Sometimes paranoia is rational, sometimes they really are out to get you and sometimes you can prove it. But in situations like this you should ask yourself what it is you are hiding that you don’t want them to find out? This seems to be the position homeopaths in the UK now find themselves. Delusions of big pharma funded conspiracies of doctors ranged against the profession have long been prominent in their thinking, now it seems there may actually be an organised movement against them. The following excerpt is from an email posted to the Minutus mailing list:
Two months ago I accepted a position as research assistant to a London based office.
It has quickly become apparent that their sole remit is to discredit complementary medicine and the current focus is homeopathic education and the London Homeopathic Hospital.
In accordance with a very structured plan a bbc science correspondent has been hired to infiltrate homeopathic education. I am aware that he has been funded to attend a college in east anglia as an apparent homeopathic student. Last month he has been told to find fabricated reasons to move to another college. The college chosen for him to go to next has links to the Royal London Homeopathic hospital and he has been told to gain access to this hospital and to prepare articles to entirely discredit the treatment given there to pave the way for the hospitals closure. The new college chosen to receive this man is the biggest college and therefore when it is discredited and dragged down by this man and his articles the plan is that it will take all homeopathic education down with it.
Incidentally I saw part of his presented report on his present homeopathic college in east anglia and it is scathing of “magic black box sugar pills given to the vulnerable sick and dying”.
My reason for contacting you is that I feel an enormous debt to homeopathy and feel that this is an opportunity for me to give something back to homeopathy itself.
[...]I can only tell you to treat this with utmost care – the funding is very large and the people involved determined.
Now I have no knowledge of this investigation, I cannot confirm the veracity of the claims, it may be a spoof for all I know but the response from the homeopaths is telling. Remember this is a profession whose educational colleges and degree courses have been ruthlessly exposed as presenting a dangerously misinformed understanding of scientific and medical realities by David Colquhoun.
Karin Mont, Chair of the Alliance of Registered Homeopaths, would prefer that the public’s knowledge of homeopathy is carefully managed:
we need to be extra vigilant in all matters relating to how we communicate with the public.
while Fran Sheffield of the Australian Vaccination Network (AVN) is more critical:
Well, if this is true, and if there really is a college that is preparing standard remedies by radionics, it deserves to bite the dust for leaving the whole profession exposed, let alone the standards it is passing on to its students. There is no way responsible and respectful homeopathy can protect itself if associated with this practice.
And if this does result in a great deal of damage to homeopathy it won’t be the fault of the people involved in the sting but with the sloppy standards and behaviours engaged in by those who will do this because ‘it doesn’t matter’. It is like a decay within our profession.
It’s not so much the radionics that is the problem but the covert way they are used and the rationale (is there any rationale for standard remedies) behind a college that would do this with its students and a trusting public using its clinic. It’s about time this sort of thing did come out in the open and was weeded out.
And these comments are coming from someone who has no problem with radionically prepared remedies as a second best option when traditionally prepared ones are not available – just as long as everyone knows what is being done and the limitations involved.
Radionics is based on a belief that ‘energies’ can be tuned by a machine to remotely confer healing properties to an object or person. It does not have a scientific basis and does not work. Presumably this is the ‘magic black box’ referred to in the original email. Ms Sheffield clearly believes that such a process is less efficacious than banging a sequentially diluted solution, to the point at which no molecule of the original solution survives, 50 times against a leather bound board.
Those friends of homeopathy in high places should be concerned by the attitudes revealed in these responses. Ms Mont, who leads the second largest professional homeopathic body in the UK, is it seems dedicated to a culture of secrecy that is determined to keep the realities of a homeopathic education out of the public domain. The apparently more considered views of Ms Sheffield should be seen in the context of her belief that ‘responsible and respectful’ homeopathy is defined as telling the public that vaccines cause autism and homeopathy can protect against the lethal diseases of childhood, from diptheria to whooping cough. Ms Sheffield is more concerned with ideological point scoring, there is ongoing debate with radionics vs succussion in the community, than actually examining the perception of homeopathy in public and its related problems.
However, assuming the veracity of the email, it is not just the behaviour of homeopaths themselves that is concerning, it is that their supporters are prepared to leak information to them and are in a position to do so. One imagines that conspiracies are undertaken with a relative degree of secrecy, so having them leaked is unfortunate. I am not bothered about the success or failure of any BBC report, rather that supporters of homeopathy seem to be present in organisations combating alternative medicine, whether mysterious London based offices, or the BBC. My concerns are not those answerable by McCarthyesque interviews, but that despite all the exposes, scandals and reports into homeopathy it still has supporters willing to risk their jobs for the cause. It seems the concerted efforts of the 10:23 campaign, bloggers, Ben Goldacre and the Science and Technology Committee have failed to quell the passion some feel for a well shaken sugar pill.
This then raises questions about the best ways to deal with a profession whose beliefs are dangerously wrong. I have a lot of tolerance for people who hold views at odds with the evidence, I am sure facets of my own thinking could be described in this manner, but it is a problem when practiced by those with responsibility over others. In the case of homeopaths this is primarily their patients so is a matter for the regulators of the profession. It will be interesting to see if the new government offer any fresh thinking on this issue, the last government recommended regulation by the CNHC, something that split the homeopathic community. It will also be fascinating to see if any of the new crop of MPs are avid supporters of homeopathy and are prepared to attempt to water down regulatory options, if they are inclined this way then informing them about the response of homeopaths to investigations will be necessary. Perhaps this will occur through a BBC report, I look forward to finding out.
Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith