How can we go about petitioning the government to stop funding Homeopathy?
#1
It should be obvious to most of us, that a whole type of alternative medicine that simply prescribes doses of water for various ailments is cheating people. Look at Richard Dawkins' Enemies of Reason on youtube for his take on it (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8KbLHii8M2A). There are also various articles on Nirmukta about it.

Is it possible for us to put the heat on the government about this? One way to start would perhaps be doing some scientific testing (the double-blind test) to show statistically that homeopathy is ineffective. Have such tests been carried out in India already? Some guidelines for such testing are given by Dawkins at http://richarddawkins.net/articles/5139.

Once such a test is done, it would be established that homeopathy is only as effective as placebos. Would that help? Or would the government or homeopathy supporters argue that it works great as a placebo, so it should still be around?
Aditya Manthramurthy
Web Administrator & Associate Editor
Nirmukta.com
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#2
(14-Jun-2010, 01:48 PM)donatello Wrote: Once such a test is done, it would be established that homeopathy is only as effective as placebos. Would that help? Or would the government or homeopathy supporters argue that it works great as a placebo, so it should still be around?

Double blind trials, as far as my knowledge goes, are not run of the mill tests and require a lot of funding. They are clinical trials with many control groups; I am not sure if India has done any proper double blind tests in this regard. Moreover, from what little I know of medicine, clinical trials alone may not be enough to validate a medication, there have to be solid theoretical foundations backed up by peer review journals, which homeopathy doesn't have at all.

We could write to ICMR and other organizations (may be on behalf of nirmukta).
Murthy

"Credulity kills" -- Carl Sagan
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#3
Just bookmarking.

I'm very much interested in waging a war against Homoeopathy in India. Count me in if you guys are really going for it.

We could start with a vigorous letter-writing campaign to the leading dailies.
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#4
When Nirmukta finally gets registered as an organisation, I think we should all get together and do something about this issue. Letter writing, peaceful protests, awareness campaigns, etc.

Anyone with any out of the box ideas to spread the word?
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#5
i remember as a kid i would nick my dad's homeopathy pills (they were made of sugar !!!!) and finish whole bottles. My parents were concerned of side-effects at the time. Thankfully we are ALL older and wiser now

I wonder if some kind of overdosing stunt or substitution study (homeopathy pills subbed with sugar in a double blind test) would be effective. I just don't know how this could be organized.
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#6
(23-Jul-2010, 08:46 PM)anomaly Wrote: i remember as a kid i would nick my dad's homeopathy pills (they were made of sugar !!!!) and finish whole bottles.

Laugh I used to do the same thing! But my parents were less concerned. My dad is a study in contradictions. He had all this homeopathic medication lying about, but he just handed them out to me when I asked for them, saying that they were just sugar pills. I just loved their taste and texture.
"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
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#7
(14-Jun-2010, 01:48 PM)donatello Wrote: Is it possible for us to put the heat on the government about this? One way to start would perhaps be doing some scientific testing (the double-blind test) to show statistically that homeopathy is ineffective. Have such tests been carried out in India already?

Homeopathy in India is a well-funded and supported commercial institution. Such institutions do not die away simply because evidence of their inefficacy is shown to them. They die away when they stop making money. No matter how many tests we perform, there will always be counter claims, and a false equivalence will be built to make it seem as though homeopathy and "allopathy" (a term that was coned by Hannemann and is used mostly in India and nowhere else today, because of how powerful the belief in homeopathy is in India) are different forms of medicine.

Quote:Or would the government or homeopathy supporters argue that it works great as a placebo, so it should still be around?

Yes, even if we demonstrate successfully that homeopathy has only a placebo effect, they will still argue in favor of it. This mostly stems from a misunderstanding of the reach of the placebo effect (for example, one person on the facebook Indian Atheists page seems to think that the placebo effect legitimizes homeopathy). Many people seem to think that the placebo effect constitutes a benefit as far as treatment of the disease/disorder. This is nonsense. All that the placebo effect does is, in some cases, improve the patient's perception of their suffering, thus making them feel better. For many psychological conditions, this can actually be harmful because it creates false security. Homeopathy is being used for a wide range of conditions for which the placebo effect cannot do any good, but the false security it creates can be devastating.

Please read this article for a good explanation of the reach and limitations of the placebo effect: http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=4304
"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
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#8
Homoeopathy uses alcoholic tinctures of many herbs in various permutations and combinations to treat disorders. and the sweet sugar pills we all have had a chance to relish are the carriers for the medicines.
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#9
(21-Sep-2010, 01:21 PM)inde Wrote: Homoeopathy uses alcoholic tinctures of many herbs in various permutations and combinations to treat disorders. and the sweet sugar pills we all have had a chance to relish are the carriers for the medicines.

Is there any evidence that it treats various 'disorders' ? Can you be more specific?

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#10
(21-Sep-2010, 01:21 PM)inde Wrote: Homoeopathy uses alcoholic tinctures of many herbs in various permutations and combinations to treat disorders. and the sweet sugar pills we all have had a chance to relish are the carriers for the medicines.

Wrong - homeopathy need not be herbal. Oscillococcinum for example, is made from duck liver and heart. What would you say about that (other than it's bullshit)?

Asserting things without reason and evidence does not fly in this forum. Neither do logical fallacies. Let me save you some time. Here are the facts: there are only a handful of studies that found a positive effect from homeopathy. There are many, many more studies which found no positive effects whatsoever. It was also found that the higher the quality of the study, the more likely it was to find no benefits of homeopathy. You can find these studies on sites like Science-based Medicine, the Cochrane Reviews and PubMed. To quote from the book "Trick or Treatment":

The Cochrane Review's conclusions, for example, are based on 16 clinical trials involving around 5000 patients. Over and over again, the evidence is either non-existent or shaky, leading to conclusions such as "there is not enough evidence to reliably assess the possible role of homeopathy in asthma"; "current evidence does not support a preventative effect"; and "there is insufficient evidence to recommend the use of homeopathy as a method of induction".


No doubt you will now move on to Level Two of Homeopathic Woo, where you will use pseudoscience to try to explain it - memory of water, quantum physics etc. Rest assured that we will refute those claims also.


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#11
(21-Sep-2010, 05:20 PM)unsorted Wrote:
(21-Sep-2010, 01:21 PM)inde Wrote: Homoeopathy uses alcoholic tinctures of many herbs in various permutations and combinations to treat disorders. and the sweet sugar pills we all have had a chance to relish are the carriers for the medicines.

Wrong - homeopathy need not be herbal. Oscillococcinum for example, is made from duck liver and heart. What would you say about that (other than it's bullshit)?

Asserting things without reason and evidence does not fly in this forum. Neither do logical fallacies. Let me save you some time. Here are the facts: there are only a handful of studies that found a positive effect from homeopathy. There are many, many more studies which found no positive effects whatsoever. It was also found that the higher the quality of the study, the more likely it was to find no benefits of homeopathy. You can find these studies on sites like Science-based Medicine, the Cochrane Reviews and PubMed. To quote from the book "Trick or Treatment":

The Cochrane Review's conclusions, for example, are based on 16 clinical trials involving around 5000 patients. Over and over again, the evidence is either non-existent or shaky, leading to conclusions such as "there is not enough evidence to reliably assess the possible role of homeopathy in asthma"; "current evidence does not support a preventative effect"; and "there is insufficient evidence to recommend the use of homeopathy as a method of induction".


No doubt you will now move on to Level Two of Homeopathic Woo, where you will use pseudoscience to try to explain it - memory of water, quantum physics etc. Rest assured that we will refute those claims also.

Quite right unsorted! We're well prepared for level two as many of us have heard the arguments.

So before you start something, inde, have a look at this, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWE1tH93G9U and then post.
Aditya Manthramurthy
Web Administrator & Associate Editor
Nirmukta.com
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#12
Discussion from the Delhi Freethinkers group, moved here.


Ankush Mittal
It's all in the mind!

James Randi explains homeopathy
http://www.youtube.com
If you believe that homeopathic medicine can treat ailments better than medicine that has been scientifically proven to work, you are acting irrational. In t...
15 hours ago · Like · · Unsubscribe
Aditya Manthramurthy and Kunal More like this.
Ankush Mittal Advantages: Homeopathy has no side effects
Disadvantages: It has no effect at all.
Except on the bank balance!
15 hours ago · Like
Naveen Niverthy haha good comment ankush :-)
15 hours ago · Like
Ankush Mittal ‎smile I actually quited Randi, not word to word off course. Also, Homeopathy Sleeping Pills have Caffiene in it! Go figure!
15 hours ago · Like
Rajesh Kher Homeopathy is Placebo. But we know placebo works fairly effectively. The difference is that we must study the range in which it is safe and effective. Dont forget even pharma cos. use it in terms of names,color and size
14 hours ago · Like · 1 person
Ajita Kamal The placebo effect is often misunderstood. It cannot be used as a justification of homeopathy. Many people seem to think that the placebo effect constitutes a benefit as far as treatment of the disease/disorder. This is not true. All that the placebo effect does is, in some cases, improve the patient's perception of their suffering, thus making them feel better.

Here is Steven Novella, Yale medical researcher, blogger at Science based medicine, and host of the skeptics guide to the universe podcast:

"A common belief is that the placebo effect is largely a “mind-over-matter effect,” but this is a misconception. There is no compelling evidence that the mind can create healing simply through will or belief. However, mood and belief can have a significant effect on the subjective perception of pain. There is no method to directly measure pain as a phenomenon, and studies of pain are dependent upon the subjective report of subjects. There is therefore a large potential for perception and reporting bias in pain trials. But there are biological mechanisms by which mental processes can affect pain. There are many non-specific factors that can biochemically suppress pain. For example, increased physical activity can release endorphins that naturally inhibit pain. For these reasons the placebo effect for pain is typically high, around 30%.

But the more concrete and physiological the outcome, the smaller the placebo effect. Survival from serious forms of cancer, for example, has no demonstrable placebo effect. There is a “clinical trial effect,” as described above – being a subject in a trial tends to improve care and compliance, but no placebo effect beyond that. There is no compelling evidence that mood or thought alone can help fight off cancer or any similar disease."

Read more here: http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=24
and here: http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=4304

And Ankush, it is technically correct that homeopathic "medicines" have no side effects, but the practice of homeopathy is very harmful to individuals and society as a whole. Here are a small sample of reasons why: http://whatstheharm.net/homeopathy.html
9 hours ago · Like
Ankush Mittal Ajita, yes I agree with everything you mentioned, and I didn't want to elaborate, but I agree it has side effects on society as a whole. I was just quoting Randi.
9 hours ago · Like
Ajita Kamal Yes, Ankush. I also agreed with what you said in your comment. I only pointed out what you didn't say- the harms, because you didn't mention them under disadvantages! I don't think the fact that homeopathy doesn't work is the biggest disadvantage of homeopathy. The biggest problem is that so many people believe that it works, and our government actively promotes it and India has the largest network of homeopathy institutions and practitioners in the world.
9 hours ago · Like
Ajita Kamal Also, fyi, we have discussed this subject a little on our forums: http://nirmukta.net/Thread-How-can-we-go...Homeopathy
9 hours ago · Like
Rajesh Kher Ajita you cannot use placebo effect as justification for Homeopathy, but it cannot wish away "Placebo Effect" and its efficacy. Homeopathy and other so called alternative medicine are nothing but subset within Placebo universal. Remember our evolutionary past has given us the ability to deal extraordinary diseases using tissue repairs and immune response. Sometimes placebo offered in a specific context can trigger body response and repairs can take place.Just like a GP we have to understand the limits of Placebo and modern medicine and provide the patient the needed specialized scientific care.
14 minutes ago · Like
Rajesh Kher See Dawkins interview with Prof. Nicholas Humphrey and article on Placebo
3 minutes ago · Like
Ajita Kamal ‎"Remember our evolutionary past has given us the ability to deal extraordinary diseases using tissue repairs and immune response. Sometimes placebo offered in a specific context can trigger body response and repairs can take place.

Mr Kher. I am aware very well about how the immune response works, and have even done research on it, its not related to the placebo effect in any way. Until a year ago my idea about the placebo effect was similar to yours. I am still a supporter of using the placebo effect in proper ways to alleviate the subjective perception of pain. But as mentioned in my comment, my position on this is informed by the scientific consensus. Please note what Dr. Novella has said on this and what the scientific consensus is. The placebo effect cannot cure diseases of the body. It is only a subjective effect.

But that is no reason why this conversation should not continue. But as we have agreed, in order to prevent such conversations on contentious issues from interfering with the tone and atmosphere of the group, I am removing this conversation and reposting on our forums. Ankush and Siddharth are with me on keeping this group to less debate-oriented discussions.
about a minute ago · Like
Ajita Kamal Dawkins is not a medical doctor. Dr. Novella is an authority on this subject amongst the skeptical community.
a few seconds ago · Like
"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
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