Saturday, 22 August 2009

Quack Quack

I’m receiving a high number of hits from people looking for information on the Slimray Lipolaser I was debunking a couple of weeks ago. It’s the kind of device your belief in science’s triumph over blubber wants to convince you is real and works – but it ain’t and doesn’t; at least not according to science.

Talking of quack cures (once again), the World Health Organisation has said that people with conditions such as HIV, TB and malaria should not rely on homeopathic treatments.

Dr Nick Beeching, a specialist in infectious diseases at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital said: "There is no objective evidence that homeopathy has any effect on these infections, and I think it is irresponsible for a healthcare worker to promote the use of homeopathy in place of proven treatment for any life-threatening illness."

The reasons medics are not prepared to condemn homeopathy outright is that for some people and some conditions it can work. The reason it can work is not due to any pharmacological mechanism, but due to the placebo effect – the same way in which a witch doctor can cure (or kill) some people. It’s all to do with the power of suggestion and not any innate efficacy on the part of the medication. If you are a highly suggestible individual you can convince yourself that virtually anything from prayer to placebo works, and for conditions where mental attitude plays a crucial role, they can. However, neither prayer nor placebo have ever regenerated a severed limb.


  1. The existence of a placebo effect should't stop medics condemning it outright (falling down on our knees and praying to Chairman Bill might have a placebo effect for some but there may be a good number of doctors who will condemn the practice). What I find truly shocking is that NHS funding is being used to support homeopathy. Whatever happened to evidence-based medicine?

  2. There are lots of Germans in my life, and the mothers rattle around the place carrying quantities of homeopathic medicines for their kids. Not sure they make the kids feel alright - they're all sweeties to them - but they sure work for the mamas...

  3. Homeopathic balm got rid of the glass-slash scars on my face, which no amount of wishing would. Unless...wait...yeah, I'm so frikkin' powerful my wishing DID heal me.

    Dammit, you're right, Bill. I love you :)

  4. Homeopathy is quackery of the highest order. But people still fall for it.

  5. I wonder if we removed all negative evidence and hearsay regarding homeopathic medicines and publicised 'scientific' evidence that they worked, what the outcomes would be. i.e. what would the placebo effect be if we removed all doubt?
    Not that this is going to happen - jus' wondering...