Okay, finally I give up. It’s Unconditional Surrender for me. I will not harp on anymore about: the dangers of separating the practitioner from his tools; self-induced healing; the art of medicine, the use of the self in therapy and the healing qualities of holistic doctors that cannot simply be emulated by purely scientific doctors not trained in any particular holistic tool. Why do I give up now?
Because a book has just been published that has forced me to lay down all arms, abandon my holistic principles and worship exclusively at the philanthropic Church of Big Pharma and the philosophical school of Naive Realism.
This book is called Trick or treatment? Alternative Medicine on Trial by Simon Singh and Edzard Ernst. For a mere £16.99 you can have any illusions you once had about holistic medicine kicked into touch by a journalist and doctor who totally have your interests at heart and conduct a Kafkaesque trial of Altenative Medicine on behalf of the public good. Although many other doctors have tried to disparage homeopathy and holistic medicine in the pasts, these two have put themselves at a much higher level to reveal the truth, the absolute truth and nothing but the truth and therefore are justified in putting the boot into anything Big Pharma (and shareholders of course) would not approve of. This is not to say they work for Big Pharma in any way. I really and sincerly don't think they do. BUT the pharmaceutical industry must be earnestly praising Ernst and singing the praises of Singh on a daily basis. In their view far too much money (that rightfully belongs to them and their shareholders) has been squandered on useless treatments that the public only thinks were useful.
When, as a young doctor, I first began to study homeopathy in 1982 at the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital I was deeply moved by the humane and kindly doctors working there and the many patients who had tried everything before coming there and now had finally benefited from homeopathic treatment. Now Singh and Ernst have convinced me that we were all deluded. Me, the patients and the homeopathic doctors. All improvements were imagined… But I really was inspired and thought it true at the time. Why was I so gullible?
I do take issue with one thing though. Singh and Ernst are quoted in The Times as saying: ‘In fact the best way to exploit the placebo effect is to lie excessively to make the pill seem extra-special, by using statements such as “this remedy has been imported from Timbuktu etc.”’ This is simply wrong. I have met hundreds of homeopathic doctors and heard many say many strange things – but never have I thought they were lying. The best way to get patients better with medicines that Ernst and Singh think are placebo is for the gullible, inane and misguided prescribers like myself earnestly to BELIEVE that these useless remedies actually help their patients. Faith, belief and confidence in what you are doing are much more effective at getting results than lying. I am not a liar but maybe this book will convince me that I have been wrong all these years about homeopathy – so I will now make a formal statement on behalf of myself and all homeopaths who think along similar lines to me.
I hereby state that Edzard Ernst and Simon Singh are honorable men and have convinced me to make the following statement:
1. Homeopathy is worthless because even though patients do remarkably well after consulting us homeopathic doctors, scientific studies have convinced authorities that these improvements are not happening because of the remedies taken. Any other possible reason for the patients' improvement is not scientific and must also therefore be rejected.
2. The people of Britain are ignorant of medical science and obviously cannot be trusted to make a decision about whether homeopathy should retain the small place it has in the NHS. Referendums on this issue would be pointless. As Winston Churchill correctly pointed out: 'The greatest argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter'.
3. In this era of what has rudely, ignorantly and unfairly pejoratively been termed 'The Nanny State', informed authorities, be they qualified in medicine or not, will decide whether we the gullible public who pay for the NHS get homeopathy on our democratic NHS - or not. This is common sense and those that unpatriotically refer to it as 'Stalinism' should have severe action taken against them - including detention without trial.
4. Trials showing that homeopathy works on animals should be discounted because animals don't respond to placebo and Ernst, Singh and other members of the Naive Realism school of philosophy of science can see no other way in which homeopathy could have a clinical effect.
5. In the footsteps of Galileo, we retract whatever statements we have previously and erroneously stated about homeopathy being a useful medical adjunct to conventional medicine and apologise unequivocally for any inconvenience to the State, the public and especially to school of Naive Realism for our previous actions.