Quack(er)s part deux

Whoa! STOP PRESS! I've just realised something:

That BBC news report I quoted in my previous item about homeopathy says the following (my emphasis added):

The Royal London Homeopathic Hospital is run by doctors who are also homeopaths and who treat conditions such as hay fever and rheumatism. They are also furious that some homeopaths are making these false claims about malaria.

The hospital's Director Peter Fisher told Newsnight "I'm very angry about it because people are going to get malaria—there is absolutely no reason to think that homeopathy works to prevent malaria and you won't find that in any textbook or journal of homeopathy so people will get malaria, people may even die of malaria if they follow this advice."

But hang on a cotton-picking nanosecond, what about this other BBC article which I have referred to previously (again, with my emphasis added—and I have merged some of the paragraphs to save space):

BBC (10-Apr-2005): Malaria row inspired homeopathy

…This weekend, supporters of homeopathy are celebrating the 250th anniversary of the birth of Samuel Hahnemann—the man widely accepted as the founder of homeopathy…

[I]t was while translating medical texts that he made his biggest breakthrough—the realisation that taking quinine to treat malaria produced the same symptoms as the illness itself. Dr Hahnemann found a piece by another doctor, Cullen, who was examining the use of quinine (which he referred to as Peruvian Bark) to treat malaria—or Marsh Fever as it was then known. Dr Cullen said the bark was successful because of its astringent and purgative properties. But Dr Hahnemann took issue with this. He argued that other medicines had the same properties—but had no effect on malaria. To prove his point, he decided to experiment with quinine, taking the drug himself. The results were to prove hugely significant.

According to John Saxton, president of the faculty of homeopathy which promotes the academic and scientific development of the discipline, they effectively laid the foundation stone for the creation of homeopathy. "He took a dose of Peruvian Bark—four drams—and developed all the symptoms of malaria apart from the fever. For as long as he continued to take the bark, he had the symptoms and when he stopped it, they stopped. It set him thinking." Dr Hahnemann came to the conclusion that it was the very fact that quinine produced symptoms so similar to malaria itself that made it a useful medicine—in effect he discovered that like can be used to fight like.

In other words, although "there is absolutely no reason to think that homeopathy works to prevent malaria", the belief that like can be used to fight like specifically with malaria "laid the foundation stone for the creation of homeopathy".

I'm sorry (actually, I'm not), but doesn't that totally destroy the supposed foundation of homeopathy?

Richard Carter

A fat, bearded chap with a Charles Darwin fixation.

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