Skeptics Overdose on Homeopathic Tablets

The Mersyside Skeptics Society, today arranged a demonstration of the complete ineffectiveness of homeopathic “remedies”, by assembling outside branches of the British pharmaceutical retailer Boots, and taking large quantities of homeopathic tablets.  The MSS said they were trying to show the scientific absurdity of homeopathy, and have asked Boots to stop selling such products.  Boots responded that they follow guidelines laid down by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society regarding the retail of alternative medicine.  I suppose it is not surprising that a retailer wants to take the opportunity to sell a product for which there is a demand, but given that, in the United Kingdom at least, people are told that for minor injuries and illnesses we should go to the pharmacist, the fact that the most familiar pharmacy here is actively pushing what amounts to a sugar tablet, as a real remedy, can be seen as wilful deception of the public.  After all it was only one week ago that Jim McCormick was arrested for selling what amounts to  a dowsing rod that detects bombs! In short retailers, especially those which the public perceive as being or having expertise in a given field, have a social responsibility to ensure that the products they sell do what they “say on the tin”. In fact they should also be bound by law to ensure that they are not an unwitting pawn in the deception of the public.

One of the more disturbing things about homeopathy in the UK is that between 2005 and 2008 the NHS, the UK’s health service, spent £12m on homeopathic “remedies” according to a freedom of information request by Channel Four. It is likely that this money was used to employ homeopaths in so called “super clinics”. Given that there is an absolute dearth of psychologists which NHS patients can see, it is unforgivable that a government charged with the well-being of its constituents, wastes valuable resources on a pseudo-science like homeopathy, instead of providing professionals that can actually help people. As I understand it, the decision to fund homeopathy comes from the desire to make the NHS into a more holistic health care system, and while this is a good idea, in-so-far-as people often can be helped in non-medical ways to deal with the mental aspects of being told one has serious health problems, it is ridiculous in the extreme to waste money on what amounts to a placebo.

Unsurprisingly, the homeopaths think that the MSS are conducting an “ill advised stunt”, even though the Society of Homeopaths said that they don’t expect the MSS members to suffer any ill effects!  This is a tacit admission by the Society of Homeopaths, that their “medicine” is nothing more than harmless/useless tablets.  That Paula Ross, the Society of Homeopaths chief executive, also said that the MSS were conducting an, “Ill advised” stunt, shows beyond doubt, that at least one of the members of this society knows that this action by the Mersyside Skeptics Society highlights the absolute stupidity of the very notion of homeopathy as a legitimate treatment.

I’d like to extend the hand of friendship to the Mersyside Skeptics Society, and lend the Rational Skeptics Society’s approval and support to their endeavour.

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