Homeopathy, angels, astrology and other assorted nasties.

Campfire's picture

I find myself feeling more and more isolated from this world that we live in. I mean, yes, I muddle through like everyone else – I'm no more or less intelligent than the average human, no more or less better looking than your average human either. I have no hidden talents, I can't play an instrument, I haven't a particularly amazing eye for fashion. Yet I also feel that I'm one of the increasing few who chooses to believe, without fear of reprisal or retribution, that certain things are hogwash. My disbelief in a God, be it in the form of Yahweh or Allah, and religion is reasonably well documented in other blog entries.

Religion, by the by, is not something my friend's suffer as an affliction, with the exception of a few. I do find increasingly though that people I speak to sit in this sort of pseudo-religious, pseudo-spiritual category of astrology and “alternative medicines”. And, as if my already sinful derogation of the supernatural weren't enough, do not for a second think I'm less likely to inflict a similar barrage of insults on this pile of crap as I do with the former. Am I sorry that it might offend? Perhaps. Am I regretful? Certainly not.

Let's start with the most popular trend, one which around half the population have adopted as an almost daily ritual. Reading your stars. Some (and I hope most) do it in a rather whimsical manner, not really believing in it, but with the train of thought that it doesn't do any harm. Others, like my mother, have actually paid money to have “their” stars read personally by the likes of Jonathan Cainer. Yes, for only £26.95 you can have the rest of your year mapped out and graphed, charted, recorded and some nice sub-editor can write a nice long essay on your future. All of course with similar vague phrases, or “cold reading” (look it up). The likes of Derren Brown, the famous illusionist, have clearly exposed these readings as, at best, confidence inspiring. I saw a recent very simple experiment of these daily horoscopes performed on TV. Capricorn's daily reading was given to 20 people in the street, 19 of which were varying starsigns and one was actually a Capricorn. 50% of the random participants said they could identify with it. The only single Capricorn of the group could not think how it linked with her life at all.

Yes, you might want to amusingly look over your stars whilst waiting for the kettle to boil. Please don't take them seriously and certainly don't make any important actions in your life based on what a daily (or yearly) “reading” advises you to do. Quite how they have wormed their way into our daily papers is beyond me. Quite how the demand for them jumped to such a proportion is mind numbing. Nevertheless this links back to the fact that I feel there is an increasing number of people who are turning to perhaps comforting, but nevertheless ridiculous, notions of our existence. To arrogantly believe the planets and their respective moons' movements are affecting our petty life circumstances is a joke. Astrology by the way is based on this belief, and it was created by a man in 2AD. Since then the Earth has tilted approximately 23 degrees, but the system has never changed. Please don't say you need more evidence than that?

But why should I think evidence convinces anyone nowadays? Why should I believe that logical, reasonable arguments based on hard facts that are practically slamming you in the face, would do anything to curtail this insanity? As a matter of fact I will send this blog to my mother, and whilst at best she might accept astrology as based on nothing but faith will continue to divulge in it. Why? I suspect the response will be some argument based on no evidence, but it will be anything but acceptance of fault, or conversion to a more sensible homepage on Internet Explorer than jonathancainer.com.

Okay, so astrology is not to be taken seriously. But what harm does it do, I hear you cry. Why attack it so vigorously? If some nutty woman (sorry, mum) wishes to participate in some harmless self-indulgence that makes her happy, why not? Well I suppose there is no harm in such a specific circumstance. However, if you look more broadly at the industry as a whole, it's basically a scam. Extortionate phone lines to hear your “in depth” readings, I've even cited one example of my own mother spending what ended up being a total of, I suspect, around £75 on readings for her and her family. A complete and utter swindle. These people (sorry, “astrologists”) don't just dabble in the world of the supernatural for the fun of it, like some sort of cosmological philanthropists. It's a multi-million pound scam, much like religion, but with less integrity from its leaders.

It gets worse. Moving on from astrology, we can move on to a rather more sinister profiteering industry which preys on people's illnesses. Homeopathy. This, if you're not familiar with it, is a type of alternative medicine which claims to cure “like for like.” In other words, think of it as curing “symptoms with something that causes that symptom.” So, if you have a rash, a homeopathic doctor might prescribe a medicine vial which contains a solution of water and ivy. This line of thought is almost plausible when you think of vaccines, but this momentary grant of interest is quickly evaporated when you look a little further. Homeopathic medicine is stronger, apparently, the more it is diluted. It is almost always diluted to the point where hardly any, if any at all, of the original molecules of the curing agent (i.e. Ivy) are left in the water. Effectively, you are being prescribed water. To put this another way, many homeopathic medicines come branded with something like '30c'. This means that the original agent is diluted in 100 parts water to the power of 30. Would you like that in a number? 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. That is one hundred nonillion. That is, if you took a drop of your curing agent, and put it in the ocean, you wouldn't even be close to how diluted your homeopathic medicine is. In fact, you would need all the atoms in our solar system. Not one molecule of your original substance would exist. Homeopathic doctors argue (against any evidence or science) that water has a “memory” which “somehow” remembers the effects of the cure.

Hilarious, right? Yes! It is! So why on Earth is it a medicine supported on the NHS? That's right kids. Your taxes (yes, you!) are actually funding homeopathic treatment centers on the National Health Service. It is this I object to, and this is precisely why such so-called harmless alternatives are damaging. If you want to be a loon, fine. Why should I pay for you? And, given the backing of the NHS, the loonies who read their stars and go to psychic readers and wear crystals around their necks, also believe in this. And it is this that delays their treatments of possibly other more severe diseases. I'd like to see a vial of water cure cancer. Taking homeopathy and putting it on the pedestal of miracle science is not only unjustified, it's dangerous.

No, no, no, I'm quite happy with my mispositioned chakras and misaligned yang thank you very much. Please wake up people.

Comments

Lol-taire's picture

So I gather you´ve been

So I gather you´ve been watching that Dawkins thing too?

I´ve got a friend off to do natural sciences at Cambridge still believes in homeopathy, it´s terrifying. Oh well at least she´s not going into medicine.

Campfire's picture

The Dawkins program spurred

The Dawkins program spurred me on to write something, but it's something I've thought ridiculous for some time. Probably due to my mother being in such fervent support of crystals and Feng Shui or however you spell it. Bizarre. It's just incredible people can be so reasonable in 90% of their lives, and then the other 10% is devoted to something so inane!

"If we were to wake up some morning and find that everyone was the same race, creed and color, we would find some other cause for prejudice by noon."
- George Aiken