Psychology, Science, and Pseudoscience: Class #11 (CAM: Homeopathy)

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In short: Complementary and alternative therapies have in common (a) biological implausibility and (b) therapeutic inefficacy. Our first example is homeopathy

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Psychology, Science, and Pseudoscience: Class #11 (CAM: Homeopathy)

  1. 1. PS409 Psychology, Science, & Pseudoscience Dr Brian Hughes School of Psychologybrian.hughes@nuigalway.ie @b_m_hughes
  2. 2. Case Studies:Examples of Psychology-related Pseudoscience
  3. 3. Case Studies from Outside Mainstream Psychology:1. Complementary and alternative medicine/therapies
  4. 4. Name Content Everyday use Homoeopathic use Potassium Batteries; dye; photoKali bichromium Weakness bichromate chemicals Deadly Aches and pains; highBelladonna Poison nightshade feverArsenicum album Arsenic Rat poison; herbicide Infant diarrhoeaArnica Arnica Montana Assassination Bruises; fall injuries Hypericum Abortifacient; yellow Injuries to fingers andHypericum perforatum dye; antidepressant toes Spice for meat; Puncture wounds;Ledum Ledum palustre laxative insect stings Poison ivy (RhusRhus tox toxicodendron) Poison Nappy rash; sprains Aconitum Repelling Mental shock; frightAconite napellus werewolves; poison Matricaria DermatologicalChamomilla Irritability in children chamomilla antiseptic PyrethrumFeverfew parthenium Herbal medicine* Aches and pains
  5. 5. Choosing the ‘right’ homeopathicremedy Consultation of a Homoeopathic Materia Medica, or equivalent First was by Hahnemann Others common Boericke’s Materia Medica Kent’s Repertory
  6. 6. Efficacy of CAM By end of 20th century, approximately 1,500 reports of clinical-trials of CAM published annually Medline: number of publications trebled from 1994 to 2003 (Ernst et al., 2005) Cochrane Library: 10,000+ clinical trials  “Randomized Controlled Trials” (RCTs)  Placebo controlled  (Double-)blinding  Meta-analysis  Systematic reviews
  7. 7. CAM efficacy: HomeopathyPlausibility issues: Law of similars, law of infinitesimals ‘Succussion’ ‘Memory of water’ controversyEmpirical issues: Cochrane Library: 4 reviews 15 trials; 4,148 participants One ‘effect’: oscillococcinum ↓self-reported colds by 1.4 to 12 hrs In only two of seven trials Authors’ conclusion: no effect
  8. 8. CAM efficacy: HomeopathyLancet reviews Linde et al. (1997, 1999) Shang et al. (2005) Effects accounted for by poor methodological quality of researchMethodological note Poor quality trials increase Type II, rather than Type I, errors (Ezzo et al., 2000; Chalmers et al., 1983; Schulz et al., 1995; Jadad & Rennie, 1998; Moher et al., 1998)
  9. 9. Homeopathy THE IRISH TIMES
  10. 10. PS409 Psychology, Science, & Pseudoscience Dr Brian Hughes School of Psychologybrian.hughes@nuigalway.ie @b_m_hughes

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