Special thanks to today’s anonymous guest scriptwriters.

Discussion (65)¬

  1. IDenyEverything says:

    Yay ! Moses !

  2. Toast in the machine says:

    One thing I’ve never understood about the homeophiles’ position is why, if it works, ‘big pharma’ would be scared of it. Why would they not be leaping in to make as much money out of it as possible?

    (And ‘dispappears’ btw, 1st frame.)

  3. John Moore says:

    The really wierd thing is that in some cases it does work only because the person receiving it wants to believe it will work. Not that I agree/believe in any of that crap from a scientific standpoint.

  4. Poor Richard says:

    The illogic of believers never fails them. Ever talk to a person who studies numbers? A cousin of mine called the system a “science.” Shriek! However, a sweetie of my acquaintance many years ago thought my birthday numbers–09/12/36–were extremely favorable. Well, she did make me think so, so….

  5. Grouchy-One says:

    @Toast… I’m sure dispappears is Jesus’ typo, not Authors 😉

  6. archbish says:

    @toast The really wierd thing is homeopathy is big money for big pharma.

  7. carolsf says:

    Homeopathy, ESP, deja vu, alien abduction … “phenomena” that “vanish when subject to stringent test conditions. I’d to understand why people persist in their beliefs of these bizarre “things that can’t be explained.” Oh, wait …

  8. geek65535 says:

    The thing about homeopathy is that most people don’t know what it is or means. It sounds no different from any other (possibly meaningless) buzzword, like shampoos advertising that they contain lipids (oils), or any trademarked name for a common ingredient.

    I saw a commercial on TV yesterday for a “medicine” that was supposed to reduce tinitus (ringing in the ears). The word homeopathy popped up once quickly in the voiceover, and if I hadn’t been listening closely, I would have missed it. (Guess it was a good thing my tinitus isn’t that bad!)

    James Randi does a great job of explaining homeopathy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWE1tH93G9U

  9. author says:

    @Toast – thanks. It was Jesus’ typo, but I fixed it for him anyway.

  10. kiyaroru says:

    I’m guessing that your cousin who “studies numbers” is not a mathematician.

  11. MercedesCorrosion says:

    Numerology is not studying numbers, it’s worshiping numbers as if they were magic.

    Lovely strip, Author!
    I love how 3 religious fanatics argue about proof and conspiracies.
    And I especially like the vision that Jesus is a Mac-fan while Moses uses Dell.

  12. Pappy mcfae says:

    Do they still have IE installed on the iMac?

  13. nina says:

    Funny how the woo people all claim that a disbeliever watching them, makes their powers not work.

    Almost as bad as the folks who insist that it’s all in harmless fun.

    At best, these treatments do nothing to you, at worst they interfere with actual medicines or you don’t use actual medicine in favor of it and you die.

    a grim self-selection I suppose

    but more worrisome are the people who claim to talk to the dead or who get involved in police investigations of missing children

    they are preying on the families at their most vulnerable

    no woo pitcher has ever helped in a police investigation, not once.

  14. Stephen Turner says:

    Moses uses a PC and the other two use Macs. It figures. True atheists, of course, use Linux kernel 2.6 (except for FreeBSD heretics) and they type text using vi (except for emacs heretics).

  15. John M says:

    @Stephen Turner

    Perhaps J and Mo have ripped out the Apple software and installed Yellow Dog. Moses may have Knoppix or even Fedora on his PC.

  16. Stonyground says:

    When homeopathy was first invented, conventional medicine was at an extremely primitive stage. Treatments such as bleeding and purging that were designed to “balance the humours” were actually harmful. As a consequence using homeopathy instead gave better results because although it did no good, it was at least harmless.

    On the subject of alternative medicine generally, conventional medicine is medicine that has been scientifically proven to work, alternative medicine is medicine that has not. Any alternative treatement that passes the required tests ceases to be alternative and becomes just medicine.

  17. RavenBlack says:

    “Any alternative treatement that passes the required tests ceases to be alternative and becomes just medicine.”

    I really hate that particular soundbite, because while kind of true it’s also horribly misleading – there are instances of treatments that have been “alternative” for tens of years, derided and dismissed with phrases like that, and then eventually someone actually bothers to do a clinical trial and it turns out that the treatment actually is good. “Hasn’t passed the tests” is not the same as “has failed the tests”, but that’s what people think when you phrase it that way. Also, even after an “alternative” treatment has been proven it takes years more for it to even begin to displace the conventional treatment, because new information isn’t magically injected into the members of the medical establishment – it remains alternative until the next generation.

  18. Sister Marie says:

    There is a web site that dsicusses homeopathy and other worthless medical techniques, and I have friends that are totally sold on it. On these issues, reason and logic does not work. People believe what they want to believe and there is no way to dislodge their thinking. But did you ever wonder why Oral Roberts or any other faith healer did not visit the Danny Thomas Children’s Hospital and just clear that place out with a few prayers?

  19. Stephen Turner says:

    RavenBlack: but you don’t want people who are ill to spend their time and money, and pin their hopes on, something that isn’t going to help them. And this is without taking into account the fact that either the “alternative” treatment itself, or the delay, may be actively harmful to the patient.

  20. JohnnieCanuck says:

    If you hypothesize that a ‘natural’ substance is effective as a medicine, then one or more chemicals in it are changing the way your body works. As such, you are saying it can be expected to have side effects and likely will be contra-indicated for some people.

    If the concentration or the efficacy of the active chemicals is so low that there is no concern for adverse reactions, then it is pretty much a given that there will be little benefit as well; beyond placebo.

    The funny thing about allegations of conspiracy against Big Pharma is how big Alt Pharma is. That and how one of them has government inspectors every step of the way and the other is only limited by the ethics of their marketing people.

    This is just more evidence of the pervasiveness of wishful thinking in Homo Sapiens. We’re not as sapient as we could wish.

  21. Godless not gormless says:

    What really gets to me about these kinds of discussion is how ‘freethinkers’ suddenly aren’t freethinkers anymore but are somehow struck by the same dogmatic thinking as the religiots.

    Nina says:

    “At best, these treatments do nothing to you, at worst they interfere with actual medicines or you don’t use actual medicine in favor of it and you die.”

    Stonyground says:

    “conventional medicine is medicine that has been scientifically proven to work”

    This attitude that conventional medicine is somehow infallible is sheer nonsense. Many people die from the side effects of modern medicine whereas I doubt many if any die from taking alternatives. If we want to be dogmatic about it, this would come down heavily in favour of alternative medicine being better than conventional, but that would be a silly standpoint to take too.

    Let’s face it, ‘big pharma has no interest in making people well. Where is the profit in that? Conventional medicine is flawed in it’s approach because it only loooks at symptoms and tries to threat THEM instead of the cause of the symptoms. I’ve had this out with my doctor and he admitted as much “we only deal with symptoms, not causes” he said.

    I’ve tried homeopathy myself for a few things and I can’t say that it helped. I’ve also tried herbalism which did help with some things and not with others. Some Herbal tinctures work and some don’t seem to do much and I’ve also had major success with massage treatment where I know I’d have been on some course of drugs which would do me more harm than good had I gone to my doctor.

    I also tried Kinesiology. This is weird shit but, guess what? It worked! My first time I was very sceptical and as far as I’m concerned it passed certain tests which science would approve of though I don’t want to go through all the details here.

    Science is not infallable. In fact the best thing about science is that it’s always open to change as new data or evidence appears. So not all ‘alternative’ medicine works, but I personally avoid conventional medicine as much as I can. I know for a fact that doctors are given incentives by ‘big pharma’ to prescribe medicines and the treatment my poor mother has had to endure at the hands of the so called ‘experts’ of conventional medicine is shameful.

    Let’s be openminded. Maybe homeopathy is useless. I can’t say either way but from my own experiences I’m not impressed with it so far, but I’m very unimpressed with conventional too. Just because conventional is science based doesn’t mean it’s actually good.

  22. Godless not gormless says:


    “If the concentration or the efficacy of the active chemicals is so low that there is no concern for adverse reactions, then it is pretty much a given that there will be little benefit as well; beyond placebo.”

    Nonesense! Have you ever actually tried any alternatives? I can assure you that in my experience some things work and some don’t and I don’t go into using these things ‘believing it will work’ as stated by John Moore.

    I smply try them. Some work and some don’t. Simple.

  23. Godless not gormless says:

    @John Moore

    “in some cases it does work only because the person receiving it wants to believe it will work”

    Do you think that when people are given medicine by a doctor they never ‘believe it will work’? This can’t possibly be a factor where conventional medicine is concerned but just has to be the case where alternatives are concerned? I think you’re being very biased there!

  24. Benedikt says:

    Interesting discussion.
    While I like the way in which you argue and the points you make, I’m still a fan of homeopathy (for the small hurts at least). It just may be placebo effects (probably), but what do I care?

  25. Mr Gronk says:

    A brilliant headline from Fark.com:
    Britain’s National Health Service spent £4 million funding 4 homeopathic hospitals last year. Suggestion: this year, give each hospital £10, and tell them it will work better ’cause it’s diluted

  26. cass_m says:

    Godless not gormless – What makes you think that placebo effect is not tested in conventional medications? Double blind studies are why pharma research is so expensive and so many promising drugs fail in the end.

    And yes there are poor physicians. Remember those at the bottom of the class still get to graduate and practice.

  27. Godless not gormless says:


    I’m well aware of the fact that placebos are used in drug testing. Maybe you should be directing that comment at John Moore who seems very much unaware of it.

  28. nina says:

    @Godless not gormless

    I am not saying that medicine is infallible – in fact, tens of thousands die every where from misdiagnosis, allergic reactions to meds, being given the wrong meds or wrong doses – or even have instruments left inside during surgery.

    However, it has a far better track record than woo treatments, which take a lot of money not only from people’s pockets, but also from some medical coverage – without having any clinical evidence that it has any effect.

    & there’s probably more money to be made selling homeopathic, magnetic, crystal, herbals, chakra/auras and a host of other equally dubious things.

    After, all there’s no research or trials required to put floor sweepings into capsules and sell them as health supplements.

    Have you seen the cartoon of a bitter looking guy putting a drop of liquid in the ocean – it’s captioned the most evil homeopath in the world tries to poison everyone.

    Heck, I told a jeweler friend to make pendants shaped like crop circles in birth stones – she’d make a killing selling that to people as a means to reinforce the positive zodiac traits –

    we could probably brainstorm a dozen new such “medical” treatments over a fancy coffee

  29. nina says:

    @ GNG

    “Just because conventional is science based doesn’t mean it’s actually good.”

    not saying science = good, but as least it’s actually real

  30. fontor says:

    >I can’t say either way but from my own experiences I’m not impressed with it so far, but I’m very unimpressed with conventional too.

    Ah, there’s the problem. You’re trying to evaluate it from your own experiences. Our memory of our own experience is unreliable and prone to bias. Which is why you were impressed by kinesiology, which falls apart when you test it.

    I’m not criticising you — it’s very normal for people to be taken in by their subjective experience, especially when helped along by a smiling and compassionate con artist.

  31. Muffin says:

    I know somebody who called all those people that overdosed on Homoeopathy pills out of protest, idiots who didn’t know what they were messing with.

    Nobody’s died yet…

  32. Godless not gormless says:


    “there’s probably more money to be made selling homeopathic, magnetic, crystal, herbals, chakra/auras and a host of other equally dubious things.”

    Really! This is an assumption that everyone is making here, but the NHS for instance only uses conventional drugs and medicines. I wonder what their annual spend on conventional medicine is alone? Then there’s the private health care in almost every other country (and here too of course) where money is to be made by all. And you think that there’s even the slightest chance that alternatives could compete with that money making machine?

    ‘Big pharam’ is ‘BIG pharma’ for a reason!

    I’m with you guys on much of this but I don’t like the way you just dismiss everything out of hand just because it’s not conventional. The religiots used to burn people at the stake for that.


    “Ah, there’s the problem. You’re trying to evaluate it from your own experiences.”

    WTF!!!! Using my own experience to evaluate something is wrong!!!!! Come on! Surely that is what free thinkng and SCIENCE is all about. This is what religiots do. They keep moving the goal posts and it’s been highlighted in these cartoons more than once too!!! They claim to value reason, and that the bible and science are compatable, or islam is very scientific, but when you point out where it’s flawed, they’ll just ignore that. Try to have a discussion with them based on reason and you know where it will get you. Yet they still make the claim. You’re doing the same thing here! You would argue with the religiots that we should ask questions, evaluate evidence and rely on experience for our answers, but you tell me I’m making the mistake of ‘evaluating the results from my own experience’!

    Consistancy please!!!

    So I’m biased to wards kinesiology because it worked! That’s just incredible! So we are biased towards the theory of evolution becaase it works?

  33. Godless not gormless says:

    I accidentally submitted before I was finished and got timed out of editing so here is part two still @fontor!!

    So, I’m biased towards kinesiology because it worked! That’s just incredible! So we are biased towards the theory of evolution because it works?

    I had good experiences with kinesiology whether you want to acknowledge that or not, and I went into it very much as a sceptic, as I’m sure you would understand. I only did it to keep a friend happy and found that it actually worked, even though I was lying there wondering what the f**k I was doing there. So there was no placebo effect. It just worked. That might be hard to swallow but sometimes the truth is, as we keep telling the religiots.

    Now, if you can explain to me just how it worked and how it wasn’t actually the kinesiology, and make a good case for yourself I’m fine with that too. I’m open minded enough to try to see things how they really are even if I go the long way around. At least I try to give things a chance but can admit if it is a waste of time. But if something works for me I’m happy to say that too, regardless of what everyone else thinks.

    Personal experience is a great educator, not a mistake. Just as long as you keep an open mind.

  34. Godless not gormless says:

    Hey nina, fontor and the rest. just so there are no hard feelings, go check out this link. I know you’ll like it!


  35. Toast in the machine says:

    @ archbish – Really? Searching the following big pharmaceutical companies’ websites (for ‘homeopathy’ and ‘homoeopathy’) came up blank:


    Boots the chemists – biggest pharmaceutical retailer in the uk, sells homeopathic snake-oil made by these people:


    – whose website shows they also make vitamin pills and ‘herbal remedies’, but no pharmaceuticals or real medicines.

    So which ‘big pharma’ companies have you got in mind?

  36. Norbury says:

    Godless not Gormless: Science is very much about removing inherent human biases from your conclusions, hence double-blinded randomised controlled trials in medicine. So yes, using your own experience to evaluate something is wrong, scientifically speaking. And your argument that placebo effect couldn’t work because you were sceptical doesn’t hold water either.
    edited for spolling

  37. kiyaroru says:

    Tinctures are made primarily of alcohol. Good for whatever ails you.
    Kinesiology is the scientific study of human movement; usually found in University Phys.Ed. departments.
    Applied Kinesilogy is usually found in chiropractors’ offices.
    For pneumonia, the antibiotics worked better than massage.

  38. Jerry w says:

    The actor Steve McQueen once said of the use of coffee in curing cancer, “For all the good this does, I might as well stick it up my ass”. Sadly, he did and now he’s the “late” Steve McQueen.

    @Godless not gormless, F.Y.I., the big money is in treating, not in curing…..

  39. Stonyground says:

    Yes folks, I realise that I have over simplified things a little, the situation is obviously not quite as black and white as I have portrayed it but I do try to keep my posts short. Some “proven” treatements have been used for years before flaws in the original tests were discovered and the treatement has been later found to be worthless. Likewise it is possible for a treatement to be effective without passing a clinical trial. I think that as a general observation my statement is broadly correct.

  40. nina says:


    no hard feelings at all – this is a good and grown up debate

    but you are wrong to assume that I am supporting conventional medicine because it’s conventional.

    I am supporting western medicine because it’s science based and there are some check and balances on it – DES and Thalidomide being good examples of where that failed

    but conventional is better applied to the so called alternative woo group of “health” provision because earliest people used herbs and so on – and that’s what modern medicine grew of out

    the problem with herbs is that you get more than the ingredient that is helpful – and this is what big pharma does – purifies the herbs to the bit that works

    When there’s been double blind tests of acupuncture, it’s shown not to work

    and of course you can’t overdose on homeopathic stuff – it’s mostly water – although, I guess you can drink too much, wash out your salts and die that way.

    Chiropractic treatments can induce strokes and it certainly doesn’t cure diabetes, AIDS or anything else that many practitioners claim without evidence or studies

    and that’s the heart of it – “alternative” or “complimentary” isn’t equal to western medicine – it has none of the research, check and balances or tracked outcomes

    it’s like saying we should put holocaust deniers on par in history class or ID/creationism in science class

    not all opinions are due equal consideration – especially when they arise from lazy or confirmation biased thinking

  41. Mick says:

    “So there was no placebo effect. It just worked.’

    You cannot rule out the placebo effect based on one data point. It doesn’t matter how sceptical you were going into it.

  42. Stephen Turner says:

    Another saying is that ‘data’ is not the plural of ‘anecdote’. If you say that kinesiology (or whatever) worked for you, so what? It doesn’t mean any more than saying “It’s cold today therefore there’s no global warming” (my point is that the two are fallacious for the same reason).

    When these therapies are subjected to correctly carried-out tests, they don’t pass. Therefore the rational conclusion to draw is that they don’t work in general.

    (There was a great study on lower back pain – something that conventional medicine does very poorly with BTW – in which acupuncture did just as well as fake acupuncture, which was somebody pretending to be an acupuncturist and sticking in needles wherever. There is a discussion about it at
    which is at David Colquhoun’s excellent website. He’s a (retired) pharmacology professor at UCL who blogs on alternative medicine.)

    FWIW, both real and fake acupuncture, in that study, had better outcomes than the conventional regime (exercise and painkillers, I believe).

  43. Daoloth says:

    There has finally been some work on the placebo effect and its worth a look. A recent BMJ was devoted to it. Many intersting things to note but it looks like we have to start taking much more seriously how importnant social interaction is in our general health. Just dismissing such things with a lordly wave (sorry Ben Goldacre!) isnt good enough.

  44. Christina says:

    Godless not Gormles wrote: “Conventional medicine is flawed in it’s approach because it only loooks at symptoms and tries to threat THEM instead of the cause of the symptoms. I’ve had this out with my doctor and he admitted as much “we only deal with symptoms, not causes” he said.”

    This is such utter nonsense, I can only assume it’s some sort of ideological propaganda phrase invented and parroted by fans of alt medicine. Five seconds of thinking would tell you it’s nonsense:
    Take virostatics. These medications attack viral infections directly, not just “symptoms”.
    Anti-HIV medications try to lower the virus count and lure the virus out of its hiding places in the body instead of just “treating symptoms”… otherwise you’d merely give the Aids-positive patient some drugs against pain, diarrhea and other symptoms of secondary infections and tell him to go home and die.
    Modern cancer treatments (including “alternative” approaches to standard chemo created by cytologists that are still in the basic research phase) aim to kill cancer cells by starving the tumor, cutting off its blood supply, or trying to mark cancer cells so that the body can start apoptosis and eliminate them itself.
    With parasitic infections, you try to kill the parasite.
    Ever heard of monoclonal antibodies, used in treatment of auto-immune diseases? Ultimately the aim is to understand the complex biochemical pathways by which the cells and the immuno system interact, to use epigenetics to understand and influence gene expression that’s gone out of control, stop the body from attacking itself. Of course the current treatments are still far from perfect, because auto-immune diseases are a complicated field.
    And yes, conventional medicine is also treating symptoms, too, to alleviate the suffering of patients while they wait to get either better or die, or in the case of chronic illness, go through their daily life.

    But if all you have is a common cold (or a bout of travel diarrhea, or a migrane), of course your doctor will merely treat the symptoms. Because the common cold is not deadly, and your body can deal with it by itself without the need for virostatic drugs. But treating the aches or other annoying illness symptoms means your body can get the rest it needs to heal itself.

    Conventional medicine is not dismissing the placebo effect. Alt medicine does not have a monopoly on using placebos.

  45. pZyCHo says:

    Richad Dawkins has a good statement about this. He said: ” There is no alternative medicine. There is medicine that works, and medicine that doesn’t work.” And that’s all there is to it. Although I do favour Christina’s distinction.

    If something has less effect than placebo, it is harmful. Placebo is the measured “effect” of something that has no effect.

    It would be an interesting experiment to see whether or not the group of people who use “Alternative Medicine” are more susceptible to the placebo effect than the general population.

  46. Beggars Belief says:

    GNG: “…So there was no placebo effect. It just worked. That might be hard to swallow but sometimes the truth is, as we keep telling the religiots.”

    You’ve got this the wrong way round, comparing us doubters to the religiots. The onus is on *you* to tell us HOW it worked. You’re currently asking us to accept something that there is no good reason to believe, only your say-so. “I know God exists, I just know he does, that’s all, you prove that he doesn’t” etc. etc.

    Also- “so there was no placebo effect”: you don’t have to WANT to believe in these things for weird psychological quirks to take place, and wanting to NOT believe won’t necessarily prohibit them either- the mind is a very strange place. It’s the same with seances- much as I entirely disbelieve in spirits, I reckon Derren Brown could have had me doubting myself in the heat of the moment (before I knew that his aim is to disprove these things, I mean).

  47. ProgJohn says:

    Part of the placebo affect is that many conditions cycle through mild/severe/mild etc ever a time period of days or weeks. You are most likely to try a treatment when at the severe stage and then judge the benefits when the cycle has moved on to mild. Hey presto, you feel better so it must be the treatment, no need to believe in it beforehand.

  48. Godless not gormless says:


    Ok, Double blind trial:

    I had a problem with my gait, but I had never thought of approaching anyone to see if it could be fixed because I didn’t consider it fixable really.

    I didn’t tell the kinesiologist about this problem
    She found it and said “I’m just going to sort your gait”
    Because Kinesiology is so weird, I heard “I’m just going to sort your GATE” thinking she was talking about some ‘cosmic gate’ or some other mad crap, so I just let her get on with it.
    I left with no preconceptions that she had sorted my gait.
    The following day I realised that my gait was sorted and this is when it dawned on me that she’d said gait not gate.

    How much more double blind does it need to be?


    You seem to be making a series of statements with no obvious point to them, then you said:

    “For pneumonia, the antibiotics worked better than massage.”

    I’m not sure why you said this either. Was this from some personal experience? If you were referring to me mentioning massage? I never mentioned pneumonia though. I had ‘digestive problems’ which were sorted via massage. Again, the massage was suggested by a herbalist friend of mine, not to fix the digestive issues but to calm me since at that time I was suffering a lot of stress. After one massage, I felt like a different person! Had I approached my doctor with my symptoms, you can bet I would have left with a prescription for various drugs which would never have addressed the real problem. This is the crux of my argument. The approach by conventional medicine, whether it is science based and proved in tests or not, is flawed from the beginning and very often only makes things worse, except the state of ‘big pharma’s’ bank account of course.

    @Jerry W

    “the big money is in treating, not in curing”

    My point exactly! Maybe you were agreeing with me there though the first part of your post would seem like you were not, but this is exactly what I was saying before. Even if conventional medicine has the potential to be good for us, it is abused in order that people make money which is why I said conventional medicines are designed to keep people ill not cure them. You cannot claim that any kind of treatment is good if it only serves to maintain the condition it claims to treat as a way of ensuring repeat business.


    “the problem with herbs is that you get more than the ingredient that is helpful – and this is what big pharma does – purifies the herbs to the bit that works”

    I think we all know that various substances, vitamins, minerals etc, need certain other substances to be present or not in order for the body to utilise them therefore ‘purifying’ herbs to get to the bit that works doen’t make sense. It will probably be less effective and will also be accompanied by all sorts of unneccessary fillers etc which renders your argument null and void. If the extra bits in the herbs are not of any use, what makes you think that fillers, preservatives and other chemicals would be beneficial?


    “You cannot rule out the placebo effect based on one data point. It doesn’t matter how sceptical you were going into it.”

    I believe I can. It may not be very scientific to you, but it wasn’t part of a trial but it worked so I rule out the placebo effect because I didn’t expect it to work, and if you read the start of my post you’ll see what I mean.

    If I’d been talking about some new drug that the doctor had given me, I’m pretty certain you’d have a different attitude towards it, but because it’s something you WILL NOT accept as being effective, you dismiss everything positive about it. This is my problem here. It’s the automatic dismissal of anything not connected with science, as being valid.

    If a scientist or a doctor came up with a treatment which he felt might work, tried it out on a few people and talked about his positive findings, you would of course want to see real proof, but I bet you wouldn’t dismiss it as readily.

    @Stephen Turner

    “It doesn’t mean any more than saying “It’s cold today therefore there’s no global warming”..”

    I take your point. It doesn’t absolutely prove that kinesiology works, but I felt it worked for me and if you read the start of this post I think it passed a fairly impressive test. It also worked for me on another occasion which I couldn’t give the same set of conditions for.

    The problem here is that I can see that it did actually work, but so many people here refuse to accept anything other than the placebo effect which could still be applied to successful treatment of patients with actual medication that has passed trials. It might partly or wholly be due to what it is, and it might partly or wholly be due to placebo. If we can accept that some things work for some but maybe not for others and this is why my kinesiology sessions were helpful, why can’t this be the case for conventional treatments.

    As it stands, (using your method) the approach by many here when I say it worked is much like me saying “it’s cold today” and you guys saying “no it isn’t, you just think it is”.

  49. Kristian says:

    Gosh, you guys have a lot of energy… If a proposed medication produces therapeutic results that are statistically significant better than acknowledged non-functional medication in a double-blind controlled experiment, then isn’t that enough? If it doesn’t, it’s either dishonest or ignorant (there is no third option) for any therapist to propose them as part of a therapy.

  50. kiyaroru says:

    In your first post you mentioned herbal tinctures, so did I.
    You also mentioned massage without saying what the “major success” was, so I just made-up something.
    You continue to misapply the term Kinesiology when you are typing about Applied Kinesiology.

  51. Norbury says:

    G not g:
    I think you’ve misunderstood slightly. In a double-blinded controlled trial the practitioner also doesn’t know whether the patient is receiving the ‘therapy’ or a placebo. Your experience isn’t placebo controlled, isn’t part of a trial and isn’t blinded (maybe single blinded at best). I’m not saying you weren’t helped, but it’s a little hard to know for sure what helped you. The placebo effect is real and does help people.

  52. Sister Marie says:

    Pick up a textbook on elementary statistics. Even the most basic text will tell you that you may obtain results in a double blind clinical trial that appears to demonstrate that a particular treatment is effective. However, there is a confidence level that must be met for something to be considered to be “statistically significant.” This is not a term that statisticians simply make up, but instead is a universally applied and accepted definition based upon the number of people tested, etc.

    It is entirely possible that a person could do a series of coin flips and conclude that the likelihood of a particular result is favored. Until those who promote homeopathy are willing to accept the same testing standards as conventional medicine, then I am inclined to discount anything that they claim about it efficacy.

  53. Daoloth says:

    @ Sister Marie
    Derren Brown actually demonstrates this on his show “The System”. He rolls 10 heads in a row. He also demonstrates a foolrpoof system for winning o the horses. Dont want to spoil it for those who havent seen it- but watch it and then see whatSM is on about.

  54. Godless not gormless says:


    Yes I do. But is there really any need to be so pedantic about it? I’m sure you know what I mean. But I’ll try to remember in future if it’ll keep you happy!

  55. Zep says:

    For everyone’s info, let’s have a few facts.

    1) Homeopathic remedies contain only alcohol, water or sugar. They contain zero, that’s ZERO, molecules of the claimed remedial compound or element(s). (Factoid: A homeopathic remedy with ANY molecules of original substance is (a) still “too strong”, and (b) herbalism.)

    2) Homeopathy “works” entirely due to the placebo effect, by means of the practitioner being “attentive” to the patient.

    3) Homeopathy only “works” on illnesses that are mild, and cyclic or self-limiting.

    4) The largest producer of homeopathic remedies is Boiron of France. Last year they made 450 Million Euros profit, making it one of the bigger of the “Big Pharmas” in existence. *smirk*

  56. Daoloth says:

    @ Zep. I bet that there is much more to placebo than just attentiveness. Men are more effective than women at creating it, injections are better than pills, even different coloured pills have statistically significant (although small size) effects.
    There is undoubtedly much more to be discovered here and I would hazard a guess that its the kind of things that psychologists tend to investigate and, I’m afraid, some doctors can be rather dismssive of!
    We are very social creatures, our endocrine levels being something that are very responsive to status, social stress etc.

  57. Kristian says:

    @Daoloth; it is dishonest if a therapist already knows that a given remedy is placebo only. The therapist should not prescribe anything if he/she does not have anything better than a procedure known to have no effect.
    In the real world, however, known prescription of placebos happens all the time: medical doctors of all people really should know that hardly anything except time or (too) expensive therapies do not work for viral infections.

    In those cases, homeopathy can play a role. At least it’s harmless. Except for your wallet.

    Re Boiron. I don’t know to whether laugh or cry.

  58. Godless not gormless says:


    Ok. I didn’t realise that so thanks for pointing it out. So I accept it wasn’t a double blind trial, but surely what happened was pretty impressive, even if it wasn’t a controlled scientific experiment? This woman found something which couldn’t have been obvious and which I hadn’t told her about (BTW, she had just finished her training and was continually referring to her text books as she went along which didn’t exactly give me the immpression she was an expert) set about fixing it without me knowing what she was fixing’ and I found it to be fixed.

    So it’s not strictly a double blind test, but it’s still pretty good is it not? And yet although you can see this and admit it up to a point, you still say:

    “I’m not saying you weren’t helped, but it’s a little hard to know for sure what helped you”

    It’s pretty clear to me, however it happened, it was what this woman did that helped but there is a total refusal to accept this just because it’s not conventional medicine.

    Then we have Sister Marie now telling us that even double blind tests are not infallible. I agree that it’s only one instance and this can’t be hailed as conclusive proof that APPLIED KINESIOLOGY (there Kiyaroru! Happy now!!) works 100% of the time, but it worked for me.

    Even if it was just placebo, (and I’m unconvinced of that) if it works it works. That’s what’s important. And if placebos work, then that tells us there is more to us than just what science, conventional medicine or statistics tell us.

    I like to keep an open mind, but I’m happy to change my view if there is good reason to. So far what I see with conventional medicine is that most, if not all drug type treatments have some sort of side effects which are not good and may require additional drugs to alleviate those side effects – which is just great if you’re in the business of making drugs but not of you’re the patient.

  59. Norbury says:

    @godless not gormless
    The placebo effect is powerful and weird, and probably understudied. That doesn’t mean science can’t explain it, but it hasn’t yet. Have a read of the book ‘Bad Science’ for a good intro to the placebo effect (and to medical trials for that matter).
    Your therapist did help you, I’m not denying it, and that’s the most important thing for you.

  60. Maggs says:

    I took extra potent Arnica for pain relief after breaking my arm. If I didn’t take it I had too much pain, if I took Neurofen I had mild pain like a nagging toothache, when I took the Arnica I had no pain at all. I didn’t have an attentive homeopath, I had a health food shop round the corner and a vague understanding about Arnica and bruises. I didn’t know if it would work or not, I had no particularly strong belief in it and it wasn’t expensive. There would seem to be something in this but in the absence of traceable scientific evidence it does look like mumbo jumbo. All I know is it took away the pain from my broken arm and I’ll try it another time if there is one.

  61. Zep says:

    @Maggs: Two issues at work there for you: (1) Definitely some placebo effect. You went to the health shop with the express purpose of getting Arnica, therefore you expected it to work. So when the pain went, *for whatever reason*, you attributed it to the Arnica. (2) Was it “genuine” homeopathic Arnica? Check the ingredients and their strength of it to see. If unsure, let me know what it was and I will explain for you. Often herbals are marketed as “homeopathic” when in fact they contain measureable, full-trength herbs and/or modern pharmacy compounds. Such is the (lack of) legislative regulation currently.

  62. Godless not gormless says:


    Isn’t it just incredible! If you’d gone to the doctor “with the express purpose of getting” something to treat your ailment and “therefore you expected it to work” and it did, “*for whatever reason*” no one would be saying it was just placebo. But when you do something else and it works, it doesn’t matter what the circumstances were, these guys just cannot accept that it worked! It MUST be placebo. Such open mindedness!

  63. Maggs says:

    Zep, Yes it was proper homoeopathic Arnica, no, I didn’t expect it to work but I did wonder if it would. Also, as I already said, if I stopped it there was too much pain and the Neurofen only did half a job; in other words, I experimented. It was no placebo effect. The Neurofen was what I expected to work.

    Anyway, you probably won’t come back and look here as time has marched on. 🙂

  64. Maggs says:

    G not g – Yes it is incredible. Thanks for that.

  65. Zep says:

    @Maggs: The very fact you are dosing yourself means you KNOW you are dosing yourself. Therefore your “testing” was unblinded and wide open to placebo effect. A better test would be if half your Nurofen pills were randomly replaced with identical looking Arnica tablets. Then measuring if there was any difference to your pain relief.

    @GnotG: Placebo is just one reason homeopathy doesn’t work. Other reasons include and are not limited to patient expectations, self-limiting and cyclic illnesses, VERY poor initial diagnoses, and very poor testing and reporting processes by homeopaths anyway. Generally speaking, the homeopathy research field is an object lesson on how NOT to do it.


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