Tag Archives: sceptics

Homeopathy = Placebo? Politics, politics, politics

Brits are very, very fearful of ridicule – most humans are, but the Brits are especially sensitive to it. For a Brit it ranks right up there at the top of things to avoid at all cost, and much of the population runs its life accordingly. And so we see everyone taking sides and hedging their bets on this issue. Homeopaths are by and large, thank goodness for humanity, immune to it. 200 years of swimming against the tide of closed minds has toughened them up.

The placebo effect is a hot topic in science.  Right now it allows a paternalistic Dr Goldacre to pronounce homeopaths well meaning but delusional – which is somehow nicer than homeopaths deliberately peddling sugar pills and ripping off the public.  It’s the hour long consultation with a caring attentive homeopath that’s responsible for the good effect – the people who see homeopaths are not really ill, and would have got better anyway.  Either way, the result is the same – however nicely it’s couched, it’s a misrepresentation of homeopathy.

The thing is, Dr G may be able to wax lyrical about the placebo effect – which given the cultural power vested in a man, (and occasionally) a woman, in a white coat with a stethoscope hanging round their neck, should be much more powerful in conventional medicine – but at the end of the day it’s all a distraction.

A typical Q and A session about homeopathy = the placebo effect goes something like this: Continue reading

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Evidence check – the committee meets the big wigs – clarifications all round

Monday saw the second round of oral submissions – though the name is a little misleading – it’s actually a question and answer session – no submissions that I could see.  It took the same format as the previous session (see blog on Nov 26th) with Rt Hon Mike O’Brien QC MP, Minister of State, Professor David Harper CBE, Chief Scientist, Department of Health, and Professor Kent Woods, Chief Executive, Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency in the hot seat.

Before opening the meeting, The Chair, felt the need to clarify what this committee’s remit actually is. I for one was glad to hear it, because in all the media furor since the last meeting, something had been lost in translation.
The Chair announced, “ I want to put it on record as there seems to be a little confusion about the nature of the work we’re doing.  This is not an enquiry into whether homeopathy works or not.  It’s an enquiry that follows a series of evidence checks across a number of government departments as to say whether in fact there was any evidence to support the government’s policy towards homeopathy.” Continue reading

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