Thu, 15/02/2007 – 17:25 — Markos
At the end of last November the UK Natural History Museum hosted a debate between Dr Peter Fisher, Clinical Director of the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital and Dr Ben Goldacre, medical writer and broadcaster, known for his “Bad Science” articles in the Guardian.
It’s also worth seeing for the discussion among many homeopaths after the debate. The star of the show has to be Fisher’s forensic deconstruction of the Shang et al, study on the basis of which the Lancet declared the “End of Homeopathy”. Making a strong argument that the study, which in the end only looked at 8 studies on homeopathy, was probably an exercise in data trawling for a predetermined outcome.
Ben Goldacre did not engage with the points raised on that questionable study but just kept repeating the sceptical party line that “Homeopathy is proven to be no better than placebo”. The results remain far from being so conclusive with one study slugging it out against another.
The sticking point mostly seems to be Homeopathy’s individualised approach to prescribing on patterns of symptoms. This is unsuccessfully shoehorned into the demands of the Conventional school’s generic approach of repeatable effectiveness of medicines versus specific conditions. This is what the double-blind placebo controlled test is predicated on. This is abstracted from the holistic context which is intrinsic to homeopathy. One person’s back pain may have different causes and contexts to another’s. While conventional medicine will prescribe the same drug for each one, a homeopath will take the bigger picture into consideration and may well prescribe different remedies for two ostensibly similar cases of back pain as a result. This is why outcome studies are more favourable to homeopathy than double-blind studies because they allow the latitude for the homeopaths to practice their art in individualising a remedy for the patient.
Good to see the debate aired across cyberspace, though and this video makes for interesting viewing.