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Süddeutsche Zeitung: "Homeopathy is a pure placebo effect"
Under the heading "Homeopathy is a pure placebo effect", the Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) published an online article by journalist Markus C. Schulte von Drach on February 1, which deals with homeopathy research. Public media are not scientific journals. For this reason, one should not make too high demands when a respected daily newspaper ventures into the depths of a scientific controversy. For an up-to-date medium like the Süddeutsche Zeitung, however, it is at least unusual for Schulte von Drach's article to do without current research on homeopathy. For example, the current results from basic research by the Swiss physicist Dr. Stephan Baumgartner (KIKOM) not mentioned a word. Baumgartner found specific effects of high potencies in experiments on plants (1). Schulte von Drach completely omits the results of current drug trials, which should be noticed by any science journalist in the context of the specific effects of homeopathic drugs. Instead, he generally describes drug tests as dubious - the reader has no reason to argue for this.
Current studies that meet high methodological and scientific standards show a specific drug effect of homeopathic drugs (2). It can only be speculated whether the omission of these and other facts from current homeopathy research is due to the continuously decreasing search times in German daily newspaper editorial offices, or whether the results simply did not fit the author's arguments. It only becomes conspicuous when Schulte von Drach, as a journalist, refrains from posting an interview with Prof. Dr. To catch up with Harald Walach. Walach is a professor of research methodology with a focus on complementary medicine at the European University Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder) and editor-in-chief of the science magazine Researcher Complementary Medicine. "If he had spoken to me before the publication of his article, which is common among journalists, he could have avoided serious mistakes," said Walach. Homeopathy research is a highly complex and hotly debated field: “It has long been known that homeopathy is implausible. Deriving an ineffectiveness from this is wrong logic. To say that empiricism has shown that homeopathy is a placebo is, in my view, an overly simple reading of the empirical results and a logical mistake, ”says Walach.
While Schulte von Drach refrained from confronting Walach with his criticism before the publication of his article, the DZVhÄ editorial team asked the author for a statement: "In my article I addressed two aspects - including the question of effectiveness - and the text of course makes no claim to a complete treatment of homeopathy, "writes Schulte von Drach," but I am convinced that I have dealt with the aspects in a comprehensive manner. "To omit current research results from homeopathy research, the SZ journalist explains: "What is called homeopathic drug testing largely ignores - like homeopathy as a whole - the knowledge of the natural sciences in general and medicine in particular. And the specific effectiveness of the funds themselves is obviously not given, as the study shows. You may now list individual studies that say otherwise. In this sense, homeopathic drug testing is dubious. ”Schulte von Drach relies on the one hand on the scientific implausibility of homeopathy. Must not be what has not yet been scientifically explained? On the other hand, he is far ahead of many experts in the field of homeopathy research who, given the current study situation, do not consider it “obvious” that homeopathic drugs are ineffective (cf. for example: Rainer Lüdtke, Norbert Schmacke at al., Claudia M. Witt , Peter F. Matthiessen et al., Michael Teut et al.). Unfortunately, he does not address the controversy within the scientific community on homeopathy research - that would be a very interesting contribution for the SZ's science department - but rather tells the SZ readers his own "correct" conclusion. He classifies Mr. Baumgartner's research as follows: “If there were anything in Mr. Baumgartner's work, then his work would have to be published in" Science "or" Nature "and he would be a candidate for the Nobel Prize. So far, however, he does not seem to be able to really convince the physical world of his data. I also recall the research at the University of Leipzig by Nieber and Süß, and what came out of it ”(HN November 2005 reported, see under www.welt-der-homoeopathie.de> press).
The heading of the SZ article is also interesting from a journalistic point of view. It is set as a quote from the quantum physicist Anton Zellinger, who appears in the article but does not deal with homeopathy research at all. Without the "quotation marks", this statement would already be a false factual statement by the SZ editorial team. In any case, the Swiss press council takes this view in a judgment last year (HN May 2011 reported). You can find a detailed argumentative discussion with Schulte von Drach and a statement from Walach in the science blog of the DZVhÄ at www.dzvhae-homoeopathie-blog.de (pm)
1. e.g. Jäger, T .; Scherr, C .; Simon, M .; Heusser, P .; Baumgartner, S .; Effects of homeopathic arsenicum album,
nosode, and gibberellic acid preparations on the growth rate of arsenic-impaired duckweed, ScientificWorld
Journal. 2010 Nov 4; 10: 2112-29.
2. Möllinger et al: Homeopathic Pathogenetic Trials Produce Specific Symptoms Different from Placebo. research
Complementmed 2009; 16: 105-110. As well as Möllinger, H .; Schneider, R .: Homeopathy: More than just a placebo effect? - Results of a randomized, three-armed, placebo-controlled double-blind study to compare the effects of verum and placebo in a homeopathic drug trial. AHZ 2007; 252: 72-76.
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