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The Broken Hut
Working my way up to a full-size building
Homeopathy: Liberal and Extreme 
29th-Sep-2007 12:41 am

On Professor David Colquhuon’s blog, there was a discussion about the closing of the Tunbridge Wells Homeopathy Hospital (I use that last word advisedly). This comment from Le Canard Noir struck some bells:

The real menace comes not from medical homeopaths, but from lay homeopaths, represented by the Society of Homeopaths, who are often dangerously deluded and a threat to peoples’ well being.

This seems remarkably like the view that moderate religious believers act as enablers for the extremists. They dare not criticise the extremists, no matter how distasteful they find their actions, because any criticism they use will necessarily be just as effective against them.

It’s the fact that these moderates still believe in physics and germ theory—rather than the ability of homeopathy to cure malaria, for example—which dampens their zealotry. The “lay” homeopaths who come into it without much in the way of scientific training are just believers, through and through. They have all the assurance of the creationists who blithely state that evolution breaks the second law of thermodynamics.

And the matter then becomes, as it is with religion—is a comforting belief useful to have around, or is it just too dangerous for a society to harbour any “official untruths”?

Comments 
29th-Sep-2007 03:45 am (UTC)
It appears to me that "official untruths" are the only ones that society is willing to tolerate...
3rd-Oct-2007 08:25 am (UTC)
“It’s the fact that these moderates still believe in physics and germ theory—rather than the ability of homeopathy to cure malaria, for example—which dampens their zealotry.”

It's a kind of “Homeopathy of the Gaps” approach - jump on the minor self-limiting problems which conventional medicine either can't do anything about or can't be bothered with but leave out the major stuff where conventional medicine clearly works and homeopathy's placebo effect is useless. I appreciate its utility in getting middle-class hypochondriacs to stop bothering their GPs but I still would like to see the answer in teaching people more about medicine not less, like this.
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