Jan 01 2015

2014 Was a Bad Year for Homeopathy

I have been saying for several years that if there is a pseudoscientific medical treatment that is especially vulnerable to critical analysis it’s homeopathy. There’s a lot of nonsense in the world of medicine, but homeopathy takes the prize. First, it is complete and utter nonsense.

There is no need to equivocate. Homeopathy violates basic scientific knowledge in physics, chemistry and biology. It is transparent witchcraft that cannot possibly work by any known or even semi-plausible mechanism. Further, clinical studies unsurprisingly show that it does not work, for anything.

And yet the public does not generally understand what homeopathy actually is. The most common belief is that homeopathy is natural or herbal medicine. Rather, homeopathy is based upon several dubious notions. The first is that like cures like, and idea based on sympathetic magic and not science or any knowledge of the real world. Further, the actual starting ingredients are based upon a fanciful and often absurd interpretation of this dubious notion, leading to things like using duck liver to treat the flu.

None of this actually matters, however, because most homeopathic remedies are diluted beyond the point that there is any chance of a single molecule of starting ingredient remaining. All of this is supposed to work, however, because the potion is “activated” by shaking it.

There is therefore a great opportunity to reduce the popularity of homeopathy simply by explaining to people what it is. This is why skeptics have started embracing homeopathy awareness week. We want people to be aware.

Articles in mainstream non-skeptical outlets are appearing, pointing out the utter ridiculousness of homeopathy.

There have been a number of comprehensive reviews of homeopathy in recent years, all concluding that there is no evidence or plausibility to homeopathy. Even the Swiss report, which was trumped up by homeopaths, had to conclude that there is no good clinical evidence to support homeopathy.

2014 added a new review to the list, by Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). They concluded:

Based on all the evidence considered, there were no health conditions for which there was reliable evidence that homeopathy was effective. No good-quality, well-designed studies with enough participants for a meaningful result reported either that homeopathy caused greater health improvements than placebo, or caused health improvements equal to those of another treatment.

Homeopaths tried to criticize the report, as they always do, but to no avail. The evidence is the evidence.

Also in Australia a Federal court found that claims being made by Homeopathy Plus! for their homeopathic vaccines were misleading and dangerous. They found:

The Court found that Homeopathy Plus! and Ms Sheffield engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct and made false or misleading representations by publishing statements on the Homeopathy Plus website to the effect that:

  • the whooping cough vaccine is short lived, unreliable and no longer effective;
  • the vaccine may not be the best solution for, of limited effect, and is unreliable at best in protecting against whooping cough; and
  • the vaccine is largely ineffective in protecting against whooping cough,

when in fact the whooping cough vaccine is effective in protecting a significant majority of people from contracting whooping cough.

As a result, we are making progress, especially in the UK. Michael Marshall from the Good Thinking Society reports:

In 2010, when I first became involved in alternative health activism, the NHS funded no fewer than five homeopathic hospitals; today all have either closed or faced a serious threat to their existence. Recent figures, obtained through a freedom of information request by the Nightingale Collaboration, show an encouraging swing away from homeopathy, with prescriptions falling from a high of 170,000 per annum in 1996 to just over 10,000 last year.


As I wrote above, there is no need to equivocate. Homeopathy is a dangerous scam. It should not be sold, and should not be supported in any way by governments, universities, or hospitals. There is no need to research it further, that would be a complete waste of resources. It is transparent witchcraft that belongs to a prescientific age.

At least the word seems to be getting out.

I wish a happy new year to all my readers.

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