What will an MP swallow?

This is a follow-up to my MP in in answer to his letter to me supporting homeopathy on the NHS.

Dear Mr Kawczynski,

Thank you for your reply of 31 August to my letter to you about the Early Day Motion on homeopathy. I would like to comment on your reply.

I wrote specifically about homeopathy. Other forms of ‘complementary medicine’ raise their own specific issues, but homeopathy is something that the NHS should certainly not support.

Studies show that homeopathy is no more effective than a placebo (an inert pill or water disguised as a treatment). This is not surprising, as homeopathic remedies contain absolutely no active ingredient – they are placebos. It is certainly untrue that homeopathy can treat conditions that science-based medicine cannot.

Most homeopaths treat only conditions that get better by themselves. In that sense they do no harm. But money spent on homeopathy is money that would be better spent on treating people with serious conditions using the best known treatments. And homeopaths become dangerous when (as some do) they make the false claim that they can treat or offer protection from serious diseases such as malaria or AIDS.

Homeopaths like to try to imply that their remedies are ‘natural’ or ‘herbal’ remedies, but they are not. They are inert tablets or solutions created with a ritual that is based on late 18th century magical thinking, long before science discovered bacteria and viruses and identified the organic and molecular bases of disease.

Homeopaths also like to try to suggest that their ‘treatments’ are somehow outside the scope of testing. This ignores the fact that techniques such as randomised double-blind trials were invented precisely because there is no other reliable way of knowing whether a treatment is effective or not.

If you would like to get an idea of the extent to which homeopaths are mocking reason and deluding the public, please have a look at the catalogue of Helios, a major supplier of homeopathic ‘remedies’. There you will find about 12 pages of supposed remedies supposedly based on just about everything including Excrementum caninum (dog excrement). This is reminiscent of the witches in Macbeth, except that there is no way you could in reality distinguish between any of the remedies on the list. The catalogue is at: https://www.helios.co.uk/download/Remedy_File.pdf.

If you would like to see a more detailed criticism of the assertions in the Early Day Motion, I strongly recommend the full explanation with references at: http://apgaylard.wordpress.com/2007/09/27/homeopathic-motions/

I hope that this explains my concern. I am sorry to see that so many of our elected representatives are so badly informed about the matter. There seems to be a serious lack of understanding of science and medicine in the House of Commons. This is dangerous when so much of our society and economy depends on science and technology.

Yours sincerely,

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