Respectful Insolence

Saturday afternoon lazy troll feeding

See what happens when I actually manage to keep myself from checking my blog for nearly 24 whole hours?

The trolls take over.

Well, they’re not exactly trolls. Trolls often don’t believe in what they post; they merely post it to get a reaction, for example, like rabid Hillary Clinton opponents posting on pro-Clinton discussion forums. However, true believers invading the discussions on blogs that oppose their viewpoint can produce much the same result as trolls who troll just for the sake of getting a reaction. Think creationists or fundamentalist Christians posting on Pharyngula or HIV/AIDS denialists posting on Aetiology.

Or even homeopaths posting here.

Yes, my recent post on how U.K. homeopaths are lamenting their fall in business and blaming it on evil skeptics like Le Canard Noir (whom the Society of Homeopaths even threatened with a lawsuit), David Colquhoun, and Richard Dawkins, I’ve attracted a homeopath who’s gamely trying to argue that homeopathy is effective, that it is something more than just water or other diluents produced by the magical religious ritual of succussion.

Here’s the first comment in which the homeopath, Sunil Sharma, enters the fray:

Here is one simple and open statement for all those who are against homeopathy. You could be individual/organization, patient/doctor. Can you honestly give one single reason to be against homeopathy. I said honestly. If you are honest with no prejudice and have patient’s welfare as topmost priority, if you do not have any selfish motive, can you then give single reason to be against homeopathy. I invite you to write about ‘your’ reason. I will explain how ignorance has fooled you. If you honestly believe in welfare of patients and humanity you can not have any reason to be against homeopathy. That is my challenge. One thing is said about homeopathy that it is not scientific. On what basis you can say that. Around the world its results can be verified. And what is scientific. FIRST RULE OF SCIENCE IS NOT TO ACCEPT OR REJECT ANYTHING WITHOUT FACTS. But unfortunately all those so called scientific people start talking about homeopathy without knowing ABC of homeopathy.That shows that it is not logic but some other motive that drives them to talk about homeopathy. Learn the basics of homeopathy, see its result then say anything. You will only be delighted by its wonderful results. If you have doubt, ask me, I will tell you how it works. Homeopathy is a blessing for mankind. Do not try to kill it because of your selfish motive or ignorance. It will be a crime against humanity. A big Crime.

Actually, I do know the ABC of homeopathy; I’ve looked into it extensively since I first became interested in quackery. And, yes, I can give an honest reason to be against homeopathy. In fact, I’ll give two (although there are many more):

  1. There is no evidence that homeopathy does anything more than would be expected from the placebo effect.
  2. The very concepts behind homeopathy, such as “like cures like,” the concept that diluting a remedy until not a single molecule is left, or the contention that water not only has “memory” but that that memory can interact with cells in a specific manner to produce a therapeutic effect, are so utterly implausible based on known science that for homeopathy to work much of our current understanding of chemistry, biology, and physics would have to be seriously in error. I suppose that’s possible, but it’s incredibly unlikely. Before I throw away hundreds of years of scientific progress, I’d need some very compelling evidence that homeopathy is anything more than a highly ritualized way of producing a placebo. I’ve seen no such evidence, and I doubt that Sharma can provide it for me.

I won’t even bother dealing with all the other logical fallacies, the conspiracy-mongering, and the “pharma shill” gambit. Instead, I now invite my readers to have some fun with “Dr.” Sharma over in the comments. I don’t know if this constitutes “feeding the troll” or not, but it could be both educational and entertaining.

ADDENDUM: It would appear that another true believer has entered the fray after a different post, this week’s Your Friday Dose of Woo:

Anyone wishing to see photos of what Rituxan PLUS rebounding did to a softball-sized tumor in my neck and jaw just send me an email address. I will send you stunning photos of shrinkage achieved over just a 6 week period. Rebounding is more properly termed “lymphasizing,” and those who are making fun of it are hyenas=idiots.

I’m very happy that this commenter (Elliot Yudenfriend) is doing so well, but I’d ask him a simple question: Could it be that maybe–just maybe–the reason that your tumor has shrunk so dramatically is because of the Rituxan, and not the “lymphasizing” and that it would have shrunk just as dramatically without any other intervention? Just a thought. I’m sure that bouncing on a trampoline is OK exercise, but all that silliness about “blocked” lymphatics is just that–silliness.

Comments

  1. #1 Tyler DiPietro
    December 8, 2007

    “The very concepts behind homeopathy, such as “like cures like,” the concept that diluting a remedy until not a single molecule is left, or the contention that water not only has “memory” but that that memory can interact with cells in a specific manner to produce a therapeutic effect, are so utterly implausible based on known science that for homeopathy to work much of our current understanding of chemistry, biology, and physics would have to be seriously in error. I suppose that’s possible, but it’s incredibly unlikely.”

    This is what it boils down to, IMO. I’m of the opinion that notions so radically contrary to stringently tested and substantially developed science can be dismissed outright. The crushing weight of the evidence suggests that homeopathy is false regardless of tests of homeopathy itself. That homeopathy has never had a demonstrable clinical benefit is only the cherry on the sunday.

  2. #2 PalMD
    December 8, 2007

    I find it hard to believe that a National Health Service pays for this crap. What a waste.

  3. #3 Mobyseven
    December 8, 2007

    Reason number one to be against homeopathy:

    It doesn’t work.

    Does there need to be any other reason?

  4. #4 Rob Cullen
    December 8, 2007

    I wrote a song that satirizes homeopathy, set to a Bob Marley tune… “I shot the homeopath.”

    Check it out at http://satirizinghomeopathy.blogspot.com/ .

    I’ve been thinking about holding a competition to see who can produce the best cover.

    -r.c.

  5. #5 Drbuzz0
    December 8, 2007

    hey, Dr. Sunil Sharma posted that exact same coment in my blog!

    http://depletedcranium.com/

  6. #6 Dangerous Bacon
    December 9, 2007

    The more Sunil Sharma protests, the weaker his arguments become.

    Homeopathic principles tell us that he might be effective, if he limited himself to a brief reproachful comment, stated just once and then diluted in a sea of skeptical snickering.

  7. #7 DLC
    December 9, 2007

    Let’s see… I have a hangover. I want to cure my hangover, so I take 1ml of Jameson’s Irish whiskey and dilute it in 100 ml of water. I then take 1ml of my dilute solution and dilute it by the same ratio. I do this 50 times. So, I now have Anti-Alcohol, which will cure my hangover ? Perhaps if I use the last 1ml of solution to wash down a couple Tylenol caplets.

    In test after test, trial after trial, Homeopathy has come up lacking. What exactly do you expect from water ?
    It’s time we stopped wasting research dollars on this completely fallacious non-therapy.

  8. #8 Left_Wing_Fox
    December 9, 2007

    DLC: Considering that much of the symptoms of a hangover are results of dehydration from the body processing alcohol, that “anti-Alcohol” might actually work.

    Or at least, work as well as a similar amount of water. Or homeopathic amount of anything.

    Just don’t expect to pass a Breathalyzer after taking “Anti-alcohol” immediately after a bender.

  9. #9 DLC
    December 9, 2007

    Fox — unfortunately the hangover cure analogy has a hole in it, in as much as, as you mentioned, part of a hangover is dehydration. Another hole in the analogy is that some homeopathic remedies (I use the term loosely) are prepared using alcohol as a base. However, the up-side is a goodly number of people have personal experience with hangovers and so it’s a familiar situation for them.

    I suppose I could construct an example using something that causes a headache in a homeopathic dilution to cure a headache, but I was going for a more popular example.

  10. #10 Brendan S
    December 10, 2007

    This seems like the The Courtier’s Reply from PZ.

    Also, I laugh every time I see someone talking about trying to make big pharma bucks, or being selfish, when they want to sell ethanol or water at what should be criminal prices.