Pseudoscience / Science Education

Jargon: Oscillococcinum (a homeopathic dilution of duck offals alleged to shorten flu symptoms)

Oscillococcinum: a homeopathic product claimed to reduce the duration of flu-like symptoms. Its preparation begins with duck liver and heart which is diluted 1 in a 100 two hundred times. The final preparation cannot scientifically contain a single molecule derived from the duck liver and heart. All it is is the dilution solvent packed in lactose.

Readers of the blog will be familiar with the reasons why homeopathy does not and cannot work. Next time you catch the flu, why not refrain from giving Laboratoires Boiron more money and get some rest at home. Your immune system will take care of the infection.

The word “Oscillococcinum” has an interesting history. It comes from Oscillococcus, the name given to an imaginary bacterium that was alleged to have been detected in the blood of Spanish Flu victims in the early 20th century. The man who claimed to have seen this bacterium supposedly detected it again in a type of duck that has been used to prepare Oscillococcinum. What was this mythical bacterium? Probably an artefact of his crude microscope, as no such bacterium has been observed since. For more on this fascinating story, check out McGill University’s Office for Science & Society blog post.

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