The Null Device

Parliament savages homeopathy

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a parliamentary committee has delivered a scathing condemnation of homeopathy, and called for all NHS funding to be withdrawn and homeopathic practices to be subjected to the same licensing and regulation as actual effective medical treatments are.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.

There are 3 comments on "Parliament savages homeopathy":

Posted by: Greg Thu Feb 25 01:44:02 2010

I broadly agree with taking down homeopathy, but I'm concerned it doesn't turn into scapegoating that allows other shonky practices to slip past unnoticed. The analogy one sees at the supermarket is: cigarettes with massive health warnings and taxes imposed, while the large array of other products detrimental to health (Coke, sweets, frozen meat dinners ...) get away scot-free because all the attention is on tobacco. There are lots of doubtful medical practices in both the 'alternative' and 'conventional' medical spheres. I won't list the 'alternative' ones because they are too obvious. Dodgy 'conventional' practices include over-prescription of antibiotics, pills for sadness and anxiety, and breast cancer screening programs (there are may others), all of which have clear medical evidence against them. Just my 2c - don't focus all the attention on one scapegoat.

Posted by: acb Thu Feb 25 03:34:49 2010

Do unhealthy foods get away scot-free, though? People are aware, for example, that a few decades of full English breakfasts will do one's heart in, and while some ignore this, they also ignore the risks of smoking. And while overprescription of antibiotics and psychoactive medication have sound arguments against them, they are abuses (even if sometimes overwhelmingly common ones) of scientifically verified (if flawed) technologies, whereas homeopathy is pure quackery. Of course, while people have a right to pay for placebos with added psychodrama (though they should be informed before they make their choices), having it paid for from limited public funds is unconscionable.

Posted by: gusset Thu Feb 25 09:42:39 2010

But if they were "informed before they make their choices" the placebo effect would no longer work. It relies on ignorance.

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