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!
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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!