Newsletter 15 September 2014
H:MC21 has always argued that it was only a matter of time before the truth would catch up with the propagandist ideas being used against homeopathy. As a result we have seen our role as one of preventing the attacks from achieving changes in the position of homeopathy in the UK which might be irreversible. It looks as though the time we have bought is starting to bear fruit.
Montagnier at UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has organised “a scientific symposium [to] discuss the emergence and possible societal and medical implications of a new paradigm in biology: electromagnetic waves and their relationship to the properties of water”. This will take place in October and they note that it is a first, adding that “The promoters of this conference are aware of the critical reactions aroused by this work in parts of the scientific community, so they wish to communicate their results with the utmost rigor.”
Clearly, the myth that homeopathy is scientifcally implausible is starting to collapse. Far from homeopathy requiring the overthrow of much of science as we know it, it is leading to new discoveries and a richer understanding of our universe.
Presentations will be given by:
• Professor Luc Montagnier, who won a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (2008)
• Giuseppe Vitiello, Professor of Theoretical Physics, University of Salerno
• Marc Henry, Professor of Molecular Chemistry, University of Strasbourg
• Carlo Ventura, Professor of Molecular Biology, University of Bologna
• Cédric Villani, Professor at the University of Lyon, Director of the Institut Henri Poincaré in Paris
• with closing remarks by Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO
Evidence Based Medicine in Crisis?
Earlier in the summer the British Medical Journal (BMJ) published an article entitled ‘Evidence based medicine: a movement in crisis?’. It expressed concern about how the concept of evidence based medicine (EBM) is being constrained to the point of creating a whole series of problems. It argued that EBM was generating too much evidence driven by “vested interests” and not actually relating to the real needs of clinical practice, and that it was also leading to care which is management driven rather than patient centred. Responses have been overwhelmingly in support of the authors.
These arguments are familiar. H:MC21 has consistently pointed out (most recently to the ASA Ltd) that it is unscientific and hazardous to employ the severely limited version of EBM taken up by the homeopathy denialists. Not only does it provide false grounds for criticism of homeopathy, but it also threatens orthodox medical practice.
This follows up earlier criticisms. Back in 2012 Andrew Turner’s PhD, Evidence Based Medicine, ‘Placebos’ And The Homeopathy Controversy, became available. This is a fascinating investigation of EBM and the debate about homeopathy. In particular, it reveals that over the last 20 years there has been no clarification of what EBM actually means, a strong indication of the fact that EBM is not a scientific advance, but simply a consolidation of an empirical approach. He seriously criticised what he called the ‘categorical interpretation’ of EBM, and he made important points about the definition of placebos in trials.
Earlier still, in 2006, the Journal of Evidence Based Healthcare published an article entitled 'Deconstructing the evidence-based discourse in health sciences: truth, power and fascism’. The authors argued that “the evidence-based movement in the health sciences is outrageously exclusionary and dangerously normative with regards to scientific knowledge”. The recent BMJ article is one confirmation of the truth of these complaints, and of the real damage which is being caused by a narrow-minded approach to medicine.
The myth that the only good evidence is randomised controlled trials (RCTs) is also being eroded.
The Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine has published ‘A Reevaluation of the Effectiveness of Homoeoprophylaxis Against Leptospirosis in Cuba in 2007 and 2008’. It finds that “The results support the previous conclusions that homoeoprophylaxis can be used to effectively immunize people against targeted infectious diseases such as leptospirosis.”
The original study reported on how 2.3 million people in the worst affected areas of Cuba were given a homeopathic preventative treatment for the endemic leptospirosis. The sustained reduction in infection rates (and mortality rates) was phenomenal, especially when compared with rates for the 8.8 million people in the less affected areas who were not treated.
Nonetheless, some people, especially homeopathy denialists, raised “some questions regarding possible confounders” which might have influenced the highly successful nature of the interventions. The ASA Ltd even made the absurd suggestion that the result may have been a result of education, before retreating to its unscientific position that the only valid evidence is RCT evidence. This re-evaluation should make it even harder to reject the results of the largest ever trial of a new preventative treatment.
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