Don’t call believers in homeopathy idiots

One of the attractions of homeopathy is the inclusiveness it offers patients, in contrast to the perceived exclusivity and elitism of medicine and science. Participants are welcomed and can engage in an extended discussion with their homeopath. They are able to develop a longstanding relationship with an individual who gets to know them personally and offers supportive guidance. Consider this in contrast to the doctor’s surgery, often over-subscribed, where patients may be required to wait up to two weeks for an appointment. Drawing from my own experience, on a recent surgery visit I was informed that I had to pick one of the two issues I needed to discuss with my doctor, as patients were only allocated a 10-minute slot and there would not be enough time to discuss both.

The criticism of people who embrace homeopathy also fails to appreciate that the individuals’ beliefs are influenced by cultural, social and political narratives. Here, distrust and disillusionment benefit those who offer easy solutions and, more often than not, are trying to make some quick cash. Studies have shown that when people with deeply entrenched beliefs are confronted with facts that offer proof to the contrary, they can paradoxically become firmer in their beliefs.

An understanding and appreciation of these processes is needed if we’re going to encourage critical thinking and get more people involved in science. Corbyn’s critics’ attempt to reinforce the perception that believers in homeopathy are ignorant is divisive political rhetoric and an attempt to discredit a progressive political figure.