Came across this letter in North and South last night. Can a letter be hypocritical if the person writing it doesn’t realise they are being hypocritical? Or is it just ironic?
Margo White’s June column (Social Studies) was brilliant.The exposition of our innate tendency to believe whatever we want to believe despite evidence or lack thereof was superbly (but perhaps unwittingly) illustrated by the Skeptic Society’s dismissal of homeopathy. Despite so much scientific evidence that homeopathy is an efficacious branch of medicine, people such as Kylie Sturgess and those involved in the “10:23 Challenge” still choose to believe what they want to believe and dismiss everybody else as complete fools.
Perhaps White could do some investigation into homeopathy. It is incomprensible to me that there is an observable phenomenon denied by scientists because it does not fit current scientific explanation. Surely such a phenomenon should pique the interest of the scientific community- not to mention the medical community?
What is wrong with this letter?
First, there is NOT “much scientific evidence that homeopathy is … effacious”. Most research shows that homeopathy has no more than a placebo effect. Over the past few years every time a supporter of homeopathy has claimed that “here is a paper that supports homeopathy”, I have tracked it down and read it. In most cases, the research is being misrepresented, and it is obvious that the supporter has not read past the title of the paper. In other cases the research is of such poor quality that the conclusions are unreliable. In other cases, the research is so poorly run that the results have not reliability or validity.
Second, suggesting that homeopathy is a branch of medicine is absurb. Next we will have aura reading claimed as a type of medical imaging!
Third, most skeptics are well aware of confirmation bias, which the author of this letter describes, yet the author completely misses the fact that her own argument is based on a strong confirmation bias regarding her belief in homeopathy.
Fourth, very few skeptics I know view believers in homeopathy “as complete fools.” Rather, many of us consider the public to be misinformed about homeopathy. Several years ago a survey showed that over 90% of people did not realise that homeopathic solutions contained no active ingredients – a figure that hopefully campaigns such as “10:23” will reduce over time.
Finally, the author of the letter is correct on one point. IF there was anything in homeopathy, scientists would be trying to work out how it works. IF it worked, an explanation of how it worked would virtually guarantee at least one Nobel prize, possibly more (medicine, physics AND chemistry). However, the reality of homeopathy is that in the two hundred years that it has existed there has been no reliable scientific evidence that it works beyond the placebo effect, despite multiple attempts to prove so.