Monday, May 4, 2009

Peeve of the day

Ok, so I have lots of pet peeves, and if I wanted to blog them all I'd have no time for anything else (and a lot more blog posts than the occasional one), but this one struck me the other day.

I was at the optometrist with Patricia, who is near-sighted like me. Or rather - not like me, since I've had lasik, and since she's more nearsighted than I ever was. She's blind as a bat without glasses or contacts, in other words.

Also like me, she's allergic to pollen. She gets itchy, watery eyes. So at the optometrist, when they ask about whether she's had problems with her eyes, the allergies come up. And what do you know, they have eye-drops for that.

Ok, not surprising. But what I do find surprising is the kind of eye-drops they have. This is a doctor's office, you'd expect them to be professional. But their eye-drops are homeopathic, and the doctor talks them up as not having any harsh medication in them. Well, duh! They're saline solution.

So I sit there quietly, and don't call him out for being a quack, because real doctors do actually prescribe placebos, and maybe he does know better. And there's also no question that plain saline solution isn't a fine thing to use when your eyes are itchy.

So afterwards, I spend some time afterwards talking to Patricia about placebos and homeopathy and quackery, in my never-ending hope that my kids won't grow up to be morons. But it's been a few days, and quite frankly, it still disturbs me. I've not had any other issues with that optometrist, but I'm seriously wondering if this is worth switching eye doctors over.

Do I want somebody who sells snake-oil (ok, so he gave a free sample, and no way would I have paid for it anyway) looking at my kids eyes? Even if it's harmless and even beneficial?

I'd much rather have seen free samples of "sterile saline solution". And oh yes, please feel free to make a big deal out of the "sterile" part, and feel free to talk about how it is "all natural" and free of Tetrahydrozoline or other chemicals.

But this piece-of-crap saline solution talked about the magical homeopathic "active ingredients" (non-existent and bogus), and while it did list the "inactive ingredients" (ie water and sodium chloride - aka "saline solution"), it was basically a huge advert for teaching people bad science and paying extra for it.

And I'm not crazy. I'm not going to make my own saline solution to save money. I'll happily pay extra for "sterile". I'll pay extra for nice prepared droppers in tiny sizes, even if it means you pay actual money for just tiny amounts of water with some table salt in it (no iodine - get the "kosher" salt if you want to make your own, and use distilled water). I'll happily pay for the convenience of having somebody else prepare saline solution of the proper strength and in a convenient package.

And the funny thing is, I don't mind it when I see the same thing at the checkout counter in the organic grocery store I prefer to go to. I go there because quite frankly, the average meat department in something like a Safeway or Albertsons leaves a lot to be desired. And hey, it's an organic store, so I kind of expect it to then cater to the ignorant and the crack-pots too.

But at the doctors' office?


Erlend said...

you should tell the optometrist how you feel. all he saw was another happy customer walking away with homeopathic eye drops.

Tom said...

I second telling him.

I only believe in things that make sense. Homeopathy, acupuncture, deity and all the other things that morons believe in are not for me.

Linus said...

Erlend/Tom: one of the issues is that if I confront him about it, I'd better be ready to switch to another optometrist if he doesn't end up saying "yeah, I know it's a placebo".

And that's kind of the deeper issue. I'm not sure I'm willing to go through that over an issue that likely doesn't matter. It bugs me, but does it mean that Patricia is getting the wrong glasses? No.

Kevin LeBleu said...

Tom: I don't think "make sense" is a very good measure. Our brains are only built to make sense of what they'd encounter in a natural/wild environment, without the aid of technology much more advanced than stone tools. Even then they only had to make enough sense of stuff to out-survive the other guy.

Perhaps "have supporting evidence" would be a better measure?

A few examples of things that don't make sense, but are well supported by evidence are General Relativity, Special relativity and Quantum Electro Dynamics.

Another problem with the "make sense" approach is that deity "makes sense" to a lot of people, because our brain is built for understanding how other people think and finding patterns. Unfortunately, it makes it easy for our brain to try and interpret naturally occurring events as having a human-like intelligence behind them.

Adrian said...

"homeopathic" sounds so fancy and scientific, I doubt many people know what it means.

Jeremy said...

It seems you have two separate (but related) issues here:

1) Your child's eye doctor gave her (glorified) salt water

2) Your child's eye doctor seemed to imply that homeopathic remedies are good

As I see it, #1 really shouldn't be an issue for you. I have eye issues (and wears contacts), and I can confirm that salt water ("saline solution") is exactly what your eyes need; they don't need any "real" medicine.

However, #2 seems a bit more troubling. For a doctor to give the best medical advice, they have to be aware of the latest scientific data; by (seemingly) revealing a stunning lack of scientific awareness, your doctor has effectively confessed his inability to make good medical recommendations.

Still, your doctor didn't say "science is bad, here is some magic water"; he just implied that a homeopathic solution might be good. As someone who lives in the silicon valley with you, I can assure you there are a LOT of otherwise smart people who buy in to that homeopathy garbage (and in their defense the pharmeceutical industry, with all its unethical behavior, seems to be doing its darndest to drive people towards such beliefs). Your doctor may well have been a very intelligent person, who was simply trying to respond to the beliefs of many of his patients.

So where does that leave you? Well, either your doctor is a "man of science", or he's not. Either he was just responding to his other patients' (bad) expectations, or he actually holds beliefs that would be counter-productive to his giving good medical advice.

Even if the later is true, the vast majority of basic eye care is done by route (if you don't believe me, go get a lens crafter eye exam; watch how the whole process is performed almost as if it had been coded, with the doctors, assistants, etc. being as interchangeable as two == but !== objects). So even an idiot who believes in fairy magic, if he was able to get through medical school, should still be able to provide quality care to your daughter for all basic needs.

Therefore, it seems to me the only time this should matter is if something out of the ordinary comes up. If your daughter needs special medicine, or special surgery, or something like that, then the doctor's abilities start to really matter. If/when that day comes, hopefully you'll have more evidence of your doctor's abilities to go on. If not ... well, you've got an "excuse" to seek out a second opinion (which isn't a bad thing to do for any major medical decision).

Just my two cents.

Mr. Shiny and New said...

Linus, I agree with you about the problem with telling him. But on the other hand, as a matter of principle you almost have to, right?

Then again, my wife went to a breastfeeding specialist when my daughter was born and his office was in the local centre of anti-science nonsense. He was a real doctor, but it's clear that not everyone on his team was firmly grounded in science. Among the therapies they offer (but didn't offer to us) are homeopathic therapies. They did offer us naturopathic therapies, which is at least plausible, even if not clinically proven.

In the end we never called them on their homeopathic BS because there other services were working and we didn't have many choices for breastfeeding specialists.

Incindentally, is this your optometrist?

Drabnik said...

I agree that the best course of action is to tell him how you feel about it. If he doesn't believe it's a placebo, do you really want him treating you for anything else?

And even if he is perscribing it as a placebo, why call it homeopathy? This gives homepathy a false air of legitimacy, and believing that pseudomedicine is real medicine is certainly not harmless.

You also might be interested to know that there is a group of people who often confront this sort of thing, referred to as Skeptics. James Randi (with the JREF) is considered one of the leaders in the skeptical movement (confronting pseudoscience and other nonsense), and their web site and forum is a great place for info and advice.

For a great intro into what Homeopathy is all about, check out the transcript of this episode of the Skeoptoid podcast.

Brandon said...

Homeopathy bugs me something awful too, but in defense of your eye doctor: optometry isn't exactly the right kind of training for distinguishing crack science from well-supported evidence-driven medicine.

Not to say that they're not well-trained or that it's not difficult, but like the fact that CS isn't a good grounding for distinguishing history from the bible, understanding optics doesn't require a good grounding in epidemiology or general public health.

Heck, surgeon's don't need to understand public health, although I'd be a bit upset if my anesthesiologist didn't understand how to figure out if a study about the effectiveness of a drug makes reasonable conclusions.

Tania said...

Yes, we had this problem with our dentist -- or rather, someone who came in to assist our dentist in a difficult procedure. We didn't make a fuss, and a subsequent "care pack" didn't include the homeopathic stuff. But should we raise it for the protection of others? And how confident do you feel in the scientific knowledge of someone who will tolerate this stuff in their surgery? (We have gathered that the engineering knowledge in relation to implants is a bit lacking.)

StCredZero said...

A lot of knowledgeable people use homeopathic treatments instead of placebos. In many states in the US, placebo treatments cannot be purchased without a prescription. Homeopathic treatments are almost always available for a simple purchase.


Alan said...

If you are looking for a good optometrist in the Portland area I recommend "The Eye Group". They are in the Black Box building downtown (200 SW Market St Ste L120). I have been going to them for years and they are very good. (They will actually make glasses using real glass, which is rare these days.)

The reason homoeopathy is allowed in this country is that when the FDA was created, the person responsible wrote in an exception for it. It is really just sympathetic magic applied to water cures, but they get away with it because it has been around for a long time and it is not immediately deadly.

Chris Ryland said...

Before you dismiss homeopathy you should actually try it. In our experience, raising 8 kids over 25+ years, it definitely works well in its intended sphere (which is not broken legs, obviously).

Yes, the way homeopathy works sounds like quackery, except that it actually does work.

In fact, until allopathic medicine came along in the earlier part of the 1900's and drove out the homeopaths, the latter were in the ascendance and quite successful at what they did.

(I'm a Harvard-educated computer scientist, 54, and I don't think of myself as a gullible person.)

Phil Plait, The Bad Astronomer said...

Linus, I would switch optometrists, and I would also tell him exactly why I was switching. In fact, while I wouldn't use the word "quack" necessarily, I would tell him that not only does homeopathy not work, it prevents people from seeking real medicine. A baby died in the UK recently because of this:

So this is no joke.

Aigarius said...

Homeopathy is very useful for the people that tend to self-diagnose and thus self-medicate. If they use homeopathic methods, they get either a placebo or a very diluted medicine that will not hurt them. Using a placebo prevents people from using actual active components without proper knowledge, but still get some, minor, benefit from it.

crf said...

Read the sciencebasedmedicine blog. You'll discover that the practice of medicine is becoming infested with nonsense, like homeopathy, because many doctors simply don't care, one way or the other: they're called "shruggies".

Gabriel said...

I understand your feeling about homeopathy being "magic", I, too, likes to understand how things works, but I don't suppose that anything that I don't understand doesn't exist, so I gave up on understanding homeopathy, It just works for me, I know belladonna just kicks me out of any nearly anything, I gave up understanding, as I gave up on a lot of advanced physics subjects.

We used fire for tens of thousands of years, before actually understanding how it works... but if that disturb you that much, feel free to switch optometrist.

Drabnik said...

Gullibility has little to do with it, everyone can be susceptible to the placebo effect, even when they know it's a placebo! The studies scientists do comparing the effectiveness of different placebos are fascinating, I don't remember any off the top of my head, but I recommend googleing it.

Remember, data is not the plural of anecdote! Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence - and the claims of homeopathy are extraordinary, conflicting with everything we know about the chemistry and physics of water. The evidence just isn't there, in fact it's consistent with the placebo effect.

Gabriel said...

Drabnik: wow, so 437 people died of various bad treatments, sometimes including homeopathy, over the last ~90 years? (the oldest example in your list is from 1923) can you get some statistics on people who dies using "normal" treatments?

I'm not telling homeopathy is superior to the "traditional" medicine, but I don't call such a list "science" or "evidence", of homeopathy being more harmful than other forms of medicine.

Robert said...


Linus, you might not want to read the article in New Scientist about:

"13 things that do not make sense"

In #4:
4 Belfast homeopathy results

MADELEINE Ennis, a pharmacologist at Queen's University, Belfast, was the scourge of homeopathy. She railed against its claims that a chemical remedy could be diluted to the point where a sample was unlikely to contain a single molecule of anything but water, and yet still have a healing effect. Until, that is, she set out to prove once and for all that homeopathy was bunkum.

In her most recent paper, Ennis describes how her team looked at the effects of ultra-dilute solutions of histamine on human white blood cells involved in inflammation. These "basophils" release histamine when the cells are under attack. Once released, the histamine stops them releasing any more. The study, replicated in four different labs, found that homeopathic solutions - so dilute that they probably didn't contain a single histamine molecule - worked just like histamine. Ennis might not be happy with the homeopaths' claims, but she admits that an effect cannot be ruled out.

But the Belfast study (Inflammation Research, vol 53, p 181) suggests that something is going on. "We are," Ennis says in her paper, "unable to explain our findings and are reporting them to encourage others to investigate this phenomenon."

Troy said...

I have similar allergies - I don't go with simple sterile eye drops - there are actual, FDA-approved eyedrops that have real antihistamines for allergies.

Pfizer used to call theirs "occuhist" when it was prescription-only - now it's called
"visine allergy". Bausch & Lomb make their own version with identical ingredients.

Works great for me - but there's one caveat: For some people (I'm one of them) there's a documented "slight stinging sensation" for a few minutes after application. I'd refer to it as an intense burn where I can't open my eyes for five minutes... but after that - my eyes feel great, and the allergy symptoms are GONE.

Jubal said...

@Chris Ryland

You may be 54 and a Harvard-educated computer scientist and it's quite obvious that you would not perceive yourself as gullible person. No-one usually does.

Unfortunately, all of that is still not enough to make homeopathy work.

[And if you really believe in the water memory, please do forgive me this poster...]

Drabnik said...

Gabriel: I didn't claim that that list was evidence that homeopathy didn't work. It exists to make the point that advocating or supporting pseudomedicine like homeopathy - even if it seems harmless like placebo eye drops - is not harmless if someone is fooled into believing that homeopathy works and starts using it instead of effective medicine when they get something life-threatening.

Linus said...

Robert: I know about Ennis. I also know she comes up every time somebody points out that homeopathy is quackery.

And if you're a bit willing to learn something new, I'd suggest researching Ennis just a tad before spreading the manure more widely. The whole Ennis thing has not been recreated anywhere else, and is just more crack-pot science.

In other words, Ennis claims to have been a sceptic, and been "convinced" by the results. But that's exactly the same thing tons of other crack-pots do to try to bolster their claims and seem to be more trustworthy than they are.

The fact is, Ennis' results have been independently tested, and nobody has ever recreated them.

I'm sorry if you're one of the millions of people who have been duped, but homeopathy is quackery. There is absolutely no question about it.

But it is also true that saline solution is good for flushing things out of your eyes (we often call them "tears"), and it's also true that placebos do work (although not because of what they contain). So I'm not claiming that the optometrist did something that's necessarily bad - except that it just perpetuates the myth of homeopathy.

And it really is a myth. You should read up on it.

plepe said...

Hey ... just give it a try. I also use homeopathic medication for my allergies ... and it works. Don't ask me why. But only because it's not "a real" medication doesn't mean it's bad.
In fact I think this is even an advantage of using homeopathic medications, because they don't really contain medicine. "Real" medication usually has a lot of adverse effects, and you can be happy if you find something which a) works and b) has none of these effects.

So before shouting at your doctor and calling him stupid ... please give it a try. It can't hurt.


Zibri said...

Hi Linus!
I've been trying to contact you just for a silly thing.
For a lucky chance, my girl bought a new suit for our child.. and guess what? It's a penguin...
Feel free to use this picture for any silly reason.. I can make a better one if you need to.
But I know you like silly things.. so.. have fun:


tulcod said...

My sister's studying medicine at this very moment, and she has to work as an assistant every once in a while. Hearing her stories, the reason doctors sell placebos is quite simple: people are, in fact, stupid. Sure, they could try to explain everyone that they should just go home and not care about whatever their problem was, but that doesn't work for (unfortunately) most people. Instead, they give them a placebo, something people can take home and feel good with. Something they can pay for. Something they can rely on. And yes, once you dig deeper, a lot of what doctors prescribe is placebos. Get used to it and realize that a lot of medical problems heal themselves, or don't heal at all.

Olli said...

Hey Linus,

being a bit OT here (although I agree with your opinion about homeopathy, which is kind a scary).
I don't know how old Patricia is, just thought I mention that you might wanna have a look into ICL (Implantable Contact Lens) for her (I did that just a year ago). You had Lasik, which I couldn't do, and I think it was for the better (well, guess thats hard to prove).
But you might already be aware of it. Advantage is that you can exchange the lens if your sight changes / deteriorates, at least thats what they say.

Ramon Cahenzli said...

There's a ton of homeopathic treatments in Switzerland, every drugstore sells them, doctors prescribe them and in general the people here seem to believe it works. It's easy to get your health insurance to pay for them, they have the same legal status as acupuncture and that's usually covered by the cheapest level of extra insurance.

That said, I know that all science speaks against it, but homeopathic stuff has worked on me several times against hayfever, aphthous ulcers and mild psoriasis.

It can be a placebo effect, but I don't really care. It simply works in a way that no other stuff does in the same situation, so I buy homeopathic stuff when I know it's the only thing that works. How it works, whether through shamanism or triggering some self-healing mechanism -- who cares?

I'm not the spirit healer type and am happy taking antibiotics and downing liters of chemicals, so I'm certainly not the target audience for homeopathy. But here it's prescribed and seems to work (health insurance wouldn't cover it so cheaply otherwise, I'd think), so I'm quite surprised that I see so many people with a scientific background lash out against it.

Stephen P. Schaefer said...

I commend you for using an organic grocery store. Obviously not becasuse the food is "chemical free" - I like bound protons, neutrons and electrons in my food. Not because there are homeopathically smaller amounts of herbicides/insecticides/hormones/antibiotics in the food*. Rather, because I don't trust that the minimum-wage production people who apply the herbicides/insecticides/hormones/antibiotics have the knowledge or economic wherewithal to avoid harmful levels of exposure. You and I are rich enough that we don't need to inflict those risks on the less powerful, even indirectly. An anecdote illustrative of the problem is this:

*Do homeopaths recommend "non-organic" food?

Pascal Germroth said...

About the salt solution: I think most cheap contact-lens cleansing solutions are mostly just this (well there are different types etc). Point is, they come in up to 1 liter bottles, and with tiny nozzles, so you can drip the stuff directly into the eye...

Russ said...

I found some disposable single use saline solution droppers and bought those for my wife. They work great.

The homeopathy thing really bothers me too, and it would really scare me if my health professional was selling them.

One of the worst things I've seen though are the commercials for homeopathic pet remedies. I imagine someone with a lower income and older pet wasting their money on it and watching their beloved pet's suffering just get worse and worse.

Gustavo said...

It comes down to optometrists not being anywhere near a 'doctor' here in the US. Most MDs are pretty scientifically minded, but once you go over to optometrists, podiatrists, and chiropractors all bets are off.

The education and training standards for these people is far looser than a challenging science undergrad + MD + residency.

Take your daughter to an ophthalmologist. The current glasses may not be wrong, but you might be able to fix her discomfort as well.

Jakub Narebski said...

"Saline solution" (artificial tears) is not a homeopatic drug, as it lacks active ingredient, so it doesn't have active 'homeo' ingredient. But it is not placebo. Just like lowering temperature during high fever by submerging in cold water is not placebo.

Beside having to be sterile, and easy to use, you pay for it to having exact amount of salt that matches the concentration of salt in tears.

chaosnet3 said...

Kevin LeBleu said...

Tom: I don't think "make sense" is a very good measure. Our brains are only built to make sense of what they'd encounter in a natural/wild environment, without the aid of technology much more advanced than stone tools. Even then they only had to make enough sense of stuff to out-survive the other guy.

Perhaps "have supporting evidence" would be a better measure?

A few examples of things that don't make sense, but are well supported by evidence are General Relativity, Special relativity and Quantum Electro Dynamics.

Another problem with the "make sense" approach is that deity "makes sense" to a lot of people, because our brain is built for understanding how other people think and finding patterns. Unfortunately, it makes it easy for our brain to try and interpret naturally occurring events as having a human-like intelligence behind them.
May 4, 2009 10:43 AM
... I don't think "make sense" is a very good measure ...

What does make sense ... actually means.

Certainly there is a valid point ... in what Kevin LeBleu mentions that ...

"Our brains are only built to make sense of what they'd encounter in a natural/wild environment, without the aid of technology much more advanced than stone tools."

Our brains, and not even our minds, are built to make sense and by that I take it, as our senses, our sense organs, all of them, will confer to what it makes sense. Implicates our sense organs. The sense we make, is what our sense organs, allows us to.

It brings into my mind the thoughts I had contemplated upon the range of stimuli our sense organs can detect, upon which, our brains and our minds will make sense out of. Our brains will only see the narrow range of what is going on around us, that our own human resolving time allow us to detect and from them to pick the stimuli and use to make sense. Anything else is obscured, it is not there, practically equivalent to, it does not exist, as our brains and the minds we make sense with, do not take into consideration.

The thought Kevin LeBleu expressed

"... without the aid of technology much more advanced than stone tools"

it reminded me what I read about our human resolving times compared with the resolving time of a fast electronic device
"For the human eye and ear, resolving time is about 0.1 s, while a fast electronic device might have a resolving time of 10 billionths of a sec (10^-10 s)."

This idea alone made me think how many events are taking place around us, that our senses can not distinguish and built experience, as our resolving time is not small enough to separate them into the distinct entities they are. How much information is lost. Technology makes it possible to overcome this limitation, as the recent scientific breakthrough about the world's fastest camera.To what extent people are taking on board these fundamental limitations of our brains when they try to make sense out of any new ideas they come across.

Is it not an overindulgence, being over-optimistically proud of what we consciously know, and with such unfounded fervour, try to pass along what sense we make?

That kind of attitude is not different, from the ridicule (I can certainly imagine so) suffered by the individual who invented the wheel by his fellow stone-age contemporaries, or any other innovation that run counter to what individuals made sense of.

Graham said...

I really hate to say this, but - as someone who has worked in the alternative health industry in the past - Homeopathy actually can work. I have no idea how or why. I have looked into how it works and it makes absolutly no sense whatsoever. I even know how the strengths work, and the solution with 1ml "active ingredient" per 1L if water is considered *Weaker* than the solution with 1ml "active ingredient" per 1,000,000,000,000,000,000ml is! None of it makes any sense in the slightest.

However, despite all of that, some people really do get benefits from it. I don't know if it's placebo affect, or magic, or what, but in some situations with some people it does work.

Really makes no sense.

Sean said...

Hey Linus,

I think what it boils down to is how strong your beliefs are surrounding homeopathy, and how hard you want to push them onto your children.

If it had been you instead of your daughter, would you still be asking this question, or would you be switching?

My personal opinion is to stay the course with this current doctor. Perhaps homeopathy is a joke, but the bottom line is he isn't giving something that is harming your daughter, and I mean really eye drops is the tip of the iceburg w.r.t. what he actually does. At the same time there are no guarantees that you'll find someone that doesn't provide the same sort of drops.

John said...

When the little people were discovered on Flores, a barista said, "kinda makes you think that maybe we are descended from apes..?" and I confess to being taken aback, and I couldn't think what to say. I had forgotten that people who you might meet in public could believe anything else. But, well, he makes a fine short black, and genetics hasn't really came up between us since.

G. M. Palmer said...


I find it interesting that "educated" people often dismiss homeopathy with one hand and embrace concepts like the QDC vacuum with the other. Neither makes "sense" yet both are constructions with real-world observable effects.

Even if homeopathy's only effect is the placebo effect (and has the placebo effect been shown to work on infants? homeopathic gripe remedies do. . .) it's still useful and it's not a bunch of chemicals that we are putting into our bodies and peeing out into the environment (want to sleep less well? read into how we're polluting our water supply with medications. . .).

Moreover, the anti-homeopathy community seems to believe that the only way to study homeopathy is to reproduce its effects in the laboratory.

Why? Studies have been done on the general population that demonstrate the effectiveness of homeopathy (even if it's simply dismissed as some sort of placebo effect). Just as we can't directly observe subatomic particles (that's why we got dem world-endin atom smashurz), perhaps the homeopathic effect is something that can only be indirectly observed.

joshyMinor said...

You actually do raise some pretty valid points!


Matěj Cepl said...

What's even more funny is that most homoeopathy currently sold wouldn't be considered as such by Hahnemann. Anything which is distinguishable from distilled water isn't homoeopathic medicine in my reading of Hahnemann.

Funny world it is.

Colin Gebhart said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Peter said...

I think the real problem here... real as in reality... is that belief actually heals. This is not particularly magical or occult; it’s got to do with the unconscious and it’s powerful effect on the immune system. This is why religion is still so popular these days (homeopathy is the equivalent of a self-administered religious healing ritual). And even a physician who is ‘a man of science’ can recognize the healing efficacy of something that activates the unconscious, i.e a placebo.

Unfortunately the water gets a lot deeper when you realize that 1) the efficacy of the ritual usually increases in relation to the sacrifice involved (i.e. for many people, costly ritual is often better than free ritual); 2) the blessings of any hierarchy also increases efficacy (so pseudo-scientific jargon or actually getting it from your doctor helps); and 3) science itself – while a superior system (as Drabnik said, data is not the plural of anecdote) has it’s own rituals and religious aura, which often confuses its own adherents and muddies its results.

The problem is not just, as Kevin LeBleu noted, that our brains tend to mis-apply to naturally occurring events pattern recognition algorithms designed for understanding other humans; it is that human physiology responds to those mis-applications as if they were true -- even when they are not.

Shawn said...

You have to understand the alternative when homeopathy was invented, there was mercury salts, bleeding and leeches. Patients of homeopathy did better, and it caught on.

meshko said...

So 2 years ago I first got allergies that made my eyes itchy. I went to the pharmacy and bought a random eye drop thingy for dry eyes. I then proceed to go to my optometrist to get the eyes checked. He confirmed that they are just dry and suggested eye drops. I showed him the ones I've been using and he gave me this sad look and said 'these can do more harm then good, get the regular ones". The drops turned out to be homeopathic ones!
I don't understand why do they have this crap in the pharmacies, not clearly labeled in large letters or something.

Alex S said...

First of all, you should probably go to an ophthamologist instead of an optometrist.

It costs more, but you'll get someone who is on a whole other level, competence-wise. It's also good to have someone who knows what they're doing looking at your eyes from time to time.

This is how I look at it. I get more use out of my eyeglasses than anything else I own. I don't cheap out on them. And if I develop some eye disease, I want to know early.

It's a good place to put my money.

Also, if this guy bugs you, fix it. Life's too short to deal with being annoyed. It's easy to go to someone else, and there's no reason not to.

It's not hard to find doctors who agree with you.

You should hear my brother in law (an ENT) go off on ear candling and chiropractors.

Captain Wasabi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
chris said...

A lot of what people call homeopathy these days are largely unrelated practices and substances. Ranging from whatever bizarre diluted water thing (which I've never seen IRL) to the menthol in your cough drops. Salines rinses are used for the eyes, the nose and even for open wounds.

This is the first time I've heard saline rinses called "homeopathic", but applying that silly label to yet another process, technique or substance doesn't invalidate the efficacy of the treatment.

There's no doubt that "homeopathic" is a joke, but there's also the current problem of applying the label inappropriately. That happens more and more. I think that is a real shame.

Jason V said...

if you look at the general failure rates of science based medicine, you might conclude it's as much pseudo-science as you consider homeopathy. in terms of wellness and disease management, western-oriented science based medicine fails hard.

chillyb said...

I wouldn't tell the optometrist anything about the wisdom I'd gained in his office. I wouldn't confront him at all. I would however file away this juicy tidbit of information and recall it the next time he prescribes anything at all to my family members. Many doctors are rushing to fall onto the homeopathic bandwagon. This doesn't make it quackery, just good fiscal sense. He IS in business to make money. If most of those he sells his services to are homeopathic nuts then he's doing the right thing for his business. Knowing when to use modern medicine and when to use home remedies is a difficult decision to make. I just wish more people were as informed as you are Linus.

ZoydW said...

I think this may be not important enough to switch, but it does raise a little doubt in the back of the mind, doesn't it?

I would consult with an ophthalmologist the next time she needs here eyes checked. Just to make sure the optometrist didn't miss anything important. If all was well, then the optometrist could continue seeing your children none-the-wiser.

Scott "Geekster" Leonard said...

If you question the doctor, maybe just go with your gut reaction. It's possible your subconscious is picking up on something you can't quite put your finger on.

As for saline... that is just standard practice to recommend it. The fact he gave Patricia that is only probably because some traveling salesman left him a case of it for free, in hopes it would drum up future business for that company. Doctors rarely think about that stuff, let alone care.

Philip said...

But it's not a question of belief, it's a simple math problem.

We know how many individual molecules are in any weight of any active ingredient. The numbers on homeopathic dosages are the numbers of times the active ingredient has been diluted, and if memory serves me it's in powers of 10. So, a 30x solution has 1/10 x 10EE30 th the concentration of active ingredient, for example. At that level of dilution there are no (not any, none) molecules of active ingredient left in the dose. It cannot have any effect, and thinking otherwise is to believe in Magic.

Look up Avogadros number and Molarity if you want to work it out on your own.

lastobelus said...

Don't knock homeopathy. Given the inclination of morons to have far more children then us, homeopathy is one of the few things we have going for us, evolutionarily.

chaoticgoodblogger said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
chaoticgoodblogger said...

I sort of agree with the problem of attributing efficacy to 'magic', but I bet the bottle doesn't actually do that. So what you're saying is that these homeopathic remedies are, as a class, not to be trusted, as they imply that the world works homeopathically. The problem is with the implication of how the world works in that case, not with the remedy.

I was obnoxiously certain that homeopathic remedies were quackery, but my ex-girlfriend convinced me to go see what is called an "orthobionomist" for some back pain. The techniques of orthobionomy are considered to be homeopathic, but I think that's something of a red herring, because calling the technique homeopathic doesn't necessarily mean the technique doesn't work, just that it's (probably) a misattribution as to how it works.

Anyway, to make a long story short, I'd had sciatica for two years and couldn't climb for very long (inability to climb for the same length of time with my left arm vs. my right was what finally prompted me to seek help) because of weakness in my left arm, all due to an injury working out. I went and saw the orthobionomist, she did a bunch of prodding, pulling and shaking and told me that I -probably would not need to come back-, and that if the problem didn't go away in a few days -please wait a week before thinking that I need to return to see her-. She also told me that it didn't matter if I believed in her techniques or not, they'd still work.

All of these things proved to be correct. Whatever she did caused my body to realign my spine correctly and permanently, I could once again look straight up and turn my head fully to the left. And my climbing, of course, is now great.

It's overly simplistic to think that certain peoples were around for thousands of years and believed something worked even when, in reality, it never did. Some of this stuff does work, even if our knowledge does not yet extend to the why. It's true that people will believe anything, but you should judge the thing on its own merits, not on the labels assigned to it.

And now I'm going to write the Homeopathic Journaling File System to prove my point. :)

I think the best thing would be to tell your children (and maybe your optometrist?) that homeopathic remedies may work, but if they do, the reason they do will definitely be found to have scientific underpinnings. That is, something effective might be homeopathic, but homeopathy cannot predict what will be effective, whereas good science can.

gehzumteufel said...

I didn't read all the comments Linus, but one thing comes to mind. It would be from the Penn and Teller show "Penn & Teller's Bullshit" from HBO. It basically went on about hippies and their quest to ban anything that sounded bad. Here is the episode.

zrr said...

Try the eyedrops of Weleda:

Also: If you want to get a good consultation concerning drugs go to a pharmacy not a doctor. A doctor can get kickbacks for Medicine he sells. So he may only sell one thing, not two, because the sales rep convinced him to do so and he makes money on each sale as well.

A pharmacists knows more about drugs then a doctor. That is what he studied.

The pharmacist knows all about symptoms and red eyes and Pollen and drugs because he has more "drug clients".

Richard said...


Acupuncture actually has had measurable results in double blind studies.

The theory behind why it works appears to be wrong however - because it works 60% of the time even when you don't stick the needles in the right place.

You are being unfair to lump it in with homeopathy (which has no measurable effect beyond placebo).

Robert said...

Robert: I know about Ennis. I also know she comes up every time somebody points out that homeopathy is quackery.
And it really is a myth. You should read up on it.

Linus, I *don't* see any way homeopathy could possibly work and no, I don't *believe* in it. I was taking a reference on "NewScientist" as something more than noise but I can't say I looked into it more. It was just an interesting data point given what it said. And the quotes "The study, replicated in four different labs..." and "We are," Ennis says in her paper, "unable to explain our findings..." don't seem like the usual hokum.

William James Croft said...

There is an expanding domain of what is being called "informational" or "energetic" medicine. A recent documentary film exploring this is called The Living Matrix. See the trailer at the site.

grapesoda89 said...

My family dentist used to try and sell us therapeutic magnets and hair transplant treatments. He and your optometrist should play golf sometime...

Filip Strugar said...

I also agree the optometrist should be told that you don't agree with him practicing charlatanism.

It doesn't mean he's a bad doctor (although it's one of the signs), it doesn't mean you should argue with him or move to another one (although I probably would - depending on the circumstances), but he should know what his patients think.

@lastobelus said...
"Don't knock homeopathy. Given the inclination of morons to have far more children then us, homeopathy is one of the few things we have going for us, evolutionarily."

Haha that's unfortunate but true. But the negative effect of quack remedies is not strong enough to remove them from the gene pool fast enough...

It's funny reading these posts here - it's so obvious that they (morons) have invested so much into this quackery that reasoning doesn't work for them anymore.

@Richard, no, acupuncture does not have measurable results in double blind studies, you misrepresent the study facts. Please state your sources and if you wish we can discuss this somewhere else, for example on the forums.

Jakub Narebski said...

@JasonV: the (main) difference betwen science and pseudo-science is that science examines evidence pointing to the hypothesis being false, and not only evidence supporting one's favorite hypothesis.

Woodlark (Kangaskiuru) said...

Basically this works like "loitsut" (incantations) in "Kalevala" (Finnish National Epos) which you probably were forced to read in the highschool. - All the best to your family.

chaosnet3 said...

I enjoyed the comments immensely, watching a little peeve spread so wide and stirring so many thoughts. I, myself, took advantage of some of the links offered in the comments, that led me and exposed me to mind-boggling and deeply interesting ideas. Especially, the one in New Scientist, "13 things that do not make sense", but some of the guests have gone too far.

It is not my intention to spoil the flow, but irritates me, when I read statements like the one, in the comment by


"Don't knock homeopathy. Given the inclination of morons to have far more children then us, homeopathy is one of the few things we have going for us, evolutionarily."

Well... Nobody can tell who the moron is, but usually the moron, is the moron, who calls the moron, moron. It is circular you see, A reflects B, and B reflects A, or something of the sort. Finally, we are all stupid, none excluded. Hey, I put that phrase into Google and it gave me back 89 million of them.

As this, by Mark Twain, who elaborated further, "We are all stupid, just on different subjects", and an essay in The Journal of Cell Science, The importance of stupidity in scientific research.

I can only say, it is sad to bear witness to such attitudes, by people.

rslite said...

I'd like to point out some things for those that say it's black or white.

On one hand we can't determine currently with stientific studies that homeopathy works hence the conclusion that it's magic healing. The dilutions in homeopathic remedies are so high that there isn't a single molecule of the original substance in that solution so there can't be any medical effect from this.

On the other hand there are people who say that homeopathic remedies have helped them, but the reports can't replace a scientific study.

The question is how accurate are the current studies? How advanced is our science? Certainly not sufficiently advanced to determine how all the things around us work.

My opinion is that we should keep in mind the past of the science, when people came with all kinds of 'stupid' ideas such as 'the Earth revolves around the Sun', 'the air has weight', 'people will be able to fly'. Maybe what we know and can use now is not good enough to prove that it works or not. Maybe it does work on a different level that we can't measure yet, or maybe it doesn't work at all and people feel well because of other causes. Where do we draw the line between something that is clearly a joke and something that could be true but we haven't found why yet?

Filip Strugar said...

That's a bit of a logic fail there.

You're right saying that there might be an (yet) unknown process by which homeopathy might work, however unlikely. Everything is possible. In fact, we actually don't know how many of our commonly used medicines really work.

But your logical fallacy is in that this in any way means that it might work while presented with the overwhelming evidence that it doesn't.

The efficacy of the homeopathic treatment can be measured, and it was rigorously measured, and the conclusion (accepted by the great majority of scientific community) is that the effect of homeopathic remedies is in the line with the placebo effect.

"My opinion is that we should keep in mind the past of the science, when people came with all kinds of 'stupid' ideas such as 'the Earth revolves around the Sun', 'the air has weight', 'people will be able to fly'."

So you're saying that if some people in the past thought that some ideas were stupid and were afterwards proved wrong, that means that all the ideas should be equal regardless of the amount/lack of proof, sense and scientific plausibility?

Now I hope that you realise how stupid that is.

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and for homeopathy there's none.

But if you still disagree feel free to prove me wrong and win a 1,000,000$ in the process:

Also, take a look at previous attempts:

rslite said...

@Filip Strugar

"So you're saying that if some people in the past thought that some ideas were stupid and were afterwards proved wrong, that means that all the ideas should be equal regardless of the amount/lack of proof, sense and scientific plausibility?"

No I don't mean that. If you read my last lines of the comment you'll see that I mean that maybe we don't have yet a good way of telling if it works or not. Maybe there are some things that we can't measure yet, but are messing with the results.

A quick example: what will you notice if you make a scientific test that involves transfusing blood between people in case of a blood loss, but without knowing the blood types? Depeding on the donor you could get a big (seemingly random) part of the recipients dead. A scientific conclusion could be that blood transfusion is no good. This is because there are some factors that are not taken into account which affect the outcome of the transfusion.

Anyway I'm not trying to say that it really works. I surely don't have proof for that, but I want to point out that there's much to how we work that we don't know.

chaosnet3 said...


"Maybe what we know and can use now is not good enough to prove that it works or not. Maybe it does work on a different level that we can't measure yet, or maybe it doesn't work at all and people feel well because of other causes. Where do we draw the line between something that is clearly a joke and something that could be true but we haven't found why yet?"

What we know and can use now is not good enough to prove that it works or not ... Knowledge, how awesome it might appear, it is still the tip of the iceberg, of what yet, is to be known. It is imperfect, by virtue of not being the whole, of what there is to be known. Or, it never ends, therefore, what we know now, should never be used, to kill off what is to be known in the future.

Should let it grow unhindered. It will find its way.

Should put in mind. Alternative ideas, attack them from any angle possible, contribute if you may, instead of killing them by ridiculing the individuals that foster these ideas.

Instead of, killing thus, any ideas, is better to kill off the urge, to destroy new ideas, again, no matter how absurd they may sound, or how out of reason they might be to us, judged, by what we know now.

Why would someone, would feel compelled to ridicule, the bearers of weird ideas? Their prominent position, assumed in their minds, at stake?

A direct consequence of the prevailing norms of competition, in its worse form, manifestation. What you do not understand and fathom, kill it. All in an attempt to preserve cherished status, in the world of ideas. So that, the ground beneath one's feet, doesn't give in.

The more and more I think about it, the more I am convinced, that these are the makings of the competitive streak, Darwin's theories have left upon us. Compete, to your heart's delight.

However, evidence is emerging, that it is not competition but rather replacement, that governs evolution.

Replacement by an even more fit, more robust alternative, a bifurcation in the evolutionary tree that grows by itself for itself, being more securely adapted to, to its surrounding conditions. To my mind even independently, to other pre-existing or even newly emerging elements, sprouting in concurrent time.

Principles that fire up in almost any activity, individuals are engaged in, the emeeeeerging collaboration trends in the world of individuals, away from soul-destroying, mind-numbing competition.

For me it makes sense, without even the need, to back it up with any hard scientific evidence. I see no need for science here. Seen science as an endeavor of our conscious mind, for a secure foothold, of what imagination and creativity has borne out, in the first place, but can not overcome its self-imposed limits. Science in itself cannot be creative.

It is not hard knowledge, evidence based, firm, solid pieces of knowledge, that matter most. You can extend, expand so much, as already pre-set boundaries, allow you. But what the goldmine is, within the science processes, what leads in leaps and bounds, are the weird and wonderful ideas created, that count.

Temo said...

Hello Linus!

As it can be seen, a lot of people here says that homeopathy helped them. Me also: more that 10 years my family and myself didn't use "allopathy" or western or traditional medicines. We're still alive and feel better that before it.

Homeopathy is not placebo: placebo shouldn't work on small babyes, animals and plants, but homeopathy works, and I've seen this many times.

Acupuncture and oriental medicine also works, despite we didn't understand why.

P.S. Don't tell me about science. There is no such thing as sciense...

Less then three hundred years ago (about 1768) one of greatest scientists Antoine Laurent de Lavoisier officially claimed, that "stones cannot fall down from the sky, because there are no stones in the sky"... And you can find hundreds such examples.

Also, if Microsoft once will became science company, Linux will be the first thing they will call "anti-scientifical" :-))

Science is just something that says "it cannot be happening, because it just cannot happen".

Sapienti sat.

Filip Strugar said...

Argument founded on a concept that every idea should be given a chance is a fair thing, but you seem to miss the fact that the homeopathy was already given a chance, and it couldn't prove itself.

It has been around since 1796 years, has been given many chances since, and was very thoroughly debunked.

Now it takes much more than that to make it even remotely plausible: it takes hard evidence, and there is none yet. So don't act surprised when you get ridiculed for promoting it - you deserve it. It's no different than proposing Vodoo healing.

(Also, mind you, plural of anecdote is anecdotes, not evidence).

But it's all much more serious matter when the quackery in question is a proposed medical treatment.

When someone chooses quackery instead of a real medical treatment for a serious but otherwise treatable disease (or, more frequently, delays treatment because of it), that person is directly hurting, or, in some cases, killing himself/herself.

Sure, you can promote quackery as much as you like, or muddy the waters around it, but when you do so you're likely causing indirect but possibly serious harm to other people.

In my opinion that makes you a moron.

There's (too) many nutjobs around, like the previous poster for example, but I don't see people running to them when they break a leg or have appendicitis - no, they go to a doctor. You know, the guy that studied science of medicine. You know, modern medicine, one of the main reasons average life expectancy doubled in the last few hunder years.

Drabnik said...

The problem with the supposed "open mind" arguments some people are spouting is that this isn't realistic for a medical practice, or our everyday lives.

By all means, please continue studying it in the lab. But if after hundreds of years of study you can't even come up with a plausible theory explaining how it works, or produce any evidence of its efficacy, then we have to stop bothering with it and worry about prescribing the things that probably work!

And if you come up with some evidence, or a good theory, then most of us will listen with intense interest. To truly have an open mind you must be willing to change it based on evidence, not just believe anything that can't be disproved.

Leisha Camden said...

@ Gabriel on May 4th:

I gave up on understanding homeopathy, It just works for me, I know belladonna just kicks me out of any nearly anything,But the whole point is that when you take a homeopathic 'medicine', you are not ingesting any belladonna. They tell you that it's a diluted solution, but it's not. It's just water. You are not ingesting any belladonna. said...

Dear people who think that posting "homeopathy works for me!" adds something to the discussion:

Whether you think it works for you is not interesting. It's interesting whether it compares favorably to placebo over a statistically-significant sample.

You're welcome to try to make the claim that taking placebos makes some people feel better. You're not welcome to make the claim that homeopathy is any better than placebo, because this claim has repeatedly and conclusively been shown to be false. Your personal experiences do nothing to refute that claim, because you are not part of a controlled study that also tested the effectiveness of placebo, or the effectiveness of nothing at all.

chaoticgoodblogger said...

Dear printf,

Homeopathy: a method of treating disease with small amounts of remedies that, in large amounts in healthy people, produce symptoms similar to those being treated.

I will translate for you into some comprehensible words suitable for the culturally disdainful: vaccine, retroviral drugs, inoculation, flu shots.

The premise that giving the body a little of something that will teach it how to fight things of that nature, and then having it be able to ward off larger attacks of a similar type is proven science.

Yaddoshi said...

Just because a product is labeled "organic" does not mean it is 100% organic, nor does it mean that it is healthy or safe to consume by humans.

Likewise, just because a product is labeled "homeopathic" does not mean it actually is.

Advertising is all about using perception to misdirect the potential customer into purchasing a product. Actual benefit to the customer is typically secondary. If anything, the entire point of advertising is to invent a benefit the customer didn't know that he or she "needed".

I would be more peeved with the company that labeled the product as homeopathic, and not the doctor who received good feedback from the patients who tried it, and based on this feedback recommended it to you.

From someone who gets red irritated eyes during pollen season, simply washing your face around the eyes with soap and water (not scrubbing), and then not touching your eyes for at least 15 minutes (that's the hard part) does a lot to relieve the itching, swelling and redness because it clears the buildup of pollen in the tear duct vicinity and gives your eyelids and tear ducts a chance to do their job properly. And provided you already have soap and water, it's free!

Drabnik said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Drabnik said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Drabnik said...

"Homeopathy: a method of treating disease with small amounts of remedies that, in large amounts in healthy people, produce symptoms similar to those being treated."

This statement sounds nice until you do the math - in a standard homeopathic solution there most likely isn't even a single molecule of what you started with!

"The premise that giving the body a little of something that will teach it how to fight things of that nature, and then having it be able to ward off larger attacks of a similar type is proven science."

Even if there were something besides water in a homeopathic solution, they aren't typically prescribed as preventative medicines but instead as cures. Look up the word remedy. In your own definition above you define homeopathy as "a method of treating disease" and not "preventing". Giving yourself any amount of a toxin or pathogen after getting sick from it won't do diddly-squat.

Aaron Digulla said...

There are two kinds of people: those who want to believe and those who want to know. They usually don't get along well since the former kind wants the universe to love them while the latter know that the universe doesn't give a damn and they really like rubbing it in.

The crux here is that modern medicine can't cure unless you're seriously and obviously sick. Broken arm? No prob. Flu? Uh ... well ... take an aspirin and call me again next week?

Since most people are not seriously sick (as in: will die within the next four hours), medicine can't really help. But the human body was designed to survive without doctors. Only today, we don't believe that anymore. There is no money in that. And that's where the placebo comes in. It's belief in the form of a pill. It tells the inner voice to shut up and let the body do its thing. And since no one would believe that, we need a "science" to distract the nitpicker in our head.

Which leads to an interesting problem: The better you know how this works, the less likely a placebo will help you. So you're actively fighting the only remedy that might help you (since there is no other medicine), for the sake of winning an argument. Good job.

masonlite said...

Well, this is fun. Forgive this dumb bricklayer for his ignorance. I was hoping to see post after post containing straight up solutions to end, not to relieve symptoms of eye irritation/sight problems. This is the fun stuff, from a dumb bricklayer.
A few months ago, as a renter of a house in metro-Detroit w/basement. Mommy plugged the sewer pipe w/you know what. I (dummy) was in basement access pipe plug w/a 50ft. snake & cordless drill.
Two chicks upstairs were notified not to use plumbing as dummy did this. My baby (9) though did not know this. I heard her frantic lil' sprint to the bathroom & held my breath. Oh, NO..! Here "she" comes. Yuk....
Good thing though, as w/most clouds..silver lining. This is the ignorant, dummy part.
Tiny, thin, white, live worms in my babies poopy. So many, they were easily noticed "escaping" the now not-so-warm and cozy poopy log. Poor lil' bastards...die....
Anyways, after a few hundred clicks for info(PCLinuxOS, of course) this dummy finds that CDC states that 70+% of USA people from day one to death are indeed hosts to one or more parasites that do harm.
Well, *uck me. Where's the Rx "professionals" teaching us this..? Or did I miss that in school, public service announcements, "pro" office brochures, ect.? duh.
Well, after several months of anti- parasite, colon cleanse, non-use of aspritame sweetened crap (soda, cookies, cereal, "juice boxes", ect.)
I announce my baby has went back to using glasses that were sufficient two Rx's ago and so-called itchy eyes from allergies are non-exesitant.
Damn, all them ingredients in the cleanses/parasite killers are like, well... free.... roots, walnut shell, all natural stuff.... and Oh, it's free NOT to use fake, man-made, poisonous sugar sh*t. Guess free don't cut it in our society.
Make a list yourself, of ALL groups of people that would suffer $$ loss, if we were to wake up half ass healthy and use "free" stuff to remain healthy. I'd say this USA $$/income/tax system would just about cease. Talk about Seattle getting a cold when Boeing sneezes...
But, then again... I am just a dumb bricklayer.

Jochen said...

Salt water is ok, if the concentration is the right one.

You don't want to apply aqua dest. to your eyes (inner eye pressure gets up).


codeslinger said...

wow what a hot topic, wonder if you will even see this post, but you did say you are a fast reader...

I am really looking forward to the
"Homeopathic Journaling File System" it sounds like a wonderful idea. I suppose it would require a crystal ball interface? ;-)

but all kidding aside... people assume that water is just water h2o and say how can that be anything? But it is much more than that. what people ignore - are ignorant of - is the electrical and magnetic properties of water. If you happen to take chem 101 like I did you might hear the story of how a 17th century chemist discovered that the presence of a magnetic field changes the chemical reactivity of water.

I refrain from having an opinion about Homeopathy but I agree that the claims made are a bit of a stretch. However the idea of transference of electromagnetic fields by proximity is valid physics.

A book I highly recommend is:
The Body Electric, by Robert O. Becker, MD who did serious research on bioelectrics some of which has slowly found it's way into mainstream medicine.

You should also not be too quick to assume that mainsteam medicine is safe from quackery. For instance it took a major scandal to finally get big pharma to remove the mercury from most vaccines.

Also check out this site to find out how a common mainstream medical quack practice is routinely injuring babies at birth. something that I personally know something about.

Consider: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic" -- Arthur C Clark.

masonlite said...

"You should also not be too quick to assume that mainsteam medicine is safe from quackery."

Totally, imagine the USA money engine IF we guyz woke up w/no or little need for maintenance due to decent health. This current system is reliant on sick and dieing humans.

jesmon said...

I always think it's silly when a bunch of computer science experts (or other such smart, technical people) seem to make the assumption that human bodies function in an analogous fashion to computers or other wholly deterministic systems that you can properly and accurately isolate the properties of in a laboratory. (Sickness? There's a bug! Reproduce it! Find the cause! Fix it!)

I believe it's really much more complicated than that. And biology and medicine are very difficult.

But, for what it's worth, Linus, I think you should certainly mention your concerns to your optometrist.

ronny said...

"kosher" simply means "fit" in Hebrew. As in "fit to eat".

All salt is "Kosher" as far as Jews are concerned. The reason people call some types of salt "Kosher Salt" is because it is used to drain the blood out of meat. Part of the process of making meat "kosher" or "fit" to eat is to get rid of the blood, and obviously, table salt just isn't going to cut it.

So why don't they call it "normal sized salt"? Beats me. I guess a lot of people in the meat or cooking industry thought the label "Kosher Salt" sounded better.

That dude said...

Dear Linus.

You used the word doctor 5 times in the post. Yet, the visit was to an optometrist, which is not a doctor, not even close.

Optometrists have no or little training/knowledge when it comes to basic medical subjects such as cell biology, biochemistry, molecular biology, anatomy (except the eye and related structures) and so forth and so on...

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琪琪 said...

you are not our mother. She has a soft, pleasant voice, but your voice is rough, you are the wolf.

琪琪 said...

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ratulmukh said...

Homeopathy works. My mom suffered from a rare bone disease of the hip. She couldn't even walk. No allopathic doctor had any rememdy. She visited dozens of them. The only thing they suggested was to go for a hip replacement surgery. But back then (years ago), that was a pretty risky and complicated surgery. The advice was to postpone it as much as possible. This is where homeopathy stepped in. In a few month's time, not only did my mom start walking, she even started going to work. Going from severely_disabled to working_professional, I must say homeopathy succeeded extremely well. Allopathy medicine just couldn't help.

Just because you can't explain why something works, dosen't mean it dosen't work.

fanny said...

mobile phones price and performance are a pair of contradiction. The word "shanzhai" is very popular in China. It is industry phenomenon of imitation, high quality and low price. Moreover, cell phones are the representative of them.The global financial crisis led to a significant shrinkage of assets for people. "china wholesale" demonstrate the might. most of them would like buy the cheap cell phones now .

fanny said...

Through google search engine, when you put in "discount cell phones", you will find more than 15,000 pieces of related information. Cell phone china has been concerned in the world. Many international sellers can get a considerable profit by ways of wholesale cell phones from China and switch selling. So it is a very good job on cell phones wholesale in the current financial crisis.Cellphone , it's not just talk make life easier.

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琪琪 said...

not fair! this woulda blown colbert's other contestants outta the water!......
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Dr. Nancy Malik said...

Real (homeopathic) medicine cures even when Conventional Allopathic Medicine (CAM) fails.

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technology-world said...

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tiger said...

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