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Homeopathy by the (mind-boggling) numbers - Comments

Dhamma's Avatar Comment 1 by Dhamma

Ridicule is our best weapon to attack this pathetic scam.

I once took it myself because I didn't know anything about it, and I didn't think "medicine" was allowed to be sold without having proven effects.

Naturally nothing happened to which she claimed she probably gave me the wrong one, but thankfully I became suspicious and looked it up before she could steal more of my money.

Thu, 21 Jan 2010 15:39:00 UTC | #433818

moniz's Avatar Comment 2 by moniz

"There's a sucker born every minute"-David Hannum(usually wrongly attributed to P.T. Barnum)

'Nuff said!

Thu, 21 Jan 2010 15:48:00 UTC | #433824

jcs's Avatar Comment 3 by jcs

If you have homeopathic friends you should only offer them homeopathic juices, cola, beer or wine. That will cure them, unless they decline because it is toooooo strong.

Thu, 21 Jan 2010 15:49:00 UTC | #433826

Rationalist1's Avatar Comment 4 by Rationalist1

Yes, but would the person who eventually drank that single molecule really be cured. I think more investidation is needed. :->

This is so unbelievably stupid.

Thu, 21 Jan 2010 15:53:00 UTC | #433829

Tyler Durden's Avatar Comment 5 by Tyler Durden

Comment #453035 by Dhamma

Ridicule is our best weapon to attack this pathetic scam.
And fear. Fear and surprise. And of course, ruthless efficiency to education :)

Thu, 21 Jan 2010 15:59:00 UTC | #433835

Quetzalcoatl's Avatar Comment 6 by Quetzalcoatl

All it takes is a little digging to uncover just how ridiculous the whole concept of homeopathic medicine really is. The fact that Boots is happily prepared to profit from this is not surprising, after all: why shouldn't they?

Thu, 21 Jan 2010 16:00:00 UTC | #433836

Jie's Avatar Comment 7 by Jie

Actually, it's a very good thing that homeopathic remedies are so dilluted. You really wouldn't want a significant dose of the active ingredient, since homeopathy is based on the idea of using a substance that will produce the relevant symptoms rather than treat them, in the hope that the dillution process itself will somehow invert the effects.

Thu, 21 Jan 2010 16:05:00 UTC | #433842

Clapton_is_God's Avatar Comment 8 by Clapton_is_God

It is probably billions of times more likely to have a molecule of my urine in it than it is to have one molecule of arnica.

Come to think of it, it is more likely to have a molecule of Dr Hahnemann's (homeoptathy's founder), the Pope's, the Queen of England's, Osama Bin Laden's and Barack Obama's urine in it than a molecule of arnica.


Thu, 21 Jan 2010 16:09:00 UTC | #433844

Frankus1122's Avatar Comment 9 by Frankus1122

Ridicule is our best weapon to attack this pathetic scam.

I became suspicious and looked it up before she could steal more of my money.

I am not sure if ridicule is the best weapon. What about a class action lawsuit? How many millions of dollars/pounds/whatevers have been fraudulently attained by homeopathic retailers?

The science is there. It needs to be proven in a court of law that water is being sold as something other than what it is.

Thu, 21 Jan 2010 16:22:00 UTC | #433850

TrickyDicky's Avatar Comment 10 by TrickyDicky

But are homeopathic remedies more or less effective than prayer?

Comment #453061 by Clapton_is_God on January 21, 2010 at 4:09 pm

"Come to think of it, it is more likely to have a molecule of Dr Hahnemann's (homeoptathy's founder), the Pope's, the Queen of England's, Osama Bin Laden's and Barack Obama's urine in it than a molecule of arnica."

Not the Pope's piss, don't they bottle and sell it in the Vatican gift shop.

Thu, 21 Jan 2010 16:28:00 UTC | #433855

Cook@Tahiti's Avatar Comment 11 by Cook@Tahiti

In the UK, the Royal family give it legitimacy.

I live near the Royal Homeopathic Hospital

Thu, 21 Jan 2010 16:30:00 UTC | #433858

Gaz's Avatar Comment 12 by Gaz

"The arnica is diluted so much that there is only one molecule of it per 7 million billion billion billion billion pills." - so to obtain a single molecule of the active ingredient at the 6.1p per pill as proclaimed by Boots, that would cost you the princely sum of

6.1 x 10^42 = £61 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000. I wonder if they do 2 for 1 deals.

The GDP of the UK in 2008 was ~ £1.67 trillion. So in other words if you were to spend (3.65x10^28) or 36500000000000000000000000000 x the UK GDP you could buy 1 molecule of the active ingredient. I think I am in the wrong business.

Of course arnica is just the name of the plant as well and it has nothing to do with what particular molecules might constitute the active ingredient.

Also from wikipedia: "Arnica should not be taken internally due to its toxicity, with the spurious exception of homeopathic preparations that are diluted at 24X or more, since only water remains."

Thu, 21 Jan 2010 16:40:00 UTC | #433866

epicure's Avatar Comment 13 by epicure

"I live near the Royal Homeopathic Hospital"

Some years ago I had an operation to remove wisdom teeth. I spent three days at the Royal Homoeopathic Hospital, and apart from a corridor with glass-fronted book-cases full of strange books and a bust of the inventor, I saw not a trace of anything other than 'conventional' medicine. It's not entirely a waste of space...

Thu, 21 Jan 2010 16:51:00 UTC | #433876

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Comment 14 by Jos Gibbons

Comment #453083 by Gaz

That Wikipedia quotation appears to have already been removed (probably because of that NPOV rubbish), although the proven inefficacy of homeopathic arnica remains in a whole section of the article. That's enough, presumably.

Thu, 21 Jan 2010 17:06:00 UTC | #433885

John Locke's Avatar Comment 15 by John Locke

i think Ben Goldacre's analogy is the best (to paraphrase):

"if the distance from the sun to the earth were the diameter of a sphere of water (bearing in mind LIGHT takes EIGHT MINUTES to travel this distance), a 30C dilution would constitute one molecule of medicine within this sphere.

Thu, 21 Jan 2010 17:15:00 UTC | #433888

sara g's Avatar Comment 16 by sara g

My mom went through a homeopathic phase when I was about 12. I read their propaganda and decided it sounded like bullshit to me. I read it out loud to her a few times before she concluded that it was a bunch of crazy talk.

Thu, 21 Jan 2010 17:16:00 UTC | #433889

Mitch Kahle's Avatar Comment 17 by Mitch Kahle

@ moniz: "There's a sucker BAPTIZED every minute!"

Thu, 21 Jan 2010 17:21:00 UTC | #433891

crookedshoes's Avatar Comment 18 by crookedshoes

Awesome. I was cracking up. Math is our friend!

Thu, 21 Jan 2010 17:55:00 UTC | #433904

HalfaMind's Avatar Comment 19 by HalfaMind

Two things make it even more absurd than it already seems (yes, that is possible!)

Firstly, we talk glibly about the immense volumes of this stuff you'd need to find even one molecule of Arnica. But there's no such thing. Tinct. Arnica is a plant extract with a whole load of different molecules in there. Together, they are "Arnica". But at some point in your relentless dilution, if you can somehow keep out impurities, just before you replace the last remaining molecule with water, you have .. one molecule. well - what is it? Do you feel lucky? Was it one of the "active ingredients" in the Arnica plant? A stray bit of solvent? Who knows? Is it that final molecule that imparts its imprint to the water? By this reckoning, the preparer has NO CONTROL over what he ends up with, even, for one moment, presuming the baloney is true.

Secondly, impurities. If you're diluting that much with water, you can assume that, however little "Arnica" there is left, there will be vastly more of nearly everything else! On the back of an envelope I worked out what ther background concentration of "Arnica" would be if a gentle breeze wafted a modest kilogram of the plant across the UK and up to a height of 20 kg. Assuming some tiny percentage of that background Arnica has crept into the purified water used, it will completely swamp the non-existent Arnica surviving the dilution process. In other words, background Arnica will stop it reaching "30C". Not only is the whole thing b*****ks, but by his own warped standards the manufacturer is overstating the potency. Surely this is a legal matter!

It couldn't be more absurd if you made it up...

Thu, 21 Jan 2010 18:17:00 UTC | #433919

Mitch Kahle's Avatar Comment 20 by Mitch Kahle

I'm a jazz musician and occasional bass instructor. Typically I recommend students practice a minimum one hour every day and 3-4 hours is crucial for any serious student.

Most students complain of just not having enough time.

Perhaps I should start offering a "homeopathic method", where students are told that practicing for a fraction of a second will yield superior results. I mean, why spend hours when you can get the same results in less than one second?

Getting an equivalent 4-year degree in homeopathy must require less than 1 second of study.

There, I just completed my PhD in two seconds. Amazing stuff!

Thu, 21 Jan 2010 18:37:00 UTC | #433928

9bars's Avatar Comment 21 by 9bars

The second link in the article, takes you to the, ”House of COMMONS MINUTES OF EVIDENCE” and is a very enjoyable read.

Thu, 21 Jan 2010 19:12:00 UTC | #433947

Mitch Kahle's Avatar Comment 22 by Mitch Kahle

I've just realized the "homeopathic method" can be applied to anything.

What about "homeopathic gasoline" for cars? One ounce of gas will power every car in the world for millions of years.

We could use "homeopathic electricity"? Homes and businesses could be converted from 110 volts to .0000000000000001 volts. A single AAA battery should easily power the average home for centuries.

How about "homeopathic oxygen"? Astronauts, indeed complete space colonies, could live forever on Mars on a single vial.

Let's try "homeopathic food"? Millions of starving children could be saved with a single wafer.

The possibilities are limitless. Why didn't we think of this before?

P.S. Patent pending on all of these ideas.

Thu, 21 Jan 2010 19:34:00 UTC | #433957

crookedshoes's Avatar Comment 23 by crookedshoes

yes, but is it a patent that is pending or a homeopathic patent? (The latter is already filed for and gotten but only entitles you to protect .0000000000000000000000000000000000000000000001 of your intellectual property)

Thu, 21 Jan 2010 19:51:00 UTC | #433964

Steven Mading's Avatar Comment 24 by Steven Mading

At a homoeopathic "lab", do they destroy all the glassware they use after each step and only use brand new, freshly blown glass with each step, or do they actually try to wash the glassware and re-use it like sensible people would?

Washing the dishes doesn't even dilute things as much as a 30C homoeopathic recipe does. There's going to be more "ingredient" accidentally there from the leftover residue on the glassware (no matter how hard they try to wash it) in the factory where they run the process than there is of the actual intended ingredient.

Thu, 21 Jan 2010 19:57:00 UTC | #433968

Inferno's Avatar Comment 25 by Inferno

Wait, wait, wait..... Snake oil really does contain snake£

Thu, 21 Jan 2010 21:12:00 UTC | #433987

Chris Roberts's Avatar Comment 26 by Chris Roberts

22. Comment #453182 by Mitch Kahle on January 21, 2010 at 7:34 pm

Let's try "homeopathic food"? Millions of starving children could be saved with a single wafer.

P.S. Patent pending on all of these ideas.
I think the Vatican have already distributed this idea....

Just one question - how the hell do you dilute something that much?

Thu, 21 Jan 2010 21:15:00 UTC | #433989

Mr DArcy's Avatar Comment 27 by Mr DArcy

If anyone is interested, I have a SPECIAL OFFER going in Irish snake oil.

Only ignoramuses need apply!

Snake oil viscosity can go up as well as down!

Guaranteed to free you from some spending power!

Guaranteed not to have harmed live snakes!

Guaranteed to be derived ONLY from Irish snakes.

Pure as the new blown snow!

Buy some now QUICK before this offer is sold out!

Thu, 21 Jan 2010 21:51:00 UTC | #433999

MelM's Avatar Comment 28 by MelM

Homeopathetic medicine I think.

Thu, 21 Jan 2010 22:29:00 UTC | #434008

Rosbif's Avatar Comment 29 by Rosbif

For those interested in reading, there's this; the condensed homeopathic encyclopedia:


The extended version was far too small to print in full.

Thu, 21 Jan 2010 22:41:00 UTC | #434009

ridelo's Avatar Comment 30 by ridelo

My favourite in homoeopathy: EXCREMENTUM CANIS.
Or dog shit. Probably good for memory because I forgot where it was good for.

Thu, 21 Jan 2010 23:14:00 UTC | #434019