Last week, the British market research firm YouGov published findings from a national UK opinion survey on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). While the survey focused on CAM in general, YouGov chose to focus on the findings for homeopathy in their publicity materials. In summary, 43% of the sample believed homeopathy to be either “definitely” or “possibly” effective. Given that 20% reported not having a particular view (i.e., “Don’t know”), this meant that only 37% explicitly reported skepticism. In other words, of those adults willing to express an opinion, the majority expressed some level of belief in the effectiveness of homeopathy. This is despite the well established biological implausibility and medical inefficacy of homeopathic treatment.
Similar results emerged for other CAM treatments, suggesting that belief in pseudoscientific medicine continues to prosper in the UK. Noted science writer, blogger, and top skeptic Ben Goldacre even posted a tweet implying that the figures undermined claims that science advocates were “winning” the war on quackery (a point he elaborated in a subsequent blog post). However, should we really be that pessimistic? Because despite these initial impressions, the details within the figures may actually contain some encouraging signs. Continue reading “Skeptics vs. Quacks: Who’s winning?”