Saturday, January 22, 2011

Modern Day Snake Oil

The CBC TV show "Marketplace" takes on homeopathy and shows it for what it is -- a con job.

Despite its popularity with gullible people, the science shows that when you take a homeopathic "remedy," you're consuming nothing more than water and/or sugar. But people who believe nonsense can't be convinced, as you'll see with the industry spokeswoman who hides behind the "the way it works is a mystery defense" and the mother who only gives her son homeopathic medicines even though they always take longer than real medicines to make him feel better (because the human body is built to heal itself over time of most minor problems like a cold or cough).

So, if it's just water or sugar, where's the danger in homeopathy? It's in the millions who need real medicine but use these placebos instead and, even worse, don't give their children the medical remedies they need to fight serious illnesses. They would never (I hope) believe that a diet in which their child eats no food but drinks plain water all day long provides the nutrition their kid needs to grow up healthy, but readily accept that same water as the answer to all of the pediatric problems they encounter. Treating your child with homeopathy is simple parental negligence, just like refusing to have children vaccinated -- it puts their lives at danger.

That is evil.

Parents who go down that path are buying into unscientific garbage, but the blame shouldn't be placed solely at their feet. Worse are the companies that peddle these products, making claims that don't stand up to scrutiny, offering no valid evidence (other than anecdotal) of the efficacy of homeopathic "cures," yet making billions and billions of dollars each year. They, and the individuals who call themselves "homeopaths," are nothing more than con artists.

In the US, we have laws that say you can't label something as apple pie unless it actually contains apples. A homeopathic pie would have less than one-billionth of an apple, and yet they can still get away with labeling it "apple pie." How American is that?

They could also get away with labeling it "cherry pie," even though its ingredients were identical to the one labeled "apple pie" (you'll see an example of this in the show, where two different homeopathic remedies, supposedly for two different ailments, are tested and shown to have the same contents -- sucrose and lactose).

That is nothing less than fraud, yet the homeopathic industry is allowed to sell whatever it wants, and make any claims it wants, with no regulation and no legislation to stop it. To the contrary, this piece includes one Ontario politician who is willing to allow the government to give homeopathy the stamp of legitimacy purely because a lot of people are buying into it, science be damned.

You can call that homeopathic public policy -- diluted so much, it does no good at all.

The expose comes in two parts...