Homeopathy has been criticised since it first emerged 200 years ago. First, people mocked its utter implausibility. More recently, critics have pointed out that, despite 200 years of research, there is no good evidence that highly diluted remedies are anything other than placebos. In some countries, this has led to a ban of the public reimbursement of homeopathy.
In its homeland, Germany, homeopathy had a relatively long free ride. Vocal opposition only emerged a few years ago. But now it has become effective, sales figures (in excess of half a billion Euros) have started to drop and understandably, the German homeopathy-lobby is on high alert. Their latest attempt to sway public opinion is most revealing (if you read German, I highly recommend reading it in full).
A group of pro-homeopathy organisations and individuals make a series of accusations that seem like the frantic nonsense uttered in pure desperation and panic. The aim is no longer to attempt informing the public; the aim has now degenerated into a vile defamation of the critics. Amongst other claims, the lobbyists defame the critics by claiming that:
- the current criticism of homeopathy is an expression of ‘ignorance’;
- critics are wilfully misleading the public by dishonestly publishing wrong information;
- critics monopolise their paradigm and that this amounts totalitarianism;
- critics are not prepared to enter into a productive discussion;
- critics merely follow a currently fashionable trend of arguing against homeopathy;
- critics misrepresent scientific facts;
- all of Prof Ernst’s homeopathy research is fraudulent (‘unserioes’);
- critics are dogmatic ideologists and totalitarians.
The lobbyists further claim that:
- leading universities in the US and elsewhere are on the side of homeopathy;
- homeopathy is not in conflict with the principles of evidence-based medicine;
- German law is on the side of homeopathy;
- medical pluralism which includes homeopathy is in the interest of the patient;
- only homeopaths are able to generate unbiased assessments of homeopathy;
- homeopathy is an important part of integrated medicine for the benefit of the patient;
- the Swiss example is something Germany should aim for;
- Robert Hahn’s analysis invalidated the research of critics;
- the Australian NHMRC-report is invalid;
- homeopathy is fully dedicated to science;
- placebos (such as homeopathic remedies?) are helpful interventions;
- across the globe, the view is now accepted that integrative medicine must become the basis for good healthcare;
- the German law forbids the authorities to regulate against homeopathy.
The arguments voiced here are by no means new; they have been voiced in every other country that has or is/was about to limit or abolish the public reimbursement of homeopathy. All they amount to, in fact, is a well-rehearsed, often-repeated and equally often refuted pack of lies and misleading statements. One has the impression of listening to a broken record.
Yet, many people will consider seriously what clearly is the last line of the defence of the indefensible, and they might ask themselves: who can we believe? For non-experts the confusion must be profound.
In all such cases, my advice is this: ask yourself who might be less motivated to mislead you, independent academics and sceptics with no ties to any industry, or the clinicians, their lobbyists and associations who all make their living via the multi-million industry of the SCAM in question?