Mar 022012

You have to hand it to quacks: in the face of all reason, they keep trying to shore up discredited theories with bogus evidence and spouting tired old lies that even a child can see through. Such tenacity must be admired, although if they’re expecting respect as well they can whistle for it.

They also like to keep hammering away at their critics, especially luminaries such as James Randi and Edzard Ernst. Here’s an absolute gem of self-delusion dressed with vitriol that purports to unmask the latter: Edzard Ernst – Critic Of Homeopathy Exposed | National Center for Homeopathy. He’s influential, especially in the UK. Homeopaths don’t like being publicly debunked by somebody who used to be in their cult.

“So is it correct that you did not acquire the additional medical title ‘Homeopathy’ but took further medical education courses in homeopathy? If yes, which ones?

Ernst: “I never completed any courses.”

In short, it appears that the leading ‘authority’ on homeopathy, and perhaps its most referenced critic, has no qualifications in homeopathy.

Now what we have here is the “He’s Not One Of Us So He Can’t Understand” recursive mindset, This of course completely ignores the fact that Prof. Ernst did study homeopathy for several years, which is how he came to conclude the whole thing is an elaborate sham perpetuated by the credulous. However, in the eyes of the cult members, he’s No True Homeopath and has wantonly turned from the teachings of the Guru, therefore:

it destroys entirely Ernst and Singh’s credibility as a reliable source of information about at least one of the therapies they discuss in detail, and this renders highly questionable their reliability as a source of information about all the other therapies.

It destroys fuck all, my sweet little fallacist. Look, it doesn’t matter how many ad-fucking-hominems you throw at any one person, the science doesn’t go away. And the science says homeopathy is high potency merda bubula.

Alderson also claims that Trick or Treatment? shows Ernst to be unreliable as a researcher into homeopathy. He outlines 11 mistakes which can arise from ignorance of the principles of homeopathy,

The SO seems to think homeopaths have no principles, but what the idiot Alderson (whoever he is, all woopologists look alike to me) is trying to claim is that non-homeopaths Aren’t In On The Secret and therefore can’t understand how homeopathy works. Which of course is begging the question, since Doughball assumes that homeopathy works, when it’s what the trials are set up to test. It doesn’t, it’s a placebo. Of course, I would be happy to revise that opinion if you can prove that sugar pills and distilled water do have a measurable therapeutic effect, but in over 200 years not a single well-conducted clinical trial has shown this. Which was kind of predictable, given our current understanding of physics, biology, chemistry and psychology.

and which can seriously affect the reliability of randomised controlled trials and meta-analyses of homeopathy. None of these are mentioned by Ernst and Singh.

Nah, what annoys you is that RCTs are supposed to show whether a drug is effective or not, isn’t it? Kind of screws up your sales spiel when someone can just come along and prove you’re talking horseapples, doesn’t it? Nothing annoys a True Believer more than having his beliefs challenged. Presumably he’s fixating on the supposed ‘holisticness’ of homeopathy and trying to perpetuate the myth that modern medicine only treats symptoms. Unfortunately, that’s complete misdirection. RCTs are designed to evaluate the effectiveness of drugs on illnesses. You want your product to be prescribed to the sick? Show us the fucking sausages.

The numbskull then goes on to bitch about “two trained scientists” (Simon Singh and Edzard Ernst) who do not “see fundamental problems with double-blind studies for individualised methods”. Homeopathy is a Special Case! You can’t judge us by the same criteria that you use for the rest of the universe! Just believe what I say! I want the same status as doctors but without all the tiresome need for evidence! Mommy it’s not fair, tell them it’s not fair!


We believe that it is time to recognise that opposition to homeopathy is largely based on the opinions of individuals who are unqualified or unwilling to judge the evidence fairly.

Because homeopaths and their strange tendency to cherry-pick positive outcomes, or even completely misinterpret results are far better placed? Well, maybe this one would satisfy them: a French clinical trial on a homeopathic treatment based mostly on Arnica (the bumps and bruises remedy) one of whose authors also happens to be a director of Boiron SA. Yep, Boiron, the sugar pill giant famed for ritually sacrificing one Barbary duck every year to make millions of expensive sugar pills for colds and flu.

Conclusion: “not superior to placebo“. I’ll wait for you to clean up the coffee, shall I?

Against them is the experience of millions who have actually benefited from homeopathy. A recently published example of this success is the trial in Cuba where 2.3 million people were immunised homeopathically against endemic Leptospirosis. In two weeks, the infection rate plummeted by 80% in the trial areas and the mortality rate dropped to zero, with this success continuing though the following year.

Leaving aside for the moment the fact that Genius ranted about homeopathy being used as a preventative in a trial mentioned by Singh and Ernst – “patients were taking medicine … when there was nothing to treat. Such a procedure will have unpredictable effects, and is anathema to homeopathic principles and prescribing practice” – and is now trying to have his cake and eat it by claiming homeopathy can be used as a preventative, what is this all about? On the face of it, it sounds impressive. 2.3 million people immunised against what sounds like a really nasty illness?

Um, maybe not. You see, Cuba might be a poor country but it does actually worry about its inhabitants’ health. They developed a vaccine against Leptospirosis and started mass vaccination from 1996 onwards. This reduced incidence of the disease. Infection is also seasonal, with higher incidence (and therefore mortality rates) during the rainy season.

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