The statistician and risk analyst, who rose to prominence with his 2007 book The Black Swan, has a history of sticking up for junk science, but has crossed a Rubicon with his latest set of tweets, in which he defended homeopathy as harmless placebos that divert hypochondriacs from taking too many real pharmaceutical products.
In pursuing this line of inquiry, Taleb ignores the great body of peer-reviewed, published evidence about the real harms of homeopathy, which fall into two categories: first, people with real medical problems (e.g. cancer) substitute placebos for effective therapies.
Second, that people who take homeopathic remedies for difficult-to-diagnose or imaginary ailments waste public/insurance money (in healthcare systems that fund "Complimentary/Alternative Medicine") and are apt to overmedicate with both homeopathic and real medicines — a 2015 paper looked at 45,000 patients and determined that homeopathic treatments "led to more productivity loss, higher outpatient care costs and larger overall cost."
Update: Taleb has called me "very stupid" and "dishonest" for criticizing his views on homeopathy.
Previously, Taleb had contained his anti-scientific nonsense within the field of genetically modified crops and food. Now, he has broken all boundaries and started defending homeopathy. He thinks homeopathy is harmless, even though it can dissuade people from science-based treatments, may have harmful nocebo effects and may contain contaminants from active ingredients. He claims, without any evidence, that homeopathy reduces overtreatment or adverse events. Taleb even goes so far as to claim that superstitions can be rational. Although Taleb has made useful contributions to the analysis of risk, his claims about GMOs and homeopathy are disastrously wrong.
Anti-GMO Statistician Nassim N. Taleb Now Defends Homeopathy
[Emil Karlsson/Debunking Denialism]