Excess Woo – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle?

July 1, 2009 at 3:47 pm (Alternative Medicine, Miscellaneous, Trivial, Woo) (, , , , , , , , , )

Far too much energy is being expended on producing and consuming the bullshit of the counterknowledge industry: nutritionism, homeopathy, and the various forms of energy medicine that rely on vitalism being prime examples of this industry. Worthless remedies are produced, and worthless books and pamphlets are published. 

Let’s see if we can do something about that. I have one or two ideas and I’m sure people reading this can come up with a few additional thoughts (probably better thought-out and more practical than my own). First we need to reduce the amount of bullshit:

  1. Politely and diplomatically point out to your flakey friends that the books on crystal healing or conspiracy theories that they are buying and reading are a waste of their time and money. It may be worth lending them your copy of Bad Science and/or Counterknowledge or buying them their own copy. The fewer books on astrology or homeopathy that your friends buy, the less energy is wasted on the production of worthless pseudoscientific writings.
  2. The same goes for the remedies they buy. Why are they wasting their money on unnecessary food supplements (note: there are some exceptions to the rule that food supplements are unnecessary, but not many – you should probably consult a GP or registered dietitian for reliable information on necessary supplements)? Why are they buying homeopathic remedies likely to contain no active ingredient? Informing them of the nature of homeopathy might be a good start. Tell them that the evidence does not support the idea that popping antioxidant pills is a good idea, however much sense it seems to make to them. And continue from there.
  3. Write to the newspapers when they uncritically promote the latest AltMed fashion or print contrarian articles claiming that climate change is a myth. If you get nowhere, then complain to the PCC. If nothing else, you will take up the valuable time of a journalist/editor and embarrass the newspaper if the PCC adjudicate against them. It may be worth “keeping your powder dry” and saving your PCC complaints for the worst abuses of science. For example, an article that makes suggestions that may endanger public health.
  4. In fact, you could write to the Daily Mail and ask them to print only truthful and accurate stories. That should make for a much slimmer daily newspaper. Once you’ve persuaded the Mail, you might want to try other daily and weekly newspapers.

Can we re-use any of the pseudoscientific materials that are currently out there, having already been purchased? I think it’s possible.

  1. If you have a pet, why not use, say, the Optimum Nutrition Bible to line their cage? Other examples of potential cage lining include Daily Mail articles on health, or books on mystical crystal skulls.
  2. Alternatively, you could use literature such as the above mentioned ONB (or maybe one of Gillian McKeith’s efforts) to teach your friends (or members of the public) a bit about science. Begin by pointing out where Holford or McKeith get it wrong. You could simply tell your friends and family – or you could start a blog and inform anyone who is willing to read it.
  3. Need to water your plants? Don’t run the tap – simply use the unopened bottles of homeopathic remedies you have lying around (be careful, though, not to use remedies based on alcohol rather than water and avoid using potencies that have a good chance of actually containing some of the active ingredient – check the label first).
  4. Sweet tooth? You can reuse homeopathic tablets based on sucrose or lactose to sweeten your tea. Try to use “higher potencies” as these are less likely to contain any trace of the active ingredient.

Finally, recycling:

  1. Paper from the aforementioned books and Daily Mail articles should be suitable for recycling. If you don’t know of a recycling facility that will accept paper, try asking your local council.
  2. Erm. You could try recycling plastic and glass bottles that used to contain food supplements pills or herbal remedies.
  3. Err… that’s it.

Caution: you should exercise common sense when considering my suggestions. They are not supposed to be entirely serious. Except the one about lining your pet’s cage with pages from the ONB.

Please post your far wittier and/or much more practical ideas in the comments section below.


  1. zeno said,

    Good ideas there. Just watch out for the homeopathic potions that are not homeopathic – like the one that contained high levels of zinc.

  2. Badsciencemonk said,

    “Sweet tooth? You can reuse homeopathic tablets based on sucrose or lactose to sweeten your tea. Try to use “higher potencies” as these are less likely to contain any trace of the active ingredient.”


  3. Andy said,

    Tell your flakey friend you’ve got access to wholesale homeopathic pillules. Then fill their empty bottles with hundreds and thousands (sprinkles).

    If they ask why they are multi-coloured, explain that they are the new vitamin enhanced type.

    (my advice too, is not to be taken seriously)

  4. Dr. Nancy Malik said,

    Homoeopathy (Micro Doses Mega Results) cures even when Conventional Allopathic Medicine (CAM) fails

  5. jdc325 said,

    Nancy – would you like to answer the points raised by commenters in other threads rather than continuing with your childish drive-by commenting?

    Like this one, for example… or perhaps this one?

    Or maybe you would be good enough to revisit the Think Humanism forum and respond to the thread there? Here is a link to the relevant thread. Save you looking for it yourself.

  6. Zeno said,


    Have you completely forgotten the trial you proposed four months ago to test homeopathy?


    Don’t you have the conviction or integrity to follow this through? Or don’t you believe in homeopathy?

  7. LouHom said,

    Don’t you people have anything useful to do with your lives? I don’t like snooker or golf but that doesn’t mean I spend my whole life rubbishing it!
    It is like some of you skeptics do it for a living!
    My advice is:
    1. Get a life.
    2. Try a homeopathic remedy. Lycopodium is the main one for egocentric males with ‘intellectual’ leanings or you could try Sulphur for scientific types.

  8. zeno said,

    LouHom siad: “Lycopodium is the main one for egocentric males with ‘intellectual’ leanings or you could try Sulphur for scientific types.”

    Sorry to bother you with that pesky ‘evidence’ word, but do you have any such evidence to back up your claim?

  9. jdc325 said,

    “Don’t you people have anything useful to do with your lives?”
    Well, yes most of us do have useful things to do – one of which happens to be picking up some of the bullshit that the AltMed seems to be intent on spreading everywhere.

    “It is like some of you skeptics do it for a living!”
    I think I might like to do this for a living. I thoroughly enjoy debunking nonsense and I could do with a full-time job. Most bloggers though, believe it or not, do this sort of thing for free in their spare time. Some even pay to do it (those who have their own website often fund it themselves, unless they have a free blog from a provider such as WordPress).

  10. Neuroskeptic said,

    I see Nancy Malik is taking your advice to heart jdc. She’s been recycling the same sentence for about six months.

  11. Examples of Homeopathic Debate « jdc325's Weblog said,

    […] repeats of the comments in the second thread I linked to. A similar comment was also added to a post I’d […]

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