Are vaccinations bad? And homeopathy.

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Joseph Kay
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Nov 28 2006 11:09

afaik nobody's defending "allopathic" medicine (a term coined for ideological reasons as far as i can tell). people are defending the principles of evidence, peer review, double-blind RCTs etc vs anecdote, and a parallel argument is arguing over the validity of homoeopathic remedies, which does not imply a blanket acceptance of the medical status quo.

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Nov 28 2006 11:25
atlemk wrote:
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tlemk you say a lot of stuff authoritatively when there's actually not anything backing it up

Ditto. You've cited one literature review. Hardly counts as evidence.

I could post loads more - that one just seemed the best because it summarises clearly loads of other studies.

Another one could be this on from the Lancet (PDF):
http://www.farmaciasfrancesco.it/Lancet_Omeopatia.pdf

But of course that - like most studies - is a big and confusing document. Nonetheless the key bit is here:

Quote:
Our results confirm these
hypotheses: when analyses were restricted to large trials
of higher quality there was no convincing evidence that
homoeopathy was superior to placebo, whereas for
conventional medicine an important effect remained.

I'm not going to post any more evidence because I believe I have posted enough, and anyone can search for it, and the whole pseudoscience is so ridiculous that it's not even really worthy of debate. I mean it's treating people with poison, which is so massively diluted it's just water!

Joseph K. wrote:
John. wrote:
So my specific point is treating sick people with water is bogus. Does anyone disagree with that?

atlemk does ^

Yeah I got that, but I believe s/he is pretty, uh, unique in that respect.

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Nov 28 2006 11:31

I understand. But as I said homeopathy does this as well. I would like to know whether anyone knows the principle behind allopathic medicine, coz what is the point of all the "evidence" for allopathic medicines if there is no principle behind using them (and as far as I know there is none).

Allopathic is coined by homeopaths and basically means that it applies medicines to disease states according to no particular rule or law. In addition you have anti-pathy which is based on the law of opposites (from hippocrates). An allopathic doctor would typically use a mix of anti-pathic and homeopathic medicines or any other kind of medical substance or method.

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people are defending the principles of evidence, peer review, double-blind RCTs etc vs anecdote

This is exactly what I am doing as well. Anecdotes are no good at all, though they make for good stories.

As ret and joseph said though. There is no proof either way, plenty of evidence both for and against homeopathy (and allopathic medicine for that matter).

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Nov 28 2006 11:41
atlemk wrote:
As ret and joseph said though. There is no proof either way, plenty of evidence both for and against homeopathy (and allopathic medicine for that matter).

I didn't take an agnostic position, although strictly speaking science never proves anything it just offers best-fit hypotheses. I'm glad you agree "anecdotes are no good at all", that was what really got my goat. I'm still with John. in thinking homoeopathy is bollocks though, as seems the majority of studies/general consensus (which is going with the herd, but i'm not expert or inclined enough to do my own meta-study).

(Equally i have my own anecdotal biases which no doubt colour my judgement, namely all people i know who are into homoeopathy have also variously been into 'pagan magick', 'healing crystals' and joining dodgy pyramid schemes to pay off overdrafts tongue - which of course doesn't discredit any empirical study that does find homoeopathic effectiveness).

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Nov 28 2006 11:42
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I mean it's treating people with poison, which is so massively diluted it's just water!

You sound like someone who needs arsenicum... Your statement is actually a symptom.

The lancet study you posted omitted provings and only 16 percent of the studies had used individualized treatment (which is essential in homeopathy). Most of the studies were clinical (i.e. one remedy given to everyone in the trial) or complex (a bunch of remedies given to everyone). I.e. not a lot of data. This is exactly the problem with doing metastudies on homeopathy when it does not even test it based on the law of similars (which is what homeopathy is).

I've also posted plenty of evidence the other way, regardless of you stating that it is pseudoscience. Saying that it is not worthy of debate is silly and really shows your bias.

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Nov 28 2006 11:53
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Equally i have my own anecdotal biases which no doubt colour my judgement, namely all people i know who are into homoeopathy have also variously been into 'pagan magick', 'healing crystals'

That is the problem with homeopathy, lots of weirdos into it which does "discredit" it coz it mixes it in with wikka (wicca?), crystals, reiki, prayer, healing hands etc. Homeopathy becomes guilty by association.

However, practitioners are usually not weirdos like that (though you do find them). They are often disillusioned allopaths. before practicing as a homeopath you need to schools to be certified (and most allopathic medical schools actually teach courses on homeopathy nowadays).

Quote:
I'm still with John. in thinking homoeopathy is bollocks though, as seems the majority of studies/general consensus (which is going with the herd, but i'm not expert or inclined enough to do my own meta-study).

That's like you opinion, man... smile At least you recognize the herd instinct wink In any case people are mostly not convinced by the evidence, usually they have good experiences with homeopaths and that's what get them onto it. This was my personal conversion as well (I went to one of the best homeopaths in the world and he did remedy my complaints), then I've read up on it which got me convinced.

Have you tried a homeopath Joseph?

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Nov 28 2006 11:59
atlemk wrote:
Have you tried a homeopath Joseph?

haven't been ill in years. since i stopped eating cheese in fact. yay veganism.

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Nov 28 2006 12:22
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haven't been ill in years. since i stopped eating cheese in fact. yay veganism.

healthy diet usually does the trick... My health improved insanely when I stopped eating bread, pasta etc.

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or even the fact you didn't feel so uncomfortable as you did at the docs

if this is the case, merely going to the doc would be more than enough. the power of suggestion is important, but not that important. Also funny to see people telling Grace that she did not get well from homeopathy. It;s the classic patient-doctor relationship. The patient knows nothing, the doctor everything.

Personally I know that I was remedied (I wasn't cured yet though) for my kidneys, my sleeping problems, my stress, my urination etc. etc. by going to a homeopath. Having said that, the homeopathy I've tried for flus and colds have had mixed effects. But then again, the allopathic medicines for any of these never worked.

arf
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Nov 28 2006 12:28
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That is the problem with homeopathy, lots of weirdos into it which does "discredit" it coz it mixes it in with wikka (wicca?), crystals, reiki, prayer, healing hands etc. Homeopathy becomes guilty by association.

Theres lots of weirdos into standard conventional medicine too you know, how come they that doesnt become guilty by association?

I use homeopathy. I don't use any of these things in your example and I have a healthy skepticism of all of them. I don't understand why anyone would declare that the problem with homeopathy is that some people who happen to use it also use crystals. Do you not think that's a bit of a bizarre argument?

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Nov 28 2006 12:37
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Theres lots of weirdos into standard conventional medicine too you know, how come they that doesnt become guilty by association?

It;s because conventional medicine have the hegemony.

Quote:
I use homeopathy. I don't use any of these things in your example and I have a healthy skepticism of all of them. I don't understand why anyone would declare that the problem with homeopathy is that some people who happen to use it also use crystals. Do you not think that's a bit of a bizarre argument?

I use homeopathy too, and I am convinced by its evidence. The problem with weirdos and homeopathy is that homeopathy is does not have the same authority as allopathic medicine, it often is put in the same category as those in my example . It is a bizarre argument, but something that I've heard often. Because of being guilty by association lots of people just dismiss it without considering the evidence.

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Nov 28 2006 12:45

Revol, you always come with the best and cutest arguments . You are the best!

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Nov 28 2006 12:54
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Anyway I don't necessarily think a patient/doctor relationship is in inherently bad,

Agree, but the patient is disempowered in the typical doctor-patient relationship. A homeopath requires input from the patient, the subjective experience of the disease are more important (for prescription purposes) than that of objective quantifiable ones.

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I go to the doctor precisely on the basis that they have more fucking knowlegde than me!

I go to a homeopath for exactly the same reasons. But the homeopath doesn't treat me like an object.

Grace
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Nov 28 2006 13:01
John. wrote:
Arf and others keep conflating things homeopaths do with what homeopathy actually is - the voodoo water treatment.

See I disagree with you here. Would you reduce what conventional medicine "is" to the prescription of drugs? Would you exclude what doctors do from your definition of what medicine "is"? I'd imagine under the umbrella of medical treatment you'd include diagnosis, follow-ups and so on.

Even if you think that conventional medicine "is" simply the act of giving someone medication, this is not a criterion that should be applied to homeopathy. Since it is by its nature holistic and the actual practise of homeopathy itself is not solely based on "here you go have some pills" - I would here make a distinction between actual appointments with homeopaths and the worryingly common practise of just buying the remedies over the counter, which I don't think is a good idea at all or representative of what homeopathy is - you cannot reduce what homeopathy as a practise "is" to what the remedies are.

And now I'm lost because I've not read any of your peer reviewed gospels.

Grace
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Nov 28 2006 13:04
atlemk wrote:
You sound like someone who needs arsenicum...

Concentrated? wink

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Joseph Kay
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Nov 28 2006 13:06

so are we back to 'homoeopathy = holistic approach' then?

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Nov 28 2006 13:09
Grace wrote:
John. wrote:
Arf and others keep conflating things homeopaths do with what homeopathy actually is - the voodoo water treatment.

See I disagree with you here. Would you reduce what conventional medicine "is" to the prescription of drugs? Would you exclude what doctors do from your definition of what medicine "is"?

In this discussion I have attacked what homeopathy is - voodoo water treatment.

Pro-homeopaths, with the exception of atlemk didn't try to defend this, they defended a bunch of incidental stuff that I never mentioned.

The pro-homeos then started to attack "conventional medicine" by attacking what parts of the health service and pharmaceutical industry do. Which I and other people have not even tried to defend - a strawman, in fact.

All I support is evidence-based treatments; treatments which are shown to work better than placebos.

I tried to outline my 2 points above, but no one responded to them. I'll include them again vainly in the hopes that someone might address them instead of railing against more strawmen:
1. So my specific point is treating sick people with water is bogus. Does anyone disagree with that?

2. More generally my point is that treatments without evidence that they work are crap. Does anyone disagree with that?

Grace
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Nov 28 2006 13:22
revol68 wrote:
Grace wrote:
John. wrote:
Thora wrote:
Homeopathy actually worked for Grace and powertotheimagination though.

No it didn't. You think that power's back problems were solved by someone giving her water, really?

Anecdotes don't work because there's no control. You can't know if it was the water they were given, the placebo effect, that the problem just got better on its own, that the homeopath gave them some good advice, that they changed the thing that caused the problem, etc.

So I'm still ill?

Not that I don't question the scientific validity of homeopathy; I certainly do, but I also think that at some point you need to get your head out of the detatched, theoretical mindset you appear to be locked in and actually acknowledge what happens to real people because you just cannot make such sweeping generalisations.

Materialism or ideology, comrade?

Grace this is just absurd.

a) No one is saying your problem didn't go away , they are just saying that it can't be put down to the homeopathy. It could have been a placebo affect, good advice or even the fact you didn't feel so uncomfortable as you did at the docs, it could have also been nothing more than coincidence (something which humans seem to have a tendency to ascribe meaning to, the speech of the real so to speak).

What has been shown is that as an active agent homeopathy is useless, there are no theoretical justifications for it and no empirical data either.

Again, I'd cite my previous post regarding people's narrow definition of homeopathy here. If a doctor gave me some good advice and I got better, would you claim that I didn't get better because of medicine? Perhaps you would; fair enough. I'd define homeopathy as the entire treatment, but perhaps that's because I don't have such a detached view as someone with no experience of homeopathic treatment and an utterly dismissive attitude, who knows.

I'm well aware of people's tendency to place undue significance upon coincidence; I'd have thought that knowing me you'd have more sense than to lump me in with such people. If seven-eight months' worth of persistent vaginal infection just happening to go away (and not returning as it had done following the short-lived relief - I'm talking a few days' worth at most - provided by conventional treatment) shortly after homeopathic treatment that I coincidentally happened to have at a point at which, coincidentally, the infection was showing absolutely zero signs of going away by itself, is a coincidence, then surely it is a miraculous one? Perhaps so, here I have to concede that this is purely anecdotal and will inevitably be universally dismissed. That's fine. I could provide a more extreme, less coincidental-seeming anecdote but it involves large amounts of strange coloured faeces and as it will just be dismissed as voodoo mumbo jumbo anyway I don't see the point.

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Nov 28 2006 13:26
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Your being treated as much as a fucking object by the homeopath than by the doctor, it's just that the homeopath in order to be in anyway effective at pimping his bullshit has to humour you.

My homeopath doesn't humor me at all, I do most of the talking.

Quote:
so are we back to 'homoeopathy = holistic approach' then?

No, while it is holistic homeopathy = law of similars.

Quote:
1. So my specific point is treating sick people with water is bogus. Does anyone disagree with that?

2. More generally my point is that treatments without evidence that they work are crap. Does anyone disagree with that?

1. It is not just water, as I've said over and over in my posts. Ultra-dilutions are not just the refuge of homeopaths, lots of big-pharma are into it because it would save them lots of money. But treating sick people with just water would be bogus, however, this is not homeopathy. Homeopathy can also come in the form of sugar pills, works just as well. So it is not just water we're talking about.

2. No disagreement there. Goes for a lot of allopathic medicines.

Quote:
I'm sorry but you just can't overlook the central fact that homeopathy is fundamentally based on mad bollox, with no theorectical or empirical justification.

The central fact is that you are talking out of your arse.

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Nov 28 2006 13:35
atlemk wrote:
My homeopath doesn't humor me at all, I do most of the talking.

grin grin grin

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Nov 28 2006 13:37
atlemk wrote:
The lancet study you posted omitted provings and only 16 percent of the studies had used individualized treatment (which is essential in homeopathy). Most of the studies were clinical (i.e. one remedy given to everyone in the trial) or complex (a bunch of remedies given to everyone). I.e. not a lot of data. This is exactly the problem with doing metastudies on homeopathy when it does not even test it based on the law of similars (which is what homeopathy is).

There's a word for something that has absolutely no effect in a clinical trial but suddenly becomes effective if it's admnistered by somebody with a good bedside manner.

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Nov 28 2006 13:37
revol68 wrote:
Can anyone point me to a study that shows that homeopathy (as in the actual treatments) stand up to double blind tests or even point me towards a theorectical paper that can justify it without breaching all current knowlegde of chemistry and physics.

i think the only theoretical rationale is that water exhibits hysterisis via some kind of quantum effects, i.e. it is historical or 'has a memory' in laymans terms. entirely speculative afaik

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Nov 28 2006 13:39
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Can anyone point me to a study that shows that homeopathy (as in the actual treatments) stand up to double blind tests or even point me towards a theorectical paper that can justify it without breaching all current knowlegde of chemistry and physics.

Check some of my previous posts Revol, you'll find some there (though they're not on the web, I just have access to hard copies in the library here).

But in any case you need to understand what homeopathy is and how it works before you can test its assumptions (which is more than just "water is magical").

nosos
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Nov 28 2006 14:06

I think the argumentative situation people get into with the science/alternative medicine debate obscures and polarises the issue – there are various things which get classified as ‘alternative medicine’ which anecdotally seem to work fairly effectively. Granted though that in so far as they lack success in double blind tests than any claims they made need to be treated as of an entirely different order to claims made by ‘western’ medicine. The problem comes from advocates of ‘alternative’ medicine claiming a proven efficacy when they have no basis to do so and self-conscious defenders of western medicine inadvertently making efficacy a zero-sum game – if the issue is something essentially therapeutic (as opposed to something my health depends upon) then surely the appearance of it working is sufficient?

Grace
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Nov 28 2006 14:11

I have to say that some of the attitudes being displayed here are some of the least scientific I've ever come across. Basing the possibility of truth or falsehood solely on current knowledge is about as far from scientific as you can get. If scientists worked solely on the basis of what is current, we'd still be learning that the world is flat and our bodies are made of humours. To say something is impossible or ridiculous because it challenges or even totally contradicts current knowledge isn't really productive; if current ideas were never challenged or contradicted we'd have no scientific discoveries at all. How many prominent scientists were laughed down by their peers? Look at a bit of history and you'll find a lot of them had such experiences. There's currently money and time being spent researching string theory (I read this in New Scientist, not Hippie Mysticism Weekly) - if proved this would turn virtually all current knowledge of physics on its head, paving the way for flying cars and other magical sounding things - is this 'scientific'? A huge amount of science was based on unproved theories until it was proved - Democritus coined the theory of atoms in the 5th century B.C. yet atoms were only proved to exist in the late 19th/early 20th centuries.

I'm not trying to assert that homeopathy must be scientifically true and to question it is unacceptable - I'd question it myself - nor am I trying to say that anecdotes must be believed because they might be proved true in the future, nor that current knowledge should be discounted; my point is that to laugh something down and dismiss it as totally unfeasible under any circumstances because it doesn't conform with current knowledge isn't a progressive approach, and if scientists took the approach that nothing is possible outside of what is currently deemed to be true, we might as well discontinue scientific research now.

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Nov 28 2006 14:16
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It's obvious when you step back that homeopathy could never make money in the way conventional medical practices can.

That's odd, because most homeopaths in Britain work for the middle and upper classes and pull in decent amounts of money.

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Nov 28 2006 14:21
Grace wrote:
I'm not trying to assert that homeopathy must be scientifically true and to question it is unacceptable - I'd question it myself - nor am I trying to say that anecdotes must be believed because they might be proved true in the future, nor that current knowledge should be discounted; my point is that to laugh something down and dismiss it as totally unfeasible under any circumstances because it doesn't conform with current knowledge isn't a progressive approach, and if scientists took the approach that nothing is possible outside of what is currently deemed to be true, we might as well discontinue scientific research now.

Joseph K. on page 3 (oo er) wrote:
No doubt our acceptance of the current scientific paradigm is also informing our rejection of homoeopathy

good point, i wish i'd made it myself wink

i've been at pains to point out we should be open to challenge, which is what my rejection of anecdotal evidence/insistence on evidential proof is about, and also what underlines my (and revol's i believe) critique of science, that it is historically and socially situated and necessarily incomplete.

i still think however, pending the discovery of quantum memory in water, that "homeopathy is fundamentally based on mad bollox" (c) revol68.

nosos
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Nov 28 2006 14:24
Jack wrote:
I mean Newton didn't just assert that gravity existed because it worked for him - it was argued with science. If homeopathy had any value and is to be excepted as scientific, then surely (if it worked) it'd be able to go through the same process?

But at the time it wasn’t regarded as scientific. It was seen as a return to primitive Aristotelianism – the notion that there just are innate forces & they don’t need explaining – in a sense he did argue because it worked for him. It was a necessary part of an overall system which ultimately got adopted for a whole of reasons – most scientific, some less so. Grace’s point, at least as I read it, was that the a priori reflexive exclusion of something as unscientific – such as alternative medicine is, even by its very name, excluded by some – is the kind of attitude which tends to abate the progress of science in the long term.

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Nov 28 2006 14:25
Grace wrote:
I have to say that some of the attitudes being displayed here are some of the least scientific I've ever come across. Basing the possibility of truth or falsehood solely on current knowledge is about as far from scientific as you can get. If scientists worked solely on the basis of what is current, we'd still be learning that the world is flat and our bodies are made of humours.

Sorry, that's not a valid point.

The idea the world is flat was not based on evidence or testing. It was tested on heresay - like homeopathy (which in essence is the use of water to treat illness, though you keep conflating it with other things). Indeed, it was very easy to show in tests that the world is round, which was done by the greeks years before it was "forgotten" by the west. They stuck a stick in the ground and measured its shadow. The difference allowed the to calculate the circumferance of the Earth as well. That argument is one in favour of empirical testing.

Quote:
To say something is impossible or ridiculous because it challenges or even totally contradicts current knowledge isn't really productive;

That's not what me, joseph, revol, etc. are saying. It isn't that it's "impossible" or "totally contradicts current knowledge" it's that it is shown in repeated trials and tests that it is no more effective than a placebo.

This stuff here is a side issue, but still:

Quote:
There's currently money and time being spent researching string theory (I read this in New Scientist, not Hippie Mysticism Weekly) - if proved this would turn virtually all current knowledge of physics on its head, paving the way for flying cars and other magical sounding things - is this 'scientific'?

Er, well yes. String theory's been in the works for years, it won't turn much on its head, just as quantum mechanics didn't mean old physics like Newton was thrown out, because that still pretty much works on a macro (non-subatomic) scale.

Quote:
... my point is that to laugh something down and dismiss it as totally unfeasible under any circumstances because it doesn't conform with current knowledge isn't a progressive approach, and if scientists took the approach that nothing is possible outside of what is currently deemed to be true, we might as well discontinue scientific research now.

My point again is not that "it doesn't conform with current knowledge" but that repeated trials and studies of it show that it's no more effective than a placebo, and studies that did show it's effective were shown to be flawed (as studies which "show" that smoking's not dangerous are flawed).

Grace
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Nov 28 2006 14:27
nosos wrote:
Jack wrote:
I mean Newton didn't just assert that gravity existed because it worked for him - it was argued with science. If homeopathy had any value and is to be excepted as scientific, then surely (if it worked) it'd be able to go through the same process?

But at the time it wasn’t regarded as scientific. It was seen as a return to primitive Aristotelianism – the notion that there just are innate forces & they don’t need explaining – in a sense he did argue because it worked for him. It was a necessary part of an overall system which ultimately got adopted for a whole of reasons – most scientific, some less so. Grace’s point, at least as I read it, was that the a priori reflexive exclusion of something as unscientific – such as alternative medicine is, even by its very name, excluded by some – is the kind of attitude which tends to abate the progress of science in the long term.

Thumbs up.

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Nov 28 2006 14:28

i don't think anyone's been rejecting alternative medicine wholesale and most people have been critical of established medical practice - two things have got slated - anecdotal relativism and diluted-potion treatment (i would say homoeopathy since this is what the word means but it's meaning keeps shifting all over the bloody place. damn you derrida! angry)