Mass "overdose" planned in protest of Boots pharmacy sale of "homeopathic remedies"

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235 Responses to “Mass "overdose" planned in protest of Boots pharmacy sale of "homeopathic remedies"”

  1. Anonymous says:

    in germany, pharma-industry fights accupuncture on a “scientific” level.
    the whole campaign seems like a new method of getting rid of an annoing competitor.
    having rates of up to 20%, pharma-business is one of the most profitable ones.

  2. kattw says:

    This really resembles the global warming debate a bit, but at least people can only hurt themselves. The sad fact is, homeopathy is not medicine in the chemical sense, it’s medicine in the psychological sense. For those minor ailments where a change of attitude is sufficient to help oneself, homeopathy can be useful. However, for the majority of ailments (those that don’t just go away on their own) actual medicinal aid (that is, chemicals) are generally required.

    The issue is complicated by the fact that some natural remedies ARE highly effective. Now, in science, we know that the reason these remedies are effective is because of select compounds inside the natural item (leaves, needles, roots, etc.) and that extraction of this compound grants the same effects, but without the nasty aftertaste. However, homeopathy in general works on the basis that ANY natural item can be converted into a cure. I’ve seen homeopathy rocks that you hold to make you feel better. Utter nonsense at the scientific level, and telling people that the rocks (or whatever) will work can cause great harm.

    The issue is further complicated by mystical looking cures such as acupuncture, which we now understand, but which to look at seems almost homeopathic. Stick needles in your body to cure aches and pains? Who’d have guessed it? Yet, it’s can be shown, via science, to work.

    Finally, due to FDA guidelines, chemical treatments need to undergo incredible testing before they are judged safe. However, a ‘natural treatment’ need only undergo the most basic of tests: if it’s not toxic, you can sell it to people. And since you’re just selling tea leaves, or whatever, it doesn’t matter what you say they do at the market level, the FDA won’t touch you.

    Finally, as for why science hasn’t cured certain diseases (forget who mentioned that), well, it’s hit all the easy ones already, hasn’t it? That common cold is a different bug every month, rather hard to fix when it keeps changing. Those joint pains are due to biological changes which, really, can’t be fixed short of surgery and major replacement installation. Those headaches could have any number of causes, let alone cures. But hey, good luck curing polio with rocks. Or curing whooping cough with tea leaves. Might make you feel better, but it won’t actually change what’s happening to your body.

    Anyways, homeopathy isn’t science, it does not adhere to anything approaching the scientific method, and it’s only medicine on occasion, and usually by accident. Sad, but true.

    • Rob says:

      Not entirely true. They can also give it to their children. It’s not limited to themselves.

    • airshowfan says:

      Kattw, I’m glad you understand why homeopathy isn’t science and how the FDA works (or, sometimes, doesn’t), but…

      acupuncture, which we now understand … can be shown, via science, to work.

      I don’t think so:

      http://skeptico.blogs.com/skeptico/2009/05/acupuncture-still-doesnt-work.html

      To summarize: “Sham acupuncture was (again) just as good as the ‘real’ stuff. But this does not mean that sham works as well as non-sham acupuncture, as has been reported. As Steven Novella wrote, when your real treatment is no better than your placebo (the “sham” acupuncture), you don’t get to conclude that, well, this means the placebo works too. No – you conclude the real treatment doesn’t work“. That’s why the placebo-control is there to begin with!

      So yes, acupuncture “works” in the sense that placebos work, but in that sense homeopathy “works” too.

  3. jagregory says:

    Not that I agree with them selling either, but how is Boots selling homeopathic remedies any different from them selling anti-ageing creams? They’re in the business of lying to consumers.

  4. Osno says:

    I always felt that anti-homeopathic types are like anti-gay marriage types. If people want to take homeopathic remedies, that’s their problem, just let them. I think they won’t be convinced by any demonstration, they really believe in that. And I really don’t think the pro-science has the right to say they know better, either. Our understanding of the human body is not that good to begin with.

    • Felix Mitchell says:

      1. People make money through conning patients with homeopathy. I don’t think there are many salesmen who make a living through convincing sick people they need to be gay.

      2. Patient choice has to be informed choice. Patients can’t exercise free choice if they’re being lied to.

      3. Personally, I’d expect to see higher correlation between homophobia and belief in homeopathy since both can be caused by belief in the supernatural.

      4. Doing double blind tests on homeopathic medicine definitely gives scientists more of a right to say whether it works or not. Do you imagine that medicine which completely fails to have any effect in an experiment will then be reliably effective when sold to patients?

      5. Our current understanding of the human body is good enough to say these remedies don’t work and that patients may come to harm through using them.

    • Anonymous says:

      Actually our understanding of the human body is phenomenally good, covering libraries of data and extraordinary insights into how we work. Look at PubMed or Medline or PsycINFO or any other database.
      One’s own lack of in depth knowledge does not generalise to everyone.

  5. rawdiant says:

    @Cheaplazymom wrote: “Just because people are willing to try homeopathy, chiropractic, accupuncture, or nutrition counseling, doesn’t mean that they are anti-science. Taking a multi-vitamin does not make me a climate change denier … choosing not to give my newborn a vaccine for HebB does not make me a whack-job.”

    Beautifully put! I also love what @Sekino wrote about not lumping every alternative healing protocol into one. I’m a total science geek who used to think alternative non-mainstream information was largely baseless. But, once I looked into it more, and really started to study it, I see that there’s a TON of hard-core science here. Sure, there’s also a TON of mis-information floating around, but you don’t have to throw the baby out w/ the bathwater. The *same* is true with science.

    We tend to idealize “science,” as though it’s absolutely objective. And, yes, in theory, it IS objective. Only, in practice, it isn’t. If it were, how could there really be much of a controversy over global warming, over whether vaccines are harmful or not, over whether chemical pesticides are harmful or not, over whether GMO foods are harmful or not, over whether homeopathy or accupuncture or [insert alt-med of your choice here] has any validity or not? All of these things have both proponents and opponents based in hard science. IMHO, not infrequently, scientific conclusions dovetail nicely with political or personal agendas.

    Oh, and @Chesterfield: Speaking of (commercial / capitalistic) agendas, I doubt Pfizer is hurting. They make $10 billion/year (literally). Nice of you to be concerned about them, though.

    • Chesterfield says:

      @rawdiant Pfizer does make a lot of money, but I was talking about margins. Homeopathic products are water! An few ounces of water is practically free and how much does it get sold for after “homeopathic” is printed on the label? There isn’t a drug company on the planet that wouldn’t love to have the margins and freedom to make baseless claims that homeopathic medicine vendors have.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Why is this a black or white matter?

    I wasn’t aware of a large overwhelming body of scientific evidence that completely discounts homeopathy. All I see in this thread are people ridiculing it and failing to understand that science is not God, and does not explain everything yet, nor will it ever. There are always theories being overturned, hidden truths coming to light. This is the meat and potatoes of science! I’m ashamed by the “pro-science” talk on this thread, it’s like Fox News gone wrong.

    Should scientists (and science lovers) discount all Chinese Medicine practices simply because of a lack of data? Should they arrogantly disclaim the practices of other cultures and of natural remedies while failing at the same time to properly study these long standing traditions and techniques?

    Of course not, this is not the scientific way. Pro-science folks, I’m with you, but don’t pretend to back up the scientific method and then shrink from what it demands. It’s not an excuse to discount and ridicule everything not already proven.

    There is only one “scientific” conclusion here: Science needs to embark more sincerely on a journey to study these practices and their techniques from many more angles than it has been doing so far. There’s obviously a need for this. There’s a small handful of studies, not a body of conclusive work. There’s a demand by the people for natural remedies, some of which have been in use for centuries.

    I’m all for proving and disproving things, but not for throwing the baby out with the bath water. More research and less arrogance please!

  7. mtreighie says:

    Someone suggested outlawing homeopathic treatments. I had to stop to imagine the war on homeopathic drugs, mules smuggling water across boarders in tanker trucks marked as drinking water. Drug Czars running interdiction with dousing rods. PSAs telling us this is your brain, this is your brain on homeopathy.

  8. arkizzle / Moderator says:

    Xopher,

    Thanks, well said :)

    Nearly walked into that one myself.

  9. gobo says:

    This is as much a “protest” as the efforts of Improv Everywhere are, and just as effective. What are they proving? That homeopathy has no side effects and can’t be overdosed? Well, yeah, it says that right on every bottle of homeopathic medicine as one of its ‘benefits’.

    If 10:23 are going forward with a protest against a placebo, they should commit to protesting everything on the chemist’s shelves that’s sold with no scientifically proven effect outside a placebo: various herbal remedies, cologne, perfume, makeup, and AXE products. “We’re going to douse ourselves in AXE to prove that the ‘AXE Effect’ is a placebo!”

  10. Sork says:

    I giggled at the 10^23. Science humor.

  11. WalterBillington says:

    Oh come one, there’s plenty of bullshit in it. They’ll stink!

  12. SB-129 says:

    read all the comments. it comes down to this:

    Faith trumps reason. every bastard time. For if you could reason with the faithful, there would be no faith.

    Or to put it in Mr Randall style:

    “Science. It works, bitches”

  13. Sork says:

    Homeopathy is like religion. You can argue that doing nothing has no side effects, and fooling yourself makes you feel better. But only until you replace your antibiotics or chemotherapy with homeopathy, or replace hospital care with prayers.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Believe it or not, the NHS runs and funds a homeopathic hospital. (http://www.uclh.nhs.uk/Our+hospitals/Royal+London+Homoeopathic+Hospital.htm) Surely this is a better target of protest than Boots. Public money that could be used to provide real treatments being poured down a rathole.

  15. Vidya108 says:

    As a long-time student of homeopathy myself, I can say that one would be hard-pressed to find a homeopath who would disagree with the idea that downing a random bottle of homeopathic medicine would have no effect on most people. Homeopathy does not function by artificially pushing a healthy body’s functions into hyper- or hypo-activity, as allopathic drugs do, but by prompting the body to itself adjust its regulating mechanisms to restore it an organism to maximum comfort and efficiency. If one has no condition to which a particular remedy is suited, of course ‘nothing will happen’.

    I also find these protesters’ appeal to the false dichotomy between homeopathy and ‘science’ to be rather absurd. Like any science, homeopathy is a set of socially ordered cultural practices, that makes claims about the natural world and seeks to test them in ways its practitioners deem appropriate to producing valid and useful knowledge. That’s really no different than what any other science does — we don’t, after all, claim that particle physicists are ‘wrong’ to be claiming to discover facts about the world by crashing atoms together in accelerators rather than, say, altering the genes of fruit flies.

    • Felix Mitchell says:

      @ Vidya108 #22

      “Like any science, homeopathy is…”

      LOL

      Yes mate, both actual scientists and homeopathic quacks do seek to make claims about the natural world in their own ways. It’s just that testing your claims in a completely bullshit way has slightly different results than testing them in a methodically, peer reviewed, double blind rational way. What you call allopathic medicine has made thousands of advances in medical science, while for some reason homeopathy still hasn’t convinced most people of its original premise, let alone actually make any advances. The only good homeopathy has done for science is to help getting funding on the placebo effect to disprove it.

    • SB-129 says:

      @vidya,

      As a long-time student of pharmacology your claims about “allopathic” (a term coined by the founder of homeopathy i might add) medicine’s behaviour is absurd.

      Homeopaths are not scientists, as you described them. they are nothing but faith-healers at best. snake-oil peddlers at worst.

      as per #24. your use of straw man arguments does not wash. yes, medicine has had its issues with those things you refer to, but that does not discredit the science behind them in gneeral.

      and please. . stop using the word “allopathic”. it makes you look foolish. Say “modern medicine” – it’s much more accurate.

    • xinit says:

      Vidya108:

      You’re a student of homeopathy, and you claim that homeopathy is a science? Can’t you be kicked out of the club for that sort of statement?

      Oh, you define science in your own, homeopathy friendly way as “a set of socially ordered cultural practices, that makes claims about the natural world and seeks to test them in ways its practitioners deem appropriate to producing valid and useful knowledge.”

      Socially ordered cultural practices? Yeah, you might want to ask a physicist or a biologist or any scientist if that sums up what they do.

      “we don’t, after all, claim that particle physicists are ‘wrong’ to be claiming to discover facts about the world by crashing atoms together in accelerators rather than, say, altering the genes of fruit flies.”

      Of course we don’t claim they’re wrong. Unlike with homeopathy, experimenting with fruit flies or atoms is something that is well documented, reproducible, and falsifiable. Homeopathy is “wrong” as a “science” because it’s none of those.

    • Padraig says:

      Er…no.

      “Like any science…” Homoeopathy is not a science. It does not follow scientific rules and guidelines for determining effectiveness. This very fact alone determines that it is not a science.

      Furthermore, it has not provided any scientific proof or evidence of its effectiveness.

      “…homoeopathy is a set of socially ordered cultural practices, that makes claims about the natural world and seeks to test them in ways its practitioners deem appropriate to producing valid and useful knowledge.” This is merely evidence that you fail to comprehend what a scientific method is. By your argument, if I and my friends set out a method which shows mushrooms keep aliens away then this is scientific.

      I can’t decide if I’m sad or amused. Maybe both.

      “That’s really no different than what any other science does…” Actually it is so far away from science that it’s not even in the same universe.

      “…we don’t, after all, claim that particle physicists are ‘wrong’ to be claiming to discover facts about the world by crashing atoms together in accelerators rather than, say, altering the genes of fruit flies.” This has absolutely nothing to do with the argument. If the LHC staff where to say that by searching for the Higgs bosun particle they were contributing to the human genome project then they would be scolded and ridiculed by the scientific community.

      “To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering observable, empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning.[1] A scientific method consists of the collection of data through observation and experimentation, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses.”

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_method

      Please read up on science and how it’s conducted, then have a look at your comments.

      Finally, here’s an example. A friend of the father-in-law started seeing a homoeopath. “Oh, don’t worry. That rash on your face is just the toxins coming out.” I explained that this is what your kidneys are for and if anything come ‘out of your face’ I’d start to worry. Furthermore it looked like scabies to me. “But the homoeopath said it was the toxins coming out and has charged me two arms and leg for this crap” (my interpretation of their reply). Oh really, says I.

      One week later. Serious scabies problem and has to have topical steroids because the inflammation is so severe.

      Toxins! LOL.

    • elfspice says:

      by definition, homeopathy is gonna have zero benefit above placebo. you know, the whole point of comparing a treatment to placebo is to demonstrate that it has effects beyond the very real and totally proven placebo effect.

      yes, placebo works too. but it only works because the patient believes in it. just like *drumroll* homeopathy. if this is the case, why are homeopathic medicines priced so far beyond reasonable markup on a plastic bottle filled with sugar tablets?

      if you ask me, a lot of these homeopathic materials should be treated as though they really had the substances they are claimed to have in them. like, for example, deadly nightshade, and i’ve seen melatonin sold in homeopathic ‘formulations’ – the TGA and FDA et al should be able to prosecute people for selling these ‘poisons’. since the ‘intent’ is the point of homeopathy, right? then just as tangible is the ‘substance’ in these jars of snake oil.

      it’s amazing to me that you can pay some thousand dollars to become a ‘qualified’ homeopath and put 1000% markups on water and sugar pills and vodka (tinctures). i think demanding that the government treat these homeopathic medicines as though they were 100% the substance written on the label would be the way to shut these fools down. anyone can give you a little bottle of water and tell you it will cure your piles, but nobody deserves to get paid for such an imbecilic, fraudulent act. the only way they could get away with it is if it was a religion, and the fact is, that’s what it is. in that light to some extent perhaps you can give these homeopaths some credit for not exploiting the tax exemption of selling a ticket to happiness to people. but the amount of money they make off their ‘wisdom’, they sure make up for the fact they pay tax on their income now don’t they.

      i still say, if they are so convinced that the substance they diluted into nonexistence in their treatments is really what it is about then they should treat it like LSD was treated, that led to the introduction of blotter, and that whatever the label says is assumed to be true and the person selling it prosecuted for selling poisonous substances for human consumption.

  16. lesbianjesus says:

    Cory Doctorow replied to comment from bjacques | #14 |

    “homeopathic lager” AKA American beer

    As a Canadian, I LOLled Heartily

  17. Scatter says:

    @bengoldacre tweeted over the weekend that he would “be there, making a homeopathic dilution of my own poo especially for the event”

    hehe

  18. Vidya108 says:

    “Patient choice has to be informed choice. Patients can’t exercise free choice if they’re being lied to.”

    So when are we going to start forcing allopathic drug companies and doctors to actually do this? Name one drug in the past…well, forever…whose benefits haven’t been overstated (when not completely fabricated) and drawbacks understated by interested parties.

  19. Anonymous says:

    @lilbjorn Interesting, how much does the homeopathic snake oil industry pay you to produce FUD like that?

  20. Tzctlp says:

    If homoeopathy is not a science, can you all deniers kindly explain how it comes that institutions like the IPN in Mexico teaches it? :

    http://www.ipn.mx/wps/wcm/connect/IPN%20HOME/ipn/estructura+principal/oferta+educativa/superior/ciencias+medico-biologicas/tituloacademico_enmh_med_cir_hom

    Medical practitioners with background in homoeopathy have being common curreny cin Mexico for decades.

    And before you ask, the IPN is the second most important public higher education institution in Mexico.

    You may not know about scientific study of the discipline, that does not mean there is none.

    • Sork says:

      Quote:
      “I’ve been to Mexico many times, and I’ve looked into traditional “healers” – the “curanderos” – who ply their trade there. Now that I’m aware of the official stance on homeopathy, it doesn’t surprise me at all. Mexico, too, is plagued by this illness known as “faith-based” medicine…”
      /James Randi

      Simply, Mexico isn’t exactly in the top of credible scientific countries.

  21. Snig says:

    And speaking of water, Boots likely sells 1000x’s more bottled water than homeopathy vials. Ads suggesting it’s better for you and tastes better than tap water. Much more economic damage, much more environmental damage. Where’s the outrage on that?

  22. Fee says:

    It is estimated that 180,000 people die from hospital treatment every year:
    http://www.projectcensored.org/top-stories/articles/12-180000-patients-die-annually-fron-treatment-in-hospitals/

    How many die from homeopathy? I have used homeopathic treatments and I find them neither more nor less effective than allopathic treatments. Maybe that’s the placebo effect, maybe not. I want the choice though.

    • Felix Mitchell says:

      @ Fee:

      That’s a totally meangingless comparison. Less people use homeopathy than hospitals, and for less serious conditions.

      I think you should have that choice too. Homeopathic remedies should have warnings on similar to cigarettes that spell out their lack of effectiveness. Then people would have informed choice and it wouldn’t be a problem.

      • Anonymous says:

        Homeopathic remedies should have warnings on similar to cigarettes that spell out their lack of effectiveness. Then people would have informed choice and it wouldn’t be a problem.

        In the United States, this is law. The medical-industrial complex and her lobbyists only allow unproven allopathic rememdies to claim effectiveness, all others must have disclaimers or make no claims.

        This is because the unproven allopathic remedies are the products of major corporations. For example, aspirin was marketed for at least a hundred years before scientific proof of any effectiveness was documented, but nobody had any problem with that (until their kids got Reyes Syndrome, anyway).

        If you want proof of the moral bankruptcy of the medical establishment, you should check out the prostate cancer vaccine that’s still being held off the market by the FDA due to the AMA’s strong opposition. Provenge has been proven effective in every trial for years, but it would put a lot of doctors out of business, so have fun dying of cancer to protect the AMA’s business model… wouldn’t want you doctor to miss a payment on his yacht!

    • SamSam says:

      I have used homeopathic treatments, and I find them neither more nor less effective than allopathic treatments

      The only reason people like you can say this is because you had a full regiment of “allopathic” vaccines as a child, which protected you from all the actually-really-harmful stuff. Or, if your parents were selfish enough to not give you vaccines, then you benefited from all the vaccines your peers around you had.

      It’s easy to say homeopathy its “just as effective” as real medicine when you’ re talking about the sniffles, it’s an entirely different thing once you start talking about polio, TB, typhoid or anything “real.” Why is that, if homeopathy is neither more nor less effective?

      • Lobster says:

        It’s also very easy to say, “in my anecdotal experience, homeopathy works just as well as actual treatment” when there’s no way to test that scientifically. I’m not going to use “allopathy,” because that term is insulting and ridiculous. Did he get a bacteria infection and then save a little so after it went away he could re-infect himself to try the alternative treatment? Did he break both arms and treat one with homeopathy and one with science?

        No, the thesis seems to be, “I used homeopathic remedies and I didn’t die, therefore, it’s just as effective as anything else in the world.”

        • Ito Kagehisa says:

          I’m not going to use “allopathy,” because that term is insulting and ridiculous.

          Do you also reject the term “osteopathy”?

          Just wondering.

  23. Anonymous says:

    All I know is I used homeopathic remedies, raised four children to adulthood, and hardly ever went to the doctor except for those “well-baby” checks. There the doctor told me to keep doing whatever I was doing. They are great for the common stuff: colds, bee stings, bruises, poison ivy, colic, motion sickness … the usual stuff you run into. If people don’t want to take them, don’t take them! I was skeptical, but hey… if they work, why not?
    The silly part of the “overdose” is that that’s the first principle of homeopathy…. “First, do no harm”. You CANNOT overdose on homeopathic remedies, and that’s one of the beauties of them.

  24. CosmicMonkey says:

    Science is a mythological system like any other belief system. I think the notion that “science is true, and everything else is false” is proof of that. But if you can hold opposing ideas in your head without exploding, you can see where your own values reside. For instance, science has helped my friend who has an advanced stage of cancer to slow down the growth of his tumors, but there came a time when the actual treatments seemed worse then the disease, and now he is using certain natural methodologies to treat his cancer, while continuing to partake in the allopathic treatments he deems essential. There is simply no reason to debate his choices, as they relate to him and him only. His life, his decisions. We live in an incredibly complex world and we make decisions mostly with our hearts. Some would say wisdom comes from the heart, knowledge comes from the head. If you want to pursue knowledge of any sort, go right ahead, it will get you to a certain point and then you will see that wisdom will lead you the rest of the way. And for some, love is all they need, and love can be another word for God or Energy. Who are you to judge?

    • Chesterfield says:

      Science isn’t a belief system, it’s simply a method. Hypothesis, experiment, observe, repeat.

      And what’s with using the word “allopathic”? How about just “conventional medicine”? If homeopathic remedies could be shown to work, they would be conventional medicine.

      Like Rob said earlier, I have no problem with your friend choosing any particular course of treatment. My problem is when misguided and ill-informed parents choose homeopathic treatments for their children.

      • airshowfan says:

        And what’s with using the word ‘allopathic’? How about just ‘conventional medicine’?

        I like it how one blog calls it “evidence-based medicine”. Gets right to the heart of the difference. (And no, johnlancia, I don’t mean “heart” literally)

        If homeopathic remedies could be shown to work, they would be conventional medicine.

        That says it all.

        • johnlancia says:

          If you don’t mean ‘heart’ literally, then what are you talking about? You said knowledge comes from your brain and wisdom comes from your heart. So if you didn’t mean ‘heart’ literally then what did you mean? I’m just going by what you said.
          Anyway, I’ll assume you meant brain when you said ‘heart’. So what you really said was that knowledge comes from your brain, and wisdom comes from your brain. Er… You can see where the confusion is coming from here. Unless you didn’t mean brain when you said ‘heart’. Maybe you meant to say ‘spirit animal’, or ‘soul’, or any of those other things that people say when they want to make it seem like a higher power is talking to them.
          I’ll just stick with ‘heart means brain’ for simplicities sake. Or maybe this will help:

          knowl·edge
          n.
          1. The state or fact of knowing.
          2. Familiarity, awareness, or understanding gained through experience or study.
          3. The sum or range of what has been perceived, discovered, or learned.
          4. Learning; erudition: teachers of great knowledge.
          5. Specific information about something.

          and this:

          wis·dom
          n.
          1. The ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting; insight.
          2. Common sense; good judgment: “It is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things” (Henry David Thoreau).
          3.
          a. The sum of learning through the ages.
          b. Wise teachings of the ancient sages.
          4. A wise outlook, plan, or course of action.

          Hope this helps.

      • CosmicMonkey says:

        I only used the word allopathic because I was too lazy to type “conventional medicine”. Now that I know I am branded because I used this word I will henceforth abstain as to head off any more brandings. Thank you.

        Perhaps I wrote that science is a mythological system in order to provoke thought in myself and others, but of course it is a methodology as well. Completely unlike Tzutujil Shamanism, which only uses a system of belief and practice evolved over thousands of years of testing and refining healing traditions that seem to have some positive empirical effect. Kudos to whoever said that science doesn’t continue unless people continue science. Is there anything bad about continuing science or Tzutijil Shamanism? How would I know…Oh right, I need to use the scientific method to see if I am a heretic or not. :)
        My heart is not my brain. If that was the case, would I have less feelings if I was less intelligent? I’m actually interested in any thoughts on the subject. Anyway, my heart is what loves my family and friends, my brain just likes some of them…If you don’t know what a heart is, I strongly recommend talking to the Tin Man.

      • SamSam says:

        If homeopathic remedies could be shown to work, they would be conventional medicine.

        If the pro-homeopathy folks here could understand this one line, they’d understand the problem that “science” has with homeopathy.

        All that is required is evidence. If there were evidence, all of this would be happily (or not-so-happily) brought into the “scientific” fold. That’s all that is required for this to become science. (Well, evidence that is reproducible, that is.)

        This divide between science and non-science exists because of this single fact: lack of evidence. It’s not because science is a “belief” as “valid as any other.” It’s not because there needs to be a divide between the test-tubes and beakers world and the natural, spiritual healing world. It’s not your system versus mine. The two need not be at opposite ends. All that is needed is repeatable, testable evidence, and voila! it’s science.

        (I wonder whether, if such evidence did emerge and homeopathy became “science,” many people would stop taking it because science = bad, apparently.)

        But if there is no repeatable evidence, on what basis can you say it heals? Either it heals or it doesn’t. If it does, this should be testable, right?

        People say, “well, homeopathy doesn’t just cure the symptoms. It can actually remove your asthma” (or whatever). If this is true, it should be a really easy thing to test, right? It you get better, isn’t this “betterness” measurable? If it isn’t measurable, what is it?

    • johnlancia says:

      knowledge and wisdom both come from the brain. Your heart is a muscle and does not contribute significantly to your cognitive process’s. You might as well be saying that wisdom comes from your gut. Please watch reruns of ‘The Colbert Report’ for reasons on why this would be a bad thing if it could happen at all.
      As soon as you use the word ‘allopathic’ you lose all credibility and label yourself as a follower of homeopathy. Nobody uses that word seriously except the indoctrinated.
      Now as for your friend using homeopathic remedies in his or her time of need, that is fine. If it works for them, then power to them. What the protest is about is Boots carrying those products and making a profit off of them and lending their name to them. This is not good because the effects your friend is feeling are probably placebo in nature. Something diluted a million times in water is not good science or medicine, and if people start taking them and eschewing the treatments that will really help them. Like chemotherapy for instance. Then it becomes a bad scene.
      That’s why they are protesting Boots carrying these products. Because in doing so, Boots is lending credence to what is basically a folk remedy. Something you should be able to buy at the local health food store, but not at a major chain of pharmacies.

    • SamSam says:

      Science is a mythological system like any other belief system.

      Wow. What is it exactly that you think people have to “believe” in science?

      If there is a playing card face-down on the table and I want to know what color it is, how should I go about that? The scientific method would have me flip over the card and look.

      Is it a “mythology” that this would be the best way to find out? Is it something that people just “believe” in. Is sitting down and just trusting that the card is red be “just as valid?”

      Which part of ‘testing a hypothesis’ involves a belief system?

    • airshowfan says:

      Science is a mythological system like any other belief system. I think the notion that ‘science is true, and everything else is false’ is proof of that.

      Do mythological belief systems develop models that can be used to make predictive (i.e. testable, i.e. falsifiable) claims? Do they self-correct when they realize their mistakes?

      I will grant that, given humans’ teleological inclinations, naturalism seems to most people like a little bit of a stretch, something that requires a leap of faith. And, similarly to a belief in God, my belief in naturalism can’t itself be proven or falsified. So I will give you that. BUT, the difference is, once science started to assume naturalism (regardless of whether naturalism is true) and started to test its models as part of the process (as opposed to just guessing), the rate of progress in our understanding of the universe went WAY up.

      Science just tries to understand (and exploit) mechanisms and phenomena. You may not be a naturalist, and you may turn down the tools that science has made possible, but you can’t “not believe” in science. You can’t not believe it that “Studies show that A and B happen in conditions X and Y but not in other conditions”, especially when the conclusions from those kinds of observations are admittedly tentative.

      (And I should say that I really liked comment #100. Makes an important point and makes it well).

    • airshowfan says:

      As for wisdom and all that…

      What people want, what makes people happy, and how efforts at manipulating human affairs turn out, are the result of systems so complex and chaotic that science (at least right now) can’t get very far making predictive models. Sure, neuroscience and psychology help us break down what we think and feel, and to find some of the causes for some kinds of thoughts and feelings… and many studies have been done about what happy people have/do in common. But that won’t tell you what to do with your life (big-picture wise, beyond “exercise more, watch less TV, make sure you get enough sleep, challenge your capabilities, learn”…). It won’t tell you what path will make you as happy as you can be. I don’t think that anyone is claiming that science’s increasingly precise models of physical phenomena would help your friend decide how hard to fight the cancer. Some decisions can be made optimally only when you know yourself very well, and when you understand others well, and right now our feelings and intuitions are often better at that than rational analyses. People are very very complicated, and we have evolved a computer in our heads that does a decent job at dealing with those complications at an intuitive level. No one here is judging an intuitive decision made with intuitive knowledge of how to minimize one’s own suffering.

      What I am (and others here are) judging is the idea that an untested (or, even worse, tested and debunked) hypothesis about a physical phenomenon (such as what happens when you take homeopathic products) is as valid as a tested-and-validated one. Medicine, although imperfect, is tested and validated, or at least tries hard to be. If people can’t see how that makes medicine superior to homeopathy, then this is infuriating, and I feel the need to point this out to them. Maybe if I were wiser, I would just ignore them. Then again, that’s not the way to fix problems.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Speaking of Upper Canuckistan: my local Shopper’s Drug Mart carries a homeopathic pain treatment for children. This is beyond the pale! Bad enough to sell snake oil to adults foolish enough to go for it, but to put this crap on the shelves beside real medicine is a thousand kinds of awful.

  26. Fee says:

    Also this:
    http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg18524911.600-13-things-that-do-not-make-sense.html?page=2

    The Belfast experiments seem to show *scientifically* that there is an unexplainable effect. It is unexplained by science – that doesn’t make it unscientific.

  27. Anonymous says:

    So where are the results of this mass overdose? Did all suddenly fall strangely silent?

    And what do they mean by “overdose”? Taking lots of the same potency? I bet there were a few symptoms experienced. But no danger in it, as someone pointed out below. To massively overdose on a homeopathic remedy, you have to take the higher potencies – which are the more diluted ones.

    As usual, it’s just another case of mass ignorance about what homeopathy is and how it works. This is why “double-blind” studies don’t work with homeopathy – it’s one model testing on its own terms something that does not work according to that model.

    People who claim that homeopathy can’t work are narrow-minded people who cannot seem to bear the thought of considering a different model. Have fun with your mainstream medicine and all of its side effects!

  28. Tzctlp says:

    If homoeopathy is not a science, can you all deniers kindly explain how it comes that institutions like the IPN in Mexico teaches it? :

    http://www.ipn.mx/wps/wcm/connect/IPN%20HOME/ipn/estructura+principal/oferta+educativa/superior/ciencias+medico-biologicas/tituloacademico_enmh_med_cir_hom

    Medical practitioners with background in homoeopathy have being common curreny cin Mexico for decades.

    And before you ask, the IPN is the second most important public higher education institution in Mexico.

    You may not know about scientific study of the discipline, that does not mean there is none.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Boots are the wrong target. They sell them because they are highly profitable, idiots like to buy them and they are legal. Its the last bit, their legality, which is the issue and is one for government and regulators. Not Boots.

    Walk around your supermarket and look at all the spurious, pseudo-scientific claims on food, it can lower your cholesterol, drinks full of artificial sugar which can help you lost weight, anti-oxidants and calcium in water, etc, etc. Is that Sainsburys fault? No of course not.

    This is where the wisdom of crowds sails very close to mindless bullying.

  30. Felix Mitchell says:

    “So when are we going to start forcing allopathic drug companies and doctors to actually do this?”

    We do. In the US that would be done by the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. Of course this is not perfect, drug effectiveness is overstated by marketers. People bend the truth, that’s the world we live in. When this happens to a larger degree it’s obviously a big scandal.

    However that’s totally different from a product which makes significant health claims and does nothing. You’re not overstating the effects by 5% or 10%. You’re lying about effects that will never happen.

  31. adamnvillani says:

    In the US, several medications are available OTC that would treat the symptoms of pneumonia, but no antibiotics that would do anything for the infection.

    What? Your premises are false. I had pneumonia in 2006, was prescribed antibiotics, and bam, the underlying infection was cured in a few days.

    • Snig says:

      Yes, antibiotics are wonderful. Seriously, no irony implied. The argument was put forward that because homeopathy would be used for pneumonia, the kid would die. My point was that while many over the counter remedies would be advertised for the symptoms of pneumonia, including antihistamines, cough medicines, fever reducers, and pain medication; none of these would be any more effective than the homeopathic medicine in actually treating the underlying pneumonia. While there is symptomatic relief afforded by many of the previous examples, they have no serious evidence of efficacy on survivorship of pneumonia. And if the kid was ignored by his parents as much as the homeopathic parents in the previous poster’s example, the kid was equally dead. This may be a US thing, in the US you can’t get oral antibiotics without a prescription. OTC means over the counter, available without a prescription.

      • adamnvillani says:

        The argument was put forward that because homeopathy would be used for pneumonia, the kid would die.

        OK, sorry, I misinterpreted what you were saying.

  32. Clif Marsiglio says:

    A few years ago, before I decided to go on to advanced degrees in psychology, I would have agreed with this homeopathic slam. But the people I know that use these things are generally healthier and happier than the ones that don’t.

    People need ritual and magick in their lives…and this is something we don’t get in the modern world. So someone manufactures something that has no medicinal properties, but they go through a process, a complicated one…actually generally an overly complicated one that does absolutely nothing in the scientific realm. But it is the ritual that counts. And when you meet the peoples making these products, you can tell they would be the ones delivering the eye of newt five hundred years ago and they deliver it with zeal and the desire to cure.

    The product is not the physical manifestation one has in their hand, it is the energy delivered through the product embodied by the people making it.

    I now have an advanced degree in psychology and I am starting to understand this side of things. It helps people make sense of an overly complicated world. Our brains only can make so much sense of areas we know little of, and to most people, most legitimate drugs are magic…the fact is, most ‘legitimate’ drugs are curing something that they don’t have anyways. The medical industry is a very imprecise realm and drugs are often prescribed for ailments that a more accurate diagnosis would prove these are useless for. 90% of all ailments seen by a physician would go away on their own…as such, which would I rather prescribe? Something that *WILL* have side effects (find a modern medicine that doesn’t), or something that will be of benefit 90% of the time to those that believe.

    At this point, I’m grateful for my chance to understand these people more and as I’m now sitting through undergrad courses taking prereqs for med school (why didn’t I study for chemistry the first time around, because I can’t just take o-chem…I didn’t remember enough of gen-chem!!!)…I know this belief will shape my future practice and be more open to other lines of healing. I no longer make fun of the middle aged ‘enlightened’ housewives in my yoga class hawking their warez…I understand they are promoting healing through support (i.e., you can find healing properties in just standing next to someone during stressful events doing absolutely nothing more…social support goes a long way towards the goal). I also don’t roll my eyes at religion much any more (ohes noes! I think I’m going to have a protects because some hollywood religion wants families to disown former loved ones that berate them and call them lunatics! Yeah…its easy to feel superior when you want to call people cultists and easier to do it to their face the more you find their beliefs different than your own…I regularly attend a Buddhist sangha, and while I don’t particularly believe in any religion — even ones that claim not to be — I know there are good people and I care more for the community than anything else).

    So, we can continue to look down upon people that have figured out things that work in their lives and are generally healthier than those that don’t believe in them (i.e., most of the homeopathic enthusiasts I know put both spiritual and physical health as a central tendency of their lives)…or maybe we can figure out that they are doing something right in their lives and maybe we need to stop our McDonalds sedentary lifestyles and take heed to the areas of their lives they are doing right and try to emulate that as opposed to picking the portions we don’t understand and making fun of so that we can feel superior while we live our lives via proxy over the interweb…

  33. Felix Mitchell says:

    Clif: your argument is patronising. You’re implying people can’t cope with reality and need myths to keep them happy and healthy. That’s what we do with children, we tell them about the tooth fairy to make the pain of losing a tooth not so bad. Yes it works, but it’s a lie. Telling people a lie to help them is taking responsibility for their lives away from them. And what happens when the lie stops working?

    • Clif Marsiglio says:

      “Clif: your argument is patronising. You’re implying people can’t cope with reality and need myths to keep them happy and healthy.”

      Cognitive studies show people really mythologize anything outside of their domain of understanding. As such, your reality isn’t their reality…it may be how the universe works, but 100 years might tell us otherwise. Most sciences show that advanced knowledge will prove a lot of what we know is wrong…or maybe even right for the wrong reasons.

      There are shared realities, and the sciences have a more cohesive grasp of their own shared reality…but ultimately, it is as flawed as any other given the universal nature of knowledge. Your knowledge of science gives very little insight to the beliefs of mankind…and when the very subject of treatment is that of mankind, maybe there subjective reality should come first in some ways.

      As for telling kids ‘lies’…it is well known in the social sciences, these ‘lies’ actually help children create their belief systems and morals. We aren’t logical beings and can’t learn simply by being told something is so. We need to have our soft hypotheticals that we can run through to find our moral core. There is value in these ‘lies’…its sad that some find these too illogical and can’t grasp the importance. Fuck, letting a kid learn that it was a lie and that they discovered it is an important lesson on mankind…anyhoo…revel in your superiority.

      • Padraig says:

        What are you talking about?

        “There are shared realities…”

        Yes, like flat earth, sun goes around the earth. These were shared realities. They’ve since been shown not to be true. They weren’t based on methodical study or evidence beyond immediate view. Furthermore, when people tried to show it wasn’t true, they were victimised…when in communities which were more focused on ‘shared realities’ – usually religiously dogmatic communities – than determining facts.

        “…and the sciences have a more cohesive grasp of their own shared reality…but ultimately, it is as flawed as any other given the universal nature of knowledge.”

        What does this mean? The sentence makes no sense. Sciences are not ‘as flawed’ as some notion black are intellectually inferior, Jews caused WWI and WWII, Christians/Muslims/whoever know God better than Christians/Muslims/whoever. This makes a nonsense of methodical study. You place yourself in the same bracket as an Astrologer. I’m quite sure you won’t be writing that on your shingle or using that argument in your post-grad research degree.

        “Your knowledge of science gives very little insight to the beliefs of mankind…” Which is why the respondent was discussing science, not mythology or person/cultural beliefs. The scientific method, for all its flaws, is far better than what we used to have and much better than Mrs McGillicuddie’s views on those damn black lesbian Jews and why they should be prevented from doing even if she’s supported by all her neighbours and the community legislature.

        “…and when the very subject of treatment is that of mankind, maybe there subjective reality should come first in some ways.” Urm. No. No it shouldn’t. It is important to understand people’s religious/cultural practices and beliefs when attempting to assist them, but this is by way of assisting them to understand you as well and to understand the science of what is being offered, what is can and cannot do. Not to replace what’s being offered with sawdust and some snail tails mixed with 1 to 1000,000 parts of the blue Ford Escort that ran them down and caused the injuries that brought them in to hospital.

    • Jamie Sue says:

      Felix,
      I agree with Cliff. People (some people at least) NEED magick. They NEED fairy tales. They NEED ritual. They find it in a variety of places, from religious sermons to homeopathy. They make a conscious choice to believe a non-truth (or convince themselves on inadequate evidence) because it gives them a positive feeling. I could go as far as to say that the ability to tell and accept a lie is the basis of hope and faith.

      “That’s what we do with children, we tell them about the tooth fairy to make the pain of losing a tooth not so bad. Yes it works, but it’s a lie. Telling people a lie to help them is taking responsibility for their lives away from them. And what happens when the lie stops working?”

      I’m not sure. But, in general people live on hope and faith. They live and breath it in both secular and nonsecular ways. Without some ability to believe the lie the universe becomes a horrible, dark place.

      When Cliff says that people need some magick, he’s not patronizing. He’s stating a fact. Maybe you don’t. But, some do.

      I don’t need homeopathy, but I sure in hell wouldn’t mind a god or two.

  34. Sork says:

    Maybe the electrosensitives could be cured by homeopathy with a glass of water that may or maybe not contains one charged ion?

  35. Anonymous says:

    Let’s have a study comparing outcomes in patients with endocarditis treated with homeopathy vs. medicine. Oh… except, that would be immoral, wouldn’t it? Because the entire homeopathy treatment group would _die_.

    Homeopaths would do the experiment, though. Heck, they gave homeopathic water cures to dying children in Nicaragua. Because no one in the first world would let them experiment on children.

  36. johnlancia says:

    I think the point of the demonstration is more about stopping a large organization from showing support for psuedo-scientific mumbo jumbo. Rather than stopping people from actually buying it altogether.
    When companies like Boots and organizations like the NHS give money, support and wide scale coverage to something as harmless and silly as homeopathic medicine, then there is the danger that people will start taking the magic water TOO seriously. Much like intellectual no go zones like Jenny McCarthy rambling on about vaccinations. Its harmless when its just her screeching away at people on the street corner, but harmful when she’s given a soap box on Oprah et al. Or people who are told to refuse all medical treatment on religious grounds. Thats fine for them and the ignorant religious zealots telling them that. But when they start saying things like, ‘My child can’t have that transplant because he/she’s in the Lords hands.’ Then it becomes something else. Something more sinister and harmful. Given enough support, homeopathy could be given more and more credence by the medical community and society at large. First some money from the NHS here, then its readily available from Boots there. Soon to be available by prescription from you family doctor/healer/shaman. All just because its profitable or popular to do so. Then where does it go?
    Right now, this seems impossible. But so did the idea that religious nut jobs would become a dominant political force in the USA thirty years ago.
    So let people buy homeopathic remedies from the health food store if they want. But keep it out of real drug stores and keep it off the television programmes expounding upon their ‘scientific’ benefits. Especially keep it away from any government institution or funding. I mean come on, its just silly folk medicine.

  37. billstewart says:

    Re: Homeopathic American lagers, and fake lotteries:

    A friend of mine had a Zimbabwean trillion-dollar bill, which was basically worthless and had an expiration date of six months. They’ve knocked 10 zeros off the currency more than twice. He referred to it as representing “homeopathic quantities of money”.

  38. Rich Keller says:

    I have faith in the scientific method.

  39. Anonymous says:

    Homeopathy = Obecalp (for adults)

  40. Osno says:

    @tcforest, great link… but I still think most of those could have died/be injured with conventional medicine too (we’re talking about cancer and AIDS, mostly… the legal cases I don’t care for, epilepsy and malnutrition will probably have been avoided).

    Some homeopathic drugs are intentionally a scam, but IMHO most homeopathic sellers really do think what they sell is useful. There’s a difference. Anyway, I’m against homeopathic remedies myself, but my point was that I’ve seen the reaction and I really don’t think homeopathic types will be impressed by any demonstration. And I really don’t know why the demonstrators care. There are some things we really don’t understand about how the body works, and I don’t think the demonstrators will have the technical expertise to show that pseudo-science doesn’t work. And like anti-gay types, they’re getting into something I firmly believe they don’t understand (what pro-homeopathic types think of their treatments). A good old public argument of science and pseudo-science will be much more productive.

    • Felix Mitchell says:

      “A good old public argument of science and pseudo-science will be much more productive.”

      Really? Every debate I’ve seen like that has just come down to lack of evidence on the side of the homeopathics, and the scientists having to talk about ridiculous ideas simply to avoid looking like they’re being oversealous by repeating that you need proper evidence to make claims.

  41. Anonymous says:

    Great, and it happens to be a full moon too on January 30th.

  42. dolo54 says:

    No matter what you say, Arnica is great for muscle aches and bruises. I just used some after snowboarding last week and felt instantly better. Psychosomatic perhaps, but what do scientific studies have to say about this?
    Here’s one that says it’s ineffective: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6WXX-4C6JK95-5&_user=10&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&_docanchor=&view=c&_searchStrId=1172578083&_rerunOrigin=google&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=17573163f830c7ec4319401d11240f82

    And here’s one that says it is effective:
    http://www.npicenter.com/anm/templates/newsATemp.aspx?articleid=17564&zoneid=26

    Which to believe, which to believe. In reality studies have to be read very carefully to determine if they are worthy of your attention. For instance the UK banned kava kava after a study that linked kava to liver toxicity deaths. What most people did not get from their newspaper headlines is that the people in the study who died from liver toxicity were heavy alcoholics and were taking many prescription pills as well.

    I do believe in science, but I am also well aware that any so-called scientific study must be taken with a grain of salt as there are many ways to skew results. Hilariously, I once read a study that proclaimed that over 50% of all scientific studies were later proven to be false.

    • Sekino says:

      Perfect example of my point:

      Arnica and Kava Kava products are both herbal remedies, NOT at all homeopathy.

    • Chesterfield says:

      @dolo54, you can’t tell much from those two links. One is a press releas, and one is a summary of a study (you have to pay to read the study).

      You are absolutely correct to point out that consensus among scientists is rare. Looking at two discrete articles isn’t going to tell you much. But keep digging and you can find that Arnica contains thymol which is likely what helped you.

      Arnica probably is great for muscle aches and bruises.

  43. billstewart says:

    @cheaplazymom asks why, if scientific medicine works so well, we’re still so sick. Well, we’re a lot less sick than a century or two ago – far fewer epidemics killing lots of people, especially babies, decent sanitation because the Germ Theory of Disease told us why drinking clean water was important, etc., and we get a lot of diseases because we’re living long enough to catch them instead of getting killed off when we’re younger. On the other hand, we’re also sick for a lot of reasons having to do with modern life that scientific medicine will be happy to tell you – we’re not getting enough exercise, we’re sitting in front of tvs and computers and video games all day instead of doing physical labor outside, we’re eating too much overrefined food instead of wide varieties of stuff we’ve gathered or hunted, and there are all kinds of industrial toxins in the environment that we’re not equipped to handle. Also, for the case of allergies in the developed countries, we’ve got immune systems that are designed to protect us from parasites, and all that clean water and decent sanitation means that the immune system throws lots of histamines at minor threats like pollen and cat dander instead of at tapeworms.

  44. Scary_UK says:

    #5 – I kind of see your point about Boots, but the problem is that they are very big and influential. Public money is being spent on Homeopathy though… perhaps if it wasn’t being legitimised by companies like Boots the NHS wouldn’t be wasting so much money on it

  45. Anonymous says:

    Does the placebo effect work in reverse?

  46. scruss says:

    Wait, they’re doing it wrong … if the efficacy of homeopathic remedies increases with dilution, wouldn’t the most dangerous way to OD be to take *none* at all?

    • Brother Phil says:

      Damn. Beat me to it.

    • Brother Phil says:

      I don’t think there’s any more to homeopathy than the placebo effect, but as a scientist (BSc in Biochemistry, and working in research), I take offense at people saying that anything science can’t explain therefore doesn’t exist.
      What science says (to my mind, anyway) is that anything it can’t explain, it can’t explain. Anything stronger than that, and you’re talking about faith, not science.

  47. Anonymous says:

    So homeopathy is like religion?

    Basically the people putting down homeopathy here also have to make the same claim that praying can heal, because, well, first of all it can’t, second of all, it’s not science, religions are just made up fiction to lead/control the masses into a massive dupe which happens to be a huge revenue generator, like homeopathy.

  48. SamSam says:

    For the record, science doesn’t “continue functioning” whether you believe in it or not, the way some people have suggested. The world continues functioning.

    Science is simply the method we use to figure out how the world works.

    I think this is whether people on both sides of the pro-science/anti-science debate fail: by pitting “science” against “homeopathy,” they are incorrectly putting them in the same category.

    Homeopathy posits that the world works in a particular way. Science simply means looking to see whether it works in that way.

    This is why any comparison between the two is ludicrous, and also why the suggestion that science is some form of “belief” is simply a confusion as to what science is. But it doesn’t help that people on the “pro” side tend to equate the terms “science” with “the way the world works,” which unintentionally allows science to be pitted “against” homeopathy.

    It’s like people who believe that the stars are pink arguing against the idea of telescopes.

  49. Ingmar says:

    It really doesn’t matter. You don’t believe in it? Just don’t use it. I’m not a believer myself, actually: my wife is, though, and every now and then she feeds me some of those globules. I really don’t care one way or the other.

    That said, I think people should be able to buy this stuff, if thy want to. It’s not harmful by any standard, so it should be legal to sell. And you shouldn’t protest against a national chain selling stuff that’s in demand, whether your agree with it (and would buy it), or not.

  50. Sekino says:

    I really don’t like when nutrition and natural remedies are lumped in with homeopathy (and they often seem to be).

    Nutrition is based in science and is paramount to good health. Lots of common ailments CAN be cured with changing eating habits. Admittedly, not many doctors suggest it before prescribing pills and it is also extremely difficult for people to change old habits.

    Natural/herbal remedies aren’t always quack. You can get similar chemicals from some plants than from synthetic drugs. Some herbal remedies can be quite potent and risky if taken improperly. Unfortunately, lots of ill-trained people are allowed to distribute herbal medicine with a loss of credibility as a result.

    Alongside modern medicine, knowledgeable nutrition and use of natural (and common sense) cures make sense. Even your doctor is happy when you can take care of a minor headache or cold yourself.

    Homeopathy is a totally different beast. There is no chemistry or biology behind it. It makes a very wild claim but shows no realistic model of how it works on the body. Please don’t get it mixed up with nutrition/herbal remedies: there is actual science behind them!

  51. Anonymous says:

    “Some homeopathic drugs are intentionally a scam, but IMHO most homeopathic sellers really do think what they sell is useful.”

    => Yup, that’s why they work.
    If they were thinking that homeopathic remedies wouldn’t work, then it would be far less efficient.

  52. Xopher says:

    Years ago, a friend who reported being a 3rd-level Reiki practitioner did what she said was “tuning” me to Reiki. She told me that I was now “a Reiki person,” and that when I put my hands on people in a way that she described, “the Reiki force” would heal them.

    Since then I have been laying hands on people who ask me to, usually for minor aches and pains. They almost always report a lessening of the pain, and often report that it’s gone entirely.

    When I put my hands on someone, I usually start with my right palm centered on the place where they report having pain. At some point in the process, I move my hands (usually 2 or 3 times, actually). I move them when it feels right, and move them to wherever instinct dictates. I stop the process when I feel like it’s done.

    Sometimes I perceive warmth coming from my palms, in excess (to my perception) of what I’d expect just putting my hands on someone with no intention of doing Reiki. I feel much less physically drained than I did with other methods of energy healing I’ve used in the past, and I virtually never experience “empathic backwash,” which is a perception of pain in my own body at a matching location.

    Note: there is nothing unscientific about the above description. It’s entirely in terms of my perceptions and others’ reports, which are matters of fact. If I were to assert “Reiki works,” that would be quite unscientific, but I made no such claim, nor do I generally. (I say “There’s this thing I do called Reiki and it seems to have an effect sometimes. I have no idea why.”)

    I also am not deceiving anyone. I never promise them it will work; if the pain is persistent, recurrent, or severe I encourage them to see an actual doctor; certainly I never charge money for it (nor would I accept any were it offerred).

    Anecdotes aren’t unscientific of themselves. They’re just not evidence.

    If I wanted to know whether Reiki really worked in the general case, I would do what scientists do: set up a double-blind (actually triple-blind) study. If I found the “real” Reiki people more effective than the non-Reiki people, I would try to figure out a mechanism. If I found that the touch-healed patients recovered better than the non-touch-healed patients, regardless of whether the healers were Reiki people (and ISTR a study that found exactly that) I’d try to figure out what it was about the simple act of laying hands on someone that helped them heal.

    But for my friends, I don’t bother with this. No, it isn’t science. I’m sure there’s a scientific explanation (in the realm of psychology, most likely), but you don’t have to do science all the time.

  53. Maggie Koerth-Baker says:

    I really don’t care too much about homeopathic remedies being sold in stores in Western countries where, when the homeopathic remedy doesn’t work, the patient can just go get some real medicine. (This is anecdata, but I know nobody who takes this stuff exclusively, and have even had people basically tell me, “Well, for serious things I go to the doctor.”)

    What I have a problem with is the people pushing homeopathic remedies for malaria and AIDS in Africa. How do I protest that crap?

  54. Anonymous says:

    This is all very sad to me. I am very scientific minded and believe in teastability and evidence. My wife is genuinely very intelligent, BUT she believes in homeopathy. Trying to discuss/debate it usually turns ugly and I’ve been advised to just “let go of it” and allow her this indulgance, since no one is being hurt, but it’s so frikkin’ hard, since we are on a tight budget and it seems so wasteful. Regarding this protest, she said “swallowing a whole bottle isn’t enough to OD anyway.” I also get the whole “Of course the medical community is against this. They are threatened by it.” speech. Fuck. Oh well.

  55. Anonymous says:

    Corporate sponsors of the protest include Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and Roche.

  56. Jonathan Badger says:

    To those who say “if you don’t believe in it; don’t use it it” — the whole *point* of science is to combat bullshit. Every scientist has an *obligation* to fight this crap. As the saying goes; everybody may have a right to their own opinion, but they certainly don’t have the right to their own facts.

  57. Roy Trumbull says:

    Applying Avogadro’s constant to the dilution scheme used for Homeopathic medicines shows that at the higher dilutions not one molecule of the original substance remains.
    That said, at the time all this started, medicine wasn’t in great shape either and placebo might have been the way to go.

    • ElGuapo says:

      “at the time all this started, medicine wasn’t in great shape either and placebo might have been the way to go.”

      Yup. Actually Hahnemann was a pretty smart guy, and some of his ideas (hygiene, and probably treating with a single “remedy” rather than mixing everything up with stuff like mercury) were quite good and pretty advanced for his day. Problem is, Homeopathy didn’t advance much since, unlike medical science.

  58. Anonymous says:

    I haven’t got any homoeopathic treatment in my life so far, but if my doctor would recommend it to me, I’d take it. To my knowledge there is a long check-up done before treatment, this intensive care about the patient might already be beneficial in psycho somatic illnesses, not so much the medication (or however you’d call it) afterwards. From that I’d say self medication from Boots without that talk to your doctor will significantly reduce healing chances. As for the price, all German (and I bet other countries, too) pharmacists carry homoeopathic products, and they prepare them after the rules of the inventor, which are very time consuming. If someone just sells you tab water and declares it as generation 8 (or however this thinning procedure is called), well that would be conning. Anyway, I’m a critic, but open.

  59. Frater Simian says:

    I cant imagine anything more banal than a science-is-cool demonstration outside a boots. More or less tells you all to need to know, its a dull thing being done by dull people.

    I bet you those homeopaths have more fun.

  60. duplicate_id says:

    Hey, Homeopathy fans –

    I have CONCLUSIVELY PROVEN that my sciencey method of treating everything that ails you WORKS!

    For only $49.95, I will sell you Elmer’s Glue, which, when eaten with untreated paper, cures EVERYTHING! But normal Elmer’s Glue does not work. Only my specially prepared glue does. Why? It is Science-like! Ish. These three people, this one time, got better.

    But, see you only have to believe it, and it works! If it doesn’t work, it means that you didn’t believe hard enough. This has been proven! By someone. This one time. By people with thousands of years of non-Western wisdom, who had to be discovered by a westerner, in order to bring you this arcane, magical method of good health. Yes, friends, millions of not-westerners live perfectly healthy lives by eating glue! And now, you can, too!

    Who wants to buy some magic glue? Anyone? Anyone?

  61. Anonymous says:

    It’s not quite true that there’s nothing in it. Most homeopathic remedies are diluted in an acohol solution. Which makes me wish I could go to this protest, as it could be a lot more fun than the protesters suspect.

  62. Guesstimate Jones says:

    If homeopathic remedies contain almost nothing, besides water, they should be dirt cheap, right? And as long as it is cheap, and can be demonstrated to be non-toxic, at recommended dosages, where’s the harm?

    As far as the “overdose” protesters go, it will sure be funny if they turn blue, en masse, from colloidal silver poisoning…

    And what Sekino just said: Please lets not confuse herbs with homeopathic remedies!

    • Chesterfield says:

      @Guesstimate Jones – the harm comes from trying to treat illnesses your child has with prayer or homeopathic products (they are equally effective).

      When some nut decides to not immunize their child, it puts the rest of us at risk.

      Think about all the stuff that gets spilled into the environment (or just sent down the drain to the water treatment plants). Tap water must be a crazy powerful homeopathic substance.

    • johnlancia says:

      And what Sekino just said: Please lets not confuse herbs with homeopathic remedies!

      Of course we wont! There’s more scientific backing for herbs than there is for Homeopathic Remedies.

  63. tas121790 says:

    The “students of homeopathy” on this thread would be the same ones defending the science of evolution if this were a post on some new creationist drivel. Why do people think there is a science buffet, they take what they want and leave the science based medicine at the buffet. Not because they are revolutionaries in science, but because they have an ideological reason to be opposed to western medicine. Rather its due to anti-corporatism, anti-commercialism, a “natural” form of medicine or whatever. Folks, that’s a religion if ive ever seen one. If you base your opposition not on sound evidence but on a ideological reason, you have made yourself a fool.

    (Sorry if this comment is not the most coherent. I just woke up and rushing to get to class)

    • midsentence says:

      People are allowed to make themselves fools, so long as their foolishness does not result in the extermination of a race or the bombing of doctor’s offices.

      In this sense, it is quite foolish to lump together homeopathy with the major monotheistic religions of the world, no matter which angle of the word’s usage you find to blanket both under.

  64. midsentence says:

    Why show respect and compassion to others when a childish, cartoon-level snotty attitude can be justified by the goal?

    It just makes me so happy to see white people finding new opportunities to feel smug and superior to someone. Cause hey, “it’s for your own good!”

    • Dito says:

      First off, why the crack about “white people”? Homeopathy was created by a white German guy. No straw men, please.

      It’s not about respect or compassion for others – no one’s being harmed by this demonstration. It’s to prove a point that this is the 21st century and scientific ignorance is still rampant.

      Anyone with a high school education should comprehend the chemistry involved (or not involved, in this case). One molecule of active ingredient per average-sized ocean of water WILL NOT HAVE ANY EFFECT.

      This kind of ignorance and magical thinking is what keeps the human race stuck in the Dark Ages, battling over whose sky wizard is better, or which magic potions will cure the vapors.

      • midsentence says:

        “First off, why the crack about “white people”? Homeopathy was created by a white German guy. No straw men, please…

        …This kind of ignorance and magical thinking is what keeps the human race stuck in the Dark Ages, battling over whose sky wizard is better, or which magic potions will cure the vapors.”

        Firstly, I’m talking about how barely any of this is actually about homeopathy, and it’s all about already superior people finding ways to feel even more so.

        Secondly, you’re right that kettle is pretty black.

  65. GeekDadCanada says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L9mNjEes-lM

    Great description of the origins of homeopathy, magnet treatments and other forms of quackery.

  66. Anonymous says:

    I once attended a seminar about homeopathics. they made mention of Avogadro’s number but apparently did not understand the significance of what they were saying. I came away very thouroghly convinced that they were selling water and nothing more.

    they said they dilute the mixtures 10:1, meaning after 23 dilutions they are down to an average of 6 original water molecules. Being convinced of the validity of material causes, I was forced to abandon all skepticism.

    These things being said, I also know the placebo effect to be as good as actual medicine in many cases. My mommy’s kisses healed my booboos but they were very affordable by comparison. Now I’m older she admits to using the placebo effect even to convince us that her cooking was fancy. She understood her role as family witchdoctor and performed it beautifully.

    Homeopathy is, from a scientific perspective, a form of institutionalized placebo. If a mother recognizes this she can command all of it’s powers without paying anyone one red cent. If she does not, then another witchdoctor on a higher rung must be relied upon for authority.

    Knowing that we can measure the hormone mimics and other scary chemicals in our water, one has to wonder if their materially based effects are not stronger than the memories of water from the old world. And what would water from Germany have to remember? Fill in your own blanks.

    I am a tad uncomfortable with the doctrinaire tone of some of my compatriots. I am quite hostile to the notion of treating water as medicine from a public health standpoint; on the other hand I have become convinced of the value of belief and have known people to materially diminish their own lives by raising their own skepticism to too high a pitch.

    Mommies–*YOU* are the magic. When you need a magic that is higher than yours, find a clear running stream and put your hands in it; every mommy has a mommy of her own, and even across the wall of sleep our mommies are with us forever.

  67. Anonymous says:

    where do the homeopathic skeptics think modern medicine comes from? Every single modern drug has come from the natural world; science isolates the active compound, patents it and sells it to consumers as something new! Only now that it is strictly the active compound, which is now missing the natural stabilizers of the plant from which it came, it’s much harder on our bodies.

  68. gregSea says:

    It’s intellectually consistent and reasonable to:

    * like the placebo effect
    * despise the dishonesty at the core of homeopathy
    * be suspicious of Big Pharma
    * and respect the power and beauty of the scientific method

    all at the same time. Please make a note of it.

    • dw_funk says:

      I agree with this point. Judging by the length of this thread, I imagine it’s more like a Venn diagram than a list, though.

  69. lasttide says:

    For those arguing that homeopathy is harmless, you seem to forget how the world works. When you get sick and go to the store, you see a rack of medicine that says it will make you better. You choose one. If it doesn’t do anything, you keep being sick and maybe get worse.

    Imagine this scenario (which tends to play out in the news a couple of times every year):

    1. A 6 year old child falls ill.
    2. Parents choose to treat illness with homeopathic remedies instead of going to a hospital.
    3. Child gets worse and stops eating. Parents pray/burn candles/force feed ginseng/other BS.
    4. Child dies.

    Turns out the kid had pneumonia or some other actually dangerous illness, and unfortunately no amount of placebo effect is going to fix it.

    • Snig says:

      Interesting example. In the US, several medications are available OTC that would treat the symptoms of pneumonia, but no antibiotics that would do anything for the infection. But parents could buy anti-cough/fever reducer/pain relievers/stimulants that could mask the symptoms, so the kid and parents can ignore the infection. This in my mind makes them more dangerous than placebo. And parents delay bringing there kid to hospital and kid dies. Do you think it likely that scenario never happened? But you’re right, for some reason you never hear about it in the news. Tonight’s news, coincidentally is brought to you by Bayer/Tylenol/Bonerpills-R-us.

      The following likely happens too, my guess more often than your scenario:
      an antitussive for whooping cough
      fever reducer for MRSA
      headache pills for meningitis
      acetominophen for lyme disease

      All of the above are available OTC, for sale at your local druggist and considered REAL medicine. Should regular meds not be available at the pharmacy?

      • randalll says:

        Snig- I’m certain that every single thing on your list happens rather regularly, but I don’t see the problem in that. You have a symptom, assume it’s no big deal, take pain reliever/antihistamine/etc. When the symptoms get worse rather than better, you go to the doctor. Exactly the way it says on the bottle of medication.

        If you just have a headache or sniffles or whatever, the problem goes away. If it’s something more serious, it doesn’t go away and you go to the doctor. That’s how it works, and it works pretty damn well. Are you saying that every time any of us has a little headache or slight fever we should be going to the hospital?

        • Snig says:

          I was examing/disputing (ok, mocking) Lassitude’s earlier example of the danger being homeopathy leading to chanting, ginseng and death. I agree with everything you said. Ignoring any medical problem and not seeing your doctor is potentially dangerous. I just felt he was being alarmist. I’d be surprised if there’s not a similar “consult your PCP” label on most homeopathic stuff. I’m really not a homeopathy user/proponent, but think it’s an easy straw man that people use to beat up on without examining common conventional medicines that also have less then ideal efficacy.

  70. Anonymous says:

    it’s all just a ploy for Boots to sell more of their slow-moving homeopathic remedies off of the shelves. cha-ching!

  71. bklynchris says:

    Wait, are they buying the homeopathic tinctures? Or will it be just symbolic? I am very happy with the handfuls of pharmaceuticals I throw down on a daily basis…my liver? Not so much.

    The only thing this demonstration is good for is picking up dudes. I expect the male:female to be pretty high. OF course, ladies, if it is done during the work hours it suggests that few of them will be employed. Also, if he is willing to raise a stink about this can you imagine trying to get him to do anything around the house?

  72. Anonymous says:

    #1 “But there is something in it; the placebo effect is incredibly strong for some illnesses.”

    There is nothing in it. The placebo effect is in YOU.

  73. hack the gibson says:

    Vidya108, your username makes me wonder if you’re part of ISKCON. ISKCON devotees are notorious for sneering at “demoniac” western medicine. When I lived in the temples, most everyone took homeopathic stuff. And we were the sickliest bunch of people I’ve ever spent time with.

  74. Anonymous says:

    It’s all very well saying “let the ignorant remain ignorant”… until they start refusing their kids MMR jabs because of their media-fuelled cynicism regarding science… until they prefer treatments that don’t work to ones that do. I mean really, these people have the vote. There is only a small extent to which ignorance is “harmless”.

  75. John C. says:

    I don’t mind people who don’t know what they’re talking about frothing at the mouth about homeopathy. Anyone who actually uses it is likely to be pretty grateful to it. But I detest those stuffed-tight doctors who rage against it — remember these were the same folks who brought you Thalidomide and Vioxx and god knows what else. And they are generally doctors who’ve copped out of everyday medical practice and slipped off to the easier pastures of academia and politics and journalism.

    • randomcat says:

      @John C #183:
      Vioxx is an effective anti-inflammatory. Thalidomide is an effective anti-emetic. Both have horrible side effects, which is what made them infamous, but before those side effects were known doctors prescribed them because there was evidence that they actually have some medically useful effects.

      Would you have any moral objection if I started selling the fake lottery tickets I described in post #163? If so, please explain how that’s different from selling homeopathic medicines.

      • Snig says:

        I’m not a homeopathic supporter, but am trying to be a conscientious objector. If you sold the fake lottery tickets, and told everyone what you were doing, I don’t see anything wrong with it. Random trivia: Thalidomide (not for women of child bearing age) is experiencing as second act as a treatment for multiple myeloma. Increases survivorship.

  76. Anonymous says:

    LSD has profound effects on the body at very small doses.

  77. chip says:

    Call me callous, but I really don’t see anything wrong with bilking stupid people out of their money. Stupid people tend to waste their money on useless crap anyway, why not “magic water”? If there really is a sucker born every minute, then I applaud these people for finding a growth market to exploit.

  78. Anonymous says:

    I’m not really sure how I ended up even reading this thread. I typically avoid all of the creationism v. evolution and homeopathy v. science debates because I have a strict ‘It’s your mind/body to do with as you please’ policy. If you have a stuffy nose and want to treat yourself with incantations and flavored water, knock yourself out. If you think an antihistamine is your best bet, good for you. It’s your body, do with it as you please. If it works for you, it works for you. If it doesn’t, then natural selection wins. That’s a win/win as far as I’m concerned. You want to adhere to a strict vegan diet? Great, more meat for me! You want to smoke crack? Knock yourself out. I hear the 15 minute high is pretty awesome. It’s the other 24 3/4 hours that’s a bitch. Just be aware that I also have a strict ‘self-defense with extreme prejudice’ policy when you’re out looking for someone to mug to pay for your habit, but that’s another thing entirely so back to my point. I have absolutely no problem with people trying alternative or naturalistic treatments. Nature is really good at creating all sorts of nifty little compounds to defend itself from predators large and small, and we’re pretty good at re-purposing things to suit our own needs. You New Agers, homeopaths, whatever you want to call yourselves this year, keep on doing what your doing. Keep trying your oil of this and root of that. Keep wearing your magnets and crystals and pyramids. You never know when someone’s going to forget to cover a petri dish and save billions of lives…or more to the point, MY life. The same goes for you, scientists. You guys keep up the debunking. Think of it as the million monkeys with typewriters approach. As long as they keep typing, sooner or later one of those rascally little primates is bound to pound out a ‘to be, or not to be.’ All you have to do is occasionally check their work and say, “Nope, that’s just gobbledygook.” or “Holy soliloquy, Batman!” Finally, you guys working on those clone lungs I’m probably going to be needing in about 15 years need to stop wasting time on the internet and get back to work. I’m counting on you guys.

    Oh and one last little gripe that has nothing specifically to do with homeopathy v. science. It’s more of a complaint about the state of debate in the internet age. Multisyllabic words and double-speak don’t impress me. Intelligence and vocabulary are not the same thing. The only thing you’ll accomplish by talking in circles is to not get anywhere with me.

  79. Anonymous says:

    It’s remarkable how many people can string long complicated sentences together, including nouns and verbs and adjectives, and yet somehow have skipped over the part of cognitive development where you understand that SOME PROPOSITIONS ARE TRUE and OTHERS ARE FALSE. Just ’cause some guy wrote it down, doesn’t mean it’s just as valid as everything else ever written down. Just ’cause they sell it in a store and haven’t gone to jail, doesn’t mean it’s not a scam.

    • Xopher says:

      Bravo. I hope Cheddar takes note.

      • Cheddar says:

        I did take note. Maybe you should look at the numbers the study quoted. Take note of the bigger numbers next to the treatments that were beneficial. Also, try a dictionary for the words “unknown” and “effectiveness”. It doesn’t mean the same thing as “not effective” or “harmful”.

        Though at this point, I haven’t actually seen the study so I am not sure I believe in any of the numbers.

  80. bodenski says:

    If you have trouble with this protest, think of it as an educational campaign. Few would have troubles with anyone selling sugar water, but it should be so labeled and put in the soda aisle.
    If you can’t see the harm in sick people buying sugar water when they hoped for medicine, are you also confused on the definition of a doctor?

  81. Ito Kagehisa says:

    To me, the behaviour pattern of people who angrily denounce homeopathy is nearly indistinguishable from the behaviour of intolerant religious fanatics.

    Another interesting resemblance – just as political Zionists loudly equate zionism with judaism and anti-zionism with anti-semitism, anti-homeopaths loudly equate allopathy with medicine and criticism of allopathic practices with criticism of science. It makes me reflexively distrustful – I can’t trust shrill ideologues who insist on rigidly redefining the language to their advantage.

    For the record, I have tried homeopathy and it didn’t work for me. I do not wish to support homeopathy in word or deed. Lots of allopathic medicine doesn’t work for me either, though. Osteopathy has been much more effective in some cases.

    I cannot bring myself to care if people want to buy, sell or use homeopathic “remedies”, and I reject the idea that markets should restricted in order to protect the mainstream medical establishment from the bugaboo of homeopathy. Can’t the “more than three hundred homeopathy sceptics” find something better to do with their time? How about volunteering for community service in their local area? Or joining the Peace Corps? Or protesting their government’s less savory practices and foreign involvements?

    • Anonymous says:

      “To me, the behaviour pattern of people who angrily denounce homeopathy is nearly indistinguishable from the behaviour of intolerant religious fanatics.”

      Religious fanatics like to point to unsubstantiated words and their interpretations of them to justify their positions. Scientists like to point to repeatedly demonstrated observations, obtained independently, to justify their positions.

      Many, many studies have shown that the rate of cure of people taking homeopathic remedies is exactly the same as that of people taking nothing at all. Many, many studies have shown that pain killers reduce pain experienced. This is not to say that herbal remedies don’t work (many do, but dosage, batch uniformity, etc are all very variable) but homeopathy is not herbalism.

      Homeopathy is a collection of lies. Lies that harm people by preventing them from seeking real treatments. Lies that harm people by costing them money and time which could be used in some useful way. Lies which harm people by hindering their ability to recognise other lies. Lies which, by belittling modern medicine, cause people to treat the world itself with less respect because the implication is that natural laws matter less than the disproven hypotheses of dead men.

      • Ito Kagehisa says:

        That was quite an amazing rant, anonymous. Do you not see the ironies in it? I hope that was purposeful!

        I sincerely promise you that the existence of people with beliefs at odds to my own will not make me “treat the world itself with less respect” as you so frothingly said.

  82. billstewart says:

    I’d strongly recommend that the protestors NOT try overdosing on “Alpha CF”, a homeopathic flu remedy that I’ve found to be somewhat effective in relieving flu symptoms. One of its ingredients is ipecac, in quantities that don’t cause trouble at the recommended dosage, but which *would* get their attention if they ate the whole box.

    Homeopathy didn’t adopt the Germ Theory of Disease, so it’s not useful for curing diseases, unlike allopathic (“real”) medicine. However, a couple hundred years of trial and error mismanaged by quack theories and lack of scientific methods has occasionally found materials that can be useful for reducing symptoms. So a homeopathic allergy medicine would be fine, if it reduced symptoms better or caused less annoying side-effects than allopathic antihistamines, because reducing symptoms is the goal. Until Tamiflu came out, allopathic medicine didn’t really have anything to offer you once you actually got the flu except symptom relief – anti-fever drugs, bed rest, hot soup. I get flu shots so I usually don’t get the flu, but Alpha CF is effective enough at reducing the symptoms that instead of feeling really awful, I’ll just feel moderately bad (:-), and that’s a big win. … in spite of having enough ipecac to notice…

  83. airshowfan says:

    A few things are very clear:

    – Homeopathy is not science. Science makes falsifiable claims, tests them, and rejects the ones that don’t work. Homeopathy, like astrology, does not test or reject their non-working claims.

    – We might not know everything about the human body or about the nature of matter and space-time. But we know enough to know that when we dilute a substance to such an extent that the fraction of the solution made up of the original substance is smaller than the smallest particle that can be defined as being that substance… then all you have is the solvent, by definition of “a molecule of [substance]” and of “an atom of [substance]“. It’s simply not [substance] anymore after that much dilution. Even given our incomplete knowledge, we do know what makes water molecules be water molecules and what makes uranium atoms be uranium atoms, and what processes cause them to become other substances or to be completely removed. So for the people who say “Maybe it works, but science doesn’t understand the mechanism yet”, those people don’t understand that the homepathic dilution process removes anything that could have any effect. It’s like emptying a medicine bottle, cleaning it as thoroughly as possible, then filling it with sugar pills or water and saying “Here’s your medicine”. I think science knows enough to know that this won’t work better than a placebo, despite incomplete knowledge about the human body.

    – The placebo effect is powerful. Besides, many ailments get better on their own. And we all die in the end. Because of these three facts, one can say that homeopathy “works”. Just like leeching.

    A couple of things are, well, mostly clear, but could be debated if someone wants to play Devil’s advocate:

    – People should have the right to buy whatever they want as long as it doesn’t harm others. So unless the homeopathic stuff is taxpayer-funded, or unless you have situations where parents use homeopathic stuff instead of real medicine to treat their kids, I don’t think we should protest the sale of it. To be honest I don’t see why drugs that aren’t FDA-approved can’t be sold, or must be taken off the market, etc. Just put a big scary label on them and let people make their own informed choices.

    – If more people understood why the scientific method is valuable, then fewer people’s informed choice would lead them to buy things that have not been test-validated. (But there IS always the power of anecdotal data; You have to admit that “My aunt took it and got better” is compelling even when you know she probably would have gotten better eventually without taking anything).

    And a couple of things I am quite torn about:

    – If the root cause is that people don’t appreciate the scientific method (which in this case is little more than “Try it, then try ‘not-it’, and see if there’s a difference”), and if the symptom of this is the fact that people buy homeopathic stuff… then is it really useful to protest the symptom? Homeopathy isn’t doing harm. People’s ignorance of the nature and value of the scientific method is dong harm. Do we protest that, and/or do we try to fix it?

    – Clif argues that people need myths and that believers in religion and alternative “medicine” are happier and healthier. Carl Sagan would argue that nothing is more beautiful or empowering than an honest understanding of the mechanisms around you, and that a religion should make use of how awesome they are, rather than tell stories to cover them up. But is it possible that the awe of appreciating an intricate and naturalistic universe isn’t for everyone, that some people might actually be happier by turning a blind eye to science and living in their own little supernaturalistic universe? Do we need to be worried about them and rescue them from their caves? I don’t know. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink naturalism. Is it wrong for someone to want to NOT know the concepts that would let them see that homeopathy only works as a placebo?

    • Clif Marsiglio says:

      “Clif argues that people need myths and that believers in religion and alternative “medicine” are happier and healthier.”

      I would argue that unless you understand something in depth, you are believing in a myth. Why? Because unless *YOU* can explain it, you are simply believing in someone else’s higher power / authority.

      At some point, you seriously have to stop worrying about everything and only worry about the parts of the world you inhibit. What I’m saying is that some of these people seem to have figured it out…they believe it is right, so it is right…they aren’t hurting others…statistically, they aren’t even hurting themselves. I’d rather people get no medicine at all (homeopathy) than something that has a side effect. In a sense, they are getting exactly what the public demanding drugs SHOULD be getting…a watered down sugarpill.

      You don’t need 99% of the medicines you take. Get a head ache? I can most likely cure it for you with a few easy to follow steps. Hell, my physician doesn’t understand why I’m not in an intolerable amount of pain every day or why I don’t want to take his offer to take pain pills. I have a form of arthritis that is considered crippling to most, and it is almost entirely due to the pain. I honestly don’t feel it unless I’m thinking about it (dammit, why am I thinking about it now!)

      99% of medicines out there are simply to take away symptoms, without curing the disease. Often times, the symptoms are there to give your body the clue not to do something. This is one of the reasons I don’t take pain pills…it reduces the amount of feedback I’m given and I blew my knee out once without knowing what I’m doing.

      So as of right now, the homeopathics are more on my list of things I’d rather have someone on than something that just reduces pain.

      “Carl Sagan would argue that nothing is more beautiful or empowering than an honest understanding of the mechanisms around you”

      And I wouldn’t disagree with him. I’ve made it a life’s study to understand the world around me. I can tear a car apart and rebuild it. I had a short and profitable life as a creative type. Programmed computers and had most of a CSCI degree. Studied literature. Felt I didn’t understand people enough, so I took on graduate work in psychology (ok, this was kinda predated on the fact that I was studying machine intelligence and wanted to understand the organic side). And now, I’m taking chemistry and physics.

      I love understanding the world around me. The more I know, the more connected I feel to it. I also understand, this is not how most people are. I highly doubt there are as many people that have put as many years of studying as many subjects as I have. Most focus on one area and leave the rest to casual browsing. Do I know more than most others? Probably not…I’m not saying that, I’m simply stating I have put the effort to learn (and working for a university has made this easy).

      “that some people might actually be happier by turning a blind eye to science and living in their own little supernaturalistic universe? Do we need to be worried about them and rescue them from their caves? I don’t know.”

      And this is where I diverge from the rest of the people here…I don’t know if I believe in the supernatural universe at all…I do know some subjects to me ARE supernatural because I don’t have the understanding necessary to explain it. I’m happy to try to understand, but I’m also willing to expect that accepted science is flawed at some fundamental way and we are all explorers trying to get at the heart of the matter. I know much of what we know as science today will most likely be discarded in the future as wrong, overly simplified, or just naive. And those folks that lay the same claims to our beliefs will have theirs overturned in time. For me, that is the great thing about science, it EXPECTS this…

      I just don’t like this smugness that the smart people in this world have at looking down at others…we should be better than that…instead of ridiculing others for their personal choices, why not help them understand and if they don’t want to…so be it…

    • Ito Kagehisa says:

      Science makes falsifiable claims, tests them, and rejects the ones that don’t work.

      Can you prove that claim? Scientifically?

      • airshowfan says:

        Science makes falsifiable claims, tests them, and rejects the ones that don’t work. Can you prove that claim? Scientifically?”

        Sure, that claim may be more about an ideal than about what happens in practice in research labs, academic journals, and pharmaceutical companies. But it is an ideal nonetheless, one which allows us to tell what works and what doesn’t, and to point a finger at people who are pushing things that don’t work when they should know better. Homeopathy doesn’t even have THAT.

        And, in practice, every drug that wants FDA approval must be test-validated. So now, people don’t ALWAYS throw out stuff that doesn’t work… but people try, and they do most of the time. A quick look at how much longer we’re living and how many diseases have been eradicated since this approach was adopted should tell you that it is used often and that it works. Heck, I work developing fracture-mechanics models for commercial aircraft, and even THOSE need to be test-validated before the FAA lets you buy a ticket. Why should homeopathy be exempt from test-validation?

        • Anonymous says:

          But it is an ideal nonetheless, one which allows us to tell what works and what doesn’t, and to point a finger at people who are pushing things that don’t work when they should know better. Homeopathy doesn’t even have THAT.

          I can’t say for certain, because I am not a practitioner of homeopathy, but I suspect they DO have ideals.

          Acupuncturists, chiropractors, and herbalists probably have ideals, too. Is there any point in dehumanizing people who are not part of Western Medicine Groupthink? We all have ideals, I hope.

          I thought Science put evidence above ideals. Yet, you cannot prove this, and the evidence indicates exactly the opposite. It’s convenient to ignore the recursive nature of belief systems, isn’t it? How about that holographic paradox? Rene Des Cartes didn’t really solve the problem.

  84. Anonymous says:

    Science is a mythological system like any other belief system.

    All this tells me is that you don’t understand what “science” is. Science is not a belief system, it is the name we give to describe the method of learning about the physical universe by applying the principles of the scientific method, which includes making empirical observations, proposing hypotheses to explain those observations, and testing those hypotheses in valid and reliable ways; also refers to the organized body of knowledge that results from scientific study.

    Here is the Scientific Method:

    1. Define the question
    2. Gather information and resources (observe)
    3. Form hypothesis
    4. Perform experiment and collect data
    5. Analyze data
    6. Interpret data and draw conclusions that serve as a starting point for new hypothesis
    7. Publish results
    8. Retest (frequently done by other scientists)

    If it does not follow this methodology it is not science.

    For instance, science has helped my friend who has an advanced stage of cancer to slow down the growth of his tumors, but there came a time when the actual treatments seemed worse then the disease, and now he is using certain natural methodologies to treat his cancer, while continuing to partake in the allopathic treatments he deems essential.

    Science is not helping your friend. The results of science are helping your friend. You may think this is a semantic difference but it is not, when you say “Science is helping my friend” you are implying that science is a thing which we should thank and believe in. It is not. It is, as I said before, the result of the use of the scientific method. It is a methodology, a way of doing something, it is not a “thing”. When people say “I believe in Science” it is misleading, what most people mean by this is that they believe in the Scientific Method as the way to gaining knowledge from information, and the use of that knowledge as opposed to the use of information derived in other ways. Does this invalidate you friend’s story? No but it gives us a way to determine if you friend’s, hopefully, positive results are a result of the medicine he is receiving from his doctors, or from the other untested self treatments he is choosing. It also gives your friend a way to choose those other treatments. Does he trust in “belief”, or does he trust facts.

    The problem with this discussion is that the two sides are not arguing the same things. If we cannot agree that science is not a belief system but a methodology, then there is no point in arguing with you, because there will never be a point of convergence of understanding to achieve a resolution from.

    • Cheddar says:

      Quit nitpicking. Of course there is a belief system associated with science. If you like it better, say science is a methodology founded in a belief system. Still, if there were no associated belief system there would be no reason to believe in the methodology.

      Here are a few of the beliefs that science is founded on:

      1) The universe obeys specific laws.

      2) Humanity is capable of observing those laws.

      These are both HUGE assumptions. There is no reason to believe the universe operates under specific laws and if something occurs 1 out of even just a billion times, it is really hard to observe. Repeatability becomes even more of a joke.

      So why do we believe in those assumptions? We believe them, because they are useful to varying degrees. They make us more comfortable with world. We feel like we have control. We can get up in the morning and assume today will be like yesterday. But science or not, sometimes the world we wake up into a world that is different and out of our control.

      Remember Haiti? You probably want to believe that someday science might be able to predict and prevent such tragedies. Honestly, so do I. But the truth is that the geology which causes earthquakes might be too complex for humans to ever comprehend. Or earthquakes might just be completely random and unpredictable. We have no way of knowing, but only faith.

      And so maybe your faith is better than my faith. And maybe the faith of a scientist is somehow better than the faith of the homeopath too. But I doubt it. Especially, when given the choice so many educated people still choose homeopathy. It obviously provides things that scientific cures haven’t, regardless of whether that means a cure.

      On a side note, I’ve said nothing of scientific methodology in practice. But keep in mind there are limited funds for research available and studies are funded by corporations which hide data they don’t like. Or sometimes the general population is just scared for the research to be done. Look at studies on psychedelic drugs. Should I have faith that it shouldn’t be done because of the current state of the research? There is a very real notion that the scientific community can be very behind what is available in public knowledge.

      Lastly, I recommend that more of the scientific world read some philosophy of science or metaphysics. It’ll open your eyes and help you get over the “My belief system is better than your belief system mentality.”

      • Felton says:

        Science is founded on the observation that the universe obeys certain laws. Trying to frame it as some kind of philosophy or religion is ludicrous.

        • Tdawwg says:

          Err, not exactly. Thales, Democritus et al. worked from the intuitive belief that all nature, all creation, had certain underlying laws: they could have been wrong, and they certainly didn’t test these beliefs in empirical ways that would answer to our modern notions of what constitutes proper scientific method. But from this intuitive belief in the cosmos as an ordered set of laws all of Western science has come. (And now we have an abundance of facts that prove this intuitive, poetic belief.) Science in its origins was little distinguished from philosophy, religion, or even myth: read the Presocratics for examples.

          Nearly everything else Cheddar says is indeed crazy wrong, but he’s quite right on that one limited point. Imagine if humans hadn’t thought the laws of the phenomenal world were observable, reducible to an ordered system? Just thinking about this for a bit shows how audacious and intuitive the early scientist-philosopher-poets actually were.

          • Felton says:

            Good point, well made. :-)

          • Cheddar says:

            Please expand on the things I said that were “crazy wrong.” Tell me why is it crazy wrong to believe that science is based in a belief system which includes:

            1) The universe operates in a way that follows specific laws.
            2) Humans have the capacity to observe and understand the laws under which the universe operates.

            Note that for this comment I am not arguing the truth of 1) and 2), but simply arguing that science presupposes those things. The point was that science indeed does rely on a belief system and is not solely based in observation.

      • Xopher says:

        There is no reason to believe the universe operates under specific laws

        Wow. I was all set to respond to you at some length, but then I realized that the above statement means that you’re so willfully stupid that nothing anyone can say, no evidence they can cite, will ever shift you out of the mudhole of ignorance in which you choose to wallow.

        So I won’t bother to point out that it’s actually perfectly obvious (to anyone who bothers to look) that the universe operates under specific laws, or that you depend on the consistency of those laws to be able to comment here, indeed to live at all. It’s a complete waste of time.

        You’re bringing the name of one of my favorite cheeses into disrepute. Perhaps that’s one reason I’m being extra sharp with you.

        • Cheddar says:

          “So I won’t bother to point out that it’s actually perfectly obvious (to anyone who bothers to look) that the universe operates under specific laws, or that you depend on the consistency of those laws to be able to comment here, indeed to live at all.”

          It’s actually not perfectly obvious and calling me “willfully stupid” doesn’t really add to the conversation. Just because you choose to ignore there is a field called “philosophy of science” doesn’t make the field exist any less or make it any less legitimate.

          If it so obvious that the universe operates under specific laws, you should be able to easily prove it. I’m guessing it will involve some minimal amount of repeated observations in a very large universe over some pathetic time frame. You probably will conclude that something happens so therefore it will continue to happen and call it a law. Maybe you will find multiple laws and conclude the entire universe operates that way. Yup, of course there is no belief system or faith there. And you call me ignorant.

          Furthermore, I never said I don’t rely on scientific laws for various things. I am just willing to admit that to do so I rely on a belief system and that belief system has faults and could conceivably collapse at any second.

          • Mike Estee says:

            @Cheddar – your logic is homeopathic too, but who’s to say? maybe if you dilute it enough you’ll get results…

  85. jcolvin says:

    The opponents of homeopathy don’t seem to realize that many homeopathic remedies do contain active ingredient. In that respect, there is overlap between homeopathy and standard herbal medicine. There’s little doubt that those remedies containing no active ingredient have an affect no different from placebo. It gets more complicated when it comes to remedies containing active ingredient. Also, hormesis is a *scientifically* proven effect. These two facts together suggest that there may be more to some homeopathic remedies than the skeptics will admit.

  86. Lucifer says:

    The only important issue to be answered here is whether homeopathic remedies are truly effective. They are not. They are therefore instruments to profit from the desperate, the naive, and the faithful. That makes them evil.

  87. Anonymous says:

    homeopathic remedies is not ‘just water’

    from hahnemann labs:
    [...]
    The entire process of making a Homeopathic medicine consists of the following steps:

    1) Selection of raw material
    2) Trituration of raw material if insoluble in water or alcohol (Grinding w/mortar & pestle)
    3) Preparation of liquid potencies by dilution and succussion
    4) Medication of blank pellets with liquid potencies
    5) Drying of medicated pellets

    the labs are FDA approved…they have clean rooms and the best equipment. to carelessly refer to homeopathic remedies as ‘diluted water’ is just laziness. i sure hope the scientific types are not making this assumption without actually bothering to learn!

    • Anonymous says:

      3) Preparation of liquid potencies by dilution and succussion

      That’s the step where the “raw material” is completely replaced by water.

      Really, you should know that already.

  88. Cheaplazymom says:

    All you pro-science types are so arrogantly confident that scientific procedures and peer reviews result in effective medicine. If conventional, modern, “scientific” medicine were so amazingly good at curing people, we wouldn’t be so damn sick. I think that most people can agree (even those who espouse “alternative” treatments) that there are some things that conventional western medicine is consistently good at: emergency care and crisis management. But conventional western medicine is not really so good at helping people achieve optimal health. In fact, I don’t think it is even part of the program. Most medical practices do not know how to address the problems that ail people most of the time: allergies, head aches, chronic fatigue, skin problems, mild joint pain, sleeping irregularities, digestive irregularities, or the common cold. So, I’m not sure why the science community is so darn smug about its effectiveness. Face it. Most diagnosis and treatment is a crap shoot. Sometimes your stuffy nose and sinus pressure is a cold, an infection, an allergy, or it may be a tumor. Sometimes your Dr. will have an effective treatment for you and sometimes they will not. Most people know this. To suggest that the crap shoot of modern western medicine is more serious and meaningful than the crap shoot of alternative medicine is just not credible. People turn to alternative therapies because, in many cases, conventional medicine has failed them. And in many cases they get some relief. I have been treated by homeopaths and have found the remedies to be helpful. I do not understand it. It may be placebo, it may not. But in both cases I was working with very experienced practitioners who took a lot of time with me. I am not sure that picking up a remedy at Boots while I’m buying shampoo and toothpaste is going to have the same results. But the same could be said for most of the drugs for sale over the counter. Next you guys will be protesting vegetables, chicken soup and a good night’s rest. Not all healing can be proven with a double blind study.

    • Dito says:

      “Most medical practices do not know how to address the problems that ail people most of the time: allergies, head aches, chronic fatigue, skin problems, mild joint pain, sleeping irregularities, digestive irregularities, or the common cold.”

      Allergies: antihistamines
      Headaches: anti-inflammatory and general pain meds
      Chronic Fatigue: recently believed to be a virus; previously considered a myth
      Skin problems: Cortisone, other topical treatments
      Mild joint pain: Aspirin, NSAIDS, etc.
      Sleeping irregularities: CPAP machines, sleep aids
      Digestive irregularities: anti-diarrheals work well, as do acid blockers for reflux
      Common cold: It’s a virus, notoriously hard to eradicate

      “To suggest that the crap shoot of modern western medicine is more serious and meaningful than the crap shoot of alternative medicine is just not credible.”

      False. Modern medicine has undergone rigorous scientific study to prove its effectiveness. Yes, some drugs have harmful or dangerous side effects. Some drugs have gotten on the market that shouldn’t have. But the vast majority are peer-reviewed, clinically-tested, and proven effective in thousands of patients and many, many studies.

      Homeopathy is a myth and a borderline fraud. How can something with no active ingredient have an effect?

      And don’t say “Well, we just don’t know, but my personal experience says it works!”

      That’s the medical equivalent of saying, “I don’t have proof that light in the sky was an alien spacecraft, but I know what I saw!”

      • Cheaplazymom says:

        Thanks for making my point, Ditto. All of the suggested remedies you list will temporarily treat the symptom, often masking an underlying condition. Yes, I can take an Aleve when I have a migraine, and it will help. But the Dr. can’t tell me why I have the headaches or how to prevent them from happening in the first place. Likewise, antihistimines will get me through the day, but they will not eliminate my allergies or help me feel great. In these instances, western medicine is content to manage the problem and after a couple of rounds of this, most people stop going to the Dr. So, from the medical practice’s stand point, case closed. But many people have a nagging desire to feel good, to understand all those chronic problems that don’t go away and make them feel crappy.

        Just because people are willing to try homeopathy, chiropractic, accupuncture, or nutrition counseling, doesn’t mean that they are anti-science. Taking a multi-vitamin does not make me a climate change denier. Going to church does not make me anti-evolution. And choosing not to give my newborn a vaccine for HebB does not make me a whack-job. I am an open-minded skeptic and I don’t believe that anybody has all the answers.

        The problem with a blind faith in the scientific process is that science knows what it knows. Which is actually very little. There is far more that we don’t know: about the human body, the cosmos, the flora and fauna, the balance of our environment that sustains life, why people like Kiera Knightley movies, etc. etc. Science can not tell me why I fell in love with my husband and how being happily married is good for my cardiovascular health. Conversely, science encouraged my mother to smoke while she was pregnant with me (to keep her relaxed) and to limit her pregnancy weight gain to only 10 lbs (small babies are easy to deliver and you get right back into your pre-pregnancy wardrobe). Science gave us thalidomide and routine hysterectomies. Considering all the mistakes that science has made, I could have good fun mocking your faith in the system.

        • airshowfan says:

          Just because people are willing to try chiropractic…

          Don’t even get me started…

          http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=537

          But many people have a nagging desire to understand all those chronic problems that don’t go away and make them feel crappy.

          Careful! When you understand something, placebos (like homeopathy) typically become less effective!

          The problem with a blind faith in the scientific process is that science knows what it knows.

          The problem with a blind faith in alternative medicine is that it doesn’t even know what it claims to know!

          And I don’t have “a blind faith” in something that gets such good results so reliably. Not 100% reliably, no. But better than any alternative. And medicine knows its limitations, knows when something has some chance of not working. How does it know that? TESTS!

          Science can not tell me why I fell in love with my husband and how being happily married is good for my cardiovascular health“.

          Science may not be able to trace each and every molecule in those processes, but it has quite a bit to say about how those mechanisms work. At the very least, studies can show correlation between cause and effect (something that alternative medicine cannot claim).

          Considering all the mistakes that science has made, I could have good fun mocking your faith in the system.

          People make mistakes in any endeavour. The scientific method is a process for catching and fixing those mistakes. Does alternative medicine have anything like that?

  89. apoxia says:

    Regarding the nature of science. I am a scientist – currently conducting research. I have realised that I didn’t really know what the scientific method was until a few years into my undergraduate degree. I did science in high school – but it’s not the same. To a scientist it is obvious that homeopathy is NOT science. To a person who thinks it is science, it is clear they do not know what the scientific method is. Unfortunately I suspect that will not learn it from a link to an article. It has to be done through immersion in science, theory, and practice. For me, understanding science has entirely changed my world view.

  90. Anonymous says:

    Why so much hate for the placebo effect? & why is a placebo a bad thing?

    Doctors use placebos quite a bit and there are rules for how use them, and those rules are there to protect the patient. When a doctor administers or proscribes a placebo it is under a semi controlled non-life threatening situations, most often for pain relief, where the doctor remains in contact with patient to see how things are going. If the patient improves great, if not then they have more information and update their diagnosis, which will help lead them to a more effective treatment.

    Buying a placebo from a drugstore has no such protection for the patient, plus it requires a self diagnosis, and could lead the person into believing they are getting better when in fact they are not. Additionally there is no one to observe the situation in the case something does go wrong.

    This is why it’s not okay to sell treatments that claim to work when they are in fact placebos.

    Here is a good article on what a placebo is:
    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=1248

  91. acipolone says:

    I really have no opinion either way, but what’s going to happen on the off chance that some of these people do get sick or have some sort of side effect from what they take?

    If it only happens to 6 people of the X number there (any clue on how many will show?), will those 6 incidents be considered “anecdotes” and not considered reliable data? And if nothing happens, will Boots stop selling homeopathic remedies? Just curious as to what will happen post-overdose.

    By the way, I love the “homeopathic lager = American beer” comment. Way too true. Haha.

  92. dw_funk says:

    Why so much hate for the placebo effect?

    Not that I’m particularly defending homeopathic “medicine.” But they are doing it right, so to speak; by making their treatments artificially expensive and encouraging an elaborate culture of healing, homeopathy magnifies the placebo effect. Knowing whether or not it’s a placebo doesn’t really significantly decrease the effect, IIRC, and just the act of taking medicine, whatever it is, often is enough to prod the brain into curing itself.

    I’m not really a fan of using any sort of “natural” or “traditional” medicines, simply because I know that we understand biology a hell of a lot better than we do the placebo effect. Most (emphasis on the most) natural cures could only be improved by isolating those substances that are doing the work, and getting rid of all the impurities that might not be helping at all. Outside of psychiatry, in which we only pretend to understand what’s happening in the brain, and general wellness, which most doctors don’t have time to care about, modern medicine does pretty well at keeping people alive.

    A placebo is an unwanted thing in modern medicine, because doctors and pharmaceutical companies have a lot invested in the idea that they’re actually DOING something. And, for the most part, they are. But if the placebo effect were properly leveraged, a lot of the guesswork wouldn’t be important: there’s no need to diagnose a disorder when a person can just be made to cure his or herself. If scientists understood exactly what was going on with the placebo effect, medicine would be no more than telling (or tricking, if you like) the brain into fixing the problem, and there’s a lot of evidence that the brain can be tricked into fixing some ridiculous issues.

    All of which isn’t to say that homeopathy is a good thing. Trickery is unethical, and there are many ways to get the placebo effect that provide other benefits. I’m just saying that using “placebo” as a dirty word ignores the fact that it can be very useful, and could only be more useful if it was properly studied.

  93. brankru says:

    calling homeopathy and other alternative medicines harmless gets more problematic when you consider cases such as this:

    http://www.smh.com.au/national/parents-guilty-of-manslaughter-over-daughters-eczema-death-20090605-bxvx.html

  94. Anonymous says:

    @cheaplazymom: We aren’t “so sick”. In an historical context, we live longer, healthier, stronger lives, with lower infant mortality and less infectious disease. This is thanks to modern medicine. Again: we are NOT “so sick”.

    @whoever said that science was a set of cultural norms or whatever: No, it’s not.

  95. Anonymous says:

    Many people do not understand how homeopathy works, so they are skeptics.

    Homeopathy is a very complex medicine, and it works because of quantum physics.

    Steps to make a remedy:
    1. One drop of the original substance with 100 drops of water
    2. Shake
    3. One drop of that substance, 100 drops water
    4. Shake
    5. Steps 1-4 are repeated until there is no amount of the original substance in the tincture
    This point is called Avogadro’s number or Avogadro’s constant.
    As steps 1-4 are repeated, the remedy becomes stronger.
    This is because of quantum leaps and quantum physics.
    Hey, just because we didn’t know how bats flew in caves, doesn’t mean they didn’t fly in caves.
    Just because we don’t have the technology at this point in time to figure out how homeopathy works, doesn’t mean it doesn’t.

  96. ggirod says:

    By criticizing homeopathy we are missing a teachable moment? Imagine extending belief in homeopathy to belief that low concentrations of other things are really a threat.

    Birth control and other hormone pills in our sewage are messing with amphibians and probably us. Add in that tiny doses of antibiotics in our sewage/agricultural runoff and in our foods are producing resistance in bacteria. Finally there are the low concentrations of mercury in all of our waters from burning all that good clean coal that are causing brain damage to people who eat fish. Then consider that scrubber waste from coal plants is about to be disposed in greater quantities on farm fields to help dose plants and groundwater with “homeopathic” quantities of heavy metals and other good things.

    Maybe presenting that idea might lead some of the people who are “overdosing” for show to consider what compounds they really ARE overdosing on. Then they might mobilize and join the fight.

    Remember, there are still lots of people who seem to believe that “dilution is the solution to pollution.” Sadly, they are the ones in power. Unfortunately homeopathy is true, but much more so for toxic and harmful substances than for good. But, why should that be a surprise?

    • Anonymous says:

      Homeopathy “works” on a much more diluted level than pills in sewage. Some homeopathy remedies contain no molecules of the substance intended to heal the illness. The claim is that water has a “memory” and its allegedly remembers the vibrations of the substance. This “memory” has never been replicated or proved in a double blind, controlled test.

  97. reverentmother says:

    I took Arnica Montana (the recommended homeopathic for bruising and muscle trauma) a few years ago during and immediately following a root canal, and was comfortable enough that I never needed additional pain meds. I give it to my active son whenever he has a bruise or bump. The tears stop immediately, and he’s usually back on the bike within minutes.

    Why should I be denied access to a local point-of-sale for a product that I have researched, and – despite all its mysteries- found to be helpful for me and my family?

    These Warriors, born again from the Age of Reason, defending a faceless naiveté by attacking with arrogant bows the evil homeopathic empire . . . they might meditate on this during their next hot shower:

    Which is more like sex? a) rape b) a hug

    • Anonymous says:

      Arnica is not an diluted homeopathic medicine. Arnica oil is a natural anti-inflammatory. Some herbs have medicinal value, this would be one of them. Homeopathic remedies are a completely different issue, sugar pills so diluted they contain nothing.

    • Lester says:

      “I took Arnica Montana (the recommended homeopathic for bruising and muscle trauma) a few years ago during and immediately following a root canal, and was comfortable enough that I never needed additional pain meds. I give it to my active son whenever he has a bruise or bump. The tears stop immediately, and he’s usually back on the bike within minutes.”

      Yes, and I kiss my son’s boo-boos and he’s back in the saddle again. My kisses have healing properties, must be all the arnica lip gloss I’m using…

    • LeFunk says:

      “Which is more like sex? a) rape b) a hug”

      There. My head asploded.

  98. Snig says:

    My view of homeopathy is rather like the lottery, or gambling in general. Some people seem to really luck out on it, the majority don’t. The majority of it seems to be for runny noses, not replacement for chemo, so not quite sure what the bother is about. A handful spend large sums, I haven’t met many who really spent tremendous sums. I don’t endorse it, but it’s not close to the biggest problem in health care, especially in the US. I don’t deny anyone their placebo or juju, alternative or conventional.
    There are other conventional meds that have been grandfathered in, despite there being weak science for efficacy. (From the wiki on “guaifenesin”) “a Cochrane Collaboration meta-analysis of over the counter medicines for acute cough in children and adults found no evidence for the effectiveness of any examined drug other than guaifenesin; evidence for guaifenesin was ambiguous.[2]” I don’t recommend the group next OD on cough medicine. Similarly people buy tremendous amounts on cold, flu, and arthitis OTC’s, but I doubt that all users are aware there’s largely only symptomatic relief from these.
    The other silliness is that toxicity does not imply efficacy. If you have scurvy, a glass of oranged juice or lemonade is the cure. Drinking a couple gallons of it and not dying (or eating a couple grams of ascorbic acid) doesn’t really mean it doesn’t cure scurvy.
    But like homeopathy, it’s a free country, so I don’t begrudge people their fun.
    Other OTC’s w/ serious issues or limited benefit for their stated use:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dextromethorphan
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxymetazoline

    Despite the previous presumumption of scientific benefit, a review of cold medicines for kids showed minimal risk and no benefit for kids under six in late 2007. The week before, the medicines were not located in the alternative medicine section. Buyer beware in all aisles of the pharmacy.

  99. Snig says:

    >184 comments. Which leads me to believe the whole stunt was a cunning collusion by the homeopathic industry and their big pharma rivals to cause carpal tunnel in all of us and thereby increase sales. The house always wins.

  100. Cowicide says:

    Man, all these years I didn’t know what homeopathic really meant along with others I’ve talked to I guess. I’ve heard the term used in place of alternative or natural supplements/medicine. I didn’t know it stood for watering down stuff with voodoo.

    Crap, you learn something new every day.

    Shit! I’m going to have to quit calling enteric coated fish oil a homeopathic remedy! By reading this thread it would seem I was the only one around who didn’t know what it meant, but I guess the udders out there that didn’t know like me are staying silent. Hahaha…

  101. Ito Kagehisa says:

    Nothing that contradicts a zealot’s base premises is ever credible.

    • Xopher says:

      Oh, I don’t believe you.

      • Ito Kagehisa says:

        Everything you know past Je pense, donc je suis is based on faith. All your physical senses are easily proven to be unreliable, Neo.

        Claiming that one’s base axioms are not a matter of faith but are rather derived from objective truth is a fallacy – it’s just plugging your ears and shouting “Turtles all the way down! Turtles all the way down!” instead of facing the truth.

        In DesCartes’ time, it was politically expedient to base your faith on the God of Abraham, and come up with an unlikely ontological “proof”. Today, substitute uncritical faith in Stephen Hawking or Bill Nye, claim that you are “scientific”, and shout at people online.

        As for the idea that all propositions are either true or false, that is also easily disproven. Paradoxica abound, all around us – who shaves the barber, after all? Kurt Godel proved that any language sufficiently sophisticated to describe the real world is capable of expressing paradox, that is, making statements that cannot be resolved into true/false. Douglas Hofstedter wrote a beautiful book around the implication that reality in fact contains paradox at the structural level.

        I don’t believe in homeopathy because I tried it and it didn’t work for me. My base axiom is that stuff I didn’t see happen is unproven to have ever happened, and must be accepted conditionally, if at all.

        Bring me an infinite cup of Cantor’s Dust and I will argue with you some more.

  102. GoldMatenes says:

    Science does not require your belief to continue functioning.

    Homeopathy is like the stock market or like religion:
    It is a helicopter with rotors that only turn if everyone believes they are turning, and that only keeps it hovering in place.

    If left unattended, it would crater.

  103. Rob says:

    If homeopathy worked, we’d all be dead.

    How many poisons diluted how many times are already in the water supply for how many millenia?

    • airshowfan says:

      Rob, you just don’t get it! As Vidya so helpfully explained, homeopathy only works for good, never for harm: “Homeopathy does not function by artificially pushing a healthy body’s functions into hyper- or hypo-activity, as allopathic drugs do, but by prompting the body to itself adjust its regulating mechanisms to restore it an organism to maximum efficiency. If one has no condition, of course nothing will happen.” So you see, apparently you can’t get worse via homeopathic effects, only better. Besides, diluting poisons in the water supply should cause the OPPOSITE effects that the poisons do when they are more concentrated, since homeopathy works by the “law of simlars”. It has “law” in the name, so it must be scientific!

      (No, not really).

    • Sork says:

      Don’t forget the serious problem with DMHO (dihydrogen monoxide) which is all around us today, and even in many modern medicine and homeopathic drugs.

      • Felton says:

        Don’t forget the serious problem with DMHO (dihydrogen monoxide) which is all around us today, and even in many modern medicine and homeopathic drugs.

        Hahahahaha!

      • Ito Kagehisa says:

        Don’t forget the serious problem with DMHO (dihydrogen monoxide) which is all around us today, and even in many modern medicine and homeopathic drugs.

        You’re so right, Sork! I have recently learnt that there have been more deaths directly, provably linked to DHMO than all of those attributed to both homeopathy and allopathy put together! More people need to be made aware of this shocking, totally scientific truth.

        Clearly, Boots must be stopped from selling dangerous DHMO to unlicensed citizens – it’s for their own good. People can’t be trusted to make decisions for themselves, it’s just not scientific!

  104. Anonymous says:

    why is a placebo a bad thing?

    If I don’t feel good, and I take a pill/syrup/etc, and I feel better, why does it matter that it’s only a placebo?

    I feel better…that’s the actual reason I took the pill/syrup/etc to begin with. Most alternative options (chiropractic, herbal, homeopathic, magnets, etc, etc., etc.) are cheaper and more convenient than making an appointment, paying the copay, sitting in a waiting room full of people coughing up a lung, dealing with insurance, standing in line at the pharmacy for the prescription, dealing with the insurance for that, etc., etc., etc. — that hey…it’s worth a try!

    HOWEVER…you have to be intelligent enough to take something that does no harm (there’s that Hyppocrates thing….) AND to realize that if you take that pill/syrup/etc and you DON’T feel better (or you feel better for a little while, but you have to keep taking the whatever-it-is) then it’s time to say “hey, self, this doesn’t work” and go find a medical professional and get it fixed.

  105. Anonymous says:

    I respect modern medicine and use it when appropriate. I also have respect for homeopathy and use it when appropriate.

    Making homeopathic remedies unavailable because they are sometimes misapplied makes little sense to me. If we do that, we should make cigarettes and alcohol and prescription meds unavailable as well. These things are thousands of times more likely to harm individuals using them.

  106. ravenword says:

    I don’t know the relevant regulations in the UK, but I wouldn’t take an overdose of any American homeopathic product. While homeopathy theoretically relies on extreme dilution of active ingredients, there is no FDA regulation of homeopathic products in the US, meaning that they don’t always contain the ingredients they claim to contain. And some of their ingredients are less diluted than others. Such ingredients can cause real harm, as we learned from the folks who lost their sense of smell after using Zicam.

  107. Pipenta says:

    I think, I would like to think, that all posters here understand that fortune tellers and psychics are full of shit. But throughout human history, those who claim to know the future have conned others for a profit. In some states, fortune tellers and the like can only operate if it is clearly stated that their services are “for entertainment practices only.” If they printed that on every package of homeopathic remedy, on the front of the package, in BIG FAT LETTERS, then sure, let ‘em sell their stuff.

    We’ve all had our frustrations with mainstream medicine, though now many of us have no access to it. We’re all pretty pissed at big pharma. Yeah, yeah, I hear ya. I’m with ya there. But the problems are hardly anything you can blame on scientific method and scientific thought. And to say that the fact that people are still getting sick proves that science doesn’t work is way beyond silly. We live much longer than our ancestors. Care to go back to the middle ages? I don’t.

    Science isn’t about what you’d like to be true, about what’s nice or comforting or what reinforces your cultural beliefs or value system. Science is a way of observing and exploring the world. It’s the best thing humans have ever done.

    In his poem “Storm”, Tim Minchin describes a dinner party run in with a hippy. And he covers all of this territory.

    Here’s a passage from the middle of it, but you really need to hear him perform the whole piece.

    ***************************************

    Storm to her credit despite my derision
    Keeps firing off clichés with startling precision
    Like a sniper using bollocks for ammunition

    “You’re so sure of your position
    But you’re just closed-minded
    I think you’ll find
    Your faith in Science and Tests
    Is just as blind
    As the faith of any fundamentalist”

    “Hm that’s a good point, let me think for a bit
    Oh wait, my mistake, it’s absolute bullshit.
    Science adjusts it’s beliefs based on what’s observed
    Faith is the denial of observation so that Belief can be preserved.
    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!

    You show me that it works and how it works
    And when I’ve recovered from the shock
    I will take a compass and carve Fancy That on the side of my cock.”

    *********************************************

    http://podblack.com/2008/12/little-kitten-lyrics-to-tim-minchins-storm/

  108. Mike Estee says:

    “ntrstng. Hw mch ds th phrmctcl ndstry py st lk Bng Bng t shll fr thm?”

    10^23$ homeopathic dollars. I’m spending mine right now.

  109. Mike Estee says:

    There is a quote by the late, great Philip K. Dick, “Reality is that, which when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.”

    One of the totally awesome things about modern medicine, is you that reap the benefits even if you think it’s total bullshit. The placebo effect is powerful though, and all medicine works better when the patient believes in it. Not surprising, our immune system is not entirely automatic.

    Not so with homeopathy. When you stop believing in it, it doesn’t work anymore.

  110. Cheaplazymom says:

    OK, let me get this straight. If I take my sick child to a Medical Doctor and they prescribe a drug that causes a reaction that kills my child, then– “Hey nothing is 100% effective, and sometimes things don’t work out the way we want, and the studies show that this complication only happens .4% of the time, its really a tragedy that it happened, but life is like that.” but if I take my sick child to a homeopath and their condition doesn’t improve and they end up dying, then I’m criminally negligent? You seem to suggest that ALL illness has the potential to be cured by conventional medicine and that NO illness can hope to be cured by any other means. This is horse shit. Many, many, many times a day, people bring their loved ones to conventional medical practitioners and those loved ones die. Sometimes it is because there is not a cure, sometimes it is because of hospital error, sometimes it is because of a drug reaction. But it’s OK because its “science based”? They take your money and they don’t make you well– but they are not charlatans because they took a bunch of science classes in Med school?

    How is selling a homeopathic remedy for hives worse than that? Who is the bigger sucker? I took a sugar pill and it didn’t get rid of my hives, or I gave my kid a drug you said was safe and now they are dead (and by the way that will cost you $80,000).

    Face it, Western medicine is a blunt instrument. Sometimes it works miracles, sometimes it helps a little, and then sometimes it kills you. Alternative therapies have a following because a) they very rarely kill you and b) conventional medicine so often lets people down.

    • Xopher says:

      Do you wear a seatbelt? There are types of accident where wearing a seatbelt will kill you, and not wearing one will save your life.

      But it’s not the way to bet. In the vast majority of severe accidents, the seatbelt will save you and not wearing one will kill you.

      The case of conventional medicine (seatbelt) and homeopathy (no seatbelt) is more extreme than that. Yes, conventional medicine is sometimes worse than doing nothing. But it’s not the way to bet. In the vast majority of cases it’s better to consult a conventional doctor when you’re sick or injured.

      In contrast to the no-seatbelt choice, the homeopathic choice will never, ever, ever save your life. If it makes you feel better it’s because your mind made you feel better, not because the homeopathic remedy had any physical effect.

      So yes, if you go to a real doctor and your child dies, you are blameless (though the doctor may not be) because you made a reasonable choice in the circumstances. If you try to treat hir with homeopathic remedies and s/he dies, you are criminally negligent, because you didn’t do anything reasonable or sensible to treat your child. You did something stupid and crazy instead, and any reasonable person would know better.

      If you wouldn’t treat your child’s sickness by “kiss and make better” or, say, waving a red feather over hir head, don’t use homeopathic remedies either. If you do, and your child dies, you will be held criminally liable, and rightly so.

    • Anonymous says:

      You pretty much just summed up every anti-homeopathic ranter’s attitude I’ve read so far. Most of them seem to be making the incorrect assumption that science is infallible.

      Scientific blundering kills millions of people a year. I’m pretty sure the homeopathic industry doesn’t even come close to having corporate medicine’s body count.

  111. Anonymous says:

    http://clinicalevidence.bmj.com/images/prelimf2.jpg
    Some people are making a lot of fuss about unproven or ineffective homeopathic remedies, you should be aware that the BMJ report on Clinical Evidence makes it very clear that the “proof” you seek for homeopathy does not exist for the majority of interventions.
    I quote
    “So what can Clinical Evidence tell us about the state of our current knowledge? What proportion of commonly used treatments are supported by good evidence, what proportion should not be used or used only with caution, and how big are the gaps in our knowledge? Of around 2500 treatments covered 13% are rated as beneficial, 23% likely to be beneficial, 8% as trade off between benefits and harms, 6% unlikely to be beneficial, 4% likely to be ineffective or harmful, and 46%, the largest proportion, as unknown effectiveness” British Medical Journal.
    Individuals who choose to use homeopathic remedies, whether from Boots, or any other source make a personal choice. Who are you to tell them they can’t choose their own healing modality. If their treatment is ineffective, it was their choice, if they believe it to be effective, it is their benefit. Why are you intent on defending those you believe are ‘gullible’? Might they not find your interference patronising. What is your vested interest?

    • Cheddar says:

      Is there a link to the actual study? I’d be interested in which treatments they do find effective. At least based on the image and your quote it would seem to advocate not lumping all homeopathy into the category of “snake oil” and that there is plenty of room and reason to do more research.

      Out of 2500 treatments that is:

      -325 beneficial treatments.
      -575 likely to be beneficial treatments.
      -200 with plus and minuses
      -150 unlikely to be beneficial
      -100 likely to be ineffective or harmful,
      -1150 unknown effectiveness

      Based on the numbers, I would read that as of the homeopathic remedies that we know the effectiveness for (1350), the majority (900 or 66.7%) are at the very least likely to be beneficial. Only 250 or 18.5% are unlikely to be beneficial or possible harmful. And 200 or 14.8% are in the middle meaning they may provide some benefit.

      I am really not sure how you read that as a negative for homeopathy. To me the numbers would seem to advocate researching the remedies with unknown effectiveness more. Also even including the unknown effectiveness treatments, 36% of those are likely to be beneficial. That is not that bad odds for many illnesses.

  112. Comedian says:

    .
    Could this be The End of Mr. Y?

  113. Marchhare says:

    But there is something in it; the placebo effect is incredibly strong for some illnesses.

  114. Ghede says:

    Headlines from the future:
    Skeptic unknowingly diabetic, homeopathy more popular than ever.

  115. randomcat says:

    Let’s say I set up a fake lottery. I print up a million tickets, none of which match up with what the predetermined winning numbers are going to be. I sell them at a dollar each, pocketing a million dollars, and letting a million people have a tiny bit of hope they wouldn’t otherwise have had. It didn’t really do them any harm, did it?

    I wonder how many of the homeopathic supporters in this thread would approve of this scheme.

    • Mike Estee says:

      “Let’s say I set up a fake lottery…..It didn’t really do them any harm, did it?”

      That’s an excellent example. That’s money they could have spent on *actually* making themselves richer. Instead what they’ve bought is a false hope. Worse still, they’re actually one dollar poorer.

  116. greengestalt says:

    Can you say “Tea Bagger”, people?

    hehe I knew you could…

    This “Protest” stinks of it. IMO funded by the medical and insurance companies. They aren’t afraid it works, but they are afraid the placebo effect along with other things, like arguments for healthy living could cut into their customer base. For a century the medical establishment, now bought out by insurance and big companies, has had an iron grip on the profession. However, they simply charge far too much for many people to afford them, thus creating room for “Competition”.

    They’ll not lower their prices, so they’ll just mercilessly crush anything that might compete, real or non.

    • jjasper says:

      @greengestalt-Can you say “Tea Bagger”, people?

      hehe I knew you could…

      This “Protest” stinks of it. IMO funded by the medical and insurance companies.

      No no, it was funded by David Ickes lizard people, who control the pharmaceutical industry.

      They aren’t afraid it works, but they are afraid the placebo effect along with other things, like arguments for healthy living could cut into their customer base.

      So, let me see if I’ve got this straight, *not* taking a quack nostrum is unhealthy living because if you brainwash yourself into thinking water is medicine, you’ll be healthier?

      And this is related to the Tea Party movement, which is a US political movement, even though it’s in the UK.

      For a century the medical establishment, now bought out by insurance and big companies, has had an iron grip on the profession. However, they simply charge far too much for many people to afford them, thus creating room for “Competition”.

      Which is EXACTLY why the protest is taking place in a nation with socialized medicine! LIZARD PEOPLE! It’s all LIZARD PEOPLE!


      They’ll not lower their prices, so they’ll just mercilessly crush anything that might compete, real or non.

      And eat our mice! Won’t someone think of the mice!?!

      Thanks for playing. This conspiracy perfomance-art / Alternate Reality Game stuff is fun. How many XP did you get for this?

      • greengestalt says:

        Just hope your big company puppet string pullers consulted the doctors first.

        Note, from the anti-homeopathy mockery, that some medicine is literally a poison diluted to extreme low doses. A mega dose of an extreme low dose… While not necessarily poisonous might trigger an allergic reaction. If it was just doctors trying to discredit it, I’d assume they’d find stuff that absolutely couldn’t do that, but big companies on the other hand.

        If you DO start getting sick unexpectedly, will they treat you?

        And, btw, the rich elite/lizard people… I like David Icke a lot. If you had the realization that the world was controlled that way, would you have the balls to blow the whistle? I think not. Go ahead, mooo with the other sheeple and buy your commercial product of poison and eat it thinking you are smart and individual precious individual snowflakes…

        For the record, I did laugh at the Futurama joke and the British comedy joke on YouTube. I am kind of skeptical of some Homeopathy, but I won’t bash the whole thing. And the reason for that is I’m for allowing “Alternative” medicine to gain sway so the existing medical establishment has to “Prove itself”, in short “Compete”. If they are going to raise prices more and more, let them spend some of that money, or better yet, remove ridiculous blackmail expense ($100 for aspirin or unscheduled phone call from doctor) because competition exists.

        Just as, the attack site exposed, Homeopathy evolved from ritual and Magick, well real medicine evolved from “Witch Doctors” and pharmacology from Alchemy. Being a bit simplistic ’cause I’m not going to type a well researched essay for a pathetic sheeple attack troll like you, but modern science and medicine is the evolution of more ancient occult practices. Like the Rx is the Eye of Horus and the Caduceus is what the God Hermes carried…

        • duplicate_id says:

          Greengestalt,

          Thank you – that was the best incomprehensible rant I’ve read this month. I think I need to sew up some “pathetic sheeple attack troll[s] like [me]“, or at least make a t-shirt. And I’m still trying to wrap my head around whether there’s a way to phrase “A mega dose of an extreme low dose” in a way that would torture english a bit more.

          Truly, the sheer density of confusion and willful ignorance is high even in a thread like this one – well done!

  117. VicHoon says:

    Isn’t there a risk they’ll drown?

  118. lilbjorn says:

    ntrstng. Hw mch ds th phrmctcl ndstry py st lk Bng Bng t shll fr thm?

    • Chesterfield says:

      @libjorn, no kidding. If anybody can afford to pay for shills, it’s the homeopath industry. Pfizer would blush if they could get the kind of margins that homeopathic remedy makers get for selling water and not having to pay for any studies or approval process.

    • Anonymous says:

      It took 78 comments to get to the pharma-shill gambit? Slow day.

  119. Anonymous says:

    If you’re going to have placebos, you need a wide set of differently named placebos for the various effects that you’re trying to achieve. Homeopathic remedies are excellent for that. They’re pretty reasonably priced, as drugs go, and they have very long an complicated names for people to research and become convinced that they might work.

  120. Anonymous says:

    Please pick the remedy with care. In a healthy person the remedy causes the symptoms they are designed to treat.

    Could they please report remedy, dosage, and symptoms.

  121. Pantograph says:

    Overdosing is OK with homeopathic medicine. The real danger comes from underdosing.

    Dilute that homeopathic cough medicine in ten times clean water and take it. I dare you!

  122. Anonymous says:

    I am going to eat twelve fun-size packets of crisps, salt and vinegar, and demonstrate that my tongue will be cut to shreds!
    Then I’m going to drink 2 x six-packs of beer and watch an entire season of QI! This will be the best demonstration ever.
    I don’t really have a point, but come and join me in my protest.

  123. Ingmar says:

    What’s their problem? If they don’t want to use homeopathic remedies, that’s cool, but why should Boot’s not sell them if there’s demand for it? There’s really no harm in it.

    • Ghede says:

      Because, if you prevent jerks from SELLING placebos at ridiculously inflated prices, people will make their own at cost. Which is better: “Oh, I’ll live forever thanks to this homeopathic remedy” or “A spoonful of garlic powder in every meal will help me live forever.” It’s not going to stop ignorance, but it would make it cheaper.

    • Felix Mitchell says:

      In addition to what Blaatann said, there’s the simple problem that pharmacies shouldn’t sell drugs which have no effect. Even ignoring the harm it causes it’s still misleading.

      This protest sounds so lame though. There must be a word for this particular kind of boring but sensationalist type of protest. So the protesters are going to down the bottles of homeopathic medicine, then nothing will happen and they will go “Ha, see!?” and cheer themselves.

    • Lobster says:

      Because Boots is selling these remedies as actual medication. It’d be like if you went to Colt looking to buy a little home protection and they tried to sell you a talisman to hang above your doorway.

    • whitedre says:

      The harm is( and has been) when people are told “modern medicine is bad for you” and take homeopathic remedies and die. Or worse when they use homeopathic remedies to treat children who die from otherwise easily treatable illnesses. There are numerous documented cases of this happening.

    • Blaatann says:

      Off course there is harm. There’s harm to the people who are conned into taking ineffective medicine, there’s harm to the general populations understanding of science. If the quacks weren’t allowed to peddle their snake-oil, there’d be no money in Homoeopathy, and the “profession” would die out.

      Most would probably just move on to the next, big “natural-medicine” (tea) fad, unfortunately.

  124. gothicgeek says:

    @5 … snake oil! Boots are a trusted and long established firm.

  125. Anonymous says:

    @ #32

    erm whats the homeopathic remedy for a monster car smash again? i dont know about you but when i went in with a smashed knee from a motorcycle crash i was glad to have proper treatment and i’ll soon be going in for surgery on said knee no amount of cod liver oil is going to repair snapped tendons.
    why’s this relevant well theres always a chance of

    dieing during invasive surgery its not something you’d put a body through for fun (i know its highly unlikly in knee surgery but still) and theres always a chance of death.

    if someone dies during a “patching back together after severe trauma” type operation they go in your 180,000 figures (claims to be from 1.2 mil hospitalised with injuries so lets ignore disease like cancer and aids here thats a whole other bucket of fish) when if these same people had been given some cod liver oil or something at the roadside they’d bleed out. dont quote figures without thinking about what “hospitalised with injuries” might mean and especially from shady conspirecy sites quoting 14 year old newsletters

  126. Anonymous says:

    I’m all for homeopathy. If people want to use homeopathic remedies to try to cure life-threatening diseases, I think that such selfless actions can only benefit our species from a Darwinian perspective…

  127. bjacques says:

    If I see a protester with a bottle of water in one hand and an eyedropepr of homeopathic medicine in the other, I’ll grab the bottle out of his hand and shout “I just saved your life, man!” And then off to the pub for a homeopathic lager.

    • Cory Doctorow says:

      “homeopathic lager” AKA American beer

      • jgs says:

        Someone get that man a bottle of Bell’s Porter, stat!

        (Or any of a thousand other microbrews, available in their frequently good, eclectic multitudes from coast to coast. Anyone drinking American-brewed piss-water just isn’t trying hard enough. Well, unless you like that kind of thing of course which a befuddling number of people still do, it seems.)

      • fataltourist says:

        American beer?! Brooklyn Brewery, Blue Point, Sixpoint, Captain Lawrence, Rogue Ales… just to name a some favorites.

  128. Anonymous says:

    @7: This is inquisition talk.

    It seems placebo is becoming more effective, according to some (see here – http://www.wired.com/medtech/drugs/magazine/17-09/ff_placebo_effect?currentPage=all ). Or does this just apply to ‘proper’ scientifically sanctioned placebos.

  129. Anonymous says:

    The harm is that people believe that they can substitute for conventional medicine with these (often cheaper) “treatments”, even for relatively deadly diseases. I realise Boots don’t sell homeopathic cancer treatments or anything so over the top, but they give homeopathy credit which can still mislead people to try it when they should be receiving specialist treatment.

  130. rndwalker says:

    Isn’t this really over complicating the issue? If Homeopathy or any of the other multitude of alternative cures were to present evidence for their claims, and anecdote != evidence, then it would be accepted as medicine. Until the evidence is presented and reviewed the claims for efficacy are simply hearsay. If you can prove it go ahead. We dare you.

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