Is The Tide High For Homeopathy?

by endlesspsych

By Keir Liddle

The House of Commons - there's no-one in it.

Today the House of Commons select committee: Evidence check two report was published by all accounts it is a damning report for homeopathy that highlights the lack of evidence for efficacy of homeopathic remedies and carries the following suggestion:

111. We conclude that placebos should not be routinely prescribed on the NHS. The funding of homeopathic hospitals – hospitals that specialise in the administration of placebos – should not continue, and the NHS doctors should not refer patients to homeopaths.

Which many folks today have been celebrating as a long overdue win for science and scepticism. Below is a list of some of the sceptical or science blogs relating to the Evidence check 2 report published today:

Gimpyblog: The Evidence Check on Homeopathy – a merciless punch to its vitalist organs (despite attempts to water down report)

DC’s IMPROBABLE SCIENCE :MPs urge government to stop NHS funding, and MHRA licensing, of homeopathy

The New Humanist: The end for state-funded homeopathy?

JDC’s Stuff and nonsense: Evidence: Government Policy and Homeopathy 

Ben Goldacres Bad Science: Parliamentary Sci Tech Committee on Homeopathy

Podblack cat: Recommendation – Homeopathy Gone From The NHS! #Evcheck

The quackometer : The Bleakest day for homeopathy

However despite much jubilation and air punching among the sceptical community and those who took part in the 1023 campaign those who support state funded magic water have not remained silent: Here is Princes Charles charity “The foundation for integrative health” on the matter.

They have left the patient out of their calculations, according to Dr Michael Dixon, medical director for the Prince’s Foundation for Integrate Health.

For patients suffering from long term disease, where no scientific, evidence based medicine can offer effective treatment, it does not matter how it works. What matters to them is whether they get better, whether pain and other symptoms are alleviated.

We can probably expect a lot more of this sort of thing over the next few days and weeks as the homeopaths rally to condemn and counteract the report with wave upon wave of anecdotal evidence of the form “homeopathy: it worked for me!”. Knowing fine well that scientific evidence and statistics are no real substitite for a good sob story and personal narrative. Indeed the FIH statement goes further and says:

‘We should not abandon patients we cannot help with conventional scientific medicine. If homeopathy is getting results for those patients, then of course we should continue to use it.

‘Science is a vital tool in healthcare, but so are compassion and caring and treating patients with dignity. It is not clear that the Committee took that into account.’

Already the proposal to end the unethical practice of treating patients with placebos instead of real medicine, from physicians or snake oil sales-folk who are either lying to them or who actually believe homeopathy to be a panacea, is compared to abandoning patients. There is also mention of “results” – but far be it from me to assume that this is anything more then a case of the FIH grasping for some form of respectability through the use of almost scientific sounding language – far from it indeed.

There also appears to be the employment of a false dichotomy: science versus patient centred care. There is no reason that taking a science based approach to medicine and demanding evidence that treatments actually works automatically makes a health practitioner some distant and detached figure more concerned with numbers than patients. Woosters often seem to forget that sceptics are people too. Furthermore is there not more dignity in being honest with someone about their medical treatment – does it not indicate more respect that you want your patients to receive treatments that work rather than dishing out sugar pills?

Where is the dignitiy in lying to your patients?

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