Thursday, November 6, 2008

James Randi Explains Homeopathy

This is for my friend Gunnar, who's been discussing homeopathy today.

A very interesting video that everyone should watch.

Maybe you can forward this and see what your opponent has to say. ;-)


Anonymous said...

This was funny! Homeopathy cracks me up. I've always wondered about the no side effects business. I mean, what are the chances that they discovered some herb that does only the one thing that you want it to do, and nothing else? For that is what side effects are. The medication does it's job, and it also does other jobs that you don't like. Lol

Paz said...

absofuckingluty brilliant only way i can have emailed link to a few people that believe in this sh!t. :D

Paz said...

meant to type only way i can say it

Leisha Camden said...

margo: easy to make a medicine with no side effects, just be sure that there are no effects at all ... ;-)

paz: if you hear anything back from any of those people, let us know!! :-D

Anonymous said...

This requires much faith in the vast knowledge and stage power of James Randi, aka The Amazing Randi, master .. magician?

I almost turned this off (and should have) about 10 seconds in when he was talking about medicine was all art 200 years ago - this is the typical western view of the world - nothing of relevance was happening in the ancient civilizations of China and India I take it?

Seems like someone who has very little understanding about what he's talking about. He can't make sense of it, so it's dumb and doesn't work?

One of the most important things to understand about certain things is that if western science can't figure out how to measure something, it does not necessarily mean the practice is worthless.

Take Yoga or Tai-Chi for example - there are countless research studies that show it does nothing of value for a heart patients. In the same way, many of the "amazing" Randi's foes seem to not bother challenging him, because they are put under his criteria for success, i.e. success rate has to be 100%, etc (he's discontinuing his challenge).

And a guy that lies, and then got sued for it, and lost, and didn't pay the money, and then continues to spread the lie, doesn't have much ethics in my book. He's at the level of Mr. Ex-president Bush.

I did see the very poorly done PBS special a while back on dowsing and other things, I think Mr. Amaz!ng was one of the "experts". Sorry, but if an oil company hires a dowser, then his success rate must be good enough that it is profitable to use him over sheer guessing or other methods.

These folks seem to dwell in these blurry areas. It was interesting to see who is behind the JREFers though. These are very vocal "deniers" who challenge the loose change "truthers".

I suppose Randi doesn't believe in evolution or global warming either? Seems like he'd make a good VP.

Actually, I'm fine with these folks. I'll take my Calm Forte, seemed to work good enough for jet lag, (but I admit not nearly as strong as prescription sleeping pills, but man, those knock you out cold).

Y'all can take your favorite commercial drugs and pills, it's a free world.

Now, I'm off to make myself some nice dandelion tea, ciao!

Paz said...

Anonymous, a lot of placebo's have an effect on people, I have seen people get wasted on non alcoholic beer!

Leisha Camden said...

Paz, you took the words right out of my mouth. ('Literally'! ;-) The power of placebo is almost boundless. And yes, before anyone even brings that up, of course it works on infants and animals. Why wouldn't it?

Anon, the fact that Randi may be wrong or exaggerates about one thing does not negate his valid points about other things. Obviously.

Whatever you may want to think about homeopathy, the fact is that it is magic. Do you believe in magic? If you don't, then you don't believe in homeopathy either.

Whether or not Randi or I or anyone else understands homeopathy - and personally I do think I understand the homeopathic principles, such as they are - is completely irrelevant. The fact is that it doesn't work. No proper scientific study EVER has shown any real effect at all of homeopathic treatment. It's a con. Learn to live with it.

As for the rest of your rant, sorry - this post is about homeopathy and I'm not getting into a discussion like that with an anon. Sorry.

Anonymous said...

Paz: Non-A beer actually contains a small percentage, very small, of alcohol. Maybe 30x ;)

No idea, that's an interesting observation. Your typical Norwegian can't hold their stuff, due to the high price of beer in Norway, they have evolved a low tolerance? But that's exactly one of my points - we don't understand placebo effect - and - power of meditation, yoga, tai-chi etc and so we, with our western scientific backgrounds, can't figure out how to measure it - but it works.

Leisha: My main point here is that you can't conclusively throw that link up there and say "Yup, it's a hoax because Randi said so, and there's no research that proves it."

I don't understand why you'll put your faith in a magician, yet you say you seem to claim to not believe in magic.

Has he published any peer-reviewed research on the subject? Did he provide any credible resources while he carried out his magic show with his glass of water? He makes his living as a showman, with crazy bets and stunts, nothing more. It's pseudo-science-entertainment. We all have a good laugh, agree with ourselves, ya-da-ya-da.

Researchers have difficulty proving commercial drugs work also. One day you see a paper saying aspirin works well to prevent heart attacks, the next day you'll see the opposite.

And from your slant on the jrefers, I take it you side with them against loose change also, favoring the 19 blokes with box cutter theory. That's the greatest magic show of all (with the most tragic of consequences starting with the occupants, the firefighters, the helpers, and of course, subsequently, the Iraqis, Afghanis, and anyone else in the path of a madman and his oil and water and power), if you believe that, you really really must believe in magic. I'm not going to bother arguing this, there's too much great information out there that says it way better than me, start at the link below. My point was only that the jrefers are known to many for slamming things they have no idea about, with no evidence seems like homeopathy, a much lighter subject, is no exception. We'll see more of this in the years to come.

Apologies for the anon, but this is the crap we have to deal with under the Bush Mafioso - watch lists, telecom spying, Gitmo, torture. Sorry, not my cup of tea. Google could still turn me in, but why make it easy?

The world is a complex place, there are no easy answers, we don't understand everything, no matter what the Amaz!ng Randi says, learn to live with it.

Leisha Camden said...

OK, I should NOT be talking to you ... :-o There are a couple of things I just have to say though. (See, I don't learn.)

About traces of alcohol in non-alcoholic beer - did you know that people can 'get drunk' (ie, experience the effect of drunkenness) without drinking anything at all? Their expectations influence their behavior to such a degree that about 50% of the job of getting drunk can be done by those alone.

And if you're so into research, you would have figured out that Paz is not a Norwegian, but an Irishman. One single click would have told you that ... so I guess now we know how far to trust your faith in research. :-D You want to claim that the Irish can't hold their liquor too?? :-D (Personally, I don't think Paz was talking about any specific nationality, but of a general fact pertaining to our species as a whole.)

As for us actual Norwegians not tolerating alcohol well, I disagree with your claim - the problem isn't that we can't hold it, the problem is that when we do drink we drink just way too much for anyone to hold. We even have a word for that phenomenon. Grøftefyll. Personally I hardly drink alcohol at all, but as a general observation I think it's the amounts that are the problem and not the low tolerance. Because you see, it's not a problem to us that prices are high here - if you understood a little more economics, you would probably have realized that our prices are high because our wages are high too. So it evens out and is not a problem for us.

Again, I should not be arguing with you. I should be referring you to the disclaimer almost at the top of the sidebar. (See it?) You should also read the list in this post:
Then you might understand why I keep saying that I shouldn't be doing this with you.

Where the hell did I say that it's a hoax because James Randi says so??? What I'm saying is that it is a hoax and here is James Randi explaining that in a fun way. Can you see how those two approaches are not identical??

I put no faith in James Randi, and I have never said that I did, but I find him very entertaining!! He doesn't have to publish anything on homeopathy, because plenty of others have done so and I think Randi knows how to read. Homeopathy has been debunked. Can we please just get past that.

One day you see a paper saying aspirin works well to prevent heart attacks, the next day you'll see the opposite.
Yes ... because that is the way scientific research works. Attempts to disprove. You will, however, never see any serious paper anywhere saying that homeopathy works at all against anything at any time.

'From my slant on the jrefers' ... see, here is my proof that I SHOULD NOT BE TALKING TO YOU. I have no slant on the jrefers!! I never mentioned them! Show me where I mentioned them!? YOU are putting words in my mouth and thoughts in my head and you think Google may turn you in for posting about 9/11.

Yeah ... this is where our paths really should diverge.

I actually quite resent your coming here and telling me what my opinion is on matters that I have never said a word about. I am almost curious to find out what kind of logic you've used to come up with your conclusions there ... but no.

The world is a complex place and we don't understand it ... but personally, I am OK with just accepting that fact and I don't feel the need to use conspiracy theories to explain the things I don't get yet.

Again, please take a look at that disclaimer.

Anonymous said...

First, about the alcohol, it provides the chance to show a bit about the difference with homeopathy, because everybody reacts differently to alcohol. As Paz points out, some Norwegians (or Irish) react differently to alcohol, some can merely take a swig, a mere whiff and react differently to others who can drink you under the table. F Scott Fitzgerald is a great example.

If you study Ayurvedic medicine, or Chinese Traditional Medicine, you'll find the same thing, great attention to the person being treated, vs. western style, where you are only so much annoying paperwork. So Hahneman, I think his name was, was like Joe Pilates for Yoga, introducing these "radical" ideas to westerners, possibly figuring this out on his own, yet they've been practiced and perfected for thousands of years.

That's what makes following westernized approach to "proving" homeopathy works so difficult. you have to think outside the box, just as I was mentioning about acupuncture, tui-na, Chinese medicine, et. I'm sure, to the naive person, the information a Chinese doctor gathers from listening to the pulse is as befuddling as understanding homeopathy's like cures like idea, and yet it is an ancient practice.

That's what annoys me so much about Randi's little spiel, he is so typical of the western myopic view that nothing much was happening in the world outside of their cozy world, no important discoveries had been made long before, and yet these concepts have been around for 3,000-5,000 years!

Hahneman studied quinine, which is from a tree bark. Note the Incas chew coca leaves for altitude sickness, but westerners process this to make cocaine, something vastly different and powerful, whereas the leaf is about as stimulating as a cup of tea.

This is more on to do with Ethnobotany, fascinating subject, homeopathy, being just a part of a much bigger picture.

We have much to learn, and I think you'll see a gradual blending of these ideas, already are in fact, many insurance programs now pay for alternative medicine, Randi or no Randi, they see the benefit.

If you're not a jrefer, then my apologies. You used that crowd's heavily laced words, like "debunk" - as a truther pointed out, they are sceptics of everything, except the mainstream, official conspiracy story. When you're biggest source of "proof" is someone like that, you gotta wonder. Randi's contests for proving this strike me as very similar to, say, the 911 commission. I'm the decider, I'm the judge (and magician, oh I have to laugh!), it's got to be 100% effective, otherwise you don't get the money. The 911 commission - let's investigate ourselves. Like the Swiss and American banks, let's regulate ourselves (haha) and let's give ourselves big bonuses, we deserve it, even though we've lost billions on stupid bets. Sounds like a stacked deck to me, and that's the jrefer way.

"Any opinion you express is a strongly and confidently held opinion." Yes, read the note-to-self. Ok, most excellent. I think we can agree on that. A great philosopher said "Therefore, I indeed know nothing except that I know that I know nothing."

Paz said...

you are not comparing like to like, basically the argument was on homeopathy not on whether some herbs or asian medicines work, just because something has been done for thousands of years does not make it right, using that argument we should celebrate the solstice like as been done in Ireland for thousands of years. SOme herbs and medicines work because they have properties that can be tested, eg honey in a lot of ancient medicines.

Leisha Camden said...

Hi Paz, thanks for stepping in ... :-)

I second Paz' argument, your comparison fails.

I have very little energy for or interest in this discussion now, so I'll just mention two points.

One: The fact that we don't understand phenomenon X does not mean that we must accept explanation Y. Someone has a condition, receives some kind of treatment, some time later gets better. We may not understand the reason why the person's condition improves, but that does not automatically mean that the treatment is the cause. As Paz says, we would then have to accept any old load of codswallop as being correct/true because it may be correct/true.

Two: The fact that a patient feels that s/he has been helped by some treatment, whether it be homeopathy, acupuncture, regular medication, druidic chants or whatever, is completely irrelevant. Doesn't matter one bit. What matters is whether the results can be replicated in a controlled environment. And guess what, both homeopathy and acupuncture fail on that one (the latter is interesting as studies show no difference between real acupuncture and fake acupuncture - ie shove the needles in wherever you want, other factors produce the effect, if any) and chanting does too.

You may believe what you want, but for my money - if I may be flippant for a moment (ahem), pics or it didn't happen.

If you study Ayurvedic medicine, or Chinese Traditional Medicine, you'll find the same thing, great attention to the person being treated, vs. western style, where you are only so much annoying paperwork.
This is a gross oversimplification, and if you genuinely see the world this way, then I can certainly not take you seriously.