The Guardian published an article written by Jeanette Winterson (not a scientist), on why she thinks homeopathy is wonderful.
Another reason why topics like this should be covered by dedicated science writers. Dedicated science writers would not base an entire article on one anecdotal experience.
Picture this. I am staying in a remote cottage in Cornwall without a car. I have a temperature of 102, spots on my throat, delirium, and a book to finish writing. My desperate publisher suggests I call Hilary Fairclough, a homeopath who has practices in London and Penzance. She sends round a remedy called Lachesis, made from snake venom. Four hours later I have no symptoms whatsoever.
She then has the nerve to go on and say:
Right now, though, a fierce debate is raging between those, like me, who trust homeopathy because it works for them, and those who call it shamanistic claptrap, without clinical proof or any scientific base.
This shows exactly what is going on here. The science which clearly demonstrates it offers no benefits vs. her (and every other true believers') anecdotal experiences.
In science anecdotes are worthless.
Who here has woken up one morning with a temperature and felt a bit rough yet through the course of the day felt much better? Did any of you walk down or up some stairs during the course of the day? You did? Wow, walking up and down the stairs is a cure!
Or maybe it was tapping on that plank of wood, spinning around on your chair, or having a bit to eat. Or heck, maybe that thing called the immune system fought it off by itself.
The trouble with anecdotes is they're uncontrolled and introduce far too many variables to know what exactly is going on, who knows what she took before taking the sugar pill. They're also isolated, perhaps there were a hundred other people who were also in Jeanette's position, yet they didn't take any sugar pill and felt better anyway. With anecdotes we don't know what the bigger picture is.
Only by doing controlled studies can we account for those variables. Such studies have been done and show homeopathy doesn't work.
Here's James Randi going over homeopathy (I didn't want this post turning into a huge rant of why it doesn't work). So I'll hand you over to him:
This sort of nonsense is funded by the NHS (they recently put £25 million into opening a Homeopathic hospital), and that is not on. The NHS needs to fund things that actually work, things that have been tested and have scientific evidence to back them up. If people want to waste money on sugar pills, they should do it with their own money.