The Trials of Edzard Ernst

Show me a hundred different scientific studies into the efficacy (or lack thereof) of any kind of therapy.  Will they all produce more or less the same findings?  No.  But why not?  If the RCT is the gold standard of assessment, surely it will just come up with truth, will it not?  Isn’t this the reason that Ernst says “Don’t shoot the messenger!” as if he didn’t play any personal role in producing those findings whatsoever, and his followers will point to his publications and say: “The science says…”

Almost as if “the science” just does itself, and Ernst’s role is rather like that of the sorcerer’s apprentice: once he has set it in motion he has no influence over the process or the outcomes…

And indeed this would be the case with all scientists, would it not?  It’s just pure science, and it simply reveals pure truth.  That’s the idea, that’s the suggestion whenever we have one study or another shoved under our noses by the cynics.  So if the cynics were right about CAM therapists – that we’re all just quacks – then all the scientific studies that have already been done (not just Ernst’s activities) would have demonstrated this beyond all doubt, would they not?  What would there be left to say?  Why bother paying him any longer? 

Back in the Real World

Of course the cynics are not suggesting that ALL scientific studies are just revealing pure truth!  How could they be, when some of them produce ‘findings’ that seem to confirm their prejudices, and some do not!  Clearly they cannot ALL be right!  So it becomes necessary to find crucial errors in the way some of those studies were designed or conducted, or the interpretation of the results…

“Really?  That can happen in Science?”

“Oh yes, but don’t worry!  Don’t lose your faith in the RCT and the Scientific Way!  If the results aren’t what we want them to be, clearly we need to do the Science differently until we get the results right!”  

For how likely is it, really, that the cynic’s PREJUDICES might be wrong in the first place?  Exactly, that couldn’t happen, because a cynic knows everything already and most especially knows for sure that anyone who doesn’t agree with them is wrong. So there is never any need to question The Science That Says The Right Thing (bless the messenger), only the Bad Science That Says The Wrong Thing (denounce the author, attack the methodology, the interpretation… call people nasty names…) yeah that’s way more scientific.  In fact the entire history of Science is full of that sort of abusive slanging match… and that’s just how scientists talk to each other, they have even less regard for people who are prepared to think outside of scientific paradigms.  Those are just Voodoo People, and should probably be burned or something.

Science says Nothing

“The Science” says nothing, mainly because there is no such thing as “The Science”.  This doesn’t make science useless, of course it doesn’t.  But it does mean that with any kind of study you read about in The Daily Rag, if you don’t know who funded it, what they are trying to achieve and whether this is part of a wider programme which hasn’t been mentioned deliberately in the press release or whether there were other trials which the authors of the press release decided not to tell The Daily Rag about because they contradict the trials that Say The Right Thing… then you only know what the press release says.

All the questions I raised about Ernst, and how on Earth he ever came to occupy that position are perfectly valid, but I know we’ll never get answers that haven’t just come from a fawning interview with an adoring hack or some dodgy press release that came from the Ernst camp anyway.  And I really can’t be bothered to exchange another pointless word with the cynics who don’t even understand the difference between skepticism and cynicism.  It is impossible to communicate in any useful way with any person who has convinced themselves before the conversation even starts that you must be a fraud, a fantasist or an idiot because you don’t already agree with them.

So I thought I’d do one last post about the boring old duffer but every time I considered it, it just seemed like a chore.  Somewhere along the line I realised that although I found it very annoying at first that he said things about hypnotherapy that were totally wrong, he’s really just another dull academic who knows nothing about it.   The fact that someone decided he could have a title that makes it sound like he’s knowledgable is irrelevant, he remains a nobody in the field of complementary therapy, his own university don’t even seem to like him, just about everything he says is negative and no ordinary member of the public I’ve ever mentioned him to has heard of him at all, so although he’s beloved by a few hacks and a small platoon of cynics, the rest of the world could not give a toss.

Therefore: neither do I.

18 thoughts on “The Trials of Edzard Ernst”

  1. The placebo effect forms the foundation of EBM. Yet the concept of a placebo effect when studied objectlvely is of dubious value. When will Ernst et al. turn the microscope around and examine EBM?

    1. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010 Jan 20;(1):CD003974.

    Placebo interventions for all clinical conditions.

    Hróbjartsson A, Gøtzsche PC.

    The Nordic Cochrane Centre, Rigshospitalet, Blegdamsvej 9, 3343, Copenhagen,
    Denmark, 2100.

    BACKGROUND: Placebo interventions are often claimed to substantially improve patient-reported and observer-reported outcomes in many clinical conditions, but most reports on effects of placebos are based on studies that have not randomised
    patients to placebo or no treatment. Two previous versions of this review from 2001 and 2004 found that placebo interventions in general did not have clinically
    important effects, but that there were possible beneficial effects on patient-reported outcomes, especially pain. Since then several relevant trials
    have been published. OBJECTIVES: Our primary aims were to assess the effect of placebo interventions in general across all clinical conditions, and to
    investigate the effects of placebo interventions on specific clinical conditions. Our secondary aims were to assess whether the effect of placebo treatments
    differed for patient-reported and observer-reported outcomes, and to explore other reasons for variations in effect. SEARCH STRATEGY: We searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL, The Cochrane Library Issue 4,
    2007), MEDLINE (1966 to March 2008), EMBASE (1980 to March 2008), PsycINFO (1887
    to March 2008) and Biological Abstracts (1986 to March 2008). We contacted experts on placebo research, and read references in the included trials.
    SELECTION CRITERIA: We included randomised placebo trials with a no-treatment control group investigating any health problem. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two authors independently assessed trial quality and extracted data. We contacted
    study authors for additional information. Trials with binary data were summarised using relative risk (a value of less than 1 indicates a beneficial effect of
    placebo), and trials with continuous outcomes were summarised using standardised mean difference (a negative value indicates a beneficial effect of placebo). MAIN RESULTS: Outcome data were available in 202 out of 234 included trials, investigating 60 clinical conditions. We regarded the risk of bias as low in only
    16 trials (8%), five of which had binary outcomes.In 44 studies with binary outcomes (6041 patients), there was moderate heterogeneity (P < 0.001; I(2) 45%)
    but no clear difference in effects between small and large trials (symmetrical funnel plot). The overall pooled effect of placebo was a relative risk of 0.93
    (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.88 to 0.99). The pooled relative risk for patient-reported outcomes was 0.93 (95% CI 0.86 to 1.00) and for observer-reported outcomes 0.93 (95% CI 0.85 to 1.02). We found no statistically significant effect of placebo interventions in four clinical conditions that had been investigated in three trials or more: pain, nausea, smoking, and depression, but confidence intervals were wide. The effect on pain varied considerably, even among trials with low risk of bias.In 158 trials with continuous outcomes (10,525 patients), there was moderate heterogeneity (P >>CONCLUSIONS: We did not find that placebo interventions have important clinical effects in general.

    However, in certain settings placebo interventions can influence patient-reported outcomes, especially pain and nausea,

    >>>though it is difficult to distinguish patient-reported effects of placebo from biased reporting.

    The effect on pain varied, even among trials with low risk of bias, from negligible to clinically important. Variations in the effect of placebo were partly explained by variations in how trials were conducted and how patients were informed.

  2. Welcome George, and thanks for that!

    In fact, this is a useful example of what I’m talking about: the problem of people who know nothing much about the Subconscious mind – such as Edzard Ernst and the Cochrane Group – investigating matters entirely pertaining to the operations of the Subconscious mind.

    All experts in the field of hypnotherapy (that doesn’t include Ernst, who certainly isn’t) will know that the pain system is controlled by the Subconscious and that pain can be reduced, relocated or switched off through standard hypnotic procedures that were already being used in surgery in the modern world as early as 1820. Nausea can have various causes but is in fact a reaction that I have personal experience of removing through hypnotherapy as an effective preparation for chemotherapy AND in the case detailed on my practice website of the ‘travel sickness’ caused by tilting trains (see second post down, “What might be holding YOU back?”). The elimination of these reactions proves that they are not simply a direct result of the chemotherapy or the tilting trains themselves, but the Subconscious mind’s REACTIONS to those experiences caused by the uncertainty of the Subconscious as to whether those things pose a threat. Appropriate reassurances to the conscious mind alone make no difference (same with phobic reactions) but appropriate reassurances presented to the Subconscious mind eliminate the reactions at once. Would a scientist with no hypnotherapy experience know how best to present such appropriate reassurances to a person’s Subconscious mind? Would Edzard Ernst? Would he know how to spot a scientific trial where that was being done inappropriately and therefore very unlikely to change anything? I would. You see? This is why training and experience matter so much.

    Smoking is a compulsive habit entirely controlled by the Subconscious mind… and I have shut down thousands of those habits over the last decade with hypnotherapy… and depression is an emotional state, so that too falls within the Subconscious domain, as do all emotions and emotional reactions.

    Question: what is a placebo effect? Answer: a positive reaction to a treatment modality that doesn’t involve an independently active agent (such as a drug). What are we left with? The reaction of the patient themselves. Since all those ‘clinical’ conditions (what does ‘clinical’ really mean in that context, anyway? Why is a smoking habit a ‘clinical condition’?) …are controlled by the mind, any number of different reactions or non-reactions are possible, both in hypnotherapy and as a placebo effect.

    This does NOT mean that the results of hypnotherapy are nothing more than the kind of placebo effect normally to be expected in scientific investigations, because the placebo effect is really a very mild form of hypnotherapy ie. a positive reaction to suggestion. I call this “a very mild form of hypnotherapy” because in generalised situations like the scientific trial designed to measure the effectiveness of something else against the background of random individual ‘placebo’ reactions, it is vague, unfocussed, misunderstood and totally lacking in any kind of real verve or ambition, so we should not be at all surprised to see placebo effects (reactions) that range from amazing but inconsistent… to mild but not much out of the ordinary – which would pretty much sum up the expectations scientists have regarding the placebo ‘phenomenon’.

    Get together a handful of really top hypnotherapists in private practice who specialise in treating those ‘clinical’ conditions and the results will be nothing short of spectacular, except perhaps with regard to the depression cases.

    Any of you scientists know why there should be a difference with depression? And would you know exactly how to GET spectacular results with smoking, pain and nausea, if not necessarily depression? Perhaps Edzard Ernst would like to tell us, that well-known “worldwide expert” in Complementary Medicine.

    I commented to Ernst not so long ago, on Septic Cat’s blog (aka ‘Skepticat’, should be ‘Cynicat’ really but I prefer Septic Cat), that I bet he couldn’t even answer three basic questions on the subject of hypnotherapy! Did he immediately say: “Try me! After all, I am the World’s only Professor of Complementary Medicine you know!”?

    No he didn’t. He said nowt. Then when I asked him directly what his qualifications in Complementary and Alternative Medicine actually were, first he said:

    “i have no reason to justify anything vis a vis nitwits who clearly don’t understand much.”

    Then he copped out of the question by saying:

    “for me ,this is the end of the i said,i don’t need to justify qualifications were seen by my uni and they employed me presumably because they were more convincing than the ones of the other candidates.they were keen to hire someone with a good track record of publishing research and they got that person.
    THE END”

    Ah! As usual with academia, it’s all about publishing. Well, Ernst is certainly keen on publishing stuff. The fact that he has no formal qualifications in the subjects he is studying and no practical expertise either might account for the mistakes, such as his silly finding that hypnotherapy is no use for smoking cessation.

    Might also account for his obvious touchiness on the subject, eh?

  3. The trials of Edzard Ernst?

    I have come to the same conclusion as Chris. I can’t be bothered any more about this guy.
    What is quackery, a smokescreen and a farce is Ernst’s title of “prof of alternative medicine”.

    He is reported in the Guardian as saying, “if you study medicine and pharmacology you know (cam) can’t work. Also reported in the Independent ” will be mocked by his scientific colleagues as the man who worked miracle cures” when one of the trials produced good results.

    As we know all trials can be spun any which direction, depending on the funding and interest group.

    Apart from which he looks like a myopic, bald, haggard looking negative sort of man who would not get results in any kind of medicine. Maybe, that is why he came to CAM in the first place?

    If I was given a placebo by Leonardo diCaprio, I would jump out of my seat, screaming, “it is a beautiful world out there, I want to live” and probably get better. On the other hand, if I was offered the best “randomised, placebo controlled, double blind clinical trial, evidence based medicine” that Ernst thinks is the one and only truth, I would need to treble my depression tablets and go on a long leave of absence, if I have not slashed my wrists already. The power of placebo, quackery, fake, pseudo medicine?

    No, just good or bad psychology/hypothalamus/endocrine/nervous sys/effect on every cell response. Scientifically proven but not acknowledged by pharma profit ridden medical practitioners.

  4. I’ve come to the conclusion that the world can be divided up into three camps over this one: normal people who couldn’t give a toss about such arguments, have never heard of Ernst and don’t mind trying anything, conventional or not. Then there’s the cynics who mistakenly call themselves skeptics, but it’s a branch of skepticism sometimes referred to as “pathological” – and finally all the people who are into alternative medicine.

    Put the first and the last category together and we MASSIVELY outnumber the few miserable, negative, disappointed-in-life saddoes who seem to think it is their mission to make everyone else think what they think… why should we care? Ernst has had his little spin in the spotlight and yes, it is irritating for us but we should just have confidence in the long-term inevitability of the outcome of drug company lies v. CAM truth. Truth Will Out, May. Truth Will Out, Eddie baby.

    I’m over it. I’ve simply stopped discussing this with the cynics – they wouldn’t shift their position if they were kidnapped by aliens and brought before God. They’d STILL manage to convince themselves that they just had a funny turn, that’s all. Or they’d bore God to death explaining in detail why they are right, so God must be mistaken. They’d probably ask Him if He could point to any scientific trials that prove He exists? Not because they’re interested but just because they know that there is no scientic trial that could ever prove such a thing anyway, so they know they can use that to suggest the non-existence of God, a ploy so petty that God would probably be tempted to extract their tiny little ‘scientific’ brain and shove it up their scientific arse, if only to stop them from talking.

    Ahem! Perhaps I’m NOT over it after all…

    No. Just kidding.

  5. My feelings exactly but much more poetic than I could have expressed! It is extremely refreshing to hear a logical point of view, I was beginning to feel I was going insane.

    I have come to the conclusion that Edzard and co have been so brain washed into one dimentional thinking that they are incapable of reasoning any more. They have become medical fundementalists.

    People will seek treatment whereever they can. If medicine is ineffective at best or poisoning them at worse, they will not take it lying down. Hence the profileration of CAM.

    And hence the medics reaction to beginning to lose their powerbase.

    Next round?

  6. If CAM works because the patients believe it works, then if we turn it around, are the doctors killing patients when they tell them their odds of getting better is nil? If belief medicine makes CAM practitioners “quacks”, does it make the medics “murderers”?

  7. At first I suspected something sinister about Ernst’s Department but having briefly exchanged words with him on Septic Cat’s blog (a.k.a. ‘Skepticat’) I don’t think that at all. I think he’s mischievous and likes to cause a stir, and I do believe he set out to be much more negative about CAM than anyone expected him to be… but after that he’s just continued in that vein because it got him attention and won him awards from all sorts of people who certainly wouldn’t have presented him with awards if he’d been coming up with pro-CAM findings.

    I strongly suspect Maurice Laing got screwed. Can’t be sure, but it looks like he was genuinely interested in finding out what CAM therapies can do. That clearly wasn’t Ernst real project, whatever he told Laing.

    But having taken up this very negative position which basically accuses us all of being “quacks” – he’s got nowhere to go now. He’s ended up being a pedantic, nit-picking campaigner reduced to moaning about what products should be sold in Boots… and by that he has given himself away. He’s not a dispassionate scientist, he’s a small-minded zealot!

    To answer your second point: potentially yes, but not necessarily. “What the mind expects tends to be realised” is a well-known expression in hypnotherapy. However, these things can only be presented as suggestions, which means the patient doesn’t have to accept it. If a doctor tells you in all seriousness that you have six months to live and there’s nothing anyone can do, that’s one thing. Whether you choose to accept that or not may depend on what you think of doctors. Some people have such faith in doctors that they wholeheartedly accept that pronouncement as ‘inevitable’ and abandon all hope of recovery, resigning themselves to their fate. Everyone is free to choose that option if they prefer to lay down their life rather than question their belief in medical infallibility and ‘science’.

    Personally, I would instantly reject the suggestion purely because it is negative and immediately conclude that we had reached the limits of this medical person’s effectiveness/knowledge and be setting off to find interesting alternatives. Cynics – in their tiny wisdom – would just lay down and die. Far be it from me to attempt to dissuade them. Whether I would survive longer than six months or not is anybody’s guess, but if I did then the doctor would be way more surprised than I.

  8. Here is a excerpt from the Independent:

    “All the patients in the double-blind, randomised trial reported feelings of warmth and tingling, suggesting they were experiencing the effects of healing, ….. More remarkably, among the patients, there were five in wheelchairs, four of whom found the effect so powerful that they were able to get up and walk….. Ernst recalls going home and telling his wife how he was going to be mocked by his scientific colleagues as the man who worked miracle cures. ”

    I bet the four people in the wheelchairs who got up and walked as a result of the trials who would not have walked otherwise, did not mind if it was placebo or not.

    They were there in the first place because the doctors told them they could not walk even when it was proven that they could by believing in it.

    Does this make doctors negligent and criminal? I would have thought so if I was the one in the wheelchair.

  9. This was during the trials into spiritualism. Call it “spiritualism”, “quackery”, “placebo”, “psychology”, whatever, if it can make invalids walk, should it not be available on the NHS in some shape or form that everybody is happy about? What matters is not egos and who is right and who is wrong but that the patient walks, surely?

  10. The thing is, May, Doctors and Scientists (who are cleverer than everyone else, remember!) have recently discovered a thing which they very cleverly call “The Mind-Body Link”. I’m no scientist, but it seems to go something like this: the Body seems to be in some way affected by the Mind, almost as if there were some ‘link’ between the two! Previously doctors had always regarded the body as entirely separate from the patient’s mind, which they regarded as insignificant anyway.

    There is of course a physical link – via the neck – but doctors had previously assumed that the neck was just something to hang a tie around which also housed the patient’s vocal chords (which you must also ignore, if you’re a doctor) and their airway and gullet, down which you should ram your medical advice and some chemicals.

    Of course there are many medics who still pooh pooh the idea of a Mind-Body link, saying it is as preposterous as a “heart-pulse” link. Meanwhile those of us that work with the mind all the time and know from long experience that the Subconscious part of it controls virtually everything that goes on in the body continue to shake our heads in sad disbelief that this apparently wilful ignorance can persist into yet another century.

  11. I believe it goes something like this: thought/senses/hypothalamus/endocrine hormones/nervous system/individual cells. The link is all there: A man or girl sees a sexy opposite sex and what becomes of the body? We are physically aroused (sorry did not mean to be vulgar but it is a language everyone will relate to!). We see a threat and what happens to the body; we go into physical fight or flight mode, all our hormones go into overdrive.

    Unfortunately the medics study medicine and nothing else. They are pumping medicines into people like no tomorrow. And are people getting better? Nope, if you look at the headlines, mental illness is on the up, virtually all illnesses are on the up.

    So what do medics do? They have heard that CAM is getting results. Like Ernst they dabble at it. But the fear of being called “miracle workers” and made fun of by their colleagues is too strong. So they say it is all quackery.

    But the poor patient is now between a rock and a hard place: he has swallowed all the medicines he’s been asked to and has not got better and now he is told he can not trust CAM. What is he to do?

    I can only say that we are a product of 3.5 years of evolution since the first simple celled prokaryotes. Nature gets it right by trial and error. The will to live and survive outweighs all arguements. We all have innate intelligences built into us.

    We are not (hopefully) take the errenously biased and spun research of a delusional medic that Ernst is lying down. If you look at the Pulse site where he is blogging, there is a chartered engineer who is also into alternative therapies giving him a piece of his mind!

    As you said “the truth will out”. But before that, the curriculum of medics need to be changed. They are in a straight jacket and lashing out at everybody who makes sense or progress.

    I absolutely love your sense of humour by the way! The best antidote to Ernst and his blasphemous writings!

  12. Thanks May! Sometimes I get angry on this website, but then my writing suffers!

    Nicotine: The Drug That Never Was is full of funny stuff, but there are a couple of reviews on Amazon by people who have clearly never read it claiming it was “hard work”, and “almost unreadable angst”! They were telling people not to buy it, but only because they’d found out there is a chapter about Allen Carr and his hypnotherapy session which these bogus ‘reviewers’ didn’t want anyone to read.

    Why not? Well, as a recent American reviewer put it:

    “Holmes provides ‘Case Mysteries’ as interludes between his chapters, and these are highly entertaining and illuminating…. One such interlude de-constructs the work of Allen Carr, a British smoking cessation guru. By the time Holmes is done with Carr there’s not much left; it’s a great read that made me laugh out loud.”

    If anyone wants to read the whole review, it’s here. The reviewer is a guy in Texas (I think) called James Hazlerig. He’s a hypnotherapist but I know nothing else about him. We’ve never met.

    If anyone wants to read the book but doesn’t want to pay the full paperback price, you can get a download version for only £5 (about $7 US). Just follow the Buy The Book option on this site, then look to the right of the page on the publishing site for the download option. Volume II of the book is now in production, more about that very shortly.

    Hmmm… maybe I should write a book about Ernst…

    Nah. He’s not interesting enough.

  13. Sorry to hi-jack your site but this is a blog between a skeptic and Ernst. Does he sound like he deserves the title of Proffessor of Alternative Medicine? He is only publishing in Pulse where he is hiding under the skirt of the Editor who refuses to publish any Alternative Theraphy criticism.

    Skeptic (name withheld)
    What we are overlooking here is the garlic’s effects on the un-dead. Dr Abraham Van Helsing MD Phd D.Litt says that the clove of Allium sativum is now the most commonly-used medication for the prevention of vampire seduction. Those mostly likely at risk are beautiful young ladies lying in bed beside open French windows with the curtains blowing at the stroke of midnight. They have found this remedy most useful. Van Helsing has witnessed many accounts of this herb. Although he cannot practice in the UK because he doesn’t speak English he was quoted as saying ‘Mein Gott this stuff is really powerful’. I was present at the passing of Count Dracula who said: ‘Don’t let anyone tell you this is some sort placebo effect, all my organs feel like they’ve been dipped in sulphuric acid and put down a waste disposal unit.’ I reassured the Count that all antidotes have been subjected to the most rigorous RCTs and have found common garlic to be more efficacious by 80 per cent over silver crucifixes and less than twenty per cent below closed heart surgery which involves collapsing the aorta with a wooden stake driven by a stone mason’s club hammer.

    Van Helsing would like to emphasise that in his home town of Bremen CAMs are now recognised as the way forward in health service provision as well as vampire disposal.

    (UK’s first Proffessor of Alternative Medicine’s reply)

    Edzard Ernst | 13 Aug 10
    Robert: This is worrying! Is there any evidence that garlic supplements are effective or do we have to consume fresh garlic? Also i was wondering about the dose response relationship: if I under-dose, do I risk a bite from a one-toothed vampire?

  14. In case it sounded a bit vague, I meant the editor of Pulse refuses to publish any criticism by the Alternative Therapists! Even when he publishes it, it is mysteriously wiped off half an hour later.

  15. This is titled “trials of Edzard Ernst” so I will carry on. The above two exerts are in the context of Ernst’s research into GARLIC! Apparently his research could not find that it definetely works so he needs more funds to do some more! And in reply to someone who suggested that “maybe we should stop eating garlic till Ernst proves that it works!”

    Hence the above mocking reply.

    When they run out of logic, they resort to ridicule. As to Ernst, he may genuinely want to explore CAM, but his earlier brain washing as a medic is getting in the way and hir over riding fear is being ridiculed by “scientific colleagues” as above. He quickly abondons the CAM camp like a coward.

    The jury and the verdict after my week of trials into Edzard Ernst?

    If his research into garlic which our ancestors used as an antiseptic to this day has not yielded a positive result, his research is flawed. Or he is milking it to get more funding. This in my opinion negates all his other research as well. I find him guilty of being a SMOKE SCREEN and a FARCE and sentence him to a long exile on Elba.

  16. I love garlic – but I also like vampires, so that could be a dilemma.

    Suggestions please for an herb that will ward off cynics! We could call it Ernstbane…Fake-weed….or Therapist’s Revenge. Ideally it would bring cynics out in terrible blisters, and the only cure was Reiki! What would they do then?

  17. One of Ernst’s appeals is as an insider turned against the alternative therapies.

    But lately his professor of CAM qualifications have come under scrutiny.

    In April 2010 “the Deutscher Zentralverein homoeopathischer Aerzte” (German National Association of Homeopathic Physicians) published an interview with Ernst which was translated by Ursula Kraus-Harper, the links and an excerpt of which is available at

    In this interview, it has transpired that Ernst, in Germany where homeopathy is regulated, has never passed an exam at the relevant regional branch of the German Landesaerztekammer (medical council) which is a prerequisite there.

    Asked whether he took further medical education courses in homeopathy, his reply is: “I never completed any courses.”

    It seems that the most trusted and referenced critic of homeopathy has no qualifications in homeopathy!

    Not only that, but at the time of writing, a quick look at his cv on line has produced not a single qualification of any kind in CAM!

    The public are under the impression that we are indeed hearing the wisdom of a prof of CAM and trust him explicitly. This is very misleading.

    We are indeed unravelling the mystries of the universe by science but to say that science knows it all and there is no room for alternative exploration or questioning of science is medical fascism and encroaches on our personal liberties.

  18. Ernst is clearly an unethical person, given his misrepresentation of his credentials. Yet he has the gall to write a piece in the Guardian:
    “Alternative Medicine Remains an Ethics-Free Zone,” claiming that homeopaths are unethical because homeopathy is “unproven and “not supported by the evidence.” Actually, much of biomedical science is unproven and many of the studies (as of drugs) look only at very short time periods and thus evidence of long term effects is lacking. Then, once the dead bodies pile up, the drugs are withdrawn from the market.

    The “Skeptics” are actually somewhat anti-science. They want biomedical science, but they don’t want to see physics study of the properties of water or other explorations about of how homeopathy works. On this, see:

    Schiff, Michel. The Memory of Water: Homeopathy and the Battle of Ideas in the New Science. San Francisco: Thorsons, 1995.

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