ATTENTION: You are viewing a page formatted for mobile devices; to view the full web page, click HERE.

Main Area and Open Discussion > Living Room

Interesting article on homeopathy - from a medical perspective

(1/13) > >>

Here's an interesting read about the myths surrounding homeopathy. I'm an agnostic when it comes to homeopathy relative to modern western medicine, but I live in an area with a lot of practitioners and do find myself wondering about some of the claims that they make in the local newspapers. Makes you think, which is never a bad thing - even if you don't agree with the argument presented.

Interesting article on homeopathy - from a medical perspective

No agnostic here. IMHO, homeopathy is not something to sit mum on. With religious differences, I can't prove I'm right, and I can't prove any harm in believing the "wrong" religion. But following homeopathy really does cause harm when you followed a doomed treatment that at best does nothing positive, and may even cause harm by letting a disease progress to dangerous stages before seeking treatment.

So, here's some info from James Randi, famed debunker of charlatans, in his "An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural "
homeopathy This claimed healing modus is included here because it is an excellent example of an attempt to make sympathetic magic work. Its founder, Christian Friedrich Samuel Hahnemann (1775?-1843), believed that all illnesses develop from only three sources: syphilis, venereal warts, and what he called “the itch.”
      The motto of homeopathy is “Similia similibus curantur” (“Like cures like”). It claims that doses of substances that produce certain symptoms will relieve those symptoms; however, the “doses” are extremely attenuated solutions or mixtures, so attenuated that not a single molecule of the original substance remains. In fact, the homeopathic corrective is actually pure water, nothing more. The theory is that the vibrations or “effect” of the diluted-out substance are still present and work on the patient. Currently, researchers in homeopathy are examining a new notion that water can be magnetized and can transmit its medicinal powers by means of a copper wire. Really.
      The royal family of England adopted homeopathy at its very beginning and have retained a homeopathic physician on staff ever since.
      The only concern of homeopaths is to treat the symptoms of disease, rather than the basic causes, which they do not recognize. Thus homeopathy correctly falls into the category of magic. And quackery.
--- End quote ---
More from Randi's publications here, for example:, and another article from an MD here:

That said, it's worth noting that while the efficacy of pharmaceuticals is well established, the success rate of doctors and surgeons themselves really is, from a philosophy of science perspective, purely anecdotal. It's really not possible to do true double-blind studies of, say, a heart bypass. Each case is unique, so we can only talk about statistics, and that only to the degree that the doctors accurately noted all factors.

Modern, I'll call it "western", medicine - to differentiate from eastern medicines -
is amazingly evolved in terms of surgery.

Funny that you quote this
The only concern of homeopaths is to treat the symptoms of disease,
rather than the basic causes
--- End quote ---
if you look at western medicine that's *all* your average docter or even specialist will do.
The whole approach of western medicine is to treat the symptoms.
Sometimes they get it right and manage to sort out the illness, but largely they give medicines that "relieve" the symptoms (which is naturally a help to the patient, short term at any rate) but which often have unfortunate side-effects, this without being able to pinpoint the actual cause or cure related to the illness.

Of course the old cliches are true in that if you are able to lead a happy life and take care of your self and your immune system you'll be much better able to resist and avoid viruses/illness etc.

Re homeopathy, I'm not qualified to argue/debate.
But I can say this from experience: it is *very* effective in first-aid situations and
can be also very effective in treating children and even animals.
I guess I point out the children & animals cause of the possible positive effects of believing something works.
They arent believing either way, of course it could be just the power of my belief in it if I give them the medicine

And, really, I dont care how or why it works :) -
I'm happy that it works without side-effects for what i use it for (first-aid, colds, that sort of thing)
as I say, why just doesnt matter :)
And there's loads of things/times/symptoms it wont work for,
when some symptom-reliever from the chemist/drug store/docter will, well, relieve the symptoms....

EDIT: only reading the article now

well, I read as far as the "science bit".

The guy has a lot of interesting stuff to say -
it would be interesting if you could follow up on all his statements
and claims about trials and tests & their results.

The most unfortunate thing about this article is the tone -
in fact it undermines his message to a large extent.
He gives out (with very good reason by the sounds of it) about "unscientificness" (my word) in the homeopathy community
but his article is a bit of a rant which isnt very scientific or objective....
(Possibly his article in the medical journal is more "scientific" but this one doesnt inspire..)

I didnt even read the science bit because the anti-people always say:
not scientifically proven = doesnt work. Which I find a fairly pathetic "argument"
(as said above, for me if it works I'm not interested in the "arguments")

more like an article you'd get in the Sunday Times* really, innit :P

* havent read it in a while but could be described as an upmarket tabloid

not scientifically proven = doesnt work. Which I find a fairly pathetic "argument"
-tomos (November 21, 2007, 11:44 AM)
--- End quote ---

Note: I am explicitly not addressing homeopathy itself, in the interest of preserving civility. This post regards the philosophy of science.

Your thumbnail sketch of the argument, "not scientifically proven = doesnt work" is far too nebulous to address. One could mean at least two things by the "not scientifically proven" part: either "never tested", or "tested but could not find any evidence supporting the claimed effect". Only the first of these is a pathetic argument.

The idea that something has been tested, and that those tests have been unable to find any evidence that supports a claim, is very much a valid argument. This is the foundation of pharmaceutical trials involving placebos: if the tested drugs don't do any better than the placebo, then there's no evidence to support their efficacy, and so the drug will be discarded (at least within the boundaries of what was being sought).

If you disagree, you'll have to put up with me talking about the Invisible Pink Unicorns dancing in my walls, not to mention the Flying Spaghetti Monster, because no tests have proven conclusively that these entities do not exist.


[0] Message Index

[#] Next page

Go to full version