Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Scientific Investigation: Who decides?

Scientific Investigation: Who decides?
- Jagasnnath Chatterjee

In case of any scientific study, the raw data, the methods used for collection, the methods used for evaluation, valid explanations for rejection of portions of raw data or of any further additions to raw data and/or interpretation methods, adherence to well defined standards, maintenance of the raw data in its entirety and its interpretation methods as they have evolved open for further scrutiny without denying access or imposing any conditions so as to maintain absolute transparency, are essential.

Both the major vaccine studies conducted by the CDC and quoted worldwide and still cited have failed on these counts.

Peer review is often secondary to these as the basic procedures are not always revisited.

"Investigations must be designed and conducted by experts; whenever possible, standardized and validated test methods and test systems should be used, test devices and instruments must be appropriately calibrated and their accuracy assured, and, most important, all of the data, including raw laboratory records, should be available for independent review. Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) requirements, based on these fundamental scientific principles and practices, are indispensable for providing scientific confidence in studies conducted for chemical safety determinations."

In case of studies on alternative medicine who will be the experts? The scientists of modern medicine or the practitioners of the alternative medical practices? Also traditional medicine does not work the way modern medicine works and so studies or methods used for testing modern medicine will not arrive at the correct results while studying alternative medicine. Thus there are many problems that need to be sorted out before any scientific investigation using clinical methods have to be carried out.

Epidemiological studies on homeopathy exist which have vouched for the fact that medicines have worked. But the homeopaths will themselves question those epidemiological studies as homeopathic principles as laid down by Samuel Hahnemann and other classical homeopaths after him are the prime criterion for judging both the case, methods of treatment applied and the results derived.

Homeopathy does not treat disease names but the individual in whole based upon idiosyncrasies observed in each individual case. Follow up is also important as various disease layers are encountered as they reveal themselves during treatment and need subsequent well judged remedies. It is ultimately when the individual declares himself fit both physically and mentally and the physician detects no further symptoms which would require further treatment, that the individual can be pronounced cured.

Here is the link to the scientific article from which I have quoted earlier which seeks to strengthen scientific methods so as not to fall into the traps as pointed out in the PLoS journal.

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