Today’s big news, from a newly published report in Australia, is that homeopathy doesn’t work. Who’d have known? Adding minute amounts of illness-causing substances to water does not work and there is strong evidence that those who choose homeopathy over conventional medicine may further endanger their health. Put simply, it’s quackery.

How on earth do people buy into this stuff? We have a local health centre at which it is not always easy to get an appointment but I know that if I finally get one, I will speak with a fully trained professional who will know what to do with pretty well any condition that confronts her/him. The alternative is to visit a shaman who will, presumably, go into a trance to carry out some barmy ritual or visit a ‘faith healer’ – and we all know that faith is belief without evidence.

In Australia, some colleges charge thousands of dollars to those who wish to learn about homeopathy. In today’s Guardian, Dr Ken Harvey, a medicinal drug policy expert and health consumer advocate,says the Australian government should stop accrediting homeopathic courses, but he adds, β€œI have no problems with private colleges wanting to run courses on crystal-ball gazing, iridology and homeopathy, and if people are crazy enough to pay for it, it’s their decision.”

There is a good argument to ban homeopathy on the grounds that there is no evidence to show that it works but in a free country and a free world, few are arguing for a complete ban. The only way forward is by the use of evidence, from what works and what doesn’t and to allow people to make their own choices. But the state, the Australian state, our state or anyone else’s state should not actively promote or encourage the use of something that patently doesn’t work.