It’s good to see that the Irish mainstream media have finally started to question the fraud of homeopathy. That’s encouraging.
Sadly, however, there are still so many people prepared to argue in favour of this worthless money-making racket by using personal attacks, by trying to foster a sense of paranoia and by relying on logic so faulty a three-year-old wouldn’t stand for it.
There are about 500 comments on the article as I write, and a quick scan through them is a good indication of the tactics employed by the supporters of Woo.
I think the proponents of homeopathy are divided between those who genuinely believe in magic and those who know it’s bollocks, but they seem to share one common characteristic: they all think there’s a conspiracy against homeopathy.
Most particularly, they’ve evolved a new hate figure: the Skeptic. This is a bit like the American right-wing demonisation of Liberals, but with significantly less intelligence than the Tea Party, and that’s saying something.
It’s remarkable how Irish and British homeopaths have all adopted the American spelling of this word, skeptic but let’s gloss over that for the moment and examine the logic. The assumption seems to be that scepticism is a bad thing, even though healthy doubt is the thing that keeps us alive. After all, if you offer me a blue and purple mushroom to eat, I’ll be sceptical. I’m not just going to take your word that it’s edible. Why should I? Show me the evidence. Scepticism is a sensible survival strategy. Otherwise, we’d all be eating poison and jumping out of helicopters without a parachute.
Animals are the ultimate sceptics. You have to win their trust before they’ll come near you, and that’s for the very good reason that they might die if they make the wrong choice. Scepticism is at the very core of evolution and survival. It’s also the thing that drove every single discovery that humanity ever uncovered. Instead of believing the first conjecture we hear, instead of swallowing any old nonsense, human beings have said No. Let’s find out about this.
It might easily be a rough definition of science: let’s find out about this.
Yet, in the world of homeopathy, scepticism is a bad thing, and Skeptics are the enemy. This seems to be what characterises the arguments in favour of water-medicine. Instead of answering the hard questions about their claims, they prefer to demonise the people asking those hard questions, as religious fundamentalists are inclined to do. Instead of arguing the facts, they prefer to question the good intentions of those who disagree with them.
They even have a devil, and its name is Big Pharma, a demon with no motivation apart from making money.
Wait. Are they talking about those thieving, manipulative, dishonest pharmaceutical corporations that rob the rest of us? If so, maybe we’ve found some common ground. They point out the disastrous problems with Thalidomide and a host of other ill-conceived chemicals that caused nothing but harm, and so far we’re all on their side. So far, so good, until you bump up against a ludicrous logical fallacy, which is this. Somehow, because cynical, dishonest pharmaceutical companies exist, it means that homeopathy must work.
Where’s the logic in that? Cynical, dishonest pharmaceutical companies can sell poisonous chemicals for the rest of eternity, and homeopaths will still be selling you water. I went into that in great detail here, so I won’t waste time covering it again, except to say that all homeopathic remedies are either water or sugar and nothing else, but that’s where the homeopaths shift up a gear and delve into the realms of magic. Water, it seems, has a memory, and even though the homeopathic remedy has nothing at all dissolved in it, somehow or other it remembers what used to be there. Not the billions of other things it had dissolved in it since the dawn of time, but only the thing you, as a homeopath, want it to remember. What a kind, obliging substance water is.
Homeopathy has its origins in an era before people understood what molecules are, and before people understood the difference between a solution and a suspension, but that doesn’t stop its proponents attempting to silence its critics with ludicrous pseudo-scientific talk of quantum physics. And if that doesn’t work, they’re delighted to fall back on Latin, the language of ancient medicine. Thus, we have quackery invented in the 18th century, whose adherents describe all their remedies in a ridiculous fake-classical terminology.
Wonderful. You can bottle electricity and use it to cure things.
You can buy a dilution of the deadly poison Paraquat, and no matter how much you drink, it will do you no harm whatsoever. Why? Because it’s only water. That’s homeopathy for you. No active ingredients.
When homeopaths aren’t attacking the bona-fides of the people asking hard questions, they’re trying hard to snow you with fake scientific terminology, which leads to a delicious contradiction. On the one hand, they’re not prepared to submit to proper scientific examination, but on the other hand, they’re delighted to hijack the language of rational investigation in support of what is essentially nothing more than magic. You’ll hear a lot of talk about quantum physics and nano water molecule science, because this is the sort of thing that impresses people who know nothing at all about science.
The mark of a true ideologue is when they try to impose this kind of language on reasonably well-informed people who actually understand a bit of science. Or to put it another way, don’t give me this guff.
And when that happens, the veil slips away, and homeopathy is exposed for the scam it is.