A canna’ change the laws of physics

Scotty, The Naked Time, stardate 1704.3, Episode 7

Posts Tagged ‘Aijing Shang’

A homeopathic refutation – part one

Posted by apgaylard on September 6, 2009

bigstockphoto_Picking_Cherries_5456575Lionel Milgrom recently had an essay published defending homeopathy (Milgrom, 2009).  It’s available on the Homeopathy World Community website.  In it, he notes the current parlous state of homeopathy as a mainstream medical intervention in the UK and seeks to do two things: (1) refute what he identifies as the main criticisms of homeopathy and (2) explore the context for what he views as unjustified attacks. 

In this post I shall examine Milgrom’s opening and his comments on the evidence for homeopathy.  I will be examining his arguments around: the scientific nature of homeopathy, its risks, the role of the profit motive and the influence of philosophy, in subsequent posts. 

Sitting comfortably? 

The summary starts with a familiar defence: “homeopathy has been in successful and continuous use for well over 200 years”.  This makes the usual mistake of conflating two different arguments: efficacy and popularity.  It is a common mistake to assume that the two go hand in hand.  History tells a different story.  Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in homeopathy | Tagged: , , , | 31 Comments »

Dangerous delusions

Posted by apgaylard on September 12, 2008

[BPSDB] Professor Ernst’s recent exploration of the dubious ethics apparently demonstrated by some homeopaths, pharmacists and their professional bodies in, “peddling so-called ‘vaccines’ without any evidence that they are effective” set me thinking about the recent “Scientific Research in Homeopathy” conference.

What views, if any, did the speakers express on the issue of immunization?  Three of the speakers addressed this subject.  We shall see that one homeopath doesn’t think that vaccines are needed; another thinks that homeopathy can both treat people with malaria and offer effective prophylaxis; and the conference organiser is hiding behind a fig leaf. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in homeopathy, Pseudoscience | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Making your own reality – part 2

Posted by apgaylard on August 26, 2008

Last week, having failed to get Sue Young to engage with a very simple criticism of a clearly erroneous statement made by American homeopath and author Dana Ullman in an interview she is carrying on her site, I sent my comment directly to the Zeus Information Service. 

Mr Ullman has very thoughtfully copied me in on the reply that he made to Louise McLean of Zeus.  Given that this is a Zeus’ official response to my query, I have decided to post it – along with a few comments.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in homeopathy | Tagged: , , , , , , | 17 Comments »

Making your own reality

Posted by apgaylard on August 19, 2008

This is just a short post to note, with disappointment but not surprise, that some homeopaths are still making up things about the meta-regression analysis of Shang et al and others are only interested in parroting them.

Well-known American homeopath Dana Ullman, in an interview which is being carried on the Sue Young Homeopathy website is making up his own reality and it seems that Sue Young would like to live in it, unencumbered by the intrusion of nasty facts. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in homeopathy, unpublished | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »

Publish and be damned

Posted by apgaylard on August 16, 2008

One of the things that I’ve noted as I have been drawn into debates with advocates of homeopathy, dowsing, and other strange belief systems over the last year or so is the total lack of appreciation for what science is and how it works.  Its values and methods are misunderstood, misrepresented, misinterpreted, or even maligned.

This week a homeopath, Clive Stewart, has provided an excellent example of the failure to understand the value of scientific publications and the debates they provoke.  I’ve been exchanging views with him on the merits of the meta-regression analysis of homeopathic treatments published by Shang et al in The Lancet.  He made some claims about the ailments covered by the eight ‘higher quality’ – lowest bias studies of homeopathy from which the authors concluded, “the effects seen in placebo controlled trials of homoeopathy are compatible with the placebo hypothesis”.  I demonstrated that these claims were incorrect and he went on to make the very guarded apology shown below.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in homeopathy | Tagged: , , , , , | 10 Comments »

Spying on Shang

Posted by apgaylard on August 10, 2008

It seems like I’m becoming a collector of misconceptions about the Lancet paper published by Shang et al (2005).  This week I’ve been having a small disagreement with a homeopath named Clive Stuart on Margaret McCartney’s blog at Ft.com.

One of his criticisms of Shang et al was new to me.  He said, “When the 8 studies were finally revealed, it turned out that most of them were for the prophylaxis of flu.”

Now, having read the paper in question; the ‘webappendices’; the author’s letter of reply in the Lancet and the additional material they have made available on-line: I was surprised. 

I pointed out that there were only two studies in the final eight that were concerned with ‘flu-like symptoms: Rottey (80) and Papp (71) [note: the references are to the webappendix and additional material].  I thought that this would be the end of it, but no, he countered, “You say that “only two related to flu-like symptoms”. This is incorrect. Actually 5 of the 8 studies related to influenza. Three dealt with prophylaxis of influenza and two with actual treatment of influenza. One study dealt with prophylaxis of conjunctivitis, one with treating acute respiratory inflammations and one with muscle soreness in runners.”  Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in homeopathy | Tagged: , , , , , | 19 Comments »

Shang’s secret – the hydra of homoeomythology

Posted by apgaylard on July 4, 2008



The Complementary Medical Association (CMA) recently held the inaugural “Scientific Research in Homeopathy” conference at the University of Westminster. Homeopathy researcher and quantum flap-doodler extraordinaire Lionel Milgrom was one of the speakers. Reviewing the slides of his presentation is a real treat; a truely remarkable document. (It’s available here as a powerpoint file)

For this post I’ll just pick his slide on the controvertial (for homeopaths) Lancet paper by Shang et al.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in homeopathy | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »

Homeopathy and the Absence of Evidence

Posted by apgaylard on April 26, 2008

The apologists for homeopathy are upset again: this time with Professor Edzard Ernst and Simon Singh’s new book.  Why? Because once more homeopathy is exposed for what it is: a placebo.

Dr Damien Downing, the Medical Director for the Alliance for Natural Health (ANH), seems particularly put out.  So much so that he has released a rather silly critique. (This link seems to be down. Try here)

After some empty carping he suggests that Ernst is not a very good scientist and then goes on to wrap himself in the flag of good science, “The scientific method ‘consists of the collection of data through observation and experimentation, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses’ (Wikipedia) – not of unsubstantiated dogmatic statements. Science has no room for dogma.”

This is one point I can agree with; compared to the statements of some other protagonists it’s pretty reasonable: science should have no room for dogma.  However, Downing is not averse to peddling some homeopathic propaganda. 

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in homeopathy | Tagged: , , , , , , | 19 Comments »

The Myth of The Secret Eight

Posted by apgaylard on November 28, 2007

There seems to be a persistent myth among homeopathic apologists that the final eight homeopathic studies (large and of high quality) analysed in the famous Lancet paper by Shang et al. are somehow secret.

Here is a recent example of this piece of homeomythology:

“… When Shang et al (Lancet 2005) did a metaanalysis of 110 homeopathy trials, homeopathy was significantly better than placebo. When they restricted it to “high quality” trials (n=20), homeopathy was still significantly better than placebo, same as the ‘matched’ biomedical trials. They then restricted it to “large, high quality” trials (n=8), and claimed they were no better than placebo. Does anyone here know which 8 homeopathy RCTs were selected? Failing that, the 20 “high quality” trials, from which one could identify the 8 largest. And how and when did they set the cutpoint for “large”?”

“Chamfort”, Comment is Free, Guardian, Comment No. 941849, November 22 13:11

So, is it possible to find which eight trials of homeopathy were finally selected?  Yes.  In fact one poster did provide an answer to this question.  He noted that “…The 8 homeopathy trials and 6 conventional trials that were considered to be large, high quality trials are identified by the authors in their reply to comments on the original article. See Lancet 366 (2005); p. 2083. The list of included trials can be found as an appendix to the online version of the original article, see Lancet 366 (2005); 726-732.”

Where did this idea come from?  Well, Shang et al. did omit these details from their original paper.  This was picked up by many apologists, including correspondents to the Lancet: Fisher et al., Linde  and Jonas, Walach et al., and Dantas.  Shang et al. then provided the information, as noted above, in the same issue of the Lancet as the critical letters.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in homeopathy | Tagged: , , , , , | 9 Comments »