My god, it’s full of pills!
The more you look at homeopathy, the dafter it becomes. Seriously!
I’ve been partaking in a (as I write, still ongoing) ding-dong comment thread below a lazy, out-of-date, misinformed and error-strewn article on The Spectator website, entitled, ‘The war on homeopathy isn’t working. We need to call a truce’. Its errors were rapidly pointed out and corrected by the thorough Alan Henness; I entered to comment on the irresponsibility of its quackery-appeasing author, predicting that it would attract propagandists and apologists for homeopathy. As these things – in presenting opportunity for them to re-resurrect their zombie arguments and re-create the veneer of unresolved, balanced debate – tend to do.
And so it went: up popped (among others) homeopathy arch-zealots Ros Ross and Christine ‘ReallyGoodMedicine’ Jahnig, regular visitors to threads like this – and exemplars of the modus operandi of the homeopathy propagandist: ignore the rejection/correction; repeat the statement to saturation and keep it at the top of the thread. Repeat-ignore… repeat-ignore. And, as ever, the logical fallacies come a-tumbling: argumenta ad populum, appeals to authority/celebrity, Big Pharma ‘Either/Or’ conspiracy theorising, appeal to the natural, burden-of-proof onus deflection, and ad hominems-aplenty.
As is her way, Christine ‘ReallyBadMedicine’ Jahnig re-pastes previously busted material. That it does not represent what she wants the reader to believe she claims it represents is irrelevant to her. So, predictably, she cites the ‘Swiss report’ – which is not; and which, as she is well aware, did not conclude what she would have the reader believe it concluded. And, again predictably, she continues, as she does elsewhere, her irresponsible and dangerous habit of promoting homeopathy as an effective treatment for all manner of serious disease: ‘Homeopathy is also becoming known for its successful treatment of cancer.’ Despicable stuff.
Roslyn Ross is one of the most promiscuous, fervid devotees of the cult of homeopathy that I’ve encountered. Aside from the repeat-pasting of her favourite logical fallacy (and writing ‘Ergo, … ’ a lot.), a deflecting tactic of this irritating snark is to exasperate and draw the insult, and then (à la that other disher of disingenuity, Sandra Courtney) whine about ad hominems. She whose immediate attack weapon is to lambast homeopathy (and her) critics as ‘prejudiced’ and ‘ignorant’. Everywhere she virtually lands, she employs this device. No matter how much information and knowledge you might have to contribute, if you criticise homeopathy, if you reject and/or expose her statements, then you are her enemy, to be berated for your ‘prejudice’ and ‘ignorance’. Indeed, so blatant, so common, so tedious, so characteristic is this tactic that I figure it merits its own fallacy name, and consideration for inclusion in Tetenterre’s ‘Homœoneologisms’:
Ros(s)ing: A noisy, dishonest deflection device, characterised by mantric accusations of ‘ignorance’ and ‘prejudice’, employed to obfuscate copious logical fallacies and feigned oblivion to failure to address and correct untruths.
But enough of these names. To my eyes, what is most revealing about these and their co-propagandists, what really gets me about homeopathy, is that we never see them rejecting such tactics. Maybe they get away with them because the ‘moderates’, for whom they appoint themselves spokespersons, tend to stay away from these public arguments. Yet, is it not a flag to any reasonable-minded observer, this apparent deficiency in critical-thinking? Not even when things become especially wacko?
I was interested to note that homeopathy-promoting ‘naturopath’, ‘DrPaulNotDoctor’, decided to show up and comment. This is the man who recently deemed worthy of sharing with the world his homeopathic ‘trituration’/’proving’ of ‘Meconium Humanum’ – that’s human foetal faeces to you and me. Ah ‘proving’ – that process whereby homeopaths record symptoms experienced by healthy volunteers in supposed response to whatever it is they are seeking to develop a ‘drug picture’ for, and thus market as a remedy. As this had come up, there ensued between the commenting sceptics a tennis-listing of some examples of ‘provings’, as publicly shared in all seriousness by various homeopaths:
- Virginia Opossum
- Venus Stella Errans
- Anti Matter Positronium
- Aqua Nova (newly formed water) (… yeah, water… I know)
- Exhaust fumes of a 1962 Jaguar E-Type
Treat yourself to a read or three and draw your own conclusions. And if such material intrigues or has you shaking your slack-jawed head, then be further entertained… because it can and does get even dafter: MP3 audio signals as homeopathic remedies for Ebola. We’re venturing into Bach Flower Remedy territory here. Seriously, though, this Ebola business is highly disturbing, as exploited by one whose delusions border on the sociopathic. These grandiose claims, seizing promotional opportunity whenever it presents, continue unabated; not only can it be touted as working treatment for any disease (epidemic) making the news, but any new scientific breakthrough can also be co-opted as relevant to how it works; for example, the recent discovery confirming Einstein’s prediction of gravitational waves.
And now, with homeopathy’s terrestrial effectiveness taken as a given, why shouldn’t preparations for its extra-terrestrial application commence? Hence, a ‘marketing and media communication professional’ (go figure) is urging ‘NASA and other space research agencies to form a panel of homeopaths, and under its supervision start using homeopathic remedies on astronauts during their pre-flight simulated training, during the space journey and on their return to earth.’
There is really nothing I need to do to take this apart; it is so outlandish, it is its own satire. The difficulty is in deciding which lines of this dross to quote, but these edited few are choice:
‘Homeopathy and Ayurveda are two medical systems that work on ensuring health by stimulating bodily forces to maintain stable immunity. While both these systems believe that illnesses expressions in the form of dyscrasia created by imbalance in immunity or vital force, the scope of homeopathy seems wider as it is based on the principle of ‘Similia Similibus Curentur’ or ‘like cures like’. This principle allows this system of medicine to work anywhere in our universe. and certainly qualifies to be considered as a universal medicinal system.’ [sic]
It is hard to fully appreciate what is going on here. I mean, why are those scientists wasting all their time and our money, when homeopathy already has it all sorted?
‘During interplanetary space travel when the immunity is low and one is likely to encounter virus and bacteria different from the ones on earth one can easily zero-in to a homeopathic remedy that matches the symptoms produced after getting infected by them. As homeopathic remedies… does not carry an expiry it is an ideal medicine to be carried aboard a space flight.’ [sic]
This spaceflight of fancy continues:
‘And what happens if you land on a planet conducive for human habitation and your medical kit is destroyed? You still have hope. The plant and animal kingdom and the minerals from the alien planet will provide you with the remedies. The genus could be different from those found on earth yet you will find an analogous remedy that corresponds to the remedy found on earth.’
Have I been sleeping in a time warp? How the fuck do they know all this? And the homeopathy harpies label sceptics ‘arrogant’?
Surely we’d expect some among homeopathy’s coterie of propagandists and apologists to disown such palpable nonsense. Because you would think they would find it embarrassing. Why is it that we never see them rejecting or disputing any claimed cure for serious disease? Either they don’t want to rock their boat, or because they really believe them all? Because you would think they would be concerned that it throws the illusory ‘profession’ they uphold into disrepute. But this – the miracle cure-all; no disease irresolvable; the stellar, out-of-this-world claims; the staying on message – exposes homeopathy for the cult that it is, with ideas way above its invalid (space)station. Which, at least as much as anything, ought to make anyone suspicious.
Take your sugar pills and put your helmet on…
(Picture source: nbcnews)