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Homeopathy: Medicine for the 21st Century

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Defending Choice in Medicine

H:MC21 is a charity established to counter the unfounded propaganda against homeopathy by informing the public of the facts about homeopathy and its historical and scientific relationship to orthodox medicine.

It will do this through research, publication and campaigning.

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Nonsense, Not Science

 Halloween Science

Pilot survey of PCTs

Edzard Ernst interview

 Resource pack

CS&TC Report

CS&CT Evidence Check

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Nonsense, Not Science

This is a 62-page critique of Sense About Homeopathy by Chris Tyler, a leaflet published by Sense About Science in 2006. It includes five appendices, a bibliography and full references.

It concludes that Sense About Homepathy contains at least seventeen major faults listed below:

1. It fails to define some basic terms (such as ‘disease’, ‘condition’ and ‘effective’).
2. It defines the ‘placebo effect’ but then surreptitiously re-defines it as the complete opposite of the
  original definition.
3. It uses the term ‘homeopathy’ indiscriminately to mean the system of homeopathy, homeopathic
  treatment and the medicines used by homeopaths.
4. It ignores five of the seven principles on which homeopathy is based, despite their crucial importance
  to many of the arguments used. For example, the requirement in homeopathy to treat the ‘totality of
  symptoms’ invalidates many of the arguments used in this leaflet.
5. It fails to acknowledge or discuss the fact that homeopathy has a definition of effectiveness.
6. It misrepresents potentisation by equating it with dilution, which is only a part of the process, without
  providing any evidence that the effect of succussion is insignificant.
7. It invents terminology to create distinctions which are never explained, such as that between
  'disease' and the 'symptoms of disease', and ‘inducing physiological changes’ and ‘working in a
  clinical sense’.
8 It fails to provide any evidence that the nature of homeopathic treatment is essentially the same as
  that of placebo.
9. It misrepresents the evidence from randomised controlled trials (RCTs) in order to justify the claim
  that homeopathic treatment is a placebo.
10. It fails to acknowledge that RCTs are not infallible guides to efficacy or effectiveness, and so
  cannot be used as the sole basis for categorising a treatment as a placebo.
11. It fails to examine the real problems with designing appropriate RCTs to test homeopathic
  treatment.
12. It relies heavily on a single meta-analysis (by Shang and others), and not only misrepresents the
  conclusions of this analysis, but fails to take into account the serious criticisms levelled at it. These
  criticisms have subsequently been justified, but the leaflet has not been amended.
13. It also misrepresents the conclusions of four other major meta-analyses.
14. It fails to acknowledge that meta-analyses are inherently subjective, and so constitute an unreliable
  basis for categorical decisions.
15. It misrepresents other research. For example, research showing that a reduction in stress reduces
  inhibition of the immune system is claimed to show that placebos can “boost” the immune system.
16. It repeatedly relies on assertions which have no general basis in reality in order to present spurious
  arguments as though they were significant. Examples include claims that homeopathy works “like a
  vaccine”, that homeopathy has “a powerful placebo effect”, that people use homeopathy because
  they “believe” it works.
17. It repeatedly exhibits a fundamental lack of understanding of physiology and orthodox medical
  practice.

These faults mean that Sense About Homeopathy has absolutely no scientific validity and would seriously mislead any member of the public turning to it for reliable information.

To download Nonsense, Not Science (62 pages) click here.

Contents
Introduction
  Definitions of Terms
Discussion of Page 1
   Introductory Paragraphs - Box 1: “Another way of saying … Placebo and the placebo effect” - Box 2:
  “Not to be confused … Proven” - Box 3: “Clinical Trials” - “Homeopathic principles” - “Like cures
  like” - “Minimum dose” - “The evidence” - Effectiveness
Discussion of Page 2
  “Why homeopathy ‘works’” - “The placebo effect” - “A powerful placebo?” - Box 4: “Some
  interesting placebo facts …” - “Veterinary homeopathy” - “Prescribing placebos”
Conclusion
Appendix 1: Homeopathy and the placebo effect
Appendix 2: Problems with RCTs of homeopathic treatment
Appendix 3: Evidence for the ‘Law of Similars’ from orthodox medicine
Appendix 4: Evidence of the power of homeopathy’s scientific approach
Appendix 5: The use of the word ‘homeopathy’
Appendix 6: Sense About Science
Bibliography
  Books - Reports - Computer programmes - Journal articles
Notes

Nonsense, Not Science is free. However, if you would like to make a donation to H:MC21 in recognition of the time which has gone into making this work available, please

either donate through Paypal,

or click here to go to information about donating in other ways.

If you are a UK tax-payer, H:MC21 can also claim an extra 28% of your donation from the government if you send us a completed Gift Aid Form.

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