If you need to point anyone to a good summary of what homeopathy is and why it’s nonsensical quackery, you could probably do no better than Steven Novella’s My Day with the Homeopaths - Part I. He lays out a 12 point “chain of implausibility”, that covers just about everything that’s wrong with homeopathy, including this piece that for some reason had never occurred to me:
The “law of infinitesimals” claims that extreme dilution increases the potency of the diluted substance, but only of the beneficial effects, while decreasing any harmful effects. There is no mechanism for separating out wanted and unwanted effects in this simple fashion.
Of course – how does the magic shaking decrease the harmful effects but increase any (alleged) good effects? Anyway, today Novella posts My Day with the Homeopaths - Part II – on the evidence (ie lack of evidence) that homeopathy works. As I have written before, the implausibility of homeopathy does not necessarily mean it is wrong, but it does mean the evidence it works needs to be stronger than the evidence we demand for other things. But believers in homeopathy expect us to believe what they say based on weaker evidence, such as the lame anecdotes Dr Novella writes about.
And for more on the dishonesty of The Society of Homeopaths, read The Quackometer’s follow up to their legal threats to his ISP. The Society claim they had asked for details of Society members giving dangerous advice, but that the BBC (whose program was critical of The Society) “were unable to provide a single example”. The Quackometer’s article clearly shows this was not true. His article starts:
I doubt we will ever see an X-Factor moment where a homeopath is forced to brutally confront the totality of their own delusions as they are exposed to a direct and uncompromising truth assault by a quackbusting Simon Cowell. Their emotional commitment to their healing fantasies is far stronger than their intellectual commitment to reason, truth and evidence. But I would have hoped that a homeopath's disregard for truth was limited to the truths of science, however, events in the last week or two have made me wonder.
I recommend reading the entire post – it’s killer. It exposes how homeopaths are recommending magic sugar pills to people visiting Africa to protect them against Malaria, and how The Society of Homeopaths continue to whitewash the complaints.