Say no to the needle: why acupuncture just isn’t worth trying

It’s Acupuncture Awareness Week! According to the British Acupuncture Council, this event ‘aims to help better inform people about the practice of traditional acupuncture’. Perhaps it is a good reason to have a closer look at this currently popular therapy.

I first learnt acupuncture as a medical student some 40 years ago. Later, I occasionally used it clinically and, since I became professor of complementary medicine at Exeter in 1993, I have researched it systematically. Even though many people think they know much about the subject, it turns out to be full of surprises.

The fact that acupuncture has been around for thousands of years indicates to its enthusiasts that it has ‘stood the test of time’; its long history proves its therapeutic value, they believe. Prince Charles likes to promote the idea of ancient ‘wisdom’ in modern healthcare: ‘By integrated medicine, I mean the kind of care that integrates the best of new technology and current knowledge with ancient wisdom.’ Whenever we hear this argument — and, in the realm of alternative medicine, we hear it often — it is worth reminding ourselves that it is but a fallacy. A long history of usage is no substitute for evidence. Just think of how long blood-letting was used in many cultures, even though it was not just useless but probably killed millions. One could even turn the argument on its head and point out that, thousands of years ago, people had no idea about anatomy, physiology, pathology etc. Viewed from this perspective, acupuncture’s long history might merely show how truly obsolete it is today.

We often think of acupuncture as being one single entity. Yet there are many different variations. According to believers, acupuncture points can be stimulated not just by inserting needles but also by heat, electrical currents, ultrasound, pressure, etc. Moreover, there is body acupuncture, ear acupuncture, hand acupuncture and even tongue acupuncture. The result is that we have not one acupuncture but a confusing array of different acupuncture types; general judgments are thus rendered more difficult.

Similarly, it would be erroneous to believe that all acupuncturists are more or less the same. Some practitioners, like those belonging to the British Acupuncture Council, employ the traditional Chinese approach based on the assumption that life forces need to be rebalanced by acupuncture to restore health. This explains why they see acupuncture as a panacea, or ‘cure all’. Traditional Chinese acupuncturists have not normally studied medicine and base their practice on the Taoist philosophy which has no basis in science. By contrast, so-called ‘Western’ acupuncturists (usually doctors or physiotherapists) tend to adhere to the concepts of conventional medicine and claim that acupuncture works via scientifically verifiable mechanisms. They tend to cite neurophysiological explanations as to how acupuncture might work. Even though these theories may appear plausible, they are currently just theories and constitute no proof for the validity of acupuncture as a useful medical intervention. Anyway, as long as we are not sure that acupuncture is effective, it is pretty useless to ponder about a mechanism of action.

The therapeutic claims made by acupuncturists are legion and often seriously bizarre. According to the traditional view, acupuncture is useful for virtually every condition affecting mankind. According to the more modern view, it is effective only for a range of mostly painful conditions. On closer examination, the majority of either of these sets of assumptions are based on rather flimsy evidence. Once we critically evaluate the data from reliable clinical trials, we find that acupuncture is associated with a powerful placebo effect and that, at best, it might work better than a placebo merely for very few conditions.

Even if we concede that, for a handful of conditions, acupuncture could be superior to a placebo, we must ask: is it more effective than the best conventional therapies available today? The short answer to this question is no. I am not aware of a single condition where acupuncture demonstrably out-performs what modern medicine currently offers.

The interpretation of the evidence from the 1,000 or so acupuncture studies available today is, however, far from straightforward. Most of these studies originate from China and other Asian countries, and several independent investigations (for instance, this one) have shown that perilously close to 100 per cent of these papers arrive at positive conclusions. This means that their results have to be taken with more than a small pinch of salt.

In order to control for patient expectations, clinical trials now often employ sham needles which do not penetrate the skin but collapse much like miniature stage daggers. At Exeter, we have invented and validated such a device, and I am convinced that it is a reasonable research tool for ‘blinding’ patients and determining whether a clinical outcome is due to the needling or to the context of the therapeutic encounter. This method can, however, not control for acupuncturists’ expectations; ‘blinding’ of the therapists remains difficult and therefore truly double-blind trials of acupuncture (ie, patient and therapist) hardly exist. In other words, even the most rigorous studies of acupuncture are usually burdened with a significant residual bias which tends to over-estimate acupuncture’s true efficacy.

Most people believe acupuncture has no potential to cause harm, and few acupuncturists seem to warn their patients of possible adverse effects. This may be because the side effects of acupuncture — occurring in about 10 per cent of patients — are mostly mild. However, serious complications of acupuncture are on record as well: acupuncture needles can injure vital organs like the lungs, the spinal cord, major blood vessels or the heart; and they can introduce all sorts of infections into the body. It is thus hardly surprising that about 100 fatalities after acupuncture have been reported in the medical literature — a figure which, due to the lack of an effective monitoring system, is likely to be just the tip of the iceberg.

In addition to such direct risks, there are various indirect risks to consider. Arguably, for instance, practitioners inflict harm to their patients if they persuade them to use acupuncture instead of a more effective treatment. Such advice might even, in extreme cases, cost a patient’s life. In less extreme instances, the harm would be confined to the patient’s bank account when paying for a treatment that did not help.

And what can we conclude from all this? For the vast majority of conditions, there is no strong evidence that acupuncture works beyond placebo. Furthermore, acupuncture is associated with finite risks. What follows is, I think, clear: in most situations, the risk/benefit balance for acupuncture fails to be convincingly positive.

Perhaps, then, the week should be renamed Acupuncture Bewareness Week?

Edzard Ernst, emeritus professor at the University of Exeter, is the author of A Scientist in Wonderland and the awardee of the John Maddox Prize 2015 for standing up for science. He blogs at edzardernst.com.


  • ssk

    A man if science disguised as a prick. Keep you opinions to yourself.

    • Acleron

      Professor Ernst has evidence, not opinions.

      • Libertarian

        Selective evidence and very strong opinions. Agreed.

        • Is that an accusation of cheery-picking? Please supply evidence to back that claim.

        • Acleron

          Any evidence that Professor Ernst selects evidence to reach a predetermined position!

    • westlondoner11

      You can’t even get your foul-mouthed insults right. “A prick disguised as a man of science” would work, but putting it the other way round implies the opposite.

      And yes, scientific institutions are constantly looking at possible benefits of complementary/alternative therapies. And then people like Professor Ernst and entities like the Cochrane Collaboration – an independent, not-for-profit organisation unsullied by ‘big pharma’ influence – scrutinise the resulting evidence. Which, as Professor Ernst points out, is unconvincing. But alas that fails to satisfy those who have already made their mind up, who seek refuge in conspiracy theories and prejudice. An evidence-based critique will never win over those who prefer insults and anecdote to reason and hard facts.

      • Tarek

        I suggest you actually go to the Cochrane collaboration and read what they say about acupuncture for multiple modalities including endometriosis pain, post-op nausea and vomiting, labour pain and external cephalic version in addition to the comments on other diseases looked at. The evidence doesn’t support its use in many cases simply because the evidence isn’t there; Cochrane looks at hi-quality trials and the persistent comment is that those trials in many cases either don’t exist or enough haven’t been done

    • Big pharma is a business. Businesses have to make money. In the case of big pharma, they are definitely interested in recouping their investment costs, because their R&D costs are stratospheric. Funny how haters complain about big pharma pushing a product but don’t seem to have a problem with other companies pushing products. I don’t get it. It’s almost like talking to a Scientologist – people who assume things with no basis in fact and then wear themselves out defending their assumptions.

      • Acleron

        The people who complain about alt medicine pushing worthless treatments certainly do have a problem with pharmaceutical companies doing the same. For example, examine the AllTrials initiative of Ben Goldacre which is designed to prevent such companies selectively publishing only good results. Apart from Goldacre himself being a skeptic as are all good scientists many well known critics of alt medicine have supported his effort including at least three of the commenters here.

    • ssk said:

      “All the world over scientific institutions are talking a fresh look at this for its benefits”

      Which ones? Please be specific.

  • Libertarian

    I’m amazed that a journal such as yours would give space to an article such as this. Ernst’s appointment as a professor at the University of the Penisula, his apparent ‘qualifications’ in Complementary Medicine (including homeopathy as well as what he says here about acupuncture) are controversial to say the least and he lacks qualifications in evidence-based medicine too. If he disagrees with this, let him post his qualifications here rather than essay his knee-jerk response that his opponents always point out his lack of credentials. Ernst basically gained ‘fame’ as the Professor of Alternative Medicine who hates Alternative Medicine. He feels he has the right to trash all forms of holistic medicine by saying that they are not ‘evidence based’. The fact that most things you see in a chemist available over the counter completely lack evidence are of no concern to him. For that he must be dearly loved by Big Pharma.

    • westlondoner11

      Qualifications in evidence-based medicine? Institutions have only recently started to offer them – not one researcher in this field aged over 50 will have such a qualification. In the 1950s not a single heart surgeon had a qualification in heart surgery, since the specialism was so new – would you have questioned their competence? And you might also argue that his *two* research doctorates are rather compelling evidence of his competence in quantitative analysis.

      “He feels he has the right to trash all forms of holistic medicine by saying they are not ‘evidence based'”

      Er, no – he feels he has the right to ‘trash’ claims if they are not supported by evidence. That’s reasonable enough, surely? There are plenty of institutions applying rigorous evidence-based criteria with similar results.

      “The fact that most things you see in a chemist available over the counter completely lack evidence are of no concern to him.”

      That might be because his research interest for the last thirty years has been complementary/alternative medicine. Over the counter medicine is just as closely scrutinised by the Cochrane Collaboration and others, and the manifold failures of pharma companies with respect to the evidence base (unpublished studies showing null or results, etc etc) are well documented. There is hardly a lack of such scrutiny.

      A commenter with the user name ‘Libertarian’ who bashes ‘Big Pharma’ is making his or her prejudices entirely clear. Somebody with such transparent biases is in no position to make accusations of partiality.

      • Libertarian

        Qualifications: Ernst comes from Germany a country that is very clear about qualifications. Homeopathic qualifications have been available there for decades. He could have obtained them but he did not.

        Over-the-counter medication is just as scrutinised…: Really? Have you seen the same vitriol and anger and snorting derision essayed against any Big Pharma product as you’ve seen to Alt Med?

        ‘Libertarian’: ‘Prejudices clear’ So a ‘liberal’ (word unfortunately hijacked by left wingers in the USA) or ‘libertarian’ is obviously ‘prejudiced’. I do not get that.

        ‘Big Pharma’ No I’m not ‘bashing’ Big Pharma, just saying that the views of Edzard Ernst must suit it very well.

        • edzard ernst

          why don’t you read ‘A SCIENTIST IN WONDERLAND’? It’s all explained there! Or do you prefer to make ad hominem attacks + innuendo?

          • Libertarian

            Instead of recommending your own books to me and accusing me of innuendo and ad hominem attacks, why don’t you confute what I have said by simply publishing your qualifications in these subjects here and now in this discussion instead of responding in exactly the knee-jerk way I predicted?

          • Andy Lewis

            Ernst’s qualifications would only be of any interest if the article was full of errors. You might then legitimately question why it was allowed to be written by someone who did not know what they were talking about. Instead of discussing the content of the article you have waded in with a direct attack against the man. I suspect that is because you have no other way of attacking what was written.

          • Libertarian

            The article is full of BIAS rather than ‘errors’

            “I have never seen a science writer so blatantly biased as Edzard Ernst: his work should not be considered of any worth at all, and discarded”

            So writes Professor Robert Hahn, a leading medical scientist, physician, and Professor of Anaesthesia and Intensive Care at the University of Linköping, Sweden. If you can read German, here is the full article by an ORTHODOX medical scientist and physician.

            http://www.homeopathy.at/betruegerische-studien-um-homoeopathie-als-wirkungslos-darzustellen/

            If Ernst cannot or will not publish his qualifications in Alt Med, Homeopathy or Evidence based medicine then I have my answer. Is he registered with the GMC as a doctor or was that unnecessary to be a professor of Complementary MEDICINE at the University of the Peninsula? If not I hope this is remedied soon Opportunity to confute me by publishing qualifications (attacking me is not a refutation of what I say) is available here and now.

          • Andy Lewis

            You are just calling names again. Can pick any fact in the article that is incorrect (and show why with evidence) or highlight any opinion that cannot be justified by the facts?

            On your Professor Hahn accusation of ‘bias’. Hahn writes books with titles such as ‘Clear answers from the world of spirits’. Is it possible his own bias is showing through here? Does Hahn make clear in what way Ernst’s alleged bias clouds his work?

          • Libertarian

            Where exactly am I ‘just calling names again’? I don’t see ANY calling of names – besides Ernst’s use of the word ‘moron’ that is. I think he is biased and so does Hahn and many others.

          • Andy Lewis

            You are calling Ernst ‘biased’ without providing any evidence to suggest that this article is biased.
            Now, please concentrate on the article and not the person and tell us where it is wrong.

          • Libertarian

            Yes I’m saying what a great deal of people think about Ernst. He is biased against CAM. He selectively trashes and insults (‘Bewareness’) CAM for lack of evidence while not acknowledging that many ‘respectable’ conventional medicines completely lack the equivalent evidence of efficacy. This is bias in my opinion.

          • Andy Lewis

            You are completely incapable of critically appraising this article are you? You have not been able to take one aspect of it and demonstrate through reason and evidence why it is wrong. You started off with ad-hominem and now you are just making assertions. If you believe your last comment to be true, please try again with specific examples.

          • Libertarian

            That’s your opinion not a statement of fact. I’ve read the article and given my reasons for saying that both its ethos and the man Ernst himself are biased against CAM. I don’t need to refute your highly opinionated statement that I’m apparently incapable of ‘critically appraising’ an article that is an exemplar of Ernst’s sneering derision of CAM – even though he accepted a job as a CAM professor without having qualifications in CAM and I think without being registered as a practising doctor in the UK. (Correct me if I’m wrong on this anyone)

          • Andy Lewis

            Fortunately, it is not up to you to decide if I have made my case about your ability to engage with the post’s arguments. That assessment will be made by other readers of this thread and I am happy to leave my trust in them.

          • Libertarian

            Me too. So we agree on something. That’s a good thing. ‘Consensus’ is such a fashionable word these days. Glad I’m finally part of one.

          • Andy: “You are completely incapable of critically appraising this article are you?”
            Libertarian: “That’s your opinion not a statement of fact.”

            Actually, no. That’s a statement of fact up to the point you posted that. You’d failed at actually address a single point from the article. I’m still working through the comments though, that may change.

          • UKSteve

            And neither have you, that have been worth reading – it’s just all asides and snide remarks. Are you paid by Ernst?

          • Andy Lewis

            In short, Libertarian, you should be demonstrating bias, not asserting bias. Can you do it?

          • Libertarian

            ‘Arguably, for instance, practitioners inflict harm to their patients if they persuade them to use acupuncture instead of a more effective treatment.’ NO CASES OF THIS CITED. NO EVIDENCE. THEREFORE BIASED OPINION.
            The whole article is biased in its context. ‘Bias’ can be defined as ‘inclination or prejudice for or against one person or group, especially in a way considered to be unfair.’ I maintain my accusation that Ernst is biased against CAM. This is his USP ‘The CAM Professor who hates CAM’ He has made the occasional admission that some CAM has value but these (perhaps important comments by a professor) have been utterly dwarfed by his relentless, jeering and trashing of CAM in general. In other words he could have said ‘THESE forms of CAM I approve of and see evidence for – unlike others which I don’t.’ He did not do this but chose to trash CAM over many years – in a biased way imo. That’s why I think The Spectator lowers itself by giving him space – my original comment here.

          • Andy Lewis

            Notice, the word ‘arguably’. Ernst is making an argument. That argument is based on his previously cited arguments around the lack of evidence and the potential for harm. What is logically wrong with this argument? Could harm come to someone using acupuncture if it did not work and there were more effective treatments available?

          • Egger

            In Spain, the lobby named “Círculo Escéptico” and “Alternativa Racional a la Pseudociencia / ARP-SAPC) are a tentacles of the CSICOP and TheJamesRandiEducationalFoundation. The first spanish lobby group is commanded by the gangster and lawyer Fernando L. Frías (disciple of Ronald Lindsay lawyer, Lindsay is the director of the Center for Inquiry and hand right of Randi priesthood). The second lobby group is comanded by the pseudophylosopher Mario Augusto Bunge (he lives in Canada). Bunge’s peers are Martin Mahnner and Massimo Pligucci, the writtes all articles of “pseudocience vs science”. The ideological bias and fraud of Bunge is evident in their works.
            In Spain, this lobbies retired with a Change petition various courses of homeopathy in prestigious universties. The mass media paided by this lobbist’s is eminent, they pseudoskeptikal groups presentes lack or arguments and ad-hominem attacks.

            The Nightingal Collaboration is another mask of the CSICOP tentacles. Some key names of the haters of homeopathy in web:

            Andy Lewis,
            Alan Henness,
            Guy Chapman,
            Kausik Datta,
            David Coulqhoun.

            Simon Sigh (paided by Coca Cola, Monsanto and Pfizer)

            Tracey Brown (the boss of Ernst in marketing).

          • Apart from the conspiracy ties (financial source claims) the rest of this is public knowledge. You’re not actually providing anything useful unless you can back your claims.

            So, show us your evidence.

          • Egger

            “Consiracy ties”

            Ha, ha, ha. No, only facts. SAS never declared Coke conflicts of interest for long time in senseaboutscience web page. With the scandal and the “hacked” mails of Sigh, the journalis of The New York Times leaked the links of CSICOP (indirect), SAS and BigSugar.

            In Spain, another fraud recently leaked. In this case, the spanish lobby “Círculo Escéptico” (the same thing as CSICOP) hand made anecdotes of “damaged” by CAM. The full history and the document leaked in PDF avaliable in this site:

            http://hezeptikos.blogspot.be/2016/03/corrupcion-en-elpais-y-julian-gonzalez.html

          • Egger

            In the link of blog, the list of lobby members of pseudoskeptikal lobby is presented!

          • ScienceMonkey

            He is clearly biased against modalities that have no evidence for efficacy. If a modality has sufficient evidence for efficacy, it is called medicine. If there is insufficient evidence for efficacy or clear evidence for inefficacy, then it falls under a CAM designation. That’s all he is doing – accurately designating modalities.

            When the negative evidence piles up against previously accepted medical modalities (some knee procedures, some cough medicines) it isn’t the CAM world that is calling out the issues, it is the real doctors and scientists doing the science.

          • “Yes I’m saying what a great deal of people think about Ernst.”

            So… just repeating what you’ve heard without any consideration for its validity. Got it.

            “He is biased against CAM.”

            He has a bias *towards* evidence and the scientific method. It’s not his fault that most CAM can’t stand in the face of that.

            “He selectively trashes and insults…”

            As are you by dismissing his article without addressing the content within.

            “…(‘Bewareness’) CAM for lack of evidence while not acknowledging that many ‘respectable’ conventional medicines completely lack the equivalent evidence of efficacy.”

            Can’t pease everyone all the time. If you think conventional medicines, sorry, *actual* medicines have issues (and they do) then why don’t *you* focus on that? Edzard has the thing he’s interested in and he’s focusing on that. Any one individual can’t deal with all the problems in the world and that position is an idiotic one to argue from.

            “This is bias in my opinion.”

            My opinion is that your opinion of “bias” is flawed. It reads more like “I don’t like it but would rather have a different label for it because the actual reason seems childish.”

          • Egger

            “You are calling Ernst ‘biased’ without providing any evidence to suggest that this article is biased. ”

            Hummm…. Look, please:

            http://www.averyjenkins.com/?p=1941

            https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=auto&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fexplicandoalexplicador.blogspot.be%2F2015%2F07%2Fel-sacerdocio-de-la-ciencia-xxxiii-paja.html

          • Acleron

            You might question just why you and others think he is biased. When the evidence pointed slightly towards acupuncture he reported it fairly and still puts that evidence under that heading. When the weight of higher quality evidence swung decisively towards it being a sham he again reported the evidence. It would appear you are raging impotently at the evidence so it is rather biased to try to blame the professor.

          • Libertarian

            Was that evidence reported ‘fairly’ in the article above? Does the article above look like it was written by someone who knew about that evidence? Come on…

          • Acleron

            The evidence points rather firmly to acupuncture being a sham. How else do you want facts reported?

          • “Was that evidence reported ‘fairly’ in the article above?”

            Yes.

            You have failed to actually address the article itself so to date you have not established a case to demonstrate the point you are trying to claim. All you have done is dismiss via ad hominem.

          • westlondoner11

            Beat me to it. Prof Hahn’s sideline writing books about the supernatural would seem to suggest that the lack of an evidence base is not necessarily an obstacle to his acceptance of an idea.

          • Libertarian

            Really? So Albert Einstein saying ‘God does not play dice with the universe’ (a comment about the ‘supernatural world’ if ever there was one) could be used to discredit his General Theory of Relativity if one wanted to try to do that?

          • westlondoner11

            For a start, there is quite a difference between uttering a sentence about God and writing several books about ‘the world of the spirits’

            More devastating for your argument is the fact that Einstein was a Humanist who did not believe in a personal God. The ‘God’ in that famous quotation is not a deity with a beard, it is a figurative entity.

          • Libertarian

            So a ‘figurative entity’ has nothing to do with the world of the supernatural? Only a personal God belongs in that world? Did I say anything about ‘deities with beards’? I think this debate is deteriorating now. Time to stop.

          • “So a ‘figurative entity’ has nothing to do with the world of the supernatural?”

            F i g u r a t i v e….

          • UKSteve

            What an incredibly pathetic response.

          • “What an incredibly pathetic response.”

            And yet you fail to actually explain *why*. It appears to be the standard trope for you.

          • UKSteve

            ROTFLAMO – “trope”, priceless – another “scientist”!

            res ipsa loquitur

          • You are assuming that the supernatural provides no evidence. That is a faulty assumption.

          • “You are assuming that the supernatural provides no evidence. That is a faulty assumption.”

            Prove it.

          • UKSteve

            And yet more…….it seems to be all you people have?

          • Andy Lewis

            Yes. It is all we have. Hahn believes in fairies at the bottom of the garden.

            Can we move on?

          • UKSteve

            Aha. It “looked like” you might have had some things to say, but then you sink to this playground characterisation.

            Anyone would be wasting time discussing anything with you other than Lego bricks and Ladybird books.

            Incredibly pathetic.

          • UKSteve

            Now THAT is classic ad hom; I knew it wouldn’t take you long.

          • “Now THAT is classic ad hom”

            How? Please show your working.

          • Egger

            Oh dear, if Hahn writtes books of angels or demonds this aspect of his life not debunk the review. The bias in Ernst works is evident, the man (PharmaGuy -Sense About Science fellow of Monsanto and BigSugar or Coke ) object the eficacy of homeopathy based in poor re-analysis of the high quality clinical trials of Linde meta-study. In this case, the high quality trials of homeopathy (Jadad = 5) shown effect.

          • Oh dear, if Hahn writtes books of angels or demonds this aspect of his life not debunk the review.

            Correct. But it does speak to his credibility.

            The bias in Ernst works is evident

            Yet no one has managed to actually articulate it.

            (PharmaGuy -Sense About Science fellow of Monsanto and BigSugar or Coke )

            Ah… You’re a conspiritard.

          • “Correct. But it does speak to his credibility.”

            Newton believes in God, it does speak to his credibility of physics

            No, it doesn’t.

            “Yet no one has managed to actually articulate it.”

            In fact Ernst is member of CSICOP and SAS.

            So you’re arguing that is bias is towards critical and rational thought? Odd thing to rally against.

          • Egger

            Oh dear, you need read the books of Newton or this paper:

            http://www.scielo.org.co/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0121-36282008000200004

            “So you’re arguing that is bias is towards critical and rational thought? Odd thing to rally against.”

            No, no, the affiliations of Ernst show the agenda behind of the anti CAM campaign. It’s the same libelous campaign of the extincted “NCAFH” (National Council Against Health Fraud) launched by the Randi foundation.

          • “So you’re arguing that is bias is towards critical and rational thought? Odd thing to rally against.”

            No, no, the affiliations of Ernst show the agenda behind of the anti CAM campaign.

            Correct. That agenda would be to have critical and rational thinking prevail and for robust science to be prefered over poor science.

            I fail to understand why this is something you would rally against though.

          • Egger

            Newton believes in God. Physics is real.
            Hahn believes in God. Hahn debunking the Ernst misinformation.

          • All of these things are unrelated to each other. Your position is child-like.

          • Egger

            Oh “conspiracy”. Gold you’re not serious.

          • Egger

            “All of these things are unrelated to each other. Your position is child-like.”

            The credibility of Newton is the evidence and analysis.
            The credibility of Hahn is the analysis and the deconstruction of the Ernst bias.

          • Does anyone (apart from Egger) think Hahn actually managed to deconstruct any bias of Edzard’s?

          • Egger

            The agenda of SAS show lack of any rational argument. The libels of Ernst is very big. Childs as Alan Henness are very funny for me.

            “I fail to understand why this is something you would rally against though”

            Please, continue with “anticonspiracy” delirious.

          • The agenda of SAS show lack of any rational argument.

            You demonstrate here that you don’t actually know anything about Sense About Science.

          • Added to the ever-growing list…

          • Awesome comeback. Please establish your position using coherent sentences and arguments.

          • So, again, nothing to back your claim. You’re full of it.

          • Credentials don’t make his argument right or wrong. What is in error in his article? If you don’t talk about the topic, I think people will assume that you just hate the man no matter what he says.

          • Libertarian

            The ethos of the article is hugely biased in its jeering at acupuncture and only presenting a highly negative view of a system of medicine that has served literally millions of people over thousands of years.

          • Tarek

            They were all deluded apparently.

          • Why do you say that?

          • Libertarian

            I think Tarak is being ironic 🙂 It’s not easy to delude billions of people over several millennia. More likely there is something of value in it.

          • LOL!

          • Egger

            LAL!

          • You don’t read the news at all do you?

          • Libertarian

            My main point in my first comment is that I was disappointed that the Spectator gave someone such as Ernst space for an opinionated, snide article. In this respect credentials are a factor to be considered.

          • ScienceMonkey

            Do you want qualifications? I am a Board Certified naturopath. I am a Board Certified nutritionist. I am a Board Certified homeopath. These are all completely true.

            What’s also true? I know jack squat about medicine. Do you think you need an education to become any of those? I had to do absolutely NO studying to become a naturopath. It is not a protected term in most parts of the U.S. and just saying you are one is all that is legally necessary to “practice” as one. Those designations are a way for people with zero education in medicine or an education in BS to parade around and pretend they are real doctors. I can’t call myself a medical doctor without obtaining an actual education.

            So can I hop around and argue from a position of authority? Hell no. Do others do it? Sure.

            Don’t attack the person, attack the evidence. Since attacking the evidence is not possible, the attack shifts to the person.

          • Libertarian

            Mmmm…there are proper certifications and pseudo ones. I agree. I prefer to hear from people with recognised qualifications in their subjects and Ernst simply isn’t one of them. That’s why I don’t think The Spectator should have given him space.

            Let’s be clear then:
            1. I am not impressed with Ernst’s credentials (personal opinion).
            2. I think he is biased against CAM and this is EVIDENCED by the fact that he knew or suspected that acupuncture could work independent of the placebo effect in some conditions but conveniently preferred to keep that knowledge out of the article above because it did not suit the ethos of the article. Is this comment ad hominem.
            3. I don’t think questioning someone about their qualifications is an ad hominem attack while using words such as ‘dick’ and ‘moron’ as others have in this thread, could be construed as such.

          • ScienceMonkey

            Yes, I too am biased against CAM. I list my real, but clearly worthless qualifications, as a way to argue from the same level of authority as some other commenters. I never hide the fact that my qualifications in medicine are near nil. Are my actions in this regard ad hominem attacks? I could see why some would say that and I won’t disagree. But when someone who is a naturopath or homeopath climbs on a pedestal to try to argue from authority, I like to make it cleat that that step up to the pedestal is only a millimeter. I always try, but sometimes fail, to keep a civil tongue. Insults only make the other person dig in their heels.

            My qualifications in medicine are nil. Yet here I am.

            My background is finance with top skills in situational modeling and database analysis (best track record in the industry in a few specific areas). These skills DO cross over both ways. I am a scientist.

            I wouldn’t care if Ernst were a trash collector. I care about the science. I care about the data. I care about how the data are interpreted. I care about the controls used. I care about how studies diminish or fail to diminish biases. I care about plausibility.

            I think of all of the things I learned about Finance at University and how wrong they were and wonder why they are still being taught today. Bias and pseudoscience are a bigger problem, in my opinion, in business than in medicine. What I do and believe has changed immensely since leaving school 25 years ago. As I accumulate more data, analyze the data, have peers tear apart my findings, have others point out my biases, and have others check my math, my opinions on subjects change. If I never change when new or better data nd analyses come in, I couldn’t call myself a scientist.

            Time to take the kids to school . . .

          • Sean

            He explicitly said “Once we critically evaluate the data from reliable clinical trials, we find that acupuncture is associated with a powerful placebo effect and that, at best, it might work better than a placebo merely for very few conditions.” In what way is that keeping the knowledge of acupuncture’s (limited) effectiveness out of the article?

            Questioning someone’s qualifications without demonstrating any legitimate problems with the substance of what they are saying is a fantastic example of ad hominem. As @sciencemonkey:disqus has said, even if Ernst were a bin man (I’m British), if the substance of his argument is sound then his background is irrelevant. I commend you for remaining civil with your language, but the fact that others have been rude doesn’t negate your own use of ad hominem.

          • UKSteve

            In which country(ies) and under what “Board”‘s?

          • ScienceMonkey

            This actually a good question from you. I’m surprised. Nobody has ever asked for these details before.

            I am Board Certified by the SM Science Board of Board Certification Certifiers. My certifications were approved unanimously by the Board.

            Is the Board real? Yes. I even have the minutes. Is this certification real? Yes. Is this absolutely stupid and worthless? Yes, but many people see the words “Board Certified” and think it means something. In many cases, such as this, it means diddly. So when I see the words “Board Certified” I dig deeper. What I have done is what many organizations do. I, on the other hand, am not hiding anything.

          • UKSteve

            Not really.

            You may think you’re being witty. Actually, you look as clueless as the other bizarre window-lickers on here, and I suggest, borderline deranged.

            You see, “Board certified” has a very specific meaning in America, for doctors, nurses and other professional practitioners. It means nothing in the UK.

            Despite your self-aggrandising and irrelevant rubbish about your job, you’re probably just a spreadsheet monkey. A scientist you definitely ain’t – that is blatant.

            “Certified”? No, Sectioned under the Mental Health Act (1983) I could believe. .

          • You say words, but they’re empty. You make claims but provide nothing for anyone reading to establish if they are true or not.

          • Egger

            Ha, ha, ha, you’re a funny. The Boiron certificate is not official. Please, your straw man fallacies are very funny.

          • “The article is full of BIAS rather than ‘errors'”

            That doesn’t excuse attacking the man rather than the article though. Andy’s position still stands.

          • “If Ernst cannot or will not publish his qualifications in Alt Med, Homeopathy or Evidence based medicine then I have my answer.”

            You would dismiss his article because of this? You realise that this is literally ad hominem, right?

          • UKSteve

            No it isn’t. A dictionary is your friend.

          • You say it isn’t but fail to explain why.

          • UKSteve

            I strongly suggest you find a dictionary, and look up “credibility”.

          • Yeah… credibility is in the eye of the beholder. Edzard has a very good and well respected track record. He’s not perfect, but that’s only because he’s made of people. Within his field and a number of others he is a credible authority on these topics though.

            It’s not like he’s Dana Ullman. There is a person with a credibility issue. This credibility issue comes about *because* any rational or science literate person can read his posts and critique it to death. His posts aren’t dismissed because *he* wrote them, but due to what he writes.

          • UKSteve

            Prove it.

          • Here are photos of Edzard and Dana. Edzard is not Dana.

            Proven.

          • UKSteve

            Perfect avoidance of the question; your metier.

            Perhaps you should go back to computer games, as adult discussion is way beyond your ‘ken?

          • “Perfect avoidance of the question.”

            So it’s acceptable for the CAM site to divert, dodge, or just plain ignore valid challenges but not the pro-science side? Not unexpected.

            To address the actual point though;

            The fact @edzardernst:disqus has a Skeptical Trump is an expression of his level of respect within the skeptical community.

            From the scientific community point of view though, I guess h-index would be a way to gauge that. Lets give it a go…

            There’s a browser extension called Scholar H-Index Calculator[1]. Install that if you want to run this check yourself.

            Hitting Google Scholar with the extension installed search for the following, wait for it do its thing and we get the data.

            Searching for [author:”Edzard Ernst”] returns an h-index* of 21.
            Searching for [author:”Dana Ullman”] returns an h-index* of 2.

            Looking at this I would conclude that Edzard’s work is more respected than Dana’s… output.

            Now, let’s see how you dismiss this.

            * The extension returns 3 rows of normalization. In order, “none”, “per co-authorship” and “per age”. The listed value above is the “per age” column as the other values max out at 50 and Edzard has a value of “>50” (Dana hits 13.)

            [1] https://www.mat.unical.it/ianni/wiki/ScholarHIndexCalculator

          • Nothing to add @UKSteve:disqus? I guess you concede your point there. I accept.

          • edzard ernst

            I am not accusing you – I am just stating the fact: you are making ad hominem attacks and innuendo!
            I never said that I had formal qualifications in acupuncture or homeopathy. I learnt these things as doctors learn most other techniques: by studying them first and subsequently applying them first with supervision and later independently.
            I once wrote as a footnote to a critical article on homeopathy: ‘CONFLICTS OF INTEREST: I AM A TRAINED HOMEOPATH’. Only a moron could miss that this was tongue in cheek. Moreover, it was correct: I was trained during several months working in a homeopathic hospital. It seems that this is the origin of all these false allegations against me.
            To accuse me of having no qualifications in these areas is, I think, akin to me accusing you of having no degree in particle physics.

          • Libertarian

            Interesting how you see yourself as the one who is ‘stating the fact’ and I the one who is making ad hominem attacks. This despite you choosing to use a word such as ‘moron’ and I not choosing not to use many words which I might apply to you were I to actually make an ad hominem attack. Perhaps I see myself as one ‘stating the facts’ – facts which you choose to see as ‘attacks’ because they are facts that are uncomfortable for you.

            1. You are not and were not a registered medical doctor in the UK at the time but were a professor of Complementary Medicine. (fact or ad hominem attack?) If this is so you deserve to be congratulated on a superb interview to get the job with your only ‘qualification’ being picking up a bit of knowledge here and there on CAM as a doctor.

            2. You do not have formal qualifications or certification in homeopathy or any form of complementary medicine – despite these being available in Germany, the country where I assume you did have medical qualifications (fact or ad hominem attack?)

            3. You have been accused of bias in a major article by a high ranking orthodox physician and medical scientist (fact or ad hominem attack?)

          • edzard ernst

            I did not use ‘moron’ as an ad hominem because I did not say that you or anyone else specific was a moron.

            1) I was registered as a medical doctor in the UK when I was appointed, and let the registration laps when it became clear to me that I did not need it because I had no intention to work as a clinician. where do you get all this false info from?

            2) I do not need to repeat myself.

            3) I have been ‘accused of bias’ by many alt med proponents, including Prof Hahn. I would not, however, call him a ‘a high ranking orthodox physician and medical scientist’. Those who want to read about him should read this blog post [http://edzardernst.com/2015/09/how-much-did-big-pharma-pay-for-my-soul/] about his allegations against me, and specifically the comments that follow my post by someone who can read Hahn’s native language:
            “The curious case of Dr. Robert Hahn is one of the best examples I have come across that illustrate such incredible cognitive contradictions in one person.
            In Dr. Hahn we have on one side a renowned, productive and genuine (I am told by my intensivist colleagues) scholar in the extremely significant and heavily science-dependent field of intravenous fluid therapy and on the other an ardent spiritualist and proponent of alternative therapies in general and homeopathy in particular.
            Well, nothing wrong with being either-or, but this practically schizophrenic combination of contradictory qualities in one person defies reason.
            Talking of reason, Dr. Hahn has an interesting take on the relationship of reason and science. Perhaps the best illustration of his confused views is illustrated in a comment-dialog (in english) following a blog post by Michael Eriksson, a Swedish computer scientist living in Germany. There, the two exchange views on this matter: https://michaeleriksson.wordpress.com/2011/01/16/science-and-reason/
            The following quote from Dr. Hahn’s comments in this thread I find illustrative:

            As I said, quite a curious case. Perhaps a variant of the Nobel disease? Dr. Hahn reveals his denial of homeopathy’s implausibility and motivates this view by rejecting reason itself. He seems to be totally blind to the meaning of the term “reason” and presumably therefore blind to his own lack of it. The question is – should we believe in scientific data or should we believe is them only if you can accept them by reason? I claim that you should trust the data, in particular if “reason” is provided by a complete outsider. The risk is very great that reason provided by an outsider is completely wrong.”

          • Libertarian

            There is an implication that anyone who thought that you actually claimed that you had qualifications in homeopathy on the basis of what you said is a ‘moron’. I’m not so
            sure they are.

            Thank you for clarifying the doctor issue. I still find it disappointing that a doctor conducting medical trials – even ‘innovative’ ones to try to do a double blind study on acupuncture – thinks it fine to let his license to practise medicine lapse.

            All this does not detract from my view that you are biased against CAM, know that some of it really works, but choose to aim for fame and fortune by trashing it. That is my opinion and I’m sure you don’t agree with it but we will need to agree to disagree here.

          • edzard ernst

            we all know by now what your opinion is. we also have seen that you have no evidence for it.
            here is a summary of all the positive evidence we generated by 2008 – not that it will change your opinion, but it might demonstrate to others reading this that your opinion is wrong: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2249806/
            do you know many alt med researchers who have shown this for more than 20 treatments/condition pairs?

          • Libertarian

            Thank you for the reference. I actually read it and here:

            Br J Gen Pract. 2008 Mar 1; 58(548): 208–209. I saw this table (top of shown here)

            Table 1

            Treatments which demonstrably generate more good than harm.

            Treatment Condition Cost Conventional options

            Acupuncture Nausea/vomiting

            The first CAM modality you list in a table of ‘treatments which demonstrably generate more good than harm’ (sic) is – wait for it! – ACUPUNCTURE!

            Changed your mind since then? Or don’t you trust your own data and research anymore? Wouldn’t hold it against you if you don’t 😉

            I rest my case.

          • “The first CAM modality you list in a table of ‘treatments which demonstrably generate more good than harm’ (sic) is – wait for it! – ACUPUNCTURE!”

            You’re earning that claim you’re making to the title of “moron”.

            That list is alphabetical.

          • edzard ernst

            Acupuncture is first on the list because of its place in the alphabet.

            In the above article, I wrote: “Once we critically evaluate the data from reliable clinical trials, we find that acupuncture is associated with a powerful placebo effect and that, at best, it might work better than a placebo merely for very few conditions.

          • Libertarian

            Yes of course I know acupuncture begins with an a and that is why it topped the table. The important point is that it was IN THE TABLE and being first it still has an impact – even if the alphabet put it there. It’s possible that I’m a little more observant and intelligent than some of your sycophants, sympathisers and violent opponents of any holistic form of medicine (eg Andy Lewis) who comment here, think I am.

            The fact remains that you included Acupuncture in a list of modalities that in your words (above) “at best, it might work better than a placebo merely for very few conditions.” Did you repeat that in the article above? Does the article above resonate with that statement? I think not. I think the article is an expedient way of you pushing your image as the ex-Professor of CAM that now positions himself as the ‘academic’ who abhors all of CAM. An admission of your own knowledge that ‘acupuncture might work better than placebo’ in ANY (never mind ‘very few’) conditions would clearly undermine your positioning and branding – so of course you did not admit it. Good for branding – less so for intellectual and academic honesty.

            This is transparent as polished glass to me and you are not going to get out of it – no matter what your minions continue to bleat here.

          • edzard ernst

            insulting other commentators seems to be all you can do.

          • Libertarian

            Really? Why don’t you answer the questions at the end of this paragraph?
            The fact remains that you included Acupuncture in a list of modalities that in your words (above) “at best, it might work better than a placebo merely for very few conditions.” Did you repeat that in the article above? Does the article above resonate with that statement? Are these questions reasonable or ‘insulting’?

          • edzard ernst

            I did not think this needed a reply: very few includes the 2 mentioned, simple! except for you obviously. the article expresses precisely the evid

          • “Really? Why don’t you answer the questions at the end of this paragraph?”

            How about you challenge the points in the article rather than dismissing it because of who the author is? You are literally demonstrating ad hominem right now.

          • So… Still not addressing the actual content of the article? If you don’t make an attempt at that soon we’ll realise you’re just another troll. Your tone already suggests that.

          • Egger

            The tipycal attack of pseudoskeptik. Well, Newton believes in God, yes or no?

          • The tipycal attack of pseudoskeptik.

            Asking you to actually address the article rather than the author is considered an attack? On what grounds? The only reason to not address it is if you don’t have any real valid argument against it.

          • Egger

            By the way, Ernst is a fraud.

            http://www.averyjenkins.com/?p=1941

          • If you’re trying to make a point you would be better served making coherent arguments against the article. You’re coming off as a jackass at the moment.

          • Egger

            Yes, jackass with you and Ernst. LOL!

          • See… Incoherent.

          • Still no good argument against the article though.

          • Egger
          • Yeah, I read that already. You keep posting it but all it has is conjecture and whining. Nothing to actually create a valid case for what it claims.

          • She probably think that ‘equation’ is all sciency…

          • edzard ernst

            interesting formula! any evidence?

          • Egger

            Yes,

            CSICOP: http://www.csicop.org/author/edzardernst

            SAS: http://www.senseaboutscience.org/pages/maddox-prize-2015.html

            Wow, John Maddox prize. I remember…. Maddox was a former member for CSICOP and friend of Randi.

          • Egger

            Pharma Guy,

            Could you explain me your the wrong sentences of your friend Robert Grimmes? Let’s my explain, in wikipedia Nightingale-Randi article the first sentences is this:

            Homeopathy is not a plausible system of treatment, as its dogmas about how drugs, illness, the human body, liquids and solutions operate are contradicted by a wide range of discoveries across biology, psychology, physics and chemistry made in the two centuries since its invention

            The list of references…

            1. The meta study of Shang – Is a clinical paper, not physics. Wrong
            2, Ernst, Edzard (December 2012). “Homeopathy: A Critique of Current Clinical Research”. Skeptical Inquirer 36 (6). – Sorry, a piece of opinion from Ernst, MD, not physicist
            3. “Homeopathy”. American Cancer Society. Retrieved 12 October 2014. – Again, piece of medical society, not physics.
            4. Parliamentary Committee Science and Technology Committee – “Evidence Check 2: Homeopathy” – Invalid document from opinion of Sense About Science.
            5. Grimes, D. R. (2012). “Proposed mechanisms for homeopathy are physically impossible”. Focus on Alternative and Complementary Therapies 17 (3): 149–155. – Correct, the unique reference about of physics.

            Come on Ernst. Call your friend. Start!

            Proposed mechanisms for homeopathy are physically impossible

            My questions:
            1. Why Grimmes exclude the low potency homeopathy?
            2. Grimmes wrote:

            Essentially, for this proposed mechanism to work water must be able to maintain bonds in the absence of the original agent and this bond must be long lived. There have been many physical investigations to ascertain how long water can hold the memory of a bond, and these have shown the time to be exceptionally short and difficult to measure, with results no more than fractions of a nano-second (10 -9 s). The most convincing experiments were conducted by Cowan et al. 11 using infra-red spectroscopy in multiple dimensions. Cowan et al. performed ultra-precise measurements on liquid water and found that water is highly efficient at redistributing its bond with a ‘memory’ of less than 50 femtoseconds or 5 E 10 -14

            Cowan paper is not evidence against to the memory of water. The Cowan paper is correct, but the scale of memory water is not individual water molecules. Grimmes arguments are very reductionists..

            3. Grimes wrote:

            In any case, a deeper reading shows that several of the paper’s claims, even if verified, were actively at odds with the claims of homeopathy. Homeopathy claims that higher dilutions lead to higher potency, whereas Montagnier et al. claimed the effects were seen at some dilutions and vanished at higher dilu-tions. This is the opposite of what homeopathy predicts

            Really? Homeopathy never claims a linear response. This stupidity is a common misunderstanding of pseudoskeptiks. The classic sentence of higher dilutions lead to higher potency is an abstraction. In the practice, the low potency is very useful with some conditions.

            In the case of Montaigner works he never proves the ultramolecular dilutions i.e. 200C, only low to medium potencies. As an explain Demangeat:

            The findings suggested the existence of superstructures that originate stereospecifically around the solute after an initial destructuring of the solvent, developing more upon dilution and persisting beyond 12c.

            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23622259

            Or Klein exposition::

            We found that absorbance of ac30c verum globules was higher than that of placebo globules and absorbance of cq6x
            verum globules was lower than that of placebo globules. These findings are not contradictory, since previous experiments with aqueous homeopathic preparations showed wavelike patterns of higher and lower absorbance among different steps of dilution, i.e. certain potency levels showed higher and others lower absorbance than the controls

            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24030453

            Conclusion: Grimes misunderstand the basic tenets of homeopathy. Ernst repeat the same.

          • Egger

            Ernst, how explain your basic contradictions?

            2012:
            Future research in this area […homeopathy…] should be more rigorous and readers of biased research papers should apply appropriately critical assessments.

            2015:

            “Our trials failed to show that homeopathy is more than a placebo.”
            http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/mar/12/no-scientific-case-homeopathy-remedies-pharmacists-placebos

          • Can anyone see how this is a contradiction? They could be if they were made at the same time, but there’s 3 years of additional data added to the pile since the initial statement so positions can, and should, change.

            Looking at these statements though, they’re not even related.

          • Egger

            Pharmaguy, in the guardian you wrote this:

            1. “Our trials failed to show that homeopathy is more than a placebo.”

            All trials? Incorrect. Your RCT: Complementary treatment of varicose veins – a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial published in Phlebology:

            The aim of this study was to test the effectiveness of a combined homeopathic medication in primary varicosity […] In conclusion, our results suggest that this randomized, double-blind, controlled trial demonstrates that a combined homoeopathic medication is effective in treating the symptoms and signs of primary varicose veins.

            2. “Our reviews demonstrated that the most reliable of the 230 or so trials of homeopathy ever published are also not positive.”

            Again, all reviews? An example: Homeopathic Galphimia glauca for hay fever: a systematic review of randomised clinical trials and a critique of a published meta-analysi published in FACT Journal

            In conclusion, three of the four currently available placebo-controlled RCTs of homeopathic GG suggest this therapy is an effective symptomatic treatment for hay fever. There are, however, important caveats.

            What is the “caveats”?

            The 1997 meta-analysis 3 had numerous flaws and inconsistencies that need to be noted. For instance,
            the analysis included retrospective studies and unpublished trials. One of the authors was also an author on all four primary studies of GG, and another author of the analysis was co-author of one of the studies.

            Well, for the same your S. Reviews are flawed.

            3. “Studies with animals confirmed the results obtained on humans.”

            Please, feel to share the meta analysis of S. review of animal studies with conclusive negative results. My petition start now.

          • “Yes of course I know acupuncture begins with an a and that is why it topped the table.”

            That did not seem to be the point of your comment though.

            “The important point is that it was IN THE TABLE and being first it still has an impact – even if the alphabet put it there.”

            Ah… no. I could agree with you if you were to look at the table with an emotional or irrational bias that causes you to glom onto some desperate hope of validation.

            “It’s possible that I’m a little more observant and intelligent than some of your sycophants, sympathisers and violent opponents of any holistic form of medicine (eg Andy Lewis) who comment here, think I am.”

            It’s possible, yes. But your comments do dismiss that as an actual thing.

          • “The fact remains that you included Acupuncture in a list of modalities that in your words (above) “at best, it might work better than a placebo merely for very few conditions.””

            Let’s break that down;

            “at best” : this is the thin edge of the bell curve way up at the positive end. There’s almost nothing at that end. “At best” is a small concession. Really fraking small. It’s also being honest by not saying “there is *no* evidence” because Edzard can Science.

            “it *might* work better than a placebo”: *Might*. It *might* work better. Not “it works better” or “it does work”. It *might* work better. There’s a second half to that though…

            “it might work better than a *placebo*”: A PLACEBO. A thing that may work in about a third of the population that has no reliable way to identify if any given individual is susceptible. A ritual designed to mimic going through a course of treatment that actually does nothing.

            Finally…

            “merely for very few conditions”: In laymans terms, it doesn’t work for the vast majority of conditions tested.

            So, in summary, the phrase *you* selected to back your position breaks down to;

            “Acupuncture has a *very small* chance of having an effect *better* than something that is a ritual of faking something and only works in a third of the population some of the time for hardly anything at all”

            Yeah, I can’t see how that validates the process as a whole.

          • Tarek

            “Even if we concede that, for a handful of conditions, acupuncture could be superior to a placebo, we must ask: is it more effective than the best conventional therapies available today”.

            Why must acupuncture prove its superiority to conventional therapies? Surely proving that it is superior to placebo is enough; after all that is the test expected of new drugs.

            “For the vast majority of conditions, there is no strong evidence that acupuncture works beyond placebo”.

            Considering that there have not been systematic reviews or metaanalyses done on the use of acupuncture in treating every one of the thousands of conditions affecting the human animal, a slight exaggeration or wilful misrepresentation of the facts
            The consistent finding among papers cited by the Cochrane Review re: acupuncture is that the trials were ” significantly heterogenous” or ” low quality” or ” insufficient evidence is available for review”.

            Contrary to what some of us may try to misrepresent to the public, this does not mean that there is no evidence of efficacy. It merely means that we await properly designed, randomised clinical trials before a definitive statement can be made re: the accurate utility of acupuncture in the treatment of SPECIFIC conditions.

            On one hand you state quite clearly and correctly, that there are many different varieties of acupuncture and that as a result generalisation is difficult; on the other, you seem happy to generalise. A slightly confusing contradiction.

            You presented “evidence” in the form of an article you wrote in 2008 that was not a systematic review or metaanalysis and thus of little use when it comes to presenting evidence in favour or against and of course is out of date. I refer you the Cochrane Library, the highest level of evidence when it comes to interventions:

            Acupuncture has found to be of benefit ( via systematic review) in dysmenorrhoea http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD007854.pub2/abstract ( statistically insignificant but Im interested in the clinical significance), external cephalic version of a breech baby http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD003928.pub3/abstract,
            pain control in labour http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD009232/abstract
            endometriosis pain http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD007864.pub2/abstract and post-operative nausea and vomiting http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD003281.pub4/abstract.

            Multiple other conditions have been looked at, and the general theme when it comes to other conditions is that the evidence available is “weak” or ” low-quality” and that hence higher quality evidence is needed before a definitive position can be taken.

            I think I prefer the intellectual rigour and relative lack of bias of the Cochrane Library, to an obvious exercise in biased sensationalism.

            Perhaps a little fact-checking might not go amiss the next time.

          • Edzard : “Even if we concede that, for a handful of conditions, acupuncture could be superior to a placebo, we must ask: is it more effective than the best conventional therapies available today”.

            Tarek : Why must acupuncture prove its superiority to conventional therapies?

            Because if it can’t then it is unethical to offer it over those conventional therapies.

            Tarek : Surely proving that it is superior to placebo is enough;

            Ah… no. Only for establishing that there is a real effect. And it’s barely about to meet that mark.

            Tarek : after all that is the test expected of new drugs.

            No. No, it’s not. It’ *a* test expected of new drugs. It’s not *the* test though. I think you’ll find it’s a little more complicated than that if you were to do just a tiny bit of checking on things like this.

          • Tarek

            the medical and pharmaceutical literature disagrees with you re: new drugs as do the realities of clinical practice. Leave the medicine to the medics

          • You first.

          • “Interesting how you see yourself as the one who is ‘stating the fact’ and I the one who is making ad hominem attacks.”

            That would be because you are attacking the man rather than the article. So you *are* the one making the ad-hom.

            “This despite you choosing to use a word such as ‘moron’ and I not choosing not to use many words which I might apply to you were I to actually make an ad hominem attack.”

            “Moron” in this context is not an ad-hom. It’s an opinion that is likely being taken as an insult.

            “Perhaps I see myself as one ‘stating the facts’ – facts which you choose to see as ‘attacks’ because they are facts that are uncomfortable for you.”

            Hmm… Looking back at your posts I would have to say… nope.

            Looking back you’ve yet to actually address the article at all. You are consistantly being pulled up on that and refusing to actually do so.

            Stop being a dick. Address the article rather than the author. If you can’t do that you’ll just reinforce your lack of any real points.

          • Sean

            I notice that @edzardernst:disqus has refuted these ‘facts’ already. But you have to understand that ‘fact or ad hominem attack?’ is a false dichotomy. Even if it were true that Ernst did not have any qualifications in CAM, that in no way whatsoever invalidates his presentation of the evidence in this article. Your use of this ‘fact’ against his arguments, rather than forming any kind of refutation yourself, is what constitutes an ad hominem attack.

          • Egger

            “I never said that I had formal qualifications in acupuncture or homeopathy. ”

            Wow, men, this mean a one thing: you are not a trained homeopath, you are only an a amateur in homeopathy.

          • Egger

            Hey Pharmaguy, remember me?
            I’ve read your book. In this you don´t explain nothing, It’s the tipycal summary of wikipedia or rationalwiki (the James Randi Educational Foundation wiki) content. Let my explain bad guy:

            1) In your 2002 BMJ review declares: “I’m a trained homeopathy”

            Let’s my explain. The professional training in homeopathy is not a sample of course in six months. The trained in homeopathy is a full requisite.

            2) Ernst:

            How does explain this statement in (I)rational Wiki?

            rationalwiki.org/ wiki/ Homeopathy

            “While some “homeopathic” medicines are simply herbal supplements labelled as homeopathic, true homeopathic remedies are so greatly diluted that they contain no active ingredients”

            Comparing with your arguments in Int J Cli P:

            “Although most homeopathic remedies are highly diluted, direct adverse effects (AEs) have been reported”

            If some remedies are extreme homeopathic dilutions and if this remedies is highly implasuble to elicit any biological response. Why extreme homeopathic dilutions can cause direct harms in only four dead people? Ok, direct adverse effects it’s not explained with placebo hypothesis (indirect harms).

            In Ernst letter:

            “Then the total number of patients who experienced AEs of homeopathy would have amounted to 3293”

            In fact, 94.7% of the remedies is in the reviewed reports were administered in material dilutions lower to the Avogadro number. If this true, this is a pseduo homeopathic remedies. But, in another letter:

            “As well-known proponents of homeopathy, Walach et al. know, of course, that not all homeopathic remedies are highly dilute. A mother tincture of arsenic, for example, is pure arsenic and thus highly poisonous; yet it would technically be a homeopathic remedy. There is therefore nothing surprising about the fact that, in principle, homeopathic remedies can cause adverse-effects”

            If this sentence is true, how does explain the contradiction in the review?

            “Although most homeopathic remedies are highly diluted, direct adverse effects (AEs) have been reported”

            “Skeptikal” circular logic!

          • You’re incoherent ramblings are incoherent and rambling. You read like a petulant child with something to pout over.

            What were you actually trying to say?

          • You’re actually certifiable aren’t you…

          • Egger

            Simon Sigh is the same of the Nighgale Collaboration. Allan Henness and Ms. Maria Maclahan. Wow, need more evidence?

          • That’s not evidence for anything. It’s public information. And the Nightingale Collaboration does good works. You’d have to be crazy to think they’re up to no good given how public their activities are.

          • Egger

            This is a cleary evidence of the agenda behind of Alan Henness. NC does not any good evidence of nothing, it’s a onle web lobby page of Randi’s gang.

            “You’d have to be crazy to think they’re up to no good given how public their activities are.”

            Ha, ha, ha. Mexican cartels show your public actitivities in videos on streets and web (beheading, corruption with the State, extortion). ISIS and Boko Haram upload your public activities in web. There is not a conspirancy, Nightingale is a lobby, they shown their public actitivies as a lucky boys without conflicts of interests, with a mask of “skeptiks”. Randi is the first piece of behind this legal game.

          • I can sometimes get a sense of what Egger is trying to say, but most time, it’s just gobbledegook. nasty gobbledegook, but gobbledegook just the same.

          • Please let us know when you’re going to start producing evidence, won’t you?

          • LOL! If you want to make accusations, you provide your evidence (for whatever it is you’re claiming). Or can’t you do that?

          • Egger

            LOL! If you want to make accusations against homeopathy, you provide your evidence. Or can’t you do that?

            Nightingale Collaboration is a Mafia of JREF!

          • Ah… the evidence against homeopathy is well established and accepted within credible medical research.

          • Egger

            Ah, yeah? Please, why NHRCM and mass media need publicity against homeopathy? Ah, wow.

            “within credible medical research”

            What is the “credible medical research”? Plese, say me.

          • Egger

            Yeah, please post this.

          • Egger

            LOL! Feel free to share your definitive and conclusive evidence against homeopathy. Or can’t you do that?

          • That’ll get you a ROFL! Can you guess why?

          • Egger

            ROFL (Role of Fill Lack my arguments). Ha, ha, ha.

          • Egger

            BigSugar sounds as Simon Sigh…

        • westlondoner11

          “Have you seen the same vitriol and anger and snorting derision essayed against any Big Pharma product as you’ve seen to Alt Med?”

          Well, yes – the entire ‘cough medicine’ industry, which has zero evidence base and is essentially a money-making racket based on tradition rather than successful therapy, is often castigated. And only a few weeks ago a leading manufacturer of painkillers was on front pages across Europe for the absurd way it was describing and marketing its products.

          No, I didn’t say that ‘libertarian’ = ‘prejudiced’. I suggested that a self-identified libertarian who refers disparagingly to ‘Big Pharma’ is revealing their unconscious biases. You can’t deny that mainstream (particularly US) libertarianism is deeply suspicious of ‘establishment’ medicine, from drug companies to government health departments. At the extremes this leads to the behaviour of Alex Jones’ followers, who take colloidal silver in preference to antibiotics and refuse to vaccinate their children. I’m not suggesting you’re of that tendency, but if you begin with the premise that large entities don’t have our best interests at heart, no amount of evidence produced by governments, companies or other organisations is going to satisfy you.

          • Libertarian

            I am a liberal and have nothing to do with American libertarianism, Alex Jones, anti-vaccination activists or colloidal silver. Unfortunately even hard-line left wingers call themselves ‘liberals’ these days so I don’t want to be associated with them or any political party glibly using the word ‘liberal’ while promoting illiberal policies – such as opposing the democratic very idea of a referendum in Europe.

            Good point about cough mixtures. Yes it is a huge racket and nobody says much of its inane TV ads and publicity. No let’s trash homeopathy and CAM instead. The fact is that the money spent on CAM by its supporters troubles the money guys in Big Pharma. That is not to say that Big Pharma does not good – it does. However it has to keep an eye on the money. As usual in most such discussions ‘Follow the money’ remains a good adage.

      • Roman

        Am, the head of acupuncture department at the local hospital is over 50, and he is an international authority on acupuncture. Anybody who wants to be certified as an acupuncturist can do so, no age restrictions. So stop the BS about no one over 50 has a qualification…

        • westlondoner11

          I think you misread my comment, which begins: “Qualifications in evidence based medicine? Institutions have only recently started to offer them – not one researcher in this field aged over 50 will have such a qualification”

          I was not referring to alt/complementary medicine. The original commenter was demanding, absurdly, that Prof Ernst possess a qualification in evidence-based medicine before talking about it.

      • UKSteve

        Institutions have only recently started to offer them – not one
        researcher in this field aged over 50 will have such a qualification.”

        What a spectacularly ignorant and stupid comment. This thoroughly charming and impressive man was awarded a professorship at the University of Beijing – for his quality of research and teaching:

        http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/1436005/Professor-J-R-Worsley.html

        You people……really!

        • westlondoner11

          What a spectacularly incompetent and graceless intervention.

          If your reading comprehension skills were up to scratch, you would be aware that I was referring to qualifications in *evidence-based medicine*, not alt/complementary medicine. The original commenter was asking why Prof Ernst doesn’t have any. I supplied the answer.

          Maybe you should take a second to read the comments before being smugly dismissive of them.

          • UKSteve

            “graceless”?

            Well, I’m injured. Especially as “grace” is such a stand-out feature by the bizarre collection of pseudo-scientists on this article. Now, stop digging, and pass the shovel to someone before you can’t get out.

            “Qualifications in evidence-based medicine? Institutions have only recently started to offer them – not one researcher in this field aged over 50 will have such a qualification.”

            Evidence-based medicine (EBM) is the process of systematically reviewing, appraising and using clinical research findings to aid the delivery of optimum clinical care to patients. That even applies to conventional medicine.

            If you read more, and typed less, you might not type such foolish generalisations.

          • westlondoner11

            *sigh*

            The original poster stated, absurdly, that Ernst ‘lacks qualifications in evidence-based medicine’. That is a direct quotation.

            I pointed out that such qualifications did not exist when he was studying. And that no researcher ‘aged over 50 will have such a qualification’. All this is true. I said nothing about qualifications in CAM.

            You, having misunderstood my point, called it ‘spectacularly ignorant and stupid’. It wasn’t; I was correct. It would have been civilised to acknowledge your mistake at this point and apologise. But no, you attacked again. And then you – rather bizarrely – define what evidence-based medicine is, as if that disproves my point. Believe me, I don’t need you to explain what EBM is.

            I don’t know whether you include me in your ‘bizarre collection of pseudo-scientists’, but I’ve had my research published in peer-reviewed journals including The Lancet. Have you?

            Now why don’t you stop being rude to people on the internet and go and do something more useful.

          • UKSteve

            SIGH!

            Isn’t wonderful when you pay attention to what you type, even if it is drivel. It wasn’t misunderstood at all – if it was succinctly made in the first place, why did you need to clarify / re-emphasise here?

            Glad to be of service – don’t mention it.

            No – I’ve never had anything published as I stopped at MSc. Presumably what you have published is more of the rubbish you’ve displayed here? Dollars to doughnuts you’re an MD – with all the infamy and ties ins with pharma that go along with it. To say nothing of the “I-know-better” arrogance.

            Any 500 chiropractors or 500 acupuncturists combined will have done less harm than this “doctor”.

            I’ve no idea a why you weirdos hang around on this strange individuals rubbish articles, if you’re “published”, surely your time could be better spent? I mean, how much satisfaction is it possible to get out viciously attack and mocking people who claim to have benefited from this (and other forms) of therapy where you have haunted those pages?

            Now why don’t you stop maligning people by typing garbage into the internet, and go and speak to people who have benefited from this therapy? You might learn something.

          • “Isn’t wonderful when you pay attention to what you type, even if it is drivel. It wasn’t misunderstood at all – if it was succinctly made in the first place, why did you need to clarify / re-emphasise here?”

            Because of your poor reading comprehension skills. Anyone reading this thread would understand that.

          • “I’ve no idea a why you weirdos hang around on this strange individuals rubbish articles”

            Why do you?

          • “I mean, how much satisfaction is it possible to get out viciously attack and mocking people who claim to have benefited from this (and other forms) of therapy where you have haunted those pages?”

            “viciously attack”? Show *one* example on this page where that is a thing.

            As for the question of why, for me personally I do it to point out the actual position of the supporters of CAM. I do it so those that aren’t sure will hopefully see that when challenged CAM can’t step up with the evidence and that the supporters of it can’t stand the scrutiny. Hopefully the reader will chose a more science based treatment if they’re needing it or, if they’re not, at least come away with impression in the back of their mind that the best research demonstrates that it doesn’t work.

            Fortunately the CAM crowd really step up to provide ample material to build this on.

          • westlondoner11

            “Dollars to doughnuts you’re an MD – with all the infamy and ties ins with pharma that go along with it.”

            If that’s your attitude to the entire medical profession, I hope you’re never in need of a cardiologist, an oncologist, an orthopaedic surgeon or a neurologist. I mean, you can’t trust them to treat a heart attack, cancer, a broken hip or a brain tumour, can you? What with their ‘infamy’ and ‘ties in with pharma’. Much better to go off to a homeopath or an acupuncturist.

            “Any 500 chiropractors or 500 acupuncturists combined will have done less harm than this “doctor””

            They won’t have done as much good, either. Perhaps you’d like to explain how a chiropractor or an acupuncturist would have gone about treating this poor man, who had a case of severe renal colic with kidney stones? Conventional medicine routinely cures these conditions. One doctor making a catastrophic mistake with diamorphine does not invalidate proven science. Would you prefer doctors not to use diamorphine, the best painkiller in the armamentarium? Your position is completely incoherent.

            You did manifestly misunderstand my point, hence linking to an entirely irrelevant article about an acupuncturist with a degree. Your failure to acknowledge the fact is entirely in keeping with the bitter and unpleasant tone of all your contributions to this discussion.

          • UKSteve

            “Perhaps you’d like to explain how a chiropractor or an acupuncturist would have gone about treating this poor man, who had a case of severe renal colic with kidney stones?”

            And there we have it! Proof of what I’ve been saying all along!

            Looks like I struck a nerve – and the post continues to reveal the true childishness of your response….

            “I mean, you can’t trust them to treat a heart attack, cancer, a broken hip or a brain tumour, can you?”

            Seriously pathetic – are you 13 years old? I sincerely hope to God you’re not a doctor, because your incredibly narrow and closed mind, pettiness, and sycophancy to a passe eccentric leaves me with great doubt that you could sufficiently empathise with patients.
            “an acupuncturist with a degree…”

            A truly, stupendously idiotic reference to one of the world’s most famous and respected advocates and practitioners of the art and science.

            “One doctor making a catastrophic mistake with diamorphine…..

            The “catastrophic mistake” being that the patient is D E A D …..

            At which point, on the sage advice of Mark Twain. I will stop arguing with an idiot in case onlookers can’t tell the difference.

          • “Perhaps you’d like to explain how a chiropractor or an acupuncturist would have gone about treating this poor man, who had a case of severe renal colic with kidney stones?”

            And there we have it! Proof of what I’ve been saying all along!

            Looks like I struck a nerve – and the post continues to reveal the true childishness of your response….

            Proof of what? That @westlondoner11:disqus can ask perfectly valid questions? I guess I could agree with that point. I note that you don’t seem to even entertain the idea of addressing the actual question though.

            Looking at how you finish that though, I’m guessing this isn’t the point you failed to actually make.

          • “One doctor making a catastrophic mistake with diamorphine…..

            The “catastrophic mistake” being that the patient is D E A D …..

            Dead: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14568778
            1200 blood tests needed: http://www.thebody.com/content/art26467.html

            Kind of makes a mockery of the “500 acupuncturists combined will have done less harm than this “doctor”” claim.

            At which point, on the sage advice of Mark Twain. I will stop arguing with an idiot in case onlookers can’t tell the difference.

            Pretty sure they’ll be able to tell the difference.

          • “If that’s your attitude to the entire medical profession, I hope you’re never in need of a cardiologist, an oncologist, an orthopaedic surgeon or a neurologist.”

            He already needs a neurologist. His posts are getting more and more unhinged at a surprisingly steady pace.

          • “Now why don’t you stop maligning people by typing garbage into the internet, and go and speak to people who have benefited from this therapy? You might learn something.”

            Many (most?) of us have done this.

            We’ve also read up on how the brain can fool itself. How our perception of reality is constructed by the brain. We’ve developed a firm understanding of how our own perceptions can’t be trusted and have an appreciation for how the scientific method can remove reliance on them to establish what is and what isn’t real. Or at least to better explain what is more likely to be real.

    • Thomas Mohr

      Libertarian, your post is the logical fallacy of appeal to authority, in this case within the reverse form. Since you question the authors competence you obviously can not refute the arguments themselves. That in turn puts you yourself in the position of lack of qualification. According to the Kruger Dunnings effect you are not able to judge Prof. Ernst’s qualification since you lack the knowledge to do so.

      Finally, questioning a person’s qualification without refuting the arguments is an admittance of defeat.

      • Ames

  • ScienceMonkey

    Acupuncture sure seems to be popping up quite a bit lately. Out of sheer coincidence, I have been re-reading Bausell’s “Snake Oil Science” this week.

    If you want a clear, detailed book about the placebo effect, it is probably the best book on the subject there is. Acupuncture is the most covered CAM modality examined in the book.

    Anyone who is involved with medical studies, database analysis, critical thinking, or any subject where biases can affect the outcome needs to read this book.

    • It is Acupuncture Awareness Week…

      • ScienceMonkey

        Thanks. That explains it.

  • Roman

    I’m sorry, but this is a poor article. The writer tries to gain authority through his many years of experience as a doctor, but he fails to list a single condition for which he has used acupuncture. As he said, for most conditions acupuncture may be ineffective, but what about those that it is effective for, like back pain? Back pain is one of leading causes of doctor visits and missed work in the developed world, and acupuncture is effective for it. So this whole article is worthless junk when you factor this in… acupuncture is effective for most people who try it, period.

    • ScienceMonkey

      Factor what in, appeal to popularity? Again, read “Snake Oil Science.” (I need to get my big-publishing shill check for this week.) Get the details about what is really happening.

      • Roman

        Both real and sham acupuncture are more effective for back pain than conventional therapy and placebo, according to studies. Look it up. The WHO has a paper that lists 30+ conditios that acupuncture is effective for according to their review of clinical data. Maybe you know something they don’t.

        • Perhaps you could point to the evidence you believe backs up your claims?

          • Roman

            Or you could search google… type in ‘acupuncture real and sham twice as effective as conventional therapy’

          • ScienceMonkey

            You are just validating my point. Read the book. Find out what is really happening!

            I dug up the study.

            Here’s a huge red flag from the study itself – “The Underlying Mechanism May Be A Kind Of Superplacebo Effect Produced By Placebo And All Nonspecific Factors Working Together. Nevertheless, The Effectiveness Of Acupuncture Cannot Be Attributed Merely To A Placebo Effect Because There Is No Reason To Believe That The Action Mechanism Of Conventional Therapy Is The Result Solely Of The Placebo Effect.”

            Because there is no reason to believe?

            Look at the three groupings in the study. Where is the control group that received no treatment? There wasn’t one.

          • Roman

            If it works better than conventional therapy, it works better than placebo and no treatment. So I don’t see your point.

          • ScienceMonkey

            “it works better than conventional therapy, it works better than placebo and no treatment”

            Where do get that from this study? There wasn’t a control group that received no treatment.

          • Roman
          • Roman

            Notice that it’s a Grrman study, with a large sample size.

          • That newspaper article doesn’t even link to the original study, but I note it says that it says that sham acupuncture was as effective as the ‘real’ acupuncture. Can you provide a link to the study?

            But that was over eight years ago and is just one study: what does the totality of good evidence now say?

          • Roman

            Alan, I can provide a link to the study, but I’m not your babysitter. As far as what does the totality of good evidence say, read the latest reviews and post links here if you want to discuss them. If you want to continue asking questions without doing any research, I will not be able to comment any further.

          • It’s not up to *me* to find *your* evidence for you. You make a claim; you provide the evidence. You say you have it – please provide a link to it so we can all look at it.

          • “Alan, I can provide a link to the study, but I’m not your babysitter.”

            Translating from CAM groupie to English…

            “Alan, I’ve got nothing but I’m not going to admit that but I did hear it from somewhere I don’t recall.”

          • UKSteve

            He won’t, I wouldn’t waste your time.

          • Egger

            Alan Henness reply is: Lobby Of my Life (LOL!)

          • Egger

            Yes, you kee show funny campaings against CAM. I laugh twice… Thanks gangster in the UK!

          • Egger

            What happen with your gangster wife? Tracey Brown and Ben Pfizegrace paid her nomine in a bank of UK? Oh dear, it’s very useful detect your traces of deposits. Ha, ha, ha.

          • It could be considered fanciful if it wasn’t for the worst english I’ve ever read. It’s bordering on pathetic. I really hope that english is a second language for Egger. If not, they really need to finish Kindy.

          • Egger

            Is Maria Maclahan a product of my imagination? Well, if you’re response is yes, Alan Henness is a rat child.

          • Ah… the answer is no though.

          • Idiot.

          • Does anyone think Egger is a troll? Or do they actually believe their incoherent ramblings?

          • Egger

            Yes, I hace a fanciful imagination, but the fact is this: you are corrupt. Your friends:

            1. Fernando Frías (CEO from Skeptikal Circle in Spain – The CSICOP MACdonald’s),
            2. Ronald Lindsay. (CEO from Center for Inquiry).

          • Egger

            Oh dear, you negation of facts. Poor lawyer.
            Corrupt.

          • Jon Conant LAc

            I can help: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17893311

            Totality of good evidence in favor of acupuncture as being helpful with pain. Amongst several other things.

          • UKSteve

            I wouldn’t bother providing them with links / proof / research that goes against their views – they don’t read any of it, as proven on the equally stupid piece on chiropractic.

          • Odd that you think you know my views or what would/wouldn’t change them. But providing evidence isn’t just for me: it’s for others reading this as well, isn’t it?

          • UKSteve

            And there is an overwhelming weight of anecdotal evidence out there, but discussing it with you is rather pointless, and your spouse will doubtless be along in the next few minute to hurl school-playground abuse.

          • “anecdotal evidence”

            Translation from CAM groupie to English…

            “unverified stories”

          • UKSteve

            “Translation from CAM groupie to English…

            “unverified stories”

            Translation from window-licker to ordinary people:

            “Wibble!”

          • Wow… Awesome comeback there. You’re struggling now.

          • UKSteve

            For the first time on this page, you’re right.

          • UKSteve

            Nothing has in the past, so I’ve learned by futility.

          • It seems you haven’t.

          • UKSteve

            You do realise that’s just blow up in your face?

            Actually, probably not.

          • Egger

            Uh, I’m scared for the gangster of Randi.

            Coke, Pfizer, Monsanto and Dawkins save me, save me, please I’m Alan Henness…

          • “I wouldn’t bother providing them with links / proof / research that goes against their views – they don;t read any of it,”

            Oh ghods… I *wish* that was the case.

            “as proven on the equally stupid piece on chiropractic.”

            Well, chiro *is* stupid so…

          • UKSteve

            It is the case, as we can see from the sustained stupidity of many posts here, the ones claiming scientific knowledge are hilarious.

            Links are as kryptonite to Superman as far as Henness is concerned. Any post by a number of “contributors” on here would exemplify ‘stupid’.

            Have you all had brown envelopes from big pharma?

          • UKSteve

            Oh no, I just KNEW this bizarre individual would be around again. I could’ve had a punt at Ladroke’s on it.

            Doubtless his equally bizarre, immature and very insulting spouse will be along soon to give him “support”, by calling people childish names.

            http://www.nightingale-collaboration.org/about.html

            And as for Ernst:

            Link1

            Link2

            Link3

          • Nothing to offer but insults?

          • UKSteve

            They’re not insults – they statements of fact.

          • statements of “fact”?

          • UKSteve

            Correct.

          • Egger

            Troll: LOL!

          • ScienceMonkey

            Thanks for the link to the Nightingale Collaboration. I knew of Singh’s plight, but I had not heard of this organization. This is one more worthwhile cause for my donations.

          • UKSteve

            A fool and his money are soon parted.

          • Thanks – we don’t need donations, but you might like this:

            Getting the point

            http://www.nightingale-collaboration.org/news/150-getting-the-point.html

            Our complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority about the claims made for acupuncture by the Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine was upheld in full. It seems that even this flagship of CAM couldn’t provide the necessary standard of evidence to substantiate their claims. Read the full adjudication here:

            https://www.asa.org.uk/Rulings/Adjudications/2013/6/University-College-London-Hospitals/SHP_ADJ_166633.aspx

            That was in 2013, but has anything changed since then?

          • ScienceMonkey

            In the second link, the report says the papers were sent to an “independent expert.” Did anything reveal who “the expert” is?

            Has anything changed? It wouldn’t surprise me if any changes were merely cosmetic to ensure future ads didn’t breach CPA codes but still implied efficacy.

            Here are the rules. How do I bend them without breaking them? Bad science and bad ethics combined for profit? And yes, Steve, it can also happen in the world of real medicine too.

          • No, I don’t think the expert was ever stated (although it’s possible the advertiser as told – I don’t know). They may have changed their rules and are more open now. However, the advertiser would be aware of the conclusions of the expert and would have a chance to counter anything they disagreed with – but they still lost.

          • Ohh.. @AlanHenness:disqus, you’re with the Nightingale Collaboration? That’s awesome! You guys do great work. 🙂

          • Thanks!

          • Libertarian

            Yeah like awesome man! You and Sense About Science do such altruistic work for people less intelligent, less informed and less scientific than yourselves. Keep up the philanthropism boys! And ignore ignorant posts such as the one below 😉

            https://www.facebook.com/LynneMcTaggart2011/posts/10151917328249666

          • I’d forgotten about that page of nonsense – thanks for reminding me of it and brighting up this otherwise dull March day.

          • Libertarian

            Sure. Always happy to make someone’s day. Keep up the good working in using double standards in examining evidence for CAM. All in the name of philanthropism – I’m sure you will agree.

          • LOL! The double standards are usually on the part of the regulators, eg the MHRA for allowing homeopathy products to be sold with no evidence of efficacy provided.

          • UKSteve

            Yeah, especially as you’d never heard of them before I posted the link.

            Too much time playing computer games in a darkened room, maybe.

            Why not send him a few bucks?; I mean, it’s not like he’s going to earn a great living other than from gullible, clueless mupp3ts donating. Or anything.

          • Yeah, you got me. 🙂 I’ve known about the Nightingale Collaboration and @AlanHenness:disqus’s involvement for a long time. There’s no need to send them money. If you’d taken the time to read that link you posted you’d know this. I do however donate occasionally to Sense About Science which is the charitable organisation that funds the Nightingale Collaboration. Again, if you’d bothered reading what you link to you’d know that too.

          • UKSteve

            Ah, a dissembler. Figures.

            I have enough pain reading the uninformed drivel on here, without going elsewhere.

            You provided no link, not the first lie you’ve told, but as I suspected your gullibility is beyond question.

          • “You provided no link”

            Ahh… It’s the link *you* provided. This one;
            http://www.nightingale-collaboration.org/about.html

          • We’re not funded by Sense About Science and never have been – two completely separate organisations.

          • @AlanHenness:disqus, yeah, I caught that early and edited. It appears Discuss doesn’t handle updates though edits the way it handles live posts.

          • Ah. No problem.

          • Egger

            The “rational” and “skeptikal” responses from Nightingale Mafia in all www:

            LOL!
            LOL!
            LOL!
            LOL!

          • Libertarian

            Thank you very much for posting those links which are informative and hopefully will be read by some of the commentators here.

            I’ve been accused of ad hominem attacks on Edzard Ernst – as have many others. But if one looks at my first post here, it is really The Spectator that I’m criticising for giving space to a commentator I consider definitely not worthy of it. Is it really an ad hominem attack on Ernst to question why someone obviously unqualified for the job (no certified training in any form of CAM when such trainings are and have been very much obtainable in German and the UK) was given a professorship in CAM (at an admittedly minor British university) and then used the ‘kudos’ of this position to attack CAM viciously and sarcastically (as in this article) and make a name for himself as a major opponent of pretty much all forms of CAM? So maybe it’s the University of the Peninsula (be good to hear from them) who inexplicably gave him the job and the Spectator that should be unhappy about my apparently ‘ad hominem’ remarks. Objectively Edzard Ernst has done very well for himself and he can hardly be BLAMED for the scandal of a university appointing him as a professor and a journal such as The Spectator giving him space for an article such as this.

            This article is essentially anti-acupuncture and anti-CAM propaganda. Another article with the same facts could have focused on how exactly acupuncture DID achieve results over placebo in certain conditions. Surely this is of note? Obviously not very important to people who hate CAM including an ex-professor of CAM

          • “it is really The Spectator that I’m criticising for giving space to a commentator…”

            You’ve failed to focus on that point in your follow. You actually seemed to double down on the attacks on Edzard which detracts from your claim too.

            “…I consider definitely not worthy of it”

            Fortunately the editors at The Spectator don’t hold your closed-minded view.

            “This article is essentially anti-acupuncture and anti-CAM propaganda.”

            Actually the article is pro-science. The CAM side so frequently slip on that nuance.

          • UKSteve

            You are welcome – it’s nice to have a civilised discussion with open-minded folks.

            I am staggered by the fact this article follows on from the one on chiropractic a while ago, both by the same author, and seemingly, attracting the same bizarre creatures. They are utterly impervious to reason and rationale, and exhibit the classic forum behaviour of tr0lls. When you provide evidence they don’t read it.

            My wife swears by chirproactic, and visits every 6 months for maintenance. Doctors are completely confounded by backs, they don’t understand how you can lift a heavy weight (correctly), and yet scream in agony if you reach for a tea towel – it’s happened. The doctor? Valium. The chiropractor? 2 visits (adjustments and acupuncture) and she was dancing like Ginger Rogers.

            I have experience of acupuncture, but in the 1980’s – and was honoured to be treated on 3 occasions by Prof John Worsley, although it was a trek to Leamington Spa, then. It was amazingly effective, and astonished my GP. I found later that friends were also both patients, one had tremendous relief from cystitis.

            I’ve no idea what these people are on; hallucinogenics, psychotropics, envelopes from big pharma or the government? I’m not the least bit interested; I just know of a lot of experiences from good honest people of the benefits of alternative therapies. (My sisters neighbour in Coventry told of a guy who was a UK-known naturopath in the city (Shaw?) from many years ago who had legendary status.

            I am happy with all of this, this “article” and the vast majority of posts on here don’t amount to a hill of beans, or even the inevitably resulting flatus. Some more reading, if you missed it:

            Link1

            Link2

            Link3 – not a great one

            Link5

            Link6

            Link7

            Link8

            <a href="http://www.open.edu/openlearn/whats-on/ou-on-the-bbc-alternative-medicine-programme-1-acupuncture"Link9

          • Jon Conant LAc
          • Jon Conant LAc

            “Acupuncture gives physicians a promising and effective treatment option for chronic low back pain, with few adverse effects or contraindications. The improvements in all primary and secondary outcome measures were significant and lasted long after completion of treatment.”

            Reference: Arch Intern Med. 2007;167(17):1892-1898.

            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17893311

            http://www.evidencebasedacupuncture.org/who-official-position/

            Cut it out with your biases.

          • And Haake et al. concluded that it didn’t matter where you stuck the needles in… Whither meridians?

          • Jon Conant LAc

            The acupuncturist in the study must have been really good. 🙂 Yes, raises some interesting questions. Regardless, acupuncture…’real’ or ‘sham’, proved to be a better therapy.

            Maybe the people doing ‘conventional treatment’ should have just done a ‘placebo.’

            How is the PubMed “acupuncture” search coming along? Are you reviewing evidence of a possibly effective modality that warrants more exploration and use to benefit medicine, or are you continuing to tease out your criticisms? I’m guessing the latter, you strike me as someone who is biased and not scientific.

          • Jon Conant LAc

            “Acupuncture gives physicians a promising and effective treatment option for chronic low back pain, with few adverse effects or contraindications. The improvements in all primary and secondary outcome measures were significant and lasted long after completion of treatment.”

            Reference: Arch Intern Med. 2007;167(17):1892-1898.

            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pu

            http://www.evidencebasedacupun

            Cut it out with your biases.

        • Andy Lewis

          What does it say about a treatment when it cannot show superior benefit over a sham version of that therapy?

          • Roman

            It says that TCM theory, and the points that are recommended, have nothing to do with the way acupuncture works. It also says that sham acupuncture, and more specifically stimulation of other points, IS an effective treatment for pain. Just because we don’t know how it works, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t work. FYI, we don’t know how some popular medications work, but it doesn’t stop the from being approved by the FDA.

          • Andy Lewis

            Well, primarily, it says the entire theoretical basis of acupuncture is false and should be abandoned. Inserting needles has no benefit over poking someone with a stick. Why do we not see acupuncturists abandoning their theoretical framework and getting out a stick to prod people with?

          • UKSteve

            Yes, this stupid practice that the Chinese have been using for 4,000 years, and without the need for charlatan pseudo-scientists like Ernst, and his bizarre and ludicrous acolytes.

          • Andy Lewis

            But that is a myth. The Chinese have not been using it for 4,000 years. The nationalist chinese have been spreading this myth based on texts that describe proto-surgical techniques that could have come from any stone/bronze age culture, such as blood-letting, cutting and piercing. Nothing that resembles modern post-Mao acupuncture.

            And in any case, what if it had been around for 4000 years? In what way does this validate a pre-scientific belief system?

          • saissann

            wow.
            Science has failed us in so many ways, especially relative to healing.
            Food science and dyes and aspartame and preservatives, farming science and pesticides and antibiotic use and gmo’s, dentistry and mercury and root canals, pharmaceuticals and side effects–I could go on but I have a life.
            It’s good to question everything, including science, before you open your mouth and show your closed mind. If you don’t you’re standing on a soapbox on a bandwagon headed over a cliff. Have the courage to think and express an original thought, not just parrot what a scientist will tell you in 5 years was an incorrect theory or flawed research.

          • Andy Lewis

            As you have not seen fit to reference any meta-reviews I thought I would.

            Acupuncture treatment for pain: systematic review of randomised clinical trials with acupuncture, placebo acupuncture, and no acupuncture groups.

            BMJ. 2009 Jan 27;338:a3115. doi: 10.1136/bmj.a3115.

            “A small analgesic effect of acupuncture was found, which seems to lack clinical relevance and cannot be clearly distinguished from bias. Whether needling at acupuncture points, or at any site, reduces pain independently of the psychological impact of the treatment ritual is unclear.”

            Isn’t it time that acupuncturists packed up their bags?

          • Roman

            “which seems to lack clinical relevance” what does that mean? It ether has or it doesn’t have clinical relevance. “Whether needling at acupuncture points, orat any site, reduces pain independently of the psychological impact of the treatment ritual is unclear.” This may be unclear to the reviewer as he tries to write off all of the positive effects to placebo. I’m not convinced and neither is the WHO and NHS.

          • Roman: “”which seems to lack clinical relevance” what does that mean?”

            Oh! I know this one. I would guess that it means that after looking at the data for the study it was found to be pointless.

            So to put that in context; “Acupuncture treatment for pain” (the subject of the study) “seems to lack clinical relevance” (the summary of the conclusion).

            That wasn’t even that hard to work out. How could you have so much difficulty with that Roman?

          • UKSteve

            Then what treatment would you recommend?

      • Tarek

        Acupuncture has found to be of benefit ( via systematic review) in dysmenorrhoea http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com… external cephalic version of a breech baby http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com…,

        pain control in labour http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com

        endometriosis pain http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com… and post-operative nausea and vomiting http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com….

        The persistent comments in the Cochrane reviews that look at its use for other modalities is that the high quality trials aren’t available. The evidence for efficacy is lacking simply because the trials have yet to be done in many cases to an acceptable standard

        • So, the same old question: when will acupuncturists get round to funding those trials to provide good evidence for what they frequently claim?

          • Egger

            Please gangster of Randi, feel to free share the guidelines of the perfect study and good evidence. What is the minimun number of patients included in RCT with high quality?

          • Oh dear. You really fail at understanding everything, don’t you?

          • Egger

            Oh dear. You really fail at understanding everything of the politics. You need more funny manipulation against homeopathy.

          • Jon Conant LAc

            Google acupuncture research. Trials are happening, and there is much evidence in the favor of acupuncture. Large trials, however, are spendy, and finding financial backing is hard if there isn’t a resultant product that you can patent and sell. Acupuncture is still relatively new to our culture. It’s gaining momentum by actually being effective in clinic settings and by being sought out by individuals with health concerns.

          • Jon Conant LAc said:

            “Google acupuncture research.”

            I prefer PubMed myself.

            “Trials are happening”

            I’m sure there are, but until their results are published, do you think we should try to guess what they might find or should we base health decision on current evidence?

            “and there is much evidence in the favor of acupuncture.”

            And a lot against… many concluding it doesn’t matter where you stich the needles or even if they penetrate the skin.

            “Large trials, however, are spendy, and finding financial backing is hard if there isn’t a resultant product that you can patent and sell.”

            How much does a large trial cost?

            “Acupuncture is still relatively new to our culture.”

            You could really delete your last three words…

            “It’s gaining momentum by actually being effective in clinic settings”

            Yet when it’s looked at under more controlled conditions, effects seem to reduce to almost nothing…

            “and by being sought out by individuals with health concerns.”

            So, is that because it’s effective or because of good marketing?

          • Jon Conant LAc

            Good for you. PubMed search “acupuncture research” if you’d prefer.

          • LOL!

        • ScienceMonkey

          “the trials have yet to be done in many cases to an acceptable standard”

          I guess the determination of what constitutes “acceptable” depends on whom you ask.

          I have been forwarded “conclusive” studies (or in the case above, links that don’t go to any studies at all). When I examine the studies, they have very poor controls or no controls.

    • fortruthssake

      The reason anecdotal stories support the effectiveness of acupuncture is 1. Placebo effect. 2. Cognitive Dissonance. People who pay lots of (acupuncture is expensive) money for acupuncture treatment use cognitive dissonance to justify the expenditure. Placebo effect is as much as 30%.
      When an actual scientific study comes out, after going through all the steps actual scientific studies go through (9 different levels which can take years) the grind and indisputable proof is published, then I may take acupuncture a little more serious.

      On a side note, I think it is hypocritical of you to state “the writer to authority through his many years of experience….” but fail to see the hypocrisy. Acupuncture tries to gain “authority” because it is ancient.

      • Jon Conant LAc

        Poor argument. Roman said nothing of anecdotes, he’s just stating facts. Low back pain is a subject of much research that points to the effectiveness of acupuncture. Yes, “actual scientific studies”. Acupuncture is a great tool for pain, I see it’s effects many times per day in clinic. Fast and sustained relief, not toxic to the liver or kidneys, non-addictive. The author of this article is clearly biased, perverts statistics (one article he references actually makes a great case about the safety of acupuncture), and his writing is a detriment to medicine.

        • fortruthssake

          YOU, Jon, are CLEARLY the biased one. Please post the link to the “actual scientific studies” you mention.

          • Jon Conant LAc

            No, I’m the medically trained, research read, scientific one. Read the thread below for links for studies, or simply search pubmed for “acupuncture” instead of reading crappy articles like this one. The research is there, it’s time for people to open minded to accept this as medicine, and quit being biased haters.

          • fortruthssake

            Medically trained?…and you do acupuncture? What is your degree exactly? Are you medically trained in acupuncture? (huge oxymoron there) read up on placebo effect

          • Jon Conant LAc

            Yes. I’m licensed with our state medical board (the same board that oversees the licences of medical doctors) and hold a master’s degree in acupuncture and Oriental medicine. Not an oxymoron. I’ve also been practicing physically therapy for well over a decade.

            You can read the volumes of research and decide for yourself. Personally I don’t care if you agree or not, or ‘believe’ in acupuncture or not. I’ve reviewed many research papers and see acupuncture’s benefits on clinic on a daily basis as a clinician. It’s a viable medical option to enhance people’s lives, whether you agree or not.

            The question at hand is if it’s a viable therapy or no. Research and clinical use generally points to yes, and of course as with everything that isn’t completely understood, warrants further exploration.

            I’ve used it to reduce pain to the point of a person being able to stop taking prescription optiates and restore their mobility and sleep and improve general wellness. I see the proof in clinic when people can return to a happy lifestyle. Those are there people I care about, not cynical people such as the author of this article. I hope you never find yourself in chronic and debilitating pain, addicted to pain medication, and with failing kidneys or liver as a result. Do know acupuncture can be a helpful option.

            Of course, you’ll likely have some kind of retort that I will review, but I’m finished here. It’s becoming a waste of valuable time. A lot of responses among people here are not open minded to exploring the science and research, and appear to be argument for argument-sake.

          • fortruthssake

            Well, the fact that you are so invested in your field and likely only read studies which validate your field and beliefs (confirmation bias, cognitive dissonance) pretty much confirms my point. I do not disagree that you help your patients. I know the placebo effect is strong, well documented and think it is fascinating. I have read many resources regarding this as well as other alternative therapies. I see that there are a large number of studies which show a slight improvement over other modern modalities, however, there are also a greater number which show no difference. Acupuncture would not work on me as I do not believe it would…I had it done by a colleague, years ago, due to a soft tissue injury and it made absolutely no difference. I, unfortunately, do not succumb to the placebo effect, or hypnosis or anything else of that nature…I wish I did but fortunately for me, I do not suffer from chronic pain or am addicted to pain meds.

          • Jon Conant LAc

            You continuously referring it to placebo, despite all the research that shows definite physiological responses, is not only insulting to me as a professional, but also proves you haven’t actually read much research with an open mind.

            Acupuncture is also used by veterinarians to help with issues with animals, such as pain or incontinence. Would you be so bold to say that dogs, horses, or cattle respond to ‘the placebo effect, cognitive dissonance, or confirmation bias’?

            How many times did you get treatment? Though there is often a level of immediate improvement, most cases take a few treatments before getting a strong response, similar to other therapies; you can discount it based on one try. Was your colleague a licensed and trained acupuncture professional?

            Approaching it all from a scientific mind, there is plenty of research and clinical results that warrant further exploration into understanding acupuncture, and no reason to deny it from people, nor stigmatize it and practitioners as the above article is trying to do.

            For truth’s sake, ‘truth’ isn’t finding things and trying to debunk or dismantle them in order to elevate another. Truth can be found when exploring with an open mind.

          • fortruthssake

            I just can’t. Animals cannot let people know if they feel better, it’s still a perception. Yes my colleague was an acupuncture professional. Let’s just end this debate Jon. I will never believe that spending ridiculous amounts of money to have needles stuck into my body will improve any condition I may develop and you will never believe that acupuncture is bunk. It just bothers me to no end that people like you and all the other alternative “therapies” keep reaping in the big bucks for something that either has no evidence or in your field’s case…marginal improvements. Acupuncture, Chiropractic, Homeopathic, Cleanses, Naturopathy and the like are nothing but money grabbing scams, period.

          • Jon Conant LAc

            Animals can demonstrate behavior that shows pain is decreased…ie, they are unable to get up off of the floor prior, but able after an acupuncture treatment; and a reduction in frequency of incontinent episodes is clearly measurable. I doubt animals are biased, or reporting results to make the vet happy, or subject to the placebo effect. Proof that acupuncture is helping.

            How does money enter the equation? I thought we were simply discussing if acupuncture worked or not. I’ve seen measurable improvement with minimal treatment, and often see people…and actually help them….after loads of other therapies and pharmaceutical interventions, and their related high expenses, have failed them. And we don’t reap in the ‘big bucks.’ Funny you assume that. Most of us are struggling financially, but are honored to provide a service that helps people, and is in itself intriguing. Look above at this article and your comments, and try to consider why it’s even harder for us.

            And it’s funny too, that you keep saying there is ‘no evidence’ but yet there is volumes of it out there. Simply search ‘acupuncture’ on PubMed. I don’t understand either why you lump acupuncture with naturophathy, homeopathy, cleanses, chiropractic, and the like. Different modalities. Apples and oranges. I think you’re simply being discriminatory & cynical; and you’re being an obstacle for people to get treatment from which they might benefit.

            I do agree with you on one thing. That being this discussion/debate is going nowhere. I think there’s some deeper issue with your thinking and general approach to life that is incongruent with the spirit of science and medicine. So no, we’ll probably never meet a consensus on this topic.

          • Who said ‘ridiculous amounts of money’? My m-in-law said it was $70 for a session. That doesn’t strike me as ‘ridiculous’. And she said that she improved. Whatever works!

          • anna

            Does the placebo effect work if you have no faith in the treatment? I was at a health farm just for a rest and was asked if I had any specific problems. I said that I had a chronically painful coccyx, having crashed down on an icy path. For 16 years I’d tried everything including hydrocortisone injections but nothing worked. Acupuncture was suggested and I agreed to have some treatment, included in the cost of my stay so there was no extra charge. I thought inwardly that it was a load of old rubbish (which is how I regard almost all other ‘woo’ therapies.) I had 3 sessions over the week and the therapist said I would feel no improvement for 6 weeks. ‘Yeah, yeah,’ I thought and sure enough the pain continued. Then, one morning, I woke up, and for the first time in 16 years, I was free of pain…..and yes, it was 6 weeks after the last session.

            So: was this some form of post-hypnotic suggestion? A placebo that worked even though I didn’t believe it would? A bizarre co-incidence that the pain disappeared naturally after 16 years? I’ve had a couple more successful treatments in recent years for musculo-skeletal problems which have also proved effective – probably the placebo effect in these cases, as I felt it would work; but I’d be interested in suggestions as to why it worked the first time when I had no faith whatsoever that acupuncture would be of any benefit at all.

          • Jon Conant LAc

            Here’s a touch to get you started.

            “Acupuncture gives physicians a promising and effective treatment option for chronic low back pain, with few adverse effects or contraindications. The improvements in all primary and secondary outcome measures were significant and lasted long after completion of treatment.”

            Reference: Arch Intern Med. 2007;167(17):1892-1898.

    • Emma Shaw

      I would agree too. He doesn’t seem to mention any particular study in detail, or his methods of obtaining them to make an over all conclusion. What studies did he look at?

      • This is an article on the topic, not a systematic review. All of your answers are one quick search away. Edzard isn’t exactly a recluse on this topic.

        • UKSteve

          No – he’s a completely discredited and suspect pseudo-scientist.

          Staggering the number of people that fall for his nonsense.

        • Emma Shaw

          That’s my problem with it, it’s not a systematic review and you have to take his word for it when he refers to said studies. There are a few links to random articles here and there but that’s it. Demonstrating evidence based medicine is writing a proper review of all of the studies, and backing up your claims with full references and meta-analysis to evaluate the results of the studies, I see nothing mentioned in this article. If I wanted to make a decision about whether Acupuncture works or not I would want all the evidence presented to me, this article does not.

          • “That’s my problem with it, it’s not a systematic review and you have to take his word for it when he refers to said studies.”

            There’s links to a number of studies and sources. A link to his book and a link to his blog where he discusses these things in depth with references. If you can’t be bothered taking the time to verify anything you’re not sure of you’re creating your own problem. There’s more than enough pointers to enable the inquisitive.

          • Emma Shaw

            There are not enough pointers to make it evidence based and enough to make an informed decision clinically wise, or for the lay person. You have to evaluate ALL the evidence which I don’t see in this article. There is no mention of Cochrane Reviews for example, which are the gold standard in terms of Evidence. In terms of being bothered, I know enough to know (I do this for a living) that I could verify all those links but it’s still not enough. I also know that linking to the odd PubMed article is certainly not enough. If you want a more informed and not biased information about it then this is well written and informed by the evidence http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Acupuncture/Pages/Introduction.aspx It actually states that National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommend it for certain problems like lower back pain. NICE base these recommendations on all the Evidence. They do extensive searching of the literature to inform this. You will be able to see all of this if you look at their guidelines. It’s also available on the NHS. They would not do this if they had not enough evidence to back it up as it has cost implications if anything.

            In this article he does not properly back up his arguements unless he does this then I’m afraid it gives very little value to the whole debate of whether it works or not.

          • “You have to evaluate ALL the evidence which I don’t see in this article.”

            That would be called a meta analysis, meta study, systematic review, etc… Way out of scope for an article on the topic. Would you demand the same from *every* article posted on the topic of acupuncture, or just those critical of it? The latter would expose a double standard in your view.

            Your position is unreasonable.

          • Emma Shaw

            I don’t understand what you mean by out of scope for this article! I wouldn’t expect the public to read a systematic review. However, any member of the public should expect a balanced view of the evidence, and currently there are mixed results when it comes to accupuncture. This is simply biased. Yes I would demand it for every article posted about acupuncture whether postive of negative. I treat every article with the same scrutiny that’s the whole point of evidence based Medicine. I don’t think it’s unresaonable to expect a certain standard of reporting of the evidience so that the public get a proper informed view. That’s why I have a problem with this article and to be honest a lot of reporting of research the Media as a whole.

          • I don’t understand…

            That is abundantly clear.

        • Odd. I can’t see why a *moderator* would remove your comment @UKSteve:disqus. I’ll help out.

      • Richard King

        There are plentiful sources of information on acupuncture,
        as well as other therapies for that matter, with views that run counter to the “received
        wisdom” of the materialistic mainstream. I have downloaded about forty PDFs on
        acupuncture (journal papers, theses, etc.), including other than needle (penetration)
        acupuncture. The evidence is mixed and there is certainly not a complete
        negative in relation to acupuncture, actually positive in some cases,
        applications.

        • The evidence is mixed and there is certainly not a complete negative in relation to acupuncture, actually positive in some cases, applications.

          The evidence is mixed until you start filtering the studies based on robust measurements of the quality of the methods used in the study. Then it’s not so mixed.

    • Back pain is best addressed by developing a stronger, more flexible back; learning the proper way to deadlift; becoming more active (or resting more, if you habitually overload your back); and learning simple, gentle stretches. Back pain is a physical fitness issue — as is most skeletal-muscular pain not caused by disease.

  • Roman

    You can argue all you want, but peripheral nerve stimulation is an effective form of pain management. I’m not claiming that acupuncture is a wise choice, as you can get similar stimulation via massage, hot packs, peper/menthol creams/patches, TENS or acupressure pads, but they all work.

    • Have an effect, yes. All of those work? Citation needed.

      There is also the issue of how they claim it works. This can lead to poor thinking which will open the doors (well… leave the doors open) to the crazy.

      Accepting [insert CAM of choice with disproven or unprovable mode of action here] and it becomes a gateway Woo. Next thing you’ll see is CAM rebranding itself so it can try and integrate into actual healthcare systems.

      • Acleron

        Alternative bridge building for those who crave excitement.

      • Roman

        CAM is integrated into actual health systems, it is funded by the NHS – National Health System in UK and is covered by many insurance companies in the US and Germany to name a few.

        As far as references go, every med student should know who dr. Wall is, the inventor of gate control theory of pain, and he did generalise, look here http://www.mvclinic.es/wp-content/uploads/1984_MelzackWall_Acupuncture-and-TENS.pdf

        • ScienceMonkey

          “CAM is integrated into actual health systems”

          Actual health systems.

        • “CAM is integrated into actual health systems”

          That was supposed to be a joke and just reinforces my point…

        • Not so much integrated into the NHS, more barely hanging on for dear life as the last outposts of homeopathy and other CAM fall foul of CCG’s PoLCE policies.

  • Joe Farrell

    Leeches.

    And the Fleem. Bring back bleeding.

    Integrate that health care across the centuries.

    We can use steam to treat lung cancer. . .

    • ScienceMonkey

      I prefer taking the gaseous byproduct of cellulose combustion and injecting it under air pressure into the anal cavity. I should patent and copyright that, but why do I have a feeling someone already has?

    • UKSteve

      And lobotomies in certain cases……

    • Jon Conant LAc

      http://www.livescience.com/203-maggots-leeches-medicine.html Critical thinking. It’s not all the same buddy.

  • Sathyanarayanan Sethuraman

    Just asking – If science has clear and perfect evidence about allopathic medicine then why are so many medicine recalls and class action law suites awarding billions to the plaintiffs that had life-threatening side-effects from the so called ‘scientifically and clinically proven medicines”? You guys are just lobby trying to rip off billions of dollars from the poor ailing population in the name of science.

    • Acleron

      What has this to do with acupuncture?

    • Science has never made the claim to have “clear and perfect” evidence about *actual* medicine. That lofty and dishonest claim typically falls to the CAM crowd.

      Science is the best tool we have to date to establish reality. This is done by eliminating observer/experimenter bias and by being able to replicate the same outcome repeatedly, reliably and often through different processes.

      Look up “the scientific method” for a better understanding of this process.

      Also, even if what you said above was a valid thing it still wouldn’t make acupuncture actually work.

  • Gra Eastgate

    Firstly, I can declare an interest in that my wife is a traditional acupuncturist. Secondly, acupuncture works for me. Finally, it is a complementary treatment to sit alongside standard western medicine not an alternative and should not be suggested as such, and lets not start looking at how many patients suffer as a result of ‘tested’ and ‘proven’ medicine…we’d be here all week. 🙂

    • “Secondly, acupuncture works for me.”

      Awesome. It doesn’t mean that acupuncture *works* though.

      “Finally, it is a complementary treatment to sit alongside standard western medicine not an alternative and should not be suggested as such”

      So all the acupuncture clinics making stand alone health claims should be shut down?

      • Gra Eastgate

        Or perhaps just asked to make things clear, just as doctors and pharma companies should be clear as to who pays for what research etc etc. We all have choices and make our own decisions… I’m happy (and healthy) with mine 🙂

        • UKSteve

          As are many of us, but we are aberrations to this outfit? Are they paid “professionals” (LOL!) do you think?

    • Acleron

      Why should we even consider the effectiveness of other medicine. Should we discuss the effectiveness of chemotherapy by discussing antibiotics?

      Combination treatments are often used, there is nothing new about it. But whether all the combined treatments work or not the combination has to be tested. If they don’t all work then some mechanism must be known to consider combining them.

      Acupuncture is ineffective over placebo so that’s no reason to combine it with anything. Is there a mechanism that might indicate that it could enhance medical treatment?

      • Gra Eastgate

        You can pick and choose your research. Manner R et al. 2010, Leo & Ligot 2007 and other trials found acupuncture affective in controlled trials. However Ernst et al 2010, Smith C. 2010 and other trials found possible bias or placebo.
        I look at the British Acupuncture Association research pages which provide positive and negative findings and the World health Organisation accept acupuncture as being ‘proved as effective treatment’ (their words not mine) for certain illnesses in controlled clinical trials.
        Far more knowledgeable people than me accept the validity of acupuncture and far more knowledgeable people than me don’t…bit like the Europe debate.
        Acupuncture is statistically safer than most treatment interventions with minimal or no side effects, but is more research needed…absolutely.

        • “You can pick and choose your research. Manner R et al. 2010, Leo & Ligot 2007 and other trials found acupuncture affective in controlled trials. However Ernst et al 2010, Smith C. 2010 and other trials found possible bias or placebo.”

          You can pick and choose. But if you’re wanting to have your analysis of the literature taken seriously you need to also explain the selection/filtering process. Would you take a systematic review seriously if the selection criteria was “We selected papers with positive conclusions” or would you take “We selected papers by filtering for good methodology and large numbers of test subjects”?

          The thing is, if you pick and choose using the second option acupuncture looks no better than placebo.

          “and the World health Organisation accept acupuncture as being ‘proved as effective treatment’ (their words not mine)”

          Can you provide a link to the WHO site that shows this claim? Searching for it returns no results.

          http://search.who.int/search?q=%22proved+as+effective+treatment%22&site=who&proxystylesheet=_en_r&output=xml_no_dtd&oe=utf8&getfields=doctype

          “Acupuncture is statistically safer than most treatment interventions with minimal or no side effects, but is more research needed…absolutely.”

          http://whatstheharm.net/acupuncture.html

          • Gra Eastgate

            Here’s the link to the WHO document http://apps.who.int/medicinedocs/pdf/s4926e/s4926e.pdf

            Struggling to accept the website ‘whatstheharm’ as a serious point (not withstanding the cases highlighted are serious) but just to counter it the National Audit Office report of 2005 found that in the UK NHS there were ‘patient safety incidents’ in the year costing £3 billion in extra care costs plus over £2billion set aside for or paid out in litigation.

            “Patient safety incident: any unintended or unexpected event that lead to death, disability, injury, disease or suffering for one or more patients”
            https://www.nao.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2005/11/0506456.pdf

            Now this I am sure this will include emergency and trauma care where pressure and emergency factors are evident and it may even include acupuncture incidents as the NHS provides acupuncture for conditions identified by the WHO.

            The point is that we can all counter with this and that but acupuncture is not, in my view, a sham and the WHO agree with me. The British Acupuncture Society make every effort to be open and subject acupuncture to research.

            Anyway, I have enjoyed the discussion but i have got back from rugby training with a blinding headache so I’m going to take a paracetamol to fix it then acupuncture tomorrow to make sure it stays fixed. 🙂

          • That WHO report was over thirteen years ago. In 2015, 1,705 papers on acupuncture were added to PubMed. So far this year, there have been a further 270. Should all those be ignored?

          • Gra Eastgate

            Nope!

            Da Silva, Arnaldo Neves; Headache: The Journal of Head & Face Pain, Mar2015; ‘Acupuncture seems to be at least as effective as conventional drug preventative therapy for migraine and is safe, long lasting, and cost-effective.’

            Chen, Xiaoyan; Spaeth, Rosa B.; Freeman, Sonya G.; Scarborough, Donna Moxley; Hashmi, Javeria A.; Wey, Hsiao-Ying; Egorova, Natalia; Vangel, Mark; Mao, Jianren; Wasan, Ajay D.; Edwards, Robert R.; Gollub, Randy L.; Kong, Jian;
            results suggest that acupuncture may achieve its therapeutic effect on knee OA pain by modulating functional connectivity between the rFPN, ECN and the descending pain modulatory pathway

            Smith, Caroline A.; Pirotta, Marie; Kilbreath, Sharon; Acupuncture in Medicine, Oct2014;
            Conclusions Lymphoedema is a persistent symptom experienced by women recovering from breast cancer. Our study suggests that acupuncture may stabilise symptoms and no major safety concerns were identified, so further research is needed.

            Nager, Alan L.; Kobylecka, Monika; Pham, Phung K.; Johnson, Leighanne; Gold, Jeffrey I.; The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, Vol 21(5), May, 2015:
            Pilot data suggest that acupuncture may be a feasible and effective treatment modality for decreasing subjective pain and inflammation as measured by WBC (White Blood Cell count). Acupuncture may be a useful non pharmacological PED (Paediatric Emergency Department) intervention for treating patients with acute appendicitis pain.

            da Silva, Morgana D.; Bobinski, Franciane; Sato, Karina L.; Kolker, Sandra J.; Sluka, Kathleen A.; Santos, Adair R. S.; Molecular Neurobiology, Vol 51(1), Feb, 2015
            These findings provide new evidence that MA (Manual Acupuncture) produces a phenotypic switch in macrophages and increases IL-10 concentrations in muscle to reduce pain and inflammation.

            Auricular Acupuncture in the Treatment of Acute Pain Syndromes: A Pilot Study
            Christine M.H. Goertz , DC, PhD*; Col Richard Niemtzow , USAF†; Col Stephen M. Burns , USAF†; Matthew J. Fritts , MPH*; Cindy C. Crawford , BA*; LTC Wayne B. Jonas , USA (Ret.)*
            the acupuncture group experienced a 23% reduction in pain before leaving the ER, while average pain levels in participants in the standard medical care group remained basically unchanged. (p < 0.0005). However, both groups experienced a similar reduction in pain 24 hours following treatment in the ER. More research is needed to elucidate treatment effects and to determine mechanisms.

            "When Will Acupuncture Become a First-Line Treatment for Acute Pain Management?"
            Brenda Bart-Knauer , MD; COL Karl E. Friedl , MS USA (Ret.) Military Medicine, Vol 178(8), Aug, 2013
            "There are numerous techniques that appear to provide effective pain management for many individuals including the use of standard acupuncture points on the extremities, the scalp, and the ear……We can continue to discuss the theory and scientific basis for years to come but we must start evaluating its relative benefits in the real environment where it is so badly needed now."

            So acupuncture is used or accepted in certain circumstances by, among others, the NHS, the WHO the American Military… and me.
            I have not delved into the full aspects of each study and in the interests of balance I should copy and paste sections of studies that found acupuncture ineffective. However as no one else seems to bother about balancing the argument I won't either.

            Cheers

          • The first states there was no evidence of an effect difference between the verum acupuncture and sham. So why bother sticking needles in with its attendant risks?

          • Thanks for the link. I suspect that the reason it didn’t show in the search results is because the sting of words you said “their words not mine” didn’t actually appear in the document. Anyway, a 13 year old report that is “intended to facilitate research on and the evaluation and application of acupuncture. It is hoped that it will provide a useful resource for researchers, health care providers, national health authorities and the general public.”

            That is not a position statement. It’s a guide to facilitate ongoing research. It’d be interesting to see how this document would read if it was produced today.

            It’s a little dishonest to represent this document as something it is not.

            Struggling to accept the website ‘whatstheharm’ as a serious point

            The point is that CAM pushers claim that it is safe. This demonstrates that those claims are wrong.

            (not withstanding the cases highlighted are serious) but just to counter it the National Audit Office report of 2005 found that in the UK NHS there were ‘patient safety incidents’ in the year costing £3 billion in extra care costs plus over £2billion set aside for or paid out in litigation.

            That doesn’t make CAM safer. It’s a real issue that needs to be addressed, but it’s an acknowledged thing and unrelated to this topic. The other thing about actual health care is that they acknowledge the risks and won’t like to you about them. Unlike CAM.

          • Gra Eastgate

            “Dishonest” “lie” “CAM pushers”. Why be so antagonistic? As for the health service acknowledging risks I suggest you have a read of ‘ Black Box Thinking’ by Matthew Syed as to how problems have been dealt with and not acknowledged in the recent past and I am not having a dig at health workers who do a great job.

          • “Dishonest” “lie” “CAM pushers”. Why be so antagonistic?

            If you can think of less antagonistic words that mean the same thing I’ll consider using them.

            It doesn’t change the fact that you made an incorrect claim about the WHO’s position on acupuncture. It does suggest that, like most CAM supporters (does that sound better?) you have been sent a link, told what it supposedly was, and saved that with little or no attempt to verify that the claim about the document was correct.

            From this I infer that any of these may be the truth of the matter;
            * You received the link from someone who knowingly lied about the nature of it.
            * You received the link from someone like yourself who did not validate the claim.
            * You found the link and misunderstood the nature of the document.
            * You found the link, understood the nature of the document, but chose to lie when passing it on.

            I would prefer to think that either of the first 2 here were the actual case. In these scenarios you’re the victim and have been mislead by others.

            As for the health service…

            That’s a detraction and avoiding the actual topic. No one is claiming the health service is perfect. But it is a hell of a lot more honest than CAM.

          • Acleron

            The report starts:
            “Background
            Over its 2500 years of development, a wealth of experience has accumulated in
            the practice of acupuncture, attesting to the wide range of diseases and
            conditions that can be effectively treated with this approach. ”

            Hardly an impartial report when the conclusion is reached before the evidence.

            None of the trials selected were double blind, the techniques for double blinding didn’t exist until after the report was published.

            Properly controlled trials show no effect for acupuncture over placebo.

          • Gra Eastgate

            The original article to this thread can hardly be considered impartial and yes more research is needed but there are plenty of doctors, academics, researchers and the like that accept that acupuncture is sufficiently proven as effective in certain cases.

          • Acleron

            What is partial about the article? It presents the inescapable conclusion of the modern evidence. Ernst did not start with the conclusion and only allow data that supported that conclusion but the WHO group clearly did. Their excuse could be that evidence from better techniques was not available. Still no excuse to make such a claim before producing the evidence.

            Producing this old and now disproven report is just another form of cherry picking.

          • The original article to this thread can hardly be considered impartial

            Yet, you have consistently failed to make a defensible case for this position.

            Can you give a bullet point list of reasons. We can assess each one.

          • Gra Eastgate

            To be honest i haven’t got the time but any article with the claim saying that acupuncture is seen as a ‘panacea’ and ‘cure all’ is simply not true. If the WHO document is outdated then i will leave this link to the NHS with the current position which i think is exactly what I have been saying. There is evidence of efficacy for some conditions but trying to conduct blind trials is difficult.
            http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Acupuncture/Pages/Evidence.aspx

          • To be honest i haven’t got the time

            The volume of replies and posts to date does kind of discredit this claim. You do know you can come back later and add the list. Not adding the list will validate the assumption that you don’t really have one and just don’t like the article.

            but any article with the claim saying that acupuncture is seen as a ‘panacea’ and ‘cure all’ is simply not true.

            This is typically what we hear from the CAM supporters and practitioners. Are you saying they are wrong?

            If the WHO document is outdated then i will leave this link to the NHS with the current position which i think is exactly what I have been saying.

            Ah… no. You’ve been making claims about what the WHO say. You were wrong. This is a separate claim.

            There is evidence of efficacy for some conditions but trying to conduct blind trials is difficult.

            Let’s look at that first statement which, I think, appears to be a valid position statement for NHSChoices.

            There is some scientific evidence acupuncture has a beneficial effect for a number of health conditions.

            However, there is less clear scientific evidence about the benefits of acupuncture in the majority of conditions it is often used for.

            The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) only recommends considering acupuncture as a treatment option for chronic lower back pain, chronic tension-type headaches and migraine.

            This doesn’t really read as “Acupuncture works”, it more reads as “acupuncture appears to work in a small number of specific conditions rather than the large number of conditions it’s practitioners claim and will take money from you for.” I may have added that last bit about fleecing victims.

            You would have to be fairly desperate to read this and thing “acupuncture works.”

            If you read the rest of the page you can’t help but reach the conclusion that the evidence in favour of acupuncture is still fairly weak.

          • Gra Eastgate

            Blimey now you are trying to discredit my claim that I am busy.
            Well I have done a double blind trial on my life and you are right i do have time for one last email. So I will jump through your hoops one more time then crack on with other stuff if thats ok with you.

            I have had good and bad experiences of acupuncture, just as I have had good and bad experiences of other medical treatments.
            Other people can claim what they choose but my view is based on evidence and my own experience not from being ‘desperate’ as you put it.
            What is desperate was your earlier use of “whats the harm” website as evidence for harm, you can’t ask for ‘gold’ standard research as evidence then present this website to support your view.

            Finally at last you have now accepted that there is evidence in favour of acupuncture but you (and others) view it as weak.
            Myself (and others) view it differently and having had acupuncture for a number of years, it works.
            Our views are polar opposite and maybe they will stay that way but I used to be sceptical so maybe you should try acupuncture.

          • Blimey now you are trying to discredit my claim that I am busy.

            That’s not what I said at all.

            Ohh… A list. So, just to be clear, the list is of the reasons why you think “The original article to this thread can hardly be considered impartial.” Your words.

            I have had good and bad experiences of acupuncture, just as I have had good and bad experiences of other medical treatments.

            This sounds like an argument from personal incredulity. Not a good argument to claim the original article can hardly be considered impartial.

            Other people can claim what they choose but my view is based on evidence and my own experience not from being ‘desperate’ as you put it.

            You claim that your view is based on evidence yet when we look at the evidence we find that it is at best very weak for a very small number of conditions. This doesn’t bode well for acupuncture, as an overall system of treatment, being the actual causal thing.

            Again, you add your own personal experience as a factor that sways your position. As I child I loved Xmas. My own personal experience told me that Santa brought me presents. I really believed that. Reality turns out to be a little different despite my firmly held belief.

            So, poor evidence plus personal experience equals reliability. If that was the case you should be arguing against the use of the Scientific Method because one of the really big things it does is remove “personal experience” from the results.

            But again, you willing to accept weak evidence for a very small number of conditions and filter that through your own personal experience hardly reinforces any claim that the original article can hardly be considered impartial.

            What is desperate was your earlier use of “whats the harm” website as evidence for harm, you can’t ask for ‘gold’ standard research as evidence then present this website to support your view.

            That was addressing a single generic claim that CAM peddlers invariably make. That of CAM being safe. Any one link on that site is enough to disprove this claim. It was not related to any other claim or intended to speak towards the veracity of the original article.

            I fail to see how this is even related to the original article. So again, nothing to back the claim that the original article can hardly be considered impartial.

            Finally at last you have now accepted that there is evidence in favour of acupuncture but you (and others) view it as weak.

            Half correct. We accept it as weak because that was the conclusion of the studies. You, on the other hand, appear to miss that really important point of the research.

            Myself (and others) view it differently and having had acupuncture for a number of years, it works.

            Not according to the majority of good quality studies out there. No one is saying that you’re not getting an effect, it’s just that what you are experiencing is misattributed.

            Our views are polar opposite and maybe they will stay that way but I used to be sceptical so maybe you should try acupuncture.

            “I used to be sceptical”… Whenever I hear this I mentally finish it with “…but now I trust anything if someone can fool me into believing it.” I doubt you were ever sceptical. Suspicious perhaps, but I don’t think “sceptical” is the right word.

            Also, you assume I’ve not tried it.

            On the topic of Skepticism, this is one of my favourite quotes;

            “A skeptic is one who prefers beliefs and conclusions that are reliable and valid to ones that are comforting or convenient, and therefore rigorously and openly applies the methods of science and reason to all empirical claims, especially their own. A skeptic provisionally proportions acceptance of any claim to valid logic and a fair and thorough assessment of available evidence, and studies the pitfalls of human reason and the mechanisms of deception so as to avoid being deceived by others or themselves. Skepticism values method over any particular conclusion.” – Dr. Steven Novella of The New England Skeptics and The Skeptics Guide to the Universe podcast.

          • Acleron

            I agree with almost everything you have said except the part

            ‘Scepticism values …:

            That should include evidence.

            Apart from that minor quibble, just this ⬆

          • ‘Scepticism values …:

            That should include evidence.

            I recall a conversation about the value of evidence from this perspective.

            From the CAM supporters point of view they have evidence. From a pro-science point of view that evidence is very poor quality. The analysis of the methods used to produce said evidence is the thing that allows us to separate the good from the poor.

            I agree though. A mention of evidence, suitably defined, would have worked well.

  • L. G.

    I love acupuncture-it’s changed my life! Thanks for your input but I’ll keep going-it works! All my friends love it too.

    • The placebo effect is strong in this one…

      • L. G.

        Keep your drugs and surgery. I’ll take health thanks much.

  • Egger

    Edzard Ernst debunked by Professor Hahn.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24200828

    The editors of journals need add the tag “retracted” for some fraudulent papers of Ernst.

    • Umm… That’s not the conclusion of that paper. It’s not even looking like it was taken seriously by anyone.

      • Egger

        Umm, yes, is the conclusion.

        In 2000, Ernst and Pittler [6] sought to invalidate the statistically significant superiority of homeopathy over placebo in the 10 studies with the highest Jadad score… Hence, Ernst and Pittler [6] claimed that the highest Jadad scores should theoretically show zero effect. This reasoning argued that the assumed data are more correct than the real data.

        If Ernst asummed data are more correct than the real data, this is a scientific misconduct and a scientific fraud.

        • Care to post the link to that then? Because the link you provided doesn’t have that text on it.

          Also, if the conclusion is valid and taken seriously why has the end game you describe not come about?

          • So no link. I have no reason to suspect you have a valid claim.

          • Egger
          • Replied above. There’s no scandal there.

          • Is Egger displaying her complete lack of critical thinking abilities again?

          • Again? You mean “still” right?

          • Of course. My apologies. Thanks for the correction.

          • Egger

            Ha, ha, ha…

            Pfizer = ALLTrials

          • @CitizenGold:disqus

            I see Egger is as clueless as ever.

          • @AlanHenness:disqus, you do have to wonder what Egger read that allowed them to reach such a firm conclusion. Especially given they’re wrong.

          • Acleron

            An extremely polite way of putting it.

          • Egger

            Not, SAS never discloses in webpage before the research of Moustrius.

        • Acleron

          The intellectual dishonesty is all Hahn’s. His basic argument is that we should ignore high quality studies in favour of low quality studies because he already knows that homeopathy works strongly. This piece of rank stupidity was only printed in an alt med magazine.

          Homeopaths have translated alt med magazine into peer reviewed journal and Hahn has become a ‘top’ doctor, ‘expert’ etc even though few had heard of him before he was promoted by quacks.

          • Acleron

            Your reference
            However, the funnel plot is flawed when applied to a mixture of diseases, because studies with expected strong treatments effects are, for ethical reasons, powered lower than studies with expected weak or unclear treatment effects.

          • Egger

            This sentence of Hahn is the critique for the model of meta analysis with placebo vs homeopathy without reference of specific diseases. Hahn not reject the high quality research. Your misunderstaing is obviously.

            Further work with meta-analyses should abandon the concept of summarizing all available clinical trials and focus on the effects of homeopathy versus placebo or other treatments in specific diseases or groups of diseases.

            “Acleron”, Did you understand the sentence of “further work”?

          • Acleron

            Hahn is trying to claim that low quality work is high quality and thus dilute ie ignore, the high quality work. His argument is that he ‘knows’ it works. Anything more stupid and less sensible could only come from an alt med quack.

            Yeah, yeah, further work, the cry of all quacks when the evidence is against them.

          • Egger

            “Hahn is trying to claim that low quality work is high quality and thus dilute ie ignore”

            Ha, ha, ha. Your delirious misinterpretation of Hahn is very funny.

            “Yeah, yeah, further work, the cry of all quacks when the evidence is against them.”

            That’s all folk? Poor Acleron.

          • Acleron

            Yes, the cry of all scammers is

            ‘You might have evidence now but there is jam tomorrow’

            Pathetic.

          • Acleron

            Been wondering all day about your comment, is it your obvious incomprehension of English or are you a homophobe?

            Needless to say you have nothing to say and no evidence to give but you are an example of an alt medder. Because you cannot argue from either facts or logic you have to descend to smear.

            Pathetic.

          • “Hahn is trying to claim that low quality work is high quality and thus dilute ie ignore”

            Ha, ha, ha. Your delirious misinterpretation of Hahn is very funny.

            @Acleron:disqus, you’d think Egger would, at this point, explain how you misinterpreted Hahn to make you look foolish for not getting it.

            This could be because they’re unable to actually make the case. They may also just be holding back the explanation allowing you to dig a deeper hole incorrectly believing that you will eventually see the error of your position in time.

            Either way, Egger is a bit of a dick for not usefully contributing to the conversation.

            There is another possibility I can think of though. They didn’t take the opportunity to make you look foolish because they can’t. I’m tending towards this being the most likely case myself.

          • Acleron

            I would be extremely embarrassed to be shown I was in the wrong. It is more than possible, I’ve been wrong lots of times. However the lack of engagement by any experienced alt medder is rather noticeable. While it is easy and rather boring to show they are wrongheaded it is important to do so. Whatever Eggar’s motivation for pushing a scam, others who might read this column deserve the facts.

          • Acleron

            He was surely extracting the urine, the best that Ludtke could do was cherry pick clinical trials until he selected just those that have a positive result for homeopathy.

            Linde is more interesting, he with a heavy woo Meister CO author produced a conclusion unjustified by his results. Later, without the quack, Linde added more data and analysed correctly and found the same effect as Shang. Effect disappears with high quality evidence. Hahn, is saying ignore the best quality and look at my appalling poor data because it gives me the result I want. Intellectual dishonesty at its highest.

          • Egger

            Again your copy-paste from Science Based Medicine.

            “Effect disappears with high quality evidence.”

            You smear is watermark. Watch the original paper. In general, the effect in homeopathy and conventional medicine disappears with high quality RCT:

            In fact, heterogeneous results.

            Page 634:
            If the analysis was restricted to trials that scored three or higher on the Jadad scale, five or higher on the IV scale, or both, the mean OR was decreased to 1.81 (1.41–2.32, 28% decrease), 1.97 (1.50–2.59, 22% decrease), and 1.72 (1.28– 2.31, 30% decrease), respectively.

            In the scatterplot for Jadad score and “Linde” score, the general tendency is: high quality trials show less effect. But, this behavoiur does not exclude some small high quality trials with positive evidence.

            Page 635:

            Our analyses provide clear evidence that in the study set investigated more rigorous trials tended to yield smaller effect sizes. The most plausible explanation of this finding is bias. The results are comparable to those from similar analyses in conventional medicine.

            Interesting, the same behaviour with “conventional” and homeopathic medicine. Why Ronald Lindsay never discloses the part of “conventional” medicine?

            The pseudoskeptiks are biased.

          • Acleron

            Who doesn’t complain about bias in medicine? Skeptics certainly do.

            Only the alt med quack would mention the bias elsewhere to try and justify or deflect from the bias in their own scam.

          • Egger

            Bla, bla, bla.

          • @Acleron:disqus

            Is this Egger’s most coherent comment?

          • @AlanHenness:disqus, @Acleron:disqus, it would get my vote. It’s pointless, concedes the presented challenge in an off-handed manner, and allows Egger to make that concession without having to resort to big words.

          • Still not a jot of evidence, Egger? Now there’s a surprise…

          • Egger

            Still not a jof of evidence against water memory?

            Why CSICOP publish a Spanish pseudoskeptikal magazine called “Pensar”? Why Randi financed the ARP-SAPC?
            HA HA HA HA.

          • LOL! Another one to add to the ever-growing list.

            But why do you seem to expect me to do your work for you? If you have a question about CSICOP or Randi, why not ask them?

          • Egger

            ” If you have a question about CSICOP or Randi, why not ask them?”

            They never ask me any question! Ask me. Why CSICOP publish a Spanish pseudoskeptikal magazine?

          • Egger said:

            “They never ask me any question! Ask me. Why CSICOP publish a Spanish pseudoskeptikal magazine?”

            ROFL! Are you waiting for THEM to ask YOU a question so you can ask them one? But if you’ve not contacted them to ask your question, would you like me to search for an email address for you or will you be able to manage that all by yourself?

          • Egger

            “Who doesn’t complain about bias in medicine? Skeptics certainly do.”

            Ha, ha, ha. Your statement is false. Pseudoskeptiks are the poodles of the BigMonsantoPharmaAllTrialsCSICOP.

          • Acleron

            Any evidence for that lie or does not telling the truth matter to you at all.

          • Acleron

            What is it with the alt med brigade? Try reading a comment before responding to it and try reading your own references.

            While you are at it, any intellectual comment on Ernst’s article and data or is your only defence the smear.

          • “While you are at it, any intellectual comment on Ernst’s article and data or is your only defence the smear.”

            Smear no. Smear is your watermark.

            But still no real challenge to the article. Your credibility is as good as your grammar.

          • Acleron

            Real scientists write in Scientific American, doesn’t make it a journal.

            Also, be careful with the repeating that libel that you copied, it is actionable.

          • Acleron

            Incomprehensible twaddle.

            Alt med magazines are magazines not serious scientific journals, your argument that Ernst wrote in them somehow makes then journals is fallacious.

            You can try moving the goal posts as much as you like but it doesn’t work.

          • Egger

            Ha, ha, ha.
            Electromagnetic Biology and Medicine is not “alt med”.

            “your argument that Ernst wrote in them somehow makes then journals is fallacious.”

            Yeah. If this is true, the works of Ernst published in alt med magazines are invalid.

            Circular logic!

          • Acleron

            That is why attention is paid to when Ernst does not print articles in pulp magazines.

          • Some high quality trials shown effect over placebo.

            Do enough trials and you get false positives. “Some” aren’t enough to overturn a consensus.

          • Egger

            Consensus is a fallacy in the context without experimental evidence . If some high quality trials shown effect of placebo, this evidence of efficacy over placebo.

            “Do enough trials and you get false positives”

            What is the exactly number for enough evidence?

          • Consensus is a fallacy in the context without experimental evidence . If some high quality trials shown effect of placebo, this evidence of efficacy over placebo.

            Ah… You don’t understand consensus.

            “Do enough trials and you get false positives”

            What is the exactly number for enough evidence?

            The exact number? You really don’t understand consensus.

            In laymans terms let’s describe “consensus” as “the vast majority”.

          • Egger

            Please, share the study of the vast majority.

          • @AlanHenness:disqus, I don’t think I’ve met anyone quite as clueless as Egger. They asked for “the” study. Like there is only one. Stupid. Or we could tell them to RTFA and do just the tiniest amount of extra searching to verify the content. But that would likely be pointless. Yeah?

          • Egger

            Homeopaths? Not, A. Konovalov is a russian physicist. Your cheap straw man fallacy is very funny. More evidence of the physical action with ultra low doses:

            http://link.springer.com/article/10.3103%2FS1541308X15040019

            Again, not homeopaths:

            This study was supported by Program No.28 “Problems of the Origin of Life and Formation of Biosphere” of the Presidium of the Russian Academy of Sciences

          • Egger

            “As homeopaths are not scientists their uneducated opinions can be ignored”

            Sure, sure…. For the same reason: As pseudoskeptiks are not scientist their uneducated opinion and childshild ad-hominem can be ignored.

            Ha, ha, ha.

          • Acleron

            What a pseudoskeptic? A scam artist like you?

          • Acleron

            What is a pseudoskeptic? A scam artist like you?

          • @Acleron:disqus, it looks like Egger doesn’t get Ad Hom either. I wonder if it hurts being them?

          • Egger

            Pseudoskeptik Child: “As homeopaths are not scientists their uneducated opinions can be ignored”

            Rational and honest man: http://link.springer.com/article/10.3103%2FS1541308X15040019

            Source: Physics of Wave Phenomena

            Object: Luminiscence in ultra high dilution.

            This study was supported by Program No.28 “Problems of the Origin of Life and Formation of Biosphere” of the Presidium of the Russian Academy of Sciences

          • Acleron

            Gosh, you should put oil on those goal posts, they are squeaking such a lot.

          • Acleron

            Because homeopaths put on white coats and incoherently mutter long words they do not become scientists. Similarly, scientists who start spouting nonsense that insanely diluted materials retain any physicochemical relationship to those materials without solid, irrefutable evidence is not acting as a scientist. Both can be ignored.

  • Egger

    Spectator, why censorship my comments?

    • Egger

      Wild? No, wait, New York Times. Remember, Sense About Science scandal.

      • New York Times. Remember, Sense About Science scandal.

        Care to post the link? I don’t know what you’re referring to.

        • And explain what it has to do with acupuncture…

        • Egger

          Yeah, yeah the typical strategy of pseudospetik: in don’t see and hear. I’ve post the link two times!

          • Can you post the link *here* where it is in context with the accusation of a scandal around Sense About Science. If not, I can but assume that you don’t have any reference to it and it’s a construct of your own making.

          • Egger
          • Hmm… Interesting.

            Two things though;
            1. Did the lack of disclosure in the criticism of the research actually impact the findings? How would you establish that? If the findings had merit then funding sources don’t matter. Especially given the relationship was publically disclosed on their website. This is hardly a scandal.
            2. What does this have to do with acupuncture?

          • Egger

            “Especially given the relationship was publically disclosed on their website.”

            The relationship with Coke as a contributor yes, the money “murky water” for Sigh not. Please read..

            From lobbyst T. Brown:

            “Coca Cola gave us two donations to our annual fund three and four years ago, one of thousands of donations and not repeated since we closed general company donations in 2013 http://www.senseaboutscience.org/blog.php/130/the-times-10th-october-2015#sthash.AbeeluLC.dpuf

            Contrast:

            Saturday piece, Alexi Mostrous exposed Sense About Science’s association with Coca-Cola. Sense About Science is the charity with which anti-alternative medicine skeptics like Simon Singh and Ben Goldacre are associated, that claims to be independent yet often acts as a voice for Big Food, Pharma and Biotech

            http://anhinternational.org/2015/10/15/15092/

            The Nightingale Collaboration was set up with the help of Simon Singh to challenge misleading claims in healthcare advertising, to share our knowledge and experience and to encourage anyone who is concerned at protecting the public from misinformation in healthcare promotion to join us in challenging it.

            http://www.nightingale-collaboration.org/about.html

            Rhona Applebaum likely didn’t count on the trial (so clearly proving that Coca Cola is contributing to America’s obesity epidemic) being unveiled through her personal email…. The emails reveal that Sense About Science, run by Simon Singh, had been given donations of £20,000. GEBN promotes the idea that lack of exercise, not sugary drinks and colas, is the primary cause of obesity.

            http://naturalsociety.com/leaked-emails-coca-cola-propaganda-soda/

            E mails is not public disclosure.

          • Is anyone else reading this when (struggling) to make sense of Eggers ramblings here?

            From lobbyst T. Brown: Statement of facts
            Contrast: FUD from a conspiracy theory group desperate to find dirt where there isn’t any
            Nightingale Collaboration: Not sure of the purpose of including this here
            Natural Society: More conjecture…

          • Egger

            Your straw man fallacies are very funniest.

          • @AlanHenness:disqus, the strawman fallacy is one of the easiest to understand isn’t it? How can Egger get even that wrong?

          • @CitizenGold:disqus No, I disagree. If you’re clueless at understanding even the most basic principles of argumentation, then there will be many fallacies that quacks will commit without realising it. Having said that, erecting a straw man is probably quite easy if you don’t understand the argument in the first place.

  • Acleron

    The National Institute for Health Care Excellence in the UK has previously mentioned acupuncture for lower back pain relief although most studies show it to be no better than either analgesics or light exercise.

    NICE have redrawn their recommendations in the light of the evidence and recommend that acupuncture not be used.

  • Mary Ann

    Always thought it was hocus-pocus, still do.

  • autthor morante

    Oh please, if any one of you acupuncture enthusiasts gets cancer, where is the first place you go to? The herbalist? Get some acupuncture? Gonna try chiropractor? No. You are going to western medical doctors for proven science based treatments, if it truly worked as you all seem to think , don’t you think western medicine would adopt it? We have adopted mounds of information from tribal cures, isolated the compounds that work and create medicines and treatment.

  • Acleron

    So no reliable evidence and just more claims.

    Your accusation that Randi is a fraud requires more than your statement, you have already demonstrated you are parsimonious with facts.

    You could also learn the meaning of those big words you use.
    My accusation is based on your incoherent words, it is not an ad hominem.

    I notice that there is nothing in chemistry, physics or indeed anything else that you can find wrong, just your silly statements.

    • Egger

      “Your accusation that Randi is a fraud requires more than your statement, you have already demonstrated you are parsimonious with facts.”

      HA HA HA.

      “My accusation is based on your incoherent words, it is not an ad hominem.”

      HA HA HA.

      “I notice that there is nothing in chemistry, physics or indeed anything else that you can find wrong, just your silly statements.”

      HA HA HA. You loose!

  • Nick Lowe

    All the systematic reviews conducted on the safety of Acupuncture conclude it to be an incredibly safe therapy with very minimal and mild side effects. The recorded side effects associated with western conventional treatments (Drugs, surgery etc) are considerably worse than Acupuncture. If you go to a trained and qualified Acupuncturist, it is safe.

    So my point is this. If it is a safe therapy, and if conventional western medicine has failed to help you, why not try Acupuncture for yourself for a few sessions and see if it works. The most you lose is £100 or so and few hours of your time. You may gain something that helps treat or cure a very painful condition. I believe it is irresponsible for you to scare people away from even trying Acupuncture when it may potentially help with minimal risk.

    You make it sound like the research says Acupuncture doesn’t work. the research is currently inconclusive, it hasn’t failed! The reason it is inconclusive is because it is in it’s very early days and there is not a lot of funding for Acupuncture research compared to funding for western medicine. We understand very little about both western and eastern medicine at this stage; lets promote an open minded approach to all types of treatments that are proven to be safe.

    • Acleron

      Perhaps the acupuncturists could supply some evidence that it works before you start selling it. The evidence so far shows it does not work.

      • Nick Lowe

        Acleron, your statement ‘The evidence so far shows it does not work’ is absolutely WRONG and NOT true. To make a statement such as ‘The evidence so far shows it does not work’ is wrong and a ridiculous over simplification. The current state of the evidence is of course different for different conditions. For some conditions it is found more effective than others. It has been shown to be effective and have therapeutic benefits for many conditions. For others it has not been shown to be effective. And for many conditions the research has not been done yet, or is in the process of being done.

        So far the research suggests it has the potential to be effective for a number of conditions and there is no debate in the research community in regards to the safety of Acupuncture despite what this article misleadingly implies. The key issue is with the placebo/sham research which in some cases has been shown to be as or nearly as effective. However this is not isolated to just Acupuncture. The placebo effect has been just as well documented in other area’s of medical research with sham trials for medications and surgeries also facing the same issue.

        The question of whether Acupuncture works is not a general one and shouldn’t be simplified as you have tried to do. It is a question of to what extent Acupuncture may or may not work for different conditions. The research is in the process of happening, like every other field of medicine the research is always ongoing. There is very little money in Acupuncture research, therefore it is not fair to compare it to scale of research funded by the western medical establishment. Time will tell for those people who wish to wait on what the research says. For those who are willing to try it before then there are plenty of safe qualified practitioners who may be able to help them in the mean time.

        • Acleron

          The only trials with proper controls show no difference between sham needles and real ones. Trials using random needle sites show no difference either.

          I’m not surprised you don’t mention them, would put a check on your selling spiel.

  • Jeff

    Gated Communities

    Gated communities are taking on an important role in modern politics. Donald Trump grew up in a gated community, and made his fortune building gated communities that illegally exclude African-Americans. Trump’s approach is not based on ideology, but on consumer demand, and in particular, the demand of the working class to live in a place where there are no minority groups, criminals, wierdos or politically correct (Catholic educated) people.

    A gated community has a number of characteristics. There is ideally a six metre high concrete wall to keep out intruders. When the wall surrounds a very large number of houses, the average cost of the wall becomes insignificant. Getting past the security guards is like going through customs. Hence there is no crime in a gated community, and children can roam unsupervised in complete safety. Parents can be sure their daughters will not encounter males that would be unsuitable sons-in-law.

    Allotments are typically quarter-acre or five acres (one-tenth or two hectares). Houses are fireproof and of a similar appearance. Services are provided by underground ducts, including pneumatic mail delivery. Television and internet are unobtrusively censored.

    There is a shopping centre with a supermarket and other key shops. Prices are controlled to prevent gouging. There is a club for men and older boys from which women are excluded. On the top of the shopping centre is a hospital and old people’s home overlooking a race track and playing fields.

    There is a non-denomination church, which has leather sofas instead of pews, and wallpaper with pictures of saints like in an eastern orthodox church. The priest is a family man employed by the management committee. There is a co-educational school, so that if children conceive a passionate desire for a classmate, it will be someone of the opposite gender. The school has international baccalaureate and no homework.

    Once people move into a gated community, it occurs to them that, instead of their having to move into a gated community, it would be better if the “undesirables” were forced to live in ghettos, or were kicked out of the country altogether. No doubt this is what Donald Trump has in mind. The Conservative Party should take on board this trend in modern living and become the party for people who live or would like to live in gated communities. ey

  • Jandoor Thumpinbrushwheel

    Another vote for 100% placebo here. I had a muscle twitch on the right side of my neck which had been a constant annoyance to me for several months. A friend of mine who is a big advocate of acupuncture recommended it however as a sceptic I never bothered. Eventually we were talking whilst at a barbecue and it came to light another acquaintance of ours had severe muscular pains in the calf area of his leg. Again, acupuncture was recommended. This time my friend suggested we both (myself and the friend with leg pain was also a sceptic of the practice) go with him (he often had acupuncture for lower back pain. He said he would organise it and we would all go together,

    He did and we did. Long story short, myself and my fellow sceptic with leg pain both agreed the acupuncture did absolutely NOTHING at all. Zero. Conversely, my friend who is an advocate of the practice says it helped him greatly.

    It is a placebo. As a final note, my neck twitch was cured by steroid injections after going to a proper physician.