During a recent trip to India, author and scientist Simon Singh was asked by the editors of the Hindustan Times to write an article about homeopathy. Singh did just that, only to have his piece rejected…
When I finally submitted the article to the Hindustan Times in early January, I was surprised that the person who commissioned article was unhappy with my use of the words bunkum, quackery and pseudoscience in relation to homeopathy. She went on to write: “While we agree that it is important to debunk myths about alternative medicine, we would also like to avoid lawsuits!“
He’s published the piece on his own site, and it’s worth a read. There’s really nothing in it that should be problematic for a credible newspaper:
In order to set aside the issue of the placebo effect, homeopaths will often cite how pets and babies seem to get better after taking homeopathic remedies. They argue that pets and babies have no expectations and so cannot exhibit placebo responses. However, both pets and babies may react positively to the loving care of their owners or parents, and we should not underestimate the temporary effect of a shot of sugar, particularly on a baby who is teething. On top of this, those who report apparent improvements are not unbiased observers, but presumably believers in homeopathy who want their loved ones to get better.
Homeopaths will often state that some conventional doctors prescribe homeopathy. Some do, but many do not. In fact, the overwhelming majority of real doctors think homeopathy is pseudoscience. After all, homeopaths typically dilute their remedies until they contain no actual ingredients. Even though zero was invented in India, I suspect that most Indians would spurn the ridiculous notion of pills containing zero.
If even the newspapers can’t be expected to tackle bullshit, then what hope do readers have of getting unbiased, useful information? If you’re only publishing information people want to hear, rather than what they need to hear, then stop calling yourselves journalists.
(Image via Shutterstock)