A little while ago I wrote about the set-up of a homeopathic society at Birkbeck and my concerns about it. This prompted me to write to our Student Union to try and understand exactly what was going on, what the size of the operation was and if we were financing this (in my opinion) ethically dubious behaviour by students of another university on our campus. I never heard back, despite chasing.
However my point did appear to have struck home, at least for a brief while: posters were removed from the lifts and corridors and their original website was torn down and replaced with this one. I’d like to class this as a small victory as it appears I have at least cleared the name of my College from their website and so we are no longer associated with such drivel.
I suppose the next stop is to drive them out of using College rooms by showing the College what nonsense is being harboured within our building. I think that shall be my next port of call.
Today, the Science and Technology Committee released it’s Evidence Check report into homeopathy, which they’ve used to call for a withdrawal of NHS funding for homeopathy. I know this will be covered to death in the blogosphere today but I just wanted to add my two cents anyway. (Isn’t that what blogging is all about anyway?)
So the report didn’t tell us anything new, given that it concurred (unsuprisingly) with the Government and almost all the evidence that homeopathy is not efficacious. What is has done though, is propelled this in to the media. This can only be good for starting more dialogue and educating the public on exactly what homeopathy is and why it’s ridiculous. The public aren’t stupid and the concept isn’t hard to grasp, so all we have to do is get out there and tell them – and this story as a news item does exactly that, even if the coverage isn’t perfect. And this is sustained coverage – coming a few weeks after 10:23 and calling for a Government response, which will no doubt ensure further coverage. Especially as wasting public money is on everyone’s lips at the moment.
I look forward to the topic being kicked around a little more in public in the future.
In the last post, I mentioned that the evidence and perception of homeopathy is becoming a “great interest of mine”. I thought I’d better explain why, rather than just leaving it as some ambiguous waffle.
The main reason my interest has suddenly just shot up is that homeopathy has just merged two of my hobbies: grumbling about science and student politics. This has happened in the form of the Birkbeck University Homeopathic Society which formed earlier this year at Birkbeck, where I study, and has been advertised in the lifts for a while now.
Now, I’m aware that the NHS spends around £4million every year on homeopathy, and that is alarming, but somewhat abstracted from me: I wouldn’t choose to do it and by virtue of not having a job, I don’t pay taxes to help support it. However, when it starts to occur in the same building as me, associated with the name of my university and in a place where many of us are practising a real science, with the scientific method, it becomes a lot harder to swallow. Made even worse (or maybe better), by the fact that their website proclaims them to be Middlesex Uni students – so what opportunity the society creates for Birkbeck students in beyond me.
So that is the reason behind my new found interest and I’m definitely going to be doing a bit of digging and maybe even start a little campaign of my own.
For more information on homeopathy, I can’t recommend enough the 10:23 site, particularly here for a quick overview of what the fuss is.
Ok, so this was nearly a week ago now, but I’ve been busy!
On Monday I had the pleasure of attending my first meeting of the London branch of Skeptics in the Pub. Both me and my friend (female) were pleasantly surprised to discover that it wasn’t just a room full of boring looking middle-aged men as the name (and some of their photos…) might proclaim. Although it is mostly male.
Any how, Monday’s speaker was Martin Robbins (@mjrobbins) of The Lay Scientist. He gave a humorous (if not foul-mouthed) account of his work as press officer for the excellent 10:23 campaign (Homeopathy: There’s nothing in it). Homeopathy, its evidence and how widely understood it is are becoming great interests of mine, on the back of reading Ben Goldacre’s book: Bad Science and my previous disdain for how poorly science is generally understood by and communicated to the public.
This meeting was the opposite to all that dumbing down and proved that you can present graphs and real data to the (self-selecting) masses who might not be experts and people are receptive to that. I will certainly be attending the next one.