Diluting homeopathy

By Phil Plait | December 29, 2008 7:00 am

My friend Joel Parker sent me a link to a wonderfully satirical article by a man who was (also satirically) running for President. It consists of many short slices of ideas, including this one about homeopathy:

ONE OF THE PRINCIPLES of homeopathic medicine is that a smaller dose is considered more effective than a larger dose. This has profound implications for U.S. foreign policy. At the moment, we have 158,000 troops in Iraq. Imagine if we had only six! According to homeopathic logic, this presence would be much more successful.

Glass of water from blmurch’s Flickr stream

This sentiment is certainly no more silly than any others that meet the standards, such as they are, of homeopathology. Homeopathy is perhaps the most ridiculous of all quackery, since it says that the best medicine is medicine that is entirely gone. In theory it hardly needs debunking; it’s a cul-de-sac of reason, Poe’s Law incarnate. It’s the solipsism of medicine.

Still, many people believe in it, so in practice it does need debunking. In a typical essay showing all the myriad ways homeopathy goes wrong, the usual suspects are displayed: the theory behind it doesn’t make sense, water doesn’t have memory, diluting medicine actually makes it weaker, and all that. But you don’t need to go into all that detail. Why not? Because homeopathy is self-denying! Just look at it this way:

If homeopathy works, then obviously the less you use it, the stronger it gets. So the best way to apply homeopathy is to not use it at all.

Quod erat demonstrandum.

Still, homeopaths tend to be immune to logic and reason (ironically, proving homeopathy at least in principle: the less likely you are to ask for scientific evidence to support it, the stronger homeopathological evidence gets).

So we need a practical application, a way to stop homeopathy practitioners cold. And I think I have it.

The next time you meet one, ask them what they do when they get thirsty.

If they really believe homeopathy, then within days all the homeopaths will be gone, deceased due to diligently dogmatic dehydration. And the beauty of it? According to their own logic, once all the homeopaths are gone, they will have reached maximum strength.

They win, we win, medicine wins, logic wins. Everyone wins. Well, technically, they don’t win, being dead and all. But they made their point! I think.

Anyway, spread the word! And if you’re a homeopath, then it’s your duty to link to this very blog post: according to your own tenets, the more it gets out there, the weaker it is! So submit it to Digg, submit it to Fark, put it on Slashdot, and Boing Boing, and Neatorama. Get millions of people to visit this page. It’s the only way to stop skepticism!

Photo courtesy blmurch’s Flickr stream.


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