Debunking homeopathy with some style

I spent a few hours reading the CARM forums last night. I’ve had them bookmarked for years but never had the time to look through them.

I’m used to Creationists being liars and evasive so I wasn’t entirely surprised at some of the posts on the science threads, but this one really stood out out for me. Ok it’s homeopathy and so not science but I love the reply to this drivel from a new age, hippy drama queen Oriana.

If you think you must “believe in” homeopathy for it to work, you need to know that it is not a placebo effect. Here are some powerful examples: Infants: Homeopathic remedies and treatments are successfully used by parents for common infant ailments such as colic, teething pain and some infections.

Animals: There are many veterinarians using homeopathic medicines to treat domestic pets such as cats, dogs and birds, as well as barnyard animals like goats, horses and cows. Is it possible to have a placebo effect with animals?

Millions of people across the world use and rely on homeopathic remedies. Today there are a rapidly growing number of conventional medical doctors using homeopathic medicines, including:

* 39% of French family physicians
* 20% of German physicians
* 10% of Italian physicians

Moreover, in many European countries there is a growing trend of medical doctors referring patients to homeopathic physicians.

Now let AussieGuy answer that.

Two problems with this. The first is obviously that it is an argumentum ad populum. Big deal if lots of physicians are prescribing homeopathy for patients. It doesn’t mean it works. It doesn’t even mean it is likely to work. It literally means nothing.

The second problem is is there is NO evidence for the efficacy of homeopathy beyond the placebo affect. Every single double blind clinical trial of homeopathy shows it simply doesn’t work. Why would it? It is nothing but chemically pure water. NO homeopathist has EVER been able to show a plausible mechanism of how it works. There is no plausible way for a substance to leave a ‘memory’ in water. Also, I always wonder… given the water cycle, the water you drink from a tap has likely passed through hundreds of people and come out the other end… how come a homeopathic preparation remembers the 30x dilution of evening primrose, but not the urine and faeces of the hundreds of people and animals it previously passed through?

The third thing (I know I said two, but I’m on a roll). Prescribing homeopathy to babies is totally unethical. The stuff doesn’t work, and babies don’t have the ‘benefit’ of the placebo affect. A baby with a fever is not going to get any relief from what is basically water (unless of course you’re hydrating the poor child). Most childhood problems, eg teething, fevers, etc do go away even if untreated, so it is likely these anecdotes have come from parents who happened to correlate a fever disappearing naturally with the homeopathic ‘medicine’. A small dose of infant tylenol is much more effective…

I was pissing myself laughing at this for a while last night. The wife was wondering what I was laughing at, and since she believes that there’s some truth in this homeopathy bollocks, she was not amused.