Books, life the universe

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Why campaign against Homeopathy?

I've just read about this campaign: www.1023.org.uk

Apparently it is going to stage a mass 'overdose' outside Boots branches on 30 January to highlight how useless Homeopathy is. Why? What harm does it do to anyone if people believe in Homeopathy? Even if it only works as a placebo it is still not to be sneezed at since in drug trials a placebo often comes out quite well. What this campaign are basically saying is that other people shouldn't believe in it because they don't. They appear not to realise that Homeopaths will not try and treat you when they know you have something which needs conventional medicine and they will not tell you to throw out all your conventional drugs and just take Homeopathic remedies.

I'm sure Her Majesty the Queen will be duly impressed - and amused.

I find this sort of thing makes me very angry. How can you campaign against someone else's views? I don't like tattoos and body piercings but I wouldn't go and march up and down outside a business that sells these things. It is a matter of individual choice.

24 comments:

Marc said...

They appear not to realise that Homeopaths will not try and treat you when they know you have something which needs conventional medicine.

You clearly haven't come across prominent Homeopath Steve Scrutton who does his best to dissuade people from using modern medicine and that is where the real danger of homeopathy is, people use it instead of real medicine when they need treatment for serious conditions

Dr. Nancy Malik said...

Real (Homeopathic) medicine cures even when Conventional Allopathic Medicine (CAM) fails

Keir said...

Why campaign?

Well perhaps because homeopaths are making unsubstantiated claims about healthcare and medicine?

Not much of an issue if people just use it as a complimentary therapy - if they want to waste their money let them. But there are those who use it as an alternative to real medicine and this is dangerous and on occassion fatal.

Not to mention that, akin to Mathias Rath, homeopaths who have made their money in the western world are taking their "treatment" to Africa. Where they are reports that they are encourging people with HIV not to take ARV drugs and instead use homeopathy. In the abscence of evidence it works this is at best unethical and misguided and at worst malpractice and manslaughter.

There is also the dangerous example of homeopaths encouraging people to use homeopathic vaccines instead of actual medically active ones. Which is again dangerous and can prove fatal. Whatstheharm is a website worth seeking out.

Also the argument of live and let live has been mentioned a lot of late. One can only assume this is because it's predicated on the idea homeopathy is harmless. This is far from always the case.

I say that because it would truly be a ridiculous statement to say you can't care about this because other people believe in it. A position which no one can rationally or honestly hold.

Zeno said...

I'm confused. You say you've read about the 10:23 campaign, yet you obviously not read about the 10:23 campaign.

If you had read the 10:23 website, you'd have found these pages:

What's the harm

Why You Can't Trust Homeopathy

You might also like to read:

Homeopathy: there’s nothing in it. Part 1

Homeopathy: there’s nothing in it. Part 2

Sean said...

What's the harm? Although homeopathic remedies contain very small amounts of "active" ingredient (and often none at all), the harm comes from taking an inert remedy when you think you're being cured.

Google the words "Baby Gloria", or visit What's The Harm's homeopathy page for examples.

kcm said...

Pathetic. What happened to freedom of speech? Shouldn't people be entitled to believe whatever species of mumbo-jumbo they wish? And dose themselves however they choose (within the overall confines of the law)? Some will want conventional medicine, some homeopathy, some neither and some cannabis. Make your choice.

Then by all means express your opinion, for this is how progress is made (see paragraph 8 of my item on taboos). Just don't expect anyone else to necessarily agree with you.

Oh and a word of advice. Don't go ramming your predilections down other peoples' throats or obstructing people. If you have to resort to such tactics you've already lost the argument. And you get a bad press.

Louise Mclean said...

The public are not impressed with this obstruction to freedom of choice.

None of these skeptics and 'militant science lobby' have a CLUE about homeopathy and they certainly don't want to find out the truth about it. The have closed minds which is the opposite to scientific enquiry and experimentation. Pathetic really.

Their experiment is not going to prove anything because one pill is the same as a whole bottle, i.e. one dose.

The only way they will really feel the effect is to take one pill every half an hour till the bottle is finished and they won't get past about 4 or 5 doses without feeling the effects.

Homeopaths should be setting the experiment not ignoramuses.

Keir said...

@KCM
there is a retain irony inherent in invoking freedom of speech to suggest one group shouldn't say something.

Are skeptics not allowed freedom of speech? It's a nonsense line of argument in truth. Indeed it would only really make sense if you believed that upon hearing the magic words of science from the skeptics mouths everyone would somehow be compelled to believe them and act accordingly.

Expressing the scientific facts about homeopathy has no bearing on someone elses freedom of speech what-so-ever.

Also to the above commentator who called skeptics closed minded... Well I invite you to consider the meaning of close minded and I think you will find it does not mean "anyone who disagrees with my prejudices" but rather "someone who ignores evidence and fact that run contrary to their prejudices".

Time and again science proves homeopathy doesn't work... So I ask you who is closed minded? Those who make reference to the evidence and explore the issue or those who tie themselves in knots trying to explain why it works and ignore what science and evidence has to say on the subject?

If you take open minded to mean being open to things for which there is no evidence all well and good. But one should be careful not to be so open minded that ones brain falls out...

Cheer.

Marc said...

"Their experiment is not going to prove anything because one pill is the same as a whole bottle, i.e. one dose."

I have always wondered how that works in terms of reality, take as much as you want and it wont matter it will still only count as one dose, I can see that being true for a placebo (though it is known that 2 placebo pills are more effective than 1) but by what mechanism is that true for an active treatment. If people are willing to beleive that I would love to know why they beleive it

UK Expat said...

Louise, you stated:

"Homeopaths should be setting the experiment not ignoramuses."

Why aren't they? Surely the best response to this campaign would be one of your own, wouldn't it?

Isn't that what freedom of speech means? The right to disagree?

Also: I doubt you speak for the public. I'm sure they can make up their own minds.

Zeno said...

Louise said:

"The public are not impressed with this obstruction to freedom of choice."

Any what makes you think the public are not impressed?

"None of these skeptics and 'militant science lobby' have a CLUE about homeopathy"

What? Not one of us? And just how do you know that? And is 'militant science lobby' similar to the 'militant homeopathy lobby'?

"..and they certainly don't want to find out the truth about it."

Again, more ad hominems and a lot of guessing.

"The have closed minds which is the opposite to scientific enquiry and experimentation."

Ditto. And does this come from someone who possibly thinks that 'provings' are the ultimate in scientific experimentation?

"Pathetic really."

Says it all.

"Their experiment is not going to prove anything because one pill is the same as a whole bottle, i.e. one dose."

Yet more anti-science nonsense! Have there been any tests done to show that a whole bottle of sugar pills is just as ineffective as one sugar pill?

"The only way they will really feel the effect is to take one pill every half an hour till the bottle is finished and they won't get past about 4 or 5 doses without feeling the effects."

Thanks for the suggestion for the methodology. Did Hahnemann say this in his Organon? Or was this made up later?

"Homeopaths should be setting the experiment not ignoramuses."

Well, why aren't they? Despite 200 years of half-hearted trying, there is still no sound evidence for the effectiveness of homeopathy, other than anecdotes handed down from one homeopath to another.

How does it sit in the consciences of homeopaths: they are earning their living out of something for which there is no good scientific evidence? (And please try not to commit any further logical fallacies if you bother to reply: it doesn't help your argument one iota.)

UK Expat said...

To kcm:

(Disclaimer beforehand. I am not associated with 1023 but would champion their ideals.)

"What happened to freedom of speech? Shouldn't people be entitled to believe whatever species of mumbo-jumbo they wish?"

Certainly. 1023's beef, as I understand it, is that Boots (UK healthcare revenue 08-09 600 million GBP) should not profit from selling mumbo-jumbo packaged as medicine.

"And dose themselves however they choose (within the overall confines of the law)?"

I think the best response to that is to say "read up on herd immunity", although it is by no means a blanket response. I would also suggest that illness brings personal responsibility. If I suffer from a dangerous contagious illness but choose to take sugar pills and thus endanger others, then, no, my freedom to choose my medication should not be complete. (And yes, there are homeopthic remedies offered for e.g. typhoid).

"Then by all means express your opinion, for this is how progress is made (see paragraph 8 of my item on taboos). Just don't expect anyone else to necessarily agree with you."

Entirely agree. This is what 1023 is doing.

"Oh and a word of advice. Don't go ramming your predilections down other peoples' throats or obstructing people."

I have not seen 1023 engaging in either of the above activities. Nor - to their credit - has the homeopathic community engaged in any such action to date.

"If you have to resort to such tactics you've already lost the argument. And you get a bad press."

Quite agree. This is what happened to e.g. chiropractic.

So far, as said, neither 1023 nor the homeopathic community appear to be taking these routes.

eliza said...

"Homeopaths will not try and treat you when they know you have something which needs conventional medicine."
Why then was I advised by a homeopath to stop taking medication for a chronic condition? The same homeopath went on to describe the contraceptive pill as 'evil'.

I wasn't particularly averse to the idea of homeopathy until I went to see that homeopath. The NHS funds a lot of this stuff, you know.

eliza said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jilly said...

I'm intrigued that this post produced so many comments! I think it is very interesting also that so many people seem determined to try and influence me even though I didn't say I either believed or disbelieved. I merely thought the campaign was a little excessive and seemed to be trying with more than ordinary force to convince many people they are stupid for believing in something which according to many people could not possibly work.

Marc - The only Homeopath I have come across - who treated someone I know - was adamant he should not stop taking conventional medicine unless his doctor agreed.

zeno - I presume you are saying I haven't read the website because otherwise I would have been 100% convinced by the arguments put forward on it? Sorry but I don't believe everything I read however eloquently expressed.

Zeno said...

"zeno - I presume you are saying I haven't read the website because otherwise I would have been 100% convinced by the arguments put forward on it? Sorry but I don't believe everything I read however eloquently expressed."

No Jilly, that's not what I was saying. You said in the OP: "What harm does it do to anyone if people believe in Homeopathy?" One of the links I gave you to the 10:23 website gave reasons why belief in homeopathy causes harm. If you are not persuaded by those arguments, I'd be interested to know your reasons.

Keir said...

@Jilly

Providing someone with information so they can make an informed choice is not assuming they are stupid for believing.

It may assume they are ignorant of the information required to make an informed choice but ignorance /= stupidity.

Indeed in assuming that providing people with evidence will convinve people of the lack of benefits from homeopathy the campaign rather assumes the oppossite of what you suggest.

No one at 1023 thinks it's idiots who are using homeopathy.

Jilly said...

Zeno - I have read 'What harm does it do' and I still say people should be allowed to make up their own mind. I would assume that anyone contacting a Homeopath would also look at the alternatives in any case not just make a decision based on one piece of advice.

I think the argument which suggests Homeopaths gave the 'wrong' answer very much depends on your point of view. Allopathic medicine does not get it 100% right with malaria prevention or with vaccination in any case.

Again I would argue for the freedom of the individual. Anyone can consult their GP about any illness - but no one - including the law - forces them to take the advice or treatment given.

Marc said...

Jilly - I am glad teh Homeopath your freind went to see was good enough to advise her to continue seeing the doctor.

I was not trying to say that all homeopaths will advise against medicine, nor do i think that homeopathy should be completley banned. A placebo is a very good treatment for self limiting illness such as headaches and colds etc. The problem comes as I said with prominent homeopaths such as Mr Scrutton who tries to convince people that all modern medicine will do is cause them illness and death and that people should use homeopathy exclusivley.

The 1023 campaign is not attempting to ban homeopathy simply to highlight that it is a placebo treatment and should only ever be used as such as many people think homeopathy is simply herbal medicine not realising that any herbs used have been diluted out of it. The campaign agrees that people should be free to choose but to make that choice people must know exactly what they are choosing and this is not always the case with homeopathy.

I hope this does not come across as me trying to ram my view down yours or anyone elses throat I am simply trying to clarify my earlier post

Jilly said...

Marc - fair comment - the charlatans in any walk of life need to be exposed

kcm said...

@Keir ... please read again, very carefully what I wrote, and not what you think I wrote.

Zeno said...

Jilly said: "Zeno - I have read 'What harm does it do' and I still say people should be allowed to make up their own mind. I would assume that anyone contacting a Homeopath would also look at the alternatives in any case not just make a decision based on one piece of advice."

I'm glad we agree that people should make up their own minds! Who do you think is trying to stop people? The 10:23 campaign is about properly informing people so they can make up their own minds.

There will be many who, because they have been mis-informed, will go straight to a homeopath without looking at alternatives.

"I think the argument which suggests Homeopaths gave the 'wrong' answer very much depends on your point of view."

Can you give a specific example about the 'wrong' answer being dependent on your point of view?

"Allopathic medicine does not get it 100% right with malaria prevention or with vaccination in any case."

That's a straw man - of course proper medicine does not get it right 100% right, even with vaccinations. But that does not lend weight to any argument about the efficacy of homeopathy.

"Again I would argue for the freedom of the individual. Anyone can consult their GP about any illness - but no one - including the law - forces them to take the advice or treatment given."

I would also argue for the freedom of the individual. But people can make up their minds only if they are made aware of both sides of an argument and there is a lot of evidence that many homeopaths are, shall we say, somewhat biased against proper medicine and do not give unbiased advice.

Jilly said...

Zeno - what I object to is this new campaign assumes people who use Homeopathy are not in possession of all the information. You have no means of knowing whether they are or not.

I was not using Malaria as a straw man - just using the same topic which is used in the article. If it's not a straw man for the article how can it be for me to use it?

UK Expat said...

Jilly - two comments.

One: just because one approach to an issue is not 100% effective doesn't automatically qualify another approach. I would also be very wary of anyone claiming 100% efficacy for anything, in any field.

Two: You argue that the campaign "assumes people who use Homeopathy are not in possession of all the information". I would have thought that is an obvious conclusion.

As will be clear from my comments, I am not a rabid "allopathic denialist", but I do find it astounding that Boots purport to be selling homeopathic remedies over the counter, when any homeopath worth his or her salt - and especially any homeopath who gets results - would tell you that homeopathy is a holistic approach that treats the individual, not the current illness or condition.

How, then, can Boots defend their strategy of selling own-brand (note!) homeopathic remedies as if they were standard aspirin?

While 10:23 has other issues it addresses, I would have thought that homeopaths would at least recognise the validity of this point precisely because patients cannot be anything but ill-informed about homeopathy.

Whatever homeopathy is, it is not an exact science and it most certainly cannot be reduced to giving a prospective patient a leaflet and a little five-pound bottle of Nux vom. 30C.

From my perspective, in selling remedies with no consultation it is Boots who first called homeopaths charlatans, effectively lumping them in with "herbal medicine", which - unlike homeopathy - has a much less well-defined tradition of holistic patient treatment.