expensive. But since homeopathy is ridiculously profitable, excuse me if I'm not touched.

Quote:
The trial shows a positive result for homeopathy but the scientific community refuse to accept this result (from a RDBPCT) this time claiming it is not valid because the trial was not 'of a quality comparable to the minimum requirements for conventional meds' , usually because of some minor technicality.
You mean a "minor technicality" like having test groups of 10-20 subjects instead of the normal 500-5000? Sure!

Quote:
d) Homeopaths conduct another trial, being extra careful to follow protocol to the letter this time. In fact a hundred trials are conducted but just about every trial that shows a positive result for homeopathy is criticised as not 'of a quality comparable to the minimum requirements for conventional meds'.
Which tests are you referring to, here? I'm not aware of any that even approach the standards for a clinical trial.

Quote:
If the scientific community keeps shouting 'not good enough!' every time we present them with evidence in support of homeopathy they will soon lose all credibility!
Really? Well, I suggest you let us worry about that. Better worry about your OWN credibility, instead.

Quote:
Q: What Laws or Accepted Theories have been defined in Allopathic Medicine, specifically in relation to the administering of medicines in order to cure diseases (pharmaceutical medicines) after 200 years of research (costing billions of pounds and justifying the most horrific atrocities [vivisection] and frank violations of nature [cloning/ embryonic stem cell research] in the name of medical science)? What Laws or Accepted Theories have been defined in Allopathic Medicine as a result of this so called 'science'?
Ehr, I'm not sure what you are after here. Are you referring to the enormous body of knowledge that we currently posess about anathomy, pharmacoly, pathology, psychology, surgery, chemistry, etc?

Hans
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  #88 (permalink)  
Old 22nd September 2008, 10:36 AM
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Just to highlight the problems with understanding test design, see this:

Malaria Trial

In this thread, right on this forum, a homeopath hails this test as a proof that "HOMEOPATHY WORKS!"

Now, even a cursory inspection shows that:

1) According to Similibus' definition, this is not homeopathy at all

2) In fact, there is no indication of why the authors claim this to be a homeopathy test, because evidently we are talking about a medicine which has a physical content of a substance that is known to influence malaria.

3) There is no control group.

4) The evaluation is entirely subjective, based on a questionary issued to the test persons.

Science, anyone?

Hans
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  #89 (permalink)  
Old 23rd September 2008, 02:11 AM
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Well friends, is that the best you can do? One well-presented post and a whole bunch of snickerty nitpickering? For the record - my posts did not contain any nit-pickers at all! All of my quotes were in support of the point I was making - all quotes were in context and related to the given subject of the post and so all were justified.

Moopet and MRC_Hans, however, are Nitpickers of the Highest Degree- criticizing minor, insignificant points, fragmenting the post into several different subjects, leaving the major question (identified by a Q: ) unanswered and presenting no clear argument of their own!!!

Poor Moopet continues to mean what he says, even if he can't yet say what he means! Just how do you go about testing something that isn't provable Moopet? I can't wait to hear your explanation for that one! I apologise, Moopet, if you found my factual statement about vivisection, cloning and embryonic stem-cell research inflammatory - it was not intended to be - I guess sometimes the truth just hurts. And bless you Moopet, but pharmaceutical medicines are indeed poisons- I hope I'm not shattering all your illusions here - but we are talking micrograms as a lethal dose! That is not just a poison - that is a Really Strong Poison and a Long Way Off from water.

By the way Moopet, I was extremely offended by your implication that I am out of the "pseudoscientist/conspiracy mold". I had hoped that you would have given me more credit than that; and while I'll admit that some of our views may seem similar on first glance, a deeper examination of my perspective should reveal that I have very little in common with those people.

MRC_Hans still hasn't figured out that you can add and subtract Y from X as many times as you like - the value of X will not be affected (unless Y is a variable)!

Only woodchopper developed a cohesive argument of his own and attempted to back up his point of view - perhaps he should forward his suggestion it to Weleda? It is a shame however, that he managed to miss all of my most recent and relevant questions (identified by a Q: ) in his recap.

It will not have gone unnoticed that everybody did a fantastic job of side-stepping my questions in general. None of you were brave enough to tackle the issue of anecdotal evidence in relation to mass immunisation. I have no doubt that you would have tackled it had you felt that you could.

Only MRC_Hans went as far as slightly mentioning one of my questions, although he seems to be struggling to understand it!

Quote:
Originally Posted by MRC_Hans View Post
Ehr, I'm not sure what you are after here. Are you referring to the enormous body of knowledge that we currently posess about anathomy, pharmacoly, pathology, psychology, surgery, chemistry, etc?
When I said "specifically in relation to the administering of medicines in order to cure diseases (pharmaceutical medicines)" I guess I meant exactly that, which I imagine is a branch of pharmacology, if not pharmacology itself.

It is certainly not anything to do with anatomy, pathology, psychology, surgery or chemistry - the recent advances made in these latter medical sciences are astounding, especially in surgery and physiology. Anatomy, pathology, psychology and chemistry are sciences that both disciplines use. The homeopath will always have surgical cases - e.g. malignant tumors - although many cases from the allopath that go to the surgeon would have been cured with homeopathy.

Incidentally Hahnemann was a keen scientist, making several minor contributions to the development of chemistry. He was also a respected physician. Every educated person of his day knew of him and would have had an opinion about him. When the now German government decided it was time to standardize the German Pharmacopea, they chose Hahnemann to do it - out of all the physicians in Germany. His work "An Apothecary's Lexicon" became the standard reference work for German chemists for the next 100 years!

If anyone was well placed to uncover a Science of Medical Therapeutics it was Samuel Hahnemann - which is what he did by the way - and he did it through scientific experimentation and observation. Through the application of science method. By developing theories and designing experiments to test his hypotheses and by observing and interpreting the results of those experiments.

That is nearly 50 years of scientific experimentation towards a specific objective! And we haven't discovered the half of it yet. What Hahnemann found out about was the just the very beginning, like Newton's Physics. There is a whole Pure Science here just waiting to be unravelled. The scientific community will be the ones to do it, once they realise the importance of Hahnemann's work and begin to build upon the foundations that he laid down. Imagine - an entire Pure Science as yet little explored and barely understood- what other discoveries are waiting to be made! How many Nobel Prizes are waiting to be won! Oh yes, Hahnemann was certainly a respected authority on medicine and a respected chemist in his day. It is simply not true to imply that he was not a man of science.

Homeopathy is the true Science of Medical Therapeutics (the science which governs the administering of medicines in order to cure diseases).
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  #90 (permalink)  
Old 23rd September 2008, 09:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Similibus View Post
Well friends, is that the best you can do? One well-presented post and a whole bunch of snickerty nitpickering? For the record - my posts did not contain any nit-pickers at all! All of my quotes were in support of the point I was making - all quotes were in context and related to the given subject of the post and so all were justified.

Moopet and MRC_Hans, however, are Nitpickers of the Highest Degree- criticizing minor, insignificant points, fragmenting the post into several different subjects, leaving the major question (identified by a Q: ) unanswered and presenting no clear argument of their own!!!
I suggest you look back and see that after our plain text comments, you then launched into a quotefest. So much of what you say is out-and-out wrong, that it's important to address. That's not missing the main point. If your argument is flawed, it is flawed. If you call it nit-picking when others do it, you should call it nit-picking when you do it. Also: there's nothing wrong with you doing it. Also: I have suggested a solution. You have just gone on.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Similibus View Post
Poor Moopet continues to mean what he says, even if he can't yet say what he means! Just how do you go about testing something that isn't provable Moopet?
Er, what? You don't, and I've said that loads of times. What are you talking about?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Similibus View Post
I apologise, Moopet, if you found my factual statement about vivisection, cloning and embryonic stem-cell research inflammatory - it was not intended to be - I guess sometimes the truth just hurts.
I didn't find your factual statement inflamatory. I found your choice of words imflamatory. I found your factual statement to be absurd.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Similibus View Post
And bless you Moopet, but pharmaceutical medicines are indeed poisons- I hope I'm not shattering all your illusions here - but we are talking micrograms as a lethal dose! That is not just a poison - that is a Really Strong Poison and a Long Way Off from water.
You appear to be missing the point about doses. What is hard about the concept of a measured dose?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Similibus View Post
By the way Moopet, I was extremely offended by your implication that I am out of the "pseudoscientist/conspiracy mold". I had hoped that you would have given me more credit than that; and while I'll admit that some of our views may seem similar on first glance, a deeper examination of my perspective should reveal that I have very little in common with those people.
My argument was to that mold, not to the person, but: if you talk like a pseudoscientist here, I will address your comments on their pseudoscience. If you want me to address your science, produce some.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Similibus View Post
MRC_Hans still hasn't figured out that you can add and subtract Y from X as many times as you like - the value of X will not be affected (unless Y is a variable)!
Stop getting lost in this stupid piece of algebra. I can easily see MRC_Hans' point, and I'm pretty sure you can too. I'm sorry if my "1 = 1" line from way back is what started this conversation, but it wasn't meant to be a formula. If you still have problems with placebos per se, it'd be better if we talked about it using words, because the formulae we've all been bandying about aren't real, they're symbolic. And you're attacking them as if they were hard maths. I think that's called nit-picking.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Similibus View Post
It will not have gone unnoticed that everybody did a fantastic job of side-stepping my questions in general. None of you were brave enough to tackle the issue of anecdotal evidence in relation to mass immunisation. I have no doubt that you would have tackled it had you felt that you could.
Not brave enough to answer your questions? Seriously... what?
Immunisations have been performed in many places, with the expectation that they will lower the incidence of a certain disease in the growing generation. They have done so. Many, many, many times. Before = disease, after = no disease. What exactly am I having to respond to? There is no claim.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Similibus View Post
Only MRC_Hans went as far as slightly mentioning one of my questions, although he seems to be struggling to understand it!
I think most of your questions are easy to understand. I think you just don't like his answers, which is not the same thing at all.
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