An article published in the Guardian is making the rounds quite rapidly among my social media circles. The article, coverage of a report by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council, makes some pretty bold statements about the efficacy of homeopathy – namely that it doesn’t work:
But the NHMRC review, conducted by a working committee of medical experts, said it had no impact on a range of conditions and illnesses including asthma, arthritis, sleep disturbances, cold and flu, chronic fatigue syndrome, eczema, cholera, burns, malaria and heroin addiction. For the 68 conditions – including those listed – the review either concluded definitively that homeopathy was not more effective than a placebo, or at the very least there was no reliable evidence to suggest it was.
The skeptics in my Facebook and Twitter feeds are, perhaps unsurprisingly, feeling pretty vindicated by this report. They (we) have been saying for quite some time that homeopathy is nothing more than a hoax perpetrated against a credible public by people who are either so craven as to intentionally exploit people’s ignorance, or so irresponsible as to refuse to examine the abundant scientific evidence that homeopathy is simply a placebo with an elaborate ritual preceeding it. I myself have participated in a couple of demonstrations of the fact that homeopathy simply does not work, both times taking an “overdose” of homeopathic “sleeping pills” that are, in fact, nothing more than sugar pills.
However, if you are not close friends with someone in the skeptics community, or if you simply don’t care to follow this particular debate, you might find yourself a bit lost. I thought I would provide my somewhat-informed take on this report and what lessons we should take away from it. … Continue Reading