Stop being so bad scientish y'all
May 27, 2009 4:25 AM   Subscribe

Neal's Yard Remedies gets a less-than-gentle reception from readers in a Guardian Q and A.
posted by Turtles all the way down (77 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

 
Thanks Turtles, that thread is a thing of beauty! My faith in and hope for humankind both just went up a notch. I'm not quite left-wing enough to fully enjoy the Guardian, but every now and then they manage to delight me.

I can't wait to see what answers they get.
posted by metaBugs at 4:35 AM on May 27, 2009


I read two very funny pages of comments (all I have time to read this morning) and no answer yet
posted by francesca too at 4:51 AM on May 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Injury 30C Ainsworth Homoeopathic Remedy: Traditionally used after an accident or injury to help with bruising, healing and recovery"

I don't know whether to weep with frustration or cheer that the US is no longer alone at the bottom of the barrel.
posted by DU at 4:54 AM on May 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


I take this as one very positive sign that the UK's national bullshit threshold is lowering. That said, in October 2003 there was an online chat with a columnist known as "The Barefoot Doctor", also on the Guardian, which took a similar direction (it doesn't seem to be online now).
posted by infobomb at 4:59 AM on May 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


(Thanks, Ben Goldacre, for whatever role your column may have played in this response.) This is incredibly refreshing. I wish I thought a similar column in an American newspaper was likely to get the same sort of reception.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 5:04 AM on May 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


The Guardian fella who is meant to be hosting it wrote in a few minutes ago to say that Neal's Yard ran away sobbing at the thought of being outed as charlatans and mountebanks. Or rather 'won't be taking part in the debate'.

Win!
posted by Sova at 5:12 AM on May 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ahh, never miss a chance to bash the USA, eh emperor?
posted by Mister_A at 5:12 AM on May 27, 2009


@infobomb

Just tried to find that Barefoot Doctor discussions as it was truely hilarious. It's not in the internet archive, blocked by the Guardians robots.txt file, but you can get a flavor of it here.

"Johnknoxlives: "A case study, Mr Barefoot: my bus has crashed - I've got a compound fracture in my right leg, the bone is sticking out from under the skin and is wedged into the 'Used Tickets' receptacle, my skull has had a good old thump against the seat in front and is impersonating a boiled egg after the first thump with the teaspoon, and my ribs have been broken into bits like a packet of smokey bacon crisps someone has stood on. What herbs and aromatic oils would you recommend?"
posted by fatfrank at 5:16 AM on May 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


There's also a comment in there about NYR's Wikipedia entry being updated to reflect their cowardice (in addition to lack of ethics). This is, without hyperbole, exactly what the internet is for.
posted by DU at 5:24 AM on May 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


A few years back, the Barefoot Doctor (then a columnist for the Observer, the Guardian's Sunday Title) held a live web Q&A.

In amongst the gems of wisdom of how meditation and aromatherapy could cure various ailments, someone wrote in and asked something along the lines of:

"Dear Barefoot Doctor,

I have just had a horrendous car accident, broken my spine and cut a major artery and am calling you from my mobile as the fire brigade cut me loose from the wreckage of my car. Which herbal remedy would you recommend?"


From memory, the Q&A got pulled as similar questions came in and eventually the Barefoot Doctor's column got cancelled.
posted by MuffinMan at 5:25 AM on May 27, 2009


Don`t be fooled by imitation
This is the stuff that cured a nation
We took the tube and the high plains too
Never stopped long just passing through
A drop of the laughter of the maids of France
Makes a hopeless cripple dance
posted by Ron Thanagar at 5:30 AM on May 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


Hooray.
posted by unSane at 5:36 AM on May 27, 2009


It's worth pointing out that the tone of a lot of the pro-science posters is so smug, superior and just so tediously nerdy that it actually hinders their argument.

Science always seems to have a problem with getting its point across and fighting the forces of non-science, superstition and so forth.

It's all very well playing to the gallery but if you are actually trying to persuade people in the general populace you might want to turn down the pomposity and try and stop coming across like an insufferable ass.

Maybe a little study of the science of persuasion might help..? Being right is only part of the equation.

[This coming from a pro-science / anti-tedious nerd person.]
posted by i_cola at 5:37 AM on May 27, 2009 [11 favorites]


Hilarious!

"Dear Neal's Yard,

I notice you sell kaolin. If I eat enough of it, will I be able to shit crockery?"


Homeopathy is a great source of humour if nothing else.
posted by sneebler at 5:43 AM on May 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


"Being right is only part of the equation. "

In this case, the shooting fish in a [public] barrel aspect is so entrancing that people can't resist writing well-formed commentary. It's fun - you should try it.
posted by sneebler at 5:46 AM on May 27, 2009


I don't think the commenters were trying to persuade people in the general populace. They were trying to shame a fraudulent business so that it'd stop preying on the wallets and health of people who haven't had time to do research into homeopathy. And I think they were hoping to show the Guardian that they expect a higher standard of ethical business to be showcased in the ethics column. Towards the end, there were calls for the Guardian to do a proper investigative report on Neal's Yard.

Swaying the opinion of the masses? Plenty of other opportunities - not every public discussion has to achieve that goal. And if the UK government department responsible for consumer affairs were to shut down a fraudulent homeopathic business, based on an initial investigation by journalists, that'd be much more persuasive than attempting to explain science to homeopathy supporters on the comments section of a website.
posted by harriet vane at 6:04 AM on May 27, 2009 [10 favorites]


Oh, and I laughed out loud at the "can I pay for my placebo with placebo money?" comments, as well as the request to be one of Neal's Yard's suppliers because they'd taken a homeopathic remedy, then had a bath, and could bottle the bathwater for them.
posted by harriet vane at 6:06 AM on May 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


It will be hard for a layperson, reading this "discussion" in the Guardian, to mistake the fact that there is not a single shred of evidence supporting any of these herbal remedies to treat any condition other than acquisitiveness. The silence of the proprietors is deafening and damning. Someone who is on the fence about this stuff and reads

Some people may still buy their stuff because it smells nice or what have you, or because they've bought into the whole homeopathy hype machine ("natural"="better"); these people aren't going to be swayed in any case by scientistic argumentation.

Someone who is on the fence/uneducated about homeopathic remedies may well come round to the reality-based view after reading this. I say, kudos to the pro-science posters! Well done.
posted by Mister_A at 6:07 AM on May 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


A beautiful moment. Selling sub-placebo 'remedies' for life threatening stuff is murder. As Hunter said: "Never trust a hippie"....
posted by The Salaryman at 6:07 AM on May 27, 2009


Are they not answering because (a) they were expecting questions about skincare products and have gone in the huff or (b) someone's just told them about the Enlightenment and they're having personal crises all over the shop?

The what now?
posted by scratch at 6:07 AM on May 27, 2009


It's fun - you should try it.

Also, never underestimate the power of public ridicule to change people's opinions. It might not be very pleasant, and some committed people will definitely dig their heels in, but the uncommitted buyer of pseudo-science is probably just as scared of social embarrassment as the rest of us. Letting them know that their consumer health choices may result in serious mockery will definitely act as a deterrent to some of them.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:08 AM on May 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


As Hunter said: "Never trust a hippie"....

One of the worst crimes that pseudo-science medicine has committed is in discrediting an entire end of the political spectrum.
posted by DU at 6:15 AM on May 27, 2009 [7 favorites]


Forgive a possibly dumb question from the US, but when I hear "Neal's Yard" I think of cheese (and damn fine cheese, at that). I take it the two businesses are unrelated?
posted by trip and a half at 6:17 AM on May 27, 2009


DU has a point. There are plenty of sensible, nice hippies out there. I count some amogst my friends. To tar all such folk with a magical lavender brush that turns tumours into baby bunnies was rather unfair. Apologies.
posted by The Salaryman at 6:19 AM on May 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


i_cola - It's all very well playing to the gallery but if you are actually trying to persuade people in the general populace you might want to turn down the pomposity and try and stop coming across like an insufferable ass.

One of the great things about the internet -- that it allows people with similar interests to get together from all across the world -- is also one of its greatest failings. The internet is a big enough place that anyone who isn't interested in seeking out a given message will simply never encounter it. Anyone who takes homeopathy and related voodoo seriously will find countless pro-pseudoscience blogs and fora to keep them entertained and "educated", and never have any incentive to read the countless science blogs and websites that already exist. Sure some are pretty obscure but the NHS, for example, has tons of very readable information and even a blog "Behind The Headlines".

I enjoy science writing and abhor the distortion and outright lies about science peddled in the popular media, but don't maintain or contribute to a blog for exactly this reason. Looking through the comment sections of some popular scientific and skeptic blogs makes it clear that they're only read by people who already agree with the message.

I think we have to accept that, on the internet, only the gallery are listening.

The Salaryman - To tar all such folk with a magical lavender brush that turns tumours into baby bunnies was rather unfair. Apologies.
I work in cancer science so... um... are you finished with that brush? If it works as advertised, it could save me a hack of a lot of effort.
posted by metaBugs at 6:21 AM on May 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


The health food store I was working at was selling a book called something like "The Cure for Cancer and All Other Diseases". Naturally, it was shrink-wrapped, as were the other similar books. The owners obviously knew all that stuff was quackery ranging on the dangerous, but it didn't bother them because they were in the business of making money.

I had a customer come in once with a daughter who had a really bad ear infection- the mother started asking me (the barista) which homeopathic remedy she should use. I told her she should really have a doctor look at it instead of playing around since I know two different people whose runaway ear infections have led to brain surgery.
posted by dunkadunc at 6:23 AM on May 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


Depends how much money you have, metabugs. The healing magic of the Purple Moonbrush is activated only if there is quite a lot given to me. And it also depends on what disclaimers you are willing to sign...
posted by The Salaryman at 6:25 AM on May 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


And I also must be satisfied all the bunnies will be placed in happy, sustainable homes...
posted by The Salaryman at 6:27 AM on May 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Mockery is the only appropriate response to arrant twaddle. The fact that they sound superior stems from their obvious, overwhelming superiority. I doubt that anything could be done about it.
posted by WPW at 6:27 AM on May 27, 2009 [6 favorites]


Maybe they would sound less superior if they started all comments with "I'm very ugly, but how many peer-reviewed ..." or "I'm bad in bed, but what empirical evidence is there..." - that might make them sound less superior, I don't know how else to do it.
posted by WPW at 6:29 AM on May 27, 2009 [11 favorites]


The Salaryman - To tar all such folk with a magical lavender brush that turns tumours into baby bunnies was rather unfair. Apologies.

I work in cancer science so... um... are you finished with that brush? If it works as advertised, it could save me a hack of a lot of effort.


I run a chain of pet stores, so I'd like a go too.
posted by DU at 6:45 AM on May 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Transcript of Susan Curtis (Medicines Director of Neal's Yard) explaining how Homeopathy can cure and prevent malaria.
posted by scalefree at 6:47 AM on May 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Don't be fooled by cheap imitations
You can live in it
Live in it love in it sleep in it live in it live in it love in it
It removes embarrassing stains from contoured sheets
That's right! And it entertains the visiting relatives
Turns a sandwich into a banquet
Tired of being the life of the party?
Change your shorts, change your life
Change your life!
Turn into a nine year old Hindu boy, get rid of your wife!

posted by Meatbomb at 6:49 AM on May 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


The Salaryman - To tar all such folk with a magical lavender brush that turns tumours into baby bunnies was rather unfair. Apologies.

Bugs - I work in cancer science so... um... are you finished with that brush? If it works as advertised, it could save me a hack of a lot of effort.

DU - I run a chain of pet stores, so I'd like a go too.


How about we split the profits from the Nobel prize fund and selling bunnies, and just insist that the cancer patients cook us a really nice dinner when they're cured? We just need a tame surgeon to perform the bunny-ectomies (ewwww), and we're in business.
posted by metaBugs at 6:54 AM on May 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


bunny-ectomies

Thank you for that mental image of a surgical procedure to remove live rabbits from someone's body. I sort of saw them curled up, in little amniotic sacks, kicking slightly as the surgeon cuts them free, bringing new bunny life into the world.

I think I need sleep.

Back on topic though, sort of. It always floors me to hear people say "Well, science supporters sound condescending". I think that it roughly seems to translate to "You use big words, and sound like my teachers I didn't like, so therefore, you must be talking down to me". Or maybe I'm missing something.
posted by strixus at 7:03 AM on May 27, 2009 [7 favorites]


The Barefoot Doctor answers your questions. He really does too.
posted by influx at 7:08 AM on May 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Makes a hopeless cripple dance:

Shall we rally and drive the tendrils of western medicine deep into the jungles? Should we find the last tribes, those last few who know nothing of Taco Bell and prepackaged hollandaise sauce? We can bring them to SoHo and show them the glittering possibilities.

Perhaps a ritual bonfire, on the high steps of a metropolitan hospital. The head doctor, with his immaculate teeth, can provide the final ritual: The condemnation of all experience, and driving out of demons.

"Science exists as an absolute. There is nothing that it does not grasp. There is no limits to it's aspirations."

"Strict materialism dictates that your very thoughts are immaterial, an illusion!"

"You are a will-o-wisp. Now, eat some cheese."

The doctor makes a series of dramatic flourishes to emphasize his point. "Indeed, you are nothing but the material instrument of Science"

"Amen"

"You may now eat cheese, and participate in Western liberal traditions including masturbation and buying consumer goods"
posted by kuatto at 7:10 AM on May 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Cheers for all the comments so far -- Neal's Yard tell me it's working on replies now.... watch this space
posted by hermitosis at 7:31 AM on May 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


i remember the barefoot doc one - too funny.
posted by monkeyJuice at 7:39 AM on May 27, 2009


I suspect they may invoke the fearsome "prove it doesn't work" defense.
posted by brain_drain at 7:46 AM on May 27, 2009


I take it the two businesses are unrelated?

Neal's Yard is the place they are both named after.
posted by ninebelow at 7:47 AM on May 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


trip and a half: they are related, in that they were both founded by the inimitable Nicholas Saunders.
posted by MuffinMan at 7:51 AM on May 27, 2009


Pity the Guardian still has a horoscopes section. Of course, leaving comments or questions isn't a feature it offers.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 8:00 AM on May 27, 2009


That was beautiful. My favorite part is the pointed questioning about why they seem so obsessed with the ethics of how their products are produced, but show little concern about the ethics of how their products' effects on consumers up to the point of hawking ineffective unproven "remedies" for life-threatening disesases.

I consider the most important audience for these comments to be the Guardian's editorial staff. The suggestion that they do some investigative reporting here is a good one.
posted by grouse at 8:07 AM on May 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


Heh. My fave (ambientroutmask) so far:
==Could you please tell me which of the eight forms of energy commonly understood; kinetic, potential, thermal, gravitational, sound, light, elastic, and electromagnetic energy; this "healing energy" is?

If it is a new form of energy, previously unknown to science could you please give details of published data in support of the existence of this new energy and when you expect to receive the nobel prize for its discovery?==
posted by peacay at 8:07 AM on May 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


they are related, in that they were both founded by the inimitable Nicholas Saunders.

Oh, so that's what all "herbal ecstasy" comes from?! I thought Saunders preferred the non-herbal variety...
posted by Skeptic at 8:09 AM on May 27, 2009


This is beautiful. It's like a MetaTalk flameout without the flamee.
posted by Methylviolet at 8:09 AM on May 27, 2009


I'll happily continue to eat Neal's Yard cheese, and also happily continue to not use the homeopathic "remedies" proffered by the non-cheese business. The cheese probably has more effective...stuff in it anyway. And it's delicious.
posted by rtha at 8:09 AM on May 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


So the proprietors never posted once to defend themselves? All I'm finding so far is loads of British Snark. One of my favorite kinds of Snark, as it happens, but you need TWO sides for a good flamewar.
posted by EatTheWeak at 8:13 AM on May 27, 2009


It always floors me to hear people say "Well, science supporters sound condescending". I think that it roughly seems to translate to "You use big words, and sound like my teachers I didn't like, so therefore, you must be talking down to me".

Idiots generally hate being called idiots, and complain vociferously about it when it happens.
posted by FatherDagon at 8:16 AM on May 27, 2009


"I've been soaking a £20 note in a bathfull of water for the last few days, is it ok to pay for an order using my new homeopathic money? I now seem to have rather a lot of it."

My current favorite variant on the "homeopathic money" burn.
posted by EatTheWeak at 8:19 AM on May 27, 2009 [9 favorites]


So the proprietors never posted once to defend themselves?
AdamVaughan
27 May 09, 12:59pm (about 3 hours ago)
Staff

@ all

have just had a chat with NYR.

Unfortunately, despite previous assurances that they would be participating in this blog post, I've now been told they 'will not be taking part in the debate'.

So yes, as several people have pointed out, this has become something of 'You Ask', rather than a 'You Ask, They Answer'. I'm still hoping NYR will reconsider.

@ puzzlebobble -- thanks for the suggestions re follow-up stories. As you mention, this blog post's still on the Front of guardian.co.uk/environment, but obviously as we get new stories & content we need to push old(er) material down the page.
posted by grouse at 8:25 AM on May 27, 2009


"I've been soaking a £20 note in a bathfull of water for the last few days, is it ok to pay for an order using my new homeopathic money? I now seem to have rather a lot of it."

Actually, since the homeopath's idea is that you cure with a homeopathic dose of something that has a similar effect to the disease, dilluting a bank note wouldn' result in homeopathic money, but in homeopathic debt. He should rather use the bathwater from his credit card statement...
posted by Skeptic at 8:26 AM on May 27, 2009 [10 favorites]


It's worth pointing out that the tone of a lot of the pro-science posters is so smug, superior and just so tediously nerdy that it actually hinders their argument.

Ah yes, the tried and true "convert them with kindness" method. It works about as well as homeopathic remedies.

Stupid people need to be told they're stupid. Maybe they won't get smart, but they certainly won't get smart from NOT being told they're stupid.
posted by Legomancer at 8:46 AM on May 27, 2009


It would be nice if the British public got this snarky/outraged about stuff that really matters. Illegal wars, torture, cavalier financial institutions - that kind of thing.
posted by Summer at 9:00 AM on May 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Summer, that comment seems a wee bit ignorant of the massive protests* about those very same subjects during the last decade. And also ignores that when someone is selling snake oil to heal or prevent deadly diseases, discouraging people from getting treatment of verified efficacy, yes, it really does matter.

* Maybe street protests aren't sufficient proof of widespread outrage, and you are disappointed by the lack of snarky and outraged British blog comments on war, torture, and finance. If so, you haven't been looking very hard.
posted by grouse at 9:08 AM on May 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


I think that there should be some innovative Manga about bunny-ectomies. Every time a fresh little tail starts twitching, freed from its restrictive human context, our tame surgeon would shed a joyful tear.
posted by The Salaryman at 9:15 AM on May 27, 2009


Yes, I am aware of street protests as I was on them. And I am aware of snarky blog comments, oddly enough.

There never really seems to have been a critical mass when it comes to these things though. The kind that scares governments and changes policy. The sort that has occurred around MP's expenses for example.
posted by Summer at 9:16 AM on May 27, 2009


I think that there should be some innovative Manga about bunny-ectomies. Every time a fresh little tail starts twitching, freed from its restrictive human context, our tame surgeon would shed a joyful tear.

kinda-sorta-link
posted by Navelgazer at 9:31 AM on May 27, 2009


It's all very well playing to the gallery but if you are actually trying to persuade people in the general populace you might want to turn down the pomposity and try and stop coming across like an insufferable ass.,

There are several comments on the site that are just snide, but the majority of them follow a pretty simple form:

You claim X does Y. What is your evidence?

Are you perhaps confusing terseness with pomposity? That's the only way I can understand your criticism.

If one side of an argument is full of holes it isn't pompous to point that out.
posted by odinsdream at 9:35 AM on May 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


There never really seems to have been a critical mass when it comes to these things though. The kind that scares governments and changes policy. The sort that has occurred around MP's expenses for example.

The sort that comes from Murdoch media, the Telegraph and the Daily Mail?
posted by Skeptic at 10:15 AM on May 27, 2009


Thanks, Ben Goldacre, for whatever role your column may have played in this response.
Sciencey stuff aside, these comments are far better written than any of Goldacre's columns.
His writing can be just so obtuse and mealy-mouthed - such a slog to read that I just give up.
posted by Flashman at 10:20 AM on May 27, 2009


they are related, in that they were both founded by the inimitable Nicholas Saunders.

Damn. I knew that Saunders owned the Neals Yard property, but I didn't realize he'd started the businesses as well. I thought he just rented them the space. The man was clearly the Rupert Murdoch of hippie entrepeneurs.

Though Monmouth Coffee and Neals Yard Cheeses have both been fine London institutions for the last thirty years or so, so perhaps we should overlook this one little lapse of judgement.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:27 AM on May 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hi, my name's Emp. You don't know me. Saying something true is now bashing? Wow.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 10:54 AM on May 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Homeopathic lunacy is best resolved with the application of homeopathic oxygen. Within about three minutes the problem is resolved.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:23 PM on May 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sigh.
posted by limeonaire at 8:07 PM on May 27, 2009


Gosh-darn scientific standards of proof!
posted by five fresh fish at 9:37 PM on May 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think that if there's a chance to make fun of this racket, people should take it.

Health food was one thing. As my dad put it, back in the day people in his scene would eat health food because it was cheap and healthy. Problem being, there isn't a very high profit margin on bulk lentils, so that's where all the homeopathic medicines and herbal supplements come in as these places try to go upscale and make a buck. These days, health food stores are filled with vegan dog biscuits, quack medicines, and lots of organic, overpriced versions of the highly processed junk food you'd get at the normal store.

Personally, I think someone who's stupid enough to give good money for sugar pills, magnetic mattress pads or vegan dog biscuits deserves to have their money taken from them.
posted by dunkadunc at 10:54 PM on May 27, 2009


Saying something true is now bashing?

Don't be disingenuous. I don't have a problem with the bashing myself, but if you think there's something else going on in that thread ... well, I'd dearly like to know what it is.

FWIW, it's not about saying something true -- its about the sarcasm, the pretty explicit contempt for that belief system (a contempt that I share) and the fact that a couple of hundred people are all asking the same question, over and over again, before anyone has had the opportunity to respond to the first one.

When you eventually get walked out on my Metatalkget called out on Metatalk, remember, the mob there isn't bashing you. It's kind of a group hug while they say a few things that are true.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:27 AM on May 28, 2009


Good grief. That post kind of hopped in, mid-edit. I didn't think it had seen my first click.

First sentence, last para should read "When you eventually get called out on Metatalk", obviously.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:29 AM on May 28, 2009


But someone's crappy post/attitude on Metafilter that gets called out in Metatalk, and a successful business based on fraud which separates people from their money and can delay them seeking proper care for serious medical problems, are pretty far apart, don't you think?

Anger over fraud and potential harm to someone's health is justified. Homeopaths have been politely asked for evidence for decades now, and it hasn't made a jot of difference - they continue to rip people off and indirectly kill them. So a group of people on a news website indicated by their rudeness that they weren't interested in hearing the lame justifications all over again. I suppose they could have let just one person ask for evidence and then wait for the inevitable hand-waving non-answer, but it wouldn't have shown the Guardian that it was a bad idea to present frauds as if they were ethical businesses.

Individuals on a message board might be dickheads, but they do have feelings and in most cases could actually be reached by some calm discussion. People earning a living from fraud are clearly hardened to criticism and don't deserve to be allowed to peddle their bullshit.
posted by harriet vane at 3:56 AM on May 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


"they continue to rip people off and indirectly kill them."

So true. There was a friend of my family who decided to start treating his depression with homopathy instead of traditional meds, so he went to my friend's dad who happened to be a homeopathic doctor. Said 'doctor' then didn't answer his messages about how the pills weren't working, and the guy was found a few days later after having gassed himself in his little yellow Subaru.

There was a real shitstorm after I told him "Hey, my dad says you're a quack". Hell, I was only seven at the time.
posted by dunkadunc at 5:19 AM on May 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


There was a real shitstorm after I told him "Hey, my dad says you're a quack".

By the homeopathic law of similars, quackery, when sufficiently diluted, has healing, rather than harmful effects. So any homeopathic practitioner should be glad to be called a quack, if their dilution fu is strong enough. Your friend's dad must simply lacked confidence.

The Guardian has posted a blog update on "PR lessons" from the Neal's Yard incident. Something more substantive would be nice, but of course would take time to research.
posted by grouse at 7:48 AM on May 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


And per Wikipedia, people started asking questions on NYRs Facebook and MySpace accounts, but the questions "were swiftly deleted".
posted by deborah at 3:26 PM on May 29, 2009


Currently in the Guardian/Observer:

British scientists ask WHO to condemn homeopathy

Why are they trying to gag a top British science writer?
posted by Flashman at 9:22 PM on May 31, 2009


On the one hand -- I do on occasion use herbal teas to treat very mild problems, instead of using over-the-counter medicines. Peppermint tea, for instance, settles my stomach better and in a more pleasant fashion than Pepto-Bismol. But on the other hand -- the "your guide to herbs" book I picked up once when I was first looking into herbal remedies for things actually contained an herbal remedy for exposure to nuclear radiation.

You know, there are just some things I think you'd want to call in the big guns for -- if I do get swine flu, I am going to want to get rid of that crap and will be asking my doctor for the Jumbo Size jar of penecillin or what have you rather than faffing about with cinnamon snap tea. But, there are some people who are so caught up in the "natural workings" of their own bodies that they are shunning their own comfort.

And that is why you still have these kinds of cures for things -- because there is a market for them in the first place.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:03 AM on June 3, 2009


And that is why you still have these kinds of cures for things -- because there is a market for them in the first place.

We shouldn't let the purveyors of these false "cures" off so easily. There is indeed already a market, but they seek to expand the market through marketing. And to prey on the existing market by unscrupulously selling totally unproven "remedies" for conditions that (a) can kill you and (b) where evidence-based treatments are already established, while claiming high-minded ethical principles.
posted by grouse at 7:23 AM on June 3, 2009


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