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Re: Doctors Discuss Vaccination (George M. Carter) wrote:
 > (Christopher Biow) wrote:
 [concerning homeopathy]
 >Part of the problem here  is there are very few studies. Part of the
 >problem for that is that it doesn't fall in the realm of profitable,
 >patentable approaches. Politics damages science sometimes.
 We have plenty of research being done on non-pantentable and
 patent-expired drugs. The paucity of research on homeopathy has more to do
 with the implausibility of the claims and the manner in which evidence of
 the claims has faded when subjected to controls. As a funds grantor, I'd
 much rather spend on something that has a higher probability of producing
 medical benefits.
 >>We have two hypotheses:
 >>1) Homeopathic remedies are effective in a high number of their supposed
 >>2) Homeopathic remedies are placebos.
 >I disagree. We have the hypothesis that certain indications are more
 >appropriately treated by certain homeopathic formulations. 
 If those hypotheses are formulated in a falsifiable manner, then it is the
 responsibility of their proponents to produce the extraordinary level of
 evidence that would be required to break them out from the infinite number
 of equally extraordinary, unproven claims. In a century and a half, this
 has not happened.
 >>Put another way, if there were a real effect, one would expect its
 >>practitioners, over a period of a century, to be able to bring the tools
 >>of investigation to bear in such a way as to clearly and repeatedly
 >>demonstrate the effects. Some progress should have been made toward
 >>understanding and demonstrating the mechanism. Yet over a hundred years
 >>later, all we have to show for it is a small minority of studies producing
 >>a few anomalous results.
 >Please support your statements.
 Jan Neinhuys, where are you?
 See for a more general survey
 (if you can stand reading a paper written in all italics). However, a
 canonical example can be found in the pages of _Nature_ [333:816 and
 following months] during 1988. Thorough investigation of an apparent
 demonstration of homeopathic efficacy revealed the experimental mistakes,
 and attempts to replicate the result without those mistakes failed.
 >>Or waste a lot of valuable research time only to produce 5% of studies
 >>that show a result at 95% CI, 1% that show it at 99% CI, etc.
 >Some of these remarks could readily be applied to some cancer
 Perhaps those therapies should not be used. However, I would note that
 there is a well-understood mechanism (toxicity) for cancer chemotherapy,
 and the more marginal types of chemotherapy are generally reserved as a
 last resort--not promoted for use in lieu of proven alternatives. At that
 point, I would not discourage a patient from using highly speculative
 herbals, for example.
 >>When it comes to fringe phenomena, I'd say that acupuncture and Ganzfeld
 >>effect have far greater promise for research efforts than homeopathy.
 >What is the Ganzfeld effect? 
 It's the hypothesized basis of what is probably the best current body of
 research to support a paranormal claim--telepathy. See the sci.skeptic
 FAQ. It is the sort of paranormal research that, in my judgement, does
 deserve more funding, now that there has been some replication of an
 apparent effect.
 >Curiously, a comment like that regarding
 >acupuncture even a decade or so ago would have yielded astonishment
 >from most conventional medical practitioners.
 I do not think that most conventional medical practitioners a decade ago