Today was the day of the Wellbeing Fair, where the homeopaths at the Edinburgh University Settlement had set up a stall alongside a reflexologist and all the other health foods companies and stuff like that. Over the weekend a made a load of flyers (for some reason WordPress won’t upload Publisher files, I see what I can do to get them up) on homeopathy, informing people just how diluted the remedies are, which I’ve found to be a good way of dissuading people who believed in it before. They also mentioned how homeopaths theorise that it works (energy signals, succussion etc), and links to further information on the subject, including some studies.
I also sent an email to Naomi Hunter and Adam Ramsay (EUSA VP Societies and Activities and President, respectively), which I didn’t intend to be rude, but upon reading back this morning it did seem a tad over the mark towards the end. Anyway Adam replied to me by email that he agreed with me about it being a con, but that the University Settlement is part of the university community and it would be unfair to ban them. I disagree but I think that’s less of an issue to take up with EUSA and more with the University. Naomi spoke to me in person and said “everyone’s got different tastes” (I don’t really think it’s a matter of taste) but she also didn’t have a problem with me flyering the fair and even offered me a stall of my own! I politely declined because I had class at various points throughout the day, but it was good to get a response.
Generally speaking I was fairly pleased. Not all that many people came to the Fair, and many of those who did skipped straight past the homeopathy stall to others with more freebies. Of those that did peruse their materials, I made sure they also got one of my flyers so they weren’t just reading propaganda, like I was originally. One of Stuart’s friends, Max, was running the self defence society’s stall right next to the homeopathy one, so I got a load of flyers on that table and stood around handing flyers to anyone who walked through that section, which wasn’t too many. I still have loads left, but they’re easily reused, especially if we’re going to take this up further with the University.
What surprised me most was the attitudes of other people I spoke with throughout the day. An acquaintance of mine in the Christian Union asked what I was up to today, and when I told her, she didn’t see the problem with homeopathy. What amazed me most is that she’s a medical student! She said that all medicines go through stages of skepticism before they’re proven, and it’s clear to her that homeopathy works. I didn’t get chance to reply, but the way I see it they’ve already tried to prove it and failed, so it’s not like it works and just hasn’t been tested. If they somehow prove it does work, I very much doubt that it works in the way they say it does. I spoke to her flatmate later in the day and she said they’d had a similar conversation the previous night with some of their vet friends. Apparently they were skeptics, but they did a unit on acupuncture on horses or something.
Plenty of other people have expressed the opinion that if they’re benefitting from the placebo, we shouldn’t intervene, but I have a problem with lying to people to make use of the placebo, particularly in such a mumbo-jumboish way, as I’ve posted previously. One thing my acquaintance did say is that it works on eczema, and that’s not the placebo effect. I’ve had a quick look online and there doesn’t seem to have been much research or dialogue on that issue. So, thing’s I’d like to see more of are alternative medicine and placebo usage on animals, on very young children and on eczema. If you know anything about that, or where I can find some more information, let me know.