Homeopathy must be effective! It is used extensively throughout the world, not least India! If it were ineffective, as all these nasty sceptics insist, Indians would not use it in such large numbers.
How often have we heard this argument?
Take, for instance, statements from the ‘peer-reviewed’ literature such as this one: “At present, in India, homeopathy is the third most popular method of medical treatment after allopathy and Ayurveda. There are over 200,000 registered homeopathic doctors currently, with approximately 12,000 more being added every year.” Or take statements from UK homeopaths like this one: “It seems clear that homeopathy is there to stay in India. So next time you see or read some condescending and patronising rubbish about homeopathy in the media, know that in India, a country with a population of 1.2 billion people (that’s more than 20x the population of the UK) homeopathy is an integral part of the healthcare system and deeply respected by the people of that country.”
Yes, homeopaths have always loved to mislead the public with fallacies!
The appeal to popularity is, of course, a classic fallacy – but, in the case of homeopathy’s popularity in India, it is not just that; here is an intriguing aspect to the use of homeopathy in that country that shines a different light on the whole story.
Epidemiologists from Canada conducted semi-structured interviews of 175 Mumbai slum-based practitioners holding degrees in Ayurveda, homeopathy and Unani. Most providers gave multiple interviews. The researchers also observed 10 providers in clinical interactions, documenting clinical examinations, symptoms, history taking, prescriptions and diagnostic tests.
No practitioners exclusively used his or her system of training. The practice of biomedicine was frequent, with practitioners often using biomedical disease categories and diagnostics. The use of homeopathy was rare; only 4% of consultations with homeopaths resulted in the prescription of homeopathic remedies.
The authors concluded that important sources of health care in Mumbai’s slums, AYUSH physicians frequently use biomedical therapies and most refer patients with TB to chest physicians or the public sector. They are integral to TB care and control.
These data seem to suggest that the use of homeopathic remedies in India is far, far less than often claimed by apologists. Indian homeopaths seem to have much more sense than to use homeopathy for serious conditions. This is good news for Indian public health, in my view.
The story also shows how the ‘appeal to popularity’ is being misused for the promotion of homeopathy: not only is it based on poor logic but often also on false information.
Yet, according to official Indian Government figures, less than 7% of Indians use homeopathy.
Six per cent people treated by traditional medicine systems: Survey
‘90 per cent don’t trust Indian treatments’
Dear Ernst there is a very good paper in the prevention of scarlett fever by Belladonna available here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2789015/
The whole thing says it all. Extremely popular even among the most eminent clinicians of the era, until somebody really looked at the hard facts.
That’s a very interesting paper Thomas. Thank you for posting the link.
India is intriguing.
Various Indian regional departments do seem to occasionally put out reports claiming success in public medicine using homepathy and it has a national ministry of AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy) apparently promoted by the nationalistic BJP political party. The ministry of AYUSH includes a “Central Council for Research in Homoeopathy”
None the less, politicians do not determine matters of science or reality, as has been clearly seen in conservative political responses to global warming.
India is the source of papers such as this:
There’s a fair bit of tooth fairy science going on there.
You really love homeopathy Professor Ernst, because you never stop writing about it.
Demonstrating homeopathic levels of logic…
And you Alan. You are obsessed with it!
And you fail yet again to understand why I do what I do, despite it having been explained on many previous occasions.
more on this issue here: