Tuesday, May 23, 2006

homeopathy still (finely diluted) bollocks

I love it when doctors talk like this:

We are a group of physicians and scientists who are concerned about ways in which unproven or disproved treatments are being encouraged for general use in the NHS. We would ask you to review practices in your own trust, and to join us in representing our concerns to the Department of Health because we want patients to benefit from the best treatments available.

There are two particular developments to which we would like to draw your attention. First, there is now overt promotion of homeopathy in parts of the NHS (including the NHS Direct website). It is an implausible treatment for which over a dozen systematic reviews have failed to produce convincing evidence of effectiveness.

The only thing I love more is when defenders of homeopathy respond like this:

Terry Cullen, chairman of the British Complementary Medicine Association, said the group's stance was "frustrating".

He said: "It's very frustrating that senior responsible people dismiss complementary medicine for the sole reason that it doesn't have the definitive scientific proof that other drugs have.

"There is so much anecdotal evidence that thousands of people gain benefit from using complementary medicines. We shouldn't dismiss that."

It's just so frustrating that scientists who are responsible for actually healing people keep relying on definitive scientific proof instead of vague, unscientific hearsay. It's just so annoying that they keep using that one argument again and again. If only there was another argument that wasn't so entirely compelling that they'd use instead.

For the record, science doesn't dismiss anecdotal evidence: quite a lot of work has been done (and continues to be done) to investigate such testimony. In fact, science is one of those 'observation based' disciplines - which is precisely why doctors know that homeopathy doesn't work.

(x-posted at the home ranch)

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