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Sunday, November 19, 2017

RAS will continue the offensive against pseudoscience


The following purposes of the Commission of RAS on pseudoscience should be astrology and denial of HIV. In the end you can be much louder than the current scandals caused by the fact that the pseudo-Sciences related homeopathy. Why homeopaths and their supporters actively resist such wounds? And why can we say that the Commission on pseudoscience let the late, but certainly hit the target?

The two poles of the conflict over homeopathy defined. On the one hand it ran in the face of the Commission on pseudoscience. On the other – numerous homeopathic organizations providing services in this field on a commercial basis. In between numerous state and public bodies are forced to decide their attitude to the problem.

“Recommended by Hahnemann, and is still popular among homeopaths, is the degree of dilution is completely devoid of physical meaning”

The balance of power in General terms as follows. The main information and the first blow struck, the Commission to combat pseudoscience and falsification of scientific research of the Presidium of RAS by releasing its now famous “Memorandum No. 2”. Not to say that it was unexpected – the slide of post-Soviet society in the mystical perception of the world for many years aroused the protests of scientists. But in recent years the scientific world has been consolidated in this fight and began active resistance to the faith of citizens in miracles.

His role in this was played by the growth in Russia of the movement for the popularization of science – the numerous community activists “nauchpop” are active in educational activities. Powerful information will support the decision of the wounds had, for example, a well-known lecturers popularizers Asya Kazantseva and Alexander Pankin.

“The Commission is not proposing to take and to ban homeopathy, our goal is to educate. We are just informing citizens about what is not working. We wanted to let people know what they are buying, what they were signing, and was informed,” – said on Thursday Panin (by the way, one of the authors of the Memorandum, a member of the Commission of Sciences and candidate of biological Sciences). He also noted that worked on the text an interdisciplinary expert group, which included more than 30 people (20 of them presented medical science), and following the objectives of the Commission should be astrology and denial of HIV.

On the side of the academics made, and the Federal anti – monopoly service FAS said on the necessity of amending the law to the exclusion of homeopathic remedies from the medicines. But noted that will be able to do it only in case of introduction by the Ministry of health of the relevant amendments to the law on circulation of medicines.

In turn, the health Ministry is in no hurry to explicitly define its position. For example, the Deputy Minister Tatyana Yakovleva said: “Homeopathy is recognised officially by the world health organization, the Ministry of healthcare homeopathy is also recognized. If admission is specialist who knew nothing about homeopathy, which has not passed the internship, then it’s pseudoscience”. Informed myself who warned against the homeopathic treatment of any infectious and other serious diseases. In the end, the Minister of healthcare Veronika Skvortsova was instructed to form a working group to develop proposals for the further regulation of the industry. And the national Committee for homeopathy was supported by the Ministry of health’s decision to regulate this area, “taking into account modern international requirements of evidence”.

Uncertain the position taken by the former head of the Ministry of education and science of the Russian Federation, and nowadays the assistant to the President Andrey Fursenko. He is “not sure that these are the main problems that today have to worry about our science and medicine”, but I’m sure in high qualification of the members of the Commission to combat pseudoscience RAS. However, this confidence is not shared by all – it became known about the dismissal of one of the authors of the Memorandum, the employee fgbu “Central research Institute of organization and Informatization of health” (public health Institute) of the Ministry of health of the Russian Federation Denis Roshchin. He said that the Institute did not hide the connection between the dismissal and the Memorandum of wounds, according to the order of the Director of public health Institute of Vladimir Starodubov. The Director of the research Institute (the former head of the Ministry of health) this relationship denies.

Of course, the most actively criticized the decision of the Commission of the RAS themselves homeopaths, unsuspecting academicians in lobbying the interests of pharmaceutical companies. One of the weighty arguments of their associates is a well established world – wide experience, it applies in 80 countries, it is used by 32% of physicians in France, 25% in Germany, 22% in Austria. In 10 countries in Europe, homeopathy is included in the health care system in seven countries covered by insurance.

Russia is not among the most popular homeopathic remedies, however, the domestic market amounted to large sums. At the same time in 2016, 27% of the total sales of these drugs were on Moscow, another 11% – in the Moscow region.

Thus, the intensity of the public debate has not abated, on the contrary, has a trend to increase. And while all parties to the dialogue formulate their arguments can be summarized as to focus on the essence of the homeopathic method and criticism in his address. The essence of homeopathy is quite simple.

The key idea behind the German physician Samuel Hahnemann, is the treatment of strongly diluted solutions of active substances. The idea of treating “like with like” was very popular in the NINETEENTH century, but did not stand the test of practice in the twentieth. In fact, the method of tenfold dilution of the substance is the main target for scientific criticism.

In homeopathy is traditionally used in breeding 1:10 and 1:100, denoted by X and C respectively. These dilutions are repeated multiple times, the number of repetitions is designated by the number before the symbol of breeding. Homeopathic medicines usually represented by dilutions from 3X to 30X.

The Commission to combat pseudoscience RAS in response gives the following chemical calculations: “One mole of any substance contains ~6,02·1023 molecules (Avogadro’s number). If consecutive multiple dilutions to expose odnokolernyh solution (1 mol/l) homeopathic remedies, in a liter of solution with an index of breeding 12C = 100-12 = 10-24 one molecule of this tool will contain with a probability of 60%. In a typical dose homeopathic remedies use millionths of a liter of solution, so a single molecule tools with an index of breeding 12C will only meet a few of the millions of doses. Recommended even by Hahnemann and is still popular among homeopaths, is the degree of dilution is 30C (10-60) is completely devoid of physical sense, because the whole Earth contains not more than 10 to 50 degrees molecules.”

Against this impeccable chemical logic supporters of homeopathy put forward a stunning thesis: the efficacy of the drug falls to the extent of its dilution, but rather increases. One of the arguments here is the declared effect of “water memory” – the original reorganization of its structure, mediated by the presence of the source of the introduced molecules of the drug, in fact, already lost due to numerous dilutions. Active agent thus becomes water.

In this case, the question arises: water as the solvent contains appreciable amount of natural impurities, trace amounts of materials laboratory equipment used for handling of the product and the initial substances. It is unclear why “invented” homeopathic “memory effect” will be provided by formailities, not impurities. After all, with such a solid dilutions they contain statistically significant amounts relative to the declared homeopathic drug.

Another subject for criticism homeopathic remedies for researchers is the lack of evidence-based clinical pilot study, reliably, to deny the effects of a placebo. The classic method in experimental medicine suggests “double blind” approach, when neither the study patients nor the doctors themselves do not know who receives the real experimental pharmaceuticals, and who – the dummy-simulator. The experience is conducted on a sufficient sample of controlled sexual and age structure in groups, geographic distribution and other factors. An important tool are the and meta-analyzes on the basis of statistical processing of the results of several randomized clinical trials and systematic reviews of publications. All this instrumentation in the end is not in favor of homeopathy – according to several studies, the results border on placebo effects.

Thus, from the point of view of originality brought from the wounds of arguments nothing new is reported. All described in the “Memorandum No. 2” the facts and the arguments are standard and scientifically valid criticism of homeopathy in recent decades. Which, by the way, never stop the mass consumption of homeopathic remedies.

In this case, a rather interesting precedent for the transition of quantity into quality – the Russian scientific community has moved from the routine denials of the spreading pseudo-scientific practices to actively attack them. What was the cause (the accumulated potential of discontent in the scientific community from the loss of rationalism people, financial issues or other factors) is an interesting question and requires separate consideration. But the powerful resonance from a resolution that hitherto little known outside the circle of specialists of the Commission on pseudoscience, shows that the statement hit the target. The popular TV show of the representatives of astrology, ESP and other mystical programs for entertainment people have a reason to strain.

While it is clear that a ban or sharp restriction of homeopathic medicines should not be. Consumers have a right to belief in miracles, and this belief really helps, because placebo sometimes – salvation. But to distinguish clearly between on the drugstore shelves and in the minds of patients shelves with pharmaceuticals with a scientifically proven efficacy and products with the mark “composed of faith and hope” I had for a long time.

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