“Enemies Of Reason” (2)

I’ve been away so I’ve only just seen the second programme in the two-part series on Channel Four television entitled “Enemies Of Reason”. In the first programme – on which I blogged here – Richard Dawkins attacked astrology, card reading, clairvoyance and dowsing. In this programme, he targeted various non-scientific claims to healing such as faith healing, Ayurveda and especially homeopathy. He pointed out that in the UK a third of us spend a total of £1.6 billion annually on such untested and unproven therapies.
Of course, for some people some of these techniques ‘work’ in the sense that the sufferer feels ‘better’ but, as Dawkins explained, this is the result of the placebo effect. Most of those who propogate such remedies refuse to acknowledge the placeo effect and assert instead that the cause is something to do with ‘water with memory’ or some version of ‘energy’.
Supporters of homeopathy claim that it cannot be the placebo effect at work because homeopathy is effective for animals and of course they cannot experience the placebo effect. This is nonsense. It is not possible for animals to express a view on a treatment or on the alleviation of symptoms so the opinions are those of the owners of the animals or the people treating the animals and these people are experiencing the placebo effect (more information here).


  • Philip

    Good books to read on this subject are John Diamond’s ‘C:Cowards get cancer too’ and ‘Snake Oil’.
    Snake Oil is particularly poignant as it finishes mid sentence when he dies.

  • mavis

    Show me somebody who has not benefited by using Arnica for bruising, both internally and externally, and then I might, just might, re-think Homeopathy.