The Danger of Science Denial - "Alternative Medicine"-Split

Homeopathy, Chiropractic and similar "alternative" views

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Re: The Danger of Science Denial - "Alternative Medicine"-Sp

#681  Postby TMB » Jun 12, 2010 7:30 am

Dudely wrote:
DST70 wrote:
Huh?


anecdotal evidence is no substitute for actual peer reviewed scientific analysis


What I was trying to say is that personal testimony covers a huge range of experience. There's the kind of reporting that you can correct with reference to an error in perception/memory e.g. eyewitness testimony. But there's also more direct and intimate first person accounting that's not always easily explained with reference to generalised data.

It counts as weak evidence though in the sense that the scientific data is not supportive. So there's a discrepancy between the two types, at least it seems to me. The placebo effect is obviously not always plausible to many of those with certain strong cases of non-scientific testimony.

David


There are a few problems with that kind of thinking.

There is no reason why a very convincing, unexplained event is proof of anything. It could very well be a fluke or a mistake. The ONLY things that matters are those that you can repeat- if I said there were gnomes in my garden you would expect that you could come over and see them yourself- if you can't then what's to say I'm not lying, crazy, or simply mistaken?

The most convincing and bizarre personal experience in the world is still not proof or even evidence. Sometimes, however, it can be a very good clue to something that that could be proven, or evidence that has yet to be found. But without that evidence it is no better than claiming the moon is made of cheese.

So in regards to medicine it doesn't matter who says they were cured by some strange means, how convincing their experience was, or even their reasoning for why it happened. What matter is if it can be repeated.


This misses two points.

The first is that nothing is exactly repeatable in every way, meaning that there are always factors of unreliable in the process. Even science method cannot ensure that everything can be exactly as it was. This means that science itself is subject to its own critique of method. This means that regardless of how good the fidelity of repeat is, it should always be viewed as possibly flawed.

The second point exists because of the first. As with the evidence based legal systems, we are simply not in a position to repeat the past with exact fidelity. This means that real stuff that did happen, cannot be proven, although logically we know it is not because the past did not happen in a certain way, just that we are unable to effectivly repeat history. This means that we are forced by the method to dscount things that do not pass this test. This does not mean these things exist or are effective, just that SM is not effective in assessing them.
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Re: The Danger of Science Denial - "Alternative Medicine"-Sp

#682  Postby Shrunk » Jun 12, 2010 11:08 am

TMB wrote:Actually what passed as science of the time, told us it was flat and we all wnt along with it without needing personal validation of the data. Then science told us it was a speher, and once again we went along with what we wer told because we are good at absorbing social opinions. Once again we did not rely upon personal validation of the primary data. Have a look at the other threads on this forum, and all the peole who belive in evolution (ie. science) who have no idea what it actually is in principle and certainly no direct validation of the evidence - this makes it hearsay.

My point is that scientific method might be a good system, but people stil rely upon hearsay to form opinions. Medical science (allopathy) has changed mostly because of pressure caused by ineffective or destructive remedies. We can only wait to see just what fallout there is with the use of antibiotics (we have some inkling, vaccinations because the weight of conventional wisdom is that rules us, not scientific method.


So you're saying my "belief" that the planet Neptune exists is invalid because I have not verified it personally, whereas someone's belief that fairies are real is valid because it is based on personal experience?

Ridiculous.
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Re: The Danger of Science Denial - "Alternative Medicine"-Sp

#683  Postby Shrunk » Jun 12, 2010 11:20 am

TMB wrote: This misses two points.

The first is that nothing is exactly repeatable in every way, meaning that there are always factors of unreliable in the process. Even science method cannot ensure that everything can be exactly as it was. This means that science itself is subject to its own critique of method. This means that regardless of how good the fidelity of repeat is, it should always be viewed as possibly flawed.


Right. Hence the need to repeatedly try to falsify a hypothesis even once it has seemingly been confirmed experimentally. Technically you're correct; no theory can be said to be correct with 100% certainty, as you never know if the next observation will falsify it. However, after a sufficiently large number of falsification attempts have failed, it can be said for all practical purposes that the theory is correct with a certainty that approaches 100%.

Which is precisely the error Nancy Malik continually makes in this thread: Accepting isolated, uncorroborated observations as evidence even when they have been refuted by further, more systematic and reliable observations.

The second point exists because of the first. As with the evidence based legal systems, we are simply not in a position to repeat the past with exact fidelity. This means that real stuff that did happen, cannot be proven, although logically we know it is not because the past did not happen in a certain way, just that we are unable to effectivly repeat history. This means that we are forced by the method to dscount things that do not pass this test. This does not mean these things exist or are effective, just that SM is not effective in assessing them.


Right. So those things go into the "unproven, further evidence needed" or "unprovable, we'll never know" categories.

Homeopathy, OTOH, clearly belongs in the "disproven, don't bother with it anymore" category.
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Re: The Danger of Science Denial - "Alternative Medicine"-Sp

#684  Postby Dr. Nancy Malik » Jun 12, 2010 11:46 am

Dudely wrote:Indeed. I understand perfectly where you are coming from. Your explanation was not needed. I am asking if the effect of stimulating the homeostatic mechanism can be observed upon successful delivering of homeopathic medicines.

It is my thought that, just as the immune system can be observed, if it exists and is a valid theory, the homeostatic mechanism can be observed as well. If so, it stands to reason that its stimulation by homeopathic medicines can also be observed, validating homeopathy as we know it (and earning you a cool 1 million from James Randi).


Homeopathic medicine’s main action is through taste buds, esophageal canal, stomach and intestine (part of immune system), and in response to antigenic attack on body very specific antibodies are released which destroys the antigenicity of the organisms and there is no drug resistance as such, because own defense systems comes into action each time there is an attack of organisms.
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Re: The Danger of Science Denial - "Alternative Medicine"-Sp

#685  Postby Dr. Nancy Malik » Jun 12, 2010 11:52 am

DST70 wrote:
Huh?


anecdotal evidence is no substitute for actual peer reviewed scientific analysis


What I was trying to say is that personal testimony covers a huge range of experience. There's the kind of reporting that you can correct with reference to an error in perception/memory e.g. eyewitness testimony. But there's also more direct and intimate first person accounting that's not always easily explained with reference to generalised data.

It counts as weak evidence though in the sense that the scientific data is not supportive. So there's a discrepancy between the two types, at least it seems to me. The placebo effect is obviously not always plausible to many of those with certain strong cases of non-scientific testimony.

David


If a person were to walk out of their house to the town centre and witness someone having their bag snatched or witness a car accident, then when they relay this information to the Police or to their friends and family, it is anecdotal evidence.

If someone go on holiday, stays at a nice hotel, eats delicious food, comes back home and relates the holiday to their friends, that is anecdotal evidence.

What if someone witnessed a car accident and the Police wanted them to make a statement? Would the statement in court be dismissed as anecdotal evidence? Would the police, even if they arrived at the scene of the accident to find the person still there comforting the passengers or trying to help, say they had not been there and their evidence is non existent?
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Re: The Danger of Science Denial - "Alternative Medicine"-Sp

#686  Postby Dr. Nancy Malik » Jun 12, 2010 12:02 pm

TMB wrote:
Actually what passed as science of the time, told us it was flat and we all wnt along with it without needing personal validation of the data. Then science told us it was a speher, and once again we went along with what we wer told because we are good at absorbing social opinions. Once again we did not rely upon personal validation of the primary data. Have a look at the other threads on this forum, and all the peole who belive in evolution (ie. science) who have no idea what it actually is in principle and certainly no direct validation of the evidence - this makes it hearsay.

My point is that scientific method might be a good system, but people stil rely upon hearsay to form opinions. Medical science (allopathy) has changed mostly because of pressure caused by ineffective or destructive remedies. We can only wait to see just what fallout there is with the use of antibiotics (we have some inkling, vaccinations because the weight of conventional wisdom is that rules us, not scientific method.


Those who knew (500 millions of people worldwide) about it are the patients of homeopathy medicine. Not everyone ask for double blind, lancet, etc. They are the ones who have personaly benefited and acknowledged homeopathy. For skeptics it is an anecdotal evidence (of 500 million people), for them homeopathy is a panacea.
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Re: The Danger of Science Denial - "Alternative Medicine"-Sp

#687  Postby Dr. Nancy Malik » Jun 12, 2010 12:09 pm

Shrunk wrote:
Right. Hence the need to repeatedly try to falsify a hypothesis even once it has seemingly been confirmed experimentally. Technically you're correct; no theory can be said to be correct with 100% certainty, as you never know if the next observation will falsify it. However, after a sufficiently large number of falsification attempts have failed, it can be said for all practical purposes that the theory is correct with a certainty that approaches 100%.



A negative result is not proof that something doesn't work. Eddison, reportedly had over 10,000 negative results before inventing the light bulb. By your logic after the first failure he had successfully proven that electricity could not be used to produce light. Clearly this was not the case.

the fact that he had 10 000 failures means that all the failures were proof that it didn't work, the time it started to work was proof that he finally found the right method.
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Re: The Danger of Science Denial - "Alternative Medicine"-Sp

#688  Postby TMB » Jun 12, 2010 12:11 pm

Shrunk wrote:
TMB wrote:Actually what passed as science of the time, told us it was flat and we all wnt along with it without needing personal validation of the data. Then science told us it was a speher, and once again we went along with what we wer told because we are good at absorbing social opinions. Once again we did not rely upon personal validation of the primary data. Have a look at the other threads on this forum, and all the peole who belive in evolution (ie. science) who have no idea what it actually is in principle and certainly no direct validation of the evidence - this makes it hearsay.

My point is that scientific method might be a good system, but people stil rely upon hearsay to form opinions. Medical science (allopathy) has changed mostly because of pressure caused by ineffective or destructive remedies. We can only wait to see just what fallout there is with the use of antibiotics (we have some inkling, vaccinations because the weight of conventional wisdom is that rules us, not scientific method.


So you're saying my "belief" that the planet Neptune exists is invalid because I have not verified it personally, whereas someone's belief that fairies are real is valid because it is based on personal experience?

Ridiculous.


Your extrapolation is ridiculous. Consider how much faith pateints have in medicine of any form. Doctors diagnose and prescribe and patients mostly have no idea whatever of what anything means. I have questioned medical people enough times to get them to change their minds and approach simply because they too accept what they are given as medical protocols without question. What I will say is that your belief in Neptune is certainly based upon what you have been told. This does not make it wrong, it just means you are not qualified on the reality of Neptune, unless you understand the methods, the primary data etc. You might retort that it is impossible for people to know all of this, and I would agree, but it still means that they are then not qualified. Take the recent view that Neanderthals interbred with Cro Magnon, this revelation changes the previous held view that said they went extinct and did not interbreed. Did you believe both therories although different, and I imagine you took expert opinions at face value without questioning them. No issue with that, it just means you need to belive what people tell you without question.
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Re: The Danger of Science Denial - "Alternative Medicine"-Sp

#689  Postby Shrunk » Jun 12, 2010 12:17 pm

Dr. Nancy Malik wrote: If a person were to walk out of their house to the town centre and witness someone having their bag snatched or witness a car accident, then when they relay this information to the Police or to their friends and family, it is anecdotal evidence.


It is convincing evidence that that incident occurred on that single instance. It does not demonstrate that every time someone walks in that same area they will be robbed or witness a car accident.

If someone takes a homeopathic medication and feels better, it is proof that that single person felt better after taking that single homeopathic preparation on that one occasion. It does not in any way demonstrate that the homeopathic medication operated in any specific way to actually treat the person's disease.

This is really basic stuff. To think that you can actually get a degree with such an abysmal understanding of the scientific method and the nature of evidence is, frankly, shocking.
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Re: The Danger of Science Denial - "Alternative Medicine"-Sp

#690  Postby Shrunk » Jun 12, 2010 12:21 pm

TMB wrote: Your extrapolation is ridiculous. Consider how much faith pateints have in medicine of any form. Doctors diagnose and prescribe and patients mostly have no idea whatever of what anything means. I have questioned medical people enough times to get them to change their minds and approach simply because they too accept what they are given as medical protocols without question. What I will say is that your belief in Neptune is certainly based upon what you have been told. This does not make it wrong, it just means you are not qualified on the reality of Neptune, unless you understand the methods, the primary data etc. You might retort that it is impossible for people to know all of this, and I would agree, but it still means that they are then not qualified. Take the recent view that Neanderthals interbred with Cro Magnon, this revelation changes the previous held view that said they went extinct and did not interbreed. Did you believe both therories although different, and I imagine you took expert opinions at face value without questioning them. No issue with that, it just means you need to belive what people tell you without question.


No, it means I believe people based on the evidence they can provide to support their position. Sure, there's always the possibility the evidence was faked or misconstrued. But discounting that possibility, the evidence can be taken on its merits. And there's nothing wrong with a patient asking a doctor to provide the evidence for a treatment that is being recommended. In fact, I would encourage that.

The situation WRT to homeopathy is that good, reliable evidence exists, and demonstrates that it does not work.
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Re: The Danger of Science Denial - "Alternative Medicine"-Sp

#691  Postby TMB » Jun 12, 2010 12:55 pm

Shrunk, you said,

Right. Hence the need to repeatedly try to falsify a hypothesis even once it has seemingly been confirmed experimentally. Technically you're correct; no theory can be said to be correct with 100% certainty, as you never know if the next observation will falsify it.


Correct but it does not mean that the system is able to validate reality. It just means that within certain confines it is able to do this. Its not able to certify with any certainty what is false. I accept that it evolves and improves its capability as it goes, but its still a mistake to take a position of certainty on something being false. Take the example of the venom of the African boomslang. By all accounts (not science I know but I do not think anyone bothered to apply SM to this), this was not a venomous snake, and this was the position of scientific knowledge, it was not classified as dangerous etc, despite locals insisting that it was. What passed as SM at the time arose because of observations, its a shy snake, and has back fangs, so does not often bite and even then not effectively. However once observation included some incidents with Europeans, they re-classified it as venomous. You might claim that it proves the system is self-learning, and it is, but it still only provides the wisdom of hindsight.

However, after a sufficiently large number of falsification attempts have failed, it can be said for all practical purposes that the theory is correct with a certainty that approaches 100%.


What exactly defines sufficient? At the time thalidomide was certainly given sufficient testing, otherwise they would not have released it. What they had missed was sufficient time to measure the effects further down the line. They changed their minds once birth defects appeared, but once again only with the benefit of hindsight.

What is the long term issue that will come from excessive hygiene? Is it reduced resistance to infection? It now appears so but we did not think so a decade ago. What do we know about the long term effects of giving steroids to mothers expecting premature delivery. We know it helps lung development in the at risk, underweight foetus, but what does it do to them in the long-term. They don’t have any idea in allopathic medicine, because they cant draw any conclusions until they have gone through the process of a full study.

What are the implications of vaccination against measles? That it prevents measles we know, but there also appears to be evidence that a dose of measles allows development of our immune systems, and vaccinations might undermine this. Vaccinations of kids under 6 months now does not appear to get done much, again the benefit of hindsight, but no certainty of being right.

This means they are following this protocol without question because they can say no studies exist that prove long term issues. When I was confronted with this scenario for my own kids, we found there was an easy way around the protocol, it just required looking from a different perspective. Medicines flaws (all systems) result from human short sightedness and the inability to question prevailing wisdom.

As gets mentioned many times, the flat earth was a 100% certainty until we knew better. In fact it could not be doubted based upon what we knew about reality. The geo centric solar system was similar. This issue was the lack of open minds to what people knew with certainty.

Which is precisely the error Nancy Malik continually makes in this thread: Accepting isolated, uncorroborated observations as evidence even when they have been refuted by further, more systematic and reliable observations.


I am not in a position to comment about homeopathy in terms of how it works etc, except for the fact that it works for me and my family and has done many times. You might ascribe this to placebo, and perhaps you are correct, but thats just anecdotal to.

The second point exists because of the first. As with the evidence based legal systems, we are simply not in a position to repeat the past with exact fidelity. This means that real stuff that did happen, cannot be proven, although logically we know it is not because the past did not happen in a certain way, just that we are unable to effectively repeat history. This means that we are forced by the method to discount things that do not pass this test. This does not mean these things exist or are effective, just that SM is not effective in assessing them.
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Re: The Danger of Science Denial - "Alternative Medicine"-Sp

#692  Postby Shrunk » Jun 12, 2010 1:06 pm

Dr. Nancy Malik wrote:
Dudely wrote:Indeed. I understand perfectly where you are coming from. Your explanation was not needed. I am asking if the effect of stimulating the homeostatic mechanism can be observed upon successful delivering of homeopathic medicines.

It is my thought that, just as the immune system can be observed, if it exists and is a valid theory, the homeostatic mechanism can be observed as well. If so, it stands to reason that its stimulation by homeopathic medicines can also be observed, validating homeopathy as we know it (and earning you a cool 1 million from James Randi).


Homeopathic medicine’s main action is through taste buds, esophageal canal, stomach and intestine (part of immune system), and in response to antigenic attack on body very specific antibodies are released which destroys the antigenicity of the organisms and there is no drug resistance as such, because own defense systems comes into action each time there is an attack of organisms.


Yet another string of irrelevant gobbledygook. What dudely asked for was evidence that water, containing nothing more than the "memory" of a substance once dissolved in it, can evoke a specific immunological response. We know you have no such evidence, but please don't insult us by trying to bluff your way out of it and thinking we won't notice.
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Re: The Danger of Science Denial - "Alternative Medicine"-Sp

#693  Postby DST70 » Jun 12, 2010 3:08 pm

Dr. Nancy Malik wrote:What if someone witnessed a car accident and the Police wanted them to make a statement? Would the statement in court be dismissed as anecdotal evidence? Would the police, even if they arrived at the scene of the accident to find the person still there comforting the passengers or trying to help, say they had not been there and their evidence is non existent?


That's a good analogy to make. It would depend on what criteria the court sets as necessary to count as evidence. (I think it's sometimes forgotten how anecdotal evidence is in fact an important and necessary part of healthcare.)

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Re: The Danger of Science Denial - "Alternative Medicine"-Sp

#694  Postby DST70 » Jun 12, 2010 3:13 pm

TMB wrote:As with the evidence based legal systems, we are simply not in a position to repeat the past with exact fidelity. This means that real stuff that did happen, cannot be proven, although logically we know it is not because the past did not happen in a certain way, just that we are unable to effectively repeat history. This means that we are forced by the method to discount things that do not pass this test.


I think this is really important. The difficulty lies in investigating phenomena that are not so easily put into external/objective and internal/subjective categories.

Any outward programme of empirical research seemingly handles 'external' significantly better than 'internal' phenomena. Astrophysics being quite different from psychology. Where would pain feature on a scale from external-internal?

Maybe I should mention that I'm coming from a place of being a practitioner of qi gong and other internal energy work, which tends to throw a spanner in the works when it comes to scientific validation. There are favourable studies showing its therapeutic benefit, but I do realise it probably counts high on the 'woo' scale for many here.

David
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Re: The Danger of Science Denial - "Alternative Medicine"-Sp

#695  Postby natselrox » Jun 12, 2010 3:26 pm

DST70 wrote:
Dr. Nancy Malik wrote:What if someone witnessed a car accident and the Police wanted them to make a statement? Would the statement in court be dismissed as anecdotal evidence? Would the police, even if they arrived at the scene of the accident to find the person still there comforting the passengers or trying to help, say they had not been there and their evidence is non existent?


That's a good analogy to make.


That's a good analogy? The Boeing 747 analogy looks like the work of a genius compared to this. :lol:
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Re: The Danger of Science Denial - "Alternative Medicine"-Sp

#696  Postby GenesForLife » Jun 12, 2010 3:28 pm

Two words - consilience and corroboration, go figure.
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Re: The Danger of Science Denial - "Alternative Medicine"-Sp

#697  Postby Dudely » Jun 12, 2010 4:49 pm

TMB wrote:
I am not in a position to comment about homeopathy in terms of how it works etc, except for the fact that it works for me and my family and has done many times. You might ascribe this to placebo, and perhaps you are correct, but thats just anecdotal to.


You have got to be fucking kidding me. You are denying huge mounds of studies that show it to be placebos. these are NOT anecdotal.

What you are doing to your family amounts to taking an experimental or unproven drug (like homeopathy) instead of a safe, well tested drug (95% of all medicine) because science is sometimes wrong. Wow.

P.S.- Just because you don't like doctors or they sometimes get things wrong doesn't give you the right to play Russian roulette with your family's health.
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Re: The Danger of Science Denial - "Alternative Medicine"-Sp

#698  Postby Dudely » Jun 12, 2010 4:56 pm

I don't think you guys understand. The hand waving and the talk about subjectivity towards evidence misses the point COMPLETELY.

Homeopathy is said to have an effect. If it indeed has an effect then that means it has a cause. If it has a cause this can be found through study. No "external/objective and internal/subjective categories" bullshit. Just hard-up causes and effects. THAT is science, and that is why people have such a problem with stuff like homeopathy- it's a medicine with NO study of its causes (because none can be found) and very little testing.

Hey guys, I've got some crazy chemical cocktail I brewed in my fucking sink last night. Some guy down the road whiffed it and felt better so it can cure fucking cancer. Here, I'll give you some for 50 bucks. Sound like a good idea?
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Re: The Danger of Science Denial - "Alternative Medicine"-Sp

#699  Postby orpheus » Jun 12, 2010 5:00 pm

Dudely wrote:I don't think you guys understand. The hand waving and the talk about subjectivity towards evidence misses the point COMPLETELY.

Homeopathy is said to have an effect. If it indeed has an effect then that means it has a cause. If it has a cause this can be found through study. No "external/objective and internal/subjective categories" bullshit. Just hard-up causes and effects. THAT is science, and that is why people have such a problem with stuff like homeopathy- it's a medicine with NO study of its causes (because none can be found) and very little testing.

Hey guys, I've got some crazy chemical cocktail I brewed in my fucking sink last night. Some guy down the road whiffed it and felt better so it can cure fucking cancer. Here, I'll give you some for 50 bucks. Sound like a good idea?


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Re: The Danger of Science Denial - "Alternative Medicine"-Sp

#700  Postby tytalus » Jun 12, 2010 5:24 pm

Interesting. The homeopaths seem to want us to accept an allegedly massive amount of anecdotal evidence in lieu of any credible scientific research (since the credible research has debunked it). This seems like a fallacious appeal to the masses.

As for Edison's light bulb, it is curious to consider that apparently the light bulb had already been invented, and Edison's attempts (which vary in number depending on who you ask) were to develop a commercially viable product...

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