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Scepticism, homeopathy, and the Swiss Government report

For some reason the fact that the Swiss Government had produced a favourable report on homeopathy had escaped my notice until today, but when I learnt of it I looked it up on the net. This brought me to the Quackometer site, which has a discussion of the report called The Swizz report on homeopathy.

Well, of course, you'd expect the Quackometer to be critical of a report that supports homeopathy, but fortunately their piece contains some quotations from the Swiss article which help us to make up our own minds..

The current thinking and research of mainstream medicine are influenced mainly by Newton’s mechanistic and strictly causal-analytical physics (classical reductionist biomedical model), which ignores the more complex phenomena of nature, the organism’s systemic correlations, its life processes and overall regulation, and life as a whole, as well as qualitative experiences and the phenomena of spiritual science.

This passage is a complete give-away, particularly the reference to spiritual science. This will no doubt puzzle many readers, but anyone who knows anything about Anthroposophy, the so-called "Spiritual Science" founded by the philosopher and mystic Rudolf Steiner in the first half of the twentieth century, will recognise the term at once. It seems certain that Anthroposophical influences helped to shape the authors' conclusions.

So Newton is outmoded and a waste of time but science is not a total washout, it seems. Further on, predictably, we are told that homeopathy is supported by quantum physics.

Modern physics with its theory of relativity and quantum physics has long overtaken Newtonian mechanics and is paving the way for an understanding of the homeopathic mechanism of action.

Since few of us who are not trained physicists have any deep understanding of quantum mechanics or relativity we mostly have to rely on non-mathematical descriptions of these things written for readers like us. Some of these are very good, but physicists assure us that verbal accounts cannot give an in-depth understanding of the matter. Quantum mechanics is often invoked to explain the action of highly dilute homeopathic medicines. Often, I think, this amounts to little more than asserting that quantum mechanics and homeopathy are both mysterious, so they ought work in the same way. Moreover, if science can tolerate the paradoxes of quantum mechanics, why baulk at homeopathy?

Just to round off, I should point out that we even get the long-discredited idea of the vital force.

The vital force, just as vitality in general, cannot be measured and quantified by science, but it exists as a phenomenon.

I admit I haven't read the whole of this (long) report and perhaps some parts of it are better. But at least it seems clear that its authors are hostile to the values of the Enlightenment, which is enough to move it a long way down my reading list.


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John Floyd on :

Could not help forwarding to you this spoof on homeopathy that I saw on YouTube lately. Hope the three of you are doing reasonably well. Barbara has her new knee for six months and it's still a little sore. We have both modified our diet since We last visited you, with some respectable weight-loss and rather remarkable improvement in my personal lipid profile. (Gundry.)

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