Science is a human activity. And as such, it is subject to the full range of fallibilities of thought and action that people are capable of. Within science you will find sloppy and wishful thinking, error and even fraud. But science, rather uniquely, has methods designed explicitly to minimise human biases, reduce error and correct mistakes when they are found. It is this inherent error correction that makes science a reliable source of knowledge about the world.
One of the mechanisms that aims to increase the reliability of the published results of science is peer review. Scientists are required to fully disclose their results and the methods by which they came by those results so that others can criticise, replicate and confirm – or otherwise. But before a paper is published, a journal will ask some other specialists in suitable fields to ensure the results are valid, significant and original. The reviewers check the paper to ensure that a minimum standards of quality is met. This ensures that what we read is a valid contribution to scientific debate.
But peer review itself is not a perfect process. The reviewers can be subject to their own biases – accepting papers that fit their preconceptions or rejection those that might conflict with their own work. Journals have a pecking order of credibility, with the best journals enjoying a reputation for thorough and impartial peer review, whereas those at the bottom can just be seen as promoting special and commercial interests. The process of peer review in these journals is a charade with little real meaning.
At the heart of peer review is trust. We cannot escape it. We have to assume that, at least in publishing houses and journals that we rate highly, editors and reviewers have properly undertaken thorough peer review, without grace nor favour, and only allowed through the academic work that merits publication. Of course, subsequent errors can be found in peer reviewed work and that is inevitable. Reviewers themselves have to trust that procedures were carried out as described and that mistakes were not made. Peer review is just the first independent layer of checking of results. But the badge of peer review on an article allows the results to be discussed with an authority that could not be achieved prior to publication.
Failure of peer review happens across all areas of science, but the publication record with complementary and alternative medicine is especially troubled. So much so, that Professor Barker Bausell, who ran the American National Institute of Health Complementary and Alternative Medicine Specialized Research Center, has written that no credence should be placed in the results of CAM journals because of the total lack of effective peer review. That is not to say that all CAM results are unreliable, but that those published in specialist CAM journals lack rigorous review and, for example, positive results are published regardless of merit and negative results ignored.
Oxford University Press and eCAM
Oxford University Press is a publishing house that deserves a good reputation. However, it has been publishing its own CAM journal, eCAM.
Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine(eCAM) is an international, peer-reviewed journal that seeks to understand the sources and to encourage rigorous research in this new, yet ancient world of complementary and alternative medicine.
Surprisingly, and contrary to what you might think given its stance on evidence, this journal is not really thin. The journal is filled with all sorts of weird and wonderful papers, a couple of my own recent favourites include, “Clowns Benefit Children Hospitalized for Respiratory Pathologies” (which I am sure they do), and “How Far Can Ki-energy Reach?—A Hypothetical Mechanism for the Generation and Transmission of Ki-energy” (which I am sure is utter nonsense).
One paper that was published earlier this year, caught my eye. Written by America’s chief homeopathic apologist, Dana Ullman, it was entitled “The Curious Case of Charles Darwin and Homeopathy”. Now this surprised me because Ullman had written a book making all sorts of daft claims about Darwin and Homeopathy. I wrote about how Darwin’s own letters allow you to see that he thought homeopathy was absurd and “a subject which makes me more wrath, even than does Clairvoyance”.
A Dismal Paper
Despite this, Ullman used the peer reviewed journal to repeat nonsense about Darwin and homeopathy. In the paper, he makes several claims, the worst being.
1. Firstly, Ullman claims that Darwin might not have lived unless he had been ‘cured’ by homeopathy. It is true that Darwin did take some homeopathy pills (which he said he did “without an atom of faith”) but this was while undergoing other treatments at a hospital in Malvern. Darwin had an undiagnosed disease that came and went throughout his life. Ullman attributes a certain remission to his sugar pill taking – and indeed claims that he only lived because of homeopathy.
2. Ullman writes “After just a month of treatment, Charles had to admit that Gully’s treatments were not quackery after all.”, trying to suggest Darwin had become a convert (not true). There is nothing in his letters to suggest such a thing. To overcome this obvious deficiency in Ullman’s argument, he makes up a fantasy world,
Despite Darwin’s greatly improved health, he never publicly attributed any benefits directly to homeopathy. However, one must also realize that even though homeopathy achieved impressive popularity among British royalty, numerous literary greats, and many of the rich and powerful at that time, there was incredible animosity to it from orthodox physicians and scientists. Because Darwin was just beginning to propose his own new ideas about evolution, it would have been professional suicide to broadcast his positive experiences with homeopathy. Having to defend homeopathy would have damaged his credibility among his colleagues who were extremely antagonistic to this emerging medical specialty.
Given Darwin published one of the most audacious books on science for all time, it is a massive slur to suggest he was a coward when it came to his views on medicine. This passage is nothing short of disgraceful.
3. Ullman claims that Darwin experimented on homeopathic dilutions. Again, this is absurd. Darwin did do groundbreaking research on dilute solutions of ammonia salts on sundew plants, but they clearly were not homeopathic preparations. And Darwin never suggested or believed they were. Ullman desperately wriggles to try to suggest that Darwin was in awe of the power of homeopathy.
In all, the paper is confused and desperate in its attempts to suggest that science history should be rewritten to include Darwin’s so-called experiences and experiments with homeopathy.
A Failure of Peer Review
Why was it published, and why did peer review not stop such obvious drivel from being put in the scientific record?
Well, the paper was peer reviewed and it would appear that it was outright rejected by at least two reviewers. Nonetheless, the paper got published. This is nothing short of a complete breakdown in trust that ought to exist between journal readers and it editorial process.
In fact, I had a discussion with one of the reviewers. He said, “I pointed out the many gaping holes in the narrative – historically inaccurate, factually misleading etc – and recommended outright rejection. Needless to say they asked him to revise and re-submit.”
The reviewer did not expect to have a second chance at reviewing the revised submission. Indeed, he then told me, he had been taken off the list of reviewers at the journal, and was given no reason as to why he was not asked to re-review. Concerns were raised with the editor, Edwin Cooper, but apparently, ‘he did not want to know.’ The reviewer also says that he found out a second reviewer had also advised outright rejection.
So, a junk piece of work has been published on the history of Charles Darwin. Does this matter? Ullman’s book, which he has been heavily promoting and using Darwin as one of its central characters is based on the premise that so many ‘cultural heroes’ have used homeopathy that it ought to be taken seriously. It is nothing but quack propaganda – but it may be compelling to many. The fact that Ullman can now boast that his ideas have been published in peer reviewed journals gives his stance an authority that it does not deserve. It is now taken ‘as fact’ that Darwin was cured by homeopathy and did important experiments on it. Other ‘peer reviewed’ papers reference Ullman’s to back this up. (e.g. see here). Quacks, of course embellish even further. For example, a homeopath called Kaviraj writes, “He discovered that however much he reduced the dose of the substance he used, salt of ammonia – prepared according to the homoeopathic method with dilution and succussion – the effects were always visible in the plant.”. This is simply not true.
Ullman himself now boasts of this paper’s peer reviewed status. On an online discussion, he taunted me,
I have published in peer-review journals on Darwin and his homeopathic doctor. Please enlighten me where your writings on this subject have appeared. Oh, in your own blog! Wow, now THAT is high quality pee-review. Yeah, that typo is purposeful. You’re good a yellow journalism.[sic]
All this does is add to the fog of intentional confusion and dishonesty that surrounds alternative medicine. There is indeed an important need for sound research to be published about CAM. We need to understand why people are drawn to superstitious treatments, what are the potential harms – and what benefits, if any, might be expected. But CAM research is so full of propaganda masquerading as serious academic research that it is a constant battle to have to point out why so many conclusions in the field are not worth anything. This can only harm people – it actually risks people’s health and life. And that is why failures of peer review are not just a breach of trust but of deep moral concern.
Fortunately, it is possible that Oxford University Press have seen good sense and decided that they do not want such a journal sullying their reputation. It has now been sold to Indian publisher Hindawi.
The fact is that Ullman knows that there is zero evidence that Darwin was a homeopathy convert; this has been pointed out to him on numerous occasions. And yet he repeats the claim constantly regardless.
Of course the same is true of all his claims, but the Darwin one is so transparently false I cannot believe he believes it himself. One may take a view on what this says about his motives for his ceaseless pushing of homeopathy.
Hey Rocko and Mr. Duck,
Show me (and the rest of us) where I wrote that Darwin was a “convert” to homeopathy. Whooops…you cannot do that because you’re making things up (again).
Where did Andy write that you said he was a convert? Or is there a chance you’re making that up? Here’s what I read (copied from above):
You did write that, didn’t you?
Transparent weasel words as ever, Dana. You’ve constructed this elaborate scenario (albeit one completely unencumbered by evidence) where Darwin went from being “scathing” about homeopathy to only not speaking up for it because:
“Having to defend homeopathy would have damaged his credibility among his colleagues”
A conversion, in other words.
It might help if Mr. Duck actually read my peer-review article rather than make-up things out of thin air.
Actually, I acknowledged in my article that Darwin was a skeptic of homeopathy…and I gave appropriate references to this…and THAT is also what makes Darwin’s story so compelling. He proves that belief is NOT necessary to get real benefits from homeopathic treatment and hydrotherapy (water-cure). Are you ACTUALLY saying that Darwin did not get therapeutic benefits from Dr. Gully’s treatment? Are you actually re-writing history?
Is it a “coincidence” that wrote that he was dying just prior to going to Dr. Gully and that he was unable to work 1 in every 3 days…and yet, within a couple of weeks, he was able to walk 7 miles in a day and he called himself “an eating and walking machine.” Oh, and what happened to the symptoms that he was experiencing for 2 to 12 (!) years, including heart palpitations, fainting spells, spots before his eyes, body-wide boils, and extreme fatigue? Darwin never again mentioned ANY of these symptoms after the first couple of weeks under Gully’s treatment.
Mr. Duck, you’re good at leaving out information…but I do want to thank you for reference my comment about your yellow journalism. At least I have a sense of humor…
As for Darwin’s experiments with the Drosera plant…can you, Mr. Duck, tell me if Darwin was or wasn’t surprised at the significant effects that he observed from exceedingly small doses of ammonia salts? Tell me, Mr. Duck, why did he have BOTH of his sons repeat his experiments and continue to express amazement? Oh…and tell me, did Darwin express concern that he would then have to report about these experiments that shocked him so much? C’mon…man up and say what is true.
I provide references to my information. You provide a thin review that is full of misinformation. I encourage readers to actually read my article and not blindly accept Mr. Duck’s weak summary of it.
How small were the exceedingly small doses of ammonia salts?
Thanx for your interest, Daniel, but I hope you understand that this AND other information about this issue are in my peer-review article at:
Quoting from da man (Darwin), he wrote:
“The reader will best realize this degree of dilution by remembering that 5,000 ounces would more than fill a thirty-one gallon cask [barrel]; and that to this large body of water one grain of the salt was added; only half a drachm, or thirty minims, of the solution being poured over a leaf. Yet this amount sufficed to cause the inflection of almost every tentacle, and often the blade of the leaf. … My results were for a long time incredible, even to myself, and I anxiously sought for every source of error. … The observations were repeated during several years. Two of my sons, who were as incredulous as myself, compared several lots of leaves simultaneously immersed in the weaker solutions and in water, and declared that there could be no doubt about the difference in their appearance. … In fact every time that we perceive an odor, we have evidence that infinitely smaller particles act on our nerves.” (p. 170)
Ah, I see that there is a limit to the extent to which comments can be nested. I hope this will appear somewhere sensible, but it is intended as a reply to Dana Ullman (who is below as I write this…)
Thank you for giving me something to do on my train journey to work, which might otherwise have been spent unproductively composing a letter to my accountant. I figure this works as follows:
Darwin used 5000 ounces of water, with 16 ounces to pound and 2.2 pounds to the kilogram. So we have 312.5lb = 142 kg water (approximately).
Wikipedia tells me that 1 drachm = 1.7718g = 875/32 grains, (from which I deduce that 1 grain of salt is (1.7718 * 32 / 875) = 0.06480g which will be useful in a moment).
Darwin poured half a drachm over a leaf. Half a drachm, 0.8859g, from 142,000g water would contain (0.8859 / 142000) = 0.0000062 of the particles present in whatever was dissolved in the water.
We worked out that 1 grain of salt = 0.06480g Not having the salt or its density to hand, I go for something which is the same order of magnitude – 12g of carbon-12 is 1 mole, is 6.02*10^23 particles. So there are about 5.02*10^22 particles in a gram of something, therefore (0.06480 * 5.02*10^22) = about 3.3*10^21 in a grain. Yes, the numbers for whatever salt he used will be a little different, but it will be about the right order of magnitude.
Of these particles, we have a fraction 0.0000062 of them. Assuming my maths hasn’t gone heinously wrong, the water that Darwin poured on the leaf contained something of the order of 2*10^16 particles.
So, despite the dilution, there are still clearly a sizable number of the salt molecules in a solution (I’ll leave it to biologists to give an estimate of the number of cells in the leaf of the plant, and therefore the number of salt molecules per cell, assuming perfect absorption).
Now, you and I know full well that if Darwin had been using a homeopathic preparation (say, 30C) of the salt, and I had done the resulting calculations, we would have concluded that there were no salt particles at all in the solution because we’d be talking about dissolving 1g of something in 10^60g of water. That would certainly have been mysterious. But, we’re clearly not talking about these levels of dilution and “Darwin pours 10 quadrillion particles of salt over a leaf, plant responds” doesn’t seem like much of a story, so I’m puzzled as to why you would cite this experiment as supporting evidence for homeopathy when 20 minutes of remembering my A-level chemistry tells me that the numbers involved are many orders of magnitude different. Were you hoping that people wouldn’t check the maths?
Am I convinced by Ms Ullman’s riposte? Only 10^23 much.
Oh, what a magnificent idea. I’m gonna butcher a rich widow with an axe and then proceed to sell the axe to my neighbour. Surely noone will make a connection.
In my eyes, Oxford University Press has tarnisher its reputation for years.
I take it that Daniel is Dullman’s new sock puppet?
No, I’m not. I was hoping to get some numbers to which I could Do Some Maths. Now I have numbers (1 grain of salt, 5000 ounces of water), and when I get a spare moment today, Maths will be Done. My gut feeling is that this dilution is nowhere near the dilutions actually used in practice by homeopaths, therefore citing this in defense of homeopathy is misleading. I’ll be back later with some numbers (been rather too busy this weekend to keep checking this for replies…).
I wonder if this anachronistic revelation that an insectivorous plant’s “nose” is sensitive to very dilute (~10⁻⁹?) but certainly not very homeopathic solutions means that Ullman has at last seen the light as far as homeopathy is concerned and ditched it in favour of aromatherapy (albeit a new and even less plausible version of it)? 😉
Ullman’s article couldn’t have been peer-reviewed. For unscientific nonsense, he is peerless. In any event, his article is not science and certainly not evidence of the effectiveness of homeopathy.
Ullman’s article is the most mendacious piece of English prose I have ever read. He said, as Vicki already noted:
“After just a month of treatment, Charles had to admit that Gully’s treatments were not quackery after all.” He didn’t have to admit any such thing, and I doubt very much that he did make any such admission. If he had, I’m sure Ullman would have mentioned it.
There is no basis for believing that homeopathy was of any benefit to Darwin. Ullman can’t even identify Darwin’s condition; therefore Ullman didn’t, and can’t, point to any scientific evidence that homeopathy is an effective treatment for it, or indeed any specific non-self limiting condition. Any study he might choose to cite has already been thoroughly debunked.
Ullman has no basis for claiming that homeopathy cured Darwin. How could he know that it wasn’t the hydrotherapy, or, more likely a remission or resolution of a chronic or self-limiting condition? He can’t. The fact that he makes the claim shows that Ullman will say anything to support his belief in homeopathy, the epitome of quack medicine. Ullman is wrong. Homeopathy has had 200 years to prove itself. It hasn’t. There is a growing body of evidence that shows it does not work. The more Ullman attempts to defend the indefensible, the more foolish he reveals himself to be.
Even the NHS now recognizes that homeopathy doesn’t work, as shown by its progressive withdrawal of funding. It is not surprising that Ullman can’t see what more and more people are seeing once they look carefully at the evidence relating to homeopathy. As Uptown Sinclair said, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”
What Dullman means by peer review is a paper written by an idiot and reviewed by other idiots. Hence eCAM (Complementary and Alternative reality Medicine). And note that he says “peer review”, not “peer reviewed“. Habitually misleading is what Dullman does.
Dullman is an example of “those who can’t” the adage
Just a little reminder to all that abuse diluted by a great deal of reasoning is more potent.
“Dr Jütte notes that in the introduction to this book (p. xv) Koch explains homeopathy scientifically by including it in a more general ‘Grundgesetz des organischen Lebens’, which could be translated as ‘law of spirality’.” – from the article we are discussing.
Who would translate ‘Grundgesetz’ as ‘Law of spirality’? My native tongue is not German. Anyone?
“Basic Law of Organic Life” is the Google translation for ‘Grundgesetz des organischen Lebens’. WOW! This would make homeopathy the unknown start of life as we know it. There was a primordial spark that, after it was diluted sufficiently by the water from the early bombardment by icy comets and asteroids, came “alive”? That would be really convincing for the power of dilution.
If one reviews a paper and has the work thrown back at one, it seems it were best to be struck off the list of reviewers. It is a lot of bother to do a good review.
The section of the article about the “German homoeopathic doctor” is a little odd. The quotation from Darwin used to support it is described in the article as “an August 20, 1862, letter to Asa Gray”, but the passage quoted actually describes it as “an example of the odd letters he received” rather than one sent. The reference given is to a 1903 New York edition of Francis Darwin’s Life and Letters of Charles Darwin. I can’t find this particular edition online, but the passage appears in Vol 2 of the original 1887 edition, in the introduction to the letters of 1862 on page 383.
Tracking it down to the letter Darwin’s comments originally appeared in, it turns out to have been a postscript to a letter to Joseph Hooker dated 16 Jan 1862. This makes it even more clear that it is actually a comment on a letter received:
“P.S. The letter with curious address forwarded by Mrs Hooker was from a German Homœopathic Doctor—an ardent admirer of the Origin—had himself published nearly the same sort of book, but goes much deeper—explains the origin of plants & animals on the principles of Homœopathy or by the Law of Spirality— Book fell dead in Germany— Therefore would I translate it & publish it in England &c &c?!”
There is no indication here that Darwin had read the book, or even seen a copy of it; rather he seems to have been commenting on the contents of the “letter with curious address” that had been forwarded to him. There doesn’t seem to be any indication of “admiration” for this German homoeopath either.
For some reason the link to the Life and Letters of Charles Darwin in my last post doesn’t seem to work. I’ll try posting it again.
Ah yes, the wonderful Darwin drosera experiments. Kudos to Dana Ullman for once again succussing the dimwit and making fools of the anti-homeopathy tribe.
Hey, I did video on it:
The mark of pseudoscience is a lack of specificity. Same with liars and Andy Lewis. You ask for details, and they suddenly go blank. And of course the case against homeopathy is just the same. They keep saying that there is a growing body of evidence that disproves it, but you look for the specifics, references, cites, and they aren’t there. Shang refuses to name its references as well, and if that weren’t enough, comes to a somewhat vague conclusion, contradicted by every other major meta analysis.
The Lewis’ of the world can’t even tell you reallywhat a placebo is, much less cite any psychogenic studies for their action. Oh, they say homoeopathy isn’t much better than placebo, then in the net breath are defending placebo as a powerful effect.
Yes, its true, the effects of homeopathics are not stable, but there are effects beyond placebo, and Darwin’s drosera rotund flora proves it, because logically a plant would not be subject to placebo. But Heavens to God, Lewis will never put it to the test with a real homeoapthic dilution of ammonia carbonicum 12c or more, nor will he ever consider trying it on a bean other than his own, which he won‘t do either. But it has been proven on beans, and it has been tried on wheat extensively. Plants make excellent test subjects for demonstrating the action of homeopathic remedies beyond palcebo, numerous, cheap, easily controlled, no ethical considerations, and according to Vaikunthanath das Kaviraj, author of Homeopathy for Farm and Garden, there are over 60 studies now for the action of homeopathics on plants.
Run Andy, run. Run away from this proving, it does nothing but epose you for the fool you are.
Here’s an example of work that has been done at one of the world’s oldest and most respected universities:
“Statistical analysis of the effect of high dilutions of arsenic in a large dataset from a wheat germination model” Brizzi M, Nani D, Peruzzi M, Betti L. Dipartimento di Scienze statistiche, University of Bologna, Italy Br Homeopath J. 2000 Apr;89(2):63-7 This has been rep[eated ad nauseam. Google it!
Of course they’ll rip this one apart because it wasn’t published in THEIR review, it was published in the peer review of the doctrine. Such will always be the reaction of those who replace the opportunity to experience something for themselves with maligning extrapolation of the reports of others who have. But where else would you expect to find it? Nothing so controversial as this is go0ing to easily find it’s way into a general science magazine like Scientific American, and so it speaks volumes that Ullman’s article has been accepted in such a publication, as have, by my count, about two dozen others.
But what will they do when they face the stack of replications?
The evidence for homeopathy is of course concordant, as it would be for any real effect, and that’s why it has withstood two centuries of vicious opposition, like Lewis’ here, because there will always be those like Darwin who, after being totally dismissive, have been dramatically affected by it. Lewis and those like him are doing nothing more than simply using the appearance of what they think is an anomaly as an excuse to malign those who find application for it. They do the same thing to Christianity or any spiritual belief whenever they can sneak it in.
The homeopathy denier, in order to fund his disbelief, has to think that those who report favorably on it must be suffering from gullibility. Such is not the case. The best supporters of homeoapthy are usually those who are the most critical thinkers and who in the beginning of their investiagtion attacked it on the same grounds as Lewiset al does. The difference is that real skeptics put it to the test . . On themselves and other test subjects, like plants. I have. I found Staphyssagria had astounding effects on the growth of oat coleoptiles.
It doesn’t stand to reason, to a thinking man, that extrapolation by a few should trump direct observation by many, even though what is being observed doesn‘t make any sense. But after you see so much thought and effort into indexing its effects by true medical doctors, you have to consider that maybe, just maybe, there is a logical explanation for it. Supramolecualr chemistry provides that, and recent experiments have demonstrated the structure, radiant signal, biochemical and biologicial action of the homeopathic remedy that makes criticism by the likes of Lewis and company seem absolutely puerile and vituperatively ad hominem, as one can read here repeatedly in Lewis’ libel and tortious interference.
Ullman presents a startling array of evidence for homeopathy in his book “The Homeoapthic Revolution,” but most damning to the case against homeopathy is the phytopatholgical illustrated in the Darwin imbroglio, and it reveals the pseudoscience in the criticism against homeoapthy.
Three cheers for Dana Ullman!
John BENNETH 101610
Actually, this is a case of tl;dr
what are you talking about? The web appendices of Shang et al. cite them and have been available for years now. How do you think Lüdtke&Rutten got them – clairvoyance?
Also, where are those other major meta-analyses that contradict Shang et al.? Only real scientific journals, please.
Alright, I concede that “Shang refuses” refers to Shang’s presiding investigator Egger’s initial refusal to name his references, which, as it can be seen, is because Egger didn’t want to name them that his meta analysis was nothing more than another smear job on the field. Like all cirtics of homeopathy, in order to maintain the Placebo Hypothesis, he has to ignore the pre-clinicals and cherry pick the clinicals.
Shang is the only major review to make conclude that homeopathics are no better than placebo, but even Shang contradicts itself to say “there was weak evidence for a specific effect of homoeopathic remedies.”
No other meta or review, mlisted below, concludes placebo.
Here’s a section from my notes, “Science of homeopathy.”
The Truth about Shang
The 2005 Shang meta-analysis in Lancet found homeopathics no different than placebo. But Shang’s flawed on many levels. It eliminated 102 of 110 homeopathic trials, basing its conclusions on only the 8 largest high-quality trials without identifying the criteria by which trials were selected or their identity. Odds ratios did not support their conclusion that homeopathics are no better than placebo. “Where Does Homeopathy Fit in Pharmacy Practice?” Am J Pharm Educ.
Shang A, Huweiler-Muntener K, Nartey L, et al. Are the clinical effects of homeopathy placebo effects? Comparative study of placebo-controlled trials of homeopathy and allopathy. Lancet. 2005;366:726–32. [PubMed]
Fisher P Homeopathy and The Lancet Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2006 March; 3(1): 145–147 [PubMed]
Kiene H, Kienle GS, von Schön-Angerer T. Bias in meta-analysis. Homeopathy. 2006;95:54. [PubMed]
Bell I. All evidence is equal, but some evidence is more equal than others: Can logic prevail over emotion in the homeopathy debate? J Alternative Complement Med. 2005;11:763–9.
Aikin K. The end of biomedical journals: there is madness in their methods. J Alternative Complement Med. 2005;11:755–7.
Swiss Association of Homeopathic Physicians. Open letter to the editor of the Lancet. Forsch Komplementarmed Klass Naturheilkd. 2005;12:352–3. [PubMed] [PDF]
Shah A. Is the Lancet trial really valid? Pharm J. 2005;275:407.
The 2005 Lancet review proved superior quality of homeopathy trials. Lex Rutten Opening lecture at the LMHI congress 2009, Warsaw http://www.dokterrutten.nl/collega/Liga09.pdf
Homeopathy in Meta-analysis
2009 FISHER: Homeopathy: the Evidence from Basic Research Memorandum submitted to Parliament Goto article
2009 FISHER: Annual Evidence Update on Homeopathy. NHS Goto article
2007 JOHNSON: Where Does Homeopathy Fit in Pharmacy Practice? Am J Pharm Educ. Goto full article
Johnson is a comprhensive review written of homeoapthics by pharmacists for pharmacists, covering both pro and con.
2007 WITT: The in vitro evidence for an effect of high homeopathic potencies–a systematic review of the literature. Complement Ther Med. Goto abstract
In this review Witt uses an established criteria for rating homeoapthy experiments, something of course maligners like Lewis and Egger are incapable of doing. SI different types of biochmeical tests are covered, from the 1930’s to 2007. The most replicated biuochemical test is the basopphil degranulation.
2005 Shang: Are the clinical effects of homoeopathy placebo effects? Comparative study of placebo-controlled trials of homoeopathy and allopathy. Lancet Goto abstr.
Review of the House of Common’s Evidence Check by Earl Baldwin of Bewdley.
2.1. There have been a number of systematic reviews and meta-analyses in this
field, which as the Committee states are the best sources of evidence. The
most recent review of substance is that by Shang et al in 2005, which it
considered “the most comprehensive to date” and which compared 110
placebo-controlled trials of homoeopathy [authors’ spelling] with 110 trials of
conventional medicine matched for disorder and type of outcome. The
Committee cited a conclusion by the authors [paragraph 69] that “when
analyses were restricted to large trials of higher quality there was no convincing
evidence that homeopathy [sic] was superior to placebo”. They did not
also cite the authors’ interpretation which followed these findings in the
Lancet summary, which stated: “When account was taken for these biases
[common to trials of both homoeopathy and conventional medicine], there
was weak evidence for a specific effect of homoeopathic remedies, but strong
evidence for specific effects of conventional interventions. This finding is
compatible with the notion that the clinical effects of homoeopathy are
2.2. This was no endorsement of homeopathy. But it was some way removed
from the Committee’s conclusion in paragraph 70 of their report, “In our view,
the systematic reviews and meta-analyses conclusively demonstrate that
homeopathic products perform no better than placebos.” It also provides
little support for that part of Professor Ernst’s evidence to the Committee
where he “pointed out that: . . . Shang et al very clearly arrived at a
devastatingly negative overall conclusion” .
2.3. The exaggeration by the Committee of Shang’s conclusions is worrying. It is
difficult to see how a weakly supported positive effect, for which one
explanation (possibly well-founded) is a placebo effect, can be translated into
a conclusive demonstration of this effect, with a “devastatingly” negative
finding. No such firm claims can be found in Shang, who writes of finding
“no strong” evidence, or “little” evidence, and who ends his paper with
cautions about methodology and about the difficulty of detecting bias in
studies, as well as the role of possible “context effects” in homeopathy.
From Observations on the report Evidence Check 2: Homeopathy by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, February 2010
2003 BECKER-WITT Quality Assessment of Physical Research in Homeopathy. J Alt Comp Med Abstract
In this study Becker-Witt establishes the scoring system for assessing the quality of homeopathic trials, the same as used in the in vitro review. It analyzes six different types of physical expriments used to analyze homeoapthic remedies, the most common being NMR.
2003 JONAS- A Critical Overview of Homeopathy Annals of Internal Medicine http://www.annals.org/content/138/5/393.full
2001 LINDE Systematic reviews of complementary therapies – an annotated bibliography. Part 3: homeopathy. “While the evidence is promising for some topics the findings of the available reviews are unlikely to end the controversy on this therapy.” BMC Complement Altern Med. PUBMED
2000 CUCHERAT: Evidence of clinical efficacy of homeopathy. A meta-analysis of clinical trials. Euro J Clin Pharm Goto review ; PUBMED abstract
1997 LINDE: Are the Clinical Effects of Homeopathy Placebo Effects? A Meta-analysis of Placebo-Controlled Trials The results of our meta-analysis are not compatible with the hypothesis that the clinical effects of homoeopathy are completely due to placebo. Lancet 1997; 350: 834–43 Goto article
This is the most noted and respected meta.
1994 LINDE: Critical Review and Meta-Analysis of Serial Agitated Dilutions in Experimental Toxicology Abstract; PDF
1991 KLEIJNEN: Clinical Trials of Homeopathy Goto full article
1984 SCOFIELD: Experimental research in homœopathy—a critical review Abstract
Scofield is especially good, because whereas it is critcal of methods, it also identifies high quality pre-clinicals up to 1984, most notably Boyd.
The question tht should be asked first is if it can be demonstrated that homeopathics have biological effects, not if it is a “placebo.”
“1997 LINDE: Are the Clinical Effects of Homeopathy Placebo Effects? A Meta-analysis of Placebo-Controlled Trials The results of our meta-analysis are not compatible with the hypothesis that the clinical effects of homoeopathy are completely due to placebo. Lancet 1997; 350: 834–43 Goto article
This is the most noted and respected meta.”
1999 LINDE: “Impact of study quality on outcome in placebo-controlled trials of homeopathy”, J Clin Epidemiol 52 (7): 631–6 : “The evidence of bias weakens the findings of our original meta-analysis. Since we completed our literature search in 1995, a considerable number of new homeopathy trials have been published. The fact that a number of the new high-quality trials…have negative results, and a recent update of our review for the most “original” subtype of homeopathy (classical or individualized homeopathy), seem to confirm the finding that more rigorous trials have less-promising results. It seems, therefore, likely that our meta-analysis at least overestimated the effects of homeopathic treatments.”
2005 LINDE: Are the clinical effects of homoeopathy placebo effects? Lancet Volume 366, Issue 9503, Pages 2081 – 2082: “Our 1997 meta-analysis has unfortunately been misused by homoeopaths as evidence that their therapy is proven.”
“(2005 Linde) Our 1997 meta-analysis has unfortunately been misused by homoeopaths as evidence that their therapy is proven.”
And who can blame them when those meta-analysing their cargo cult CTs are such poor scientists themselves that they fail to point out that a CT cannot be regarded as a test of the absurd homeopathic hypothesis in the first place.
Oh, but it can:
“when the analysis was restricted to the methodologically best trials no significant effect was seen.”
No it can’t. You’re missing the point. Suppose a significant effect /was/ seen in some homeopathy CT. Would that lend support to the homeopathic hypothesis? No! Why not? Well I’ve explained why not in greater detail elsewhere (most recently DC’s blog, IIRC), but – frankly – I think it should be pretty obvious to anyone reasonably scientifically literate.
There is a prize for anyone who spots a homeopath using Linde 1997 without qualification or apology. You should be ashamed of yourself that you allowed Mojo such an easy win.
Well done, Mojo
A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found over 40 percent of the best designed, peer-reviewed scientific papers published in the world’s top medical journals misrepresented the actual findings of the research.(i) The “spin doctors” writing the papers found a way to show treatments worked, when in fact, they didn’t.
Science for Sale | Doctors and health care consumers rely on published scientific studies to guide their decisions about which treatments work and which don’t. We expect academic medical researchers to determine what needs to be studied, and to objectively report their data. We rely on government regulators to prevent harmful medications from being approved, or to quickly remove harmful medications or treatments from the market.
What most physicians and consumers don’t recognize is that science is now for sale; published data often misrepresents the truth, academic medical research has become corrupted by pharmaceutical money and special interests, and government regulators more often protect industry than the public. Increasingly, academic medical researchers are for hire, and research, once a pure activity of inquiry, is now a tool for promoting products.
Science has always been considered an objective endeavor that removes bias and is inherently true and reliable. While we may acknowledge that some science is inferior in design or execution, and that there are a few corrupt scientists, we mostly believe what is published in the world’s top medical journals such as the Journal of the American Medical Association and New England Journal of Medicine can be counted on to guide our medical decisions. We still have trust in the scientific method. That trust may be misguided.
The Danger of “Evidence-Based” Medicine
Evidence-based medicine is considered the highest standard of care and is advocated as the basis for all decision making in medical schools and academic centers. The idea is that we must make decisions based on sound medical evidence. That sounds good in theory, but it only works if that evidence can be trusted; if the evidence at hand has been generated independently, without bias and with the sole desire to find the best treatments–pharmaceutical or otherwise. This model fails to work if the underlying motive is profit.
So according to JAMA, EBM is a fraud! Try to refute that, if you can.
A paper published in the Annals of Medicine about use of placebos in clinical trials points out that less than 10% of trials give any information about the make-up or content of the “placebo” used in the trial. Is this important? Well, they argue, yes, because sometimes the ingredients in the “placebo” produce a negative effect, and sometimes a positive one, but if we don’t know what was actually used, how can we make sense of the results?
This conclusion is fascinating –
“…there isn’t anything actually known to be physiologically inert. On top of that, there are no regulations about what goes into placebos, and what is in them is often determined by the makers of the drug being studied, who have a vested interest in the outcome. And there has been no expectation that placebos’ composition be disclosed. At least then readers of the study might make up their own mind about whether the ingredients in the placebo might affect the interpretation of the study.”
MEANING ANY RCT IS USELESS AND ANOTHER FRAUD
Kaviraj – JAMA does not say that EBM is a fraud – it says that it is corrupted by commercial interests. A serious problem and there are people working on this around the world. If mainstream medicine suffers from high levels of misrepresentation in trials, then we can also say that homeopathy suffers from a near complete misrepresentation. Look at how Benneth tries to misrepresent Shang. Its disgraceful -all his points are wrong or have been refuted – yet he persists in trying to deceive.
This blog is pro EBM – not pro Pharma. The world of alternative medicine is an exemplar in the corruption of EBM – you are not the solution – but a deep part of the problem.
This post is a case in point. Dana Ullman continues to promote his made-up nonsense about Darwin despite every one of his assertions having been thoroughly debunked. He denies that these counter arguments exists and continues his line of propaganda despite the fact they are obvious nonsense. People like you, Kaviraj, then go on to embellish these lies with your own nonsense. (See my post).
You said “He discovered that however much he reduced the dose of the substance he used, salt of ammonia – prepared according to the homoeopathic method with dilution and succussion – the effects were always visible in the plant.”
This is simply untrue. Do you stand by this? Or will you continue to bluster? Are you a man of principle who will admit your error, or will you ignore this and deny the criticism?
Kaviraj – off topic posts will not be tolerated anymore. I have asked you to defend your comments attributed to you in my blog post above. If you ignore these concerns and continue to post off topic I will delete comments. I do this reluctantly, but my blog is not a haven for nonsense.
Look quack, the RCT is corrupted by commercial interest. Corruption is simple fraud, like you with your fake outrage at homoeopathy. Ask any judge what the definition of corruption is.
Homoeopathy does work on plants and I have repeated Darwin’s experiments and 100’s of other experiments with potencies up to 200C. I have done 25 years of scientific experiments on plants, while you have NEVER tested it on its own merits. You are the bigger fraud, with your sycophants Goldacre, Colquhoun, Baum, Ernst and other assorted fools.
You have forgotten your first science classes from high school, if you have that much of an education. You have been taught that matter cannot be destroyed, it can at best be turned into something else. Also, it pays to study Einstein’s E=mc2, but that must be waaay over your little head.
That something else is in homoeopathy a remedy beyond Avogadro. Avogadro simply states that HE AND YOU cannot measure beyond the molecule. NMR does measure beyond the molecule and so does RLS, piezo-electric constant and some other means of measurement.
Deny what you want, but I also have over 60 scientific reports from 4 Brazilian universities that prove I am right and you are wrong. Man up for a change, instead of being such a homoeophobe. Man up to your own inadequacies instead of glibly assuming it lays at our doorstep. You bloviate and make simple assumptions based on your ignorance of the subject.
You have never seriously studied it, because otherwise your silly rant would have a different tone. You are simply a bluffer without any scientific merit whatsoever.
I challenge you to do a test. Take Belladonna 200C. Nothing in it, as you assert, so you should have no objections to taking but 1 drop 3 times daily for a week. Controlled trial with a notary administering the drops to you in the presence of me and a third party of your choice as a witness. I shall buy the belladonna – or you – also in the presence of the same notary, from a reputable homoeopathic pharmacy and in the shop hand over the bottle to the notary. Then you are a real man and a scientific man to boot. Otherwise you are simply an ignorant bluffer. So what is it going to be? Taking up the challenge? If not, just be quiet, because then you have no legs to stand upon.
One more thing, you bloviators here. If 100 million satisfied users of homoeopathy in the EU are but “anecdotal evidence” then every RCT that “proves” homoeopathy does not work – inclusive of Shang et al – are LESS that anecdotal due to paucity of participants. I.o.w. They “prove” nothing at all.
It works both way, sorry to say and your arguments can easily be turned against you. If all other RCT’s are fallacies of proof that it works, Shang is a fallacy it does not. Same conditions apply.
I am shooting huge holes in your reasoning and boy, do you hate that! Thus the offending posts must be removed, because it cannot be allowed that the quacks here are exposed for the fools they are. Rest assured. I have taken screenshots of all posts and shall publish elsewhere what fools you are if you remove it. Your dishonesty and bias will still be plastered all over the web.
Be a real scientist and allow a good debate and admit when you are wrong. Then I can respect you. but your empty threat of removing my posts, exposes you as a dishonest man. I had expected better of you.
@Kaviraj: “I challenge you to do a test. Take Belladonna 200C. Nothing in it, as you assert, so you should have no objections to taking but 1 drop 3 times daily for a week. Controlled trial with a notary administering the drops to you in the presence of me and a third party of your choice as a witness. I shall buy the belladonna – or you – also in the presence of the same notary, from a reputable homoeopathic pharmacy and in the shop hand over the bottle to the notary. Then you are a real man and a scientific man to boot. Otherwise you are simply an ignorant bluffer. So what is it going to be? Taking up the challenge? If not, just be quiet, because then you have no legs to stand upon.”
You describe this as a “Controlled trial”. What will you be using as a control?
Kaviraj – do you get up especially early to practice being rude and wrong? Because you excel at both.
I have asked you to defend your comment that Darwin did dilution experiments “prepared according to the homoeopathic method with dilution and succussion”. You have not done so. It is quite clear that you made this up, but instead of admitting your error (or deliberate deception) you resort to bluster as every other charlatan does.
Your intellectual weakness is then clearly displayed. Einstein? E=mc2? Ha Ha Ha. You have no idea. What has this got to do with homeopathy? No one claims matter is destroyed during homeopathic preparation – it is merely diluted away.
And then you show your ignorance of NMR. Do you know what that stands for? Nuclear Magnetic Resonance. NMR excites energy levels in the atomic nucleus. Yes, the atomic nuclei in the molecules that get diluted out. NMR does not measure ‘beyond the molecule’ – whatever that means.
So, then on to the next refuge of the quack – obscure personal knowledge. Your own studies? Brazilians? Get out of here.
And yes, I have taken Lachesis 5MM every day for a month – and also Belladonna 30c and sulphur 30c every day, safe in the knowledge they were just sugar pills. No harm done.
If you are so sure that these pills have an effect, homeopaths could easily pass my simple challenge – identify 6 remedies without their labels. No one an do this. You know you cannot.
Prove me wrong.
And Kaviraj – I only threaten to remove posts that are so off topic as to distract from the point of debate. I would only do that in rare circumstances.
It is up to you to stick to the debate. And the one on this page is the dishonesty of Ullman in his claims about Darwin – and your invention of frills about the story too. Can you defend what you said?
Stick to the point. yes or no…
nothing like a good ole gish gallop is there.
And your so-called off topic excuse is simply because you cannot stand the heat. You cannot refute what I said, so you refuse to allow me to nullify your silly notions. The real sign of the coward.
I challenge you also to leave this post, because it IS relevant to the discussion. You simply want to silence the opposition. Now that is truly “scientific”, is it not? What a joke you are! You lose a debate and then you remove the posts that prove you wrong. And hide behind “peer review” I suppose. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!
I think that’s quite a fair challenge. We’ve heard these loudmouths and anonymous maligners shooting off about how it doesn’t work, and then we hear about some regular physicians who are using it in their practice, and there’s everyone in between, including stories of being healed of cancer. In fact there’s a whole history of it, I’ve got studies and testimonies, even cases that are being treated for it right now. It’s regulated by governments, it’s called fraud and quackery, but there it is, legally for sale on the shelves at the grocery store nonetheless, and millions swear by it. But Andy Lewis of the Black Lie, thinks he’s smarter than all these people, some of them physicists . . Josephson says a couple of profs at Cambridge claim its helped them . . I know a French phsyicist who swears by it, says it saved his life . . and then here comes dear old Kaviraj, author of Homeopathy for Farm and Garden, with an intersting challenge. My guess is that not one of the dirty dozen, Randi, Shermer, Colquhoun, Hall, Baum, Ernst, Singh, Novella, Goldacre, Hyman, Lord Taverne . . or Lewis, will step up to the plate and take Kaviraj-ji’s challenge. There are too many “what if’s.”
The solipsists always back down, LOL.
Benneth – As I have stated, I have already consumed month long programmes of remedies such as Lachesis 5MM – and nothing happened, of course.
But it is not up to me to prove your silly claims. The only interesting question is why you do not prove us all fools and demonstrate that homeopathy works. The from page of this site gives a link to a simple challenge that you could do tomorrow if you really believed in what you claim – but you are cowards – and never will. Far better to make homophobic youtube videos, no?
Video on Darwin’s experiments
If you actually read Darwin’s accounts of the Drosera experiments in Insectivorous Plants (see Chapter 7 on pp.136-173) you will find no mention of serial dilution or succussion being used in the preparation of the solutions Darwin used.
You will also find that Darwin established something like an orthodox dose-response curve (Note for example the comment on p.171 that “It is to be especially observed that the experiments with the weaker solutions ought to be tried after several days of very warm weather. Those with the weakest solutions should be made on plants which have been kept for a considerable time in a warm greenhouse, or cool hothouse; but this is by no means necessary for trials with solutions of moderate strength”) and a limit beyond which no response was observed. Note also p.170, with the footnote in which Darwin notes that in the detection of dilute substances “the spectroscope has altogether beaten Drosera.”
I worry that the edifice of science is being eroded by the persistent, arrogant, denigrating, knuckle-headed denials of alt-med champions. It has taken centuries to build such an edifice, but so many people seem to be helping tear down such wonderful work. Will we see homeopaths trying to defend their profession against spiritualists claiming that their blessed waters are cures, not the dilutions of the homeopaths? There is potential irony that one system may displace another because systems of proof were discarded. At this rate will we face a declining science based civilization? I hope not.
There doesn’t seem to be any level of embarrassment that an alt-med promoter cannot withstand. Are these people sociopaths, misguided, or driven by greed to delude people to take useless potions and avoid science-based cures? Sure there are no cures for many things, but to unknowingly or worse to knowingly flim-flam people and prey on false hopes is just sick.
I think that your analysis is not quite complete. Yes we have over the last several centuries been building an “edifice of science” however I would presume that it never penetrated the whole population of say the UK for example. I don’t see any need to believe that “we face a declining science based civilization” to explain alt-med phenomenon. Perhaps our modern media (TV, and now internet) has allowed alt-med evangelists a platform that they did not to have access to previously and this is giving the perception that the general level of understanding of nature is declining.
It is surprising to me that so many people seem to have such a poor understanding of what it takes to “know” something but perhaps it shouldn’t be given (just to take an example) the number of people who seem to believe the bible and other arbitrary ‘good’ books. I think that the early indoctrination of children into unquestioning belief using the tools of religion is a good candidate for explaining this poor understanding and that research into “religion as a phenomonon of nature” is urgently required for this and now for other if anything more pressing reasons (in a word – jihad).
“Are these people sociopaths, misguided, or driven by greed”
I would think mostly misguided, with some along for the money and a handful possibly “driven by greed”.
There is some material on how hard it is to “know” something and much else on the Scientific Method in:-
Richard Feynman: The Messenger Series.
The Character of Physical Law.
About 10 hours of video made by the BBC at Cornell University in 1964.
The videos are wrapped in a rather clunky interface that takes a while to load but WELL worth the wait.
I had never seen or even heard of these excellent videos until last month.
Bill Gates seems to have bought the rights from Cornell University where they have been hidden for
Sadly I can’t recall exactly in which of the seven, hour plus, lectures he discusses these matters.
I thought these might be good viewing for the alt-meds however I then realised that they would likely merely quote mine it to support their off the wall mumbo jumbo. “Scientists don’t really know anything with certainty” is my feeble attempt to recall something like something he said.
Ah yes! I’d forgotten about that. The sorry and scandalous tale of the faux public service oriented BBC’s sale of those Feynman lectures to Microsoft so it could reduce them to a corporate tech. promotion vehicle.
“Ullman’s article couldn’t have been peer-reviewed. For unscientific nonsense, he is peerless”
Well played that man *rises out of chair clapping politely*
Deniers deny denialism.
It is a historical fact that Darwin’s favorite physician was James Manby Gully, MD, a physician who specialized in water-cure and homeopathic medicine and who believe that they complemented each other in the treatment of people with chronic diseases.
Just prior to Darwin’s first visit with Dr. Gully, Darwin said that he was dying and was unable to work one in three days. And yet, within a couple of weeks, his health was totally revitalized, and it stayed vital through the next 25+ years (he never again complained about the vast majority of the serious health problems he had when he first sought Gully’s care!). These benefits are not debatable…they are historic fact that Darwin’s own letter verify.
I never said that homeopathy alone was the result of this extreme therapeutic benefit, though isn’t it interesting that no one at this site has proclaimed that water-cure is an effective method of treating complex health problems that Darwin experienced (the fact that a really stupid person above critized me for not “knowing” the disease that Darwin suffered–and that no one (!) here called him to task for his proclaimed stupidity–is itself strong evidence to a fundamentalism that blinds you all to evidence.
And Darwin’s experiments with Drosera were so shocking to him that he had his 2 sons replicate his work…and he then express real displeasure at having to publish that such extremely small doses of ammonia salts could have such a dramatic effect on the plants. Some daft folks above proclaim that it is not surprising that such small doses could have profound biological effect, even though these assertions fly in the face of Darwin’s worldview and experience…and if such people are serious about their assertions, then where is their advocacy for exploring how to operationalize the use of extremely small doses of agents to create profound biological effects (I’m waiting for this and other support for homeopathy!).
Come on out of the medicine closet and voice your advocacy of homeopathy AND/OR simply admit that you’re wrong and blind and simply daft in your ignorance of the science and art of homeopathy and hormesis.
It is amazing that you continue with this charade. You were busted a long time ago.
That all you got? Busted for inadequate reply.
As I noted above after doing a small amount of maths, Darwin’s “extremely small” doses are completely irrelevant to the question of whether the doses commonly used by homeopaths are effective. Darwin’s doses still had some molecules of the original substance in them, homeopathic doses above around 12C don’t. You are being obviously disingenuous in trying to elide the two.
“Some daft folks above proclaim that it is not surprising that such small doses could have profound biological effect, even though these assertions fly in the face of Darwin’s worldview and experience…” –Dana Ullman.
“Astonishing as is this result, there is no sound reason why we should reject it as incredible. Prof. Donders, of Utrecht, informs me that from experiments formerly made by him and Dr. De Ruyter, he inferred that less than the one−millionth of a grain of sulphate of atropine, in an extremely diluted state, if applied directly to the iris of a dog, paralyses the muscles of this organ. But, in fact, every time that we perceive an odour, we have evidence that infinitely smaller particles act on our nerves. When a dog stands a quarter of a mile to leeward of a deer or other animal, and perceives its presence, the odorous particles produce some change in the olfactory nerves; yet these particles must be infinitely smaller* than those of the phosphate of ammonia weighing the one−twenty−millionth of a grain. These nerves then transmit some influence to the brain of the dog, which leads to action on its part. With Drosera, the really marvellous fact is, that a plant without any specialised nervous system should be affected by such minute particles; but we have no grounds for assuming that other tissues could not be rendered as exquisitely susceptible to impressions from without if this were beneficial to the organism, as is the nervous system of the higher animals.” –Charles Darwin, Insectivorous Plants.
Thank you for further VERIFYING the significant power of small doses of certain substance in certain biological systems…and of course, you all know that a large number of homeopathic medicines that are sold in health food stores and pharmacies throughout the world use a similar small dose.
Phayes, Thank you, thank you very much…
You’re welcome. I do know there are some homeopathic pseudomedicines which aren’t /exactly/ nothing, yes. But so what? Depending on what’s in them, they might be able to make you sneeze I suppose.
Deniers deny denial…proving my point again.
“Deniers deny denialism.”
Defintion of a denialist:
Someone who is shown arguments against his point of view and, instead of refuting those arguments, merely continues to espouse his point of view.
Firstly I would like to thank Andy Lewis and the Quackometer as I find the reading most interesting albeit very technical at times. Andy you seem to be a lot like me what I call myself a “conversation catalyst” open minded but mischievous. I am well known for listening to debates and then putting in a “what if” adding my ingredient then standing back to watch the pot boil sometimes to overflowing. Some people cannot except that nobody is correct about everything all of the time. More often than not those arguing are both right but in a lesser degree than they thought they were. Unfortunately it is not in human nature to admit you were wrong. I believed that the only 100% certainty was that you were born and then you die but even this seems up to debate as more people get themselves deep frozen! So after looking at the many pages above I had to ask myself where I stood on the subject and to keep it simple I asked myself if I was told by my doctor that I had a terminal illness that could not be cured by his medicine, and I was approached by a Homeopath would I take his medication? Of course I would with everything to gain. But that would still leave me with two unanswered questions. Firstly Andy if you were in the same situation would you try it? And secondly if it is indeed working at the present instead of all this technical stuff where are all the people who have been cured and there testimonials?
There’s loads of ‘testimonials’ from people who think they’ve been cured by homeopathy and other magic-based therapies. That’s the trouble. Even reputable news programmes have been known to give air time to someone who claimed homeopathy sent their cancer into remission and unscrupulous homeoquacks will point to these as proof that their magic works.
I know you addressed to Andy but my answer to your first question would be ‘no’.
Why do I think that being called “extremely stupid” by Dana Ullman is a compliment? I shall use it as a blurb on my magnum opus “The Bloody Revolution: Why Famous People And Cultural Heroes Choose Bleeding”
If Darwin wasn’t suffering from a disease, there was nothing for him to be cured of, so homeopathy did nothing for him.
Another way of articulating my ignorance would be to say that Dana Ullman claims that homeopathy cured Darwin, in circumstances where he (Ullman) is unable to give either a diagnosis or identify the treatment other than to say it was homeopathic. That is the argument from ignorance doubled.
Nor can D. Ullman rule out hydrotherapy as the beneficial treatment. Not only was it initially given at the same time, but Darwin continued to use it, and, according to Ullman, had a cessation of symptoms, at a time when he WASN’T also undergoing homeopathic treatment. There is just as much good evidence for the efficacy of hydrotherapy as for homeopathy, and at least hydrotherapy has greater prior plausibility, not violating the basic laws of physics, chemistry, and biology, and all.
Dana, probably the most pathetic aspect of your constant trolling of the internet with these same busted claims is your weird devotion to trying to draw vast conclusions from what is, in the end, a single case anecdote of an undiagnosed condition 150 years ago.
As has already been pointed out to you, you don’t know what was wrong with Darwin, no one knows and only a complete fool would attempt to draw causal inferences from the incomplete records of such a case. Only a complete fool.
Thank YOU, Michael! You’ve proven to not know ANYTHING about Darwin, his life, his health, and just about anything else…and I’ll even have your own ilk try to defend you. I challenge ANYONE to defend Michael. Come on, make my (his) day! You’ve been dared.
I love it that Michael actually thinks that if a diagnosis cannot be made on a person, then the person is not really sick…WOW, daft to the max!
Dana – Michael did not say “if a diagnosis cannot be made on a person, then the person is not really sick”. That is your invention – just like everything else you write.
And in any case, it is not up to Michael to have to defend himself about anything on this blog. The onus is on you to explain why you continue to make absurd claims about Darwin that even a child can see are nonsensical.
The weaknesses in your arguments have been pointed out to you numerous times. And yet you continue to deny these criticisms exist – instead you just resort to bluster and continuing your silly claims. You have, yet again, been busted. We know the truth about the ‘peer review’ of your article and so further claims that your article has any academic merit can be quite justly be met with howls of derision.
It is your call how much you keep digging.
Let’s quote Michael. He wrote: “If Darwin wasn’t suffering from a disease, there was nothing for him to be cured of, so homeopathy did nothing for him.”
So, is it REALLY your opinion that Charles Darwin was NOT suffering from any disease AND that there was “nothing for him to be cured of”? Come on, defend that…dare ya.
Mr. Duck, you’ve proven nothing. You’ve never gotten anything of yours published in a peer-review journal. Just because you write a critique of something I wrote does NOT mean that your critique is meaningful. By the way, which doctor is Darwin appreciate more than any other? To which doctor did Darwin say that his work was NOT quackery after all? Ya gotta do more and better homework than just spewing your garbage…
Mr Ullman. Note the first word: ‘if’.
Some have speculated that Darwin’s illness was psychosomatic. And it is possible that stress played a role in his perceptions of health. I am not sure. And the point is: neither can you.
And we have now proven that the peer review in the journal you got published in was horribly broken. To claim you have been ‘peer reviewed’ is now hollow and laughable. Yes, you were reviewed – and rejected – but the journal in its commercial wisdom saw fit to publish.
And so you continue to distort – you want to imply that Darwin came round to thinking that homeopathy was not quackery and so you cherry pick his quotes about other matters to flatter your own fantasies. It is the scholarship of the propagandist and you have been exposed time and time again.
It is fun to watch you folks SQUIRM. Now, you are saying that Darwin was not really sick…and that ALL of his symptoms were psychosomatic! Wow…just not too long ago, people of your ilk did not believe that the mind could influence the body…and now, you’re actually suggesting that it could create ALL of Darwin’s symptoms. Wow, what a rich fantasy life you have.
So, now you’re saying that his boils all over his body were created by his mind. Please describe this mechanism. And please explain how SPOTS before his eyes could be psychosomatic…and so many of his other symptoms. I’m curious to learn how creative you can be in re-writing history. C’mon, I dare ya…double dare ya.
Cherry-picking research and history swings both ways… I acknowledge Darwin’s skepticism of homeopathy, and in fact, this fact makes my case stronger. What does your cherry-picking of history prove? It proves that you are weak academically and are a denialist. You’re even cute when you get crazy on me…
Your stupidity is beyond parody. Your ability to misrepresent people is unequaled. I report that some have suggested Darwin suffered psychosomatic issues – you state that I was saying Darwin was not really sick. Silly man.
The only interesting question left about you is if you are deliberately dishonest or just a superb example of a Frankfurtian bullshitter.
“Just because you write a critique of something I wrote does NOT mean that your critique is meaningful.”
On the other hand, the fact that you are unable to respond to the critique with anything but a repetition of the original claims which were discredited by the critique, and an assertion that your article was peer-reviewed, rather suggests that you are unable to rebut it.
You say I’ve “proven to not know ANYTHING about Darwin, his life, his health, and just about anything else” [sic]. Pretty general conclusion you’re leapt to there on the basis of only a couple of comments.
Do you really think I know nothing about Darwin. How about this? Darwin never admitted that “Gully’s [homeopathic] treatments were not quackery after all.” I dare you to prove me wrong. However, let me say this now, acceptable proof consists of verifiable evidence from a reliable source other than yourself. You made the claim in your “peer-reviewed” article. When I pointed out that the evidence you offered in support did not do so, your response was to substitute invective and wilful or ignorant distortion of my position for evidence to support your own.
I never said that Darwin wasn’t suffering from any disease; I simply pointed out that your claim that Darwin’s condition was successfully treated with homeopathy was fanciful speculation in light of the facts that you did not identify, and presumably don’t know, either the homeopathic treatment given, or the condition Darwin had that was treated.
If I’m wrong and you do know, what are those facts, and why didn’t you mention them in your “peer-reviewed” article?
Sorry about the typo. It should be “you’ve”, not “you’re” in the second line. Damn spellcheck.
Michael…I did not ask you to believe me. I simply ask you to do some simple homework: reading my ****ing article about Darwin (!) where I give a specific reference to Darwin’s own words in his letters. In fact, my peer-review article is highly referenced…and thus, Mr. Duck and you can choose to say whatever you want, but Darwin’s words AND actions AND results of treatment speak for themselves! And the fact that Darwin was highly skeptical of homeopathy adds further evidence that “belief” in treatment is not involved here.
And Mr Monkey is showing (again) that he has yet to evolve and wonders if I am hitting and running, despite the fact that I have commented many times above in responding to the proven ignorance and arrogance of the denialists. Thanx Mr. Monkey for proving part of my thesis about you and your ilk…
“…Darwin’s words AND actions AND results of treatment speak for themselves!”
Indeed they do. Unfortunately for you they don’t say what you think they say.
And seriously, Dana, telling people to read your “****ing article” and saying it is “highly referenced” is really not any sort of adequate response to people pointing out that the claims in your “****ing article” are not supported by the references given.
Must we assume that we’ve witnessed Dullman’s usual hit and run technique?
He ineluctably reminds me of my old cat who would show off by climbing up to some awkward vantage point then writhe about nonchalantly to display his cleverness only to slip and plummet to the ground. He would then strut off with his tail in the air as if to say that was exactly what he intended to do.
I think we can now see Dana’s single rear eye disappearing over the horizon.
Well, Mr. Monkey…it seems that it is YOU who has hit and run. I’m still waiting for you to say that Darwin was not “really sick” and that “Darwin’s symptoms were just psychosomatic” (whatever that means)…c’mon say it and prove that you’re ill-informed about Darwin and about disease.
And please tell us all what Darwin said about Dr. Gully…but don’t just mention 1 quote…mention ALL of them, just as I did in my article (Mr. Duck calls it “cherry-picking” when I mention ALL of the quotes, while he cherry-picks only the ones he wants. Hmmm…what do we call that (poor scholarship, hack scholarship, fundamentalism?…all of the above?).
In any case, it seems that you folks love to attack without doing your homework (whooops). Heck, you even choose to try to demean me when I insist that you actually do some reading.
Why do you expect anyone to “say that Darwin was not “really sick””? Nobody has argued this: it is a strawman of your own creation. What people have pointed out is that you are claiming a “cure” for homoeopathy based on century and a half old anecdotal accounts, without any actual diagnosis of the condition, or any information about what remedies were given, and without any way of eliminating either the natural history of Darwin’s condition, or all of the other treatments Darwin was given by Gully, including rest, exercise, and changed diet – see this letter, for example).
Anyway, on the subject of “scholarship” (or perhaps “homework”), do you have any comment on the observation that what you describe as “an August 20, 1862, letter to Asa Gray” about a book by a German homoeopath is obviously an account of “an example of the odd letters he received” and in fact was a postscript to a letter to Joseph Hooker:
“P.S. The letter with curious address forwarded by Mrs Hooker was from a German Homœopathic Doctor—an ardent admirer of the Origin—had himself published nearly the same sort of book, but goes much deeper—explains the origin of plants & animals on the principles of Homœopathy or by the Law of Spirality— Book fell dead in Germany— Therefore would I translate it & publish it in England &c &c?!”
I have not read your article. I’m not going to read your article. I do not care about its content very much. My sole area of interest and concern is that this century-and-a-half old anecdote matters so much to you. The particular facts of the case are irrelevant to whether any inferences should be drawn by you. However, you have again insisted that we consider the story of Darwin’s treatment by Gully as some sort of proof that homeopathy works. Why is it that you contend so vehemently that inferences can be drawn from single case anecdotes?
Having said that, Mojo has a meticulous enthusiasm for tracing bibliographic evidence and when it comes to the particular facts it is hilarious to see him asking you questions that you either do not understand or are deliberately ignoring. I don’t need to repeat Mojo’s work to gain amusement from watching your evasion and attempts at misdirection.
When I first started debating homeopaths nearly 10 years ago, I kept wondering whether I’d meet one who was genuinely smart and would pose questions that were hard to answer. What I have only found is people like you, pathetically impressed by anecdote and beholden to a religious conviction that they know homeopathy works who then lie and misrepresent argument and evidence in support of this belief. But, hey, you mainly take money from other homeopaths who have only themselves to blame.
Anyway, I’m going to get more popcorn to eat while I watch Mojo run rings around you.
Mr. Monkey…Thanx (again) for proving my case…and for PROVING that you never read my article! That quote you cite above is in my article. What I have to say about that letter is not important. The letter speaks for itself. The fact that Hooker (or Hooker’s wife) filed it in “odd letters” is no big deal to anyone.
One other strong bit of evidence that Mr. Monkey and others have not read my article is that you continually assert that I claim that homeopathy cured Darwin. Please provide the specific and exact quote where you claim that I said that. C’mon, here’s one more dare for ya…
I previously dared ya to assert that Darwin’s disease was “psychosomatic.” Prove it.
I previously dared ya to assert that Darwin wasn’t really sick. Prove it.
Mr. Michael Duffus actually asserted, “If Darwin wasn’t suffering from a disease, there was nothing for him to be cured of, so homeopathy did nothing for him.”
There is NO strawman on my part. This question assumes that Darwin wasn’t ill…despite ALL of the evidence to the contrary…and Darwin experienced a SIGNIFICANT improvement in his health by the care of Dr. JM Gully who gave him water-cure and homeopathic medicines. Which part or parts of the above are not correct? That’s another dare to ya.
Your posts just get weirder.
“Mr. Monkey…Thanx (again) for proving my case…and for PROVING that you never read my article!”
I’ve never said that I had read your article. Analysing the minutiae of a 150yr old case history does not float boat. It obviously floats yours. Unfortunately, your boat floats upside down.
“One other strong bit of evidence that Mr. Monkey and others have not read my article is that you continually assert that I claim that homeopathy cured Darwin.”
Oh, so for now you do not say homeopathy cured Darwin. This is typical behaviour of homeopaths in debate. You say whatever strikes you as clever in the moment while losing track of the overall structure of what you have said. Your entire approach is patently predicated on an assumption that homeopathy caused a significant clinical improvement in Darwin. Your constant reworking of this story lacks any purpose if that is not your position. Again though, flagrant self-contradiction is typical homeopath behaviour.
“I previously dared ya to assert that Darwin’s disease was “psychosomatic.” Prove it.”
I can’t. But, nor can you say what was actually wrong with him and show it was not to some extent psychosomatic.
“I previously dared ya to assert that Darwin wasn’t really sick. Prove it.”
It’s not me writing articles about 150yr old medical cases. As I’ve already said, I don’t know what was wrong with Darwin. Nor do you.
“There is NO strawman on my part. This question assumes that Darwin wasn’t ill…despite ALL of the evidence to the contrary…and Darwin experienced a SIGNIFICANT improvement in his health by the care of Dr. JM Gully who gave him water-cure and homeopathic medicines. Which part or parts of the above are not correct? That’s another dare to ya.”
Darwin felt unwell. Darwin felt better. I don’t think that’s disputed. The only person trying to infer a causal connection between Gully’s treatment and that variation is you. Everyone else knows that making such a causal inference is just plain stupid.
Dana, “thanx” for proving that you didn’t read my comment well enough even to identify its author. Where the letter was filed is not relevant (in fact it was described as “odd” by Francis Darwin, as your article manages to identify, and, yes, I am well aware that your article quoted it – see my comment at 11:02 pm on October 16). It doesn’t support the claim you cite it to support. It is not, as you claim, a letter to Asa Gray about a book Darwin had read, expressing admiration for a German homoeopath; it is from a letter to Joseph Hooker about a letter Hooker’s wife had forwarded to Darwin, reporting its contents, and perhaps suggesting that Darwin had no intention to have anything to do with translating and publishing the quack’s book (note that “&c &c?!” at the end, which appeared in the original letter but not in the source you quoted from). I agree with you that what you say about the letter is not important, but if you think this why do you make such a big deal of it in your article?
Your claim that homoeopathy cured Darwin is implicit in everything you have written about this matter. See for example the comments in your article that “[h]ardened skeptics insist that homeopathic treatment could not have helped Darwin”, or your statement that “[d]espite Darwin’s greatly improved health, he never publicly attributed any benefits directly to homeopathy” and your claim that that Darwin failed to publicly support homoeopathy because it would damage his credibility. These make no sense at all unless you are also claiming that homoeopathy did in fact help Darwin, and that Darwin actually thought it was effective. It doesn’t matter whether or not you have written the specific phrase “homoeopathy cured Darwin”; your implication is clear.
The comment that “If Darwin wasn’t suffering from a disease, there was nothing for him to be cured of, so homeopathy did nothing for him” (actually made by “Michael5MacKay”) needs to be read in the context of his comment in the same post that “Ullman claims that homeopathy cured Darwin, in circumstances where he (Ullman) is unable to give either a diagnosis,” and his earlier statement that “Ullman can’t even identify Darwin’s condition; therefore Ullman didn’t, and can’t, point to any scientific evidence that homeopathy is an effective treatment for it”. Your misreading of the comments about speculations that Darwin’s condition may have been psychosomatic have already been commented on. Your “dare ya” comments are an attempt to introduce strawman arguments.
Darwin’s condition appears to have improved while he was under Gully’s care, but this does not necessarily mean that it was Gully’s quackery that caused this improvement. You are falling into the same error (the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy) that you also make when you claim that Darwin’s letter of September 4, 1850 “noted the case of a specific woman who had been cured by Dr Gully and his team.” All the letter says is that “the girl recovered” after Gully’s use of hydropathy, homeopathy, mesmerism and clairvoyance. This doesn’t mean that this load of cobblers actually cured her. You’re making the same basic error in reasoning that Homer Simpson made when he offered to buy Lisa’s tiger-repellent rock.
Mojo…great…so, after Darwin had most of his symptoms for 12 years and had tried many different treatments, his symptoms sharply diminish within 2 weeks of Gully’s treatment, and you are now saying that this is just a coincidence and that it had nothing to do with what Gully did. THANK YOU for proving your deaf, dumb, and blindness. You’re epic in your masterful denialism.
Homer Simpson said it best, “Doh!”
Dana, without any control there is no way of knowing what would have happened to Darwin without Gully’s treatments. It is known from Darwin’s letters and other writings that his condition waxed and waned.
All you can establish here is an unknown degree of remission from an undiagnosed condition, occurring at the same time as a course of treatment, but without any way of establishing any causal relationship between the two, and all of this from sources a century and a half old. That might count as evidence in homoeopathic circles, but judging from Le Canard Noir’s blog post above it apparently didn’t as far as eCAM’s reviewers were concerned.
Merely repeating your claims, which have been shown to be unsupported by your cited sources, does not address the criticisms of your article.
Perhaps instead of hearing Ullman repeat his unfounded claims time after time we could leave the last word to Charles Darwin himself…
Letter 2085 — Darwin, C. R. to Fox, W. D., [30 Apr 1857]
My dear Fox.
I have now been here for exactly one week, & intend to stay one week more.— I had got very much below par at home, & it is really quite astonishing & utterly unaccountable the good this one week has done me.— I like Dr. Lane & his wife & her mother, who are the proprietors of this establishment very much.— Dr. L. is too young,—that is his only fault—but he is a gentleman & very well read man.f2 And in one respect I like him better than Dr. Gully, viz that he does not believe in all the rubbish which Dr. G. does; nor does he pretend to explain much, which neither he or any doctor can explain.—f3 I enclose a paper for the strange chance of your ever knowing anyone in the S. in want of Hydropathy.— I really think I shall make a point of coming here for a fortnight occasionally, as the country is very pleasant for walking.—f4
But I, also, think it highly probable that we all shall move to Malvern this summer, not for my sake, but for Etty’s, who has now been out of health for some six or 8 months. I hardly know yet when we shall go, if we do go; but I very much wish that we might meet you there. Etty is now & has been for some time at Hastings.f5 I am well convinced that the only thing for Chronic cases is the water-cure.—f6 Write to me either here or after Wednesday next to Down, & tell me how the world goes on with you, & how, especially, the Sciatica has been, if it was sciatica, which caused you so much suffering.—f7
… I must now take a sitz Bath, my treatment being,—daily Shallow, Douche, & Sitz
Farewell, my dear Fox | Yours most truly | C. Darwin
One can only hope it is farewell D Ullman too. Somehow, I doubt it. He shall continue to pretend to explain much with all the rubbish of homeopathy.
Do you read what you write here? You will note that Darwin says that he respects Lane “in one respect.”
Let’s talk about RESULTS…because is THAT what is critical?
Can ANYONE tell us all what happened to the many chronic symptoms that Darwin was experiencing? Can ANYONE tell us what happened to his ill-health that so serious that he said he was unable to work one in every three days…and that he was going the way of all flesh?
Quoting from my article (which, it seems, that few people here have had the intellectual curiosity or rigor to read):
And even though Darwin was extremely skeptical of
water-cure and homeopathic medicine, just two days
later (March 30, 1849) Darwin acknowledged, ‘I have
already received so much benefit that I really hope my
health will be much renovated’ (8). After 8 days a skin
eruption broke out all over Darwin’s legs, and he was
actually pleased to experience this problem because he
had previously observed that his physical and mental
health improved noticeably after having skin eruptions.
He went a month without vomiting, a very rare experience
for him, and even gained some weight. One day he
surprised himself by being able to walk 7 miles. He wrote
to a friend, ‘I am turning into a mere walking & eating
After just a month of treatment, Charles had to admit
that Gully’s treatments were not quackery after all. After
16 weeks, he felt like a new man, and by June he was
able to go home to resume his important work. Darwin
actually wrote that he was ‘of almost perfect health’
(p. 108) (8)
“Can ANYONE tell us all what happened to the many chronic symptoms that Darwin was experiencing?”
They alleviated for a while, as they tended to do, and then returned later. But there is no way of telling whether this was caused by Gully’s treatments, and even if you can somehow manage to establish a causal relationship between Gully’s treatments and Darwin’s improvement, you have no way of knowing that it was the homoeopathic remedies that caused the improvement, rather than any of the other shenanigans Gully put Darwin through:
“s you say you want my hydropathical diary, I will give it youf1 —though tomorrow it is to change to a certain extent.— 1⁄4 before 7. get up, & am scrubbed with rough towel in cold water for 2 or 3 minutes, which after the few first days, made & makes me very like a lobster— I have a washerman, a very nice person, & he scrubs behind, whilst I scrub in front.— drink a tumbler of water & get my clothes on as quick as possible & walk for 20 minutes—f2 I cd. walk further, but I find it tires me afterwards— I like all this very much.— At same time I put on a compress, which is a broad wet folded linen covered by mackintosh & which is “refreshed”—ie dipt in cold water every 2 hours & I wear it all day, except for about 2 hours after midday dinner; I don’t perceive much effect from this of any kind.— After my walk, shave & wash & get my breakfast, which was to have been exclusively toast with meat or egg, but he has allowed me a little milk to sop the stale toast in. At no time must I take any sugar, butter, spices tea bacon or anything good.—f3 At 12 oclock I put my feet for 10 minutes in cold water with a little mustard & they are violently rubbed by my man; the coldness makes my feet ache much, but upon the whole my feet are certainly less cold than formerly.— Walk for 20 minutes & dine at one.— He has relaxed a little about my dinner & says I may try plain pudding, if I am sure it lessens sickness.—
After dinner lie down & try to go to sleep for one hour.— At 5 olock feet in cold water—drink cold water & walk as before— Supper same as breakfast at 6 oclock.— I have had much sickness this week, but certainly I have felt much stronger & the sickness has depressed me much less.— Tomorrow I am to be packed at 6 oclock A.M for 1 & 1⁄2 hour in Blanket, with hot bottle to my feet & then rubbed with cold dripping sheet;f4 but I do not know anything about this.— I grieve to say that Dr Gully gives me homoœopathic medicines three times a day, which I take obediently without an atom of faith.”
And even if it was the homoeopathic remedies that somehow effected this improvement, you have no way of establishing the basis on which they were prescribed. And you have no way of knowing whether he was prescribing these remedies according to Hahnemanns doctrine of “like cures like”, or just handing them out like sugar pills. Gully is on record as saying “It may shock the homœopathic world when I say that I never much cared for the doctrine of “like curing like”; and that I do not believe it to be of the universal application that they suppose”.
Gully was a hydropath, who also gave his patients homoeopathic remedies as an adjunct to this. Here’s a comment from someone whose opinion I’m sure you respect, regarding a practitioner described as a homoeopath but also using other methods (in this case “finger prick tests”): “This practitioner may also be prescribing homeopathic medicines, but this doesn’t mean that s/he is a homeopath.”
Gully’s use of homoeopathic remedies is hardly a ringing endorsement. The gullible Dr. Gully seems to have believed in pretty much every fashionable Victorian fad, from hydropathy to mesmerism, clairvoyance, spiritualism and even homoeopathy.
And don’t keep on telling people to read your article, and claiming that people haven’t read it. It is obvious from the detailed criticism of it that people here have read your article, and unfortunately for you have also had the “intellectual curiosity” to follow up your references and discover that they don’t support your conclusions. Heck (as you would say), even the quotations actually included in the article fail to support the inferences you draw from them.
An additional bit of evidence that you do not seem to read (or understand) what you have posted above:
“But I, also, think it highly probable that we all shall move to Malvern this summer, not for my sake, but for Etty’s, who has now been out of health for some six or 8 months.”
So, my dear Mr. Duck…WHO LIVED IN MALVERN???
I will give you a hint: Lane lived and worked in Moor Park.
Yes, Darwin appreciated Lane IN ONE RESPECT…he did not practice any of that weird stuff (like homeopathy)…but in another respect, RESULTS, he and his famly went to Malvern for Gully or Ayerst and their weird stuff that got GREAT RESULTS.
So, please, Mr. Duck, Mr Monkey, and the rest of the zoo here, speak now OR forever hold your peace…
the foot note from the Letter 2085 — Darwin, C. R. to Fox, W. D., [30 Apr 1857]
“f5.Emma Darwin had taken her daughter Henrietta Emma to Hastings on 9 April 1857 to see whether her health would improve at the seaside. Henrietta returned home on 12 May. The family did not go to Malvern for the summer; instead, Emma took Henrietta to Moor Park on 29 May where she remained until 7 August (Emma Darwin’s diary). CD returned to Moor Park for two weeks in June (‘Journal’; Appendix II).”
i will give you a hint: The family did not go to Malvern for the summer.
more clues: Emma took Henrietta to Moor Park on 29 May where she remained until 7 August
really big clue: CD returned to Moor Park for two weeks in June.
so did they go to Malvern or not that summer?
@Dana Ullman on October 26, 2010 at 2:44 am
“Darwin’s words AND actions AND results of treatment speak for themselves! And the fact that Darwin was highly skeptical of homeopathy adds further evidence that “belief” in treatment is not involved here.”
@Dana Ullman on October 30, 2010 at 2:03 am
“Let’s talk about RESULTS…because is THAT what is critical?”
@Dana Ullman on October 28, 2010 at 12:25 am
“One other strong bit of evidence that Mr. Monkey and others have not read my article is that you continually assert that I claim that homeopathy cured Darwin. Please provide the specific and exact quote where you claim that I said that. C’mon, here’s one more dare for ya…”
“Darwin experienced a SIGNIFICANT improvement in his health by the care of Dr. JM Gully who gave him water-cure and homeopathic medicines.”
@Dana Ullman on October 30, 2010 at 3:18 am
“but in another respect, RESULTS, he and his famly went to Malvern for Gully or Ayerst and their weird stuff that got GREAT RESULTS.”
I don’t think Dana bothers to read anything that he writes, provided it satisfies the need of the moment.
The other funny bit is Dana’s persistent misattribution and counterfactual interpretation of the letter about the German homeopath. I can’t count how many times Mojo has pointed this out to him yet Dana blunders wilfully onwards saying the same erroneous things.
(Still not read your idiot-reviewed article, Dana. Still not going to)
Yes, it is obvious that Mr. Monkey and others has not and will not read my article about Darwin because it’ll blow your allegience to ignorance and arrogance. And I have responded to Mojo’s stuff, but Mr. Monkey has not evolved enough to read or understand it…no big surprise.
And I’m STILL waiting for someone here to tell us all what happened to Darwin’s serious symptoms that he had had for 3-12 years prior to seeing Dr. Gully? And what happened to Darwin’s such serious fatigue that he was “unable to work one in every three days”? C’mon, tell us all…I’m still waiting.
And is anyone going to suggest that Darwin “may” not have been really ill.
“And I’m STILL waiting for someone here to tell us all what happened to Darwin’s serious symptoms that he had had for 3-12 years prior to seeing Dr. Gully? And what happened to Darwin’s such serious fatigue that he was “unable to work one in every three days”? C’mon, tell us all…I’m still waiting.”
Apparently you haven’t read my reply of October 30.
I’ll try again.
Darwin had some sort of chronic condition that has never been identified. As recorded in his letters, it waxed and waned over time, as many chronic conditions do. Darwin, not unreasonably, tended to seek new treatments at times when it was particularly bad. While Darwin was being treated by Gully the condition improved (much as it had improved when, for example, he sought treatment from his Father, an “orthodox” doctor, in 1840); this is not an unlikely outcome for someone at a particularly low point. Darwin was not cured by Gully, however, and the same symptoms continued to return periodically for the rest of his life. There is no evidence that Darwin was actually dying, or that he would have been unable to complete On the Origin of Species without Gully’s intervention.
You cannot identify Darwin’s condition; you cannot establish any causal relationship between Gully’s treatments and Darwin’s improvement; even if you could establish any causal relationship you would not be able to tell if it was the homoeopathy, the hydropathy, the change in diet, exercise, or rest and freedom from stress, or any of the other elements of Gully’s regime that caused it. As far as the homeopathy is concerned, you have no idea what remedies Gully gave Darwin, and no idea on what basis they were prescribed by a doctor who is no record as stating that he “never much cared for the doctrine of “like curing like””.
You have misinterpreted the letter of September 4, 1850. The letter does not say that Gully “cured” the girl; it merely says that she recovered.
You have grossly misinterpreted what is clearly identified, even in the words you actually quoted in the article, as an account of an “odd” letter Darwin received as being a letter to Asa Gray expressing admiration for a German homoeopath and his book, whereas (as you would have discovered if you had done your homework) it was merely an account of the contents of a letter received in which the homoeopath wrote about his book and asked Darwin to translate and publish it. There is no evidence that Darwin actually read the book himself.
You have failed to provide any evidence that Darwin’s experiments with Drosera had anything to do with homoeopathy.
You have not responded to my “stuff” (or anyone else’s, for that matter) with anything of substance. All you have offered is repetitions of the same unfounded claims, evasion, bluster, insults, and accusations that people haven’t read the article. Accusing people who have clearly read your article and followed up your references and pointed out that they don’t support your conclusions of not having done sufficient “homework” is a ludicrous response. You need to provide sources that adequately back up your claims.
Dana, how many times do you want to read this? NOBODY here knows, including you. Unlike you, I don’t really care, so why would I try to explain (= speculate) what happened back then? It’s nothing but one more anecdote (actually it’s not even that since you neither know what he suffered from nor what remedy/remedies he took).
Others seem to be more interested and are trying to engage in some kind of conversation about this, but that’s hardly possible if you ignore their comments or try to change the subject. It’s quite amusing to see you ask one silly question after the other, “daring” other commenters and Andy to defend stuff they never said while at the same time not answering their questions, so please keep going.
One more thing: Ignorance and arrogance? It takes one to know one I guess.
Has anyone seen the film Groundhog Day? It’s one of my favourite films.
It’s about a smug, self-centred buffoon of a man trapped in an endless loop, destined to repeat his errors and unable to learn, and unable to comprehend what is happening to him.
In the film, he eventually finds redemption by realising that he has to learn and grow and not keep repeating the same mistakes. I am not sure if that is possible for some people in real life.
Anyway, just thought I would bring it up. Carry on as normal, everyone.
Yeah…I liked Groundhog’s Day, and Mr. Duck seemed to have a starring role in it.
Mojo…please clarify when and where Darwin ever mentioned having fainting spells or spots before his eyes or body-wide boils…OR did ALL of these symptoms disappear under Gully’s treatments? Please cite these references.
And how surprised was Darwin in his Drosera experiments when he witnesses effects of extremely small doses of ammonia salts…and did he or did he not have his 2 sons replicate his work…and what results did THEY get? What did Darwin say about having to publish this extraordinary results?
C’mon…give us dem quotes and references…or STFU.
Or continue to deny deny deny…
I will come back to your health claims later.
Darwin’s accounts of the Drosera experiments can be found in Insectivorous Plants, Chapter 7 (pp.136-173). The full text of this book is available here.
You will find no mention of serial dilution or succussion being used in the preparation of the solutions Darwin used.
You will also find that Darwin established an orthodox dose-response curve, with the effect becoming weaker and more difficult to observe with reducing concentration (note for example the comment on p.171 that “It is to be especially observed that the experiments with the weaker solutions ought to be tried after several days of very warm weather. Those with the weakest solutions should be made on plants which have been kept for a considerable time in a warm greenhouse, or cool hothouse; but this is by no means necessary for trials with solutions of moderate strength”) and a limit beyond which no response was observed. Note also p.170, with the footnote in which Darwin notes that in the detection of dilute substances “the spectroscope has altogether beaten Drosera.”
Your article claims that Darwin experimented on Drosera with “homoeopathic doses”, and implies that Darwin was reluctant to publish his results because of this connection with homoeopathy, but there is no suggestion of any connection with homoeopathy in any of the sources you reference.
This alleged connection with homoeopathy is your claim: if it to stand you will need to provide better references than those you used for your article. So, as you so charmingly put it, “C’mon…give us dem quotes and references…or STFU.”
Dana, do you really not get it? Charles Darwin’s medical case history simply does not matter. No inferences can be drawn from it. That is why I have no interest in reading your article. Why do you keep trolling it around the internet? The weirdest and saddest thing is that it obviously matters so much to you.
Mojo but has taken the trouble to follow up the bibliography you provided. I see him repeatedly asking you questions and I see you avoiding them. That gets beyond weird and simply becomes rude.
As I have said before, I did not expect quite this level of obfuscation when I first started dealing with homeopaths. I now see it as the norm.
As Badly Shaved Monkey has pointed out, it is hardly important since no inferences can be drawn from this single anecdotal account of a temporary, and as far as we can tell coincidental, remission from an unknown condition after administration of a wide variety of treatments, including one or more unidentified homoeopathic remedies prescribed for unknown reasons by a doctor who “never much cared for the doctrine of like curing like”, but if you want evidence of Darwin’s continuing health problems, how about the description of his symptoms that Darwin wrote in May 1865:
“Age 56-57. – For 25 years extreme spasmodic daily & nightly flatulence: occasional vomiting, on two occasions prolonged during months. Vomiting preceded by shivering, hysterical crying, dying sensations or half-faint. & copious very palid urine. Now vomiting & every paroxys[m] of flatulence preceded by singing of ears, rocking, treading on air & vision. focus & black dots – All fatigues, specially reading, brings on these Head symptoms ??” (See The correspondence of Charles Darwin: Volume 13, 1865. Cambridge University Press, 1985, page 482)
So about 15 years after Gully’s treatments, Darwin says that he is still suffering from the same complaint he has had for 25 years. Doesn’t sound much as if Gully cured him, does it?
Mojo, while Dana’s not here, let’s talk about Drosera.
@Mojo: “You will find no mention of serial dilution or succussion being used in the preparation of the solutions Darwin used.”
The funny thing is that when it suits him, Dana gets very heated about the absolute need for there to be “potentisation” not merely dilution. He took this to extremes at Wikipedia where he tried very hard to get the enormous volume-equivalences removed when referring to the homeopathic process of serial dilution.
To clarify, homeopaths do NOT use “dilutions” of anything! We use “potencies,” and our medicines are “potentized,” that is, they undergo sequential dilution, vigorous shaking, dumping out of 99% or 90% of the original liquid in the same glass vial or in a new glass vial, and the repeating of that process. The vast majority of medicines that are sold over-the-counter are in the 3rd to 12th potency (3X/3C to 12X/12C). The more a substance is potentized, the less number of molecules of the original substance remain.
Once again, I never said that 12C means 1 drop in 12 test tubes; it is MORE than that (and it has no relationship to an ocean of anything, except perhaps a “homeopathic ocean”). 12C uses 1% of sequential test tubes. I think that you and 88 are thinking that we need to increase by a 100-fold the amount of water in each dilution. No, that is not the case, and here is where you, 88, and Oliver Wendell Holmes have misunderstood homeopathy (the good news here is that YOU are getting clear of the facts, while Holmes prided himself on never talking to or consulting a homeopath, proving that ignorance is bliss). After doing the 1:100 dilution, the drug manufacturer dispenses with 99% of the water and adds more water into the test tube (some homeopathic manufacturing practices use the same test tube and other use a new test tube). Do you get it now? What I now want to know is how did you come to believe your statement above: “After 12 times the container would be 100^12 (1000000000000000000000000) times bigger than your test tubes. If your test tube holds a decilitre, then the equivalent test tube size to get the same concentration in, from the same starting amount, is 10^23 litres.” In NO homeopathic literature has it ever said or implied that a larger container is needed for each stage of the potentization process. FINALLY…you’re realizing how much you (and others) have misconstrued homeopathy.
Q: When is a dilution homeopathic?
A: When the results suit Dana Ullman for the purposes of the moment.
Actually, I’ve just found an even better example of Dana claiming that an experiment wasn’t a proper test of homoeopathy (or as he puts it, “GIGO”) because (among other objections) there was no explicit mention of succussion in the preparation of the remedy:
The link doesn’t work properly, for some reason. Here it is again:
Also, I’ve been meaning to say it before and it may as well get recorded here for later reference, but it “Dana” has not told us what specific set of symptoms Darwin’s sundew plants were suffering from. As he says in that link of yours, there’s no “external validity” without that.
I get the feeling that we are adding more to the paint-pot sitting on top of the half-opened door just waiting for him to reappear and push on it.
Having been prompted to look at Darwin’s Drosera report by Mojo, I found this bit;
“The solution, moreover, in these experiments was diluted in the proportion of one part of the salt to 2,187,500 of water, or one grain to 5000 oz. The reader will perhaps best realise this degree of dilution by remembering that 5000 oz. would more than fill a 31-gallon cask; and that to this large body of water one grain of the salt was added”
A normal person would regard that as a fair description of making a quite dilute solution, but as can be seen from my previous post Dana utterly rejects such a normal description when he sets off on one his bonkers tirades about the semantics of what constitute a homeopathic dilution…when it suits him to do so.
Has Dana gone? Obviously he’s a busy man. Homeopaths’ fantasy castles don’t build themselves; someone needs to keep filling them with hot-air and that someone can’t spend all his time answering our tricky questions.
On the other hand, perhaps he’s gone off to conduct LCN’s simple test of homeopathy;
If he performed that honestly and successfully then he really would have something interesting to say.
Darwin’s Drosera experiments seem to have entered the homoeopathic mythology, much like the claim about the four allegedly psitive meta-analyses. I’ve seen them referred to as evidence for homoeopathy by several people, but it looks as if they are just relying on accounts from homoeopaths without bothering to check the sources. Several of them, for example, have stated that Darwin’s account of his observations of the effects of dilute solutions on Drosera is in “The Power of Movement in Plants 1875”, which suggests that they have a common source for this error.
Dana seems to have gone away. I’ll see whether I can get him back.
Dana, Dana, Dana!
Has it worked worked?
It doesn’t seem to have worked. Perhaps LCN’s challenge is more time-consuming than I thought it would be.
Perhaps he’s doing it 720 times.
A thought experiment. Let’s say my name was “Dana Ullman”. Let’s further suppose that I was so interested in my public profile that I put my own name into Google Alerts. If the phrase “Dana Ullman” keeps appearing on blogs like Quackometer or ScienceBasedMedicine that are charged up with loads of googlejuice then there must come a point where “Dana Ullman” could not help but notice that he is being talked about.
Given that there is evidence, from continued appearances on the web, that he has neither fallen under a truck nor been rendered incommunicado when do we get to declare that he is actually hiding from us?
Talking of Google, I just put “Dana Ullman” into it as a search term. Here is what appeared in the paid-for adverts on the right hand side of the page.
“Cheap Ullman Dana
Huge choice of Ullman Dana –
Compare prices & save up to 49%!
It seems even Google’s bots find him funny.