Tuesday, 17 August 2010

"Dr" Nancy Malik is spamming my blog again...

In the comments to a couple of old posts, homeopathic apologist and internet numpty extraordinaire Nancy Malik says the following:
Studies in support of Homeopathy published in reputed journals

1. Scientific World Journal

2. Lancet

3. Neuro Psycho Pharmacology
http://www.nature.com/npp/journal/v27/n2/abs/1395862a.html // Bacopa Monnieri for memory
I thought I'd have a quick look and explain why they're nonsense. Unfortunately, this hasn't proven to afford much in the way of intellectual exercise.

The first paper is by Graunke et al., and concerns, I kid you not, the treatment of tadpoles with homeopathic thyroxin. This is a well-known bad homeopathy paper. The tadpoles in the treatment group were more developed than those in the control group at the start of the experiment, so it wasn't much of a surprise that they were more developed at the end too. There is more discussion of this dreadful rubbish here.

The second paper is the famed Linde et al. meta-analysis, published in 1997. While this paper does say "The results of our meta-analysis are not compatible with the hypothesis that the clinical effects of homeopathy are completely due to placebo", there are some other things to bear in mind:

1. The paper also says "
However, we found insufficient evidence from these studies that homeopathy is clearly efficacious for any single clinical condition".

2. A 1999 paper by the same authors, using improved methodology and including new trials, states that "It seems...likely that our meta-analysis at least overestimated the effects of
homeopathic treatments".

3. A subsequent meta-analysis by Shang et al., published in the Lancet in 2005, using further improved methodology concluded that the results were compatible with homeopathy being a placebo.

Finally, the third study, by Roodenrys et al. in the journal Neuropsychopharmocology, is not about homeopathy at all, but rather about herbal medicine. In homeopathy, remedies are typically diluted such that it is very unlikely that they contain any of the original material: there is no active ingredient. In the Roodenrys study, what is being tested is brahmi, an Indian herb, of which the paper says:

Studies have shown that the herb contains many active constituents, including a number of alkaloids and saponins, however, the major constituents are the steroidal saponins, Bacosides A and B.
So it isn't entirely surprising that brahmi might have some effect.

From this fairly cursory glance at the studies provided by Nancy Malik, it's clear that she is from the Dana Ullman school of evaluating journal articles. This involves finding some papers that superficially appear to support your position, and then spamming them all over the internet. Luckily, for this approach there is no need to understand the articles, or even to read them. For people who think that magic water is medicine, that would be rather too much to expect.


Dr. Nancy Malik said...

Kindly tell how posting scientific research studies published in reputed journals is spamming

British Medical Journal
http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/short/302/6772/316 (1991)
http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/321/7259/471?view=long&pmid=10948025 (2000) //allergic rhinitis

Chest http://chestjournal.chestpubs.org/content/127/3/936.full (2005)//COPD

Anonymous said...

It is spamming Nancy because you don't understand the papers or scientific research in general. You cherry pick papers that you assume support your position, and you are seemingly incapable of critically reviewing a paper.

You clearly don't understand that papers are not individual, stand alone proofs, but small components of a much larger picture - and it is the picture as a whole we must look at in order to properly understand what is going on.


Kleijnen et al is nearly 20 years out of date and has been superseded by papers like Shang et al 2005 in the Lancet and Ernsts 2010 Med J Aus paper.

Taylor et al is a has 51 patients split between verum and placebo, and Frass et al has 25 patients in each group - little more than pilot studies and certainly not proof positive that homeopathy has an effect.

It's also worth noting that in the Frass paper the two groups may not be entirely compatible.

More info on Frass study here:

Skepticat said...

Nancy, I have to wonder why, in spite of you being told a zillion times how 99% your contributions on the subject of homeopathy are worthless spam, you still don't get it. You point blank refuse to engage intelligently on the subject and come across as a mindless spam bot who then plays the victim when your worthless links are deleted. You don't seriously believe this is the way to persuade people do you?

Paul Wilson said...

Thanks for that, xtaldave, saves me spending time commenting on these papers.

To amplify what xtaldave, it is spam because you haven't engaged with anything I said about the last lot of papers you posted. You've posted another bunch of papers that don't provide any evidence for homeopathy.

Finally, the Taylor et al. study of allergic rhinitis did not recruit enough patients to fulfil its own criteria, and so should never have been reported as positive in the first place.

Dr. Nancy Malik said...


If choosing research papers in support of homeopathy medicine is cherry picking, then skeptic's picking specific research papers not in support of homeopathy is also cherry picking.

Just because a study is 19 years old, that do not change the fact that homeopathy is not effective.

Morever there are papers of recent years also

European Journal of Paedretics (SpringerLink) http://www.springerlink.com/content/t512515754w83686/?p=f8ffce09215749588a3ed277fdad3439&pi=2 (2005) //ADHD
Interdisciplinary Sciences: Life Sciences (SpringerLink)

http://www.springerlink.com/content/0557v31188m3766x/fulltext.pdf (2009) // electromagnetic properties of highly-diluted biological samples

Paul Wilson said...

But since you're not prepared to discuss the studies, there's no point in bothering to read them.

Anonymous said...

@Nancy Malik
"If choosing research papers in support of homeopathy medicine is cherry picking ..."

There is no "if" about it. You have defined what "cherry picking" means.

"then skeptic's picking specific research papers not in support of homeopathy is also cherry picking."

If that's what "skeptics" are doing, you would have a point. By and large this is not what's happening. You are being encouraged to view the research literature as a whole (something I did a little while ago - please note this was 2007 so a few more papers may be available, not that they will change the overall picture). You are also being invited to consider the implications of the most recent and methodologically sound meta-analyses (like Shang et al, 2005 - and please don't regale us with the usual homeopath misunderstandings of this study).

"Just because a study is 19 years old, that do not change the fact that homeopathy is not effective. "

I entirely agree, though I suspect that you don't mean quite what you have written here! It's not the age of the paper per se that's at issue. As @xtaldave said its out of date and has been superseded. It's just not right to cite old evidence when better evidence is available.

Al said...

Nancy, regardless of the validity or not of the papers or the data, it is spamming as you went crazy and posted the exact same comment on several blog posts, not all directly revelant and some of which were quite old. You weren't furthering any debates on the posts you spammed on.

Paul Wilson said...

Al, I assume this blog was not the only place where this stuff was posted?

Dr. Nancy Malik said...

2005 paper has been superseeded by papers of 2007 and 2009 which I have quoted in my previous post and they support homeopathy medicine. If you find 2009 paper to be old then I have paper from 2010 for you


Paul Wilson said...

Good fucking grief.

I assume by "2005 paper" you mean the Shang et al meta-analysis?

The 2007 paper you posted is an RCT. It cannot supersede a meta-analysis.

The 2009 paper you posted is titled "Electromagnetic Signals Are Produced by Aqueous Nanostructures Derived from Bacterial DNA Sequences". It has nothing to do with either clinical trials or meta-analyses thereof, and so can hardly supersede a meta-analysis of clinical trials.

A clue: what could supersede Shang et al. would be a comprehensive and up-to-date meta-analysis conducted using equivalent or superior methodology.

And then finally you post the godawful Leptospirosis paper that apgaylard has already handily eviscerated.

What part of "you're just posting random studies, without any understanding of either the studies or their context" do you not understand?

Andy said...

Al, I assume this blog was not the only place where this stuff was posted?

She visited me yesterday too and tried commenting on an old post. I saw a list of references then noticed her name and hit delete. I've never seen anything but spam from Malik and I don't approve spam unless I'm in the mood to have fun with it.

Nancy isn't fun because she doesn't engage.

Mojo said...

Never mind the age of the Kleijnen paper: it isn't even conclusively positive for homoeopathy. It concluded: "At the moment the evidence of clinical trials is positive but not sufficient to draw definitive conclusions because most trials are of low methodological quality and because of the unknown role of publication bias. This indicates that there is a legitimate case for further evaluation of homoeopathy, but only by means of well performed trials."

The "further evaluation" suggested there has not been good for homoeopathy: see for example Linde et al 1999 or cucherat et al 2000, both of which concluded that better quality trials were more likely to be negative, Linde and Melchart 1998 which found the same held even for trials of individualized homoeopathy, Ernst's 2002 systematic review of systematic reviwes, and, of course Shang 2005. The only analysis to come to an apparently positive conclusion (Linde et al 1997) had this conclusion effectively retracted by its authors' 1999 reanalysis of the same data. Linde and Jonas have commented that their 1997 paper has been "misused by homoeopaths as evidence that their therapy is proven", and Edzard Ernst recently reported that Linde has been quoted by Der Spiegel saying "we can no longer uphold our conclusions, because positive results can be caused by bias"

Homoeopaths like to claim that there are four positive meta-analyses (although they don't always agree on the same four - Kleijnen, Linde 1997 and Cucherat are usually there, but the fourth is sometimes Linde 1999 and sometimes Boissel et al 1996, an EU document which presents the same research as Cucherat) but this isn't really the case. Repeating it won't make it true.

Neuroskeptic said...

OK, stop this guys. She's suffered enough. It's painful to watch...

Dr. Nancy Malik said...

scientific research in homeoapthy medicine

Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology (InterScience by Wiley)

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1468-3083.2009.03116.x/abstract (2009) //Psoriasis

Ear, Nose and Throat disorders ( Bio Med Central)

http://www.biomedcentral.com/1472-6815/9/7 (2009) //chronic sinusitis

Anonymous said...

@Nancy Malik
I don't know why I'm bothering, as you are not listening. But Witt, Lüdtke and Willich (2009) - your second reference concluded:
"This observational study showed relevant improvements that persisted for 8 years in patients seeking homeopathic treatment because of sinusitis. The extent to which the observed effects are due to the life-style regulation and placebo or context effects associated with the treatment needs clarification in future explanatory studies."

As this concedes the study design cannot account for at least one potentially significant confounder (life-style regulation) or non-specific effects (placebo). Then there's the issue of multiple comparisons and no randomisation.

Put simply: this study doesn't show that homeopathy works and the authors say as much.

Paul Wilson said...

...and the first of the two papers states in the discussion that:

Our study does not support conclusions as to the effectiveness of the homeopathic remedies because no methodology for this purpose (control group, randomization, blinding) was built into its design and patients could use additional conventional therapies.

It's also worth noting that this was an unblinded study, and that the patients had high expectations that homeopathy would work; only two patients out of 82 thought that it would not work. I have no confidence in the findings of the paper whatever.

Nancy is now resorting to posting papers that don't even claim to provide any evidence for homeopathy.

Dr. Nancy Malik said...

@paul wilson

research paper depicting evidence of homeopathy

Toxicological Sciences (Oxford University Press)

http://toxsci.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/94/2/368 (2006) //why small doses is better than large dose

Paul Wilson said...

That would be this paper.

Hormesis is interesting, but:

i) it doesn't mean that a small dose is better than a large dose: it shows that a small dose can have a different effect to a large dose, but it doesn't necessarily follow that that effect is beneficial.

ii) it doesn't mean that no dose does anything, which is what you would need to do for hormesis to have any relevance to homeopathy.

So that paper is not evidence for homeopathy at all.


Mojo said...

"it shows that a small dose can have a different effect to a large dose"

And bear in mind, of course, that homoeopathy has nothing to do with small doses having a different effect than large doses.

"Provings", in which homoeopaths chose the symptoms they think their remedies ought to cause (and which they then use the remedy to treat) are carried out using the diluted remedies, not "large doses". See for example Hahnemann's Organon, aphorism 128, where he recommends proving using 30C remedies. There is no suggestion in homoeopathy that the remedies somehow produce the opposite effect to larger doses.

Dr. Nancy Malik said...

TRIPLE-BLIND STUDIES in support of homeopathy medicine

Journal of Psychosomatic Research (Pergamon)
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15016577 (2004) //Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Paul Wilson said...


That's this paper.

To quote from the conclusions:

"There is weak but equivocal evidence that the effects of homeopathic medicine are superior to placebo".

And the evidence is very weak. There were five primary outcome measures: there were no statistical differences between homeopathy and placebo in four of those. It's the usual cherry-picking and special pleading, I'm afraid. Not that Nancy cares.

Dr. Nancy Malik said...

Scientific research in homeopathy medicine

Archives of Facial Plastic Surgery (American Medical Association)

http://archfaci.ama-assn.org/content/8/1/54.long (2006) FULL TEXT //Arnica for bruising

Dr. Nancy Malik said...

Scientific research in homeopathy medicine

Archives of Facial Plastic Surgery (American Medical Association)

http://archfaci.ama-assn.org/content/8/1/54.long (2006) FULL TEXT //Arnica for bruising

Mojo said...


No significant subjective difference between the groups detectable by either patients or professional staff (Whatever happened to the spectacular and self-evident effects claimed for homoeopathy?), no significant differences in bruise colour, significant differences in bruise area on only two out of four days on which measurements were taken.

That's 2 out of 25 measurements achieving significance.

Zep said...

Gentlefolk, I can confirm that Nancy has no clue whatever about the contents of the papers she cites. She also doesn't engage in discussion, as noted. I can tell you first-hand she will even cite papers that clearly and unequivocally refute homeopathy.

She is, in fact, a Google-holic and only barely educated. She picks ALL her references on title content alone. She has no clue what they actually say or mean - they are obviously beyond her comprehension.

You are not dealing with a qualified physician or academic here. She is actually just an untrained nursing assistant with an internet feed and an irrational streak. So feel free to delete her posts - they are no loss.

Paul Wilson said...

Oh, I won't delete her posts. At least she's not trying to sell people viagra.

Quite agree apart from that, though.

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