You’d think it’d be pretty easy to spot what it is that a website is trying to tell you and separate the fact from the opinion. But sometimes, the point might be harder to spot than you realise.
Rory’s post about exponential numbers included an aside in square brackets that used to say:
Some quick homeopathy facts:
- The ‘homeopathic approach’ was invented in the late 1700s by Samuel Hahnemann, who was a doctor before giving up in disgust in around 1781.
- Samuel also wrote a paper that blamed many diseases on coffee.
- Homeopathy is premised on:
- ‘like curing like’ (The same thing that will make a healthy person sick will make a sick person healthy—also extrapolated to encompass the principle of the same agent that cures one disease can cure another.)
- the idea that the more dilute something is, the stronger its healing properties.
- To make the medicine:
- A practitioner dilutes the ‘active’ ingredient with 10 parts water.
- This is shaken up, then a tenth is taken and mixed with another 10 parts water. Shake and repeat, increasing the dilution exponentially until you get to the required ‘strength’. (Sometimes done with a 100 parts water, which would make these numbers even bigger!)
- At a dilution of 10 ^ 23, there would only be a single molecule of the original active ingredient.
- At 10 ^ 24, there is a 1 in 10 chance that there would be a single molecule of the active ingredient… (See Avogadro’s Number)
I’d just read a summary from a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) report—published this month—after a recent study of homeopathic treatments. The NHMRC couldn’t find reliable evidence showing that homeopathic treatments could effectively cure any health condition.
Anyway, Rory’s paragraph got me thinking.
First, it was: ‘the same thing making a healthy person sick might make a sick person better in smaller doses’—isn’t that kind of what a vaccine is?