There is nothing more likely to raise the hackles of any self-respecting rationalist than to be confronted with the latest celebrity story about the miraculous healing power of homeopathy or some other “alternative” or “complementary” quackery. Or, embarrassingly, to discover that some of your best friends are also devotees.
This isn’t a new bugbear in response to some kind of New Age, middle-class hippiedom. Charles Darwin wrote in a letter to a cousin:
You speak about Homeopathy; which is a subject which makes me more wrath, even than does Clair-voyance: clairvoyance so transcends belief, that one’s ordinary faculties are put out of question, but in Homeopathy common sense and common observation come into play, & both these must go to the Dogs, if the infinetesimal doses have any effect whatever
There is no serious scientific debate about the efficacy of homeopathy. It performs no better than placebo and is based on principles wholly at odds with established scientific understanding. Nevertheless, it whips up what might seem like a disproportionate amount of political controversy.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt (yes, the man in charge of UK national health policy) is a known sympathiser and got into hot water for allowing Prince Charles to lobby him about prescribing it on the NHS.
A newly appointed public health shadow minister, Luciana Berger, was “forced to renounce” previously positive views.
And earlier in 2013, Chief Scientist Mark Walport called homeopathy “nonsense”, while his predecessor, John Beddington, said that NHS spending on homeopathy was the only issue where ministers had “fundamentally ignored” his scientific advice. Sally Davis, England’s Chief Medical Officer, said thatthe taxpayers' £4m would be better spent on proven treatments as hospitals suffer painful cutbacks.
Written By: Nick Allum
continue to source article at theconversation.com