Posted: Jun 13, 2010 11:33 am
by Shrunk
DST70 wrote:
Shrunk wrote:Which brings up the question that often arises in response to arguments for the existence of God: How do you determine the difference between something that exists, but for whose existence no evidence exists, and something which simply does not exist? Answer: You can't.

That could be the most important question to consider. Yes it has consequences beyond this topic. Are you sure you can't determine the difference? Whether you can verify this within a formalised empirical study though - and then communicate that finding to others for replication and verification - is a different matter, requiring fulfilling different criteria. This probably sounds quite ridiculous.

No. I'm not sure it's impossible to tell the difference. It would have been more accurate to say that, at present, we have no means of telling the difference. If homeopaths are some day able to devise a reliable method of demonstrating that their treatments are more effective than placebo, or theists are able to devise a method to demonstrate that god exists, then their claims will be taken seriously. Until then, they should be dismissed just as a people who believe in fairies are dismissed.

It's very easily done. You use a standardized self-rating scale for pain. The rating is subjective, but so long as the conditions of the trial are well-controlled that doesn't matter. Improvement, or not, in pain control can still be determined.

But would the conditions of most well controlled trials allow for different types of pain - sharp, burning, electric, dull, chronic, intermittent, stinging? Worse for sitting; or being near electrical equipment; or near the sea? I'm labouring the point a bit, but you can see where this is going. Study design means decisions get made about confounding variables.

If those points are relevant to the question at hand, sure, they can be controlled for. If some homeopath wants to say, "OK that study showed that homeopathy didn't make the pain better. But maybe it changed the quality of the pain from stinging to dull. The study didn't disprove that." he's quite welcome to do his own study controlling for that variable. However, I think most people would be justified in dismissing this as a hand-waving excuse. You're right. You are belabouring the point, yes, and not refuting any of the claims made against homeopathy.

I don't really know anything about qigong. If you want to show us some of these favourable studies, I"m sure we'd be interested. (But they'd better be good!)

I'll try and root some out, although personally I'm not so interested in supplying scientific evidence as much as exploring whether the scientific method comes up short.

Would it be too cynical of me to say that that already gives me an idea of the quality of scientific research supporting qigong? ;)

(Plus something tells me that whatever studies I find, won't be good enough here...... ;) )

Never know until you try! :evilgrin:

I take it you're a medical professional? Do you mind if I ask in what field?