Monday, 18 January 2010

Sceptics to put alternative remedies to the test with national homeopathic overdose

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If it turns out that homoeopathic medicine works, Saturday 30 January is going to go down as a dark and deadly day in the history of British scepticism. For at 10:23am that day, more than 500 sceptics around the country will swallow an entire bottle of homeopathic pills in order to "demonstrate that these 'remedies', prepared according to a long-discredited 18th century ritual, are nothing but sugar pills". But what if the sceptics are wrong? Well, it could be rationalism's very own Kool-Aid moment...

Of course, the participants in the "10:23 Event" have no such concerns, given the fact that any "active" ingredient present in homeopatic remedies has, as this handy factsheet provided by the organisers explains, been diluted to as little 0.000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 1% of the whole by the time it reaches the shelves of retailers.

The 10:23 Event is being organised by the Merseyside Sceptics in protest against the continuing sale of homoeopathic remedies by high-street pharmacist Boots (it was Merseyside Sceptics, you may remember, who put out an excellent open letter to Boots on the issue last November).

If you'd like to get involved with 10:23, you can contact the organisers via the website, or get in touch with your local Skeptics in the Pub group, who will be taking part (info on where to find them here). You can also follow what's happening with 10:23 by following the campaign on Twitter, and using this Twitter hashtag.

And if you do take part, you'll be joining science writer and alternative medicine debunker Simon Singh, who has kindly lent the organisers an extract from his book Trick or Treatment? Alternative Medicine on Trial, in which he explains why homeopathy isn't just harmless nonsense.

27 comments:

Dr. Nancy Malik said...

Real (Homeopathic) medicine cures even when Conventional Allopathic Medicine (CAM) fails

s.a.page said...

Yes. Also, magic works where reality fails.

Anonymous said...

Oh you mean the type of magic of stage magician Randi, who chickened out of doing a test to lose his million dollars.

Dr Kaviraj.

rjstelling said...

Change the record 'Dr' Malik that the same spam you left on Skeptic Exchange:

http://exchange.bristolskeptics.co.uk/questions/180/is-it-possible-to-overdose-on-homeopathic-medicines/318#318

Mike Hall said...

Dr Malik posts this same comment on every homeopathy story we publish at Merseyside Skeptics. I tend to mark them as 'spam' now.

Christopher Gray said...

Surely, according to their own 'science', you could only theoretically overdose on homeopathic medicine by taking too little.

I'm confused.

edinburghskeptics said...

@anonymous

So, what was this test Randi chickened out of? Incidentally the JREF will test as long as a MUTUAL agreement on the protocol is reached.

Also, my understanding is he has little to do with the tests personally unless it is a television event or someone has been fortunate enough to get through to the second test (which has never happened)

Zachary Cole said...

edinburghskeptics: You're right. And sometimes Randi insists on not being told about the tests so that the participants don't accuse him of sending "bad energy".

Dana Ullman, MPH said...

GIGO -- garbage in, garbage out!

This is so so classic. Skeptics (who are really "denialists" and "hyper-denialists") don't seem to understand the difference between "good science" and "bad science." Your "study" is a good example of bad science, or even stupid science. You are proving NOTHING for this silly "study."

Why don't you do some real science? I know why: because you're afraid to be taught the power of homeopathic medicines.

Anonymous said...

Good luck trying to "debunk" something you obviously don't understand to begin with.

Dr Jim Turner said...

Dana, Anonymous: sorry but you are fuckwits.

Dana: "Why don't you do some real science? I know why: because you're afraid to be taught the power of homeopathic medicines."

OK, you have started with a conclusion... never a good idea. You should start with a theory, hypothesis or research question. By the way, as you have a conclusion, where are your data?

Anonymous: "Good luck trying to "debunk" something you obviously don't understand to begin with."

I can't speak for anyone else on this site, but *I* do understand the claims of homeopathists. I have been closely involved in studies of homeopathy. They do not work in anything beyond the capacity of a placebo. Put simply, tapwater works as well as, for example, a tincture of St. John's Wort.

Now, please fuck off.

Eiskrystal said...

If they take the "medicine" and nothing happens then that means the "medicine" doesn't work. They don't NEED to understand it to make it work. Dana, we have already done multiple studies of homeopathy (why??). They are no better than placebo. Now, because you didn't accept they don't "work"...we are merely trying with ridicule.

I take it that you will be ahem..."testing" a number of different sealed shop bought products? Just to avoid the whole "it was just one duff product, you cheated and substituted another placebo in its place" routine they will of course crow about given an inch of space.

Anonymous said...

This is the same Dana Ullman "MPH" who is banned from editing articles about or talking about alternative medicine on wikipedia due to his excessive personal promotion, attempts to distort history with untruths, and outright lies and misleading statement about homeopathy, etc.

Anonymous said...

When are homeopaths going to be prosecuted for fraud, along with pyschics and astrologers?

Also homeopaths claim water has a memory, but the sugar pills they sell at great profit have no water in them. Do they claim that sugar also has a memory along with the abillity to read water's mind?

Louise Mclean said...

Homeopaths would like to know WHAT POTENCY of the Belladonna remedy you are all going to take on 30th January?

Preferably take a 50,000c or 50M, a really strong dose because there can't POSSIBLY be anything in that. Right?

Also which homeopathic pharmacy will the Belladonna come from?

This must all be published and you need independent witnesses (preferably homeopaths) to make sure you all follow an exact protocol, i.e. actually take it.

No Randi magician tricks, please!

Louise Mclean said...

I have now heard Skeptics are going to use BOOTS Belladonna. They only come in 6c and 30c. 6c still has molecules and 30c not much over Avogadro's number!
There is no point proving anything that way.
To properly test, say Belladonna 30c, you must take it EVERY HOUR for the whole day. Not just ONCE.
Then you will see the effects!
You must do the test properly. Once is not enough.

Thinking Chimp said...

Real homeopathic medicine? Oh, you mean as opposed to fake homeopathic medicine. Can you explaine when one become the other please?

EddE said...

"6c still has molecules and 30c not much over Avogadro's number!"
I think we can cope with a few molecules. I doubt it will be a pharmacologically significant dose.

As for '30c not much over Avogadro's number', that's an interesting definition of 'not much'.

Mike Hall said...

Louise, 30C is way, way, over Avogadro's number. Ten billion billion billion billion times over, actually.

You have more chance of winning the lottery five weeks running than finding a single Belladonna molecule in a 30C preparation.

James said...

Also, Louise, you do realise that each skeptic is going to be taking a WHOLE BOTTLE of pills.

MattJ said...

personally, I will be taking a sleeping remedy. This will address the bullshit 'It only treats specific symptoms' nonsense. If I collapse in a heap and have a nice snooze then I will be proven wrong.

I may also take some arnica to treat my bruised ribs.

It's actually really surprising to see the amount of apologists on here that don't actually understand anything about the 'remedies' they support.

Eiskrystal said...

-It's actually really surprising to see the amount of apologists on here that don't actually understand anything about the 'remedies' they support.-

When you "make stuff up" you always run the risk of everyone involved just erm...making stuff up as well.

Not that it really matters. Its medicinal fan-fic.

Anonymous said...

I'm afraid your 'protest' is merely proving what homoeopaths know already and often tell their patients: taking the whole Boots clikpak of belladonna or whatever you've chosen is the same as taking one tablet. It is one dose.

If you want to make it more interesting, take one say every thirty minutes and assuming around a hundred pilules in the clikpak, that would be for around 50 hours. Make sure you suck, don't swallow.

Feel free not to take when you should be sleeping but start again immediately you wake. I guarantee that many of you would see effects. In fact, I guarantee that many of you would not feel able to consume the full hundred or so pilules.

Homoeopaths call what you would experience 'proving symptoms'. These things have been observed empirically for the over two hundred years that homoeopathy has been a medical system

Go on: have the courage of your convictions! Don't do like Randi who turned down the challenge when George Vithoulkas called his bluff!

But of course that would go against your lamentable flatearther reasoning and your cheap pandering to the media that is your raison d'etre for this silly 'protest'.

The thing that saddens me most of all about this is that homoeopathy can and does change lives and your totalitarian urge goes against any understanding of what humanism is about.

EddE said...

OK dude, you're on. I'm willing to take one pack of pillules, one every thirty minutes until January 30th 9:53, and then I'm going to do a second pack of pillules, half an hour after I finish the first pack, all in one go.

What will you do to make it worth the extra expense for me?

bigblue61 said...

why are you bothering, Mitchell and Webb debunked homeopathy in one sketch

http://scienceblips.dailyradar.com/video/that_mitchell_and_webb_look_homeopathic_ae/

Nic said...

Louise: "This must all be published and you need independent witnesses (preferably homeopaths)"



ROFL, Classic, absolute CLASSIC!!!!! :D :D :D

Eiskrystal said...

-Homoeopaths call what you would experience 'proving symptoms'. These things have been observed empirically for the over two hundred years that homoeopathy has been a medical system.-

The only effect will be overdosing on all that sugar in the pills.

-The thing that saddens me most of all about this is that homoeopathy can and does change lives-

So does Lourdes, and prayer, and Xenu.
Placebo pills have placebo effects.