– In this video, an Episcopal bishop describes religion as being “in the guilt-producing, control business”, and says that Hell is not real. I guess Jesus was pretty inconsistent on that point. I love the look on the interviewer’s face the first couple of times the camera cuts to him. (via Derren Brown)
– Some new celebrities have been bringing the crazy lately, which is always fun. Adam Baldwin isn’t as wacked-out as all that, but there’s been some fun right-wing nuttiness on his feed lately, and some good links about how global warming’s a total crock. Nothing spectacularly Jayne-worthy, though. (Edit 27/11/09: There’s hints of anti-evolutionism cropping up. It’s minor so far, but could get very funny.)
But Jim Corr is really something else. I’ve owned a couple of this guy’s albums for years. Well, a couple of albums by a band his young hot sisters were in and where he was occasionally seen hanging around hoping to be noticed as well. And he’s got all the conspiracy crazy you could hope for. The New World Order, 9/11, more global warming denial, swine flu vaccines, chemtrails… Oh, and he also has a link to another site called “What Really Happened”. Given my blog’s usual hit rate, I can statistically expect about 0.03 of the people who read this to react in the same way as me: by hearing Richard Herring‘s voice in their head saying “What reeeaaaaaalllly happened” and being greatly amused.
– And now the meaty part. The New Humanist provide a round-up of a recent parliamentary investigation into the evidence behind homeopathy, which heard evidence from people like Ben Goldacre and Edzard Ernst. Attention has been drawn lately to UK pharmacy chain Boots, with regard to their cavalier approach to marketing homeopathic remedies. And by “cavalier” I mean they admit to caring more about whether they can make money off something than whether it actually works as medicine.
There is certainly a consumer demand for these products… I have no evidence to suggest they are efficacious.
That’ll be Paul Bennett, their professional standards director. This all kinda sucks. Their defence seems to be that all they’re doing is selling customers the things they want to buy. I’m pretty sure I’ve heard drug dealers on street corners defending what they do in much the same way. It’s not really a comparable situation, of course – it’s much, much harder to overdose on a homeopathic solution than, say, heroin – but it may help highlight why this doesn’t really work as a defence.
Boots are the major pharmacy chain in this country. They sell a lot of medicines and similar products. Whenever I’m running low on toothpaste or painkillers, they’re generally where I go. I’m sure most of the stuff on their shelves is perfectly legit, but this means that there’s an implicit endorsement when they start flogging homeopathic crap as well. It gives these remedies and the claims they make significant credibility, to a degree really not merited by the scientific evidence of their efficacy.
The New Humanist article closes with a quote from the chairman of the British Association of Homeopathic Manufacturers, who asks:
If these products don’t work beyond the placebo effect, why do people keep buying them?
They don’t give an answer, but I assume this was because it’s too stupid a question to be worth bothering with. Here’s my answer anyway:
If these products don’t work beyond the placebo effect, then people keep buying them because of the damn placebo effect.
People aren’t doing clinical trials on this stuff in their own homes, they’re just drinking the water and noticing that they sometimes get better.
I have a follow-up question too: If these products do work beyond the placebo effect, why do large, well controlled clinical trials keep failing to detect any such effect?
For more detailed information on homeopathy being shite, click here.
That’ll do, except to wish a very happy contrived and regimented gratitude day, to all my trans-Atlantic turkey-munching friends.