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13. HOMEOPATHY Previous | Next

It’s patently absurd, so why won’t it go away?

SIR John Forbes, the physician to Queen Victoria’s household, called it “an outrage to human reason.” Homeopathy’s claim is that you can take a substance of dubious properties, dilute it to the point where there are no molecules of the original substance left in the sample you have, and your sample will nevertheless have retained healing properties related to the original compound. There is no justification in all of science for this idea -- and yet there remains some slim evidence that homeopathy works.

The key word here is slim. But even the slimmest of evidence makes this scientifically tantalising. Are we missing something about the properties of water? Could there be ways to heal that involve ultra-dilution – possibly avoiding the nasty side-effects of certain drugs?

After months of investigation, my conclusion is a sour and muttered “probably not”. But even after a long journey into the heart of homeopathy, where I saw, among other things, a pharmacy whose shelves contained homeopathic remedies made from flapjack and musical harmonies, I still cannot be 100 per cent sure homeopathy is all bunkum. Part of the reason for that came as I sat in the botany library of the Natural History Museum reading a rigorous scientific analysis of the roots and efficacy of homeopathy, an analysis that might even be able to rescue homeopathy from the clutches of the cranks who currently run the show.

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Location:Lewes, UK

#1 - Posted: 05/09/2008 17:05

A funny line from Discover's very nice review of 13 Things:

"...there is no map to this territory, and one person’s enigma is another’s folly. I, for example, would have been tempted to call the book 12 Things That Don’t Make Sense and Homeopathy, Which Is Just Silly."

Fair comment or cheap shot?


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#2 - Posted: 08/09/2008 02:52

Well, Michael, it is interesting that you placed this discussion entry at the head of the list even though it was written September 05, thereby bypassing all the entries that preceeded it.


I was initially quite pleased to see homeopathy listed on this site devoted to scientific anomalies, as homeopathy is an entire system based on an anomaly.  Unfortunately as I have said repeatedly elsewhere on this site, this site is flawed as you haven’t established homeopathy as a genuine anomaly, but continue to try to explain it away with a very primitive kind of scientific logic.  An anomaly by definition is a genuine phenomenon which cannot be explained away.


Naturally most will weigh in against homeopathy.  That is the conventional scientific wisdom:  “it can’t work therefore it doesn’t work.”  Hurling their dismissive missiles, they remain safe and secure behind the walls of their consensus reality.  The overwhelming majority will readily agree with them, and they can all pat themselves on the back for upholding “scientific principles.”  Meanwhile homeopathy continues to grow decade after decade, taking market share from conventional medicine.  No doubt this is due to the ignorance and gullibility of ordinary people, who need us to tell them what is real and what is not.  Of course these ordinary people have a slight advantage over most of those on this site as they have actually tried homeopathy and so have some real experience on which to base their opinions.


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