Your Friday Dose of Woo…

…is still on vacation in London. It will return next week.

I will mention, however, that I managed to find time to take a stroll by the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital the other day. No, the fabric of space-time was not torn, but, sadly, I didn’t work up the gumption to enter the building because I feared pressing my luck. It’s one thing to stand outside the building and take a few pictures leaning against various signs; it’s quite another to enter the belly of the beast itself. Such a mixing of skepticism and utter woo might be enough to cause a massive reaction, like matter and anti-matter coming together. On the other hand, it occurred to me this morning: Richard Dawkins set foot in it, and both he and the building are still standing; so maybe I should have given it a go.

Lovely neighborhood. It’s a shame that such a beautiful old building is being used for woo.


  1. #1 G Barnett
    August 31, 2007

    …is still on vacation in London. It will return last week.

    And NOW we know Orac’s true purpose in ol’ Blighty — he’s there to hijack a TARDIS!

    We’re onto you now, me bucko! =)

  2. #2 daedalus2u
    August 31, 2007

    By not going inside you experienced an even more powerful reaction.

  3. #3 notmercury
    August 31, 2007

    “Such a mixing of skepticism and utter woo might be enough to cause a massive reaction, like matter and anti-matter coming together.”

    Not willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of mankind? 🙂
    You did the right thing, the annihilation might be trivial on the grand scale of things.

  4. #4 Grackle
    August 31, 2007

    Egad! This is no put-on, it’s for real. Well, oh, you know what I mean … the building is actually there. And they have a website.

    I wonder what they think a placebo would be for a homeopathic treatment.

  5. #5 MartinC
    August 31, 2007

    “I wonder what they think a placebo would be for a homeopathic treatment”
    Is a homeopathic placebo an overdose ?

  6. #6 Tomas
    September 1, 2007

    Now you must give the British some leway. Sure homeopathy is Woo (of the highest quality), but its also traditional and anything that has a historical element gets preserved in britan no matter the merits. In the past homeopathy served a useful medical and social function: it was medicin that would not kill or harm the patient.

    In the late 18th and early 19th the medicin practiced involved “heroic” treatments: mecury poisoning and bleeding. Homoepathy did (definantly not alone, but as a part of a questioning of medical tradition)help shift the focus of physicians away from doing as much as possible, which incidently was in their economic interest, to think that less is often more.

    I am not saying homeopathy should be taken seriously today, but there is a historical and institutional reason for hospitals such as the one in Britain or the licensing of homeopaths in some states.

  7. #7 James
    September 1, 2007

    Tomas: that’s an excellent reason for having a homeopathy museum, not a homeopathy hospital. The one legitimate place for homeopathy is the past.

  8. #8 Orac
    September 1, 2007


    You beat me to the punch. London has some quite excellent museums (the National Gallery, the Tate Britain, etc.) that I’ve gone to. Moreover, the Tower of London was great fun, especially listening to the Yeoman Warders tell tales from British history that happened in the tower or of the executions that occurred on nearby Tower Hill. Sadly, I didn’t make it to the medical museums suggested (that’ll have to wait for another trip), but homeopathy would be fine in a museum–not practiced on patients.

    Also, the British are not the only ones with lots of woo. It’s everywhere, particularly in the States. The only reason I harp on it is because it’s the only Western nation that I’m aware of in which the government pays for homeopathy treatments to the point of supporting a hospital. It’s the same reason I’m unhappy with the U.S. government for subsidizing the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine to the tune of $120-$125 million a year.

  9. #9 Tomas
    September 1, 2007

    As I re-read my post, I can see that it sounds too much like a defense of Woo and spending tax-money on in.

    Im just saying the british have a quaint tendency to keep around useless and expensive institutions for no good reason than that they have been there for a long time. Especially if they have an illustrious background (Im sure that hospital has one).

    The monarchy falls in that catagory.

    btw is there any good medical museums in London? I fear doctors (esp. Orac), but for some reason I get a cathasis from those fears by seeing the horrors of older medicine and praising the FSM for living today.

  10. #10 Iain Walker
    September 2, 2007

    On the subject of NHS funding for homeopathy here in the UK, today’s Independent on Sunday has the following:

    Apparently Peter Fisher of the Royal London Homoeopathic Hospital is worried that said funding is under threat.

  11. #11 pkiwi
    September 2, 2007

    If they are running out of money, maybe they could dilute the remedies to make them go further? Or maybe their funders just think like homeopaths – give them less money and it will magically have a greater beneficial effect.

  12. #12 alibim
    September 2, 2007

    On an (all-too-short) visit to the UK in May I discovered the Thackray Medical Museum in Leeds. Didn’t have to look too far, actually: it was the venue for the Cafe Scientifique conference that I was over there for. There is an absolutely wonderful reconstruction of a Victorian slum, including the smells (don’t go through straight after breakfast…) & lots of other great stuff 🙂

  13. #13 baby
    February 21, 2008

    Okay, you’re welcome to be skeptical about homeopathy but you should certainly realise that ‘traditional’ medicine (in other words, modern medicine) is not exactly without its problems. I’m skeptical of it as well, especially since many drugs have truly been found to be harmful. It’s not just the homeopaths who provide great placebos… and sometimes I wonder if a placebo isn’t better than the destructive drugs we’re given otherwise. To be honest, neither of these two fields seem to ever get rid of the CAUSE, only ever the symptoms.

  14. #14 canvas oil painting
    April 3, 2008

    It’s quite sad however that you never had the chance to satisfy even your curiosity because of some woo feeling. By the way, do you have any backgrounder or idea as to what have been going on in the past in such building? I’m sure if you will re-evaluate the events in the history of such building your feelings will surely be satisfied or answered.

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