A couple of days ago, I talked about the Amy Farrah Fowler character on one of my favorite TV shows, the geeky Big Bang Theory, who is a neurobiologist played by a real neurobiologist, Mayim Bialik. Yes, Bialik, former star of the TV show Blossom (never saw an episode) has a Ph.D. in neurobiology from UCLA. Yes, the real UCLA.
As we discussed, Dr. Bialik seems to believe in a whole host of pseudoscientific alternative medicine ideas, all of which does not make sense given her education. She believes in homeopathy, which is basically nonsense according to every definition of the word “nonsense.” Homeopathy is considered a pseudoscience, since it is based on a nearly impossible foundation of water having a sort of memory to what it contacted. In other words, the basic principle of homeopathy violates all the basic principles of physics and chemistry. These aren’t ideas that require a Ph.D. to understand, and assuming that Bialik actually studied science, and didn’t cruise through her undergraduate and graduate training without opening a single book, she would have to be scientifically critical of homeopathy.
Not only is there no scientifically plausible basis for homeopathy, but even if we could imagine some non-parsimonious mechanism for the pseudoscience, the clinical evidence is totally lacking (so no scientific basis and no clinical usefulness). Homeopathy is no better than a placebo, and as discussed previously, meeting the standards of the placebo myth is equivalent to clinical failure.
At least Sheldon Cooper, the CalTech theoretical physicist character on the show, has a more scientific understanding of homeopathy:
Sheldon: A magic show is an inherently deceitful proposition. This is an ordinary top hat. You’ve chosen that card freely. I do not have a set of lockpicks lodged in my keister.
Raj: Can’t you just enjoy the wonder, Sheldon? Why must you peek behind the curtain? Or up the butt?
Sheldon: If we poison the critical thinking faculties of children by telling them that rabbits come out of hats, then we create adults who believe in astrology, and homeopathy, and that Ryan Reynolds was a better choice for Green Lantern than lovable rogue Nathan Fillion.
Leonard: Sheldon, he’s just going to do a few magic tricks for some kids. I really don’t think they’re going to end up liking the Green Lantern movie.
Unless you’re a total geek, probably 75% of that conversation made no sense. If you are, that was very funny.
See also: Say it ain’t so, Amy Farrah Fowler!