Bravo, Bravo Mr. Cohen. Sticking it to the homeopaths.

One tiny niggle: the placebo effect is real and when there\’s no other available treatment, why not use it?

But as to the use against malaria, or AIDS, thi is absolutely correct:

This is murder. It\’s really that simple.

5 thoughts on “Homeopathy”

  1. When it comes to murder and malaria, it may be time for all those self-important defenders of allopathic medicine to have a tiny look at the fact that domestic DDT spraying is being effectively banned across large parts of Africa by threats of not buying their goods. Never mind homeopathy. As for placebo effects, how much allopathic medicine is little more than placebo and how much of it has absolutely horrendous side-effects, that doctors don’t always remember to tell the patient till afterwards.

    Not taking sides, you understand, just evening up the argument a bit.

  2. “how much of it has absolutely horrendous side-effects, that doctors don’t always remember to tell the patient till afterwards.”

    Errr, the side-effects of conventional drugs are known and listed. This is because there has been rigorous screening procedures performed on the drugs. It’s also a testament to the power of the chemicals used in allopathic medicine. The purported absence of side-effects in alternative medicine stems from both the frequently inert concoctions used and the unwillingness to run independent tests.

    Your criticism of doctors may be founded or not. That is, however, a criticism as to the practices of medical staff, not the principle of evidentially-based medicine.

    “As for placebo effects, how much allopathic medicine is little more than placebo”

    Pretty much all of it. The aforementioned testing involves comparisons between placebo groups and those taking the drug. A difference in outcomes is needed to proceed further.

    Tim said, “the placebo effect is real and when there’s no other available treatment, why not use it?”

    Actually, there is recent evidence suggesting that the placebo effect does not apply to clinical outcomes, only to the patient’s judgement of their health. In other words, you think and perhaps feel better, but you may not be. This is the danger with the placebo effect and why relying upon it, as is de rigueur for alternative medicine, can prove so hazardous.

    “Not taking sides, you understand, just evening up the argument a bit.”

    There isn’t an even argument to be had. Therapies that work should be used, whether they include the laying of hands, poking with needles, or ingesting laboratory-made chemicals. Therapies that don’t, should not be used. The proponents of alternative medicine are frequently guilty of the latter and thus their exploitation of the sick and vulnerable makes them worthy of contempt, not equal status.

  3. Philip:

    Yours is a very concise, impregnable, and straightforward summary. I might even add a bit of unproven but reasonable supposition to your explanation of the placebo effect (as a facet of the patient’s judgment–a subjective matter).

    If there’s a oonnection between the state of one’s health and one’s judgment of it, the use of (scientifically) effective treatment may very well provide a “super-placebo” effect as feeling of getting better due to the effect of the treatment being augmented to some degree by the actually better feeling due to the treatment.

    Many years ago, I met a doctor (an M.D.) who routinely sent some patients (those whom he judged not to be actually ill) to several “quacks,” including a “witch.” He said he had a long-standing agreement with them: he wouldn’t make any trouble for them as long as they didn’t try to “treat” anyone who was injured or ill (in a medical sense). With that guy, it wasn’t ethics of any kind–strictly a trade-unionist sort of thing.

  4. Helen:

    Your facts are not in dispute. But I believe the causality runs somewhat otherwise.

    The rise in malaria (and probably some other insect-borne scourges) can, in all likelihood, be laid to decrease in DDT spraying; that decrease, in turn, is likely the result of political pressure related to spraying perceived as environmental threat.

    Your piece suggests such pressure is related to allopaths; I believe you’re mistaken, whether or not some allopaths were associated with political groups supporting cessation of spraying. I haven’t the foggiest just when they started the campaign to vilify (and not buy from) African farmers in places that sprayed but it seems to me that pressure to stop (or reduce) spraying in the U.S. began in the ’60s or early ’70s (as was the entire movement) by Carson’s books “The Sea Around Us” and “Silent Spring” (both appearing in the late ’50s, to my recollection). Spraying was reduced in the 70s and stories of reappearance of endangered species (esp. raptors) began to appear in the news; waterways once almost devoid of life once again became productive fisheries (PCBs, etc., here, rather than–or in addition to–DDT).

    My guess would be that the environmentalists are not the only source of the pressure against the African farmers–that there are probably those whose financial interests are threatened by those growing under more advantageous conditions (and who thus want to burden their potential competitors).

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