In this interview Ernst claims that he “acquired the prerequisites” to be able to add ‘homeopathy’ to his medical title “but never applied for the title”. In fact, a crucial ‘prerequisite’ in Germany, where homeopathy is regulated, is to have passed an exam at the relevant regional branch of the German Landesaerztekammer (medical council), and Ernst never did this. As the interviewer points out: “So is it correct that you did not acquire the additional medical title ‘Homeopathy’ but took further medical education courses in homeopathy? If yes, which ones?
Ernst: “I never completed any courses.”
In short, it appears that the leading ‘authority’ on homeopathy, and perhaps its most referenced critic, has no qualifications in homeopathy.
This will not come as a surprise to anyone who has read William Alderson’s Halloween Science, the detailed critique of Ernst and Simon Singh’s Trick or Treatment? In his discussion of the chapter on homeopathy Alderson concludes that: “it destroys entirely Ernst and Singh’s credibility as a reliable source of information about at least one of the therapies they discuss in detail, and this renders highly questionable their reliability as a source of information about all the other therapies.”
Alderson also claims that Trick or Treatment? shows Ernst to be unreliable as a researcher into homeopathy. He outlines 11 mistakes which can arise from ignorance of the principles of homeopathy, and which can seriously affect the reliability of randomised controlled trials and meta-analyses of homeopathy. None of these are mentioned by Ernst and Singh.
“What is unforgivable in two ‘trained scientists’ (p. 3) is they have not considered the implications of these issues in respect of the validity of trials. They do not even refer to any of them when they present two trials to illustrate that individualisation does not guarantee the success of homeopathy.”
Ernst’s failure to take these issues seriously is confirmed by the interview, when he is asked: “Do you see fundamental problems with double-blind studies for individualised methods?”
This failure is also confirmed by looking at the protocol of a trial of Arnica he specifically mentions in his career details. In this trial approximately one third of the patients were given Arnica 30c and another third Arnica 6c, and “Tablets were to be taken three times daily for seven days preoperatively and fourteen days postoperatively.” Not only did this mean that treatment was not individualised, but patients were taking medicine for a week before the operation when there was nothing to treat. Such a procedure will have unpredictable effects, and is anathema to homeopathic principles and prescribing practice.
We believe that it is time to recognise that opposition to homeopathy is largely based on the opinions of individuals who are unqualified or unwilling to judge the evidence fairly. Against them is the experience of millions who have actually benefited from homeopathy. A recently published example of this success is the trial in Cuba where 2.3 million people were immunised homeopathically against endemic Leptospirosis. In two weeks, the infection rate plummeted by 80% in the trial areas and the mortality rate dropped to zero, with this success continuing though the following year.[9,10] See also http://avilian.co.uk/2012/11/good-medicine-homeopathy/
One person may be right and 2.3 million may be wrong, but this interview confirms the evidence which H:MC21 has already presented, namely that one individual, Edzard Ernst, is not a credible source of information about the effectiveness of homeopathy.For H:MC21 Press release click here.For translation of the interview click here.For link to the original interview in German click here.For link to the Deutscher Zentralverein homoeopathischer Aerzte website click here.
1. ‘Interview mit Professor Edzard Ernst, Exeter’, Homoeopathische Nachrichten, April 2010, pp. 1-3, available at: <http://www.dzvhae.com/portal/pics/abschnitte/300410102802_hn168april10.pdf?PHPSESSID=273eb20b3c19d743c6c106bbd56fd1dc>. The translation can be downloaded below.
2. There are no qualifications mentioned in his career details on the Peninsula Medical School website at <http://www.pms.ac.uk/compmed/ErnstCV-extended.pdf>, accessed 17 March 2009.
3. Simon Singh and Edzard Ernst, Trick or Treatment? Alternative Medicine on Trial (London: Bantam Press, 2008).
4. William Alderson, Halloween Science (Stoke Ferry: Homeopathy: Medicine for the 21st Century, 2009), p.86
5. Halloween Science, pp. 57-62.
6. Halloween Science, p. 61.
7. <http://www.pms.ac.uk/compmed/ErnstCV-extended.pdf>, accessed 17 March 2009.
8. C. Stevinson BSc MSc, V.S. Devaraj FRCS FRCS(Plast), A. Fountain-Barber MCSP SRP, S. Hawkins MCSP SRP, E. Ernst MD PhD, ‘Homeopathic arnica for prevention of pain and bruising: randomized placebo-controlled trial in hand surgery’, J Roy Soc Med, 96 (2003), 60-65, p. 61.
9. G. Bracho, E. Varela , R. Fernández, B. Ordaz, N. Marzoa, J Menéndez, L. García, E. Gilling, R. Leyva, R. Rufín, R. de la Torre, R.L. Solis, N. Batista, R. Borrero, C. Campa, ‘Large-scale application of highly-diluted bacteria for Leptospirosis epidemic control’, Homeopathy, 99 (2010),156-66, at <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20674839>.
10. ‘Homeopathy associated with dramatic reduction in Leptospirosis infection in Cuban population’ Faculty of Homeopathy press release, 3 August 2010, at <http://www.facultyofhomeopathy.org/media/press_releases/leptospirosis_infection_in_Cuban_population.html>
NB: Edzard Ernst’s email address is His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org - web site http://edzardernst.com/ - if you wish to contact him directly. It would appear that Ernst has spent his life struggling with his background: He is the son of Wolfgang Ernst Jr, (1910-1994) Spa Physician in Bad Neuenahr. And from The Guardian interview (25/9/03) “Ernst, however, comes from a culture where alternative therapies have long blended with the mainstream. He is from four generations of conventional doctors but he says, “Even as a young boy I was treated with complementary therapies – mostly homeopathy.”
Edzard Ernst was a member of staff at the Vienna Medical School which used preserved specimens of human remains from concentration camps as anatomy teaching material long after every German medical school had abolished this practice.
See The Annals of Internal Medicine A Leading Medical School Seriously Damaged: Vienna 1938, Edzard Ernst, MD, PhD, Ann Intern Med. 15 May 1995;122(10):789-792
https://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=708666 ‘… Misguided by the notion that the decline of the German race would be prevented by purifying “Aryan blood” and eliminating foreign, particularly Jewish, influences, the Nazis evicted all Jews from universities within their growing empire during the Third Reich.The Medical Faculty of Vienna suffered more than any other European faculty from “race hygiene.” Within weeks of the Nazi annexation of Austria in 1938, 153 of the Faculty’s 197 members were dismissed. By far the most frequent reason for dismissal was Jewish origin. Most victims managed to emigrate, many died in concentration camps, and others committed suicide. The “cleansing” process encountered little resistance, and the vacant posts were quickly filled with persons known not for their medical expertise but for their political trustworthiness. It was in this climate that medical atrocities could be committed. After the collapse of the Third Reich, most members of the Faculty were burdened with a Nazi past. Most remained in office, and those who had to leave were reinstituted swiftly. The Jews evicted in 1938 were discouraged from returning. These events have significantly—and with long-lasting effects—damaged the quality of a once-leading medical school. This story needs to be told to honor its victims and to fortify us so that history does not repeat itself….’
See also (article in German) http://dzvhae-homoeopathie-blog.de/?p=4484
collaboration.org/news/97- prof-edzard-ernst-retires.html Why are you choosing to retire now as Director of the Group? I am still two years before the official retirement age. Yet I am retiring because the £2 million donated by the Laing Foundation is running out. My University had signed a contract to match this sum, but fund raising was never successful. After Prince Charles complained to the Vice Chancellor about me five years ago, it stopped altogether. Instead of fulfilling their promise, the University told us that they will close us down in May 2011. It was only because I could persuade the new dean who started in September 2010 to reconsider that complete and final closure was averted. The ‘deal’ we struck was that I officially retire, then get re-hired half-time for a year to help find a successor and provide the continuity. Personally, I am over the moon with this solution. I have fought so many battles that the scars are beginning to show and I feel exhausted with all of this. Why is it important that your Group continues its work? We are the only group who is doing full-time CM research not for proving that this or that therapy is effective and safe but for testing whether that is the case. This is such an important difference! It is the difference between a scientist and a promoter. The latter we don’t need in academia, promoters; they already populate every other strand of society. I understand you’ll be working part time for the next year to help find a successor. What qualities will you be looking for in your replacement? I am looking for a person who is a good scientist with energy and enough courage to stand up against the often quite overpowering forces of quackery. The university wants someone who can bring in money — and that is, of course, equally important.
Here it is again (special wish of Andrew), my training in homeopathy: in the late 1970s, I worked for several month in a German homeopathic hospital as a junior doctor. There I learned how to treat patients according to the principles of homeopathy. Later I used homeopathy occasionally in clinical practice. Since 2 decades I research the subject mainly through clinical trials and systematic reviews. It is therefore correct to say that I have trained in homeopathy.
It is not that I need or want to provide this justification so regularly, but Andrew likes to hear it over and over again.
ISN’T IT WONDERFUL TO HAVE SUCH A LOYAL FAN? I just wished he was a bit more switched on.
Andrew Sikorski, GP Partner,
20 Apr 2012
|Thanks for that ol’ buddy- so no formal qualifications- it took me 18 months working full-time at a NHS homeopathic hospital before I could grasp the concepts and start considering sitting the MFHom exam – must be like you say I’m far thicker than you, however you certainly are switched on, but so sour – 2 decades of ‘research’ seem to have left you 2 centuries behind the real world of clinical practice, so it’s hugely understandable why your opinion is so distorted by the lack of up to date clinical exposure, not only to CAM, but also to conventional medicine. Please do not retire- I would miss you so MUCH,,,YOU MAKE ME LAUGH SO OFTEN THAT MY SIDES POSITIVELY HURT! THANKS A TON!………..several months…….hahaha – can’t you count precisely – I mean have you heard of numbers? hahahahahaha!!! How do you cope with statistical data?!