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If belief in homeopathy is not evolutionarily selected for…

…then how come there are so many believers in homeopathy?

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Truly, a scientific mystery…

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

22 replies on “If belief in homeopathy is not evolutionarily selected for…”

Considering that pregnancy was once known as “sick with child,” shouldn’t a homeopathic solution of semen be the cure for pregnancy?

Fun fact: some homeopaths actually offer homeopathic contraception. The favored treatment appears to be natrum muriatricum (dilution of SODIUM CHLORIDE).

So even if belief in homeopathy were something that could be selected for (*grumble*), I suspect the failure of homeopathic contraception would help offset the failure of homeopathic fertility aids (including homeopathic insemination). 😛

The best part of that comic is the alt text: “Dear editors of Homeopathy Monthly: I have two small corrections with your July issue. One, it is spelled “echinacea,’ and two, homeopathic medicines are no better than placebos and your entire magazine is a sham.”
XKCD won my heart with this comic some time ago: http://xkcd.com/385/
Of course, this one rocks too: http://xkcd.com/435/

The best part of that comic is the alt text: “Dear editors of Homeopathy Monthly: I have two small corrections with your July issue. One, it is spelled “echinacea,’ and two, homeopathic medicines are no better than placebos and your entire magazine is a sham.”
XKCD won my heart with this comic some time ago: http://xkcd.com/385/
Of course, this one rocks too: http://xkcd.com/435/ (I think PZ might be in there…)

Aah, sorry for the double post. Go ahead and delete one of them. I de-lurk to post for the very first time and I mess it up. Sheesh.

At first glance I wanted to say that homeopathic semen should be a powerful contraceptive or an abortifacient, but then I remembered that homeopathic provings are generally based on **swallowing** the test substance–so I’m not so sure anymore 😮

I wonder if there is something more to Samuel Hahnemann than we suspected?

“Liebchen, tonight we will perform one of mine Homeopathic provings!

“You mean thing where you treat my nausea by giving me **more** of what makes me nauseous? Great…

“Ja, und now less is more! The smaller the dose, the more **powerful** it is!!!”

“Right, the smaller the better. More powerful. MmmHmm… What ever you say dear. You just keep thinking that… I’ll be thinking of England, or something, maybe beige, yes, I’ll paint the ceilings in beige…

“…then how come there are so many believers in homeopathy?”

Because they are very well-hydrated.

but then I remembered that homeopathic provings are generally based on **swallowing** the test substance–so I’m not so sure anymore 😮

That could be a very… interesting… proving. Depending on how the samples were provided.

And here was me, thinking to share the link to this cartoon on the previous thread about homeopathy, only to be beaten to the punch(line).

Hm. Belief in homeopathy being a transmissible disease, it should be under selection to make it less dangerous to infectees.

I guess the predction here would be that homeopaths become less adverse to combine homeopathy with medicine as time goes by?

I believe homeopathy is a transmissible disease…

I also wonder if the water I drink every morning used to be part of Jesus’ urine. That could explain why it makes me feel so good. Or it could be the coffee that I add to the water. hmm.

What’s funny is that this comic doesn’t even truly encompass how ridiculous homeopathy is. A 30x dilution is a homeopath’s placebo. That semen needs to be diluted 10030x to have any real effect!

Something I’ve wondered about: Could anomalies in conception have been an inspiration of homeopathy? There are enough anecdotes about women get pregnant despite “withdrawal” and other measures to establish that sperm can fertilize an egg even in minimal concentrations. So, it seems conceivable that homeopathy could have been arrived at on the assumption that any substance could have similar properties.

Andreas Johansson:

Belief in homeopathy being a transmissible disease, it should be under selection to make it less dangerous to infectees.

It’s been suggested previously that homeopathy is the culmination of woo evolving to have less effect and thus less side-effect, but this doesn’t seem to jibe with the continued use of black salve or the rise of chelation therapy.

Actually, the “succusion” (vigorous shaking of the medicine in the liquid) may be equivalent to “in and out” shaking. It may be that lovemaking is the potentization of sperm. It seems that homeopathy IS in our DNA.

Perhaps skeptics are the result of having mothers and/or fathers that just stuck it in and didn’t succuss (because they did not believe in shaking). Explains a lot…

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