Green Browning “laughable weirdo”


Green MP Steffan Browning has been justifiably heavily criticised for his efforts in promoting homoeopathy to combat ebola. Despair at the stupidity was evident from Russel Norman and the Green health spokesperson Kevin Hague.

Green leaning blogger Danyl at Dim-Post (whose wife works in the Green coms team) didn’t hold back.

The idiot

Here’s why this Steffan Browning/Ebola/Homeopathy thing is a really big deal for the Green Party. (a) Historically they’ve been stereotyped by their opponents as a bunch of nutters (b) The main focus of the party for the past five years – at least – has been to counter that perception and convince voters that they’re a sober and credible political alternative. (c) Arguing that homeopathy should be used to cure Ebola is so fucking crazy it instantly undermines a lot of that work and reveals to the public that at least one of the MPs in the party is a total nutcase.

Just after the election someone asked me what they could do to help the Greens, and I told them to join the party and vote for candidates that weren’t deluded lunatics. Disasters like this illustrate why it’s important for sane, sensible people to contribute to the political process at a grassroots level and make sure the MPs in their party aren’t laughable weirdos.

Browning was 14 on the Green list this election, down from 10 in 2011.

They must have known what he could be like. Why was he placed in an electable position?

Some tried to deal with it, like ‘anonymous’:

Steffan Browning is the reason I joined the greens, in order to vote him down the list. He is usually ranked lowly by the delegates (16th this time) and then when the general membership votes moves up a couple places (to 14 this time). He is the worst example of the “anti-science” greens, and only his local support keeps him high in the list.

If his anti-science it’s odd to see him surviving their list process. Danyl sort of explains:

It’s one of the problems with the Greens’ democratic list process: some of the regions bloc-vote their MPs at number one on the list, which means they get a much higher list placing than their support in the party merits. I don’t know how you fix that.

All party selection systems have their strengths and flaws. Graeme Edgeler points out a flaw in the criticism:

On the contrary, bloc vote support for MPs as number one on the list means that they get exactly the right list placing based on their support in the party. If a largish group of party members thinks you are that awesome as to rank you number one, then democratically, you should have a high list placing.

Browning got sufficient support within a much praised (by Greens) democratic selection system to get a winnable list position.

There must be other Greens with the same sense of “laughable weirdo” humour.


  1. Actually it isn’t a crazy idea, given that conventional medicine currently has no answer to Ebola and homeopath has been shown to be effective is some cases:

    Conclusions and Prospects
    In summary, there is an efficacy/effectiveness paradox (similar to that found in several other areas of complementary medicine research) with a weak evidence in favor of homeopathy when studies are done in randomized and double-blind conditions,
    but yet there is documented effectiveness in equivalence studies comparing homeopathy and conventional medicine and documented usefulness in general practice (59): the
    therapy is useful when applied in open practice and produces substantial effects, even in patients with chronic diseases (117,118).

    This reminds me of Farrar’s beat up of people who were raising the issue of problems associated with industrial use of dihydrogen monoxide when he didn’t understand the difference between DHMO and water.

    • Homeopathy has about the same level of effectiveness as praying – they can have a positive placebo effect and can help with positive thinking as well. But I’m not aware of any great advances in homeopathy over the last 5000 years that have contributed to greatly improved life expectancy.

      • The focus of homeopathy is to target specific diseases or conditions , not to provide general well-being. Even if the successes of homeopathy were due to the placebo effect, this isn’t a meaningful criticism in the context of a higher recovery rate for Ebola victims.

        • Is there any science at all that suggests ebola could be helped by homeopathy? Cured by it?

          • AFAIK there isn’t any science that suggests that homeopathy should have any effect at all since there’s no theoretical mechanism, and yet it does in some cases. Science doesn’t have a monopoly on truth.

            The rationale is simply that it could work – it’s better than doing nothing and there’s no downside in trying it.

  2. I read that there is a possibility that CBD in cannabis could be a potential treatment for many viral infections (maybe including Ebola) BUT this will likely be ridiculed by many in the ‘mainstream’ too

  3. Goldie

     /  November 2, 2014

    DimPost is spinning. The fact is that the Green caucus ranked him at 16th, which was generally believed before the election to be a very winnable place. And Green MPs and supporters before the election made a feature of how apparently talented their caucus was.
    Only now it turns out that at least one of the Green MPs is a crank, and embarrassed Green supporters are now saying “We always knew he was a nutter”.
    The reality is that Steffan Browning, with his eccentric ideas about GE, organics, and alternative medicine, is actually pretty mainstream amongst Green supporters – it was because he represented their worldview that got him elected.

  4. Browning is an idiot because allopathic medicine knows everything there is to know about the relationship between water and life? Yeah right.

  5. zMapp, the only viable treatment currently, is harvested from GE Tobacco, suck on that Steffan!