The Swiss Report on Homeopathy: A Case Study of Research Misconduct
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Swiss Medical Weekly 142:w13594 (2012)
In 2011 the Swiss government published a report on homeopathy. This report was commissioned following a 2009 referendum in which Swiss people decided that homeopathy and other alternative therapies should be covered by private medical insurance; before implementing this decision, the government wanted to establish whether homeopathy actually works. In February 2012 the report was published in English and was immediately proclaimed by proponents of homeopathy to be conclusive proof that homeopathy is effective. This paper analyses the report and concludes that it is scientifically, logically and ethically flawed. Specifically, it contains no new evidence and misinterprets previously debunked studies; it creates a new standard of evidence in order to make homeopathy appear effective and attempts to discredit randomised controlled trials as the gold standard of evidence; and almost all the authors have conflicts of interest, despite their claim that none exist. If anything, the report proves that homeopaths are willing to distort the evidence in order to support their beliefs, and its authors appear to have violated the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences principles governing scientific integrity.
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