My opinion on Homeopathy’s Surprising Allies

Phil at AVPS has just blogged on the suprising allies of the homeopathy cause. They include three left-wing MPs John McDonnell, Alan Simpson and Jeremy Corbyn – but Phil has gone straight in there to ask why

have [they] joined forces with the Conservative member for moonbatshire to get the Parliamentary Science and Technology Committee to take another look at the “evidence” for homeopathy. What is wrong with these people? What possible motive could these otherwise well-respected socialists have for backing this quackery?

The EDM is as follows:

EDM 908 SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COMMITTEE REPORT ON HOMEOPATHY

23.02.2010

Tredinnick, David
That this House expresses concern at the conclusions of the Science and Technology Committee’s Report, Evidence Check on Homeopathy; notes that the Committee took only oral evidence from a limited number of witnesses, including known critics of homeopathy Tracy Brown, the Managing Director of Sense About Science, and journalist Dr Ben Goldacre, who have no expertise in the subject; believes that evidence should have been heard from primary care trusts that commission homeopathy, doctors who use it in a primary care setting, and other relevant organisations, such as the Society of Homeopaths, to provide balance; observes that the Committee did not consider evidence from abroad from countries such as France and Germany, where provision of homeopathy is far more widespread than in the UK, or from India, where it is part of the health service; regrets that the Committee ignored the 74 randomised controlled trials comparing homeopathy with placebo, of which 63 showed homeopathic treatments were effective, and that the Committee recommends no further research; further notes that 206 hon. Members signed Early Day Motion No. 1240 in support of NHS homeopathic hospitals in Session 2006-07; and calls on the Government to maintain its policy of allowing decision-making on individual clinical interventions, including homeopathy, to remain in the hands of local NHS service providers and practitioners who are best placed to know their community’s needs.

Source: http://edmi.parliament.uk/EDMi/EDMDetails.aspx?EDMID=40517

My thoughts on this, which I have voiced over at the AVPS website, is that since I can’t imagine John McDonnell et al support that shit, probably wouldn’t want taxpayers to pay for placebos, and I’d guess (out of congruence with their other pricniples) that they’d like to see libel reform, that there must be more to it.

It is possible, simply, that those three that stuck out for Phil wanted to hear more from PCT experts, just to have their backing and credability to back things up. With things like this, often the motion for and against does not sum up one person’s entire judgement, but they have to vote on whatever one is closest. For example, I am not for or against fox hunting, strictly speaking, I am for it being regulated on account of need, but against it being the bloodsport it has been turned into. If it was a case of for or against I wouldn’t have a clear platform, and would have to go with the closest of the two (I never thought I’d hear myself say this, but thank goodness for the Lib Dems who do have a third way on this, see Lembit Opik and the Middle Way Group, then Dave Semple’s article here – though I will add he has never been third way, and good on him).

This, I should imagine is what has happened here, or at least I hope so.

I saw Ben Goldacre give an incredible 15-minutes at a pub in victoria the other night, along with the excellent Dr Evan Harris (I’m not now being paid by the Lib Dems, I should add), and many more, where he was unscripted, huffing and puffing from being late, then dashing off like the vanishing mediator. I think David Tredinnick  has a loose tongue, he shouldn’t be so sure Goldacre is not an expert. Though, back to the point, it maybe has to do with PCT voices…just my guess/hope.

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4 Responses to My opinion on Homeopathy’s Surprising Allies

  1. Dave Semple says:

    I’ve seen Dr Harris speak on a number of occasions, about secularism and science, plus I keep an eye on his parliamentary contributions and I must agree he’s an excellent defender of Truth, Justice and mom’s apple pie etc. I disagree with him on the social role of science and democracy, but then that’s to be expected; he’s a Lib-Dem.

    • I’d like to hear more about your thoughts on science and society one day. But he certainly is a force to be reckoned with on secularism and science, he has a lot to say, as you can guess, on pseudoscience as well, which resonated with me, and indeed the whole audience, who were admittedly all there to hear from Simon Singh, but nonetheless. I’m sure given your expertise you’d be able to offer an Aristotelian perspective (for critique and criticism) as he was a Greek (home of demos) and a scientist (Stephen Fry thinks he’s still relevent in this field??), could you not?

      • Dave Semple says:

        I was lucky enough to be in Evan Harris’ constituency for long enough – he was a regular guest of the Oxford University Secular Society, which were my happiest days at university – getting pissed with libertarians and social democrats. What a terrible Marxist I am.

        But yeah, I’ll get around to writing something about science one day. A number of years ago I read from one end of JD Bernal to the other – some fascinating stuff especially on the dialectic.

      • I was very much into Anton Pannekoek – the Dutch astrologist and council marxist – when I was at uni, he wrote a paper on marx and Darwin that was the start to my intellectual journey – I had Dionysian fun with people who wouldn’t have known the difference between libertarianism and social democracy – who’s worse? I’m talking to a physicist doing an MA at Kings now, science is the topic of the day heh

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