In the Guardian, novelist Jeanette Winterson soberly tackles the tricky subject of homeophobia – the fear and loathing of homeopathy, that is. She relates how while staying at a remote cottage in Cornwall she ran a temperature of 102, had spots on her throat, was delirious. And she had a book to finish. Her “desperate” publisher suggested she call the homeopath Hilary Fairclough who sent round a remedy called Lachesis, made from snake venom. “Four hours later I had no symptoms whatsoever.” (I believe this piece first appeared in The Times in 2004). She finishes: “We should be careful of dismissing the testimony of millions who say the remedies have worked for them.”
For once I have no firm view to offer – by temperament I am too impatient for results. And homeopathy, by my understanding, works slowly and subtly, if at all (Winterson’s rapid symptomatic relief surprises me). Zap me with the chemicals and I’m all yours (reluctantly). But it intrigues me that the piece has been resurrected in the Guardian when its sister paper the Observer only very recently ran a Nick Cohen homeophobic piece in which Hilary Fairclough got a kicking over claims that homeopathy can help in the treatment of Aids. “Of all the pseudo-sciences on offer, homeopathy is the most obviously spurious,” Cohen asserted, in the way Christopher Hitchens promises his flock that there is no god.
I see no reason why The Guardian and The Observer should not run contrary pieces – it’s very fair-minded of them – if a little redolent of their opposing stances on Iraq. Being all things - if done intelligently - is a very attractive commercial proposition.