Greens and science: why Caroline Lucas should not back homeopathy

I was disappointed to hear that Caroline Lucas MP had signed EDM 284 criticising the British Medical Association’s stance against funding for homeopathy within the National Health Service.

The BMA argues that there is no evidential basis for homeopathy and it should not receive NHS funding.  I support their view – homeopathy is not so much bad science as anti-science, a concept so ridiculous that it’s effectively raising two fingers to every known concept of scientific evidence.

Of course there is a placebo effect, and that needs proper research – although there’s in my view a huge ethical problem in telling people that something works when all the scientific evidence tells you otherwise, in order to kick-start the healing process.

And let’s not pretend that there are not real vested interests at stake here.  As with much “alternative” therapy, homeopathy seems pretty mainstream when it comes to adopting the values of market capitalism – much of it apparently aimed at allowing the post-Thatcher “me” generation to feel good about themselves .

Why does this matter for Caroline Lucas and the Greens?

It matters because the Green case, if it is to be anything at all, must be founded on hard scientific evidence.  Dr Lucas herself ran into a row before here election to Parliament when she compared climate change denial to Holocaust denial; her point – grossly misrepresented by the media but I believe entirely valid – was that in both cases the weight of hard evidence was overwhelming, with all that that implies for the motives of the deniers.

Elsewhere, the Green Party in Britain is the only party getting to grips with some of the big issues – like peak oil – where the political mainstream wants to ignore the evidence; or using evidence to attack politically expedient consensus, as in Dr Lucas’ admirable attacks on the deficit fetishism of the political mainstream.

I believe strongly that we need a Green alternative.  Greens are often portrayed as anti-science; I’d say that on climate change and peak oil – not to mention the physical and psychological damage caused by market capitalist values – they’re the only political grouping with the courage to embrace scientific evidence and to build political action on it.  Which is why Westminster’s only Green should not be backing motions in support of homeopathy.

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