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February 04, 2010


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Peter Risdon

"Both show that, far from weeding out bad products, a free market can allow them to thrive."

Yes, but this is a bit misleading. There's a concerted, tax payer-funded, DHS-driven, attempt to spread the use of quack medicine in the NHS.

It's not so much that the free market allows quackery to thrive, though it does, but more that people are drawn to quackery and it will appear and flourish under any system that consists of people. That is, under any system at all.


Coincidental to see this this morning. I'm married to a homoeopath but rarely take remedies (or any other medicines, being generally very well). I took one last night - admittedly not for malaria - and woke up feeling wonderful. The problem was completely gone. My first words were: "Why is Ben Goldacre such an idiot?"

Over the years, I have personally experienced a number of such over-night cures and seen quite a few homoeopathic 'miracles' performed. It's funny that, no matter how dramatic these effects may be, they will never be more than 'anecdotal'. No matter how much evidence exists in favour of the above-placebo effect of homoeopathy - and, contrary to the claims of increasingly vocal campaigners, the evidence is substantial - it will not be accepted by those whose prior philosophical committment to scientism leads them to begin with the conclusion "it *can't* work, therefore it *doesn't*" and then develop their thinking from there.

The rise and rise of pseudo-scepticism would be funny if it's intellectual and social consequences were not so dire.

Peter Risdon

"No matter how much evidence exists in favour of the above-placebo effect of homoeopathy..."

Would you consider adding some links to such evidence?


1. The main reason for the succes of homeopathy and other of the so called alternative therapies is the practice of medicine as it is today. Many people, after some experience with its practices and results, simply runs away from it.
Not long ago, I saw the presenter of a BBC program asking to a charlatan, and with the usual smirk, how many patients with cancer had he cured. I wonder if he has ever asked the same question to a doctor.

2. I enjoy your links very much and just not today. Do you know of any double blind test for chemotherapy? If so, I would be very thankful. If not, let's think why.


I didn't include links because I didn't want to insult anyone's intelligence by implying that they might not be able to research the subject for themselves and draw their own conclusions. As with every other subject, you have to sift the sources, identify ideological biases, etc.

The fury over homoeopathy appears primarily ideological. In the field of medicine, allopathy has been virtually deified, a massive cognitive blindspot having been allowed to occlude its serious failings. When some of these failings cannot but be acknowledged, they are invariably viewed almost entirely benignly.

Personally, I consider allopaths to be world-leaders in the mechanical aspects of human health; when it comes to surgical procedures or setting broken bones, I would trust allopathic practitioners above all others to fix the problem. For non-mechanical issues, I would avoid them like the plague.

A few links:






I think the lessons of quack medicine sales may be applicable to the beauty industry. Except that some products do what we want them to - until we're encouraged to want more visible results. Today's mascaras wars are typical.



I did read the article. It certainly makes short work of the BHA; if they did indeed behave as claimed, it is quite indefensible. What a club to place in the hands of the anti-homoeopathy crusaders! Personally, I would have hoped they could manage some minimum standards with regard to truth and proper representation of findings. Homoeopathy is not reducible to this institution, however.

I then read through the comments that followed, painful though it was. You'll notice that, in my original comment, I referred to 'scientism' and 'pseudo-scepticism'? You can see this in action everywhere these days: true believers rallying under the banner of something they call 'Science' (actually, philosophical materialism), their eyes lit with the justified certainty of knowledge as they crusade against error and zealously persecute the unbelievers. Was any faith ever more complete than theirs?

Homoeopathy provokes fury because it contradicts the basic tenets of philosophical materialism. A material effect from a non-material cause - nothing could invite more rage from those who know the true nature of things. Scientism simply will not stand for it; it alone has a monopoly upon the word 'quack' and it is not afraid to use it loudly and repeatedly.

Due to a large gap between scientistic orthodoxy and truth, many homoeopaths either deliberately conceal or do not reveal the real nature of their remedies. They are well aware that the material trace of the substance is long gone. For a materialist, this revelation is all they need to know about homoeopathy to dismiss it out of hand.

For me, the present campaign against homoeopathy is just a symbol, one among many, of what is happening on a wider scale. If the standards for harm (physical, social, moral, intellectual, financial) that are being brought to bear upon homoeopathy were to be applied even-handedly and, indeed, universally, it is allopathy that would be shot to pieces in seconds. [Allopathy - brought to you by scientism.]

Christy Redd

I've used homeopathy for a dozen years with wonderful success in treating serious, chronic illnesses such as neuropathy, acute illnesses like bronchitis, injuries and the pain and swelling from dental work. My experience with conventional medicine is that, in general, it does not heal but does cause its own pathologies. My friends and family have seen what homeopathy has done for me and tried it themselves. They were impressed with the results and told their friends who told their friends.......

The attacks on this healing system of medicine show only one thing: that these people's hidden motives and agendas (financial and ideological)don't serve the best interests of the people they are trying to influence.

David Morson

I am still using Homeopathic medicines and I am comfortable with it. I still think that Homeopathy is one of the best ways for treatment of diseases but it requires a bit more research.

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