Apparently April 10-16 was World Homeopathy Awareness Week. Hey, I’m all for that, I just love the idea of folks become more aware of Homeopathy and what it is “really” all about.
Now, before we get into the latest news, let me be blunt and direct … it does not work. Homeopathy’s efficacy is unsupported by the collective weight of modern scientific research, so when I say “it does not work”, I’m not simply expressing an opinion. The extreme dilutions used in homeopathic preparations usually leave none of the original material in the final product (think .. adding a few drops to the Atlantic, stir then extract a sample and declare that to be a “cure” … yes it really is that dilute and insane). The modern mechanism proposed by homeopaths – that the water contains a “memory” or “vibration” from the diluted ingredient – is counter to the laws of chemistry and physics, such as the law of mass action and has not been demonstrated to be real.
So is it fraud? Well not as such, to claim that would imply they know it does not work, but many practitioners truly believe, and when their patients take a remedy, it appears to work. In fact what is really happening is what is known as the placebo effect. In essence, if you give somebody who is ill a sugar pill, but tell them it is a powerful drug, they do get a bit better, so the homeopaths are essentially leveraging this. The real problems arise when you start using this for serious illnesses such as AIDS or malaria … if you pop the pills you might feel a bit better, but you will die because it does not actually work.
So what caught my attention? Well, Mr Robbins (a true skeptic) today in the UK’s Guardian hands his blog over to leading homeopaths to allow them to have their say … or to translate … he is using some of the truly daft things that homeopaths say as a means to criticise this insanity. It is worth checking out because it is simply hilarious … here are a few snippets of their insanity … remember now, these are not the words of the skeptics, but are the actual words from the true believers …
British Homeopathic Association: “…the medicines are often – though by no means always – diluted to the point where there may be no molecules of original substance left. One of the leading current proposals for how such ‘ultramolecular’ dilutions work is that water is capable of storing information relating to substances with which it has previously been in contact.”
Now think of all the shit that has been in water at one time or another and consider that they believe water remembers!!!
Robert Mathie, British Homeopathic Association: “Four out of five comprehensive systematic reviews of RCTs in homeopathy have reached the qualified conclusion that homeopathy differs from placebo.”
Jean-Pierre Boissel (author of two of the reviews, responding to the above via e-mail): “Refs 2 and 3 reported the same meta-analysis. My review did not reach the conclusion ‘that homeopathy differs from placebo’!”
Martin Robbins: “Do you feel homeopaths should be telling the public that your paper supports homeopathy?”
Boissel: “Definitively NO!”
Yep, the claimed reviews that supposedly support them, don’t.
But the really scary thing is that it represents a real danger …
Dr Peter Fisher, responding to the sale of homeopathic anti-malarial prophylactics: “I’m very angry about it because people are going to get malaria – there is absolutely no reason to think that homeopathy works to prevent malaria and you won’t find that in any textbook or journal of homeopathy so people will get malaria, people may even die of malaria if they follow this advice.”
Now get ready to face-palm …
Homeopaths Without Borders: “….with the onset of the rainy season [in Haiti], there will be a great need for remedies to treat dengue, malaria, cholera and other tropical diseases.”
Abha Light Foundation, Aims and Objectives: “To introduce Homeopathy and natural medicines as a method of managing HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria in Kenya.”
You can read it all here. While quite funny, it is also very serious. It might indeed keep the hysterical hypochondriacs happy and stop them cluttering up the doctor’s office so that he can focus on those that are truly ill, but dispensing content-free magic pills as an alternative to real medicine (the stuff that has been proven to work) for things such as Aids or malaria prevention means people die.