Talk:Homeopathy/Archive 51

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"Clinical studies of the medical efficacy ..."

"Clinical studies of the medical efficacy of homeopathy have been criticised by some homeopaths as being irrelevant because they do not test 'classical homeopathy'.[139]" I don't see support for this sentence in the cited BBC article. Perhaps someone cited the BBC article when they meant to cite something else. Also, why has Jack Killen's speculative, evidence shy opinion, "[homeopathy] goes beyond current understanding of chemistry and physics", been included in a section on meta-analyses? His position lends some validity to the inclusion of his second comment as a summary of NCCAM work, but the first comment has nothing to do with evidence. Shouldn't the stances of NCCAM, the NHS, AMA and FASEB really be in a separate section on the positions of medical bodies? Randomnonsense talk 19:29, 17 March 2012 (UTC)

Looking around, it seems Killen's quote was not intended to be favourable. However, it reads like he is saying that physics and chemistry haven't caught up to homeopathy, rather than saying they are in contradiction. It just looks like a typical quote from someone pushing woo. Am I the only one that reads it like that? Randomnonsense talk 23:30, 17 March 2012 (UTC)
I suspect that the Society of Homeopaths spokeswoman's claim that "it has been established beyond doubt and accepted by many researchers, that the placebo-controlled randomised controlled trial is not a fitting research tool with which to test homeopathy" is getting at the issue of RCTs not testing "classical" (i.e. individualized) homoeopathy, but you are correct that it doesn't quite say this. It is an objection frequently brought up by proponents of homoeopathy though, so it isn't too hard to find examples homoeopaths saying this sort of thing. For example here's George Vithoulkas: "The idea of double blind research is valid for conventional medicine but not for homeopathy which is based on the principle of giving a remedy for a totality of symptoms of an individual and not only for his single ailment, disease or pathology." Here's the (UK) Society of Homeopaths website: "Two key factors are the need for larger scale trials (commonly prevented by a lack of funding) and the use of more appropriate research methods such as pragmatic trials, which are better-suited to the task of testing a complex individualised therapy such as homeopathy." And here's another pro-homoeopathy site: "However, in order to conform to the conditions of group treatment, for a specific ailment used in an RCT, this individualization cannot exist – despite the reality that this is one of homeopathy’s strengths." Brunton (talk) 23:24, 19 March 2012 (UTC)
Weatherley-Jones, Thompson and Thomas (2004) looks like a better source, papers seem to cite this regularly when saying that RCTs are inadequate. Verhoef et al (2005) has more cites and plays the same role, but is more general and doesn't focus on homeopathy. Randomnonsense talk 18:08, 20 March 2012 (UTC)
From the abstract, that paper seems to be adressing a slightly different issue: that placebo controlled trials don't take into account "non-specific effects of consultations" (i.e. they control for the placebo effect).
Homoeopaths' criticisms of RCTs are mentioned in the article as an opinion of homoeopaths rather than as an assessment of the science, so homoeopaths expressing this opinion should be a good enough source. Brunton (talk) 06:02, 21 March 2012 (UTC)
No, the paper is specifically claiming that RCTs can't properly test individualised/classical homeopathy because non-specific and specific effects interact and thus cannot be separated in the way of an RCT. This is the source of the claim from homeopath's that RCTs are inadequate. In terms of weight I think a much cited paper from homeopathy's own journal is a much better source. Randomnonsense talk 20:32, 24 March 2012 (UTC)
Examining the history, the sentence originally cited an article by Vithoulkas (the page you linked to above is a copy of this) and the BBC article. Vithoulkas moved his comments to a different page (now here), leaving the link dead and someone then deleted it. These two refs, however, are not talking about the same thing, Vithoulkas is saying that studies have not adhered to classical homeopathic principles and the quote in the BBC article is alluding to claims that RCTs are inappropriate for reasons outlined in the Weatherly-Jones paper. The text that follows these refs in the article is then a little disingenuous; Vithoulkas is claiming that clinical studies, even those that are labelled as classical, do not comply with principles of classical homeopathy, not that there have never been trials of classical homeopathy. Randomnonsense talk 22:46, 24 March 2012 (UTC)

Edit request on 18 March 2012

I request that the line "(e)ach dilution followed by succussion is assumed to increase the effectiveness." be changed to "According to Hahnemann, each dilution followed by succussion is assumed to increase the "medicinal power"." using the reference Hahnemann S (1833), The Organon of the Healing Art (5th ed.), aphorisms 270, ISBN 087983228. My reasons for the change are as follows: 1. The original sentence is not referenced by a primary source 2. The original sentence is not referenced by a peer reviewed journal 3. The original sentence does not identify who has made the "assumption" 4. The original sentence uses the term "effectiveness" which is unreferenced and is ambiguous The new edited sentence: 1. Is referenced by a historical primary source which is referenced elsewhere in the page 2. Identifies who has made the "assumption" 3. Removes the term "effectiveness" which is unreferenced and is ambiguous 4. Has been suggested to make for a stronger and more accurate entry on this topic page In the spirit of providing information which is referenced to reliable sources (ie. historical primary sources, peer reviewed journals), I believe this change more accurately reflects the meaning of a statement as it pertains to changes that may occur when a homeopathic substance is prepared. Dizzybee (talk) 15:00, 18 March 2012 (UTC)

  • Deny - This seems to be essentially identical to the request Talk:Homeopathy#Edit_request_on_17_March_2012 which was already marked as answered. While I agree that the reference is a little weak, Wikipedia doesn't require references for facts that are "unlikely to be disputed". When we say "2+2=4" or "The sky is blue" - we don't need references. The idea of successive dilution and succussion making the treatment more potent is at the core of what homeopathy is...that's essentially all it is - I can't imagine anyone denying it. Since the fact isn't in any way controversial, it doesn't need a super-solid reference. There are any number of places where this core belief of homeopathists is stated to be the case...and we don't need peer reviewed journals to say that because nobody denies that they make this claim. What would require solid referencing would be any statement that dilution and succussion actually does improve efficacy...but that's not what our article says. Removing this statement removes the heart of the explanation of what homeopathy is. We need to get across the message that homeopathists believe this - or else we don't have much of an article. Hence, I strongly disagree with this change - and would revert it on sight. SteveBaker (talk) 16:28, 18 March 2012 (UTC)
  • Not done: It actually does have a reference (number 9). Per policy, we should avoid ascribing uncontested views to only a single opinion. AFAIK, every homeopath ascribes to the view that higher dilutions result in higher 'effectiveness', so we should not attribute it to the sole opinion of Hahnemann. Thanks for the suggestion, though! If you know of any sources which say that some branch of homeopathy doesn't believe that, feel free to present them and we may be able to modify the statement accordingly. All the best,   — Jess· Δ 16:44, 18 March 2012 (UTC)
  • Thank you Jess for the sober reply. I have 3 points to make. Firstly, I ask that if you use the term dilution when referring to homeopathic preparations that you also include the term succussion, or use a more general term such as "homeopathic preparation". Secondly, when entering the search term "homeopathic pharmacy" into my google search engine, the first item was from the RiteCare pharmacy website ( second sentence reads as follows: "Many, new to homeopathy, mistake potency or dilution with strength. There is actually no correlation between potency and the strength of a homeopathic medicine. A homeopathic medicine at 30C potency is not stronger than the same medicine at 6C or 3C. The difference is in their action. While a 6C potency is better suited for a local symptom, a 30C or higher potency is more appropriate for general conditions such as allergy, stress or sleep disorders." I quote this not to use this as a reference but rather to point out that opinion is very much divided on the view that each dilution followed by succussion is assumed to increase the effectiveness. Thirdly, I will set to work (as you encouraged) on finding sources which reflect the diversity of opinion on the subject. Kind regardsDizzybee (talk) 18:04, 18 March 2012 (UTC)
    That's a very interesting point. Many thanks for the link - having references clearly helps us here. Clearly though, even the Rite Care folks must concede that some degree of dilution is required to turn something that CAUSES an adverse symptom into one that CURES that very same symptom. I'd be happy to consider rephrasing this if we can find reliable sources for each of the contrary viewpoints. The RiteCare pharmacy link is (IMHO) enough to support a statement to the effect that some homeopathists have different beliefs - but I think I'd want to see something stronger to state that homeopathists in general subscribe to the "lower dilution for local conditions, higher dilution for general conditions" theory of homeopathy. This new diagnostic twist would make for an interesting new section in the article. SteveBaker (talk) 14:41, 19 March 2012 (UTC)
    Thank you all for the comments. I am trying to figure out what strikes me as wrong with the statement and how we can improve on this sentence to reflect something that is more accurate either to what was historically stated or to what is current clinical practice. If I were to read the sentence as it is, I would assume that homeopaths would be using the most diluted and succussed substances they could get their hands on in order to maximize effectiveness. That simply is not the case. As a CAM practitioner who uses homeopathy, there are plenty of instances where I would use “lower” potencies to maximize effectiveness. These clinical decisions are based many factors related to the clinical experience. I will refer to 3 studies published in peer reviewed journals to illustrate that homeopaths do not think that increased effectiveness is achieved by additional dilution and succusion. In Jutte R, Riley D. A review of the use and role of low potencies in homeopathy. Complementary Therapies in Medicine (2005) 13, 291—296, the authors performed a historical overview of the ideas around potency selection. Their summary is as follows:

“Common statements on potency selection in homeopathic literature High potencies preferable if the emphasis of the symptoms is psychological Low potencies if focus of symptoms is physical/organic, at least at the beginning of treatment High potencies can/should be repeated less frequently, low potencies can be repeated more frequently Low potencies are often used in acute cases. Due to the predominance of certain common, physical symptoms in acute cases (rather than a fully developed individual symptomatology), it is often wiser to prescribe in low potencies. Initial frequent administration of a low potency can also provide the organism with the added stimulation required in acute diseases Low potencies are often used in conjunction with patients on conventional medications The use of constitutional medicines in low potencies can be used to facilitate the response to the same remedy in a higher potency. In line with this, a low potency is often prescribed in tandem with a high potency in chronic cases” As you will note, the choice of an effective potency is based on given clinical situations and not on giving a high potency whenever possible. In Klein-Laansma C.T. et al. Semi-standardised homeopathic treatment of premenstrual syndrome with a limited number of medicines: Feasibility study. Homeopathy (July 2010), 99 (3), pg. 192-204, they monitored the potency selection in a controlled analysis and found the following: “Potencies and doses The following potencies were used: D12, Q2, Q6, C30, 30K, 200K, MK, frequencies varying from daily (D12 and some X-potencies) to once every week (C30, 30K) or once or twice per month (MK and 200K).” As you can see, in a controlled clinical situation, remedy potency selection was not uniformly high to attain effectiveness but rather reflected a broad range of potency choice based on a clinicians approach to the condition. Finally, in Deroukakis M. Selection of potencies by medical and non-medical homeopaths: a survey. Homeopathy (July 2002), 91 (3), pg. 150-155, his survey revealed a broad range of situations where either high or low potencies would achieve the desired effectiveness. He summarizes: “High potencies are more often used when mental symptoms are striking. High potencies are not reserved for chronic diseases and similarly, low potencies are not reserved for acute diseases. High potencies are used in acute situations. In ‘sluggish constitutions’, a low potency is thought to be of greater use as it matches the patient’s vital force. High potencies should be repeated less often than low potencies. High potencies are administered if the ‘picture’ is clear.” There are other examples expressing similar views. I would like to know how we should move forward to provide a more accurate expression for the Wikipedia page. Dizzybee (talk) 14:50, 19 March 2012 (UTC)

  • Hold on a minute here...that exact same web site ( - in the section "How are Homeopathic Medicines Prepared?") says: "In Homeopathy, the higher the dilution level, the more deeply the remedy acts. For this reason the higher potencies (the more diluted medicines) are generally dispensed by pharmacies or licensed health care professionals. The lower potencies 6X, 12X, 6C, 12C and 30C are the potencies most commonly found in retail and health food stores." - this totally contradicts what they said in your quote! If the distinction between lower and higher dilutions is the applicability to more or less "local" conditions - then why are the more diluted ones only available to pharmacies and licensed professionals? Clearly they believe that the higher dilutions are more potent and therefore have to be more carefully dispensed. This stuff is such bullshit - even a single company can't keep their story straight!
    SteveBaker (talk) 15:01, 19 March 2012 (UTC)
  • Yes quite funny about this apparent contradiction. It seems they are twisting into a pretzel trying to reconcile the various threads of homeopathic thought and theory. Admittedly this is a huge problem with homeopathy - when you don't understand the mechanism of action (if any), you are left with theoretical conjecture and/or individual observations which are subject to bias. The RiteAID quote hypothesizes that higher potencies act more "deeply" which is not necessarily an issue of effectiveness depending on the clinical situation. I think the latter references I listed outline with slightly less flaky language the situations where the number of succusions and dilutions intersect with effectiveness. Dizzybee (talk) 15:59, 19 March 2012 (UTC)
I'd phrase that differently - when there isn't any mechanism of action, you can make up any random nonsense you like about how you're going to prescribe it and what you claim it'll treat. THAT's why there is no consistency. If there was evidence behind the claims then everyone would be able to rely on that evidence in knowing how to prescribe. But when people are lying about what their product can do - with full knowledge that it's been proven to do nothing at all - then any set of lies is as good as any other. But the question here is what should we write? SteveBaker (talk) 19:17, 20 March 2012 (UTC)
Simply put, I'd leave it as-is. The majority of homeopaths adhere to the "more dilutions == more efficacy" idea. It's the fringe of this fringe that says otherwise. WP:WEIGHT would indicate leaving that out. — The Hand That Feeds You:Bite 20:57, 20 March 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for the links Dizzybee. Perhaps something like this would work: "Each dilution followed by succussion is assumed to increase the effectiveness, or change the area affected." We could obviously tweak the wording as appropriate. However, we'd first have to show that the view was a significant view (not minority or fringe) before incorporating it to that degree. Alternatively, we need to show that it is at least a minority view to incorporate it elsewhere in the body (to a lesser degree). WP:WEIGHT says that we should be able to name prominent adherents in order to establish the latter. Are there notable members of the homeopathy community which would stand behind this view of dilution and succussion? If so, we could mention this in the body as "[John Smith] says that dilution and succussion is capable of changing the locality of the remedy, rather than increasing its effectiveness as is commonly claimed." What would be ideal, here, is a standard homeopathy text which mentions the view and its adoption. Maybe google scholar could turn something up.   — Jess· Δ 08:25, 21 March 2012 (UTC)

I too have a problem with the line "Each dilution followed by succussion is assumed to increase the effectiveness." The line should simply be removed in my opinion. Professional homeopaths make no such assumptions, otherwise all but the highest potencies of remedies would have been eliminated decades ago. The term "effectiveness" is inaccurate. Effectiveness is quality of results, which is dependent as much on proper choice of remedy as is its potency. The only thing that can be positively asserted in any similar statement would be that 'each dilution followed by succussion ... increases the measure of a remedy's potency.' Kannon McAfee (talk) 09:04, 21 March 2012 (UTC)

Thank you all for your comments. I appreciate the issues of WP:WEIGHT and that we should attempt to uncover what the homeopathic community thinks on this issue. I have listed a few sources from peer reviewed sources which contradict the statement that "(e)ach dilution followed by succussion is assumed to increase the effectiveness." I think that they are solid sources. There are other sources in the homeopathic community which also seem to contradict the statement. George Vithoulkas, one of the "subsequent proponents" on the Wikipedia homeopathy page outlines his understanding of the use of potency here: this page he outlines various circumstances where either low potencies or high potencies should be used. "Children who are suffering from severe problems should generally be given low potencies.""Patients who have weak constitutions, old people, or very hypersensitive people should initially be given potencies ranging, roughly, from 12 X to 200." In his latest book, Levels of Health (International Academy of Classical Homeopathy, 2010) Vithoulkas outlines the reasoning behind potency selection and states that the potency selection is based on: 1. the sensitivity of the patient, 2. the health of the patient, 3. the depth of pathology, 4. whether the health of the patient is in imminent danger the degree of similarity of the selected remedy to the symptomatology of the patient. According to Vithoulkas, the effectiveness of a remedy in a clinical circumstance is based on many factors. Rajan Sankaran, another prominent homeopath and also one of the "subsequent proponents" on the Wikipedia homeopathy page also seems to contradict the statement. Paraphrased here: and found in his later titles "Sensation in Homeopathy" and "Sensation Refined", Sankaran's potency selection is based primarily on how the patient is "expressing" their disease - whether they are speak about their disease in factual terms, or metaphors of delusion or sensation, etc. For Sankaran there is no assumption of increased effectiveness as the potency increases. Different potencies are simply used for different clinical circumstances.

Here are two prominent homeopaths who have, I think, contradicted the statement "(e)ach dilution followed by succussion is assumed to increase the effectiveness." Should we seek out more sources to help clarify the issue? One possibility is to seek out some of the exam questions homeopaths in regulated jurisdictions have to answer around potency to see if supports or contradicts the statement. Any thoughts? Dizzybee (talk) 01:45, 22 March 2012 (UTC)

This is what I love about Wikipedia: a reasoned discussion on documenting the subject. Awesome Face
That said, it does seem worth at least revising that statement a bit. Kannon McAfee has a good suggestion there. "Each dilution followed by succussion is assumed to increase a remedy's potency." might be a more accurate statement of homeopath's beliefs. Note that I keep "assumed" as there's no actual evidence of potency at all. — The Hand That Feeds You:Bite 02:31, 22 March 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for that response Dizzybee. I'm a little short on time right now, so I can't read through your sources quite yet, but I'd like to nail down the type of change we're discussing if we can. Correct me if I've misunderstood you, but you were talking before about how increased dilution and succussion was believed to result in a change in locality for the remedy. Now, it seems we're discussing whether "effectiveness" is the right word to use, or if "potency" might be better. Which of those two changes are you hoping to implement (or both)? Would HandThatFeed's suggestion to change the wording to "potency" solve this issue? I think that might be a good option, from my understanding of the literature.   — Jess· Δ 04:34, 22 March 2012 (UTC)
Any time we say "X believes...", "Y thinks..." or "Z knows..." we err. We simply cannot know what is in someone else's head. Any source which claims to do so is at best using figurative language, at worst is unreliable. This is especially when we say "X believes [something incredible]". Instead, we should restrain ourselves to saying what they wrote or stated, as verifiable in published reliable sources.LeadSongDog come howl! 05:46, 22 March 2012 (UTC)
BS. This is what is claimed by homeopaths. It's the entire point of their "method." We're not mind-reading, we're repeating what they've clearly said. You can change "assume" to "advocate" if you want to be pedantic about it, since that's in the cited source on the very next sentence. — The Hand That Feeds You:Bite 20:12, 22 March 2012 (UTC)
Yes, I've heard this argument before that we shouldn't say "so-and-so believed X, Y, and Z" because we don't know what he truly believed. Did Darwin believe in evolution? Does the pope believe Jesus was the messiah? No way to know for sure, so we better not include that.
It's technically correct; but, I believe HTF labeling this 'pedantic' is the perfect word for it. Nothing personal, LeadSong, this is just my personal opinion, and I respect your viewpoint. But, as I see it, if someone wrote about something or expressed a view point, I believe that is sufficient evidence (in general) to state he/she believed in it.JoelWhy (talk) 20:19, 22 March 2012 (UTC)
So what's the problem? Just say "X said Y" or "X wrote Y" or "X is on record as having said/wrote Y" if we don't have a direct reference. It's really easy to work around HTFY's issue here - be pedantically correct and yet still say exactly what we needs to be said on the matter. SteveBaker (talk) 03:02, 23 March 2012 (UTC)
Exactly. We can't tell if the speaker believes it or is spouting what Hand calls "BS". If we say in the voice of the encyclopedia that he believes something we say is false then we are in effect calling him gullible, rather than duplicitous. We have no grounds to make that call. "Say" is quite sufficient. LeadSongDog come howl! 18:30, 23 March 2012 (UTC)

My term 'measure' of a remedy's potency is neutral. This term 'measure' does not make a claim of effectiveness or ineffectiveness. It simply denotes how homeopaths make and label their medicine -- even if it is "BS" -- which I see as an advocacy statement AGAINST homeopathy. If you start out so biased against it and unwilling to put it personally to the test, then it is very difficult to maintain NPOV, which in my opinion is really lacking in this Homeopathy article. It is possible to select terms that neither advocate or criticize the methodology while describing it. The term 'assumed' has been promoted here to nullify claims to 'effectiveness' that simply are not relevant to the sentence describing the process of how a homeopathic remedy is made. I have no problem with dropping the sentence entirely. That would be better than maintaining descriptive information lacking NPOV. Kannon McAfee (talk) 02:18, 23 March 2012 (UTC)

You're wrong about having to personally put Homeopathy to the test before we can comment on it - that's ridiculous. Are you saying that you wouldn't believe that a broken leg could be mended with a plaster cast without first breaking your leg and trying it? Can we not say that the height of Mount Everest is 8,848 meters without personally climbing up there with tape-measure in hand? Absolutely not! In fact, if you did exactly that then Wikipedia would explicitly forbid you from using your experience to write on the subject because that would be original research. We say that Homeopathy is BS because there are a ton of scientifically run tests that prove that - and not a single carefully run double-blind test that shows that it works. It's not a matter of advocacy - it's a matter of "The Truth" as defined by Wikipedia for the purposes of writing articles.
NPOV doesn't mean giving equal weight to both sides of an argument because that would mean that we'd have to write that it's that it's equally possible that the earth is flat rather than round. We'd have to say that because the flat-earth society say so and we have to give their POV equal footing to the likes of NASA. Fortunately, for the sake of writing a moderately sane encyclopedia that doesn't give every whack-job equal air time: No, that's not what NPOV means. In the context of Wikipedia, WP:NPOV means giving appropriate weight to the various points of view - in a manner that's proportionate to the amount of reliable evidence for that point of view. That allows us to say "The world is definitely round. (Although members of the flat earth society claim otherwise)". It also allows us to say "Homeopathy definitely doesn't work. (Although homeopathists claim otherwise)". Both of those are NPOV statements given appropriately reliable sources for those statements.
Since the evidence (as required by WP:MEDRS and WP:FRINGE) for claims that homeopathy is effective is entirely absent - and evidence that it's no better than placebo is everywhere - the perfect NPOV article on the subject most certainly should say, unequivocable, that homeopathy is BS - because that's what the unanimous findings of WP:MEDRS-acceptable sources are. Sure, you don't like this rule - you find it unfair to your strong beliefs - but that is how Wikipedia is run. There really isn't much you can do about that. SteveBaker (talk) 03:02, 23 March 2012 (UTC)
POV would be if used language which, for instance, cast homeopaths as terrible people, or advocated for the banning of homeopathy. On the other hand, it is not POV to make it clear in the article that, by every objective measure that homeopathy has been tested, it has been shown to provide no health benefits beyond the placebo effect.JoelWhy (talk) 13:11, 23 March 2012 (UTC)
Yes, that's certainly true. SteveBaker (talk) 15:06, 23 March 2012 (UTC)

I have outlined several sources and I hope you have had a chance to look at them. In the context of the original line "(e)ach dilution followed by succussion is assumed to increase the effectiveness." that I was wanting to edit, I propose the following long summary of what I sourced with regards to this issue. This summary is provided in the spirit of making a more accurate statement.

Homeopath's assume that each dilution followed by succussion: 1. creates a new homeopathic substance 2. are termed "homeopathic potencies" 3. have different clinical applications.

This would be my understanding of what homeopaths assume/think regarding the application of different potencies. I may be wrong. However I feel I have backed my arguments up with what some may call solid sources.

It may be helpful (I know it was helpful to me!) to try and not think of the term "potency" as "strength" (in this context). In my opinion "potency" is an unfortunate word applied in this context. However the genie is out of the bottle and I don't think we will be able to get the homeopathic world to change its terminology. Perhaps we should start using a term like "homeopathic preparation".

Anyhow, I know my suggestion is a bit wordy and could use some wordsmithing however I thought I would put this suggestion out there for comment and consensus building. I also think we could go back to a more historical version such as "According to Hahnemann, each dilution followed by succussion is assumed to increase the "medicinal power" if that is deemed more appropriate.Dizzybee (talk) 17:49, 23 March 2012 (UTC)

Based on your suggestion, maybe this would work:

Each dilution followed by succussion is assumed to increase the homeopathic potency of the remedy, creating a new homoepathic substance with different clinical applications.

I'll comb through the sources when I get a chance and see if this reflects the literature. In the meantime, does anyone have a problem with that? Feel free to tweak as necessary.   — Jess· Δ 18:49, 23 March 2012 (UTC)
The terms "potency" and "remedy" have iirc been the subject of edit wars in the past. Have a look/search through the archives above to get the background. While the use of poison quotes in this context would carry delicious irony, it would need to gain explicit consensus in order to prevent further disruption. LeadSongDog come howl! 18:52, 23 March 2012 (UTC)
LSD, are you referring to Dizzybee's bulleted proposal which uses quotes, or mine which doesn't? I just want to be clear on what you're pointing out. Thanks.   — Jess· Δ 18:56, 23 March 2012 (UTC)
LSD, I'm not surprised that there have been edit wars in the past. I'm glad you are here with the institutional memory of this page. Please let us know if we are re-hashing things that have been sorted out already. Jess, thanks for the draft. The term potency in this context may be interpreted in different ways depending on who is reading. I think homeopaths will say sure, as you dilute and succuss, the potency increases (ie. it goes from a 3CH to a 4CH. The number does increase). I think someone unfamiliar with the way homeopathic substances are prepared will think that the strength increases. I will defer a re-draft until there is input from others.Dizzybee (talk) 19:16, 23 March 2012 (UTC)
In a nutshell - homeopathists use common English language words in extremely non-standard ways. We can't use words like "potency" and assume that our readers will understand the weird way that homeopathists use it. Even if they look it up in a dictionary, it won't provide the meaning that homeopathists ascribe to it. Since there is a strong suspicion that homeopathists do this deliberately in order to obfuscate their claims, we have to be extremely careful not to let these non-standard meanings cloud the issues within our article. For example, Wiktionary says that "potency" means:
  1. Strength
  2. Power
  3. The ability or capacity to perform something.
Other dictionaries that I've checked say essentially the same thing.
When you dilute something and claim to have increased it's "potency" then the standard English meaning is that you made it stronger, more powerful, more able to cure diseases. Since some (perhaps most) homeopathists do in fact believe this, it's tough to come along and say "Yes, they do say that the 'potency' increases when you dilute something - but 'potency' doesn't mean what you think it does." That just means that we can't believe a single word that these whack-jobs write because whenever you corner them they just claim to have redefined this or that word. This is yet another reason why we can't use Homeopathist's writings as sources for this article. If they're going to go around redefining common English words without providing a clear statement of what they interpret those words to mean and - worse still - if these words mean different things to different homeopathists - then it should come as no surprise that they gain no traction in communicating their views. SteveBaker (talk) 01:05, 25 March 2012 (UTC)

How about we look at this:

Each dilution followed by succussion is assumed to create a new homeopathic substance with different clinical applications.

If we are looking to avoid the term "potency" in the entry, we will have to work on the subsequent line as well...Dizzybee (talk) 14:11, 27 March 2012 (UTC)

Er, no. That's way too much WP:OR in that form. Homeopaths aren't claiming it's a new substance at all. Their entire spiel is that it's the original substance diluted down to a "healthy" level that magically cures the "unhealthy" levels in the body. — The Hand That Feeds You:Bite 14:44, 27 March 2012 (UTC)
We can't really avoid talking about the contrarian nomenclature used in homeopathy. We need to explicitly discuss how the advocates use "potentize" to mean "dilute", "remedy" to mean "something that you give to healthy people", etc. We might want to make that a distinct section. LeadSongDog come howl! 15:33, 27 March 2012 (UTC)
I agree that we're going to need a section describing (as best is possible) the non-standard meanings that homeopathists apply to all of these common words. That's not going to be easy because they don't all seem to agree. HOWEVER we can't use those words in the lede. It is unconscionable to use a word in a non-standard manner without first defining it. So many people never get beyond reading the lede - and that would mean that they'd miss our section describing what all of those words mean. Since the lede is only supposed to summarize - we also can't put great heaps of discussion about what words like "potent" and "treatment" mean in that section. It follows then that the lede must be written in standard English - avoiding these difficult words altogether. Subsequently, we can define these special terms and use them in the remainder of the article (although, IMHO, they should be wrapped in quotes and italicised to indicate that these are not words that Wikipedia sanctions to mean those things. SteveBaker (talk) 18:41, 28 March 2012 (UTC)

Homeopaths attempt to salvage a positive result from treatment failure in an underpowered trial

Homeopaths attempt to salvage a positive result from treatment failure in an underpowered trial, M Vagg, Focus on Alternative and Complementary Therapies, March 2012

Brangifer (talk) 19:25, 25 March 2012 (UTC)

Sadly a common feature of alt-med researchers. But a pertinent point is made by the critics, one arm of this trial was of individualised prescriptions. No statistical difference was found between any of the arms for primary outcome although realistically, no result could be considered as the sample size was so low. Acleron (talk) 17:57, 26 March 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for pointing this out - it's an excellent example of common errors in designing and interpreting clinical trials, and I'll probably use it for didactic purposes IRL. MastCell Talk 18:38, 26 March 2012 (UTC)
What bothers me most is that it should have been obvious at the outset that this study was too poorly designed to achieve any meaningful result either way. That being the case, what physician would allow his patients to be subjected to a study that's doomed to be meaningless? SteveBaker (talk) 18:53, 28 March 2012 (UTC)

'Not objective'

Your opening sentence to this article is probably responsible for millions of deaths and is not objective. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:14, 27 March 2012 (UTC)

You provide no evidence whatsoever to back up that ridiculous assertion. 'Objectivity' requires evidence, not opinion... AndyTheGrump (talk) 04:23, 27 March 2012 (UTC)
What would you replace it with? Acleron (talk) 10:37, 28 March 2012 (UTC)
Wiktionary defines "objective" as "Agreed upon by all parties present (or nearly all); based on consensually observed facts" and "Not influenced by irrational emotions or prejudices". From the perspective of Wikipedia, articles on medical topics have to be fact-checked and cross-referenced against reliable sources. We did that - and the result was that all (or nearly all) parties who have tested Homeopathy to the standards required by Wikipedia have said that it's no better than placebo. We are also not influenced by irrational emotions and prejudices - we rely on those reliable sources, which Wikipedia say are the rational ones. We specifically reject information from people who do not act rationally (eg those who ignore scientific trials of homeopathy). That makes our opening paragraph extremely objective.
Furthermore, it is exceedingly unlikely (even if homeopathy worked - which it evidently does not) that Wikipedia could dissuade "millions" and somehow cause their deaths. Instead, it is rather more likely that we'll prevent a much more modest number of deaths and injuries that might happen in the manner of the 437 cases documented here (30 of which resulted in death as a direct result of idiot homeopathists.
Our opening paragraph is "The Truth" as defined by Wikipedia's sourcing guidelines. If you have other solid reference material (such as would meet the stringent requirements of our policy at WP:MEDRS) that show that our opening paragraph is incorrect or not "objective" - then we'd be very excited to hear about them - but I have to say that people come here and tell us that all the time - and we never get any actual solid evidence out of them. There is a reason for that!
SteveBaker (talk) 18:28, 28 March 2012 (UTC)


I'm confused. It says at page 202 of Devrient's translation of the 1833 Organon (the 5th German edition) that provings are done with medicinal substances that are "alone and perfectly pure". Do later editions differ, or has current practice changed from what the Organon calls for? Incidentally, the proliferation of ISBNs for works which are in the public domain is troubling. We should be linking to free online archives for all these, not driving sales to specific reprinters. LeadSongDog come howl! 16:34, 3 April 2012 (UTC)

The 1913 Everyman's edition of Wheeler's translation uses slightly different English wording here: "perfectly simple and unadulterated form". LeadSongDog come howl! 16:51, 3 April 2012 (UTC)
The 1833 translation linked to seems to be of the 4th German edition - its table of contents lists only 292 aphorisms, and the 5th edition had 294 and wasn't translated until 1849. The 5th and (posthumous) 6th editions of the Organon state, at aphorism 128, that "provings" should be carried out using 30C remedies. The book on homoeopathic pharmacy cited in the section of the article on provings also states that modern "provings" are almost invariably carried out using ultramolecular remedies. And, of course, the basic "law" of similars states that disease can be treated by a remedy that causes the symptoms of the disease, not a remedy made from something that causes the symptoms. Brunton (talk) 16:16, 4 April 2012 (UTC)
So you get the idea that Hahnemann was developing his ideas about homeopathy. He was learning and expressing that in his writings. What then is your understanding of what he was saying overall? I ask that knowing that wiki needs references, but the question stands. And as for the references for that, what qualifies?Cjwilky (talk) 20:43, 11 April 2012 (UTC)

Odd edit

Can someone explain this sentence to me? "This is at odds with Hahnemann's rules for proving, which would also appear to exclude "imponderables" such as light of venus, shipwreck, pink and TV radiation." I've read it a dozen times and cannot figure out what it means. Is it trying to say that (1) light from the planet Venus; (2) shipwrecks, (3) the color pink, and (4) radiation emitted from televisions are all "imponderables"? I've read this sentence a dozen times and I just don't understand what it means.JoelWhy (talk) 14:01, 11 April 2012 (UTC)

Yeah, I've reverted that addition as grammatically confusing, as well as unsourced WP:OR. — The Hand That Feeds You:Bite 14:07, 11 April 2012 (UTC)
The poison quotes were on "imponderables" for a reason. It's a term of art that homeopaths use for remedies that are made purely by association (not mixing). This may be writing something on a piece of paper then putting a vial of water atop that paper. It may be exposing a vial to the light of the sun, or even of Venus. It's a sympathetic magic idea that even some homeopaths have trouble with. While definitely not wp:MEDRS, these might shed some light: [1] [2] [3]. I gather the term goes back to Hahnemann (1833). LeadSongDog come howl! 16:31, 11 April 2012 (UTC)
Wow. All I can say is wow. I mean, as if homeopathy wasn't silly enough, along comes some homeopaths who manage to make regular homeopathy seem like its based on the Theory of Relativity in comparison.JoelWhy (talk) 16:38, 11 April 2012 (UTC)
Are you suggesting there is nothing in the light from the sun? Strange is that imponderable "magic" that causes a fridge to work from those black things on the roof. Thank the lord the earth is flat. Cjwilky (talk) 20:37, 11 April 2012 (UTC)
Way to slay that straw man...JoelWhy (talk) 20:53, 11 April 2012 (UTC)
No straw without the sun, dood Cjwilky (talk) 21:08, 11 April 2012 (UTC)
I am sure that you are only pretending not to understand so there's not much point explaining. What is worth explaining is why the fact of adverse reactions to penicillin is not relevant in this article. Penicillin is a drug, it has a real and provable effect, it is a genuinely life-saving medicine that also has rare side-effects. Homeopathy is purely a placebo, it has no effects so of course it has no side effects either. Medicine has a way of dealing with the risk/benefit equation (hence the change away from live vaccines for polio once polio had declined to a tiny fraciotn of its original prevalence). Homeopathy has no mechanism for self-correction and lacks any self-criticism whatsoever. There is no comparison between the two. Guy (Help!) 18:53, 12 April 2012 (UTC)

The point I made, which as usual seems to be missed in this talk page, so I repeat it again, is about the suggestion above ("It may be exposing a vial to the light of the sun, or even of Venus. It's a sympathetic magic idea that even some homeopaths have trouble with.") that sunlight contains nothing, remedies from it are magic and some homeopaths have issues with that (I don't know of any at all). An imponderable is a remedy made from nothing visible as matter. Hence photons, magnetic fields and the like are well established "somethings" that aren't visible matter and so are classed as imponderables. Cjwilky (talk) 17:03, 17 April 2012 (UTC)

Yes, sunlight is energy, but it doesn't turn water into medicine. That's just inane. SÆdontalk 17:13, 17 April 2012 (UTC)
Indeed, if you look at the edit history for Solar water disinfection it will be clear that I'm quite aware that sunlight interacts with water and with things suspended in it. Obviously, it at least marginally warms the water. But it doesn't become yellow, or radioactive, or start emitting a solar wind. The "sympathetic magic" is in its purported acquisition of only the specific attributed healthful properties of the Sun (or Venus, or whatever). LeadSongDog come howl! 17:50, 17 April 2012 (UTC)
Photons, magnetic fields, etc can be measured and studied, as can their impact on matter. The only thing I find 'imponderable' about all this is how anyone can utilize these special pleadings to convince themselves that homeopathy is medicine.JoelWhy (talk) 17:53, 17 April 2012 (UTC)
Perhaps we should mention somewhere that the use of 'imponderable' here is another word used by homeopaths to mean something different than in general English or in science.Acleron (talk) 21:12, 17 April 2012 (UTC)
From what Cj wrote above I'm gathering that they use it in the normal English sense but happen to be uneducated about what physics has elucidated thus far and so they call it imponderable from a perspective of ignorance. For instance, Bill O'Reilly seems to think the force that makes the tides go in and out imponderable, while the average 8th grader would snicker at the thought. SÆdontalk 21:18, 17 April 2012 (UTC)
Awkward one. My understanding of imponderable is either something that cannot be detected or thought about. As none of these silly examples are in those categories I suggest they have misused the word. For example, Cj says 'Are you suggesting there is nothing in the light from the sun?', so they know there is 'something there' therefore it cannot be imponderable.Acleron (talk) 11:53, 18 April 2012 (UTC)
The problem here is not whether sunlight can or can't do something to a liquid that's exposed to it. The problem is that the homeopathists don't have a good explanation for why they claim that this might work - and they have not performed appropriate scientific double-blind experiments to verify that it does. In the case of sunlight, it is indeed plausible that sunlight could have some kind of photochemical effect - but that's not the issue. The amount of 'Venuslight' is so utterly negligable that it's entirely implausible that it could have any effect. If so little sunlight reflected off of some planetary body could have such a profound effect then merely taking the liquid out of the bottle to injest it would cause a gazillion profound changes due to sunlight reflected off of the bottle cap, from the patient's mouth and so forth. It's this lack of a connection between what you're doing and why you're doing it - backed up with careful experimental testing for efficacy that makes this all a pile of steaming bull-crap pseudoscience. These exposures to various kinds of light are "imponderables" because nobody has attempted to ponder them - and controlling experiments in which tiny numbers of photons of sunlight reflected from Venus have some profound effect really are pretty much "imponderable" because you simply cannot control for all of the millions of other sources of sunlight reflected from the experimenter's hands, the room and so forth. This nature of homeopathy where very dilute amounts of substances (or now light) are claimed to have a profound effect really are "imponderable" because any water you could ever obtain anywhere had C30 dilutions of every substance found on earth in it before the researcher even started to mess with it. You can't make a C30 dilution of eye-of-newt (or whatever it is this week) without also accidentally making a C30 dilution of the experimenters' tears, his excrement, his skin cells, the copper pipes that carried the water here, the light of Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and Betelgeuse, etc, etc. A clean, controlled experiment is impossible and (in truth) the whole practice of homeopathy is fatally flawed because of that. SteveBaker (talk) 12:50, 18 April 2012 (UTC)
I'd be a bit more relaxed and say that understanding the why, while scientifically interesting and valuable, isn't necessarily required for a therapy to be legitimate. When penicillin was discovered (and for quite a number of years after it came into regular use) no one knew that it worked by irreversibly, but that didn't mean that it wasn't considered a 'real' pharmaceutical. The problem with homeopathic remedies is twofold; first, since the mechanisms of action isn't really known (and likely doesn't exist), its practitioners have made up any number of different stories and tout them all as fact without any supporting evidence for their reasoning. Doctors using penicillin didn't know how it worked, either, but it didn't matter and they didn't have to make up elaborate stories and rituals because they didn't have homeopathy's second major problem—penicillin actually worked reliably in clinical use. That's your second point, Steve, and by far the most important. Homeopathic practitioners have never demonstrated an ability to consistently achieve results better than a placebo. Whether that's because the entire field is irrational bunkum or simply because their test samples keep getting contaminated with moonlight is nearly irrelevant from a clinical standpoint. That's the bind that the homeopaths are in; either they need to produce consistent results with an entirely empirical, phenomenological, explanation-less approach (which they haven't been able to do), or they need some sort of physical evidence supporting any kind of rational mechanism (and which might explain why their efforts at therapy are so inconsistent, and guide them in how to improve their method's efficacy). Instead, they fail the clinical tests, and come up with untestable mechanisms. TenOfAllTrades(talk) 14:22, 18 April 2012 (UTC)
Yea, but for all we know, Penicillin doesn't actually work -- it's just a fungi that's been exposed to the healing light of the moon, which provides the real healing effects. I hope you've enjoyed my Homeopathy dissertation.JoelWhy (talk) 14:28, 18 April 2012 (UTC)
Well, we do actually know why it works. As TenOfAllTrades helpfully points out - it inhibits the action of DD-transpeptidase. But it's certainly true that this deep, underlying mechanism wasn't understood when the treatment was first used. But that doesn't mean to say that we didn't understand "why it works". Fleming was culturing Staphylococcus bacteria on agar plates and noticed that wherever there was a colony of some particular blue-green mould, there was a region on the plate where no bacteria were growing. So he knew that the presence of this Penicillium notatum mould killed bacteria. Since we knew that bacteria are the cause of many infections, it made solid logical sense to use Penicillium notatum to cure infections. Why? Because infections are caused by bacteria and penicillin kills bacteria. That's a pretty solid "why it works" connection in my mind! The "why" was understood to a level appropriately deep to suggest that trials in mice should be undertaken...and when that was shown to actually work, human trials were undertaken - and when those also worked, we started using it to routinely treat infections. Subsequent understanding of the mechanism by which penicillin works has produced further breakthroughs in the treatment of infection.
There are three separate lessons for homeopathists there:
  1. You find something that you have some solid experimental reason to believe might work. The "why" of the treatment.
  2. You have to test that something actually works before you start giving it to people.
  3. If you do find an effective treatment without fully understanding why it works at the deeper levels of biochemistry, you continue to do good science to gain that understanding.
These things are essential in order to be sure that you're actually helping people and not poisoning them or preventing them from seeking existing other "known to be effective" treatments (two serious issues with homeopathy). The "why" part is essential because understanding "why it works" almost always results in ways to improve the treatments' efficacy and/or to find alternative treatments with fewer side-effects that work using the same biochemical pathway.
SteveBaker (talk) 13:54, 19 April 2012 (UTC)
Try this one on for size: Swan S. "Luna" Homeopathic World October 1, 1883. pages 469-475
Describes the "proving" of that imponderable. Makes an interesting read. LeadSongDog come howl! 22:05, 17 April 2012 (UTC)
...and powerfully conveys why you need a control for every experiment, with double-blinding and a statistically meaningful sample of test subjects! SteveBaker (talk) 12:55, 18 April 2012 (UTC)
Imponderable is a term that within homeopathy classifies a group of remedies that are not from plants, animals, milks, minerals etc. Its not unusual for a word to have a slightly different meaning within a discipline, its ignorant to suggest otherwise.
Hahnemann made a remedy from magnetic field, so its not at odds with how he made remedies. Cjwilky (talk) 14:18, 18 April 2012 (UTC)
If that is how you define 'imponderable' then it is not a slightly different meaning. It is known in great detail what causes a magnetic field, how it behaves and how it can be manipulated, it is not imponderable, at all.Acleron (talk) 21:32, 18 April 2012 (UTC)
Sorry, I'm confused. Since a magnetic field is not an imponderable using the standard definition, and it is an imponderable for homeopaths, doesn't that mean the definition is, in fact, different? (I'm not defending the concept, obviously, as the entire concept is patently absurd, using a standard definition or not -- but, if they use a different definition, I suppose it should be indicated here.)JoelWhy (talk) 21:38, 18 April 2012 (UTC)
Not imponderable, "imponderable". Hahnemann was using the term "imponderabilia" in the 1830s, when there was far less knowledge of magnetic fields (or for that matter of viruses), and the term continues in homeopathic usage. The special meanings of jargon terms like "imponderable" and "remedy" is the reason we had them in "scare quotes". It conveys to the reader that the encyclopedia distinguishes the jargon from the regular meaning of the term. LeadSongDog come howl! 21:42, 18 April 2012 (UTC)
Hallelujah! Cjwilky (talk) 23:55, 18 April 2012 (UTC)
Wait, so basically, Hahnemann said "F***ing magnets, how do they work?" 86.** IP (talk) 11:01, 19 April 2012 (UTC)
Can someone ban this IP please, or at least check which registered user has used that same IP Cjwilky (talk) 18:50, 19 April 2012 (UTC)
Why? (btw: 86.** IP isn't an anon). --Six words (talk) 20:51, 19 April 2012 (UTC)
Cjwilky, feel free to submit a report at WP:SPI. Just be prepared to be laughed out of the room. — The Hand That Feeds You:Bite 21:17, 19 April 2012 (UTC)
Oh, just great - another common English word that has some entirely different meaning to homeopathists. Is there a list of these somewhere? It's very hard to discuss the article - or to write a decent article that non-homeopathists can understand when the words found in our homeopathy references have to be so carefully translated into regular English. SteveBaker (talk) 13:59, 19 April 2012 (UTC)

Torsion fields

Our article Torsion field (pseudoscience) says that this (whack-job) theory has been proposed as an explanation for Homeopathy. Sounds like we should at least mention it someplace. Does anyone have any deeper insight and maybe a reference or three? SteveBaker (talk) 14:45, 19 April 2012 (UTC)

First 5 minutes in google and can only turn up the same phrase as in the wiki article which doesn't reference the application to homeopathy. We have so many explanations (quantum, energy, nanobubbles, silica, clathrates and so on) that are wrongly based on accepted science, do we need to include an explanation to a pseudoscience which is based on pseudoscience? My inclination is to have a form of words such as 'and other explanations not based on any known acience are touted'. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Acleron (talkcontribs) 17:56, 19 April 2012 (UTC)
"…an explanation to a pseudoscience which is based on pseudoscience…" Excellent. SkepticalRaptor (talk) 22:36, 20 April 2012 (UTC)


Respectfully, this article is incomprehensible! Please editors, do not assume that a casual reader possesses prior knowledge of this field! Who wrote this? Dr. Seuss?? --Axatax (talk) 06:05, 29 April 2012 (UTC)

As people say around here, this is not a forum. If you have a specific point, then please bring it. If you want something changed, then describe it. If you want this article to say "Homeopathy works," then you probably should find another article to edit. Just a suggestion.--SkepticalRaptor (talk) 07:35, 29 April 2012 (UTC)
I'm sorry if I offended. I came here looking for information on this subject, but this article is far too esoteric for a non-indoctrinated person. I can find no specific point of contention: the whole article reads like voodoo. The article on fluid dynamics at least makes an honest attempt to describe the field in way a lay-person can understand!--Axatax (talk) 08:00, 29 April 2012 (UTC)
And BTW, I think homeopathy is bunk, but that's beside the point and irrelevant to my criticism. It's important to be able to understand the basic tenets of the field in order to articulate to to others exactly WHY it's bunk! --Axatax (talk) 08:13, 29 April 2012 (UTC)
Well, that seems to be this article's fate: sceptics find it biased against science (even though from the very beginning it states that it is no more effective than placebo) and homeopaths and their customers think it's biased against homeopathy (even though the article explains what homeopathy entails). If you think that the whole article reads like voodoo I can assume that you have read the whole article, so you ought to be able to give some specific comments. Yes, the description of homeopathy reads esoteric, that's because the subject is pretty much esoteric. But we also have a lengthy section on the evidence for/against homeopathy. If this reads too esoteric please suggest how to improve it so it doesn't read like voodoo anymore. --Six words (talk) 08:34, 29 April 2012 (UTC)

The big picture problem here.

Over the past few weeks, we've had quite a few legitimate(ish) criticisms of this article. The wording is turgid and inconsistent and in disagreement with some sources. That's a problem. However, the cause of all of this is in the very nature of what we're writing about.

Homeopathists have several traits that make this subject hard to write about:

  1. They use normal English in non-standard ways. So even reading their source material is difficult because normal meanings of words may or may not apply.
  2. Homeopathists don't agree, even amongst themselves, about what homeopathic principles actually are. For example, we've had discussions recently about whether more dilute solutions are "more potent" or whether they are intended to be used for "more localized conditions"...and again, the word "potent" has some non-standard meaning that is different from one homeopathist to another. They don't agree on how "provings" work.
  3. Homeopathists practice their art differently - for example, one that we discovered last week exposes treatments to the light from various heavenly bodies to add influences that mere dilution doesn't provide.
  4. There is no single explanation amongst homeopathists about how the practice is supposed to work (despite crazy dilutions resulting in no active ingredient being left in their products). There are probably a dozen or more explanations.
  5. There are big commercial interests here. Companies are making a killing selling water to people who don't look at the label on their flu remedies carefully enough. It's unlikely that these people believe that what they are doing actually works - so now we have a school of fake homeopathists whose main interest is to cloud the waters. This is a major cause of disinformation.
  6. Because the placebo effect works - and there is a lot of 'confirmation bias' going on, it's tough for Wikipedia to come right out and say "It doesn't work" without a lot of caveats and circumlocution.
  7. The harm done by homeopathy is tough to pin down. Aside from the wounds inflicted on people's pocketbooks by buying small vials of water for $14.55 - we have people who died - or suffered horribly because homeopathists discouraged them from taking mainstream treatments that would have cured them. Is this a practice that's directly attributable to homeopathy or just simple medical incompetance?

So what it boils down to is that we're writing about several different practices with several distinct problems for society based on a dozen or more explanations that are written about in language that's about as easy to pin down as it is to nail jello to the ceiling by a non-homogeneous collection or people who range from the whack-jobs, through genuine pseudoscientist believers to commercial fraudsters.

No wonder we're having a hard time writing about it.

Perhaps it is time for a re-think.

SteveBaker (talk) 14:07, 30 April 2012 (UTC)

I'm a "big picture" person also Steve,so thank you for all your points. I suggest that we come right out in the lede and say what is homeopathy (in general) state that there are many practices and disagreements amoungst homeopaths themselves. Science clearly shows that it is pseudoscience and it is nothing but water. I don't know why we are being so nice and having to prove that statement. Science is not making the claim here. WP is all about facts, if there is good evidence that supports homeopathy then it can be put in the article, otherwise no. Science does not have to provide the citations that it does not work. Then the article can go on to explain what homeopathy is (a little more than general) a lot more history about it. Then we should put the harm into the article with citations. If there is evidence of it saving someone's life or really curing someone we can put that in also. Then mention all the activism and lawsuits against homeopathy which is becoming more common and in the news. Then end the article. Done! As far as balance, trust me you will not find any mention of the earth being flat over on the Earth page. Nor any conspiracy that we didn't go to the moon on the NASA page. Sgerbic (talk) 14:49, 30 April 2012 (UTC)
"Science does not have to provide the citations that it does not work." - yes, indeed - that's a general tenet in science. However, Wikipedia's standards are a little different. We can't make any controversial statement without references. So we can't just come right out and say "Homeopathy doesn't work" because that's controversial (Homeopathists claim it's untrue)...not without having something like a peer-reviewed statement in a mainstream scientific journal (or something similar) that uses more or less those exact words. Since scientists are abundantly careful, most (if not all) of the reliable sources that we have say "No better than placebo at curing such-and-such ailment" - which is a much more nuanced position. It's all about the reliable sources here. SteveBaker (talk) 19:31, 30 April 2012 (UTC)
I'm trying to look at the lead w/ a fresh pair of eyes, and I agree it's a mess -- very hard to comprehend w/out an existing understanding of the concept. At the very least, I think we just have to make the lead section relatively clear and concise. Let's not use any Homeopathy jargon in the lead (so we don't have to then further convolute the lead with definitions.) As for the different practices and theories among homeopaths, we can say something in the lead along the lines of "Homeopaths generally claim that most substances which supposedly cause a particular symptom when consumed can be greatly diluted in order to cure the same symptom in a patient." Plus, we obviously have to make the lead clearly lay out that this is considered a pseudoscience with no plausible means of working according to our understanding of the natural world.JoelWhy (talk) 14:29, 30 April 2012 (UTC)
First lets take that statement "Homeopaths generally claim that most substances which supposedly cause a particular symptom when consumed can be greatly diluted in order to cure the same symptom in a patient." Where do you get that from? Its way off the mark as a basis of what homeopaths "claim". And then Joel you drift into flat earth theory....
Secondly, there is research that shows that homeopathy works. A real and honest article here would include that. It would also address the issues of the research.
There are different ways to use homeopathy. I don't know of many if any homeopaths that disagree with that.
I agree about putting harm into the article, but it has to be in comparison with that harm caused by modern medicine.
I haven't got time at the min to go into the rest of the above. But lets stop this water thing, it really shows ignorance in this article. Remedies are made up using alcohol. Cjwilky (talk) 17:06, 30 April 2012 (UTC)
And, again, you're promoting yet another variation on homeopathy that does not generalise. 86.** IP (talk) 18:44, 30 April 2012 (UTC)
Yes. Cjwilky is a classic example of what I'm saying. This editor has one view of how provings are done - and it's different from many of the other sources we've seen and the ways that other homeopathists claim that they must be done. Another practicing homeopathist who came here to comment (User:Dizzybee) pointed us to a website that categorically pointed out that "more dilution doesn't mean more potency" - but then I discovered (on the very same website) a statement that reversed that statement...and to duck out of that, DizzyBee tells us that this word "potency" actually means some other vague/not-agreed-upon thing that allows him to ignore this rather important discrepancy. Cjwilky now tells us that homeopathic remedies are made with alcohol - other references say that a minimal amount of alcohol has to be added as a preservative because that's an FDA requirement, but it's avoided wherever possible. So again - nobody from the Homeopathy bench seems to agree.
We know for 100% sure that:
  • Even practicing homeopathy "experts" can't agree on even the most fundamental tenets of their core statement - these are not small disagreements - they are major changes to everything that homeopathy claims to be.
  • There is no standard for who is a "true" homeopathist and who is a totally clueless amateur - so we have no standard by which to judge who's statements are true claims for homeopathy and who should simply be discounted as a source of information.
The contentiousness in this article doesn't stem from what scientists believe versus what homeopathists believe - it's contention amongst homeopathists about who has the right to state what homeopathists believe. We can relatively easily write that science has tested this stuff and what the findings are - that's easy, and we have nine yards of wonderful, consistent and reliable sources to prove it. What we're having trouble with is stating what homeopathists believe - which is impossible to state as a single, coherent, belief system.
SteveBaker (talk) 19:31, 30 April 2012 (UTC)
.My suggestion is that we structure the article strictly around Hahnemann's beliefs - which are still held very much in high regard today - and detail any notable homeopath's variations in the belief in the appropriate sections, but not in the lead. 86.** IP (talk) 21:39, 30 April 2012 (UTC)
Cjwilky, I'm really surprised to see you claim that homeopathic remedies aren't made with water - where did you get that from? I guess it's not necessary, but I'll say that I disagree with your other points, too. We don't need to discuss primary studies - reviews do that work for us; cherry picking “positive” studies (quite often, they're actually inconclusive - in the real world that's a negative outcome) would place undue weight on them. I don't think we should give more weight to the harms of homeopathy than we do now, if anything we could tighten the section a bit. And we don't need to compare homeopathy's harms to the harms of medicine - that would be an absurd comparison; what is missing from the article is a discussion of its harms vs its benefits, but of course RS are needed for that. --Six words (talk) 08:32, 1 May 2012 (UTC)
Well, part of the point here is that the "benefits" are limited exclusively to a placebo effect. What we are trying to do here is to clarify what homeopathy is and what it does -- we do not want to further muddy the waters by providing an analyses of the placebo effect here.JoelWhy (talk) 12:39, 1 May 2012 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Cjwilky's comments need to be directly addressed. First, the placebo effect indicates failure to show anything. But as JoelWhy states, discussing that is long, and requires some understanding of science, which if was more common than it was today, we wouldn't need this article. Next, the absolute failure of homeopathy in doing anything PLUS that it's dangerous if it is used instead of real medicine is clearly laid out by so many studies we would clog the article with inline citations. That maybe 2 studies written in low impact factor journals that are essentially mouthpieces for junk medicine would violate undue weight. to make it clear to readers that there are literally 1000 different articles debunking homeopathy and maybe 1 or 2 supporting it would be an unwieldy article. Lastly, your POV comment that to be fair we need to add "the harm caused by modern medicine" is also quite ridiculous. In fact, real medicine states the risks and benefits. But almost always there is a huge, quantifiable, repeatable and published benefit compared to some risk. If you have rectal cancer, homeopathy will do NOTHING. Not even the so-called placebo effect. The procedures to treat it are harsh, and might also be dangerous in another context. However, on one side you die. On the other, use a difficult set of procedures to improve your life span by a few months or a year. I'll take that. SkepticalRaptor (talk) 16:39, 1 May 2012 (UTC)

Okay, it looks like we have decided. Lets get this lede rewritten. Sgerbic (talk) 22:21, 1 May 2012 (UTC)
"Cjwilky, I'm really surprised to see you claim that homeopathic remedies aren't made with water - where did you get that from?" There is a difference between how liquid remedies are sold and how remedies are made. Try looking at the way pharmacies make remedies. Please show me the references to remedies being made in water.
Its also clear that most studies of homeopathy use a single remedy to treat an illness. Almost invariably, this is not the way homeopathy works. For any named illness there are many, sometimes hundreds of different remedies that treat that illness. Therefore these studies are fundamentally at fault. If we are including in this article a broad slection of types of research and studies on homeopathy, these issues must be discussed here. As too must all issues in studying homeopathy under the same methods as a system of medicine where one illness is treated by a specific drug or group of drugs that are aimed directly at it. Thus we have cherry picking in the studies cited here and an inherent bias to the article that doesn't serve the reader.
To claim that homeopathy has been never been shown to do anything (and we're not talking placebo) is bias. What has been used in this article is one system of judgement that as I have said above, is flawed in this circumstance.
The dangers aspect is relevant but has to be made clear. A homeopath who is qualified with a reputable body will not advise people to discontinue or avoid modern medicine and diagnosis. It can be said that doctors advise patients wrongly from time to time and so at least equally can be dangerous. To not discuss this, or put the homeopathy is dangerous part into a context is misleading. As to which homeopath bodies are reputable, that can like wise be discussed. To say "we have no way of knowing" is again misleading, "we" do, "we" just have to do research on this as for example in the UK, there are several bodies that register homeopaths and all have slightly different codes of practice. The regulation of homeopathy in general is a very important issue for this article, though it would have to refer to the article that is specific in this. Likewise with the standards - there are standards, and this can be discussed.
Cancer is generally end state pathology as you know. Any medicine has difficulty in getting rid of cancer. As you say, the medicines that deal with it are harsh and may get rid of it, and they may extend life by weeks, months, years, or may in fact hasten death. The quality of that extended life may or may not be worth it - thats a personal consideration and choice that people make. When they choose not to have the harsh treatment, they may "try" other means - diet, exercise, relaxation, yoga, positive thinking, other forms of medication etc etc and some of those people may benefit, many may not. If they are told by someone to take that path that is one thing, if they choose it its another. Homeopathy is not dangerous in this situation - I'd be interested to see evidence of that - but bad practice is. There is a difference here and this article I understand is about homeopathy not practitioners, just as an article on a drug or another form of medicine isn't. If this is not the case, please show me.
Hahnemann originated the concept of homepathy. He developed it. It has since been developed. Most of the original aspects Hahnemann introduced still hold firm, but its very wrong to have this artcle only stating those. Its clear you could use a little help in sifting through things. I'm not saying I am the oracle, but I can help. I have been qualified since '87 and am not attached to any dogma. The point of this article I see is about giving a broad and clear introduction to homeopathy.
Steve Baker - you say I have one view on how provings are done. Explain exactly what you mean please, as your claim about me doesn't go with what I understand about myself.
Joel - I'll try again - "First lets take that statement "Homeopaths generally claim that most substances which supposedly cause a particular symptom when consumed can be greatly diluted in order to cure the same symptom in a patient." Where do you get that from? Cjwilky (talk) 14:09, 4 May 2012 (UTC)
"Its also clear that most studies of homeopathy use a single remedy to treat an illness. Almost invariably, this is not the way homeopathy works. For any named illness there are many, sometimes hundreds of different remedies that treat that illness. Therefore these studies are fundamentally at fault."
It is also clear that the results are no better for trials of individualized homoeopathy. See Linde K, Melchart D. Randomized controlled trials of individualized homeopathy: a state-of-the-art review. J Altern Complement Med. 1998 Winter;4(4):371-88: "when the analysis was restricted to the methodologically best trials no significant effect was seen...The results of the available randomized trials suggest that individualized homeopathy has an effect over placebo. The evidence, however, is not convincing because of methodological shortcomings and inconsistencies." There is nothing to suggest that the poor results shown by homoeopathy in controlled trials are some sort of artifact resulting from the lack of individualization.
The article doesn't cherry-pick: it uses the results of systematic reviews and meta analyses, rather than the individual studies and narrative reviews that a few editors want to insert. Your complaint that "research that shows that homeopathy works" is not included in the article is hardly consistent with complaints about cherry-picking, by the way. Brunton (talk) 16:55, 4 May 2012 (UTC)
I agree that (apart from some high potency remedies made on machines by the Korsakov method) remedies are usually made using alcohol, but then why all the fuss about the "memory of water"? Brunton (talk) 16:58, 4 May 2012 (UTC)
I'm afraid Cjwilky lost me at "Cancer is generally end state pathology as you know." That mindset is precisely what makes homeopaths dangerous. LeadSongDog come howl! 17:04, 4 May 2012 (UTC)
Cjwilky, it's impossible to respond to you, because I'm using science, and you're using…nothing. Your comments about cancer are hysterical at best, and detrimental to good health at worst. Unless you have one tiny little piece of evidence that homeopathy cures cancer, then you're way off topic, and using this place as a forum to state your opinion. Either bring something useful to this article, or please quit using it as a location to rant about what you believe, rather than what can be shown. SkepticalRaptor (talk) 17:05, 4 May 2012 (UTC)
Brunton. First, you're providing a review article from 1998, which isn't in of itself that bad, but it's been superseded by others. Second, you're giving us an article in a low impact journal that has its own POV. But even all that, it shows nothing. And remember, a placebo effect is merely failure to prove that something does anything. Furthermore, usually this "placebo effect" always seems to work for simple disease states like colds, where it is so difficult to tell if anything actually does anything. LIke Cjwilky's unsupported comments, when homeopathy actually cures any cancer, we certainly could look at that. But then again, I'd want some convincing of a physiological mechanism. SkepticalRaptor (talk) 17:05, 4 May 2012 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────One more thing about cancer. Anyone who makes rash generalizations about "cancer" is usually clueless about what is, in fact, cancer. There are at least over 200 types of cancer, some easily treatable, and some nearly a death sentence. There is no known "cure" for any cancer, let alone the 200 different types, all of which have different prognosis, etiologies, pathologies, etc. And for many of the cancers that are ultimately "curable", pulling one out of my but, thyroid cancer, has an almost 100% chance of living if diagnosed properly. Real medicine diagnoses cancer. Real medicine provides the treatment options. ONLY real medicine may provide any hope of life for these people. Of course, this isn't a forum, so I guess I shouldn't respond to an illogical rant filled with logical fallacies with a forum posting of my own, except with real facts. SkepticalRaptor (talk) 17:59, 4 May 2012 (UTC)

Brunton provided that review because Cjwilky implied that the reviews our article uses cannot show homeopathy works because they include mostly trials of single remedies rather than individualised homeopathy trials, yet a review of individualised homeopathy trials in an AltMed journal finds that only the low quality trials are positive and trials with better methodology find no effect over placebo. --Six words (talk) 20:17, 4 May 2012 (UTC)
<rant>In the Through the Looking-Glass logic of homeopathic "science", their respose to those findings is to decide that the double-blind placebo controlled trial methodologies everyone else would call "better" should instead be considered "worse" because they preclude individualized treatment methods. As the big guy said "Words mean precisely what I say they mean, neither more, nor less!"</rant> If WP articles are to make any sense at all, we need to wp:USEENGLISH, not some twisted version of it. LeadSongDog come howl! 20:51, 4 May 2012 (UTC)

Cjwilky, off the top of my head, I was proving a rough example of the type of simple, straight forward information that should be provided in the lead. If some of the details in this description are incorrect (and, I'm not sure that they are) that is beside the point. That can easily be worked out. The point of my comment was simply this -- we provide a brief description with no jargon, followed by a clear, explicit statement that this is considered pseudoscience of no more medicinal value than a sugar pill combined with a "practitioner" lending a kind ear. If you have substantial evidence to the contrary, I will be the first to congratulate you when you claim your [$1 million dollar prize] for proving the existence of this magic elixir. Otherwise, you True Believers can jump through all the mental hoops you'd like, you're not going to convince any of us who have looked at the peer reviewed studies that this is anything but snake oil (or, that the article should sugar coat this fact.) JoelWhy (talk) 20:57, 4 May 2012 (UTC)

The new lead should also include the idea that confirmation bias plays a large role in why people accept homeopathy. Here is one source, I'm sure there are many more. SÆdontalk 22:48, 4 May 2012 (UTC)

SkepRap - "Unless you have one tiny little piece of evidence that homeopathy cures cancer, then you're way off topic, and using this place as a forum to state your opinion." " LIke Cjwilky's unsupported comments, when homeopathy actually cures any cancer, we certainly could look at that." You say you're scientific - where did I claim homeopathy cures cancer, or can you be clearer about what you are insinuating, and what exactly you are relating that to in what I wrote?
I'll respond to other comments soon. Cjwilky (talk) 03:01, 5 May 2012 (UTC)
Saedon - That article is about one study relating to dynamised diluted preparations (ie not homeopathy) and not to do with why "people" accept homeopathy as you claim. Further, there is no evidence contained in it regarding that study anyway. Cjwilky (talk) 03:12, 5 May 2012 (UTC)
I'm afraid I was lost with this statement by Cjwilky "the way homeopathy works." Sorry just could not resist.Sgerbic (talk) 03:58, 5 May 2012 (UTC)

SkepticalRaptor - while the review was published in 1998, it is the most recent review of trials of individualised homoeopathy. It hasn't been superseded. And, yes, it fails to show that individualized homoeopathy works better than placebo - that is precisely the point I was making. Brunton (talk) 08:14, 5 May 2012 (UTC)

I hate these conversations interspersed with other conversations, never sure if one is replying to another or to something totally unrelated. I thought you were trying to support Cjwilky's inane comments about cancer treatments. Now I see what you were trying to do. My apologies. SkepticalRaptor (talk) 08:33, 5 May 2012 (UTC)
Skep Rap - failing to reply to what I say about your claim above, you now lower the tone and call my comments "inane". Please reply to my comment above concerning what you say I said, and make clear what you are saying, or maybe you'd prefer to retract it? Cjwilky (talk) 16:08, 5 May 2012 (UTC)

Public opposition

I realise there is a move here to rewrite the article, though that will realistically take some time. Meanwhile, there is this section in the article, which includes a law suit taken out by one person. In terms of public opposition or support I believe we should establish standards on this. I suggest one off events need to be verified in terms of numbers, and really, if we are seriously looking at "Public" opposition we're looking at significant opposition not small collections of ten or twenty people.

There is of course public support too, at least equalling the cited one persons opposition in the article. So I suggest either we add another section of Public Support, or we combine this one, renaming it Public Opposition and Support, or better is Public Opinion possibly? Though the latter wouldn't eg include the single person lawsuit, as its not opinion.

Discuss :) Cjwilky (talk) 16:36, 5 May 2012 (UTC)

There's already a discussion about that section here. --Six words (talk) 20:29, 5 May 2012 (UTC)
There appears to be at least one other class action lawsuit, in Canada. I'm not sure whether there is a second Californian case as well, as I've seen both Gallucci v. Boiron and Gonzales v. Boiron given as case names - are these different cases, or one case with different plaintiffs named in the title (which would suggest that it is more than a "single person lawsuit"), or is one of the names just a mistake of some sort? We should also probably mention that in Gallucci v. Boiron, Inc. the court has approved a settlement, with up to $5 million offered for refunds for all customers who bought Boiron products from January 1, 2000 to the date of judgment. Does this mean that there may be future suits? Brunton (talk) 21:20, 5 May 2012 (UTC)
That a single person files a class action suit is irrelevant. It is more important to discuss the outcome of such suits. If there was no merit the case would be dismissed, it wasn't and Boiron is paying millions. Cjwilky if you insist on adding stuff make sure it is NPOV, don't add only stuff that only supports your POV. Happy Editing. Daffydavid (talk) 04:29, 6 May 2012 (UTC)
I could file a lawsuit - it means nothing. I think we are in agreement, except we are talking about public opposition, not lawsuits specifically. NPOV is of course relevant for many here, as you are no doubt aware. Cjwilky (talk) 09:20, 6 May 2012 (UTC)
Yes, you could take out a lawsuit. But could you WIN it? 86.** IP (talk) 09:28, 6 May 2012 (UTC)
That would depend what it was a law suit against and what my evidence was. You assume too much. Cjwilky (talk) 09:43, 6 May 2012 (UTC)

Description in lead is incorrect

The following description says that the diluted preparation causes symptoms in healthy people but that is incorrect. The diluted preparation does nothing to healthy people (and nothing that science can detect in sick people either but that's not the issue here), it's the undiluted substance that is believed to cause symptoms in healthy people similar to what the diluted preparation is suppose to cure.

"Practitioners treat patients using highly diluted preparations believed to cause symptoms in healthy individuals similar to the undesired symptoms of the person treated."

I edited it by adding the text underlined text:

"Practitioners treat patients using highly diluted preparations using substances which, when undiluted, are believed to cause symptoms in healthy individuals similar to the undesired symptoms of the person treated."

It was deleted with the summary "Changes removes how homeopathy works.". But that is wrong, just as the sentence is/was wrong. Jojalozzo 04:39, 28 April 2012 (UTC)

Relax. Attacking editors is just not cool. If you blow out a carotid on such a minor point, I'd hate to see what happens with a really important edit. Enjoy whatever you want to do. There are more civil ways to go about this. SkepticalRaptor (talk) 05:55, 28 April 2012 (UTC)
I don't see any attack occurring here. The concern is a legitimate one, one which has been expressed many times over several years, but for some reason one source has always been used to trump many other sources to back up the current version, which doesn't make sense. I long ago gave up trying to make it sensible according to normal homeopathic practice. Joja is just trying to make it logical and according to normal practice (how homeopathic supposedly "works"), which goes against that one source. Making a proving and the final remedy essentially identical doesn't make any sense, but that's what the article has been saying for some time. Whatever. Just don't blame Joja for trying to improve things and getting frustrated. Joja is correct. -- Brangifer (talk) 06:11, 28 April 2012 (UTC)
Yes, because it's so important to worry about grammar instead of writing what we should, that is, "This crap doesn't work." Like acupuncture, this is an unreadable article that was written to make sure the homeopaths don't complain so much, instead of be solidly scientific. My cynicism about whether Joja did anything useful remains, not because he or she is incompetent, but because of all the things that need to be done on the article, he or she got offended by a throwaway edit with a rude comment here. Seriously, he/she/it needs a chill pill. So we've wasted three paragraphs on grammar, and 0 on removing the pro-homeopathy POV. Truly amusing and ironic. SkepticalRaptor (talk) 06:57, 28 April 2012 (UTC)
I apologize for not being clearer. I was not offended by the reversion and I didn't mean your edit summary was grammatically incorrect, I meant it was factually incorrect. Let's not personalize this. The sentence I edited is supposed to describe how homeopathy is supposed to work, but from my reading, no homeopath would agree that "highly diluted preparations [are] believed to cause symptoms in healthy individuals." It's illogical and absurd. I am not familiar with any source that would support this statement and if there is one I would challenge it as fringe. Jojalozzo 15:17, 28 April 2012 (UTC)
It's how the ideas were set out by Hahnemann, and that's what should be in the lead; though in the article we might want to point out homeopathy is much sloppier about how it defines what remedies do what now, with there being essentially no real standards as to how you decide what remedy does what. 86.** IP (talk) 16:09, 28 April 2012 (UTC)
Yes, I agree. Homeopaths seem to be incapable of standardizing their treatment, so it makes it impossible to describe accurately. We need to explain what homeopaths think is homeopathy, not what we know it to be. Hence my original change, which now seem irrelevant. Not worth any further discussion, I capitulate. SkepticalRaptor (talk) 17:06, 28 April 2012 (UTC)
Indeed, logic fails when trying to deal with homeopathy, but originally Hahnemann did use undiluted substances in his provings, which could sometimes be a dangerous endeavor. The proving and finished remedy were VERY different!
We have used a source that claims he stopped doing that and that homeopaths have since then used diluted substances in their provings, which happens to be contrary to the descriptions of modern day provings on many homeopathic websites. They claim that provings are undiluted substances (Hahnemann's original method). That leaves us with a dilemma: Should we only use that one source and ignore the others, leaving the impression that all provings are diluted substances? I think we should make it clear that the matter is a confused mess, with both undiluted and diluted substances being used in provings. Sure, it's illogical, but since when is homeopathy logical?! -- Brangifer (talk) 17:45, 28 April 2012 (UTC)
I agree that we should explain that even the homeopaths don't agree. Sgerbic (talk) 18:22, 28 April 2012 (UTC)
I've just changed it back, as it is stated in the Organon that provings should be carried out using diluted remedies, and clear from accounts of modern provings that this is actually done, and is clear that homoeopaths believe that the remedies themselves cause the 'proving symptoms' - see for example the many instances where homoeopaths have claimed that taking duilute remedies will make their critics ill. Brunton (talk) 22:12, 28 April 2012 (UTC)
No, they warn against it because they believe it's possible to overdose on the final remedies. Reality has proven otherwise.
There is a certain form of logical symmetry in the basic and original homeopathic idea, even if it's purely metaphysical word magic without any reality regarding treating disease:
  • 1. When an undiluted substance is given to a healthy individual, it can cause symptoms.
  • 2. When that substance is diluted and given to a sick individual, it can relieve the same symptoms and cure them.
That bit of "logic" is disturbed when we only cite the modern practice of some homeopaths when they do provings. We are not describing the basic and original homeopathic philosophy. That's just plain wrong and confusing. -- Brangifer (talk) 06:03, 29 April 2012 (UTC)
I see that I'm uninformed on the modern state of this topic. I also capitulate. Jojalozzo 22:32, 28 April 2012 (UTC)
This is what aggravates me about your change. I was unhappy with what I wrote, but at least it made some sense, and I understand what your change is supposed to do, but I'm not sure it actually makes any more or less sense than my change. This is so confusing. We should decide whether to write it from the perspective of what the homeopath is trying to claim, or just debunk it. This half-way writing is just beyond confusing. Not trying to state exactly what should be written, we should write "blah blah blah, this is what homeopaths claim is happening." Followed by "however, science has clearly found that homeopathy is crap, because a) there is no evidence that the substances cause the disease, b) because diluting the substance does not do anything even if there's an effect, c) water does not have the ability to "remember" anything, and d) homeopathy is a joke. " You may have to fix some of my NPOV. SkepticalRaptor (talk) 23:23, 28 April 2012 (UTC)
I understand Skeptical Raptor's frustration. I'm trying to follow this conversation and my head is swimming. This article is for the general public to understand what Homeopathy is, what its history is and more background on it. And yes, I do think we should make sure the lede is very clear about there being No science behind the claim. I like the way SR has laid it all out, of course without the starkness. But it should be that clear. Why are we tiptoeing around this topic? If there is evidence that homeopathy works then we can put it in the article. But the evidence needs to be evidence that WP will support, not "I felt better after taking it" kind of evidence. This is WP afterall, lets write it clearly, so the average person will understand the facts. We can always change the lede if the facts also change. In the mean time the facts are what SR stated. Sgerbic (talk) 23:47, 28 April 2012 (UTC)
I agree with Skeptical Raptor that this whole article is a mess. Way to much weight has been given to the pro-homeopathy side of the article and the overall flow of the article is disjointed. This sentence should be moved ," Practitioners treat patients using highly diluted preparations[1][2] believed to cause symptoms in healthy individuals similar to the undesired symptoms of the person treated." as it is confusing to the uninitiated. Too much information about SH is also placed in the lede which would be better placed in the history section.Daffydavid (talk) 00:26, 29 April 2012 (UTC)
Certainly a lot of the confusion is due to changes in homeopathic practice. I think that most remedies are still based on Hahnemann's self-provings using undiluted or slightly diluted solutions but apparently modern homeopaths now conduct provings using remedy strength solutions and neither approach has a scientific basis. There should be a way to capture that concisely, e.g. "Originally, practitioners devised preparations by highly diluting substances that, in undiluted form, were believed to cause symptoms in healthy individuals similar to the undesired symptoms of the preparations' targeted conditions ("like cures like"). Modern homeopaths develop new preparations which they say, even at very high dilutions, cause similar symptoms in healthy people as those experienced by unhealthy people who would benefit from the remedy. There is no scientific basis for either the original or the modern approach." Jojalozzo 00:57, 29 April 2012 (UTC)
Maybe homeopathy intentionally obfuscates things. Your sentence actually makes the most sense ever. I think there's too much confusion by what homeopathy is supposed to be rather than how it is practiced now. Which is a bit ironic that they can't even get their "medicine" right, because it's just water. Why don't you just write what you said here. I'm sure we can support it. SkepticalRaptor (talk) 02:54, 29 April 2012 (UTC)
Joja, I agree with SR. You sum it up perfectly. We need to state the original concept, and also state what some modern homeopaths do by using diluted substances (and other modern ones claim to use undiluted substances in provings...). -- Brangifer (talk) 05:55, 29 April 2012 (UTC)

A review of Homeopathy article abstracts suggests that provings mostly use C30 potencies, but to my knowledge there's no steadfast rule as to what potency to use except for one thing: it needs to be a “remedy” because according to Hahnemann the process of preparation transforms the crude substance into a medicine. So it is entriely possible to use a D1 potency (or even a “Ø”, but you have to remember that a mother tincture isn't the crude substance but an alcoholic/watery extract or a “trituration”) and experience real (pharmacological) effects, though I don't think it is done very often. The lede is not completely correct in that it claims (only) highly diluted substances are used, but it is true that the remedies (not the undiluted substances) are tested on healthy individuals. These two articles might help [4] [5]. Does anyone have a subscription to Homeopathy (my uni doesn't and I certainly won't pay $31.50 for each). --Six words (talk) 08:58, 29 April 2012 (UTC)

Another thing to remember is that the "original concept" of homoeopathy ("like cures like") is that disease can be cured by a remedy that causes similar symptoms in healthy subjects. Not a remedy made from something that causes similar symptoms, a remedy that itself causes similar symptoms. Hahnemann concluded that Cinchona bark was capable of curing malaria because, he thought, it caused similar symptoms. Brunton (talk) 11:19, 29 April 2012 (UTC)
And here's another example of a homoeopath explaining how to conduct a 'proving' (not a RS, but useful as background): "One should take a 30C of a remedy once or twice daily until symptoms emerge (up to 30 days)." Brunton (talk) 11:29, 29 April 2012 (UTC)
This simplifies things I think. How about: "Practitioners treat patients using highly diluted preparations believed to cause symptoms in healthy individuals similar to the undesired symptoms of the person treated." Jojalozzo 16:00, 29 April 2012 (UTC)
But this doesn't take into account that many provings use C30 potencies (that is very dilute). The problem is that what homeopaths say they do doesn't necessarily match what they do in that their repertories list both the “proving symptoms” and known symptoms of a substance. (A good example of this is onion “Allium cepa”: tearing up and red and itchy eyes are symptoms of the “pure substance” - even though they're not symptoms of ingesting onions or low dilutions of onions, homeopaths ascribe them to homeopathic dilutions of onion; other symptoms like headache and ringing ears are symptoms that some of the provers eperienced while proving an onion “remedy”, so they're ascribed to the homeopathic onion dilution, too.) It's neither a logical concept nor is there a binding protocol so they're pretty much free to do whatever they like. I don't think it's possible to explain this all in one sentence. --Six words (talk) 16:56, 29 April 2012 (UTC)
The repertory is not just a collection of proving symptoms. It was never made for that purpose. It also contains toxic effects and established clinical experience. This has been well established since the very first repertory. Cjwilky (talk) 17:17, 30 April 2012 (UTC)
I don't think we need to explain all that in the lead. "Practitioners treat patients using highly diluted preparations believed to cause symptoms in healthy individuals similar to the undesired illness-related symptoms of the person treated. There is no scientific evidence or basis for the efficacy of this practice other than its placebo effect." Jojalozzo 19:25, 29 April 2012 (UTC)
Cjwilky, my point was that it is neither correct to say that the symptoms that make the “drug picture” are derived from giving healthy people only the undiluted substances nor from giving only highly dilute substances. For homeopaths, a proving of a C30 remedy is just as valid as a proving of a D1 remedy. --Six words (talk) 07:50, 1 May 2012 (UTC)
You are correct in that. You are not correct in saying it is an issue of any kind.
The symptoms that make up the drug picture are from the substance both potentised and/or in its original pure undiluted form. There, not too difficult to say is it ;) Its what has always been the case since Hahnemann first diluted and potentised substances. Of course his initial provings were of crude/undiluted substances, albeit very tiny doses.
You say its illogical - how? Cjwilky (talk) 16:48, 5 May 2012 (UTC)
Cutting onions makes your eyes water (because of onion sap coming into contact with the eye), therefore ingesting a “very dilute” remedy made from onion is able to “help your body cure watery eyes” - yes, that's logical. (I never said it was an issue for homeopaths, it's only an issue for people like me.) --Six words (talk) 20:25, 5 May 2012 (UTC)
Well there's a good example. A trick I was shown years before I'd ever heard of homeopathy - if onions make your eyes water when chopping them, nibble a bit of raw onion before and it stops the eyes watering. It works for me and everyone I know who has tried it. Check it out ;) Cjwilky (talk) 09:24, 6 May 2012 (UTC)
Sorry, but anecdotes aren't good enough, and this isn't a forum. Either cite reliable sources or we're done with this discussion. --Six words (talk) 18:55, 7 May 2012 (UTC)
Not a problem mate, just trying to help with your understanding by illustrating how it works - if you try it you may even learn something as a good scientist would do, not to mention make cooking a more pleasant experience :) As for this being a forum, some of the comments from others in this talk page are very far from being constructive or on topic as you well know, so its a little strange you choose to pick on my post and not the others. Cjwilky (talk) 02:59, 8 May 2012 (UTC)

Heart Attack

Can this be used to treat a heart attack? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:21, 8 May 2012 (UTC)

This is an encyclopedia not an online medical advice website. Homeopathy is just water. All it can do is quench thirst, and that's supported by all the science in the world. And since a heart attack has all kinds of causes, pathophysiologies, and treatments, go see a real doctor…a cardiologist. SkepticalRaptor (talk) 00:55, 9 May 2012 (UTC)

Class action lawsuit by one person issue

Re Homeopathy#Public_opposition "While a class action can be filed by one person, and apparently was, it's confusing to state that without explanation of the details of class actions" says ‎86.** IP on reverting an edit I made that I had to revert as skeprap reverted my previous edit. I'd appreciate an explanation from 86.** as to why what i put is more confusing than what is there now. As the section is about public opinion, I think its important to clarify what part of the public is involved in the oposition. In this case its most definitely an individual. So, I suggest we return the article to how I put it on my last edit there. Cjwilky (talk) 09:41, 6 May 2012 (UTC)

The "individual" that Cjwilky proposes to add to the article as having filed the lawsuit (Ryan M. Ferrell) is the lawyer acting on behalf of the plaintiffs in Delarosa v. Boiron. I don't think it particularly noteworthy that a lawsuit was filed by a lawyer.
According to this (which discusses the Delarosa class action and links to another post with more information about another three of the lawsuits), as of last month there were 5 lawsuits against Boiron pending in the USA and one in Canada. That's certainly more than one person. Brunton (talk) 10:01, 6 May 2012 (UTC)
Its 6 people then ;) I don't have any problem with accuracy in this at all. But there is nothing I can see to say that there is more than the one person in the reference I gave about what is currently in the article. It is stated that Henry Gonzales is the plaintiff who purchased Oscillo in California. If there is evidence that he is a lawyer who is actively employed by others then that should be made clear, indeed who is employing him is very relavent here, otherwise there is a danger of over stating the case of significant "public opposition" eg listing all individuals that have an opinion. That site you refer to is an anti CAM blog. I'd need to see more evidence than that.
Cjwilky (talk) 10:35, 6 May 2012 (UTC)
I don't think there is any suggestion that Gonzales is a lawyer. Gonzales is the lead plaintiff in Gonzales v. Boiron. It is Ferrel (who you stated was the individual who filed the lawsuit) who is a lawyer, acting in the Delarosa v. Boiron and Gonzales v. Boiron cases.
If the blog isn't good enough for you, here's a note of the settlement in Gallucci v. Boiron, here's the complaint in Delarosa v. Boiron, here's the complaint in Gonzales v. Boiron, and here's the complaint, naming five plaintiffs and a second law firm, in Fernandez v. Boiron. And here's a note of the Canadian case. I haven't managed to track down the one in Illinois yet.
The docket for the Gallucci case names a different plaintiff's attorney from the others, so it isn't just a single firm of lawyers driving this - there are at least three in California alone.
And frankly, I don't think it is particularly notable that a class action was initially filed in the name of a single plaintiff - it doesn't make it any less a class action. Brunton (talk) 12:07, 6 May 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for the details :)
I'm not disputing the class action. Whilst I don't doubt that this is a very significant issue within the realm of homeopathy and of course needs to be included in the article, the numbers of people eg in California come to 3. Within the context of Public Opposition, a handful of people in one country does not in itself constitute significant Public Opposition. We can be realistically cynical here, and rather than see opposition as such, we are seeing people out for an opportunity to make money. It is more of an opposition by the law. So, what I am suggesting about noting the level of people involved in this I think holds in the context of Public Opposition. Yes, its "class action" that then potentially relates to more people making money out of it, but the actual opposition to homeopathy, if anything, is by a handful of individuals. Cjwilky (talk) 13:01, 6 May 2012 (UTC)
"the numbers of people eg in California come to 3"? Try counting them. I've linked to four Californian cases above, and including only the originally named plaintiffs it comes to 8 from those, with at least three law firms involved. And because they are class actions, I think their existence would prevent further suits being launched on behalf of others deemed by the courts to be in the same class. There is also one in Canada, so they are not all "in one country". And the nature of a lawsuit is that it is very public opposition - remember the saying, "justice must not only be done, it must be seen to be believed." - J. B. Morton. Brunton (talk) 13:28, 6 May 2012 (UTC)
Eight in one country and one in another country, sorry my mistake. Okay, I agree to leave it in, and obviously add to it as and when. I think law suits belong in another category than Public Opposition though, especially as we all know the bandwagon of "Opposition" there is highly diluted with opportunistic money grabbing - it would never happen in the UK ;) Cjwilky (talk) 14:04, 6 May 2012 (UTC)
Half a dozen lawsuits over a year or so is probably a significant number. Brunton (talk) 14:13, 6 May 2012 (UTC)

“Public opposition” section

I'm okay with making a lawsuit category AND a public opposition category as Cjwilky suggests. IMO if one person is protesting it is okay to put in the public area (even though that sounds plural) the idea of this area is that more and more people are coming out protesting homeopathy, either as individuals or groups. It is a recent phenomenon that seems to be gaining steam which is what is making it notable. Sgerbic (talk) 16:25, 6 May 2012 (UTC)

Cool, and presumably you feel okay about Public Support being a section too? Assuming there is support out there of course. Cjwilky (talk) 17:43, 6 May 2012 (UTC)
I'm going to assume that you wish to have a "Public support" section because of NPOV, and not as advocacy? The very existence of the article and belief system implies public support. Aren't there descriptions of support scattered throughout the article? I haven't looked lately, but I thought that usage statistics and descriptions from promoters and believers were already part of the article. If such content already exists, then we risk the section becoming an advocacy section used to offset the criticism, thus violating NPOV. The criticism is what makes the article NPOV (by keeping it from being a sales brochure), and tipping the balance in the other direction (positive) would nullify it. Am I wrong? -- Brangifer (talk) 18:48, 6 May 2012 (UTC)
For NPOV indeed :) I hardly think the article looks like a sales brochure, not for homeopathy at any rate.
The nearest I see as being suggestive of support for homeopathy is in the Regulation and Prevalence section, however that is just a neutral statement of the present *usage* (actually, over 50% is negative towards homeopathy, as with the history section). So to be clear, I'm suggesting "Public Support" not usage, which is clearly already covered. Cjwilky (talk) 20:27, 6 May 2012 (UTC)
This article is merely an advertisement for homeopathy as written by homeopathic potion pushers. It is hardly NPOV. SkepticalRaptor (talk) 20:57, 6 May 2012 (UTC)
Cjwilky it's also important to remember the wikipedia rules WP:WEIGHT and WP:VALID. The vast majority of society does not believe in Homeopathy so adding a "support for homeopathy" section when the "opposition" section is so small is uncalled for. Hope this helps. Happy editing. Daffydavid (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 01:12, 7 May 2012 (UTC).
Daffy mate, can you give some substance to your claim "The vast majority of society does not believe in Homeopathy"? I notice the reference you gave refers to such minorities as believe in a flat earth. What would be the proportion of people believing in that? Cjwilky (talk) 05:11, 7 May 2012 (UTC)
"Public support" coming from homoeopaths and their clients would hardly be notable. A public support section would need sources that show support from the public outside of the homoeopathic community. Brunton (talk) 09:12, 7 May 2012 (UTC)
Ah... the Catch 22 that denies support of a political party because those supporters voted, or the strength of support for a football club isn't counted because they have gone to matches or bought the shirt. Following that logic (!) opposition needs to come from outside of the skeptik movement <added> and of course outside of those using modern medicine, those employed by the promoters of modern medicine, and those in any way connected with Big Pharma and the research it funds for itself </added>. Cjwilky (talk) 12:00, 7 May 2012 (UTC)
"Dog bites man" is not news, and neither is "homeopaths support homeopathy". Brunton (talk) 13:09, 7 May 2012 (UTC)
Being critical of homeopathy automatically places one in a group described as 'skeptics'. It does not imply being part of an organised group. Neither does it imply any support from any organisation. Homeopathy fails because of the lack of evidence for the claimed results. Popularity votes are purely the argument ad populum. Those who criticise it do it purely on logical and scientific grounds. A popularity section would not add to the logical arguments or evidence for or against homeopathyAcleron (talk) 16:45, 7 May 2012 (UTC)
CJ, "The reality is of course that homeopathy in the UK is in rapid decline. According to the British Homeopathic Association, in 2011 400 GPs used homeopathy in their everyday practice. That’s 400 out of 41 000, or 0.98%." I believe that should satisfy your request. The page you refer to as a reference is a Wikipedia page. I notice you attack the flat earth piece with derision. I then went to your talk page and read it. It seems that people have been asking you for RS for quite a while yet you still haven't provided any. So, do you have any reliable sources to provide supporting your position or not? Daffydavid (talk) 02:34, 8 May 2012 (UTC)
We're not talking about criticism per se, nor logic, nor science, nor popularity, nor homeopaths supporting homeopathy. We're talking about popular opposition and support - please stick to the topic.
Lets stick to whats in the article. James Randi belongs to a skeptic organisation. There's the Berkely Skeptical conference stunt. There's the Committee for Skeptical Enquiry. All organised skeptic groups. The two stunts were done by how many people? I'm not raising that as a reason not to include, but you get my drift - numbers seem to be important - see Daffys post.
On the other hand we have some individual wanting their money back and more and wanting to make a point of law, but they are an individual who as far as I know, without having looked at the case, isn't a member of a skeptic group or has any support from one, nor from Big Pharma. However, it is a law suit against a reported misleading claim of a company and not popular opposition towards homeopathy. So 3 out of 4 are pressure group actions, the other (as well as one of the three) a law suit against a drug company, not against homeopathy.
A group of people as individuals, or as individuals gathered by a pro homeopathy group would be just as valid as the skeptics cited, probably more so if they are doing so without any hands on encouragement. The article at present is bias by implying there is only popular opposition.
Daffy, you state homeopathy is in decline and back it up with a snap shot of one occurance, good job you're not doing research! ;) Then you go off topic - we'll get to that believe me, just not here now :) Cjwilky (talk) 02:44, 8 May 2012 (UTC)
CJ, actually the source said Homeopathy is in decline, I only provided it as a response to your request for proof that the majority of people do not believe in Homeopathy. If a source from the Homeopathic world doesn't seem reliable to you for proof of this I don't know what will. If you have proof that the majority of people actually believe in or use Homeopathy I would love to see it. Happy Editing. Daffydavid (talk) 05:01, 8 May 2012 (UTC)
Giving a snapshot illustrates nothing that is dynamic, and you offer no reference. Anyway, its off topic, please stick to the point. Cjwilky (talk) 18:06, 8 May 2012 (UTC)

Having practiced homeopathy for myself and family successfully for over 20 years is personal scientific proof enough for me. I would rather the Wikipedia Homeopathy page be deleted than the first section to be used as a debate and criticism article. Let other websites make the criticisms. I thought Wikipedia to be "The Free Encyclopedia", a place of information, concepts, ideas, inference. While Wikipedia is a popular source to read about information, it is not a viable source that high schools and colleges allow for research reference. In addition, under "Please note" it states "Please maintain a neutral, unbiased point of view", for the "talk guidelines". Is that the same guideline for submitting articles and submitting edits to articles for Wikipedia? If so, it seems to me that the first section of the article for Wikipedia Homeopathy is not neutral or unbiased. I would like to see the first section at least be removed or rewritten with a neutral and unbiased knowledge base.Spidertalk (talk) 05:53, 8 May 2012 (UTC)

Spidertalk It would probably be best if you review the Wikipedia articles about WP:NPOV, WP:WEIGHT. Personal experience is not what Wikipedia is about, it is about Reliable Sources. Quote - "Having practiced homeopathy for myself and family successfully for over 20 years is personal scientific proof enough for me." - Sorry but that is not scientific proof. Thank you for your submission. Happy Editing. Daffydavid (talk) 06:31, 8 May 2012 (UTC)
Spidertalk, you keep using that word science. I don't think it means what you think it means. SkepticalRaptor (talk) 07:35, 8 May 2012 (UTC)
Welcome to the debate Spidertalk, I'm a professional registered homeopath of nearly 25 years. I agree the artcle is biased, but the way here is to engage and discuss. Its a bit of a steep learning curve to get to know the ways of Wiki as Daffy helpfully referred to above, but in the end I believe its worth it. It can be tough work to start with dealing with the various skeptics here, some of whom are helpful and able to discuss sensibly, some not, and some of whom are not constructive at all - I think you can get the idea of that from a post not so far above, still I'm sure even they mean well. However, thats the way it is, for now anyway. Its good to post on topic about the issue being discussed and not get into side issues, and important for this article to not be dominated by one group of people as it currently is. Hope to see you around :) Cjwilky (talk) 18:06, 8 May 2012 (UTC)
Well, we agree on one thing. This article is highly biased. It gives too much credit to the scientifically discredited and completely laughable belief that homeopathic potions do anything more than provide quenching water to a human being. Of course, I think Perrier is cheaper as bottled waters go, so not only is there no scientific basis of homeopathic pseudoscience, but it's expensive too. Aren't homeopaths embarrassed that they provide a worthless potion, and overcharge for water that I could get for free out of my tap? Anyways, this article is a travesty of pseudoscience. As Tim Minchin says, "...and if anyone can show me one example in the history of the world of a single homeopathic practitioner who's been able to prove under reasonable experimental conditions that solutions made up of infinitely tiny particles of good stuff dissolved repeatedly into relatively huge quantities of water have a consistently higher medicinal value than a similarly administered placebo...I will give you my piano, one of my legs and my wife." That should be all that this article requires. The rest of it is just "water under the bridge." SkepticalRaptor (talk) 01:02, 9 May 2012 (UTC)

Here's mention of another couple of class actions, with different defendants as well as different plaintiffs this time. Brunton (talk) 22:29, 8 May 2012 (UTC)

Thank you for finding all these links, I think it is now clear that there are more than enough sources for the lawsuits. I'm okay with placing them in the “public opposition” section, and while I think the section's position isn't ideal, there is definitely consensus for it. I'd suggest to place it either after the “Ethics and safety” section or after “Regulation and prevalence”, and I think we should make it a standalone section rather than a subsection as (public) opposition isn't a part of the evidence but rather a consequence of the (lack of) evidence for homeopathy. Is there anything that speaks against this? --Six words (talk) 13:54, 9 May 2012 (UTC)
No disagreement from me. Sgerbic (talk) 15:02, 9 May 2012 (UTC)
I agree with your point that it is a consequence of the evidence rather than part of it - I'd suggest after the "Regulation and prevalence" section as the best place for it. It now also needs to say that there are several lawsuits pending as well as one where a settlement has been agreed. Brunton (talk) 16:36, 9 May 2012 (UTC)
I've moved the section. Would you like to propose a wording for the multiple lawsuits? --Six words (talk) 19:05, 9 May 2012 (UTC)

overdosing on homeopathy section?

I've just found a secondary source from a Sacramento newspaper that has made me think that the homeopathy page might benefit from a section on activism against homeopathy. There was a large amount of attention Feb 2011 with the 10:23 campaign by skeptic groups mostly overdosing, some alone, some in large groups. I'm sure there must be some citations existing besides just the videos. I know James Randi did a very public overdose on sleeping pills some years ago. I also remember seeing a video of a woman taking it over several days when she was sick, and then calling the poison control center when she took too much. Before I go scouting around for more references, what is the opinion of this group? Here's the Sacramento article that made me think of this. Sgerbic (talk) 16:44, 27 April 2012 (UTC)

Actually, Randi routinely begins lectures by swallowing a bottle of homeopathic sleeping pills and somehow manages to stay awake for his entire lecture. Clearly, Randi possesses a superhuman ability to remain awake!JoelWhy (talk) 17:18, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
I knew it. Randi is so powerful, that he's debunking homeopathy, so that he can start Randipathy, an alternative medicine that requires drinking his blood. Or something. But seriously, we really should talk about how there are significant protests against homeopathy. And maybe we should include the Australian criminal trial against the homeopath. Let's NPOV this article, and get rid of the weasel bones thrown to homeopathic nonsense supporters. SkepticalRaptor (talk) 17:33, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
Yes, I agree, this article could really benefit from more balance and NPOV. It sounds like you both have good ideas for getting started with that. Allecher (talk) 18:23, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
I think we would have to be careful about too much of a discussion on anecdotal accounts such as Randi's. Not saying we can't include it at all, but it certainly can't be a strong emphasis w/in the article.JoelWhy (talk) 18:25, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
Joel, this is kind of what frustrates me (and just speaking for me) about Wikipedia. We allow the homeopathic potion POV to stand because we're trying to be nice, even if it's based on highly suspect information. We try to do the same on the other side of the coin, and we get stopped. As long as homeopathy is in the top 3 of hits for homeopathy, don't we have a duty to mankind to show the average reader that homeopathy doesn't work? And when we say "it doesn't work", we mean "it's a joke." NPOV shouldn't be "well, we'll give the homeopaths a few sentences so that they don't whine like little girls", it should mean "there is no evidence that it does work, there's boatloads of evidence that it does not work. It's just water, and there is no scientific principle that supports water doing anything more than rehydration." I'd be willing to wiki-fy that.  :) SkepticalRaptor (talk) 18:34, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
No, I agree we should make it crystal clear that the science shows it doesn't work and there is no conceivable mechanism for it to work. But, the reason we know this is not from Randi's "debunking" -- I'm sure Randi would be the first to admit that what he's doing is really just a fun stunt that doen't prove or disprove much of anything. We know it's nonsense based on the science. Homeopaths are the ones who have to rely on anecdotes to show it works. Just as we can't allow them to include anecdotal accounts here, we can't be guilty of the same.JoelWhy (talk) 18:43, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
Isn't it amusing that the science side can have fun with this stuff, but the anti-science side gets all offended? Anyways, our anecdotes are honorable and based on real science. So there!  :P SkepticalRaptor (talk) 19:48, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
I see what you're saying JoelWhy, but I do think that a mention of public "overdoses" and other organized opposition would add something important to the article. It's certainly a newsworthy phenomenon considering it's been reported in the Sacremento (as Sgerbic mentioned) as well as the Guardian and New Scientist. As an analogy of sorts, the page for Evolution includes a [and cultural responses] section which mentions creationist opposition. When folks come to wikipedia to find out what homeopathy is, I think it's important for them to see that there is a larger public discourse going on surrounding the merits of the field.Dustinlull (talk) 20:05, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
I'm certainly willing to include any reputable scientific articles from homeopaths that answer the question why overdoses don't kill. So this sounds like people are okay with the idea? What would we title it? Skeptical activism? Overdosing on homeopathy? The 10:23 Campaign and other activism? Ideas? Sgerbic (talk) 20:59, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
I would favor naming the section something broader like "Skeptical activism" or "Public opposition" because we might want to also add something about the various lawsuits.Dustinlull (talk) 21:10, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
One actually *can* overdose on water, (water intoxication) but probably not in any amount that would be encountered in a homeopathic remedy. (This has occurred in MDMA users and at least one radio stunt.--Axatax (talk) 08:28, 29 April 2012 (UTC)
I've made a start on the Public opposition section. I'm sure I'm forgetting a lot of things that need to be inserted. Need a link to the Randi mention. Can someone please supply the citations of the various times he has done this. Sgerbic (talk) 05:07, 5 May 2012 (UTC)

I long ago added similar content (but for slightly different reasons) to this section: Homeopathy#.22Active.22_ingredients. -- Brangifer (talk) 05:46, 5 May 2012 (UTC)

In terms of public opposition I believe we should establish standards on this. I suggest one off events need to be verified in terms of numbers, and really, if we are seriously looking at "Public" opposition we're looking at significant opposition not small collections of ten or twenty people.
There is of course public support too, at least equalling the cited one persons opposition in the article. So I suggest either we add another section of Public Support, or we combine this one, renaming it Public Opposition and Support, or better is Public Opinion possibly? Though the latter wouldn't eg include the single person lawsuit, as its not opinion. To be clear, I'm not suggesting not including lawsuits. Cjwilky (talk) 03:31, 6 May 2012 (UTC)
Okay, no opposition to support then ;) I'll create the section and enter relevant information.Cjwilky (talk) 00:10, 15 May 2012 (UTC)
I think you are misstating the facts regarding no opposition to the proposed section as it is discussed below but I'm curious to see what you come up with. Happy Editing. --Daffydavid (talk) 04:31, 15 May 2012 (UTC)
I was referred to this section to discuss Pulic Support by another ed - see below. Either way, in other parts of the talk page there were no objection per se, just concerns about NPOV and the references that you gave me (that don't hold weight re having a Support section). Clearly issues would be discussed when content is entered. And of course only support equally as significant as that in the opposition would be in there, and we will not be using homeopaths as support. Usage of homeopathy is support, though has its place in the regulation and prevelance section, so wouldn't need to be gone into in a Support section.Cjwilky (talk) 12:01, 15 May 2012 (UTC)

Ethics and Safety

We have

In an article entitled "Should We Maintain an Open Mind about Homeopathy?"[179] published in the American Journal of Medicine, Michael Baum and Edzard Ernst—writing to other physicians—wrote that "Homeopathy is among the worst examples of faith-based medicine... These axioms [of homeopathy] are not only out of line with scientific facts but also directly opposed to them. If homeopathy is correct, much of physics, chemistry, and pharmacology must be incorrect…".

Can someone explain why this is in the Ethics and Safety section? Cjwilky (talk) 00:07, 15 May 2012 (UTC)

When I read it I see the direct implication that it is unethical to treat a patient with Homeopathy as there is no scientific proof that it works, maybe it could be clearer but it doesn't seem vague to me. --Daffydavid (talk) 04:35, 15 May 2012 (UTC)
You are making an assumptive leap there Daffy, its not referring to ethics in any specific way. I understand your point (although wrong, and even disagreed with by Ben Goldacre), but this para is vague. Cjwilky (talk) 11:34, 15 May 2012 (UTC)

Accupuncture and other therapies

SteveBaker reverted my edit in Homeopathy#Regulation_and_prevalence. The original was:

In 2012 in the United Kingdom, Derby University dropped its complementary medicine program, including homeopathy, and the University of Westminster ceased enrolling new alternative medicine students. Salford University had dropped its homeopathy, accupuncture and Chinese medicine programs the previous year.

I removed the references to other therapies as I don't see why they are relevent to the article or the section:

In 2012 in the United Kingdom, Derby University dropped its homeopathy program, and the University of Westminster ceased enrolling new homeopathy students. Salford University had dropped its homeopathy program the previous year.

He said "Westminster isn't a "publicly funded" university - so the original reference is 100% correct and on-topic." I don't follow the relevance of the comment in relation to the changes I made and he reverted, nor its relevance in any way. Please explain :) Cjwilky (talk) 21:49, 15 May 2012 (UTC)

You justified your removal on grounds that it was contradicted by information from the University of Westminster (which is indeed still offering courses on Chinese traditional medicine). However, the section you edited refers only to the ban on awarding degrees in alternative medicine at publically funded universities. The University of Westminster does not take public funds - it's privately funded. So our statement that all of alternative medicine (including homeopathy) was banned is a true statement. Had what you removed been untrue - I would not have objected to your edit - but since you made a mistake and our information is 100% correct, I think it's worth keeping. Our article makes it clear that homeopathy wasn't singled out for banning - it's a general ban on ALL alternative medicines. That better explains the case against homeopathy - it's not being singled out as particularly unsuitable as degree-material, it's being lumped in with all of the other hokey stuff. I greatly prefer the old version to your change...hence I reverted. SteveBaker (talk) 02:18, 16 May 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for your reply. It would be more pro homeopathy to leave the section as you have reverted it to, however it is inaccurate and that is my point here.
1) If a university is accredited, it is a university - thats how it works in the UK, maybe not elsewhere. There isn't a differentiation in quality of qualifications. So I don't know why you raise this as an issue. Further, its worth you looking at Private_university#United_Kingdom. You will see that you are wrong in your assumption.
2) You mention a "ban" on awarding degrees in complementary ("alternative") medicine at publicly funded universities - where did you get that from? I see no evidence of this, indeed the evidence is that this is not so - see the UCAS link below. If its from the article you cite, then that is a misinterpretation of a misleading article.
3) From that article you cite: Meanwhile, the University of Westminster, in central London, which used to be the country's leader of alternative medicine degrees, is no longer taking on new students in this area of study for the fall 2012 semester. I have shown this to be false. You can check here too: UCAS search results for acupuncture degrees in 2012 where you will see several other "public" universities also offering courses.
4) You mention only public funded universities and say Uni of Westminster isn't included, but then you include it in the article. Please explain.Cjwilky (talk) 15:34, 16 May 2012 (UTC)

Article is confusing and uninformative

I'm a third-year medical student and I cannot understand this article at all. Specifically -

Practitioners treat patients using highly diluted preparations[1][2] believed to cause symptoms in healthy individuals similar to the undesired symptoms of the person treated.

This sentence seems to describe the central mechanics of this field and is completely ambiguous. I've read this article three times and I'm left more confused at each successive attempt to understand the subject matter. It would be helpful if the introduction could be reworked by someone familiar with the subject. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:28, 27 April 2012 (UTC)

To treat a patient, homeopaths select substances that they claim cause the patient's symptoms in healthy people, repeatedly dilute and shake mixtures of such substances, and give them to the affected patient, in the belief that it will cure the symptoms in the sick that it caused in the healthy ("like cures like"). The solution eventually given to the patient is so dilute that it contains none of the original substance: it's essentially water shaken in hope with a tincture of self-delusion.
The sentence is so convoluted because it's trying to fold in several issues, including the fact that it's not clear that the original substances actually cause the symptoms homeopaths believe they do. - Nunh-huh 08:59, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
You forgot to mention the whole "water memory" thing. Yes, that's right, future doctor, water remembers the stuff that was mixed into it, and then used those memories to cure the patients. (Damn, what are they teaching these kids in medical school nowadays?!)JoelWhy (talk) 12:51, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
Thank you both for your insights. Maybe the the sentence in question can be reworked to incorporate something along these lines which seems more readable (This is not my description. I'm hesitant to provide the original URL which may be unnecessarily provocative):
"...Thinking that these treatments were intended to "balance the body's 'humors' by opposite effects," he developed his "law of similars"—a notion that symptoms of disease can be cured by extremely small amounts of substances that produce similar symptoms in healthy people when administered in large amounts...." -- (talk) 13:04, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for the input. It's probably harder for us to recognize the lead as confusing since the editors on this page tend to know a decent amount about the topic (making it easy to assume it makes as much sense to "outsiders" as it does to us.) Maybe we should kick around a few ideas for rewording the lead.JoelWhy (talk) 13:33, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
I've been having an off-wiki discussion about several pseudoscience articles, but especially homeopathy and acupuncture, both thoroughly and absolutely (well, as absolutely as science can take us) debunked. Neither work. Neither do much for health other than the supposed "placebo effect", which in medical research is another word for "miserable failure." Yet, because of a complete misunderstand and misuse of WP:NPOV, both articles are very confusing, even to an expert reader like me or the OP of this thread. Because the "pro-pseudoscience" crowd (and I don't know if that's completely true, but reading the archives of the discussion here, it seems so) make broad attempts to undermine the science, in both articles the language becomes so convoluted, that you can't tell what's being written. It's just ridiculous that we don't write like most individuals in science-based (or the less restrictive evidence-based) medicine. The state what works and what doesn't, and neither homeopathy or acupuncture work.
During the off-wiki discussion, which included several Wikipedia vets, real scientists and doctors, and a few plain old people like me, it became clear that although everyone hates Wikipedia's lousy standards for pseudoscience, no one cares to deal with the problems here. If this article was written from the Scientific POV, which in science articles is the neutral POV, then the lead would be clear. It would list what homeopathy is. One paragraph. Paragraphs two and three would state why it doesn't work, and the consequences of using it. There is a classic criminal trial in process in Australia where the homeopath continued to treat a "patient" that was nearing end-stage rectal cancer. That should be in here. The lead must state without a single iota of doubt that homeopathy is just water. Oh, and to get around the true believers of homeopathy, water cannot possibly retain a "memory" unless we suspend all laws of physics. We really fail here in providing a forum (in the article) for bad science wrapped in a lot of badly written language, that makes it totally impossible to determine if it is bad science (or no science at all). We also seem to not require the old "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" meme for any pseudoscience article, but especially acupuncture and homeopathy.
So I completely am on board with the OP. I'm not sure if he thinks homeopathy works or not (and the quality of medical education these days is appalling where even Harvard teaches snot-nosed medical students about junk medicine), but they are correct, this article makes no sense, and requires prior knowledge of the field to read it without blowing out an AVM in the brain. SkepticalRaptor (talk) 15:58, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
I'm going to have to agree with SkepticalRaptor, I understand that this article needs to be informative about what homeopathy is, its history and so on. But when there is no science to support, many cases of harm and no peer-reviewed articles supporting the claim, why isn't that clear in the article. If you call the poison control people and tell them you have just taken an overdose of homeopathy they laugh at you. Seems like leaving the article as it is is confusing people and possibly causing harm. Sgerbic (talk) 16:37, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
I agree the article needs reworking in a way that isn't cluttered. I'll look at this very soon and come up with some plan. Yes I'm a homeopath, yes I personally think the article is biased, but I take on the situation here as it stands at the moment.
I've been practising for nearly 25 years and am not stuck in any particular homeopathy camp. I think I'm able to sieve through some of the more complex and badly worded bits of the article and come up with some referenced clarity. The intro is the first bit to sort, and for sure can be further polished once the rest is done. This is always going to be a long article, I can't see that changing much at all, but its readability is definitely possible to improve.
Skep rap - you along with some others trot out the "no scientific support". Thats evidently not true. Yes, the main meta analysis overall come to the same conclusion (we can look at these in more detail too as time goes on) which gives "the weight" of scientific support mentioned in the article some credibility, but that doesn't equate to "no scientific support".
I look forward to some interesting on topic discussions and a good result. Cjwilky (talk) 11:27, 15 May 2012 (UTC)
You clearly don't understand the scientific method. One or two lone papers that seem to show that some hypothesis is true don't constitute any kind of general "scientific support". We expect other experimenters to repeat controversial experiments to verify their results - and to examine the paper for things like experimental slip-ups, statistical errors, failure to properly control for all variables, lack of double-blind techniques or the lack of a sufficiently large statistical sampling to be meaningful. Only when some number of papers have been published on a topic - and they've stood the test of time and not been shot down for making mistakes can you truly say that there is "scientific support". The truth here is that the very small number of papers that claimed to have found an effect larger than placebo have all been found to have errors or biasses of one sort or another. Hence, you're incorrect. There is no scientific support for homeopathy...not a scrap. (Which, incidentally, is why WP:MEDRS requires articles such as this one to be based on secondary or tertiary sources...not the original primary sources which could easily be shown to be in error in some subtle but important way.) SteveBaker (talk) 13:37, 24 May 2012 (UTC)
To be fair, Steve, one can get an incorrect result from one study (or a small number of studies) even if they were performed perfectly rigorously, with suitable controls, blinding, and sample sizes. Chance variations in patient outcomes will occasionally give a result that appears statistically significant in one properly-conducted clinical trial, but which mysteriously isn't repeatable. That doesn't change your (entirely correct) conclusion, however—as even an utterly-flawless primary study can still fall prey to lucky (bad or good) outcomes, Wikipedia should be extremely reluctant to draw conclusions based on cherry-picked primary sources. TenOfAllTrades(talk) 14:52, 24 May 2012 (UTC)
Its still the case that the article needs tidying.
I think its very clear about the issues of experiments not being of good quality. I agree entirely. However, this is the situation. We know why it is, essentially because its difficult with homeopathy, though not impossible. Its also the case that funding is an issue. We'll get to the evidence issue, but lets first clarify some of the more muddy stuff that is more easily cleared up.Cjwilky (talk) 15:12, 24 May 2012 (UTC)

Homeopaths or homeopathy?

I changed

Homeopathy has been criticized for putting patients at risk due to advice against conventional medicine such as vaccinations, anti-malarial drugs, and antibiotics.


Homeopaths have been criticized for putting patients at risk due to advice against conventional medicine such as vaccinations, anti-malarial drugs, and antibiotics. with the edit note of "The statement as its stands is akin to saying physics has been critcised for dropping a bomb on Hiroshema, its illogical, and isn't what the references actually say. Please discuss on talk page, with evidence if you wish to revert this"

SkepRap reverted this saying "Reverted to NPOV version". Please explain AND specify where in the references it says homeopathy and not homeopaths.

And Skeprap may wish to reply to other parts of the talk page (reply in the relevant section), namely one of unsubstantiated accusations they made, whilst he/she is at it :)Cjwilky (talk) 11:22, 17 May 2012 (UTC)

The description of a pseudoscientific expensive water-pushing murdering charlatan is exactly the same as the practice. Homeopathy=homeopath. You probably shouldn't use the strawman comparison between homeopathic murders and war. Unless that was your intent, which even though I know there have been plenty of murders as a result of homeopaths and homeopathy, it's probably not in the hundreds of thousands. But it's good that a homeopathic potion pusher like yourself understands the horrifying crimes of homeopathy. SkepticalRaptor (talk) 16:32, 17 May 2012 (UTC)

(edit conflict)

Clearly the choice of an inefficacious before an efficacious treatment for a serious infectious disease or progressive illness is the risk that we should be discussing. While that cited source is not of the best quality (a letter), its author (Ernst) has a long history of publications of systematic reviews on the topic. That he is a homeopath speaking against his own field should add weight. Still, it is quite dated. More recent reports such as PMID 19043817 and PMID 19350429 are primary, but informative in discussing the avoidance of basic vaccinations by different populations. Ernst's title addressed "homeopathy", not "homeopaths" for rather obvious reason. Homeopathy as used by people who are not homeopaths still presents that same risk. If I as a non-homeopath were to take a homeopathic product for a year after being diagnosed with an early stage cancer it would not be as likely to keep me alive so long as prompt use of real medicine would. The primary issue is the choice of practice, not the choice of practitioner. LeadSongDog come howl! 16:51, 17 May 2012 (UTC)

I just want to emphasize that, while this article should make it crystal clear that this is a total pseudoscience, there is no need to try to vilify homeopaths. We shouldn't add things specifically to serve as a thumb-in-the-eye to practitioners. I'm not talking about a false compromise; I only mean that we shouldn't phrase items in an attempt to paint homeopaths as wicked or con-artists. We just present the facts, and we make sure to do so in as straight-foward and simple a manner as possible to ensure the reader understands the subject. Fighting over whether to say "homeopaths" vs. "homeopathy" really seems to be missing the forest from the trees, here.JoelWhy (talk) 19:49, 17 May 2012 (UTC)

Skep rap - first, you aren't big enough or honest enough to appologise for wrongly accusing me of saying homepathy cures cancer. Second, your bias on this topic is declared by your consistent unnecessarily aggressive language - I suggest you look up NPOV, and read it, and then ask someone to explain it to you, slowly. Third, your understanding of the English language ("homeopath=homeopathy") is fundamentally lacking. And the simile I gave illustrates a point clearly, no need to go off on one about it, off topic about it. Really, calm tha self down lad/lass, have a nice cuppa tea and a biscuit.
LeadSongDog - Ernst is not a homeopath any more than you are.
Anyway, the issue here is about homeopathy v homeopaths, and the evidence is the reference. The title, is a title, it isn't in itself a work or even part of a work, you know that - to suggest otherwise is an extreme and wrong form of cherry picking given the content of the letter, and to call your reasoning obvious, is a little vague too. Ernzt using the homeopathy in the title yet refering solely to homeopaths within the content of the letter is akin to wrapping a chicken in a raptor bag - close but actually not the same thing, and misleading. Maybe Ernzt has an agenda which makes him do such stuff, or maybe there is another reason? Its certainly not to do with accuracy.
That it is a letter and uses some unscientific, statistically insignificant "research" which "shows" 1 out of 23 homeopaths who replied said they felt there was some value in using potentised substances in childhood illnesses - or so is the insinuation as there is no evidence of what is actually asked and what the actually response was. But its there along with some other info/reference, I'm not arguing that, but the point is the content of that letter in no place mentions homeopathy as being the problem, it constantly refers to homeopaths. Indeed at the end, the conclusion, it is said "homeopathic remedies may be safe, but do all homeopaths merit this attribute?" If you disagree with this, show me specifically with quotes, and then lets look at the weight of the focus in that source - homeopathy or homeopaths.
Joel - I'm glad someone else notices the tone of discussion here from several editors, not just the skeprap.
There's no real forest without real trees. Being accurate is important, or do you disagree?
I'm trying to deal with this in small digestible bits. And I agree the main issue here is the interpretation of the scientific proof of homeopathy, and we will get to a better, more accurate, less bias version of that. We also need to look at making the whole article more readable, and not one exclusively for planet skeprap. But there are other things in this article. I've heard this before, effectively "homeopathy is a pile of shit, who cares about your accurate point here, lets see the consensus, yes its 7 skeptics to one homeopath again, therein lies the truth we have on wiki..." ermmmm... ironic or what? Cjwilky (talk) 20:37, 17 May 2012 (UTC)
CJ, accusing someone (SkepRap) of being rude and failing to be polite yourself is not the way to go. You must admit that your views have been given ample space and consideration here. Being pedantic is almost never a good thing. Your point here of Homeopath vs. Homeopathy is a prime example. Also see Regulation and prevalence of homeopathy for a rebuttal to your other point about prevalence. (Might not have been being pedantic here, just unaware.) Regardless, happy editing. --Daffydavid (talk) 21:10, 17 May 2012 (UTC)
Daffy, I guess skeprap never wrongly accused you of doing something illegal? Yes, it pisses me off the way he uses up talk space with off the point abuse.
If homeopath v homeopathy is so meaninglessly pedantic to everyone, then why not have it as the accurate version and not the innaccurate one? I'm sorry that I have to waste so much time on this through someones unsubstantiated revert. I tried to be as clear as possible about the issues, is that wrong? Please feel free to advise on alternative ways to go about dealing with these situations. Though do that on my talk page not here, where I'd like to stick to the point :) Cjwilky (talk) 21:30, 17 May 2012 (UTC)
Strictly speaking, Cwilky is correct, it is homeopaths recommending against medicine. That said, the practice of homeopathy with it's belief system must motivate against medicine. Without expanding that simple phrase to a paragraph I suggest accepting Cjwilky's wording although this seems a minor issue and hardly needed the nuclear optionAcleron (talk) 00:16, 18 May 2012 (UTC)
Okay, no further arguments, accuracy wins over misinformation :) That passage now changed to how it was when I corrected it. Cjwilky (talk) 12:27, 22 May 2012 (UTC)
Skeprap seems a law unto itself.... maybe it'll come over here and discuss rather than play the fool? Really, this is getting boring. Cjwilky (talk) 23:28, 22 May 2012 (UTC)
Sourced "misinformation" over orignal "accurate" information. I would have reverted if someone else hadn't done it first. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 23:49, 22 May 2012 (UTC)
Its not sourced Arthur - show where. And further, even if there is someone out there thats effectively written "Homeopathy" has two legs, two eyes etc (cf. "homeopath"), doesn't mean its to be included in wiki. NPOV is clear in this case. Cjwilky (talk) 00:03, 23 May 2012 (UTC)
You're right, at least as to the two sources in the lead. My mistake. I have seen it as "homeopathy puts patients at risk", but the source isn't one of the two in the lead, and doesn't seem to be in the body. I guess I'm on your side, after considering the sources. You are at 3 reverts again, though, so you shouldn't do anything about it. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 03:53, 23 May 2012 (UTC)
I agree with Cjwilky on this. "Homeopaths" makes more sense in the context it is being used, and (more importantly as far as Wikipedia is concerned) is what the cited sources say. Brunton (talk) 08:00, 23 May 2012 (UTC)
Oh good grief! I can't believe this thread. Homeopathy is that which is believed by homeopaths - homeopaths are those who believe in homeopathy - you can't separate the two. It really doesn't make the slightest bit of difference whether it's homeopathy or the beliefs of homeopaths that has been criticized here - it's the exact same thing! If homeopathists believe that conventional medicine should be avoided - then that's what homeopathy says. If homeopathy says that - then that's what homeopathists believe - because (by definition) if they don't believe it then they aren't homeopathists, they're from some other fringe theory.
There isn't some magical thing called "homeopathy" that has a separate existence from the ideas in the minds of the homeopathists! Hence, simply changing the words from "Homeopathy says XYZ" to "Homeopathists say XYZ" is not the issue here.
I presume that the real issue here is that some homeopathists believe that conventional medicine should be avoided and others see it as complementary to their treatments. The latter group don't want all of homeopathy to be labelled as anti-conventional medicine because that approach kills people and results in some serious legal liability. But if that's the case then we also cannot make a blanket statement that implies that this belief is held by homeopaths in general.
So it's back down to our usual problem (which I'm starting to realize is endemic amongst fringe theory articles) of not having a solidly agreed definition of what our subject matter is because all of the believers out there are basically making it up as they go along. Since it's all scientifically proved to be bullshit, we don't have a standard of truth to hold any particular personal definition of the term up against. The leaders of these fringe theory movements make a ton of money selling junk and writing books about the subject - and they make money by continually coming up with new "ideas" - which are cheap because they don't have to be backed by any kind of reality. Since their writings are not backed by secondary and tertiary sources - so we can't consider them to be reliable descriptions of what the fringe theory is - which is just as well because they don't agree with each other and frequently contradict themselves.
This dooms us to never having a comprehensive definition of the term "homeopathy" - and by extension, calling someone a "homeopathist" doesn't have much value in predicting what they might or might not believe in. Hence saying "Some homeopathists believe XYZ" is about as meaningful as saying "Some people believe XYZ" because the definition of who is or is not a homeopathist is as ill-defined as the term itself.
SteveBaker (talk) 13:23, 24 May 2012 (UTC)
I'm pleased someone is working with logic here too as there is a fervant religiousity of "skepticism" here - its just a perspective as many perspectives have been held, or should we say "believed" to be the way and have subsequently been superceded. Not only that, but as with many perspectives, people have a perspective on the perspective as proven by so many comments on this talk page. Anyway, lets examine what SB says.
"Homeopathy is that which is believed by homeopaths - homeopaths are those who believe in homeopathy - you can't separate the two."
Belief is not part of it. It can be, it is in some cases, but thats your POV. The accurate NPOV version is A homeopath is someone who practices homeopathy. Homeopathy is practiced by homeopaths. For example, every time I give a remedy to a patient I follow a process. Thats it. Its a method. I practice homeopathy.
"It really doesn't make the slightest bit of difference whether it's homeopathy or the beliefs of homeopaths that has been criticized here - it's the exact same thing!"
Homeopathy is a method. To believe in homeopathy is beyond the method. A homeopath may believe in many other things apart from homeopathy. Discussing the pro's and con's of vaccination for example, pointing out where to find the info about this, not trotting out a pro vaccination line etc is something else. Many people do this, not just homeopaths. The evidence cited, the Ernzt research, shows 1 out of 23 homeopaths discussed views contrary to the mainstream about vaccinations. That 1 may well have put both sides, it doesn't clarify this in the reference. I don't see any evidence for your illogical statement in this case in particular, and more strongly about your vague leap of thought.
"If homeopathists believe that conventional medicine should be avoided - then that's what homeopathy says."
I think I have already covered this, but to make sure you understand, there is no evidence for your statement. Ernzt had some survey (not scientific as he himeself acknowledges) that showed 1 in 23 said as I said above. I will try and make it even clearer for you - a homeopath drives a car that is homeopathy. A driver of a car may love marmite. It doesn't follow that cars love marmite - thats actually what you are saying. It doesn't even follow that drivers of cars love marmite any more or less than drivers of buses - though you aren't even getting your logic to that level.
"If homeopathists believe that conventional medicine should be avoided - then that's what homeopathy says. If homeopathy says that - then that's what homeopathists believe - because (by definition) if they don't believe it then they aren't homeopathists, they're from some other fringe theory."
You say, if "People A" who all share "Belief H" believe "X", thats what "Belief H" is. First, I've covered the belief thing. Second, you make a massive assumption in the last part of your statement that "X" has anything to do with "Belief H", and even if it has some relationship, you assert that its more than intrinsic, that its the same. A leap again, and no explanation, and certainly no evidence. Though you say "by definition". Its even very poor rhetoric.
"There isn't some magical thing called "homeopathy" that has a separate existence from the ideas in the minds of the homeopathists! Hence, simply changing the words from "Homeopathy says XYZ" to "Homeopathists say XYZ" is not the issue here."
Homeopathy is a method. Whats in the mind of a homeopath is "by definition" homeopathy (ie a method) and a whole world of other things that are unrelated to homeopathy, and some that maybe have some relationship to homeopathy, but at the same time are not homeopathy. The issue you state is very clearly the issue. You make that clear by discussing it and showing your misunderstanding of it. Indeed you wish to pass on your misunderstanding to readers or wiki. Is it just misunderstanding or is it POV?
"I presume that the real issue here is that some homeopathists believe that conventional medicine should be avoided and others see it as complementary to their treatments. The latter group don't want all of homeopathy to be labelled as anti-conventional medicine because that approach kills people and results in some serious legal liability. But if that's the case then we also cannot make a blanket statement that implies that this belief is held by homeopaths in general."
You "presume". Effectively you make your POV very very clear here. There is a reference to an unscientific, statistically insignificant, research acknowledged by the researcher himself, that 1 in 23 homeopaths make the statement of putting forward views to vaccination that are contrary to what is trotted out (and I use the words trotted out, because in my experience very few - less than 1 in 23 to be unscientifically accurate - of doctors have ever looked beyond the info that is given to them by health authorities who have a policy to carry out that is based on herd immunity, and certainly not about allowing people to make an informed decision about what they are taking, nor even aiding doctors themselves to make an informed decision). And then you want to make a blanket statement about "homeopathy" and not even "homepaths".
"Since it's all scientifically proved to be bullshit, we don't have a standard of truth to hold any particular personal definition of the term up against."
There is evidence that demonstrates homeopathy works, it even says so in the article. That the meta analysis is what is being used in the article at present brings the weight to show that homeopathy hasn't been shown to work, does not mean the same as "its all scientifically proved to be bullshit" as you put it. A logical issue again.
You then go onto a nihilistic end to your post. As well as sway off topic and give your POV about people making a ton of money selling junk and relating that to homeopathy I take it? Yes, its very clear that there isn't much quality research about homeopathy. Defining it is very possible, maybe I can help? However, I don't accept lack of logic and POV rhetoric, of which there is a great deal here from the followers of the skeptic movement who dominate this article. Chin up, we can do this :)
Cjwilky (talk) 15:04, 24 May 2012 (UTC)
Let's put it this way. There is no scientific evidence that homeopathy works, nor is there evidence that meets Wikipedia's standards that homeopathy works. There is a fair amount of anecdotal evidence that homeopaths get results, but there is absolutely no evidence that the results are due to, or even related to, homeopathy. As for whether homeopathy is hazardous to patients; I have absolutely no doubt that it is, but SteveBaker is correct; we don't have a source for the statement, nor can we be sure that it is, because its tenets are unclear.  :::It would be best if you did not edit this, or related, articles. You start with the premise that homeopathy gets results; as there is no evidence of this, it should not be in Wikipedia. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 15:42, 24 May 2012 (UTC)
As I keep saying. We need to step back and look at the big picture. We keep quibbling over definitions (which will not be agreed on). The page is on a fringe topic and we should approach it that way. The lede should be very simple. Then the history of who invented it, and a bio of him. Then a few definitions of terms. The controversy against it. And then done! Cut the page to 3/4 of what it is now.Sgerbic (talk) 16:05, 24 May 2012 (UTC)
Arthur, I was going to let it pass, but I'm intrigued and it is on topic. I'm not sure what you mean here, and I refer to both the first (you have no doubt...) and the second part (nor can we be sure that it is... - you mean can't be sure its dangerous?):
As for whether homeopathy is hazardous to patients; I have absolutely no doubt that it is, but SteveBaker is correct; we don't have a source for the statement, nor can we be sure that it is, because its tenets are unclear."
Cjwilky (talk) 18:17, 25 May 2012 (UTC)
I have no doubt that homeopathy, no matter how "implemented" by homeopaths, would lead (at least some) patients with serious, treatable, conditions to forgo medical treatment. I don't have a specific, sourced, instance, as we I don't really know the tenets of homeopathy, but I cannot imagine any possible interpretation of the tenets which would not cause problems. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 20:40, 25 May 2012 (UTC)
The article already has specific, sourced, instances. See footnote 162 for a particularly tragic example. Brunton (talk) 17:58, 26 May 2012 (UTC)
Wow! Thats some major footnote. Sgerbic (talk) 22:31, 26 May 2012 (UTC)

cleanup tag

A certain user (you know who you are) wants to change all but the first reference to Homeopathy: How it Really Works to quasi-Harvard citations. As far as I'm concerned, either all the footnotes should include the full citation, or none. It's not an acceptable citation format on Wikipedia to have ibid.- or op cit.- like citations. Perhaps other multiple references to the same article — but not the same page — should be combined in like fashion. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 23:52, 24 May 2012 (UTC)

I've changed it so each reference to a different page of Shelton has its own entry in the footnotes, and removed the now redundant References section and tag. Feel free to revert if this isn't appropriate. Brunton (talk) 08:32, 25 May 2012 (UTC)

I've altered the citations, making use of {{rp}} to delineate page numbers without repeating references. — Scientizzle 12:29, 29 May 2012 (UTC)

Water has a memory

In the lead, there is:

"Modern homeopathic practitioners have suggested "water has a memory", allowing homeopathic preparations to work without any of the original diluted substance; however, no verified observations nor scientifically plausible physical mechanisms account for such phenomena"

Can anyone explain where it is that "modern homeopathic practitioners have suggested" comes from? From my subjective experience, homeopaths nearly always say they don't know how it works, it just does. The water/alcohol memory thing is one suggestion, and it comes from outside homeopathy. Therefore the more correct expression to use is "It has been suggested..." Cjwilky (talk) 17:20, 30 May 2012 (UTC)

The idea of water memory is referenced to two reliable sources, including to an article published in Nature. So....what exactly is your question? JoelWhy? talk 17:32, 30 May 2012 (UTC)
Cjwilky's statement is demonstrably incorrect. The concept of water memory has been invoked by many prominent homeopaths, including Dana Ullman[6] and Jan Scholten[7]. The journal Homeopathy even devoted an entire issue to water memory.[8] Skinwalker (talk) 17:41, 30 May 2012 (UTC)

Comment added to discussion of Shang paper

The alleged comment by the Swiss government about the Shang paper, that an editor is trying to insert into the article, is actually about the Swiss HTA, not the Shang paper. Also, since the comment includes implied criticisms of the authors of the Shang paper, including it without a RS showing that a Swiss government report had made these criticisms of the Shang paper would presumably raise WP:BLP issues. I have undone my own revert as I realised I had already made three reverts only about 38 hours before, but I hope this is a good enough explanation for removing this inaccurate and unsourced information. Brunton (talk) 22:15, 28 May 2012 (UTC)

I don't think accuracy is ever the point here, its all about NPOV and it being sourced is it not? In which case a reversion is justified. However, the previous reversion did remove some info that may have been superfluous, but it also removed an important part of the conclusion making this POV. THIS kind of bias is crucial in this article - there ARE two sides to the story, the evidence is clear on that, the POV isn't.
I suggest this is put back "It then concluded there was weak evidence for a specific effect of homeopathic remedies, but strong evidence for specific effects of conventional interventions, and that its findings were compatible with the notion that the clinical effects of homeopathy are nothing more than placebo effects." Cjwilky (talk) 04:19, 29 May 2012 (UTC)
The infamous 'Swiss report' is a minor attempt by homeopaths to publish a misleading view. It wasn't published in a reputable journal and as such it shouldn't be considered as RS in comparison to Shang et al.Reliable sources may be published materials with a reliable publication process, authors who are regarded as authoritative in relation to the subject, or both.

The authors may be considered as authoritative on homeopathy but they have no authority status when examining evidence and it is this aspect that is being considered here. And Cjwilky, there may be two sides to a story, but they are not equal and do not require equal billing. Acleron (talk) 12:37, 29 May 2012 (UTC)

Acleron - whilst my general point holds in terms of evidence out there, I was specifically talking about the conclusion in the Shang. The current version is POV - it includes only that which refers to one side of the ongoing debate and even then it doesn't conclude homeopathy doesn't work. Cjwilky (talk) 13:29, 29 May 2012 (UTC)
The conclusion (that the findings are compatible with the effects of homoeopathy being placebo effects) is stated in the article. It might be worth saying that it paid particular attention to study quality, but if we're going to talk about the "final 8" we need to avoid implying that the conclusion was based only on an analysis of these papers, (or that the paper concluded that there was evidence that homoeopathy works - its conclusion is certainly that the findings are compatible with homeopathy being no more than placebo). I'm not sure if this article is the place to be going into an explanation of what a funnel plot is, though. Brunton (talk) 14:16, 29 May 2012 (UTC)
Yes, the current version is POV - Shang et al. POV:
We acknowledge that to prove a negative is impossible, but we have shown that the effects seen in placebocontrolled trials of homoeopathy are compatible with the placebo hypothesis. By contrast, with identical methods, we found that the benefits of conventional medicine are unlikely to be explained by unspecific effects.
It's been explained countless times already, but perhaps this needs to be said again: even if a treatment is completely inert, because of the way statistical significance is defined there'll be a few trials showing this treatment “works”. That's if everything else - randomisation, blinding, ..., are perfect and no biases are present. Publication bias alone makes it more likely to find a positive trial in the literature than a negative one, so “weak evidence” is to be expected for a placebo therapy. --Six words (talk) 14:38, 29 May 2012 (UTC)
The conclusion included "there was weak evidence for a specific effect of homeopathic remedies". Note "remedies". To take only the final line of this conclusion is POV of those that choose to cherry pick. Cjwilky (talk) 14:52, 29 May 2012 (UTC)
Did you read the whole paper? I'm asking because you're constantly repeating this one line of the abstract as if it were what their disscussion said. --Six words (talk) 14:56, 29 May 2012 (UTC)
Fair enough, looking at their full paper I see their clear conclusion :) Cjwilky (talk) 15:27, 29 May 2012 (UTC)

However, to return to the original topic of this thread, my point was that comments made by the Swiss PEK about the HTA have been introduced to the article as comments on the Shang Lancet paper. See the blog post I linked to above, which includes translations of some of the German passages (including the one quoted in what has been inserted in the article: "The positive interpretation of the current evidence seems understandable, as long as one does not require especially high evidence standards, given the low plausibility of homeopathy in the light of established scientific knowledge", clearly stating that this is about the HTA, not the meta-analysis). Do other editors agree that this addition to the article should be removed as not relevant to the paper it purports to be about? Brunton (talk) 15:21, 29 May 2012 (UTC)

Yes. --Six words (talk) 15:51, 29 May 2012 (UTC)
Yes. Acleron (talk) 17:42, 30 May 2012 (UTC)

OK, I'll try to explain it again, since the same wording has been inserted again (twice). The Swiss PEK commissioned three pieces of work about homoeopathy: the Shang meta-analysis, a version of which was later published in the Lancet and is cited by the article, the "Health Technology Assessment" by Bornhoft and others (a summary of which was later published in Research in complementary Medicine), which is not cited by the article, and a study of the use of homoeopathy by Swiss doctors ("The Quality of Primary Care Provided by Physicians Certified in Homeopathy in Switzerland") which is also not cited by the article. The comments added to the discussion of Shang in the article here are about the HTA, not the Shang analysis. They are therefore not relevant to the Shang Lancet paper, and including them as if they are about it is misleading. The English translation of a later version of the HTA pubished last year has been widely touted by homoeopaths as a conclusive report by the Swiss government, but it is really nothing of the sort, and has recently been severely criticised. Brunton (talk) 04:37, 1 June 2012 (UTC)

It's been added again, with (once again) no attempt at any discussion here. It was suggested that the HTA should be included in the article earlier this year, but consensus was against this. These comments are clearly about the HTA and not the Shang paper, and so are (a) not relevent to the discussion of the Shang paper they are being added to and (b) not supported by the source being used. This is not about POV, it is about reporting what the source says, and avoiding statements that are at odds with the facts. Brunton (talk) 09:22, 2 June 2012 (UTC)

POV to call Randi a magician?

Seriously? Randi is a (stage) magician, what's POV about calling him one? He himself is constantly making it clear that he's not a scientist but a professional magician, and that it is much easier for scamsters to fool scientists than a fellow magician. Is it the word? We can call him a conjurer or an illusionist if that's the problem, but I don't see how basically calling a spade a spade is POV. --Six words (talk) 07:09, 1 June 2012 (UTC)

It might be arguable that "magician" isn't relevant in the context of the article, but I can't see it being POV. Brunton (talk) 09:23, 1 June 2012 (UTC)
Illusionist may be more accurate. Its very relevant to who he is and why he's a "sceptic". Cjwilky (talk) 09:27, 1 June 2012 (UTC)
Yes, but his reasons for being a skeptic are not necessarily relevant here. The article doesn't concern itself with why Sir John Maddox is a physicist, for example. Brunton (talk) 10:03, 1 June 2012 (UTC)
No, but there's a difference between being a skeptic and and physicist. Many people may be humanists, catholics and those choices just like being a skeptic are part of their beliefs or attitudes, but the main feature connected to them will be actor, physicist, politician. The wiki Randi page starts with him being a "stage magician", thats what he is - better description than just "magician" btw. Leaving skeptic in there, if anything, is the excess. I think both should be there. Cjwilky (talk) 10:20, 1 June 2012 (UTC)
His being a magician is, at best, trivia, and at worst, a subtle way to make his opinion seem less credible. It's absolutely essential information for the Randi article. But, for this article, it's extraneous information that does nothing to improve the article. Unless we are mentioning something about how Randi uses homoeopathy in a magic trick, I agree that it should remain out of the article. JoelWhy? talk 12:38, 1 June 2012 (UTC)
The fact that a magician -primarily- tries to debunk homeopathy must be reported. I think he has done a good job in debunking fraud therapists though..--Doradora22 (talk) 14:55, 2 June 2012 (UTC)
I don't see why it "must be reported." You'll need an actual reason. — The Hand That Feeds You:Bite 16:18, 2 June 2012 (UTC)
Trying to have your cake and eat it too Doradora? If it's okay for him to debunk fraud therapists then it's okay for him to debunk homeopathy. --Daffydavid (talk) 17:11, 2 June 2012 (UTC)
He is indeed a magician, or former one who still uses tricks occasionally, but now in the service of skepticism. Skepticism is his main activity now. What's important in THIS article is his skeptical activities. His "magician" hat is irrelevant here. JoelWhy is correct: this is being used as "a subtle way to make his opinion seem less credible".
Revert it on sight and be done with it. If fringe pushers of homeopathy insist, let them violate 3rr and languish on the sidelines for a while until they realize they are only making fools of themselves . -- Brangifer (talk) 17:42, 2 June 2012 (UTC)
Randi's occupation as a magician gives him credibility, since magicians know a lot about how people are fooled. I don't think mentioning his occupation is NNPOV or irrelevant. We could say "magician and skeptic James Randi". —Ben Kovitz (talk) 20:55, 2 June 2012 (UTC)
I think this wording was chosen to illustrate the skill-set of the investigative team - two people who know how to “do science” and one who knows how to fool people (including oneself). But then there's people like Doradora22 who think the wording is necessary because nowadays the debunking of homeopathy is what Randi “primarily” does - that's neither accurate nor is it a reason to leave the word in the article. So while I think there was a good, NPOV reason for including it I now see how it can be misread. --Six words (talk) 11:46, 3 June 2012 (UTC)
He is a stage magician, fact. To not include is is POV. sixwords suggests it shouldn't be in because it may give the wrong impression... really? Whose to say its a good thing or a bad thing? Can be good because he's skilled at seeing slight of hand, can be bad because he's a performer and attention seeking self publicist.
And can we quit the slagging off please Brangifer? Its positively unhelpful to write in those terms. Its not to the same debased level as SR, and I'm not having a go, but you understand what I'm saying :) Cjwilky (talk) 15:49, 3 June 2012 (UTC)
No, I'm not suggesting that. Read again. --Six words (talk) 16:18, 3 June 2012 (UTC)
"So while I think there was a good, NPOV reason for including it, I now see how it can be misread" Cjwilky (talk) 18:55, 3 June 2012 (UTC)
The first half of my comment explains why, in my eyes, it is appropriate to say “magician/illusionist”. The second part is in response to my own question (that's what this section is about, after all). By the way, the sentence we're discussing is about “water memory”. A month ago you claimed that “the water thing” was “ignorant” anyway, so why is it important that “water memory” was debunked by a magician (plus a physicist and a chemist)? --Six words (talk) 19:53, 3 June 2012 (UTC)
I don't see why we're having a big fight over this one. So long as his name is linked to our bio article on him - the reader can find out whatever they need to know about him with a single mouse click. He does self-identify as a stage magician - and there is a mountain of WP:RS to confirm that - so there is no question of fact here. I'm sorry Cjwilky but this isn't a matter of POV either. Please read WP:NPOV - it carefully explains that providing a neutral point of view is about:
  • Avoid stating opinions as facts. - this is not an opinion, he definitely is a stage magician.
  • Avoid stating seriously contested assertions as facts. - no, this not a contested assertion - there are plenty of WP:RS saying that this is his occupation.
  • Avoid presenting uncontested assertions as mere opinion. - no, we're not saying that his status as a stage magician is mere opinion, we all agree it's a fact.
  • Prefer nonjudgmental language. - it is not judgemental to describe someone as what they themselves claim to be.
So please quit waving the "POV/NPOV" banner here - it has nothing whatever to do with that. This is simply a question of how much detail we need to give about a peripheral character in our story. It's a simple editorial decision - coming down to whether we need to consume a few more words to describe this guy - or whether brevity is preferred given that there is a link to his bio. Personally, I don't give a damn whether we say he is a stage magician or not...if I'm forced to express a preference, then it is for not because we should strive for brevity. SteveBaker (talk) 19:58, 3 June 2012 (UTC)
Steve, I think you will see it wasn't me initially raising the POV/NPOV banner in this, strange that you choose to link it to me. Check out the above and Skep raps comments on his edits. However, as it was raised, it is an opinion to choose one of his job titles over the other because it may be "misread" as it was put. Anyways, the real issue here is clearly that some people think it makes him look a little slack being a conjurer and not a physicist. That he's a skeptic is just as relevant or irrelevant as him being a conjurer. What he actually says is more relevant than both. That people want to have just skeptic is what is not balanced - it shows just one chosen side of him, and most certainly not his main side. So, as you raise the brevity point - and I very much agree with you about that being an aim in this article - I suggest removing skeptic and magician - job done :) Cjwilky (talk) 21:06, 3 June 2012 (UTC)
It's not that simple. It's a matter of (1) attribution and (2) relevant context.
Everyone else in that paragraph is attributed, and so is Randi. The attribution refers to the most relevant "hat" they are wearing. I'm sure some of the others also wear many hats, but we wouldn't attribute a skeptical statement made by someone whose skills include truck driver, carpenter, and physicist by saying "carpenter blank said.... about homeopathy", even though they also had experience as a carpenter. Conversely, we would not write "physicist blank said....about using a cross cut saw...". No, we would use the attribution that made it relevant for them to be critical (or favorable, as the case may be).
In this case it is because Randi is a skeptic that his comments on homeopathy are interesting, and not even because he isn't primarily a magician anymore, although that's a relevant point against mentioning magician here. That's pretty much history, even though he'll perform a trick once in a while, but usually in the service of skepticism. No, we're attributing the statements of others and should still attribute his statement, using the most relevant reason he'd even make the statemnt, and being a magician has nothing to do with it. If one wants to get a bit historical, one could say (in his own article, not here, and only if one has a RS for it) that his experience as a magician taught him to be skeptical and this led him into the field of scientific skepticism, and to primarily (exclusively?) devoting his time and energies in that field, rather than using his time on being a professional magician.
Summary: On both points - (1) attribution and (2) relevant context - magician makes no sense here, but skeptic definitely applies. -- Brangifer (talk) 22:20, 3 June 2012 (UTC)
By the same argument you'd have us put "Elizabeth Windsor, horse owner, enjoys reading the Racing Post". He's a stage magician, and it absolutely makes sense as you know. And just because one person has their job description next to their name doesn't mean everyone needs to. Cjwilky (talk) 00:17, 4 June 2012 (UTC)
.... IF attribution were always considered desirable, which is not the case. In this case (maybe that section deals with controversy?!) it was apparently deemed a good thing to provide attribution for many of the ones quoted. We do that whenever someone questions a source. He "was" a stage magician before his retirement and was known as the "Amazing Randi". He no longer plies that trade in the same way he used to, but he hasn't forgotten it either. Now he is "best known as a challenger of paranormal claims and pseudoscience....Randi began his career as a magician named The Amazing Randi, but after retiring at age 60, he began investigating paranormal, occult, and supernatural claims, which he collectively calls "woo-woo".[5]"
Cjwilky, just repeating that "he's a magician" doesn't make it so or make it relevant in this case. He "was" a magician before his retirement, and that fact is totally irrelevant in this situation. There are lots of magicians who pay no attention to homeopathy and other woo woo, but skeptics do pay such attention.
I would be perfectly happy to concede the point if you can demonstrate that his skills as a magician were used in this case. There are cases where he has done so in the debunking of scammers and quacks. -- Brangifer (talk) 01:33, 4 June 2012 (UTC)
Randi is also a homosexual. Perhaps we should indicate this in the article. Or, add that he has busy eyebrows. Or, the fact that he is an author. Are any of these details more/less relevant that "magician"? No, they are not. "Sketpic," on the other hand, is relevant. Therefore, the only info that is appropriate to add to this article is the fact that he's a skeptic. JoelWhy? talk 13:00, 4 June 2012 (UTC)
There are lots of monarchs who pay no attention to horse racing and gee gee's, but horse owners do pay such attention. I think maybe you would prefer to use the phrase "ex-stage magician"? Okay I concede ;) He is more known for his skeptic activities than his card tricks and rock gigs, at least to the under 50's. Cjwilky (talk) 13:00, 4 June 2012 (UTC)
I don't really see this as cause for such a fuss. To many readers, his identity will always be as a magician, for which he was quite famous. An article about violinists would not hesitate to characterize Albert Einstein as a physicist. An article about equestrians would not hesitate to characterize Princess Anne as a former Olympic athlete. In this case, his background understanding of illusion and of self-deception are relevant to his interest in and his ability to grasp why people persist in believing the unbelievable. Just add the adjective "retired" before "magician" or "illusionist". LeadSongDog come howl! 14:05, 4 June 2012 (UTC)
I really don't understand why we are debating this. Isn't this the point of linking in Wikipedia? James Randi, if the reader wants to know more he can follow the link.--Daffydavid (talk) 17:38, 4 June 2012 (UTC)
Yeah - I agree. It's a stupid debate. But we do have to move it on to a conclusion. IMHO:
  • If the reader already knows who Randi is - then it's redundant to tell them.
  • If the reader doesn't know who he is, then if they are curious, they can click the link and find out the full & true details beyond "James Randi (skeptic)" or "James Randi (stage magician)" - both of which miss far too much of the nuance of this matter.
  • If the reader doesn't know him and isn't curious, then explaining this stuff just gets in the way.
  • In general, where WP:BLP is concerned, it's better to err on the side of saying less rather than more.
So yeah - let's just say James Randi and let that suffice. SteveBaker (talk) 18:54, 4 June 2012 (UTC)
Simply giving his name just isn't sufficient, in my opinion. Yes, it's easy to click on the link if you've never heard of the man. But, it's very strange to think that an encyclopedia entry would include the name of a notable person with a clear connection to homeopathy (i.e. he's a prominent skeptic who has written articles about it, discussed it during presentations, etc.), and mention nothing but his name. Yes, we are an online encyclopedia, but still are an encyclopedia. If you were reading this entry in Britannica (does that even exist anymore???) can you imagine they would just include some random person's name with zero context, and simply expect the reader to check the Randi, James entry to figure out why his opinion on Homeopathy matters one iota? This is why "prominent skeptic" (or whatever) is appropriate. And, the inverse is true as well. Mentioning "magician" or "left-handed American" provides zero context to this article. I agree that there's a clear link between magicians and skepticism (i.e. spotting slight of hand, etc) but, that's just too tangental here. Maybe it makes sense if this were an article on psychic surgery, where slight of hand plays a role, but unless you think homeopaths are slipping an aspirin into their concoctions, magician just doesn't have any real connection to homeopathy. JoelWhy? talk 19:22, 4 June 2012 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Not "slipping an aspirin", but the art of the pitch man is central to convincing the marks that the trick works, or at least distracting them from the mundane reality behind it. If there is any point in giving people placebo treatments, it hinges on them believing that they (might) work, even if the mechanism is a mystery. Sound familiar? LeadSongDog come howl! 14:32, 5 June 2012 (UTC)

Well, yes - he's a "stage magician" - but the important word isn't "magician", it's "stage". He knows how to hold an audience. Just watch his TED talk where he overdoses on homeopathic sleep remedy - he's very good at cleverly and compellingly getting the message across (in this case by deliberately overdosing and letting the audience wonder if he's about to drop dead as a consequence) in ways that physics, biology or medical experts typically do not. Sadly, the "magician" part of it might also lead other people into believing that he did that by some sleight of hand whereby he didn't drink the stuff after all. For comparison, we say that Samuel Hahnemann was a "German physician" and not a "German linguist and translator"...because the latter is irrelevant to the article. On the other hand Clemens Maria Franz von Bönninghausen is only described as a "student" - when in reality he was a lawyer, civil servant, agriculturalist, botanist...and a physician. Ben Goldacre goes entirely undescribed - when he is a British science writer, doctor and psychiatrist. I dunno - we clearly aren't in any way consistent. I wonder if there is some Wikipedia guideline to follow here? I'll ask the question at Wikipedia_talk:Manual_of_Style/Biographies#Thumbnail_descriptions. SteveBaker (talk) 15:45, 5 June 2012 (UTC)
Almost every article I have ever seen that mentions Randi also mentions that he is a magician. It's his most well known "hat", and I would say it belongs. Most know him as the "skeptic/magician". Definitely not a POV/NPOV issue. Snertking (talk) 07:05, 17 June 2012 (UTC)