If at first you don't succeed

[BPSDB] Otto Weingärtner explains, in the latest issue of J. Alt. Complement. Med.,1 that in clinical trials more accurate results come from those trials which have larger numbers of participants, supporting the methodology of Shang et al..2 Shang et al. ranked trials of both homeopathy and proper medicine according to the “quality” and number of participants, and found that better quality trials of homeopathy with larger numbers of participants tended to show smaller differences between homeopathy and placebo. This is in accordance with Bernoulli's “weak law of large numbers” which explains how data scatters randomly about the true value but the mean converges to be as close as you like to the true value as you obtain more and more data. By taking more and more data, by performing trials with many participants and by performing meta-analyses to pool the results of trials, the effects of random scatter are slowly averaged away.

Of course, that's not what Weingärtner thinks that he has explained.Collapse )


It's a no-brainer

From the 3rd September 2008 daily edition of The Roman Observer. The translation is my own, and in cases where I couldn't understand the Italian I've tried to render the English similarly incomprehensible. I will claim, in the case of inaccuracy, that my translation is divinely inspired or something. I'm publishing the full text because I doubt that there's going to be any other way to get hold of it after the end of today.

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That's the way (aha, aha)...

.. I Leick it (aha, aha)

BPSDBPhilippe Leick [1,2] wrote a letter [3] (as did many others) to Homeopathy to comment on papers by Lionel Milgrom [4] and Otto Weingärtner [5]. Milgrom responded [6], as did Harald Walach [7] (a coauthor of the Weak Quantum Theory paper [8], previously criticised by Leick [1]) and Leick dealt with this in a JREF thread.

These are the key points from Milgrom (another point is addressed elsewhere on JREF) which Leick deals with, to which I'll add my own comments:

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Further misunderstanding of coherence

Comment on “Macroscopic Quantum Coherence in Patient-Practitioner-Remedy Entanglement: The Quantized Fluctuation Field Perspective” [eCAM Advance Access published online on May 14, 2008].

Submitted 8th July 2008, online 11th July 2008

BPSDBAlex Hankey (1) has written to support and defend Lionel Milgrom (2,3), but does so in his own terms of “quantum fluctuation fields” in biological systems (4) rather than Milgrom's model (often referred to as a metaphor (5)) of patient-practitioner-remedy entanglement (6) via “weak” quantum theory (7). Quantum fluctuation fields are supposed to demonstrate quantum coherence on a macroscopic scale, but the reasoning behind this is flawed; in any case, a link between these two models is not to be taken for granted (8,9).

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Weak quantum theory and quantum critical point fluctuations...

... do not in fact have anything to do with each other

BPSDBWhile writing my eLetter regarding Alex Hankey's (1) support and defence of Lionel Milgrom (2), I took a look at a short letter written by Hankey entitled “Weak Quantum Theory: Satisfied by Quantized Critical Point Fluctuations” (3). Only the first page is freely available, but I’m assuming his reference to Walach is Ref. (4) and the reference to weak quantum theory is Atmanspacher et al. (5).

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The futility of transcendental speculations

BPSDBLionel Milgrom's latest paper, “A New Geometrical Description of Entanglement and the Curative Homeopathic Process” [1], as introduced by Alex Hankey (“Self-Consistent Theories of Health and Healing” [2]) quotes Hahnemann saying that

“The unprejudiced observer is well aware of the futility of transcendental speculations which can receive no confirmation from experience.”

Milgrom's futile transcendental speculations have been going on for six years. This latest paper is light on equations but heavy on pictures and mysticism and further from science (and indeed reality) than ever. But it's still possible to find some things which are meaningful enough to be wrong.Collapse )