The UK does not have nearly the issue with religion as we have here. There, folks who are of such a bent tend to proclaim it in rather less strident terms than do folks here in these United States as, for some reason, their culture does not appear to be as enamored of the simple, pat answers provided by these metaphysical philosophies and so views such with a relatively critical eye.
However, nobody’s perfect. So where the UK shows rationality on the big questions concerning the “wherefores” and “whats” of existence (for which the answer is well known to be “42”, but I digress), they do seem to have a love for medical treatment that is well… something less than medical.
In “The end of homeopathy“, Ben Goldacre takes a very critical look at this supposed “Alternative Medicine” and points out the flaws in reporting and the issues in studying it that are so often either ignored by or not easily accessible to, the lay public that may be considering this option for their health needs.
Don’t get me wrong, there is enormous benefit for the placebo effect that subscribers to homeopathic medicine can gain. Our bodies are subject to countless little quirks, aches and twinges that, for the most part, will sort themselves out on their own. But if it makes folks feel better and happier, I think a treatment can be of great comfort and benefit even if it isn’t really doing anything. Medical folks have apparently been doing this for years by prescribing either tremendously under-dosed or even irrelevant remedies in cases where they felt the patient would benefit more from the attention than from any actual medication.
But the danger is always there that either practitioners or patients will take things too far and will eschew proven medical treatments in favor of these placebos when practical, active and relevant treatment is required. Even worse is when dependent folks (either through youth, retardation or old age) are taken down such paths by those responsible for them. For this reason vigilance needs to be maintained in the face of the apparent harmlessness of merely standing by when baseless claims are made to an unsuspecting public.