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Are the forces of rationality gathering?

Edzard Ernst senses a change in the national debate on complementary therapies.

Edzard Ernst senses a change in the national debate on complementary therapies.

Could it be that we are witnessing a new beginning of rational thinking in the UK? Amy Jenkins from the Independent seems to think so.

‘Science is back in fashion and the forces of rationality are gathering' she recently postulated. In her short article, which is I think worth reading, she provided several arguments for her theory. I could provide more.

For instance, the parliamentary report on homeopathy mentioned in a recent blog of mine. Other indications are the good work by numerous UK bloggers, Ben Goldacre, Sense about Science, the Science Media Centre or HealthWatch, to mention just a few.

Amy Jenkins concluded her discussion with the following statement: ‘The fantasy in the New Age world is that we can take the healing into our own hands – but if that's the case, then the patient who doesn't heal is at fault.

‘You died from cancer because you didn't do enough positive meditations. So I'm glad the writing's on the wall for alternative treatments. Nowadays, if I feel tempted to see a quack, I go straight to a website called the Cochrane Collaboration.

‘There they give you a pithy summary of the results of properly conducted clinical trials. Bingo. No more false hope.'

Sadly, the new fashion for rationality has not yet reached the heir of the throne. On the contrary, he seems to have declared war on rationality in very general terms.

He was recently quoted as saying ‘The Enlightenment started over 200 years ago. It might be time to think again and review it and question whether it is really effective in today's condition…'.

Long live the Queen!

Professor Edzard Ernst

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