Sunday, April 5, 2009

Homeopathy creeping in

Ask anyone you meet about homeopathy and keep track of the responses.
Note how few people generally know what it is in Malaysia. Do you know?

Ever wonder why its usually not explained to people that are not desperate for cures?

I read this article from TheStar. Note what that at the end, the man turns to homeopathy for what? Aids? whoa... must be a super alternative treatment to let you recover from that.

"He said he was now seeking homeopathy treatment, believing that he had a better chance of recovery."

"Recovery" he says.
Poor deluded, misdirected and gullible man.

Homeopaths go around claiming to cure everything from the sniffles to syphilis, but does anyone really know what homeopathic preparations really are?

Homeopathy, by any modern standards used to measure its efficacy, appears to be nothing more than a practice that takes advantage of the placebo effect to trick people into thinking it does something for their problems.

Really, it is just a sugar tablet covered with liquid containing a substance that causes the symptoms it wishes to cure, but so diluted that you would be lucky to even get a molecule of the original substance covering the tablet. 

Again, what they are selling is essentially magic water on sugar pills.

Now, who usually falls for these? well, take the example in the article from TheStar above.
Twice confirmed HIV positive? He is definitely looking for answers.

On one hand, you might use the "what is the harm" argument. He is already out of options so why not try alternative right? This is nothing but a hunt for simple answers for his far-from-simple predicament.

On the other hand is the much uglier face of homeopathy. Having no real science to back it up, do homeopaths have the right to jump in and give false hope to desperate people... at a cost no less? 

Are we honestly not going to put our foot down on such a practice, or do we simply wish to not think about it should we ever need the comfort of a security blanket in the future.
Think hard on that, as the cost for that safety blanket for ourselves is to keep this nonsense around for our kids to fall into. 

Homeopathy seems nothing more than another snake-oil merchant's juice that is targeted at desperate folks looking for a quick or simple answer, and the homeopath looking for a quick and simple buck.

They prey on those who are already at the end of their ropes, giving false hope at a cost.

Don't get me wrong, I can acknowledge that there are those that really believe they are helping others with their practice, but please HONESTLY look at these few issues with homeopathy below:

- The dilutions are usually so dilute there is nothing in it but water. Yet they stick with the "more dilute more effective" theory. There is nothing to prove this theory works.

- "Like Cures Like" is another principle. Give sufferer a homeopathic remedy with the exact same main ingredient that would cause the patients current state... of course you then dilute it later and somehow this is supposed to make it a remedy. Again, no explanation on how that works.

- Homeopaths use a special shake(succussion) when making their dilutions so that the water will "remember" what is in it, even thought there is probably less main ingredient in it than contaminants at some point... yet they claim water knows what to remember. Also, there is no proof of water memory that can do such things.

- When administering a treatment, these quacks refer to and unrevised journals known as the Materia Medicia. Most entries of course were from before germ discovery many years ago. I.e they had cures for microbe caused issues even if they had no idea there were such things... this just means that they have not been reviewed to make sure its up to date with newer medical discoveries etc.

- And to 'learn' new 'cures' homeopaths do 'provings' which require consuming a substance and then monitoring things like subtle simptoms and their dreams etc. The involvement of a 'dream' element should be enough to hint to you that exact science is not really part of their game.

- James Randi runs JREF, an education foundation which offers a 1 Million bounty for proving anything supernatural in proper controlled environments. The bounty has been extended to Homeopathy as well. Here is a great video of James Randi explaining what Homeopathy is with its absurdities. Please give it a go. It is no wonder that the bounty is still unclaimed.

- In 2007, another interesting challenge was from the Andy Lewis of Quackometer to see if homeopaths could tell their own pills apart using any tests they wish came about. No takers.
In 2008, the same challenge was extended to universities offering classes in quack subjects. Still silence. Many of these universities are now dropping these BS classes when made aware of how foolish it was that academic institutes were looking into pseudo-science for courses.

(On a side note, our already degrading Malaysian universities are still dishing out these courses. Ill touch on that in another post)

For now, the main issue is homeopathy creeping into our society.

So, with more homeopathy clinics popping up in Malaysia these days, I think its very important that we take, and encourage others to take, a strong, long and objective look at homeopathy.

We should take the time to do this NOW, instead of later when we are desperate for a cure and everything magical or mysterious suddenly seems possible.

-e-

6 comments:

  1. itz like me telling ppl,
    rainbow unicorns will cure you of everything

    ReplyDelete
  2. Which Malaysian uni is offering courses in this??? I'd like them to be introduced to the rainbow unicorns...

    ReplyDelete
  3. SRC:
    http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2009/4/4/nation/20090404132917&sec=nation

    "Dr Ramli said these courses could be offered at the International Medical University, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Inti College, Cyberjaya University College and Community College."

    ReplyDelete
  4. I see you have a lot to say about Testimonials and quack claims. Check out this article on the famous Carlill vs Carbolic Smoke Ball Company. Most interesting is the paragraph on Legacy & Modern Perspectives near the end of the article.

    If you want to see the original advertisement that was placed in the newspaper in 1891, containing the mass of testimonials, come by my office. You'll be shocked at how strongly worded the testimonials are :-)

    Alex Yeoh

    ReplyDelete
  5. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carlill_v._Carbolic_Smoke_Ball_Company

    here's the link

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi Alex.
    Much thanks for that link. That pretty much sums it up for contract law i guess :)

    Ive managed to read the testimonials from the original ads :) ...this really is a good way to show the 'value' of testimonials, heh.

    Cheers!

    ReplyDelete