Last year, on Sunday February 6th, 2011, skeptically-minded Sydney-siders participatinged in the 10:23 Challenge.
The lead up to the event was a massive success, far surpassing the intended reach of 1,023 protesters in 10 countries with 23 cities participating. Sydney was one of the 68 cities, from the 28 countries that participated.
That’s every continent on Earth, including Antarctica – where protesters will effectively ‘overdose ‘on homeopathic remedies.
The 2011 event was a follow-up to the ‘overdose’ protest staged by the 10:23 Campaign in 2010, and is was about bringing an international touch to the worldwide practice touted as an “Alternative Medicine”.
In 2012, the “campaign” was understated and is working at the grass-roots level to bring about awareness, and policy changes – with some very exciting action being taken by a number of people nation-wide in Australia!
While many believe homeopathy is to be a “herbal” medicine or an “all-natural” alternative, it is neither.
“Homeopathy is an unscientific and absurd pseudoscience, which persists today as an accepted form of complementary medicine, despite there never having been any reliable scientific evidence that it works.” – 10:23 Campaign Website
In a Nutshell, Homeopathy is the practice of diluting an active ingredient (that may cause similar symptoms to that being experienced in larger doses) in water (which Homeopaths call potentisation), vigorously shaking it via ten hard strikes against an elastic body (succussion), and repeating the process.
The more dilute, the more powerful the remedy. When this is completed to the desired dilution (Usually 30), the final liquid is dropped in to sugar balls, or infused in the sugar pills.
The Gritty Technical Stuff
Dilution is based on a factor 1 part per 100. A 2C dilution would require taking an active ingredient, diluting it in 99 parts of alcohol or distilled water, and then some of that diluted solution diluted by a further factor of one hundred.
2C is equal to 1 part per 10,000.
6c is equal to 1 part per 1,000,000,000,000
You can see how by 30C, someone taking this dilution would need to consume 1041 pills (a billion times the mass of the Earth) to consume a SINGLE MOLECULE of the original active ingredient.
That’s 1/100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 pills!
At 12C you pass what is known as the Avogadro Limit (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avogadro_constant). This is the point at which there is likely nothing of your original substance left; and this is where Homeopathy gets even more interesting!
Water has (no) Memory!
Hahnemann, the inventor of Homeopathy, realised that there is virtually no chance that even one molecule of an active ingredient, or of the original substance as it may be, would remain after the extreme dilutions used in Homeopathy – But, he *did* believe that the vigorous shaking after each dilution would imprint the water with a “spirit-like” essence—”no longer perceptible to the senses” – Or perceptible to science to that matter.
Obviously, this is an absurd, unsubstantiated claim. Often, Homeopaths will call in a scientific word to make it *sound* credible, and usually this word is “QUANTUM!”
The problem with this isn’t that they aren’t specialists within the field of Quantum Physics, the problem isn’t even with Homeopaths invoking “quantum” as an explanation of how it works, or what when they do, they include speculations which are incorrect about quantum concept and in its application. The problem for them is simple; Homeopathy still doesn’t work.
The Overall Evidence
Overall, the collective weight of scientific evidence has found homeopathy to be no more effective than a placebo. While some Homeopaths claim that because they work as well AS a Placebo, that they are valid as a medical treatment. This is a logical fallacy. A Placebo is *not* efficacious in the treatment of a disease, rather, placebos work best when treating subjective SYMPTOMS such as headaches, and other pains – it does *not* address the cause of the symptoms.
This extends far beyond the cure claims made by many Homeopaths, that their sugar-pills can cure cancer, be used as an anti-malarial, a vaccine replacement, or cure other serious health problems over treated by proven efficacious methods.
Some Homeopaths claim they work in the same way as a Vaccine, this isn’t a valid comparison. Firstly, Vaccines are used as a preventative, and severity mitigation measure, not as a cure. Their ingredients are measurable, the results of use within the body is observable and quantifiable, as is their efficacy; These findings are significant in contrast to a placebo, and in contrast to Homeopathy.
While there are a few Homeopaths that say their treatments should not be taken for those serious instances; the question is: Why not? This may seem like a catch-22 for Homeopaths,- And it should, it is. If you were selling an efficacious treatment it would work superior to a placebo; if it doesn’t, it shouldn’t be used. It really is that simple. While “Big Pharma” gets slammed a lot by “Alternative Medicine” proponents; its standard practice for them to develop medicinal products for years before it can even be tested, and even then it takes time till those products hit the shelves – Unlike Homeopathy.
Often there is the claim of “Oh, but so many people use them [ergo, they work]!” Again, logical fallacy. The number of people of using a system of treatment is not evidence of an efficacious treatment. Evidence of Efficacy proves Efficacy.
Personally, I suspect those that don’t make the wild claims are aware that their products are not as efficacious as they claim them to be, and are more concerned about legal retribution while still wanting to enjoy the self-gratification of playing doctor by selling sugar-pills to the ill, than walking away from a proven sham and taking up another method of income.
Could you buy Homeopathic Vodka without feeling a little ripped off?