Tag Archives: Nancy Malik

Why teaching rational thinking is so important….(Homeopathy yet again)

11 May


The undergraduate programme of which my rational thinking course is a part is being revised, and from September my course will change from being one semester long to being a year long. In preparation for this change I’ve been reviewing my existing material, and this week I happened to be looking at my lecture on homeopathy.

I’ve written previously about what a great vehicle for teaching rational thinking homeopathy is, but having looked at my material I did think that I needed to update it a little. One particular point that I thought needed updating was my use of a 2007 House of Commons Early Day motion as an indication that the UK Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, supported homeopathy. Now, I’m no great supporter of Mr Hunt, but I did think that using something seven years old to attempt to define his current views was pushing it a bit. I’d settled on the idea that I would email the Health Department to ask for the minster’s current views, when I came across a startling newspaper story.

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The Guardian’s story ‘Jeremy Hunt sent homeopathy studies to chief medical officer’ suggests that the minister recently asked the government’s Chief Medical Officer to studies of homeopathy. Two things worry me about this, one quite nerdy and the other rather fundemental. Firstly, the two studies in question were cosponsored by Boiron, a leading homeopathic manufacturer. It might seem reasonable for the minister to pass compelling new evidence to the Chief Medical Officer for advice, but surely obvious vested interest is unlikely to be’ compelling’. My second, much more basic point, is that the minister seems to completely either overlook (or not understand), hat in asking the Chief Medical Officer, ‘Does homeopathy actually work’, he’s actually asking her to admit that everything medical science currently knows is wrong. To put it bluntly, if homeopathy works then science has got something very basic, very wrong. Given that I suspect the minister isn’t completely anti-science, what could possibly be going on here.

I genuinely haven’t had time to think about the answer to that question yet, but at the very least my homeopathy lecture will remain next year, and Jeremy Hunt has reinforced my belief in the importance of the stuff I teach !

My next job is to update my correspondence with Dr Nancy Malik (See the comments section of this post). Should be interesting 😉

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