Respectful Insolence

Randi on World Homeopathy Awareness Week

World Homeopathy Awareness Week is fast coming to an end, unfortunately. And what would any sort of “homeopathy awareness” be without a commentary from James Randi?

I share with Randi his desire that people be aware of the true nature of homeopathy on this, the last day of World Homeopathy Awareness Week.

Comments

  1. #1 Rogue Medic
    April 16, 2010

    The week went by so quickly. I was as if there was nothing to it. Maybe next year they will break with tradition and have some actual substance. Riiight! :-)

  2. #2 zackoz
    April 16, 2010

    The Amazing Randi missed one useful epithet in his takedown of homeopathy, viz “bogus”.

    I hear you can even use that word in the UK now!

  3. #3 Greg Laden
    April 16, 2010

    World Homeopathy Awareness Week is fast coming to an end,

    Actually, since it started on Sunday at 12:00:01 in the morning, it has been over for about six days.

  4. #4 Party Cactus
    April 16, 2010

    I watched this, opened up the newspaper, flipped to the comics, and what do I see? Dilbert is celibrating WHAW too. Made my morning.

  5. #5 Mojo
    April 16, 2010

    I hear you can even use that word in the UK now!

    And we have our very own Homeopathy Awareness Week, in June, in which to use it.

  6. #6 mikerattlesnake
    April 16, 2010

    Was Randi going through chemo last year? I remember hearing a few interviews with him on SGU and thinking he sounded a little out of it. I attributed it to old age, but now it’s clear that he’s still coherent and as sharp as ever. It must have been the chemo; the same thing happened to my mom and she was only 45.

  7. #7 MikeMa
    April 16, 2010

    I’m with Greg Laden. There is so little to be aware of scientifically, it is a wonder they schedule so much time.

  8. #8 Gargamel
    April 16, 2010

    Oh sweet, cranky old Randi. Still going strong at 81, feisty as ever. Damn, I’ll miss him when he enters to the big void.

  9. #9 Greg Laden
    April 16, 2010

    World Homeopathy Awareness Week is fast coming to an end,

    Actually, since it started on Sunday at 12:00:01 in the morning, it has been over for about six days.

  10. #10 Neil Craig
    April 17, 2010

    But you don’t share his recognition that catastrophic global warming is a fraud. None so blind…

  11. #11 Jack Park
    April 17, 2010

    I suspect there is evidence enough to suggest that it’s a mistake to toss acupuncture into a sentence listing other therapies as if they are all in the same category as homeopathy.

  12. #12 Militant Agnostic
    April 17, 2010

    I suspect there is evidence enough to suggest that it’s a mistake to toss acupuncture into a sentence listing other therapies as if they are all in the same category as homeopathy.

    You would suspect wrong – when acupuncture studies are conducted with proper sham acupuncture controls they show that the effects of acupuncture are merely placebo effects. A search of this blog or the Neuroligica blog or the Science Based Medicine blog will give several examples of such studies as well as show how the researchers torture the data and misrepresent the results to attempt to show a positive effect. This is of course amplified by the credulous news media.

  13. #13 Daryl McCullough
    April 19, 2010

    Neil Craig writes:

    But you don’t share his recognition that catastrophic global warming is a fraud.

    Respecting someone does not mean uncritically agreeing with every one of their opinions.

  14. #14 Rogue Medic
    April 19, 2010

    Jack Park,

    To reinforce what Militant Agnostic states, when the fake acupuncture (the placebo) does better than standard acupuncture and better than the super duper personalized holistic acupuncture, some people feel the need to try to figure out what it is about the placebo that makes it as powerful as this ancient treatment.

    That is the biased approach. When the placebo does better than the treatment, we need to ask whether the study was large enough and well enough controlled to be valid.

    There are plenty of other studies of acupuncture that show that the treatment is nothing but a placebo – an elaborate performance art placebo with needles, but still just a placebo.

    It does not matter if the treatment is a drug being developed by a drug company or acupuncture, the conclusion is simple. This is a non-treatment. This is a fraud. This is a bogus treatment.

    This is just a more expensive, but less effective, placebo.

    It is self-destructive to waste time on this garbage.

  15. #15 Daryl McCullough
    April 19, 2010

    I am convinced that homeopathy and acupuncture are nothing more than placebos. The unfortunate fact is that a huge fraction of the human population is unwilling or unable to understand science, the scientific method, the subtleties of weighing evidence. For effects that are unpredictable, such as who gets sick, who recovers, it’s especially difficult for the layman to understand the scientific basis for the mainstream treatment of disease.

    Ultimately, most scientifically untrained people (and even scientifically trained people who are trained in other fields) are in the position of needing to trust the experts. And how, if you are not capable of interpreting the evidence and scientific arguments yourself, can you tell who is an expert who is a quack?

    The great thing about homeopathy is that it only takes a tiny amount of understanding of chemistry, together with some simple application of reasoning, in order to see that the claims cannot possibly be true. Unfortunately, it’s easy to misuse this recipe of “a little knowledge, plus a little common sense” to reach egregiously incorrect conclusions: that evolution is impossible, that relativity theory is contradictory, that global warming is a hoax, that government spending cannot possibly accelerate the end of a recession. Yes, the arguments against these things are all flawed, but they look like commons sense to many people. How is it possible to make the 40% or so of the population with no training in science less vulnerable to bad arguments? Or is it possible?

  16. #16 Denice Walter
    April 19, 2010

    @ Daryl McCullogh:I’ve been recently contemplating something similar:often,when we try to present the science -data,studies,trends- we totally *lose* them,*and* many woo-providers are now pooh-poohing “scientism”(sic),the “religion of science”,the “cult of the expert”,”dictators destroying freedoms”,”elitism”, and similar poppy-cock.Perhaps we need to create a prelude,a first step,a way to woo them(pardon my usage)to even *listen* to the science(and us),purely as an introduction *before* we present information that they might otherwise automatically,summarily reject.I’ve been trying to develop a list of queries to get the woo-entranced to question the source of their misinformation.(I know,I know,it’s like trying to get a tea-partier to question Fox News.)Maybe it would be better not to imagine our task as a debate but as education,counseling,providing resources and assistance.I might ask,for example:”How can, say, a *nutritionist* question the entire field of medecine and even expand the critique beyond into fields like economics?Isn’t there *specialisation*?” Orac has asked (paraphrase):”How can such a BigPharma conspiracy be maintained? It involves too many people and institutions,too much ‘tainted’research,etc.?”

  17. #17 Pablo
    April 19, 2010

    Maybe it would be better not to imagine our task as a debate but as education,counseling,providing resources and assistance

    Could be viewed as condescending.

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with treating people like adults with an expectation that they aren’t clueless idiots. If they are the ones claiming that science and medicine are wrong, shouldn’t they be expected to know something about science and medicine?

  18. #18 Denice Walter
    April 19, 2010

    @ Pablo :I guess you could say that;maybe so,however,I’m trying to get them to *see* what we see and understand a little,and yes, they may *not* have had the same background that has led us to where we are,which you can’t collapse into the time a conversation takes.There used to be information (in the ’60’s,’70’s?) that *explained* how advertising worked: educating consumers and potential victims- something like that.

  19. #19 Pablo
    April 19, 2010

    however,I’m trying to get them to *see* what we see and understand a little,and yes, they may *not* have had the same background that has led us to where we are

    If that’s true, it can come out during discussion, and at that point, sure, go into educate mode. But as I said, to start there, and to assume they hold their position because they “don’t have the same background that has led us to where we are” is sounding awfully condescending.

  20. #20 Alan Kellogg
    April 20, 2010

    What placebos show us is that there is more to how our bodies work than we suspect

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