Monthly Archives: January 2010

No One Died!

Surprise, surprise… the public overdose on homeoopathy pills and potions led to no casualties. Good on the 10.23 “Homeopathy there’s nothing in it” organisation for rallying skeptical support on this. Will the UK pharmacy Boots make the ethically correct decision and pull these placebo pills off the shelf? Will the British government pull NHS funding on discredited alternative medicine modalities?

I suspect not… the politics involved is too sensitive for many (NHS funding cuts are as popular as root canal work) and Boots make a lot of money supplying pills and supplements to people who believe these things to be efficacious.

I suspect the public demonstration that homeoptahic ‘remedies’ won’t change the mind of the true believer. On the contrary – believers know that you can’t overdose on homeopathic formulations because it’s supposed to be a gentler approach to medicine (if you put nothing but water in your medicine then yes, there will be no side efects, but then all you’re curing is thirst).

Support for homeopathy requires many nonsensical notions to be accepted first and a laundry list of logical fallacies. Probably the most obvious fallacy employed to believe homeopathy works is special pleading: clinical trials are not sufficient to test homeopathy; a spiritual imprint of the substance is left in the water after dilution (which we can’t find but know is there); the less active ingredient the more active the medicine??? The post hoc rationalisations for these are absurd yet funny and sad at the same time.

The biggest question of all is: Will Prince Charles accept the scientific evidence on homeopathy or will he continue sound like a pompous arse everytime he addresses this topic?

P.S. Withdrawing support and funding from modalities that have repeatedly been shown not to work (and violate well established laws of physics) is not restricting health freedom. No one stopping people from getting these things. It is, however, ethically deplorable to disguise these potions as achieving anything beyond the placebo response and as viable alternatives to proper medicine. Pharmacists – who used to be trustworthy and scientific in nature have let their profession down by including hocus pocus remedies in amongst proven pharmaceuticals that actually work.

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2010 – A Skeptical Odyssey

It’s 2010 already and it’s time for a change of approach. I usually write long essays about the topics I cover in my posts because, well, because I think too much. I do like to cover issues thoroughly, covering every point I can though a month can go by before a new post is complete. This is not entirely suited to the blog medium so in the spirit of good science, it’s time to test a different hypothesis (if I write shorter entries people may read them!)

So, without being too simplistic, I will be writing shorter posts. I may need a couple of entries to get the full story across but hey, writing about skeptical topics requires a lot of thought and research (some more than others). Also, my skeptical eye is constantly debating which of the thousands of beliefs, myths and oddities to focus on next.

Thankfully (or unfortunately) my local/national newspaper – The New Zealand Herald – is continually offering up stories that need a skeptical eye to tease out the nonsense, speculation and codswallop (is that how you spell it?) I loathe to touch on God arguments in my blog because it can be tedious and for the most part it’s been done for centuries (Scottish philosopher David Hume had perhaps the most complete and convincing arguments against God and the supernatural). Arguments for and against God featured heavily around Christmas in the Herald so may be I will go there. Of course, no debates about religion and God are complete without misconceptions, misrepresentations and ignorance by some about what atheism is and isn’t. So may be I’ll go there too soon (thanks to the Herald staff for printing most of my letters to the editor).

There is plenty more to go into but as you know I’m pulling the plug on waffling. I’ll save the many topics I have floating around in my head and reveal them after a slightly shorter gestation period than the usual month that has become standard practice. Ciao, Na Shledanou and všechno nejlepší do nového desetiletí.