Episode Twenty One: Homeopathy, Lies About Magic Potions


Today we are talking about homeopathy. We will show that it is nonsense, how it is typically sold in a dishonest fashion and what should be done about it.

[Note: Please note that this transcript may not exactly match the audio. However, there should be no significant differences.]

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Hi everyone! This is episode twenty-one of the Metaphysics of Physics podcast. Today we are talking about homeopathy, how it is fraudulently sold and what should be done about it.

What is Homeopathy?

Homeopathy is based on the principle of “like cures like”. That is, you treat an ailment with something that causes the symptoms of the ailment. So, if you want a homeopathic “treatment” for watery eyes, you start with onion juice. Or, if you want to treat the flu you can apparently use belladonna.

Homeopathy is pseudoscience quackery. It was created by Samuel Hahnemann in 1796.

What homeopaths do is consider the symptoms of a disease. And then try to find natural remedies which cause reactions which look like symptoms of the disease. Things which also seem to cause reactions like the symptoms of the ailment in question. Which they then pretend is the same thing as finding a treatment for the disease.

When asked, a homeopath recently said that what they do is look at a picture of the affected body part and look at the symptoms. And then use stuff which would replicate those symptoms.

So, if a patient has a bee-sting, they might look at a picture of the patient’s foot. And then find something that causes inflammation. They then proceed to try to treat the bee sting with that. And possibly some other things that cause other visible symptoms.

We are not making this up, this is what an actual homeopath has said!

This is clearly non-scientific. Even if belladonna causes some flu-like symptoms, that does not mean that it has any effect against the flu itself or its symptoms.

They are trying to treat an ailment with something that also causes some of the same symptoms.

It does not matter since we know that “like cures like” is nonsense. You do not treat an ailment by exposing patients to the causes of the symptoms of ailment.

Ah, but homeopaths claim that what this does is build up the patient’s immunity to the ailment, or at least its symptoms. In the words of one such charlatan: “Homeopathic remedies aim to stimulate your body to respond to symptoms being experienced”.

No, not really. This is not vaccination we are talking about. This building up of resistance would not work.

But there is one major issue which makes all this invalid. Even if “like for like” cures worked. Even if we bought this nonsense about the remedies stimulating natural responses to symptoms.

What is this issue? It is that the ailment causing substance is not present in the so-called treatment!

Now, some of you may be scratching your head at this. Why did I tell you any of this if the substance in question is not in the treatment? If it is not there, how does the treatment work? What IS in the treatment?

They will use almost anything they think helps. Such as arsenic trioxide Yes, I said arsenic trioxide! About now you are probably wondering whether these people are out to poison people. Or at least make them sick.

Well, apparently, they figured out that giving someone ailment causing substances might be a bad idea. Oddly enough, people do not want to be treated with arsenic compounds!

As we shall see, instead of buying homeopathic nonsense, it is just easier to drink a glass of water.

In that case, how does the medicine work? This is where it becomes completely stupid and devolves into entirely magical, woolly thinking.

What you do is you dilute the substance in a vial of water in a 1:100 ratio. So that for every part of the substance there are 100 parts of water. Or, there is 100 times as much water in the vial as the “active ingredient”.

Now, I say water, but sometimes alcohol is used. And if you are taking pills, then probably most of what you are taking is sugar. But, for now lets just talk about water. You will see that it does not make much difference.

That might not sound that bad. There is still some of the ingredient left. It is just in minute quantities. We are not done yet, not by a long shot. This kind of dilution is not nearly dilute enough to be truly homeopathic!

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