Friday, June 4, 2010

Quote, Unquote, Misquote redux

My Yahoo! article on homoeopathy was taken up by Amit Varma, who is responsible for editing the new suite of columns on the website. Amit starts his own column by writing, "I was delighted this Monday when my fellow Yahoo! columnist Girish Shahane took on homeopathy in his column 'Sugar Pills and Skepticism'. It needed to be done, but while I found myself agreeing with much of his piece, I was disappointed by the last paragraph, in which Girish said that he uses homeopathy occasionally, and that it sometimes seemed "to have an effect, particularly with respect to allergies.""
What I actually wrote was: "Like most Indians, I have family members who regularly take homoeopathic medication, and I’ve consulted homoeopaths myself. In my experience, the system sometimes appears to have an effect, particularly with respect to allergies."
There's a massive difference between me saying "I've consulted homoeopaths myself", and Amit's version of me using homoeopathy occasionally. As a matter of fact, the last time I entered any homoeopath's clinic was over fifteen years ago. Amit misconstrues my account of something that happened in the past in order to portray me as a soft supporter of homoeopathy.
The second quote he takes issue with is my statement that "the system sometimes appears to have an effect". I stand by this, it's the equivalent of saying the sun appears to go around the earth. It doesn't indicate the sun actually goes around the earth, all it suggests is, I kind of understand why everybody believed for millenia that it does. People I trust deeply have provided stories of how doses of homoeopathy alleviated symptoms where conventional medicine did not. Of course this could be the placebo effect at work, or a result of the fact that homoeopathy often 'cures' ailments which tend to cure themselves. By taking the 'appeared' outside my quote, so "the system sometimes appeared to have an effect", becomes "seemed 'to have an effect'", he changed the meaning of what I wrote without technically misquoting me.
Both Amit and I are in Goa right now, on a poker marathon, and, if we end up on the same table this evening, I intend to harangue him to induce a bad play.


amit varma said...

Girish, I have to say I don't think I misquoted you, but that your words were open to being interpreted the way I interpreted them. Thanks for the clarification, though. I can only hope that if we end up at the same table in tonight's tourney, I get a better read on your play. ;)

Note to readers: Girish is actually sitting physically besides me as I type this words in Goa. See now. We're next to each other, and I'm typing a reply to his post about me on my netbook. How the interwebs have ruined us!

Dr. Ajit R. Jadhav said...

I have dropped you an email off your Web site (India Uncut). In short, I have therein requested you to indicate any other criticism you have against homoepathy's efficacy.

Girish and Amit:
On the same lines as above, I would appreciate it if you both (and also other observers/critics) could jot down what you have to say regarding the procedure of homoeopathic "proving." This is one major topic that I see you (or other linked authors) have not touched on, in your recent posts/comments. If there are some observations or criticisms on this aspect, then I would like to know of these asap, because I now do plan to write at least a post or two (if not an essay/article) on the topic. So, it will surely help me.

Thanks in advance.

PS: Is Goa particularly enjoyable in late summer, just before the monsoons? I would imagine it to be too humid and hot at such a time.

DS said...

Fight! Fight!
That too in Goa. Stop squabbling Girish. And Ajit is right, too humid and hot in Goa. There MUST be some cooling down homeopathic pills you can munch with Amit thro your game. And may the best placeboed face win.
I am poker faced as I say this.

Unknown said...

This is regarding your column on yahoo news with the title ”Sugar pills and Skepticism” wherein you have remarked about the statement of the then Hon’ble Union Health Minister that controversy about homoeopathy published in Lancet will be countered with scientific data- and you observed that there is no sign of any such data even after five years. In this connection it is to bring to your kind notice that Central Council for Research in Homoeopathy functioning under the Department of AYUSH, Ministry of Health&Family Welfare, Government of India is very well aware of the controversy raised by the article published by the Lancet journal and it is regrettable on the part of Lancet journal who did not bother to publish the rejoinder sent by the Council at that time. Before the Lancet controversy came up, Council had already initiated Collaborative studies on scientific evidence of Homoeopathy with Institutes of Excellence like, School of Tropical Medicine, Kolkata (Japanese Encephalitis) Bose Institute, Kolkata (Cancer cell line),IIT Delhi(Spectral standardization) and with scientists of Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Trombay (Physiological parameters), to mention a few. Some studies are completed and others nearing completion and the final/interim results are convincing. In one of the ongoing study, results are suggestive of genes being regulated by the homoeopathic medicines seen in cancer cell lines. The Council proposes to take up further study of replication of the results through other reputed Institutes. Encouraging results have attracted scientists from various streams to take up research in Homoeopathy.11 studies are ongoing under extramural research scheme of the Dept. of AYUSH. Government of India is open to provide funds to the scientists who take up advanced research in homoeopathy. Department of AYUSH has also funded projects relating to clinical/scientific evidence and four such studies on rheumatoid arthritis, trophic ulcers in leprous patients ,hepatocarcinogenesis in mice and cancer have been published in Council’s journal –which is the first peer reviewed journal of homoeopathy in Asia. One study on hepatocarcinogenesis is published in international peer reviewed journal. The Council has completed 10 evidence based studies, out of which the results of four studies have been published in various international journals. 'Acute Diarrhoeal Diseases in Children' has been published in the American Journal of Homoeopathic Medicine (2009; 102 (3):122-129) ‘Acute Rhinitis in Children’ in International journal of High Dilution research,( 2010; 9(30): 30-42) ‘Furunculosis’ in Homoeopathic links(2010 Spring; Vol. 23: 60–63) and ‘Gastroenteritis’ in International Journal of Bio Research 2010 (February; Volume 1 Issue 2). Many more clinical studies carried out by the Council’s research centres are published in the book form and are available for the use of the profession.
Prof (Dr) C.Nayak
Director General

Jasmine Shah Varma said...

Jeez! Shouldn't these differences between both anti-homeopathy columnists be sorted offline? Confusing the hell out of us borderline sugar-pill high believers. :)

Girish Shahane said...

DS, you will be happy to hear that Amit and I played six straight hours at the same table, after playing three hours at not the same table, without the word homoeopathy ever cropping up.
Jasmine, what can I say, except, I didn't start it, he did.
Which statement always reminds me of the Fawlty Towers episode where Basil is told not to speak about the War to a group of Germans, but he keeps bringing it up. Finally, one of the guests syas irritably, "Vill you please stop mentioning ze Var."
Basil: I didn't start it, you did.
Guest: You started it.
Basil: No you did; you invaded Poland.

Dattaprasad said...

I'm having a discussion on Homeopathy in forum, I'm quoting the letter that divya has posted. Hopefully you won't mind.

Unknown said...

Thank you, Divya for the account of the activities of Central Council for Research in Homoeopathy. I am delighted in getting this record and will definitely recommend this to the interested/confused supporters of homoeopathy. I think that two friends are having great time in Goa.

Unknown said...

Hope girish and amit are being paid well by the pharmaceutical companies for their trip to goa.i think before shooting the issue you should have taken the responsibility of the consequences.i just wonder how come a person with this experience(as per your profile...Studied English literature. Reviewed films. Scripted a bit. Edited a magazine. Worked in a dotcom. Lectured on art. Wrote a column.)comment against a medical science recognised by the government.Atleast do your homework well and reply to the comment posted by Prof. Nayak of CCRH

Dattaprasad said...

O madam conspiracy theory a.k.a rachna aunty, yeh log homework karke aaye hai. Amit has posted corresponding links too.
The recognition by govt. doesn't make it right. Medical community has to approve it. I do respect Prof (Dr) Nayak response, but you are making wild accusation. If I may, let me refer you to a BBC documentary which explains the conflict between scientific community and Homeopathy.

DS said...

Have you seen Clockwise? It's Cleese at his best and not a homeopathic pill in sight. So no placebo faces , you can laugh out loud alright.

Dr. Ajit R. Jadhav said...

Girish, Amit:

Even in the case that you do not wish to comment on or communicate with me I could respect you if you said so straight-forwardly.

The rest of this note is to bring down your intellectual arrogance down a bit and expose your dishonesty.

But then, given their culture, it might be too much to expect off the resurgent BA stupids in their mid-30s fed with Yahoo! money---the same source as a certain SIMI "activist" arrested in "cultured" Pune.

To other readers: If I were to smell something fishy here, it would be that "Goa" could easily stand for that lexical level moronity of the type: "Goa" = "Go" + "A"---i.e. Go Away, or Go, Ajit.

How I know... I am more experienced with the 'net than either Girish or Amit: I read an email for the first time in the late 1980s; had an email account in 1990; the Web was born in 1994; I had worked on the n-tier architecture on the server side before Google was founded; I have been "followed up" since India's nuclear test in 1998---and the money necessary to do so could easily have been supplied by immoral Sindhi-Punjabis and other Indians in the USA like Kanwal Rekhi, Vinod Khosla and others, and also by Yahoo! rich Californian assholes.

After all, though I do maintain an email account with Yahoo!, I also have noted over years that Yahoo! assholes (not just SIMI ones but also others) also have been involved in my "follow ups."

From my side, if I have to add anything at a personal level to Girish, it would be that when I included a link to his blog at my blog, I didn't know that he was Renuka Shahane's sister. Further, might as well let him know that here appearance never was my idea of a million dollar smile, and that I don't know who his writer mother is or what is the intellectual and aesthetic qualities of her work. As to his brother-in-law and his work: I think he was one among the better that MP/the North could still have managed to produce. As to his current work with reality shows: LOL! (I switch channels too fast to notice anything else!)

As to Amit. Regardless of how friendly or enemy-like this English-speaking part-Pune-raised Punjabi ladlaa lad could have been with me at a personal level, I probably still would not have read a single one of his novels. (One may ask if his novels have absorbing plots.)

Another matter. As to me. I wrote a script for an award-winning Firodiya and acted in an award-winning Purushottam, at a time that both of you perhaps were still in KG and merely learning your ABCDs.

And, yes, when I say "follow up," they didn't spare my family either.

Got it, Girish, Amit?

Henceforth, stop being too smart. Got it? For instance, don't say: "I was just about to write..." Got it? ... N o e x t r a s m a r t n e s s ! (As is the fashion with your generation, think of getting it tattooing on your respective asses or other favorite places of yours if you think that will help you remember it---no "deDh" smartness.)

(And no, I won't remove the link at my blog to Girish's blog---not for a while.)



Girish Shahane said...

Rachna, unfortunately for conspiracy theorists who blame the pharmaceutical companies for the limitations of homoeopathy (when they don't blame science itself), one of the major writers of the meta-analysis published in The Lancet also worked on the paper that forced Vioxx to be withdrawn from the market at huge cost to Merck. It is hard to paint him a stooge of the pharma companies.
So, no, no drug makers sponsored my trip, thanks for the insinuation, though, it reveals your level of thinking about the problem.
The other suggestion you make is we recognise something as scientific because the government says it is. I do not share your confidence in the ability of our government, or any government, to decide upon such a matter.
Divya, Prof. Nayak's letter is quite revelatory: full of 'ongoing' studies, or 'promising' research, or papers published in journals of Homoeopathy (the latter is like pointing to the Bible as proof of the historicity of events described in the Bible). The point is that, had homoeopathy been at all effective, the proof would've been easy to come by. It is not The Lancet's job to publish rejoinders if no evidence is adduced. Dr.Nayak can't produce any good evidence even today, after years and years of government sponsored research in the area.

Unknown said...

could you please mention the link from where you read about the rejoinder sent by Prof. Nayak against the Lancet article controversy -I want to go through it and i feel you must have read it thoroughly as you have
mentioned that "no evidence is adduced".Kindly mention.

Girish Shahane said...

What I meant, JOhn, is that since Dr.Nayak has not produced any evidence in his reply to Amit and I, the same was presumably true of his reply to The Lancet.
However, back when the controversy arose, the letter the Lancet refused to print was published in some newspaper, I remember reading it and realising it was all rhetoric and no reason, like so many responses on this subject, apart from those of Paromita Goswami and Shashi Shekhar to my Yahoo column post. However, I'm not going to bother trying to find a link to it; if you find one, and discover it contradicts my assertion, please let me know.

Unknown said...

I thought you can help me out but unfortunately you could not. I am not a blind supporter of homoeopathy but I know that there is a lot of difference between a Rejoinder (the answer made by a defendant to the claimant's reply) and a press note. If today some one accuses you- you are the best person to defend yourself you need to explain, illustrate, and then conclude. The mere conclusion (published in newspaper) is sometimes incomplete and vague. I do remember the name of the news paper and also the content of the same where some methodological errors were mentioned I just wanted to know the details of those errors. I asked for your help only when I failed. I can mention you a link if you “bother” to go through it. is the website of European committee for homoeopathy and under clinical research you can find observational studies, experimental studies, and also aspects of basic research. I am not a columnist -Girish I just wanted to be clear to my conscience.

Jenny said...

Argument aside, what I can say is that homeopathy has worked very well for me and my family. That's all the proof that I need.