The Society of Homeopaths: The Failure of Self Regulation

The Adverting Standards Authority has today found that a homeopath advertised their asthma clinic for kids by making untruthful, unsubstantiated and irresponsible claims. Archway House Natural Health Centre holds an Asthma and Eczema clinic for children, run by Julia Wilson, a member of the Society of Homeopaths.

Inasmuch, this is not news. The ASA make judgments like this every week. Their weekly published list today contains all sorts of findings against chiropractors and related quacks. But what makes this interesting is that this advert, in the form of a leaflet, has already been subject to a complaint directly to the Society of Homeopaths, who claim to regulate their members. Over a year ago, I was concerned that the Society’s Code of Ethics was being widely ignored by their membership and there was no evidence that they took any steps to uphold their code which is designed to protect the public. If so, this was pretty serious. People would be visiting homeopaths under the impression that their membership of the Society of Homeopaths ensured that certain standards would be maintained and that they would not be misled or endangered as a result of the consultation.

I picked on one homeopath from their register pretty much at random. Not only was Julia Wilson making claims to treat asthma (which would be in breach of the code) but also she has spent time in Kenya in a clinic that dishes out sugar pills to prevent malaria and to treat HIV. One would have thought that a responsible organisation would want to rein in such dangerous excesses. This homeopath appeared to be in breach of several points in their code including treating named diseases and advertising in a way that claimed superiority to real treatments.

You can read about the Society of Homeopath’s response here. Julia Wilson defended herself by claiming that her adverts (see here) did not claim superiority of homeopathy over conventional treatment, that she made no stated or implied claim that homeopathy can treat asthma, and that no cure was implied. She also said that she could not be held responsible for the Kenyan clinic’s claims on their website and that she did not claim to cure HIV or malria when working there. I would suggest you read the leaflet yourself and see if this defence merits any credibility. The Society of Homeopaths wrote to me to tell me that they were satisfied that no breach of their code had taken place and that “no action will be taken.”

Well, the Society of Homeopaths did take action. Their solicitor wrote to my web hosts demanding that I take down web pages that commented on this and other aspects of their lack of concern for the dangerous practices of their members. When I wrote to the Society’s CEO Paula Ross asking for an explanation, I got a threatening letter back from their solicitor. Naturally, bloggers on the web went crazy, reposting my articles and condemning the behavior of the society, calling them ‘Cowards and Bullies”.

The ASA read this leaflet and decided that on four counts it was in breach of the CAP rules on advertising for being unsubstantiated, untruthful and irresponsible. They decided the leaflet did imply a cure for asthma because it denigrated conventional treatment – “puffers can provide temporary relief, they’re not offering your child a cure. Homeopathy is different…”. They asked Archway House for evidence that their treatments ‘helps alleviate the flaring skin and tightening lungs of your child’s allergic reactions”. They could not answer this to any degree of satisfaction. Most strikingly, the ASA found the leaflet was irresponsible because it was likely to dissuade parents from seeking medical advice. A testimonial read “I was frightened by how much my daughter relied on her inhalers”. Damningly, Archway house could not provide any evidence that the testimonials on the leaflet were real.

I have emailed the Society of Homeopaths to ask why their conclusions were so different from the ASA. I have also asked if they will relook at the complaint and take action against their member as it is a requirement of their code that member’s adverts do not breach Advertising Standards rules. Importantly, I have asked if the public can have confidence in their code of ethics and complaints process. (Update: response, so far, below)

Does this matter? Asthma is not a trivial disease. Asthma UK report that,

A person is admitted to hospital every 8 minutes in England because of their asthma. That’s on average 185 people per day and one in six people require further emergency care again within two weeks, yet 75% of admissions for asthma are avoidable and could save the NHS in England an estimated £43.7 million a year.

It is estimated that there are 1,500 deaths and 74,000 emergency hospital admissions for asthma each year in UK. A child whose parents go a homeopathic route rather than following the management plan of their doctor is being put at risk. The Society of Homeopaths do not appear to care about this. But people in the UK quite rightly have choices. When homeopaths take their sugar pills to Africa and tell them that they are better and cheaper than medicine at preventing malaria and managing HIV, then the delusion of homeopathy becomes truly murderous. If you want to believe the homeopaths that they act responsibly over this, then you should see the latest newsletters from the Abha Light Foundation in Kenya where Julia Wilson worked. They are handing out homeopathic remedies to 1,500 families and telling them that they are malaria prophylactics. 34,000 people die in Kenya each year from malaria. Over a third of children die before their first birthday from Malaria. Telling families that magic water pills can protect them will reduce the likelihood that they will seek proven safe alternatives, such as mosquito nets for babies. The Society of Homeopaths have never spoken out against this terrible western delusion inflicted on Africa.

In the year 2000, the House of Lords looked into the question of regulation of Alternative Medicine and made a large number of recommendations about how various treatments should be controlled. Eight years on and the government strategy is in tatters. The homeopaths have actively campaigned to be exluded from greater regulation and decided that they can regulate themselves. This is clearly not true. The deluded cannot regulate the deluded if the public want to be protected. The government has set up the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (better know as Ofquack). This has failed for a number of reasons. Firstly, few alternative medicine groups have wanted to join. As Ofquack will have council members that are not part of the alternative medicine communities that they will regulate, none of the practitioners want to be judged by anyone who does not share their delusions. And secondly, as Ofquack has failed to get up and running and will be entirely voluntary, there has been no compulsion for quacks to subject themselves to any meaningful scrutiny.

Prince Charles has been deeply involved in trying to set up Ofquack. The Prince’s Foundation for Integrated Health put one of their own people into a group that would try to unite the homeopathic profession and create a single register that could be effectively managed. The squabbling between homeopaths ensured this failed. Ofquack appears to have abandoned any pretense that it can now regulate vast swathes of the alternative medicine industry. The Society of Homeopaths have now stated that they intend to create their own ‘single register’ – a move that has angered the rest of the UK homeopaths and is doomed to failure too.

So, in the UK, when a member of the public seeks the services of an alternative medicine practitioner, they are likely to see someone with letters after their name and a web site that says that they are members of professional bodies with a strict code of conduct. This is a thoroughly misleading picture. Homeopaths and other practitioners may well sign up to a code of conduct, but in the knowledge that it will never be enforced.

In the Guardian recently, the same comment was made in an article entitled “A Question of Ethics“. The article noted that one of the most senior member of the Society of Homeopaths was a strong advocate for providing homeopathic ‘immunisations’ – the belief that magic water can protect people from dangerous diseases. The arctile concluded, “It seems that codes of ethics are good for window dressing while pragmatism is better for profit. “. The Society responded with a press release,

The Society would like to advise Guardian readers that any suspected breach of The Society’s Code of Ethics & Practice should be formally reported to its Professional Conduct Department where it will be fully investigated.

Investigated maybe. Enforced? Doubtful. The codes are an illusion and we are being taken for fools.

*****************************************************************************

Update

I have had a reply from Jayne Thomas, Chair of the Board of Directors at the Society of Homeopaths:

As we have not yet seen the findings of the ASA adjudication to which you refer, The Society of Homeopaths is unable to comment on the specifics of this case.

However, we would like to reassure you that due process was followed in the handling of this case.

By their own admission, The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP), have been delayed in finding an expert to assess the evidence base for homeopathy, which was submitted to them earlier this year.

The Society of Homeopaths is therefore awaiting the outcome of this assessment to inform future guidelines to our members concerning the advertising of homeopathy

So, we will have to wait for a more detailed response. I must admit that I surprised that SoH have not seen the adjudication yet. The ASA release a preliminary report to all parties several weeks before publication to allow the advertiser to respond and make corrections. Did Archway House really not consult SoH both originally and on the preliminary finding? The advertiser would also have been aware of the final outcome about a week before publication too. How do the SoH know that the ASA could not find an ‘expert’ to help them? In what way have SoH been involved here?

70 comments for “The Society of Homeopaths: The Failure of Self Regulation

  1. Anonymous
    October 15, 2008 at 12:06 am

    Hello, may I ask, whe you mention: “Prince Charles…put one of his own people into a group that would try to unite the homeopathic profession and create a single register that could be effectively managed.”, who do you mean? I cant find any info on this…
    Thank you,
    anon

  2. Le Canard Noir
    October 15, 2008 at 1:12 am

    Reference added and tidied up anon.

  3. gimpyblog
    October 15, 2008 at 6:23 am

    This is just extraordinary. Even the most generous interpretation can only conclude that this is a complete failure of regulation.
    The SoH are demonstrably incapable of assessing whether advertising claims about homeopathy are within the boundaries defined by law. The very least they could do is admit this failure, admit they are not capable of self-regulation and submit to the tender mercies of Ofquack. I doubt that this will happen.

  4. Krog
    October 15, 2008 at 6:50 am

    The first testimonial is interesting. Presumably it’s a child being referred to. First name Harry. Second name Potter! You can just see those lawyers descending like dementors!

  5. Mojo
    October 15, 2008 at 7:10 am

    You mean Harry Potter isn’t real?

  6. Krog
    October 15, 2008 at 7:15 am

    No, it’s the claim that his facial scarring is caused by eczema.

  7. Dr* T
    October 15, 2008 at 7:58 am

    Beggars belief.

    Sharp action LCN – perhaps Prof Ernst could be encouraged to be the ASA’s homeopathy expert?

    T

  8. Claire
    October 15, 2008 at 8:26 am

    Thank you for publicising this, LCN. Perhaps it would be a good idea to display copies of the ASA judgement in GP asthma clinics and even pharmacies where people are picking up their asthma prescriptions. Although deaths from asthma are thankfully comparatively infrequent, they are possible and I am personally aware of an instance in a young man who declined GP advice in favour of alternative therapies, including homeopathy for what he believed to be ‘mild’ asthma. Failure to take this condition seriously – on the part of health professionals as well as patients – can be fatal.

  9. teekblog
    October 15, 2008 at 8:40 am

    from Abha ‘clinic’ website:

    Neem Drops, a homeopathic tincture with a proven track record of success in malaria prevention and treatment.

    Is there no end to the madness…?! Won’t somebody please think of the children, literally…?!

  10. Ben Bawden
    October 15, 2008 at 12:42 pm

    “In the year 200, the House of Lords looked into the question of regulation…”

    Wow, I never knew our parliament was that old!

    Great article BTW.

  11. pvandck
    October 15, 2008 at 12:56 pm

    I’m afraid that until the law steps in nothing will change. Until there is proper legal regulation and right of redress scam organisations like the SoH will just wing it and get away with whatever they can. They are wilfully ignorant, demonstrably incompetent with regard to anything medical and, when push comes to shove, thoroughly malicious.
    The reason these people fight so tenaciously against legal regulation is because it will be the death of their fraudulent practice. They wouldn’t be able to get away with making it up as they go along or lying through their teeth whenever backed into a corner. Unfortunately for them the rules of evidence are somewhat stricter in a court of law than they are in the fairytale world of homeopathy.

  12. Anonymous
    October 15, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    Nice article LCN, but I spotted two mistakes.
    1) I think the House of Lords discussed the matter in the year 2000 rather than the year 200.
    2) “A child whose parents go a homeopathic route rather than following the management plan of their doctor is putting their child at risk.” Is the child putting itself at risk?

  13. Le Canard Noir
    October 15, 2008 at 6:13 pm

    sorted – thanks

  14. Krog
    October 15, 2008 at 6:44 pm

    The ASA ruling, and maybe your links to the offending ad, seems to have had some effect. The Practical Homeopathy website is now ‘under construction’ and the URL for the leaflet gives us a 404.

  15. Northern Doctor
    October 15, 2008 at 7:24 pm

    It’s not good for my BP reading stuff like this – great work though.
    Doctor regulation is getting ratcheted up by several notches (and I don’t in principle that’s wrong) as we speak. If a fraction of the resources and effort was spent regulating CAM it would be money and time well spent.

  16. Northern Doctor
    October 15, 2008 at 7:29 pm

    I don’t think that’s wrong, of course.

  17. zeno
    October 15, 2008 at 11:09 pm

    Krog: the offending leaflet is in the Waybackmachine archive at:

    http://web.archive.org/web/20070222102232/http://www.practicalhom.com/AsthmaLeaflet.pdf

    There is no escape!


    http://www.thinkhumanism.com

  18. Dr. Bob Ironic
    October 16, 2008 at 12:05 am

    For a satire of homeopathy — a certain Bob Marely song my come to mind — visit

    http://satirizinghomeopathy.blogspot.com/

    -r.c.

  19. Mojo
    October 16, 2008 at 8:20 am

    pvandck said… “Unfortunately for them the rules of evidence are somewhat stricter in a court of law than they are in the fairytale world of homeopathy.”

    But this wasn’t even a court of law: it was a decision of a self-regulatory body set up by the advertising industry, which appears to have higher standards than the SoH.

  20. DT
    October 16, 2008 at 9:03 am

    Never mind Harry Potter – the second testimonial is from Mrs Watson about her daughter. What’s the bet her name was Emma?

    Regarding homeopathic neem as malaria prophylaxis, this was trumpeted by David Tredinnick in Parliament in Feb as evidence of how great homeopathy was.
    http://www.d-n-h.org/Neem%20Report.pdf

    It looked at the incidence of “malaria” in an area of Kenya, and then again after people had taken Neem for 6 months.

    The trial was a methodological farce and probably unethical for at least 2 reasons.

    It was a small, open-labelled, uncontrolled, unblinded study entirely reliant on historical recollection of possible “malaria” (no-one bothered to even establish if anyone actually had malaria!) and was conducted among study participants who lived in an area where seasonal fluctuations in malaria incidence occur and where any fool could predict that malaria transmission might be reduced after the end of the rainy season (which is when they did their follow-up).

    It also consisted of an underhand attempt to see if neem had any sterilising effect on the local women. I doubt that was mentioned in the consent forms for the trial (if they ever had any to start with).

    “The secondary objective for this trial was to research whether there was evidence of a birth control effect of neem when used in the homeopathic preparation.”

  21. Mike Eslea
    October 16, 2008 at 9:37 am

    This is excellent ammunition for those (like me) who are trying to persuade our Universities that SOH are not a fit body to contribute to degree validations. If they will not act against even the most obvious breaches of their code, how can they be trusted to oversee training of the next generation of quacks? Nice work LCN!

  22. skivingsurfer
    October 16, 2008 at 10:40 am

    For a satire of homeopathy — a certain Bob Marely song my come to mind — visit

    http://satirizinghomeopathy.blogspot.com/

    I shot the homeopath
    but I only hit her repertory
    I shot the homeopath
    Shes ok- It was with a potency

  23. John The Geophysicist
    October 16, 2008 at 1:19 pm

    I sometimes think it is impossible to satirise HY.

    Their internal logic routines seem to be set on some sort of self-replicating closed loop.

    I was talking to a HY advocate in my office:

    ME: Does HY have a cure for the common cold.

    HER: Yes of course it does. It has a cure for everything.

    ME: What, like severed limbs ?

    HER:Well it can help with the trauma and shock.

    ME: Does science based medicine have a cure for the common cold.

    HER: No. (Smugly)

    ME: OK, we both agree on that. But would it not be likely that if HY could cure the common cold there would in fact be a cure for it and medical researchers would embrace that.

    HER: I don’t think they have looked.

    ME: Maybe they looked and there is no HY cure.

    HER: But there is and I have used it.

    ME: Do you understand what a self limiting illness is ?

    HER: I just know HY works.

    I give up and do some work instead.

  24. pvandck
    October 16, 2008 at 4:14 pm

    Mojo said…
    But this wasn’t even a court of law: it was a decision of a self-regulatory body set up by the advertising industry, which appears to have higher standards than the SoH.

    Yes I know. I was referring to the need for legal regulation of CAM and a right of legal redress.

  25. Mojo
    October 16, 2008 at 9:34 pm

    “The ASA ruling, and maybe your links to the offending ad, seems to have had some effect. The Practical Homeopathy website is now ‘under construction’ and the URL for the leaflet gives us a 404.”

    She also seems to have vanished from the Archway House website.

    She’s still offering to treat asthma and eczema Here, though.

  26. BadlyShavedMonkey
    October 18, 2008 at 8:05 am

    Clearly I have not been paying attention, but I’ve only just found this other homeopath club;

    http://www.the-hma.org/

    I can see no sign from their website of them even claiming to have a code of ethics or disciplinary process.

    But they do tell us;

    http://www.the-hma.org/Immunisation.asp

    “Homeopathic remedies:-
    can build up immunity to infections
    are capable of removing an existing predisposition to a disease.
    can act as curative agents where a disease has developed
    have no side effects
    derived from natural substances”

    and;

    http://www.the-hma.org/faq.asp

    “WHAT CAN IT BE USED FOR?
    Homeopathy can treat many things as it is a holistic form of medicine. The homeopath is concerned with the well-being of the whole person, general health, diet and lifestyle, family illnesses, etc. Dealing with the cause, not just the symptoms will provide long term relief.
    It is beneficial when used as preventive medicine by boosting the body’s own defence system to heighten resistance to colds, flu and other recurring infections.
    Invaluable also as First Aid – a small number of remedies will be able to deal with most routine problems: cuts, bruises, minor burns, insect bites, hangovers etc.
    Also extremely effective for:
    - allergies (e.g. Hayfever, dust mites, etc.);
    - depression;
    - phobias (e.g. Flying, spiders, etc.);
    and much,much more.”

    Also I only just came across this from one HMA member;

    http://www.zeusinfoservice.com/Homeopathy/HOMEOPATHYFACTSLIST.pdf

  27. Anonymous
    October 21, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    Hello Canard, superb piece of work. Just one pedantic point: “One would have thought that a responsible organisation would want to reign in such dangerous excesses” – that should be “rein in”. Long may you reign, mate.

  28. Le Canard Noir
    October 21, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    Oh, bugger. In my defence, I was horribly jetlagged. Corrected.

  29. Dr Paul
    October 22, 2008 at 12:00 pm

    You say: ‘People would be visiting homeopaths under the impression that their membership of the Society of Homeopaths ensured that certain standards would be maintained and that they would not be misled or endangered as a result of the consultation.’

    I am a bit puzzled by this. Surely the whole thing about a pseudo-practice such as homeopathy is that ‘certain standards’ cannot be maintained, as there are no measurable standards. How can one measure anything with a totally quack practice?

    How can anyone prove or disprove if a person is a genuine or quack homeopath when the whole thing is so vague and unprovable?

  30. Le Canard Noir
    October 22, 2008 at 12:34 pm

    Dr Paul. Let’s be clear. The Society of Homeopaths set out quite clearly their own expectations about how their members should behave. The choice not advertise that you can claim to treat named diseases is their own. They do not enforce this. Other standards chosen by the SoH are shared by external regulators, e.g. the ASA – such as not being irresponsible by making claims that would denigrate real medicine. In a the broadest sense, the SoH also insist that members adhere to advertising guidelines, by not making unsubstantiated or untruthful claims. The SoH do not enforce this.

    On a wider level, what would a ‘genuine’ homeopath look like? Well, there are many dilemmas here, but I believe steps could be made. They could take on the mantle of being genuinely complementary – looking after more emotional aspects of people’s illnesses through a sort of talking therapy, with a ritual pop of a pill at the end. However, my guess is that this is a step too far. Homeopaths see themselves as a complete system of medicine that is superior to all other forms. Their founding principles are based on this. SoH do not enforce their code of ethics, I believe, because it would cut into this basic belief of their paying members and so alienate them and pack them off to the arms of a more lax regulator. The logic of this then shows that all homeopathic ‘regulators’ should have public facing lowest common denominator codes of ethics that can never be enforced. That is the failure of self regulation.

  31. Chuck Pelto
    October 23, 2008 at 8:33 pm

    TO: All [Reposted from the original thread wherein I discovered this character]
    RE: Who IS This…

    ….character?

    “You know, I do not believe that most of the people that feature on this site are fraudsters. No, the truth is far worse than that – most homeopaths, reiki practitioners and herbalists actually believe what they say and that makes then particularly dangerous. But there are people whose motives are particularly hard to believe are just plain deluded. I fear 2008 is going to feature quite a number of more ‘interesting’ cases.
    ” — The Black Duck

    Seriously. Who would believe someone who doesn’t post their REAL name on something as important as this?

    There’s the first serious bullet-wound to this cretinous canard.

    I’m going to have to bookmark THIS site, just to come over here ‘slumming’ and beat the tar and feathers out of em.

    For the second round….

    ….I have to wonder if this character has ever had the experience of gout.

    For the ignorant, a severe attack is something that can make you empathize Christ on the Cross; 16-penny nails driven through the foot.

    I didn’t believe in homeopathy either, until I was cured of a problem I’d suffered from for years.

    And then, 15 years later, one of my Father’s birthday gifts to me came upon me; gout. I tried every home-remedy I could discover. Then I turned to homeopathy. And I found something that cured the acute symptoms.

    Several years later, I had another acute attack. I tried what I found worked the first time. Oddly enough…it DIDN’T WORK. So, considering my reference cited 46 homeopathic materia medica for gout, I had to figure out what other symptoms I was experiencing. A day later I noticed I was feeling better in VERY HOT SHOWERS. The indication was ‘chills’. So I cross-referenced ‘gout’ and ‘chills’ and found three homeopathic materia medica that were indicated. I had two of them on hand. I tried one and 15 minutes later the acute symptoms were GONE.

    Several months later, I had another acute attack. I tried the latest homeopathic materia medica. It didn’t work. I tried the earlier homeopathic materia medica. It didn’t work either. So I started looking for what other symptoms I was experiencing. This time, I noticed that my tongue looked like it had been painted with white-wash.

    I did the cross-referencing and found a third materia medica. One that I did not have on hand, but a local retailer had it in stock. It was procured and taken and 15 minutes later the acute PAIN WAS GONE!

    So. If it were the placebo effect, which idiots like to claim about homeopathy, one would think that taking ANYTHING that some fool book said was relief for gout, would have worked. But it didn’t. Therefore, it’s not any BS ‘placebo effect’.

    And it’s not just the gout. Damned MD gave me a med for chronic belching. Guess what….

    ….the med didn’t work. And just to make life ‘interesting’ I developed “central sleep apnea” (CSA). For the ignorant, CSA is when your brain forgets to tell your lungs to BREATH while you’re asleep. You usually wake up gasping for air, like the guy character in He Said/She Said does. JUST LIKE THAT; suddenly sitting straight up taking deep gasping breaths, because you were about to suffocate.

    Then again, you might wake up dead. Or, better still, like Ms Shiavo.

    Homeopathy had a materia medica to deal with such attacks. It works.

    So, again, I have to wonder who is this gutless wonder who won’t reveal his true name here. And what proof does HE/SHE/IT offer that homeopathy DOESN’T WORK? I know for a fact that it works for me. And, it works for my wife and for my mother-in-law.

    Regards,

    Chuck(le)
    [Stupidity is being ignorant and proud of it.]

  32. Chuck Pelto
    October 23, 2008 at 8:42 pm

    TO: All, and the Cretinous Canard
    RE: A Simple Test

    Here’s a little experiment on the efficacy of homeopathy you can do in your own home.

    [1] Buy a bottle of cantharis, 6X to 30C ‘miracle dilution’ should work.
    [2] Bring your oven to 400°F.
    [3] Put a stainless steel skillet or pan in the over.
    [4] Bake the skillet at 400°F for one hour.
    [5] Remove the skillet from the oven and put it on the top of the stove…..USING YOUR BARE HANDS.
    [6] After you’ve stopped dancing around the room and screaming obscenitites, take four tablets of cantharis of the ‘miracle dilution’ you’ve purchase. The process is to put them UNDER your tongue and let them dissolve on their own. Do NOT swollow them.

    If your experience is the same as MINE—and this has happened to me on four occasions, but strictly by accident—the pain will go away in 15 minutes and there will be no scar tissue.

    First instance while cooking for an Alpha Course dinner at my church. Someone put a stainless steel pan in front of me to dish up food from without telling me where the pan had been; straight out of the hot oven. Instant 2d degree burns. Since I had no cantharis with me at the church, I had to wait until I finished the supper and drove home. All the while in very interesting pain in both hands. Fifteen minutes after the cantharis, no pain. Blisters went away without any scar tissue.

    Another instance, a small fire in my candle making shop. Hot wax got on the electric burners were had been red hot. I tried to put the small fire out by smothering it with a towel. Unfortunately, I had not covered my hand completely and a pinkie finger came into contact with the burner element. Instant 3d degree burn. But a nice crispy mahogony brown.

    Took cantharis. Pain gone in 15 minutes. Pain tried to return two hours later. More cantharis, no more pain. No scar tissue.

    Try it yourself….

    However, I DO recommend you try it in treating an accident instead of on purpose.

    A bottle of cantharis can be had at any good Vitamin store, e.g., Vitamin Cottage, for about $7. Is that too much to invest in first aid? Or an experiment?

    Enjoy….

    Posted by: Chuck Pelto at October 14, 2005 08:19 PM

    P.P.P.S. If anyone can tell me how scar tissue not forming after a severe burn is a psychosomatic response or a placebo effect, I’d REALLY like to hear it.

    Regards,

    Chuck(le)
    [The most simple-minded way of proving a systems effectiveness is the ability to win bets based on it.]

  33. Mojo
    October 24, 2008 at 10:56 am

    Wow. A load of unsubstantiated anecdotes, claiming spectacular results for a therapy that fails to work in controlled trials. And delivered in a highly insulting tone. How amazingly convincing.

    At least Chuck can’t object that some trials of homoeopathy are non-individualised, as he is clearly claiming that individualisation isn’t necessary, at least in the case of his cantharis.

    Oh, and Chuck: “Seriously. Who would believe someone who doesn’t post their REAL name on something as important as this?”

    Hint: try scrolling up to the top of the page.

  34. zeno
    October 24, 2008 at 11:19 am

    I read Chuck’s comments last night and have only just stopped laughing!

    Mojo rightly points out a few of the fallacies and erroneous reasoning employed by Chuck – these are the usual ones employed by alt-med pushers. They just do not seem to understand the need for evidence-based medicine and certainly do not understand much about science or the scientific method.

    The only value of anecdotal evidence is to highlight something that might be worth researching.

    Chuck seems to be claiming that his ‘medicine’ will work on anyone – how does he know that? Before forking out money, how do we prove that a preparation that appeared to work on one person will work on someone else? Perhaps the ‘medicine’ only works on people who are six feet tall? It might not work on someone who has toast for breakfast. How do you find out? You do trials – good quality trials where you exclude as much bias as possible and ensure that the results are as independent as possible. You know the rest (randomised, placebo controlled..).

    Oh! Wait a minute! Proper trials *have* been done on homoeopathy, haven’t they, and they failed to show that homoeopathy was any better than placebo.

  35. Mojo
    October 24, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    While I know nothing of the Duck’s health, I do suffer from gout, so not only do I know how painful it is (not always like having nails stuck in the foot, though; sometimes it’s been like having spikes inserted in my knee), I also know that it is precisely the type of condition that quacks love to be confronted with: a chronic but fluctuating condition. Usually it’s symptomless.

    The occasional acute episodes are exquisitely painful, but the pain recedes after a few days. This will happen whether it’s treated or not. So a homoeopath confronted with a patient with gout can do the old “individualisation” trick, and claim that the last remedy given was the correct one. This is very like what Chuck describes.

    Most likely when Chuck found some relief when in a hot shower, he was already getting better. BTW, we’re talking about crystals of uric acid in joints here – I don’t believe that any treatment could make them disappear in 15 minutes (I’m not saying you’re lying here, Chuck, just that you’re mistaken).

  36. zeno
    October 24, 2008 at 1:00 pm

    Chuck: you also talked about ‘3rd degree’ burns. Although we would call this a full-thickness burn in the UK, this describes a burn where the epidermis, dermis and subcutaneous layers of skin has been burned away, perhaps exposing muscle or bone.

    Even a 2nd degree (or partial-thickness) burn would have destroyed the dermis (although they can be less painful that a superficial burn).

    Is this really is what happened to you, then you must have seen the skin layers physically grow back before your very eyes over that 15 minute period? That would be a sight to see!

    However, if you really did mean a 1st degree (or superficial) burn, then it’s not surprising the pain receded after 15 minutes – it would have done so whether or not you had taken any preparation. No magic required.

  37. Chuck Pelto
    October 25, 2008 at 5:20 pm

    TO: Mojo and zeno, et al.
    RE: Disbelief

    Guys, you’re welcome to your disbelief.

    Nobody his holding an ACP to your head and telling you to take this stuff.

    You may not believe my honest report. But that’s hardly MY problem now….is it.

    The those how have the courage to step out of the ‘box’ go out and get themselves the material to try it themselves. Which, by the way, I had occasion to use again yesterday while preparing lunch. My hand brushed against the hot stainless steel skillet and I sustained a first degree burn. I took the cantharis I keep handy in the kitchen and suffered no burning sensation.

    As for the claim I didn’t have a third degree burn in the incident reported earlier, I’ll say this…What is beyond a second degree burn; the blistering one? To my knowledge and experience, it’s your skin is turned into crusty dark matter, dark brown or black.

    That’s what I had. You don’t like it? Tough noogies…..

    The hot shower had not relieved my acute symptoms of gout.

    As for research-based evidence, as I stated earlier, you can do what you wish with my honest report. Including using it as a—wipe. It’s not MY problem.

    However, I find it interesting that so many allegedly ‘intelligent’ people don’t have the brains to run simple tests for themselves. And instead, hide behind what their latter-day ‘priests’ tell them is ‘true’. 

Seriously….

    ….we’re talking CLASSIC ‘True Believers’ here. And, having been one myself, i.e., pre-med microbiology undergrad work, I can understand their disbelief. What I DON’T care for is their pride in being ‘ignorant’.

    As if a simple $7 purchase against a simple accident that happens frequently in the home is REALLY quite an interesting ‘indicator’ of their mind-set.

    Regards,

    Chuck(le)
    [Stupid, adj, Ignorant and proud of it.]

  38. zeno
    October 25, 2008 at 6:18 pm

    Chuck

    There is a reasonable explanation of the different severity of burns on wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burn.

    Sounds like you had a superficial burn to me.

    As for the tests, these are typical of the ones a lay-person would propose. It is flawed in many ways.

    However, to save us having to write a decent protocol and do the test properly (predominately without bias), all we have to do is look at the high quality trials that have already been done. We both know what the results were.

  39. Chuck Pelto
    October 25, 2008 at 6:54 pm

    TO: zeno
    RE: As I Said…

    “As for the tests, these are typical of the ones a lay-person would propose. It is flawed in many ways.” — zeno

    You’re welcome to remain as ignorant as you like, buckie.

    What would you rather? Spend $7 and learn you can avoid serious pain after an accident in the kitchen? Or suffer?

    And as for whomever it was who was claiming they have gout too, the same applies. However, you’ll probably need to invest a tad more to identify the proper materia medica to take and acquire it.

    ‘Enjoy’…..

    Regards,

    Chuck(le)
    [There is none so blind as he who will not ‘see’.]

  40. zeno
    October 25, 2008 at 8:59 pm

    Are you actually aware of the trials and the meta analyses?

    Have you any understanding about how to carry out unbiased trials? Or are you just not interested?

  41. Chuck Pelto
    October 25, 2008 at 9:18 pm

    TO: zeno
    RE: Testing Systems

    “Have you any understanding about how to carry out unbiased trials? Or are you just not interested?” — zeno

    I’m familiar with running trials.

    What’s your point? That my reports are all ‘lies and jest’?

    You calling me a liar?

    Regards,

    Chuck(le)

  42. Chuck Pelto
    October 25, 2008 at 9:21 pm

    TO: zeno
    RE: Trails

    I’ve seen trials set up to fail.

    I offered you an opportunity to do your own trial. And you refuse it.

    What’s the matter? $7 too much to pay for a simple experiment on your own?

    Or are you afraid I could be right?

    Do you have children? What if they burn themselves?

    Regards,

    Chuck(le)
    [There is none so blind….]

  43. Chuck Pelto
    October 25, 2008 at 10:18 pm

    TO: zeno
    RE: Failure To Accept….

    ….the ‘challenge’.

    I just noticed that our gracious host has offered a ‘simple challenge’ to homeopaths. And none have accepted it.

    I’m reminded of the challenge I offered everyone here vis-a-vis cantharis and simple household burns.

    Why is it you aren’t willing to accept MY challlenge?

    Regards,

    Chuck(le)
    [What goes around, comes around.]

    P.S. Allow me to remind you that you don’t actually have to do the sarcastically offered experiment. Just wait until you do have a serious burn about the house.

  44. zeno
    October 25, 2008 at 11:03 pm

    Chuck said: “What’s your point? That my reports are all ‘lies and jest’?”

    I’ve already addressed the value of anecdotes. Besides, you still haven’t provided any evidence of the severity of the burn (or even a good description): all you have confirmed about your burn is that it was “turned into crusty dark matter, dark brown or black.” A partial or full-thickness burn would have a noticeable amount of tissue burnt away, leaving a hole, perhaps down to the bone. If what you had was more than a superficial burn, then did you see the tissue grow back or not?

    “I’ve seen trials set up to fail.”

    Are you saying you doubt the results of previous scientific trials? Which trials are you talking about?

    “I offered you an opportunity to do your own trial. And you refuse it.”

    I see little point in doing an uncontrolled trial, particularly when there have been many good quality ones already done. Even if I did do what you suggest (mind you, I’m pretty careful in the kitchen, so it may take several years before I burn myself), what would it prove?

  45. Chuck Pelto
    October 26, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    TO: zeno
    RE: As I Said Earlier….

    “I’ve already addressed the value of anecdotes.” — zeno

    However, I’ll re-iterate with an experience of the City of Denver about ‘anecdotal’ evidence.

    Seems that in the late 1980s, the City of Denver was looking around for a new place to build a new international airport to serve the city.

    In their search they interviewed residents of the various areas they were considering about their opinion of building such in their vicinity.

    The farming community ‘hicks’ in one area said it was not a good idea because their area was the most prone to severe funnel-cloud forming thunderstorms in all of the Front Range.

    The City of Denver brushed of their honest report as merely ‘anecdotal’, as there was no ‘scientific evidence’ to support their claim.

    So the City of Denver bought the land and began building the newest major airport in the United States.

    About the same time as building began, the United States National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration began testing a new concept in weather analysis by an advanced radar system, Doppler, from their facilities in Boulder, Colorado, which lies approximately 20 miles to the West of where the new airport was being built.

    GUESS WHAT THE RADAR DISCOVERED….

    ….that those old anecdotal-believing hicks were RIGHT! The patch of ground that Denver International Airport is built upon IS the area most prone to funnel clouds from thunderstorms in all of the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains in the vicinity of Denver.

    You don’t like it? Tough….

    Regards,

    Chuck(le)
    [Life is tough. It’s tougher if your stupid.]

    P.S. You still refusing to try my little experiment?

    I see that our host offered one for homeopaths. It was much more complicated than that which I offered you. You can’t afford $7? Or are you gutless?

  46. zeno
    October 26, 2008 at 2:25 pm

    You must be confusing me with someone else. I never said that anecdotes could never be correct, just that you need proper evidence, not anecdotes, particularly if you are going to use that as a basis for making potentially life and death decisions about people’s health.

    Besides, what has an anecdote about airports to do with whether homoeopathy works or not?

  47. Maria
    October 26, 2008 at 2:37 pm

    Homeopathy is a crock. I wasted money on it when I was young and naive and discovered it had no effect whatsoever. Why are you even wasting time talking about it? If people want to take it for minor ailments, more fool them. It’s the people who think it can help their asthma, kidney failure or cancer that I’m worried about.

  48. Chuck Pelto
    October 26, 2008 at 5:53 pm

    TO: zeno
    RE: Cute….

    “You must be confusing me with someone else. I never said that anecdotes could never be correct, just that you need proper evidence, not anecdotes…” — zeno

    ….attempt to side-step, there.

    Still the gutless wonder, eh? Either that or too poor to afford a vial of cantharis to test my ‘theory’.

    Never heard of ‘peer review’?

    Regards,

    Chuck(le)
    [A closed mind gathers no intelligence.]

  49. Chuck Pelto
    October 26, 2008 at 5:55 pm

    TO: maria
    RE: Yeah…Right….

    “Homeopathy is a crock. I wasted money on it when I was young and naive and discovered it had no effect whatsoever.” — maria

    I offer you the same challenge as I’ve offered the others here.

    You’re welcome to take it or sit there and suffer next time you have serious accident in the kitchen involving burneres and heat and human flesh while cooking.

    Regards,

    Chuck(le)
    [There is none so blind….]

  50. Chuck Pelto
    October 26, 2008 at 5:58 pm

    TO: All
    RE: zeno

    “Besides, what has an anecdote about airports to do with whether homoeopathy works or not?” — zeno

    Apparently zeno has problems with ‘correlation’ of items.

    Can someone get him/her/it a copy of Wff ‘N Proof?

    Regards,

    Chuck(le)
    P.S. And read the instructions on how to ‘play’ it to them…..

  51. Chuck Pelto
    October 26, 2008 at 6:04 pm

    TO: Maria
    RE: Those Others

    “It’s the people who think it can help their asthma, kidney failure or cancer that I’m worried about.” — Maria

    Not so sure about asthma or renal failure issues. However, about cancer, maybe you should see comment about what we’re dealing with in this household over at this blog’s thread at….

    http://www.quackometer.net/blog/2008/01/triamazon-cancer-pill-scam-busted.html

    You might find the more recent posts ‘interesting’, not to forget the possibility that they might save someone’s life.

    Regards,

    Chuck(le)
    [If laughter is the best medicine, shouldn’t we be regulating it?]

  52. zeno
    October 26, 2008 at 6:14 pm

    Chuck said: “….attempt to side-step, there.”

    No. Did you actually read and understand what I said about anecdotes?

    Chuck said: “Still the gutless wonder, eh? Either that or too poor to afford a vial of cantharis to test my ‘theory’.”

    That’s right. Continue with the ad hominems in an attempt to persuade me and others that homoeopathy works, rather than addressing the real problems you have. That’ll do the trick.

    Chuck said: “Never heard of ‘peer review’?”

    Yes. They’ve already been done and, for the third time, proper trials have shown homoeopathy to be no better then placebo.

    Chuck said: “Apparently zeno has problems with ‘correlation’ of items.”

    Do you really think there is a correlation between airports and homoeopathy?

    Chuck said: “Can someone get him/her/it a copy of Wff ‘N Proof?
    …And read the instructions on how to ‘play’ it to them…..”

    Yet more attempts to divert from answering the real questions.

    Somewhat transparent to everyone reading this, Chuck, don’t you think?

  53. Chuck Pelto
    October 26, 2008 at 6:45 pm

    TO: zeno
    RE: What I Think….

    “Do you really think there is a correlation between airports and homoeopathy?” — zeno

    …for the second time, I say, you’ve got serious issues with an inability to correlate information from different venues.

    You don’t care for that? Sounds like a ‘personal problem’.

    Regards,

    Chuck(le)
    [There is none so blind….as zeno….apparently.]

    P.S. And anyone with more than two synapses to rub together will recognize your problem….

    ….as mere evasion…..

  54. zeno
    October 26, 2008 at 7:29 pm

    Yawn. Yet more ad hominems and personal insults rather that address the issues.

    You’re not doing yourself (or your arguments) any favours, Chuck.

  55. Le Canard Noir
    October 26, 2008 at 7:31 pm

    Chuck,

    Welcome to the quackometer.

    A few rules:
    1) Do not post the same stuff across multiple threads. it is called spamming. it will be deleted.
    2) this is not a general talk board for you to spout off anecdotal nonsense. The comments are here to discuss my posts. Be on topic or be deleted. There are many places out there for homeopaths to pursuade the world that their minor self limiting illness was cured by magic water.

    Also,
    1) You do not know the difference between there and they’re. it makes you look stupid and gives the game away if people had not already spotted it from your posts.
    2) You are not allowed to mention your daft burns test again. A moron could spot that it is uncontrolled and so meaningless. If you want to do a cheap controled test of homeopathy then you are welcome to take part in mine.

    You are on my turf. Be nice. Play by the rules. Or take your bat and ball eleswhere.

  56. zeno
    October 26, 2008 at 7:35 pm

    My apologies for feeding the troll, LCN.

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