As mentioned previously, Nikil Mukerji and I recently published a paper entitled WHY HOMOEOPATHY IS PSEUDOSCIENCE (Synthese (2022) 200:394). Here is its abstract:
Homoeopathy is commonly recognised as pseudoscience. However, there is, to date, no systematic discussion that seeks to establish this view. In this paper, we try to fill this gap. We explain the nature of homoeopathy, discuss the notion of pseudoscience, and provide illustrative examples from the literature indicating why homoeopathy fits the
bill. Our argument contains a conceptual and an empirical part.
In the conceptual part, we introduce the premise that a doctrine qualifies as a pseudoscience if, firstly, its proponents claim scientific standing for it and, secondly, if they produce bullshit to defend it, such that, unlike science, it cannot be viewed as the most reliable knowledge on its topic. In the empirical part, we provide evidence that homoeopathy fulfils both criteria. The first is quickly established since homoeopaths often explicitly claim scientificity.
To establish the second, we dive into the pseudo-academic literature on homoeopathy to provide evidence of bullshit in the arguments of homoeopaths. Specifically, we show that they make bizarre ontological claims incompatible with natural science, illegitimately shift the burden of proof to sceptics, and mischaracterise, cherry-pick, and misreport the evidence. Furthermore, we demonstrate that they reject essential parts of established scientific methodology and use epistemically unfair strategies to immunize their doctrine against recalcitrant evidence.
To my BIG surprise, it impressed Karl Lauterbach, the German health minister, who even tweeted favorably about it.
Diese Studie von zwei ausgewiesenen Experten zum Thema #Homöopathie ist lesenswert. Zeigt noch einmal sehr klar: eine gefährliche Pseudowissenschaft.
(This paper on homeopathy by two renowned experts is worth reading. It shows once again very clearly: a dangerous pseudoscience)
Yesterday, it was reported that Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) wants to put the financing of homeopathic treatments by statutory health insurers to the test. “Although homeopathy is not significant in expenditure volume, it has no place in a science-based health policy,” Lauterbach told SPIEGEL. “That is why we will examine whether homeopathy can be removed as a statutory benefit.”
In addition to their standard statutory benefits, the health insurance funds offer so-called statutory benefits, which they use to attract customers. Many health insurers also offer homeopathic medicines, although there is no scientific evidence for their effectiveness beyond the placebo effect.
Lauterbach had repeatedly and sharply criticized this funding system as a member of the Bundestag. In 2019, he called for health insurers to be banned from co-financing homeopathy. Since his appointment to Minister of Health, however, Lauterbach has so far kept a low profile in this direction.
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