It’s Homeopathy Awareness Week. I’m not sure we can really trust the mainstream media to be fully aware of the nature of homeopathy. Perhaps we can trust bloggers though? Let’s see: the Daily Mail, having produced (predictably enough) an article headlined ‘Homeopathy works!’, is taken to task by a blogger in this, the beginning of Homeopathy Awareness Week (although I’m not clear on when the Mail article was first published#).
Interestingly, the Mail article claims that “[homeopathy] works on the principle that a substance which in large doses will cause the symptoms of an illness can be used in minute doses to relieve the same symptoms.” I find this interesting because they seem not to have found room to tell readers that many homeopathic remedies will contain not a “minute dose” of a substance but will actually contain no dose whatsoever – anything above 12C will [in all likelihood*] contain no molecules of the original substance. It will have been diluted out of existence. The failure to report this, to my mind, makes the Daily Mail’s article misleading, distorted, and inaccurate (all contrary to the PCC code). But there’s nothing new in that.
Thankfully, one blogger has seen fit to write a post critical of this Mail article: the author of the Zygoma blog doubts that the Mail will publish his comments (and they haven’t so far), but reproduces them on his own website. He also offers readers the opportunity to post any comments they have submitted to the Mail regarding this article.
According to Andy Lewis of the Quackometer, The Society of Homeopaths are promoting “Homeopathy – a natural approach for the symptoms of hay fever”. APGaylard, at A canna’ change the laws of physics, has written about the evidence for homeopathy in hayfever – read how he sorted the wheat from the chaff here: Homeopathy awareness week and hay fever.
David Colquhoun, of Improbable Science, thinks that It’s clear that the public have rumbled the fraud and that homeopathy is heading back to where it was in the 1960s, a small lunatic fringe on the High Street. There’s an interesting comparison made between tobacco companies and homeopaths in this article.
The Quackometer blog, meanwhile, wants to assist journalists and presenters looking for someone to discuss Homeopathy Awareness Week. The author of this blog can put you in contact with researchers, medics and campaigners who care that the public is fully aware of what homeopathy is and what its limitations are. He ends by saying “Let’s have the debate.”
Steven Novella has written a post on Homeopathy Awareness Week and ends with this comment: I am all in favor of homeopathic awareness. The scientific community should use this week to make the public acutely aware of the fact that homeopathy is, put simply, utter rubbish. It is a classic pseudoscience and has no place in a 21st century science-based health care system.
Zeno has urged us to Let’s be aware. Very aware. Zeno discusses the letter from Lewith, Dixon and Fisher published in the Guardian on Saturday.
APGaylard, having commented on Zeno’s blog, has now written a piece of his own titled False positives?. Gaylard takes a look at the six reviews referred to by Lewith, Dixon and Fisher in their letter.
Orac is torn: “On the one hand, publicizing the magical, mystical thinking that is homeopathy serves a purpose [...] On the other hand, why provide homeopaths publicity…” A commenter remarks upon something which had also occurred to me: “Don’t worry too much. Chiropractic Awareness Week in April didn’t do that bunch much good, did it?”
And finally (for now), Crispian Jago has produced a rather wonderful post based on a Monty Python sketch in honour of homeopathy awareness week. One commenter thinks Crispian should do a redub of the original and put it on youtube. I agree.
Please post in the comments section any examples you come across of bloggers or journalists who write about homeopathy this week.
Edit 1: More blogs – the Thinking is Real blog also has a list of blogs that are taking a look at homeopathy. I won’t duplicate that list here – you can visit Thinking is Real to see the full list. Thanks to Andy for alerting me to this in his comment. Evening Person is also blogging on HAW.
Edit 2: *There is a chance that remedies at 12C will contain a molecule of the original substance (a 60% chance if one mole of the original substance was used, I think). Above 12C, the odds that a homeopathic remedy will contain a single molecule of the original substance become ever greater. Thanks to Sandy for raising this point in the comments section.
Edit 3: #According to Dr*T, the article is from 13/06/03. Thanks T.