Thursday, January 28, 2010

Rational thoughts about homeopathy

I never cross-posted this from (the defunct group-blog) The Intrepid Aardvark, so here it is now (slightly edited).

The most excellent Leonie Joubert (a journalist and acclaimed author) had a great Mail & Guardian column about homeopathy a while back. Writes Joubert:
I've taken my share of homeopathic remedies over the years and have given the same assertion that most users do: "I tried it when I had x-y-z and I got better." Well, maybe the placebo effect was strong, or I was going to get better anyway (after all, illnesses either run their course or kill you). Personal anecdote isn't evidence of efficacy.

What's the harm in a bit of placebo effect, dressed up as a legitimate remedy? Britain's Royal Pharmaceutical Society agrees there's place for "harmless faith-based ­remedies". But when a cancer patient abandons chemo or a kid's eardrum ruptures because the infection didn't get treated with more than sugar pills, that's another matter. And my medical aid payments are subsidising another's sham treatment. That irks.
Also check out Leonie's blog. Oh, and I reviewed Leonie's book, Scorched, some time ago.

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