Homeopaths Changing Stories

This, morning David Colquhoun was on the Radio 4 Today programme (listen again, 20 minutes in) making the charge that today’s Society of Homeopaths Symposium on AIDS was deeply irresponsible.

The whole story of what the homeopaths are up to at this symposium is a nonsense. They are claiming that the group will be examining the evidence for the role of homeopathy in treating AIDS. But there is one thing we can guarantee: the symposium will not present one shred of evidence, not one bit of data. It will give a platform to self-aggrandizing delusions, such a people who claim they can cure AIDS with tunes on he radio. The evidence is already in. Homeopathy is a placebo. It has no role in life threatening illnesses. It gets in the way. It is a massive distraction. They misrepresent real medicine and make up stories. The delusional beliefs of homeopaths represent a real threat to desperately ill people. Three million people died last year of Aids. The only evidence-based conclusion can be that homeopaths should stick to treating colds, bumps and bruises. Full stop.

Defending the indefensible was Jayne Thomas Vice Chair of the SoH and chair of the Professional Standards Committee and Professional Conduct Director. As an example of the inability of homeopaths to act responsibility, David gave the example of the unwillingness of the Society to do anything about homeopaths that offer Malaria ‘prevention’ sugar pills. If they cannot act responsibly over that, how can we trust them to be responsible about AIDS?

What was interesting, was that the Society story about Malaria has changed again. Recently, they have issued a couple of press releases saying that no homeopath was identified in the BBC Newsnight sting giving malaria advice, so no action could be taken. I have shown that to be a gross misrepresentation of the truth. Now, on Radio 4, Jayne Thomas is saying that only one of the ten homeopaths caught out was a member of their Society and that this member did not give bad advice. So, now they are contradicting their own press releases and introducing new inconsistencies.

They are now claiming that only one of the ten homeopaths was a member of the Society and that he did not give dangerous advice. Really? The largest Society representing homeopaths in Europe? Dominating the UK industry? This is misleading. The truth is that the investigation team gave one specimen transcript to the Society complaints department where the member was clearly identified on tape and clearly gave dangerous advice. That member was a Fellow of the Society. He was prepared to offer a consultation on the basis that homeopathy could be used as an alternative to proper protection. Nothing was done. Misinformation was rife. The Society never condemned the practice. How are we to believe they will be more responsible about AIDS?

The giveaway on all of this was in just one word. When Professor Colquhoun pointed out that homeopaths were handing out sugar pills for malaria prophylaxis. Jayne Thomas responded enthusiastically with one word, “Absolutely!” This appeared like nothing short of an enthusiastic endorsement of the practice.

Why we see no action being taken, why we see all this misinformation and ambiguous statements, is because they really believe that homeopathy can prevent malaria. Their directors offer such treatment. Fellows of the Society do. It looks like their Professional Standards Chair does. I can see nothing that leads me to think that they are more cautious about treating AIDS.

This makes non medically qualified practitioners of homeopathy, as represented by the Society of Homeopaths, systematically incompetent. It is ‘wishful, brutal stupidity‘. They cannot understand, or refuse to accept, the boundaries of what they do. They claim to want to regulate themselves. I am now convinced that this cannot be allowed to happen.

On this theme…

6 Comments on Homeopaths Changing Stories

  1. “When Professor Colquhoun pointed out that homeopaths were handing out sugar pills for malaria prophylaxis. Jayne Thomas responded enthusiastically with one word, “Absolutely!” This appeared like nothing short of an enthusiastic endorsement of the practice.”

    I’ve listened to that part of the interview several times. I hear her say “Absolutely!” as affirmation of Prof Colquhoun’s description of malaria as “a serious disease”.

    It would be interesting to know how other listeners heard/interpreted that section.

  2. You may well be right and that is a reasonable interpretation. It is difficult to tell what the motives were for the exclamation.

    What is beyond doubt is that the Society have never explicitly said that what these homeopaths were doing is wrong. And it is easy to show that many senior figures within SoH believe it to be ‘absolutely’ right. The fact that Jayne must have seen the transcripts and believes that no harm was being done would strongly suggest that she too thinks that taking sugar pills to prevent malaria is perfectly reasonable.

  3. Until you show REAL harm of homeopathic cure of malaria (and other dangerous diseases) you can’t stop homeopaths. You write that homeopathic cure of malaria is a killing. Show that it is really KILLING. Where is statistics of death cases? Show that those death cases are result of homeopathic practice. Your criticism remains idle talks until you show it. And homeopaths use this weak side of you and continue their black business. Your (our!) fight turns out useless.
    You know me. I am not quack. I am “on your side of barricades”. And when I say that “it is necessary to show”, I truly know that it is possible to show.

    • If a patient dies following homeopathic treatment, and they would have had a good chance of being saved by conventional medicine, doesn’t that count as evidence?

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