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It's so easy... [Nov. 21st, 2005|12:25 pm]
New study is boost to homeopathy, reports the BBC. We don't know if/when it was published, so we only have the BBC to go on.

"More than 6,500 patients took part in the study with problems ranging from eczema to menopause and arthritis".

Ooooh, lots of people, must be good...

"Professor Matthias Egger, of the University of Berne, who worked on The Lancet study said the study was weakened by the lack of a comparison group."

No controls? Okay then...someone needs to relearn their year 7 science lessons.

The BBC's token commitment to balance:

"The results contradict a study published earlier this year in The Lancet, which concluded that using homeopathy was no better than taking dummy drugs."

Does comparing one study (with er...no controls) to a review of 110 different papers and implying they are of equal value counts as balanced reporting?

We could be wrong, it could be a well designed bit of research. If someone can point us in the direction of the journal it is published in and it turns out that this is the case, we will phagocytose our hats.*

* we don't have hats, so we'll need you to provide those too

[User Picture]From: pseudomonas
2005-11-21 01:37 pm (UTC)
The results contradict a study published earlier this year in The Lancet, which concluded that using homeopathy was no better than taking dummy drugs.

They *don't* contradict it, though.
1) Homoeopathy does no better than placebo
2) People feel better after taking homoeopathy

leads to 3) People feel better after taking a placebo, which is common knowledge.
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From: amoebic_vodka
2005-11-21 01:53 pm (UTC)
Heh, the Bad Science blog has the link to the paper. Everyone, your hats are safe.

Interestingly, without a control group, it doesn't even show how homeopathy compares to no treatment at all, never mind a placebo.
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From: (Anonymous)
2005-11-21 03:30 pm (UTC)


Isn't homeopathy like taking a placebo of a placebo?
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[User Picture]From: jimyojimbo
2005-11-21 03:39 pm (UTC)

Re: Hmm...

As far as I know, placebo effect is predicated on the fact that you don't know it's a placebo and you do think it's medicine that will work - so the effect is psychosomatic. Homeopathy is really nothing more than ultra-placebo, in so far as there's a lot more psychological rigmarole in homeopathy - all of the "it's tailor-made for you, it's natural" etc.
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From: amoebic_vodka
2005-11-22 10:44 pm (UTC)

Re: Hmm...

We're not sure how aware you have to be that something isn't going to work before the placebo effect goes away. While outright saying "this is just water/sugar/chalk and you're only being given it because you are gullible" would do the trick, we wonder if saying "this might work, come back if you don't think it's working and we'll try something else" is enough to get rid of any placebo effect.

Presumably in double blinded trials, patients understand that they have a chance of receiving the placebo, that even if they receive the drug, it might not have the effect they're hoping for, yet still there is an effect in the placebo group.
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