Thursday, March 03, 2011

the god dilution

It seems almost cruel to have a pop at homeopathy, because it is so clearly and unequivocally bollocks by its very definition, but I've accumulated a couple of interesting links, so I'm going to do it anyway. I originally typed that first sentence as "another pop", but, looking back through the blog archives, I see that I've really only ever referred to it laughingly in passing while focussing on a different (but equally bollocks) topic, be it chiropractic or vaccine-autism scaremongering or whatever. How very remiss of me.

So anyway, here's the reliably fuckwitted James Delingpole in the Daily Mail to tell us about how homeopathy may have been debunked by - feh! - science and shit, but as long as you believe it works then it will, or something. Top marks for textbook use of the word "shrill" to criticise sceptics, and for the use of the hoary old "science has been wrong before" argument, but mainly I link simply to illustrate what an utter pillock he is.

Just a brief tangent - be aware that the well-armed homeopathy adherent has a ready-made rebuttal to the "well, if water has a memory, why doesn't it remember all that shit that's been in it" gambit, and it goes like this: the water only remembers things that have been in it if they've been subject to the proper gradual dilution process and also "succussed", that is to say shaken and bashed against a bit of leather with the appropriate mystical incantations. Proper homeopaths prepare their remedies this way, or at least they say they do - I mean, how would we know? Note also, amusingly, that the "water memory" theory post-dates homeopathy's inventor Samuel Hahnemann, who was convinced that it was all about really really small concentrations, since he was evidently ignorant of Avogadro's constant, and you know, science in general.

Another brief tangent, in the other direction: a common "gotcha" offered by homeopathy enthusiasts is the notion that if it's all the placebo effect, i.e. all in the mind, yeah, then how do you explain homeopathy WORKING ON ANIMALS?? Take that, Mr. Science Guy! To which the answer is, well, it's still the farmer's mind which determines whether he thinks the animal's better or not, isn't it? Particularly given that these are necessarily going to be minor ailments anyway; if your prize cow gets her udders caught in a threshing machine you're going to be off down the vet's. And let's not rule out the rather remarkable Clever Hans effect.

Anyway, the other links I was saving up were to do with the childish but still rather splendid mass homeopathic remedy overdoses taking place around the world a few weeks ago, inspired by last year's 10:23 campaign in the UK. Amusing as that is, it's topped by several orders of magnitude by the response of the homeopathy community - if you read only one of the links here, I urge you to read this one from the whackos at Natural News - here's a sample quote:
But getting back to water and vibrations, which isn't magic but rather vibrational physics, you can't overdose on a harmony. If you have one violin playing a note in your room, and you add ten more violins -- or a hundred more -- it's all still the same harmony (with all its complex higher frequencies, too). There's no toxicity to it.
Now that's comedy.

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