Monday, March 21, 2011

ND Maloney on Homeopathy: Whereby the Anecdotal Trumps Profound Scientific Consensus

here, I cite from a recent video up at Youtube by ND Maloney claiming that homeopathy's results are "dramatic and astonishing" [see 001., below]; then from Wikipedia's definition of anecdotal evidence [see 002., below]; and finally from a profound scientific consensus regarding homeopathy bunk [see 003., below]:

001. Maloney, C.L. (ND NCNM) states in his Youtube video "Homeopathy.MOD" [vsc 2011-03-21]:

"[from the description] Dr. Christopher Maloney, N.D., discusses homeopathy. Category: Science and Technology [...from the video] I want to talk to you very very briefly about homeopathy [...] I'm a very aggressive, very acute prescriber [...] I've seen it do things that are only explainable as a result of the homeopathic remedy [working beyond placebo...] I've seen acute infections go away over a three to five hour period.  I've seen ears drain in real time, you know, remedy in [then] ears drain. I have people who get significantly better within an hour of taking a remedy [...] when I'm giving people remedies, I'm expecting a result within 30-60 seconds because it's either going to hit them or not.  I'm not going for placebo effect.  If it doesn't work, it doesn't work.  We'll just try this one, and this one, and this one, and this one [...] I'm giving five, six, seven remedies in a row.  If it's a placebo effect, why didn't the first one, the second one, the third, forth, fifth, why this sixth one suddenly works? [...] the results are variable but they're dramatic and astonishing [...] I've given as far as twenty-one remedies to someone and then the twenty-first remedy kicks over.  I've had a child I've gave remedies to for two weeks and then finally got the right one and the wheeze stops pretty-much within 3 minutes of taking a remedy.  And at that point anyone who is explaining that to me as anything other than effect, I've tried forty other remedies on this kid.  This remedy, somehow my placebo action was just going right on this one?  I don't think so [as in not placebo, he claims].  This is an active pharmacological result [...] it's basically life-altering [...] I think I'm keeping that around."

Note: homeopathy is not a science or technology category, folks.  But anyway, ND Maloney appears quite convinced that homeopathic remedies are 'active pharmacologically', causing "dramatic and astonishing" results.  This is, though, ALL ANECDOTAL, as his account has illustrated.  The repetitive attempts [fails] remind me of a psychic cold-reading their mark.  In so many attempts, that psychic eventually gets a hit and that is what is remembered.  ND Maloney may have some seriously gullible and patient patients if he's being allowed to try forty homeopathic remedies [as if they can be distinguished / are fundamentally different based on their empty contents!] on a child who is ill.

002. a definition of anecdotal evidence via Wikipedia [which is good enough]:

"in science, anecdotal evidence has been defined as: 'information that is not based on facts or careful study, non-scientific observations or studies [...] reports or observations of usually unscientific observers, casual observations or indications rather than rigorous or scientific analysis, information [...] not documented scientifically' [...it's] considered the least credible [...it is never] validating evidence [...as it lacks a] reliability by objective independent assessment [...] the term is [obviously therein] often used in contrast to scientific evidence, such as evidence-based medicine, which are types of formal accounts [...while] anecdotal evidence is not necessarily representative of a 'typical' experience; statistical evidence [quite more formal] can more accurately determine how typical something is [...] in science and logic, the 'relative strength of an explanation' is based upon its ability to be tested, proven to be due to the stated cause, and verified under neutral conditions in a manner that other researchers will agree has been performed competently, and can check for themselves [...e.g.] in medicine [...] only double-blind randomized placebo-controlled clinical trials can confirm a hypothesis about the effectiveness of a treatment independently of expectations [...] anecdotal evidence is often unscientific or pseudoscientific because various forms of cognitive bias may affect the collection or presentation of evidence [...] misuse of anecdotal evidence is a logical fallacy [...] a common way anecdotal evidence becomes unscientific is through fallacious reasoning such as the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy, the human tendency to assume that if one event happens after another, then the first must be the cause of the second [...or] inductive reasoning [...] a faulty or hasty generalization [...] selected individual cases prove nothing [...because] anecdotes often refer to the exception, rather than the rule [...] 'anecdotes are useless precisely because they may point to idiosyncratic responses [... ] 'the plural of anecdote is not data'."

Note: so, even a guy on Youtube wearing scrubs calling himself doctor, speaking about his own apparently successful clinical experience with a supposedly specifically active therapy such as homeopathy, is relying on THE WORST KIND of support regarding that intervention.

003. that consensus:

the United Kingdom's "Evidence Check" of homeopathy was HUGELY dismissive of the entire homeopathic endeavor.  It stated:

"there has been enough testing of homeopathy and plenty of evidence showing that it is not efficacious. Competition for research funding is fierce and we cannot see how further research on the efficacy of homeopathy is justified in the face of competing priorities."

Note: ouch.  I cannot imagine a greater disparity: ND Maloney says in his experience homeopathy works [anecdote], but the scientific consensus is that it is profoundly bunk [rigor].

004. musing:

I think this is an excellent example of why medicine benefits from EXCLUSION of practitioner and patient informal experience [anecdote] and replaces such with a more rigorous evidence- and science- basis [formal investigation].  Otherwise, crap therapeutics appear to work when if fact they don't. Now, ND Maloney has taken a licensing exam that presently labels homeopathy "science", and his alma mater claims that the science-ejected is indeed within science -- as an overall worldview.  So, in my opinion, ND Maloney's use of homeopathy and his faith in it is merely a symptom of naturopathy's knowledge-basis problems.

would you visit a physician who was trained NOT to distinguish what genuinely has effect from what is an empty pill / bunk, whose knowledge-basis laxly blends the rigorous scientific and the nonsensical science-ejected and then labels the whole thing "dramatic and astonishing" and rigorously scientifically supported [I think that's what is implicit at ND Maloney's alma mater's regulator in Oregon, OBNM]?
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