Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

If It’s Too Good to Be True...

By Peter Bowditch

Despite the NHMRC’s findings on homeopathy and the death of a “wellness warrior”, there is little critical evaluation of health claims by the mainstream media.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

The National Health and Medical Research Council has issued a statement about the effectiveness of homeopathy following a review of 225 studies selected after a rigorous assessment of more than 1800 papers. To quote the media release from NHMRC:

The review found no good quality, well-designed studies with enough participants to support the idea that homeopathy works better than a placebo, or causes health improvements equal to those of another treatment.

Homeopaths and their supporters have been highly critical of the findings, of course, and have been making noises about the inadequacies of meta-analysis, the influence of Big Pharma, the long history of people knowing that homeopathy works, and the other usual excuses given whenever the veil of legitimacy is removed from a form of quackery. It is rather telling that only 12.5% of the studies investigated looked like they might mean something, but on further examination none of these better ones demonstrated what is supposed to be common knowledge.

One of the reasons for the continued success of things like homeopathy is that the media generally tend to accept claims without bothering to check the facts. Even when something like this comes along it seems that the media is reluctant to admit that they might have been wrong. I have seen little coverage of the NHMRC findings, yet...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.