Monday, August 16, 2010

Facebook Follies: Homeopathy? Aw, no, cuz!

Most of the irrationality that appears in my Facebook newsfeed is religious in nature. No surprise there. Most of my friends and relatives both in real life and on Facebook identify as religious. But every once in a while, some medical woo passes by too.

My favorite cousin now "likes" San Diego Homeopathy. At first I was rather surprised. "Aw, no, cuz!" He's a smart, educated, well-traveled man, so why would he believe such a silly thing as homeopathy?

But after I'd thought about the "why" a while, I realized my cousin exemplifies a certain type of woo believer: the free-spirited, nature embracing, non-conformist New Ager.

Rather than just yell, "What are you thinking?!" at my cousin, I decided to find out how much he really understood about homeopathy. And the answer was, "Not much." Literally. That was his answer.

I asked, "Do you know how homeopathic remedies are made? What they contain?"

"No, not really," he answered." 

Drat!" I said. "I was hoping you could explain to me how homeopathy works when it seems to defy our current knowledge of biology, chemistry, and physics."

In reply, all I could hear were the crickets: "Chirp, chirp, chirp."

I then asked my cousin why he "liked" this particular homeopathic center when he knew little about homeopathic theory. He said, "I have a friend who is a homeopathic doctor, and she seems pretty healthy. Plus, homeopathic treatment costs a whole lot less than going to a regular doctor." 

By "regular doctor," he meant "a doctor who practices medicine, rather than some alternative-to-medicine.

I've never done any research on what homeopathic treatments from a homeopathic doctor cost, but I wouldn't be surprised to learn that they're less expensive than science-based medical treatments are. After all, homeopathic remedies are basically water. And seccussion--the shaking that makes each successive dilution of the homeopathic remedies increasingly powerful--probably doesn't cost as much as the technology used by science-based medical doctors does.

But really, if you consider the cost vs. benefit, with homeopathy, gullible patience are paying for water, not medication or treatments that have been shown to be generally safe and effective.

Personally, I'd rather pay more for something that might actually work, than a lesser amount for something that couldn't possibly do any good for what ailed me.

Plus, if I wanted to treat my illness with water, water from my tap is a lot cheaper than even the homeopathic remedies used by my cousin. And it works just as well. 

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