Confessions of a Quackbuster

This blog deals with healthcare consumer protection, and is therefore about quackery, healthfraud, chiropractic, and other forms of so-Called "Alternative" Medicine (sCAM).

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Lancet research labelled biased

Of course the true believers have gone into total denial.....;-)

The true-believer syndrome merits study by science. What is it that compels a person, past all reason, to believe the unbelievable. How can an otherwise sane individual become so enamored of a fantasy, an imposture, that even after it's exposed in the bright light of day he still clings to it--indeed, clings to it all the harder? --M. Lamar Keene

Lancet research labelled biased

27/08/2005 15:03:02

The Homeopathic Society of New Zealand is dismissing as biased, new British research that suggests homeopathic treatment is ineffective.

The study carried out for the medical journal "The Lancet" shows the effects of homeopathy are similar to those of a placebo, or "dummy" pill.

The survey reviewed more than 100 trials comparing homeopathic remedies with traditional medicine.

Homeopathic Society President Bruce Barwell says the researchers used a very small sample, probably too small to base a sound judgement on, and there was also bias in the selection of homeopathic remedies they researched.

Listen Live

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Now compare that last sentence with the facts:

Homoeopathy 'does not work'
26/08/2005 23:10 - (SA)

Paris - Homoeopathic treatment is no more effective than a placebo, the dummy substance used in medical trials, according to a study appearing in Saturday's issue of The Lancet, the British medical weekly.

That is the conclusion of a team of doctors in Britain and Switzerland, who reviewed a mountain of published evidence.

They compared 110 trials of homoeopathic remedies against a placebo with 110 trials of conventional medicines, which were also tested against placebos.

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Homeopathy no better than placebo

The authors of the new Lancet study were Matthias Egger and colleagues from the University of Berne in Switzerland. They looked at 110 trials using homeopathic remedies and 110 using conventional medicine in matching conditions. They looked for an effect in both the smaller, low quality trials and in larger, higher quality trials. Homeopathic remedies were more likely to have had a positive effect in the small, low quality trials. In the better trials, they say, homeopathy was no better than placebo. "Our study powerfully illustrates the interplay and cumulative effect of different sources of bias," Egger said. "We acknowledge that to prove a negative is impossible, but we have shown that the effects seen in placebo-controlled trials of homeopathy are compatible with the placebo-hypothesis."

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Not only does Bruce Barwell speak for the Homeopathic Society of New Zealand as its President, he doesn't hesitate to misrepresent the facts (dare I say "lie"?). I'll let readers make their own decision. Denial is a personal attitude, where one lies to oneself, but he goes further.....hmmph!

As far as the accusation of bias is concerned, bias is not totally synonymous with prejudice. In fact, a healthy bias is positive and necessary.

From the introduction to my website:
The fact that this website focuses on one side of the coin, is an acknowledgement that there is another side which has been investigated. This website has a definite and conscious bias, which isn't the same thing as a negative "prejudice", which is defined as "an opinion or leaning adverse to anything without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge."

I see an informed and conscious bias as something positive & desirable, in contrast to prejudice. If one doesn't have a bias, one doesn't have an opinion worth defending. I see it as the result of an analysis of the issues, resulting in the taking of a standpoint more in favor of one side than of the other side. In other words, I am biased for objective evidence, and biased against a lack of such evidence. This naturally results in a bias for Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM) and modern medicine, and a bias against so-Called "Alternative" Medicine sCAM). I'm not interested in anything that is just "so-called". I don't want to base my clinical decisions and my consumer protection efforts on something that is anecdotal, tenuous, unproven, speculative, and often deceptive.

Homeopaths also have a bias, and it happens to be against very strong evidence to the contrary.

We're not talking about a lack of evidence because of lack of good research. Far from it! To continue to believe in homeopathy, in the face of the mountains of evidence against it, is the height of folly.

For more information about homeopathy, the ultimate fake:

HomeoLinks



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