Pitfalls of Meta-Analyses

A brief methodological commentary on the retraction of our homeopathy ADHD meta-analysis

We had rejoiced too soon. Last summer, I reported that we were able to publish a meta-analysis on homeopathy in ADHD, which showed a significant effect size of g = 0.6 [1]. It was recently retracted by the journal, not by us.

The background: We had made an extraction error, namely positively coding an effect size that should actually be negatively coded. This is one of the pitfalls in a meta-analysis that I have now stumbled across myself. Because you always have to ask yourself: Do the effects of a study point in the direction of the hypothesis, i.e. do they support the assumption that the difference speaks for the effectiveness of a treatment, or against it? In this case [2], the result was not only not significant in favor of homeopathy, but even pointed in the other direction. This should have been marked with a minus sign in the analysis, which I had simply overlooked. And my colleagues didn’t notice it either, so this very stupid mistake crept in.

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Homeopathy Works for Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

and is helpful within limits in healing wounds.

Homeopathy and the results of two meta-analyses

A few years ago, the leader of the German Green Party, Robert Habeck, proclaimed in the heart of conviction, that homeopathy is no more than placebo. Many politicians and medical administrators dutifully agreed. Our health blabbermouth, Health Minister Lauterbach, wants to pour this into a set of rules and remove homeopathy completely from all medical books. Since then, it has become politically incorrect to be pro-homeopathy.

I still think homeopathy is good and have done for a long time, thus I have also been politically incorrect for a long time. Because I am less interested in the opinions of people who have only a very limited idea of the matter and certainly not in the arguments that proceed from unreflected theoretical presuppositions. What I am chiefly interested in, is the data. Because I am politically incorrect, a foundation that supports homeopathy a while ago removed me from my role as a blogger, where I used to comment on new data and studies on the blog Homöopathie.info

Nevertheless, I like homeopathy and engage with it when the opportunity arises, or I am asked. I take the publication of our new meta-analysis on the efficacy of homeopathy in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children [1] and our somewhat older meta-analysis on Arnica in wound healing [2], published last year in Frontiers in Surgery, as an opportunity to draw attention to homeopathy.

I would also like to take this opportunity to pass on some methodological knowledge on the subject of meta-analyses in my newest chapter of my methodology blog.

I will start with a small political preface to help understand the general situation, then for those who do not yet know much about it, a few words about homeopathy in general.

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