Experts Call for Global Rejection of Homeopathy

Stephen Barrett, M.D.

On January 30, 2016, eight prominent scientists me in Freiburg, Germany to discuss how to inform the public responsibly and counter the rampant misinformation about homeopathy to which Germans and others are regularly exposed. They founded the Homeopathy Information Network and, as indicated below, called for scientific organizations worldwide to "finally reject homeopathy and other pseudoscientific methods."

FREIBERG DECLARATION ON HOMEOPATHY
Translated by Professor Edzard Ernst

Homeopathy is neither naturopathy nor medicine

Despite the support of politicians and the silence of those who should know better, homeopathy has remained a method which is in clear opposition to the proven basics of science. The members and supporter of the Homeopathic Information Network view homeopathy as a stubbornly surviving belief system, which cannot be accepted as part of naturopathy nor medicine. The information network is an association of physicians, pharmacists, veterinarians, biologists, scientists and other critics of homeopathy who are united in their aim to disclose this fact more openly and make the public more aware of it.

No special status for homeopathy

During the more than 200 years of its existence, homeopathy has not managed to demonstrate its specific effectiveness. Homeopathy only survives because it has been granted special status in the German healthcare system which is, in the opinion of the experts of the network, unjustified. Drugs have to prove their effectiveness according to objective criteria, but homeopathics are exempt from this obligation. We oppose such double standards in medicine.

Homeopathy has also not managed to demonstrate a plausible mode of action. Instead its proponents pretend that there are uncertainties which need to be clarified. We oppose such notions vehemently. Homeopathy is not an unconventional method that requires further scientific study. Its basis consists of long disproven theories such as the 'law of similars', 'vital force' or 'potentisation by dilution'.

Self-deception of patient and therapist

We do not dispute the therapeutic effects of a homeopathic treatment. But they are unrelated to the specific homeopathic remedy. The perceived effectiveness of homeopathics is due to suggestion and auto-suggestion of the patient and the therapist. The mechanisms of such (self-)deceit are multi-fold but well-known and researched. Symptomatic improvements caused by context-effects must not be causally associated with the homeopathic remedy. We assume that many physicians and alternative practitioners using homeopathy are unaware of the existence and multitude of such mechanisms and are acting in good faith. This, however, does not alter the fact that their conclusions are wrong and thus potentially harmful.

Medicine and scienc

We do not claim that the scientific method which we uphold can currently research and explain everything. However, it enables us to explain that homeopathy cannot explain itself. The scientific method shows the best way we have for differentiating effective from ineffective treatments. A popular belief in therapeutic claims nourished by politicians and journalists can never be a guide for medical activities.

Aim of this declaration

Our criticism is not aimed at needy patients or practising homeopathic clinicians; it is aimed at the school of homeopathy and the healthcare institutions which could have long recognised the nonsensical nature of homeopathy, but have chosen not to interfere. We ask the players within our science-based healthcare system to finally reject homeopathy and other pseudoscientific methods and to return to what should be self-evident: scientifically validated, fair and generally reproducible rules promoting top-quality medicine for the benefit of the patient.

Authors

  • Dr.-Ing. Norbert Aust, Initiator Informationsnetzwerk Homöopathie
  • Dr. med. Natalie Grams, Leiterin Informationsnetzwerk Homöopathie
  • Amardeo Sarma, GWUP Vorsitzender und Fellow von CSI (Committee for Skeptical Inquiry)

Signers

  • Edzard Ernst, Emeritus Professor, Universität Exeter, UK
  • Prof. Dr. Rudolf Happle, Verfasser der Marburger Erklärung zur Homöopathie
  • Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Hell, Vorsitzender des Wissenschaftsrates der GWUP
  • Prof. Norbert Schmacke, Institut für Public Health und Pflegeforschung, Universität Bremen
  • Dr. rer. nat. Christian Weymayr, freier Medizinjournalist

This article was posted on February 21, 2016.

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