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June 06, 2009


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just manslaughter? not homicide?

I think it only counts as homicide if you actually intend to kill the person. Manslaughter is an accident.

It's a sad case on so many levels. My first reaction was similar to yours but I'm starting to understand what I believe Ben Goldacre's position to be - it's not the individual so much as the system.

The Australian media push this stuff strongly. There is no shortage of reinforcement of non-reality from aliens to psychics to alternative "medicine". We are actively encouraged to believe it's all fact and to disbelieve is to deny "reality".

Add to this the fact we have a government that imposes restrictions or education campaigns on a raft of things they feel we need to protect ourselves from (smoking, speeding, seat belts, domestic violence, dodgy consumer goods...) and we have a massive problem. Australia is a nanny state on so many levels but no government seems willing to make a stand against things like homeopathy.

There's been no blanket ban, no education campaign, no big bold warnings on labels that the products contain NOTHING. How can we blame individuals who accept this as confirmation of the veracity of alternative treatments? Not everyone is an active skeptic or scientist seeking evidence in every aspect of their lives. Most, I suspect, trust that the government would protect us from ourselves in matters of health services.

Thomas Sam wasn't just a homeopath, he was a senior lecturer in homeopathy at a college in Australia. Sure, we would expect him to know that it lacks evidence of efficacy but why should he assume he's wrong when our governments apparently fully supported his belief system as if it were legitimate - until his daughter died. And they still support it now for all the other homeopaths and their patients.

My summary here.

The government not banning homeopathy is a terrible thing. But i don't think that in any way decreases the couples culpability (and thankfully the court agreed)

To make it ever so slightly worse (how much worse could it get), whats good for the goose is not necessarily good for the gander.

    "Shortly before the wedding, Manju Sam developed extreme abdominal pain and, the day after the wedding, she was diagnosed with gallstones, Mr Tedeschi said. But instead of treating her with homeopathic remedies as they had done for their daughter, Manju Sam immediately went to a conventional hospital for treatment."


This hospital visit took place while their child was dying. A really sickening example of a hard-line homeopath (supporter?) realizing its ineffectiveness on a personal level, while allowing it to be applied vigourously to others.

Indeed, it reminds us of the case of the US parents who prayed as their daughter died but quickly hired lawyers to help them fight their own battle in court.

It's a complex issue and rest assured I'm not making excuses for the parents. It's difficult to imagine what could lead them to let their daughter suffer like this, especially when homeopaths admit that their "medicine" is useless for "acute" conditions and that such cases should be referred to real doctors. Such a statement was made in the hearings for this case.

I'm happy for the product not to be banned (tobacco is still legal and it is demonstrably more harmful than homeopathy) but where's the "education" campaign and warnings?

He can't be a moron. He's wearing a suit.

muz be one of those born-again types!

Nobody who smokes does so believing it's good for them. I smoked for 25 years until about 2 years ago, and I knew I was playing Russian roulette with my health.

What amazes me now I've given up is the awareness of just how rotten I felt most days when I was smoking. The health warnings that were getting bigger and more alarmist by the year didn't do a bloody thing to help me quit. Tobacco is genuinely habit-forming and has a powerful pharmacological effect that can make the smoker totally blasé about warnings like "Smoking Causes Lung Cancer" and "Smoking Kills", even while knowing the warnings are 100% true.

About the only way to "cure" hard-core smokers would be to ban it: the warnings don't do a lot. But the powers that be are too worried about losing the tax revenue. But it would cut lung cancer and emphysema at a stroke.

Homeopathy is touted as medicinal, natural, benign yet potent, and GOOD FOR YOU. Any truthful product warnings would just have to say things like "This preparation does not do a damn thing", "No more effective than tap water", "No substitute for real medicine", and "For fleecing money from the gullible only", and all homeopaths should be compelled by law to tell patients that there is no reliable peer-reviewed double-blind evidence that their product does anything at all. Unlike smoking, this is telling the patients something they probably don't know.

Unlike cigarette warnings, truthful homeopathy warnings could have a HUGE effect.

Good call, AndyD!

Maybe just a catch-all sign saying "Warning - you need to see a doctor."

How about, "Forget the doctor: if you believe in this stuff, you need a psychiatrist!"

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