It’s not a very good website.
One post in particular caught my eye today, thanks to @giagia and @Crispian_Jago, among the many others who’ve kept my Twitter feed busy lately with more #ten23 news and gossip than I know what to do with. I know I’ve been railing on homeopathy a lot lately, but I’m not bored of it yet, and this is my blog, so you’ll have to play along.
Possibly the thing that most annoys me about the anti-campaign blog is the poor quality of the writing. In their description of the 10:23 event:
They are going to “prove” that there is nothing in homeopathy by “taking a whole bottle of homeopathic pills” (very scientific eh).
See, they’re not even trying to make that parenthetical syntactically coherent. But another contender for the most annoying thing about this blog might be the quality of the research. First of all, on the issue of whether there is literally “nothing in” homeopathy, it’s simply a mathematical fact that no active ingredient remains in a typical homeopathically diluted solution – even homeopaths don’t deny this.
But the phrase “nothing in it” can also be taken idiomatically, as an assertion that there’s no value to it, because it doesn’t work. And although this is something that the 10:23 campaign uses in their slogan, and claims to be true, they’ve never said that the group overdose event is going to prove this fact.
I assume this blogger put “prove” in quotes like that because he thinks it implies sarcasm, because he’s certainly not actually quoting the campaign’s own statements about their aim. What the campaign actually says is:
At 10:23am on January 30th, more than three hundred homeopathy sceptics nationwide will be taking part in a mass homeopathic ‘overdose’ in protest at Boots’ continued endorsement and sale of homeopathic remedies, and to raise public awareness about the fact that homeopathic remedies have nothing in them.
“Raising awareness” has always been what it’s about, which is why it’s so funny when detractors accuse it of being a publicity stunt. Yeah, no shit. We know homeopathy is bunk because of science. This campaign is not doing science. It’s doing something noticeable to try and get people to understand the science that’s already been done.
From the woo-blog:
This will once and for all prove there is nothing in homeopathic remedies…or is it?
I know I’ve already argued against this point, I just love how the rhetorical question at the end completely fails to match up with the rest of the sentence… or did I?
Anyway, it then goes on to explain why the 10:23 campaign is so ill-conceived. Apparently those pesky skeptics who think they’re “proving” all sorts of things (they may not have ever claimed it, but you can tell they’re thinking it) would see how wrong-headed they are if they took the time to understand how homeopathy works.
Homeopathic remedies will only have an effect if you are susceptible to them… If you are not susceptible to it, the remedy will not act upon you. This is a basic principle of homeopathy, and what makes it so individualised to the person…
Homeopaths talk a lot about this, that their alternative treatments are specifically tailored to the individual patient, something that mainstream medicine apparently never does. But the focus of the campaign, as mentioned earlier, is that the pharmacy chain Boots currently mass-markets generic homeopathic treatments on their shelves, which anyone can just go in and pick up. They aren’t individually tailored at all. So surely this blogger should be entirely with the 10:23 campaign on this point? At the very least, he’s failed to respond to what they’re trying to do.
Taking one remedy at a time is the same as taking a whole bottle (with potencies beyond 12C). Of course the denialists know this point, and that’s why they know they will be safe in taking the whole bottle as it is the same as taking one pill.
They do know they’ll be safe, but not for the reason you think.
This was actually new to me before I started reading the counter-attacks to 10:23. Apparently taking just one pill has an identical effect to taking a whole bottle (with certain potencies), because they both equate to taking one dose. But doesn’t that mean that you could get the same effect from taking less than one pill? Couldn’t you chop up the pills into smaller fragments before taking them, thus giving yourself many times more doses than you paid for? There’s just as much active ingredient in one flake from a pill as there is in the whole bottle, after all, so one bottle full of pills could last for ages.
I can’t make any sense of this. I’m not aware of any actual medicines that work this way. You don’t see over-the-counter painkillers with labels saying “Hey, take as much as you want, it’s the same as taking just one.” Why would this be true for homeopathy? Well, it’s their magic, let them make it up however they want to. But it’s clear that they’ve just had to find some way of rationalising the fact that it’s apparently impossible to overdose on their sugar pills.
Oh, there is actually an answer to the question of why it would work this way: apparently “this is what homeopaths have found”. Hmm. They’ve found that whether people take one pill, or a whole bottle, the outcome is the same. I think I’m seeing a different obvious explanation than they did.
Also, this still misses the point that it’s a publicity stunt. The 10:23 campaigners are not doing a scientific test here. Those have been done, and you guys lost. Repeatedly. You can’t now complain that they’re doing the attention-grabbing gimmick wrong.
I won’t go through the whole next section of bullshit with a fine-tooth comb, but it’s a typically wacky explanation of what homeopaths call “provings”. You might expect these “provings” to actually prove something, but don’t hold your breath.
In a “proving”, you give a homeopathic treatment to somebody in good health, and watch to see what symptoms they become ill with. Seriously. This is how they decide what disease a homeopathic treatment will cure – give it to someone healthy, and see what disease it looks like they get.
Guys. The universe does not work like this. Magic works like this, and to the best of our knowledge the universe is not fucking magic.
This is also something you don’t see much of in science-based medicine. See, actual doctors have a different way of deciding whether a treatment cures a disease, which involves giving the treatment to people with the disease and seeing if they get better. It’s a radical notion, but goshdarnit if there isn’t some actual sense to it.
Oh god, am I still ranting? Surely that’s quite enough of me.