In this second part, Richard Dawkins puts alternative healthcare under the Skeptical eye. Alternative health practitioners will claim that their methods have been scientifically tested, Skeptics will say they haven’t been. It’s up to the public to educate themselves; hear both sides of the story and make up their own minds. But any attempt to take that choice away from the consumer creates a dictatorship, and science becomes just another religion. Dawkins laments about how the NHS is funding homeopathic medicine, but why is this wrong? It would be wrong if Skeptics were the only ones who paid tax, but they're not. Non-Skeptics like me also do and to try to force the exchequer to fund things only Skeptics approve of would be undemocratic; again, making Skepticism itself no better than a religious cult. I personally use a Spiritualist hands-on healer who has cured me of backache, predicted a future back problem, and cured me of aching hips, toothache and anxiety. Skeptics will say that this doesn’t constitute a scientific test and they’d be correct, but the fact is I walked in ill and came out healed. As long as it keeps working, I’m going to keep using it… And (this bit is really going to piss off the Skeptics) the treatment is free.
I think old Dawky really needs to look into the discoveries of Maseru Emoto before dismissing homeopathy altogether.
Dawkins position of the binary choice between reason and superstition is not a universal absolute, it is strictly cultural. It is only in the West that we’ve developed this obsession with the material. EG: In Western culture there’s a clear distinction between an astrologer and an astronomer. Some might even call them opposites and claim that you can be only one or the other, but not both. However in many cultures, like ancient Egypt, there is no such distinction. The Egyptians actually have a single word in their language that translates as both “astronomer” and “astrologer”. For them there is no cultural necessity to distinguish between and separate mystical beliefs with exact scientific knowledge. In fact a modern Westerner would have a difficult time trying to explain the difference between astrologers and astronomers to an Egytian. Was ancient Egypt in any way backward or atrophied because they didn’t adopt the rational-purist view of Dawkins’ ideal? Of course not! They were one of the most advanced and rich cultures ever seen. They lead the world in all the attributes we recognize as the fruits of civilization. If they’d survived long enough they may well have invented all the wonderful things modern science has given us that Dawkins repeatedly emphasizes. They could have done it without abandoning their non-material worldview too.