I can’t remember what exactly but something on Twitter alerted me to a Merseyside Skeptics blogpost about Early Day Motions in support of Homeopathy. I clicked a few links and found to my horror that my new MP was a signatory to all four of them. Mark Oaten may have had his issues but he could at least be relied upon not to support pseudoscience.
I wrote an email to Mr Brine, initally just about David Tredinnick’s EDM 285 “EFFECT OF HOMEOPATHIC REMEDIES ON BREAST CANCER CELLS” calling for further research into the use of homeopathy in this area. I asked him if he’d read the (deeply flawed) scientific paper that it quotes and pointed him to a critique of the paper. In short, I warned, the study is seriously flawed and the results in the paper are not to be trusted.
I reminded him that homeopathy is 200 years old and in all that time there have been about 200 well-designed trials to test its efficacy and none of them have shown that homeopathy is more effective than a placebo. I also pointed him to the House of Commons Science & Technology Select Committee recently published Evidence Check for Homeopathy, reminding him that it concluded that NHS funding of homeopathy should cease because it works only as a placebo. I also mentioned that after an unbiased weighing of the evidence for and against homeopathy, members of the British Medical Association recently passed a motion denouncing use of alternative medicine and branded homeopathy as witchcraft. Finally, I asked him why he was supporting the motion.
He took the time to read what I wrote, although admitting he hadn’t yet followed the links. He said that by signing the EDMs he wasn’t so much supporting them as being keen to open up debate on the issue. He says he was asked to sign them, although he doesn’t say by whom. He also pointed out that he has also been contacted by people who “believe in homeopathy and feel equally strongly [as you]”.
I felt a need to reply and warned him that his support of all four pro-homeopathy EDMs, 284, 285, 286 and 287 was making him appear firmly in the pro-homeopathy camp. I am not certain that this was his ever his intention and suggested that he might want to reconsider his decision in this new light. I also alerted him to the existence of amendments to all these EDMs tabled by Julian Huppert MP which correct their inaccuracies and put them back in line with real science and evidence and suggested he take a look at them.
Steve Brine does appear to listen to the opinions of others — “… Personally, I was asked to sign [the Homeopathy EDMs]…” — so if you’d like to write to him in support of reason you could add your voice to mine. Remember though, you can only write to him if you are in the Winchester and Chandler’s Ford Constituency, otherwise you’re expected to write to your own MP.
Thanks to Dave for letting me post on this blog and thanks to you for listening.
[Oops! *egg on face* I’ve never used WordPress before. I’ve corrected all the links so they work now. Sx]