Oy. Via David Colquhoun on Twitter, I’m reading a PhD thesis on homeopathy and Evidence Based Medicine, one that argues that EBM gets it all wrong. I have learned that homeopathy is not just the dilution – tut tut, that’s just silly – it’s dilution that gets dynamized. You didn’t know that, did you. Scientistic bastards.
One might draw an analogy with the relationship between a cake and the cake-mixture. To argue that cake-mixture is a delicious complement to tea because cake is, is clearly to neglect that cake is cooked cake-mixture. And so, to argue that homeopathic treatments are not effective medicines because high dilutions are not, is to neglect that homeopathic treatments are dynamized high dilutions. Of course, this analogy ignores the major point of contention. While cooking clearly turns cake-mixture into a delicious complement to tea, it is controversial whether dynamization really does turn high dilutions into effective medicines.
“Controversial” only in the sense that there are people who insist on ignoring the evidence that it doesn’t.
Proponents of homeopathy contest the Canonical Criticism’s framing of the evidential debate in a variety of ways. Below two of the main challenges are noted: first, that the interpretation of EBM in the Canonical Criticism is naïve and unsophisticated…
It is argued that the interpretation of EBM in the Canonical Criticism is ‘scientistic’, and that focusing only on the results of placebo controlled trials fails to not [sic] provide the range of evidence needed to evaluate whether homeopathy works. That is to say, proponents of homeopathy argue that the question of whether homeopathy works cannot be sufficiently answered by evidence from randomised trials, because other evidence is also necessary…The problem identified here is that randomised trials have, according to proponents of homeopathy, been reified in the Canonical Criticism.
Uh huh. Power-knowledge; Foucault; paradigm bingo.
The conclusion starts on page 260, in case you want to end the suspense.