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Richard Dawkins vs Homeopathy

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It's the hottest alternative health fad It boasts an impressively vast and well stocked medical cabinet It's endorsed by royalty and the stars & it's doing a booming trade in high street pharmacies 500 million people worldwide claim to use it What is it? It's a system for dosing up on a dilute solution of Water Welcome to the bizarre world of homeopathy Homeopathy was dreamed up in the late eighteenth century as a way of boosting the bodies vital spirit One of the central tenets handed on by it's founder Samuel Hahnemann was that like cures like Superficially this might sound faintly plausible but unlike a vaccine that introduces a diminished form of a virus into the body in order to provoke it's immune system like cures like, makes the unfounded assumption that what causes similar symptoms can cure those symptoms In Hahnemann's world dilute poison ivy cures skin rash because undiluted it causes a rash if touched By the same principle red onion can alleviate streaming eyes and snake venom stiffness But amazingly homeopathy gets even stranger still Homeopaths claim that the more you dilute an active ingredient in water the stronger medicine it becomes Most homeopathic remedies're marked 30C What does that mean? It means 1 part medicine to 100 to the power of 30 parts water How much? A drop in a fish tank? No. A fish tank is nowhere near big enough. The swimming pool doesn't provide enough dilution Not even a lake What about the drop in the ocean? But it turns out that even the sea isn't big enough For the really approved homeopathic recipes in order to get 1 molecule of the active substance you need to embay all the atoms in the solar system To science just doesn't make sense. Even homeopaths acknowledge that there is not a single molecule of active ingredient in the bottle they sell you, it's just water So how can it possibly work? In an attempt to resolve the paradox homeopathy boldly paddles further up the creek of pseudoscience claiming that water somehow has a memory of the now completely absent active ingredient But wouldn't water also have memory of other more common impurities it's coming to contact with? Salt, urine? Scientists have calculated that in each glass of water we drink at least one molecule has passed through the bladder of Oliver Cromwell Incredibly you & I are paying for this unproven industry through our taxes despite the national health service's net 540 million £ deficit for 2006 the refurbishment of the royal homeopathic hospital was part-founded by the NHS to the tune of 10 million £ That's equivalent to 500 nurses salaries Right here on the floor, here is a point wheeler straight wooden floors. Very unusual in a modern health care This hospital was only completed 18 months ago So this is our main clinical area... The homeopathic profession is unregulated by government. You can call yourself a homeopath without any qualification training or even insurance, after all all you are doing is dishing up water solution But Peter Fischer, clinical Director of the hospital, is a medically trained rheumatologist I see Prince Charles over there Yeah, ow yes, great friend of ours. These are the homoepathic medicines that are in daily use. This is one you know? For instance it has quite a strong evidence by it's Rhus radicans. It's Poison ivy Right, ok. I want to know how someone highly qualified in real medicine can make such a leap of faith. I agree there is a plausibility problem You know & I pinch myself from time to time I quite regularly pinch myself, you know is this really happening, you now? The fact is I couldn't stop what I do now even if I wanted to My patients wouldn't let me They say it helps So how are things? Well very much better since I last saw you. No pain at all. You know, if I'm aware of a symptom to come start the pain I start taking it again & I can feel the improvement & get back to until I need it again, you know. Good! Well that's pretty straight forward just bash on the same Don't we? Yeah. I'm still taking the remedies but you said to me, ahm, you know, if you get little reaction to just hold off taking the remedies until they then subside so therefore I've been doing that so for example I haven't had a remedy for a week now & last time you said you were getting a bit of an emotional sort of upset. Yeah. The day after you took the medicine It was the day after I took the medicine I was impressed by the amount of time & care Peter Fischer devotes to each patient Far more than an ordinary doctor. Uhm but in terms of the treatment I would be, you know, reluctant to make a big change. I think this is the right stuff what we may need to fit around at it Like a GP, Peter Fischer prescribes medicine, but in this case the medicine is a bit of a surprise. Thank you very much Common salt, natrum muriaticum sodium chloride, again in an .. dilution I mean obviously, since it's common salt I mean she is obviously taking in a hell of a lot of common salt anyway. Yes Ow sure. How does the one..? The truth is nobody knows. I don't know nor does anybody else. Yeah. &, you know, the question is Do you think that because we don't know, because it seems implausible, it can't work? & that may be where you & I differ The most recent problem was your skin Wasn't it? That's right, yeah my hands they cleared up quite well & my scalp's a lot lot better. While patients like these provide positive anecdotes for homeopathy subjective stories are not enough for science I want to pin down precisely what double blind trials have been conducted Over 100 have been done, some by me On my whole were positive & I have, you know, I worked hard on it, ahm but in the face of great skepticism in the face of many people who say well we are not gonna found homeopathy it's got to be a load of rubbish Why do you think they say that if there really are controlled trials which I think you are much better place to comment on because you are the sort of person who says that Well, because I have red studies which have a meta-analysis on things which suggest that, yes occasionally there's a slight suggestion of something maybe in a slight suggestion there But if you take all the studies that have been done it doesn't add up in the way that Ow, I don't agree with that at all Now if a double blind control trial really does show that it works then that suggests we're dealing with an entirely new force of physics something unknown to science I think that's a slight exaggeration I mean, there are various hypothesis Remarkably nobody knows what the structure of liquid water is So there is room, you know, for a phenomenon analogous to, I'm not saying the same but analogous to the storage of information by a magnetic medium by a floppy disk or video tape. Yes, if I were a doctor, doing what you do, & was convinced that it really worked I would drop everything & really really try to demonstrate that & win the Nobel prize for physics I mean it would be an astonishing, totally astonishing finding That's, to be honest, one of the main reasons I got into it Plain ambition got me into it in the first place But I agree it would be nice to see You know, a really serious program of research done on it Well we are saying it has been done & Well no, I'm saying that quite lot of research has been done I don't claim it's conclusive. Why not? I mean it sounds as though Well because it's very diffuse & of course it does depend what question you're asking, you know. I use a does it benefit people? Do people feel better? & I think actually there's no doubt about that people who go to homeopathic hospitals have a treatment do feel better but of course you will say that it's all because you are nice to them This is all rather contradictory so let's be clear about the latest evidence In 2005 the medical journal The Lancet surveyed all the meta-analysis the analysis of the analysis & failed to find any reliable effect of homeopathy Tellingly, for me, in the bigger trials, less prone to chance anomalies homeopathy was more likely to show 0 demonstrable effect

Video Details

Duration: 9 minutes and 28 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Genre: None
Views: 865
Posted by: xalessa on Sep 29, 2009


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