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The UK's New Minister For Magic

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the pure-and-undiluted dept.

Medicine 526

An anonymous reader sends this depressing excerpt from New Scientist: "A serious blow to science-based medical practices has been dealt in the UK with the appointment of Jeremy Hunt as Health Secretary. The fortunes of the UK's National Health Service (NHS) are about to be transformed with the help of the magical waters of homeopathic medicine. Top marks to The Telegraph's science writer Tom Chivers for quickly picking up on talk that the UK's new health minister, Jeremy Hunt – who replaced Andrew Lansley yesterday in a government reshuffle – thinks that homeopathy works, and should be provided at public expense by the NHS."

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I propose... (5, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 years ago | (#41239585)

The NHS should begin a program of providing him with a homeopathic salary. The less they pay him, the more motivated he will become!

Re:I propose... (5, Funny)

Desler (1608317) | about 2 years ago | (#41239623)

No, you just pay him in a currency of significantly diluted value. Zimbabwe dollars should work since they are worth about .0017 GBP each.

Re:I propose... (2)

chilvence (1210312) | about 2 years ago | (#41239789)

A fifth minus 3 hundredths of a penny saved is...

Re:I propose... (2)

slick7 (1703596) | about 2 years ago | (#41239989)

A fifth minus 3 hundredths of a penny saved is...

...is 3 hundredths of a penny and one heck of a party.

Re:I propose... (4, Funny)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | about 2 years ago | (#41240165)

A fifth minus 3 hundredths of a penny saved is...

According to homeopathy, approximately equivalent to the USA defence budget.

Re:I propose... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41240109)

Or American dollars, at the rate those printing presses are flying...

On topic, at least homeopathy doesn't directly cause hundreds of thousands of fatalities per annum when correctly prescribed. You can't say that about the junk they're peddling at my doctor's office.

Laughing stock (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41239587)

I'll join in with the rest of the non-UK world: "Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!"

Re:Laughing stock (2)

chilvence (1210312) | about 2 years ago | (#41239621)

Please laugh harder sir, it may be our only chance! :'(

Re:Laughing stock (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 2 years ago | (#41239869)

I'll join in with the rest of the non-UK world: "Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!"

I seem to recall Homeopathy is a big deal in France as well.

Re:Laughing stock (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41239931)

I'll join in with the rest of the non-UK world: "Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!"

I seem to recall Homeopathy is a big deal in France as well.

So is Jerry Lewis. What's your point?

Re:Laughing stock (3, Insightful)

Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) | about 2 years ago | (#41239933)

Here in the U.S. we have more than our fair share of new-age dimwits and vaccine fear mongers. I have no such room to throw stones.

Re:Laughing stock (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41239979)

yes, I agree with you on this point. my girlfriend's parents fall into the "holistic cure, raw gluten free vegan diet" crap. It sure does make it fun when we visit. I LOVE ordering a big steak, potato, bread, and hot soup when around them, the look is so worth the abuse. :)

It could be worse (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41239589)

He could believe in god!

So NOT really a Harry Potter... (0)

Jonah Hex (651948) | about 2 years ago | (#41239597)

... publicity stunt. Instead a Stupid Human Trick instead! - HEX

Re:So NOT really a Harry Potter... (1)

Jonah Hex (651948) | about 2 years ago | (#41239609)

And using the same word both at the beginning and end of a sentence definitely qualifies for a stupid human trick! - HEX

Re:So NOT really a Harry Potter... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41239957)

You don't really believe that; do you?

Hold still (3, Funny)

puddingebola (2036796) | about 2 years ago | (#41239601)

Hold still, I have to place the leech in just the right spot to suck the evil spirit out.

Re:Hold still (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41239691)

At least leeches actually *do* have genuine and well-demonstrated medical applications [wikipedia.org] .

Homeopathy doesn't.

Re:Hold still (4, Insightful)

DanTheStone (1212500) | about 2 years ago | (#41239775)

Homeopathy doesn't.

Sure it does. And I'm no fan of homeopathy. The areas listed in the "Mote Prime" article are areas strongly influenced by the placebo effect (pain, fatigue, depression, anxiety, etc.). I assume that Homeopathy would have the same influence as any other placebo in treating those problems.

Re:Hold still (5, Insightful)

lazybeam (162300) | about 2 years ago | (#41239799)

Mummy's kisses fixes my toddler's owies. All better!

Re:Hold still (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41239927)

Yeah I have no problem with real doctors referring people to homeopaths if a placebo is indicated. Any drugs prescribed should be generic though.

Re:Hold still (5, Insightful)

Twinbee (767046) | about 2 years ago | (#41239987)

In that case, I have a million other ideas, all differing to some extent, and each with the same profound properties that a placebo provides. Each one has an inventive story and reason for why it works behind it (I haven't tested most of them admittedly, but I DO think they're all great). The government should allow these million other methods on the market too, and make me a millionaire.

Don't worry, Murdoch will tell him what to do (3, Insightful)

jo_ham (604554) | about 2 years ago | (#41239603)

Rupert Murdoch is best buddies with Hunt, and all of his actions are "guided" by what News Corps wants, so as long as Sky doesn't believe in homeopathy then we'll be fine.

What a sham (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41239643)

There is zero scientific evidence homeopathy works. Absolutely none.

I can only assume this guy is either a moron who believes in homeopathy, or, more likely, he is receiving bribes from companies that make homeopathic products. If the NHS were to pay for homeopathic medicine there would be a huge amount of profit to be made.

What he is doing is a disservice to all the UK citizens who will need real medical care in their lives and may be misdirected to rely on homeopathy, which cannot ever heal or cure them in any way.

It's like having government-funded exorcisms or voodoo rituals to cleanse the bad mojo out of a person. Sounds crazy, right?

Re:What a sham (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41239695)

No, he's the moron.

Re:What a sham (2)

frank_adrian314159 (469671) | about 2 years ago | (#41240087)

It's like having government-funded exorcisms or voodoo rituals to cleanse the bad mojo out of a person.

Man, I could have used that for some people I've worked with! The only thing was that I was waiting for the government to pay for it...

Devil's advocate here... (1)

twotacocombo (1529393) | about 2 years ago | (#41239667)

Empirical proof that homeopathy is completely useless? Less the validity of homeopathy itself, but more regarding the placebo effect.

Re:Devil's advocate here... (4, Informative)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#41239725)

That is not how it works.
They must prove it actually does work.

The placebo effect is well known and that they why they must test their magic water against a control group given normal water in a well controlled double blind trial. The problem with that is ethical. Since there is no evidence that homeopathy works testing it on sick people would not survive any ethical review if it interfered with real treatment.

Re:Devil's advocate here... (1)

mister.woody (2712229) | about 2 years ago | (#41239729)

spend money on the placebo effect? doesn't sound a great idea.

A proof that homeopathy is useless? well unless you don't believe in the Avogadro's number...

Re:Devil's advocate here... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41239737)

Yes that is the only thing it has going for it, mind over matter.

If someone believes that they will get better by taking the "medicine" then they may well do so.

Other than that it's utter rubbish.

Dilute a substance in water so much that NO atoms of the original substance still exit in the water
Drip on transfer medium.
Profit.

Re:Devil's advocate here... (1)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | about 2 years ago | (#41239941)

Don't underestimate the power of placebos, especially in intractable cases. They are not medically useless.

Re:Devil's advocate here... (5, Interesting)

whydavid (2593831) | about 2 years ago | (#41239741)

Please don't think I'm trying to suggest a sample size of one is sufficient, but as an illustrative example I give you Steven Paul Jobs, who famously tried to cure his pancreatic cancer with a whole host of homeopathic remedies until it had progressed so far as to be inoperable. The placebo effect is well-demonstrated and reliable, so you would expect homeopathic remedies to show some benefits, as you allude to. It's when people forego useful medical treatment in favor of homeopathic fairy tales that the real dangers of homeopathy are apparent.

Re:Devil's advocate here... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41239923)

I was flipping through some book of Eastern medicine, and wanted to read the section on type 1 diabetes (since I have it), and it was hilarious. Everything else could be cured or treated with various things, but for this they recommended seeing a doctor.

Re:Devil's advocate here... (1, Insightful)

henryteighth (2488844) | about 2 years ago | (#41239769)

A basic precept of science is that you can't prove a negative.

Re:Devil's advocate here... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41239909)

What do you know about science?

Re:Devil's advocate here... (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 2 years ago | (#41240035)

It's a basic precept of logic, you insensitive non-scientist.

Re:Devil's advocate here... (1)

Desler (1608317) | about 2 years ago | (#41239781)

Burden of proof is on the one making the positive claim. There are zero double-blind studies showing any effectiveness to homeopathy.

Re:Devil's advocate here... (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | about 2 years ago | (#41239851)

Empirical proof that homeopathy is completely useless? Less the validity of homeopathy itself, but more regarding the placebo effect.

It cured my dog you insensitive clod.

Re:Devil's advocate here... (1)

sourcerror (1718066) | about 2 years ago | (#41239899)

If it only has placebo effect, it means it doesn't work. The control group always gets placebo.

Re:Devil's advocate here... (1)

Hentes (2461350) | about 2 years ago | (#41240031)

I think homeopathic medicine could be quite effective at curing hipochonders. Just not at its current ridiculosly inflated prices.

Re:Devil's advocate here... (1)

foobsr (693224) | about 2 years ago | (#41240147)

Empirical proof

Happens when theory of science is only administered in homeopathic doses.

CC.

Laying on of hands works (3, Funny)

ozduo (2043408) | about 2 years ago | (#41239669)

Any women out there with chest complaints contact me and I will happily lay my hands on you. Will cure my stiffness problem.

Re:Laying on of hands works (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41240097)

really? Whenever i try that it just exacerbates the problem.

The real lesson (5, Interesting)

jmorris42 (1458) | about 2 years ago | (#41239671)

And this is why all centralized power is dangerous. Eventually an idiot WILL be put in charge. If it were one hospital, insurance provider, pharma company, whatever it is bad but survivable. But when it is a government with a virtual monopoly on something important like medicine and a real monopoly on the use of force to back it up, shit gets serious.

Re:The real lesson (2, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 2 years ago | (#41239727)

Because when medicine was left to individual practitioners, things were sooooo much better.

Re:The real lesson (3, Interesting)

mapsjanhere (1130359) | about 2 years ago | (#41239743)

You are aware that the US recognizes homeopathy as valid, and even exempts homeopathic remedies from FDA regulations requiring efficacy? Nothing to do with centralized power, one idiot senator in the 1930s was enough to get this written permanently into law.

Re:The real lesson (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41239857)

There is no such thing as a "permanent" law.

Re:The real lesson (3, Interesting)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | about 2 years ago | (#41239961)

But there is such thing as law hard to get rid of, which I expect is what your parent meant.

For example, the EU Parliament has veto on creation of laws, but does not have any power to repeal laws. So even if the directly elected representatives of the people are entirely opposed to some law, it cannot be repealed without the consent of the Council, unless it can somehow be declared invalid by the Court of Justice (e.g. secondary legislation outside of the EU's jurisdiction).

While I'm here, it's fairly common for various powermongering interestings to want laws to be easier to implement than to repeal. Consider patents: international patent agreements are such that a patent made in one country has to be recognised in many countries; yet an invalidation of the patent in one country does not propagate.

Re:The real lesson (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | about 2 years ago | (#41239929)

the US laws for homeopathy are that homeopathic remidies do not need to be tested, they must not be sold for any condition that will not clear up on it's own with no lasting negative effects.

Re:The real lesson (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#41239747)

He will not be allowed to do anything. Here in reality we never let one person make those kinds of decisions. At least those in the UK can get some care instead of getting none like many in the USA face.

Re:The real lesson (1)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | about 2 years ago | (#41240067)

Unfortunately, he may propose laws which will be aye'd by those self-interested Tories and their yellow lickspittles. Yes, Minister isn't quite accurate - see how the DWP has basically become a spokesperson for IDS's personal Himmler-esque (*) philosophy.

Fortunately, Cunt is stupid and will not do such a good job of harming the NHS as Lansley, a true demon.

But, yes, the NHS remains a wonderful thing. And anyone who rejects national healthcare systems in principle is, without exception, either a buffoon or a sadomasochist.

(*) Since the Daily Mail (a popular British newspaper) overtly praised the government for its "arbeit macht frei" (sic) approach [guardian.co.uk] , it's difficult to accuse me of Godwinning the discussion.

Re:The real lesson (1, Insightful)

Desler (1608317) | about 2 years ago | (#41239807)

As opposed to the idiotic corporate bureaucrats in charge of private health care?

Re:The real lesson (4, Informative)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | about 2 years ago | (#41239865)

No, not really.

0) The NHS is excellent - far better than American healthcare. I say that using all the data I have seen and from personal experience of both systems.

1) The UK government does not have a "virtual monopoly" - it has no exclusive right to provide healthcare at all. It does provide some forms of healthcare so well (e.g. emergency) that alternative providers are fairly rare, and other forms of healthcare with waiting lists (e.g. elective hip replacements) such that there's a healthy variety of private providers. I belong to a mutual much older than the NHS which provides discretionary treatment for elective conditions.

2) Thatcher was an idiot put in charge, but the NHS soldiered on. Blair was an idiot put in charge, but the NHS soldiered on. Major and Brown stuck their dicks in a bit but didn't do anything remarkable compared to their superior predecessors. It was Lansley who has done the most damage to the NHS with the Health and Social Care Act 2012, not because he is an idiot but because he's a fucking smart and fucking nasty man. Cunt, already widely known in Britain as corrupt, silly little man, is just pissing on the wreckage.

3) The NHS didn't really exist before 1948, and that was in the wake of something far worse than we're facing now. If things get shit, we regroup, re-educate and rebuild. It's not like history has a linear progression - we're always repeating the same mistakes and having to correct them.

We now know how he plans to save £20 billion (5, Funny)

GauteL (29207) | about 2 years ago | (#41239681)

No need to buy thousands of doses of penicillin or heart medication. Just buy one dose and it'll serve the entire population.

Re:We now know how he plans to save £20 bill (1)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | about 2 years ago | (#41240023)

Homeopathy allegedly works by diluting a substance that causes similar symptoms, rather than curing them.

So it would infer that you could cure bacterial infections by diluting a drop of unpasteurised milk 10 million times.

For a moment (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41239707)

i though the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy had been broken. Muggles and their sensationalist titles

Joker (1)

TemperedAlchemist (2045966) | about 2 years ago | (#41239715)

Please let this be a joke, please let this be a joke.

*calms down*

It's okay, the homeopathy will fail to work and someone will sue the government for it and all will be right. Right? RIGHT?

Homeopathy does work (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about 2 years ago | (#41239731)

Homeopathy does work, in people who believe in it. Tap water is cheap. If someone believes in homeopathy enough to demand it, maybe a vial of tap water SHOULD be covered. It's probably cheaper than many other, usually ineffective treatments for untreatable or minor ailments. Walk into a doctors office with the sniffles and a bad attitude and instead of leaving with useless antibiotics you're given a bottle of water (I mean, super diluted phlegm) and a nice pamphlet warning you that homeopathy is bull.

Re:Homeopathy does work (4, Funny)

Dunbal (464142) | about 2 years ago | (#41239849)

Careful with that - several churches might get upset with you infringing on their business model. Next thing you'll be handing out wafers too.

Re:Homeopathy does work (2)

WillKemp (1338605) | about 2 years ago | (#41239863)

Not only does homeopathy work (for some people, at least), but it doesn't have the nasty side effects of most (all?) pharmaceutical drugs. It's also considerably cheaper. There's an insane amount of over prescription of pharmaceuticals in developed countries - wasting billions of dollars every year and causing untold harm to the people who take them unnecessarily, and to the population in general (think superbugs). It would be much better if most of them were replaced with homeopathic placebos.

Re:Homeopathy does work (2)

Lehk228 (705449) | about 2 years ago | (#41239965)

the only condition treatable with homeopathic medicine is mild dehydration

Prince Charles (1)

alexander_686 (957440) | about 2 years ago | (#41239757)

Does it surprises you that government employees follow their executives? Prince Charles believes in homeopathy. Now, o.k., he is still only a crowned prince, but.

Re:Prince Charles (2)

Gordonjcp (186804) | about 2 years ago | (#41239819)

I'm not sure I follow. What does Prince Charles have to do with the government?

Re:Prince Charles (0)

alexander_686 (957440) | about 2 years ago | (#41240009)

He is the future head of state of England – i.e. the top cheese, where the buck stops. etc. He will hold a similar position to Barack Obama in the United State or Queen Elizabeth II of Canada. Now, of course, he is going to have to consult with parliament on some issues – but remember – he only needs to consult.

On a more serious note, he can lend moral weight to homeopathy and thus legitimize it. Mileage will depend on how persuade he can be. And he does have considerable real power when it comes to the medical / relief charities that the royals run.

Re:Prince Charles (2)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about 2 years ago | (#41240045)

He is the future head of state of England

Yes.

i.e. the top cheese, where the buck stops. etc.

no.

He will hold a similar position to Barack Obama in the United State

wtf?

or Queen Elizabeth II of Canada.

yes

Now, of course, he is going to have to consult with parliament on some issues â" but remember â" he only needs to consult.

huh?

Re:Prince Charles (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | about 2 years ago | (#41240065)

The royal family have no political power at all.

Shouldn't be too expensive... (2)

pushing-robot (1037830) | about 2 years ago | (#41239761)

[homeopathic remedies should be] provided at public expense by the NHS

Why didn't I think of this? Give away bottles of water, er, "remedies", and take the profit away from the snake oil salesmen.

Genius.

He might not think it works, but IS a politician. (5, Insightful)

yakovlev (210738) | about 2 years ago | (#41239765)

If you read Jeremy Hunt's response letter, what he actually says is that some PATIENTS want and/or believe in homeopathic medicine, so we should let them have it. Basically he's saying that the NHS should agree to pay for any treatment that the general populous wants, since it is a "patient-focused" organization. This argument is also significantly easier to defend if it's a treatment that they are already paying for, and it sounds like they are.

In short, Jeremy Hunt is a politician. He made a calculated determination that people who like homeopathic treatments are more likely to be supportive of him due to this decision than others are to be against him for deciding the other way. I can see why, since most scientists will think of him as a "typical stupid politician" (not much of an insult for an actual politician) while most homeopathic believers will see him as a "defender of their cause."

Re:He might not think it works, but IS a politicia (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41239843)

"If you read Jeremy Hunt's response letter, what he actually says is that some PATIENTS want and/or believe in homeopathic medicine, so we should let them have it."

That's nonsense. As a patient I believe that eating caviar, drinking champagne, and eating chocolate-covered gold leaf candies will cure my medical condition. That doesn't mean the fricking taxpayer should help pay for treatment if there is NO scientifically demonstrated medical benefit. If people want a medically useless treatment, then can spend their own money on such snake oil.

Insulting (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41239773)

It's not magic. Talk to my daughter who had frightful warts on her fingers. Nitrogen, peeling gels, tape... nothing worked for years. Six weeks into a homeopathic treatment and they were 50% reduced. Gone at 13 weeks. You can blather about coincidence all you want. It worked in that case. And I'll happily try it myself anytime.

Re:Insulting (5, Funny)

Dunbal (464142) | about 2 years ago | (#41239841)

Wow I had warts for years and I did nothing at all and one day they were gone too! Doing nothing it all is as good as homeopathy, and far cheaper.

Re:Insulting (1)

WillKemp (1338605) | about 2 years ago | (#41239897)

Try (100%) lavender oil - that's very effective for getting rid of warts.

Re:Insulting (1)

gomiam (587421) | about 2 years ago | (#41239991)

It didn't work, it's just a case of post hoc, ergo propter hoc fallacy (and no, I'm not sassing you in Eskimo talk). Just because it happened after you started the homeopathic (non-)treatment doesn't mean it happened because you started it. Especially when many large scale studies have found, once and again, that it doesn't work.

Then again, I agree with you on something. It is not magic. It is a scam.

Re:Insulting (1)

jo_ham (604554) | about 2 years ago | (#41240007)

It's not magic. Talk to my daughter who had frightful warts on her fingers. Nitrogen, peeling gels, tape... nothing worked for years. Six weeks into a homeopathic treatment and they were 50% reduced. Gone at 13 weeks. You can blather about coincidence all you want. It worked in that case. And I'll happily try it myself anytime.

Since you didn't log in, this story is obviously false.

Further evidence that homeopathy is nonsense. Even its proponents won't stand behind it publicly.

What's Wrong With Holistic Methodology? (1)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | about 2 years ago | (#41239777)

I believe it is well known that a good, strong and colorful sugar pill administered with a tall glass of water can go a long way to curing many reported medical conditions. Frankly, I suspect that the NHS could save a substantial amount of money with this sort of treatment to the daily sundry of ills of the homemakers and saturnine types who are so fond of a visit to the physician to tend to their latest "ailments".

Re:What's Wrong With Holistic Methodology? (3, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | about 2 years ago | (#41239813)

it is well known that a good, strong and colorful sugar pill administered with a tall glass of water can go a long way to curing many reported medical conditions.

Yep. Hypoglycemia for one.

Re:What's Wrong With Holistic Methodology? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41239945)

it is well known that a good, strong and colorful sugar pill administered with a tall glass of water can go a long way to curing many reported medical conditions.

Yep. Hypoglycemia for one.

And dehydration.

I'm convinced! Here we have two proven methods of a placebo working. It's obvious to me that placeos are the only way to go! This is the end of the pharmaceutical industry!

Re:What's Wrong With Holistic Methodology? (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 2 years ago | (#41240053)

Frankly, I suspect that the NHS could save a substantial amount of money with this sort of treatment to the daily sundry of ills of the homemakers and saturnine types who are so fond of a visit to the physician to tend to their latest "ailments".

Sadly quite possibly true, but that doesn't make it right, especially when you've got the homeopaths with their degrees in baloney in the middle raking in the public cash. On the plus side, there's some evidence the placebo effect works even if you explain it to the patient, so we might get to cut them out of the loop!

It does work (5, Funny)

istartedi (132515) | about 2 years ago | (#41239791)

The homeopathc process activates placebetrinos in dihydrogen monoxide. Ordinary DHO can be deadly, but in the proper hands it works wonders. The placebetrino hasn't actually been observed, but future upgrades to the LHC are expected to run with high enough energies to reveal it as well as the anti-placebetrino.

Re:It does work (1)

puddingebola (2036796) | about 2 years ago | (#41240105)

Doesn't the use of placebetrinos cause fluctuations in the prefrontal cortex that can lead to Groupthink? Or does the dihydrogen monoxide mitigate that effect?

Methods in place... (2)

whydavid (2593831) | about 2 years ago | (#41239805)

There are methods in place within the NHS for evaluating whether or not treatments are worthy of public funding. Cost effectiveness analysis and comparative effectiveness research aren't perfect, but they do a pretty good job at weeding out garbage with no benefit no matter how you interpret the results. So, as long as this nutcase doesn't have the ability to unanimously approve new treatments for public funding, it seems the UK should be relatively safe, for now.

The placebo effect works (3, Interesting)

Ichoran (106539) | about 2 years ago | (#41239833)

The placebo effect works, and homeopathy should be a tremendously inexpensive way to induce it. The placebo effect does not mean that people do not get better--it is that people get better even when you give them something inert! How better to generate something inert that feels like it should help than to take something that should help and dilute it? Granted, the effects of placebo are limited, but if you only need something limited anyway, why not give them a microcent's worth of water in a 20-cent vial, sold for $2, to make the patient feel as much relief as they can generate from their own beliefs? (How different is this from bottled water, anyway? The tap water in most places affluent enough to afford bottled water is perfectly safe.)

I'm only partly joking.

(Blasted democracies, requiring informed citizenry and spoiling all our plans to dupe them into thinking they're fine!)

Are they having the same conversation? (2)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about 2 years ago | (#41239847)

I think I've heard two definitions for homeopathic. The first is the silliness of infinite dilution creating a water with some non-water quality. The other is more what I'd call folk medicine, which is simply a greater willingness to assume that traditional, low-cost solutions such as various teas for various ailments work until proven otherwise.

Re:Are they having the same conversation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41240057)

Your second definition has nothing to do with homepathy.

Homeopathy [wikipedia.org] (also spelled homoeopathy or homoeopathy; from the Greek homoios- "like-" + pathos "suffering") is a form of alternative medicine originated by Samuel Hahnemann (1755–1843), based on the idea that a substance that causes the symptoms of a disease in healthy people will cure that disease in sick people.

So it's not just us! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41239881)

And here I thought the strain of rabid anti-intellectualism in politics was limited to American conservative forces. Bully for you Mr. Cameron! Nothing like a spanner to the noggin eh? That'll show those damned liberal brain cells what for.

LOLz @ Science (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41239883)

The problem with the science myopic folk is that they are often hypocritical. Science has advanced human kind in a relatively short time far, far (!) beyond the imaginations of our ancestors, and for that it deserves the utmost respect; yet science is *only* the study of the physical universe. Humans aren't merely physical entities (don't tell me thoughts and ideas are just chemical reactions or neural electrical interactions, heck science can't even quantify the basic concept of vital energy in the human body), therefore there should be room and open mindedness to investigate alternative methods of healing... but, using the scientific method! That is an accepted solution should include verifiable, quantifiable and repeatable procedures yielding similar if not identical results, but allow for those procedures to not necessarily follow currently known physical and biological laws.

Every time I see a headline that starts with "Scientists discovered X...", I just have to laugh, because despite their hubris they are constantly admitting their own ignorance of what's always been there.

Placebos *do* work. (1)

SputnikCopilot (906165) | about 2 years ago | (#41239891)

How is this a problem? Isn't science supposed to be used to find out *why*, given science has been used to prove that (eg) homeopathy *does* work?

Consistency in action (2)

Stirling Newberry (848268) | about 2 years ago | (#41239959)

The Tories plan to apply the same theories to medicine that they have to economics.

Serves the brits right for voting for this nonsense.

Re:Consistency in action (2)

John Allsup (987) | about 2 years ago | (#41240013)

We've got a choice between two bunches and a little extra bunch, all composed of professional politicians. We can't vote the political class out as a bloc and are basically stuffed until we do. Thus: we're stuffed.

Re:Consistency in action (1)

6031769 (829845) | about 2 years ago | (#41240083)

It speaks volumes for how utterly shit the other lot are that this bunch are the better option.

Nobody actually wants a homeopath in charge of the NHS, but if the alternative means giving Ed Balls another five years of driving the economy into a brick wall we'll take our chances with Hunt. It will be very illuminating to see which path he opts for should he or a member of his family fall seriously ill.

It is a step up for him . . . (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 2 years ago | (#41239973)

. . . now the BBC can introduce him on the radio as being a "daft twat" instead of a "right cunt".

Will he be supporting homeo marriage as well . . . ?

Shouldn't There Be More Options for Medicine? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41240003)

i'm certain he's not talking about doing away with science based allopathic approaches, it's just that homeopathy should be included as an option, like acupuncture already is in the US ( at least in CA). if there's a possibility to treat someone in such a way as to cure them without the use of harmful and expensive drugs, shouldn't that be an option or are we just going to contribute to the obscene profit margins of big pharma? based on the lead-in it sounds TFA writer believes homeopathy to be quackery of the basest sort. we're not talking about shamanic healing and rituals. remember aspirin? it's derived from willow bark. arnica based gels and cremes (like Traumeel) treat sores and bruises very effectively. big pharma is currently patenting ancient herbal remedies in India and then repackaging these as new expensive cures for disease and suing practitioners and providers for violating their patented 'medicine'.

if homeopathy doesn't work in a particular case you really think NHS will say 'sorry lad' and give up? they would of course try every means possible to save the patient. but allopathic medicine has distinct limits. certain kinds of ailments and pain, such as GI or digestive disorders, are almost impossible to detect by allopathic means unless the body part in question is literally non-functional. it seems other options, especially inexpensive ones, could be tried in earlier stages of severity. i certainly wouldn't recommend it for someone with stage 4 cancer, of course, but for others with more subtle and non life-threatening issues it may be effective.

Unfortunate lumping (5, Interesting)

Grayhand (2610049) | about 2 years ago | (#41240019)

Unfortunately herbal remedies and Homeopathy tends to get lumped together. I know first hand many herbal remedies work and some legit doctors have been prescribing them for decades. Athletes use Arnica for muscle strain and I found it works pretty well on migrains for lessening the symptoms. Cinnamon has been found to be at least as effective as most of the diabetes medicines used for controlling blood sugar peaks and it's also recognized as a stimulant. There are hundreds of medically proven herbs that are cheap and effective with potentially thousands more untested that are in traditional medicines. Homeopathy on the other hand to me is mostly snake oil. Things like diluting a compound and having it still be effective is just plain silly. I'd consider most of it placebos. The problem is there's no clear line between herbal and homeopathy. For back aches I call Tiger Balm, Arnica and ice packs the holly trinity. To me they are herbal remedies but you find them in the homeopathic section of health food stores and some drug stores. Herbal remedies should be government funded because they are inherently cheaper than factory drugs and with fewer side effects. The problem is there's been so little testing since the drug companies don't stand to get rich or get exclusive rights to them so it's hard to make rules as to which are truly effective. There's things like Goat Weed that is a herbal Viagra that is effective but then again people still take ground up Rhino horn which is expensive snake oil. With all the hundreds of billions a year that are spent on drugs there should be government testing on herbal remedies if for no other reason than saving money. The problem comes in the form of resistance from drug companies. Cheaper solutions threaten profits so don't expect government standardized testing of most herbs any time soon if ever.

Hold your horses (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41240039)

I can see this topic has been thrown here mainly so that a bunch of geeks could laugh it out. Oh, how fun, witty and clever all of you are. Truly a masters of sarcasm.

Actually, Russian Academy of Science issued a habilitation for scientific work on water memory. Benveniste's ideas got endorsed by Nobel prize laureate Brian Josephson. Madeleine Ennis attempted to debunk the myth, only to find it at least partially true, much to her own surprise. That is not to say that "water memory" exists or that homeopathy works. The point is, trying to cover it with laugh and some heavy-handed irony is sign of anything but being smart.

But why do I waste my time. I can already see this post voted down into oblivion. It's better not to aknowledge something that threatens to ruin our educated views.

Alternative medicine (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41240055)

You know what they call alternative medicine that has been shown to work? Medicine.

Can't remember who said that.

Reshuffles (3, Interesting)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 2 years ago | (#41240093)

Does it strike anyone else as odd that you can go from Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport to Secretary of State for Health in a day, or from Transport to Defence? Do any of these people have any actual experience or qualification in the departments they get dumped on? It's all just a load of old bollocks, isn't it?

What about if works for unknown (yet) reasons? (0)

agoliveira (188870) | about 2 years ago | (#41240119)

Let me start saying this: I was cured in two different conditions (a chronic recurrent throat infection at age 9 and allergy at age 32). First time I was just a kid who had to take pills every couple hours and some drops every other day. Second time I was an adult who grew tired of trying several diffent alergy treatments that worked for sometime and them I had to start over again. Let's say it was all placebo effect - I don't disagree, it may be - but when I was 9 I didn't know squat about homeopathy it was just another kind of medicine. Placebo by proxy you may say. Perhaps. But then, why nobody talks about placebo effect releated to conventional medicine? When I developed the alergy problem every new treatment gave me some relief and I did believe I've found the cure so why the placebo effect didn't work? When I started to take homeopathy for my allergy, I couldn't care less, I tried because I've already tried everything and it was covered by my health insurance so why not?
I'm not claiming this is the case but why it's so hard for people dissing homeopathy that it may actually work for reasons yet unkonwn to science?
All I can say, it worked for me twice, for two different problems and in two different points of my life. It's cheap, and if it's just water, won't hurt so why not try? Even if it works by placebo effect, it works so no harm done.

The sky is not falling (1)

Eravnrekaree (467752) | about 2 years ago | (#41240125)

Perhaps homeopathy is nonsense but you act like since it might be funded that the sky is falling. As far as I can tell its individual choice sitll to use it and if people feel its worthless, dont use it. Itsthat simple, even if its offered does not mean YOU have to use it.

another thing is minute quanities of substances can have effects on the body, including harmful. You might think "oh 1 ppm is not much, there is no way that this could have an effect", yet the maximum contaminant levels are far below this for many toxins and chemicals can react with the body at this low levels.

This is the trouble with our government (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | about 2 years ago | (#41240131)

We have a right-wing government. That means *big* government, who want to put their sticky little fingers into everything. That means everything state-funded must be sold off, and the money pumped into private companies which just co-incidentally happen to have certain politicians on their board.

So, what's going to happen is the NHS is going to be taken apart, and replaced by private healthcare, with - like all countries that have private healthcare - massive waiting lists, dirty hospitals with primitive equipment crippling debts for anyone who gets ill, and big flash cars in the hospital admin car parks.

Healthcare is too important to leave to private industry.

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