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AIDS woo
January 16, 2009 3:24 AM   Subscribe

Yet more AIDS woo in Africa. First, Thabo Mbeki's AIDS policy lead to an estimated 300 000 additional deaths in South Africa. Now, magic water peddler Jeremy Sherr proposes testing homeopathic remedies for AIDS with two groups, one group on ARV and one on homeopathy, as "Placebo treatment is considered unethical in AIDS" (note: archived link from here via here) .

After a number of science bloggers pointed out in the comments that, due to the nature of homeopathy, the trial would be inherantly unethical under the terms of the Declaration of Helsink, not to mention morally questionable, the re-write began. Via the ever wonderful Gimpy. Much, much more in the links, including serious questions raised about funding recieved for this trail and the ethical standards in place at some higher education and CAM institutes.
posted by fatfrank (28 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Homeopathy.
posted by Science! at 3:28 AM on January 16, 2009


I can't believe that you get homeopathy on the NHS. It's vile nonsense.
posted by chuckdarwin at 3:41 AM on January 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


Because what it sounds to me like you are doing is testing an unproven cure (in a way that will not generate useful data) on poor and uneducated people whom, if you are wrong, will die after infect others who will also die.

I'm not a lawyer, but I believe that in the west, that would be criminal behavior.


I don't think there is a better summary available.
posted by chuckdarwin at 3:45 AM on January 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Disgusting. Truly disgusting.

Here's a good resource: "Homeopathy: the ultimate fake." (Quackwatch)

Anyone who believes this shit works is an idiot. Period.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:43 AM on January 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


One of the biggest anti-woo Blogs on the internet, Respectful Insolence, deserves a mention here too.
posted by Midnight Rambler at 5:44 AM on January 16, 2009


What's the harm?
posted by device55 at 6:47 AM on January 16, 2009


Jeremy Sherr should be the first and only test subject.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 7:13 AM on January 16, 2009


I can't believe that you get homeopathy on the NHS.

Short answer: Because it has some powerful patrons. The trust that Chuck and several of his relatives place in that quackery is one of the main factors in my utter lack of respect for them.
posted by Skeptic at 7:18 AM on January 16, 2009


Oh jesus christ!
posted by OmieWise at 7:23 AM on January 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


*snarls*
posted by rtha at 7:33 AM on January 16, 2009


From skimming the links, I can't see what kind of actual insititutional support this proposal has. Is this just one guy's crazy idea, or has he been given permission and resources to go ahead with a trial?
posted by amphioxus at 7:52 AM on January 16, 2009


I find it so odd that people I know, who are tremendously resentful of, say, certain conservatives for sabotaging research on global warming, or Christians for attempting to teach Creationism in the classroom, nonetheless have no problem rejecting science when it comes to the subject of medicine and trip over themselves trying to get to the next batch of snake oil peddled by the dodgiest con man they could find. Oh, so science is good enough for you except when it comes to your health?

What bothers me most is that these people then take it upon themselves to dispense their nonsense as medical advice. I am dieting right now, and can't tell you how much detox crap people have sent my way, thinking they are being helpful. God forbid I should ever get really sick, like people with AIDS; there is always someone on hand ready to kill you with well-meaning psuedomedical horseshit.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:14 AM on January 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


amphioxus

According to this page, from Jeremy Sheer's school's site, they have the support of "Muhumbili University of Health Sciences in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania and the Department of Integrative Medicine at the University of Maryland, USA."

Some documented funding is coming from the Homeopathy Action Trust, accounts here, but that's only 2007. This years accounts aren't out yet.

He is also solicting donations to the cause, to be sent to Homeopaths Without Borders or the American Medical College of Homeopathy. Whother those two institutions are throwing in additional funding as well, I don't know.
posted by fatfrank at 8:24 AM on January 16, 2009


> I can't believe that you get homeopathy on the NHS. It's vile nonsense.

It sorts out the "worried well" who routinely clog up GPs' waiting rooms, and, as alternative therapies go, is pretty harmless. Not a bad thing, and hey, if people are getting it free, at least they're personally not being scammed out of their money.
posted by iivix at 8:54 AM on January 16, 2009


Thanks fatfrank-- however, as indicated in the "re-write" link above, the people at Dar Es Salaam deny any connection, and I can't find any evidence that a "Department of Integrative Medicine at the University of Maryland, USA." exists. There is a Center for Integrative Medicine at University of Maryland School of Medicine. The website there does mention any AIDS-related studies.

This situation would be more alarming if there were evidence that an ethical review board or a real funding agency had approved a trial.
posted by amphioxus at 8:59 AM on January 16, 2009


Not a bad thing, and hey, if people are getting it free, at least they're personally not being scammed out of their money.

Socialized healthcare isn't free. British taxpayers ARE getting scammed.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 9:07 AM on January 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


"Not a bad thing, and hey, if people are getting it free, at least they're personally not being scammed out of their money."
They're not getting it free. It's coming out of their taxes. I don't think the "personally" side really comes into it. Plus while major treatments are free on the NHS, prescriptions for the majority of people are not completely free and carry a (flat rate) surcharge.

In fact not only are they being scammed out of their money, they're being scammed out of my money.
posted by edd at 9:12 AM on January 16, 2009


and, as alternative therapies go, is pretty harmless.

Until people use acceptance by the NHS as the basis to springboard into providing magic water to cure actual diseases.
posted by rodgerd at 10:40 AM on January 16, 2009


I've been successfully avoiding full blown skin failure with homeopathy treatment for years now.
posted by orme at 11:20 AM on January 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Every time someone offers me anything homeopathic to treat cold or flu symptoms I tell them that placebos don't work when you know they're a placebo.
posted by Pseudology at 1:34 PM on January 16, 2009


Every time someone offers me anything homeopathic to treat cold or flu symptoms I tell them that placebos don't work when you know they're a placebo.


Oh my god! By telling people that homeopathy doesn't work, we're destroying its effectiveness! Mage: the Ascension was right!
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:26 PM on January 16, 2009


I think it might make sense to have homeopathic remedies for diseases and problems where placebos have been shown to have high effectiveness. Depression is one, for example. But obviously placebos for any communicable diseases would be horrible.
posted by delmoi at 3:58 PM on January 16, 2009


Hey, speaking of Charlitans and AIDS, did you hear about Rick Warren's "work" on AIDS in Africa? Turns out one of his point men advocated criminalizing homosexuality. and burned a stack of condoms in Jesus's name.

Oh, and Rick Warren also said his followers need to Follow Jesus the way fat kids follow cake Germans followed Hitler.
posted by delmoi at 4:08 PM on January 16, 2009


Again, I must promote my perfected remedy for all ills: homeopathic application of oxygen to the suffering organism. After a mere five minutes, every malady reported by the vic subject is vanquished, and forevermore. It is terminally effective, I guarantee!
posted by five fresh fish at 6:10 PM on January 16, 2009


What is "skin failure," full blown or otherwise, orme?
posted by fourcheesemac at 6:58 PM on January 16, 2009


What is "skin failure," full blown or otherwise, orme?

"There's a crazy man with a scalpel in ER! He's demanding to see a quack!"
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:15 PM on January 16, 2009


iivix: hey, if people are getting it free, at least they're personally not being scammed out of their money.

of course, the NHS is paying for it, meaning the taxpayer is being scammed out of their money. money that might have been spent on real treatment for actually sick people.
posted by marmaduke_yaverland at 6:09 AM on January 17, 2009


Couldn't NHS pay like $.02 for water, label it "Homeopathic Remedy X", and be done? Hire some low-education con artist, which should be a cheap salary, and have him hand out the different colored bottles.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 12:13 PM on January 17, 2009


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