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2d07 – Should homeopathy be considered like any other medicine?

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Homeopathy is a method of treatment that is part of the so-called alternative medicine. In this debate Sebastian and Dirk basically agree that homeopathy is not scientifically proven nor a method they personally trust. Yet, Dirk is defending strongly the position that homeopathy still deserves a place in the selection of tools used by medicine.

Important: Neither Dirk nor Sebastian are trained medical professionals. Please do not take our debate as advice on the matter. If you don’t feel well, go and see a doctor!

 

Image Source: CC0, Pixabay

Episode Transcript

Dirk – Welcome, dear listeners, this is Dirk, one of your hosts to 2debate.net. Before we start with our real debate, allow me a little disclaimer upfront. Neither Sebastian nor I are trained medical professionals. Neither Sebastian nor I should be the advisors if you feel sick. So we’re going to debate the value of homeopathy and how much it should be trusted as a medicine. We exchanged arguments. If you find them convincing, that’s great. We would love to hear your opinion on these things. But if you feel sick, please do me a favor, don’t take our word for it: just go and see a doctor.

Dirk – Welcome to our latest edition of 2debate.net, our podcast of debates. I am Dirk, your host, and my co-host is Sebastian. Hi Sebastian, how are you doing?

Sebastian – I’m doing great and I just realized I never pronounced your name correctly. I should say Dirk. I say Dirk with an English accent, I guess. Dirk is your name and Sebastian is mine.

Dirk – OK I didn’t even notice, I’m so used to that no one knows how to write Dirk or Dirk or whatever.

Sebastian – What are going to debate on today?

Dirk – We will debate today on the following question: “homeopathy should be considered like any other medicine”. We flipped the coin prior to this recording so I’m having the pleasure of being for the motion, which is “homeopathy should be considered like any other medicine”. I’m also the one going first. Are you ready, Sebastian?

Sebastian – I am ready! Are you because you’re going to start with you two minutes?

Dirk – Always ready! Alright so let’s start then!

Voice – OK, let’s do this! Dirk goes first and argues for the motion.

Dirk – Let me first get this out of the way: I personally don’t believe in the pharmaceutical value of homeopathy. I think its core assumptions are unscientific and have been disputed over and over, so please, Sebastian, strike all the arguments that tell me that it’s just playing bunkers what homeopathy states off your list. While there is an active community trying to state differently, it’s actually hard to come by the fact that compared to other medical methods, homeopathy does not live up to the same standard. Still, I think it should be considered as a healing method like other treatments and my main reasons are two. First, there is one factor that is accepted as functional and homeopathy, the placebo effect. And the method itself is trusted and believed in by more than forty percent of patients, no matter how much education you try to push in the market. So this renders homeopathy like some other methods, fairly effective in situations where placebos are actually a valid treatment. And placebo is not just fake medicine, it’s something that really works, something that’s really proven in its effect. The second thing is the medical toolset contains plenty of tools that are not proven: chiropractics, osteopathy, acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine, herbal medicine. We are not disregarding those because there are people that feel that these methods help them. Medicine and healing is about what heals so it should be allowed. And I have one extra on top of that. You can look at medicine as more or less like a marketplace. It’s not as exact a science as people believe, and in those marketplaces, people demand things and those things are being served – and homeopathy is one of them.

Voice – Now it’s Sebastian’s turn. Let’s hear his argument.

Sebastian – Homeopathy: it’s a pseudoscience which means it isn’t a science. And the motion is “should we consider it as any other medicine”, and even if it were a medicine, it would certainly not be considered on the same level because there’s no proven evidence or no scientific evidence that it’s useful health-wise. So I certainly defend the motion that it should not be considered like any other medicine because it actually has no value whatsoever. In fact, when we talk about science, it is trying to say that you can replicate an experiment over and over again. And clearly there is no valid, serious study to show that homeopathy brings any valid, repeatable experiment, experience to patients that their health is improved. It’s a known scam. In most advanced countries, like the US, like Switzerland, like a bunch of other countries, the governments and the health authorities are withdrawing their support to that kind of “medicine” because it brings no value to patients. There are notable exceptions: in Germany, in France also, in the UK, they’re having doubts about whether it should be supported like an official medicine or like any other medicine. But you can bet and I’ll get back to the money aspect in my second part [of the speech], but there’s a lot of lobbies around this. It’s an industry: you make a lot of profit out of all the drugs and medicine, or so-called medicine, that you’re selling to patients. Thirdly, the thing is it’s not just denying, it’s not just placebo effect, it’s actually dangerous. It’s dangerous if you claim that this can help with life-threatening conditions, like HIV. The World Health Organization has specifically said not to rely on homeopathy. The problem is, it’s exactly what you’re saying, that many people still believe it’s useful, including for life-threatening diseases. So this is way beyond just saying it has no effect: it’s actually a danger so it should not only not be considered like any other medicine, it should be completely banned.

Voice – And now onto Dirk. Let’s hear his rebuttal.

Dirk – Yeah, so your final statement is something serious. Homeopathists, people who practice homeopathy, would agree with. So a healer practicing homeopathy, who doesn’t send you to a specialist when you have a broken leg or HIV or cancer, is someone who should have taken his license to heal. So that’s not considered serious healing practice. And there are institutes that tried to research homeopathy and make the statement that there are places for homeopathy as the right treatment and there are places where it’s the wrong treatment. Homeopathy is actually not just the medicine itself. I could completely agree with you if it’s just the sugar pills – but it’s a complete method of healing. It’s anamnesis where people seriously analyze what the not only your symptoms are but your life situation, your personal situation, your holistic field and your history of treatment, and your history of maybe diseases, and pains you have. And then they tailor the treatment to you. Now you might argue that this alone stops you from repeating the experiment; this alone makes it really hard to run a scientific experiment; and this alone may be the main reason why homeopathy has its success stories. Homeopathy sometimes heals people and especially people that feel like there is no other way of getting rid of their pain, for instance of their chronic pain patients or people that feel like they can sleep better with homeopathy. On top of that, I could say homeopathy, even with the fact that there is no real medical active substance in those treatments, may be a good way to treat things like sleep deprivation, like depression, like other conditions people can be in, by the mere fact that it is a potential treatment coming together with a method of healing. In the end, I would state that we need to have a conversation about what is paid for, what’s not, who’s paying what, what is really helping in what cases, and having a case-by-case discussion instead of just throwing it out of the window in its entirety just because we don’t believe in the core assumption.

Voice – Sebastian, let’s hear it!

Sebastian – The thing is with homeopathy, and I will come back to my various points, it’s also about money. And in some cases, it’s public money involved. And as everyone knows and you can look into the details, there’s not enough public money for the existing health systems, whether it’s NHS in the UK, Sécurité Sociale in France. So it should only go to proven cases, proven medicine that actually works. Homeopathy does not work. Unless you bring serious evidence that it does, then we can be consider it. Now, the UK and the government themselves say that it’s a waste of taxpayers money. Just like another debate, and I’m going to show how I am consistent from debate to debate, just like when I was saying it’s worth going to Mars [listen to debate #1], I was advocating the fact that it’s using private money so you can let them do whatever they want. Likewise, I am totally against public money going towards medicine or science or pseudo science because it’s not a science, or things that just not work. It’s a waste of money in general. Americans spent three billion dollars a year on remedies related to homeopathy. Besides having an unpronounceable name which is a reason for that word and that thing to be banned, you say it’s not only sugar pills but that’s the point. The point I was trying to make also that method of healing which by the way doesn’t do anything: that method is a problem because it derails the confidence that people have in the traditional medicine that actually works. And this is a key problem because we’re back to this topic again: we were talking about in our previous debate about election polls – people are not educated enough on statistics, on health matters. I don’t know anything about health! In fact, I freak out for two things: it is not understanding how my body works because I’m not a doctor myself, and car mechanics. I can’t trust the garages, sorry for the mechanics who listen to us but whenever I go to a different mechanic, they tell me something different because they can’t diagnose it the same way. So the thing is, we are not educated and will never be educated enough on health matters. So it’s very important that we set things right and not send conflicting and confusing messages. Because we just don’t know, we’re all a little bit hypochondriac: we think we have diseases. Or not savvy enough. Or generally we’re not critical enough. Look at all the fake news on Facebook for the election in the US. There was an article in the Washington Post showing how it was so easy to just fire people up on Facebook with completely erroneous data and fake news, which people could have guessed it was completely wrong but they just did not. Let’s not even talk about health matters here. And finally, there’s really poor quality studies around homeopathy. Again I’m quite dubious and skeptical, there could be lobbies involved considering it’s a three billion dollar market just in the US alone every year. So I’m particularly concerned about this. In fact, you raise the same point when you say the belief by patients, forty percent of the people think it has some value. That shows exactly my point: people are confused, people actually do not know that it has no proven evidence. It doesn’t mean that forty percent of the people think it’s useful that they are right. Just like election polls should be banned, let’s ban homeopathy and let’s start by banning the word because I can’t even pronounce it.

Voice – Final statements. Dirk goes first.

Dirk – To finish this up. Sebastian, I’m not actually debating with you whether or not homeopathy is medicine in the scientific sense or not; I’m not even debating with you if homeopathy per se can heal people. I’m debating with you if it should be considered like any other medicine and I believe it has a place in the spectrum and the tool set of things that we use to heal people. And if only for the mere fact that placebo is a measurable and real effect. Maybe also for the fact that there is a demand for that. Now I tend to agree with you that this should maybe be paid by private money and if you want to ban homeopathy, I would also argue let’s ban all the other semi-pseudo scientific methods like TCM and so on, with it in one swift move. Until we do that, I’m for the motion.

Voice – Sebastian.

Sebastian – Homeopathy should not be considered like any other medicine: it is not a science, not a medicine. In fact, I would dare say it’s exactly like religion which claims that creationism is the only interpretation of how life came on Earth. It’s exactly the same thing we’re talking about: religion is not on the same level as science which shows with evidence that we exist on this planet through a process of evolution. Likewise with medicine: you have established evidence so homeopathy cannot be on the same level, just like religions are not on the same level as science. Furthermore, yes, money should not be used from taxpayers money on something which does not work. And finally, it is dangerous. It’s not just placebo, oh it’s a nice thing, oh we’re going to inject you with the same things that produces the symptom of your illness. It actually doesn’t work,  it’s actually dangerous because it destroys people’s confidence in medicine that works over the years and over the years and will actually cure them.

Dirk – We did it.

Sebastian – We finally did it – so that’s it, we’re done with today’s debate. Thank you very much, Dirk. To you listeners, please let us know what you thought of the debate in the comments of our website or our Facebook group. Go to 2debate.net, you’ll have all things out there, don’t hesitate to let us know what additional arguments we could have used to make a stronger case either for or against the motion. We will review the feedback and we may talk about this in a later stage of our podcast. Thank you very much and stay tuned!

Dirk – Probably your list of arguments has been cut by half. Let’s hear it. The one thing that always makes me angry about homeopathy is that it trains you to just pop a pill for everything because why not.

Sebastian – Don’t make it too easy for me, just kidding. I really tried to make a case here. I am actually worried about this, you know, with this kind of debate which touches on health aspects that you’re going to convince people – because at the end of the day, we’re here to defend the motion but of course there’s one for, one again, and some people are going to listen and say “oh actually, you know, maybe Dirk is right”. And that’s actually my concern here: there’s an ethical aspect too. So I need to win on this one.

Dirk – There are clinics out there that give you homeopathic treatment, yes that’s the word…

Sebastian – pathetic I’m already joking enough. Let’s keep it serious.

Dirk – I couldn’t have defended with like “hey you know, there’s just, we just need more proof, it’s not the first scientific method that lacks proofs initially. If you do more research and there are actually studies that show…” because those studies are pretty much all flawed so…

Sebastian – I was actually pleasantly surprised you did not bring this stuff because I probably put too much emphasis on the low quality of the studies. Of everything I tried to dig up online and everything was converging towards that analysis that even if you had studies that were poorly made and I was surprised you actually didn’t bring this up. I actually think on my side I put too much emphasis on it. We actually did not care about it. You put the emphasis on other things which was again, it is what I was saying last week: that whatever think I’m going to defend, I’m going to try and make it as close as possible to me feeling good about it, as if I really had to defend it, because maybe I’m wrong on some things. Maybe not on this health aspect, but if you know that an argument may be really shaky, you may not be using it. I’m glad you agree with me, Dirk, it makes the case easier. We’re all against the motion!


Dr. Azrael Tod wrote: February 13, 2017 at 2:26 pm

ok, NOW you’ve got comments – awfully “long” after i’ve listened to that episode

so my big rant about “you are all idiots, the truth is obvious and i can’t understand how you could miss all the important points so hard” has cooled down to a slight “i’m no longer really sure what points you’ve spoken about and about what points you didn’t” – soooo… meh’

It’s probably better this way.

As far as I remember nobody of you claimed homeopathy should actually work. So that’s good so far. But there were a lot points i’d liked to have

So some of the things i think should be mentioned further (as stated before i’m no longer sure what you’d talked about and what not – so please excuse if this sounds redundant and all that has been mentioned):

* homoepathic stuff actually hurts people – they go to the pharmacy, to people they trust to sell them working medicine and they get stuff that doesn’t do anything.

* That’s no point for banning homeopathic staff completely – but it shouldn’t be sold in pharmacies (i.e. in germany pharmacys are actually banned from selling stuff that isn’t related to health – {link #1 below} – homeopathy seems fine though?) – Selling it by “trusted” specialists moves trust from those to homeopathy by association.

* If you want placebo-stuff, then go, buy placebo-stuff! Homeopathic stuff actually is way more expensive than ordinary sugar and it’s just economically stupid to buy that stuff while it’s chemically identical to cheaper stuff.

* people don’t understand what homeopathy actually means – they just mis-translate it as “herbal medicine” (really, i’ve tried to explain it to some people – mostly they didn’t believe me – “it can’t be that bogus – nobody would sell that!”)

Links:

{1} – selling sex-toys is now officially banned for german pharmacies because it’s not “health related” http://justillon.de/2017/01/apotheke-erotikspielzeug/

    Dirk wrote: February 13, 2017 at 2:51 pm

    Hi Dr. Azrael Tod!

    frankly, you’re spot on. Both of us agree with all your points.
    In fact, Sebastian made very similar arguments and I stated from the beginning that homeopathy has no pharmaceutical value.

    Yet, you said it yourself: Maybe selling homeopathy should not be illegal by itself. You suggest to ban it from pharmacies and we could certainly discuss that. Yet, pharmacies often do sell more than pure medical supply. They typical carry a broad range of health related products and it may be argued that homeopathy satisfies that category.
    Otherwise we’d need to also ban most of the bronchitis treatments, vitamins and medical tape as well…

    And as the question was if homeopathy should be considered like other forms of treatment one may argue that it is at least as legitimate as treatments like TCM, acupuncture or osteopathy. In the end it is one of several methodologies and everyone should be free to practice and chose.

    That said: I’d wish there would be no public money used to support homeopathy and I’m worried that there are so many doctors and medical professionals promoting it despite all the evidence that shows that it does not work.

    //D

      Dr. Azrael Tod wrote: February 13, 2017 at 3:15 pm

      @pharmacies

      well, my point at banning it from pharmacies is something like “there are 3 possiblities:
      * it’s proven to work
      * you allow anything in pharmacies
      * you don’t ban anything

      Since we ban some stuff (and if you want, you can make a pretty persuading point about how regular use of sex-toys could help your health in some areas, i.e. more sex enhances your sex drive, lowers risk of heart attacks, eases stress and is actually exercise) and don’t ban stuff thats obviously proven not to work – since that combination sounds ridiculous to me – i claim there’s something wrong

      > one may argue that it is at least as legitimate as treatments like TCM, acupuncture or osteopathy. In the end it is one of several methodologies and everyone should be free to practice and chose.

      I’m pretty strict here. If it’s proven to work – then it’s medicine. If it’s not then it’s nothing like that.

      You still are free to use stuff even while that’s not medicine. But we have people running around out there claiming it would heal people and people believe those claims because there’s nobody visibly disagreeing.

      False advertising is illegal for a reason in most countries. Calling homeopathy “medicine” is just that.

        Dirk wrote: February 13, 2017 at 4:15 pm

        Amen. 🙂

        Yet, I’m still not folding: Either you really crack down on all of it or you shouldn’t crack down on any. There are plenty of methods considered healing that are not proven methods. Go to a psychotherapist and you’ll find plenty of methods that are hardly proven yet there are people that claim that it helps (not disregarding psychotherapy here, just stating that some of their methods are hard to pin down by traditional medical standards). Look at how much half-knowledge is accepted in the field of nutrition and medical diets. (and it looks like the body of knowledge changes every few months).
        Hence my point is: If we accept all of it as an open field of competing ideas, then maybe homeopathy should be allowed to compete as well. And then let’s measure it by the same standard as all other methods.
        E.g. If we insist on selling homeopathy, then let’s make a prescription mandatory and let’s stop selling the stuff freely. Let’s enforce that doctors who prescribe such treatments have to justify it and let’s enforce a standardized listing in health insurance catalogues… What do you think?

          Dr. Azrael Tod wrote: February 14, 2017 at 12:59 pm

          > Hence my point is: If we accept all of it as an open field of competing ideas, then maybe homeopathy should be allowed to compete as well. And then let’s measure it by the same standard as all other methods.

          I’m all for that. But then we have 4 global groups of things.

          * proven to work
          * proven not to work
          * proven to be harmful
          * not tested enough

          So homoepathy clearly fits into the second category. And yes, i think we should treat everything in that category the same. It’s not medicine, it’s not poison – so you can buy it like you can do with any other kind of sugar.

          > E.g. If we insist on selling homeopathy, then let’s make a prescription mandatory and let’s stop selling the stuff freely. Let’s enforce that doctors who prescribe such treatments have to justify it and let’s enforce a standardized listing in health insurance catalogues… What do you think?

          What? Why? We have standards for food. Homeopathy has to adhere to those. Anything further would just be “proof” that it’s something different than that for people believing in it. Thus confusing people who don’t know better.

          Prescription is pretty well defined (at least in germany) – let’s just keep it that way. (i.e. anything that can be prescribed by doctors has to be payed for by health insurance – you clearly don’t want that with homeopathy)

          Dirk wrote: February 14, 2017 at 1:39 pm

          What I mean by “prescribing” is the formal recommendation given by doctors. I doubt that patients can tell the difference between a prescription in the regulatory sense and a simple suggestion printed on a paper when it is coming from a doctor. So I suggest that either it should be really made clear or maybe not allowed at all then…

Will wrote: February 1, 2017 at 1:15 am

You two should be ashamed of yourselves. Fake debate. Unedifying hype, disinformation, newspeak & codswallop. Disgusting.

A couple of pseudo-skeptics bouncing shallow uninformed anti-homeopathy propaganda off each other, in accord with narrow confirmation bias and Dunning-Kruger absurdities, replete with apriorism and straw men arguments. (Throwing in some other known techniques of propaganda on the way https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propaganda_techniques )

A few years ago, the Economist held a proper public debate “should alternative medicine be taught in medical schools?”.

It was a lively and informed debate (unlike your pathetic effort), and month after month the votes grew but remained at a good majority for “yes”.
It was probably the longest running economist debate ever. One might conjecture that the owners of the Economist did not want to close the debate with an affirmative answer, unacceptable to their advertisers and sponsors.

Then (with the vote still strongly ahead at “yes” but not closed), the Economist was sold on as a going concern. And, oh dear, the debate archive – with all its erudite arguments – vanished into 404. And the new owner has no interest in reviving it. Not even available in wayback archive.

And so the anti-homeopathy lies and liars continue with their fallacious arguments dressed up as cod science & would-be vox pop.

Homeopathy cures people the world over. It is beyond placebo effect, as many analyses have shown. To say “it doesn’t accord with science” is totally to misunderstand the nature of science.
I have no doubt that science will eventually accommodate the anomalous behaviour of high-dilutions, so long dismissed with a priori assumptions in place since the 1700s, yet already well proven with replicated actual hands-on experiments (Prof Chaplin at South Bank Uni has a large archive).

The anti-homeopathists may have the “best Science money can buy” at the moment, but scientists who genuinely study the phenomenon rather than dismissing it out of hand – the real scientists – are catching up.

The much-touted SRs that falsely claim it is unproven have mostly been conducted by rabid anti-homeopathy activists, and reach their conclusions only by bias and fixing the conditions (very precisely) to exclude the positive results.
See however R G Hahn 2013 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24200828
“These results challenged academics to perform alternative analyses that, to demonstrate the lack of effect, relied on extensive exclusion of studies, often to the degree that conclusions were based on only 5-10% of the material, or on virtual data”

So please, cut the BS.

– What do you call alternative medicine that can’t be patented or stolen?
– Banned medicine

    Dirk wrote: February 1, 2017 at 6:21 am

    @Will: This is clearly an emotional subject for you but may I ask you to remain civil as I don’t really see a reason to be ashamed of myself just because we apparently disagree.

    If you spend time researching the subject you discover quickly that most “evidence” is pretty flawed and that for most indications other – proven – treatments exist. On top of that it is a method that has been “discovered” by one person and offers no scientific explanation. Now, while that alone is no reason to ban it I would argue that at least we should not pay taxpayers money for it until we saw substantial prove. E.g. if homeopathic pills would be held up to the same standard as conventional medicine then most of it would not be sold in pharmacies these days.

    That said: We value your opinion but any more insults or personal attacks will be removed from the page.

    Gold wrote: February 1, 2017 at 8:28 pm

    Wow… So much vitriol. :/ Where to start, what to focus on…

    I’ll pick 2 things. One quote and one potential discussion point;

    One of my favorite bits from a 9 minute beat poem from Tim Minchin called Storm[1]…
    “By definition (I begin),
    alternative medicine (I continue)
    has either not been proved to work
    or been proved not to work.

    Do you know what they call alternative medicine that’s been proved to work?

    Medicine.”

    I love it because it’s correct and if someone tries to argue against the point they just come off looking like an idiot.

    The discussion point…

    I find it fascinating that people that start out arguing for an alternative to medicine in such a passionate way rarely argue against the points made. They will attack the person rather than the points. When this is pointed out they flail a bit but ultimately come back to attacking the person, the nature of science, the nature of reality, the nature of anecdotes… but very rarely to they ever address a specific point.

    Take Will’s post for example.

    First paragraph, blatant attack on the hosts. He calls it a “fake” debate when the hosts very clearly established their prior opinions from the outset. By referring to it this way he also demonstrates that he doesn’t understand the nature of competitive debating[2]. e.g. that, generally, it’s a competitive thing with the teams being assigned a side either for or against a proposition. Later he goes on to describe a “debate” in the Economist that sounded more like an article with an open poll and comments section.

    Will continues the personal attack referring to the hosts as “pseudo-skeptics”, which is a term that has, as far as we can tell, been invented by the proponents of alternatives to medicine to describe the pro-science crowd. Especially those of us that self identify as Skeptics.

    Will makes another common misrepresentation in referring to the pro-science group as “anti-homeopathy”. We’re not. If homeopathy was demonstrated to work we would be excited. It would open up multiple new branches of inquiry into biology, chemistry and physics and that would be *exciting*. We don’t even need to know the “how” of it. We need to establish *that* it works first.

    This leads us to another of Will’s points;
    Will refers to the “much-touted [Systematic Reviews] that falsely claim it is unproven” and claims they “reach their conclusions only by bias and fixing the conditions (very precisely) to exclude the positive results.”

    The purpose of systematic reviews is to take the body of evidence currently available, filter the research for quality and assess the general state of the research from the good quality research that gets past the filtering. The filtering does not exclude research based on the outcomes. It excludes research based on the quality of the methodology(adherence to the Scientific Method) and the power(how many subjects there were).

    It is not the pro-science crowds fault that when homeopathy research is filtered this way that any positive effect is reduced to the point of being no better than a placebo.

    For reference, there are some good quality studies that have shown a positive outcome for homeopathy. These are still outweighed by the evidence against it though. And when you get enough research the possibility of false positives increases.

    Regarding R G Hahn 2013;
    That paper is a case study in what happens if you relax the criteria for being included into a systematic review. In other words, if you accept poor quality research you can find a positive outcome for homeopathy.

    [1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HhGuXCuDb1U
    [2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Debate#Competitive_debating

      Dirk wrote: February 1, 2017 at 8:43 pm

      Thank you for the elaborate reply and the explanation!

Gold wrote: January 31, 2017 at 10:53 pm

4:42 There was another point where a list of countries that were withdrawing support for homeopathy was given. Switzerland was on that list.

I regret to inform you that Switzerland has jumped on the WooWoo wagon. In March last year[1] the interior ministry…

+++
The interior ministry has announced plans to give five complementary therapies including homeopathy the same status as conventional medicine.
+++

Homeopathy supporters have been pushing this a lot on social media since the announcement and pushing it as a win for Homeopathy. However, they don’t tend to read too much into things. If they had they would have found that the headlines don’t quite reflect the reality of the situation.

There was a caveat on this. What had actually happened was homeopathy was added to the list and list of treatments was essentially on trial. During the trial they had to prove their “efficacy, cost-effectiveness and suitability” by 2017.

We’re in 2017 now. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.

[1] http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/society/complementary-therapies_swiss-to-recognise-homeopathy-as-legitimate-medicine/42053830

    Dirk wrote: February 1, 2017 at 6:25 am

    @Gold: Thank you for these pointers!
    It is an interesting argument and I think Sebastian even used it that listing homeopathy side by side with other, proven treatments may even be seen as “false proof” to the method while it is actually not a proof for it’s effect but a mere license to be used at all.

Gold wrote: January 31, 2017 at 10:24 pm

[note: I’m aware this is a debate podcast and the players aren’t actually promoting homeopathy. I spend way too much time online “debating” actual supporters of this woo and thought it worth adding some context that may assist others when some of these points are raised in the real world.]

2:38 : The Placebo Effect

Regarding the point around the placebo effect; It is a real thing but only about 1/3rd of the population is susceptible to it and of them it only works about 1/3rd of the time. So that gives us about 11% of the population and it’s still a dice roll that anyone will be in that group each time you hope for it. One of the points raised was that

Around 11:13 there was the mention that about 40% of users think it has some value. Taking that into account with the rather small 11% of people that it works for (some of the time) we end up with an even smaller group.

Occam’s razor would point at confirmation bias.

The other important thing is the placebo effect doesn’t actually fix anything. It just gives the impression of being better while the body, if it can, sorts things out for itself. Another important thing about placebos is that they are supposed to be inert. They are not *supposed* to *do* anything. They are a tool to hide the fact that the research subject isn’t actually being treated.

So if we were to use the placebo effect as an explanation we are literally relying on doing nothing as the actual treatment.

    Dirk wrote: February 1, 2017 at 6:25 am

    @Gold: Thank you!


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