Without evidence of benefit, an intervention should not be presumed to be beneficial or safe.

- Rogue Medic

No Stupidity Remedy

Another Normal Sinus Rhythm post. Read the rest, too. NSR Week 5

I don’t recall how I ended up watching this video (farther down in the post), but a claim that Homeopathy can cure, or even prevent, malaria just demands some attention. Malaria is about as bad a disease as can be found in the modern world.

One source of information about illnesses is eMedicine. They provide articles, written by experts, about all of the diseases out there. They have it broken down by specialty. Emergency medicine being the one that appeals to me, is the one I use. They bug you to register, but registration is free. They have an emergency medicine article about malaria. The first sentence puts it in some perspective.

Malaria is the most deadly vector borne disease in the world.

Vector? What’s a vector?

Here is a definition from Dorland’s Medical Dictionary.

vector (vek´tәr) a carrier, especially an animal such as an arthropod that transfers an infective agent from one host to another. Examples are the mosquito that carries the malaria parasite Plasmodium between humans, and the tsetse fly that carries trypanosomes from other animals to humans. Dogs, bats, and other animals are vectors that transmit the rabies virus to humans.

From the video, Dr. Behrens states:

The mosquito injects a parasite into your body, which then divides every two to three days.

That doesn’t sound all that bad. One reason for that is that math is taught poorly. If you take a penny and double it every day for 31 days, it does start out slowly, but once there is a significant number that is doubling the increase is dramatic. Some examples of this doubling:

Day 1 – $0.01
Day 2 – $0.02
Day 3 – $0.04
Day 4 – $0.08
Day 5 – $0.16

You begin to see that this is the same as increasing the exponent (the day minus one) on the number 2. 2 to the first power (Day 2 minus one) is 2 (21). 2 to the second power (Day 3 minus one) is 4 (22). 2 to the third power (Day 4 minus one) is 8 (23). The mathematical way to write Day n minus one is n-1 (2n-1). Doubling for 31 days would then produce 230 (231-1). Then to convert to pennies, divide by 100. So, 21/100 = $0.02, 22/100 = $0.04, 23/100 = $0.08, 2n-1/100, 230/100 (231-1/100) = $10,737,418.24. Anyway, back to the list. Skip a bit, Brother…

Day 10 – $5.12

Day 15 – $163.84

Day 20 – $5,242.88

Day 25 – $167,772.16

Day 28 – $1,342,177.28 – over a million dollars from just one penny doubling each day.
Day 29 – $2,684,354.56
Day 30 – $5,368,709.12
Day 31 – $10,737,418.24 – over ten million dollars just 3 days later.

Day 40 – $5,497,558,138.88 – about 5 1/2 billion dollars 12 days after hitting a million. Remember that this is in pennies, so it is actually over a half trillion pennies at this point. What if the friendly little Anopheles mosquito does not inject just one protozoan parasite, but many? Then you have to skip down the list a bit to get to the point where the doubling would start.

From Day 40 – One more day and you have one trillion, one hundred million pennies. It’s a good thing these are not Plasmodium. There would be other limits on growth, but this gives you an example of how rapid exponential growth can be.

So, after that bit of math excitement, you can see that something reproducing that quickly, even when starting with an extremely small amount, can be overwhelming. That it does not need more than a tiny mosquito bite to kill someone.

If you believe in Homeopathy, you believe it does not take a lot to heal, or to prevent illness. Unfortunately for the people who believe this, Homeopathy does not work. Ooops.

It’s the worst end of the spectrum of alternative medicine. That’s why I’m rather angry about it.

So says Professor Ernst in the video. He is professor of Complementary Medicine, from the Peninsula Medical School in Exeter, UK.

When watching the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) South West Inside Out video that investigates Neal’s Yard Remedies, keep the following information in mind. The advice from this company is that you do not need anything more than some water that remembers something to be protected from this extremely dangerous illness. I’m not a lawyer, but providing someone with a useless glass of water and telling them they don’t need to take antimalarial medicine, knowing they will be traveling in areas where malaria is rampant, should be something that leads to a murder trial. Maybe you will be acquitted by a jury. Maybe you won’t.

In my opinion Neal’s Yard Remedies is murdering people for a bit of money. The company is private, at least I did not see any investor information links on their site, so I would only be guessing about how much they make with their recklessness medical advice.

The reporter went to Neal’s Yard and told staff that she would be traveling in the Congo and Namibia, these are in sub-Saharan Africa. This is like saying that you have a magic potion to keep sharks away, so it OK for your customer to go swimming with sharks.

Susan Curtis is the “medical director” for this company. She demonstrates an ability to continue to make ridiculous statements with a straight face, up until even she can’t stand it anymore and Oh for Pete’s sake, he’s fleeing the interview! He’s fleeing the interview!

At risk for contraction of malaria are nonimmune persons living in or traveling to areas of Central and South America, Hispaniola, sub-Saharan Africa, the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Oceania. Of these areas, sub-Saharan Africa has the highest occurrence of P falciparum transmission to travelers from the US.

The South West Inside Out programme (BBC) interviews Susan Curtis about sales of treatments for malaria prophylaxis.

More video on Homeopathy from the BBC. This is a 5 part video, total time of about 50 minutes, but excellent information about how people, including scientists make mistakes. The other parts are below in order, so that it is easy to watch all of them. They are cut in odd places, but the whole show is there. Definitely worth watching if you have an interest in science.

On his site, The James Randi Educational Foundation, James Randi states why he thinks that this will do nothing to discourage these frauds who promote Homeopathy. The very beginning of the article is copied below.

This last Tuesday, the BBC-TV “Horizon” show was broadcast in the UK. That’s the one I mentioned a while back, for which I visited the UK to make contributions. Immediately following the broadcast, I participated in an Internet discussion about the program. Many viewers expressed their conviction that we’d heard the death-knell of this form of quackery; I disagreed. To explain my reluctance to join the funeral procession, I offer readers this:

Oliver Wendell Holmes, (1809-1894) was a celebrated physician, poet, humorist and professor of anatomy and physiology at Harvard, as well as the father of O.W.H. Junior (1841-1935) , who became a renowned justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1842, Senior wrote an essay, “Homeopathy and Its Kindred Delusions,” which had originally been presented by him as two lectures to the Boston Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. This essay was reproduced in “Examining Holistic Medicine” (Prometheus Books, 1985).

I present here two excerpts from the essay, to illustrate just how little the situation has changed in the last 160 years.

In 1835 a public challenge was offered to the best-known Homeopathic physician in Paris to select any ten substances asserted to produce the most striking effects; to prepare them himself; to choose one by lot without knowing which of them he had taken, and try it upon himself or an intelligent and devoted Homeopathist, and, waiting his own time, to come forward and tell what substance had been employed. The challenge was at first accepted, but the acceptance was retracted before the time of trial arrived.

Sound familiar? In April of 1999, Nobel Laureate Brian Josephson publicly challenged the American Physical Society (APS) to conduct tests of the claims of Dr. Jacques Benveniste in regard to homeopathy, at the same time predicting that the APS would fear to do so. I advised the APS to accept Josephson’s challenge, and they did so. They also offered to pay all costs of the tests. From that day to this — three years and seven months ago — we have not heard from either Brian Josephson, nor Jacques Benveniste….

Holmes Senior concluded:

From all this I think it fair to conclude that the catalogues of symptoms attributed in Homeopathic works to the influence of various drugs upon healthy persons are not entitled to any confidence.

BBC Horizon performs the ultimate test of Homeopathy. This is the complete 1 hour episode which gives accounts of the first test of homeopathy done by Nature Magazine at Jacque Benveniste’s lab in the 1980’s. Also included is BBC Horizon’s test in which they attempted to take the James Randi million dollar challenge.

The other 4 videos are below.

A comment on the Homeopathy for animals, Clever Hans – the horse who could count, was responding to the expectations of those around him. The placebo effect is a person’s body responding to similar expectations. Why would animals be immune to the placebo effect. Aside from the placebo effect are spontaneous remission and misdiagnosis. Many people recover regardless of treatment and many never had the illness they were diagnosed with. These are some of the ways that “miracle cures” come about.

If the person never had the illness, but was diagnosed, perhaps by a practitioner of defensive medicine, and is later found to be free of the disease, has anyone healed the patient?

No.

If the patient recovers in spite of the treatment, has anyone cured the patient?

No.

If you were to actually go to a homeopath for treatment, you should pay them in kind – “Here is a penny, but it retains the memory of all of the other money that was with it at various points in time. At one point, it was in a mint with billions of dollars.”

I am certainly not recommending that you associate with such quacks.

These idiots keep turning down the million dollar offer. It is as if they do not believe in what they are selling. If you believe it works and you could use an extra million dollars, then why not?

.

Comments

  1. Dilute 1 shot of vodka 1000 times.Get roaring drunk because the water ‘remembers’ the vodka. These homeopathic twits could be a real cheap date!

  2. 30yr ff/pm said…”These homeopathic twits could be a real cheap date!”True, but would you really want to spend any time with them? If you are a serial killer, sure, I recommend some Homeopaths as a way of giving back to the community. Sort of a tithing. Whether you interpret that as taking 10% off of the Homeopath, or having 10% of the “clientele” be Homeopaths, is not really important. It’s the thought that counts. Or the memory of the thought. Or the thought of the memory. Or the thought of the memory of the thought, . . . . :-)Nobody else should have to, or want to, put up with Homeopaths.

  3. Malaria = Bad shit.Any disease that Evolution faces and decides “Hey, sickle-cell anemia seems like a good deal” is truly a-whole-nother level of bad shit.

  4. ParaCynic,Excellent point. When sickle cell is the evolutionary advantage, the disadvantage is on whole different level.

  5. Hey! I really enjoyed your comment about the VIP treatment over on “Asystole”…I think you ought to do a posting on that VIP-itis thing sometime. Fascinating!BTW-this was also an interesting read. Do you ever sleep???

  6. Albinoblackbear,I would like to find the original paper. It has been a long time and I would not want to present inaccurate information. You are correct about it being an interesting topic.Sleep? What’s that?

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