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
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
I’ve read many more of the submissions now (see previous post) and here’s the thing….
The Neutrals identify the need for more research – the YESes welcome more research.
The NOs state that more research is a waste of time and money because “homeopathy doesn’t work” Q.E.D.
I’m reminded of a quote by Einstein: “Concepts, which have proved useful for ordering things, easily assume so great an authority over us, that we forget their terrestrial origin and accept them as unalterable facts. They then become labeled as ‘conceptual necessities,’ etc. The road of scientific progress is frequently blocked for long periods by such errors.” That block in the road is where we are right now.
We should be very grateful that researchers in history didn’t give up when their important advances in science were met with derision and ridicule and worse. Continue reading
Let’s hope the Science and Technology Committee read the written submissions sent in for the Evidence Check on Homeopathy. I am busy ploughing through them and interesting reading they make.
Is homeopathy effective? Does the Evidence support that?
Score: YES – 28 NO – 11 Neutral – 7
To be fair, 3 of the YES group are satisfied patients making a plea for keeping homeopathy within the NHS, and – as we are reminded daily by the NOs – anecdotal evidence, however much there is, whether new born babies, herds of cattle, comatose patients or people with intractable conditions not helped by 30 years of conventional medicine (no placebo effect there then) – does not count.
The remaining 25 in the YES group are well constructed, many of them one might say are academic, papers, fully referenced and carefully laying out the reasons for their conclusions. Continue reading
DESPITE THE FACT THAT THE EVIDENCE CHECK IS NOT FINISHED, NOR THE PARLIAMENTARY REPORT WRITTEN predictably the media is all over the oral submissions – having waited hungrily for the sound bites and gobbled them up, they’re now spitting them out all over the place…
Boots is on the carpet for selling medicines they ‘don’t believe work’ – pulling that carpet from under their retail sales, by informing the public that Boots is selling them nothing but ‘sugar pills’ at 5 quid a bottle.
So I have a question myself: WHY, Mr. Bennett? Continue reading
I had a dream not so long ago….and so did they…..
Once upon a time there was a group of materialists who worked hard day and night to bring their myopic vision of life, the universe and everything to the rest of humanity. Especially the UK. Many meetings in pubs, and conversions of journalists and politicians and young scientists and bloggers took place, and gradually they gained confidence and power and influence. One summer’s night they sat around feeling particularly smug, wondering about their next maneuver. Continue reading
Today I’m full of admiration for the British Government – all their Select Committee meetings are accessible from anywhere in the world via the internet. I just finished watching two hours of the committee charged with looking into the evidence for homeopathy, or the lack thereof. Continue reading