The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'homeopathy'
Prince Charles, the future head of state of the UK, has been giving his subjects the benefit of his wisdom again; this time, he has used his royal powers to have medical advice critical of homeopathy removed from the NHS Choices website, or rather diluted to homeopathic proportions, where nothing of substance remains:
Homeopathy, which involves the use of remedies so heavily diluted with water that they no longer contain any active substance, is "rubbish", said chief medical officer Sally Davies in January to the House of Commons science and technology committee. She added that she was "perpetually surprised" that homeopathy was available in some places on the NHS.
But the government's NHS Choices website, which is intended to offer evidence-based information and advice to the public on treatments, does not reflect her view. A draft page that spelled out the scientific implausibility of homeopathic remedies was neutered by Department of Health officials. It is now uncritical, with just links to reports on the lack of evidence.
Mattin's original draft said: "There is no good quality clinical evidence to show that homeopathy is more successful than placebo in the treatment of any condition … Furthermore, if the principles of homeopathy were true it would violate all the existing theories of science that we make use of today; not just our theory of medicine, but also chemistry, biology and physics."I dread to think of the counter-enlightenment Charles III will drag the UK towards when he ultimately becomes king. It is clear that the existing firewalls between Britain's (ostensibly decorative) monarchy and its democratic government are insufficient to contain his meddling even now.
Britain's Tory-led coalition government has undergone a reshuffle. Among the changes: Jeremy Hunt, the culture secretary who tried to rubberstamp Rupert Murdoch's acquisition of the rest of Sky TV, is now minister of health; which is somewhat troubling given his outspoken beliefs in homeopathy, and statements defending the NHS's funding of homeopathic “medicine” (which had, in the past, been roundly denounced in Parliament). Meanwhile, Conservative Chairman Lady Warsi, a fierce opponent of secularism, has been demoted to a newly created “Ministry of Faith”. Whether this is a sinecure intended to keep her out of trouble or a shift towards a more muscularly religious politics in Britain remains to be seen. And so, it looks like the Conservatism the Tories are bringing to government is one hearkening back to a time before the Enlightenment, when faith trumped evidence and reason.
In other news, transport minister Justine Greening, an opponent of the proposed third runway at Heathrow and passionate advocate of high-speed rail, has been replaced by Patrick McLoughlin, who was aviation minister in the ideologically anti-rail Thatcher government, but on the other hand. Given that there is pressure from segments of business for rapid expansion of Heathrow and opposition in the Conservative heartlands of the Cotswolds to having a high-speed railway run through their arcadian idyll, it'll be interesting to see whether the government's (until now commendable) transport agenda does a U-turn.
And finally, meet the new Minister for Equality, Maria Miller:
Though, to be fair, the Racial and Religious Vilification Bill would have acted as an all-faiths blasphemy law, criminalising speech offensive to religious sensibilities and acting as a chilling effect on criticism of, say, misogyny or homophobia in religious garb, so one can't really criticise her for having a part in its well-deserved death.
New Age terrorists develop homeopathic bomb; terror alert level raised from "lilac" to "purple":
Homeopathic bombs are comprised of 99.9% water but contain the merest trace element of explosive. The solution is then repeatedly diluted so as to leave only the memory of the explosive in the water molecules. According to the laws of homeopathy, the more that the water is diluted, the more powerful the bomb becomes.
‘A homeopathic attack could bring entire cities to a standstill,’ said BBC Security Correspondent, Frank Gardner, ‘Large numbers of people could easily become convinced that they have been killed and hospitals would be unable to cope with the massive influx of the ‘walking suggestible’.’
An aide in Prince Charles's campaign to get homeopathy on the NHS has been arrested on suspicion of fraud and money laundering. Sadly, the fraud charges do not relate to the practice of selling water and claiming that it has medicinal properties, but to an irregularity in the accounts of Prince Charles' "Foundation for Integrated Health":
Edzard Ernst, professor of complementary medicine at Exeter University, last year described a detox tincture made by the prince's Duchy Originals company as "outright quackery". Profits from Duchy Originals have helped to fund the foundation. It has also received more than £1m in public funds, mainly from the Department of Health since its launch in 1993, and almost £3m from the Prince's Charities Foundation, which handles his personal giving.Given Prince Charles' willingness to use his clout to stamp his views on the country he was, constitutionally, born to rule over (such as, for example, by using his influence with Arabian royalty to get modernist architects sacked from development projects and replaced by Charles-approved purveyors of traditionalist kitsch), the prospect of the future king's influence diverting any money from Britain's health budget (which, as we know, is not bursting with cash) from, say, underequipped ambulances or cancer drugs to the pockets of hucksters and charlatans is a grim one to contemplate.
In the UK, homeopathy has, until now, been funded by the National Health Service. All of this may change soon, though; a parliamentary committee has delivered a scathing condemnation of homeopathy, and called for all NHS funding to be withdrawn and homeopathic practices to be subjected to the same licensing and regulation as actual effective medical treatments are.
This should come as no surprise to anyone who witnessed the almost farcical nature of the proceedings, with the elite of homeopathy mocked by their own testimony. Peter Fisher, director of the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital, spewed forth the sort of dialogue that wouldn't look out of place in a Terry Pratchett novel ... The select committee report has brutally inflicted the 21st, 20th and 19th centuries on this 18th century magic ritual, and under inspection it has fallen apart.
Sadly, the criticism is likely to fall on deaf ears. Rather than take the opportunity to reassess their approach, homeopaths are filling blogs and tweets with dark imaginings of vast, Big Pharma-controlled conspiracies against their noble art, painting a vivid picture of the fantasy world that they appear to inhabit. Of course, as Peter Fisher's comments reveal, a grand conspiracy is not neccesary to discredit homeopathy. The most effective way to do that is simply to let a homeopath speak.The report is linked to from here, and doesn't mince words. Prince Charles, an avid supporter of fusty anachronisms including homeopathy, could not be reached for comment.
On 30 January, sceptics in the UK are planning to stage a mass overdose on homeopathic products in protest against the promotion of homeopathy as a remedy:
Sceptics and consumer rights activists will publicly swallow an entire bottle of homeopathic 'pillules' to demonstrate that these 'remedies', prepared according to a long-discredited 18th century ritual, are nothing but sugar pills.
The protest will raise public awareness about the reality of homeopathy, and put further pressure on Boots to live up to its responsibilites as the 'scientist on the high street' and stop selling treatments which do not work.
The Guardian invite people to put questions to alternative health product chain (or perhaps "snake oil peddlers") Neal's Yard Remedies, and get more than they probably bargained for:
"Influenza Ainsworth Homoeopathic Remedy": Your website sells this product. What evidence do you have that this product is of any benefit whatsoever? Did you know people die of flu?
Does your part in the MMR scare make you feel guilty? Do you feel bad when you think of the children who have suffered measles and possibly even had brain damage or died because of the scare which you promote?
Could you please explain how the 'correct homoeopathic remedy' is decided on and describe the qualifications of the people who make these decisions?
I'd also be grateful for a biological definition of 'healing energy' and an indication of where I can find the scientific evidence for its existence.
Finally, would Neal's Yard like to dispute the claim that they are using "sciencey" language in the wrong context to provide a smokescreen of credibility and, some would say unethically, lure people into purchasing "medicines" which are known by the company to be ineffective?
What is the ethical difference betweenThree pages into this, The Graun's moderator chimes in, announcing that Neal's Yard Remedies have decided that they won't be participating in this discussion. (They didn't give a reason; I'm guessing that all those peer-reviewed double-blind tests validating homeopathy are proving harder to track down than they anticipated.) Anyway, in lieu of their reply, here is a transcript of an 2008 interview with their "Medicines Director" Susan Curtis, arguing that their homeopathic "anti-malaria medicine" is legitimate despite the lack of any clinical tests.
a) company x selling "remedies" for which it has no empirical evidence of efficiency, and can lead to the death of adherents in extreme cases, and excusing it with anecdotal evidence from its customers, and
b) company y selling tobacco products, which can lead to severe health problems, challenging any empirical evidence of harm, and justifying its self on the basis of the enjoyment of its customers?