This site is intended for health professionals only

Misleading the public

Edzard Ernst looks at claims that proponents of homeopathy may be economical with the truth

During the last few days, the media were saturated with reports about the Science and Technology Committee's dismissive report on homeopathy. Pulse also reported about it ('MPs call for end to NHS funding of homeopathy'). I will therefore not re-visit issues that have already been discussed in full.

The report [1] contains, however, several points which went totally unnoticed. Some of them are important. For instance, under paragraph 73 it states:

‘We regret that advocates of homeopathy, including in their submissions to our inquiry, choose to rely on, and promulgate, selective approaches to the treatment of the evidence base as this risks confusing or misleading the public, the media and policy-makers.'

MPs are, of course, polite and politically correct people who would not dream of using strong or insulting language. Considering this fact, I feel that this quote is remarkably direct and abrupt. Basically the committee members are expressing their dismay about proponents of homeopathy being economical with the truth with the risk of misleading us all.

This notion might seem familiar to regular readers of this blog. I find myself constantly and tediously battling with people and organisations that ‘mislead the public, the media and policy-makers'.

On top of my list is the Prince of Wales' Foundation for Integrated Medicine. Anyone who wants to research the statements issued by them during the last few days will find few that are not misleading, I predict.

I wholly agree with the MPs that misleading the public is regrettable. I would go even further and ask why public funds are being diverted to support this bizarre lobby group. If HRH wants a support group for promoting his strange concepts on healthcare, surely he can afford to pay for this luxury himself.

Edzard Ernst