Just to be clear, I am a stooge for Big Pharma. I have been bought. They throw wads of cash my way, disguised as grants and consultancy fees.
I am a wealthy man. My lifestyle is just a ruse. I take the bus to work each morning when I could be taking a limo.
Big Pharma flies me all over the world. All my drugs are free, and I’ve had everything: designer drugs, retro drugs, off-the-rack and hand-me-downs.
There, that settles that. Those who want to write me off as a shill for the pharmaceutical industry need go no further. Those who want to deal in facts and reason are welcome to continue.
Regular visitors to this corner (Hi, Mom!) are aware I am no fan of homeopathy. That is an understatement. I consider the production and sale of homeopathic concoctions to be fraud of the highest order.
There is no conceivable way that dilutions in the order of one to a trillion-trillion and beyond can even contain a molecule of active ingredient, and the notion that water can have a “memory” of that ingredient belongs in the realm of LSD hallucination.
Some advocates will say numerous scientific studies have proven the efficacy of homeopathy. This is a lie. The few that are fair and unbiased prove only a placebo effect. Nothing more.
Now, homeopathy is unique among consumable remedies in one important sense: it can have no negative effect for the same reason it has no positive effect. Apart from a bit of added lactose, it is harmless.
And because it poses no safety risk, many of those who question or refute its validity are willing to simply look the other way. Why rock the boat? Why antagonize those practitioners and patients who seek a harmless antidote to their colds and headaches, or a little relief from joint pain?
Well, if a news story from Italy this weekend is any indication, there’s plenty of reason to nip this cycle of delusion in the bud.
According to a story in The Telegraph on Monday, a couple in the southern Italy town of Tricase is being investigated for manslaughter after neglecting to seek conventional treatment for their five-year-old son. The boy, who had been suffering for weeks from cold-like symptoms, died in hospital.
The parents were giving the boy cups of fennel tea. The Guardian incorrectly identifies that as homeopathic treatment; if anything, it’s herbal. But the father in this case is a locally known practitioner of alternative medicine, and is the honorary president of Italy’s Homeopathic Sinergy Association.
There are many questions in this case, not the least of which is whether the child’s death was preventable, and whether the parents’ actions can legally be considered negligent. But there is clearly one lesson that can be taken from it no matter what the outcome: choosing bogus medicine over the real thing can have tragic results.
For every mild-mannered homeopath quietly doling out sugar pills for minor ailments, there is another who is willing to test the boundaries of modern medical standards. And as the willful blindness continues to spread in this poorly regulated field, more and more people are at risk of succumbing to treatable conditions.
Things go wrong in conventional medicine. Drugs can be deadly if administered incorrectly, and patients occasional die from infection and surgical mishaps.
But anyone who says modern medicine doesn’t help many more people than it hurts will have to come up with a pretty creative explanation for modern increases in population and longevity.
Homeopathy does no harm — unless it replaces real medicine in life-and-death situations.
In such cases, it’s as good as poison.
Peter Jackson is The Telegram’s
commentary editor. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.