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Lunatics on campus

The UMTC Campus Atheists, Skeptics, and Humanists has been busy. They recently had an event to mock homeopathy, and it has been written up in the campus newspaper. Unfortunately, they’ve smoked out the local kooks: the comments on the article are embarrassing. Look at this:

I am a whole hearted aficionado of homeopathy, discovered in the late 1700s by German physician Samuel Hahnemann. In the 1800s and early 1900s, homeopathy was widely practiced in the United States. There were many practitioners, medical schools, conventions all over the USA. It is such a successful method of treatment, doctors had a hard time making a living, and so eventually the American Medical Association succeeded in quashing it. It took me many years of trying to figure it out on my own before I finally came across a book by Dr. Don Hamilton about using homeopathy to treat illness in cats and dogs which helped me begin to understand how to choose the right homeopathic drugs and cure illnesses. It strikes me as silly that skeptics get so enraged by a medical art that so many doctors have spent their lives working on and that has so many documented successes. Glad to hear the University of Minnesota is helping patients discover true healing.

It doesn’t work. It doesn’t even make sense. I’m just going to let xkcd handle it.

There are also a couple of letters from our wretched Center for Spirituality and Healing in there. Strangely, they disavow any support for homeopathy. I don’t understand how I can then take a quick look at the CSH faculty and find that at least three — Jacob Mirman, Paula Jelinek, and Karen Lawson are homeopaths. Weird. It’s almost like lying is easy for quacks.

Feel free to leave comments on the MN Daily site. Our students, faculty, and staff clearly need some remedial instruction.


One other event is coming up, a debate. Aaargh. Between Dan Barker (Yay!) and …Hamza Andreas Tzortzis, the wacky deluded Muslim fanatic, on “Is Atheism or Islam more rational?” It’s taking place in Smith Hall, room 100, on Thursday, 3 November at 8:00.

I have a feeling it’s going to be ghastly. I may have to go, just to watch the foolishness explode. Also to catch any more silly claims about Islamic embryology.

Comments

  1. says

    I am a whole hearted aficionado of homeopathy, discovered in the late 1700s by German physician Samuel Hahnemann.

    Isn’t that like saying that “design” or “creation” were “discovered”?

    How do you discover something that lacks evidence? OK, there’s the Bible for the creationists, but it’s no true discovery to read Ovid and decide that echoes are caused by a disembodied nymph.

    It is such a successful method of treatment, doctors had a hard time making a living, and so eventually the American Medical Association succeeded in quashing it.

    Same story is told by faith healers.

    Glen Davidson

  2. pv says

    I’m fascinated by the notion that medicine is an art. It explains why so many deluded fools who never studied an iota of science at school feel competent to diagnose and treat with homeopathy. Anyone can do art (at least in its modern incarnation of anything goes) because it’s whatever you want it to be at any given hour on any given day. And since some people have a deep seated need for affirmation and to be respected in their society… what better delusion than to pretend to be a Doctor and “cure” people of their ailments.

    People who are too vain to admit to holes in their knowledge are apt to make stuff up, or hang on to someone else’s made up stuff, and hope no-one notices. Regarding medicine as an art is a useful ploy to get around the fact that one has no understanding of stuff like evidence. Anyway, evidence has no place in art. All this would explain at least in part the persistence of drivel like homeopathy.

    Then of course there are the deliberate charlatans who have the vulnerable and credulous whom they are obliged to exploit.

  3. says

    Facebookdenier # – Exactly why I came back here. What is this Discus thing I should share my profile with to post a comment? What a pain. Besides, I wouldn’t have my frog-in-a-cup gravitar anymore!
    I can’t believe so many people buy this crap. The comments are spooky over there too.

  4. says

    In the 1800s and early 1900s, homeopathy was widely practiced in the United States.

    Lobotomies were pretty popular there in the 1900’s, too. Does he want one, or did he already figure that out on his own as well?

  5. Sean Boyd says

    …discovered in the late 1700s by German physician Samuel Hahnemann.

    What, nobody ever added water to anything before then?

  6. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    so eventually the American Medical Association succeeded in quashing it.

    Aided by Big Pharma and the vaccinators, no doubt.

  7. dunstar says

    lol. Homeopathy and Religion should join forces in one Holy Union. God may be the result of an infinite dilution of common sense.

  8. Sean Boyd says

    @15,
    If religion and homeopathy joined forces, we could at least be assured that religion would be completely ineffective.

  9. Kevin Alexander says

    Homeopathy does work for some things. When I’ve been working in the garden all afternoon in the summers heat and start to feel faint from too much sweating, a litre or two of homeopathic medicine clears it right up.

    Don”t take too much though. I read of a homeopathic Doctor™ who fell into a water trap on the back nine and died of an overdose.

  10. Jett Perrobone says

    I am a whole hearted aficionado of homeopathy, discovered in the late 1700s by German physician Samuel Hahnemann.

    This one had me totally laughing out loud, until I realised: “Oh… he means homeopathy was discovered in the late 1700s, not him.” :P

    And “aficionado”? Come on!!

  11. Aquaria says

    Anyone can do art (at least in its modern incarnation of anything goes)

    It looks that way to people who don’t know anything about art, but it’s not anything goes or something just anyone can do. Any artist on here will tell you that.

  12. says

    I am a whole hearted aficionado of homeopathy, discovered in the late 1700s by German physician Samuel Hahnemann.
    I love the, “It’s old so it must be useful” argument. Bloodletting and leeches are old but if any doctor started talking to me about balancing out my humors I would run out of the office.

  13. zugswang says

    In the 1800s and early 1900s, homeopathy was widely practiced in the United States

    Yes, and Warren G. Harding probably died, in part, due to listening to his personal doctor’s quackery.

    A lot of crazy shit was common back then. “Female hystaria” was a commonly diagnosed excuse to play around with a woman’s lady parts. People treated their coughs with heroin. Electroshock therapy was fairly commonplace, as were lobotomies. I’ll go out on a limb and guess you bought into the latter and got one for yourself.

  14. BCskeptic says

    Yeah, homeopathy is just wacky hocus-pocus. Not only is there no foundational bio-chemical or chemical mechanism to explain its claimed efficacy, but there are no properly controlled studies to back it up. At the very least it is silly and gouges people of their money, at the most it is dangerous when people rely on it.

    Last year, my wife’s friend who suffers from “neuro-chemical” imbalance was all happy because he/she went to a naturopath and got homeopathic remedies and now “I feel great!” I tried to explain in as delicate terms as possible (sorry PZ) that it is hocus-pocus, and that there are no studies, no mechanism etc., but it fell on deaf ears. Fast forward to now, and the old problems are back…placebo only lasts for so long.

    There needs to be laws in our respective countries that when claims of medical efficacy are made, they must be backed up with proper double-blind studies. This could protect the unknowing victims and filter out the quacks. Yeah right…if only our elected politicians weren’t generally scientifically illiterate!

  15. says

    #18 @Kevin Alexander

    Don”t take too much though. I read of a homeopathic Doctor™ who fell into a water trap on the back nine and died of an overdose.

    Heh! Maybe we should tell the homeopaths that their magic pills are made with DHMO!

  16. AlanMacandCheese says

    In the 1700’s medicine was so primitive that people stood a better chance of surviving by avoiding it. Doing nothing was preferable to seeing a doctor and that is exactly what homeopathy is; doing nothing.

  17. Menyambal says

    Three things:

    I once worked out a much better sciencey-sounding “mechanism” for how homeopathy works than anything I have read, and I did that in a couple of days. Those jokers just aren’t trying.

    There is a monument to Hahnemann in Washington, DC. I don’t know who paid for it, but it is bigger than any other non-presidential individual’s monument–way the hell bigger than Gandhi’s, for instance (and Gandhi is walking, while old Samuel rests his gigantic head in a throne).

    I did climb up to the statue of Hahnemann, and I did whack it over the head with my walking stick.

  18. Amphiox, OM says

    In the 1700′s medicine was so primitive that people stood a better chance of surviving by avoiding it. Doing nothing was preferable to seeing a doctor and that is exactly what homeopathy is; doing nothing.

    There was a famous contemporary 1800s political cartoon depicting a physician and a homeopath coming to fisticuffs over a poor hapless bed-bound patient:

    Physician: If he takes YOUR treatment, he’ll die of the disease!

    Homeopath: If he takes YOUR treatment, he’ll die of the cure!

    (The patient in the middle is cowering under his bedsheets with a “Oh god save me from these idiots” look on his face).

    The essential uselessness of homeopathy was already widely known right from the beginning.

  19. Roger says

    “Is Atheism or Islam more rational?”
    Whose idea was this stupid title?
    I hope Tzortis and his fellow-bigots are paying for his accomodation, food, fares etc.

  20. mikee says

    @dunstar #15

    “Homeopathy and Religion should join forces in one Holy Union. God may be the result of an infinite dilution of common sense.”

    Well they could save a lot on communion wine. But then shouldn’t they be turning water to wine anyway?

  21. says

    “Is Atheism or Islam more rational?”

    A debate topic that is only possible in the USA.

    So Tzortzis is now touring, is he ? The sad thing with that guy is, Dan Barker will tear him a new one, and he won’t even know it.

  22. Rumtopf says

    I finally came across a book by Dr. Don Hamilton about using homeopathy to treat illness in cats and dogs which helped me begin to understand how to choose the right homeopathic drugs and cure illnesses.

    I wonder if this guy is aware that veterinary prescriptions for homeopathic remedies are effectively banned in the UK because the products cannot demonstrate efficacy. Thought it may be worth mentioning c:

  23. says

    A debate topic that is only possible in the USA.

    Unfortunately not true. Totally possible as well in moderate Muslim countries such as Indonesia…

  24. Matt Penfold says

    Homeopathy for pets? That’s just cruel. Can’t even get a placebo effect.

    Actually you can, but I suppose it might more accurately be called placebo by proxy. remember that it is not the pet who will be reporting if there has been any improvement, but the owner.

  25. says

    “Is Atheism or Islam more rational?”

    Are there any “Is Christianity or Islam more rational?” debates out there? THAT would be entertaining.

  26. Phillip A says

    Why is it when the topic of discussion throughout the Freethough Blogs is alternative medicine, I feel as though I’ve been transported over to FoxNews? Free thinkers seem to take a strange pleasure in deriding people of their choice in therapy. I wouldn’t advise anyone to spend even moderate amounts of money on alternative therapy-nor would I begrudge them of knowing their own state of well-being. Or is “well-being” to ethereal for this site?

  27. Matt Penfold says

    Why is it when the topic of discussion throughout the Freethough Blogs is alternative medicine, I feel as though I’ve been transported over to FoxNews? Free thinkers seem to take a strange pleasure in deriding people of their choice in therapy. I wouldn’t advise anyone to spend even moderate amounts of money on alternative therapy-nor would I begrudge them of knowing their own state of well-being. Or is “well-being” to ethereal for this site?

    Deriding people of their choice ? That is not even English!

    You can deprive people of their choice, or you can deride people for their choice, but it makes no sense to talk of deriding people of their choice.

    The substance of what you say is as confused and muddle-headed as your English.

  28. Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis says

    @Phillip A

    Because this is a place where the truth is held in high regard. There are already enough sanctuaries for feel-good drivel.

  29. zugswang says

    Free thinkers seem to take a strange pleasure in deriding people of their choice in therapy. I wouldn’t advise anyone to spend even moderate amounts of money on alternative therapy-nor would I begrudge them of knowing their own state of well-being.

    Why bother caring what people choose to worship? Isn’t religion therapeutic in a way? Why should we criticize parents who don’t vaccinate their kids?

    Believe it or not, their bad choices, and the advocacy of their bad choices, have an effect on the rest of us. Every time someone lets their kid die of an easily treatable condition, or worse, tries to treat their own infection with quackery, it can have a significantly negative impact on the community, contrary to what you seem to think.

  30. Father Ogvorbis, OM: Machiavellian Inquisitor says

    Refresh my memory, here. Wasn’t 1900 (his professed height of homeopathy) a time when women dying in childbirth was quite common? When an ear infection was to be feared as it could lead to a horrible screaming death via mastoiditis? When the life expectency was a little more than half what we expect today? When cancer was treated with addictive painkillers because not much else could help? When appendicitis, if not caught soon enough, was a death sentence? Why the fuck won’t most people read history?

    On another note, I think I know what happened and why homeopathy was ‘successful’ but now doesn’t work: too many practitioners. Homeopathic practice is no longer dilute enough within the population to provide the proper protection.

  31. Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis says

    Homeopathic practice is no longer dilute enough within the population to provide the proper protection.

    @Father Ogvorbis

    Diluted Shmiluted. The potency of the delusion is what counts.

  32. Father Ogvorbis, OM: Machiavellian Inquisitor says

    Diluted Shmiluted. The potency of the delusion is what counts.

    But as the percentage of deluded within the population increases, the dilution decreases thus reducing the effectiveness of the delusion. (Dman, English is a fun language!)

  33. opposablethumbs, que le pouce enragé mette les pouces says

    Homeopathic practice is no longer dilute enough within the population to provide the proper protection.

    Thank you. I needed that!

    Now if only we could convince them

  34. Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis says

    > English is a fun language!

    Yea, who da thunk it! What verily wonderful variety of wry vernacular and voluptuous vocabulary. If they had told me that back in school, maybe I would have started earlier to seriously learn it. As it was, the main motivation was watching Star Trek in the original.

  35. Yoav says

    One of my favorite description of homeopathy, from Storm by Tim Minchin.

    If you show me
    That, say, homeopathy works,
    Then I will change my mind
    I’ll spin on a fucking dime
    I’ll be embarrassed as hell,
    But I will run through the streets yelling
    It’s a miracle! Take physics and bin it!
    Water has memory!
    And while it’s memory of a long lost drop of onion juice is Infinite
    It somehow forgets all the poo it’s had in it!

  36. anuran says

    Menyambal asks:
    I don’t know who paid for it, but it is bigger than any other non-presidential individual’s monument

    From an article in the dcist:

    One reason is that the statue was funded entirely by donations to the American Institute of Homeopathy

  37. says

    Free thinkers seem to take a strange pleasure in deriding people of their choice in therapy.

    I don’t take pleasure in deriding people. I give enough of a shit that I don’t want to see people waste their money.

  38. says

    Phillip A:

    I wouldn’t advise anyone to spend even moderate amounts of money on alternative therapy-nor would I begrudge them of knowing their own state of well-being. Or is “well-being” to ethereal for this site?

    That’s exactly why I deride homeopathy. It doesn’t help. In fact, it does actual harm. People have died following homeopathic advice, rather than the advice of their medical doctor. So tell me, Phillip A, how does dying contribute to the “well-being” of a person?

    Or is dying too ethereal for you?

  39. GravityIsJustATheory says

    Matt Penfold says:

    1 November 2011 at 9:46 am

    Homeopathy for pets? That’s just cruel. Can’t even get a placebo effect.

    Actually you can, but I suppose it might more accurately be called placebo by proxy. remember that it is not the pet who will be reporting if there has been any improvement, but the owner.

    I think I read somewhere (possibly Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science) that animals can get a placebo effect, both from being fussed over, and from picking up on the emotions and body-language of their owners.

    So if the pet’s owner (or servant, in the case of a cat) starts relaxing more and stops fretting about whatever illness the animal had (due to thinking it will be cured by the homeopathic remedy it has been given), then there may be a small beneficial placebo effect for the animal.

  40. Matt Penfold says

    I think I read somewhere (possibly Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science) that animals can get a placebo effect, both from being fussed over, and from picking up on the emotions and body-language of their owners.

    I am pretty sure Bad Science is where I got it from. I have lent my copy otherwise I would check.

  41. says

    Because my wife was raised Christian Science, I’ve done a fair amount of reading on the topic, and every time homeopathy and its inventor are mentioned now I am reminded of when I read a biography of Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science. Essentially, Mary Baker Eddy worked in homeopathy and actually figured out that the only reason it worked is because people believed it worked.

    So great, she discovered the placebo effect independently, right? Well, apparently she decided goddidit, and that really illnesses are all fake and that you are only sick because you believe you are sick, and that god doesn’t want you to believe you are sick. So homeopathy was just making you believe you weren’t sick, which is what god wants.

    And there are people in my wife’s family who think this is flawless logic.

  42. Heliantus says

    @ Matt Pennfold

    Re: Placebo effects in animals, there was a long discussion on the Science-based Medicine blog one or two years ago, but I could not find it again.

    The topic also popped up a few time on Respectful Insolence, as the alt-meds often trot this argument: “how could it be placebo? It’s working on animals/human babies.”
    (short answer: if it’s aware your are doing something to it, there could be a placebo effect. Or it’s just you being deluded)

    A commenter (not me, sadly, I don’t have this way with words) summarized quite effectively the placebo effect of acupuncture in animals: animals are good at hiding distress, and Fluffy quickly leans that if it shows distress, it’s going to be stuck with plenty of small needles.

  43. Margaret says

    @Aquaria

    Anyone can do art (at least in its modern incarnation of anything goes)

    It looks that way to people who don’t know anything about art, but it’s not anything goes or something just anyone can do. Any artist on here will tell you that.

    Anyone can “do” art. It takes skill to actually create art.

  44. says

    SInce we’re talking about University Campus stuff…My University’s newspaper has a poll on their website about religious belief systems. Everyone go vote for “atheism/agnosticism please. This is a rather conservative university, so let’s freak em out :-)))

    http://www.thebatt.com/

  45. Rich Woods says

    @JJ #54:

    Homeopathy cured my cold. All it took was about a week to work.

    Just a week? You lucky bastard — mine took the full seven days!

  46. BSnPapproved says

    I have a question about alternative medicines. First, I just want to say that I disavow the spiritual aspects of it. So, what do we mean when we say “homeopathy” or “alternative medicine”? I know a woman who is undergoing hyperthermia as an alternative to chemotherapy for cancer. It has not been definitively confirmed as an effective treatment, though it is being researched (http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Therapy/hyperthermia). Where is the distinction between what is truly loopy and those treatments which really are just not mainstream or haven’t yet been fully investigated? How do we discern, when we are faced with death, which “alternative” treatments may have some legitimacy and those which do not? I can imagine that many people would be grasping at straws for a cure, and being in an emotionally vulnerable state could affect how they selected therapy/treatment.

    I wonder if the problem is really that there are a lot of people peddling a lot of junk, and the parts that may be useful sort of get lost in the mix and categorized as unfounded junk (sort of like, if someone told you lies 90% of the time, what reason would you have to believe him the other 10%). But maybe I’m wrong? If so, would anyone care to educate me?

  47. Erulóra Maikalambe says

    Nigel beat me to the link, but I will go ahead and point out that in the list on that page are several dead children. Got that? Children. Dead. Because their parents bought into “magic water” instead of actual real medicine. Many, if not all of them, were preventable deaths. In one case, the homeopath involved begged the parents to take the child to a doctor. They refused. Homeopathy, and its ilk, deserve much more than derision.

  48. says

    BSnPapproved:

    Where is the distinction between what is truly loopy and those treatments which really are just not mainstream or haven’t yet been fully investigated?

    This is an excellent question.

    The “truly loopy” are those that rely entirely on made-up shit. If a treatment has to make up shit about the way reality works, it’s complete and utter bullshit. Take homeopathy, for example. The explanation of “how it works” invokes a made-up “law of similarity” in which “like cures like.” There’s even more made up shit being heaped on it every day, mostly something about the “impressions” left by a chemical on the water molecules, or invoking the mystical name of “quantum.”

    (Helpful hint: if a treatment invokes the word “quantum,” it’s patently 100% pure bullshit, from grass-fed Montana bulls.)

    Other things, like chelation therapy, have a proven use (in this case, the treatment of heavy metal poisoning), but are extended beyond their proven effective area of treatment. These are a little harder to spot, as they carry with them the veneer of credibility, as they are proven medical procedures — in one area. Be wary of charlatans riding the coattails of actual medicine.

    Finally, to unproven treatment. This is the hardest to judge. For instance, the use of hypothermia in cancer treatment is unproven. The studies are inconclusive, though some studies indicate possible positive results. The thing that marks this as not loopy is the use in conjunction with more traditional treatment, and the apparent commitment to real research by those medical professionals who employ hypothermia. The difference is, there is real research being done by real scientists who are attempting to figure out if it’s effective or not. It’s not sold as anything other than a potentially beneficial adjunct to regular treatment.

    Basically, there are three hallmarks of complete loopy bullshit:

    1. The practitioners present the treatment as something it’s not. Homeopaths present homeopathy as a proven, effective treatment. Chelation therapy is misrepresented as being effective in things other than heavy metal poisoning. And so on. Essentially, there is little to no positive research into the efficacy of the treatment, but the practitioners swear it’s proven to work.

    2. Pseudo-science is employed in the explanation of how it works. This is often accompanied by the “different worldview” argument. This may take the form of “alternate paradigm.” Score double if the word “quantum” appears in any literature concerning the treatment whatsoever.

    3. The practitioner encourages the patient to forego proven medical treatment in favor of the “alternative” treatment.

    There are other signs: if the community that has grown up around the treatment shows great disdain for the pharmaceutical industry*, if they rave on about the “bias” of the regular medical community, or other conspiracy-theory tendencies, it’s probably quite loopy. If the practitioners rave on about how much good they are doing, and also brag about how much money they’re making, it’s probably also quite loopy. But these are not distinctive metrics.

     

    * I mean, outside the normal disdain the pharmaceutical industry deserves.

  49. says

    Oh, one other thing to add: unproven treatments most often turn out to be completely useless. There are sometimes even negative side-effects. When regular medical treatment is employed, homeopathy as an adjunct is precisely useless (discounting the placebo effect). The same may be true with hypothermia as an adjunct to cancer treatment.

    It’s up to the patient, with the counsel of a competent medical professional, to decide whether a particular unproven treatment may rationally provide a potential positive benefit. If that is the case, the patient should participate in a well-designed, well-conducted clinical trial, so their treatment is guaranteed to do some good (by contributing to our pool of knowledge), even if it turns out to be otherwise useless.

  50. Menyambal says

    BSnPapproved says: Where is the distinction between what is truly loopy and those treatments which really are just not mainstream or haven’t yet been fully investigated?

    Well, in the case of hyperthermia, it seems legit for several reasons.

    First, because it inherently makes sense. Heat kills. Cancer is more easily killed as it is malfunctioning. Or alternately, cancer is harder to kill since it is as mutant form of life–that’s testable and simple. That’s what’s being tested.

    It isn’t something odd like cancer being a rotated vibration, that can be re-harmonized by pictures of ducks. It only makes one assumption, so to speak–that cancer is more vulnerable to heat.

    Second, hyperthermia is new. It isn’t some ancient Chinese secret that hasn’t made it mainstream for some odd reason. The concept–that heat kills–is old, of course (cautery goes ‘way back) but the technology to apply heat to local areas is new.

    So seeing it for the first time isn’t cause to wonder why it hasn’t been widely known.

    Third, hyperthermia is being tested by medical science, in a mainstream medical facility. And discussed in medical journals.

    And, at the time, being tested on volunteers, not sold to the gullible and desperate.

    Homeopathy, to get back to the topic of the thread, is based on many odd assumptions–water has memory (even after being put on sugar pills), like cures like, dilution works, succussion works–and is based on treating symptoms, not causes.

    Homeopathy is old enough that most folks know about it, but it somehow hasn’t caught on. If it worked, we’d all be using it. Of course the sellers of it make up long, weird explanations for why that isn’t the case, but most of their arguments apply better to themselves than to Big Pharma.

    Homeopathy is a money-making scheme like no other. It sells water as medicine, with no testing, oversight or competition, to needy and ignorant people. And the victims twist themselves into knots to defend the sellers.

    So, in short, think about the history of the treatment, follow the money, be skeptical of the sellers, count the assumptions, and keep an eye out for something good and useful–then ask why it is languishing in obscurity.

  51. BSnPapproved says

    Thank you, nigelTheBold! I suppose any good doctor would be able to discern whether an unproven treatment may have some benefit or not. And this is another reason to get a second or third opinion, especially on life-threatening illnesses (unless one is just shopping around for someone to confirm what they already believe).

    I had no idea about the “chemical impressions left on water” stuff. If someone tried to sell me a cure with that sort of explanation, I absolutely would know it was bullshit. Unfortunately, many people don’t really understand basic science, and these practitioners can get away with “science-y” explanations because of that.

    Take home message: Science education is paramount to preventing people from making horrible decisions about their health (and others’ health; I don’t believe that even MOST homeopathy practitioners are actively trying to decieve or harm people, though it doesn’t excuse the harm they do cause [and subsequently ignore]).

  52. says

    BSnPapproved:

    Unfortunately, many people don’t really understand basic science, and these practitioners can get away with “science-y” explanations because of that.

    Yeah. That’s the problem with metrics 1 & 2. They require at least a passing knowledge of science, and the ability to discern bullshit. That’s partly why I emphasized the mention of “quantum” in the second metric. That’s a dead giveaway that something is bullshit. There is no medical treatment that uses the word “quantum” in its explanation of how it works, save for some very specialized, very expensive medical imaging devices. And you’d be amazed how many modern snake oils are described as “quantum.”

    Number 3 is the only really general metric that anyone can recognize. And what’s great about it is, as long as the patient is receiving sound medical treatment, many of these “alternative” treatments are simply expensive uselessness. (Not true of the misapplication of chelation therapy, of course, but as a rule of thumb, rule 3 would help a helluva lot.)

  53. Menyambal says

    anuran, thanks for the info about the Hahnemann monument in DC.

    Seriously, folks, it is HUGE. The only people with bigger monuments are Washington, Lincoln, FDR and Thomas Jefferson.

    And it is in awful taste.

  54. scifi says

    @nigeltheBold

    Dude, some great descriptors of the scientific fallacy of homeopathy.

    I think that the recent stoush with the Merman has added some extra focus, if I may be so bold.

    And BSnPapproved – you bring up a couple of telling points that describe the level of dishonesty practiced and ignorance encouraged by ‘homeopaths’.

    “I suppose any good doctor would be able to discern whether an unproven treatment may have some benefit or not.”

    and

    “Unfortunately, many people don’t really understand basic science, and these practitioners can get away with “science-y” explanations because of that.”