As we all know, homeopathy was invented in Germany, and the Germans have always been very fond of it. Perhaps this is the explanation why there has been so little criticism of homeopathy in this country.
But this situation seems to be changing as we speak. Our initiative ‘INFORMATIONS NETZWERK HOMOEOPATHIE’ had an unprecedented response, for instance, in the German press. Even the German ‘Heilpraktiker’ (German alternative practitioner) have deemed it necessary to defend their favourite therapy against our arguments.
On their website they published a press release in response to our activities. Here they recycled an argument which is as old as it is fallacious. Nevertheless, it is surprisingly popular and therefore it is perhaps worth having a closer look at it. The fallacy goes something like this:
- conventional medicine is also largely unproven;
- but this does not bother anyone;
- only if an alternative medicine lacks evidence, the ‘ideologists’ of medicine kick a fuzz;
- nobody knows, for instance, how analgesics work;
- another example is Aspirin which was used much before, in the 1970s, scientists found out how it works;
- the list of such examples could be extended ad lib,
- so, insisting on sound evidence for homeopathy merely displays the double standards of a few weird ‘ideologists’.
(For those who read German, here is their original text: “Schulmedizinischen Methoden dagegen hat man mangelnde wissenschaftliche Belegbarkeit zum wiederholten Mal nachgesehen… Aber niemand weiß bis heute wie ein Betäubungsmittel wirklich funktioniert… Aspirin wurde über Jahrzehnte angewendet, obwohl erst im Jahr 1970 der Wirkmechanismus vollständig geklärt werden konnte. Die Liste der Beispiele ließe sich noch beliebig fortsetzen.)
Yes, many lay people (such as Heilpraktiker) are convinced by such nonsense.
I did say ‘nonsense’, so I better explain. Perhaps I can make this brief, merely using a few bullet points:
- true, not everything is proven in medicine, but we are working very hard on it, and we have made huge progress, both in terms of increasing our knowledge and (much more importantly) improving patient care;
- in homeopathy, we have made no progress whatsoever;
- critical thinkers kick a fuzz wherever the evidence is flimsy, regardless whether this is in alt med or in real med;
- we do know how analgesics work (perhaps Heilpraktiker don’t but that’s their problem);
- true, we did use Aspirin before its mode of action had been discovered (and a Nobel Prize was awarded for it);
- we would use any therapy without knowing how it works, regardless of its label;
- all that matters is whether it works;
- Aspirin was and is used because it works;
- homeopathy should NOT be used because it does not work.