Homeopathy, Big Pharmer's Daughter


I want to tell you the story of homeopathy. It's long and boring, unfortunately, and as I'm thinking of a way to make it more readable I'll leave this article as a placeholder until I finish it, hopefully tonight.

In the debate at http://www.debate.org/debate/13501/ I waited a little too long for my Round3 (conclusion) and as a result I ended up “forfeiting”. Here’s an earlier draft of my response, though I certainly realize that my opponent can simply ignore it.

My opponent has argued that Homeopathy must be banned because it is based on placebo; I argued that even in the event that’s true, it’s still not a sufficient reason to ban this practice. Furthermore, if it is, then classical medicine should be banned as well.

homeopathyLet me start by thanking Logician for his prompt reply.
In Round 2 I argued that for an entire practice to be banned against the wishes of the many who use it, one would have to prove not only that it is ineffective, but that it is decidedly harmful. Though my opponent has made an excellent effort, he has failed to show either.
1. Homeopathy effectiveness.
The mere existence of studies that show homeopathy effectiveness (studies conveniently discarded as having "poor methodology") combined with the repeated and sustained patient choice should be sufficient to convince anyone that homeopathy has a fighting chance. After all, Pfizer alone was in 2001 the most profitable corporation Fortune 500, ($7.8 billion). Homeopathic remedies are not patentable and as such are seen as eating a piece of the pie. Big Pharma can keep making "better studies" and homeopath can simply not match the "research war".
H remedies are presented as "watered down sugar pills". In reality, nature is full of examples of biological systems being sensitive to and responding to unbelievably low concentrations. For instance, sharks "can detect one drop of blood in a million drops of water (25 gallons or 100 liters) and can smell blood 0.25 mile (0.4 km) away", yet nobody has bothered to agitate for banning sharks. Furthermore, most studies assess homeopathy from an allopathic perspective, i.e., judging remedies effectiveness on one problem at a time. H's core is in the interview and its holistic treatment of all the ills affecting the patient.
2. Placebo not working for serious illness.
There is no question that placebo alone cannot work for serious illness. This might be a good argument if my opponent had proven H works on placebo alone; however, he did not. There are numerous examples of people relying on drugs and medicine for affections where perhaps other solutions my have been better. Michael Jackson found the hard way that painkillers may be addictive and such addiction and lead to death, yet nobody is calling for a ban on classical medicine either because people realize that one negative example is not sufficient to ban an entire practice or simply because most people are not aware of the large number of iatrogenic deaths due to ADRs (adverse drug reactions), even though the evidence is one Google search away.
3. People sometimes harm themselves, so we need to protect them through regulations.
Again, the same argument can be made about MJ's treatment. He was addicted to medicine, and died, hence, according to this logic, we should ban medicine.
My counter-argument is that if isolated incidents of improperly applied H are sufficient reason to ban this practice, it then follows that the same logic should apply to classical medicine, resulting in banning it. This is a point my friend seems to understand and concede, stating
This debate has shown to me that if an excellent debater such as Logician can only provide such a weak argumentation to sustain his radical (banning) proposition, homeopathy is immune from the well-funded and coordinated yet logically thin attacks thrown its way by Big Pharma.

Sources / More info: iatro1, jama-adr, wiley-ags, bmj-adr, nn-adr, yt-med

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