Which political party is the wackiest?

Homeopathy is literally incredible. It is predicated on the notion that a substance, even when diluted 1060:1 in water to the point where not a single molecule remains, still exerts some curative influence—and, in fact, that that influence is somehow increased by the dilution. Even when that water has been evaporated away to make sugar pills. Oh, provided that you shook the water properly, that is.

It ought to go without saying that this is not supported by any existing model of science, but that doesn’t matter. What does matter is that homeopathy empirically doesn’t work: in trials, it has been shown to work no better than a placebo.

Earlier this week, the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee published Evidence Check 2: Homeopathy [PDF]. The report is scathing:

In our view, the systematic reviews and meta-analyses conclusively demonstrate that homeopathic products perform no better than placebos.

The Government should stop allowing the funding of homeopathy on the NHS.

It is unacceptable for the MHRA to license placebo products—in this case sugar pills—conferring upon them some of the status of medicines.

This was fairly uncontroversial in the reality-based community.

Meanwhile, at Westminster, the member for Bosworth (a man who believes that lunar phases inhibit blood clotting, and, it is alleged, claimed £700 on expenses for astrology software) swung into action with an Early Day Motion defending homeopathy:

That this House expresses concern at the conclusions of the Science and Technology Committee’s Report, Evidence Check on Homeopathy; … believes that evidence should have been heard from primary care trusts that commission homeopathy, doctors who use it in a primary care setting, and other relevant organisations, such as the Society of Homeopaths, to provide balance; …

The signatories at this time are:

Tredinnick, David Conservative
Simpson, Alan Labour
Russell, Bob Liberal Democrats
Pound, Stephen Labour
Dismore, Andrew Labour
Simpson, David Democratic Unionist
McDonnell, John Labour
Campbell, Gregory Democratic Unionist
Cohen, Harry Labour
Corbyn, Jeremy Labour
Drew, David Labour
Gray, James Conservative
Hancock, Mike Liberal Democrats

That’s 2 Conservative, 7 Labour, 2 Liberal Democrats, and 2 DUP. So on the face of it, Labour are the most woo-woo. But Labour have more seats than anyone else. Let’s scale it by the number of MPs in each party:

Party Signatories Total MPs Proportion
Conservative 2 193 1.0%
Labour 7 346 2.0%
Liberal Democrat 2 63 3.2%
Democratic Unionist 2 8 25%

So there you go. Of the main parties, the Liberal Democrats are the wackiest with a full 3.2% supporting homeopathy, while the Conservatives are the most rational: only 1.0% of their MPs have signed the EDM. Meanwhile, the Democratic Unionists are way out there: a full quarter of their MPs have signed up to defend quackery.

Footnote: Please do not bother to leave any comments of the ‘I tried homeopathy and it worked for me’ variety without reading up on and understanding regression to the mean, the placebo effect, double blind trials, experimental design, and sample sizes* first.

* Yes, I know. ;-)