Fact-Checking: T.S. Wiley on Homeopathy

T.S. Wiley claims that science definitively validates her ideas and points to the abundance of footnotes in her book, Sex, Lies, and Menopause. Indeed, among the 218 pages of main text you will find 1756 footnotes (actually endnotes). Open the book to any page and you can expect to find about sixteen footnotes staring back, defying your scrutiny. The actual references consume another 84 subsequent pages -- nearly 40% as much as the book's main content.

It's almost as if the intent were to 'Shock and Awe'. If so, it's been successful up to a point. Over the last couple of years we've done some fact-checking and looked into a number of these references. But we haven't yet reported anything... the sheer volume makes it a daunting prospect.

But that's a poor excuse. So without further ado, let us now start looking into T.S. Wiley's science.

We'll start with a paragraph on homeopathy. The purpose here is not to evaluate or debate homeopathy. That is a discussion that extends far beyond the scope of this site. We're interested just in T.S. Wiley's treatment of it, and according to the standards that would be expected of any respectable science writer.

Homeopathy, first practiced in the 1800s, uses increasingly diluted herbal, metallic, and gaseous formulas sprayed onto small spheres of milk sugar to affect vibrational, energetic pathways to communicate with the system to effect a cure.[139-140] Homeopathy works incredibly well on children and people with well-functioning, homeostatically intact immune systems, so although treatments for menopause like Lachesis (literally, snake oil) all guarantee alleviation of hot flashes and, sometimes, migraines, these options really can provide relief only if you have any circulating endogenous hormones left somewhere that the homeopathy can work with, like in, say, perimenopause, but not postmenopausally. Homeopathy can't affect hormones or hormone receptors that aren't there.
(Sex, Lies, and Menopause, p. 190.)

139. MacKenzie, D. Swallow it whole: Herbalists say their extracts are more potent than purified drugs. Now science is backing them up. New Scientist 2001 May 26; 38-40.
140. Matthews, R. TV homeopathy trial was 'flawed'. New Scientist 2002 Dec; 7: 10. [sic - should read “Dec 7; 10”]

This is, first, an inaccurate description of homeopathy. To be fair, the inaccuracies are relatively minor against the other faults in the passage, but briefly: Homeopathy started in the late 1700s, not the 1800s, and remedies are prepared in liquid and tablet forms in addition to sugar pellets. Sucrose and other sugars are used in the pellet form, not just lactose (milk sugar), as Wiley reports.

Many explanations have been put forth by homeopathy proponents regarding its alleged mechanisms. We have not been able to find one that is clearly consistent with T.S. Wiley's “vibrational, energetic pathways”. Perhaps this is her own take on homeopathy, but it's not easy to discern what people are referring to when they speak of “vital forces”, “miasms”, and “vibrational, energetic pathways”.

We hoped that the two references following this sentence would clarify Wiley's meaning and perhaps offer a source for the errors.

As one might surmise from its title, the first article has nothing whatever to do with homeopathy. It is about herbal remedies, an entirely different form of alternative medicine. It makes no mention of homeopathy at all. An article on climate change would be scarcely less relevant.

The second article reports on the scientific debate over homeopathy and specifically studies of whether water can have “memory” of a substance after its every molecule has been diluted away. While it addresses the subject of homeopathy, it says absolutely nothing about Wiley's preceding claims -- not a word about homeopathy's origins, nor about lactose pellets, and not one iota about vibrational, energetic pathways.

Neither reference supports in any way T.S. Wiley's antecedent (or subsequent) claims. As cited sources, they are worthless. They are worse than worthless insofar as they serve to insinuate false credibility to the vast majority of readers who will not bother to check them.

And a critical reader must question whether that was the intent. Perhaps it's no accident, the choice of endnotes over footnotes. Which would you choose if you didn't want people to check your sources?

Wiley continues, “Homeopathy works incredibly well on children and people with well-functioning, homeostatically intact immune systems”, and claims that Lachesis (homeopathic snake venom), etc., “guarantee alleviation of hot flashes and, sometimes, migraines” (emphasis added).

Forgive me, and I'm not Jewish, but oy vey... This, now, would be a good time for a reference.

Over 150 clinical trials have investigated homeopathy to date and not one has conclusively demonstrated its efficacy (beyond the placebo effect) to the satisfaction of the scientific community at large. Whatever one's views on homeopathy, this is not a fact that a science writer can blithely ignore, much less fly in the face of without explanation.

In the words of Carl Sagan, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” Susie Wiley here makes a series of extraordinary claims and offers no evidence. Among scientists, this would be a major faux pas.

The kind where you hear crickets.

Leaving aside this void of credibility, note that the argument fails to make its case -- that hormone replacement is a precondition for homeopathy to “work” as a treatment for post-menopausal women.

Assume homeopathy's efficacy for the sake of argument. Assume the smuggled premise that it operates only on hormones and hormone receptors. And assume the premise that post-menopausal women are utterly barren of hormones and hormone receptors. Then, yes, the homeopathic agent would have nothing to act on.

But neither would exogenous hormones. Such as the Wiley Protocol.

I personally don't think this paragraph is intended to have anything whatever to do with science or logic. In my opinion this is proselytism dressed up as science, and very poorly at that, written for the sole purpose of discouraging women who are seeking menopause relief via homeopathic remedies and aiming to convert them to the Wiley solution.

It is a cynical play for their souls. For their dollars.

Whatever my opinion, it clearly demonstrates that T.S. Wiley is capable of applying references that not only fail to support her claims but that have nothing whatever to do with her claims. And it demonstrates that she is capable of asserting extraordinary claims with no substantiation, and indeed in contradiction of what science has so far been able to establish.

Is this a pattern? We shall see...

Maybe T.S. Wiley should be

Maybe T.S. Wiley should be graded on a curve. "Extraordinary claims require some evidence". And if you say there's evidence, then that's terrific, Deary! Well done. Your judgment is as good as any other's.

All the research is in your garage? Wonderful! Here's your gold star.

Thank you for that reminder.

Thank you for that reminder. We should really delve into that the-research-is-in-my-garage story at some point...

This is called the Wiley

This is called the Wiley Protocol. I am a researcher and a protocol is developed through direct research and documenting data. You do not come up with a magical dose from thin air. This is what T.S. Wiley has done. I cannot locate any documentation, journal articles, or research supporting her protocol anywhere in the world. T.S. Wiley has come up with nothing as well.