The dilution dilusion
Homeopathy – the rubbish idea that "like cures like" and that diluting something makes it more potent – is still being taught at several universities in the UK, where one can "earn" a B.Sc. degree in this drivel. Now, there's a move to put a stop to it, as a Nature Special Report (free access) explains.
In South Africa (and elsewhere) homeopathy and herbalism are often confused. A herbalist, also sometimes called a naturopath, uses knowledge of the medicinal value of plants to cure illness. The challenge to analytical scientists is to discover the physiologically active components in the plant in order to better understand the curative effects.
On the other hand, homeopathy is founded on magical thinking: if you dilute something over and over and over and over, it becomes more effective. Honestly, this is what they believe. Only, homeopaths don't call it "diluting". They use cool words like "potentizing" and "seccussion". No matter what they call it, it is a dilution.
Oh, and a homeopath also believes that "like cures like", the Law of Simalia they grandly inform you. And how do you know when something can be used for a cure? Well, says the homeopath, if it causes an effect that is similar to the symptom of the illness, then that's your ticket. So, if you have a cold, and you have a runny nose and teary eyes, hearken to the onion, because an onion, also, makes your eyes water. So onions are the cure. You simply crush an onion, mix it up in thousands of liters of water or more, and that's the magical cure for the cold. Onion extract, only there's almost not a molecule of it to be found. Amazing.
You probably don't believe me, right? "He's making it all up, that crazy psycho-historian!" Well, here's the what the University of Westminster has to say in their BSc (Hons) Health Sciences: Homoeopathy course description:
"It works on the principle that whatever the symptoms a substance causes in a healthy person, minute doses of the same substance will cure those symptoms when they occur as illness."
What kinda principle is that?! "According to the principle of 1+1=3, I have 8 limbs"? NO! That's just STUPID!
Despite the fact that there is not a single bit of evidence to support their deluded claims, they are allowed to practice medicine in South Africa, and may claim that they can cure you. Amazing.
Homeopaths claim their treatments work – insist that they prove it. And no word of mouth, here-say or anecdotal stories – just reasonably convincing objective evidence, please.
Of course, homeopaths in general aren't interested in proving anything – because their rubbish makes a great deal of money. So what if they lie to the consumers! Caveat emptor! Meanwhile, the patient either gets better because they would have got better anyway, or their condition worsens as they postpone other, legitimate, evidence-based, treatment.
My favourite homeopathic "cure" is the delightful product called "Rescue". You can buy it in a little bottle at various shops, and just a drop or two will solve your problems. Despair, anxiety, depression – all gone with a drop of Rescue. Amazing.
I'm off to go and lick my empty coffee cup for a super homeopathic dose of caffeine. I can already feel the rush...
nothing more to see. please move along.