What alternative health

practitioners might not tell you



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"In the comments to a post at Respectful Insolence, my favourite homeopath Dana Ullman weighs in with the suggestion that the Shang et al. meta-analysis of trials of homeopathy and conventional medicine (which has been written about extensively by me and apgaylard), had been "blown out of the water". Ullman makes this assertion based on a new paper by Ludtke and Rutten, entitled "The conclusions on the effectiveness of homeopathy highly depend on the set of analyzed trials", that has been accepted by the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology. It's nice to see that this paper does exist after all. So does the article really blow Shang out of the water? A quick look at the conclusions tells us that the answer is no…the upshot is that the paper's title is misleading. The conclusions on the effectiveness of homeopathy do not highly depend on the set of analyzed trials, if an appropriate test is used. Asymmetry is not adequately identified in the dataset because too few trials are used. And, even if you can convince yourself that you can get a statistically significant benefit by playing around with the numbers, the actual clinical benefit is negligible. In some ways, the paper actually reinforces the conclusions of Shang et al., and it certainly doesn't show that homeopathic medicines work.  Paul Wilson, Hawk-Handsaw blogspot (8th October 2008)