Dying to Believe

Some more of the same

Following up from last week, I’m posting more on death by alternative medicine (alt-med). Some time ago I picked Tuesdays to carry the sad news about people dying from false belief. Homeopathy is a wrong-headed notion put forward by Samuel Hahnemann (see above) in 1796. It continues to kill 221 years later. Here is the case of Isabella Denley:

Last year in Melbourne, Australia, Isabella Denley, an epileptic toddler, died after her parents ditched the anti-convulsant medication she had been prescribed by her neurologist. The drugs had terrible side effects, including sleep loss and hyperactivity, so they turned to alternative therapies, visiting a vibrational kinesiologist, a cranial osteopath and a psychic who told them Isabella was suffering from a past-life trauma.

An inquest heard that when she died, the toddler was exclusively on homeopathic medication. Her parents believed they were doing their utmost. But clearly the potential pitfalls of Cams go beyond ruthless charlatans. Indeed, the real peril may be our faith that alternative therapies will inevitably reach – and cure – the parts that allopathic medicines will not.

A spokesperson for the Research Council for Complementary Medicine is quoted as saying, “There is certainly evidence to show that some therapies are effective for certain conditions.” This person goes on to say that it can be confusing to figure out which therapies work and which do not. From the article: “Often several studies of the same therapy will contradict each other, and since funding for research is hard to come by many studies are considered flawed.”


All right. There are many reasons to die. This one seems to be among the least heroic.


One thought on “Dying to Believe

  1. Pingback: Dying to Believe | Skeptical Analysis

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