Mind Body Spirit – the placebo effect. By Ben Goldacre

January 19, 2011


Battlestation_Midway_pin_up_2_by_henningIt always makes me laugh when Skeptics talk about the placebo effect as if it was something practitioners of WOO or alternative practitioners did not understand. Being friendly, taking your time, smiling must have beneficial effects for the patient. I do three things, I have a laugh with my patients I share my knowledge and I correct their subluxations.  The patient pays £40 its up to them to attach a percentage  value to the laughter, the knowledge  and the spinal adjustment and they decide whether its worth it. I would compare my knowledge of spinal joint function against any MD.

I would never pay more than £50 for a watch, is business class worth a few grand extra? It is to some and thats the point. Many people and I am one of them attach great value having their spinal joints checked for subluxations on a regular basis, its not the only thing I do to stay healthy, its one of the things I do and if is all in my mind who cares.

I am 53 years of age, I have young children, play tennis twice a week and have a beautiful partner. Those poor skeptics must have all sorts of health problems from the nocebo effect of all the stress they must have policing woo practitioners. 

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45 Responses to Mind Body Spirit – the placebo effect. By Ben Goldacre

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  14. Katie on December 2, 2011 at 11:59 pm

    Wow! It’s hard to imagine a more hate-filled comment than the one from Bebo here. What’s skepticat done to hurt you so much Bebo – did she wipe the floor with you too? At least read comments properly before you respond to them. Saying that a woman who’s just been talking about her children doesn’t have children makes you look a total eejit as well as nasty and vicious.

  15. Garland on January 27, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    Well not really. Time is such a finite demision for us we forget sometimes that it is actually elastic.

  16. EMonk on January 25, 2011 at 9:03 am
  17. Bebo on January 25, 2011 at 8:59 am

    I think skepticat is plain mad at not having children of her own. Hatred projected out to the world. It’s sad to see someone with so much self hatred, destroying themself internally without even realising it

  18. Fedup on January 24, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    “I don’t think skeptics care too much about people using homeopathy if it is an informed choice”

    Is that a joke?

    Yeo valley have used “the collective experiences of Soil Association affiliated farmers, we have found that many routine problems can be treated with homeopathic and herbal medicines without any compromise to animal welfare.”

    Do you not beleive that was an informed choice? If so why is zeno complaining to them?

  19. Anonymous on January 24, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    It just means that when you click on the link form recent comments – it goes to the top of the page rather than locate to that specific comment. Not a biggie – just something that used to happen – hence the note…

    If the WP widget is tweakable – if you add 132856247 to the ‘next comment index’ or something like that – it may start working.

  20. Richard Lanigan on January 24, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    Perhaps its because the comments in the side panel are set up in the WP widget rather than Diskus? Does it matter if the numbers are different?

  21. Anonymous on January 24, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    I think so – I’ve got my disqus account set up for that option (I use it on the Sailwave site) by default. It can be incredible confusing otherwise. PS: comment links still using old numbers…


    I put the edit box at the bottom as well. Personal choice but I think it’s gets in the way at the top for 99% of users who are just reading.

  22. Richard Lanigan on January 24, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    Does putting oldest comment first read best. Any suggestions?

  23. Richard Lanigan on January 23, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    I am sure you and Garland are trying to confuse me, I try to avoid venturing outside my comfort zone.

    I have put some Discuss code into the WP page code has that fixed what you are refering to.

  24. Richard Lanigan on January 23, 2011 at 8:45 pm

    Garland is that like dog years?

  25. Garland on January 23, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    Forgive the length of this response but it addresses one of my favorite topics. That being the elasticity of time. Yes, you will find many atheists in the Biology and Chemistry departments of universities but you won’t find nearly as many in the physics departments.

    In 1959, a survey was taken of leading American scientists. Among the many questions asked was, “What is your estimate of the age of the universe?” Now, in 1959, astronomy was popular, but cosmology – the deep physics of understanding the universe – was just developing. The response to that survey was recently republished in Scientific American – the most widely read science journal in the world. Two-thirds of the scientists gave the same answer. The answer that two-thirds – an overwhelming majority – of the scientists gave was, “Beginning? There was no beginning. Aristotle and Plato taught us 2400 years ago that the universe is eternal. Oh, we know the Bible says ‘In the beginning.’ That’s a nice story; it helps kids go to bed at night. But we sophisticates know better. There was no beginning.”
    That was 1959. In 1965, Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson discovered the echo of the Big Bang in the black of the sky at night, and the world paradigm changed from a universe that was eternal to a universe that had a beginning. Science had made an enormous paradigm change in its understanding of the world. Understand the impact. Science said that our universe had a beginning. I can’t overestimate the import of that scientific “discovery.” Evolution, cave men, these are all trivial problems compared to the fact that we now understand that we had a beginning. Exactly as the Bible had claimed for three millennia.

    Of course, the fact that there was a beginning does not prove that there was a beginner.

    Einstein taught the world that time is relative. That in regions of high velocity or high gravity time actually passes more slowly relative to regions of lower gravity or lower velocity. (One system relative to another, hence the name, the laws of relativity.) This is now proven fact. Time actually stretches out. Were ever you are time is normal for you because your biology is part of that local system.
    That is Einstein and gravity and velocity. But there is a third aspect of the universe that changes the perception of time, Not gravity and not velocity. That is the stretching of space. The universe started as a minuscule speck, perhaps not larger that a grain of mustard and stretched out from there. Space actually stretches. The effect of the stretching of space produces the effect that when observing an event that took place far from our galaxy, as the light from that event travels through space and the sequence of events travels through space, the information is actually stretched out.

    We look at the universe, and say, “How old is the universe? Looking back in time, the universe is approximately 15 billion years old.” That’s our view of time

    Science has shown that there’s only one “substanceless substance” that can change into matter. And that’s energy. Einstein’s famous equation, E=MC2, tells us that energy can change form and take on the form of matter. And once it changes into matter, time grabs hold. Nahmanides has made a phenomenal statement. I don’t know if he knew the Laws of Relativity. But we know them now. We know that energy – light beams, radio waves, gamma rays, x-rays – all travel at the speed of light, 300 million meters per second. At the speed of light, time does not pass. The universe was aging, time was passing, but time only grabs hold when matter is present. This moment of time before the clock of the Bible begins lasted less than 1/100,000 of a second. A miniscule time. But in that time, the universe expanded from a tiny speck, to about the size of the Solar System. From that moment on we have matter, and biblical time flows forward. The Biblical clock begins here.

    We look back in time, and say the universe is 15 billion years old. But as every scientist knows, when we say the universe is 15 billion years old, there’s another half of the sentence that we rarely bother to say. The other half of the sentence is: The universe is 15 billion years old as seen from the time-space coordinates of the earth.
    The key is that the Torah looks forward in time, from very different time-space coordinates, when the universe was small. Since then, the universe has expanded out. Space stretches, and that stretching of space totally changes the perception of time. Imagine in your mind going back billions of years to the beginning of time. Now pretend way back at the beginning of time, when time grabs hold, there’s an intelligent community. (It’s totally fictitious.) Imagine that the intelligent community has a laser, and it’s going to shoot out a blast of light every second. Every second — pulse. Pulse. Pulse. And on each pulse of light the following formation is printed (printing information on light, electro-magnetic radiation, is common practice): “I’m sending you a pulse every second.” Billions of years later, way far down the time line, we here on Earth have a big satellite dish antenna and we receive that pulse of light. And on that pulse of light we read “I’m sending you a pulse every second.”
    Light travels 300 million meters per second. So at the beginning, the two light pulses are separated by a second of travel or 300 million meters. Now they travel through space for billions of years until they reach the Earth. But wait a minute. Is the universe static? No. The universe is expanding. The universe expands by space stretching. So as these pulses travel through space for billions of years, space is stretching. What’s happening to these pulses? The space between them is also stretching. So the pulses get further and further apart. Billions of years later, when the first pulse arrives, we read on it “I’m sending you a pulse every second.” A message from outer space. You call all your friends, and you wait for the next pulse to arrive. Does it arrive second later? No! A year later? Maybe not. Maybe billions of years later. Because the amount of time this pulse of light has traveled through space will determine the amount of space stretching that has occurred, and so how much space and therefore how much time there will be between the arrival of the pulses. That’s standard cosmology.

    Today, we look back in time and we see approximately 15 billion years of history. Looking forward from when the universe is very small – billions of times smaller – the Torah says six days. In truth, they both may be correct. What’s exciting about the last few years in cosmology is we now have quantified the data to know the relationship of the “view of time” from the beginning of stable matter, the threshold energy of protons and neutrons (their nucleosynthesis), relative to the “view of time” today. It’s not science fiction any longer. A dozen physics textbooks all bring the same number. The general relationship between nucleosynthesis, that time near the beginning at the threshold energy of protons and neutrons when matter formed, and time today is a million million. That’s a 1 with 12 zeros after it. So when a view from the beginning looking forward says “I’m sending you a pulse every second,” would we see a pulse every second? No. We’d see it every million million seconds. Because that’s the stretching effect of the expansion of the universe.
    The Talmud tells us that the soul of Adam was created at five and a half days after the beginning of the six days. That is a half day before the termination of the sixth day. At that moment the cosmic calendar ceases and an earth based calendar starts. . How would we see those days stretched by a million million? Five and a half days times a million million, gives us five and a half million million days. Dividing that by 365 days in a year, that comes out to be 15 billion years. NASA gives a value of about 14 billion years. Considering the many approximations, and that the Bible works with only six periods of time, the agreement to within a few percent is extraordinary. The universe is billons of years old from one perspective and a mere six days old from another. And both are correct!
    The five and a half days of Genesis are not of equal duration. Each time the universe doubles in size, the perception of time halves as we project that time back toward the beginning of the universe. The rate of doubling, that is the fractional rate of change, is very rapid at the beginning and decreases with time simply because as the universe gets larger and larger, even though the actual expansion rate is approximately constant, it takes longer and longer for the overall size to double. Because of this, the earliest of the six days have most of the15 billion years sequestered with them.

  26. Garland on January 23, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    “For homeopathy to work the everything we know about chemistry, biology and physics needs to be rewritten.”

    The chemistry and the biology yes but the physics not so. Once the electro-magnetic influence of a inity is introduced into the field of another inity there will always be a remnent of that that there. That’s the physics.

  27. Colin Jenkins on January 23, 2011 at 9:10 am

    Richard, just FYI your comment numbering in “recent comments” is still using the old numbers. For example my previous post is referenced as 4003 when if fact it’s 132860250. The syntax is right.

  28. Richielanigan on January 23, 2011 at 1:16 am

    Hi Sb,

    To be fair to this homeopath she does start off by saying She could provide an alternative to a vaccination but there is no guarantee it will work, and later tells you she will give you some advice at the consultation; “Thank you for your enquiry. Homeopathy can provide an alternative to vaccinations, however, I do have to point out that I cannot provide any guarantees that you will not still pick up the conditions that are prevalent in the area you are going to”.

    Who are the best people to give advice on what to do when going to the developing world? GPs or people who have lived there? If she has spent a lot of time out there and she believes she is communicating with a person who wants to try something different after their previous bad experience and has chosen homeopathy ??

    As someone who takes nothing, I cant say its wrong for someone to take homeopathy however if thats all they are going to do to protect themselves I would say it was rather foolhardy

  29. Richielanigan on January 22, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    Thanks for that Colin it was really interesting in fact the leaders of the chiropractic profession should listen to it. As you know the profession is polarised and there is this desire to hurt the side which challenges various beliefs, which greatly damages the profession. They only the damaging it does to the other side.

    I believed I was pretty special before listing to Carol now I know I am. The only thing that I have ever truly believed was in my 20s and 30s I was a great lover sadly age and and kids has put the skids on that.

    You will have never heard me saying MMR causes autism, or putting others in a state of dissonance, I always try to reasonable and rational and being part of the tribe has never been important to me I am an outcast in my own profession and I spend most of my time talking to people that disagree with me.

  30. Richard Lanigan on January 22, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    Don’t ever offer a scientific study to a sceptic. They have read them, dissected and discussed them then pulled them apart. Blue Wode knows more about chiropractic scientific research than any chiropractor I know. I cringed when the BCA offered their plethora of evidence to Simon Singhs lawyers as “proof” of chiropractic.
    We can always find something in the methodology of a study that enables us to question the conclusion. The scientific method is there to challenge theories, they first hurdle is for someone else to reproduce the results in said study, pretty straight forward if the intervention is a pill.
    If the intervention was someone throwing a dart or performing a spinal adjustment its virtually impossible to standardise the intervention, so it makes more sense to use qualative studies rather than quantitive studies to improve the practice of chiropractic. I would argue research is there to improve the practice of chiropractic rather prove a chiropractic adjustment stimulates nerve receptors which is not in dispute. I just don’t attach as much importance top these studies as many in the chiropractic profession. Studies are interesting at bedtime they provide useful information but they don’t tell me whether I could possible help someone, clinical experience is what does that for every health practitioner on the planet.

  31. Colin Jenkins on January 22, 2011 at 11:05 am


    So while science can “disprove” scientific theories, it can not prove something to be 100% true, thats for philosophers to discuss.

    That is true, you can only prove a negative in a complete logical/mathematical system (and not always then in fact), you certain’y can’t in our messy universe.

    However, you can confirm something to the point that it would be totally perverse to think otherwise. Given what we know about gravity for example it would be perverse to give equal weight to the changes of there being, or not being, a sunrise tomorrow.

    It’s simply intellectually dishonest, not to mention desperate, to use, as many homeopaths and other denialists do, the “but you can’t prove it’s not true” statement.

    A denialist being somebody who denies that evidence such that it would be perverse to believe otherwise, on the basis of their personal bias. This is a weak and intellectually dishonest position; essentially giving in to one’s bias to resolve cognitive dissonance.

    It’s hard being a skeptic !! – we have to embrace such evidence in spite of our personal bias and live with the dissonance.

    Interesting interview on the subject with Carol Tavris on my fave podcast site:-


  32. Skepticat on January 22, 2011 at 2:32 am


    I don’t think skeptics care too much about people using homeopathy if it is an informed choice. What skeptics object to is the promotion of false information about homeopathy and encouraging a faith in it. Yeo states categorically that homeopathy strengthens the immune system. Sugar pills don’t strengthen the immune system. Because of the mountain of misinformation being promoted by homeopathy cultists, some people do actually believe that homeopathy strengthens the immune system, cures eczema in babies, fights cancerous tumours and protects against malaria. The people who believe this may be idiots but they are still human beings and I regard the unnecessary death of even one human being because of a misplaced faith in homeopathy a tragedy that it’s worth spending some considerable time and effort trying prevent.

    I absolutely agree with what you say about religious beliefs and I don’t share the view (I thinks it’s promulgated in the wiki article on scientific skepticism) that skeptics shouldn’t challenge religion.

    You must be proud of Isabelle -what a fantastic answer from Isabelle!

    I was lucky in that, because my kids attended a school where Christians are in a minority, they didn’t have either daily worship or specifically christian RE. Instead they were taught comparative religion and had to learn loads of boring stuff about all the major religions. By the end of it they were so fed up with religion that they wanted nothing to do with any of it.


  33. Skepticat on January 21, 2011 at 11:13 pm

    Oh, I forgot to mention that Day also says that he has been unable to replicate the results that he perceived in further experiments with more cows.

    Which is the final nail in the coffin of your argument, I’m afraid.

  34. Skepticat on January 21, 2011 at 11:06 pm


    Actually, no, that’s not what happened.

    It wasn’t Panorama but a BBC QED programme, ‘Homeopathy: Medicine or Magic?’ which was screened in 1991. Day ran an impromptu experiment involving a small herd of 82 cows, designed pretty much on the spur of the moment. Your recollection that half the cows were given “standard antibiotics” is incorrect. According to Christopher Day himself:

    “In this trial, a ‘nosode’ prepared by the AVMC was given, via the drinking water, to
    the ‘treatment’ group, on a ‘twice weekly’ basis. The control group was ‘treated’
    similarly, from a bottle of unmedicated tincture (placebo).”

    It wasn’t designed to be a scientific trial and failed to meet minimal criteria to be treated as such. The original “study” appears to be unavailable but judging by the short report of the trial that appears on Day’s website, there was:

    >no baseline
    >no objective measures of the cows condition
    >no randomisation (I’m not a statistician, but I imagine the chances of proper randomisation producing two groups of exactly 41 cows in each to be fairly low. Indeed, Day confirms that the paper was rejected by Vetinary Weekly because of the lack of randomisation, which is crucial to eliminate bias.)

    Moral: Don’t try to drag something out of your memory from twenty years ago to make a point. That’s just as bad as cherry-picking trials. Look at the totality of scientific evidence available: there is no good scientific evidence that homeopathy is effective for bovine mastitis or anything else.

  35. Skepticat on January 21, 2011 at 11:01 pm

    fed up

    If I understand you correctly, you think being “skeptical” means I should be saying, “Well, although it would appear to be an established law that if you dilute something it becomes weaker and that, in spite of the fact that water has been investigated extensively at a molecular level and there is no evidence that it has a ‘memory’ longer than a quadrillionth of a second, it is always possible that this will change and in future the exact opposite will prove to be true.”

    That would not be skepticism, that would be idiotic.

    Of course every conclusion is provisional and should be revised in light of good evidence to the contrary but that doesn’t preclude my holding a position of absolute certainty on topics until such evidence does, in fact, come to light. This attempt to redefine what scientific skepticism is in order to score points against skepticism is just boring.

  36. Skepticbarista on January 21, 2011 at 8:54 pm


    (genuine) Well done on taking your kids out or RE and making a stand against religious myth & mysticism. RE in our schools starts from the premis that God exists, rather than teaching our children to question blind faith. It is nothing short of astounding that in 2011 we still teach our children about Bronze Age Gods & Iron Age Prophets!

    On the question of homeopathy and ‘why bother’. Well for me that’s simple ….

    Pharmacies on our highstreet sell sugar pills to cure colds – no direct harm in that, however the indirect harm is done when people see these pills sold alongside regular medicines and assume that these ineffective little sugar pills can actually work.
    Those same people then see homeopaths selling pills to protect against malaria, help cure cancer and treat STD’s – in that there is clear and direct harm:

    This is one such homeopath who worked local to me ….

    For homeopathy to work the everything we know about chemistry, biology and physics needs to be rewritten.

    I have a friend who is a deputy head teacher and uses homeopathy, when I explained to her how it claims to work, her reply was “well if that’s true it can’t work” …… but she still uses it!

    Show me some reliable, robust, high quality evidence and I’ll change my mind on God, Homeopathy, Craniosacral therapy / Cranial Ostoepathy …….. and yes even chiropractic!


  37. Richard Lanigan on January 21, 2011 at 8:05 pm

    Skepticat, I know next to nothing about homeopathy but if its true as you say that “homeopathic ‘remedies’ contains no active ingredients and it makes no difference if they are used “alongside conventional medicines” why do skeptics care so much about people using them. Surely not just to help a few poorly informed idiots travelling in the developing world?

    Its far more ludicrous to be eating the body and drinking the blood of Christ, sceptics dont seem to get nearly as excited about the teaching of creation in (non faith) state schools, there is no mention of Darwin, or that Jesus and Mary were the only white people in the middle east in the year 0 .

    My partner and I have taken my kids out of RE because they came home one day wanting to be christened “its how parents show love for their children” . A child recently asked my Isabelle why she did not stay for RE class. I was so proud of her skeptical answer “its taken our builders three months to renovate our house so she did not believe that God could have made the world in a week.

    God and an afterlife makes no sense to me at all, however many believe in it so I cant be absolutely certain he does not exist. 99% is not certain a true skeptic keeps an open mind. So while science can “disprove” scientific theories, it can not prove something to be 100% true, thats for philosophers to discuss.

  38. Barney on January 21, 2011 at 7:12 pm

    Actually there was a study done many years ago and shown on Panorama by Christopher Day MRCVS.

    He took a large herd of cows infected with mastitis: half were given the standard antibiotics and the other half a homeopathic tincture in their drinking trough – so little chance of pacebo effect there.

    The second group recovered from the mastitis in the same time as the controls with the added advantage of cheaper meds and not having to throw away antibiotic contaminated milk.

  39. Fedup on January 21, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    I have already replied to all of what you have just said on zenos site, I think it’s in the spam bin he may put it up soon.

    being 100% sure is not being skeptical, you cannot deny there may be something there that hasn’t been found or proved yet.

    “Now, though, scientists are debating clues that suggest the laws of physics change over time. University of California scientists are among the major players on both sides of the debate, which threatens to shake up our basic notions of reality.

    At stake is one of the fundamental values in physics: the arcane-sounding “fine structure constant,” which measures how subatomic particles interact with light and with each other. ”

    “The laws of science are various established scientific laws, or physical laws as they are sometimes called, that are considered universal and invariable facts of the physical universe. Laws of science may, however, be disproved if new facts or evidence contradicts them.”

  40. Skepticat on January 21, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    @fed up

    Am I 100% sure that there is no chance of finding a mechanism whereby a remedy that contains no active ingredients could work? Yes, of course. Would I use the statement that there is no good evidence that homeopathy works? Yes, because it’s true.

    If the principles on which homeopathy is based were true, then the laws of physics, chemistry and biology would be wrong. The most obvious one is that the more you dilute something, it becomes weaker it becomes, not the more “potentised” as homeoquacks claim. If you don’t believe this, you might like to try and experiment at home. Personally, I’ve experimented with many different substances and repeated those experiments millions of times already and I am satisfied that the schoolbooks have this one right. The stuff about “like treating like” is a load of pre-science nonsense too.

    Furthermore, we have learned from the hundreds of pointless trials conducted on homepathic treatments that there is no evidence whatsoever that homepathic remedies work. Sometimes there is a placebo effect, sometimes not but when there is, this is most likely explained by the lengthy consultation with a sympathetic homeopath rather than any remedy prescribed. Hasn’t Homeopathy defender Dr George Lewith of Southampton University virtually said as much?

    So how do you counter this? By reading a great deal more into a comment than it actually says! Neither in the quote you cherry-picked, nor anywhere else, does Yeo Valley specify that they have seen *better* results after introducing homeopathy into their armoury. Nor do they give any example that would persuade anyone with more than half a brain that homeopathy actually works on anything. If you leave the quote in context and read the whole of what Yeo Valley are saying, you will see they only mention “warding-off flies and easing the cows’ stress levels when having their feet clipped” as problems they have tried to treat with homeopathy. Much more disturbing is the fact that they spout a load of nonsense about how homeopathy strengthens the immune system, etc. etc.

    So the “excellent results” claim would in fact seem to mean that they think that homeopathy has made the cows better able to ward off flies and less stressed by having their feet clipped – but they don’t explain how they arrived at those conclusions – and perhaps that the cows immune systems have been ‘strengthened’ but they offer no evidence for that at all.

    It is you who has interpreted “excellent results” to mean “better results than we were getting before we started”, which is, of course, exactly what they are hoping you will think as they try to defend the indefensible. I must say I’m surprised that you fell for it hook, line and sinker. It seems you’ve learned nothing about critical thinking in the past year.

    May I suggest, if you wish to continue this conversation, we do so under the relevant article on Zeno’s blog? It’s not really about placebo and therefore doesn’t seem to have any place here.

  41. Fedup on January 21, 2011 at 11:53 am

    Ok if the quote wasn’t from zeno then I apologise, but he still used it. Skepticat, are you 100% sure there is no chance of ever finding a plausible mechanism to explain why homeopathy could possibly work? Are you absolutely 100% sure? Or would you use the statement no evidence at the moment?
    Your argument about using homeopathy with conventional medicine holds no weight either. As they have possibly thousands of cattle they would, by law, have to have used conventional medicine and would have done so from the beggining of their business, but they state “approximately 18 months and have seen some excellent results which has been a pleasant and surprising experience for us” The only difference in the last 18 months would have been the inclusion of homeopathic remedies after years of conventional medicine.
    Again you spout the old regression to the mean, but in what context? You don’t even know what “excellent results” they are referring to, neither does zeno. If Yeo valley have treated thousands of their cattle and seen changes in NUMBERS of cases of mastitis or seen changes in the VOLUME of milk produced how can you possibly use the age old regression theory?
    All that has happened is that you have shown the biggoted side of your personality.
    Any sentence from any business or producer that includes homeopathy is wrong and is not scientific and obviously does not know what they are doing.

  42. Skepticat on January 21, 2011 at 10:55 am

    @fed up

    You said, “What a stupid thing to say, read their statement again. ” for approximately 18 months and have seen some excellent results which has been a pleasant and surprising experience for us” this is WHY they use homeopathy.”

    You’re the one who should read their statement again. It actually says,

    “As a result, we have been using homeopathic treatments on our Yeo Valley farms alongside conventional medicines for approximately 18 months and have seen some excellent results which has been a pleasant and surprising experience for us.”

    As homeopathic ‘remedies’ contains no active ingredients, it makes no difference if they are used “alongside conventional medicines” or not. It follows that the “excellent results” seen by the respondent are attributable either to the conventional medicines or just to regression to mean. That there is no robust scientific evidence that homeopathic ‘remedies’ work in any way on anyone or anything, is hardly surprising as there is no plausible mechanism by which homeopathic ‘remedies’ can work.

    What’s more, the quote you appear to be attributing to Zeno, is actually lifted from a briefing paper from Sense about Science as Zeno makes quite clear.

    Sorry, but Zeno is not the stupid one here.

  43. Fedup on January 20, 2011 at 6:06 pm

    Comments gone from zenos blog. Another here.

    “So it’s gone eh?
    What I’m getting at is that your statement
    “However, these trials depend on human observations that, without standardised observational measures or independent veterinary surgeons, can suffer significant (unintentional) bias. Those studies that correct for observational biases show that homeopathy does not work.”

    has no basis. What does yeo valley treat its cattle for? How many head of cattle is given homeopathy? Why? What are the outcomes? If the outcomes are that the cows look happier then I would agree it’s observational, but what if it’s levels of mastitis decreasing or increased milk production? What would be your explanation? Don’t spout about science and evidence then make crap statements when you don’t know what you are talking about.”

  44. Fedup on January 20, 2011 at 6:06 pm

    Comments gone from zenos blog. Another here.

    “So it’s gone eh?
    What I’m getting at is that your statement
    “However, these trials depend on human observations that, without standardised observational measures or independent veterinary surgeons, can suffer significant (unintentional) bias. Those studies that correct for observational biases show that homeopathy does not work.”

    has no basis. What does yeo valley treat its cattle for? How many head of cattle is given homeopathy? Why? What are the outcomes? If the outcomes are that the cows look happier then I would agree it’s observational, but what if it’s levels of mastitis decreasing or increased milk production? What would be your explanation? Don’t spout about science and evidence then make crap statements when you don’t know what you are talking about.”

  45. Fedup on January 20, 2011 at 3:19 pm


    Zeno has written to Yeo Valley because they use homeopathy on their cows. In his letter he put.”Please do not let yourselves be convinced that the animals are helped by homeopathy”

    FFS he is now telling a multi national company how to look after their cattle!!! He seems to know everything when infact he can’t see past the end of his research tinted nose.
    This was their reply.

    “As a result, we have been using homeopathic treatments on our Yeo Valley farms alongside conventional medicines for approximately 18 months and have seen some excellent results which has been a pleasant and surprising experience for us.”

    But the cow expert Zeno is avin non of it.

    ” However, these trials depend on human observations that, without standardised observational measures or independent veterinary surgeons, can suffer significant (unintentional) bias.”

    A very sweeping statement especially as he doesn’t have a fuckin clue what the cows would/ are being treated for never mind outcomes, observational or not.
    Zeno also said.
    “I would certainly hope that your farmers are already very observant and empathic, but homeopathy is not required for that.”

    What a stupid thing to say, read their statement again. ” for approximately 18 months and have seen some excellent results which has been a pleasant and surprising experience for us” this is WHY they use homeopathy.

    Can’t they see it’s all placebo those stupid cows!

    I have tried to post on Zenos site but for some reason my comments don’t make it through.

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