Tara Smith Speaks

| 76 Comments

Thumb contributor and blogger Tara Smith interviewd on UTI.

Despite the lip service paid to making this country “safer” in the aftermath of 9/11, the measures put in place show that protection of our health has become almost exclusively a political issue, and the science is again being ignored.

RBH

76 Comments

What a terrific interview. Thanks for sharing it.

Check this out:

Faith Based NASA

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/04/s[…];oref=slogin

The Big Bang memo came from Mr. Deutsch, a 24-year-old presidential appointee in the press office at NASA headquarters whose résumé says he was an intern in the “war room” of the 2004 Bush-Cheney re-election campaign. A 2003 journalism graduate of Texas A&M, he was also the public-affairs officer who sought more control over Dr. Hansen’s public statements.

In October 2005, Mr. Deutsch sent an e-mail message to Flint Wild, a NASA contractor working on a set of Web presentations about Einstein for middle-school students. The message said the word “theory” needed to be added after every mention of the Big Bang.

The Big Bang is “not proven fact; it is opinion,” Mr. Deutsch wrote, adding, “It is not NASA’s place, nor should it be to make a declaration such as this about the existence of the universe that discounts intelligent design by a creator.”

It continued: “This is more than a science issue, it is a religious issue. And I would hate to think that young people would only be getting one-half of this debate from NASA. That would mean we had failed to properly educate the very people who rely on us for factual information the most.”

The memo also noted that The Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual specified the phrasing “Big Bang theory.” Mr. Acosta, Mr. Deutsch’s boss, said in an interview yesterday that for that reason, it should be used in all NASA documents.

The Deutsch memo was provided by an official at NASA headquarters who said he was upset with the effort to justify changes to descriptions of science by referring to politically charged issues like intelligent design. Senior NASA officials did not dispute the message’s authenticity.

Mr. Wild declined to be interviewed; Mr. Deutsch did not respond to e-mail or phone messages. On Friday evening, repeated queries were made to the White House about how a young presidential appointee with no science background came to be supervising Web presentations on cosmology and interview requests to senior NASA scientists.

DS: Is bioterrorism or a modern pandemic a real threat to the US?

TS: Well yes, especially as 45 million Americans lack health insurance!

Huh?

Comment #77668

Posted by Beer on February 5, 2006 02:37 PM (e)

Check this out:

Faith Based NASA

Check it out over at AtBC:

http://www.antievolution.org/cgi-bi[…]?act=SF;f=14

Yes, the large number of uninsured Americans DOES represent a national security threat.

Think it through. Seed 45 million Americans with a pandemic flu. That’s a lot of people.…a lot of people who are gonna need care. With that many people, you really don’t think the national economy ISN’T going to grind to a halt as we deal with their illness?

And as the illnesses spreads and develops, there’s going to be a paralysis of decision making, I guaruntee it. There’s going to be a precious day AT LEAST debating what we are going to do with people who can’t pay for their health care (if they haven’t already flooded the emergency rooms of local hospitals), and in that time, we’ve lost any chance of keeping a handle on the spread. Meanwhile, the underinsured and uninsured keep circulating, spreading the illnesses (which could have been headed off if there was a more widespread network to handle them).

Syntax Error: not well-formed (invalid token) at line 1, column 61, byte 61 at /usr/local/lib/perl5/site_perl/5.16/mach/XML/Parser.pm line 187.

Bah, preview! preview!

Anyhoo, as I mentioned in the interview, our best line of defense against outbreaks–which includes purposeful ones, such as the release of a bioterrorism agent–is good surveillance. With ~15% of our population lacking access to basic health care, they’re essentially invisible from a surveillance standpoint until they check into an emergency room with serious illness. This can set us back immensely, and time is of the essence when dealing with these kind of outbreaks. It’s always best to catch it when it’s a local event so that appropriate measures can be taken to *prevent* its spread–it’s much harder to play catch-up after it’s already all over the place. Having so many people that aren’t routinely seen by a medical professional places us all at greater risk of infectious disease.

this is a test post I’ve been blocked from posting here, unsure why

the answer must be that i can post from my stationary computer but not my laptop. this is beyond my small brain to figure out.

Pro,

Were you aware of this.

Comment #77738

Posted by Flash Gordon on February 5, 2006 08:37 PM (e)

DS: Is bioterrorism or a modern pandemic a real threat to the US?

TS: Well yes, especially as 45 million Americans lack health insurance!

Huh?

People without insurance tend to not go to primary care and wait until they are acute (if at all) and/or go to the emergency rooms where physicians are frequently over-loaded with not only their legitimate emergency cases. They also frequently don’t get immunized for non-school-admission immunization purposes because they can’t afford it, and even when the medical care is free (which is limited) they’re just used to “doing without.”

Essentially, they represent an relatively untreated reservoir of disease here in America. If we actually went at it with a brain, we could substantially reduce a LOT of disease transmission by having universal health care.

What amazes me, quite frankly, is all of these people who are in wild denial of very obvious basic facts having NO plan at all for when things happen.

Though, on the upside, now we can blame ID for the bird flu, AIDS, and people not having health care.

An interesting and enjoyable interview Tara.

Even though my educational background is not in biology I usually have rough idea of what real biologists are talking about when they give lectures or talks eg. yourself or Dr. Miller recently. The strange thing is, I usually haven’t a clue what creationist biologists are saying as seem to make everything sound so complicated !

Like your mum, I to have an incurable disease Tara (I suffer from Ulcerative Colitis) and have had to rely on medical science for something akin to a normal life style (the symptoms of the disease are very debilitating). After some very severe drug treatment I eventually opted for surgery and I now feel reasonably well.

I also flirted with alternative medicine’s for a while, in desperation I think (homeopathy), but this proved to be useless and a total waste of time and money. All I can say is thank goodness we don’t need private health insurance in this country (yet). I reckon if I lived in the US I would be insurable.

The thing that frightens me about creation science is that since they are so far out of date in other scientific fields eg. their geology (ie flood geology) is over 150 years out of date, creationist astronomy is completely off (the earth was created before the sun, denying recent discoveries like the kuiper belt etc.) what happens when we get to Biology and in particular medical science. As someone who has had to rely on this for a normal lifestyle it scares me to think that they could one day get their way and turn this back 150 years as well !

And as the current administration in the US seems intent to attempt to continue to cut back on public health funding, we may find that this number grows over the next few years rather than shrinks.

CNN has this article today: http://www.cnn.com/2006/POLITICS/02[…]p/index.html

Bush is also seeking savings by trimming the growth of spending in Medicare, the government’s giant health care program for the elderly and disabled, by $35.9 billion over five years, and making similar reductions in a number of other benefit programs.

Moses–

Very well put–you said it more clearly and succintly than I.

Peter,

Sorry to hear about your illness. While I don’t know about pushing biology and medicine back 150 years, there certainly is a lot of resistance to advancing it (for example, the stem cell issue). And as I mentioned in the article, there are several prominent IDists who also deny that HIV causes AIDS–and their objections to that, if extended to every infectious agent, would essentially kill the entire germ theory of disease. It’s ridiculous.

Greg H,

And as the current administration in the US seems intent to attempt to continue to cut back on public health funding, we may find that this number grows over the next few years rather than shrinks.

Yep. This is why those of us in public health scoff when Bush says he’s made us “safer.” Cutting funding for health isn’t a good trade-off for an increased military budget, as our health is a huge part of our “homeland security.” I discussed that in this post over on Aetiology: Public health, defense, what will *really* make us safer.

It’s unbelievable, isn’t it? I want to know how someone so under qualified was appointed to make those kind of decisions, and, more importantly, why this administration believes they have the right to censor and/or edit anything from the scientific community. Scientists are driven by the search for truth, and they shouldn’t be hampered by politicians whose only purpose is religion-driven agenda. Can you imagine the BBC making these kinds of edits? No, neither can I. In a decade or two we’ll wonder why the U.S. isn’t leading the way in science and technology anymore. But what else could these policies lead to? - blocking of the immigration of scientists and students into the country, general dumbing down of the population through the editing of science, constant battle against science through frivolous lawsuit.

In a decade or two?

Regarding the retardation of scientific spending in this country, I would argue there are already several fields (biology being one) where the US is already no longer a leader.

To me, this may be one of those “over the waterfall” sort of issues. Which is to say, we’re already off the drop by the time we notice the problem, and by then, it’s too late to do anything about it. Tara’s concerns about a major pandemic illustrate that - in our current situation, by the time we realize something is very wrong, it’s too late to do anything to stop it.

“The most meaningful activity in which a human being can be engaged is one that is directly related to human evolution. This is true because human beings now play an active and critical role not only in the process of their own evolution but in the survival and evolution of all living things. Awareness of this places upon human beings a responsibility for their participation in and contribution to the process of evolution. If humankind would accept and acknowledge this responsibility and become creatively engaged in the process of metabiological evolution consciously as well as unconsciously, a new reality would emerge, and a new age would be born” – Jonas Salk wrote, Anatomy of Reality

Why does the USA have no equivalent to the UK’s NHS? Is there a good reason?

Posted by Stephen Elliott

Why does the USA have no equivalent to the UK’s NHS? Is there a good reason?

To sum it up in manner to try not to cause offence: Politics and culture. Here in the UK we underwent various changes through the 19th and early 20th centuries that the USA didnt, or in other words the countries took different trajectories, from what was a different starting point anyway. Thus, the USA was not open to the idea of an NHS the way the UK was after WW2.

In my original post I meant to say I would be un-insurable. Since health insurance is surely like all other forms of insurance i.e. the number of claims a person makes will affect his/her premiums. I reckon if I lived in the US mine would be sky-high.

Stephen: I think the reason why the U.S. (or other countries eg the Europeans have social insurance) does not have an NHS is due to tax reasons. Like some people in this country, no-one wants to pay for it. There seems to be a bigger resistance in the US to paying tax than in the UK (remember the comments of George Bush senior”Read my lips,no new taxes”) and how they eventually came back to haunt him.

I remember a number of years back seeing a documentary about the limited facilities available to people who for some reason or another did not have health insurance (some disabled people or the very poor for example), and I was quite shocked.16hrs. waiting to be seen in A&E ! I always feel that private health insurance is fine if you are well but if you take ill the premiums will surely rise.

The NHS might not be perfect but at least it’s free at the point of delivery !

I like the idea of the NHS. I do not mind paying for it. But I do wish it targeted slightly differently.

Personally I would prefer that it treated people with illnesses as number 1 priority, things such as cosmetic/lifestyle surgery should be rare on the NHS.

What I mean is that breast enhancements or reductions (example) should take second place to people with an illness.

Why does the USA have no equivalent to the UK’s NHS? Is there a good reason?

It’s communistic.

Only slightly off-topic:

A study published in Health Affairs in 2005 showed that half of all personal bankruptcies in the U.S. involved medical bills. Many of these people had health insurance at the time their health problems developed, but either they weren’t fully covered, or else they lost their insurance (or at least their employer-subsidized premiums) when they got too sick or too badly injured to work.

http://www.boston.com/news/globe/he[…]_bankruptcy/

For a couple of years, my husband and I paid our health insurance costs “out of pocket”. As reasonably healthy adults in our forties, the two of us paid about US $3300 a year for the most basic coverage possible – no prescriptions, a large co-pay for routine visits, etc. I like to joke that we finally got our money’s worth in early 2003, when I developed a nasty chronic-pain problem that required two surgeries, one of them major. We still had significant out-of-pocket costs, especially since (a.) one anesthesiology practice in the Kalamazoo, MI area, where we were living at the time, has a virtual monopoly over the local hospitals and (b.) that practice didn’t have any previous arrangement with our insurance provider. Incidentally, the proprietor of that practice is a local M.D. who is also a prominent “pro-life” member of the state legislature.

We were able to weather that one, although recovering from surgery put my job prospects on prolonged hold. For people in low-paying jobs with little or no insurance or sick leave, things are a lot more difficult. They have to drag themselves in to work, whether healthy, hurt, or sick. And when they have to go to work with contagious illnesses – well, we’re back where we started a few posts back.

For people in low-paying jobs with little or no insurance or sick leave, things are a lot more difficult. They have to drag themselves in to work, whether healthy, hurt, or sick. And when they have to go to work with contagious illnesses — well, we’re back where we started a few posts back.

I hope they at least try to infect the boss.

Hi Tara,

I enjoyed much of your interview, and I couldn’t agree with you more about the need to plug the health insurance gap. But I was disappointed by the parochial outlook you displayed towards alternative medicine in this interview. I think people who are serious about either science or the public health need to dig a little deeper.

For instance, the Spanish Flu pandemic occurred during a period when homeopathy was still widely practiced. In the wake of the epidemic, the American Institute of Homeopathy published the results of a study of death rates in homeopathic hospitals and their conventional counterparts. They found that 24,000 conventionally treated patients had a death rate of 28.2%, while 26,000 patients with homeopathy had a death rate of 1.05%. (Cited in “Bird Flu Threat,” Homeopathy Today December 2005, p. 30)

Anyone is welcome to dub these results post hoc, ergo propter hoc, but at what expense to the people who could be saved by homeopathic treatment if an outbreak of bird flu erupts in the near future?

To continue with the example of homeopathy, as just one branch of alternative medicine: there are people who are seriously investigating its efficacy and its effectiveness, for instance at the program in integrative medicine at the University of Arizona. Research like this is desperately under funded.

Yet the people who carry out this kind of research – and indeed, homeopaths in general – are under attack in ways that are all too eerily reminiscent of the attacks on evolution, whether it’s the argument from incredulity (“This couldn’t possibly work!”), flawed studies (even appearing in journals that should know better, such as Lancet 2005;366:726-732, dissected in J Altern Complement Med, 2005;11:751-785], or outright ignorance (for example, the notion that homeopathy is primarily based on highly diluted solutions, rather than the principal that like cures like). How can medical science advance in a climate that so closely resembles the miasma of creationist attacks on evolution?

Finally, I am puzzled by your remarks about the death of Christine Maggiore’s daughter. If this is anything but straight-up post hoc, ergo propter hoc thinking, I’d appreciate it if you could tell me why. In any case, the next time you see fit to disparage alternative medicine, I hope you’ll do so with enough depth and rigor to contribute to meaningful debate.

Regards, Richard Pfeiffer

In my previous post, I naturally meant to say:

“They found that 24,000 conventionally treated patients had a death rate of 28.2%, while 26,000 patients treated with homeopathy had a death rate of 1.05%.”

Richard

You arent disputing that homeopathic solutions are usually extremely dilute solutions are you? Whether or not you start with treating like with like, the current scientific view is that dilution to 30C for example, will result in no active molecules in the liquid. Thus there is no effect beyond the placebo effect.

As for the Spanish flu, you would have to give us a link to the actual paper/ evidence, so we can critique it properly.

Moreover, an article on the BBC news website http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/4183916.stm ends with this comment from a spokeswoman from the society of homeopaths:

“It has been established beyond doubt and accepted by many researchers, that the placebo-controlled randomised controlled trial is not a fitting research tool with which to test homeopathy.”

So I am afraid that if you cant test it that way, how can you say it is any better than anything else?

Yet the people who carry out this kind of research — and indeed, homeopaths in general — are under attack in ways that are all too eerily reminiscent of the attacks on evolution

Oh, puh-leeeze.

Julie Stahlhut wrote:

For people in low-paying jobs with little or no insurance or sick leave, things are a lot more difficult. They have to drag themselves in to work, whether healthy, hurt, or sick. And when they have to go to work with contagious illnesses …

To understand why conservative, or neo-cons now, currently in charge of our government don’t do much to help correct such situations you’ll need to read some of their books and start understanding how they think.

On another message board some freeper showed up and told us to read, “The Vision of the Anointed” by Thomas Sowell to understand the Liberal mindset. We should read it to understand how freepers might see the so called Liberal mindset. It’s like studying ID to prove it’s not science.

The Amazon page is here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/04[…]amp;n=283155

It’s over a decade old with what looks like a dead horse used as an ironic strawman argument. It’s ironic for fundy Christian right-wingers to accuse others of feeling “anointed” and holier than thou. Even fundies use religious terminology as a put down.

It might be a good idea for the more politically active bloggers to read that book and others like it if only exploit the irony of its phrases and demonstrate that you are not ignorant of the conservative viewpoint. (I’ll have to wait a week or two for my interlibrary loan to show up, so I haven’t read it yet.) However, it seems a lot of the old conservative criticism of liberal policies, like welfare and health care, has become a double edged sword that now cuts neo-con policies in different ways.

The question I have here is “why is a brain wave relevant?” It doesn’t necessarily speak to a cure. Could it be that this wasn’t a double blind and Dr. Bell knew which substance she gave the patient and subconsciously signaled the patient with subtle cues of expectation? Could I produce an alpha wave spike by just smiling at someone?

I just thought it was interesting that there was a clear physiological indication of a difference between the active substance and the placebo.

I doubt if the people administering the substances could have given a signal, since it was a double-blind, randomized, parallel-group, placebo-controlled trial. Here’s the abstract from the Rheumatology web site:

Improved clinical status in fibromyalgia patients treated with individualized homeopathic remedies versus placebo

I. R. Bell1,2,3,4,6,8, D. A. Lewis, II9, A. J. Brooks3, G. E. Schwartz3,5,6, S. E. Lewis9, B. T. Walsh4 and C. M. Baldwin3,4,7,8

1Program in Integrative Medicine, 2Departments of Psychiatry, 3Psychology, 4Medicine, 5Neurology, 6Surgery, the 7Arizona Respiratory Center and the 8Mel and Enid Zuckerman Arizona College of Public Health at the University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, and 9Saybrook Graduate School and Research Institute, San Francisco, California, USA.

Correspondence to: I. R. Bell, Program in Integrative Medicine, The University of Arizona Health Sciences Center, 1249 N. Mountain Avenue, Tucson, AZ 85719, USA.

Objective. To assess the efficacy of individualized classical homeopathy in the treatment of fibromyalgia.

Methods. This study was a double-blind, randomized, parallel-group, placebo-controlled trial of homeopathy. Community-recruited persons (N = 62) with physician-confirmed fibromyalgia (mean age 49 yr, S.D. 10 yr, 94% women) were treated in a homeopathic private practice setting. Participants were randomized to receive oral daily liquid LM (1/50 000) potencies with an individually chosen homeopathic remedy or an indistinguishable placebo. Homeopathic visits involved joint interviews and concurrence on remedy selection by two experienced homeopaths, at baseline, 2 months and 4 months (prior to a subsequent optional crossover phase of the study which is reported elsewhere). Tender point count and tender point pain on examination by a medical assessor uninvolved in providing care, self-rating scales on fibromyalgia-related quality of life, pain, mood and global health at baseline and 3 months, were the primary clinical outcome measures for this report.

Results. Fifty-three people completed the treatment protocol. Participants on active treatment showed significantly greater improvements in tender point count and tender point pain, quality of life, global health and a trend toward less depression compared with those on placebo.

Conclusions. This study replicates and extends a previous 1-month placebo-controlled crossover study in fibromyalgia that pre-screened for only one homeopathic remedy. Using a broad selection of remedies and the flexible LM dose (1/50 000 dilution factor) series, the present study demonstrated that individualized homeopathy is significantly better than placebo in lessening tender point pain and improving the quality of life and global health of persons with fibromyalgia.

KEY WORDS: Fibromyalgia, Homeopathy, Chronic pain, Global health.

I will absolutely (And i dont use that word lightly) say that Prof Roy cannot show how and what structure is transferred to the water in homeopathy.

Dr. Roy isn’t here to speak for himself, but as I pointed out, he is one of the founders of modern materials science, with many awards in the field. I think it’s safe to say he’s got an idea or two of how to conduct research in this area. He probably wouldn’t put his reputation on the line, otherwise.

I’m sorry, but I didn’t catch where you got your doctorate in materials science.

And where are you conducting your research currently?

If you’re a colleague of Dr. Roy and are so certain, perhaps you should contact him personally and save a fellow scientist the potential for embarassment!

Looks, or appearances, can be deceiving.

Here’s a bloggy report on a study that says “Homeopathy no better than sugar pill”: http://www.valleyskeptic.com/homeopathy_useless.…

There’s no question that looks can be deceiving!

The link you provided is a pretty superficial and misled discussion of the Lancet article I have mentioned. It fails to point out the several obvious flaws in the methodology of that meta-study.

Here is a quote from the Iris Bell article I have mentioned. It points to several areas that are problematic– to say the least. Note that she is using allopathy as a synonym for conventional medicine:

The Shang et al. paper concluded that “the clinical effects of homeopathy are placebo effects” on the basis of 8 unspecified homeopathic studies and 6 unspecified conventional (allopathic) studies out of an original total of 110 studies of each type on the same variety of conventionally diagnosed conditions.

The Lancet‘s editorial stance raises grave concerns about logic, fairness, and rationality in The Lancet‘s interpretation and use of the evidence, for several reasons: First, the subanalysis on which the main conclusions are based did not specify which 8 papers of the original 110 homeopathic or 6 papers of the original 110 allopathic papers were used. This lack of reporting transparency and precision is typically not tolerated for allopathic medical reports. For instance, the Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials (CONSORT) statement requires a full disclosure of outcomes of all initially enrolled patients in a detailed flow chart; but the lack of comparable details was tolerated for the identity of the small number of actual studies used for the Shang et al. meta-analysis conclusions.

Second, the Shang et al. paper is one meta-analysis out of several published meta-analyses (the others have been largely favorable to what they claim is “homeopathy”), based on an incomplete and not up-to-date selection of extremely heterogeneous randomized controlled trials (RCTs) encompassing multiple different allopathic diagnoses and using interventions that are only sometimes considered homeopathic by homeopaths.

The first point is pretty damning: the paper doesn’t live up to normal reporting standards, yet is not only published, but paraded as “The end of homeopathy.”

The second point is also important, and Bell gives an example of how similar design flaws could be used to come to erroneous conclusions about a conventional drug:

An analogy for a conventional drug would be to test the effects of penicillin for all patients with symptoms and signs of an apparent infection. The design quality of the studies would otherwise be excellent. However, penicillin will not work for patients with viral infections or bacterial infections that are resistant to its effects or for persons with fevers from other, noninfectious causes. Thus this drug might show benefit only for a subset of patients with symptoms of infections (i.e., the ones with true penicillin-sensitive infections).

How would penicillin fare in a meta-analysis of studies averaging all patients together, evaluating only internal but not external ecologic or population validity, and ignoring the intrinsic nature of penicillin in benefiting certain patients? Variable luck of the investigators in recruiting patients with penicillin-sensitive infections in a given study as well as publication bias in medicine generally to favor publication of positive rather than negative results would likely lead to a current scenario from the Shang et al. paper—that is, the publication of a small number of “high quality” positive studies but the rejection of penicillin for treatment of infections in general on the basis of the meta-analysis.

Proponents would insist that penicillin is nonetheless very helpful for certain patients with the “right” infections and skeptics would scoff at the argument. But the proponents would be correct: penicillin is very helpful, but only for patients in a target population whose disease conditions match the capacity of the drug to act for them. Thus, goes the situation for homeopathy.

I’m sorry, but I missed a few questions from guthrie that are worth addressing…

In other words, they value “tests” of effectiveness over tests of efficacy.

I’m afraid I dont understand the difference you are trying to make.

There is a difference (that even conventional researchers are starting to value) between what happens in a normal RCT, with fairly straightforward patients and what you can observe in real clinical settings where you have factors like drug interactions and so on. The normal RCTs are said in medical parlance to measure “internal validity,” or efficacy, but not the “external ecological validity,” or effectiveness that is measured by clinical studies. As Bell points out:

Research has shown that conventional physicians in practice or in training often cannot and do not follow evidence-based practice recommendations in the real world. Physicians report that they cannot determine from reading studies on large groups of patients with no comorbidity or who are taking concomitant drugs when and how the average findings from an idealized efficacy study on a single drug might apply to the specific, typically complicated individual patients who are consulting them. Logistical issues, dosage adjustments for side-effects, comorbid conditions, potential drug—drug interactions in polypharmacy, patient preferences and cultural beliefs, pharmaceutical company influences on patients and physicians, economic considerations, patient access and adherence, patient—provider relationships, and numerous other factors converge to determine the effectiveness of a treatment in real-world practice. The practical test of the value of an intervention for an individual patient is in its effectiveness as practiced in full context, not in efficacy-based RCT studies.

And then…

The third part of the answer is that homeopaths have been practicing medicine that worked since the days when conventional doctors were administering what we now clearly see as poisons. Why should a medical system that is relatively new, that may not produce better results, be in charge of one that has been so long established and has proved its mettle in millions of cases for about two hundred years.

Because the new medical system has produced results. Do you use antibiotics? Have you been vaccinated for anything? Have you had any operations in hospital?

Note that these results are relatively recent. Note also that the AMA, which was founded in 1845 promarily to combat the influence of homeopathy, came into being at a time when the conventional medical treatments were primarily things like arsenic, opiates, and bleeding. They also forbade surgeons from having any contact with homeopaths if they wanted to stay in the AMA, which is one of the main reasons surgery is currently aligned with conventional medical doctors (although there are other reasons for that, as well).

It was only with the advent of the germ theory and modern microbiology, biochemistry, etc., that conventional medicine started being what you could really call scientific. So again, most homeopaths don’t see why these “johnny-come-latelies,” as it were, should be regulating medicine that has been working very well for a couple of centuries.

How do you explain the huge death rates of infectious diseases in the 18th and 19th centuries, despite your claim that homeopathy is old and successful? Perhaps there werent enough homoeopaths around?

Well, they did have competition from the regular doctors! One thing to note is that hospital records from the epidemics of the 19th century, when homeopathy started to become popular, show considerably lower death rates for homeopathic patients than for those treated by conventional means.

Dr. Roy isn’t here to speak for himself, but as I pointed out, he is one of the founders of modern materials science, with many awards in the field. I think it’s safe to say he’s got an idea or two of how to conduct research in this area. He probably wouldn’t put his reputation on the line, otherwise.

Appeal to authority?

I’m sorry, but I didn’t catch where you got your doctorate in materials science.

And where are you conducting your research currently?

If you’re a colleague of Dr. Roy and are so certain, perhaps you should contact him personally and save a fellow scientist the potential for embarassment!

OOhh, nice snarkiness here. I will now need to read up on prof Roy, I notice he is now emeritus, meaning that he is retired and therefore free to make a fool of himself. (See JAD et al for the methodology)

Just to get a mention, I have an MSc in ceramic and metallic materials from a fairly good UK university.

Now, Roy- I note that his publications list: http://www.rustumroy.com/images/Bib[…]chnical.html

has nothing on water memory, even though that appears to be what he is talking about. So I think we can safely assume he has as little practical evidence for it as I have. It is also worth noting that his publications in general are, outside his scienctific field of exellence (Which I cannot deny) are foccused on holistic healing, spirituality and marrying religion and technology.

The point being, there is nothing stopping someone doing good science, yet being completely wrong in an area outside that science.

I note also that he apparently supports such ideas as: “Roy insisted that Qigong, (Chinese psychic-energy medicine) can increase the pH of water and shift its Raman spectrum.” http://www.ntskeptics.org/2001/2001[…]uary2001.htm

Which should be pathetically easy to demonstrate to sceptics. I wonder why it hasnt been on the news yet?

k.e. wrote: Tara- I don’t think you will get an obvious answer to that question except some carefully tailored “spin” that will limit obvious debunking.Oh it will seem eminently reasonable and will involve long discussion designed to avoid facing up to reality and will be self serving to the point of inanity but you will never get a straight answer from them. Pseudoscience is IMMUNE to tests, debunking, insults, facts, evidence, statistics and logic. As long as fools exist and they have money, there will be some shark there to take it from them. And there will never be a shortage of supply of either of those quantities. The amusing thing is that the tricks some peoples minds play on their owners have an uncanny commonality across a whole spectrum of irrational belief systems. It would seem that pseudoscience is becoming so deeply entrenched into the American social consciousness it IS reality for a great number of people.

That’s why I changed my mind about Mr. Pfeiffer being a quack. He is a committed True BelieverTM. And true believers are far and away much harder to change. Quacks just slink away when you shine the light day on them, after all they are only in it for a buck, take Kevin Trudeau, but true believers never give up.

From a Wash. Times report:Dr. Bell administered the homeopathic remedies to her patients by asking them to breathe the medicine through their noses. Many conventional medical doctors discount homeopathy, saying that the dilution and shaking process used to create the homeopathic remedies wouldn’t leave any of the original substance in the medicine. However, it is the structure, not the composition, that determines the property of the water, says Rustum Roy, Evan Pugh professor of the solid state emeritus at Pennsylvania State University in University Park.

Mr. Pfeiffer wrote:I just did a Google on Rustum Roy epitaxy, and there are 132 hits, many of which look like sober and serious solid state research papers.

OK. You and your Dr. Rustum are comparing epitaxy to “shake and dilute”? Epitaxy is solid state chemistry(?)physics(?) (it’s in that fuzzy, grey area between them). Water is the very epitome of a liquid. You know. Amorphous. Without structure. I’m fairly certain you are smart enough not to be claiming the molecular structure of the H2O is being changed. So that leaves the arrangement of the molecules with respect to each other. The thermodynamic heat content of the water alone would be enough to obliterate any claimed imprinting of structure. Do you know what water with structure is called? It’s called ICE.

And epitaxy is done under precisely controlled, highly selective, specific conditions. Probably clean room conditions. Are you seriously equating epitaxy to “shake and dilute”? The only place in my little town I know of to get homeopathic remedies is at one of the handful of natural food co-op stores(I’m sure there are more but I don’t know where they are). I’ve been to that one and I know they are not hiding a clean room in the back, let alone an industrial grade chemistry laboratory. I expect homeopathic remedies are being made under conditions that are little more than a step up from crystal meth labs in comparison. Please, try to disabuse me of that notion.

Sniffing the remedy? Good Grief Charlie Brown. The thermodynamic heat content of the individual molecules of a vapor is significantly greater than that of a liquid. There is absolutely no structure of any kind above the level of molecules in the gaseous state. That’s why it is used as the very epitome of disorder and chaos in entropy discussions. Oh and please don’t read some names at Wikipedia and claim that epitaxy is liquid and gas as well as solid state. Liquid phase epitaxy and vapor phase epitaxy produce solid results. They are methods, not products.

As far as Dr Rustum’s credentials go: It wouldn’t be the first time a scientist has tried to get a proposition to carry more weight than it was capable of. Or the first time a quack expropriated a proposition completely away from its legitimate field in order to support a predetermined agenda. Just look at William Dembski and the No Free Lunch theorems. Their originators have heartily decried their use by him in inappropriate ways.

Why don’t you go learn some science here. You’ll certainly come away with a better education than the one you have now.

Oh, and before you ask:

Mr. Pfeiffer wrote:I’m sorry, but I didn’t catch where you got your doctorate in materials science. And where are you conducting your research currently?

I am just a troll. In fact you would probably call me a professional looossseeerrr. But see how I can use lots of big fancy words too. Big fancy words aren’t just limited to professional scientists; losers use them as well. Especially quack losers are experts at using them. I’m sure you know the feeling.

I have more but I’m late for work.

Insincerely, Paul

Appeal to authority?

No, the point I have been trying to make is that the people involved in this research know that they have to do this right if they want to establish once and for all whether homeopathy works, on the one hand, and if it does work, what the mechanism might be.

OOhh, nice snarkiness here. I will now need to read up on prof Roy…

You’re the one who called Roy, what was the term, an eejit, without actually checking into this. I hope you don’t usually require a snappy comeback to motivate you to back up your statements :-)

Roy is apparently just getting started with his research into water, and I know he has one paper that has been submitted for publication, but I doubt you’ll find much about that specific topic at this point.

Finally, I can’t speak about Qi Gong, but Bell has a comment in her paper that mentions properties that have been determined about homeopathic remedies:

The actual replicated basic science systematic evidence from different, independent laboratories is that homeopathically prepared remedies beyond the Avogadro number differ from remedy-free solvent controls in their measurable properties, including calorimetry, thermoluminescence, and optical emission characteristics.

She cites three studies:

Elia V, Niccoli M. New physico-chemical properties of extremely diluted aqueous solutions. J Therm Anal Calorimetry 2004;75:815—836.

Elia V, Niccoli, M. Thermodynamics of extremely diluted aqueous solutions. Ann N Y Acad Sci 1999;879:241—248.

Rey L. Thermoluminescence of ultra-high dilutions of lithium chloride and sodium chloride. Physica A 2003;323:67—74.

I hope anyone here who hasn’t already completely made their mind up on the subject, for whatever reason, will take advantage of the links I have provided to broaden their horizons on these subjects – who knows, maybe we don’t already know everything there is to know about the world! Maybe Horgan was wrong! Maybe science still has a lot to learn!

I can’t speak about Qi Gong

Isn’t he communing with Obi Wan on Tatooine?

Heres a new scientis article on the thermoluminecence.

http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn3817

It says the solution was stirred, not succined, as I understand you are supposed to do with homeopathic solutions. Surely that means it was not homeopathy? Besides, follow up work published in:

L. Rey, Thermoluminescence of deuterated amorphous and crystalline ices, Radiation Phys. Chem. 72 (2005) 587-594.

Showed that the effect was due to trace amounts of material remaining due to poor mixing and impurities, adsoprtions being concentrated between ice crystals.

Anyway, other studies have found that slicate, sodium and carbonate ions can be absobed from the glassware and air with repeated shaking.

V. Elia and M. Niccoli, New physico-chemical properties of extremely diluted aqueous solutions, J. Therm. Anal. Calorim. 75 (2004) 815-836.

V. Elia, M. Marchese, M. Montanino, E. Napoli, M. Niccoli, L. Nonatelli and A. Ramaglia, Hydrohysteretic phenomena of “extremely diluted solutions” induced by mechanical treatments. A calorimetric and conductometric study at 25°C, J. Solution Chem. 34 (2005) 947-960.

Indeed, it seems that it is very hard to get properly pure water at all, and you can expect various effects when dilutions take place using dirty glassware, and water that is not pure enough and therefore still contains some ions.

Then the rheumatics study- it says 1 50000 potential solutions were used. Is that the 30C of real homeopathic remedies, or what? If its not, then they werent doing homeopathy.

What the Lancet study shows is that previous attempts to test homeopathy have been so poor that a very small percentage of the results are reliable enough to base conclusions on. I note as well that the larger to study, the worse the results for homeopathy, which is broadly similar to the Ganzfeld experiments carried out in various universities. The smaller the samples, the more skewed, but the more data they gathered, the more it trended towards neutral, i.e. it was a random process they were measuring. (The experiments were to test for ESP)

And as for snappy answers- Roy and yourself are the ones attacking conventional scientific knowledge, therefore its up to you to provide the extraordinary proof first, otherwise we will call you eejits.

Comment #78790

Posted by Richard Pfeiffer on February 10, 2006 12:32 PM (e) … I hope anyone here who hasn’t already completely made their mind up on the subject, for whatever reason, will take advantage of the links I have provided to broaden their horizons on these subjects — who knows, maybe we don’t already know everything there is to know about the world!

Anyway, if Richard’s wrong, how do you explain Pygmies + Dwarfs ?!?!?!

It says the solution was stirred, not succined, as I understand you are supposed to do with homeopathic solutions. Surely that means it was not homeopathy?

As I mentioned above, tests of homeopathy per se would involved RCTs (double-blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled, etc.) testing for the clinical efficacy of particular homeopathic remedies that were correctly prescribed according to standard classical homeopathic practice.

Short of that, any studies that can begin to shed light on how ultra-diluted solutions created in various ways might differ from ordinary water are of great interest to people who are trying to understand the basic science underlying any practical efficacy that homeopathy might have.

Indeed, it seems that it is very hard to get properly pure water at all, and you can expect various effects when dilutions take place using dirty glassware, and water that is not pure enough and therefore still contains some ions.

This is why it’s difficult to conduct this kind of research. Imagine how hard things were for Rutherford and Cavendish, for example, straining the technology of their times!

I can only admire the determination of these people to overcome the current technical obstacles – whatever the ultimate outcome of their studies.

Then the rheumatics study- it says 1 50000 potential solutions were used. Is that the 30C of real homeopathic remedies, or what? If its not, then they werent doing homeopathy.

In this case, these dilutions were far greater than 30C, which is based on 1 100 solutions serially diluted and successed 30 times. (That is, diluted, successed, diluted, succussed, 30 times.)

These dilutions are called “LM” potencies and are far more diluted than the X (1 10), C (1 100) or M (1 1000) potencies. I can imagine the responses from some here at what I am about to say, but I’ll be frank and admit that I know homeopaths who have trouble accepting the validity of LM potencies.

And as for snappy answers- Roy and yourself are the ones attacking conventional scientific knowledge, therefore its up to you to provide the extraordinary proof first, otherwise we will call you eejits.

Fair enough, I’ve been called worse in my day!

What the Lancet study shows is that previous attempts to test homeopathy have been so poor that a very small percentage of the results are reliable enough to base conclusions on.

As I mentioned above, we have yet to see a body of well-designed studies that is sufficient to give a relatively definitive answer to the question of whether homeopathy is clinically effective.

As I also mentioned, the Lancet article’s authors picked 8 papers of the original 110 homeopathic and 6 papers of the original 110 conventional papers and didn’t specify which were used. This is not acceptable in conventional medical meta-studies.

In addition to that, most if not all of the papers that studied “homeopathy” would never have passed peer review by anyone familiar with what is really needed to test the clinical efficacy of classical homeopathy.

To say the very least, these facts impugn the integrity of the Lancet editorial board.

I mean, think about it for a minute: what are these people up to, publishing such clearly shoddy work and then trumpeting it as the End of Homeopathy?

To say the very least, these facts impugn the integrity of the Lancet editorial board.

I mean, think about it for a minute: what are these people up to, publishing such clearly shoddy work and then trumpeting it as the End of Homeopathy?

If all homeopathy people are like you, you nuts are carbon copies of creationists.

If all homeopathy people are like you, you nuts are carbon copies of creationists.

I can’t tell you how deeply I appreciate your elevated contribution to the discourse, my dear sir…

Let’s get serious for a minute, Steve:

In the U.S. at least, a theocratic movement is on the rise, and ID is their stalking horse. There have been some recent victories, like the Dover one, but the overall trend is still both grim and scary.

The attacks on the science of global warming also give great concern to any of us who care about the future of our society – and of humanity as a whole.

The biggest weapon we have against the IDers is the integrity of our diligent pursuit of the truth.

It was one thing to let the kind of ignorance that passes for scientific dismissal of homeopathy go unchecked in “normal” times, but in today’s climate we have to be ruthless about our shortcomings and unwavering in our defense of the scientific method.

Whenever someone says that homeopathy can’t work because of the “irreducible simplicity” of water, who does that sound like?

When respected scientific journals publish flawed research and praise it to the skies, who does that sound like?

You can be Dumb and Dumber if you choose, but don’t say you’re doing it in the name of science!

It was one thing to let the kind of ignorance that passes for scientific dismissal of homeopathy go unchecked in “normal” times, but in today’s climate we have to be ruthless about our shortcomings and unwavering in our defense of the scientific method.

I find that hysterically funny.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Richard B. Hoppe published on February 4, 2006 4:48 PM.

Forum on “ID, Science Education and the Law” in Kansas was the previous entry in this blog.

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