Tag Archives: homeopathy

Critical thinking is one for the history books

A critical analysis of archeology leads to rejection of astrology, conspiracies, etc.

By via Ars Technica

The world as a whole has become increasingly reliant on science to provide its technology and inform its policy. But rampant conspiracy theories, fake news, and pseudoscience like homeopathy show that the world could use a bit more of the organized skepticism that provides the foundation of science. For that reason, it has often been suggested that an expanded science education program would help cut down on the acceptance of nonsense.

But a study done with undergrads at North Carolina State University suggests that a class on scientific research methods doesn’t do much good. Instead, a class dedicated to critical analysis of nonsense in archeology was far more effective at getting students to reject a variety of pseudoscience and conspiracy theories. And it worked even better when the students got their own debunking project.

The study, done by Anne Collins McLaughlin and Alicia McGill, lumps together things like belief in astrology, conspiracy theories, and ancient aliens, calling them “epistemically unwarranted.” Surveys show they’re widely popular; nearly half the US population thinks astrology is either somewhat or very scientific, and the number has gone up over time.

You might think that education, especially in the sciences, could help reverse this trend, but McLaughlin and McGill have some depressing news for you. Rejection of epistemically unwarranted ideas doesn’t correlate with scientific knowledge, and college students tend to have as much trouble coming to grips with reality as anyone else.

Continue Reading @ Ars Technica – – –

Myles Reviews: Homeopathic Toothpaste?

The US government is finally telling people that homeopathy is a sham

julia-belluzby Julia Belluz | via Vox

Homeopathy is one of the most enduring forms of snake oil available to consumers; it has been duping people since 1814. But the United States government only recently decided to clamp down on these bogus treatments, with a new policy from the Federal Trade Commission.

homeopathyThe FTC’s policy statement explains that the agency will now ask that the makers of homeopathic drugs present reliable scientific evidence for their health claims if they want to sell them to consumers on the US market.

Mustering that evidence is likely to be difficult given that homeopathy is a pseudoscience.

The main idea behind homeopathy is that an animal or plant extract that causes symptoms similar to the ones a person is suffering from can cure the symptoms. An example: Because onions make eyes tear and noses run, diluted onion extract is thought to cure cold and hay fever. So homeopathic remedies on the market are just extremely diluted versions of plant or animal extracts believed to bring relief to symptoms.

The trouble is that whenever researchers have looked at the homeopathic treatments, they find they do not actually contain traceable amounts of the original plant or animal material they were supposedly diluting.

Continue Reading @ Vox – – –

inFact: Homeopathy

Many people believe homeopathy is a natural, herbal supplement like any other. But is it?

Via inFact -YouTube

Click here for more information including full transcript and References.

Does Homeopathy Work?

Homeopathic medicine: What’s the potential harm?

By Emiliano Tatar, MD via philly.com

homeopathyWhat if I told you homeopathy is completely useless? I wouldn’t blame you for being skeptical or feeling that such a statement is arrogant especially when made by an MD. Homeopathy is a multi-billion dollar business and is widely available.

Unfortunately, it is essentially nothing more than distilled water and its use as a replacement for conventional medicine can, in some cases, be dangerous and even fatal. Last March, Hope Delozier, an 18-month-old Pennsylvania resident developed an ear infection. Her parents, who avoid conventional medical practices, tried to treat her with Homeopathic remedies. Hope soon died after the infection spread to her brain. Most tragically, this was completely preventable with inexpensive antibiotics.

The practice of homeopathy has been around since the early 19th century (invented by Samuel Hahnneman). It relies on several basic tenets. The two most important ones are “like cures like” and “potentiation.” Like-cures-like is the idea that, for example, if I eat plant X and it makes me feel warmth, then the plant has a substance that can cure a fever. Potentiation is the idea that the more dilute a substance is the more powerful it becomes medically. There is no other place in modern science where these principles are accepted except for in homeopathy. There is no reason to believe that “like cures like” and the idea of ultra-dilution making something more powerful flies completely against the laws of physics and chemistry.

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Are We Seeing the End of Homeopathy?

steven_novellaBy via NeuroLogica Blog

Several years ago, during a lecture on Science-Based Medicine, I noted that if there were one medical pseudoscience that was vulnerable to extinction it was homeopathy. Homeopathy is perhaps the most obviously absurd medical pseudoscience. It is also widely studied, and has been clearly shown to not work. Further, there is a huge gap in the public understanding of what homeopathy is; it therefore seems plausible that the popularity of homeopathy can take a huge hit just by telling the public what it actually is.

homeopathy-in-the-NHS-number-of-prescription-items
Further, homeopathy is in a precarious regulatory position. Homeopathic products are presented and regulated as drugs, but clearly they are not, and they are also not supplements, herbal drugs, nutrition-based, or natural products. They are simply fraudulent drugs riding a wave of ignorance.

In the last few years homeopathy has had a rough time. While the industry is still growing, there are signs of clear trouble on the horizon. Let’s review:

Some Background

homeopathy 803_250pxHomeopathy is a 200 year old pre-scientific system of medicine based upon magical thinking. It is mostly based on two notions, the first of which is that like cures like. In other words, a substance that causes a symptom can cure that symptom in extremely low doses. There is no scientific basis for this, despite the desperate attempts by homeopaths to invoke vaccine-like analogies, or their new favorite, hormesis.

The second notion is that you make a remedy more powerful by diluting it to extreme degrees. People have fun making comparisons, such as the need to drink a solar-system’s worth of water to have a 50% chance of getting a single molecule of active ingredient. No problem, say the homeopaths, homeopathic potions contain the magical “essence” of what was previously diluted in them. It’s turtles all the way down.

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Sting Shows Supplement Regulation Worthless

steven_novellaby via NeuroLogica Blog

It seems that the regulation of supplements, homeopathy, and “natural” products in Canada is as bad as the US. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC, the equivalent of NPR and PBS in the US) recently conducted a demonstration of just how worthless and deceptive the regulations are.

snake-oil_275pxThey created a fake treatment called “Nighton” which they claimed treated fever, pain, and inflammation in children and infants. They then applied to the government for a Natural Product License. On the application they checked all the appropriate boxes and submitted as evidence copied pages from a 1902 homeopathic reference book. That was it. Five months later their fictitious product was approved as “safe and effective.”

What this means is that when the Canadian government approves a natural product as safe and effective, it is completely meaningless. It is essentially a license to lie to the public about a health product.

It is reasonable to assume that many if not most of the public, if they see a product on the pharmacy shelf with the label, “licensed as safe and effective for fever, pain, and inflammation,” with an official government issued product number, that some sort of testing and quality assurance was involved.

warning-homeopathy-not-medicineThe situation is identical in the US. Companies can market homeopathy products or supplements without providing any evidence that the product is safe, and can even make health claims (as long as they don’t mention a specific disease by name) again without the need to provide any evidence. In essence, in the US or Canada a company can put anything in a pill or bottle (as long as it doesn’t contain an actual drug), then without any testing market their random assortment of vitamins, herbs, or just water (in the case of homeopathy) with specific health claims. Pharmacies are happy to sell these fake products side-by-side with real medicines.

This is nothing short of a scandal.

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The results are in – homeopathy is water

By The Original Skeptical Raptor via Skeptical Raptor

homeopathy 803_250pxI intensely dislike all forms of medical quackery. Of course, my passionate, full-throated, defense of the scientific consensus on the safety and effectiveness of vaccines is fairly obvious. There are literally mountains of evidence that support my skepticism of the antivaccine beliefs.

But there’s more junk medicine out there than the pseudoscience pushers running around the vaccine world. One of my favorite ones is homeopathy. It is a scam that tries to convince people that a vial of nothing more than water (and sometimes ethanol) has some magical medical properties. And it’s expensive water, much more expensive than some bottled water that claims it’s bottled at the source of some glacier in the Alps.

What is homeopathy?

But let’s back up a bit, and explain the “science” of homeopathy, because a lot of people, mostly Americans, conflate homeopathy with natural medicine, like herbal medicine. It isn’t. Basically, homeopathy, known as the “law of similars”, relies on belief that “let like be cured by like”, and is a term coined by Samuel Hahnemann, a German physician who was appalled by the state of medicine at the time, the late 1700’s. warning-homeopathy-not-medicineAnd frankly, the state of medicine at that time was pretty bad, so any new idea might have been worthy of trying. However, when Hanneman was alive, basic scientific knowledge was missing. Cell theory and germ theory were a few decades from even a basic understanding.

Homeopathic potions are prepared by serially diluting the original substance (could be anything from diseased tissue to arsenic to snake venom plus mercury) with shaking and forceful striking on an elastic body, which they term succussion. Each dilution followed by succussion is assumed to increase the effectiveness. Homeopaths call this process potentization. So far, it’s just merely diluting and shaking, so nothing much there. But the level of dilution is such that there is only a tiny possibility of any molecule of the original substance showing up in solution.

The dilution is precisely described by Hahnemann. The first dilution is one part to 99 parts water. Then, one part of that first dilution is then diluted in another 99 parts water. Each of these dilutions is called 1C, so two dilutions would be called 2C, with one part of the original similar diluted in approximately 10,000 parts water.

homeopathic_dilutions
But it doesn’t stop there. Homeopathy uses >30C dilutions, which means that the final dilution is simply water with an almost 0% probability of including even 1 molecule of the original similar.

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This may sting a little…

Gordon Bonnetby Gordon Bonnet via Skeptophilia

At what point do homeopaths and other purveyors of woo non-medicine cross the line into committing a prosecutable act of medical fraud?

I ask the question because of a recent exposé by Marketplace, a production of the Canadian Broadcasting Company, called Vaccines: Shot of Confusion.  In this clever sting operation, mothers were fitted with videocameras on visits with their children to homeopaths.  The videocameras recorded, predictably, the moms being given lots of advice about the (mostly fabricated) dangers of vaccination, and how little pills with no active ingredients were a better choice.

Diphtheria_vaccination_poster_300pxOne mother was even told that “measles is virtually harmless for children over the age of one.”  This would have come as a shock to my grandfather’s two sisters, Marie Emelie and Anne, who died of measles in 1902, five days apart, at the ages of 22 and 17, respectively.

Not to mention the one million children who die annually from the disease, and the 15,000 a year who are left permanently blind from its effects.

The homeopaths in the video call today’s children “the sickly generation.”  And admittedly, there are some medical conditions that have increased in incidence in modern times (asthma, allergies, and autism come to mind).  However, it has been thoroughly demonstrated that none of the diseases which have increased are caused by vaccines (nor, by the way, are they treatable using sugar pills).  Further, given that there used to be epidemics of diphtheria, typhoid, measles, mumps, and other infectious diseases that killed thousands of children, you can only claim that this generation is “sickly” if you ignore historical fact.

Know of anyone in the last fifty years who has died of diphtheria?  Nope, me neither.

It seems to me that we have crossed some kind of threshold, here.

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Healing the ocean with syphilis

Water-drop-ocean_600px

Gordon Bonnetby Gordon Bonnet via Skeptophilia

I think the homeopaths have reached some kind of Derp-vana this week with the announcement by British practitioner Grace DaSilva-Hill that we need to administer homeopathic preparations…To_understand_ocean_circulation_250px
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to the ocean.

I’m not making this up.  In a story broken by Andy Lewis on Quackometer, we find out that DaSilva-Hill is lamenting the state of the world’s oceans, a sentiment with which I have to agree.  But what she proposes to do about it is to treat it with homeopathic “remedies:”

Thanks in advance to all of you who have already agreed to participate in this initiative of sending a homeopathic remedy to heal the oceans.
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The remedy that has been selected is Leuticum (Syph) in the CM potency.
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Just mix one or two drops in some water and offer it to the ocean wherever you happen to be, on 21 November, with pure love and intention…  If you live close to a river that can be done, too, or even just send the remedy down the toilet wherever you happen to be.

Well, I can’t argue with the value of flushing homeopathic “remedies” down the toilet.  In my opinion, that should be done right at the factory where they’re manufactured.

And what is “Leuticum,” you may be wondering?  According to a homeopathy website, Leuticum is a “nosode” — a “remedy” made from diluted bodily discharges.  And if you’re not sufficiently disgusted yet, the bodily discharge involved in Leuticum is infected material from someone with syphilis.

Oh, but wait!  Leuticum is good stuff!  According to the site . . .

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6 Fake Ebola Cures Being Peddled Online

snake oil elixir
By Matt Novak via gizmodo

Throughout history, hucksters have emerged to sell bullshit “cures” for diseases to fearful people. Today these frauds make their home on the internet. And they’re selling bullshit cures for Ebola. There is no known cure— or vaccine— for Ebola, but that’s not stopping shameless profiteers from exploiting the panic over this deadly virus.

Below, six “cures” and “treatments” for Ebola that you might see tumbling through the internet. Please, don’t waste your time or money on any of them.

1 • Nano Silver

Rima E Laibow

Image: Screenshot of Rima E. Laibow via YouTube

“Nano Silver is the world’s only hope against Ebola and the other antibiotics/anti-viral resistant pathogens,” claims the Natural Solutions Foundation. The company is run by a woman named Rima E. Laibow, a trained psychiatrist who doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Which is why the FDA has told her to cut it out.

“It is said that there is no treatment against Ebola, and that is not true,” Laibow claims in a YouTube video — wearing a stethoscope and white lab coat, no less. “In fact, there is a well known, well characterized nutrient that is Nano Silver.”

The FDA has taken special aim at companies selling Nano Silver as a cure for Ebola. Some conspiracy theorists contend that the government crackdown on people promoting Nano Silver is because it works and “they” don’t want you to have the “real cure.”

“Nano Silver leaves the beneficial bacteria and the healthy cells of the patient unaffected but it does kill every pathogen against which it has been tested worldwide without exception,” Laibow explains without a single shred of evidence to back up her claims.

“Now, why hasn’t Nano Silver been brought forward already as a treatment against Ebola? There are many reasons. The fact is, it is available now,” she insists.

Good explanation. And available now, indeed! Available at your website!


2 • Sulphuricum acidum (and other homeopathic garbage)

Image: Homeopathic remedies at a pharmacy in London via Getty

Image: Homeopathic remedies at a pharmacy in London via Getty

A homeopathic “doctor” named Givon Kirkind is claiming that the best treatments for Ebola are sulphuricum acidum, crotus horridus, and crotalus cascavella. Which all have fancy scientific sounding names. But they won’t do shit for someone who actually has Ebola.

Why’s that, might you ask? Because homeopathy is bullshit. 100 percent complete and utter bullshit. The jury is not out on this one. Homeopathy is a $3 billion industry in the United States alone, but it’s completely ineffective and often dangerous.

Of course, Kirkind gets the disclaimers out of the way:

This article analyzes ebola from a homeopathic perspective and suggests possible courses of homeopathic treatment. Due to the seriousness of the disease, the treatments discussed would require an expert homeopath.

But since an “expert homeopath” is kind of like being an “expert unicorn psychologist” it’s probably best to just ignore his prescribed experiments altogether.

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Why reiki masters can’t lose

by Orac via Respectful Insolence

reiki 1225Regular readers of my not-so-super-secret other blog, where I write under my own name, know that last month Steve Novella and I published a rather nice (if I do say so myself) opinion piece in a peer-reviewed journal about what we called “clinical trials of magic.” In it, we argued that certain alternative medicine modalities are so incredibly implausible from a purely basic science viewpoint, on physics and chemistry considerations alone, that it is a waste of time and resources, not to mention unethical, to do clinical trials testing them. Two of the main examples we used were homeopathy (of course!) and reiki.

Reiki, as you recall, is a form of “energy healing” that I’ve discussed many times before. Its basic precept is that reiki healers, known as reiki masters, can, through a series of hand gestures that might or might not involve touching the patient and often involve symbols drawn in the air over the patient, tap into what they call the “universal source” and channel energy into the person being treated to heal them. You can probably see why I generally refer to reiki as faith healing that substitutes Eastern mystical beliefs for Christian beliefs. If you can’t see why, then simply substitute the word “God” or “Jesus” for the term “universal source,” and my meaning becomes obvious. Of course, reiki can get even more bizarre, particularly when it’s used in distant healing, which can only be likened (to me, at least) to intercessory prayer or when reiki masters claim to be able to send reiki energy into the past or the future. Yes, it does get even woo-ier than claiming to be able to channel healing energy.

reiki cat 139_300pxReiki is, without a doubt, far more a mystical belief system akin to religion than it is anything having to do with medicine. That much is obvious. That’s why I couldn’t resist a bit of amusement when I somehow (don’t ask how!) came across an article by someone named Tammy Hatherill, who runs Tammy’s Tarot and Healing entitled When Your Reiki Client Doesn’t Feel the ‘Energy’.

Wow. So reiki doesn’t always work? Who knew? Well, not exactly. Remember, reiki is a mystical magical belief system. Like a religion, it always works, and if it doesn’t it isn’t because the reiki has failed. You’ll see what I mean in a minute. First, savor the frustration of reiki masters who can’t get their clients to “feel it”:

It doesn’t happen to me very often, but on occasion it does. A client will say, “I don’t feel any different.” Or they may say, “In all honesty I didn’t feel the energy at all”.

What!!! How could the client not feel the wonderful and glorious energy that I felt and sensed whilst giving the treatment? How could they not ‘feel’ any different!!!

Please don’t despair, as the Reiki energy will still be working its magic and will still support the client on all the different levels (emotional/psychological/physical and spiritually.) Just because the client didn’t ‘feel’ anything doesn’t mean the Reiki wasn’t working.

reiki-cat 1104_250pxSee what I mean? If the patient doesn’t feel any different after the mystical magical glory that is reiki, it doesn’t mean anything at all. The reiki’s still working. How do you know? Well, you don’t. But if you’re a reiki master you do have a patter ready for your client before and after. Before, you basically tell the client that they will feel “something.” That something could range from tingles, colors, heat, cool, floating, heaviness, sleepiness, or peacefulness, to nothing at all. Convenient, isn’t it? I wonder what it would be like to be able to tell my patients that virtually any sensations they feel mean that the treatment worked—even if they feel nothing at all! Talk about a “can’t lose” setup. You really have to tip your hat to whoever thought of this scam.

Then, of course, there’s the after treatment patter for the mark client  .  .  .

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Drinkable Sunscreen Snakeoil

steven_novellaBy Steven Novella via Science-Based Medicine

In May, prompted by an uncritical article in the Daily Mail, the internet was buzzing about a company that was offering drinkable sunscreen. This is one of those game-changer health products that immediately garners a great deal of attention.

At first the claim seems extraordinary, but it is not impossible. It is theoretically possible to drink a substance that becomes deposited in the skin and absorbs or reflects UV radiation providing protection. Sunscreen_250pxHowever, upon reading the details it becomes immediately apparent that the product in question is pure snake oil.

The product is Harmonized Water by Osmosis Skin Care. In fact, UV protection is just one claim among many for the harmonized water line of products. The website claims:

  • Remarkable technology that imprints frequencies (as standing waves) onto water molecules.
  • Advances in the ability to “stack” thousands of frequencies onto one molecule.
  • Revolutionary formula allows us to reverse engineer the frequencies of substances found in nature and/or the human body.
  • Newly identified frequencies that have beneficial effects on the body.

The website does include the “quack Miranda warning:”

Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

The product list also includes this further disclaimer: “Recommended for (but not meant to replace effective medications):”

And is then followed by a long list of harmonized water products with the conditions they are “recommended for,” including arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, eczema, asthma, depression, and many others.

SnakeOil_200pxDespite the aggressive disclaimers, I do believe that mentioning specific diseases by name violates FDA regulations. I did file a complaint with the FDA but never heard back.

This is a common snake-oil scam – selling “magic” water for one thing or another. The basic idea is that you can give special properties to ordinary water, and that somehow the water will retain these properties. Homeopathy, of course, is the grandfather of all such water woo. Ionized water, imprinted water, and energized water are all variations on this common theme.

The harmonized water is also playing off another common snake oil theme  .  .  .

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How can homeopathy help to stop the Ebola outbreak?

Via Skeptical Raptor

In case you’re assuming that it can, it really can’t.

homeopathySince any reasonable person would understand that homeopathy violates some of the basic principles of physics, chemistry and biology. And because there is no viable mechanism that would make you think homeopathy actually could work, clinical trials show that it doesn’t work, or, at best, it is a mythical placebo. So, if it doesn’t work in clinical trials, and there is no possible mechanism underlying it, employing Occam’s Razor, we would have to say the simplest explanation is the best: Homeopathy does not work. It’s a lie. It’s a scam. Period. End of story.

The current outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa has been making significant headlines lately. The virus is deadly, with a mortality rate well over 90%, easily transmitted by any bodily fluid, and there is no known cure. The course of the disease is horrifying, starting with symptoms similar to a bad flu, but eventually leading to blood clotting problems, failing organs like the kidney and liver, then finally death. The disease is not selective about whom it attacks, young or old, healthy or not.

Early treatment may increase the survival chance, since there is no known cure. Treatment focuses on replenishing fluids, maintaining proper blood pressure, replacing lost blood, and treating related infections.

Ebola Virus Disease 838_225pxAnd there is no vaccine to prevent the virus from infecting individuals. This isn’t a massive conspiracy to prevent a new vaccine from coming to the market. Developing the vaccine has been incredibly difficult because traditional vaccine development strategies, such as inactivation, have not been successful. In fact, several vaccines have shown to be successful in preventing Ebola infection in animals and non-human primates, but as I’ve said many times, success in animals only rarely translates to success in humans. Those vaccines that have shown promise are now undergoing substantial clinical trials, but human clinical trials for vaccines are complex and take time. In fact, there might Ebola vaccines available in the next few months.

Of course, the lack of a cure or prevention for Ebola means the anti-science quack pushers are out in force. And that means homeopaths.

One of these deranged homeopaths even suggested a treatment:

SnakeOil_150pxDr. Gail Derin studied the symptoms of Ebola Zaire, the most deadly of the three that can infect human beings. Dr. Vickie Menear, M.D. and homeopath, found that the remedy that most closely fit the symptoms of the 1914 “flu” virus, Crolatus horridus, also fits the Ebola virus nearly 95% symptom-wise! Thanks go to these doctors for coming up with the following remedies:
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1. Crolatus horridus (rattlesnake venom) 2. Bothrops (yellow viper) 3. Lachesis (bushmaster snake) 4. Phosphorus 5. Mercurius Corrosivus

Yes, three snake venoms. Ebola is dangerous, but I’m not sure getting venom from snakes is a risk I’m willing to take, even if all of this pseudoscience actually worked. Oh, and the irony of “Mercurius Corrosivus”, which is nothing more than mercuric chloride. Yes, mercury. My irony meter just blew up.

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Kevin Trudeau’s $18,000 Weight Loss Plan: A Book Review

Carrie PoppyBy Carrie Poppy via The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry – CSI

When Kevin Trudeau was sentenced to ten years in prison recently, a lot of people scratched their heads. Sure, he had peddled and promoted a lot of nonsense in his day, from celebrating “natural cures” like homeopathy and “energetic rebalancing,” to recommending that his readers stop taking their prescription medicines. He had even tacitly encouraged parents not to vaccinate their children: “Vaccines are some of the most toxic things you can put in your body,” he said. [1] But this is America, where we don’t just send people to jail for saying things in books and on infomercials … do we?

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TV infomercial pitchman Kevin Trudeau was sentenced to 10 years in prison for bilking consumers through his infomercials for his weight-loss book. (nydailynews.com)

But it wasn’t selling snake oil that put Kevin in the slammer. In fact, it wasn’t even the “natural cures” books for which he became so famous. It was his relatively forgotten book, The Weight Loss Cure “They” Don’t Want You to Know About.

In his infomercials, Trudeau had called his weight loss plan “easy” and said that those who followed the plan could “eat whatever they want.” A judge found that he had “…misrepresented the contents of his book [and] … misled thousands of consumers.”[2] The courts were especially sick of him because they had dealt with him a number of times[3] and had previously barred him from making outrageous claims about products in infomercials (at the time, he was selling a calcium product and saying it cured cancer).[4] Trudeau had carved out an exemption for his books, only to exploit it. He was charged $37 million in refunds to his readers, which he refused to pay, saying he was flat broke. The court knew he wasn’t because he kept buying things like $180 haircuts. This time, when he went back to court, the judge threw the book at him.

When I stopped by Trudeau’s Ojai, California, home to visit his estate sale for Skeptical Inquirer, I found about thirty copies of that very book in his den. I went home with one copy for $3. I wanted to see what fantastic weight loss secret was so good that Trudeau was willing to risk his livelihood. And here’s what I found out.

It’s Not “Easy” Unless You’re a Masochist

“The most common myth is that to lose weight, and keep it off, you must eat less and exercise more.” —Kevin Trudeau[5]

poppy-trudeau-weight-book_200pxTrudeau’s weight loss plan is long, grueling, and so confusing it might as well be a Dante poem. You, the dieter, will be doing the treatment for approximately ninety-six days, then following a maintenance routine. The plan itself is divided into four stages. But even these stages are not clear: part four contains elements of the diet plan itself as well as the maintenance program; at times he contradicts himself by saying you should have only one massage a week, then later saying that you should get three; at one point, he says you must always eat six meals a day, then later he recommends six meals a day “plus breakfast.” Not only is the diet not simple but the reading isn’t either. A graphing calculator may be recommended.

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Homeopathy is bunk, study says

By via World news | theguardian.com

homeopathy 803_250pxHomeopathy is no more effective than a placebo, according to an extensive study by a peak science body.

The draft paper by Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) assessed research into the effectiveness of the alternative medicine on 68 health conditions and concluded “there is no reliable evidence that homeopathy is effective”.

Homeopathy claims to “let likes cure like,” by using highly diluted forms of the ailment it is treating. The Australian Homeopathic Association states the practice treats patients as a “whole person, taking into account personality, lifestyle and hereditary factors as well as the history of the disease.”

But the NHMRC review, conducted by a working committee of medical experts, said it had no impact on a range of conditions and illnesses including asthma, arthritis, sleep disturbances, cold and flu, chronic fatigue syndrome, eczema, cholera, burns, malaria and heroin addiction.

For the 68 conditions – including those listed – the review either concluded definitively that homeopathy was not more effective than a placebo, or at the very least there was no reliable evidence to suggest it was.

Placebo Side Effects

“No good-quality, well-designed studies with enough participants for a meaningful result reported either that homeopathy caused greater health improvements than a substance with no effect on the health condition (placebo), or that homeopathy caused health improvements equal to those of another treatment,” read the report’s summary.

Doctors welcomed the findings.

Professor John Dwyer, an immunologist and Emeritus Professor of Medicine at the University of New South Wales, told Guardian Australia that the report was long overdue.

“Obviously we understand the placebo effect. We know that many people have illnesses that are short lived by its very nature and their bodies will cure them, so it’s very easy for people to fall in the trap that because they did ‘A’, ‘B’ follows,” he said.

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10 reasons why AIDS Denialists and the Anti-Vaccination Movement are a lot alike

By via The Soap Box

AIDS Denialism and the Anti-vaccination movement. Two groups that promote what many scientists and and doctors and skeptics alike consider to be the two most dangerous and deadly types of pseudoscience there is. In fact many skeptics have debated which one is more deadly!

Regardless of which one is more deadly, both of groups have an awful lot in common, and I’ve come up with about ten different things that both groups have in common:

They become very upset when someone questions their claims.

HandletheTruth_225pxAnti-vaxxers and (as I have learned in the past few weeks) AIDS denialists really do not like it when someone questions what they are claiming. It doesn’t matter how nice you are to them, or how many facts you present to them, if you question their claims they will become very anger and start throwing around accusations and insults and start spamming people with a bunch of propaganda. This is of course annoying at best, and usually just something that gets them blocked on an internet site, but sometimes they take it to the next level and start doing the next thing on this list…

They use intimidation tactics.

AIDS Denialists and Anti-vaccers just seem to love to use intimidation tactics. Many times these intimidation tactics can be a benign type, like fear mongering and emotional appeal, which is used to sway people who might be on the edge of whether to believe them or not over to their side, or it can be an aggressive type, like death threats, or threats of lawsuits, or harassment, which is used in an attempt to frighten people away from questioning their claims, or to stop skeptics from debunking them.

They claim to do research.

Dr Evil research copy_225pxBoth AIDS Denialists and Anti-vaccers will often say that they have done their own research into the claims that they are making, and then through this so called research they will claim that they have come to a conclusion, and then proclaim that their conclusion is correct and that all others are incorrect. This is of course if they’re not simply claiming that the contradictory information isn’t apart of some “big pharma” disinformation propaganda campaign to “slander” Anti-vaccers and AIDS Denialists. And that’s another thing…

They think there is some kind of big pharma conspiracy.

Many Anti-vaccers and AIDS Denialists sincerely believe that not only what they believe is true, but they also believe that pharmaceutical companies also know “the truth” and that they’re keeping this so called truth hidden from the public so that people will keep buying their products, products that Anti-vaccers and AIDS Denialists believe that no one actually needs and sincerely believes is dangerous.

The reasons why these two groups claim that the pharmaceutical companies are keeping this so called “information” hidden is because if people knew “the truth” (i.e. their truth) that they would no longer buy anything from these pharmaceutical companies and they would go out of business. That, or according to some Anti-vaccers and AIDS Denialists, vaccines and HIV medication is part some kind of NWO/Illuminati plot.

They have no problem censoring people.

censorship 1018_500px_250pxEver make a comment on an Anti-vaccer’s or AIDS Denialist’s page or comment section for a Youtube video, and said comment either criticizes what they are saying, or debunks what they’re saying? Well then you probably know that not many people are going to see it because most administrators of such sites will usually remove such comments pretty quickly… and probably ban you. While this type of censorship is bad they do have every right to do it because they have every right to control the content that is on their webpages.

Some of these people will take the censorship of people who disagree with them to the next level and actually try to get entire webpages and videos from various social media websites removed, either by flagging a webpage or a group or a video as inappropriate or harassing, or even by sending out bogus DMCA takedown notices (which is illegal).

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Homeopathic Products Recalled for Containing Actual Drugs

Story H/T: @ Skeptic Wars


steven_novellaBy via NeuroLogica Blog

Homeopathy is bunk. It is 100% pure unadulterated pseudoscience. That is – unless it is adulterated with actual working medicine.

The FDA recently put out a safety alert warning the public that certain homeopathic products may contain measurable amount of penicillin, enough to cause an allergic reaction in those who are sensitive:

pleo-fortTerra-Medica, Inc. is voluntarily recalling 56 lots of Pleo-FORT, Pleo-QUENT, Pleo-NOT, Pleo-STOLO, Pleo-NOTA-QUENT, and Pleo-EX homeopathic drug products in liquid, tablet, capsule, ointment, and suppository forms to the consumer level. FDA has determined that these products have the potential to contain penicillin or derivatives of penicillin, which may be produced during the fermentation process. In patients who are allergic to beta-lactam antibiotics, even at low levels, exposure to penicillin can result in a range of allergic reactions from mild rashes to severe and life-threatening anaphylactic reactions. See the press release for a complete listing of products affected by this recall.

One has to wonder if the company was aware that their product contained penicillin.  That’s a pretty good scam. In the US homeopathic products do not require testing or any FDA approval process. They are essentially pre-approved by law. homeopathy 803_250pxWhile this is a shameful scam, at least homeopathic remedies are completely inactive – nothing but water placed on sugar pills. However, some specific products have been found to have functional levels of active ingredients, so they are not truly homeopathic. For example, some Zicam products were found to contain active levels of zinc, and was linked to anosmia (a loss of smell) in some cases.

In this way a company can market a drug that has actual pharmacological activity, but market it as a homeopathic product that requires no testing and is automatically approved.

This is obviously a dangerous situation. Drugs need to be carefully regulated because they can cause allergic reactions, they are not safe to use in certain condtions, and they can interact with other drugs. In this case there is also the issue of overuse of antibiotics resulting in increased bacterial resistance.

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5 Things I’ve noticed about… Homeopathic Medicine

By via The Soap Box

homeopathyHomeopathic medicine is probably one of the oldest forms of alternative medicine there is. Infact it was invented in the late 1700’s by German physician Samuel Hahnemann, and has been with ever since.

Now there are lots of claims about homeopathy and what it does, and after looking into them I’ve noticed several different things about homeopathic medicine.

So here are five things I’ve noticed about homeopathic medicine:

5. You can make it at home.

Homeopathic medicine is very easy to make. You don’t even need a complex chemistry lab inorder to make it. You can make it right in your kitchen!

Got a headache and you want to make some homeopathic aspirin inorder to get rid of it? Well here’s what you do:

Step 1: Get one tablet of aspirin and about ten bottles of water.Step 2: Crush aspirin and put it into one of the bottles of water.

Step 3: Shake up bottle.

Step 4: Take one drop from said bottle and put it into the next bottle.

Step 5: Repeat steps 3 and 4 until done doing so with all bottles.

Now if you do all of this you will have homeopathic aspirin and your headache should go away in a few hours… same as any other normal headache would if you were to take nothing at all.

Actually this might not work, and this is because…

4. You’re suppose to use something that can cause the problems that you currently have inorder to cure them.

homeopathy 803_250pxInorder for homeopathic medicine to actually work (atleast according to people who make and deal with homeopathic medicine) you don’t use heavily diluted medicine that would cure whatever it is that you have. What you actually are suppose to use is something that could cause the symptoms that you’re having rather than actually cure them. Think of it as a kind of like a vaccine, minus any backing from the scientific and medical communities.

So if you want to cure that headache of yours using heavily diluted aspirin isn’t going to work. What you actually want to use is something that can cause a headache if you take it in it’s pure form, like beer, only it has to be heavily diluted.

So using homeopathy logic the best thing to take when you have a headache is a ball park beer, because those things are watered down all to hell.

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17 Concise Reasons Why Homeopathy is a Fraud

by Jerry De Luca via My Best Buddy Media

One can’t help but be perplexed by the bizarre world of homeopathy. From miracle cures to snake oil peddling, from deceptive advertising to FDA warnings, from questionable medical claims to rigorous scientific testing, it’s an uncanny circle of health declarations and assertions. Here is hopefully a comprehensive overview of the evidence in 17 concise reasons……

1 • The active ingredient of a homeopathic remedy is diluted to a ratio of: 1 : 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.homeopathy just-water_250px Or to look it another way, combine all the world’s oceans, let one drop of the active ingredient plunge into the middle, stir, and the result is a genuine homeopathic cure. The world’s most powerful microscope would be needed to locate even a single molecule in the average pill or tablet. When two completely different homeopathic remedies with two completely different “healing” agents are compared under a microscope, they are INDISTINGUISHABLE from each other!

2 • Homeopaths claim their pills work because “the water remembers” – the active ingredient has made “contact” with it. This has never been proven in any field of science – chemistry, physics, and molecular biology. Furthermore, many homeopathic remedies are dry tablets or pills. There is no water to remember.

3 • The FDA does not require manufacturers of homeopathic products to prove their efficacy or safety. They are under no obligation to test their products. You have to take their word for it.

4 • Homeopaths advocate the “Principle of Similars”. They assert if you take the substance that made you sick in the first place, and dilute it to almost total invisibility, then ingest it, you will be cured. With a couple of rare exceptions (anti-venom is derived from venom, but contains numerous other elements), this has never been proven scientifically. homeopathyA comparable is the homeopathic remedy that is supposed to help you fall asleep – the sleeping pill. What is the miniscule active ingredient? Caffeine! Time and again skeptics have publicly ingested several full bottles of “sleeping pills” without exuding even a yawn (http://www.1023.org.uk/the-1023-overdose-event.php).

5 • Many homeopathic manufacturers lie when they claim on their product labels that the remedy is FDA approved. Most consumers assume this refers to its efficacy. In fact the FDA has only ratified its safety. These are the exceptions, as most homeopathic products are not sent for any testing to the FDA.

6 • In recent years the FDA has successfully sued several homeopathic companies for making unsubstantiated claims to cure a variety of diseases. However, many companies have found a legal loophole by claiming cures for general illnesses, not specifics. For example, the product will help your “liver problems”, with no mention whatsoever of hepatitis. Also, many homeopaths will make these claims verbally in one-on-one sessions with the patient, where there is no legal liability.

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9 Reasons why people use Alternative Medicine

By via The Soap Box

Why do some people continue to use alternative medicine?

Despite all the information there is about alternative medicine and how not only does it not work, but that infact it can even be harmful, people still use it and believe that it really does work.

So why is it that people still use alternative medicine? Well, I’ve been thinking about that, and I’ve come up with quite a few reasons why:

Desperation

alternative-medicine-for-dummiesScience based medicine is an incredible thing and can cure many diseases and fix a lot of things that can go wrong with the human body, but unfortunately it can’t cure every disease, or fix everything that goes wrong with our bodies (not yet atleast). So when science based medicine can’t fix or cure what ever is wrong with us (or atleast not doing so in a way that is fast enough for us) some people, even rational people, might become desperate enough to use alternative medicine.

This sort of situation especially happens when someone has a terminal disease and they are told by their doctor that there is nothing they can do to cure what ever it is that is killing them. Some people will not accept this and will seek out anything that is claimed to be able to cure them (even if all the evidence says otherwise).

They think it’s cheaper

Because alternative medicine isn’t manufactured by the pharmaceutical companies (who are for profit businesses) it is assumed by some people that alternative medicine must be cheaper than science based medicine because they believe that the people who are manufacturing these alternative medical products are not doing it for a profit, plus when a person is told about a product that is suppose to be cheaper and work better than the conventional product, people tend to buy the supposedly cheaper product.

Now if you seriously believe that alternative medicine is cheaper than science based medicine, and that people who make these alternative medical products are not doing so for a profit, then I know a Nigerian prince that wants to give you $15,000,000.

A friend told them it works

alternative cam6_250pxProbably the best form of advertising there is is word of mouth. You don’t do have to pay for anything, and people tend to trust the opinion of a friend or family member over a creative ad in a newspaper or a TV commercial. Same thing holds true with alternative medicine.

Lets say you’ve been sick for a while and you have been taking some medicine for what ever has been ailing you, but so far it has had little to no affect. You tell a friend or a family member about your health issues and they might recommend that you take some herbs, or to go see this “doctor” that they recommend (who turns out to be an alternative medicine practitioner and not a real doctor) because they claim that it helped them, or it helped someone they know. Because you trust the person whom is recommending this “doctor” or this product, you might be more willing to see this “doctor” or try this product than you would if some stranger had told you.

Science based medicine can be harsh

Science based medicine (or modern medicine, or real medicine as some people like to call it) is a great thing. It has cured a lot of stuff, and has extended our average life expectancy by years, but it can also be pretty harsh at times as well. Because of this some people might either choose to stop using a science based medical treatment because they feel that it has become to harsh on them and that they believe that it might kill them if they continue to use, and so they decided to use alternative medicine instead because they believe it will help them without any side effects, or they might already know (or atleast believe) that the medical treatment that they’ve been recommend that they do could or will be harsh on them, and they decide to forgo it and use alternative medicine instead.

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Homeopathic chemtrail remedies

by via Skeptophilia

Following on the heels of my post yesterday regarding how much smarter and saner the conspiracy theorists are than us skeptics, today we will take a look at: homeopathic anti-chemtrail spray.

homeopathic anti-chemtrail sprayYes, folks, guaranteed to “alleviate symptoms of chemtrail exposure,” this homeopathic preparation (i.e. a bottle of water) is to be sprayed up the nose “until symptoms disappear.”

At first, I thought this had to be a joke.  Or, at least, unique.  Surely no one else would come up with the idea of using worthless remedies for nonexistent chemtrail exposure.

I was wrong.

Check out, for example, ChemBuster.  The website starts out by asking a very important question, namely: “Have you experienced symptoms of unknown origin?”  Because if you had “chronic fatigue,” “chronic pain,” “chronic headaches,” or “mental and emotional problems,” there could only be one answer:

The government is putting chemicals into jet fuel, so that when the jet fuel is burned, the chemicals are dispersed over the unsuspecting citizenry, where they are inhaled and cause you to feel crummy.

So who you gonna call?  ChemBuster!

ChemBuster contains 4 herbals and 9 homeopathics blended in a proprietary process designed to defeat, to annihilate, the pools of mycoplasma, heavy metals, respiratory problems and even mental problems associated with Chemtrail poisoning.

But ChemBuster has to be “activated” before use.  How do you activate it?  By purchasing an “orgone energy generator,” setting the bottle next to it, and turning it on, which will “potentiate” it, increasing its strength by a factor of ten (following the mathematical principle that 10 x 0 = 0).

At this point, I should mention that the “orgone energy generator” uses the power of gemstones to “collect, concentrate, transmute and radiate all ambient subtle energy into life force,” and that the person who came up with the idea of “orgone,” Wilhelm Reich, believed that it was the “life energy” that was released suddenly during an orgasm.  I’m not making this up, by the way.  So here we have a claim that combines four ridiculous ideas — homeopathy + chemtrails + gemstone energies + orgone.

Which may be a new record.

AlexJonesLunaticNow, if you don’t want to buy homeopathic remedies and orgone energy generators to combat chemtrails, there could be a cheaper solution, namely: a spray bottle filled with vinegar.  Once again, I feel obliged to state outright that I’m not making this up.  Last year, we had a claim going around that was given some momentum by such pinnacles of rationality as Alex Jones and Jeff Rense, stating that if you were worried about the government dousing you with chemicals, all you had to do to “cleanse the air” was to spray some vinegar up toward the sky.  So people did it, because of course there never is an idea so completely idiotic that there won’t be large quantities of people who will believe it.

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5 Things I’ve noticed about… Alternative Medicine

by via The Soap Box

alternative-medicine-for-dummies_150pxAlternative Medicine.

It’s a multi-billion dollar scam industry that millions of people around the world use the products and services of year after year.

Many people who use alternative medicine will say it works, while many, many others will say otherwise.

Now there are a lot of things that I have notice about alternative medicine, but I have narrowed it down to five different things.

So here are five things I’ve noticed about alternative medicine:

5. It has a lot to do about nothing.

Alternative medicine products and services basically comes in two different forms: does nothing and uses nothing.

homeopathic-remedy-lol_200pxMost alternative medicine just doesn’t work at all (such as homeopathy), and the few that actually does do something, the effects are minor and no where near as effective as real medicine, and could even be harmful if done improperly.

Then there are some that not only does nothing, but uses nothing as well. Reiki healing is a prime example of this as practitioners of Reiki healing practitioners claim that they use “energy” from some unknown source to “heal” people. Sometimes they will use crystals to harness this power. Sometimes they’ll just use their hands. Regardless of how they “harness” this energy, they all do the same thing: nothing.

4. It works off of anecdotal evidence

anecdotal evidence_300pxSome of the best “evidence” that practitioners of alternative medicine have about how effect the products and services they offer works is anecdotal evidence. In fact it’s not just best evidence they can give, it’s also often the only evidence they can ever give (besides the stuff they make up) mainly because scientific experimentation and testing have proven that their products and services are useless.

Most practitioners of alternative medicine will tell you that their products and services does make people feel better, what they often don’t tell you is how long it took to fix or cure whatever was ailing those who used their products or services, or whether they were using real medicine and medical services along with the alternative medicine, or how many people it didn’t work for and ended up having to go and get real medicine and medical services when the alternative medicine failed to cure any thing but perhaps a heavy wallet. And that’s another thing about alternative medicine…

3. It gets expensive.

Some alternative medicine is cheap (or at least it seems that way) but a lot of it is either over priced and even cost to much for some to use (which can be a good thing in a way, because the expense forces that person to go get real medicine). Even for people with health insurance it can still get expensive because most health insurance companies will not pay for alternative medicine, so a person who wants to use alternative medicine will have to pay for it out of pocket.

Even for the alternative medicine that isn’t expensive, and can still get expensive because . . .

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Chemtrail Detox Spray: Another BS product

by via The Soap Box

chemtraildetoxsprayA few weeks I was shown a website about some type of spray called “Chemtrail Detox Spray“.

When I first saw the name alone it made me think “what the heck?” Then I saw just what type of spray it was, and I went from thinking “what the heck” to “what a freaking sham!” and it made me think “can people really be this stupid?” Then I remember just how stupid of a statement that is because if people really are dumb enough (or crazy enough) to believe in chemtrails, they might just buy a spray that “detoxs” chemtrail “stuff”…

The claims made on the website are as follows:

  • Chemtrail Detox Spray offers relief from the effects of Chemtrails.

Actually it can’t offer “relief” from the effects of chemtrails because chemtrails do not exist.

There is no scientific evidence what so ever that shows that chemtrails exist, and that what conspiracy theorists believe to be chemtrails are actually just contrails and clouds. Even if they did exist they wouldn’t be effective anyways because they would be sprayed way to high up in the atmosphere to have any affect on us, not to mention the fact that there just aren’t enough planes to make such things effective on a global scale.

Also, all the claims of what chemtrails are suppose do are completely bogus as well.

The next claim made says that it is a:

“Non Chemical Homeopathic” to me is sort of redundant. The reason I say this is because homeopathic medicine is a fraud medicine that is basically just water, and doesn’t contain any chemicals in it…

It would be cheaper to fill up a spray bottle with water and spray it into your mouth than it would to buy this product. Heck it would be better to that anyways because the water in that spray bottle would be fresher than it would be in the Chemtrail Detox Spray!

The next thing the makers of this product says:

  • Indications for relieving a broad spectrum of chemtrail induced states including:

And those would happen to be:

  • sinus irritation,

Which is also a symptom of a cold or allergies.

  • lowered immune system,

What exactly do they mean by thiss? Could it mean “feeling icky”? There are a number of things that can make a person feel icky. Heck, being outside in the heat and sun to long can make a person feel icky. The flu can make a person feel icky.

They really need to be more specific here, because generally when I think of “lowered immune system” I think of HIV and AIDS.

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Homeopathy Ramblings

by via Science-Based Medicine

ScamAlertThere needs to be a SCAM index, some quantitative tool, a formula for ranking the SCAMs, so one SCAM could reign supreme, to be definitely declared the the goofiest of all SCAMs. Perhaps (number of adherents)x(number of Pubmed publications)x(age of SCAM) all divided by a plausibility factor.

Homeopathy would win and any SCAM index that did not rank homeopathy at number one would have to put up a very convincing argument indeed that their formula was not somehow fundamentally flawed.1

For first time readers, homeopathy is based on several fictions, totally divorced from reality, made up in the 1800′s.

The first law,2 with less reality than Joe Abercrombie’s, is, “similia similibus curentur,” or “let like be cured by like”. Substances which cause specific symptoms can be used to cure diseases which cause the same symptoms.  If like cures like, I am uncertain what moonlight, one of many fanciful homeopathic nostrums, would cure. Lycanthropy?

homeopathic-remedy-lol_250pxSay you have a headache. What causes a headache? Being smacked on the head by a hammer. So in homeopathic thinking, being hit on the head with a hammer would cure your headache.

But you would not want to give known poisons like arsenic or belladonna to people in attempt for like to cure like, unless one would classify death as cure. Even the otherwise chemistry-challenged homeopaths know that would be a bad idea.

So there is the second law, that of infinitesimal dilutions, where the substances are sequentially diluted in either water or alcohol, and the potency increases with each dilution. And dilute it they do.

Take the hammer for the migraine. Take 100th of it. Thump the remainder against a Bible to activate it, the succussion of homeopathy. Then take 100th of that. Thump it against a Bible. Then 100th of that. Thump it against a Bible. And so on. Do that 6, or 15, or 30 or even 200 times. When finished you will have the an extremely small, perhaps nonexistent, but potentized hammer with power exceeding Mjölnir. Use that to hit the skull to relieve the headache.

It doesn’t get goofier than that. Homeopathy is one of those topics which demonstrates that I am not a true skeptic. A true skeptic would say that homeopathy is highly implausible. I tend to say it is wackaloon impossible on basic principles. Zero plausibility would make homeopathy infinite on the SCAM index.

Homeopathy and adverse effects

Given that homeopathy is nothing that does nothing, not only would I expect any homeopathic preparation to have no efficacy but also no toxicity. With the caveat that it is the dose that makes the poison. Any product with . . .

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Confronting The Woo-Woos Head-On…

james-randi-69By James Randi via randi.org

Back in September of 2007, I was invited to speak at the prestigious TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference in Monterey, California. To do so, I had to literally get up out of a hospital bed in Florida – very much against the advice of my doctors – and fly off to address what is arguably the toughest, most influential, and savvy audience to be found anywhere. During that heady experience I met actress Goldie Hawn, neuroscientist Vilayanur Ramachandran, entrepreneur Richard Branson, and prominent skeptical author Stephen Pinker, all for the first time, along with literally dozens of other celebrities.

Screen Shot 2013-06-04 at 9.36.40 PM_250px

Watch the full video below.

I committed homeopathic suicide during that lecture, a stunt I’ve done all over the world to make an important point about homeopathy, that it has no ingredients that will help or affect any ailment, symptom, or disease, and that it’s inane to take it seriously.

Seriously…

During my talk, which can be seen and heard here (and below) I opened and downed an entire bottle – 32 tablets – of homeopathic Calms Forte* sleeping pills, the main ingredient of which was “coffea cruda,” which is not made from instant coffee, nor brewed coffee, nor caffeine, but unroasted coffee beans, friends, but diluted – literally – billions of times, so that there isn’t even a single molecule of any active substance in a truck full of the tablets! I was confident that I’d not toss and turn that evening…

*which has since changed its formula to use “passion flower” rather than coffea cruda as the “active ingredient,” perhaps to invoke a more exciting reaction…?

Well, a Jack Myers was in that audience, and he was apparently not favorably impressed by my attitude or my opinions. Mr. Myers labels himself an “economist,” a media ecologist, author, documentary film producer, and publisher of economic reports on media, marketing and entertainment. Jack’s also a recipient of the George Foster Peabody Award, so I was surprised, following his attendance at TED, to read on his internet site a strong denunciation of me and my statements. In fact, he commented, ominously:

I found Mr. Randi’s presentation, itself, to be very misleading and disingenuous.

Fightin’ words, I’d say, but that tirade – strangely – was deleted from his site shortly after it was published. With the aid of friends, I managed to find an account he’d sent to an Internet columnist who wanted to know more about what she’d seen. I’ll share that with you, and break in to comment. Rather often. It began:

First [Randi] told us not to believe anything he said.

Well, not quite. As I always do, I suggested to the TED audience that they shouldn’t merely accept blindly what I’d said, but should look into the situations for themselves. Jack misheard me, I guess. He continued:

Then he told us homeopathic products are worthless, which he “proved” by swallowing a bottle of homeopathic sleeping pills. There was no seal on the bottle but he presented it as if he was opening it for the first time, even removing the instructions. I don’t believe they were, in fact, the original pills. I know many people who take those exact pills and they do work. I hope he doesn’t prove his “theory” with people who might “try it at home” and potentially die.

warning-homeopathy-not-medicine

Not to worry, Jack. As I said, I’ve done this “suicide” act all over the world for some twenty years now, and the only problem I’ve had has been people laughing to hear just how naïve and dense others can be when smooth-talked to by the operators who obviously also got to you…

Secondly, Randi denigrated those who use herbs and homeopathic products as part of a medical practice. My daughter is a practitioner of Oriental Medicine and studied four full years in an accredited master’s program to gain her degree. She uses many herbs and remedies that have been handed down and have been effective for centuries that would be classified as homeopathic. I wonder who pays Randi – the medical institutions? The AMA? I would like full disclosure on his funding.

Rejoice, sir! That data is all available to anyone who asks for it, because the JREF is registered as a 501(c)3 charity, and by law must provide that information to anyone who asks for it. So, just ask, Jack! And no, we’ve never received a cent from Big Pharma, as you suggest, nor from those perfidious doctors who actually put real medicine into their patients’ bodies.

Next, Randi believes there is no afterlife. Again, he seeks to make anyone who does believe into a fool. He’s entitled to his opinions, but why should it be at the expense of those who disagree with him? I like many others believe there is another level of existence – an afterlife.

No, Jack, though you may choose for yourself any title or definition you want, of course. If you wish to think of yourself as a total jackass, be my guest…!

I have seen someone who has the abilities Randi pooh poohed and am convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that a true communication occurred. It changed my life and my beliefs and, by the way, cost me nothing. I don’t feel he has a right to dismiss my beliefs as foolish and idiotic. I agree there are charlatans in every field – but that doesn’t mean he has a right to dismiss someone’s beliefs just because he doesn’t agree with them.

James-Randi-Challenge_350PX

Well, perhaps it did cost you, Jack. It appears that you witnessed a demonstration that quite impressed you and changed your basic opinions on how the world works. But just think, man! Now you’re potentially rich, a million bucks wealthier than you were before you revealed this to me, because my organization, the James Randi Educational Foundation [JREF], is prepared to pay your “someone” a million bucks upon the demonstration of that ability that I scoffed at! Wow! Now, this guru/saint/medium/gypsy/whatever may be shy – so many are, I’ve found – and may be so strongly spiritual that he/she shuns taking such easy money, but isn’t it worth a try…? C’mon, Jack, give the wheel a spin!

No?

I wonder why… Jack struck me as a far more dependable and worthy opponent in this brouhaha, but just see up ahead how perfidious he actually proved to be. Read on, as he throws down his gauntlet…

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James Randi: Homeopathy, quackery and fraud

Open Up Your Mind and Let Your Brain Shut Off

Sharon_hill_80pxBy via The Huffington Post

People tell me I should be more open-minded.

There is a clichéd saying regarding open-mindedness: “Keep an open mind — but not so open that your brain falls out”.

This piece of advice is most often said to come from physicist Richard Feynman (1918-1988), but also a slew of other more or less famous people, most of them from the field of science: Richard Dawkins, Carl Sagan, James Oberg, Bertrand Russell, J. Robert Oppenheimer. It’s plausible that they all certainly said it at one time or another because it applies every time one is presented with a fringe or alternative explanation for something. It’s well worth remembering as a rule of thumb.

Because I peruse paranormal-themed sites and various “water-cooler” forums on the web, I frequently see ideas thrown out there that would qualify as amazing and paradigm-shifting. So, what do I think about this latest crazy thing, people ask?

ccccc

The Starchild skull.

Here’s a recent example. With all the recent speculation about “alien” remains, someone on Facebook mentioned Lloyd Pye who contends (for almost 15 years now) that a curiously-shaped skull he has is that of an alien-human hybrid. Called the “star child” skull, Pye promotes the story that this is proof that humans descended from extraterrestrial beings.

The plausibility of this idea is practically nil. There is no decent evidence in support of it except a nifty story. To accept it, we’d have to throw out all of what we know about human history, evolution, and a good bit of well-established physics. Just because of one odd-looking skull? No, thank you. That would be stupid. Thus, to consider such an idea takes me about a minute before I realize that would be unreasonable. It’s an imaginative idea, just like mermaids and remote viewing and time travelers. But in order to accept it, I’d have to discard too much (e.g., my brain and society’s accumulated knowledge). The evidence clearly suggests another more down-to-earth explanation. Since the skull DNA tested as human, and we know that certain genetic conditions can cause the enlargement of the skull in just this way, I’m going to accept the obvious and not some far-fetched story just for kicks.

Calling skeptics closed-minded because we discard wacky ideas is a common ploy. It’s often used as a personal insult because the skeptic has rejected a baseless idea that the promoters fancy. When you don’t have evidence to support your idea, observe that the proponent resorts to derogatory tactics.

But all ideas are not equal. Not all ideas are worthy of consideration.

“But all ideas are not equal. Not all ideas are worthy of consideration.”

It’s not about actually being open-minded towards new ideas. Instead, the proponent is accusing the skeptic of being stubborn, undemocratic and unfair. They see it as the skeptical person, being overly rational, ignoring a possibly worthwhile option to be considered. But all ideas are not equal. Not all ideas are worthy of consideration.

Let’s take another example: energy healing. I should be open-minded, reiki practitioners say, and try these forms of energy medicine where healing energy gets channeled or manipulated for better health. If someone offers these treatments to me and I just say “OK! Sounds good!” (and hand over my money) is that actually being open-minded? No. It’s swallowing what I’m being fed without a thought. The same would apply to . . .

MORE . . .

What is Homeopathy?

Via LiveScience

just-waterHomeopathy is an alternative medical practice in which extremely dilute amounts of certain natural substances are used to treat various ailments.

Although homeopathic medicines are sold in health food stores and at high-end groceries, homeopathy is largely considered quackery. No scientific evidence supports its use; the theory of how homeopathy could work is beyond the realm of known physics; and governments worldwide are increasingly denying insurance payments to cover homeopathic treatment.

[…]

How homeopathy works

Homeopathy is based on rigorous dilutions and mixing, called successions. The dilution level is printed on the bottle of medicine. A typical homeopathic dilution is 30X, where the X represents 10. So, one part toxin (such as the aforementioned poison ivy) is mixed with 10 parts water or alcohol. The mix is shaken; one part of this mix is added to 10 parts of water or alcohol again; and the whole process is repeated 30 times.

The final dilution is one molecule of medicine in 10 to the 30th power (1030) of molecules of solution — or 1 in a million trillion trillion. At this dilution level you’d need to drink 8,000 gallons of water to get one molecule of the medicine — physically possible but implausible.

Other homeopathic solutions are 30C, which represents 100 to the 30th power (10030).  There’s not enough water in the solar system to accommodate this dilution.

Hahnemann didn’t realize this because he developed his theory before the concept in chemistry of the mole and Avogadro constant, which defines the number of particles in any given amount of a substance. So, Hahnemann and his followers could do the mechanical actions of dilution, but unbeknownst to them, they were diluting the medicine right out of the solution.

Does homeopathy work?

warning-homeopathy-not-medicineHomeopathic practitioners today understand the concept of Avogadro constant. They attribute homeopathy’s healing powers to “water memory” — the concept that water has the ability to remember of shape of the medicine it once contained.  There are, however, at least three problems with this stance.

First, this concept of water memory is beyond the realm of known physics. Water is not known to maintain an ordered alignment of molecules for much longer than a picosecond.

Second, if water can remember the shape of what’s in it, then all water has the potential to be homeopathic. Tap water, with its traces of natural substances sloshing about in pipes known to cause cancer and other diseases, would be therapeutic against these diseases.

Third, explanations of how it could work aside, there are no high-quality scientific studies to show that homeopathy is any more effective than a placebo. In testing homeopathy, two trends have emerged: Homeopathy is best at “curing” things that would soon pass anyway, such as colds, but would be dangerous for the treatment of serious ailments, such as diabetes; and the larger and more thorough the scientific study, the more homeopathy resembles a placebo.

Dangers of homeopathy

Don’t assume homeopathy, unregulated by the FDA, is safe. In some cases, the homeopathic medicine does contain traceable amounts of . . .

MORE . . .

The Honest Liar – Homeopathy

Money for Nothing

by JREF Staff via randi.org

JREF senior fellow, magician and scientific skeptic Jamy Ian Swiss, “The Honest Liar”, presents JREF’s newest video series, aptly titled The Honest Liar. Follow Jamy as he uses critical thinking, skepticism, and a healthy dose of humor, along with his expertise in legerdemain, to explore the facts behind false claims.

In our first episode, “Money for Nothing”, Jamy punctures the pretense of homeopathy. How much is too much to pay for a remedy with nothing in it?

View on YouTube

5 Ways to Tell Science from Pseudoscience

Here are 5 quick ways to tell good science from bad science.

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Full transcript and more information.

Debating Homeopathy Part I

by Steven Novella via Skepticblog

warning-homeopathy-not-medicineSix years ago I was asked to participate in a group debate over the legitimacy of homeopathy at the University of CT (there were six speakers, three on each side). This year I was asked to participate in another homeopathy debate at UCONN, but this time one-on-one with Andre Saine ND from the Canadian Academy of Homeopathy taking the pro-homeopathy side. (I will provide a link when the video is posted online.)

While the basic facts of homeopathy have not changed in the past six years, the details and some of the specific arguments of the homeopaths have evolved, so it was good to get updated on what they are saying today. In this post I will discuss some overall patterns in the logic used to defend homeopathy and then discuss the debate over plausibility. In tomorrow’s post I will then discuss the clinical evidence, with some final overall analysis.

Believers and Skeptics

As with the last debate, the audience this time was packed with homeopaths and homeopathy proponents. When I was introduced as the president of the New England Skeptical Society, in fact, laughter erupted from the audience. But that’s alright – I like a challenge. It did not surprise me that the audience, and my opponent, were unfamiliar with basic skeptical principles. Andre, in fact, used the word “skeptic” as a pejorative throughout his presentation.

medicine badThe difference in our two positions, in fact, can be summarized as follows: Andre Saine accepts a very low standard of scientific evidence (at least with homeopathy, but probably generally given that he is a naturopath), whereas I, skeptics, and the scientific community generally require a more rigorous standard.

The basic pattern of Andre’s talk was to quote from one of my articles on homeopathy declaring some negative statement about homeopathy, and then to counter that statement with a reference to scientific evidence. The problem is, his references were to low-grade preliminary evidence, and never to solid reproducible evidence.

That is one functional difference between skeptics and believers – the threshold at which they consider scientific evidence to be credible and compelling (there are many reasons behind that difference, but that is the end result).

I was asked what level of evidence I would find convincing, and that’s an easy question to answer because skeptics spend a great deal of time exploring that very question. In fact, I have discussed this in the context of many things, not just homeopathy.

For any scientific claim (regardless of plausibility) scientific evidence is considered well-established when it simultaneously (that’s critical) fulfills the following four criteria:

  1. Methodologically rigorous, properly blinded, and sufficiently powered studies that adequately define and control for the variables of interest (confirmed by surviving peer-review and post-publication analysis).
  2. Positive results that are statistically significant.
  3. A reasonable signal to noise ratio (clinically significant for medical studies, or generally well within our ability to confidently detect).
  4. Independently reproducible. No matter who repeats the experiment, the effect is reliably detected.

This pattern of compelling evidence does not exist for ESP, acupuncture, any form of energy medicine, cold fusion or free energy claims, nor homeopathy. You may get one or two of those things, but never all four together. You do hear many excuses (special pleading) for why such evidence does not exist, but never the evidence itself.

The reason for this is simple – when you set the threshold any lower, you end up prematurely accepting claims that turn out not to be true.

Plausibility

homeopathyThe less plausible, the more outrageous and unconventional a scientific claim, the more nitpicky and uncompromising we should be in applying the standards above. This follows a Bayesian logic – you are not beginning with a blank slate, as if we have no prior knowledge, but rather are starting with existing well-established science and then extending that knowledge further.

To clarify – if a new claim seems implausible it does not mean that it is a-priori not true. It simply means that the threshold of evidence required to conclude that it is probably true is higher.

Scottish philosopher David Hume sort of captured this idea over two centuries ago when he wrote:

No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous than the fact which it endeavors to establish.

I like to think of it this way: The evidence for any new claim that contradicts prior established scientific conclusions must be at least as robust as the prior evidence it would overturn. You can also ask the question – what is more likely, that the relevant scientific facts are wrong, or that the new claim is wrong?

What is more likely, that much of what we think we know about physics, chemistry, biology, physiology, and medicine is wrong, or that the claims of homeopathy are wrong? I think this is an easy one.

MORE . . . Debating Homeopathy Part I

• Debating Homeopathy Part II

The Three Categories of Alternative Medicine

Via The Soap Box

alternative_759_400pxAlternative medicine is a really big business, and is practiced around the world (in some places more than others).

In some place in the world it might be practiced because the people there either can’t afford modern medicine, or more likely they either just can’t get access to modern medicine, or they feel they have no need for modern medicine because they have been taught that their local folk medicine works. In other places in the world it could be just simply that they don’t trust pharmaceutical companies.

So back at the subject at hand, alternative medicine can be basically categorized into three different types:

Ineffective

While many people might say that no forms of alternative medicine work, there are in fact a few that do work to some extent, they just don’t do to the extent that many of the practitioners of that alternative medicine claims, and that there are more effective (and sometimes cheaper) conventional medical practices that can be done.

Examples of this would be acupuncture, chiropractic therapy, and even vitamin supplements can be categorized into this group, and that is if these things done correctly, otherwise some of these things could be not effective at all, or even dangerous.

It should also be noted that this is the smallest category for alternative medicines as most alternative medical practices are like the next two categories.

Non-effective

This is the largest of the three alternative medicine categories as simply put, almost all alternative medical practices just do not work at all, and is mainly based off of anecdotal evidence, rather than real, scientific evidence.

MORE . . .

James Randi on Dr. Oz and Homeopathy (VIDEO)

Written by JREF Staff

In the latest installment of our ongoing video series The Randi Show, James Randi goes in-depth on Dr. Oz‘s recent support of homeopathy. Should a medical doctor with a large television audience promote baseless pseudoscience? Randi thinks not.

via James Randi on Dr. Oz and Homeopathy (VIDEO).

Keeping Up the Pressure

Written by Dr. Steven Novella via Randi.org

Click image for larger view.

Click image for larger view.

Homeopathy is the second most used medical system in the world, after real medicine. It is legal, and in fact enjoys privileged status in the US and many other industrialized nations. Most people, however, do not really understand what it is, or the fact that years of research and hundreds of studies show conclusively that it does not work – for anything.

Homeopathy is an example of 100% pure unadulterated pseudoscience. Its underlying principles are not only unscientific, they are as close to impossible as you can get in science, meaning that vast amounts of physics, chemistry, and biology would have to be rewritten if homeopathy were true.

Proponents abuse the scientific evidence, and propose one absurd pseudoexplanation after another to desperately justify their magic potions.

This is all likely very familiar to most skeptics, prompting some to criticize the apparent obsession of some segments of the skeptical community with homeopathy. This misses a very important point, however. The purpose of the skeptical literature is not just to educate and entertain the already skeptical, but to influence the broader culture.

warning-homeopathy-not-medicineFor this purpose we need to keep up the pressure, we need to keep countering homeopaths whenever they emerge to offer a new distortion of science and evidence. This is part of what we do as activists – it is only scientific skeptics who are pushing back against this dangerous nonsense.

I can tell you from personal experience that mainstream physicians and scientists largely do not know and do not care about homeopathy. At best they are “shruggies” who think it is harmless, and at worst they are confused enough to actually support it (Dr. Oz comes to mind, but perhaps he is not the best example).

Science journalists are mixed, some get it, and some don’t. I was recently involved with a documentary on homeopathy by an honest documentarian who was just trying to understand homeopathy (in other words, not a propaganda piece by proponents). Unfortunately she simply came to the exact wrong conclusion about homoepathy, convinced by anecdotal evidence. She was not prepared to understand how so many people could be wrong, how easy it is for people to be fooled, and how difficult it is to get reliable and unbiased results from scientific study. In other words – she was not a skeptic (not sufficiently skilled in critical thinking and understanding the difference between science and pseudoscience). The film is not out yet, so I have yet to see the final result, but I know it’s not going to be good.

There is a bright side, however – skeptics constantly pushing back against the nonsense, and we are making some headway. The more the public understands about homeopathy, the more it is marginalized.

MORE . . .

BBC South West on the evils of homeopathic “vaccines”

via The BadPsychics Blog

homeopathySam Smith presents an investigation of homeopathic “vaccines” (14th January 2013, BBC South West, Inside Out). The pills contain nothing whatsoever, but are promoted for serious infections like whooping cough and even meningitis. Of course they don’t work, and if a child dies because if their use, that should constitute manslaughter.

As far back as 2006, homeopaths were caught out recommending their sugar pills for prevention of malaria. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/newsnight/5178122.stm
Even Peter Fisher, the Queen’s homeopathic physician (that isn’t a joke) said that the practice made him “very angry”

The MHRA (Medicines and Health regulatory Authority) has been warned about this for many years by bloggers, and even by a BBC Newsnight programme, but it has done nothing. Neither has the General Pharmaceutical Council. These expensive bodies have failed shamefully in their duties.

The Department of Health has done nothing either. On the contrary, they have hindered efforts to ensure honesty.

Video description:

Via BBC South West on the evils of homeopathic “vaccines” – YouTube:

Sam Smith presents an investigation of homeopathic “vaccines” (14th January 2013, BBC South West, Inside Out). The pills contain nothing whatsoever, but are promoted for serious infections like whooping cough and even meningitis. Of course they don’t work, and if a child dies because if their use, that should constitute manslaughter.

As far back as 2006, homeopaths were caught out recommending their sugar pills for prevention of malaria. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes…
Even Peter Fisher, the Queen’s homeopathic physician (that isn’t a joke) said that the practice made him “very angry”

The MHRA (Medicines and Health regulatory Authority) has been warned about this for many years by bloggers, and even by a BBC Newsnight programme, but it has done nothing. Neither has the General Pharmaceutical Council. These expensive bodies have failed shamefully in their duties.

The Department of Health has done nothing either. On the contrary, they have hindered efforts to ensure honesty.

Overdosing on Homeopathic Medicines

massive-homeopathic-overdose-homeopathy

via Homeopathy: there’s nothing in it | The 10:23 Campaign

What is homeopathy?

Ask many people what they think homeopathy is and you’ll be told “it’s herbal medicine” or “it’s all-natural”. Actually, it is neither of these.

warning-homeopathy-not-medicineFew people realise that homeopathy involves diluting substances so much that there’s literally nothing left in them.

Homeopathy is an absurd pseudoscience, which survives today as a “complementary” or “alternative” medicine, despite there being no reliable scientific evidence that it works. (keep reading)

Contrary to popular belief, ‘homeopathy’ is not the same as herbal medicine.

Homeopathy is based on three central tenets, unchanged since their invention by Samuel Hahnemann in 1796.

The Law of Similars

The law of similars states that whatever would cause your symptoms, will also cure those same symptoms. Thus, if you find yourself unable to sleep, taking caffeine will help; streaming eyes due to hayfever can be treated with onions, and so on. This so-called law was based upon nothing other than Hahnemann’s own imagination. You don’t need to have a medical degree to see the flawed reasoning in taking caffeine – a stimulant – to help you sleep; yet caffeine is, even today, prescribed by homeopaths (under the name ‘coffea’) as a treatment for insomnia.

The Law of Infinitesimals

Following on from his ‘law of similars’, Hahnemann proposed he could improve the effect of his ‘like-cures-like treatments’ by repeatedly diluting them in water. The more dilute the remedy, Hahnemann decided, the stronger it will become. Thus was born his ‘Law of Infinitesimals’.

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James Randi Encourages Skeptics to “Overdose” on Homeopathic Medicines

via James Randi Encourages Skeptics to “Overdose” on Homeopathic Medicines – Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach – News – The Daily Pulp.

Also See:

Homeopathic Logic

by via NeuroLogica Blog

homeopathyHomeopathic logic is real logic that has been diluted into non-existence. The solvent is bias and propaganda. I was recently pointed to an excellent example of this – an article written by a homeopath arguing that homeopathy is superior to modern medicine. It’s published in what appears to be an obscure rag, but it does represent common arguments put forth by homeopaths so it doesn’t really matter.

Here is the main point of the article:

There are many differences in both the disciplines of medicines. Let’s just focus on one main difference and that is the fact that none of the homeopathic medicines introduced during the last two hundred and fifty years was withdrawn from the market.

The author, Asghar Ali Shah, uses the term, “allopathy” throughout the article. This is a derogatory term used mainly by critics of science-based medicine, and immediately reveals the author’s bias. In the statement above he is also trying to present homeopathy and mainstream medicine as two “disciplines of medicines,” which is a false equivalency. This is a common tactic of fringe beliefs, to appear as a viable alternative to the mainstream, followed, of course, by arguments for its superiority.

Homeopathy, however, is a prescientific superstition that is at odds with basic science, and not just medicine but physics, chemistry, and biology.

Ali Shah’s argument is that real medicine has side effects, and sometimes need to be pulled from the market, while homeopathic potions do not have side effects and are never withdrawn. Ironically, he is actually making an argument for that fact homeopathic products are both worthless and not science-based.

Homeopathic products (mostly – some products labeled homeopathic may have active ingredients) do not have side effects because they do not have any effects. Most are diluted well past the point of having any active ingredient. What is left is ultimately just a sugar pill – a pure placebo.

MORE . . .

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