Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Macho Response: Simon Singh

"Homeopathy is unproven and its products should not be sold, a visiting critic of alternative medicine says.

British physicist Simon Singh, who was sued by the British Chiropractic Association for saying their therapies for children were bogus, said yesterday it was 'obvious' that homeopathy 'shouldn't be allowed' and couldn't be regulated by a code of ethics. 'I take a fairly hard line,' he said. 'If anyone is making claims that can't be supported by evidence, these claims should be halted and these practices should be prevented.'

He said recent cases showed that homeopathy — which relies on the principle of 'like treating like' and diluted ingredients — can be dangerous.

Two weeks ago in the US a homeopathic remedy called Zicam, which claimed to treat the common cold, was withdrawn from sale after it was discovered the zinc it contained may have caused more than 900 people to lose their sense of smell.

Critics said the over-the-counter product's side effects had gone unnoticed because of less strict rules for marketing alternative medicine.

Last month a Sydney couple whose baby daughter died after they treated her with homeopathic remedies instead of conventional medicine were found guilty of manslaughter.

'Some homeopaths won't encourage parents to vaccinate children because they take other views on immunity,' Dr Singh said. 'You would think that homeopathy should be safe because there's nothing in it, but the indirect side effects can be severe.'

In an investigation in Britain, he found homeopaths willing to let people travel to West Africa, where malaria is endemic and can kill in days, with only unproven homeopathic protection. 'I don't think people recognise that the vast majority (of homeopathic remedies) is devoid of any active ingredient. It's seen as exotic, traditional, alternative in a lifestyle sense. Celebrities use it. But 200 clinical trials over 200 years later, there is still no good evidence (that) it works.'"

-- Nick Miller, covering one of the few scientists adopting The Macho Response - taking "a fairly hard line" for the exact same reasons I am - in The Age.


  1. Popular fraud is fashionable, unfortunately.

  2. I recently attended a conference for travel medicine (I'm a nurse in the biz). One of the speakers was there to tout his "first aid kit" for travelers. I thought, "cool, I'd like to see what he put in his kit". Wellllllllllllll, it was 12 or so vials of "essential oils" that were used in differing combinations to treat this or that illness or keep you from contracting this or that illness in the first place. When the question of malaria was brought up, he trotted out one of his potions saying it was a "liver cleanser". Taking whiffs of the stuff would supposedly protect you from getting malaria. Are you kidding me???? What the heck!!! Are we really supposed to believe this crap?

  3. Yes, that's exactly what you're supposed to do: "believe" in it. Won't make it work, but it will make you buy it, and tell others and basically keep that chap in the clear until someone catches on and does something,...about it or to him.

    I prefer the latter.