Respectful Insolence

Your Friday Dose of Woo: Fifty woo-ful facts

It’s time.

Well, it’s sort of time, anyway.

As you know, it’s been over three months since I last indulged in my little Friday exercise known as Your Friday Dose of Woo. At the time it was because I couldn’t get myself into the appropriately light-hearted but nonetheless just vicious enough frame of mind to do the exercise after we had to have our dog put to sleep. In retrospect, however, it was clear to me that the whole feature had been running on fumes for a while before that. It had become a bit stale and, I thought, could benefit from a hiatus. At the time, I hadn’t planned for the hiatus to last more than a few weeks, but somehow it stretched into a few months. In fact, even as of yesterday I hadn’t been sufficiently inspired and had been planning on something else entirely, although I had intended to bring back YFDoW on an occasional basis beginning…well, soon, anyway.

Fortunately, NaturalNews.com didn’t let me down. It shook me out of my lethargy and, let’s face it, just plain farting around about this. No, it wasn’t Mike Adams, but it was one of his woo-acolytes, a woman named Louise Mclean. Not just any woman, though, but a homeopath. OK, it’s not as delightfully woo-filled as some of my previous targets–I mean subjects–for this, but it becomes worthy by its content and by the fact that homeopathy is the granddaddy of woo. After all, it depends upon nothing more than the most amazing of magical thinking in the form of its core concepts of “like cures like” and that dilution with succussion can make remedies stronger. No matter how much homeopaths and their supportive woo contingent try to handwave about the “memory of water” or even “quantum homeopathy,” at the end of the day, it’s all just woo. But what woo it can be! What reminded me of this and inspired me to begin the process of resurrecting YFDoW is an amazing article by Ms. Mclean entitled Presenting 50 Facts About Homeopathy. After reading it, my only reaction was:

Oh. My. God.


Basically, the article is one long defense of homeopathy presented as 50 “facts” about it. Ms. Mclean is very unhappy at how homeopathy has been portrayed recently:

In the last few years there have been many articles in the newspapers attacking homeopathy, claiming it contains nothing more than water, ignoring all the positive studies and saying it works through the placebo effect. So I decided to compile a list of facts to counter this criticism and present the salient points as clearly as possible. So far I have come up with 50.

Indeed she has, and what a set of 50! By the time I got to Fact #3, I was giggling, and by the time I reached Fact 17 I was laughing hysterically and had to stop. Fortunately, I managed to contain myself and, with a massive effort of will, managed to finish the list. My brain will likely never forgive me because (yes, repeat after me) THE STUPID, IT BURNS!

It really does, right away from Fact #1:

Hippocrates ‘The Father of Medicine’ of Ancient Greece said there were two Laws of Healing: The Law of Opposites and the Law of Similars. Homeopathy treats the patient with medicines using the Law of Similars, orthodox medicine uses the Law of Opposites, e.g. antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, anticonvulsants, antihypertensives, anti-depressants, anti-psychotics.

Because we want to treat disease using principles first promulgated by a man who lived 2,400 years ago. Look, I have nothing against Hippocrates. He revolutionized medicine in ancient Greece, but, come on! He taught that illness was a result of imbalances between the four humors (blood, black bile, yellow bile and phlegm), for cryin’ out loud! At the time, Hippocrates was indeed an advance in that he rejected the superstition that used to say that illness was caused by the gods or spirits and was the first to separate medicine from religion. That’s great. However, his treatments and ideas were based upon a faulty understanding of human anatomy and physiology. That Hippocrates’ understanding was a major improvement over what Greeks understood before doesn’t make his humoral concept of disease valid now. That Hippocrates’ ideas about the four humors remained popular until Pasteur produced the germ theory of disease in the late 1800s and utterly demolished its last vestiges. In other words, as a modern physician, I admire Hippocrates for his contributions to professionalism, the systematization of patient history and physical examination, and the observations he made and diseases he described for the first time. That doesn’t mean I want my medical care to be given according to the standards of 400 B.C.

The next “fact” shows why homeopaths want to practice like Hippocrates:

Homeopathic theories are based on fixed principles of the Laws of Nature which do not change — unlike medical theories which are constantly changing!

Damned that science-based medicine! Always changing! I mean, what do doctors think they’re doing, changing all the time, rejecting treatments that don’t work and adding new streatments that work better to their medical practice? I mean, come on! Why aren’t we purging, treating with toxic metals like cadmium or mercury, or bloodletting? Why is medical practice today, other than some very basics like history-taking, so utterly different than it was in the time of Hippocrates? Don’t they know there are “fixed principles” and Laws of Nature that never change? Maybe that explains why homeopathy hasn’t changed substantively since Samuel Hahnneman pulled it out of his nether regions and, instead of dumping it in a toilet where most such waste belongs, instead inflicted it upon the world. I know, I know, in the 1800s, doing nothing (i.e.treating with homeopathic remedies) was all too often better than the nasty treatments of “conventional” medicine, but “conventional medicine” has evolved since that time, thanks to science.

So let’s see. Scientific medicine is always changing and homeopathy is unchanging. But:

* Fact 3 – Homeopathy is an evidence-based, empirical medicine.

* Fact 4 – Homeopathy is both an art and a science.

* Fact 5 – The Homeopathic provings of medicines are a more scientific method of testing than the orthodox model.

Ms. Mclean owes me a new keyboard! I was drinking my iced tea as I read that. Clue: The very nature of evidence-based medicine and science is that it changes in response to new evidence. Homeopathy does not. Moreover, homeopathic provings are about as unscientific as it gets, particularly given that the whole concept upon which homepathy is based is a load of…well, I think you know what it’s a load of.

A number of the next facts are all the usual tropes about homeopathy treating the “whole person” and looking for the “real cause” of disease, as opposed to that evil “allopathic” medicine, which, as we all know, doesn’t give a rodent’s posterior about the “real cause” of disease. That’s why it invests billions upon billions of dollars into basic research to try to figure out how the body works and where it goes wrong, not to mention tests to detect abnormalities in anatomy and physiology. In fact, there are so many tropes in this list, that I’m only going to hit a few more carefully selected ones. For example:

* Fact 12 – Homeopathic remedies are cheap.

* Fact 13 – Pharmaceutical medicines are expensive.

* Fact 14 – There are more than 4,000 homeopathic medicines.

* Fact 15 – Homeopathic medicines have no toxic side-effects.

* Fact 16 – Homeopathic medicines are non-addictive.

All of these are undeniably true other than Fact 13, which is only true for some drugs. There are still a lot of pharmaceutical drugs (aspirn, for instance) that are quite inexpensive. Of course, the reason the rest of these “facts” are true is because, as water, homepathic medicine are without a doubt non-addictive and lack toxic side effects. What started me lauging hysterically, though, was Fact 17:

Every true homeopathic medicine is made using one substance — whether plant, mineral, metal, etc. The exact substance is known, unlike most modern drugs where we are rarely informed of the ingredients.

Wait a minute. Homeopaths and herbalists complain about the “reductionist” nature of scientific medicine and applaud the “synergism” of having lots of different compounds in the herbs, and here we have a homeopath claiming that a “plant” is one substance. I’d also point out that, if Ms. Mclean really wants to know what’s in a pharmaceutical drug, it’s a simple matter to read the package insert. Heck, she doesn’t even have to do that. The package inserts for pretty much every drug are available online these days. I’d be happy to point out to her where to find them if she wishes. Not that she’s listening if she really believes this:

* Fact 20 – Homeopaths treat genetic illness, tracing its origins to 6 main genetic causes: Tuberculosis, Syphilis, Gonorrhoea, Psora (scabies), Cancer, Leprosy.

* Fact 21 – Epidemics such as cholera and typhoid were treated successfully using homeopathy in the 19th century with very high success rates, compared to orthodox medicine (http://www.whale.to/v/winston.html).

Holy crap! Does she really think that genetic illness comes from “Tuberculosis, Syphilis, Gonorrhoea, Psora (scabies), Cancer, Leprosy”? What are they teaching homeopaths in homeopathy school? It’s obviously not genetics. But, hey, we’re assured. Homeopathy “works.” It’s science:

* Fact 33 – In 2005 The Lancet tried to destroy homeopathy but were only looking at 8 inconclusive trials out of 110 of which 102 were positive. This was a fraudulent analysis.
“The meta-analysis at the centre of the controversy is based on 110 placebo-controlled clinical trials of homeopathy and 110 clinical trials of allopathy (conventional medicine), which are said to be matched. These were reduced to 21 trials of homeopathy and 9 of conventional medicine of ‘higher quality’ and further reduced to 8 and 6 trials, respectively, which were ‘larger, higher quality’. The final analysis which concluded that ‘the clinical effects of homoeopathy are placebo effects’ was based on just the eight ‘larger, higher quality’ clinical trials of homeopathy. The Lancet’s press release did not mention this, instead giving the impression that the conclusions were based on all 110 trials.”
(http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articl…)

Uh, no. Not quite. The reason that the Lancet meta-analysis of homeopathy concentrated on the highest quality trials it could find is because smaller, low quality trials are far more likely to be prone to bias and thus produce false positive results. That was the entire point of that trial; it showed that the better-designed and larger the trial, the less likely it was to find an effect greater than placebo. That was the very point. That was the conclusion. Homeopaths really hate that study–for good reason. Moreover, the journal didn’t give the impression that the conclusions were based on all 110 trials; only someone who can’t read for comprehension would get that impression.

Someone like Ms. Mclean.

But, hey, why should I have all the fun? There’s plenty here for everyone. So, my most excellent readers, I invite you to join in. Pick one or more of your favorite “facts” and have at it!

Comments

  1. #1 PalMD
    October 17, 2008

    * Fact 20 – Homeopaths treat genetic illness, tracing its origins to 6 main genetic causes: Tuberculosis, Syphilis, Gonorrhoea, Psora (scabies), Cancer, Leprosy.

    This, even more than her quote of whale.to, completely disqualifies her from being taken seriously.

    Tb, syphilis, gonorrhoea, scabies, and leprosy are all infectious, not genetic, diseases. Cancer, well, i hate to even ask what she think that is.

  2. #2 Epinephrine
    October 17, 2008

    Ugh, but that involves *reading* her drivel.
    Ok, here’s a contribution:

    * Fact 37 – Homeopathic medicines are not tested on animals.

    a) I wouldn’t bother testing homeopathic medicine on animals, as they are water. Dilution by 10^60 suggests that there is none of the original remaining. As wikipedia nicely sums up about the probability of encountering a single molecule of the original substance (easily verified by the fact that a mole only has ~6×10^23 units):

    this would require two billion doses per second to six billion people for 4 billion years to deliver a single molecule of the original material.

    b) This suggests that not testing medicine is a good thing. So much for “evidence-based, empirical medicine.” This is quackery. Testing medicine on animals is responsible, as it’s the best way we have to ensure that medicines are safe and effective.

    Brings to mind the great poster we had in our lab:
    https://secure5.webfirst.com/fbresearch.org/store/images/23YearsPoster_lg.jpg

  3. #3 The Perky Skeptic
    October 17, 2008

    “* Fact 18 – Any remedy up to a 12c or a 24x potency still contains the original molecules of the substance and this is known as Avogadro’s number.”

    This tells me she has no idea what Avogadro’s number is and cannot be arsed to look it up. I’m filled with confidence about everything she says now!!!

  4. #4 Carpworld
    October 17, 2008

    * Fact 31 – Big Pharma does not want the Public to find out how well homeopathy works!

    Oh i beg to differ.

  5. #5 Diane
    October 17, 2008

    Wow–thanks for the laugh! I only got as far as #21 before I collapsed into giggles. I love what constitutes a “fact”! I also enjoyed the “homeopathics use only one ingredient that is known” because wasn’t “Berlin Wall 30c” a remedy for something or another? Oh, and the use of Avogadro’s number made it nice and science-y.

  6. #6 Erik
    October 17, 2008

    So hard to pick a favorite, but I think I’ll have to go with:

    * Fact 45 – Hundreds of famous people throughout the past 200 years have enjoyed the benefits of homeopathic medicine

    Since people you’ve heard of are gullible, you should be too!

  7. #7 wilsontown
    October 17, 2008

    Yes, that list is what Orac would call a ‘target-rich environment’. My favourites:

    Fact 34 – There have been many clinical trials that prove homeopathy works. In the past 24 years there have been more than 180 controlled, and 118 randomized, trials into homeopathy, which were analysed by four separate meta-analyses. In each case, the researchers concluded that the benefits of homeopathy went far beyond that which could be explained purely by the placebo effect.

    And:

    Fact 36 – Homeopathy can never be properly tested through double blind randomised trials because each prescription is individualised as every patient is unique. Therefore 10 people with arthritis, for example, may all need a different homeopathic medicine.

    So, you can’t test homeopathy. But when you do test it, it works! Genius! Of course, the Shang meta-analysis that the homeopaths love to hate showed that individualised homeopathy had no better results than non-indivisualised homeopathy; all types of homeopathy, as you would expect, were equally worthless.

  8. #8 Epinephrine
    October 17, 2008
    “* Fact 18 – Any remedy up to a 12c or a 24x potency still contains the original molecules of the substance and this is known as Avogadro’s number.”

    This tells me she has no idea what Avogadro’s number is and cannot be arsed to look it up. I’m filled with confidence about everything she says now!!!

    And she’s not even right. Avogadro’s number is 6.022×10^23, and that’s for one mole of the ingredient. If your ingredient is something like “belladonna”, you can’t exactly have a mole of belladonna – the molecular weights for the different components are all over the place. The anticholinergic alkaloid atropine is likely the compound of interest, but how concentrated is the original extract?

    If they start with a pretty standard tincture of belladonna, they’re in the range of about 30mg/100mL. The molecular weight of atropine is 289.37g/mol, so one litre of this tincture would have 0.001 moles of atropine, to start with. Diluting this by 12C results in 1.04×10^-27 moles, so one litre would have on average 0.00063 molecules of atropine. A mere 1600 litres of the dilution and you’d expect to find a (one) molecule.

  9. #9 Interrobang
    October 17, 2008

    I wish I knew better how to counter this stuff. I have this one person that I know whom I can’t convince that homeopathy is crap, and it really bugs me because she’s always trying to get me to try such-and-such, and also because I know she doesn’t make a lot of money, and she could be getting actual medicine for much less than she’s paying her pet quack, considering that the doctor’s visit is covered by the provincial healthcare plan, and I’m damn sure she’s got a drug plan. *headdesk*

    When I tried to talk to her about it, she insisted that homeopathy was “scientific” because “science” was around in the 1700s, and wouldn’t believe me when I said that science really didn’t get formalised until the 19th C.; and then said that homeopathy must work, because she’d heard of people putting warm water on burns. Me: “Don’t do that! Basic physics! You put cold water on burns because you want to reduce the heat in your skin and stop your flesh from cooking!” But of course, since the Law of Similars is SCIENTIFIC!, what do I know? (Even with my two degrees in the humanities, I know that @*%$&!!in’ much…)

  10. #10 TheProbe
    October 17, 2008

    I used to look forward to my Friday Dose of Woo (FDoW), but no longer. With NatualNews around, almost anyone who has taken high school science, and stayed awake, can refute woo. Let’s face it, NN makes it easy.
    :)

  11. #11 Miss Grace
    October 17, 2008

    * Fact 23 – There are 5 homeopathic hospitals in the U.K. — in London, Tunbridge Wells, Bristol, Liverpool and Glasgow. They cost the NHS under £10 million a year compared to the £100 billion for the total annual NHS budget for 2008!

    Please can this £10m be immediately re-directed to the Royal Bank of Scotland?

  12. #12 Zombie
    October 17, 2008

    Somebody once sent me a reference to a homeopathic proving for…. guess what…. ANTIMATTER.

    Apparently the “vibes” something gives off are, well, contagious, and you don’t need the actual stuff, so some flake arranged to obtain some water that apparently might have been zapped by a few positrons, and proceeded to dilute and “test” it, which apparently involves drinking it and then scribbling down any random thing that occurs to you for the next day or so.

    What antimatter is supposed to be a remedy for, I haven’t the foggiest – parity violations maybe.

  13. #13 CyberLizard
    October 17, 2008

    * Fact 24 – At one of the earliest debates on the NHS Act of 1948 the Government pledged that homoeopathy would continue to be available on the NHS, as long as there were “patients wishing to receive it and doctors willing to provide it”.

    So, because the government says that as long as there are suckers and people willing to take advantage of them, we’ll keep paying for it. This is supposed to be a good thing?

  14. #14 sophia8
    October 17, 2008

    wasn’t “Berlin Wall 30c” a remedy for something or another?
    Yes, it’s terrific, apparently, for people who are experiencing “oppression, suppression, depression or repression”.
    Well, that’s one global problem sorted – just send out tankerloads of Berlin Wall 30c to all oppressed populations everywhere, and get them feeling good about being oppressed!

  15. #15 Sam C
    October 17, 2008

    Fact 36 – Homeopathy can never be properly tested through double blind randomised trials because each prescription is individualised as every patient is unique. Therefore 10 people with arthritis, for example, may all need a different homeopathic medicine.

    She’s not very bright is she? That’s easy to do. Simply get the dispensary to issue “remedies” half the time, wooless water the other half, with appropriate blinding between the preparation of the bottles and handing them to the marks, oh sorry, to the patients.

    I don’t think any scientist would have any problem with saying we’re testing the best tailored remedy against no remedy at all.

    Sometimes you can understand why some people get into this nonsense, they’re both dishonest and unintelligent. Yuk.

  16. #16 Mojo
    October 17, 2008

    * Fact 23 – There are 5 homeopathic hospitals in the U.K. — in London, Tunbridge Wells, Bristol, Liverpool and Glasgow.

    But not for much longer:

    http://www.quackometer.net/blog/2008/07/thats-it-for-tunbridge-wells.html

  17. #17 Ahistoricality
    October 17, 2008

    I was looking for some ear drops recently and was very, very surprised to see several homeopathic options in pharmacies claiming efficacy for earaches, etc. What did amuse me, though, is that the labels clearly claim that they are diluted to the point of having no active ingredients.

    I don’t know why, presented with that, more people don’t find homeopathy amusing. Laughter, they say, is the best medicine; perhaps that’s why it seems to work?

  18. #18 Karl Withakay
    October 17, 2008

    >>>* Fact 14 – There are more than 4,000 homeopathic medicines.

    ***Really just one: Water

    >>>* Fact 16 – Homeopathic medicines are non-addictive.

    ***It’s hard to break the water habit

    >>>* Fact 19 – Every Patient is Unique so homeopathic medicines are individualized.

    *** That’s why you can only get them from a homeopathic practitioner, and they are not available over the counter in stores.

    >>>* Fact 23 – There are 5 homeopathic hospitals in the U.K. — in London, Tunbridge Wells, Bristol, Liverpool and Glasgow. They cost the NHS under £10 million a year compared to the £100 billion for the total annual NHS budget for 2008!

    *** Water is still fairly abundant and cheap.

    >>>* Fact 39 – Scientists agree that if and when homeopathy is accepted by the scientific community it will turn established science on its head.

    *** Scientists would also agree that if and when it is discovered that the Earth is filled with creamy nugget, it will turn established science on its head; it doesn’t mean they believe we will ever discover that.

    >>>* Fact 42 – The homeopathic community has thousands, even millions, of written case notes that demonstrate the positive benefits of their treatment. Some homeopaths have video proof of their patients before and after treatment.

    *** There are also thousands of written accounts of witchcraft, demonic possession, and sightings of Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster.

    >>>* Fact 43 – Homeopaths charge patients an average of £50 an hour. Specialist Doctors can charge up to £200 or more.

    ***One figure is an average, the other figure is a non-limiting high number. Homeopaths can also charge up to £200 or more: apples = oranges?

    >>>* Fact 47 – The Royal Families of Europe use homeopathic medicine and Queen Elizabeth II of England never travels anywhere without her homeopathic vials of medicine.

    *** I try not to base my medical decisions upon the choices of a group of highly inbred persons so wealthy as to be somewhat detached from the realities of daily human life.

    >>>* Fact 50 – The media as a whole has been unwilling to air a defence of the efficacy of homeopathy and the validity of this 250 year old profession.

    *** Neither has the media aired a DEFENSE (please note the proper spelling)of bloodletting, exorcism, voodoo, or the episode of Happy Days where Fonzie jumped the shark; what’s your point?

  19. #19 Mojo
    October 17, 2008

    DEFENSE please note the proper spelling)

    Over here that ain’t the proper spelling.

  20. #20 desiree
    October 17, 2008

    * Fact 22 – There are thousands of homeopathic books, available at specialist outlets, not sold in the high street.

    what? what does this even mean? what’s the high street?

  21. #21 Mojo
    October 17, 2008

    “what? what does this even mean? what’s the high street?”

    She means that most bookshops can’t be bothered to stock them.

  22. #22 Karl Wiithakay
    October 17, 2008

    I forgot there were £imey’s involved here :)

  23. #23 Karl Wiithakay
    October 17, 2008

    >>>”what? what does this even mean? what’s the high street?”

    It means that legitimate book stores that will stock books about UFO’s, bigfoot, and religions where humans were created out of clay and spare ribs won’t touch their tripe.

  24. #24 fsb
    October 17, 2008

    Number 13 isn’t even about homeopathy.

    * Fact 37 – Homeopathic medicines are not tested on animals.

    * Fact 38 – Homeopathic medicines work even better on animals and babies than on adults, proving this cannot be placebo.

    lolwhut? You don’t test it on animals, yet you use it on them? I guess it isn’t tested on humans, either. And just because something allegedly works on nonhumans doesn’t mean it’s going to work on humans.

  25. #25 MKandefer
    October 17, 2008

    “* Fact 13 – Pharmaceutical medicines are expensive.”

    We’ve been cheated! “Fact” 13 is not about homeopathy. I was ready to buy into it too. I mean, come on, 50 facts! Anyone can come up with 49 facts, but it takes true talent to hit the elusive 50 mark. It’s a shame she miss counted, as she surely would have convinced the lot of us.

  26. #26 Dr Aust
    October 17, 2008

    As ever, the only response is humorous derision.

    Talking of which, can I put in a plug for my song “Super Calibrated Shaking”?

    …written to celebrate (not) homeopathy and to be sung to a rather jolly tune that older readers will be familiar with from the 60s musical Mary Poppins.

  27. #27 Rob
    October 17, 2008

    “Fact 7 – Homeopathic medicines work by communicating a current/pattern/frequency of energy via the whole human body to jump start the body’s own inherent healing mechanisms.”

    A “current/pattern/frequency of energy” which has never been detected or measured, and never been described beyond the vaguest of hand-waving.

    @desiree: “High St” (UK) = “Main St” (US)

  28. #28 Patrick
    October 17, 2008

    Odds are that there are conflicting statements being made too. Thanks to the lengthy, ahem, target rich, list. Carefully, lets pick 2 for a bit of light analysis:

    * Fact 11 – The homeopathic practitioner treats the Whole Person, believing all Symptoms are interrelated and seeks to select a medicine which most closely covers them all.

    * Fact 9 – The homeopathic practitioner endeavours to search for and treat the cause of the disease in order to heal the effect.

    Well, are we treating the Symptoms (#11), or Treating the Cause of the Disease (#9), or the Whole Person (#11)?

    Not only that, but I tend to resist suggestion that the selection of a single medicine “which covers them all” (#11) would work for a patients unrelated comorbid conditions. i.e. Depression and Chronic Sinusitis?, or Sleep Apnea and Asperger’s? or, heaven forbid, that someone should have all 4 of the above.

    A list of 50 it may be, but well thought out and checked over for continuity and conflicts it is not.

  29. #29 Alex
    October 17, 2008

    Just wanted to pull out “Fact” 17 again:

    Every true homeopathic medicine is made using one substance — whether plant, mineral, metal, etc. The exact substance is known, unlike most modern drugs where we are rarely informed of the ingredients.

    Ms. McLean needs to have a talk with the nearly 2,000 known chemical compounds present in that most humble of mustard plants, Arabidopsis thaliana.

    “One” substance. Right.

  30. #30 robert estrada
    October 17, 2008

    I am at work and couldn’t read all the comments so please forgive the possible duplication.
    If this “stuff” is so powerful but must be individually tailored for the individual to be effective, how can an over the counter/off the shelf variety be ethically sold? And what prevents random impacts on bottled water during transit from accidentally potentizing the minor contaminants to tragic effect?
    I would at least have had the pleasure of a lot of good red wine if I must endure this sort of headache.
    Robert

  31. #31 #1 Dinosaur
    October 17, 2008

    >>>* Fact 39 – Scientists agree that if and when homeopathy is accepted by the scientific community it will turn established science on its head.

    *** Scientists would also agree that if and when it is discovered that the Earth is filled with creamy nugget, it will turn established science on its head; it doesn’t mean they believe we will ever discover that.

    Rats; I love creamy nugget. I just slobbered all over my keyboard imagining a whole planet full of it.

  32. #32 vlad
    October 17, 2008

    Fact 39 rephrase: If we finally discovered that the earth was flat and the sun revolved around it NASA would be in very serious trouble.

  33. #33 D. C. Sessions
    October 17, 2008

    then said that homeopathy must work, because she’d heard of people putting warm water on burns. Me: “Don’t do that! Basic physics! You put cold water on burns because you want to reduce the heat in your skin and stop your flesh from cooking!”

    There you go — real scientific proof of the principles of homeopathy. If you put sorta-hot water on a burn, it’s better than nothing: therefore , like cures like. If you dilute the sorta-hot water with more water, you get better results — and the more dilute the hot water is, the better the results you get.

    Proof of homeopathy, in your kitchen.

  34. #34 IAMB
    October 17, 2008

    DC, that’s freakin’ brilliant!

  35. #35 Laser Potato
    October 17, 2008

    “Homeopathic medicines work even better on animals and babies than on adults, proving this cannot be placebo.”
    Wait, what?!

  36. #36 IBY
    October 17, 2008

    Wow, that was way too fun, I giggled a lot. That was some big Scheiβe Totale. The funniest part was when she talked about the pharmaceutical companies not putting the ingredients on the label. I wonder what the heck happened to her reading comprehension level.

  37. #37 eddie
    October 17, 2008

    That would be 50 30c facts, then.

  38. #38 Mad Hussein LOLscientist, FCD
    October 17, 2008

    created out of clay and spare ribs

    ROFLmeow! Thread over. We have a winner! =^..^=

  39. #39 fsb
    October 17, 2008

    Heck, 12, 13, and 43 should be one item. 50 facts indeed.

  40. #40 Barbara
    October 18, 2008

    Good job, Orac.

    Hoping you continue to be inspired next week.

    That’s all I have to say. It’s late.

  41. #41 Randall
    October 18, 2008

    I don’t know why you guys are being so hard on Fact 17, it’s absolutely correct that every true homeopathic medicine is made using one substance. Unless you’re counting the hydrogen and oxygen as separate substances, but that’s just nitpicking.

  42. #42 Abstruse
    October 18, 2008

    I’m thankful for the readership of this blog. The comments section was world-shatteringly funny.

    Truly, some of you should write comedy. Well, if the woo-meisters weren’t so obligingly doing it for you.

  43. #43 Mojo
    October 18, 2008

    “Homeopathic medicines work even better on animals and babies than on adults, proving this cannot be placebo.”

    Wait, what?!

    Homoeopaths don’t realise that animals (and babies of course) who are unable to understand that they’ve been given a treatment are also unable to report on their condition, so any assessment is done by the owner (or parent) or by the person treating them.

    Unless homoeopathic consultations go something like this:

    Homoeopath: “So, how have you been feeling since our last consultation?”

    Skippy the Bush Kangaroo: tsk tsk tsk

    H: “What’s that, Skip?”

    STBK: tsk tsk tsk

    H: “Your eczema got worse for a couple of days but then receded?”

    STBK: tsk tsk tsk

    H: “Well Skip, that’s what we call an aggravation. It shows that the Arsenicum album 30C I prescribed is the right remedy for your symptom picture.”

  44. #44 Dr Aust
    October 18, 2008

    Hmm. The Blog-Overlord doesn’t seem to be checking his spam filter, so posts with URLs in are hanging up..

    After a couple of years of debating the homeo-crazies I have concluded that satirical scorn and derision is the only reasonable response one can make. I have gotten tired of saying this in prose so my latest attempt is a humorous song lyric – which I call “Super Calibrated Shaking” – and which you can find over on my blog.

    (look for “Shake it, baby, shake it” under Recent Posts)

  45. #45 TheProbe
    October 18, 2008

    I have been reading quite a bit of Moulden’s writings to people. He sure sounds like Jim Jones, David Koresh and L. Ron Hubbard. His followers sound like their followers.

  46. #46 andrea
    October 18, 2008

    “Ms. Mclean owes me a new keyboard! I was drinking my iced tea as I read that.”

    Orac,

    The simplest form of learning is defined as, “a change in behavior due to experience”. Surely by now you know better than to be consuming beverages while reading this sort of drivel!

    And take some personal responsibility for your actions; I get plenty of “it’s your fault I did something foolish” from our students with emotional/behavioral problems all day long.

    Great deconstruction nonetheless; I always enjoy the FDW posts.

    andrea

  47. #47 Mongrel
    October 18, 2008

    >>>* Fact 43 – Homeopaths charge patients an average of £50 an hour. Specialist Doctors can charge up to £200 or more.

    ***One figure is an average, the other figure is a non-limiting high number. Homeopaths can also charge up to £200 or more: apples = oranges?

    You’re also forgetting that this article is written from a UK perspective, which makes it even funnier. Specialist Doctors won’t charge you if you get referred on the NHS

  48. #48 Christophe Thill
    October 19, 2008

    Ms. McLean is wrong : “Psora” is not scabies. It’s a mythical condition that some woomeisters believe to be at the root of all actual diseases. That’s what Bach thought. And I’m not talking about the musician.

  49. #49 Laser Potato
    October 19, 2008

    “Psora” is not scabies. It’s a mythical condition that some woomeisters believe to be at the root of all actual diseases. That’s what Bach thought. And I’m not talking about the musician.”
    Forgive my ignorance, but what’s the story behind this “Psora” macguffin? Who’s Bach?

  50. #50 Ace of Sevens
    October 19, 2008

    Most bookstores do carry homepathic books. They’re just diluted tot he point where you’d have to search thousands of stores to find a single letter.

  51. #51 alison
    October 19, 2008

    What’s this ‘creamy nugget’ stuff? Where I come from (NZ) ‘nugget’ = shoe polish :-)

  52. #52 Pieter B
    October 20, 2008

    I try not to base my medical decisions upon the choices of a group of highly inbred persons so wealthy as to be somewhat detached from the realities of daily human life.

    Excellent, Karl.

    Most bookstores do carry homepathic books. They’re just diluted tot he point where you’d have to search thousands of stores to find a single letter.

    Likewise, Ace.

  53. #53 Natalie
    October 20, 2008

    Alison, I believe they’re referring to nougat, that fluffy business inside candy bars.

  54. #54 Pieter B
    October 20, 2008

    Fact 48 – Homeopathy is practised nowadays in countries all over the world. In India there are 100 homeopathic medical schools and around 250,000 homeopathic doctors.

    India ranks 139th in the world in life expectancy at birth, by the UN’s numbers.

  55. #55 Tracy Allison Altman
    October 20, 2008

    Sorry to hear about your dog. I once heard a saying: “Heaven is where we get all our old dogs back.” That’s my kind of religion.

  56. #56 James Pannozzi
    October 22, 2008

    Pieter B:

    Oh were you disparaging the Indians?

    Inhibition of chemically induced carcinogenesis by drugs used in homeopathic medicine.

    January 1, 2007

    by KH Kumar, etal.

    Amala Cancer Research Centre, Amala Nagar, Thrissur, Kerala State, India. 680555. amalaresearch@rediffmail.com.

    Homeopathy is considered as one modality for cancer therapy. However, there are only very few clinical reports on the activity of the drugs, as well as in experimental animals. Presently we have evaluated the inhibitory effects of potentized homeopathic preparations against N’-nitrosodiethylamine (NDEA) induced hepatocellular carcinoma in rats as well as 3-methylcholanthrene-induced sarcomas in mice. We have used Ruta, Hydrastis, Lycopodium and Thuja, which are commonly employed in homeopathy for treating cancer. Administration of NDEA in rats resulted in tumor induction in the liver and elevated marker enzymes such as gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase, glutamate pyruvate transaminase, glutamate oxaloacetate transaminase and alkaline phosphatase in the serum and in liver. Concomitant administration of homeopathic drugs retarded the tumor growth and significantly reduced the elevated marker enzymes level as revealed by morphological, biochemical and histopathological evaluation. Out of the four drugs studied, Ruta 200c showed maximum inhibition of liver tumor development. Ruta 200c and phosphorus 1M were found to reduce the incidence of 3-methylcholanthrene-induced sarcomas and also increase the life span of mice harboring the tumours. These studies demonstrate that homeopathic drugs, at ultra low doses, may be able to decrease tumor induction by carcinogen administration. At present we do not know the mechanisms of action of these drugs useful against carcinogenesis.

    Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2007 Jan-Mar;8(1):98-102

    from Julian Jonas:
    http://www.centerforhomeopathy.com/articles.php?showarticle=1&article=96

    In 2003, there was an article published in the International Journal of Oncology with a most inelegant title: Ruta 6 selectively induces cell death in brain cancer cells but proliferation in normal peripheral blood lymphocytes: A novel treatment for human brain cancer.

    Of the four authors, Drs. Sen Pathak and Asha Multani are affiliated with the Departments of Cancer Biology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. The other two, Drs. Prasanta and Pratip
    Banerji, are homeopathic physicians, a father and son, from Kolkata (Calcutta), India.

    Describing the reasons and results of their research, the authors write:
    ” (With) conventional chemotherapies… used to treat patients with malignancies, damage to normal cells is problematic. … We investigated the brain cancer cell-killing activity of a homeopathic medicine, Ruta… We treated human brain cancer and … leukemia cells, normal B-lymphoid cells, and … melanoma cells in vitro with different concentrations of Ruta in combination with Ca3(PO4)2. (This is the chemical formula for another homeopathic remedy, Calcium Phosphate.)”

    “Fifteen patients diagnosed with intracranial tumors were treated with Ruta 6 and (Calcium Phosphate). Of these 15 patients, 6 of the 7 glioma (a “glioma” is a malignant tumor of glial tissues in the brain) patients showed complete regression of tumors… Both in vivo and in vitro results showed induction of survival-signaling pathways in normal lymphocytes and induction of death-signaling pathways in brain cancer cells… We propose that Ruta in combination with Ca3(PO4)2 could be used for effective treatment of brain cancers, particularly glioma.”

    What in effect this means is that the two medical scientists studied the homeopathic protocol for treating certain cancers developed over several generations of the Banerji family and were able to reproduce in both a laboratory and clinical setting the remarkable results experienced by thousands of patients. (Based on their own research, the Banerjis have a reported a 70% cure rate in brain tumors.) Not only was the treatment effective, in contrast to conventional therapies, it was not harmful to healthy tissues.

    Perhaps this research is all wrong, but what I want to see is Quacker Orac ridiculing his own kind.
    Pehaps he would like to accuse them of being charlatans or woo meisters?

  57. #57 JThompson
    November 10, 2008

    I wish we had a homeopathic clinic near where I live.
    I could go in with some invented symptoms, get the “cure” and try to pay them with a 55 gallon drum of water with a sliver of a penny in the bottom.
    Then I could yell about how the payment was custom mixed to best serve their financial needs to maximize their fiscal wellness.
    I’m fairly certain it’d end with me being arrested, but damnit, it would be worth it.

  58. #58 John H
    November 12, 2008

    So this nutter says that “Every true homeopathic medicine is made using one substance”.

    If you look on a truly irrational site (i.e a provider of HY woo like “Ainsworths Remedy List”)one so called cure is “Animal Hair – Mixed” so how does that count as only one substance FFS.

    Another one is “Air Pollution” – What form of air pollution – carbon dioxide, petrochemicals, ozone, nitrous oxide, diesle fumes.

    “Aftershave” is another one – perfume, alcohol, etc.

    “Age” is an interesting one. What AGE – 0-110 range available here.

    “Amritsar Sahib” – which one. There must be several million of them and I am sure they are all made out of more than on substance. Did they kill the poor bastard to prove him.

    The same would apply to “Andean Condor (Vultur Gryphus)”

    “Amyl Nitrite” = C5H11OH + HONO → C5H11ONO + H2O – Must have been fun proving poppers.

    “Aqua Pura”. Now I might have got this wrong but surely that is “pure water” – so these crackbrained loons are diluting water !. Amazing (although I suppose the loons could argue it is “one substance”.

    “Ayres Rock” – now I know sandstone consists of more than one thing.

    (I only managed the A’s before I fell off the chair laughing. I didn’t even get to Berlin Wall).

    So this crackpot is not even correct in her reporting of her own brand of mumbo jumbo. The other 49 facts are total bollox as well.

  59. #59 Andrew Dodds
    November 12, 2008

    James Pannozzi -

    The paper itself is here:

    http://www.virtualtrials.com/pdf/ruta6.pdf

    Interesting, problem is, has it been replicated elsewhere, and why has such am apparently impressive result not been followed up?