Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Why is Homeopathy under attack?

There is a new attack on homeopathy on the way. This is nothing new, perhaps, but it does raise the question 'Why?'.

The answer is relatively simple. So-called 'Quackbusters', and organisations like 'Sense about Science' speak for so-called 'scientific' medicine, based on Pharmaceutical drugs. They support hugely powerful vested interests, and they do so in the name of 'science'.

However, how scientific are they? Let us use an analogy to describe what they do. It is well known in the game of cricket that bowlers can get the cricket ball to 'swing' after it is bowled. Every cricketer knows this.

Good swing bowlers have learnt how to swing the ball, both ways, and use the technique to get batsmen out. A bad swing bowler would be someone who observed the swing, but stated that there was no scientific evidence to suggest why this should happen, and refuses to believe it could happen.

Good batsmen know that swing bowlers can swing the ball, and take this into account when playing the ball. A bad batsman would know that there is no scientific evidence to suggest that the ball will swing, and does not allow for it.

In a similar way, a good scientist is someone who observes the world, notices that for over 200 years people have got better after homeopathic treatment, and seeks to explain why this should be. A bad scientist, the denialists, like those in Sense and Science, just dismisses the evidence before their eyes.

Science, say the denialists, has no explanation that suggests homeopathy can work; therefore it cannot work, and does not work. Homeopathy is no more than placebo (even when animals are treated). Anyone who says that homeopathy has has worked for them are dismissed as deluded, or mad, or both.

Even when these denialists are presented with scientific evidence (and there is plenty of it), they dismiss it as 'inadequate' in some way. They ignore it. And they continue to repeat, ad nauseum - homeopathy does not work, because it cannot work.

Just ask the question. What if Newton, or Galileo, or Einstein had said this? We would have much less understanding of our world today. Good, perhaps, for the Pharmaceutical companies; bad for patients.