Sunday, October 24, 2010


Journalism's ruined. I think I might become a homeopath. Surely, all I will need is some water, a big book of pseudoscientific buzzwords and a Conscience Blocker 3000.

Ooh, but I'd best join The Society first, otherwise people won't take me seriously. I won't be alone - according to The Society, all kinds of people take the plunge. Why? Well...
You may have been inspired by the qualities and expertise of your own homeopath. You may have had homeopathic treatment which has changed your life, or know of someone else for whom homeopathy has made an enormous difference. You may be a parent who has prescribed first aid remedies for your own children, or a professional in another field interested in changing direction in your work life or extending your present career.
Hey, I'm a parent! I've prescribed first aid remedies for my children! Not homeopathic ones, mind. If my daughter cuts her finger, I put a plaster on it. I don't put a drop of her blood into some water, then dilute it until none remains, then rinse the cut. That would take ages. But maybe there's a quicker way.

Sadly, I have neither the time nor the will to actually shell out for a course in homeopathy. But I can take the 'individual route to registration'. Which is to say, you don't need to take a course to be a homeopath. You need a certificate.  So once you've printed off the certificate, filled out a couple of forms, fabricated a couple of 'patients' - you're in. Once you've paid The Society between £250 and £500 for the privilege, that is.

Don't worry, you'll get it back. Once qualified, you can charge in the region of £85 for an hour of your time. And that's to say nothing of the cost of the 'remedies'.

Fair enough, you might say. If people want to spend a lot of money on not much water, why not let them? Fools and their money, so on and so forth. But sadly, it's not just individuals who pay for this rubbish. The state does as well.

That's right, despite the complete lack of evidence that homeopathy works, an overwhelming body of evidence that it cannot work, a whacking great recession and a Tory government cutting funding for such expendable luxuries as wheelchairs for disabled people, the NHS still funds homeopathy. The last government commissioned a report which advised that this should stop. The last government ignored this report in the name of 'choice'.

To be honest, the cost of homeopathy to the NHS is a drop in the ocean (like the remedies themselves). NHS Choices estimates it at £3-4m a year, which wouldn't make much difference to the deficit, or the state of the NHS. But its survival as a state-approved system of medicine is testament to its special status. It's just water, it really is.

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