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Tags homeopathy , dana ullman

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Old 28th December 2007, 12:36 AM   #281
HelenSan
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Originally Posted by fls View Post
Untreated, only 3.7 percent are alive and disease free at 10 years.

Linda
First of all, thank you, Linda, for the examples. Do you happen to have a reference for the above statistic? I didn't find that in the cited reference; they did not have an untreated control group. Thanks.

In the interests of skepticism and impartial analysis, I would like to propose an exercise. We all have confirmation bias (the tendency to look for evidence that supports our own biases), which results in our being more lenient with evidence we like than evidence we don't like. Something I do on a regular basis, to challenge my own confirmation bias, is to read a study I like and imagine it to be a study I don't like. Then I rip it apart.

For example, take the breast cancer study. Substitute say, Belladonna 30 C, for lumpectomy and Sulphur 200C for irradiation. Imagine that Dana submitted this exact study as "incontrovertible" proof of a cure for a non-self-limiting condition. Would it be sufficient proof for you? If not, what would be wrong with the study? How would you rip it apart?

All studies have flaws and limitations. I am trying to get a feel for how many flaws and how much limitation you would tolerate and still consider it to fall in the "incontrovertible" category. I know what *I* would do. But I am trying to get a feel for what everyone here would consider to be an "incontrovertible" standard for effectiveness.

If there is a challenge, terms like "incontrovertible" should be explored and defined more precisely, right?
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Old 28th December 2007, 12:55 AM   #282
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Originally Posted by JamesGully View Post
Hey Linda...I'm glad that you can make such pronouncements and that you think that you have some authority or knowledge. You are a regular dictionary, but as compared with a dictionary, you make it up out of thin air. In the United States, "allopathic" is used by the American Medical Association, the National Residency Matching Program, and the Association of American Medical Colleges. The word "allopathy" is alive and living. Live with it.
Allopathy was coined by Hahnemann in 1842 to distinguish homeopathy and conventional medicine at the time. If Hahnemann coined it it is perfectly alright for fls to start to decoin it.

But how unusual for a purveyor of fake medicine to completely ignore the main point of the post, ie conventional medicine cures people, homeopathy doesn't, and concentrate on a minor point of definition.
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Old 28th December 2007, 01:13 AM   #283
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Originally Posted by HelenSan View Post
First of all, thank you, Linda, for the examples. Do you happen to have a reference for the above statistic? I didn't find that in the cited reference; they did not have an untreated control group. Thanks.
Linda's study showed there was a 14% recurrence rate of cancer following treatment with lumpectomy and radiotherapy. In other words, the treatment cured 86% of women who have an incurable condition. Breast cancer will not go away on its own, so there is no need for an "untreated" control group in this study (It would be unethical anyway).
I don't know where Linda got the other data from - perhaps she will say.
Originally Posted by HelenSan View Post
In the interests of skepticism and impartial analysis, I would like to propose an exercise. We all have confirmation bias (the tendency to look for evidence that supports our own biases), which results in our being more lenient with evidence we like than evidence we don't like. Something I do on a regular basis, to challenge my own confirmation bias, is to read a study I like and imagine it to be a study I don't like. Then I rip it apart.

For example, take the breast cancer study. Substitute say, Belladonna 30 C, for lumpectomy and Sulphur 200C for irradiation. Imagine that Dana submitted this exact study as "incontrovertible" proof of a cure for a non-self-limiting condition. Would it be sufficient proof for you? If not, what would be wrong with the study? How would you rip it apart?

All studies have flaws and limitations. I am trying to get a feel for how many flaws and how much limitation you would tolerate and still consider it to fall in the "incontrovertible" category. I know what *I* would do. But I am trying to get a feel for what everyone here would consider to be an "incontrovertible" standard for effectiveness.

If there is a challenge, terms like "incontrovertible" should be explored and defined more precisely, right?
The evolution of therapy for cancer is progressive, with hundreds of successive studies each showing incremental gains and improvements on current knowledge.
Many studies are published which show a new intervention may be useful. However it is extremely rare for any single study to gain acceptance and become standard practice without plenty of corroboration. This would apply for Belladonna as a cure for breast cancer too. The homeopathic literature is sprinkled with supposedly wonderful therapies which do not stand up to scrutiny when looked at in proper quality studies. As soon as there is one which does, then I will be among the first to acclaim its success.

The basic premise of the challenge is clear - Find a homeopathic remedy which has cured a disease that would otherwise be fatal/incurable. Semantics about defining "incontrovertible" are just a way of avoiding adressing the question.

If you prefer, find an answer to my second challenge -
Find one single instance where the independent Data Safety Monitoring Board has discontinued a trial because homeopathy was found to be superior to placebo or conventional therapy, and therefore it was deemed to be unethical to continue the study.
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Old 28th December 2007, 01:22 AM   #284
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Originally Posted by JamesGully View Post
The word "allopathy" is alive and living. Live with it.

"Allopathy" is indeed alive and kicking, and is practised widely (especially in India where ironically many of its practitioners are also homoeopaths) under the name "Ayurveda". It only has three humours (or "doshas"), rather than the four of Western medicine in Hahnemann's time, but the basic principles are those of "allopathy".
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Old 28th December 2007, 02:15 AM   #285
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Originally Posted by JamesGully View Post
In the United States, "allopathic" is used by the American Medical Association, the National Residency Matching Program, and the Association of American Medical Colleges. The word "allopathy" is alive and living. Live with it.

"Allopathy" simply means "the method of treating disease by the use of agents that produce effects different from those of the disease treated".

In other words, any remedy that is not homoeopathic is allopathic.
Conventional medicine is therefore merely a subset of allopathy.
If you want to be clear about what you are talking about, I'm afraid you're going to have to use the more exact and specific term.

Thank-you!

On the other hand, perhaps we should use the term "Evidence-based medicine" to distinguish it from all forms of non-evidence based medicine, which includes parts of conventional, and most of alternative, integrative, and complimentary medicine....and all of homoeopathy .
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Old 28th December 2007, 02:19 AM   #286
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Originally Posted by HelenSan View Post
I was just wondering if you can give one incontrovertible example, with references, of allopathy curing a non-self-limiting condition? You know, as a control.

You are joking, right?
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Old 28th December 2007, 02:53 AM   #287
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Originally Posted by HelenSan View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by fls
Untreated, only 3.7 percent are alive and disease free at 10 years.
Do you happen to have a reference for the above statistic? I didn't find that in the cited reference; they did not have an untreated control group. Thanks.

Linda must have obtained that figure elsewhere.

They would not have used a control (no treatment) group, because it would be unethical to give any patient less than what is presently considered optimal treatment based on the results of previous studies.

She probably got it from a source such as this one:

http://www.what-is-cancer.com/papers.../untreated.htm





Refer to the first graph (the other is not relevant)
This looks at the survival of women who presented so late that no treatment other than palliative care could be provided.

It looks about 3-4% at 10 years to me, with none surviving beyond 15 years.
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Old 28th December 2007, 03:41 AM   #288
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Originally Posted by HelenSan View Post
I was just wondering if you can give one incontrovertible example, with references, of allopathy curing a non-self-limiting condition?

You know, I don't recall studying anything called "allopathy" at college, and I'm pretty sure Badly Shaved Monkey didn't either. So technically, you're asking us to comment on something we know nothing about.

However, I'll assume that, like so many homoeopaths, you're repeating Hahnemann's insultingly-coined word for conventional medicine, in a modern context. As I got censored for saying before, if you look up the n-word in any dictionary, you'll find it defined as meaning a person with dark-coloured skin. Does that mean it's not an insult, and it's OK to use it? No? Well get the message then.

So, if we take your probable meaning, antibacterial treatment for things like TB, syphillis, scarlet fever, we could go on as there are many. Anthelmintics, some antivirals, the whole field of antimicrobial chemotherapy really. We were only asking Dana for a well-documented case report after all, and there are squillions of such things in real medicine. We even asked him for detailed documentation of such a case he'd treated himself if there was nothing in the literature - I'm sure every one of us here practising actual medicine has a good number of such cases.

However, this challenge ignores a major area of benefit in conventional medicine, which wasn't included because it isn't really part of homoeopathy's claims. That of long-term maintenance therapy for conditions which are not curable as such. Good examples are hormone replacement therapy for hormone deficiency diseases which would otherwise be fatal, such as type 1 diabetes, Addison's disease, hypothyroidism and so on. Nobody would claim to "cure" these conditions, as the patient still has the condition and would quickly relapse and die without continuing treatment, but just ask a patient which he'd rather be - dead, or taking permanent maintenance treatment?

AIDS treatment is another one in this category. Medicine can't cure AIDS, but it has changed it from a fairly rapidly fatal condition into a chronic condition that can be lived with for many many years.

Homoeopathy doesn't seem to claim to be able to do this. All the claims we hear are of "cure", a word which real medicine uses quite sparingly. We don't hear about long-term stabilisation and maintenance therapy from the homoeopaths. However, if we did, that's another effect we'd consider as evidence, if evidence could be produced.

It's back to the chain saw and feather analogy. Very few homoeopaths have the temerity to claim that real medicine doesn't cure people, or help people. Their criticisms are usually confined to long lists of potential adverse side-effects - available, ironically, because real medicine investigates and documents such occurrences, unlike homoeopathy, where no system of adverse reaction reporting is in place.

We're interested to discover if a homoeopathic remedy (as opposed to the "complex intervention" including the "therapeutic consultation" which obviously can have a similar effect to counselling) can actually affect a patient's health in any way at all. That is, do something which obviously isn't coincidence or wishful thinking.

Now, I don't think anyone at all would even begin to claim that real medicine does nothing at all, and all the effects (good or bad) are merely coincidence and wishful thinking. However, that is the position homoeopathy finds itself in. Unable to show that the remedies do anything.

We ask for a well-documented case report showing a cure of something which could not have got better by itself as something which, if the claims of the homoeopaths have any basis in fact, should be easy to find. However, apparently it is not.

Look, just anything, OK? Any unarguable, incontrovertible effect of a homoeopathic remedy on a patient or even a healthy person, that quite obviously isn't the result of coincidence or wishful thinking.

If you asked me to do that for any conventional drug, I'd probably simply pick up a syringe with a large dose of pentobarbitone in it and kill something. No argument with that, especially as I can do it as many times as you like, or have expendable subjects for the test. Less lethally, anaesthetics. After the third or fourth patient has gone obediently to sleep, we have to concede that there is a real effect there.

Got anything at all that doesn't require complex ifs and buts and rose-tinted spectacles, homoeopaths?

Rolfe.
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Old 28th December 2007, 03:44 AM   #289
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Originally Posted by HelenSan View Post
First of all, thank you, Linda, for the examples. Do you happen to have a reference for the above statistic? I didn't find that in the cited reference; they did not have an untreated control group. Thanks.
Oops. I had my reference all ready (I think I had even pressed ctrl-C) and I forgot to follow through (I blame chocolate). I was using this for the number.

Quote:
In the interests of skepticism and impartial analysis, I would like to propose an exercise. We all have confirmation bias (the tendency to look for evidence that supports our own biases), which results in our being more lenient with evidence we like than evidence we don't like. Something I do on a regular basis, to challenge my own confirmation bias, is to read a study I like and imagine it to be a study I don't like. Then I rip it apart.

For example, take the breast cancer study. Substitute say, Belladonna 30 C, for lumpectomy and Sulphur 200C for irradiation. Imagine that Dana submitted this exact study as "incontrovertible" proof of a cure for a non-self-limiting condition. Would it be sufficient proof for you? If not, what would be wrong with the study? How would you rip it apart?
The study itself would fulfill the requirements of what we asked for from Mr. Ullman, with the caveat that there would need to be a fuller description/analysis of the use of mastectomy, lumpectomy and lumpectomy with irradiation (i.e. the use of any others treatments which could reasonably be expected to be effective) in addition to the homeopathic treatments.

Quote:
All studies have flaws and limitations. I am trying to get a feel for how many flaws and how much limitation you would tolerate and still consider it to fall in the "incontrovertible" category. I know what *I* would do. But I am trying to get a feel for what everyone here would consider to be an "incontrovertible" standard for effectiveness.

If there is a challenge, terms like "incontrovertible" should be explored and defined more precisely, right?
That is a reasonable question, but to be honest, exploration of the details seems pointless until we are presented with something that requires any degree of precision. A meter may make a difference if someone is standing in the same room, but it makes no difference if they are standing in the next county.

Linda
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Old 28th December 2007, 03:50 AM   #290
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HelenSan - Homeopathy is unable even to cure constipation or diarrhoea. How can you expect Homeopathy to cure cancer? Belladonna 30 CH and Sulphur 200 CH are inactive and therefore ineffective. The chances that these remedies work are the same as that of resuscitating a dead person.
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Old 28th December 2007, 04:03 AM   #291
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Originally Posted by JamesGully View Post
Hey Linda...I'm glad that you can make such pronouncements and that you think that you have some authority or knowledge. You are a regular dictionary, but as compared with a dictionary, you make it up out of thin air. In the United States, "allopathic" is used by the American Medical Association, the National Residency Matching Program, and the Association of American Medical Colleges. The word "allopathy" is alive and living. Live with it.
I realize that "allopathy" has entered into common use. However, as a qualifier it is meaningless or redundant. If used simply to refer to medicine as practiced by medical doctors, then the word "medicine" can be used all by itself. If used as a way to distinguish a particular type of medicine, it doesn't represent a necessary or sufficient (or even arguably real) way to describe a useful category.

I'm trying to take a pro-active role. That this is likely to join my other seemingly useless efforts ("I couldn't care less." "Oh the inhumanity.") matters not. Like the homeopaths, I continue to bludgeon others with my feather.

Linda
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Old 28th December 2007, 04:32 AM   #292
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Originally Posted by BillyJoe View Post
hmm, yes.

I finally did get that hat on him - round his neck and then he ran off. I found him later trying to get off the top of the cupboard. Everytime he made an attempt, the hat slung down obstructing his view of the floor below, and he would have to clamber back up again. After about a dozen attempts and boisterous laughter, he finally took a wild leap into the unknown.

All's well though - he landed safely, as cats tend to do.
(or is that another myth?)

BJ
IIRC, cats have a non-fatal terminal velocity. If a cat has time to right itself (i.e., falling from higher than 6-7 floors up) before it hits the ground, it should survive the fall.
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Old 28th December 2007, 04:40 AM   #293
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There's certainly a study showing that the more severe injuries occur in cats falling from relatively low heights compared to upper floors. And I recall taking a panic-stricken phone call at 8.30am from a woman who said her cat had just fallen from a second floor window (third floor to the colonials) and could I Come At Once! I explained that I was due to begin morning surgery at nine, and her best bet was to scoop the cat up and come hotfoot to me, ASAP. She actually turned up while I was seing a patient, and barged her way into the consulting room past a horrified receptionist. She was clutching an entirely uninjured cat.

However, I wouldn't like to be too confident about the non-lethal terminal momentum. I think it's borderline, and the nature of the surface the cat falls on also plays an important role.

Rolfe.
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Old 28th December 2007, 05:21 AM   #294
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Oh, thank-you, I thought my pussy was all forgotten about!

Originally Posted by Ivor the Engineer View Post
IIRC, cats have a non-fatal terminal velocity. If a cat has time to right itself (i.e., falling from higher than 6-7 floors up) before it hits the ground, it should survive the fall.

Yes, I can verify from personal experimentation that this is so.
(I'm joking, of course)

Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
There's certainly a study showing that the more severe injuries occur in cats falling from relatively low heights compared to upper floors.

However, I wouldn't like to be too confident about the non-lethal terminal momentum. I think it's borderline, and the nature of the surface the cat falls on also plays an important role.

Well, there you go, you can't trust anything.

Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
(third floor to the colonials)

Oh yeah.
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Old 28th December 2007, 05:25 AM   #295
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Originally Posted by BillyJoe View Post
Oh, thank-you, I thought my pussy was all forgotten about!

<snip>
Have you been watching an "Are you being served?" marathon on TV over Christmas?
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Old 28th December 2007, 05:33 AM   #296
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Rolfe,

I have to congratulate you on your reply to HelenSan.
It's the most entertaining post I've come across for quite some time.
And to the point, goddammit!

I could just hear you saying that.

BillyJoe
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Old 28th December 2007, 05:36 AM   #297
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Originally Posted by Ivor the Engineer View Post
Have you been watching an "Are you being served?" marathon on TV over Christmas?

...um...no.

Is there something I should know?
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Old 28th December 2007, 05:40 AM   #298
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Is it just me, or is "lumpectomy" a way to obvious name for a medical procedure? There must be a more obtuse word than "lump" available to have "ectomy" tagged on the end of it.

How else are you doctors going to maintain the (im)balance of power in the consulting room if plebs can guess what you're talking about?
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Old 28th December 2007, 05:42 AM   #299
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Originally Posted by BillyJoe View Post
...um...no.

Is there something I should know?
http://www.bbc.co.uk/comedy/areyoubeingserved/

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Head of ladies fashion, Mrs Slocombe (Mollie Sugden) sported a different hair colour every week and continually harped on about her "pussy", while assistant, Miss Brahms (Wendy Richard) was the literal butt of a slew of bottom-pinching antics.
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Old 28th December 2007, 06:36 AM   #300
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Originally Posted by Ivor the Engineer View Post
Is it just me, or is "lumpectomy" a way to obvious name for a medical procedure? There must be a more obtuse word than "lump" available to have "ectomy" tagged on the end of it.

How else are you doctors going to maintain the (im)balance of power in the consulting room if plebs can guess what you're talking about?
I guess you could call the lump a tumour - but this would panic patients who don't realise there are benign lumps as well as malign lumps.
So lump will do just fine, and lumpectomy seems to have gained favoured status, but you are right, we should really have a long complicated name for it to keep up the mystique of supreme godliness.
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Old 28th December 2007, 06:40 AM   #301
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It's always seemed to me to imply that we maybe don't exactly know what the lump is until we do histo, but if we're going to biopsy then we might as well make a job of it - excision biopsy, sort of. But then it seems to have been ported to use in situations where we already know what the lump is because of an earlier sample biopsy, and so the language progresses. It's direct, to the point, and gets the job done.

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Old 28th December 2007, 06:45 AM   #302
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Originally Posted by Ivor the Engineer View Post
IIRC, cats have a non-fatal terminal velocity. If a cat has time to right itself (i.e., falling from higher than 6-7 floors up) before it hits the ground, it should survive the fall.
Surely this is a function of the time required to twist itself into a position to land feet first, and has nothing to do with the velocity per se?

There is some very interesting science about the torque forces etc and how cats first twist one half, then the other half as they fall. (Read in a sciency book somewhere - one of the "how long is a piece of string?", or "why do buses come in threes?" type books. Will check up later...)
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Old 28th December 2007, 07:06 AM   #303
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I think Ivor is saying that so long as the cat is properly oriented, it can land safely even at terminal velocity. Thus, once above the height necessary to allow time for the orientation, it will be safe. It's not so much terminal velocity which is the issue, as that will be much the same for any solid falling object, but terminal momentum. Cats don't weigh a great deal.

There's a grain of truth in this, in that more severe injuries are generally associated with relatively short falls, however I'm not sure it extends all the way to very high falls where terminal velocity might be reached. And as I said, the nature of the surface it falls on will obviously have a big effect.

Getting even smaller, I did read somewhere that a mouse could fall down a mine shaft and run off uninjured. I don't think a cat could do that.

In a Dick Francis novel, our hero saves a man hanging precariously from a balcony, and who will obviously lose his grip before rescue can reach him, by exhorting all the onlookers (many, as it was at a race meeting, and well wrapped up as it was a cold winter day) to throw all their coats, jackets and pullovers on the ground under the balcony. I always wondered if that would actually work.

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Old 28th December 2007, 07:31 AM   #304
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
Cats don't weigh a great deal.
You haven't seen my kids' cat. One must be braced well before receiving it in one's lap for petting.
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Old 28th December 2007, 07:48 AM   #305
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
<snip>

Getting even smaller, I did read somewhere that a mouse could fall down a mine shaft and run off uninjured. I don't think a cat could do that.

<snip>
Not if the mouse waited at the bottom and smacked the cat with a shovel.
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Old 28th December 2007, 07:50 AM   #306
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Originally Posted by Ivor the Engineer View Post
Not if the mouse waited at the bottom and smacked the cat with a shovel.
Meeses are smarter even than that. They survive the fall by ensuring that the cat falls first.
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Old 28th December 2007, 08:17 AM   #307
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Rolfe:
Quote:
We even asked him for detailed documentation of such a case he'd treated himself if there was nothing in the literature - I'm sure every one of us here practising actual medicine has a good number of such cases.
What do you mean by detailed documentation?

Would a case of autism (considered incurable by most standards) which disappeared after 2 years of using homeopathy count? I don't have detailed documentation, but the mother wrote a book dedicating one chapter to the story of her son's cure (Impossible Cure by Amy Lansky, PhD -- google her book/name and you can get her website). Her website has lots of cure anecdotes. So it remains what you want in terms of supporting documentation. Is a diagnosis necessary? Post-cure physical exam? Diary of symptoms? I am not sure what you guys are looking for.

Let me explain what I am after. For challenges like this one to work, it has to benefit both the challengers and the challengees. What benefit do you challengers get? Obviously, you get to gloat when no one meets the challenge or when challengees fail; and gloating, from what I can see on this board, has great entertainment value for you. What do the challengees get? The MDC offers a lot of money, but there is none here. So for all their effort in procuring documentation or research papers, they are likely to simply get derision for all their trouble. Not a great incentive.

The only reason why someone might do all that work to put together a well documented case (because obviously existing documented cases / studies don't satisfy you) is for the hope that it might change the someone's mind and get some acknowledgement that homeopathy is not all bad. What I am trying to ascertain by my questions and by clarifying terms of the challenge is if that hope is reasonable at all. Is there anyone here impartial enough to apply the same standards of acceptance of evidence to homeopathy as they do to conventional medicine? I ask these questions because from what I can see so far, it appears that this board is more lenient with the flaws in conventional medicine trials than with flaws in homeopathic treatment trials. If the playing field is not level, and the terms for acceptance are not well defined beforehand, then there is very little realistic hope that any case of documented cure can overcome existing bias. As it is, people know that no matter what they come up with, you're just going to rip them to shreds, so why bother?

If there is no hope and no incentive for the challengee, you are just having fun shouting the challenge to yourselves, a sort of "ideological masturbation" if you will. If that suits you, I will leave you to your entertainment. But if anyone here is serious about skepticism, and can attach the same level of critical thinking to conventional medicine as to homeopathy, then maybe we can have further dialogue.

The world is not black and white, cure or no cure, effective or not effective. Reality happens in gradients. The women who died of breast cancer after going through lumpectomy and radiation would not say that the cure was so "incontrovertible." There is a standard by which you judge that a certain level of imperfection is acceptable. I just want to know what that standard is and if homeopathy will be granted the same level of leniency.

Finally, I am not a homeopath. I am not even an expert on homeopathy. I am simply a homeopathy consumer. I use homeopathy because I have observed empirically that there is a temporal correlation between using a remedy and being relieved of symptoms. The correlation is not perfect, but it "works" often enough that I am happy to give it a try first. If I can use this to summon up the placebo effect at will, why not? It is very cheap, and it has virtually no side effects. If my symptoms disappear and don't come back, what's wrong with that?

But I am a skeptic and scientifically minded as well, so I can sympathize with some of the incredulousness of this board. I just want to how much of this incredulousness is entrenched in ideology and unlikely to change, and how much of it is genuinely open to new evidence.
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Old 28th December 2007, 08:23 AM   #308
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Originally Posted by fls View Post
I If used simply to refer to medicine as practiced by medical doctors, then the word "medicine" can be used all by itself.
Linda
I apologize for the use of the word allopathy. I had no idea it would be offensive. I will stick to "medicine," as you suggest, from now on.
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Old 28th December 2007, 09:06 AM   #309
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Originally Posted by HelenSan View Post
Rolfe:What do you mean by detailed documentation?

Would a case of autism (considered incurable by most standards) which disappeared after 2 years of using homeopathy count? I don't have detailed documentation, but the mother wrote a book dedicating one chapter to the story of her son's cure (Impossible Cure by Amy Lansky, PhD -- google her book/name and you can get her website). Her website has lots of cure anecdotes. So it remains what you want in terms of supporting documentation. Is a diagnosis necessary? Post-cure physical exam? Diary of symptoms? I am not sure what you guys are looking for.
Typically what we would look for is documentation of the diagnosis, treatment, note of other possible contributing factors and documentation of how cure is determined. For your example, it would be notes written by a doctor or other expert (with some indication of what makes this person capable of making the diagnosis of autism) listing the results of observation and testing, a list of all treatments/therapies used, additional examination and testing by an expert to document "cure", and an indication of the range of outcomes that could reasonably be expected in the absence of any specific effect from homeopathic pills. The stories of cure on the website are insufficient. They lack documentation by someone with expertise as to the diagnosis and prognosis, they include the use of other kinds of therapies, the results all seem to be within the range of what could reasonably be expected in the absence of any specific effect from homeopathic pills, and the claims for cure are not documented by objective or expert observation and testing.

Quote:
Let me explain what I am after. For challenges like this one to work, it has to benefit both the challengers and the challengees. What benefit do you challengers get? Obviously, you get to gloat when no one meets the challenge or when challengees fail; and gloating, from what I can see on this board, has great entertainment value for you. What do the challengees get? The MDC offers a lot of money, but there is none here. So for all their effort in procuring documentation or research papers, they are likely to simply get derision for all their trouble. Not a great incentive.
You are making an unfounded assumption. You have no evidence that procuring adequate documentation or research papers will lead to derision, since that has yet to occur. You only have evidence that failure to produce adequate documentation or research papers will lead to derision.

Quote:
The only reason why someone might do all that work to put together a well documented case (because obviously existing documented cases / studies don't satisfy you) is for the hope that it might change the someone's mind and get some acknowledgement that homeopathy is not all bad.
Isn't that the whole point of science - persuading others of the validity of your ideas through the use of evidence?

Quote:
What I am trying to ascertain by my questions and by clarifying terms of the challenge is if that hope is reasonable at all. Is there anyone here impartial enough to apply the same standards of acceptance of evidence to homeopathy as they do to conventional medicine?
Why assume otherwise when all we have ever demonstrated here is the application of the same standards to homeopathy as are applied to medicine?

Quote:
I ask these questions because from what I can see so far, it appears that this board is more lenient with the flaws in conventional medicine trials than with flaws in homeopathic treatment trials.
Can you provide an example of this ever occurring?

Quote:
If the playing field is not level, and the terms for acceptance are not well defined beforehand, then there is very little realistic hope that any case of documented cure can overcome existing bias. As it is, people know that no matter what they come up with, you're just going to rip them to shreds, so why bother?
Stuff that is hopelessly inadequate (i.e. it does not approach the standards used for medicine) has been ripped to shreds. That does not tell you what would happen if you presented something that met the standards used for medicine, though.

Quote:
If there is no hope and no incentive for the challengee, you are just having fun shouting the challenge to yourselves, a sort of "ideological masturbation" if you will. If that suits you, I will leave you to your entertainment. But if anyone here is serious about skepticism, and can attach the same level of critical thinking to conventional medicine as to homeopathy, then maybe we can have further dialogue.

The world is not black and white, cure or no cure, effective or not effective. Reality happens in gradients. The women who died of breast cancer after going through lumpectomy and radiation would not say that the cure was so "incontrovertible." There is a standard by which you judge that a certain level of imperfection is acceptable. I just want to know what that standard is and if homeopathy will be granted the same level of leniency.
I am serious about skepticism. I attach the same level of critical thinking to medicine as I do to homeopathy. I grant the same level of leniency to homeopathy as I do to medicine.

Quote:
Finally, I am not a homeopath. I am not even an expert on homeopathy. I am simply a homeopathy consumer. I use homeopathy because I have observed empirically that there is a temporal correlation between using a remedy and being relieved of symptoms. The correlation is not perfect, but it "works" often enough that I am happy to give it a try first. If I can use this to summon up the placebo effect at will, why not? It is very cheap, and it has virtually no side effects. If my symptoms disappear and don't come back, what's wrong with that?
I think you will find that skeptics get involved when we are asked to waste our resources (e.g. through the NHS, publicly-funded research, regulation of homeopathic treatments, etc.), the vulnerable are taken advantage of, and when acceptance requires the "dumbing down" of the general understanding of science and critical thinking (e.g. your attempt to draw conclusions using a method known to be highly unreliable).

Quote:
But I am a skeptic and scientifically minded as well, so I can sympathize with some of the incredulousness of this board. I just want to how much of this incredulousness is entrenched in ideology and unlikely to change, and how much of it is genuinely open to new evidence.
There's only one way to find out.

Linda
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Old 28th December 2007, 09:06 AM   #310
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Originally Posted by HelenSan View Post
Rolfe:What do you mean by detailed documentation?

Would a case of autism (considered incurable by most standards) which disappeared after 2 years of using homeopathy count? I don't have detailed documentation, but the mother wrote a book dedicating one chapter to the story of her son's cure (Impossible Cure by Amy Lansky, PhD -- google her book/name and you can get her website). Her website has lots of cure anecdotes. So it remains what you want in terms of supporting documentation. Is a diagnosis necessary? Post-cure physical exam? Diary of symptoms? I am not sure what you guys are looking for.

Let me explain what I am after. For challenges like this one to work, it has to benefit both the challengers and the challengees. What benefit do you challengers get? Obviously, you get to gloat when no one meets the challenge or when challengees fail; and gloating, from what I can see on this board, has great entertainment value for you. What do the challengees get? The MDC offers a lot of money, but there is none here. So for all their effort in procuring documentation or research papers, they are likely to simply get derision for all their trouble. Not a great incentive.

The only reason why someone might do all that work to put together a well documented case (because obviously existing documented cases / studies don't satisfy you) is for the hope that it might change the someone's mind and get some acknowledgement that homeopathy is not all bad. What I am trying to ascertain by my questions and by clarifying terms of the challenge is if that hope is reasonable at all. Is there anyone here impartial enough to apply the same standards of acceptance of evidence to homeopathy as they do to conventional medicine? I ask these questions because from what I can see so far, it appears that this board is more lenient with the flaws in conventional medicine trials than with flaws in homeopathic treatment trials. If the playing field is not level, and the terms for acceptance are not well defined beforehand, then there is very little realistic hope that any case of documented cure can overcome existing bias. As it is, people know that no matter what they come up with, you're just going to rip them to shreds, so why bother?

If there is no hope and no incentive for the challengee, you are just having fun shouting the challenge to yourselves, a sort of "ideological masturbation" if you will. If that suits you, I will leave you to your entertainment. But if anyone here is serious about skepticism, and can attach the same level of critical thinking to conventional medicine as to homeopathy, then maybe we can have further dialogue.

The world is not black and white, cure or no cure, effective or not effective. Reality happens in gradients. The women who died of breast cancer after going through lumpectomy and radiation would not say that the cure was so "incontrovertible." There is a standard by which you judge that a certain level of imperfection is acceptable. I just want to know what that standard is and if homeopathy will be granted the same level of leniency.

Finally, I am not a homeopath. I am not even an expert on homeopathy. I am simply a homeopathy consumer. I use homeopathy because I have observed empirically that there is a temporal correlation between using a remedy and being relieved of symptoms. The correlation is not perfect, but it "works" often enough that I am happy to give it a try first. If I can use this to summon up the placebo effect at will, why not? It is very cheap, and it has virtually no side effects. If my symptoms disappear and don't come back, what's wrong with that?

But I am a skeptic and scientifically minded as well, so I can sympathize with some of the incredulousness of this board. I just want to how much of this incredulousness is entrenched in ideology and unlikely to change, and how much of it is genuinely open to new evidence.
I know you asked Rolfe, but I will give a go since, like you, I am not an expert. I am also not a doctor, a veterinarian, nurse, or scientist of any sort.

You are seeking confirmation of open-mindedness before going to the trouble of presenting requested evidence. On the surface, that is fair, but there are some things to consider.

First, Dana was not approached out of the blue with a demand for evidence. He is not an established practicioner who got blindsided by that demand. He came to a forum he knew to be skeptical of his claims and presented what he believes to be convincing evidence. It is analogous to a neighbor who claims the hamster in his child's room is powering the house and not the electric lines that run to the junction box. The moment he knocks on my door and tries to convince me to get a hamster to power my house, it is entirely reasonable for me to request solid evidence that his claim is correct. And it is entirely reasonable to insist that the evidence be incontrovertible even if I do nothing to prove that my own house is actually powered by the electric lines that run into it. It is especially reasonable if, as in Dana's case, all the presented evidence falls apart under scrutiny.

Second, you seem to be confusing attitude with content. There is scoffing at Dana here. There may be gloating. There may even be petty sniping. But none of that is presented as argument and none of it detracts from Dana's inability to present substantive evidence for his claims or his refusal to address specific, pointed criticisms of his purported evidence.

Third, you have demonstrated in your latest post(s) that all the evidence of which you are aware is of the type that medicine has learned to reject. You have a chapter in a book written by the mother of a patient who received homeopathic treatment. Am I correct in assuming that no medical records are presented? No case file copied? No physician's notes on all the treatment received shown? You also have your own anecdotal evidence. As has been addressed repeatedly on this forum, anecdotal evidence is simultaneously the most personally convincing evidence and the least objectively valuable. Have you read the posts on regression to the mean? On the natural cycle of illness? Have you noted in your own post that you talk only about the relief of symptoms from your homeopathic remedies while homeopaths talk about cures?

You want skeptics here to apply the same skepticism to medicine as they do to homeopathic claims, and you complain that homeopathic supporters have no incentive to post here because their claims will be ripped to shreds.

That's the point. Ripping things to shreds is the same standard as medicine. Trying and failing and rehypothesizing and all those things that eat up the millions and millions of dollars in medical research and pharmaceutical research is just that: Ripping ideas to shreds.

If you want homeopathy and medicine treated the same then you will insist that homeopaths change their standards, not physicians.


EDIT: Linda beat me to it and, as usual, said it far better.
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Old 28th December 2007, 09:13 AM   #311
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Originally Posted by HelenSan View Post
I apologize for the use of the word allopathy. I had no idea it would be offensive. I will stick to "medicine," as you suggest, from now on.
If it hasn't already, the irony of my complaints about redundancy will become obvious the longer you are here.

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Old 28th December 2007, 09:15 AM   #312
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Originally Posted by Garrette View Post
EDIT: Linda beat me to it and, as usual, said it far better.
Nope.

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Old 28th December 2007, 09:41 AM   #313
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What Linda said.

Documentation, including lab results and x-rays where appropriate, to confirm the original diagnosis. Documentation of all treatment given. Documentation, including lab results and x-rays where appropriate, to confirm that the patient no longer has the original condition. This documentation to be detailed, and produced by a professional physician, preferably more than one. And the whole to present a compelling case suggesting that it was homoeopathic treatment, and that alone, which was responsible for the documented recovery.

This is not a high hurdle to clear. It is merely the basic standard for presenting a case report to the BMJ or similar.

Heartwarming accounts written by the patient's mother don't cut it, unless they contain all the above documentation. And hey, how about some actual medicine dealing with some of the bog-standard conditions homoeopaths have been claiming to "cure" for a couple of centuries - you know, things like syphillis and so on. Interesting how often we're told about things that are essentially psychological/psychiatric, and things (like autism) that have a wide spectrum of severity with no evidence that that the patient was shown to be in the most extreme category in the beginning.

Why is this so hard?

Just any tangible, documented evidence at all that any homoeopathic remedy has ever had an unarguable effect on a person, which can't possibly be explained by coincidence or wishful thinking.

You've got the whole world to choose from, and there are some conditions (we've mentioned a few) which are very easy to document, both as regards definite diagnosis and definite evidence of cure/remission.

Why is this so hard? Why do you all have to keep scraping up poorly documented tales of potentially self-limiting conditions, and/or situations where the whole thing is quite plausibly pure wishful thinking/special pleading?

Hey, make it even easier. Just show that anyone, ever, has able to show that they can reliably differentiate between a potentised homoeopathic remedy and the unpotentised stock solvent or carrier material. Or show that you can do that. Any way you like.

Why is this so hard?

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Old 28th December 2007, 09:44 AM   #314
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Originally Posted by HelenSan View Post
{snip} Would a case of autism (considered incurable by most standards) which disappeared after 2 years of using homeopathy count? {snip}
No, although autism has no known treatment; it often resolves spontaneously. The same is true for some, small number of cases of "incurable" cancer; that is why large amounts of data are needed to support "miracle" cures.

Originally Posted by HelenSan View Post
Let me explain what I am after. For challenges like this one to work, it has to benefit both the challengers and the challengees.
I don't understand this. Gully/Ullman made a claim and it is his burden to prove it. If he cannot, his claim is worthless.

Originally Posted by HelenSan View Post
{snip} As it is, people know that no matter what they come up with, you're just going to rip them to shreds, so why bother?
If one cannot provide unshredable data, the claim remains worthless. Homeopaths have their own magazines in which to report their successes. So, there are reams of articles on the subject; but their standards are lower than those of the high-school science fairs I have judged. I cannot do a proper analysis of most high-quality clinical studies (I am a chemist); but the flaws in homeopathic "research" jump off the page.

Originally Posted by HelenSan View Post
{snip} But if anyone here is serious about skepticism, and can attach the same level of critical thinking to conventional medicine as to homeopathy, then maybe we can have further dialogue.
I welcome you to start a thread on that subject. There is much to write about. However, note that a unique quality of medicine is its constant self-criticism and refinement; whereas DIM (Demonstrably Ineffective Medicine) plods on, unimpeded by facts.

Originally Posted by HelenSan View Post
The world is not black and white, cure or no cure, effective or not effective. Reality
is what happens while you make other plans. Your New-Agey approach is fine for social concerns; but not in science, where facts trump.

You are correct that scientific medicine carries no guarantees, biology is terribly complex (one of the reasons I admire successful biologists is their daily contention with uncertainty). Your doctor says you have a 90% probability of being cured, whereas a homeopath (with no quality evidence of ever having cured anyone) says "sure, we can cure that, as long as you came to me in time to treat it ...". I prefer the former.

{snip}

Originally Posted by HelenSan View Post
{snip}

But I am a skeptic and scientifically minded as well, so I can sympathize with some of the incredulousness of this board. I just want to how much of this incredulousness is entrenched in ideology and unlikely to change, and how much of it is genuinely open to new evidence.
Evidence would make a difference.
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Old 28th December 2007, 09:54 AM   #315
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Originally Posted by Garrette View Post
Third, you have demonstrated in your latest post(s) that all the evidence of which you are aware is of the type that medicine has learned to reject.
I haven't demonstrated anything. I haven't discussed what kind of evidence I am aware of. I shared some typical anecdotal accounts and asked what more are you looking for (obviously assuming anecdotes are insufficient). I shared my own relationship to homeopathy to disclose my own background and bias. It was not offered as evidence of anything.
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Old 28th December 2007, 09:59 AM   #316
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Old 28th December 2007, 10:13 AM   #317
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Originally Posted by fls View Post
Typically what we would look for is documentation of the diagnosis, treatment, note of other possible contributing factors and documentation of how cure is determined.
Thank you for answering my questions. You have been straightforward and matter of fact without negative remarks, and I appreciate that.

Quote:
You are making an unfounded assumption. You have no evidence that procuring adequate documentation or research papers will lead to derision, since that has yet to occur. You only have evidence that failure to produce adequate documentation or research papers will lead to derision.
The line between procuring adequate documentation and failure to procure adequate documentation rests on the definition of adequate. That is what I am trying to determine.

Quote:
Why assume otherwise when all we have ever demonstrated here is the application of the same standards to homeopathy as are applied to medicine? {snip} Can you provide an example of this ever occurring?
Yes. I plan to. I am going out of town for the weekend. I'll respond in more detail next week.

Again, thank you Linda.

Last edited by HelenSan; 28th December 2007 at 10:26 AM. Reason: formatting error
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Old 28th December 2007, 11:13 AM   #318
Garrette
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Originally Posted by HelenSan View Post
I haven't demonstrated anything. I haven't discussed what kind of evidence I am aware of. I shared some typical anecdotal accounts and asked what more are you looking for (obviously assuming anecdotes are insufficient). I shared my own relationship to homeopathy to disclose my own background and bias. It was not offered as evidence of anything.
Perhaps I misunderstood, though I'll stop just shy of actually apologizing yet.

When you gave your reasons for giving homeopathy a try, the sole evidence you alluded to was anecdotal. Now you are suggesting there is more yet you will not share it unless Rolfe/fls/others define "incontrovertible." Do I have that right?

Whether or not the term can actually be defined for this purpose I will leave to the experts on this thread. Pointing out that to this non-expert you appear to hiding your own bias in a veneer of skepticism is something I will take on myself. And by "hiding" I mean rationalizing it away either consciously or subconsciously.

I know that in statistics there are ways to specifically determine significance and lots of other things about which I am poorly educated, but I do not think you can find anywhere--not in any lab, any hospital, any textbook, any association bylaws, or any legal statute--a specific gold standard that says: Remedies that achieve X are deemed efficacious; those that do not, are not.
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Old 28th December 2007, 12:25 PM   #319
Garrette
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I haven’t bought (and don’t plan to buy) Amy Lansky’s book “Impossible Cure,” but I have read her article on how homeopathy cured her son’s autism. The article was written before the book.

Some general comments first:

Lansky’s PhD is in computer science. She has no medical training. She does have homeopathic training, though, which she undertook after her son’s cure. According to her self-written biographical summary, she is prominent in homeopathy now. The book “Impossible Cure” is primarily a book about homeopathy and was written after Amy’s rise in the homeopathic field.

She is also a follower of Deepak Chopra, a believer in acupuncture as well as reiki, quantum touch, chi, and emotional healing (meaning adding emotional emphasis to medical cures for physical ailments to materially aid the healing process). If her biographical summary is anything to go by, she is an original thinker in the fields of both computer science and Artificial Intelligence, and she is also a talented rock musician and singer of chants.


Specific comments about her son, Max:

She thinks his autism was caused by a vaccine.

He was never diagnosed as having autism.

The primary problem Lansky was attempting to address was lack of talkativeness, yet her homeopath prescribed Carcinosin because of these symptoms:

-Desires milk which aggravates
-Dancing
-Very talented
-Head, hot on waking
-Hyperactivity


I suppose “like cures like” doesn’t apply to autism.

The Lansky’s had been trying other interventions—which they continued—prior to going to the homeopath. Primarily, they used a speech therapist.

They knew the homeopathic remedy was working because when they took Max to the therapist after beginning the remedy Max was able to follow two instructions at once instead of the usual one. But Lansky admits that Max had been able to follow two instructions prior to the homeopathic remedy, even if only rarely.

The dosage was not consistent throughout the one and a half year treatment period. Lansky stopped or reduced the treatment when she “felt like she wanted to” and increased or restarted the treatment when she “felt like she wanted to.”

Of course, there is no indication that she kept a strict record of any of this.

Intriguingly, Max’s greatest leap forward, according to Lansky herself, came in the four months AFTER they stopped homeopathic treatment altogether.


My last comment is beyond Max specifically. Lansky says that the homeopathic community did not expect to see such a dramatic improvement and were stunned by it. If this is so, and if the efficacy is so unquestionable, then why is there no paper on this cure of autism? Why were there no further studies? No papers? No anything at all?

Homeopathy found a cure for autism and simply let it slide from the view of the world.

I am not impressed. And my standards are no different for medicine than they are for homeopathy.
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Old 29th December 2007, 08:06 PM   #320
Chris Haynes
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Originally Posted by HelenSan View Post
Rolfe:What do you mean by detailed documentation?...
Just to add what more qualified persons have said, I will note that doctors have been disciplined for not keeping adequate records. Usually this only occurs after some grievous error has caused physical injury. If the doctor kept good records, then the medical problem can be found (sometimes a patient has not given a complete history, and may be supplementing with an herb, drug or behavior that is harmful). BUT if the doctor is sloppy, the problem lands squarely on his/her shoulders.

With a quick Google search I found a few cases of this being done:

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/articl...NG23I96GR1.DTL --- "
In 2004, the board put Ting on probation, this time after he was accused of prescribing drugs to friends and keeping inadequate records. Ting acknowledged he was "negligent in his supervision of subordinates" but denied wrongdoing on the other issues. "

http://jhppl.dukejournals.org/cgi/co...2/5/867?ck=nck (okay, I could not get a link to this, but this is what Google told me " patient, inadequate record keeping, not recognizing or acting on com")

http://sanantonio.injuryboard.com/me...in-history.php which has "Additionally, he failed to maintain an adequate medical record on a patient in 1999. ...failed to meet the standard of care in treating a patient because of inadequate documentation of her symptoms, the rationale for stopping certain medications and her mental status on discharge. ..."

Anyway, you must know that records are important. They need to be verified, and often distributed to other medical professionals, and sometimes educational professionals. The first report we got from our son's child neurologist was over ten pages long, and the twice yearly reports we get from his cardiologist are at least two pages long. The book on autism being cured with homeopathy is worthless unless those records are included.

edit to add: Compare that to Lansky's kid as described here
Originally Posted by Garrette View Post
...
He was never diagnosed as having autism.

...
Ummm... yeah. My kid had a severe speech disability which may or may not have been due to a history of neonatal seizures. Records? The double digit report from the child neurologist is just one of many many bits of paper on that kid. There is the neurologist when he was an infant, another when he had seizures during a gastrointestinal infection (possibly a now vaccine preventable rotavirus), and then reams of reports from special ed. teachers and several speech therapists. The fact that Lansky's kid had no real diagnosis speaks more volumes than the huge file of reports on my 19 year old kid.

Anyway, Mojo and I are pushing Ullman around on the Quackometer blog:
http://www.quackometer.net/blog/2007...00354406217777 . He wants me to lighten up, but only counters with more famous people who use homeopathy (excuse me, but as a mom to three children, one with several medical issues, I am very upset that a nine-month old baby died in extreme pain from eczema!).

With this comment of his "The irony is that you think about me as being irrational. Chutzpah to the max." he is calling me irrational. Yeah, I get that way when babies die painfully of something that could be kept under control. Or even prevented with antibiotics (the infection, not the eczema, while two of my kids had eczema, they never needed to see a dermatologist like the one Gloria Thomas was referred to).

He has still not answered any of our more basic questions.
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Last edited by Chris Haynes; 29th December 2007 at 08:14 PM. Reason: Adding stuff from Garrette's post, plus grammar ... er, yeah
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