Tuesday, 18 October 2005

Another gullible idiot

It is sad to hear that a cabinet minister has declared himself to be a “true convert” to homeopathy. Apparently his baby son’s eczema and asthma went away after he was given a homeopathic remedy and tight restrictions on the sort of food the child could eat.

The Lancet recently announced that homeopathy was no better than a placebo—as serious research has been indicating for years—but of course with a baby there is no placebo effect. It would be interesting to know, though, how it was established that the improvement in the child’s condition was due to the remedy and not to the careful diet.
And the minister was Peter Hain, not a man noted for his keen analytical mind and sound judgement.

It was also reported that an increasing number of doctors are now recommending their patients to try homeopathic nostrums, though as usual with such news items no actual figures are given; happily my own GP is not among their number. Medical training is long, expensive and arduous; it would be a pity if many of those who undergo it end up profoundly superstitious and giving credence to the preposterous notions that seemed to make sense to Samuel Hahnemann two hundred years ago because he was justifiably distressed about bloodletting, leeching, purging, and other medical procedures of his day that did far more harm than good.

Unlike seventeenth-century medicines and procedures, homeopathic remedies rarely do much harm in themselves, mainly because they contain infinitesimally small amounts of active ingredients, but it does sometimes happen that seriously ill people are persuaded to take them and refuse medical treatment which could actually have cured them or even saved their lives. And millions of people spend their money on Hahnemann's useless magic potions.


OldHorsetailSnake said...

The "useless magic potions" and this piece are brilliant. Thanks much.

Minerva said...

Scary isn't it? This just confirms my most basic held belief that any kind of extremism is dangerous...