Believers in homeopathy live in their own magic universe
Many of the negative responses to Grimes’s article evaded the central question and took the argument in a largely irrelevant direction. Again and again attention was drawn to the squalid activities of the major pharmaceutical companies: flogging unnecessary drugs, fixing prices, shelving unhelpful data. All this is worth saying. But none of it does anything to prove the efficacy of homeopathy.
Other fans of water diluted in water wondered (oh lord, not this again) whether we should put all our faith in Men in White Coats?
This is a favourite argument of apologists for alternative therapies. The implication is that (dark chord) “western medicine” – and evidence-based science in general – is a kind of priesthood that demands blind obedience from its lobotomised followers.
Confronted with evidence of repeated studies from the Men in White Coats, the homeopathy adherent will respond that it “works for me”.
That’s to say some ailment that was always likely to clear up anyway cleared up at about the same time the magic water was applied.
I bet if you’d severed something pink and sensitive in a threshing accident you wouldn’t be applying a homeopathic remedy. Huh? Huh? You’d be straight round to the Sacred Brothers of the White Coat.
See? I can use empty, facetious arguments just as enthusiastically as can the alternative medicine adherent.
Anyway, what’s worth noting here is the depressing embrace of medieval chaos and muddy thinking. A dismissal of the scientific method is a dismissal of basic logic. By all means question the rigour of any individual trial. Bad science is no science at all. But there remains only one reliable route to a worthwhile understanding of the universe: the acquisition of measurable evidence followed by the application of sound reason.
If you look out the window, see water falling from the sky and deduce that it’s raining, you are making a scientific observation. Several million such observations later you end up with the Large Hadron Collider, the Hubble space telescope and Grand Theft Auto IV.
There is no dispute. That class of logic also proves that homeopathy does not work beyond a placebo effect. If you choose to believe otherwise then – in the name of consistency – you might like to attribute air travel to sacred spirits and the internet to alien interlopers.
That is the magic universe you have decided to build for yourself.