Monday, March 19, 2012

Sky news promoting woo woo

I unusually caught view of Sky news as I was eating breakfast this morning (normally we just have the radio on); there was a piece on the latest decision by the Government to drop NHS funding for homoeopathic drugs which was a little scary.

I'm totally in favour of adults being able to choose whatever medicine they like for themselves, however there are two caveats I would apply to that view, 1) people shouldn't be able to impose (scientifically) unproven medicine or alternative practices on children (even their own) and 2) the Government should not be using tax payers cash to fund unproven stuff like homoeopathy. In the Sky report the lady delivering the piece started off by saying that homoeopathy was scientifically unproven, but then went on to say that since homoeopaths thought that it worked she didn't see why it couldn't continue, i.e. just in case it did work (causing much nodding in the studio), no one gave the rational counter-arguments. I suspect this is a very common view and that's the problem isn't it; what objective yardstick does a society use to determine if something works or not and therefore whether or not to spend public money on it.

Should we base our decisions on the subjective view of a bunch of people who stand to benefit from a positive endorsement or should we use a separate objective way of determining the truth, i.e. science? The scary part is that people don't seem to understand this glaring distinction, no one on the rational side of this argument is trying to outlaw homoeopathy completely, we're simply saying that until it is proven using the yardstick that we use for everything else in medicine then public money should not be used to fund it, if supporters of these approaches felt like spending their ample profits from selling sugar pills on scientific studies showing them to be effective above and beyond simple placebo then we would listen, so come on homoeopaths, show us the money!

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