2010 April

Jan's column: homeopathy under attack

by Jan Scholten

Lately, homeopathy has been under attacks, which have become more and more powerful over the last few years. We, as homeopaths, feel offended and misunderstood, and we have a right to feel abused, as the arguments are incorrect. The attackers state that there is no proof to explain homeopathy, despite the fact that most meta-analyses, which are seen as the standard of proof, have shown that homeopathy is effective. We could counterattack but, it is unlikely that we will be heard.

There is, however, another way to look at these events. From a homeopathic point of view, things do not happen by chance and the attacks seen as coming from outside are also a manifestation of some imbalance inside, just as bacteria are not the cause of a disease but simply the side-effect of an internal imbalance. 

So, what is our imbalance? It will be similar to that which is happening to us. We are attacked by other scientists, but is it not just what homeopathy has done over the centuries? There was hardly any contact with other sciences, as they were regarded as unable to contribute anything of value to homeopathy and their information irrelevant; botany and chemistry were seen as unnecessary, and regular medicine was accused of only suppressing symptoms, thus symptom alleviating treatments were often "forbidden". Now, we see that which we have put out coming back to us.

That fighting quality has also been present within homeopathy itself. There have been many fights between classical and clinical homeopathy. Complex homeopathy has been accused of not being real homeopathy but it is often forgotten that some of the best studies "proving" homeopathy were the ones done by David Reilly, who showed that complexes of remedies could heal hay-fever very well. Schools of homeopathy, too, have often been accused of not being real homeopathy, of deviating from the real "Hahnemannian" science.

The arguments, which are used to attack homeopathy are mostly theoretical: there is nothing in homeopathic remedies. Discarded are the facts that homeopathy has been proven to work many times, as shown in the meta-analyses. This is of course a major scientific mistake for in science the facts come first and the theory has to follow the facts.

In homeopathy, we have seen the same thing happening. New developments have been rejected on theoretical grounds; it is not in the Organon or Hahnemann has stated otherwise, for example. Discarded were the results, ignored the cured cases. On one side, regular medicine was accused of having poor results and on the other side, the results of homeopathic treatment were often not that spectacular at all, but they were grounded on theoretical arguments!

I think the attacks could be better seen as a gift; a gift that can help us to look more closely at ourselves, at our weaknesses and divisiveness. It can help us to consider our results and encourage us to upgrade homeopathy with the aim to obtain better results. In order to be consistent with our own theory, we can look at the events as a road to cure, on one hand the homeopathic community, and on the other, science and society as a whole.

Categories: Columns
Keywords: column


Write a comment

  • Required fields are marked with *.

Posts: 9
Saying a thing does not make it true.
Reply #9 on : Wed October 13, 2010, 16:19:10
"most meta-analyses, which are seen as the standard of proof, have shown that homeopathy is effective"

To which meta-analyses are you referring?

Perhaps the recent increase in the attacks on homeopathy is related to the increasing tendency for homeopaths to misrepresent the scientific evidence?

Personally, I am quite open to the possibility that homeopathy has effects that are beyond the current capacity of science to explain. But when homeopaths lie about the results provided by our limited science, it turns me off. For homeopathy to flourish, homeopaths have to 'get over' the science problem and accept that the science overwhelmingly fails to show efficacy.

Posts: 9
We are not alone ...
Reply #8 on : Sat May 29, 2010, 16:07:14
(Second bite)

We really cannot blame Homeopaths for this attack.

Each and every alternative medical view is under attack from the same quarter;
Nutritional medicine, TCM, AyurVeda, Chiropractic, Healing, and any others that threaten Pharma profits.

I really can't think who might be responsible for this, or who would have the money for such a concerted campaign, when it involves funding (or usurping) academic Chairs, controlling education, squaring politicians, packing committees...

What is more interesting is to conjecture what remedies might help Dawkins, Colquhoun, Baum get off their high horses.
Suggestions, anyone?

But what is equally true is that if we do not properly defend our position, we will move into extinction before they do.

Posts: 9
Scientarianism vs. Scientism as the better term.
Reply #7 on : Sat May 29, 2010, 15:43:23
(Thank you, D J Ouellette)

I have often felt it unfortunate that this fundamentalist self-serving cult has been termed 'Scientism' (Hayek, Popper, Habermas et al.)
Acolytes of Scientism presumably become 'Scientists', an insult to true scientists who attempt honestly to investigate phenomena.
An insult to logical positivists, too.

I have been trying for years to establish my own term for this: 'Scientarianism'
We then have a clear distinction between block-headed Scientarians and the rest.
Isn't it faintly ridiculous that some people choose to believe that so-called Laws of Nature require courts, a police force and gaols 'of nature' to back them up? I'm with Sheldrake on that.

In a battle between Nature (reality) and these silly martinets with their books of rules, I reckon Nature is always going to win. we just have to give it the opportunity.

To me, Scientarian views smack of the Church vs. Galileo.
Eppur si muove.

Posts: 9
Homeopathy under attack
Reply #6 on : Thu April 29, 2010, 18:28:19
Very positive and constructive way of thinking and handling these attacks!

Posts: 9
some more context and: yes you are right!
Reply #5 on : Mon April 05, 2010, 10:13:42
Dear Jan Scholten and readers of Interhomeoepathy,

I think you are right with the critique about the contra-productivity of certain struggles inside the homeopathic community. Especially concerning a better cooperation between homeoepathy with (socially) engaged professionals in other fields. We need to cooperate for social solutions very soon, before the "crisis - capitalism "makes it impossible by dictating harshly the social contexts of our practice. We need to analyse developments and see things clearly:

What we witness right now in UK, including the attack on Homeoepathy, is a consequence of the word finance (crisis)-system, NOT sufficiently controlled by democratic political and juridical means. Speculative capitals are reaching out for the next areas of public services to be used as areas for compulsive investment of speculative riches that promise render levels that have no sustainable legitimacy to exist.Privatisation can go different ways even while leaving the system "public" somehow. A privatisation of a stately health system will go most probably towards the interest of Chemo-pharmaceutical industry lobbies : one of the most powerful shareholder Powers on the globe. Those have much influence on the politics of "which scientific discourse is effective in the public arena" and this is how suddenly we witness homeopathy under attack in UK.

I work since 10 years as ( homeopath and) social assistant for people with psychiatric diagnoses in Germany. To make the benefits of homeopathy work here is not easily done because the social context makes it difficult for many clients to leave the social status & practice of the "insane". With this status they are fed and not forced onto a harsh work market that makes many other people insane. High costs for neuroleptics are payed over long times also when they harm more than help, because the whole context works in this direction This context, can be changed only with other professionals together. There might be a chance to do this in cooperation with
people trying to bring the socio-psychological- systemic approach from some parts of Scandinavia into practice here, because those practices ( open dialogue, reflecting team) promotes a more human communication strategy together with a much lower dosed application of neuroleptics. As described in the book " Homeopathy and mental health care" ( Homeolinks publ.) Homeopaths need to make the effort to communicate their faculties as synergistic to other professionals working in this field psycho-therapists and social workers) , so that their share in shaping modern human social and health systems can become visible for all socially engaged professionals.

Homeopaths may define this as "problem of the individual" and thus defining people not able to react with their healing powers as "not heal-able" as some homeopaths have done. But with this they are not so different from the scientists that argue with the "atomistic" or "materialistic" view on things, they define the illness as something
inherent in the person, something somehow existing as a concrete thing, as part of the person. The Homeopath corresponding to this view must be a concrete star in producing healing results that may make him or her strong enough to have a standing on a market that honours only the fittest. I don't think that this is what homeopathy is about. But Homeopaths are just reflecting society and its structures in which they were formed:

Patriarchal and capitalist societies tend to compulsively overemphasise the importance of concurrence and hierarchy over the value of cooperative effort and solidarity. The insight that the work of Nobel laureate Elinor Ostrom gives is that humans are able to manage ecological resources in a sustainable way, but it seems only when the two factors are in equilibrium.This is something to learn from.In the end it might be existential to do so: it is high time to outgrow the combination of patriarchy with capitalism as it is not at all sustainable. When we see healing and pathogenesis or salutogenesis more as energetic processes we cannot leave it as this.

This is the context in which we act here in our rich old world and onto which we also need to act.
greetings from Berlin.

Ruth Luschnat
Last Edit: April 07, 2010, 23:21:30 by *  

Posts: 9
Open source method
Reply #4 on : Sun April 04, 2010, 14:31:39
It is my experience that a major source of the persons pressing this attack against homeopathy is the Dawkins crowd (of course this isnt the only source). They are a particularly viriulent species of logical positivist. Their central dellusion is properly called scientism. Their modus operendi is to identify targets that are attempting to reason on the basis of value determinations and to then accuse the target of irrationalism. Wikipeadia has an OK intro to scientism.
But, people, look around. There is an awful lot of things under attack or crumbling. Why should homeopathy expect to be exempt(even if it should be)?
In our favour, homeopathic intellectual heritage is very similar to an open source programing language. Perhaps we should look to how the linux or firefox or wikipeadia people have accomplished their ends based upon mostly volunteer labour. I don't see piles of cash falling from the sky, so, what else are we to do? And don't worry, all ye who have already carved out some turf and are making it pay, you will only be better off in the end.

Posts: 9
cuban experience
Reply #3 on : Sat April 03, 2010, 10:08:50
The success of homeopathy in preventing leptospirosis in Cuba is a great piece of positive research for homeopathy -- because it wasn't research! But the large sample of 2.5 million people is impressive. Those who are committed to 'scientific' destruction of homeopathy of course ignore this.
See http://homeopathyresource.wordpress.com/2009/01/17/summary-of-cuban-experiences-on-leptospirosis-prevention-from-the-authors/
for this work.

Posts: 9
Let's not put blame on ourselves.
Reply #2 on : Fri April 02, 2010, 18:42:12
With all respect, I don't believe that the attacks on homeopathy should be blamed on the homeopaths. Aside from the fact that such commentary can only too easily be used against us, I'm not so sure it's true.

I don't think it's quite true that an attack coming from outside is a manifestation of internal imbalance. Rather, it is the body's inability to withstand such attacks because of internal imbalance that is homeopathy's essence. Perhaps that seems a difference without a distinction, but I think it matters. The attacks are there whether the body is balanced or not. If the body is imbalanced, then attacks are effective - but the attacks do not happen because of the imbalance. Rather, they're effective because of the imbalance.

Even if homeopaths can be considered as a single unit, it may be that homeopaths' imbalance allows the attacks to be successful, but that shouldn't imply that it's the cause. There is also the fact that, given a strong enough attack, even the healthiest organism will succomb - and the attacks against homeopaths - along with other health-benefitting practices - are starting to take such a form.

Yes, some homeopaths are arrogant about allopathy. On the other hand, some homeopaths act as if they think that homeopathy should be only a secondary modality to allopathy. As you noted, there are many different views among homeopaths. That is both our weakness and our strength. Because we are so independent, it means that we cannot be led around by the nose, which is clearly what's happening in allopathy, with doctors routinely following whatever is the latest fad in pharmacy or surgery.

In any case, it's allopathy that's refused to accept homeopathy and set out to destroy it, and that has been true from the beginning. I think it's more fair to say that homeopaths have reacted to this treatment. However, the reaction has not been uniform. Some respond with arrogance. Others respond by trying to be seen as being cooperative to the point of ceasing to truly practice homeopathy.

On the other hand, I think that we need - desperately need - to do our own studies, like David Reilly's, and earlier ones, such as those done by Paterson with nosodes. Unfortunately, our finances rarely can stretch far enough.

So, my suggestion is that we try to find a means for doing studies using methodologies that apply to homeopathy, rather than trying to be second-tier allopathy. (The next time I see a study purporting to show that homeopathy is a useful modality for treating the symptoms of cancer chemotherapy, I think I'll scream!)

I think that your point that theory must follow facts is brilliant. Thank you for that insight. It's a point not generally noted, but thinking on it demonstrates how true it is. There is no point in formulating theories because they sound nice if they have no basis in experience or logic. That's an exercise in futility.

Heidi Stevenson, MARH
Last Edit: April 02, 2010, 20:18:50 by *  

Posts: 9
Homeopathy under attack
Reply #1 on : Fri April 02, 2010, 10:10:18
I feel compelled to contribute to the debate concerning the unwarrented attacks on Homeopathy. In 2004, an accident removed the tip of my middle right finger.An understaffed and overstretched NHS did what they could but it was not enough to prevent infection and a subsequent operation.
The nerve endings in my finger have never healed properly and the pain I experience at cold temperatures is, at times, unbelievable.
I then met my partner who has been studying Homeopathy for several years. Like many people, I was somewhat sceptical about the benefits of Homeopathy but agreed to a consultation and we arrived at the sensation of an 'Angry wasp' attacking my finger. I took Vespa and the problems I had have significantly reduced. I have taken Hecla Larva for toothache and Antimonium for severe head aches.

My initial scepticism has been put to the sword and I am now extremely interested in my partners work. Homeopathy can provide results in areas that conventional medicine fails to. I feel that it is time for people to open their minds to alternative ways of thinking about and treating illnes and ailments that we are all victims of.

The forward thinking of many Homeopaths is exactly what is needed and as the 21st Century progresses, so I hope (and believe) will Homeopathy and that can only be of benefit to all.

Homeopathy worked for me and I am convinced that if people engage with and embrace the principles of this amazing field of research, it will work for them also.