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science-based medicine

Science-based medicine, not allopathic, Western, or conventional

As I’ve mentioned before, I often hang out on Quora answering questions about medicine with science-based answers. But I reached the breaking point after the 347th question that uses “allopathic,” “Western,” or “conventional” medicine as a pejorative term trying to show that it is somehow less safe and less effective than alternative “medicine” like homeopathy or Arvuyedic or traditional Chinese.

Minchin’s Law, which is quoted frequently by those of us who utilized science-based medicine in either practice or writing, makes it clear what is real medicine and what is alternative “medicine”:

“By definition”, I begin
“Alternative Medicine”, I continue
“Has either not been proved to work,
Or been proved not to work.
You know what they call “alternative medicine”
That’s been proved to work?
Medicine.”

So, let’s take a look at what is and isn’t science-based medicine. And spoiler alert, alternative medicine is not even close to being science-based.

Read More »Science-based medicine, not allopathic, Western, or conventional
homeopathy

Homeopathy is a pseudoscientific scam — here’s why (UPDATED)

Homeopathy is a pseudoscientific scam that should be never be considered as a legitimate treatment for any condition. Homeopathy lacks any biological plausibility. Homeopathy lacks any support in basic chemistry. And homeopathy violates the basic laws of physics.

Essentially, homeopathy is the debunked idea that “like cures like,” and that a diluted ingredient can be activated by shaking it in between dilutions. Every robust, rigorous, and repeated clinical study has demonstrated that homeopathy has no clinical effect.

Unethically, individuals push this treatment that has been shown not to work. That is why it’s a scam.

Let’s take a look at the facts about homeopathy.

Read More »Homeopathy is a pseudoscientific scam — here’s why (UPDATED)
pseudoscience medicine

Why does pseudoscience in medicine and vaccines seem so popular today?

These days, it appears that pseudoscience in medicine, everything from homeopathy to anti-vaccine beliefs to cancer treatments to chiropractic to naturopathy, has taken hold of many people’s choices. It’s become so frustrating to read stories about people forsaking science-based medicine to use some quack treatment to treat their cancer.

I think there’s a basic reason for it — science is hard. Whether it results from the lack of education in science to a misunderstanding of science is irrelevant, too many people think that science-based medicine doesn’t work. Except it does.

I’ve written about pseudoscience over a hundred times, but I never answered the question of why it grabs the attention of people. I’m going to try to answer that here.

Read More »Why does pseudoscience in medicine and vaccines seem so popular today?
aaron rodgers covid vaccines

NFL QB Aaron Rodgers chose homeopathy over vaccines, catches COVID

Sometimes my blog posts write themselves. NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers decided to forgo COVID-19 vaccines and chose homeopathy to build antibodies against it. As you can predict, he tested positive for COVID-19.

Shocking, right?

There are two things here that need to be debunked. First, homeopathy, although I know that almost any scientific skeptic knows that homeopathy is pseudoscience. Second, building antibodies without vaccines – can’t be done, but we’ll get to that.

I’m writing this not for you science geeks out there – nothing I’ll write will cause you to exclaim, “Oh my, and I thought homeopathy worked!” But this is for those who may come here to find out if Aaron Rodgers knows anything about vaccines, COVID-19, or homeopathy. He doesn’t.

Read More »NFL QB Aaron Rodgers chose homeopathy over vaccines, catches COVID
coronavirus homeopathic

Coronavirus homeopathic potions – here comes the quackery and woo

The quacks are out in force with this potential COVID-19 pandemic. Predictably, people are pushing coronavirus homeopathic potions to treat or prevent this dangerous disease.

In case you don’t feel like reading this article, let me give you a spoiler alert – homeopathy is 100% water, and it will do nothing to treat or prevent anything. It’s useless.Read More »Coronavirus homeopathic potions – here comes the quackery and woo

homeopathy

Homeopathy is just water – and it is very expensive water

Despite the articles you might read on this website, there are many more pseudoscience pushers than the ones we observe pushing their anti-vaccine religion. One of my favorite ones to mock is homeopathy, a quack treatment that is essentially pure water (see Note 1).

Not only is it pure water, but it’s very expensive pure water. It’s much more expensive than your GMO-free, gluten-free water, taken from the melting glaciers in the Alps (thanks to climate change deniers).

It is a scam that tries to convince people that a vial of nothing more than water (and sometimes ethanol) has some magical medical properties. It is magic that requires suspension of much of our scientific knowledge of chemistry, biology, and physics.

Let’s take a look at homeopathy, just so you know more about this expensive water.

Read More »Homeopathy is just water – and it is very expensive water

The Medical Medium – junk medicine combined with psychic reading

The old Skeptical Raptor is taking a bit of a break over the next few days to recharge his batteries for all of the pseudoscience that will be coming out in 2020. In lieu of new content, I will be republishing the top 10 most read articles on this blog during 2019. Here’s number 5 – debunking the Medical Medium quackery. 

Every time I think I’ve read it all, apparently, I haven’t. I was pointed in the direction of someone – the Medical Medium – who pushes pseudoscience online. Worse yet, he mashes together alternative medicine and psychic readings.

Yes, you read that right. Using psychic readings, he then recommends alternative medicine.

Anthony William, who calls himself the Medical Medium, not because he’s right in the middle of medicine, but because he believes he’s a medium, that is, someone who can speak with spirits. I’m sure he has an Ouija Board.

I should just ignore every quack in medicine, but this one allows me to write some criticism about a pseudoscience – psychic readings – that I thought were long ago debunked. Besides, maybe I can bring a chuckle to some of you. Read More »The Medical Medium – junk medicine combined with psychic reading

common cold treatments

Common cold treatments – what works, what is just plain nonsense

It’s that time of year when dozens of common cold treatments are all over the place. On TV advertisements. On displays in your pharmacy. Once again, it’s time to take a look at these lotions and potions to determine which work and which are complete pseudoscientific nonsense.

There are literally a dozen or more homeopathic, herbal, and other unproven concoctions to prevent or treat the common cold, caused by rhinovirus. These common cold treatments are a significant part of the estimated global US$278 billion supplement and nutraceutical industry.

These alternative medicine – so named because there is no scientific evidence supporting their efficacy, let alone safety – products make claims that are so wonderful, many people take them. Then they themselves tell their friends how fast they got rid of their cold. Or that their cold wasn’t as bad after taking the supplement.

Essentially, the whole industry is mostly based on anecdotes, untested claims and the placebo effect. Colds are self-limiting infections, meaning an infection generally lasts some random amount of time, with most people recovering within 7-10 days.

We’re going to review some of the most well-known common cold treatments (there isn’t enough time to review them all), along with what real science says about them in high quality systematic reviews in peer-reviewed, high impact medical journals. This article will review all of the common cold treatments that seem to be out there. Spoiler alert – most don’t work.

One major problem is that the determination of the length and severity of the course of the common cold is entirely subjective. Since the disease is rather mild with few serious complications, it’s hard to determine when it exactly stopped and started, and how bad it was. So, positive results, if they exist, should be treated with a high degree of skepticism.Read More »Common cold treatments – what works, what is just plain nonsense

dr. oz

Dr. Oz falls for the overhyped and debunked GMO corn study

A few weeks ago, Gilles-Eric Séralini and his homeopathy loving coauthor published an article in Food and Chemical Toxicology that concluded that glyphosate (known as Roundup)-resistant NK603 GMO corn, developed by Monsanto, causes severe diseases such as tumors in rats. And usual anti-science websites bought into this nonsense, including the TV medical practitioner, Dr. Oz.

It’s time to remind everyone that the Séralini study was bogus, and that Dr. Oz is also bogus. Here we go.

Read More »Dr. Oz falls for the overhyped and debunked GMO corn study

John Oliver promotes real science

John Oliver promotes real science – a comedian gets it right

On Sunday evening (8 May 2016), John Oliver, the English comedian and political satirist, talked about science and how we should embrace it during his HBO show, Last Week Tonight. The upshot is that John Oliver promotes real science – and critical thinking about bad science. And states that vaccines don’t cause autism.

Oliver is one of the best satirists on TV. His attacks on stupidity in politics and culture are classics. He’s been doing his shtick for many years on American TV, being one of featured correspondents for the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. I always looked forward to his reports, though always funny, they were generally pointed and quite intelligent.

His recent segment on science on his HBO show was a classic. And let’s take a look at how John Oliver promotes real science – and why it’s kind of sad that a comedian has to hit it out of the park.

Read More »John Oliver promotes real science – a comedian gets it right