Friday, April 11, 2014

Australia Rejects Homeopathy

Australia's National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has determined that homeopathy is utterly, totally, glaringly useless. It's nice when governmental organizations get things right.

You could read the NHMRC statement about their homeopathy ruling, or just watch the infinitely more entertaining send up on homeopathy by the comedy duo Mitchell and Webb


You should enjoy the whole thing, but the key message comes at about 1:40 into the clip.

I can see why some people might be taken in by homeopathy, after all if you know nothing about physics, chemistry, math or biology it seems passingly similar to the science of vaccinations.

According to homeopathy mythology, if you have some disease like the flu, all you need to do is find some other substance that causes flu-like symptoms in order to develop a cure. And as it happens, many things cause flu-like symptoms before they kill you, including arsenic. Of course, your friendly neighborhood homeopath doesn't want to kill you outright (murdering customers is really bad for business, even a bad business like homeopathy), so they create a solution containing something like arsenic, then dilute it to the point where there is often not a single molecule of the stuff left in their "medicine." If there is any left the amount is so small that even arsenic can't hurt you.

But it also can't help you.

For actual flu vaccinations, you do something that superficially sounds similar. You take a virus that causes flu, kill it (or at least weaken it dramatically), then inject a small quantity of it into the person you want to protect from the flu. There are some major differences from homeopathy, of course. For one thing, a small amount of dead virus is a far cry from the vanishingly small quantities of homeopathic "active" ingredient you get in a homeopathic "medication." For another, vaccines interact with your immune system through well understood biological mechanisms, while there is no scientifically valid explanation for homeopathy.

I hope Australia's NHMRC ruling on homeopathy can serve as a kind of intellectual vaccination against pseudoscience. If people understand that it's important to look for some sort of scientific underpinning to things like homeopathy before swallowing such nonsense (sometimes literally), then perhaps they'll critically view other anti-scientific malarkey. Although, that seems like a lot to expect.

I wonder if Australians could be convinced to come out against other pseudoscience nonsense like astrology, cell phone cancer, reiki, Genetically Modified Food alarmism, the twin delusions of geocentrism and creationism, vaccination alarmism, etc.? Probably not, but I can always dream.



9 comments:

  1. I've watched this..thanks for sharing that video.

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  2. Hi, it is very funny what you have to say about homeopathy, however, if all you Skeptics really believe that homeopathy is a pseudoscience, then you may be really willing to prove it. a good way to do it is to maybe take arsenic 10,000c for one week every 3 hrs and see what happens, at the end of the day it has been diluted 10,000 times so active ingredient is no more there according to you, so at the end of the day you will be taking just water.
    cheers,

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    1. Wow, your company charges a lot of money to rip people off by selling them nothing. Congratulations. I wonder how you sleep at night

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    2. When you sell medical-grade water, you can afford a pretty nice mattress.

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  3. There isn't any homeopathic dilution of 10,000C. 30C is the highest I've ever seen, and anything above 12C probably has none of the original substance in it.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homeopathy#Dilutions

    I drink water every day, so there's no need to PAY for pure water from a homeopathic charlatan.

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  4. When the NHMRC of Australia strongly believe that homeopathy is generally useless, I think they've made a thorough research on that before making their pronouncement. I hope this issue will be solved soon for the benefit of the public :-)

    Dianne @natural-remediesinfo.com

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  5. Now this is getting rather ridiculous! I've heard from my estate agent friends that some people taking a real interest in this near Colchester but I really don’t know how much faith I can put into something like this if there's no scientific proof..

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  6. Well, I personally believe in homeopathy. I think that it has the right to exist even apart from the traditional medicine.

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    1. Why, why, why would you believe in it? Utter nonsense has no inherent right to exist (if by exist you mean to be real in any meaningful way)?

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