Monday, 11 July 2011

Thanks, homeopaths!

..for providing me with the easiest blog-post ever. Here are my answers to this survey on the regulation of homeopathy (which contains not one molecule of balance, within bucket-loads of both leading and misleading questions).

Preamble: "Homeopathy as a profession is under attack from groups such as Sense about Science and groups such as the Nightingale Collaboration. This Research will gauge public opinion as to the amount of information that the public and prospective patients wish to be able to access from professionally Qualified Practitioners only."

(I would like to point out that I am not a member of either group, but of a group which would no doubt be considered similar. I still count my answers as part of 'public opinion'.)

1. "Do you know what Homeopathy is?" - Yes

2. "If you had a health concern, would you consider supplementing conventional medicine with alternative medicine such as Homeopathy?" - No

3. "Have you ever taken a Homeopathic Remedy?" - No
(I've drunk a lot of bottles of water, many of which were whacked about quite a bit beforehand, but none of them have the kind of price-tag which would indicate that they were intended as remedies for anything other than thirst.)

4. "Qualified Homeopaths are no longer permitted to explain how Homeopathy works or offer any evidence on their websites because of a ruling by the Advertising Standards Agency. Do you think Homeopaths should be allowed to explain how Homeopathy works?" - No. Homeopathy does not "work" (i.e. perform better than placebo). Any explanation of how "qualified homeopaths" may believe it works is therefore misleading.

5. "Qualified Homeopaths are no longer allowed to state which medical conditions they treat. If you visited a Homeopaths website, would you find it useful or not useful to know which conditions they can treat?" - Not useful. The number of conditions which can be treated by homeopathy is zero. Attempting to list them is a waste of time.

6. "Qualified Homeopaths are no longer allowed to give testimonials from genuine patients if those patients want to state that their health has improved as a result of homeopathy. (Testimonials means comments only from verifiable, genuine patients). Do you think testimonials giving details of improvement from genuine patients should be not allowed or allowed?" - Not allowed. There is no way of knowing from individual cases whether the improvement was due to the treatment given or any number of other factors. Personal anecdotes are not evidence that a treatment has worked.

7. "Why do you think Homeopaths are being treated in this way?" - Because they have so far failed to check properly whether their treatments actually work, relying instead on the good-will and hopes of their patients. If homeopathic remedies did indeed have provable physical effects, this lack of testing and accountability would be reckless. Luckily for their patients, there is no trace of active ingredients.