So it recently came to my attention, and I will admit I did not know this before, that homeopaths can now call themselves doctor in South Africa. Now ladies and gentlemen, for those of you who have a vague notion of what homeopathy is but are not sure of the details, I would like to introduce you to an overview of how this pseudoscientific woo woo actually works. I’m not making any of this up, and I invite you to check my facts stated here. It is truly mind blazingly idiotic, so moronic - that some of you will outright laugh at how these “doctors” work.
So here goes:
Firstly they need to find what can treat a certain illness. This is done by finding someone who appears to be well, and giving them a substance. Lets assume we give a well patient a dose of cactus sap, from some indigenous cactus. The “doctors” then observe this patient and see what happens. Lets say they find he gets a stomach-ache, a rash over his body, and he cant sleep. This is a proving. We have found a substance that can now “cure” these symptoms.
Second we wait till a patient comes in with the symptoms above. So person X comes in with a rash, can’t sleep and upset stomach. Well the homeopath knows from a proving that cactus sap from a certain cactus here in SA can cause this. So what does he do? He prescribes cactus sap to “cure” the symptoms of the patient.
Sound absurd yet? You haven’t heard anything yet.
Thirdly, the homeopath doesn’t give a concentrated dose of the sap, this could kill people, and in the past homeopaths raked up corpses until they hit on the idea of diluting the substance first. I use the word dilution, but this doesn’t really give justice to what is happening. Dilution in the homeopathic sense, is so extreme that we cannot imagine it in numbers. I’ll try give you an example.
In homeopathy, you take one part of the substance and dilute it with 10 parts of water. Then you shake it 10 times in various directions. You then get a 1x solution. That’s one part substance to 10 parts water. If you take one part of that dilution and add it to 10 parts water, you get 2x, or mathematically 1 in 100 parts. 3x is 1 in 1000 parts. 30x would be 1 in 10^30 (30 0’s afterwards). At this kind of level, the word dilute ceases to be useful. They have a new word: attenuated.
Fourthly, the rule is that the more dilute you make it, the stronger the substance gets. I don’t say this, they do. I told you it was absurd.
Now some of you might be aware of Avogadro’s number. This is the number of 10 to the power 23. When a substance gets to the dilution of this there is only 1 molecule (atom) of the original substance left in the dilution. At 10 to the 24th, there is only a one in ten chance of there being a single atom left in the mixture.
So what do homeopaths like to “attenuate” their mixtures to typically? Well anything up to 1500x – or more. The more you do it the better! Now at 1500x, trying to think of this dilution in numbers is indeed pointless. So here is the mathematician Martin Gardeners example who was able to express this as a metaphor. It is equivalent to taking 1 grain of rice, crushing it into a fine powder and dissolving it in a sphere of water the size of the solar system out to Pluto. Shake it 10 times, and repeat another 2 billion times.
Now to illustrate what you can buy: Here is a product to cure sleeplessness. The active ingredient? That’s right – like cures like – so its caffeine. I said some of you would be laughing didn’t I?
Now there are a load of happy reviews from people cheerily telling us how they can sleep since taking pills of diluted caffeine. What’s the dilution? Well its unhelpfully labelled 30c. Now I was using 30x in my examples above, but it can be converted to 60x if you look up the maths.
So there is likely not a single atom of caffeine in the pills, yet we are being sold them at £35 pounds for a pack. This is over the internet mind you, your friendly neighbourhood homeopath might charge you more, including the consultation.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is stupid. This is moronic. It is puerile. We live in a society where people are paying money for a pill with absolutely nothing in it. And then coming back for more! This madness has to stop. Tell your friends, your co-workers, your family – anyone - Stop going to homeopaths! It is utterly insane.
Please stop supporting these quack “doctors”. They are not doctors of any sort and should be ashamed to call themselves such. It is a mockery to any real doctor, his trade and our own intelligence. Speak out and stop this madness.
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