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Annotated captions of Richard Dawkins vs Homeopathy in English

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It's the hottest alternative health fad

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It boasts an impressively vast and well stocked medical cabinet

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It's endorsed by royalty and the stars

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& it's doing a booming trade in high street pharmacies

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500 million people worldwide claim to use it

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What is it?

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It's a system for dosing up on a dilute solution of

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Water

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Welcome to the bizarre world of homeopathy

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Homeopathy was dreamed up in the late eighteenth century

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as a way of boosting the bodies vital spirit

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One of the central tenets handed on by it's founder

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Samuel Hahnemann was that like cures like

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Superficially this might sound faintly plausible

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but unlike a vaccine that introduces a diminished form of a virus into the body

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in order to provoke it's immune system

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like cures like, makes the unfounded assumption

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that what causes similar symptoms can cure those symptoms

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In Hahnemann's world dilute poison ivy

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cures skin rash because undiluted

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it causes a rash if touched

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By the same principle

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red onion can alleviate streaming eyes

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and snake venom stiffness

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But amazingly

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homeopathy gets even stranger still

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Homeopaths claim that the

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more you dilute an active ingredient in water

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the stronger medicine it becomes

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Most homeopathic remedies're marked 30C

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What does that mean?

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It means 1 part medicine to

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100 to the power of 30 parts water

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How much? A drop in a fish tank?

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No. A fish tank is nowhere near big enough.

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The swimming pool doesn't provide enough dilution

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Not even a lake

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What about the drop in the ocean?

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But it turns out that even the sea isn't big enough

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For the really approved homeopathic recipes

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in order to get 1 molecule of the active substance

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you need to embay all the atoms in the solar system

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To science just doesn't make sense.

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Even homeopaths acknowledge

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that there is not a single molecule of active ingredient

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in the bottle they sell you, it's just water

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So how can it possibly work?

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In an attempt to resolve the paradox

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homeopathy boldly paddles further up the creek of pseudoscience

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claiming that water somehow has a memory

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of the now completely absent active ingredient

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But wouldn't water also have memory

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of other more common impurities

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it's coming to contact with?

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Salt, urine?

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Scientists have calculated

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that in each glass of water we drink

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at least one molecule has passed

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through the bladder of Oliver Cromwell

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Incredibly you & I are paying for this

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unproven industry through our taxes

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despite the national health service's net

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540 million £ deficit for 2006

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the refurbishment of the royal homeopathic hospital

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was part-founded by the NHS

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to the tune of 10 million £

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That's equivalent to 500 nurses salaries

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Right here on the floor, here is a point wheeler straight

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wooden floors. Very unusual in a modern health care

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This hospital was only completed 18 months ago

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So this is our main clinical area...

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The homeopathic profession is unregulated

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by government. You can call yourself

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a homeopath without any qualification

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training or even insurance, after all

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all you are doing is dishing up water solution

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But Peter Fischer, clinical Director

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of the hospital, is a medically trained rheumatologist

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I see Prince Charles over there

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Yeah, ow yes, great friend of ours.

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These are the homoepathic medicines

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that are in daily use. This is one

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you know? For instance it has quite a strong

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evidence by it's Rhus radicans. It's

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Poison ivy

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Right, ok.

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I want to know how someone highly qualified

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in real medicine can make such a leap

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of faith.

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I agree there is a plausibility problem

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You know & I pinch myself from time to time

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I quite regularly pinch myself, you know

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is this really happening, you now?

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The fact is I couldn't stop what I do now

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even if I wanted to

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My patients wouldn't let me

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They say it helps

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So how are things? Well very much better

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since I last saw you. No pain at all.

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You know, if I'm aware of a symptom to

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come start the pain

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I start taking it again & I can feel

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the improvement & get back to until I need it

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again, you know. Good! Well that's

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pretty straight forward just bash on the same

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Don't we? Yeah. I'm still taking the remedies

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but you said to me, ahm, you know, if you

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get little reaction to just hold off taking the

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remedies until they then subside

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so therefore I've been doing that

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so for example I haven't had a remedy

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for a week now

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& last time you said you were getting a bit

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of an emotional sort of upset. Yeah.

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The day after you took the medicine

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It was the day after I took the medicine

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I was impressed by the amount of time &

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care Peter Fischer devotes to each patient

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Far more than an ordinary doctor. Uhm

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but in terms of the treatment

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I would be, you know, reluctant to make a

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big change. I think this is the right stuff

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what we may need to fit around at it

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Like a GP, Peter Fischer prescribes

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medicine, but in this case the medicine is a

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bit of a surprise. Thank you very much

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Common salt, natrum muriaticum sodium

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chloride, again in an .. dilution

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I mean obviously, since it's common salt

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I mean she is obviously taking in

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a hell of a lot of common salt anyway. Yes

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Ow sure. How does the one..? The truth is

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nobody knows. I don't know

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nor does anybody else. Yeah.

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&, you know, the question is

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Do you think that because we don't know,

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because it seems implausible, it can't work?

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& that may be where you & I differ

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The most recent problem was your skin

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Wasn't it? That's right, yeah my hands they

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cleared up quite well & my scalp's a lot lot

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better. While patients like these provide

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positive anecdotes for homeopathy

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subjective stories are not enough

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for science

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I want to pin down precisely what double

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blind trials have been conducted

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Over 100 have been done, some by me

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On my whole were positive

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& I have, you know, I worked hard on it, ahm

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but in the face of great skepticism

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in the face of many people who say well

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we are not gonna found homeopathy

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it's got to be a load of rubbish

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Why do you think they say that if there really

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are controlled trials which

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I think you are much better place

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to comment on because

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you are the sort of person who says that

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Well, because I have red studies which

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have a meta-analysis on things

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which suggest that, yes occasionally

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there's a slight suggestion of something

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maybe in a slight suggestion there

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But if you take all the studies that have

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been done it doesn't add up in the way that

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Ow, I don't agree with that at all

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Now if a double blind control trial

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really does show that it works

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then that suggests we're dealing

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with an entirely new force of physics

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something unknown to science

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I think that's a slight exaggeration

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I mean, there are various hypothesis

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Remarkably nobody

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knows what the structure of liquid water is

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So there is room, you know,

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for a phenomenon analogous

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to, I'm not saying the same

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but analogous to the storage

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of information by a magnetic medium

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by a floppy disk or video tape. Yes, if I were

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a doctor, doing what you do, &

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was convinced that it really worked

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I would drop everything & really really try

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to demonstrate that & win

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the Nobel prize for physics

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I mean it would be an

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astonishing, totally astonishing finding

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That's, to be honest, one

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of the main reasons I got into it

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Plain ambition got me into it in the first place

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But I agree it would be nice to see

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You know, a really serious program

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of research done on it

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Well we are saying it has been done &

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Well no, I'm saying that quite lot of research

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has been done

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I don't claim it's conclusive.

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Why not? I mean it sounds as though

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Well because it's very diffuse

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& of course it does depend what

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question you're asking, you know. I use a

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does it benefit people? Do people feel

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better? & I think

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actually there's no doubt about that

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people who go to homeopathic hospitals

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have a treatment do feel better but

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of course you will say that it's all

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because you are nice to them

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This is all rather contradictory so let's be

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clear about the latest evidence

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In 2005 the medical journal The Lancet

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surveyed all the meta-analysis

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the analysis of the analysis

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& failed to find any reliable effect

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of homeopathy

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Tellingly, for me, in the bigger trials,

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less prone to chance anomalies

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homeopathy was more likely to show

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0 demonstrable effect