Medically-related, Science and Society

On homeopathics, and physics

After a somewhat extended sojourn, I have returned, once more, unto the breach.  Dear friends.

Just a brief one today, as I find my stride again, comprised of two bits.


First up!  Homeopathy.  As y’all may have realised, I am most certainly not one of its proponents.  Anything but, in fact (which reminds me, I have some very interesting research regarding the placebo effect about which to blog sometime soon).

It’s a wonderful BBC Newsnight report on homeopathy in the UK, from early January of this year.


It’s really good to see the BBC failing absolutely to kowtow to the homeopathists.  Personally, I think that the NHS spending money which is desperately needed elsewhere for things like emergency/trauma wards, on homeopathy, is abhorrent.

I was sent the clip as a response to some comment which the SMC put out on a recent paper showing that the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) treatments had been associated with adverse (and some fatal) events in children.  Particularly in cases where conventional treatment was stopped in favour of CAM treatment, without the consultation of a medical person.  Hmmm.


Secondly, something rather more lighthearted.  I came across this marvellous page, dated 1998 (gosh!), entitled ‘The Crackpot Index‘, by John Baez, detailing ‘a simple method for rating potentially revolutionary contributions to physics’.

In essence, any such contribution starts off with a -5 point starting credit. There follows a list, in order of increasing number of points, for everything from:

‘for every statement that is widely agreed on to be false’

(1 point), to

‘for claiming that when your theory is finally appreciated, present-day science will be seen for the sham it truly is. (30 more points for fantasizing about show trials in which scientists who mocked your theories will be forced to recant.)’

(40 points).

The entire list is hilarious, and I’d thoroughly recommend reading it.  Also, anyone wanna start rating their favourite mad physics papers?  If so, do share :)

  • Michael Edmonds

    “rely on anecdotal evidence” !!!
    now proceeding to hit my head against my desk.

  • aimee whitcroft

    Indeed. The anecdotal evidence I’ve received is that such people, should they bang their heads continually hard enough on any hard surface (desk, wall, ground) are able to reach a state of nirvana in which there is no longer _any_ pain or suffering.
    Perhaps we should pass on this invaluable knowledge…

  • Alison Campbell

    Michael: I have a poster on my wall. It’s an anti-stress kit: a few lines of text & a circle with the words ‘bang head here’ written inside it. The text above the circle says: on firm surface; 2. follow instructions in the circle; 3. stop when feeling better or unconscious.
    Anecdotal, I know, but I can assure you that it works every time :)

  • Grant Jacobs


    Is this state permanent or temporary?

  • aimee whitcroft

    Depends on the degree of commitment (hurhur) of the person

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