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View Full Version : "The Enemies of Reason" (homeopathy discussion)


Pavlos
08-30-2007, 11:30 AM
In this second series (again on Channel 4) Dawkins explores the world of pseudo-science and alternative medicine. Of interest is how homoeopathy defies the laws of physics. I'm wondering who else enjoyed this rather interesting series - which is actually better done than his first one, which rather just came across as him parading across the universe. If you have 4 On Demand installed - unfortunately I think you have to live in the British Isles to get it - then I think it's still online and available for you to download (not checked recently).

I'm sure Google Video would have a copy somewhere but I'm not entirely sure of the legality of that. Plus, the second part is still free and the first part only costs 0.99 - not really much of a price to pay to rent an excellent program :).

Jae Onasi
08-31-2007, 01:40 AM
Homeopathy doesn't do a whole lot--the extracts are given in such watered down amounts that they have no therapeutic value. However, the placebo effect makes about 35% of us feel better and attribute it to the homeopathic substance.

In the mid/late 1800's when this was especially popular, we had no other real medications (aspirin, the first 'official' medicine, didn't come onto the American scene until I believe 1901). So people took what they could to try to ease their problems. If you got better, then the homeopathic medicine 'obviously worked'. If you didn't get better, you weren't able to complain about it because usually you were dead.

Pavlos
08-31-2007, 07:18 AM
Homeopathy doesn't do a whole lot--the extracts are given in such watered down amounts that they have no therapeutic value. However, the placebo effect makes about 35% of us feel better and attribute it to the homeopathic substance.

Oh yeah, he came to the conclusion at the end of the program that the reason why people feel better is simply because on average an NHS doctor only has enough time to give a patient 11 minutes of attention whereas these people talk and care for the patient for about an hour - Dawkins says that just seeing his local GP gives him the same feeling - it's the reassurance of talking to someone trained. The people he met performing these treatments were all thoroughly pleasant and wonderfully caring and as such would have made brilliant doctors and nurses.

What's interesting about homoeopathy is that to reach the dilution it says on the side of the bottle, you'd need all the atoms in the universe - I think - to dilute just one drop. Which means... they sell you water - that or they have discovered a new brand of physics. Interestingly, a lot of the homoeopaths he visited actually admitted - without pressure being put on them - it was water and said that they didn't understand why it worked.

PoiuyWired
09-01-2007, 07:59 PM
Simply Put... It Does Not Work.

Anythingseen is just placebo effect. And yes, you can do that by using just water and coolaid. So mind as well put yout faith in Coolaidopathy.

Herbal medicine, however, is a whole different matter. But thats another topic.

Eiganjo
09-02-2007, 01:37 PM
I dont really think it matters why it works, as long as it does - and Homeopathy does work for some unknown reason, which I experienced from personal experience.
Id say the ends justify the means. So if using water helps its fine with me.

Qui-Gon Glenn
09-16-2007, 05:30 AM
I dont really think it matters why it works, as long as it does - and Homeopathy does work for some unknown reason, which I experienced from personal experience.
Id say the ends justify the means. So if using water helps its fine with me.

Well, I wish you would be more specific here.

The ends justifying the means is an awfully slippery slope to take in argumentation. I think I just said the same thing twice, actually.

There is always power in the placebo effect, especially if the style of "treatment" pleases you. There is power in persuasion, and you can certainly persuade yourself.

And drinking water will almost always help :D

PoiuyWired
09-16-2007, 09:11 AM
Especially if it is colored water, best served in a funky glass labled with a weird name.

Thats why I think coolaid would work as such a wonderful placebo for the lest enlightened places of this world.

Samuel Dravis
09-16-2007, 04:05 PM
I just read an article from Ars Technica on this subject. (http://arstechnica.com/articles/culture/the-pseudoscience-behind-homeopathy.ars) Perhaps it will be of interest.

Dagobahn Eagle
09-17-2007, 07:37 AM
I like how he brought up this one thing I've always wondered about with homeopathy: if the diluded substance is supposed to have an effect... why don't the others, too, have an effect? There must be traces of many different substances in water - why don't they have an effect?