Homeopathists should just hide their polls and lie low

It’s pointless for these loons to try and make their case with a goofy online poll, since we’ll just smack it down. Here’s another one.

Do you believe homeopathy is an effective form of treatment?


The evidence is all against it, and reason suggests there is no mechanism. Perhaps they ought to correct those deficiencies before playing poll games.


  1. makyui says

    Whut? It says I’d voted already, and I most certainly did not.

    Oh well, there’s always next time.

  2. Random Mutant says

    Well, if I was the first one clicking the link it’s already gone to 50:50. Wonder what the final result is gonna be?

    Of course, the fewer votes the more efficacious the result. I wonder if I can cast a 10^-30th of a vote?

  3. Mike Wagner says

    Does your ISP proxy web traffic?
    If they’re checking the voting strictly by IP you could get blocked just because another local user voted.
    I was on a forum where virtually all the users in Alberta ended up denied access after one user was banned. Lazy IT admins suck.

  4. toomanytribbles says

    on chrome, it says the same for me… that i’ve voted, when i have not.
    but IE and firefox look like they’re working.

  5. Nerd of Redhead, OM says

    I did a copy/paste of the URL in my other browser, and I was able to vote. It should work if you don’t click on the link from here.

  6. amph says

    Whut? It says I’d voted already, and I most certainly did not.

    I had exactly the same experience. Gives me an eery feeling that, somehow, they counted me as a ‘Yes’.

  7. SamB says

    Voted, and proud to have done. GMTV (and all ITV ‘News’ channels) does the kind of news that is inane, angry, biased, and hate/fear/etc. spreading. Kinda like Fox News! Except in the UK and less intense because the UK doesn’t have any news that’s as intense as the US. It’s actually kinda funny watching them try and spin a story to make it more angry and hate-filled than it plausibly could be.

  8. RijkswaanVijanD says

    For some conditions placebos DO make an effective form of treatment. But then again; these conditions obviously DO NOT include serious physical illnesses.

  9. wcg.myopenid.com says

    This did not work for me, either. When I refreshed the page (after turning on temporary permissions for that website), it apparently voted for me automatically.

    I have no idea if it voted me yes or no, but it says that I’ve already voted.

  10. RijkswaanVijanD says

    Chrome (of course) tracks your activities back to pharyngula and imposes a poll prohibition on your IP.. This was discussed in length in another post!

  11. Davidpj says

    “The evidence is all against it, and reason suggests there is no mechanism. Perhaps they ought to correct those deficiencies before playing poll games.”

    Don’t you get it? If lots of people believe in it – as evidenced by useless polls – then the (placebo) effect will be stronger! It’s like religion – the more people that believe in it, the more powerful the deity is in answering prayers!

    Gosh, some people…

  12. Sanction says

    What I do with FF 3.6 is right-click on the link to the poll, select “copy link location,” open a new window in FF, paste the link in address bar, and go to the poll in the new window.

    Doing this seems to lose the trackback to Pharyngula. I’ve never had a problem voting when using this method, whereas I have when clicking directly through to the poll from Pharyngula.

  13. RijkswaanVijanD says

    My FF did the trick just fine.. Even without having to allow any additional scripting. Sure its genuine?:P

  14. llewelly says

    How the hell do you even find these things?

    Other people find them and send them to PZ. It’s the magic of the internet.

  15. Menyambal says

    I’m using Firefox with Java off and cookies disabled. I right-clicked the link, and opened it in a new tab. The page opened just fine and let me vote. When the site showed the results of my vote, I scrolled down a little to see the link to the homeopathy poll, clicked on that, got the first page again, voted again, and went around like that a few times.

  16. Lynna, OM says

    Yeah, it says I’ve already voted as well, although I haven’t. It said this even when I tried to go to the site directly, instead of going through Pharyngula. I think that once you’ve visited from Pharyngula, the site remembers your IP and counts you as having already voted.

  17. SWH says

    I got the “your vote has been counted” thing when I clicked on the link using Safari – so opened Firefox and pasted the address. Then it allowed me to vote.
    53% no now

  18. cafeeine says

    Same here. Following the link on Firefox gave me a ‘your vote has already been counted’ blurb. I copied it to IE and it worked fine.
    I doubt very much that many Greek IPs are frequenting that particular poll at 1 am. I smell a rat.

  19. sqlrob says

    I copied and pasted the URL (I always do), and got the “Already Voted” too. There’s either a proxy that I’m not aware of or it doesn’t like adblock.

  20. toomanytribbles says

    pz, maybe you should add a note to ‘right click, copy the url and paste it into a new tab or window’ in the main post…?

  21. Janet Holmes says

    Has James Dobson helped America? is Yes @70% after I voted no.

    Didn’t have any trouble voting in the homeopathy one, I use Firefox. It was still at 53% NO.

  22. Tigger_the_Wing says

    53% for me. I linked straight through from here and could vote, but I’m using Safari.

  23. David Marjanović says

    I had the opposite experience from comment 26 – it didn’t work in IE but worked in Firefox 3.0.8! And that even though I had copied the address and pasted it both times (into another tab in IE).

    Still 54 % No, numbers of votes not given.

  24. beigeman says


    “Your vote has been counted.”

    They must be using an IP checker. Someone else at my uni is a pharyngulite!

  25. Menyambal says

    I just sucessfully voted again in Firefox with Javascripts blocked. Out of curiosity, I allowed Java, and couldn’t even see the poll. Dunno if my vote is getting through or not, but it sure looks like it.

    As was said above, we did this poll already.

  26. pete riches says

    55% No – The tide has turned, and we’re on our way to 90%. Oops… that’s my wishful thinking taking over again!

  27. rachel.wilmoth says

    johnnykaje @ 19,
    Thanks for the poll. I voted no–IMHO, Dobson has aided in setting back social progress by several years.

  28. rachel.wilmoth says

    Hmm…perhaps if the Dobson poll is thorougly Pharyngulated, PZ will get another feature on the Colorado Springs Gazette editorial page, complaining about how mean and nasty he (and his godless horde) can be to good god-fearing theists like Dobson.

  29. Noahs Arkive says

    I know this is cheating and you cannot imagine the shame I feel for offering this suggestion: Download and install the Web Developer for Firefox. After voting (may I suggest “NO!”), in Firefox, select Tools…Web Developer…Cookies…Delete Domain Cookies. Then refresh your browser. Vote again! And again!
    And how do I sleep at night? Very well, thank you.

  30. truebutnotuseful says

    For infinite voting in Firefox 3.6:

    1. Load the poll page.
    2. Click ‘Tools’ in your Firefox Menu bar.
    3. Click ‘Page Info.’
    4. Click ‘Permissions.’
    5. Under ‘Set Cookies,’ uncheck the ‘Use Default’ box.
    6. Click the button next to ‘Block.’

    These steps will prevent GMTV from creating cookies on your machine. You will still need to clear the existing GMTV cookies. You can do this – and keep all your other cookies intact – by taking the following steps:

    1. Click ‘Tools.’
    2. Click ‘Options.’
    3. Click ‘Privacy.’
    4. Click ‘remove individual cookies.’
    5. Scroll down to the ‘gm.tv’ cookie and highlight it.
    6. Click ‘Remove Cookies.’

    Final step: Vote until you are blue in the face.

  31. daddy_stegosaurus says

    It could be your browser, but it could also be that we all voted for this poll on Feb. 22nd under “Poll about water.”

  32. pete riches says

    Erm… I don’t want to be the unwelcome poop in the party trifle, but isn’t the very notion of having to corrupt their poll results every bit as empirically dishonest as homeopathy itself? If you can’t ‘win’ a pissy little Breakfast TV online poll without cheating, we’ve got no right whatsoever to claim the moral high ground, surely?

    I don’t care if the “other” side are just as likely to do the same thing – that’s exactly what we expect of them because we both know that they cannot possibly win the argument with Reason or Scientific Rigorousness. Their position is based on Snake Oil, Gullibility, Deflection and Utter Foolishness. We don’t need to cheat. What we DO need to know is if we are nominally in a majority or a minority on this issue.

    We shouldn’t stoop their level – it demeans us – and apart from that you’ve just planted all the proof “They” need in the posts above to demonstrate all over THEIR forums/comments sections that the Rationalists and Atheists fiddle the results, just like them there Nazi Climate Scientists etc. etc. New World Order blah blah blah, Deepak Sodding Chopra blah blah blah.


  33. Qzl says

    The belief that homeopathy is an effective treatment can carry over to other irrational beliefs. If immeasurably small amounts of something can heal you, then immeasurably small amounts of something else can harm you. The placebo that heals your sniffle could be killing you with phobias.

  34. https://me.yahoo.com/a/DhjBEuJ8pt63x6eBKuPx0Jv9_QE-#7c327 says

    @48: The fact that we’ve only been able to move the poll a few points in our favor suggests someone else is crashing this poll, if that makes you feel any better.
    Anyway, it’s a scientific fact that crashing polls is fun. So there.

  35. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    Dear Mr. Riches,

    We have received and read your missive concerning online polls. We have considered your thoughts on the subject most thoroughly. We thank you for spending the time to communicate these thoughts to us. In response we ask that you fuck off.

    The Poll Pharyngulizers

  36. fps.jason says

    Pete: You act like sabotaging an online poll is the same as prescribing diluted water and selling it for $50/bottle with the claim that it will make you better.

    Also, how dilute would a “yes” response need to be before it becomes efficacious?

  37. truebutnotuseful says

    I have just subjected pete riches’ 198 word post to a 50-fold serial dilution.

    The end result is just as stupid as the original. Maybe there is something to this homeopathy stuff.

  38. ckitching says

    I don’t want to be the unwelcome poop in the party trifle, but isn’t the very notion of having to corrupt their poll results every bit as empirically dishonest as homeopathy itself?

    The point isn’t to “win” the poll. It’s to skew it to demonstrate how pointless public online polls are. Online polls are not representative of the public’s opinion, and cannot be expressed with any statistical certainty. The poll has to be corrupted not because the question is wrong, but because the poll itself is wrong. And if we’re going to corrupt it, we might as well corrupt it in the direction of the right answer.

  39. mk says

    And when TisHeather says fuck off he damn well means… “We don’t need no steenking non-OM’s unHeathering the threads!”

  40. Caine says

    And when TisHeather says fuck off he damn well means… “We don’t need no steenking non-OM’s unHeathering the threads!”

    That’s not what he means at all, which I’m sure you know. Thanks for expressing your vituperative trolling concern. You can fuck off now.

  41. Blind Squirrel FCD says

    The free program Cookie Monster (not the FF add-on) allows you to preserve desired cookies, if that should be important to you, while deleting all others. Be sure to close your browser before running the program.


  42. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    I assume the “heathers” comments refer to the movie. Never having seen it, I have no idea what this feeble attempt at an insult to supposed to mean.

    Regardless, I know the proper response:

    Comment by mk blocked. [unkill]​[show comment]

  43. Caine says

    pete riches @ 48:

    but isn’t the very notion of having to corrupt their poll results every bit as empirically dishonest as homeopathy itself?

    No. You’ve obviously missed the point, which, by the way, has been explained countless times already. Online polls are meaningless, so talk of corrupting them is silly. Also, pointing out, via vote, that online polls are meaningless is a looong way from bilking people out of money; telling them they don’t really need medical help and continuing to bilk people when it’s obvious they are ill.

  44. pete riches says

    What WAS I thinking of? I bow down to the Pharyngula Bullies immediately. You are, of course, absolutely right in everything you say or do. Enjoy your pyrrhic victory.

    The End justifies the Means, eh?

  45. fps.jason says

    We aren’t bullies, we are ridiculing something worthy of ridicule, something that can (and has) ruin lives.

  46. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    Tell me, Pete, what’s your opinion on homeopathy? Do you think it’s a worthwhile endeavor which brings health and happiness to countless millions? Or is it a worthless fraud inflicted on the incredulous for the sole purpose of relieving them of the burden of excess cash?

  47. Sven DiMilo says

    The End justifies the Means, eh?

    wha huh? Pete, dude, get a grip.
    Voting in a publicly posted online poll, or encouraging others to do so,
    a) is not terrorism
    b) is not ‘cheating’
    c) is not ‘bullying’
    d) is stupid (which is why I seldom do it)

    The ‘End,’ such as it is, is to demonstrate point (d) to people who don’t yet seem to realize it.

    The ‘Means’ justified by that ‘End’ is voting in online polls. I’m pretty sure that’s what they’re, you know, for.

  48. Caine says

    pete riches @ 61:

    What WAS I thinking of? I bow down to the Pharyngula Bullies immediately. You are, of course, absolutely right in everything you say or do.

    You weren’t thinking at all. You jumped right in tsking tsking about the poll; when people explained to you, you screech “bullies!” If you weren’t all that upset about voting on an unscientific, online poll, then you must be upset about the homeopathic biz. What homeopathy is: water + magic. It’s a fraud, one that bilks major money from people, channels money away from actual medical research and causes people to die.

  49. Noahs Arkive says

    Ya know, I think Poop Riches is right. I’ll go back on the site, delete my cookies and vote ‘Yes’ a number of times for my terrible indiscretion. Gotta rectify that Karma (whatever).

    Have to say, though, invoking Nazis and telling someone to fuck off over a silly internet poll is a bit much, don’t you think?

  50. Hurin says

    I’m not a doctor, but it is my understanding that being well hydrated is generally good for your health. So if the solvent of choice for the homeopathic remedy is water then it might provide some benefit.

    Of course this would also make it a really terrible choice of therapy for hyponatremia in particular, or any those diseases which aren’t self terminating.

  51. Hurin says


    The End justifies the Means, eh?

    I wasn’t aware that these were means that needed justifying. Its an open poll with no claim of scientific merit, and we are voting in it. What’s the big deal?

  52. Aquaria says

    #67: Mo, it’s not extreme. After a certain point, even the most patient people get tired of explaining for the billionth time why we do the things we do. They don’t bother exploring the site to get a feel for it, they just pop in with their stupidity and start dictating terms of behavior to an established readership. They might as well barge into someone’s house and tell them how to arrange their furniture. It’s just as stupid, and just as rude.

    Don’t like how people act here? Too fucking bad. The back button will take you right the fuck out, and good riddance.

    You concern trolls are so whiny you’re becoming emo trolls.

    So, yes, you. too can fuck right off.

  53. paulmurray says

    “Final step: Vote until you are blue in the face.”

    If you want to flood a poll to make a political point, then perhaps leave it to people who can write very (very) basic bash. You can click and reload the page till you wear your finger down to a nubbin, or you can run this:

    while true ; do curl -d articleid=45561 -d articleaction=viewresults -d pollid=1541 -d answer=B ‘http://www.gm.tv/index.cfm?articleid=45561&articleact
    ion=viewresults’ -o /dev/null ; done

    note the absence of the ‘-c’ parameter. You will, of course, need a *NIX box. Mine is a Mac.

  54. Aquaria says

    Ay, fuck–I’m back on my regular keyboard, and can’t type on it anymore. Mo = no. They = The whiners.

  55. Noahs Arkive says

    #70 Aquarius: Obviously, a graduate of Harvard U’s school of rhetoric.

    I have followed this site daily for years, you presumptious little twit.

  56. Caine says

    Noah’s Arse @ 73:

    #70 Aquarius


    I have followed this site daily for years, you presumptious little twit.

    Oh well, how spaaayshul. How, exactly, would anyone know you lurk, you presumptuous little twit?

  57. Patricia, Ignorant Slut OM says

    #73 – Oh really? Then you should know how we love our trolls served, you presumptuous little shit.
    Rolled in cornmeal, highly peppered and fried in bear fat.

  58. https://me.yahoo.com/a/DhjBEuJ8pt63x6eBKuPx0Jv9_QE-#7c327 says

    “The ends justify the means, eh.”
    Good gawd man, you’re obviously a Canadian!
    Go get drunk on shitty beer, get your teeth knocked out in a hockey game and pretend you’re a world power because you sometimes send a few troops alongside the Americans. We own you, dude.

  59. mtgap.wordpress.com says

    I have Firefox and they counted my vote without me voting, but I tricked them by going to the site directly, using a different browser.

  60. paulmurray says

    @76 “Oh really? Then you should know how we love our trolls served, you presumptuous little shit.”

    Huh? If someone could explain that to me, that would be good, thank you. Beats me what about my post you are objecting to.

    If you want to crash a poll by repeat voting, clearing the cookies on your browser and hitting the button again (which is what @46 was suggesting) is a very, very inefficient way to do it. If you don’t know how to do it properly, then there’s no point doing it at all – people who *can* do it properly will easily overwhelm your puny luddite efforts. Clearing the cookies on your browser and voting again is a sub-script-kiddie level of effort. You are using a shovel to dig a hole, the other person is using one of those enormous multi-bucket open-cut mine thingos.

    If you are objecting to my saying that it’s a political point, well: “online polls are a silly way to conduct public debate” *is* a political point. As is “these kinds of issues are better decided by experts in the field, rather than public sentiment”.

    I don’t know what your problem is with what I said.

  61. deriamis says

    Oh, dear. The concern trolls are back again. How…expected.

    Yes, clearly trashing an unscientific poll with no purpose other than to reinforce confirmation biases on the part of its participants is as bad or worse than someone lying about medical facts and prescribing a statistically insignificant dose of ineffective herbal treatment in tap water, possibly resulting in the death of a person with a curable disease. Clearly, this is so, and we have to justify ourselves before the Ethics Committee of the Internets as represented by our resident concern trolls.

    You know, ‘cuz teach the controversy and equal treatment of opinions and all that. Forgive me if I haven’t heard of all this in a past life before, so go fuck yourselves and take it where someone gives a shit about your touchy-feely concern for woo peddlers.

  62. https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawmCcTJZpAYvnVaWEAghnrI7WEYOO5CUrmE says

    The more you drive the “Yes” poll results down, the more effective homeopathic polls will become….

  63. Caine says

    PaulMurray @ 83:

    @76 “Oh really? Then you should know how we love our trolls served, you presumptuous little shit.”

    Huh? If someone could explain that to me, that would be good, thank you. Beats me what about my post you are objecting to.

    Patrica wasn’t responding to you at all:

    #73 – Oh really?

    See that 73? That was the post she responded to, which was not written by you.

  64. F says

    paulmurray @ 83

    Maybe you want to re-check the post numbers, unless you are posting from two different accounts.



    I’ll have to agree that “ends justify the means”-guy is an ass.

    But WTF is up with the rest of your post there?

  65. Moggie says

    Firefox users: if you got the “already voted” problem, go to preferences -> privacy -> remove individual cookies and search for gm.tv. I voted successfully, and got a ‘POLLSUBMITTED’ cookie for that domain with an expiry of 22 Feb 2040 (around 30 years minus 7 days in the future). If you see a cookie of that name and domain but with an expiry several days earlier, it’s likely you really did vote before from a link in a comment thread, and forgot about it.

    (Don’t actually remove that cookie and vote again, because that would be a cause for concern).

  66. Walton says

    I think there is, actually, a legitimate purpose to crashing Internet polls (though I can’t be bothered to do it myself). It illustrates what a lot of people don’t understand: that they are a completely useless method of information-gathering.

    Gathering accurate quantitative data about people’s opinions, attitudes and beliefs is actually rather difficult. Statisticians and social scientists devote a lot of effort to designing accurate polls with non-leading questions, representative samples, and so on. Internet “polls”, by contrast, are worse than useless, because they give you a purported “result” that has no kind of grounding in reality at all – and a lot of people take the result as if it means something. They therefore contribute to statistical illiteracy and to a whole host of misconceptions. A world without Internet polls would be a better one; and so crashing an Internet poll, thereby demonstrating its complete uselessness, is actually a worthwhile activity.

  67. jal says

    The poll is uncrashable: Even if the “yes”es are diluted ad infinitum in the “no”s, they will still be effective.

  68. octopode.myopenid.com says

    @jal #91

    Surely the poll only becomes effective once the results are sufficiently diluted that in all probability they don’t contain a single vote of the active, er, ingredient? :)

  69. Conan the Librarian says

    The poll is slipping away from us now –

    Yes – 55%
    No – 45%

    Looks like the Homeophiles are keeping busy.

  70. black-wolf72 says

    Yes, it’s being counter-crashed. Down to 44% No now, from 66% when I voted this morning (CET).

  71. Jugglin says

    Just had the already voted page… Now at 57% yes.

    So I just sent a msg to the contact page

    “re poll @ http://www.gm.tv/polls/45561-homeopathy-effectiveness-online-poll.html

    This poll stated that I have already voted. I have not and want my vote counted as NO.

    I am not alone in finding that this poll is potentially misrepresenting votes (as shown here: http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2010/02/homeopathists_should_just_hide.php)

    As the use homeopathy has no scientific value or indeed proof(beyond that of a placebo) please ensure that this poll is invalidated and restarted as currently the (potentially) false positive shown here may influence someone to use a homopathic remedy rather than a true medical remedy.

    This would not be a problem if homeopathy constrained itself to dealing with symptoms which have been scientifically proven to be influenced by a placebo, but unfortunately it does not.

    On the site http://www.abchomeopathy.com/ I have just described the symptoms experienced whilst having an acute ischemic cardic event (which as a RN I have some knowledge of) in depth, and after pages and pages of questions, expected a reasoned response. i.e. Big letters – DIAL AN AMBULENCE, NOW! But instead I find that I apparently need some Sulphur tablets…

    I personally feel that this kind of poll is misleading and potentially life threatening and I am disappointed that, not only are you running this poll, but that you are (by deliberated action or lack of competence) giving a false result.

    I look forward to your reply.


  72. Kobra says

    I’m beginning to suspect that the owners of the poll are changing the results.

  73. Paul J. says

    Thanks for the great tip! Worked like a charm and I voted about ten times.

  74. Sili says

    I see Moggie beat me to it.

    The reason we’re getting the “Already voted” message is that we have indeed already voted last week.

    I wonder if the homoepaths have something for poor memory …

  75. iHunger says

    I got the same “you already voted” message — it’s like the more of us go over their to dilute the yes votes, the more effective the previous yes votes get.

  76. bungoton says

    Bad news, the poll has been unpharyngulated. The vote is now 60% yes and 40% no. Pharyngula Horde you have a job to do.

  77. Ferris says

    The page source seems to indicate that we’re losing 32,000 to 45,000. There’s no way these figures are accurate. Someone’s gotta be botting this poll, so don’t bother unless you have your own bot.

  78. David Marjanović says

    I was able to vote here in the lab using Opera, but it’s 61 : 39 %. Is it being freeped? Slashdotted? Freelance botted?

  79. Nerd of Redhead, OM says

    I think it is obvious our job is done. Once the poll has been botted, the results are irrelevant. Which is our point.

  80. necronomikron says

    Botting? Now who would do that? …

    You might see the ‘no’ side starting slide upwards now. It has gone up 1% in the last few minutes.

  81. Ferris says

    Oh look, there’s a couple hundred more votes for no, lmao. A look, another hundred as I typed that last sentence. Oh my.

  82. Ferris says

    It appears we’ve triggered some sort of flood control. I hope we didn’t unintentionally DDOS their site, lol (sorry news people if that’s the case).

  83. Ferris says

    There’s a 20 second delay every several cycles. Could just be my ISP being a bitch.