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.

Prof. Karl Lauterbach @Karl_Lauterbach

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.



9 Responses to Homeopathy in Germany: more bad news (in fact, it is good news!)

  • Congratulations. A fantastic win.

  • Good news, indeed.

    However, the Green Party in Baden-Wuerttemberg including my “special” friend Health Minister Manfred “Manne” Lucha will certainly resist in order not to scare away important manufacturers of homeopathic remedies in the state as well a strong green electorate with their alternative medicine bent.

  • Wow. Impressive stuff.

    We await the bleating and special pleading of the water-shakers.

  • The Health Minister should visit India to look at the status of homeopathy in that country. In addition to National Institute of Homeopathy (in Kolkata), there are more than 150 homeopathy medical schools, producing a few thousand homeopathy doctors a year with BHMS degrees, bachelor of homeopathic medicine and surgery. It takes 5.5 years of full-time studies to get this degree. There is a federal Minister of AYUSH to promote homeopathy’s growth and development. In the USA, the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (see Chapter II – DEFINITIONS in this Act) classifies all homeopathic medicines listed in HPUS as drugs. Homeopathy is both science-based and evidence-based. Tens of millions of people use homeopathy worldwide. Do a Google search and watch this amazing 30-minute BBC-TV documentary ” Q.E.D. on Homeopathy”. Like gravity never becomes obsolete. There are lots of trials to show that homeopathy works. Homeopathy treats the patient who has the disease and not his disease as in allopathy. Critics fail to see this major difference.

    • NOTHING of what you state render homeopathy effective

    • @Dhiru M. Nathwani

      The Health Minister should visit India to look at the status of homeopathy in that country.

      Yes, I know, it is an utter disgrace that the Indian government awards long-debunked quackery an official status as ‘healthcare’.
      Science-based doctors in India are pleading with the government that those quacks should at the very least not get the right to carry out operations or other treatments with inherent risks to patients:

      It takes 5.5 years of full-time studies to get this degree

      So what? I know homeopaths who practised and studied homeopathy for over 50 years, but still believe that you can treat symptoms with shaken water and sugar crumbs. Homeopathy is a form of Tooth Fairy Science: you can study it all your life without getting any wiser. The only skill that may improve during this time is the skill to deceive sick people.

      Homeopathy is both science-based and evidence-based.

      This is a lie.
      Please name one, JUST ONE homeopathic product over 6C dilution that shows consistent, repeatable effects in double-blind clinical tests. There is no such homeopathic product
      There are, on the other hand, literally thousands of pharmaceutical and even herbal products that DO show consistent, repeatable effects, both in test tubes and in humans.

      Homeopathy treats the patient who has the disease …

      This is a lie.
      All of homeopathy is 100% based on symptoms, and claims to treat symptoms – invariably failing, except for placebo effects.

      … not his disease as in allopathy.

      This is a lie.
      Real doctors, not homeopaths, are the ones who look further than just ‘symptoms’, and ask patients about things like stress, diet, lifestyle, habits (bad and good), and other possibly relevant things. They also order blood tests, scans and other diagnostic procedures – all these things if and when necessary.
      Homeopaths on the other hand just collect a silly list of what they call ‘symptoms’ (“gets worse with music“, yeah, right …), and then simply look up the particular homeopathic type of sugar crumbs (or shaken water) that is associated with as much of those ‘symptoms’ as possible. Not that it makes any difference, as all those homeopathic sugar crumbs are just that: sugar crumbs. Bit of a sweet taste, nothing else – and certainly not a medicine.

    • This is really very amusing.

      1) Popularity is not proof
      2) Neither is a fraudulent YouTube video

      There is not one single robust trial which demonstrates any evidence for homeopathy whatsoever.

  • News from Germany:
    The State Medical Association of Thuringia is the 14th of 17 medical associations to remove homeopathy from the medical training regulations.

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