Oh, how I loves me an alt-med smackdown: at a meeting of the British Medical Association’s junior doctors, Dr. Tom Dolphin, deputy chairman, said:
Homeopathy is witchcraft. It is a disgrace that nestling between the National Hospital for Neurology and Great Ormond Street [in London] there is a National Hospital for Homeopathy which is paid for by the NHS [National Health Service].
Ha! I couldn’t have said it better myself. Despite what homeopaths say, homeopathy has been shown beyond any reasonable doubt to have no effect above that of a placebo. That won’t stop homeopaths from still claiming it works; they’ll use anecdotes, they’ll use evidence distorted and twisted into a Möbius strip, or they’ll simply make stuff up.
At best, belief in provably false things like homeopathy is a colossal waste of money, and at worst belief in homeopathy can kill you. That’s why skeptics are fighting the practice of homeopathy all over the world, from the UK to Australia.
And before you say, "Well, it’s just water so it does no harm, right?" I’ll remind you that people are then drinking plain old water instead of taking real medicine. That’s the real danger of homeopathy (and other alt-med nonsense). So unless the health problem you’re having is dehydration, taking homeopathic "remedies" does in fact do quite a bit of harm.
And that’s why I’m so happy that doctors and the government in the UK are being vocal about this nonsense. Sure, caveat emptor and all that, but when people — especially people with the veneer of a medical imprimatur — are pushing something we know doesn’t work to people who are sick or worried over a sick loved one, then it’s time to step in and do something.
Tip o’ the vial of plain old water to Digg.
Waterglass image from albertopveiga’s Flickr photostream, used under the Creative Commons license.