Document Detail

Evidence and simplicity: why we should reject homeopathy.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  20367847     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
Homeopathic medications are used by millions, and hundreds of millions of dollars are spent on these remedies in the USA alone. In the UK, the NHS covers homeopathic treatments. Nonetheless, homeopathy is held in considerable disrepute by much of the medical and scientific community. Many proponents of homeopathy are well aware of these criticisms but remain unimpressed. The differences of opinion run deep, and the debate seems deadlocked. We aim to shed some light on this situation. We briefly recap some of the major arguments on each side, but we try to go further by making explicit an underlying philosophical presupposition. In particular, we will claim that there is an important principle, which has ancient roots going back at least to Occam, some version of which constrains all empirical reasoning. We call this constraint the simplicity principle. We argue that this is not something specific to a scientific paradigm, but that, all of us, including proponents of homeopathy, are themselves deeply committed to the simplicity principle. However, once the simplicity principle is made explicit and applied to homeopathy, allegiance to homeopathy is clearly seen as irrational. The point is not merely the lack of clinical trials supporting homeopathy; rather, belief in the efficacy of homeopathy leaves a mountain of unexplained mysteries, and thereby flies in the face of the simplicity rule that guides the homeopaths' own reasoning and arguments. If nothing else, we hope that defenders of homeopathy will gain a greater understanding of why critics are so deeply reluctant to accept the efficacy of homeopathic interventions - and that this reluctance is not mere stubbornness or artificial allegiance to western medicine. Finally, we also hope thereby to illustrate the usefulness of philosophy in unearthing presuppositions in seemingly deadlocked debates.
Scott Sehon; Donald Stanley
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Journal of evaluation in clinical practice     Volume:  16     ISSN:  1365-2753     ISO Abbreviation:  J Eval Clin Pract     Publication Date:  2010 Apr 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2010-04-06     Completed Date:  2010-07-29     Revised Date:  -    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  9609066     Medline TA:  J Eval Clin Pract     Country:  England    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  276-81     Citation Subset:  IM    
Philosophy Department, Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine 04011-8484, USA.
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MeSH Terms
Clinical Trials as Topic
Evidence-Based Medicine*
Treatment Outcome
Comment In:
J Eval Clin Pract. 2010 Apr;16(2):282-3   [PMID:  20367848 ]

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