#1 - Posted: 14/08/2008 10:47
i am a physician who graduated from the university of chicago school of medicine in 1978. as an undergrad i was phi beta kappa and magnum cum laude with a b.a. in biology/chemistry. i have been a practicing physician for the past 30 years. since 1991, however, my medical practice has been entirely alternative, or complementary as we like to say these days. my primary focus since 1994 has been classical homeopathy. perhaps you will consider me one of the "cranks who run tthe show," but i don't run anything except my own life and my own medical practice.
i can tell you this about homeopathy: it does work, and when it works it works beautifully. that is to say when it works it can effect cures rapidly and smoothly. it can work in common acute conditions that are adequately treated by main-stream medicine, but most people come to see me for chronic conditions for which there is no truly effective treatment in main-stream medicine.
so, first we establish that it does work. this cannot be done by researching in the natural history museum or even in university medical libraries. it will only be understood from within the framework of its own paradigm, not from the point of view of a different paradigm. please note, establishing that it does work is not the same as explaining how it works. here we have a phenomenon that has practical application, but for which we do not yet have a suitable explaination. yes, it's true that the implications of homeopathy fly in the face of our current understanding of matter and chemistry. like all anomalous phenomena, which are the very subject of your book, 13 things...., we first establish that something is a genuine phenomenon, that it has an empirical reality. in terms of homeopathy we establish that it has a clinical validity. only after this do we seek to explain the phenomenon.
in terms of its clinical validity, you will no doubt grant me that patients have seemingly been helped by it, but you will say that it could be placebo. well, first of all every time i give a homeopathic medicine to a patient i fully expect it to work, and the patient has every hope that it will work too. that being the case, the placebo effect should work every time, so in effect all my treatments should be a placebo success. well, of course that is not the case, i can struggle with a case for weeks or months, giving several different medicines, until finally i give the right one, which goes on to work beautifully. furthermore, i will tell you that it works when the medicines are given unbeknownst to the patient, eg in his meal or when he is asleep. it also works with animals. in these cases the receiver has no expectations so how can his results be placebo? to absolutely establish clinical validity from a scientific perspective, not just relying on "anecdotal evidence", i think the best approach would be to do a prospective study comparing clinical outcomes of 3 groups of patients. the first group would be treated conventionally, the second group homeopathically, and the third group would remain untreated as a control. i don't think this kind of study has been done yet but i would relish the opportunity to participate in such a project.
i have made my living with homeopathy in a country where conventional medical care is paid for by the government, but no third-party payers cover my patients' homeopathy bills. they must pay out-of-pocket. homeopathic treatment is difficult and time-consuming, and therefore is not inexpensive. my patients are not stupid, they only pay for what works. they may not know that it will work for them when they first come to see me, but virtually everyone who comes to me, does so because they know someone for whom it did work.
this post has been quite lengthy, my apologies. once we are all on the same page, that is, that we are dealing with a genuine and useful phenomenon, then maybe we can enter into discussions about how it may be explained. the importance of anomalous phenomena, as surely everyone on this site should understand, is that you can't sweep them under the rug just because you can't explain them or because they seem to contravene current scientific principles. anomalous phenomena will become the very cornerstones of future discoveries.