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My response to Jenny Willott’s letter

July 5, 2011

Here’s what I’ve just sent to my MP Jenny Willot:-

 

I write in response to your letter dated 30th June in respect of EDM 1820. Your response is, at best, disappointing and, at worst, ill-informed. You say that you support the use of homeopathic treatments and believe that they help many people. This is a claim that is not supported by the available scientific evidence.

Firstly, consider the principles on which homeopathy is based – three “laws” invented by Samuel Hahnemann in the late 1700’s, a time which predates almost the entirety of modern medicine and much of science in general. These “laws” are works of fantasy, at best they can be described as unproven theories, unlike (for example) the law of gravity. That, despite many years of investigation, these “laws” remain unproven speaks volumes for their validity – nil. Homeopathists will try to claim that their remedies work because “water has a memory”. Sadly, this is a fantasy that has been disproven by stringent scientific investigation. For information on this I can recommend the websites of the Ten23 campaign (www.1023.org.uk) and Sense About Science (www.senseaboutscience.org). More bluntly, see

http://www.howdoeshomeopathywork.com/

or, even more bluntly,

 http://hellsnewsstand.blogspot.com/2009/04/we-have-posters-too.html

Seriously, if water has a memory, how does it forget about all the bad stuff it’s ever been in contact with? What if you make orange squash and then dilute it repeatedly? Does the orange squash become more “orangey” with each successive dilution? Of course not – it is, by its very nature, a ridiculous and preposterous notion.

When it comes to assessing the effectiveness of a therapeutic agent or technique, your belief (like mine) has no validity as it can so readily be distorted by the misinterpretation of chance findings and other observations – this is called “observer bias”. The most detailed study of the evidence for homeopathy was the meta-analysis published in “The Lancet” in 2005 by Shang et al “Are the clinical effects of homoeopathy placebo effects? Comparative study of placebo-controlled trials of homoeopathy and allopathy” The findings were conclusive – homeopathy offers no additional benefit to placebo. The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee in its Evidence Check 2 sums up the scientific evidence and makes four clear conclusions, as published at

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmselect/cmsctech/45/4506.htm

If homeopathists wish to conduct further research into this subject, they should not have the expectation of any public funding. As a taxpayer, I strongly object to public monies being used to support this nonsense. As a doctor, I feel it beggars belief that Members of Parliament who are charged with ensuring that the NHS provides the best available health care to the public can have any truck with this quackery. If homeopathy was harmless, maybe there would be less to be concerned about, but one only has to read about the tragic story of Penelope Dingle in Australia to understand why health professionals are so concerned about homeopathy and other forms of so-called alternative medicines:-

 http://www.news.com.au/national/poor-science-led-to-penelope-dingles-death-from-cancer/story-e6frfkvr-1225899300532

I can also recommend http://whatstheharm.net/homeopathy.html

 

 

 

 

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