Copyright 1999 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.1999
We enjoyed the article by Smolle et al1 that discussed a randomized clinical trial of homeopathy for warts. We strongly agree with the statement in their introduction that ". . . scientific methods are valuable tools for distinguishing helpful alternative medical methods from superstition and quackery."
Scientific methods do not necessarily require a randomized trial. We can argue that sometimes a randomized trial is harmful. When a trial is performed, a test of statistical significance is done, such as a t test. The standard in clinical medicine for a statistically significant result is a P value less than or equal to .05. Accepting a P value of .05 means that there is a 1 in 20 chance that a therapy without merit could be shown to be significant. One way to decrease the likelihood of getting a spurious result is to limit trials to topics that have a potentially medically explainable result. Is there even 1 scientifically defensible hypothesis for the therapeutic basis of homeopathy? Have any basic science experiments ever shown that the chemically pure water used in homeopathy is different from normal water?
Wrone DA, Sober AJ. Randomized Trials and Scientific Methods. Arch Dermatol. 1999;135(5):602. doi:10-1001/pubs.Arch Dermatol.-ISSN-0003-987x-135-5-dlt0599
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