The Homeopathic Revolution by Dana Ullman: A Review

There can be few comment-enabled web pages left in the world that do not testify to the fact that Dana Ullman has published his latest book: The Homeopathic Revolution: Famous People and Cultural Heroes Who Chose Homeopathy. His claim for the book is that,

It is a project that may actually change the face (and the heart) of medicine and may make homeopathy a household word.

Dramatic stuff.

I have written about the book before, a few months before publication. This was because Ullman was making claims that I found incredible. Wherever you find a promotion for the book, you will find the claim that Charles Darwin was saved by homeopathy and this allowed him to publish the Origin. Ullman goes further and says that Darwin was an advocate of homeopathy. This was going to be easily verifiable, as all of Darwin’s letters and writings are available online at the Cambridge Darwin Correspondence Project.

So, I did check, and I wrote about my findings at some length. And what I found was that Darwin did nothing but ridicule homeopathy and made it very clear that he thought it was nonsense. Darwin did, at times, take homeopathic remedies. But only when convalescing at a spa near Malvern where the resident doctor made all his patients take the pills. But Darwin did this ‘without an atom of faith’. It was quite clear that it would be difficult to reconcile Ullman’s statements with Darwin’s own stated beliefs, and it looked like we were seeing nothing but the usual homeopathic propganda.

As you might expect, Dana Ullman took exception to my analysis and claimed I had missed many references, that I was superficial and undertook inadequate scholarship, that I was partial in my quotations, and my analysis contained misinformation. He emailed me to say “my research on Darwin [has] surpassed yours by a significant degree” and,

I sincerely hope that you are a good enough man (or duck) to admit that you MAY have been a bit too rash in your previous comments. People will TRUST you more if you admit that you were wrong about something. I realize that this tends to be rare amongst quackbusters, but perhaps you are different.

Now, to be fair, I was not reading from Ullman’s book – it had not been published yet – only wondering how he came to such conclusions for his promotional material. So, out of courtesy, I got hold of a copy, read it, and now am in a position to give a fuller review and see if Ullman’s own evidence stands up to scrutiny.

Charles Darwin

So, let’s start off with Dana Ullman’s coverage of Charles Darwin.

The first mention of Darwin is in the Introduction. Ullman obviously thinks Darwin is central to his thesis. He starts off by saying that Darwin had great admiration for his homeopathic doctor and his treatments, “though these facts are scandalously missing from the history of medicine and science”. Later, in the chapter on Physicians and Scientists, Ullman devotes ten pages to Darwin and homeopathy. Now, given Ullman’s denunciations of my analysis of Darwin, I was expecting a lot of significant material that I had missed. But, it is just not there. However, there is a lot of insignificant material, a lot of jumping to conclusions and unsubstantiated speculations. This appears to be the greater scholarship that Ullman alludes to.

So, Ullman readily admits that Darwin was openly scathing about homeopathy and that he never attributed any of his health improvements to homeopathy. The evidence for this is overwhelming. Nonetheless, Ullman claims that Darwin’s healthier moments during his long illness could be attributed to homeopathy. Ullman provides no evidence for this assertion. Darwin did suffer a long standing illness. The illness was sometimes totally debilitating, and regularly he experienced periods of remission. One time he got better was when Darwin was recuperating at Dr Gully’s hydrotherapy spa. Now because Dr Gully gave Darwin homeopathy remedies, Ullman then contends that the homeopathy caused Darwin’s health improvements.

This is nothing other than the same systematic logical mistake that all homeopaths make – post hoc ergo propter hoc – “after this, therefore because of this”. Just because one event follows another does not mean that one event caused another. The entire foundation of homeopathy is built on this logical fallacy, and Ullman makes no allowance for it. The nature of Darwin’s illness is unknown; many have speculated as to what it was, from an illness picked up in South America to purely psychosomatic illness. Therefore, to make any assessment of how Darwin’s illness should have progressed is to overstretch our knowledge of that illness. The fact that Darwin felt better after spending time at a relaxing spa should not surprise us. Ullman, however, finds it difficult to conceive of any explanation beyond a homeopathic cure.

One part of Ullman’s analysis I thought was particularly misleading. He says,

After just a month of treatment, Charles had to admit that Gully’s treatments were not quackery after all.

I emailed Dana to ask for a reference for this and to state how he came to this conclusion. He did have a reference, but it was quite clear that Darwin was talking specifically about the hydrotherapy treatments and made absolutely no mention of homeopathy. Darwin’s opinions of the sugar pills appears to have been steadfast.

Ullman goes on to explore an area I did not; that is Darwin’s research on the response of the insectivorous plant Drosera (sundew) to dilute ammonia salt solutions. Darwin was shocked at the response of the plant’s tentacles to ever increasingly dilute solutions. Ullman pounces on this as proof of Darwin wanting to research homeopathic solutions. There are three things wrong with this: one, Darwin never says anything about his research being homeopathic in nature; two, homeopaths tell us that dilute solutions are not homeopathic – succussion is necessary (apparently); and thirdly, the solutions are still light by homeopathic standards – homeopaths dilute beyond the point that the original chemical will be present. Ullman makes a similar error on his own websites and elsewhere in his book when he calls homeopathy the science of nanopharmacology. Now diluting to the nano level (a billionth) is still well within the realms of standard analytical physical chemistry. Measuring dosages at the nano-mole level is now standard laboratory practice. Homeopathic dilutions make nano doses look positively gargantuan. I have no idea why Ullman wants to insists on such terminology when it is so obviously misleading.

Darwin was shocked at the results of his dilution experiments, not because he thought that it confirmed homeopathy, but because he did not expect such dilute substances to have such a dramatic effect. This was new science and he was instinctively cautious. Darwin wanted to replicate his own work and confirm his findings. He doubted his own experience, experiments and capabilities and made doubly sure he was not deceiving himself. This is something that homeopaths could learn from.

And on to Ullman’s worst crime in this chapter. Ullman insists that Darwin was a supporter of homeopathy despite all the evidence to the contrary and he does this by asserting that he was afraid of what this peers would think if he said such a thing. Ullman does not present any evidence to back this up. I find this a terrible besmirchment of Darwin’s character. One thing that you cannot say about Darwin was that he was unduley cowered in the fear of what the establishment might think of him. He did not launch his theory of evolution into a compliant and accepting orthodoxy. Darwin had to win over his scientific peers, the establishments of church and state, and society as a whole, through sheer strength of argument alone. Darwin was well aware of the implications of his work and how that might threaten the established view of a natural world created by a benevolent god. It took courage and much deliberation to take on this worldview and it is inconceivable that Darwin would quibble over a trifle such as homeopathy even if he did believe in it. No, Darwin knew homeopathy was nonsense. All the evidence points to that. Any other conclusion is just perverse.

Adolf Hitler

For me, in his treatments of Darwin, Ullman looses all credibility in his analysis. It would be enough to stop here in this review, but his analyses of Adolf Hitler is in some ways even more perverse.

Now, Ullman’s book is about famous people and cultural heroes. Obviously, Ullman does not see Hitler as a cultural hero and he makes this clear. But in doing so, he then feels it necessary to show that Hitler was not an advocate for homeopathy and never benefited from it. But again, this is in the face of contradictory evidence that Ullman himself presents.

In the chapter Politicians and Peacemakers, Ullman describes how Hitler took nux vomica and belladonna, two staples of every homeopath’s pharmacy, every day for nine years up to his suicide. Unlike Darwin, Hitler was convinced that these pills were saving his life. Now, to get around the rather nasty conclusion that this supremely evil man was a supporter of homeopathy, Ullman tells us that it was unlikely that Hitler’s pills had undergone the proper dilution and succussion process, and were therefore not properly homeopathic. This contrasts rather starkly with Ullman’s insistence that Darwin’s simple dilutions were part of some homeopathic experimentation.

But the rather nasty conclusion is, and at risk of invoking Godwin’s Law, that the Nazi state was rather enraptured with homeopathy. It would be surprising if it was not. German nationalism latched onto all sorts of mystical and distinctly Germanic notions during these terrible decades. The fact that homeopathy was of German origin no doubt had some bearing on its adoption by the various Nazi doctors in attendance to Hitler. Ullman insists that the pattern of prescribing remedies to Hitler did not match standard homeopathic practice, but one must also take into account that Hitler’s doctors would also have done anything the Führer desired. These were not standard prescribing times.

It is difficult to come away with any other impression that Ullman is twisting his own presented evidence to reach whatever conclusion he chooses. If there is any credibility left, it is dashed when you note that one of the sources that Ullman references for his information on Adolf Hitler is the discredited historian David Irving.

‘No Smoke Without Fire’

After looking at these examples, it is difficult to take any of the biographical details and conclusions seriously. But in a very important regard, this is utterly immaterial because it does not matter one jot what Darwin or Hitler thought about their experiences with homeopathy. Their opinions do not prove or disprove whether homeopathy is nothing but nonsense.

In order to judge Ullman’s book, we ought to see if Ullman succeeds in the task he sets himself. The subtiltle of the book is Why Famous People and Cultural Heroes Choose Homeopathy? Does Ullman answer this question? In short, no.

Ullman assumes the answer from the start, and it is the answer of the commited homeopath – that homeopathy is a powerful healing force. And so in doing so, he fails to address the obvious problems with taking a string of historially based anecdotes. In looking at peoples accounts of homeopathy, you have to take into account the various ways in which people might acquire mistaken beliefs. Ullman does not do this and so we have no way of weighing the importance of this mass of ancdotes.

Even homeopaths do not deny that people are subject to a placebo response when taking medicines. This can be personally interpreted as a positive healing response to an otherwise inert pill. Also, many illnesses, being cyclical in nature, allow natural disease remissions to be attributed to the cure. This is almost undoubteldy what was going on in Darwin’s case. When he was at his worst, he went to see Dr Gully. Any subsequent improvement would be attributed to whatever Dr Gully was doing – Darwin thought it was the hydrotherapy; Ullman the homeopathy. There are other ways of being fooled, of course. There is no need to go into them here. The point is that Ullman should have considered them in detail in his book if he wants us to take his mass of anecdotes as serious evidence. The fame and celebrity of Ullman’s cultural heroes make no difference to the importance of these subjects’ beliefs. If one person can hold a mistaken belief about a healing experience then so can thousands of others. Mere numbers make no difference. It does not enhance the quality of the evidence in anyway. A common delusion can produce millions of the deluded.

This point is noted by the writer of Ullman’s foreward, Dr Peter Fisher, Clinical Director of the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital, when he says,

Of course, the fact that the extraordinary range of talented, intelligent, and independent-minded people depicted in this book benefited from homeopathy does not represent a scientific argument.

I would agree fully, but maybe just caveat that these people believed they benefited. But rather bizarrely, Fisher then immediately says,

“but, it is a strong ‘no smoke without fire’ argument”.

This sounds so out of place for a man who considers himself to be a man of science. It is the talk of gossiping schoolgirls in an unsupervised playground. Of course there can be smoke without fire. It is entirely possible for large numbers of people to hold entirely mistaken beliefs, even intelligent celebrities and politicians. And so, this book has the significance of the nauseating and suffocating mobile wedding disco smoke machine, designed to hide the balding uncoolness of the past-it DJ. The book is a 400 page fig-leaf and Ullman is using his celebrity gossip and bizarre interpretations to obscure the embarrassing lack of convincing evidence that would show us homeopathy is nothing but a discredited philosophy, practiced by scientifically illiterate narcissists, using inert sugar pills.

As such, this book is not going to ‘change the face and heart of medicine’. It is of interest only to those who want their prejudices confirmed and their delusions massaged. To really understand why so many people can so easily be sucked into the irrationality of alternative medicine is going to take another book. There may be a few of those along soon.

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See also Orac’s review of excerpts from the Homeopathic Revolution.

116 comments for “The Homeopathic Revolution by Dana Ullman: A Review

  1. Mojo
    December 15, 2007 at 9:37 am

    “To really understand why so many people can so easily be sucked into the irrationality of alternative medicine is going to take another book. There may be a few of those along soon.”

    In fact, there was one along just recently: a UK edition of Michael Shermer’s Why People Believe Weird Things was published by Souvenir Press in September. It doesn’t cover homoeopathy (or, indeed, much in the way of alternative medicine) specifically, but whatever irrationality is being considered, the reason people get pulled into it are basically the same.

  2. Kat
    December 15, 2007 at 10:00 am

    Darwin proposed and defended the theory of evolution to a scientific and lay audience incredibly hostile to it, but was afraid to give public support to homeopathy? That’s given me a good laugh to start my day.

    But really, comprehending evolution is simple – there is this small thing called EVIDENCE. And in the 200-odd years since Darwin proposed the theory, evidence has continued to accumulate, strengthening our understanding.

    Now, in 200 years, homeopathy has produced no evidence but still relies on anecdote and a mish-mash of badly designed and performed “studies” which just do not hold (even homeopathic) water.

    But the bottom line is – it wouldn’t matter if Darwin HAD believed in homeopathy. It still doesn’t work, and if all Ullman can produce is “famous people believe in it” that is simply fatuous.

  3. quacknet
    December 15, 2007 at 10:03 am

    Bravo – a trenchant and funny analysis of Ullman’s revolutionary work. But it highlights yet again, I suspect, the futility of engaging in debate with folks whose conceptual models are still couched in pre-Enlightenment (and fundamentally magical) systems of belief. There appear to be increasing numbers of people who believe in fairies at the bottom of the garden / UFO’s / the rapture / creationism u.s.w., including such famous imbeciles as George Walker Bush – and a surprising number of the homeopaths I have encountered… Interestingly (to me, anyway), some of these types now use ‘Enlightenment values’ as a term of abuse.

    An historical perspective suggests that whereas climbing out of the magical mire is slow and difficult, it’s easy to fall rapidly back; it’s impressive and surprising that we have gotten this far. The scientific method provides our pitons, ice-axe and oxygen, but whatever progress we have made to date is no guarantee that we’ll continue to progress. It’s clear that difficult times lie ahead, and I wonder to what extent the scientific and liberal components of our time will survive the imminent bunch of singularities.

    ps Another book well worth reading is Murder in Amsterdam, by Ian Buruma. Buruma uses the murder of Theo van Gogh by a young deracinated Muslim as a starting point for an analysis of the clash between Enlightenment and pre-E values. Insightful and illuminating.

  4. Le Canard Noir
    December 15, 2007 at 10:12 am

    Thanks quacknet – I will look up that book.

    As for the futility of debate, I fully understand that I will never convince a committed homeopath that they are making basic thinking mistakes. Their resistance to self-analysis is what I find so fascinating about the whole subject of quackery. Why did Ullman not cover the problems of accepting testimonial evidence? It is not as if it is an obscure subject or could be unknown to him. Just deliberate avoidance of an area that might challenge what he wants to believe.

    Anyway, looking foward to this: Snake Oil Science: The Truth about Complementary and Alternative Medicine. by R. Barker Bausell. Popping into the OUP shop soon to see if it is out in the UK yet.

  5. gimpyblog
    December 15, 2007 at 10:56 am

    Good review. One minor quibble though. David Irving isn’t wholly discredited as a historian, it seems he has allowed his beliefs to cloud his interpretation of the facts and to perhaps create facts to fit his theories but if a historian like Max Clifford is prepared to acknowledge his work then you can’t use Irving as some sort of ad hom attack on Ullman. Besides David Irving was a great influence on Slaughterhouse Five and nobody would argue that Vonnegut is a lesser figure because of that.
    I think it would be fair to say that as a historian Dana Ullman is worse than David Irving.

  6. PGaunt
    December 15, 2007 at 11:29 am

    LCN said “Their resistance to self-analysis is what I find so fascinating about the whole subject of quackery.”

    So do I but I’ve always assumed that there are at least two types of quackery. There’s the sort which is presented by the genuinely deluded and there’s the sort which is presented by get rich quick merchants who would sell their own grandmothers if it helped them make money.

    I suspect that Ullman is of the first type, i.e. he’s genuinely deluded. These sorts of people have the same sort of mindset as the accolytes of religions. It’s almost entirely pointless arguing with them (regardless of how much fun it is) because accepting that they might be wrong hurts their brains.

    The second type of quacks (the charlatans) are more akin to high priests. If you argue with them then, given the opportunity, they’ll hurt your brain.

  7. WikiDana
    December 15, 2007 at 4:13 pm

    There has been some discussion about this on wikipedia. Dana Ullman keeps editing his own page (he was banned for this, but has used at least two sock-puppets) to remove the references to Darwin’s own writings, and to make himself look like a genius. Although I think wikipedia is flawed, I think that people like Dana Ullman should be corrected at every turn.

  8. Dana Ullman
    December 15, 2007 at 4:54 pm

    Dear Mr. Duck,

    Thanx for all of the attention. Yes, this book deserves attention due to the modern explanation for why homeopathy makes sense and works, the scientific evidence the book provides to backup these statements, the history of medicine that the book uncovers, and the personal stories about the use of and/or appreciation for homeopathy from so many of the most respected people of the past 200 years, including many people who were previously skeptical about homeopathy.

    I’m sorry that you chose to provide only details about Charles Darwin and Adolf Hitler (who I show was prescribed herbs in STRONG herbal doses by a German doctor who never referred to himself as a homeopath nor had any homeopathic training). There is a big difference between the exceedingly strong doses of these herbs that Hitler used and the exceedingly small doses that Darwin used in his experiments. People interested in my statement about Darwin on this matter and on his experiences with Dr. Gully will benefit from going to my article on the subject.

    In writing this book, I chose to “connect the dots” of the many cultural heroes who used and/or appreciated homeopathy, and I chose to correct some historians who have incorrectly asserted that some famous people used or appreciated homeopathy. My book verifies that Hitler was neither an advocate nor a user of homeopathic medicines. Later in the book, I also show that some historians have suggested that Napoleon was an advocate for homeopathy, though I have disproved this (but I did provide some interesting stories of the use and appreciation for homeopathy by Napoleon III and his family).

    I’m glad that you didn’t do what some skeptics of homeopathy have written. Some people have actually insisted that Gully wasn’t really a homeopathic doctor. Scholars of Darwin know that Gully was a homeopathic doctor AND a hydrotherapist.

    You wrote that I asserted that “Ullman goes further and says that Darwin was an advocate of homeopathy.” The story of Darwin is the longest story in my book, and I never say directly that he was an “advocate of homeopathy,” though I certainly show how much it benefited from homeopathic treatment as well as from the care that his homeopathic doctor, Dr. James Manby Gully, provided for him. The link that you provide is to an excerpt from my book in a homeopathic magazine. The editors took the liberty to write that statement about various famous people and their advocacy of homeopathy. I didn’t write those precise words.

    You also note that I refer to homeopathy as a “nanopharmacology.” You emphasized that homeopaths make use of much smaller doses that “one-billionth” but you missed reading or neglected to mention my statement on page 24 that says:
    “The prefix nano derives from Latin and means dwarf; today, the prefix is used in nanotechnology or the nanosciences, which explore the use of extremely small technologies or processes, at least one-billionth of a unit, designated as 10-9, though our use of the word nanopharmacology and nanodose draws from its modern usage, suggesting “very small and very powerful.” Are you now going to tell Steve Jobs that he should change the name of his company’s invention, the Nano, because it isn’t one-billionth in size?

    I encourage people to avoid making knee-jerk judgments or assumptions about homeopathy. That is way too easy. Straw men are easy to knock down. Instead, I encourage you to explore WHY homeopathy has persisted, WHY so many of the smartest people in the past 200 years used and/or appreciated it, and WHY the majority of scientific evidence from both basic science and clinic research verify that the placebo response is an inadequate explanation for all of the effects that homeopathic medicines have been found to have.

    Finally, my chapter on “Why Homeopathy is Hated and Vilified” is worthy of you and your readers’ attention.

  9. Schaunard
    December 15, 2007 at 6:10 pm

    Thanks for this review. For those who are interested, Ullman is unwise enough to give a sample chapter of the book at http://www.homeopathicrevolution.com: you can see which “literary greats” were, according to him, enamoured of Homeopathy.

    Of course the most important point is this: just because a certain well-known writer may have believed in “X”, it doesn’t mean that it’s true. So what? Arthur Conan Doyle believed in fairies.

    In any case, the chapter allows those who are interested to check out the miserable quality of Ullman’s research without having to buy the whole book. He considers, for instance, that Henry James was an advocate of homeopathy because one of the characters in The Bostonians endorsed it. No matter that this character, Miss Birdseye, was described by James as “a confused, entangled, inconsequent, discursive old woman”.

  10. PhD scientist
    December 15, 2007 at 6:11 pm

    Revelation: some famous people, at various points in the past, used homeopathy.

    We don’t know whether they used it because they truly believed in it, or because they had no idea what the homeopath was really giving them, or because it was part of a whole rag-bag of “therapies” they were getting, or if they knew it was crap but took it to humour the doctor, or if their spouse persuaded them, or if they took it because the homeopath was their drinking buddy, or combinations of the above, or…

    (contd. ad infinitum)

    Only the first thing on this list is even vaguely germane to Dullman’s argument, which in itself isn’t germane to anything (some people who don’t really believe in CAM remedies on an intellectual level still take them – again, so what?). And we have heard that Dullman misrepresents people who clearly didn’t believe in the stuff (like Darwin) as enthusiasts if they ever once swallowed a potion. If William Osler truly believed the ingredients (i.e. the water) in a homeopathic remedy had any biological effect, then I am a monkey’s uncle. Did Osler believe in a kind of holistic approach to patients – in the sense a modern GP might use the phrase – yes. But that is not the same as Osler believing in magic.

    Dullman’s logorrhoea and bug-eyed determination reminds me oddly of the kind of born-again Christian zealots who used to harangue night-club queues about sin, even when repeatedly told to bugger off.

  11. pv
    December 15, 2007 at 6:17 pm

    I encourage people to avoid making knee-jerk judgments or assumptions about homeopathy.

    Is 200 years long enough to consider it? D Ullman you insult people’s intelligence.

    Here’s an example of how you insult everyone:

    Are you now going to tell Steve Jobs that he should change the name of his company’s invention, the Nano, because it isn’t one-billionth in size?

    A ridiculous question from a ridiculous man who think’s everyone is as stupid as him. “Nano” is Mr Job’s name for a product. It’s not illegal, or wrong or even confusing, much as you wish it were.

    I think you need to concentrate more on finding that incontrovertible example of a non-self-limiting condition being cured by homeopathy. You’ve had long enough to do it… and about 200 years of records. You people do keep proper medical records, don’t you?

  12. Michael
    December 15, 2007 at 6:26 pm

    The prefix “nano-” denotes a factor of 10 to the power of -9, that is to sat, one billionth. The majority of homeopathic remedies have nothing to do with nano-, or even femto- (one quadrillionth) doses: they are so diluted that there is hardly any chance that any of the original substance remains at all.

  13. Dana Ullman
    December 15, 2007 at 7:19 pm

    Michael: Your defintion of nano is just one, not the only one. My book says this clearly, and as did my previous post…but you and othes have created a new definition of double-blind (you close both of your eyes).

    PV: I agree. Steven Jobs didn’t break any law by calling his product, Nano. Likewise, because the popular meaning for nano is very small and very powerful, this is a perfect way to describe homeopathy…as a nanopharmacology.

    Schaunard: Henry James was a Swedenborgian, and like virtually all Swedengorgians, he was a known advocate for homeopathy. His writings that refernce homeopathy in one of his most famous novel is simply evidence of this.

    As for Mrs. Birdseye, it seems that you are either showing your male chauvinism, your misogony, or your ignorance. Mrs. Birdseye was the grand dame of the women’s movement in the novel. If this is the way you want to refer to such a leader, please don’t tell your wife or girl friend or mother.

    There IS a good reason that so many literary greats spoke and/or wrote well about homeopathy, and there are also good reasons that some of the people on this list don’t get it (you folks on this list ARE smart, but your razor-sharp intellect is so narrowly focused that you miss so much of nature and life and healing). Your loss.

  14. gimpyblog
    December 15, 2007 at 7:57 pm

    Dullman: Your defintion of nano is just one, not the only one. My book says this clearly, and as did my previous post…but you and othes have created a new definition of double-blind (you close both of your eyes).

    That is an admission of deception. You are redefining words to suit your agenda and argument. Nano has a very specific meaning as understood by most people. By changing its meaning you are attempting to fool people and that’s not very nice, nor very clever. There is a word for people who calculate to deceive and it’s not very nice. Here is the definition from the OED:
    A mountebank or Cheap Jack who descants volubly to a crowd in the street; esp. an itinerant vendor of medicines who thus puffs his ‘science’ and drugs.
    One who puffs his wares; a puffer.
    An empiric who pretends to possess wonderful secrets, esp. in the healing art; an empiric or impostor in medicine, a quack.
    An assuming empty pretender to knowledge or skill; a pretentious impostor.

    Can you guess the word?

  15. woodchopper
    December 15, 2007 at 10:18 pm

    @Gimpyblog – having read Richard Evans’ book on the UK Irving trial I have to say that Irving has been completely discredited as a historian. He was found to be guilty by a judge of deliberately fabricating some of his most celebrated source material. That’s the worst sin a historian can commit – analogous to a scientist publishing articles based upon fabricated experimental data. Moreover, the judge deemed that Irving fabricated his sources in order to pursue a political objective.

    As Max Hastings(!) writes in the article you linked to “Irving, however, no longer seriously expects to be regarded as one of us [a historian]. He is a spokesperson for the Nazi regime from its grave who almost relishes ostracism.”

    Certainly, he was a colourful character and people will tell amusing anecdotes about him, and he did find out numerous sources about the Nazis. But that does not diminish the fact that as a scholar Irving has been totally discredited as a “falsifier of history”.

  16. Dana Ullman
    December 15, 2007 at 10:31 pm

    Hey Gimpy…
    The FASEB Journal seems to disagree. This published something I wrote in which I even used the word “nanopharmacology” in the title. Let’sHaveASeriousDiscussionOfHomeopathyAndNanopharmacology

    I still assert that we need a serious discussion on homeopathy and nanopharmacology, instead of these ill-informed and mis-informed diatribes.

  17. HCN
    December 15, 2007 at 10:35 pm

    Sorry, Brave Sir Dana, but “nano” has a very specific numerical meaning. You cannot add definitions to suit your need.

    Just like “micro” has a specific meaning, so does “nano”. And while I do not think wikipedia is the most reliable source, it does have a decent article here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nanotechnology
    and here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nanomedicine

    You trying to include in part of your techno-babble is fraudulent.

  18. gimpyblog
    December 15, 2007 at 10:40 pm

    Point taken Mr Chopper. The point I was trying to make was that Irving was at one point credible and though his reputation is now in tatters he has apparently published some reasonable work in his time.

    DUllman, you are going to have to provide a credible reference, ie. one you didn’t write, to prove your definition of nano is in common use.

  19. Le Canard Noir
    December 15, 2007 at 11:52 pm

    Dana – to answer some of your points.

    You disprove Hitler was an advocate of homeopathy by a timely and transient definition of what homeopathy is. You are not even consistent with this definition in the book. This is not surprising because homeopaths cannot even agree themselves on what defines being a homeopath (see how UK homeopath members bodies have fought over the Summer). Some homeopaths are quite happy using dilutions well with the ‘pharmacological’ range and thus are consistent with Hitler’s usage (if you are correct about this).

    By adopting the term nanopharmacology you are definitely at risk of misleading the unknowledgable. Look at how scientifically illiterate supporter of homeopathy, Jeanette Winterson, misused the term nano in her defense of homeopathy in the Guardian. Your adoption lends itself to that sort of error. I personally believe many homeopaths deliberately use the terms like ‘small doses’ or ‘nano doses’ as a fig leaf to avoid having to defend the reality of ‘no doses’. I hope you are not part of that dissimulation.

    In short, Dana, your book fails because you do not anticipate your critics reactions and take positions on those criticisms. Look at how, say, Dawkins does this in The God Delusion. Instead, you pretend these criticisms do not exist. Rather, you create straw men such as the ideas that homeopathy is vilified because it is a threat to established medical interests. I bet you none of your critics here and elsewhere would earn an extra penny if homeopathy disappeared tomorrow, or even loose any money of it doubled in size. This position of yours looks to me as if you do not treat the critics of homeopathy as being sincere and deserving of attention. My personal criticism is that homeopaths do not act within the boundaries defined by our best knowledge of the effects of homeopathy and thus endanger their patients by massively overstating their capabilities.

    You are not alone in ignoring that criticism. The homeopathic community does not want to hear it. Instead, it just wants to hear your lovely stories about celebrities, sports stars and royals and their supposed love of your sugar pills.

  20. PhD scientist
    December 16, 2007 at 2:43 am

    *sigh* “nanopharmacology”

    Well, speaking as a teacher of, and researcher in, pharmacology, if this were to mean “pharmacology of drug molecule molecular interactions on the nanometer scale” it would mean something. That would be an appropriate analogy with “nanotechnology”.

    If it is instead being used (as DUllman uses it in his bamboozling way) to mean (or rather to conceal the meaning):

    “pharmacology attributed to molecules that are no longer present in the solution, i.e. non-existent molecules”

    - then there are several more succinct words: one of the less vulgar would be “rubbish”.

  21. LouiseZ
    December 16, 2007 at 2:55 am

    ANDY, YOU CAN’T EXPLAIN WHY ON EARTH ALL THESE FAMOUS, INTELLIGENT AND WELL RESPECTED PEOPLE BOTHERED TO TAKE HOMEOPATHIC MEDICINE IF IT DIDN’T WORK??!! You mention Hitler and Darwin and leave off Charles Dickens, Tennyson, Beethover, Goethe, Bernard Shaw, Thackeray, Disraeli, Gandhi, Lincoln & 10 other American Presidents, as well as 7 Popes, etc. etc. etc. Were they all deluded too?!?!

  22. Dr Aust
    December 16, 2007 at 3:07 am

    I can’t be arsed with debating dingbats like Dullman any more, so I think I will leave the debunking to others and settle for outright ridicule in future.

    As David Colquhoun has repeatedly demonstrated, well-directed scorn is all homeopathy merits, for all their self-important posturing.

    “No molecules! No molecules!”

    Or: “It’s magic, stupid”

    Or: “Homeopathy: Christians do water into wine, we do water into medicine”

  23. Dr Aust
    December 16, 2007 at 3:19 am

    In answer to Louisez:

    Many of the people cited lived in the early to mid 19th century, before we had much scientific medicine or knew what molecules were.

    I am also willing to bet few to none of them had any scientific education. Have we ever had an American president with a science degree apart from Jimmy Carter? If you told me Reagan was a homeopathy fan, that would come as no great surprise given his enthusiasm for astrology. And when Bill Clinton had angina he called the cardiac docs for angiography and a quadruple bypass, not the homeopath for a bunch of mumbo-jumbo.

    And we already know Popes believe in magic, don’t we?

  24. HCN
    December 16, 2007 at 8:13 am

    Dr. Aust said “Have we ever had an American president with a science degree apart from Jimmy Carter? “

    Yes, Herbert Hoover, a couple others like Grant and Eisenhower attended West Point, which is actually much like an engineering school (Carter went to the Naval Academy).

    William Harrison did start to study medicine before joining the military. Though that was at a time when medicine was about as safe as handling gunpowder.

    The others were mostly lawyers, professors, farmers and one hats sales man. You are probably right about the level of science education.

    Even in the 19th century, several of those who called themselves homeopaths did start to avail themselves to what was becoming modern medicine. Some became half-homeopaths that actually prescribed real drugs, and even performed surgeries.

    But in those days there was not much regulation, or even much in the way of medical education. The so-called “medical” doctors in the 19th century had little or no scientific training. Most of them learned as apprentices, being taken in by a practicing doctor to help and learn a trade. From:
    http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/about/history/ …”Toward the end of the 19th century, American medical education was in chaos; most medical schools were little more than trade schools. Often, it was easier to gain admission to one of these than to a liberal arts college.”

    One interesting historical figure that you might want to investigate is Abraham Flexner.

    The appeal to authority to people who died a century ago really does not make any sense. Or even those who died 50 years ago… really it is an appeal that has turned to dust.

  25. pv
    December 16, 2007 at 10:01 am

    LouiseZ said…
    “You mention Hitler and Darwin and leave off Charles Dickens, Tennyson, Beethover, Goethe, Bernard Shaw, Thackeray, Disraeli, Gandhi, Lincoln & 10 other American Presidents, as well as 7 Popes, etc. etc. etc. Were they all deluded too?!?!”

    A typical and vacuous appeal to fame and celebrity. Yes, these people almost certainly didn’t know about the placebo effect, so they were almost certainly ignorant if not deluded – that is if they were taken in by it in the first place. You know, one isn’t immune from ignorance or delusions just because one is famous or clever in some other discipline. Science is nothing to do with how many stripes or gold medals one wears, or how important one is perceived to be.

  26. BSM
    December 16, 2007 at 10:29 am

    Remember when “JamesGully”, i.e. Dullman said at JREF;

    “Be careful because this book IS dangerous. It’ll kill your misinformation on homeopathy. It’ll mangle your unscientific attitude towards homeopathy. It is that dangerous.”

    It certainly looks dangerously embarrassing to its author.

    The twisting and turning to vainly attempt a defence of that steaming pile of horse dung is increasingly hilarious.

    And it’s not like the topic even matters. A lengthy and pointless argument from authority and antiquity is an amazingly profligate way to burn any residual credibility any homeopath might have.

    Tthe homeopathic measure of credibility must work through dilution, so the less they have the more powerful they think they are.

  27. Mojo
    December 16, 2007 at 11:33 am

    LouiseZ said,

    “You mention Hitler and Darwin and leave off Charles Dickens, Tennyson, Beethover, Goethe, Bernard Shaw, Thackeray, Disraeli, Gandhi, Lincoln & 10 other American Presidents, as well as 7 Popes, etc. etc. etc. Were they all deluded too?!?!”

    Not necessarily deluded, but, on the basis of what we know now, they were wrong.

    If you go back another hundred years or so from Darwin’s time, you will find that the majority of scientists (and presumably the majority of informed non-scientists) believed that a substance called “phlogiston” was released for substances when they were burned. Once it was demonstrated that substances gain weight on burning rather than losing it, the theory was demonstrated to be wrong and was abandoned. This doesn’t mean people who believed in phlogiston theory before it was disproved were deluded: phlogiston theory was consistent with the state of knowledge at the time.

    But the fact that large numbers of respected scientists believed in phlogiston theory certainly doesn’t mean that it was correct, just as the fact that large numbers of respected figures believed (or that many people still do believe) in homoeopathy does not mean that it works. The thinking behind Dana’s collection of celebrity endorsements is fatally flawed.

  28. Le Canard Noir
    December 16, 2007 at 11:47 am

    LousieZ – others have explained why we need not be impressed by the sheer number of Popes that believe in homeopathy. Presumably you also believe in transubstantiation?

    But you raise Charles Dickens. That is an interesting one. Now Ullman makes the classic mistake of assuming that characters in his novels share the same beliefs as Charles Dickens.

    Dickens was a satirist. In an obscure sort story, The Mudfog Papers Dickens describes a messianic figure called Sir William Courtenay who believes that homeopathy can raise the dead and should be prescribed to the recently deceased.

    Sounds horribly like satire to me.

  29. LouiseZ
    December 16, 2007 at 12:48 pm

    WITHOUT PREJUDICE

    Talking of science degrees, there are lots of homeopathic practitioners who hold them.

    Spending hours trashing homeopathy is never going to take away the truth that it works. You probably don’t realise that the path of history is littered with skeptics who changed their minds about it.

    In fact trashing homeopathy seems to be the full time job of some of you and what we are all dying to know is who is paying you?!!

    Canard, I challenge you to phone Ainsworths Homeopathic Pharmacy 0207 935 5330 and order a Lycopodium 10M powder and tell me you don’t feel ANYTHING at all after taking it! That is Lycopodium 10,000c. Lycopodium is Moss, so you can have lots of fun joking about it. It is one of the main remedies for Suspicious and Skeptical people. I take no responsibility for the after effects as you have fully documented on this website your total disbelief in homeopathy, that you believe homeopathy has no effect whatsoever.

  30. BSM
    December 16, 2007 at 1:05 pm

    LouiseZ said:

    “Spending hours trashing homeopathy is never going to take away the truth that it works. You probably don’t realise that the path of history is littered with skeptics who changed their minds about it.

    In fact trashing homeopathy seems to be the full time job of some of you and what we are all dying to know is who is paying you?!!”

    No one who maintains a genuinely and usefully acceptable approach to evidence quality can possibly believe in homeopathy. The fact that there are many numpties who say, “I was sceptical but then I tried it” show how shallow was their understanding in the first place.

    Why do I spend hours trashing homeopathy? Because it is an interesting topic and has some importance in our public life because of the damage that is being done to the intellectual life of our society by the fools and fellow-travellers who are trying to force this discredited therapy into the mainstream without being held to account to the same standards required of any other medical therapy or even any other consumer product.

    If homeopathy was genuinely so reliably powerful why have standards of evidence had to be set so low in order for the products to be legally sold?

    When the MHRA caved in to EU pressure to regularise the selling of homeopathic sugar it was after not a single remedy had been submitted to the usual licensing process to enable it to show that it worked. Instead, idiot politicians and time-serving bureaucrats subverted the whole system of medicines licensing to gain special dispensation for homeopathy. Frankly, if this is what is required to maintain the market in your sugar pills you should be throughly ashamed to call yourself a supporter of homeopathy. It is an absolute disgrace and the fact that such stupidity has become public policy in the UK is an embarrassment.

    But you’re so clever, perhaps you can answer thsi question;

    GIVE ONE, YOU ONLY NEED ONE, INCONTROVERTIBLE EXAMPLE, WITH REFERENCES, OF HOMEOPATHY CURING A NON-SELF-LIMITING CONDITION.

    Options include, AIDS, metastatic melanoma, rabies, Addison’s disease, Type 1 Diabetes.

    If you cannot come up with even one single example you should have the honesty and humility to admit you are wrong.

    (Honesty and humility from an advocate of homeopathy! Who am I kidding? But, let’s give LousieZ a chance before we draw the usual conclusions)

  31. Le Canard Noir
    December 16, 2007 at 1:06 pm

    LouiseZ – that would not be a convincing experiment since it is obviouslt I will feel something after taking a powder, but knowing it is due to the homeopathy is another thing.

    Do you think you could do my ” REL=”nofollow”>challenge?

    That would be much more convincing. You would shut me up very quickly and then you could lauch at us sceptics?

    In short, a much more convincing test than a book of anecdotes. And could be done for the price of a few copies. What do you think?

  32. Krishna
    December 16, 2007 at 4:28 pm

    I was not aware about this Book till I read this Blog. Notwithstanding all the nonsense written against Homoeopathy I would like to read it at the first opportunity.We care the least for the critics of Homoeopathy. These critics do not venture to write a single word about the modern drugs- after all loyalty also pays dividends!!!

  33. BSM
    December 16, 2007 at 6:29 pm

    Wow! Krishna, that made no sense at all.

    Meanwhile, I’m keen to see if LouiseZ can answer my question or successfully take the duck’s challenge. Indeed, Dana should do the same. There really is no point in either of them posting anything else unless they can rise to these challenges. What, other than abject moral cowardice or lack of basic honesty, would prevent them?

  34. Palinurus
    December 16, 2007 at 7:55 pm

    Re: Henry James.

    Henry James Sr. (the novelist’s father) was a Swedenborgian theologian. His sons Henry and William (the psychologist) were not – as far as I am aware – Swedenborgians. William James was a founder member of the Society for Psychical Research and one of his areas of interest was the psychology of religious experience. They were both notoriously independent minded and analytical thinkers so it seems unlikely that they advocated homeopathy unquestioningly (and I’ve seen no evidence that they did so at all).

  35. Dr Aust
    December 16, 2007 at 8:25 pm

    Didn’t know that about the elder James, Palinurus.

    That is very interesting since US homeopathy in the second half of the 19th century was closely associated with the Swedenborgians, and this is evident in the writings of James Tyler Kent (1849-1916). So it is easy to see how Henry James might have known about homeopathy; but believing in it is something else.

    James Tyler Kent, for those that don’t know, is the second most famous historical homeopath after Hahnemann, and the main “father” of the modern homeopathic obsession with ultra-dilutions (“30C” and above). Kent was a firm believer in believer in “The Vital Force”, and it his teachings that contemporary British homeopathy takes most of its world-view from.

    Sample Kent quote from around 1900:

    “All sickness originates from internal causes; internal causes are spiritual; therefore all sickness has a spiritual basis”

  36. woodchopper
    December 16, 2007 at 9:05 pm

    @gimpyblog. Indeed, Irving was renowned for hunting down obscure people and interviewing them, as well as being a meticulous searcher of documentary evidence. He found an awful lot of information. The trouble is that he systematically abused this source material in order to rehabilitate Hitler’s reputation, and deny the magnitude of the holocaust.

    In any given book we really don’t know whether a piece of information: a) accurately reflects the source material; b) is based upon a source, but has been misinterpreted; or c) is a fabrication.

    Regarding Hitler’s use of homeopathy, I concur with Le Canard that any ‘historian’ that uses Irving as a source should be criticised at the very least for incompetence.

  37. Le Canard Noir
    December 16, 2007 at 9:27 pm

    LouiseZ – what if I took a whole tub of Lycopodium 5MM (is that the strongest?) whislt online with a webcam? I might feed a few to my cat too. Slip some into the fish bowl too.

    Whilst this in no way is a substitute to my test, what do you think would happen to me? What is the worst thing you think I could take?

    If I did this, would you take my test?

  38. Rob
    December 17, 2007 at 11:31 am

    On the “nano” thing, permit me to propose a new prefix to remove any ambiguity: “homeo”, meaning “nil / non-existent / no longer present”. This allows writers to use long technical sounding words such as “homeopharmacology” without any risk that they might, however inadvertently, cause their readers to think they’re referring to any existing and totally different discipline.

  39. Rob
    December 17, 2007 at 12:12 pm

    LouiseZ: I challenge you to phone Ainsworths Homeopathic Pharmacy 0207 935 5330 and order a Lycopodium 10M powder and tell me you don’t feel ANYTHING at all after taking it!

    Oooh, now this does interest me. I am willing to take any dose you ask of any homeopathic remedy you choose, but there are some important things to note. Firstly, I feel something pretty much all the time: happy, sad, interested, perky, bored, hungry, thirsty, sleepy, wakeful, an itchy nose etc… so you ought to choose a remedy which would produce noticibly dramatic and unusual effects. Secondly, you must specify – without revealing them to me – in advance what you expect me to feel or experience as a result of taking the remedy. Even better would be for me to keep a detailed diary (of a type and level of detail to be specified by you) of symptoms, feelings, thoughts and experiences while taking the remedy but also of the same things before I start taking it. If the remedy has a noticeable effect then it should be clear to any homeopathic practitioner who reads the diary when I started taking the remedy. So when the test has finished you can read the diary and tell me when I started taking the remedy (which will of course not be revealed to you until you’ve answered). Each day’s diary page and dosage information will of course be submitted to a mutually trusted 3rd party (and/or I’ll send you a secure hash of them, which removes the need for a 3rd party) every day, to prevent any retrospective alteration by me.

  40. HJ
    December 17, 2007 at 12:13 pm

    *chuckle*

    well said rob, well said.

  41. Claire O'Beirne
    December 17, 2007 at 1:24 pm

    I’m completely at a loss as to why I should be convinced by the “argument from celebrity” – especially as most exemplars referred to in this thread are conveniently no longer around to refute their alleged support for homeopathy. While I might admire the formal skill and imagery in the poetry of WB Yeats, that doesn’t mean I admire his enthusiasm for the Occult or his authoritarian leanings; equally, Newton’s discoveries in gravitation and mechanics are supreme intellectual achievments, but that doesn’t mean I’m with him in his views on creationism or alchemy, given the evidence amassed since his lifetime. To do so would be just simplistic and credulous.

    I wonder what supporters of homeopathy have to say about Professor Edzard Ernst, who, despite training in and practice of homeopathy, is increasingly sceptical of its claims of efficacy:
    “…So what do systematic reviews and meta-analyses of rigorous clinical trials tell us? In 1997, Linde and colleagues published a meta-analysis of 89 controlled clinical trials, which concluded that the ‘clinical effects of homeopathy are not completely due to placebo’ [2]. Since then, more than 20 further systematic reviews or meta-analyses have become available [3–8]. Collectively they fail to demonstrate convincingly that homoeopathic remedies differ from placebos. As science cannot prove a negative, we are not able to state categorically that homoeopathy is ineffective, but we can be certain of one thing: its clinical effectiveness has not been established. Of course, our doubts are significantly increased by the absence of a plausible mechanism of action…”
    (British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 62(6), December 2006)

  42. Rattitude
    December 17, 2007 at 2:58 pm

    The ‘how could a lot of famous people be wrong’ question feels like satire in itself. Scientology, monkey testicle elixers, magnetism/electric cures, and the worst excesses of every pseudoscientific delusion are always to be found running rampant in the rich and famous–historically and in the present. People are, en masse, frequently wrong about things–famous people more, rather than less, so as far as I can tell. Unless of course drunk driving, baby dangling, inbred designer dogs, dressing like a hooker and racist outbursts are also wonderful ideas.

  43. Zetetic
    December 17, 2007 at 3:40 pm

    I think I’ll write a book about how many historically significant people benefited (placebo effect) from blood letting… I’m sure there were thousands!

  44. Rick
    December 17, 2007 at 7:41 pm

    I don’t get it?

    Hitler was a BAD man, and he didn’t use homeopathy. So homeopathy must be GOOD.

    Darwin was a GOOD man, and he might’ve used it. So homeopathy must be GOOD.

    What if Hitler loved cheese but hated paper cuts? Does that make cheese BAD but paper cuts GOOD?

    I’m confused.

  45. Rob
    December 17, 2007 at 9:08 pm

    LouiseZ: I accept your “Lycopodium 10M Challenge” on the simple condition that you specify in advance (but preferably without telling me) what you expect the effect (for which I totally absolve you of all responsibility) will be. I will of course take the Lycopodium 10M in the presence of witnesses so they can see whether anything happens and I cannot claim it didn’t effect me if it really did so. To prevent anything “antidoting” the remedy (I believe that’s the correct homeopathic term) I will abide by reasonable conditions you want to specify about what I cannot eat or drink shortly before of after taking it.

    (Offer to take the Lycopodium Challenge cc’ed by e-mail to Louise Mclean of Zeus Information Service, who a bit of googling suggests is the person behind the the ‘LouiseZ’ identity who posted the challenge)

  46. Le Canard Noir
    December 17, 2007 at 9:25 pm

    Rob – good on you.

    I suggest a mass sceptic suicide live on webcam. All of us take a tub full of the worst, strongest, maddest remedy LoiuseZ can can up with. Try to kill us L. We are game.

  47. PGaunt
    December 17, 2007 at 9:59 pm

    I’m a bit concerned about the tub-full of homeopathic remedy. Might we not be in danger of drowning or dying of a sugar rush?

  48. BSM
    December 18, 2007 at 7:54 am

    I’m a bit concerned about the tub-full of homeopathic remedy. Might we not be in danger of drowning or dying of a sugar rush?

    Diarrhoea could be a problem for the lactose-intolerant.

  49. Claire O'Beirne
    December 18, 2007 at 9:46 am

    @ Rick
    sorry to add to your confusion, but what about Hitler’s (reported) vegetarianism and abstention from alcolhol and smoking?

    …maybe that’s why I trust evidence more than celebrity endorsement when it comes to decisions about my health.

  50. nash
    December 18, 2007 at 1:29 pm

    Shouldn’t that be Zeus Misinformation Service?

    She offers Homeopathic consultaions and prescriptions by phone. Hardly seems like the personal touch.

  51. Rob
    December 18, 2007 at 1:48 pm

    I’m just trying to think of the details of how the Lycopodium Challenge should be conducted. If LouiseZ does respond, presumably the symptom(s) which she expects to manifest themselves should be revealed in advance not to me but to at least one witness or referee present when I take the Lycopodium 10M (or any other remedy of Louise’s choosing), so there’s a referee who knows specifically what to look for?

  52. FlammableFlower
    December 18, 2007 at 2:58 pm

    Dana:”The FASEB Journal seems to disagree. This published something I wrote in which I even used the word “nanopharmacology” in the title. Let’sHaveASeriousDiscussionOfHomeopathyAndNanopharmacology

    I still assert that we need a serious discussion on homeopathy and nanopharmacology, instead of these ill-informed and mis-informed diatribes.”

    The only mention of nanopharmacology is “Let’s have a serious discussion of nanopharmacology and homeopathy.”….twice, in the heading and final line. No definition no discussion nothing. This is a letter. A letter, nothing more. A letter to a journal is no indication of editorial endorsement. In fact a few issues later the editor-in-chief responds Response to: Let’sHaveASeriousDiscussionOfHomeopathyAndNanopharmacology Not exactly the ringing endorsement you claim Dana….

  53. Le Canard Noir
    December 18, 2007 at 3:05 pm

    For completeness, and it is very funny,

    Here is the response from the editor in chief of the journal to Ullman’s “Let’s have a serious discussion of nanopharmacology and homeopathy”

    Response to: Let’s have a serious discussion of nanopharmacology and homeopathy

    Gerald Weissmann, Editor-in-Chief

    MR. ULLMAN IS CLEARLY A DEVOTEE of his art, and I respect his opinions. I’m afraid that I view Mr. Ullman’s references to the efficacy of homeopathy as modern versions of those Dr Holmes distrusted:

    … cases reported by the Homoeopathic physicians…would for the most part be considered as wholly undeserving a place in any English, French, or America periodical of high standing if, instead of favoring the doctrine they were intended to support, they were brought forward to prove the efficacy of any common remedy administered by any common practitioner. There are occasional exceptions to this remark; but the general truth of it is rendered probable by the fact that these cases are always, or almost always, written with the single object of showing the efficacy of the medicine used, or the skill of the practitioner, and it is recognized as a general rule that such cases deserve very little confidence. Yet they may sound well enough, one at a time, to those who are not fully aware of the fallacies of medical evidence (1) .

    REFERENCES

    Holmes, O. H. (1892) “Homeopathy and Its Kindred Delusions.” http://www.quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/holmes.html. Accessed September 2006

    (Thanks to RH)

  54. Le Canard Noir
    December 18, 2007 at 3:10 pm

    Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

  55. FlammableFlower
    December 18, 2007 at 3:14 pm

    Homeopathy: Holmes, Hogwarts, and the Prince of Wales Another article from the FASEB that published Dana’s letter and that he claims to show his odd take on the definition of the prefix “nano-” is accepted by the scientific community. Doesn’t exactly show Dana Ullman in a particularly good light, but he is mentioned by name!

    Dr Oliver Wendell Holmes, M.D. – seems to have been one of the first quackbusters.

  56. Dr Aust
    December 18, 2007 at 11:28 pm

    Anything about quackery written by Gerald Weissmann is usually a great read, and the Holmes, Hogwarts… column is a corker.

    He is well worth reading on “Intelligent Design” as well.

    I am still amazed Peter Fisher agreed to write the foreword for Dullman’s book. He has gone down in my estimation. I truly cannot imagine what powers of “Doublethink” Fisher must possess to defend homeopathy, and pat nitwits like Dullman on the back, while possessing an MRCP. Bizarre.

  57. bsm
    December 19, 2007 at 1:04 pm

    D ullman seems to have gone away.

    I think the appropriate word is: BUSTED!

  58. Rob
    December 19, 2007 at 1:29 pm

    Sadly no response yet from LouiseZ suggesting what she expects the effects of Lycopodium 10M to be. But let’s try and set up the Lycopodium 10M Challenge. It can’t be before the new year, and we should allow enough time for LouiseZ to respond and/or other homeopaths to get involved, so let’s pencil it in for 3pm on Saturday the 26th of January. I’ll have ordered a “100 powder doses” set of Lycopodium 10M from Ainsworths just like LouiseZ challenged, collect it at 3pm and go to The Dover Castle pub just around the corner. I will then take the whole lot* in the presence of anyone who cares to be there. Any and all homeopaths are especially welcome: I’ll even buy you a drink with my own money. They can even accompany me to Ainsworths to see for themselves that I really do buy genuine Lycopodium 10M, and satisfy themselves that I don’t mishandle it or contaminate it or do anything which might cause its magical powers to dissipate.

    I’ll be sure to send invitations to some UK homeopaths. Stick it in diaries: 4th Saturday in January, 3pm, Ainsworths Pharmacy in London.

    * I have no idea how much “100 powder doses” is. Obviously if it’s a giant tubful then I won’t get through it all, but I’ll do my best and certainly be able to manage a good few heaped spoonfuls in the course of the afternoon.

    Rob

  59. BSM
    December 20, 2007 at 1:52 pm

    I think Dullman must have run away.

    Same old, same old.

  60. HCN
    December 20, 2007 at 7:56 pm

    Don’t worry, he will come back spouting the same drivel about Gully being a homeopath, that the Chest paper showed homeopathy worked, that Oscillococcinum works for flu and that water is like a CD-ROM.

    Then we will go and send the links where he was told multiple times that he was wrong.

    ACH wrote about his mode of operation here:
    http://badscience.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3902&sid=21f71e6dc700d656412ccd9fbba4a1fd

  61. Le Canard Noir
    December 21, 2007 at 12:03 am

    And, as if by magic, the bookwriter appeared – back on my Darwin post, “spouting the same drivel about Gully being a homeopath”.

    Wow. are you psychic, hcn?

  62. HCN
    December 21, 2007 at 12:23 am

    Sadly, I am not psychic.

    Brave Sir Dullman is just too predictable.

  63. apgaylard
    December 21, 2007 at 12:56 pm

    HCN:

    Here’s another dullman classic for your list:“Is it just a coincidence that silica has a tendency to store and to broadcast information?”

  64. BSM
    December 21, 2007 at 2:48 pm

    That post also provides an outing for our ‘umble ‘omeopath’s favourite word.

    “I’m glad that you knew all this, even though the best scientists have humility on what they don’t know.”

    Does our serial self-publicist use a different dictionary from the rest of us?

  65. Rocko
    December 22, 2007 at 2:51 am

    I don’t know if anyone noticed this comment from Dullman in the Guardian thread:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/story/0,,2229492,00.html

    “It is also hard not to notice that these people have an active network that alerts each other about possible pro-homeopathy articles on the web, and then, they swarm and seek to infect their vemon into the discussion.”

    But as was rather brilliantly pointed out in the 19, 2007 2:11 comment by Commander Keen:

    “Hi Dana, you mean a network like the one you describe here?
    http://otherhealth.com/showthread.php?t=9233

    That’s how he keeps cropping up in everything that mentions homeopathy. He’s basically (a very watered down) Candyman.

  66. Dana Ullman
    December 24, 2007 at 2:44 pm

    Hey Mr. Duck and Duck-friends,

    It is interesting how so many of you refer to my book as a “celebrity” book. It would help to read the book or just look at its Table of Contents (Dana Ullman’s new book) to see how wrong you are. I hate to let TRUTH get in the way of your rants, but truth has a way of emerging.

    You will find chapters on Literary Greats, Physicians and Scientists, Politicians, Corporate Leaders, Women’s Rights Leaders, amongst others (and one of the longest chapters in the book is the one on Physicians and Scientists).

    As for Mr. Duck’s weak and ill-informed critique of my book, this weakness is evidenced by my online article on Charles Darwin and his homeopathic doctor. There is NO controversy amongst medical historians on WHO was the physician who Darwin most admired and who he obtained his greatest health benefits: Dr. James Manby Gully.

    If you want to be directed to Darwin’s writings on his experiences with Dr. Gully, read and judge for yourself: Dana Ullman’s article about Darwin’s doctor.

    This link will also link you directly to Dr. Gully’s book on “water-cure” and his statements about the importance of and the significant therapeutic benefits he and his patients received from homeopathic medicines.

    Sorry if truth gets in the way of your belief. And because you cannot change the past or rewrite history, perhaps it is your beliefs have to evolve (you are for evolution, aren’t you?).

  67. Dana Ullman
    December 24, 2007 at 4:20 pm

    It seems as though the LINK to my online article to Charles Darwin and his favorite physician, James Manby Gully, was a broken link. Try this one:
    Dana’s article on Darwin’s homeopath

  68. HCN
    December 27, 2007 at 5:08 am

    Oh Brave Sir Dana, you are a clueless git!

  69. Dana Ullman
    December 28, 2007 at 6:44 am

    HCN, it seems that my solid evidence that Darwin’s favorite doctor was a hydrotherapist and a homeopath really pisses you off. This evidence is derived from Dr. James Manby Gully’s own book and is undeniable. Rather than to respond to it in any rational way, you instead choose to call me names.

    The irony is that you think about me as being irrational. Chutzpah to the max.

  70. Mojo
    December 28, 2007 at 10:06 am

    Could you cite the evidence from Gully’s book that supports your claim that he was a homoeopath, from an edition that is available on Google Books in full text so we can check your references?

  71. Dana Ullman
    December 28, 2007 at 8:09 pm

    Glad you’re interested and want to verify what I wrote. I guess you didn’t see my article on this subject that provided the specific reference, link, and page numbers (page 46-48). To see some of my evidence, go to my article at: Dana Ullman’s article about Charles Darwin’s favorite physician.

    There is even more information in my book, though the online article provides links right to Darwin’s letters, including the ones in which he expresses disbelief in homeopathy. The fact that he was skeptical of homeopathy provides evidence that the significant benefits that he received from Dr. Gully’s treatment were unlikely due to placebo effects.

    And the fact that he experienced great relief of 12 years of serious problems within 8 days is a bit impressive.

    By the way, in this new year, I sincerely hope that we can all avoid the us/them mentality that we tend to fall into. I realize that this is asking a lot, but it is a worthy goal.

  72. HCN
    December 29, 2007 at 2:11 am

    Oh, I am not pissed off, I just very amused at your total delusional beliefs. No matter how much evidence is given that you are wrong, wrong and wrongedy wrong, you just plow ahead.

    Just check above for my comment made on 20 Dec 2007.

    If I have reason to be perturbed is the fact that you have categorically refused to adequately answer any my questions, or those of Badly Shaved Monkey.

    Mojo even asked you for evidence from a Google Book, and you gave him your own website!

    But, again, it is more amusing than anything else. We are laughing at you, not with you.

    In short:

    Famous people who may have used homeopathy are still dead.

    Film at 11.

  73. Dana Ullman
    December 29, 2007 at 7:20 am

    HCN…In ALL due respect, I gave you the specific pages of the google book by Dr. Gully (again, pages 46-48)(I’m not clear how you missed that one). I provided a link to my article because it STILL is an excellent summary of information on Darwin’s life that is gathered from and linked directly primary source material. A strong case is made, whether you want to believe it or not.

    What is your response to the fact that the physician who Darwin respected the most AND received the greatest therapeutic benefits was a hydrotherapist and a homeopathic physician. What is YOUR evidence to the contrary?

    And I’m glad you believe that Darwin’s 12+ years of serious ailments that he would turn into an “eating and walking machine.” Gotta love that effective medical care.

  74. HCN
    December 29, 2007 at 7:52 am

    Dead people may have used homeopathy.

    Film at 11.

  75. Mojo
    December 29, 2007 at 9:56 am

    “I guess you didn’t see my article on this subject that provided the specific reference, link, and page numbers (page 46-48).”

    Yes, I’ve seen that, but you don’t present evidence that Gully was a homoeopath – just a few comments supportive of homoeopathy, which is not the same thing. You have claim ed that Darwin believed that homoeopathy works – does this mean that you are also claiming that Darwin was a homoeopath?

    On page 48 of that book, Gully writes “although I might be induced to try to subdue a passing but troublesome symptom, I could not trust to remove the essential nature of a chronic malady by homœopathic means”; hardly a resounding endorsement of a therapy that claims to be “holistic”. You have previously cast doubt on whether Gully actually wrote this, by the way – nice that you’ve provided a reference for it.

    Gully writes about the beliefs of homoeopathic practitioners, he writes about homoeopathy coming to the aid of the “water-treatment”, he says that homoeopathy may be to some extent effective (and of course he bad-mouths “allopathy”), but this doesn’t alter the fact that his area of practice was hydropathy. What’s the book about?

  76. Dana Ullman
    December 29, 2007 at 2:32 pm

    HCN…Yes, many of the most respected people and cultural heroes of the 19th century used homeopathy and are dead today. Your point is firmly planted in mid-air.

    Today, there are between 100 and 200 million people today who primarily rely upon homeopathic medicines as their treatment of choice for their health problems, and my book is full of these stories too.

    Sorry to get facts in the way of your beliefs.

  77. Dana Ullman
    December 29, 2007 at 3:03 pm

    Mojo,
    It is shocking that you still think that Gully wasn’t a homeopath, even though most respected biographies on Darwin that discuss his health acknowledge that Gully was a homeopath and that Darwin respected Gully more than any other physician (he didn’t have much respect for most physicians, though Gully was an exception). Read Quammen’s book or Desmond & Moore’s, amongst many others.

    I’m not too surprised that you chose to not mention some of the other quotes from Gully’s book:

    Gully poses the question of how can a physician find the “precise stimulus” to a real cure for the patient. He then asserts that homeopaths provide “a more rational plan.” Drawing from his own experiences, he affirms that despite the use of infinitesimal doses used in homeopathy, “It is well and wise to observe and investigate these things before laughing at them” (page 47).

    In 1856 when this book was published in its fifth edition, he added the following strong statements about the value of homeopathic medicines. He writes that distinct from the use of conventional medicines in the treatment of chronic constipation where drugs do not cure and lead to relapse, it is significantly different with homeopathic care: “In fact, cases abound in which homeopathic treatment alone has effectually and permanently cure habitual costiveness” (page 48).

    In reference to the treatment of headaches, the use of homeopathic medicines is “not only justifiable but desirable.”

    Gully continues by asserting, “Homeopathic practitioners have observed that patients under the water cure are more susceptible to the action of their remedies than other persons, and that therefore the results may be more accurately calculated. I have found this assertion to be substantially correct; and it confirms the vivifying influence of the water cure over the bodily functions” (page 48).

    By the way, I never questioned whether Gully wrote the above (I have no idea to what you are referencing this incorrect statement), nor have I ever written that Gully considered his treatment “holistic” (I do not think that this word was even coined at that time).

    I have stated that Darwin’s health was so tenuous that in early 1849 he himself wrote that death was immiment. However, he sought the care of Dr. Gully, from whom he was prescribed homeopathic medicines and within the first week there was a significant shift in his health.

    Indeed, film at 11.

  78. HCN
    December 29, 2007 at 7:24 pm

    D Ullman said “Today, there are between 100 and 200 million people today who primarily rely upon homeopathic medicines as their treatment of choice for their health problems, and my book is full of these stories too. “

    But are they actually be cured of their real ailments? How many are suffering the fate of the child who died of a very painful bacterial infection because her parents dragged her to a homeopath in India instead of taking her to the scheduled Australian Health facilities? How many diabetics are going through a slow painful death because they are using homeopathy? How many are suffer sudden cardiac death because they relied on homeopathy instead of real medicine to deal with the cause of a heart murmur? (by the way, just met a family whose 16 year old son suffered a heart attack at age 14 on the basketball court, he now has an implanted defibrillator and is on beta-blockers, got any special homeopathic cures for that?) How many are catching actual diseases because they got a homeopathic vaccine instead of a real vaccine?

    How valid are your stories? Why should we care about them?

    D Ullman said “Sorry to get facts in the way of your beliefs.”

    Except you have not presented any facts, just your beliefs.

    I have noticed that you have never ever once answered Badly Shaved Monkey’s question. Here it is:

    “GIVE ONE, YOU ONLY NEED ONE, INCONTROVERTIBLE EXAMPLE, WITH REFERENCES, OF HOMEOPATHY CURING A NON-SELF-LIMITING CONDITION.”

    Then Deetee added:

    One example, with references, where the independent data safety monitoring board (DSMB) terminated a study early because of the benefits homeopathy demonstrated over placebo or conventional therapy.

    Now also, there is my question that seems to get ignored, lots (not one person has answered with a real number, just a bunch of stupid mumbo jumbo on memory and water acting like a CD). Here it is:

    How many (as in a NUMBER) chlorine and sodium atoms are in one cubic centimeter of Nat Mur 30C ?

    Now try answering with facts and references. Stop going on about people who died over a century ago. Real medicine has advanced further in the last decade than homeopathy has in the last two centuries. Sorry to get facts in the way of your beliefs.

  79. Dana Ullman
    December 30, 2007 at 2:15 am

    HCN…
    Your black and white thinking is reminiscent of religious fundamentalism that is more emotionally-charged than rationally-based. Hey, lighten up…and cool it with the venom, unless you consider using homeopathic doses of it (yeah, we do use various venoms for that neurological/hormonal syndromes that such venoms to known to cause).

    Homeopaths are NOT against all of conventional medicine. Heck, my father was a pediatrician and allergist (professor emeritus at UCLA), and he was an insulin-dependent diabetic. I have plenty of respect for conventional medicine, but I also prefer using various safer methods before resorting to the “big guns.”

    This IS good medicine…whether it be for yourself or your children.

    And ultimately, despite your rantings, there is plenty of scientific and empirical evidence that homeopathy works. I encourage you to stick your head out of your blindness and stop spewing venom of ignorance.

    As for modern-day cultural heroes who appreciate homeopathy…if you read my book you would know this, but you prefer to stew in your fundamentalism and ignorance, there’s Brian Josephson (Nobel Laureate), Tony Blair, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and too many to mention.

    You may choose to make fun of my reference to Tina Turner in my book, but according to her autobiography, she suffered from tuberculosis (conventionally diagnosed) in the 1970s and was cured by a homeopath…and has used homeopathy since then.

    There is a good reason that so many people who have access to any type of medical care in the world chose homeopathy as a primary treatment.

  80. HCN
    December 30, 2007 at 3:55 am

    D Ullman wrote: “Hey, lighten up…and cool it with the venom,”

    Only until deaths of little baby girls like Gloria Thomas cease to be. From:
    http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2007/11/05/1194117959740.html it says “NINE-MONTH-OLD Gloria Thomas was in such distress that her crying alarmed some passengers on a plane trip from India to Sydney.”

    Deal with that, Brave Sir Dana.

    Deal with the folks who have contracted malaria because they believed a homeopath instead of the recommendations of the NHS (http://www.senseaboutscience.org.uk/index.php/site/project/71/ ). Deal with the deaths due to diabetes, cancer and infection due to using homeopathy… and the websites I read about them I cannot find because they are drowned out by all the homeopaths advertising cures for those disorders.

    The delusion continues with “This IS good medicine…whether it be for yourself or your children.”

    Prove it by answering the questions that have been posed to you. The questions you choose to ignore.

    I noticed you invoked more “famous people who used homeopathy” instead of straight answers. Why would I care if Tina Turner or others who were famous used homeopathy? Trust me, while I love Tina Turner’s music, I do not seek out medical information from grandmothers who can still belt out a great tune. The use of something by someone who can sell newspapers does not prove a thing.

    Try actually answering some real questions. Tell us how homeopathy could have saved Gloria Thomas. Tell us how homeopathy can repair a damaged mitral valve. Tell us how homeopathy can prevent malaria, tetanus, measles, and influenza. Tell us how homeopathy can cure AIDS.

    Just add those to the three questions you have now avoided for several weeks.

  81. Acleron
    December 30, 2007 at 5:48 am

    Ullman said “And ultimately, despite your rantings, there is plenty of scientific and empirical evidence that homeopathy works.”

    When asked for this evidence there is either a plethora of badly designed trials or silence. It is insufficient to keep repeating this statement. The better the designed trial the closer does homeopathy resemble placebo.

    And shortly afterwards “As for modern-day cultural heroes who appreciate homeopathy…if you read my book you would know this, but you prefer to stew in your fundamentalism and ignorance, there’s Brian Josephson (Nobel Laureate), Tony Blair, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and too many to mention.”

    Blair a modern day cultural hero? Well, at least you made me laugh.

  82. Mojo
    December 30, 2007 at 10:12 am

    “It is shocking that you still think that Gully wasn’t a homeopath…”

    You still haven’t presented the evidence to demonstrate that he was a homoeopath, or considered to be a homoeopath by Darwin.

    Your claim that Darwin sought out homoeopathic treatment is based on your implied claim that Gully was considered to be a homoeopath and this was why Darwin went to him for treatment. Nothing in the sources you have so far presented supports this: it is apparent from Darwin’s letters that Darwin considered Gully to have been a hydropath. He consistently refers to Gully’s regime as the “Water Cure” (as does Gully, for that matter).

    I’ll have a look at the biogs you mention, if I can get gold of them, but meanwhile do you have any evidence you can present here?

  83. Dana Ullman
    December 31, 2007 at 12:30 am

    HNC,
    Yeah, I still think that you do need to lighten up (not just for me but for your own mental health). There are some risks when one does not engage conventional medical treatments, and there are other risks when one does. Hopefully, we still live in countries where there are certain personal freedoms, especially on those issues in one’s life in which governments and other people should not intrude. Are you suggesting otherwise? In that case, do you prefer fascism or communism?

    Perhaps you might benefit from a simple lesson from history…homeopathy gained its greatest popularity in the US and Europe in the 19th century due to its impressive results in treating the various infectious disease epidemics of that era, including epidemics of cholera, typhoid, yellow fever, scarlet fever, pneumonia, and influenza. Even several popes granted homeopathic doctors that highest awards given to non-clergy due to the stellar results these doctors provided with homeopathic medicines during cholera epidemics (I wonder if you will now spew some venom on various popes…I’ll duck and cover for you).

    MOJO: I never said that Darwin went to Gully for homeopathic treatment (do you notice that many of you try to knock down my arguments by misstating my position?…how convenient). I said that Darwin was skeptical of homeopathy, though he did take the homeopathic medicines that Gully prescribed for him “without an atom of faith” (ya gotta love his use of this metaphor!). And despite his skepticism, the RESULTS were significant. Like I have written many times, his 12+ years of chronic ailments diminished and/or disappeared within 8 days. Wow, what a coincidence…but if you read my article more (or better, if you choose to read more of the story in my book), you may be singing a different tune.

    I simply ask that you do not review just one of Darwin’s letters out of context with his whole story. I also asked you to read the link that I provided to Gully’s own book on water-cure.

    As for research, the Shang study in the Lancet (2005) confirmed that more than TWICE the homeopathic studies were of a “high quality” than the allopathic ones (we can all agree that this is fact…21 vs 9 studies). Shang never analyzed these studies, but he chose to only analyze that 8 homeopathic and 6 allopathic trials that were LARGE (he said that these studies didn’t have “bias” because of their larger numbers, though he didn’t acknowledge that these larger studies lacked external validity, an important statistical concept. However, because Shang and his team previously told the Lancet editors that they were planning to prove that homeopathy didn’t work (this is part of the record!), they used their own limited statistical analysis to prove their point.

    What would you say if someone evaluated (finally) the 21 high quality (double-blind and placebo controlled) homeopathic studies and the 9 allopathic ones. Well, someone has finally done this, and it will be published shortly.

    Skeptics love to say that these high quality DBPC studies are “biased,” and yet, under this type of definition, I guess that we’ll have to throw out 98 to 99% or so of published clinical trials.

  84. HCN
    December 31, 2007 at 1:42 am

    Why should I lighten up? I get angry with people suffer needlessly because they are sold literally a bunch of nothing. You keep pushing your book by leaving links to it.

    Lots of writing, and not a real answer in sight. So what if homeopathy had some favor in the 19th century? But right now it is the 21st century, and real medicine has advanced further in the last decade than homeopathy has in the past two centuries.

    So what if famous people have used homeopathy, that still does not show it to work.

    Homeopathy has never been shown to cure bacterial infections. Nor has it ever been shown to be effective for diabetes. It is not even effective for cancer or HIV/AIDS.

  85. Mojo
    December 31, 2007 at 10:03 am

    Dana wrote, “I never said that Darwin went to Gully for homeopathic treatment (do you notice that many of you try to knock down my arguments by misstating my position?…how convenient).”

    You have certainly implied it, for example in the very post in which you first introduced your argument about Darwin over at JREF:

    http://forums.randi.org/showthread.php?postid=2695201#post2695201

    Not sure if that link is going to display properly – it’s post #262 of this thread:

    http://forums.randi.org/showthread.php?t=82393

    “I take great pleasure to telling you a historical fact. Our greatly beloved Charles Darwin not only sought care from a highly respected homeopathic physician…”

    It would perhaps be easier for others to avoid misstating your position if you didn’t misstate it yourself.

  86. BSM
    December 31, 2007 at 3:42 pm

    Dana, will you please give it a rest with your tedious bleatings about the Shang meta-analysis. It’s not just that you are wrong, but that it simply doesn’t matter.

    Face the facts, if all you have is trivial effects at the margins of clinical reality you have already lost the argument because such triviality flatly contradicts the daily claims of dramatic cures from homeopathy. The mere fact that you focus on such minutiae should tell you that you’re ship is sinking.

    Oh, and dead people believed in homeopathy. I really, really don’t care and find it simply pitiable that it matters to you so much.

    Find one patient cured of AIDS by homeopathy then get back to us, please.

  87. Acleron
    December 31, 2007 at 4:46 pm

    Ullman states :-”Like I have written many times, his 12+ years of chronic ailments diminished and/or disappeared within 8 days. Wow, what a coincidence…”
    For a workaholic as Darwin was the 8 days rest was infinitely more significant than taking lactose/water.
    Further:-”Perhaps you might benefit from a simple lesson from history…homeopathy gained its greatest popularity in the US and Europe in the 19th century due to its impressive results in treating the various infectious disease epidemics of that era, including epidemics of cholera, typhoid, yellow fever, scarlet fever, pneumonia, and influenza.”
    The results were only impressive relative to the existing four humours based medicine at the time. Not bleeding patients or inducing vomiting or diarrhoea when they are seriously ill will improve survival rates when no other treatment is used. It can easily be seen that without a scientific basis people would have been impressed. What is harder to understand is how they can delude themselves with this rubbish especially when trial after trial indicates no effect. The simple lesson from history is that as medical science progresses we can successfully treat more conditions. However, the more easily discovered treaments have been discovered, the harder ones are left. Just look at the massive efforts made and continuing into AIDS. These have produced real and reproducible results. What do the homeopaths have? Just nothing but weird claims and this latest appeal to authority.

  88. Dana Ullman
    January 3, 2008 at 3:01 am

    Acleron…

    So, let me understand your logic. Darwin was a workaholic, and simply being at Dr. Gully’s clinic and water-cure establishment for 8 days gave him the rest he needed to experience relief from the 12+ years of various symptoms, including persistent nausea, heart palpitations, and severe boils, and two years of spots before his eyes and fainting spells.

    Hmmm.

    And when Darwin said that he was so sick just prior to seeing Gully that he was unable to work one day in every three.

    Hmmm. It seems that this “rest” (1 of every 3 days) wasn’t therapeutic enough…but somehow 8 days was just enough. What a coincidence!

    You skeptics are so much more metaphysical than I am. I just think that the homeopathic medicines that Darwin was prescribed in conjunction with the water-cure treatments he was given provided real relief for him (just as Gully’s book asserts, homeopathy alone and/or in conjunction with water-cure provides powerful therapeutic benefits)…OR you can create convoluted theories of how short-term rest somehow catalyzed a healing.

    The fact that Darwin frequently went back to Gully, even after Gully left this clinic (replaced by another MD/homeopath), is not just a coincidence. No other doctor was more appreciated by Darwin by Gully. What creative rational do you have for that one?

  89. Rob
    January 3, 2008 at 1:17 pm

    No, Mr Ullman, let me understand your logic. You said earlier that “Despite Darwin’s own very positive experiences with Gully and homeopathy, Darwin did not want homeopathic treatment for his children. When Darwin’s child became ill and later died, it should be noted that I found no evidence that homeopathic medicines were used, which suggests that they were not used” – in other words Darwin believed homeopathy to be effective but did not want homeopathic treatment for his perilously ill daughter. What creative rationale do you have for that one? You have already been asked this question repeatedly, but failed to answer.

  90. Dana Ullman
    January 3, 2008 at 2:15 pm

    Rob,
    I previously didn’t answer that question because no one knows why Anna Darwin wasn’t prescribed homeopathic medicines.

    I remember reading somewhere that although Darwin took homeopathic medicines himself that he didn’t want them for his family (please note, however, I didn’t provide a reference to that statement because I couldn’t re-find the reference…and thus, it may or may not be true).

    But what is true is that there is no reference that Darwin’s daughter received homeopathic medicines. Also, while it is true that Anna died, this tragic event didn’t waiver Darwin’s appreciation of Dr. Gully at all, and Darwin still sought his care and benefited from it.

    The fact of the matter is that MANY children in that era died for a wide variety of reasons. The fact that Anna died was tragic, and it shows that Gully was not a complete miracle worker, just a good physician, hydrotherapist, and homeopath, and his patients adored his care.

    Now…it is your turn to respond to my previous emails. Did hydrotherapy and homeopathy provide significant benefit for Charles Darwin? If so, which profession today utilizes these treatments (naturopathic physicians!)? Can we now assume that skeptics will advocate for naturopathic treatment?

    And how about the skin problem that Darwin experienced shortly after homeopathic treatment? This “healing crisis” (an externalization of symptoms) is not a placebo response. Isn’t it interesting that Darwin wrote about how much better he felt when he had these skin symptoms (he wrote that it was akin to the relief that others feel when they get gout symptoms).

    But conventionally-minded physicians would have treated (and suppressed) the skin symptoms (or gout symptoms). There are real problems when physicians treat and suppress symptoms, rather than seeing symptoms as defenses of the organism that benefit from medicines that MIMIC them. The homeopathic principle of similars MIMICS the symptoms of the sick person in order to elicit a healing response (I call homeopathy “medical biomimicry”).

  91. quackometer.net
    January 3, 2008 at 2:39 pm

    This whole thread is now just tedious. Dana – you have no evidence that Darwin gained any benefit from homeopathy. If you have bothered to read any decent biography of Darwin you will discover that his illness was not a constant debilitating condition, but fluctuated quite significant in its severity, allowing CD to work some days and others to not. CD’s recovery at Malvern requires no more explanation than rest. Although I understand you do not practice homeopathy, you are typical of homeopaths, trying to use banal evidence to support preposterous healing fantasies whilst ignoring the obvious.

    Your book is an exercise in futility. It is anti-intellectual and will only please the credulous. Your book could have succeeded if you had just stuck to treating it as a historical review of homeopathic use and literary reference – mildly interesting. But instead you set grandiose ambitions for yourself and embark on a farcical exercise of evidence twisting. That, in itself, is interesting insight into homeopaths, but debating Dr Gully with you is not.

  92. Dana Ullman
    January 3, 2008 at 3:24 pm

    Andy…
    The last time that you asserted that this dialogue was “tedious” was just after I posted a link to Dr. Gully’s book in which he clearly asserted that homeopathic treatment alone or with water-cure has powerful therapeutic benefits.

    This is your pattern. As long as you’re successfully clobbering a person or a subject, you continue to do so. However, when someone provides good evidence that you may not be right, you assert that the discussion is tedious or you find some other excuse to not want to talk about it anymore.

    And your assertion that my book is “anti-intellectual” is a tad ironic. Weren’t you the person who simply referred to Dr. Gully as a “quack” without any substantiation for this? In the light of the fact that Charles Darwin admired Gully more than any other physician, you are giving a powerful indictment on Darwin. Have you sent your thoughts on this to any of the Darwin sites? Please post your link to this.

    And when you consider that many of the leading literary greats have also used and/or advocated for homeopathy, I wonder how so many intellectual giants seem to disagree with you.

    This must be getting very tedious now.

  93. le canard noir
    January 3, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    Yes, it is tedious Dana because we have come full circle. I call Gully a quack as that is what the evidence suggests. It is also clearly evidenced in Darwin’s own writings that he considers Gully to be not a ‘regular doctor’ and a purveyor of nonsense – “I grieve to say that Dr Gully gives me homoœopathic medicines”. Nonetheless, Darwin is humane enough to see the good character of Gully and sees him as a friend, although he laments Gully’s gullibility – “It is a sad flaw, I cannot but think in my beloved Dr Gully, that he believes in everything”.

    Darwin goes to Malvern to see if the water cure works for him. It is a simple fact that you cannot get your head around. We do not know if the water cure really did any good in the same way that we do not know if the enforced homeopathic remedies did any good. But the simple fact is that Darwin was not a supporter of homeopathy and there is no evidence to say that it helped him for any condition.

  94. BSM
    January 3, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    I’m really bored of this stuff about Darwin. He was apparently chronically ill. Apparently someone who used homeopathy stepped in at a point when Darwin was worse than usual then sometime later he was not as ill.

    Big deal. Who cares?

    I want Dana to post us a picture of an Ex-AIDS patient happily waving the lab results that show normal CD4 counts and HIV negative status.

    Have you got that Dana?

    I don’t think you have.

    I started a clock running on this on the 23rd November 2007 at 17:00 GMT. It is now 3rd Jan 2008 and we have not yet seen a single impressive record of anything that a homeopath might claim as an impressive cure of a significant disease.

  95. Dana Ullman
    January 5, 2008 at 2:51 pm

    BSM,
    When you stick your head in a hole, you don’t see much.

    Read about some research conducted at MD Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas and published in a respected cancer journal on the use of homeopathic medicines to treat brain cancers.

    homeopathic brain cancer study and specific cases

    Further, my book gives many other references to clinical research testing homeopathic medicines, the vast majority of which have been published in conventional medical journals.

  96. NJ
    January 5, 2008 at 4:49 pm

    Dana your link doesn’t work. Why do all your posts end with a referal to your book? The fact every piece of evidence you put forward to prove a point is shown to do no such thing suggests your analytical are found wanting. Why then do you think people would want to read your book for second hand (generally misconstrued) information?

  97. Dana Ullman
    January 5, 2008 at 5:03 pm

    Here’s the link to the brain cancer research and more…thanx for the heads up.

    http://www.virtualtrials.com/ruta/ruta2007.cfm

    I refer to my book when I am answering a question in which there is additional useful information and references there.

    Because Andy’s biased and inadequately informed review showed that he only read a small portion of the book, I hope to encourage others to read more…and based on this list, there is no evidence that a single person has done so.

    As for my analytic skills and my book…once again, you obviously haven’t read it. It is a tad ironic (total chutzpah, in fact) that you refer to the book having “second-hand” information when you are taking a second-hand review.

    In actual fact, my Darwin information is directly from his writings, not just a portion of them (as Andy has chosen to do). Further, this book is full of first-hand scholarly research, but heck, when you don’t do your homework, you don’t know jack.
    And what do YOU know about scholarly research when you don’t do it or show it. Whooops.

  98. NJ
    January 5, 2008 at 8:29 pm

    Dana the point of post, although I admit it possibly wasn’t that clear, was that instead of refering people to your book why don’t you direct people straight to the primary references that are cited in your book. Of course your book contains second hand information it’s in a book for god’s sake.

    My comment on your analytical skills was not aimed at your book. I have not read your book as I have no interest in reading a book whose central thesis is A, B, C and D used X. A, B, C and D are good; therefore X is good. As it’s such a ridiculous arguement to begin with, whether or not the facts listed in it are true.

    The comment regarded the fact that whenever you do give references to support homeopathy’s eficacy in discussion threads they are usually either irrelevant to the discussion or spectaculary flawed in their methods. Evidence I’ve seen on many threads suggests you have trouble noticing this for yourself.

    And finally just beacause 99.999% of the population don’t have the vanity or self-aggrandising characteristics required to list their degree letters after their name doesn’t mean they have no history of research.

  99. Dana Ullman
    January 5, 2008 at 10:43 pm

    NJ…
    Thanx for the clarification, though you’ve proven my point. I have made several references to one of my online articles that provide DIRECT links to the primary source materials of Darwin and Dr. Gully. And yet, you have shown that you didn’t read that article. I cannot spoon feed you. I’m not going to cut and paste my entire article here.

    You’ve also proven that I have to repeat reference to the links to this article and/or to my book because you either didn’t get it the first time or just don’t want to get it.

    The link below is to a short article about Darwin and his favorite physician, Dr. James Manby Gully. You can choose to be deaf, dumb, and blind, or you can try to become more informed.

    Dana’s article about Darwin & Gully

    I previously have written that this short article is only a part of the story. There is more information and more references in my book.

    I am one of the few people on this list who is transparent. You know who I am. It is interesting how few people here (almost no one!) reveals who there are. More chutzpah…gotta love that.

  100. NJ
    January 6, 2008 at 12:49 am

    Dana I think its you that hasn’t read what you yourself said. I quote

    “Further, my book gives many other references to clinical research testing homeopathic medicines, the vast majority of which have been published in conventional medical journals.”

    My request for references followed this statement. I wanted to see if you had found any new studies to support your agruments or if you were still trotting out the same studies that have been rubbished elsewhere.

    I’m not interested in what you have to say about Darwin. Even if Darwin was a believer in homeopathy (which from what I’ve seen you’ve not given any convincing evidence for — but that’s besides the point) celebrity endorsements form a completely vacuous arguement.

  101. Dana Ullman
    January 6, 2008 at 2:31 pm

    Dear NJ,
    Thanx for giving me the opportunity to link you to some of my writing on homeopathic research.

    Dana Ullman’s article “Why Homeopathy Makes Sense and Works”

    Of special interest are the four trials on allergic disorders conducted at the University of Glasgow, the three diarrhea trials (including the 1st study published in PEDIATRICS that showed that the best results were in children who had diarrhea from a lab-confirmed pathogen), the three Oscillocinum trials (all 3 trials found statisitcally significant results, and the Cochrane has described as “promising”), and the COPD study conducted at the University of Vienna.

    COPD is the #4 reason that people in the US die. COPD refers to people with emphysema or chronic bronchitis. The substantially significant results published in the LEADING medical journal specializing in respiratory health and conducted at a leading European hospital should be recognized as an important contribution to medical care.

    That’s just for starters.

  102. HCN
    January 6, 2008 at 10:43 pm

    NJ said “Dana the point of post, although I admit it possibly wasn’t that clear, was that instead of refering people to your book why don’t you direct people straight to the primary references that are cited in your book. Of course your book contains second hand information it’s in a book for god’s sake.”

    To which D Ullman responded with yet another reference to his own website and book. Because if D Ullman actually used the real references, it would become abundantly clear that his interpretation of what is actually written is seriously flawed.

    Also, again with the Vienna COPD study (with the very biased groups, the more ill persons were in the “control” group)… D Ullman has yet to explain why this explanation of its lack of proving homeopath is flawed.

    It has been has been six months, and still not a valid critique in sight.

  103. le canard noir
    January 6, 2008 at 10:59 pm

    Dana – I have never closed a thread for comments before, but you bring me close.

    You accuse me of not reading your book for this review and yuo say that my analysis is partial.

    I find this insulting.

    This review was done because you accused me of exactlt the same thing on my first post about Charles Darwin. I challenged you to come up with the ‘extra material’ that your ‘superior scholarship’ has supposedly uncovered and you have failed to do so.

    I read your book so that other may be spared the pain. There is no other material in it that supports a conclusion that either Darwin benfited or was a supporter of homeopathy. Nothing. Your grand claims are not supported by your book or any other evidence.

    And yet you have the cheek to accuse me and others of misrepresentation. There is enough information now here for others to make up their mind.

    You have two chances to justify your position and have failed. If you cvontinue to make unsupported claims on this thread I will close it.

  104. BadlyShavedmonkey
    January 6, 2008 at 11:01 pm

    BSM,
    When you stick your head in a hole, you don’t see much.

    Read about some research conducted at MD Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas and published in a respected cancer journal on the use of homeopathic medicines to treat brain cancers.

    homeopathic brain cancer study and specific cases

    Dana, you have already been told what is wrong with that paper.

    http://forums.randi.org/showthread.php?t=99630&page=2

    It is disingenuous, to say the least, to cite it again as if it was newly minted truth.

    But since you have returned from your well-earned holiday break, I think it is about time you answered this question;

    GIVE ONE, YOU ONLY NEED ONE, INCONTROVERTIBLE EXAMPLE, WITH REFERENCES, OF HOMEOPATHY CURING A NON-SELF-LIMITING CONDITION.

    You have been given a list of candidate conditions that would qualify. I would especially like to see you produce a patient cured of AIDS by homeopathy.

    If you recall, I started a clock on this. It now stands at;

    T = +2mth 11d 05h 54m 17s

    There must be a good reason why you can’t answer this question.

    I think I know what it is.

  105. BadlyShavedmonkey
    January 6, 2008 at 11:17 pm

    Of special interest are the four trials on allergic disorders conducted at the University of Glasgow, the three diarrhea trials (including the 1st study published in PEDIATRICS that showed that the best results were in children who had diarrhea from a lab-confirmed pathogen), the three Oscillocinum trials (all 3 trials found statisitcally significant results, and the Cochrane has described as “promising”), and the COPD study conducted at the University of Vienna.

    I think I see a pattern now. You are going to cite these same discredited studies at every opportunity.

    What makes it even more laughably pathetic is that these studies are all you have. You can’t even spice things up by putting some others into the batting rotation.

    I think your needle has stuck and the record was pretty crappy in the first place.

    But I mustn’t distract you from finding that cured AIDS patient. Now I know you aren’t only an armchair homeopath commenting from the sidelines but surely given all the case records that your sugar-peddling friends have produced in the last two centuries you can come up with something better than badly documented third hand tales of alleged brain cancer cures in India and the frankly useless experimental trials that get you so giggly and excited. Heck, Dana, any real doctor produces more impressive clinical cases every day of every week.

    So, I really must let you get on and;

    GIVE ONE, YOU ONLY NEED ONE, INCONTROVERTIBLE EXAMPLE, WITH REFERENCES, OF HOMEOPATHY CURING A NON-SELF-LIMITING CONDITION.

    T = + 01mth 11d 06h 15m 39s

  106. BadlyShavedMonkey
    January 6, 2008 at 11:19 pm

    Oops major typo;

    When I said;

    “Now I know you aren’t only an armchair homeopath commenting from the sidelines but…”

    Obviously I meant

    Now I know you are only an armchair homeopath commenting from the sidelines but…

  107. Dana Ullman
    January 6, 2008 at 11:25 pm

    HCN (just one more anonymous person who hides behind a fake name…is it time to come out of the closet?),

    What was I thinking? You are so much smarter than the editors of the journal, CHEST, even though it is the most respected journal for respiratory medicine. Wait, maybe I should ask you why you think you are smarter than they are. Show me your evidence.

    Secondly, you choose to ignore the fact that the differences in the treatment group and the control group prior to treatment were not statistically significant (whooops)…so, your critique is invalid. Admit it and stop spewing your venom. I am, however, impressed that you are creative enough to look for any excuse possible to discount the substantial (!) differences in the results of homeopathic treatment. The p values were 0.0001. Please provide a statistical analysis how the minor and statistically insignificant differences in the groups created substantial differences in the outcomes.

    It is interesting to watch how you weasel statistics when they serve your needs and weasel your way out of statistics when they don’t. How convenient.

    And for people out there who want to see the direct link to this study…go for it:
    Homeopathy and COPD study in CHEST

    Deny, deny, deny. Your rational is emotionally based, and your anti-homeopathy biases color your rational mind.

  108. le canard noir
    January 6, 2008 at 11:46 pm

    Dana – find some new tunes.

    The COPD study has been shown to have significant problems with more sick people in the control group. Such are the problems with small studies. Bring it up again only if this study is replicated with larger numbers of patients.

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2007/07/homeopathy_in_thecringeicu_1.php#more

  109. Anonymous
    June 18, 2008 at 12:37 am

    First you want Dana Ullman to come up with some solid science and when he does you ignore it. He gave you several independent studys that support his claim that, for some, there is hope in Homeopathy. For those people and others like them that is a good thing.

    I give Dana an “A” for effort and endurance.

  110. Le Canard Noir
    June 18, 2008 at 7:26 am

    With respect, brave anaonymous, Dana’s science has not been ignored. His claims about the COPD results are dealt with in the reference given above. Dana chooses to keep on pushing such studies despite their limitations. I would give that an A for obstinacy.

  111. Anonymous
    October 19, 2009 at 5:38 am

    As to Mr. Ullman's question…for us to think about why homeopathy has survived as a belief for so long….well the belief in witchcraft is equally..if not more old. Even today, children in African are being killed by their parents after being pronounced witches by Christian pastors. Sarah Palin had herself blessed by an African pastor who was known for denouncing witches.

    And just like witch-hunting has survived as a belief/practice…so has the practice of witchcraft (the wiccans).

    Longevity of unproven but powerful belief systems has plenty of parallels. By Mr. Ullman's argument those who believe in witchcraft today are in the same category as homeopaths and are equally validated in their beliefs and actions.

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