Job Application for Speciality Doctor in Homoeopathy

re NHS Tayside’s decision to sack 500 staff, but still advertise a £68,000 per year post for a homeopath.

Dear Sir / Madam

I think I have exactly the personal qualities, skills and attributes you may be looking for the post of Specialty Doctor in Homoeopathy.

I have an honours degree in biochemistry and genetics. I studied in the 1970s so I was out of my head on drugs most of the time and didn’t really take much in when they talked about the Avogadro constant and dose dependent effects and all that shit. I don’t think my science studies would present any obstacle to my carrying out the duties of this post with a straight face.

Later I did a BA in philosophy and a PhD in the philosophy of science. I realize that this does not really make me into the kind of Doctor you are looking for but you could put “Dr” in front of my name and lots of letters afterwards on the plaque on the door and nobody would really know the difference – after all Gillian McKeith got away with it and she got her doctorate from the American Holistic College of Nutrition which isn’t ever a real university. She’s into all that alternative medicine stuff and none of the people who consult her seem to notice anything wrong with her qualifications.

While my original science studies might be thought to disqualify me from believing that disease can be treated with sugar pills sprinkled with pure water, I think I can assure you that my doctoral studies make me uniquely qualified for the post you are offering.

One thing I learnt in my philosophy studies was that a lot of science is based on inductive reasoning. As Karl Popper has pointed out, however, just because a treatment has been repeatedly shown to work (in randomized controlled trials) does not provide any logical guarantee that the treatment in question will continue to work in the future. In my thesis I develop a line of argument that is a corollary of Popper’s insight: just because a treatment has been repeatedly shown not to work (in randomized controlled trials) does not provide any logical guarantee that the treatment in question might not start working next time it is tested.

I think you will agree that the credibility of homeopathy hinges on the plausibility of this line of argument.

How about it?

PS You can obtain details of the post from the above link and send your applications in to recruitment.tayside@nhs.net. @zeno001 on twitter is maintaining a list.


  1. Real is scientific homeopathy. It cures even when Conventional Allopathic Medicine (CAM) fails. Nano doses of evidence-based modern homeopathy medicine brings big results for everyone

  2. Urm "scientific homoeopathy" is an oxymoron.

    "CAM" (in this context) usually stands for "Complementary and Alternative Medicine" - ie nonsense such as homoeopathy.

    Homoeopathy does not have an evidence base - all the good evidence (ie metaanalyses of large RCTs shows it not to work - which is exactly what you'd expect from "medicine" containing nothing but water or sugar.

  3. TRIPLE-BLIND STUDIES in homeopathy
    Journal of Psychosomatic Research (Pergamon)
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15016577 (2004) //Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

  4. TRIPLE-BLIND STUDIES in support of homeopathy medicine

    Journal of Psychosomatic Research (Pergamon)
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15016577 (2004) //Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

  5. link that works: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15016577

    The authors of this study write:

    "There is weak but equivocal evidence that the effects of homeopathic medicine are superior to placebo."

    If they mean "There is weak AND equivocal evidence" I agree.

    If (as I suspect) they mean "There is weak but UNequivocal evidence" then they are either illiterate or need to devote more attention to proof reading. Either way I think we are entitled to lower our expectations concerning the degree of rigour exercised by this group in their experimental work.

    This study involved about 100 participants about a fifth of whom dropped out. CFS is an ill defined clinical entity (which does not mean it is not real - dyslexia and schizophrenia are similarly ill-defined) and involved assessment using rather vague and subjective indices. Only one index showed a statistically relevant improvement which - if this experiment were repeated with a larger group would almost certainly disappear.

    It his study concerned a novel treatment with a plausible mode of action, a result like this might warrant further investigation. This one doesn't.

    In is statistically inevitable that small scale studies like this will sometimes seem to show a small positive result for homoeopathy or any other form of quackery we might care to mention. Looked at in their totality, however, the results are clear: homoeopathy has no effect beyond the placebo effect - and it has been around for about 200 years now.


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