Griffith University Skeptics and Freethinkers

Experts debate homeopathy funding? A response:

In Homeopathy Awareness Week, Responses to the media, Science on May 26, 2010 at 8:37 AM

The following was written in response to the following article on the ABC science website in Australia:

In addition to the indirect Governmental funding through our health insurance industry, government funded training organisations Australia wide offer courses in Homeopathy and a range of other Alternative and Complimentary modalities(CAM), despite the overwhelming evidence compiled that indicates a lack of efficacy.

When Professor Kerryn Phelps is quoted as saying there are “bigger fish to fry” when it comes to fixing the healthcare system, who could disagree? But does that mean this problem should be ignored on the basis that there are other, bigger problems?

Professor Phelps goes on to say that homeopathy can be easily criticised because it has a relatively small evidence base. This is the very problem that Dr Harvey states, well that and the fact such demonstrably ineffective treatments are offered by insurance companies that are subsidised by our government.

I do not understand how Professor Phelps backs up her assertion that orthodox treatments are not subject to the same level of scrutiny, by quoting a study scrutinising orthodox treatments? Evidence based research is not just a requirement for complimentary and alternative treatments and it is absurd to suggest, as Professor Phelps does, that mainstream medicine is immune to the same process of research and validation.

Dr Vicki Kotsirilis suggestion that the major studies don’t take into account how Homeopathy is used, is another way of stating the often repeated excuse in the CAM field that scientific research tools such as the double blind test, are not applicable to ‘personalised’ treatments. This same line is used by psychic mediums as an Ad Hoc excuse for poor results.

The quote by Dr Kotsirilis “out of all the complementary medicines it is the least understood, with the least amount of research,” is strange. What remains to be understood is how trained medical professionals can still not recognise the placebo effect when it is clearly demonstrated across the research. Personally I do not understand how one could accept the foundational claims of homeopathy, namely that
• Extreme dilution increases potency.
• Like cures like.
• Water has a memory.

Plus millions, if not billions of dollars has been spent on researching homeopathy world wide and these ‘explanations’ for how it works can’t be demonstrated.

While I admire Professor Phelps, Dr Kotsirilis and the British Homeopathic Association’s goal of giving the public a choice in treatments, surely an informed choice based on the best available evidence is preferable. The obvious biases these parties hold are no excuse for the medical, ethical and legal consequences to misinforming patients about those options.

Otherwise why not just give everyone a placebo?

Jayson D Cooke


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