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Old 5th January 2011, 01:00 AM   #1
Badly Shaved Monkey
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BBC's Newsnight skewers homeopaths...again

I thought this might merit its own thread;

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qgHRWB6-k-Q

Quackometer has been quick to republish the SoH's Press Release.

http://www.quackometer.net/blog/2011...t-nothing.html

The Press Release contains the usual bluster and nonsense, but gets into a muddle over the way they are supposed to present the literature base.

"By the end of 2009, 142 Randomised Controlled Trials of homeopathy had been published in peer-reviewed journals.4 In terms of statistically significant results, 74 of these trials were able to draw firm conclusions: 63 were positive (patients given a homeopathic medicine improved significantly more than the comparison group given either an inactive placebo or established conventional treatment) and 11 were negative (no significant difference was seen between the action of the homeopathic medicine and the comparison group)."

Actually, that is wrong. "Negative" meant that homeopathy did worse than the control in the weirdly obscure manner in which they have chosen to present the information.
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Old 5th January 2011, 01:03 AM   #2
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p.s. That list of references reminds me that there was some work published by homs that was awarded a prize a few years ago, but they came under investigation for falsifying their data and the prize was withdrawn. Can anyone jog my memory?
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Old 5th January 2011, 01:57 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Badly Shaved Monkey View Post
p.s. That list of references reminds me that there was some work published by homs that was awarded a prize a few years ago, but they came under investigation for falsifying their data and the prize was withdrawn. Can anyone jog my memory?
See here.

It was a "study" done by Franziska Schmidt, Prof. Karen Nieber and Prof. Wolfgang Süß in 2003 at the University of Leipzig.
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Old 5th January 2011, 03:28 AM   #4
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I found it interesting that it was mentioned that it is now illegal to administer medicines that have not been proven to be efficacious to animals (in contrast to humans).

Would our resident vets (BSM, Rolfe, Yuri) please update us on the current state ? As far as I know, my local vet (Mercer and Hughes in Saffron Walden) still offers homeopathic "treatment" (I can feel another letter-to-the-editor of my local newspapers coming on).
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Old 5th January 2011, 04:45 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Blue Bubble View Post
See here.

It was a "study" done by Franziska Schmidt, Prof. Karen Nieber and Prof. Wolfgang Süß in 2003 at the University of Leipzig.
Thanks.
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Old 5th January 2011, 04:49 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Blue Bubble View Post
I found it interesting that it was mentioned that it is now illegal to administer medicines that have not been proven to be efficacious to animals (in contrast to humans).

Would our resident vets (BSM, Rolfe, Yuri) please update us on the current state ? As far as I know, my local vet (Mercer and Hughes in Saffron Walden) still offers homeopathic "treatment" (I can feel another letter-to-the-editor of my local newspapers coming on).
Yeah, not sure about this. I think there may be Chinese whispers at play here. There was coverage in the Vet Times a week or two ago that the VMD is going to crack down on claims being made for nosodes, which is clearly a rather limited subset of homeo-woo.

Previously, the VMD and MHRA have claimed that their supine attitude to homeopathy is because EU rules have been imposed on them; the 'big boys made me do it' defence.
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Old 5th January 2011, 08:01 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Badly Shaved Monkey View Post
The Press Release contains the usual bluster and nonsense, but gets into a muddle over the way they are supposed to present the literature base.

"By the end of 2009, 142 Randomised Controlled Trials of homeopathy had been published in peer-reviewed journals.4 In terms of statistically significant results, 74 of these trials were able to draw firm conclusions: 63 were positive (patients given a homeopathic medicine improved significantly more than the comparison group given either an inactive placebo or established conventional treatment) and 11 were negative (no significant difference was seen between the action of the homeopathic medicine and the comparison group)."

Actually, that is wrong. "Negative" meant that homeopathy did worse than the control in the weirdly obscure manner in which they have chosen to present the information.

Yes. It is the 68 trials they have excluded as not "able to draw firm conclusions" that found no significant difference, as far as I remember from the sources I've seen for these figures on the BHA/FoH websites.
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Old 5th January 2011, 11:01 AM   #8
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Evan Harris has posted about this on the Grauniad's blog:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/po...cription-pets?
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Old 5th January 2011, 11:54 AM   #9
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I like Singh's point that the only people regulating homeopathy in the UK is the BBC!
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Old 5th January 2011, 12:26 PM   #10
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OK, Evan linked to the DEFRA page that this business about vets is derived from and I was right. The VMD says it is going after the retailers of nododes and similar homeo-woo. I have complained successfully to the VMD about thus in the past and had claims taken down. This is good because it may inhibit idiot owners from using sugar pills on their animals but it does not stop idiot vets. They will simply buy little white pills from Helios, or whoever, and carry on as before. The RCVS has given them carte blanche to do so and asserted the right of client to have this preference satisfied when we challenged them on this subject in 2006.

Perhaps it's time for another push.
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Old 15th January 2011, 10:12 AM   #11
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Similar TV programme aired in Canada yesterday

Last night, CBC Marketplace Investigates turned its attentions to homeopathy. You can read a comprehensive review of the programme here:
http://www.skepticnorth.com/2011/01/...athy-a-review/

What is disconcerting is the number of homeopathy apologists who are now flocking to the comments section of the preview page for the programme:
http://www.cbc.ca/health/story/2011/...e.html?ref=rss

It could do with some balance. Readers might like to help.
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Old 15th January 2011, 11:25 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Blue Wode View Post
Last night, CBC Marketplace Investigates turned its attentions to homeopathy. You can read a comprehensive review of the programme here:
http://www.skepticnorth.com/2011/01/...athy-a-review/

What is disconcerting is the number of homeopathy apologists who are now flocking to the comments section of the preview page for the programme:
http://www.cbc.ca/health/story/2011/...e.html?ref=rss

It could do with some balance. Readers might like to help.
You beat me to this.

The entire show is available here (at least for me in Canada):
http://www.cbc.ca/marketplace/2011/cureorcon/

The show did a reasonably good job given its length.

The links on the left of the page do point to the Homeoquacky report from the Science Committee of the British House of Commons. (And to the stupid response from out Federal Ministry of Health. )

Marketplace generally does a good job on following up their shows. I'll be interested to see what further they have to say.
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Old 15th January 2011, 04:41 PM   #13
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While browsing the WWW to check what the homeopaths In Ontario were up with respect to their trip on the way to professional status, I can across this: http://www.extraordinarymedicine.org/ hosted by a local "Classical Homeopath". I think we might as well give up and hunker down for the return of the Dark Ages.
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Old 16th January 2011, 03:10 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Gord_in_Toronto View Post
While browsing the WWW to check what the homeopaths In Ontario were up with respect to their trip on the way to professional status, I can across this: http://www.extraordinarymedicine.org/ hosted by a local "Classical Homeopath". I think we might as well give up and hunker down for the return of the Dark Ages.

Have you seen the "Extraordinary Evidence: homeopathy’s best research" page? It's all the same papers that have been repeatedly debunked (Frenkel, Frass, the Bristol customer satisfaction survey, the Cuban leptospirosis paper, etc). It also repeats the Faculty of Homeopathy's claim that “Four of five major comprehensive reviews of RCTs in homeopathy have reached broadly positive conclusions", and the claim that Shang et al. "did not—and will not—reveal" whaich papers were the eight best quality papers (they published the lists of papers over five years ago), as well as (to be charitable) completely misunderstanding what Shang actually did.
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Old 16th January 2011, 10:47 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Mojo View Post
Have you seen the "Extraordinary Evidence: homeopathy’s best research" page? It's all the same papers that have been repeatedly debunked (Frenkel, Frass, the Bristol customer satisfaction survey, the Cuban leptospirosis paper, etc). It also repeats the Faculty of Homeopathy's claim that “Four of five major comprehensive reviews of RCTs in homeopathy have reached broadly positive conclusions", and the claim that Shang et al. "did not—and will not—reveal" whaich papers were the eight best quality papers (they published the lists of papers over five years ago), as well as (to be charitable) completely misunderstanding what Shang actually did.
Yup. From my reading here and elsewhere I was pretty much aware of that. The problem here in Ontario/Canada is there no organized way of responding to the site. Our legislators seem particularly clueless and useless.

It's like playing Whac-A-MoleWP.
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Old 18th January 2011, 12:11 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Mojo View Post
Have you seen the "Extraordinary Evidence: homeopathy’s best research" page? It's all the same papers that have been repeatedly debunked (Frenkel, Frass, the Bristol customer satisfaction survey, the Cuban leptospirosis paper, etc). It also repeats the Faculty of Homeopathy's claim that “Four of five major comprehensive reviews of RCTs in homeopathy have reached broadly positive conclusions", and the claim that Shang et al. "did not—and will not—reveal" whaich papers were the eight best quality papers (they published the lists of papers over five years ago), as well as (to be charitable) completely misunderstanding what Shang actually did.
Has anyone got any links to this stuff - I'm particularly interested in homeopathic responses to papers both pro and con at the moment and their attitude to evidence generally?

Yuri
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Old 18th January 2011, 12:51 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Badly Shaved Monkey View Post
OK, Evan linked to the DEFRA page that this business about vets is derived from and I was right. The VMD says it is going after the retailers of nododes and similar homeo-woo. I have complained successfully to the VMD about thus in the past and had claims taken down. This is good because it may inhibit idiot owners from using sugar pills on their animals but it does not stop idiot vets. They will simply buy little white pills from Helios, or whoever, and carry on as before. The RCVS has given them carte blanche to do so and asserted the right of client to have this preference satisfied when we challenged them on this subject in 2006.

Perhaps it's time for another push.
Seems pretty clear to me from the DEFRA page that true homeopathic remedies (as opposed to nosodes which are isopathy) are exempted from the new regs. This will have a pretty limited effect on most vet homs. How DEFRA can justify clamping down on nosodes but not on homeopathic remedies is beyond me given that they are claimed to work pretty much identically.

I would love to know what or who it was got to VMD all those years ago as they were within weeks of banning homeopathy and then did a complete volte face and exempted them from testing - what happened there?

Yuri
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Old 18th January 2011, 01:56 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Yuri Nalyssus View Post
Has anyone got any links to this stuff - I'm particularly interested in homeopathic responses to papers both pro and con at the moment and their attitude to evidence generally?

http://www.extraordinarymedicine.org...best-research/
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Old 18th January 2011, 02:26 AM   #19
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I keep thinking of this lovely woman I know who spent four years at university studying homeopathy.

I am sure she would be fantastic in the consultations, reassuring the patients, the complete placebo effect.

It is going to be difficult to get this quackery to go away. Homeopaths really believe in this, their patients believe in this, and the placebo effect does work for minor, subjective issues like pain.

I really think that a good place to start would be to not allow homeopaths to treat serious diseases, although, as we have seen here, they continue to push their effectiveness.

It is going to be hard to have so many people give up their profession, because that is really what needs to happen in the UK, the end of homeopathy.

I think that those of us who live in the UK need to contact our MPs and complain that funding to the NHS is limited, yet we are funding a homeopathic hospital.

I would also suggest that we contact Boots.
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Old 18th January 2011, 02:31 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by Mojo View Post
Thanks Mojo - the usual suspects I see.

Now, you know how lazy the Nalyssus family are (my sister Sychoa is appalling), can anyone supply any decent refutations? I'm particularly interested in refutations of the Lepto paper and defences of the Shang paper.

Yuri
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Old 18th January 2011, 04:51 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by Yuri Nalyssus View Post
Thanks Mojo - the usual suspects I see.

Now, you know how lazy the Nalyssus family are (my sister Sychoa is appalling), can anyone supply any decent refutations? I'm particularly interested in refutations of the Lepto paper...

Much ado about nothing on apgaylard's blog - see also the two following posts.

Quote:
...and defences of the Shang paper.

Hawk/Handsaw:
http://hawk-handsaw.blogspot.com/200...ang-et-al.html
http://hawk-handsaw.blogspot.com/200...s-delight.html
http://hawk-handsaw.blogspot.com/200...too-short.html

apgaylard:
http://apgaylard.wordpress.com/2007/...-secret-eight/
http://apgaylard.wordpress.com/2008/...ying-on-shang/

There's also a very good piece by David Gorski on the Science Based Medicine blog: http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=242
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Old 18th January 2011, 05:41 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by Mojo View Post
Brilliant Mojo, many thanks.

Yuri
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Old 18th January 2011, 05:55 AM   #23
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Orac on the lepto paper: http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/20...hy_in_cuba.php
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Old 18th January 2011, 06:09 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by Yuri Nalyssus View Post
Thanks Mojo - the usual suspects I see.

Since it's always the usual suspects, it would be a good idea to have critiques of all of them collected together somewhere. It would save a lot of time.
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Old 18th January 2011, 06:34 AM   #25
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Orac has links to the CBC video for those of us outside Canada. Not sure how long they will be available. http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/20..._by_the_cb.php
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Old 18th January 2011, 07:13 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by Gord_in_Toronto View Post
Yup. From my reading here and elsewhere I was pretty much aware of that. The problem here in Ontario/Canada is there no organized way of responding to the site. Our legislators seem particularly clueless and useless.

It's like playing Whac-A-MoleWP.
Why not email the person who created it?
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Old 18th January 2011, 07:52 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by technoextreme View Post
Why not email the person who created it?
I have tried such an action in the past (though not with homeopathy). It makes me feel better but I don't appear to ever have convinced a True Believer.

I have on a couple of occasions tried to rouse some local skeptics to mount a concerted response to homeopathy in Ontario. If I feel strong, I'll try again.
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Old 18th January 2011, 10:16 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by Mojo View Post
Since it's always the usual suspects, it would be a good idea to have critiques of all of them collected together somewhere. It would save a lot of time.
That was my intention. I'm writing a piece on why people are sceptical about homeopathy (having trouble limiting the length!) and I'm intending to include a few common homeopath-type bogus papers/interpretations which I will then go on to expand on a web site. Hopefully!

Yuri
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Old 18th January 2011, 12:49 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by Mojo View Post
A kindly soul (the Syndicat Professionnel des Homéopathes du Québec) has published the full paper in pdf form here - http://www.sphq.org/pdf/leptospirosis_epidemic.pdf.

Very considerate.

Yuri
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