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Taking the piss out of homeopathy

Silly Crispian, any homeopath will tell you that this isn’t a valid test of homeopathy because you didn’t adequately succuss at each step. (Of course, then there’s the issue of succussing it against a Bible, which Hahnemann himself favored.) I also would have recommended using a different pipette for each dilution to make sure there was minimal to no carry-over. Of course, this latter comment has nothing to do with the validity of homeopathy (which has none) but the possibility of falsely elevating the level of residual piss at each dilution.

One wonders what else homeopathic piss could cure.

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 “Taking the piss out of homeopathy”

This is hilarious. It should prove beyond doubt that homeopathy is bunk, but alas, the woo pushers are impervious to reason.

This is the definitive urine therapy. Extremely potent. Completely palatable. Great for both adults and children. And totally free from any adverse effects. Cheers!

The reason why homeopathy doesn’t work is really very simple. The practitioners treat it as if only the Law of Sympathy applied, when it is obvious the applicable Law is the Law of Ritual. In short, they’re doing the casting all wrong.

Consider the fact homeopathic preparation calls for a series of dilutions and succussions. A long series of dilutions and succussions. A series that must be done just right, and that falls under the Law of Ritual. If the Law of Sympathy (Contagion) applied you’d think at least one homeopathic remedy would’ve worked by now.

The failure of homeopathy can be traced to the lack of standards in magickal education, and the adoption of the self esteem model in dweomercrafting training. Either that, or the fact homeopathy has nothing going for it, and we all have a good idea what the true believers would rather agree to.

Oh you silly skeptics! Crispan has probably cured the kidney inflammation and urinary tract blockage that were just starting in his body. Thanks to homeopathy he has averted a serious health issue.

What more proof do you need?

Oh comedy gold, Crispan’s 18C explanation: “in America it would be a cure for being angry and annoyed, in Britain and Australia it would be a cure for being drunk”. Sympathetic magic with a dictionary of cross-cultural slang.

But if he doesn’t make any more videos like this, perhaps the 30C remedy will have cured him of taking the ****?

Anyway, this isn’t a fair trial. Homeopathy, like most alt-med, is not considered to be effective unless money changes hand as part of the therapy.

Well done indeed. Humor and science together can be marvelous. I must say, I am hoping for some outraged homeopaths sputtering outraged nonsense on this thread. I have funeral to attend later today and will need the mood lifter when I return.

This was a great demonstration. My 3rd grader needs to do a science project, and I think we may try this with food coloring…give it more of a ‘visual’ impact. If we do it (in the Spring), I’ll post it on line.

This comment got me pitched off Huffington Post two days ago.
==========
I have a *great* idea.

Mr. Ullman says:

“Over 200 years of homeopathic practice have found that homeopathic medicines that are of a higher potency — that is, those that have undergone a greater number of dilutions, with vigorous shaking of the solution in between dilutions — have a longer term effect”

So – get some extract of poison ivy, cross the Canadian boarder at upstate N.Y. Find your way to Niagara Falls and drop it in. Then rush back downstream and scoop out some of that now super dilution that has been shaken so hard by the fall.
Fibromyalgia can now be cured AND since the water will find its way to the ocean and then, by evaporation back to Canada and over the falls again in a few years it will become EVEN STRONGER.

The possibilities are staggering.

If homeopathy actually worked, pharmaceutical companies would be selling dilutions for various ailments.

How is the succussing done in actual practice? Do they have a little paint can shaker thingy or does the idiot-homeopath sit around shaking little bottles all day?

But then, these are the same people who believe there is “something greater than ourselves in the universe” and all that other mumbo jumbo about gods and saviors and sin, so it isn’t really so surprising (and then there are those who discount the magic water, but astonishingly, accept the magical all-powerful being). For this reason, I doubt that any true believer will be convinced by this demonstration (or any other act of reason). But just maybe, some of them might be convinced that they shouldn’t hand over money for the end product?

Plenty of people “believe” that water blessed by priest has all sorts of magical properties–what’s the difference? It’s the ability to suspend reason that unites all these things.

“Taking the piss out of homeopathy”? Oh, Orac! ( and other sceptical bloggers), be *very*, *very* careful about what you write! especially when it’s true – you just might get _dragged_ into court. And sued for $10 million plus. It seems that a scientist, Dr. Bright**, keeps a blog about his interests and what irks him. He wrote about his vexation when a public station broadcasted Mr. Woo’s** “infomercial” ( I mean show) replete with bad medical advice. He complained in a letter to the station management, who forwarded it to Woo’s assistant, Mr.Law**, who promptly responded with legal threats and an invitation to duel ( I mean debate). Dr. Bright debated on-air and described his experience on his website, commenting on Woo’s education ( actually the lack of it) as well.

Two years pass- Woo and Law sue Bright for defamation claiming that his postings defamed them and harmed business. They call Bright’s blog a “business” (Heh). They ask – separately- for $10 million plus $1 million and the removal of the “offensive” posts . Needless to say, both cases are dismissed. (“Internet Postings Alone Do Not Constitute ‘Doing Business’ in NY” ; insuranceadvocate.com; 8/31/10).

While woo-meisters often use tortuous, mental meanderings to explain their “science”, their lawyers similarly utilize convoluted, Rube Goldberg-esque, legalese-loaded mechanisms to defend said “science”. So Bright, who told the truth elegantly and in great detail, gets a run-around and aggravation. But we should all be so cool.

** names changed to protect the innocent and others.

#12, that’s not a fair comparison. Most people who believe in holy water claim that it has special SPIRITUAL properties- that’s difficult to test empirically. The claims of homeopathy can be tested empirically, and have usually been found to have no foundation.

Just wanted to add…after telling my kids about the idea for the science project, and after explaining that these people believe the more you dilute something the stronger it gets, my 6-year-old asked, “What is it, opposite day?” If a 6-year-old can see the faulty logic, there really is no excuse for anyone falling for this stuff.

Take the PATHology out of homeoPATHy…

The odd thing about woo is that lots of people swear first-hand experience with its efficacy. Whether it’s confirmation bias, the placebo effect, or both, people who want to believe will always find support for their beliefs. That’s why I think that teaching critical thinking, rather than attacking woo piece by piece, is more likely to help people.

I keep waiting for the punchline. Homeopathy is so utterly farcical it boggles the mind.

I can understand someone purchasing homeopathic “remedies” when they are placed right next to medicines on a store shelf because one would assume they are equally effective. But I would expect that same someone to be angry that they wasted money on water and/or sugar pills.

I wonder how people (especially scientists) can become so deluded as to actually test the water and make up excuses because it just has to work, they know it.

I don’t understand the thought process that would lead one to that conviction.

after telling my kids about the idea for the science project, and after explaining that these people believe the more you dilute something the stronger it gets, my 6-year-old asked, “What is it, opposite day?” If a 6-year-old can see the faulty logic, there really is no excuse for anyone falling for this stuff.

As stupid as it sounds, that is, in fact, EXACTLY the claim that is made. It’s the logic of some people…”X is bad, so we should do the OPPOSITE and that will be good.”

Of course it is stupid. Too little water is bad for you. But too much water is also bad.

It’s a funny thing, irrationality. Despite knowing that it was effectively just water, I still felt a twinge of disgust when he drank it.

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