Good to hear that the Prince’s Foundation for Integrated Health has stopped its operations with immediate effect. Disappointing, though, that the reason is not because its founder has taken on board Oliver Wendell Holmes’s views on homeopathy – ‘a mingled mass of perverse ingenuity, of tinsel erudition, of imbecile credulity, and of artful misrepresentation, too often mingled in practice, if we may trust the authority of its founder, with heartless and shameful imposition’ – but because of a more mundane alleged deceit: two people have been arrested on suspicion of fraud and money laundering.
When Holmes wrote his essay in 1842 he believed that homeopathy would soon go the way of touching for the scrofula – another Royal Cure – and Bishop Berkeley’s Tar Water (‘good for so many things’). But in a new edition nearly 60 years later he had to admit that charlatanry and pseudo-therapeutics had not been defeated. ‘Homeopathy has proved lucrative, and so long as it continues to be so will surely exist – as surely as astrology, palmistry, and other methods of getting a living out of the weakness and credulity of mankind and womankind.’