This week I’ve been mostly thinking about the 1023 campaign and the further ramifications of it.
Now I very much agree with the thrust of the demonstration, in that Boots, the respected high street chemists were being asked to stop selling products that cannot be shown to have any medical efficacy at all. Quite right, we all have been raised from childhood to regard Boots as a place to go to get good sound advice and good products that will help us feel and get better. To use your reputation to be selling what are essentially sugar pills as remedies purely to rake in a profit from a gullible portion of the general public is just wrong. (I’d just like to add that if we were to look a bit closer we may find more non-efficacious products on Boots shelves as well).
Homeopathy HAS been proven to have an effect as a placebo (article and video here), this effect is enhanced by the “ceremony” of going through a full and thorough consultation and shelling out a consultation fee (both the consultation and the fee have been shown to increase the placebo effect) the cost for the actual remedies is usually minimal (the main constituent being sugar). If there was a way to weed out the shysters and cowboys that claim to be able to cure things that it is scientifically and medically impossible for them to do, then combined with a medical based regulatory body and a stringent code of conduct/ethics, I don’t see a problem with using Homeopathy to dispense placebos that would relieve the NHS from the cost of consultation.
Now, my feelings are that by revealing and exposing the woo surrounding the theories behind Homeopathy are we destroying the important part that “ceremony” plays in the placebo/Homeopathy process? Homeopathy isn’t going to just go away and the Skeptic message will only get through to a relatively small receptive portion of the general public (even if taught in schools it would take years if not generations to water down the Homeopathic hold on the public no pun intended). So perhaps there’s another way. Maybe the Borg have a point, don’t destroy, assimilate!