I met with my MP Ian Stewart yesterday who serves on the parliamentary Science and Technology Committee and has been part of the recent Evidence Check into homeopathy.
The Evidence Check has been written and is due to be published any day.
The remit of the Committee was to have been a short enquiry into the relevance of government funding and policy - in this case related to provision of homeopathy within the NHS. The Committee's remit was NOT to investigate whether homeopathy works or not.
Needless to say given membership of the Committee, including at least one with an association to Sense About Science, it was perhaps a foregone conclusion that this is exactly what the focus of the Evidence Check became.
From the Chairman's opening question to the representative from Boots the high street chemist: "You ....sell homeopathic remedies. Do they work beyond the placebo effect?" all the focus was on "does it work or not".
The panel invited to give oral submissions was seriously biased - only 3 of the 9 with training and experience in homeopathy (not counting Prof "closed mind" Ernst). MP Evan Harris (apparently) fed the Denialists their questions, they provided stock answers.
For much more about the Evidence Check and how it unfolded see:
Mr Stewart made a valiant attempt to to bring balance to the proceedings but was hopelessly outnumbered.
A question needs to be asked in parliament about the conduct of this Evidence Check and it's inherent bias.
How many on the Science and Technology Committee already had closed minds? How many of those invited to give oral submissions were specially selected FOR their closed minds. How many of those servicing the Committee with submitted paperwork had closed minds?
Before the Committee meetings I sent a letter to Mr Stewart advising him of this inherent bias and he circulated the letter to all members of the Committee. A similar letter was sent directly to the Committee members, put into 'background information' and I imagine was never read.
Since the report is yet to be published, Mr Stewart was unable to reveal its contents, but I can predict given the serious and obvious bias of the proceedings - when the report is published there may be headlines about government recommendations to stop funding NHS homeopathy because there is no evidence that it works. (This despite the avalanche of well written submissions from the homeopathic community detailing mountains of solid evidence.) This pronouncement will be hammered home by the latest anti-homeopathy campaign 10:23 which is launching / unleashing itself on the UK public this month to "educate the public about homeopathy" so that they can "make an informed choice". Their tag line is : " Homeopathy - there's nothing in it" and 10:23 refers of course to their continued obsession with Avogadro's number.
The same core group who are pushing this campaign - though they distance themselves just far enough to claim no connection - have already fired a warning shot into the US via Prof Ernst's article advocating "closed minds on homeopathy" published in JAMA at the end of 2009.
The homeopathic community EVERYWHERE needs to get very busy promoting the truth about homeopathy starting NOW.
Demand your professional organisations work together - take action and mobilise the base immediately.
Check out Alex Heffron's blog for an action you can do today.
Share this post with everyone in the homeopathic community right now.
Carol Boyce MCH, CCH, RSHom(NA)