Thursday, 8 April 2010

Bad Science

I implore you, I beseech you, I beg you. Read Ben Goldacre's Bad Science. It will shatter what you thought you knew about a whole glut of topics such as moisturisers and "brain training".

One subject in particular that I now realise I was ignorant about is Homeopathy. I used to think this was a semi-creditable medical practice using natural extracts rather than chemicals. I was an idiot.  There are too many jaw dropping revelations about homeopathy for me to list here but one stood out to me:

Homeopathy's inventor - 18th century German doctor Samuel Hahnemann - decreed that during 'succussion' (a special dilution process which he claimed is needed to give homeopathic remedies their medicinal
properties) "the glass vessel containing the remedy is shaken by ten firm strikes against 'a hard but elastic object'. For this purpose Hahnemann had a saddlemaker construct a bespoke wooden striking board, covered in leather on one side, and stuffed with horsehair. These ten firm strikes are still carried out in homeopathy pill factories today, sometimes by elaborate, specially constructed robots."

Insanity. And Goldacre was accused of deliberately making homeopaths sound stupid in a Guardian article on the subject for NOT mentioning the hitting of the vessel on the horsehair striking board!!!

That is the tip of the iceberg. Go get a copy of Bad Science. You'll be shocked.

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