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24/05/2011 / Pedanto

Water for Haiti

Homeopaths Without Borders sent out another team to continue with relief efforts in Haiti yesterday. Surely more hands helping can only be good? Unfortunatly this isn’t always the case.

Before we begin I feel I need to explain what homeopathy actually is, as it’s often mistakenly thrown in with herbalism and supplementation (and I’m sure I’ve been guilty of this myself in the past).

So here’s how it’s meant to work –

In 1796 Samuel Hahnemann  decided late one night, whilst sifting through his own excrement that one of the especially tough corn kernels  was justifiable inspiration for the unfounded assertion that “like cures like“. This “Law of similars” as it has become known amongst the homeopathic community states that if a substance can cause a symptom, once appropriately potentized, it can cure disease which exhibits the same symptom. For example insomnia is often treated with potentized caffeine.

Now how does one potentize a substance one might ask. Well anyone with a pre-GCSE understanding of chemistry (a science with scientific laws – i.e. an assertion which can predict accurately the outcomes of scientific experimentation – not just words that sound nice together) would probably jump to the assumption that to make a substance more potent (whatever the fuck that’s meant to mean) one should probably try and concentrate it. Not so sayeth the homeopath. Verily one must rail against the magicks of these modern sciences and instead do the opposite. Dilute serially that substance which you wish to impart with power, and between dilutions succuss (i.e. HIT) the remedy upon a firm yet giving surface – for example (and I shit you not on this one) a BIBLE.

That’s right, it goes beyond what many a witch-doctor might call “a little loopy”.

For an experimental view on this please take the time to watch this informative video.

Right now we have the basics covered and we all know what we’re talking about let’s see who Homeopaths Without Borders (HWB from this point on) are.

Please open the following links in new tabs

http://www.homeopathswithoutborders-na.org/index.html

http://www.msf.org.uk/

See the difference? HWB have to point out that they are not affiliated with MSF/Doctors Without Borders. MSF on the other hand have no need to do this, because they aren’t misguided cretins. Even though HWB do point out that they’re not associated with MSF they only do so in 4point face type, the graphological equivalent to a naughty child who after being told to appologise almost whispers “‘orry“. Surely they know they’re doing something wrong then?

Well probably not. Perhaps one could argue that a few/some/many homeopaths in the UK are working as such because they can recognise a good scam when they see one, however oversees relief work doesn’t seem quite as good a cash cow presenting someone with sugar pills and charging them £40 for it. Actually more alarmingly in this case the promotion of woo for some perceived good, instead of for monetary gains, could be far more harmful. If the last 2000 years (every war/genocide done in the name of some ideal/odd cloud dwelling father figure)  are anything to go by it’s safe to say misguided idealism can often do more harm than any number of shysters trying to rip people off. These people evidently believe what they do works, and the momentum of the belief they are doing good will just cause more and more damage.  They are quacks who just don’t realise it.

In Haiti at the moment HWB seem to have two major goals:

1.Treating people who have little or no access to healthcare for potentially (and often) life threatening diseases such as cholera, HIV (http://bit.ly/h7fUu3/ – if they’re doing it in Tanzania they’re probably doing it everywhere), and Malaria (http://bit.ly/mGKTcu) . With quite a limited grounding in virology I decided to conduct another experiment:

After preparing a homeopathic remedy made from immunosupressants and diluted to 20C it was applied to a sample of HIV. Unfortunately there was no change in viral load or CD4 count.

This quite clearly shows how in many cases HWB will be inviting a rapid progression to AIDs in many patients, in areas where sanitation leaves a lot to be desired. In the English Courts system this would in all likelihood be defined as manslaughter (although I don’t know when it will become genocide). Not really the best outcome for a relief program!

2. Education: Alexander Pope is credited with saying “A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing”, and in this case he could not be more true. In fact a little bit of incorrect knowledge disseminated to the people charged with caring for those who need their help is a fucking irresponsible and downright disastrous thing (I know it’s not quite as punchy, but he got practice at this writing malarkey by translating The Illiad).

HWB is right now teaching 125 student nurses at the University of Notre Dame’s Nursing School about homeopathy: “We had spent many hours rewriting our presentation and focused on first aid remedies and specific complaints such as trauma, sprains, fractures, burns, sun stroke etc“. Now I’ve only spend a limited time playing Meccano with orthopaedic surgeons, but I don’t remember them giving the patient a couple of sugar pills and having a nice long chat (if only). They did however have some pretty spectacular ways of dealing with fractures and trauma – the essence of which was FIXING THAT SHIT.

In summary these people are detestable, irresponsible halfwits who unfortunately probably don’t realise just how many people they will have killed by prescribing sugar pills instead of sending to the doctor. Furthermore they’re trying to send the medical system of a country that’s already gone through enough shit in the last couple of years, back a couple of centuries.

If you fancy helping take down the sugar squad please visit http://www.humanism.org.uk/campaigns/what-you-can-do-to-help/Homeopathy

Some final bits of housekeeping:

  1. I’m losing my Skeptics in the Pub virginity tomorrow night (25th of May). If anyone wants to come with me it’d be greatly appreciated http://newcastle.skepticsinthepub.org/
  2. I’ve now been training for the Great North Run in September for a while. I’m running it to raise money for MacMillan Cancer Support and would really appreciate any donations you might want to make. For some reason I decide to go running just when it’s about to rain so I’m really working for this money http://www.justgiving.com/David-Thewlis
  3. Can’t finish without some awesome science from Prof. Youtube:
  4. And some potentially accurate astrology: http://onion.com/jTPHXB
  5. Got some Jehovah’s witnesses coming back tomorrow for me to teach about how science works, they gave me some hilarious literature which apparently isn’t satire. I was rather embarrassed when I realised this.
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