Discussion: Homeopathy is Pseudoscience


Kiss my dark side
Valued Senior Member
This thread is for discussion of the formal debate that can be found in the associated Debate thread.

Anybody may post in this thread, but only agreed debaters may post in the Debate thread itself.

The format and participants in the debate were agreed in the Proposal thread.
Asguard, this is silly. Debating whether Homeopathy is a pseudoscience or not and proclaiming it here on the Sciforums is not going to transform it into being as such around the world. As if any one forum (and there are thousands of them) has such power. Please come up with something worth while to discuss...
homeopathy is science

According to a 1970 edition of Webster’s New World dictionary, the word comes from the Latin sciens, present participle of scire, to know. The dictionary says: 1. originally, knowledge. 2. systematized knowledge derived from observation, study and experimentation. 3. a branch of knowledge, especially one concerned with establishing and systematizing facts, principles and methods. 4. a). the systematized knowledge of nature. b). any branch of this.

Homeopathy, for example, is a science because all knowledge pertaining to homeopathic medicines is derived from observation, study and experimentation
The Greek philosopher Hippocrates stated that there were two methods of healing – the law of opposites, and the law of similars.

Allopathy falls in the first category. Homeopathy, Ayurveda, TCM falls in the second category. That does not mean Homeopathy, Ayurveda, TCM are same. In fact this is the only common thing among them.
Gray`s anatomy text; it says :“Unfortunately and perhaps particularly in the medical sphere, the compartmentalisation of anatomy into several disciplines or subjects – with attendant titles, individual chairs and even separated depts.—tends towards disintegration.”

In homeopathy one does not have to visit ten different specialist for his/her ten different body parts.

Does this means conventional medicine as practised today is a pseudoscience?
Dr. Nancy Malik

firstly you and i are ment to be debating in the debate thread, not here
secondly under the rules of the debate we get 4 posts max
1 introduction
2 substative posts
1 summing up post and then the debate is over

though your welcome to paticipate here, it would be nice if you posted your operning post so that i can post my first responce
Haven't meta-tests (i.e. samples of tests) shown homeopathy to be no better or worse than placebo?

Also - when a 100c solution means that there is one molecule of the medicine/cure per more water molecules than found in the Earth's oceans - aren't these remedies just water?

And isn't the curative part of the homeopathic experience actually the time spent with the consultant, discussing symptoms and getting support (mental)?

They rambled on for a while about water retaining the "memory" of the medicine etc.

Yes, it is a pseudo-science - as noone can provide any scientific explanation for how it is supposed to work.
Looks to me that unless I took the challenge (any challenge) there was no debate in this forum since January.... Nancy doesn't seem to be debating the topic....

Something to think about...
Hey, I accidentally found this:

Belfast homeopathy results

MADELEINE Ennis, a pharmacologist at Queen's University, Belfast, was the scourge of homeopathy. She railed against its claims that a chemical remedy could be diluted to the point where a sample was unlikely to contain a single molecule of anything but water, and yet still have a healing effect. Until, that is, she set out to prove once and for all that homeopathy was bunkum.

In her most recent paper, Ennis describes how her team looked at the effects of ultra-dilute solutions of histamine on human white blood cells involved in inflammation. These "basophils" release histamine when the cells are under attack. Once released, the histamine stops them releasing any more. The study, replicated in four different labs, found that homeopathic solutions - so dilute that they probably didn't contain a single histamine molecule - worked just like histamine. Ennis might not be happy with the homeopaths' claims, but she admits that an effect cannot be ruled out.

So how could it happen? Homeopaths prepare their remedies by dissolving things like charcoal, deadly nightshade or spider venom in ethanol, and then diluting this "mother tincture" in water again and again. No matter what the level of dilution, homeopaths claim, the original remedy leaves some kind of imprint on the water molecules. Thus, however dilute the solution becomes, it is still imbued with the properties of the remedy.

You can understand why Ennis remains sceptical. And it remains true that no homeopathic remedy has ever been shown to work in a large randomised placebo-controlled clinical trial. But the Belfast study (Inflammation Research, vol 53, p 181) suggests that something is going on. "We are," Ennis says in her paper, "unable to explain our findings and are reporting them to encourage others to investigate this phenomenon." If the results turn out to be real, she says, the implications are profound: we may have to rewrite physics and chemistry.


Looks like I freaking won the debate, again! :)

(and I wasn't even trying or invited!)
I am not sure I was invited, but I can effectively win the debate, remember, we only have to show 1 study, that proves homeopathy:


"Madeleine Ennis is a pharmacologist and researcher at Queen's University in Belfast, Northern Ireland. She generated controversy by publishing results that seemed to show that ultra-dilute solutions of histamine, diluted to the levels used in homeopathic remedies, could affect cells just as the controls did. Her report said, "We are unable to explain our findings and are reporting them to encourage others to investigate this phenomenon", though she remains sceptical."

Brown, VG; Ennis, M. (2001). "Flow-cytometric analysis of basophil activation: inhibition by histamine at convential and homeopathic concentrations". Inflammation Research (50): 47–48.

Belon, M.; Cumps J, Ennis M, Mannaioni PF, Sainte-Laudy J, Roberfroid M, Wiegant FAC. (1999). "Inhibition of human basophil degranulation by successive histamine dilutions: results of a european multi-centre trial". Inflammation Research 48 (48): s17-s18.
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Another one:

"In one of the most convincing tests to date, Dr. David Reilly conducted clinical trials on patients suffering from hay fever. Using hundreds of patients, Reilly was able to show a noticeable improvement in patients taking a homeopathic remedy over those in the control group. Tests on different allergies produced similar results. Yet the scientific community called these results into question because they could not explain how the homeopathic medicines could have worked.

Then Professor Madeleine Ennis attended a conference in which a French researcher claimed to be able to show that water had a memory. Ennis was unimpressed - so the researcher challenged her to try the experiment for herself. When she did so, she was astonished to find that her results agreed."
Syzygys actually so far you have shown nothing but a reason to delete the posts. As stated in the proposal thread you have to post journal articals involving RANDOMISED DOUBLE BLIND CLINCIAL TRIALS or chocrane reviews. So far you havent even refference your second post and your first came from wikipedia.
what's wrong with Wikipedia? I provided the journal info, go look it up..
The study Nancy provided (Kleijnen, 1991) (I'm not using her self-imposed title since my education level exceeds hers in case anyone wondered) in the debate thread was a "meta-study" or a "meta-analysis" and not an actual study which had a methodology of rigorous and randomized, double-blind tests.

What a meta-analysis does is look at the studies of others and attempts to combine the numbers in order to arrive at a more accurate statistical perspective.

They have some faults, however, as meta-analyses are inherently flawed in that they nearly always involved different methodologies. This is a genuine and significant problem of meta-studies and must be considered.

Moreover, meta-analyses can never take into consideration the number of unpublished studies that arrived at negative results. The authors of studies in which the hypothesis is the desired outcome will generally not publish the results if the negative hypothesis is demonstrated and the working hypothesis falsified. Instead, they go back, rework the methods and come up with a new study. This is called publication bias. With pseudoscientific ideas like homeopathy, the methodology that allows for a positive result or even a result that is inconclusive is often just bad.

The authors of the single study that Nancy cited conducted a meta-analysis of, "107 published papers which attempted to scientifically evaluate the effectiveness of homeopathic treatment. Of the published studies, 81 indicated positive effects of homeopathy and 21 found no positive effects. Two studies were uninterpretable. The authors indicate that the majority of studies, but by no means all, were of low quality and used highly questionable experimental designs."

Then, Kleijnen et al go on to say, "The major problem in the interpretation of the studies of homeopathy is the unknown influence of publication bias."

The highest quality trial Kleijnen et al analyzed showed no difference between homeopathy, placebo, and no treatment.

Nevertheless, Kleijnen et al did conclude that there were sufficient homeopathic studies to warrant further testing and they also concluded that the results of their meta-analysis favored homeopathic claims.

However, it must be noted that they basically listed the 107 studies and ranked them as "positive" or "negative" in their outcome. These studies varied tremendously in methodologies and indications (influenza to stroke).

I decided to look at one of the studies Kleijnen counted as positive and as scoring high on their rating for a well-conducted study. I picked Ferley et al (1989) since I had new I had access to the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. Ferley et al studied 478 influenza cases and administered a homeopathic remedy and a placebo. The measurement was of how many in each of these populations would recover in 48 hours.

The thing to consider here is that most people recover from influenza in 1-2 weeks, but the fever occurs generally in the early stages of the virus' life cycle. A fever can last a few days.

Nothing was noted in the methodology in Ferley et al on what controls were in place to determine how long the subjects already had influenza when entered in the study. One is left to assume that some had it a day. Some had it two. One is further left to assume that there were equal chance that a subject could enter a homeopathy or a placebo population with a new fever or one a day old.

The homeopathy population had better results than the placebo, but only marginally. Indeed, there's no reason to think that the same results wouldn't have occurred completely by chance with two placebos they were so close. It's too late to get into statistics and standard deviations, z values and the like.

So far, no advocate of homeopathy has ever produced a rigorous, double-blind test that shows significant results. Results that are greater than chance.


Kleijnen, J; Knipschild, P; and ter Riet, G (1991). Clinical trials of homoeopathy. BMJ. 302(6772): 316–323.

Ferley, J P; Zmirou, D; D'Adhemar, D; and Balducci, F (1989). A controlled evaluation of a homoeopathic preparation in the treatment of influenza-like syndromes. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. 27(3): 329–335.