The Evidence Debate


(Last update V11 Aug’10 including new controversial research from a Nobel Laureate co-discoverer of HIV claiming that bacterial DNA sequences induce electromagnetic waves at high aqueous dilutions -  if they were “strongly agitated”.)

Does Homoeopathy work? Have a look at the two scatter plots below - one shows 100 conventional trials, the other 110 homoeopathic trials.  If the oft repeated statement “There is no evidence for homoeopathy” is true, then one set of dots should show this (dots to the left of the vertical dotted line are showing an effect greater than placebo).  Do you think both show evidence of effect, or is it clear one set of data worked and the other did not?  Most meta-analyses have said “yes” to both sets. But in 2005 Shang et al went on to say so “no” to homoeopathy - based only on their small sub-group sub-analysis on 8 homoeopathy and 6 orthodox trials of their choosing.  An accompanying high-profile editorial suggested “The end of homoeopathy. In synchrony, some campaigners targeted removal of homoeopathy from the UK health service ”because there is no evidence”  What do you think?

To the right is a download of summary notes exploring the controversies around the examination of the evidence for homoeopathy.   At times this debate looks more like a cultural process than a scientific one - as the example slides below show. Hope you find these notes of interest.

Bias? Later, other scientific groups noted that the authors choice of 8 homoeopathic trials in the subanalysis was one of only 3 of the 20 possible cut-off points that could have been chosen to show a negative effect -  with all the others showing a significant effect. This paper did not get the same publicity, and the dominant cultural impact of the above work was not reversed.

download articleHomoeopathy_Evidence_files/Homoeopathy%20The%20Evidence%20Puzzle%20August%202010.pdf