Talk:Homeopathy/Catalogs

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At Larry's suggestion, I created this on a subpage. The first column text was written to be a little light-hearted. It certainly can be refined, but the refinements must add precision, rather than attack it.

I propose that the bulk of effort go into the second and third columns. In some places, I clearly do not know the homeopathic term for something that still, apparently, exists. Replacing question marks with unambiguous terms would be greatly appreciated.

By unambiguous, I do not meaning redefining a term of art from the other discipline. For example, it seems fairly clear that homeopaths and mainstream physicians do not think of "symptom" in the same way. Were someone to disambiguate symptom (homeopathic) and symptom (medical), and do all of the needed changes in articles that already use the term, that would be one way to resolve such a difficulty.

Also, I would request that comparative terminology be as specific as possible. Homeostasis (biology) and immune systems are extremely broad topics, at too high a level for direct comparison. There are a number of articles, in various levels of development, about specific immune mechanisms; more are needed (e.g., basophil and mast cell). In some cases, all that may be needed is a subsection (e.g., how medicine and homeopathy stabilize mast cells, if, in fact, they agree they do that.

There's certainly nothing wrong with adding additional concept rows. Howard C. Berkowitz 17:43, 21 October 2008 (UTC)

I added more descriptive headings. Feel free to edit further, but please don't make them absolutely vague.
I don't like the red text, underlined text, etc. Can we please exclude it?
Also, coming from a fresh point of view, I have to wonder if it is necessary to couch all this stuff in terms of what Hahnemann defined, etc. Why not just put it in terms of homeopathy?
The table implies that conventional physicians do not prefer to refer to homeopaths as homeopaths. Really? They don't?
The table currently says that, for "Someone who believes that Hahnemann defined an essentially perfect system that needs only minor refinements, and that every case is inherently different," the term that non-homeopath physicians use is "Physician, biomedical specialist, non-homeopathic physician, mainstream medicine". Huh? Really?
"Biomedical scientist, one trained by the evolved system proposed by Abraham Flexner" is surely wrong in many ways. It is surely wrong to attribute the whole system to Flexner alone. Moreover, "biomedical scientist" surely does not mean or entail "Someone who believes that Hahnemann defined a system that was superior..." etc.
Etc.! One line that doesn't make the slightest bit of sense to me here begins with "Opinion and trust not based on statistical analysis".
In short, this table is potentially very useful, but it needs a lot of work. --Larry Sanger 03:25, 22 October 2008 (UTC)
You've clearly caught some typos, and I agree about red text, which I did not add. Cleaning up other errors as well.
As far as Hahnemann, it seemed necessary at the time. For example, Hahnemann coined the term "vital force". Whether one agrees that exists or not, it's a good term: short, vivid, distinctive. Another contributor said it was obsolete, and "natural healing processes of the bodywe also call it symptoms amd signs (see my description of vital force)" was preferred. That doesn't work.
The ideas that signs and symptoms are the same thing as vital force needs sourcing; from my reading of Hahnemann, the two ideas are quite distinct.
"Natural healing processes of the body" simply doesn't work in the goals of the table, for more than one reason. First, it is ambiguous between conventional medicine and homeopathy; mainstream medicine would agree there are natural healing process, but absolutely disagree there is what Hahnemann termed a vital force to be stimulated with a simillium. Second, the redefinition is not sourced, where I can go back to Hahnemann's writings and find the definition. Third, it's awfully long and cumbersome.
I'm perfectly willing to take out the references to Hahnemann, but it seems only reasonable that if someone wants to use a homeopathic term that did not come from Hahnemann himself, that alternative should be defined in an available and authoritative source.
As far as "The table implies that conventional physicians do not prefer to refer to homeopaths as homeopaths. Really? They don't?", that is arguable. I'm going to speak from personal experience, but let me make clear the nature of that experience. One of the things I do professionally is build clinical information systems, some of which produce prose rather than tables. When I began doing that in 1970 [1], we learned very quickly that if we were going to generate reports that clinicians found credible, it needed to reflect the communications patterns of clinicians. Subsequently, both as an analyst and manager, I've done extensive requirements definition with physicians, and I learned that it is terribly important to use what social anthropologists call "high-context" communications. So, I've been listening, for decades, to the way physicians express things.
I can immediately think of a number of physicians, who, whether they realize it or not, will call someone they regard as a complementary practitioner whatever the complementary discipline calls itself. When the other person is practicing alternative, not complementary medicine, they often preface the term with "alternative" and less complimentary adjectives.
I will stand by "the evolved system as Flexner proposed." Flexner was the focal point that "rebooted" the system. If I may, I'd like to recommend a superb book, The Great Influenza by John M. Barry. It's insightful in many ways, and he's a fine writer. He makes the point that he started out to write a book about the 1918-1920 influenza pandemic [2]. Without really intending it, he also succeeded in writing a book on how the U.S. medical academic and research complex was created. There are lots of other people that had roles, such as Osler and his colleagues at Hopkins, as well as the Carnegie and Rockefeller Foundations.
"Opinion and trust not based on statistical analysis" makes perfect sense to me. What would you prefer? Public opinion? I'm talking about the sort of thing that makes for "popularity of" based on subjective, non-quantitative factors. Howard C. Berkowitz 04:46, 22 October 2008 (UTC)

References and commentary if anyone cares :-)

  1. Porting Mass General patient interviewing system, with a multiple-choice front-end, to different clinical services at Georgetown
  2. It's been pretty well established that its traditional name of the "Spanish influenza" is wrong. "Patient zero", or the "index case", was almost certainly in the United States, and the amplifier that turned it into a pandemic was the combination of crowded military training facilities, followed by shipping troops overseas

Vital force vs. idiopathic condtion

For the concept of "Bodily responses to abnormality (symptoms or signs), for which no formal mechanism is defined", vital force had been suggested as the homeopathic term. Idiopathic condition was suggested as the biomedical equivalent, but I don't think the two are dealing with the same time.

As I understand homeopathic terms, the vital force is the set of defense mechanisms of the body, and is a reaction to an abnormality.

Idiopathic condition, however, is not a response, but a syndrome. It sometimes is explained as illness for which the etiology is unknown, but the meaning is more nuanced than that. A patient with "idiopathic hepatitis" shows symptoms of liver disturbance, for which the etiology is unknown. The nuance, however, is that "idiopathic" really means "while we don't know what is causing the problem, we have ruled out a number of possible etiologies." When a conventional physician hears "idiopathic hepatitis", she can assume that alcoholic cirrhosis, infectious hepatitis, primary liver cancer, and a variety of other etiologies are definitely not present.

I previously had ???? in the box corresponding to vital force, as I'm not sure there is a real medical equivalent other than generic "defense mechanisms". Immune system is too specific. The "fight-or-flight" neuroendocrine response can be involved, but it's again too narrow. Howard C. Berkowitz 03:06, 13 December 2008 (UTC)

The two are definitely not equivolent. Regardless whether vital force includes a spiritual element, it defines the system the made, maintains and heals the body. Idiopathic diseases are just that, diseases of unknown etiology, and yes, I agree, that diagnosis is generally made after testing for at least the common causes. Vital force does describe disease, it cures it. Vital force is a noun. Idiopathic is an adjective. There is no biomedical equivolent to the version that Hahnemann referenced as he saw it as a vitalistic property that was immaterial. Biomedicine rejects that concept. If there is anything in modern biology, it would be under the scope of complex systems that exhibit emergent ([1] behavior. D. Matt Innis 04:42, 13 December 2008 (UTC)