Friday, October 5, 2012

Homeopathy and Scotland's NHS: Eames vs. Liddle

here, I excerpt from a recent BBC article debating the NHS funding homeopathy in Scotland [see 001., below]; then, I link to North American naturopathy's claims about homeopathy, which I consider to be quite the falsehood and racket [see 002., below]:

001. in "Should the NHS Pay for Homeopathy?" (2012-10-05)[my comments are in unquoted bold]:

"[Steven Brocklehurst reports] NHS Lothian is considering whether it should continue to pay for homeopathy [...there are] those against [who] complain that it has no scientific backing [...yet] homeopathy has ardent supporters [...]";

ah, ye ol' journalistic balance.  But, these juxtaposed perspectives aren't balanced.  Anecdotes, no matter how plural, do not amount to scientific vetting and often are quite WRONG.  Of course, they could also be right.  The issue is, what does science tell us?

"detractors such as Keir Liddle [...] chair of the Edinburgh Skeptics, a society which promotes 'science, reason and independent thinking' [hear, hear; homepage here...] say homeopathy is 'against all the laws of physics and chemistry' because the initial ingredients are so diluted that all that is left is a 'memory' in the water [...]";

actually, this is quite a skewed version of what may be called a skeptical point of view.  A skeptic is not a detractor.  A skeptic merely asks for proof of a claim by way of EVIDENCE.  'Detractors of homeopathy' is much akin to stating 'detractors of the Tooth Fairy', anyway.  Anyway, yes, homeopathy has quite the plausibility problem, but I doubt that the skeptic in question claims that water has a memory.

"Liddle says homeopathy is 'not effective and not efficient [...] a substance with nothing in it [...and] it is unethical for a health care service to prescribe something they know is nothing better than a placebo because that means GPs are put in a position where they end up lying to patients, which is a position which is untenable ethically and morally [...] 'the treatments offered to patients in the health service should be evidence-based' [...]";


"the NHS Lothian Consultation Document [here...] says many clinical trials have been conducted to test whether homeopathic remedies are effective [...and] there was no evidence beyond a placebo effect [...] the British Medical Association [...] believes there should be no further NHS funding for homeopathy [...its] a treatment with 'no scientific evidence base to support its use' [...]";

hear, hear.  And that consultation document states specifically: "there is no substantial evidence to suggest that homeopathic treatments are clinically effective. Those studies cited by proponents are mostly poorly designed, based on small sample sizes and have unreliable outcome measures [...] clinical trials show that the response rate is similar to placebo i.e. these are people who would have got better anyway."  Aka 'regression to the mean'.

"the Faculty of Homeopathy says it is 'not accurate' to say there is no evidence for homeopathy. Sara Eames, president of the faculty, claims that the conclusions drawn from studies have been 'cherry-picked' by opponents and that there is evidence for the effectiveness of its treatments [...and] homeopathy is a safe, cost-effective alternative which can actually save the NHS money [...] Ms Eames [...] says the committee was 'not a scientific body [...] we didn't feel it was very fair or unbiased and it certainly has no scientific foundation' [...]";

wow, the 'cherry-picker Tooth-Fairy believer type' accusing others of cherry picking aka homeopathy's 'science at our convenience'.  I call 'bullshit'.

002. meanwhile, in North-America's naturopathy-land, we're told that homeopathy is quite the:

002.a. clinical science

like the great State of California [permanently archived here];

002.b. and powerful;

like the great State of Oregon.

Note: oh PLEASE somebody bring a class action suit against these clowns.
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