Pseudoscience

Homeopathy Awareness Day: Post-Mortem

Homeopathy is the low-hanging fruit from the perennial tree of irrationality.

This year, in order to draw awareness to its ludicrous claims, I published an article in the Prince Arthur Herald and a video on this site. The response was predictable.

While the content received plenty of positive feedback and dissemination, a couple of proponents of homeopathy perked up because of the “#homeopathy” on Twitter and a war of words began.

Laurie J. Willberg is a scuba diving instructor from Toronto who is studying homeopathy after having been turned away from “con medicine” (isn’t that cute) when a loved one died following the application of veterinary medicine. Christine Jahnig suffered from horrible insomnia following a car accident until homeopathy cured her of her condition. Both of them engaged me in a game of “I know you are but what am I?” on Twitter.

A fellow skeptic threw his hands in the air (I can only imagine) and wrote, “It’s like religion.”

Obviously, as with religion, one will not be able to reach the most “extreme” factions within the movement. They have too much invested in this to turn around and admit they were wrong. That is why highly intelligent people can end up in cults and stick around to the bitter end. Deeply-entrenched believers in homeopathy do not understand cognitive biases. Some have had bad experiences with conventional Western medicine (a science which is far from perfect but is the best treatment system we have) and so chastise the entire idea and embrace the humanizing and reassuring current of pseudomedicine: chakra alignments, Qi flow, homeopathy. These people likewise know very little about logical fallacies, as my Twitter feed demonstrated today: many people use homeopathy so it must be good; medicine can kill people therefore must be thrown out; science is a cult.

My video was not aimed at the die-hard serial diluters, but rather at the public at large who may be consuming these preparations without really knowing what they are. If you have not invested so much of your time defending the homeopathy ideology–because it is an ideology, one that must remain unchanged despite evidence contradicting it–there may be hope that a dash of reason and facts will turn you away from pseudoscience.

Science education is difficult. It always feels like a losing war. But it is worth pursuing.

Here’s a reminder why:

Tweet from Christine Jahnig (@fallintosummer): “Ur EBM [evidence-based medicine] is 3rd leading cause death & causes 2M hospitalizations yrly in US. H’pathy proven effective and safe.”

Let’s educate people better so they don’t spout this idiotic, fallacious nonsense so regularly. There is work to do.

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