Tag: "homeopathy"

Comments on homeopathy - are we doomed to the dark ages again?

The 1023 event took place yesterday. In short a few hundred skeptics went outside about half a dozen Boots stores in the UK and "overdosed" on homeopathic pills by each downing a whole bottle. They did this in order to demonstrate there's nothing in homeopathic pills other than water and sometimes sugar and to emphasise that they have no effect.

It managed to get some coverage on the BBC which is nice, although obviously the BBC didn't do a very good job reporting it. More interesting however is some of the comments that people left, the stupidity of some people on the BBC's have you say section always seems to surprise me, I'm going to politely put down some of the more memorable. As usual we have the anti-science brigade out on parade. Ungrateful that this evil science thing has more doubled their average life spans.

A Tiger Moth from Stoke writes:

Id like these scientists to show me

a radio wave
take a tape measure and physicaly measure the milky way
Id like them to show me an atom in my hand so I can see it
Id also like them to show me the proof of the big bang actually show me proof I can see feel and touch
nahhhhhhhhhhhhh

1) Radio waves are invisible, our eyes do not see radio waves if they did they'd have to be a fair bit bigger. They can see visible light, hence the name, but even then we cannot obviously see the actual wave, although light interacting with our eyes will behave more like a particle. We can however build detectors that can "see" radio waves the same way as our eyes can see visible light. You might of heard of them, they're called radios.

2) Obviously building a tape measure across the whole galaxy would be expensive, and it would be difficult to source the raw materials required. However we can see how big the Milky Way is, all it takes are standard candles such as RR Lyrae stars, careful observation and a bit of mathematics.

3) Individual atoms are too small to be seen by the eye. There are numerous ways to infer the existence of atoms, such as watching the jumping movement of small particles in water, due to the motion of the molecules making up the water, or by bouncing electrons off atoms etc.

4) Obviously you cannot feel or touch the Big Bang, it happened in the past. We can show you a photograph of the afterglow of the Big Bang, all you need is a microwave telescope in orbit. However you can feel the products of the Big Bang, most of the hydrogen in your body was created just a few seconds after the Big Bang.

Obviously Tiger Moth likes to make use of logical fallacies, without actually addressing the topic at hand. The fact he throws out such pre-childish statements I think demonstrates his mental capabilities.

thing is its just observation and assumption
am baffled as too why scientists tho should spend time having a tantrum over what they dont belive in sounds like havin a demo against the tooth fairy

Observation and assumption, which is not what the above are examples of. Is better than plain asseration which the proponents of homeopathy partake. And this isn't scientists having a tantrum over what they don't believe in, scientists are too busy doing actual science, these are people who are fed up with irrationality getting a free ride. Belief is irrelevant, what does the data show? The data shows homeopathy doesn't work. Belief is not required.

To all those who say homeopathy is fake and believe only in "normal" medicine, just remember it was not long ago that people believed earth to be flat.

Yes Scrambled Eggs from London, and not long ago people believed in fairies. Guess what that still doesn't make homeopathy work.

To those who swear by the scientists, you do remember that scientists once believed the world was flat, and that the planets and sun went around earth? And you still believe everything they say?

Actually Rachael it was science that proved the Earth was spherical (by Eratosthenes in about 300 BC) and that it orbited the Sun, (proposed by many people, namely Capernicus and later proved by Galileo). Prior to that there was no scientific proof that the Earth was flat, or that the Sun went around the Earth. That was simply the default position because frankly, that's what it looks like. Trying to pin how people thought the universe was constructed before science, upon science is pretty weak IMO.

Yes, because it has worked for me, my family, and my clients many times over. That is the only way you really know if something is valid or not, through personal experience. I think for myself.

Yes of course Sonya McLeod from Vancouver, because personal experience is a reliable means of determining what is fact and what is not. Dowsers believe they can really dowse, what happens in controlled double-blinded experiments? Oh they can't. Personal experience is the one thing that cannot be reliably used to determine what is true or not. Face it, we're terrible at remembering if things work or not, we're prone to allow bias to creep into things. That why we have the scientific method to filter out as many components as possible other than the ones being tested.

Heck if we rely on personal experiences, most of my personal experiences tell me the Earth is this giant unmovable object that couldn't possibly be moving around the Sun, it looks so small in the sky. But you know what, those personal experiences are wrong, and we can prove that with a little bit of science.

Homeopathy did more for me than 'proper' medicine so I know which side of the fence I sit.
Besides, like to see the protestors take overdoses of 'normal' medicine to the same extent as well, as you would do in a proper scientific experiment . Only fair hmm?
Liver damage anyone?

Alright Skipsurfer from Maidstone. Obviously the point of this has gone completely over your head. Normal medicine, ie medicine that has been proven to have an effect, will obviously give you liver damage or worse if you overdose on it. That's because it actually has an effect upon the body. Unlike homeopathy which has no physiological effect beyond that of drinking water or taking a tablet of sugar. It does have other effects such as departing the gullible of their money, and potentially sending them to an early grave if they seek homeopathic "treatment" instead of proper treatment.

The protest proves nothing. An "overdose" of any medicine (even homoeopathy remedies) would have damaging side effects. Clearly those protesting not only do not know a thing about how the body works, but are delusional as to how to win support.

Steven. Look mate, just admit you don't know what you're talking about. You cannot overdose on homeopathy because there's nothing in it, it doesn't do anything. That's the point of the protest.

You don't get a product withdrawn by proving it is dangerous by using it incorrectly. They would have been better served lobbying for clinical trials to prove that there are no positive benefits to these medicines if that is what they truly believe

They're not trying to get it withdrawn because it is not safe. We know it is safe, that's because there's nothing in it! There are already dozens of clinical trials showing no effectiveness, it's not hard to predict considering there's nothing in homeopathic pills. They're trying to pressure Boots to stop stocking them, or at least inform their customers that these products don't do anything and raise awareness about homeopathy in general.

Once again the internet proves people are willing to blabber on about topics they think they know about, without actually knowing anything about them.

Acupuncture - the BBC nails it

It's very rare I read an article in the mainstream press which makes so much sense, and tackles a scientific topic so well.

Simon Singh +1 point(s), but as he's the co-author of 'Trick or Treatment? Alternative Medicine on Trial' maybe he should get an additional point.

Ever since receiving my first ever acupuncture session last month, I have been repeatedly asked whether or not it was effective.

[...]

[W]hy on earth should my personal experience be important, when we have evidence from tens of thousands of patients who have received acupuncture during carefully observed scientific trials?

Excellent, now if only all journalists could learn this skill when dealing with a scientific topic, especially when it concerns something health related. We use science to decide if something works or not, because its the most reliable method we have.

He then goes on to talk about the scientific evidence and how there is no evidence to suggest acupuncture is effective.

Good stuff. I'm fed up with the free-ride alternative crap-based medicine is getting in the press, and I'm furious with how much public money is wasted on junk like homeopathy and the rest. The proponents of this sort of stuff aren't just taking people's money like most pseudo-scientific nonsense, they're screwing with people's health too.

Homeopathic mumbo jumbo needs to be booted out of the NHS

The Guardian published an article written by Jeanette Winterson (not a scientist), on why she thinks homeopathy is wonderful.

Another reason why topics like this should be covered by dedicated science writers. Dedicated science writers would not base an entire article on one anecdotal experience.

Picture this. I am staying in a remote cottage in Cornwall without a car. I have a temperature of 102, spots on my throat, delirium, and a book to finish writing. My desperate publisher suggests I call Hilary Fairclough, a homeopath who has practices in London and Penzance. She sends round a remedy called Lachesis, made from snake venom. Four hours later I have no symptoms whatsoever.

She then has the nerve to go on and say:

Right now, though, a fierce debate is raging between those, like me, who trust homeopathy because it works for them, and those who call it shamanistic claptrap, without clinical proof or any scientific base.

This shows exactly what is going on here. The science which clearly demonstrates it offers no benefits vs. her (and every other true believers') anecdotal experiences.

In science anecdotes are worthless.

Who here has woken up one morning with a temperature and felt a bit rough yet through the course of the day felt much better? Did any of you walk down or up some stairs during the course of the day? You did? Wow, walking up and down the stairs is a cure!

Or maybe it was tapping on that plank of wood, spinning around on your chair, or having a bit to eat. Or heck, maybe that thing called the immune system fought it off by itself.

The trouble with anecdotes is they're uncontrolled and introduce far too many variables to know what exactly is going on, who knows what she took before taking the sugar pill. They're also isolated, perhaps there were a hundred other people who were also in Jeanette's position, yet they didn't take any sugar pill and felt better anyway. With anecdotes we don't know what the bigger picture is.

Only by doing controlled studies can we account for those variables. Such studies have been done and show homeopathy doesn't work.

Here's James Randi going over homeopathy (I didn't want this post turning into a huge rant of why it doesn't work). So I'll hand you over to him:

This sort of nonsense is funded by the NHS (they recently put £25 million into opening a Homeopathic hospital), and that is not on. The NHS needs to fund things that actually work, things that have been tested and have scientific evidence to back them up. If people want to waste money on sugar pills, they should do it with their own money.