Hail Jeremy Hunt, the new minister for magic

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The fortunes of the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) are about to be transformed with the help of the magical waters of homeopathic medicine. Top marks to The Telegraph’s science writer Tom Chivers for quickly picking up on talk that the UK’s new health minister, Jeremy Hunt – who replaced Andrew Lansley yesterday in a government reshuffle – thinks that homeopathy works, and should be provided at public expense by the NHS.

 


Since news of his appointment emerged, senior scientists have spoken up. John Krebs, professor of zoology at the University of Oxford, said: “There is overwhelming evidence that homeopathic medicine is not effective. It would be a real blow for those who want medicine to be science-based if the secretary of state were to promote homeopathy because of his personal beliefs.”

Edzard Ernst, former director of complementary medicine at the University of Exeter, UK, added: “To praise the positive contribution of homeopathy to the NHS does not bode well for the new person in charge of UK healthcare. One can only hope that with the reality of the new job, there will be a more rational insight in the actual evidence on this topic.”

How did Hunt’s views on homeopathy emerge? Firstly, he signed a parliamentary document called an Early Day Motion back in 2007, supporting the provision of homeopathic medicine by the NHS. Such motions are used routinely as barometers of parliamentary interest in issues – in this case, spending public money on treating people with aqueous solutions so diluted that they no longer contain a trace of the supposedly active ingredients they began with.

Written By: Andy Coghlan
continue to source article at newscientist.com

41 COMMENTS

  1. It’s interesting to see how debunking of homeopathy fails so systematically and consistently in every country.

    You still get the same amount of positive articles in magazines, newspapers and TV about homeopathy as if exactly zero debunking happened.

    I guess you either have the power of global media on par with News Corp or you don’t..

  2. In the Netherlands there is a very good organization called http://www.kwakzalverij.nl/ who fights against this. Because this nonsense is indeed in our government, universities and healthcare.
    In the Netherlands a lot of “care” done by these charlatans is tax free because there is no distinction in the law between science-based medicine and fake medicine. :-) They are going to change that luckily.

    I’m fine with placebo effects. :-) But they should tell people that it’s nothing more than that.
    Things like acupuncture have never been proven to do better than a placebo and still there are lots of people who thinks it really works. I’ve seen even real MD’s in white coats performing it.

  3. A family member is being urged by friends to consult a homeopathic professional.  I told my wife that homeopathy is garbage but she says that people swear by it.  Are there any reliable resources,  for the layman, that lay out the scientific case against homeopathy?

  4. In The Netherlands, as of July 1st, 2013, homeopathic potions and lotions can no longer claim to help against any ailment whatsoever. Mention of the targeted infliction is strictly forbidden. Not even a hint of notions such as ‘treatment’ or ‘cure’ is tolerated because it is considered false advertising. This is a huge step in terms of public awareness, in my opinion at least as big as ‘smoking kills’ warnings on cigarette packages. Indeed I probably feel as strongly about abolishing homeopathic witchcraft as I do about abolishing tobacco (though perhaps with a slightly more realistic chance of success), because its inclination to encourage medical neglect is intrinsic to homeopathy.

    Hunt’s appointment is an unexpected blow to any critical thinker’s hope for an imminent reasoned society.

  5. We keep finding science duffers have been elected to the UK parliament!

    This clown was the previous one promoting pseudo-medicine:

     
    David Tredinnick MP’s Early Day Motion supporting homeopathy

    Tue 22 Jun 2010 16:06 •

    Around the web,ethics,health,politics

    David Tredinnick MP,  an ardent supporter of “alternative” remedies and astrology
    over many years, has a new Early Day Motion before parliament,
    proposing to give the British Medical Association a telling off for
    talking about the lack of evidence for homeopathy.

    That this House expresses concern at motions 301, 301a, 301b, 301c,
    301d, 301e and 301f at this year’s British Medical Association’s (BMA)
    Annual Representative Meeting, which calls for no further commissioning
    of, nor funding for, homeopathic remedies in the NHS; believes that the
    BMA has overstepped its remit by making such statements without proper
    consultation with its own membership that practice homeopathy and, more
    importantly, with the tens of thousands of patients who depend on
    homeopathy; thinks that an integrated NHS, which employs the best from
    the orthodox and complementary, and which empowers patients, could
    deliver better and more cost-effective outcomes at a time of financial
    prudence; and calls on the Government to maintain its policy of allowing
    decision-making on individual clinical interventions, including
    homeopathy, to remain in the hands of local NHS service providers and
    practitioners who are best placed to know their community’s needs.

    With the confidence of a genuine Dunning-Kruger muppet,  he put forward a motion “telling off”, the British Medical Association (The doctors’ professional body) for condemning homoeopathy.  (He was into astrology too)

    Why does politics have to attract prime idiots?  You could think it is just Tories backing cowboy businesses, but MPs from other parties supported his motion!

    Strangely, when I need medical treatment, I go to a doctor or a dentist, not an opinionated air-head politician – but then I’m just a prejudiced scientist who likes evidence that treatments actually work.  I also get my water from the tap, at substantially less cost than homoeopathic potions.

    David Tredinnick -  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D

    He contested Cardiff South and Penarth in 1983. He was once a Parliamentary Private Secretary, but was forced to resign and was suspended for 20 days [1] after he was found to have accepted a £1000 bribe to ask questions in Parliament, popularly known as the Cash for Questions affair.[2] He has been a Member of Parliament for over 20 years making him one of the most long standing MPs.

    Support for complementary and alternative medicine

    He is a supporter of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). He has made supportive comments in Parliament on homeopathy,[3] despite continued lack of evidence of its effectiveness.[4][5][6] He has supported chiropractic and mentioned the influence of the Moon on blood clotting.[7]
    In this same debate he characterised scientists as “racially prejudiced”.[7] He has tabled several early day motions in support of homeopathy’s continued funding on the National Health Service.[8]
    Tredinnick’s views continue to cause amused disbelief[9]in some quarters and a spokesman for the Royal College of Surgeons said they would “laugh their heads off” at the suggestion they could not operate at the full moon.

    So it looks like the homoeopaths could have found a new stooge to replace the one who “knew better” than the British Medical Association,  and  The Royal College of Surgeons!

  6. Water with memory is cheap.  It doesn’t need trial, it is as safe as tap water, no chance of being sued for the side effects of the medicine.  Longevity will decline, less pension money and geriatric health care will be needed.

    Looks like a tory game plan to me. 

    James Randi does a great debunk of homeopathy and the clips are available on you tube.

    If a doctor offers you homeopathy or acupuncture treat it the same way as if they offered you dianetics or black magic.  Report the bastard to the BMC.

  7. For the skinny on homeopathy try 
    http://www.1023.org.uk/ organised by the Merseyside Skeptics. 

    There has been a great deal going on over the last few years and the next couple of months as the rules regarding medicines are rationalised. Lets keep this fool informed, hopefully homeopathy’s days are numbered.

  8. Tim Minchin sums it up very neatly in ‘Storm’:
    It’s a miracle! Take physics and bin it!
    Water has memory!
    And while it’s memory of a long lost drop of onion juice is Infinite
    It somehow forgets all the poo it’s had in it!

  9.  

    Metamag
    It’s interesting to see how debunking of homeopathy fails so systematically and consistently in every country.

    You still get the same amount of positive articles in magazines,
    newspapers and TV about homeopathy as if exactly zero debunking
    happened.

    Of course you do!  Since when did honesty or facts matter to the media when money-making scams provide a wealth of advertising revenue?

  10. I was ill one night lying awake in the dark when some creature with many arms attacked my face. It was my mother with a handful of beet leaves hoping to improve my vision. I wonder beet leaves too could be covered.  How many people do you need to say they work (without providing evidence) before they get covered? Or is it based on contributions?

  11. A majority of people somewhere voted for him. How can we expect sanity to prevail if we vote for stupidity?

    My eyes were opened to the futility of trying to change these people’s mind by the recent article showing how the more you show people they’re wrong, the harder they stick to irrational beliefs:

    http://richarddawkins.net/news… 

  12. The problem with full disclosure of the use of placebos is that it self evidently negates the effect. This may be an example of why a fake medicine based on mass delusion can in some ways be beneficial. 

    BTW I’ve read somewhere that the wearing of a white coat by the clinician has been shown to increase the efficacy of treatments, both real and placebo. No doubt a dangling stethoscope would help too.

    For the avoidance of doubt, I don’t want any non science based medical treatment, but I am not sure I want to ban other from paying for it for themselves, with their own money.

  13. Any sympathy for homeopathy, for me, comes from a vague sense that it distils some of the technology we, as great apes, learned from the natural world en route to building the Large Hadron Collider. The briefest of looks at internet adverts on self-diagnosis health sites swiftly eliminates this idea. Let us hope that Jeremy Hunt keeps his brand of self-help to himself. It is many years since Keith Thomas wrote ‘Religion and the decline of magic’ it does not need to resurface at taxpayers’ expense in the corridors of the NHS.

  14. The important thing to remember is that it’s not only believers themselves who can suffer if they choose homeopathy rather than real medicine. They will do the same thing if their kids get ill.

  15.  I agree, if I speak out about homeopathy all I get back is “Well, placebo has been PROVEN to work, so there.” Along with Wokkie, I have absolutely no problem with placebo and am fascinated that it has been proven to work, but I don’t remember seeing in the definition of placebo where it says it must be extortionately priced. Is this part of the placebo effect, if it costs and arm and a leg it MUST work? There was an article on here not long ago showing the results of a person whose job it was to find out the benefits, if there were any, to all alternative medicines. The alternative medicine community thought they had found their champion to perform real research and exonerate their wacky ideas, but the results did not show what they had hoped. What it did show though, was which alternative medicines had any effect, negative or beneficial, however small, and which ones did absolutely nothing at all, please welcome to the stage… homeopathy! (clap clap)

    http://richarddawkins.net/news

    “But his problem has been that, for a wide range of treatments, including
    homeopathy, the evidence is overwhelmingly negative, non-existent, or
    at best, inconclusive.”

    I thought the placebo was for the patient, I didn’t realize the effect had to extend through the patient, past the doctor, all the way to the muppet bureaucrats that can’t buy their own office stationary at sensible prices. It’s disgusting they choose to spend vast amounts of public money that could be used to save lives or research a real treatment that does work on a placebo that costs a fortune. What really disappoints me though is that the supposed leaders of our country believe this crap works enough to make it available on the NHS, WHO ARE YOU AND WHY ARE YOU RUNNING MY COUNTRY?! I am rapidly losing faith in the ability of our leaders to make even one sensible fucking decision.

  16. The problem with homeopathy is that it is nothing more than faith-based medicine that would never stand up to any scientific scrutiny if our government thinks this is worthy of wasting a vital part of the NHS budget on then we need to know what is being given up to allow this waste of money to happen.

  17.  go out to a pharmacy, buy a big bottle of homeopathic sleeping pills.  Take the entire bottle in front of your wife, then have her call the poison control hotline and say that you just overdosed on homeopathic pills.

  18. What better criticism is there of our system of government than situations like this?

    The current British Cabinet, together with others attending are qualified to speak of scientific matters as follows :-

    Further Degrees :-

    Economics PhD (1)

    Degrees :-

    Philosophy, Politics & Economics [PPE] (7)
    Law (4)
    Economics (3)
    History (3)
    Modern History (2)
    Politics (1)
    Politics and Modern History (1)
    Archaeology & Anthropology (1)
    English (1)
    Geography (1)

    Higher National Certificates

    Business & Finance (1)

    In other words, they are every one of them amateurs, furthermore amateurs who are regarded within the available ministerial posts as interchangeable and given the power to overrule actual experts (like Professor Nutt).

    With the Chancellor of the Exchequer merely a Modern History graduate and the best qualified Economics graduate sidelined as Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills are we to believe that this government is capable of (or interested in) rational action? Quite obviously not.

  19. I was disturbed to find that my wife, visiting our local optometrist with a complaint of “dry eyes” had been given several trial-size packets of “homeopathic” eye drops. Several of the “active” ingredients were described as being present at “6X” concentration… a 10^-6 dilution. I will have to be complaining about this.
    Steve

  20. I have no doubt that homeopathy works as an extremely effective and cheap placebo, so it makes economic sense to use it as a non-toxic alternative . It has been said that about 75% of the modern drugs on the market are completely useless and offer nothing except dangerous side effects, and have achieved acceptance only through deceitful marketing and bribery, so the use of a completely safe placebo seems to make sense. But there is one downside; our intellectual integrity. If this is accepted by the mainstream, then it opens the door for all kinds of irrational magic fairy dust nonsense, and becomes a source of confusion rather than clarity, in a world in dire need of more clarity.

  21. go out to a pharmacy, buy a big bottle of homeopathic sleeping pills. Take the entire bottle in front of your wife, then have her call the poison control hotline and say that you just overdosed on homeopathic pills.

    But, given the homeopaths’ assertion that the higher the dilution the stronger the effect, surely the more pills you take the lower the effect. Therefore taking none at all is an overdose.

  22. Isn’t the first line of the Hippocratic oath something about ” do nothing to cause your patient any harm.”? 

    You could argue that homeopathy is more in keeping with this notion than some of the more acceptable invasive practices endorsed by modern medicine through the NHS? Sometimes doing nothing is preferable to doing something. Homeopathy is patently as useless as prayer and like prayer is (relatively) cheap and low energy consuming. OK if there is really something wrong it can hurt by neglect, but how many people consult a doctor when there is nothing much wrong with them, receive a toxic prescription and develop a real and serious condition?

    I wonder if there is a positive correlation between the effectiveness of a placebo and its cost?

  23. 75% of modern medicine is “useless”, well that must be why we are all living longer, surviving more and more serious diseases and the death rate for Coronary heart disease has halved in some populations (esp.middle aged men) over the last 30 years. We have not all started jogging and eating mostly salad in that time have we?
    The main problem with modern medicine is people taking them incorrectly, not taking them at all, confusing their tablets etc.etc. Doctors are well aware 1/2 to 1/3rd of what the Rx is not used properly hence the massive demands for medicine that is as simple to administer as possible.

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