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Old 1st December 2007, 11:18 PM   #44
Penultimate Amazing
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 10,226
From the other thread:

Originally Posted by JamesGully View Post
Paul Wilson’s defense of the Shang “comparison” doesn’t answer several important questions:

Shang self-selected the 110 conventional medical studies. Because Shang and Egger (his co-author) are known antagonists to homeopathy, how can anyone feel confident that they didn’t choose certain conventional trials that showed particularly positive results?
The written report states that the 110 conventional medical studies were chosen using a random number generator, and were chosen without knowledge of the trial results. If you wish to claim that all of the researchers are lying, it becomes a trivial exercise to dismiss the scant support for homeopathy with the same claim. Your other criticisms actually support the veracity of the report. If Shang had gone through and selected out the best conventional medicine trials, then they would have fared better in measures of quality.

Ironically, the 110 conventional medical trials had only 9 that Shang defined to be of a “high quality.” Because Shang found 21 of the 110 homeopathic trials to be a “high quality,” this finding alone suggests that TWICE as many homeopathic studies were designed and conducted to a higher level of scientific investigation. Because Shang choose to generalize his conclusion from 6 conventional trials and 8 homeopathic trials, how come one of Shang’s conclusion wasn’t that homeopathic investigations are substantially more scientifically based?
There are only 110 homeopathy trials, out of thousands, that meet the standard of reasonable quality (controlled, double-blind, randomized). At the time of the study, there were 353,809 medical trials that met that standard. And the only real difference in measures of quality were in the area of “adequate concealment of allocation”; a minor characteristic which wouldn’t be considered substantive. So, how come? Because to do so would have been foolish.

The most glaring error of the Shang analysis (and one that Paul Wilson purposefully chose to ignore, despite the fact that many homeopaths, including myself, have persistently pointed it out) is what was Shang’s results of comparing the 21 high quality homeopathic and the 9 conventional ones? Curious minds want to know. It is also intriguing to know that apgaylard highlighted that he uncovered the “missing 8 trials,” but curiously enough, he too completely ignores ask what were the results of the high quality 21 and 9 trials. The fact that Paul and apgaylard are obviously smart and scientifically-oriented people, their omission seems to be pre-meditated and purposefully secretive (not exactly good science at work).
Shang found that both the 21 homeopathic studies and the 9 conventional studies had substantial (and this time the word is appropriate) bias present. Who cares what the studies show? You cannot draw valid conclusions about the treatment in the presence of substantial bias.

Why did Shang’s definition of large enough trials happen to include Wallach’s trial of 98, but not several larger trials that tested, for example, Oscillococcinum (there have been 3 trials testing this medicine in the treatment of influenza, but he only included one of the these 3 trials). Shang also only selected 1 of the 3 trials that Jacobs conducted on childhood diarrhea, and he didn’t include the pooled data from these 3 trials that have been published in a major pediatric journal…and he didn’t include her high quality study that was published in PEDIATRICS.
Because they were not higher quality studies, and because independent studies should be treated…well…independently.

Just selecting the largest trials isn’t always the best way to evaluate whether homeopathy worked or not. While it is certainly true that sometimes there is one single medicine that can be effective in treating a specific ailment, homeopaths find that this is an exception, not the rule. For instance, Oscillococcinum seems to be effective in the TREATMENT of the flu, but not in its prevention. One of these large trials that was a part of the “magic 8” was one that tested one medicine (potentized thyroid hormone) for weight-loss. The fact that it didn’t work didn’t surprise anyone I know…and the negative result doesn’t disprove anything about the system of homeopathy.
The largest trials were selected because they were the least influenced by bias. If you continue to insist that large trials cannot be done in homeopathy, then I will continue to point out that it is difficult to draw conclusions from your little trials due to bias.

There are many other sharp criticisms that I can give of the Shang article and of Wilson’s defense of it, but the above is simply a good place to start.
Really? But none of your complaints are valid.

The bottomline here is that skeptics of homeopathy tend to be extremely critical of various homeopathic studies, but whenever “junk science” comparison articles, like Shang’s, suggest a negative result to homeopathy, the skeptics seem to forget their high scientific standards

I personally think that skeptics and advocates of homeopathy should join together to sharply condemn the Lancet for publishing this piece of junk science. Skeptics and advocates of homeopathy should join together to encourage high quality scientific investigations.
None of your criticisms stand up to scrutiny, though.
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