Blogpost: Should homeopathy be banned on the NHS?

A quickie about this poll: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/poll/2012/mar/19/homeopathy-banned-nhs

Prof Edzard Ernst has said that homeopathy should not be offered on the NHS.

Correct.

In a nutshell, it is an implausible modality which lacks robust scientific evidence to demonstrate:
A) that it works
B) how it works.

Application of Occam’s razor (still a valid tool in scientific deduction) suggests that it is nothing more than a highly ritualised placebo (see posts passim).

However, this poll in ‘Teh Grauniad’ has been worded (either accidentally or not) in a way to polarise opinion and push any undecided liberals (small ‘l’ – them who generally dislike banning of anything – myself included) in the direction of the ‘no’ button, and add to the popular fallacy/delusion amongst the altmed community that OMG THE SKEPTIKZ ARR FACISTS.

The wording Prof Ernst, should not be offered, is a much better way of posing the question, as it sticks to the heart of the matter without invoking any sort of totalitarianism amongst those that seek to only offer evidence-based treatment on the NHS.

I strongly believe that homeopathy should not be offered on the NHS, because it has not been conclusively demonstrated to work any better than a placebo. A cash-strapped NHS (whatever may become of it) should not be spending taxpayer’s money on stuff that does not work.

If people want to waste their own money on some of the most expensive sugar imaginable, that’s their own business.

Besides, this poll is nothing more than a “who can spread the word around their community fastest” competition, and irrespective if the outcome, is just an appeal to popularity.

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5 Responses to Blogpost: Should homeopathy be banned on the NHS?

  1. magufo says:

    Is Occam’s Razor scientific tool? Go argument, but for example there who do not obey the damn knife.

    While there are some alternatives that skeptics say are fascists. I have encountered much worse examples of some of the “skeptics”, like this:

    “If a homeopath dies, is due to natural selection”

    Such arguments, social darwinism style, are often used by critics of homeopathy and you say nothing. But that is, other examples are:

    “Irrational, stupid, charlatan, snake oil salesman, gullible, creyende in pseudoscience, Quack, …”

    And you are happy with appeal to the feelings and feel the victim:

    “and add to the popular fallacy / delusion amongst the community altmed That OMG THE ARR SKEPTIKZ FACISTS.”

    • xtaldave says:

      Again, you play the joke with a straight bat, feigning indignation and ignore the point of the post.

      Anyway…

      Irrational – intransigent belief in something for which there is insufficient evidence is not rational, therefore, irrational. I have no problem with this word being used to describe some homeopaths.

      Stupid – I don’t like using this word to describe people in general, and will only use it if stupidity has been conclusively demonstrated.

      Charlatan – is defined as “A person falsely claiming to have a special knowledge or skill; a fraud.” – I think this is an accurate description for those that practice homeopathy.

      Snake oil salesman – again, is defined as ” is somebody that sells an item that claims to have some miraculous powers.” – sugar pills that cure cancer/AIDS/Flu/etc fall into this category, so I don’t see why it should not apply to homeopaths.

      Gullible – “Easily persuaded to believe something” – this applies.

      Pseudoscience – yep – boot fits.

      Quack – same as Charlatan or Snake oil salesman.

      Magufo, I will not hesitate in using terms that accurately describe homeopaths and homeopathy to describe homeopaths or homeopathy.

      I think the natural selection comment is harsh and unfair, but the other words and phrases would seem to fit, apart from perhaps stupid. Belief in homeopathy does not necessarily make one stupid, just poorly informed or misguided.

  2. magufo says:

    No, Occam’s razor is not a tool of the scientific method. You confuse epistemology with the scientific method.
    In short: It’s the same philosophy of science than the strictly scientific method.

    * It must be said that Occam’s Razor if misused becomes a reductionist tool.

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