James Randi explains homeopathy

Wow! Pretty succinct… well as succinct as 14 1/2 minutes can be. But a very good description of Homeopathy nonetheless.

When I was younger I explored a lot of alternative practices and was very seriously considering entering the field as well. Fortunately, my grades in university in computer science were so much better than my grades in my pre-med subjects that they convinced me that my forte really lay in programming and analytical pursuits.

There is so much to know in this world that you often have to pick your authorities for the things you don’t have the time or inclination to pursue yourself. You end up trusting folks’ word and believe that they know what they are talking about. Of course, implicit in this is the assumption that they have either done the research themselves, reviewed the research first-hand or that their choice of a trusted authority has a good handle on the subject.
Homeopathy, was something that I was never able to reconcile with reality. The testing modality assumed “energies” that could not be measured and treatments that relied on “vibrations” or “energies” that could not be detected or explained.

The premise of “like cures like” was a wild stab in the dark from a pre-science era and was pretty cool reasoning for its time. But with the advent of the scientific method, understanding that perhaps 60% of anything you’d see a doctor about will fix itself ultimately anyway, and knowledge that the placebo effect is quite a powerful one, it seems clear that folks need to weigh the efficacy of such a questionable and unproven modality. Especially one that can be so expensive.

I *do* rather wish Mr. Randi had taken a few moments to explain Avagadro’s number a bit more carefully. Basically, Avagadro’s number expresses how many molecules would be contained in a quantity of a substance whose mass in grams is equal to it’s formula weight (thanks Wikipedia!). i.e. a mole of Carbon-12 atoms would be 12 grams. So his argument for the odds of finding even a single molecule in the quantity represented is modestly tainted

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