Why, then, is the NHM dedicating valuable research time and effort to create a homeopathic database of the various plants, fungi, lichens and algae used by quacks to make useless sugar pills?
From the website:
The homeopathy database is a standard reference system for homeopathic practitioners, and other users of plant remedies. It reconciles the old homeopathic codes with the current botanical code. The information is based on long established remedies in the Homeopathic Materiae Medicae that are now revised and updated and the online access means it can be maintained and updated easily in line with current concepts of botanical nomenclature.
For such a reputable and outstanding source of science education to be involved with quackery at this level is to denigrate the good name of the NHM and to give homeopathy a scientific acceptability that it does not deserve.
Indeed, are they include other things that homeopaths have made provings of? I would be interested to see if they will have the proving of the shipwreck, which was inferred to somehow provide prophylaxis against traffic jams. Such is the bonkers world of the homeopath.
Finance for the project came in part from Ainsworths, Waleda & Helios, all UK purveyors of homeopathic quackery. (Avid readers will no doubt remember that Helios were quite happy to sell homeopathic remedies and prophylactics for Malaria - potentially fatal, of course - without a shred of evidence to show efficacy, because none exists. The MHRA have since forced them to remove the offending products from their shelves).
The NHM is doing itself and science a huge disfavour by giving research effort and webspace to quackery. I can see how the databases of flora used in medicine can be worthwhile from a historical and taxonomical point of view, however there is no need to give any credence to homeopathic magical sugar pill-ery along the way.
The value of a visit to NHM in terms of science understanding is well appreciated. Sally Collins and Andy Lee co-wrote a consultative study into how Natural History Museums can support secondary science teaching and learning (.pdf here). A brief quote from the Foreward by Sir Mike Tomlinson:
The importance of science in our lives has never been more obvious, yet we continue to grapple with the challenge of enthusing students with science at school and its study post-16.
Teachers readily acknowledge the need to ‘bring science alive’ and to enable students to understand how science and scientists work. Teachers cannot do this on their own, which is where natural history museums can be so important.
This report clearly reveals the positive and lasting benefits of visits to natural history museums and engagement with scientists working there.
Why put this in jeopardy by introducing students to blind quackery while trying to teach them about science?