Friday, 20 August 2010

NHS homeopathy vacancy prompts sceptical shenanigans

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Depending on your outlook, it could be an amusing time to be working in the HR department at the NHS trust of Tayside, which is currently advertising a vacancy for a "Specialty Doctor in Homeopathy" at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee. This opening, which comes, as plenty of people have been quick to point out, at a time of impending NHS cuts, carries a salary of £36,807 to £68,638 in exchange for a whopping 8 hours of work per week.

Naturally, news of the vacancy quickly spread among online sceptics, prompting several people to submit applications for the post. It seems the first person to do this was science blogger David Briggs, and the amusing sample he posted from the application became a hit online. Here's a snippett:
"My biochemistry degree means that I am familiar with such vagaries as Avogadro’s constant, but given the extremely attractive salary (at least compared to scientific research), I’m sure I could be convinced to overlook the fact that homeopathic remedies with a potency over 12C contain zero molecules of active ingredient whatsoever."
It's no surprise that this idea quickly caught on, with many more following suit – sceptical blogger Zeno has created a useful list of them in his post on the story. Applicants include the pharmacologist and alternative medicine critic David Colquhoun, who stressed that his experience debunking homeopathic claims would leave him well placed to mislead patients in his new role, and science writer Simon Singh, who reports on Twitter that the Trust seem to be taking his application seriously – they've sent him some more forms that he has to return next week.

It'll be interesting to see how this pans out – it's open to applicants until 6 September, so presumably we'll find out after that whether any sceptics have made it through the first stage, Hardly likely, but still, it's another excellent sting by sceptics in the campaign against government funding for homeopathy and its promotion as medicine by pharmacists such as Boots. And like the 10:23 mass overdose, it's a fine source of amusement too.
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