“Have Homeopaths Reached Peak Stupid?” asks the headline on Quackometer.net. It’s hard to imagine anyone getting dumber than a belief in homeopathy (aka The One Quackery to Rule Them All), but apparently there are higher levels within their madness that homeopaths continue to scale. This, however, looks like their Everest of stupidity.
The story in question is about the plan by homeopaths to “heal the oceans” last week. Admirable goal, but it’s the implementation that will make you laugh so hard you’ll snort your morning tea right out of your nose. You have been warned. I speak from experience.
Here’s how they plan to heal the oceans: flush their pseudo-medicines down the toilet. Yes, I agree that’s ALWAYS the best thing to do with homeopathic nonsense. But according to a UK homeopathic wingnut, this is supposed to fix the oceans.
Okay, you’re wondering how a vial of homeopathic magic potion – which is simply water – can heal the pollution of the massive oceans? Well, so is everyone. It can’t. But that didn’t stop them. Wait, it gets more amusing.
This nutty idea is the brainchild of uber-wingnut Grace DaSilva-Hill. On her website, Healing with Grace, she notes:
I hope that through Homeopathy, Emotional Freedom Technique, Energetic Flower Essences, and Allergy Elimination Technique I will be able to help you along your healing journey to fitness and to remain happy and healthy.
I had to look up “energetic flower essences” and, as expected, found it’s another of those New Age magic potions. Apparently you need to contact your “nature angel” to make one:
We are guided each year to plant new gardens with the help of our nature Angels to ensure that the most useful essences are harvested for the coming year. The Angels, nature spirits, and guides help us to better understand the benefits and lessons that each flower has to offer.
That just shrieks codswallop, doesn’t it? Anything that involves “angels” you know right away is leading you by the hand to nuttiness – and usually with the other hand in your pocket to take any loose cash you have.
And what about “emotional freedom technique?” Wikipedia tells us it’s also a bunch of balderdash shellacked with pseudo-scientific gibberish:
…a form of counseling intervention that draws on various theories of alternative medicine including acupuncture, neuro-linguistic programming, energy medicine, and Thought Field Therapy (TFT)… A book examining pseudoscientific practices in psychology characterized EFT as one of a number of “fringe psychotherapeutic practices,”and a psychiatry handbook states EFT has “all the hallmarks of pseudoscience.”
She also practices “Nambudripad’s Allergy Elimination Technique” or NAET, which is a method of tapping on a body to cure it of allergies. How would this magic work, you wonder? Well as one site says, it’s based on pure, unadulterated bunkum:
The underlying theory of NAET suggests that allergies develop due to energy blockages, and that allergies can be eliminated by addressing these energy blockages through acupressure treatment.
The official NAET site even claims they can sure autism by this method. That’s irresponsible! It’s just another loony New Age pseudo-medical-magic technique designed to lure money from the wallets of the gullible, which the practitioners cheerfully acknowledge:
One challenge of using NAET is that it is inconvenient, often requiring a large number of office visits. Based on a recent survey of NAET patients, some reported needing 50 or more office visits to resolve one allergy symptom. Another challenge of using NAET is that the allergy may return some time after the treatment is finished.
Fifty visits and your allergy may still return? At how much a visit? So how does this compare to the cost of a box of over-the-counter allergy medicine which works effectively within a couple of hours? A fool and his money, as they say…
And then there’s her other practice: “CEASE Therapy.” CEASE stands for “Complete Elimination of Autistic Spectrum Expression” and is more homeopathic pseudoscience claptrap. It’s supposed to cure autism by magic. The inventor of this nonsense writes on his website:
…autism is an accumulation of different causes and about 70% is due to vaccines, 25% to toxic medication and other toxic substances, 5% to some diseases.
This was magnificently debunked on the Science Blogs website back in 2012, so I won’t repeat his effort. Worth a read, though. And that whole vaccines-cause-autism thing has been so thoroughly discredited that only someone who’s been brain dead these past five years doesn’t know that the anti-vaccine studies were faked.
The bottom line about all of this stuff is that it’s quackery, all of it.* But lets get back to Grace’s save-the-oceans campaign.
Grace’s letter to fellow wingnuts is reprinted on the Quackometer website, but it takes a bit of research to figure out just what she’s proposing. What is a “Leuticum (Syph) in the CM potency” supposed to be? For that I had to surf over to the Skeptophilia website. And it turns out, it’s wackier than you ever imagined:
And what is “Leuticum,” you may be wondering? According to a homeopathy website, Leuticum is a “nosode” — a “remedy” made from diluted bodily discharges. And if you’re not sufficiently disgusted yet, the bodily discharge involved in Leuticum is infected material from someone with syphilis. Oh, but wait! Leuticum is good stuff! According to the site, it’s useful for treating people who:
- are afraid of the dark
- are in chronic pain
- suffer from hair loss
- smell bad
In addition, we find out that you can use it to treat “persons with pale, fine textured skin, who are slender, having graceful movements,” and also people with oral cancer.
What this has to do with the ocean is beyond me.
The Illuminutti website calls it “Healing the ocean with syphilis.” Except, of course, that homeopathy doesn’t cure anything, let alone fix the oceans.
If you can’t throw your diluted-beyond-recognition disease concoction into the ocean, Grace says it’s okay to throw it into a river. Failing a nearby river, she says you can just flush it down the toilet. I encourage this: flush all your homeopathic junk down the toilet. It’s just water and sugar pills, after all. Won’t help or hurt anything.
Now what if you don’t happen to have one of these disgusting remedies on hand? That’s easy: pour a glass of water and speak to it. That will magically turn your glass of water into a medicine:
Even if you do not have the remedy in a physical form, you can still speak the name of the remedy to a glass of water, and the water will memorise the energy of the remedy (Dr. Masaru Emoto’s work).
I wrote about Dr. Emoto and his zany notions about happy and sad water earlier. He is to homeopaths what Harry Potter is to 11-year-olds: a magician of great but fictional power.
I’d wrap it up with Grace and her loony-toon cohorts, but it’s not the only homeopathy nonsense in the headlines this past week.
It turns out a bunch of homeopaths travelled to West Africa in October to “treat” ebola victims with their magic water and sugar pills. Yep. Four of them made the trip, donned their protective space suits and marched into an African hospital with their little sugar pills (they landed with “110 potential homeopathic Ebola remedies… Among their brightest hopes were arsenic and rattlesnake venom.”)
According to the story on Vice, hospital authorities immediately chucked them out:
The team suited up, broke out their homeopathic treatments and tried to get to work on some patients. At which point the medical staff and administrators at the Ganta Hospital realised what it was they were attempting, before completely banning them from the ETU (Ebola Treatment Unit).
A few days driving back and forth to harangue government officials proved fruitless, and they returned home, metaphorical tails between their legs. The good news is that they didn’t actually con anyone into thinking homeopathy works.
Aside from the utter stupidity of this effort, there’s a sad note here. The lead homeopath was actually a medical doctor for most of his life, until he got seduced into the dark side of pseudo-medicine and magic. As Vice concludes:
For a guy who’s been a practicing medical doctor for 44 years, Dr Hiltner is into some fairly whacky shit, not least Iridology and Medical Astrology, practices that make homeopathy seem positively vanilla. However, he’s also clear that he knows these are controversial techniques and would never use them to interfere with conventional medicine – including on the trip to Liberia. Essentially, his heart is in the right place, even if it’s making him do some very silly stuff.
Which makes it all the more of a shame that he’s been drawn into this fiasco. A couple of doctors pin-balling around West Africa carrying cases of highly diluted snake venom has a certain shambolic gallows-humour; sneaking a PR stunt for homeopathy into an epidemic under the cover of sending medical help is really pretty tawdry.
And in other homeopathic news, a French homeopath has invented a pill made from vegetable coal, fennel, seaweed, plant resin, bilberry, and cacao zest that will allegedly make your farts smell like flowers. Really. read this news item.
In India, the new nationalist and ardent Hindu Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, appointed India’s first minister for Ayurveda, yoga, naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and homeopathy, looking to legitimize magic, pseudo-medicine and unsubstantiated codswallop in that nation. Set back India’s march towards modernity by a century if not two.
I knew I should have visited India in the pre-internet days.Now it’s gone all stupid. But I suppose it can take consolation in the fact it’s not alone in the world.
* Grace offers a course in “Homeopathy for the family” in which she teaches parents and kids to self-diagnose their illnesses and prescribe homeopathic remedies. As she says, “No knowledge or experience needed.” This one-day courses costs £70. Given that homeopathic “remedies” are simply water, she’s basically charging folks for lessons in how to turn on their taps and drink water. I’m willing to teach a class in drinking municipal water for half that price. A real bargain!