US health care, homeopathy and hegemony

I often wonder why there is such a rabid anti-homeopathy sentiment in some quarters. To me, it appears the uses to which it is most normally applied are the areas where conventional medicine does badly, such as hay fever, light bruising, minor anxiety, ennui. In the context of a UK National Health Service, why worry if some people find results they can’t find at their GP using alternative therapies they pay for?

I’m in New York this week, though, and I see a different context. This is a country where health care is privatised, and medicines are advertised. People are forced to make decisions about their own health care based on advertising, rather than good access to medical professionals. In this context, obviously anything that muddies the facts and might mean people self medicate in inappropriate ways is a serious problem. I would personally include in this problem zone the tv adverts for medicines, but I can see why homeopathy appears so dangerous here.

And so the UK context becomes clearer, because we no longer live in truly separate countries. Our world is so connected that the arguments of an activist speaking from a US context easily spreads to the UK, but the unsaid assumptions and cultural contexts behind the arguments go unnoticed.

I wonder if we’re reaching a point where the cultural assumptions of the US will shape lots of UK debate. Even to the extent that the UK will need to become more like the US in its actual social setup in order for the debate to make sense. An alarming thought, but a plausible one?