Friday, December 14, 2007

Homeopathic Foam

I've been getting particularly irritated by some homeopaths that showed up at Orac's place. Don't be surprised if I post a !fooW entry soon in an effort to cool down with humor. For the time being, I'm going to take my self-censorship down a notch in order to more effectively convey my disgust.

It really burns me up when someone suggests trying a treatment myself. I don't have the hubris necessary to presume I'm unbiased. When someone asks me to make a medical determination for myself, based off a personal trial, they're presuming that I'm as arrogant as they are. We have double-blind control studies for a reason, people: They're designed to eliminate bias! Do you honestly suggest that sloppiness, dumb luck, and deliberately maintained personal bias are necessary parts of research? If so, I can see why post-modernism is so popular among woos: Post-modernism applied to science means never having to say you were wrong.

Science requires us to know how we could be proven wrong. A high-quality study showing a homeopathic effect would do that for me. State the effect of a homeopathic "remedy" to be studied. Get a large number of people, give half a placebo, and give the other half the treatment being studied. Make sure neither the people getting the pill nor the people handing out the pills know which is which. Produce a significant difference between the two groups: Show me that the stated effect shows up more often in the real deal than in the placebo. Lather, rinse, and repeat a couple times in independent labs a couple times for good measure. That's pretty much all I'm asking for. I wouldn't trust a pharmaceutical that went through anything less, and yet homeopaths ask that I drop that standard specifically for them. Sorry, but I'm not going to give one faceless corporation any special treatment over any other faceless corporation. They all have to meet the same high standards before I'll subject my body and wallet to their stuff.

I've just imagined a scene that summarizes my thoughts when an altie asks me to try it myself: Imagine an honest senator (I know it's hard, but bear with me) being asked by a corporate lobbyist to grant his particular company exemption from all accounting and product testing standards. Said lobbyist offers nothing in exchange, and no reason why the suggestion would support the people's interests.

That's one reason I tend to see Big Altie as a wretched hive of scum and villainy. They ask that the "law" of science not apply to them. They ask for more and more concessions, never meeting any of the demands the rest of the world has to live up to.

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