Rachel Roberts says, “I don’t know how, but homeopathy really does work“. Oh, I thought, let’s give it a try and hear why. But then I was five paragraphs in and getting nothing but this inane anecdote about how when she was 21, and she was at this party, see, and this lady said she used to have some ailment of an unspecified nature and then she took two sugar pills and zip-zap-alakazam, a couple of days later, she was cured!!! Of what, I don’t know. Could have been a cold. Coulda been terminal pancreatic cancer. Coulda been the Zombie Plague, and the lady could have been green and dead with her left arm gnawed off and moaning for “braaaains”, and now she’s serving tea at the Ladies Club and singing every Sunday in the church choir. We don’t know. But whatever it was, it convinced Rachel Roberts to throw away her scholarship to a graduate program in neuroscience and go to homeopathy school.
The Zombie Plague theory acquires a little more credibility. That dinner party encounter seems to have sucked her brains out.
She does throw out a little flurry of studies that have shown the efficacy of homeopathy, but I’m unconvinced. I’ve looked into a few of those papers in the past — the homeopathic dilutions of thyroxine inhibiting metamorphosis sounded interesting — and found nothing but confusing protocols, extremely weak effects, and poor experimental design, not to mention the complete absence of a mechanism and that their results contradict good studies on the effects of concentration of thyroxine on frog metamorphosis (we have very good data on how increasing the concentration of thyroxine speeds up metamorphosis, with charts and tables and everything.) It’s funny how when advocates do some sloppy research, they get an effect…and when critics start controlling for bias and errors, the effects disappear. Almost as if they weren’t really there.
Skip Rachel Roberts. Read Ben Goldacre instead.