On homeopathics, and physics

By Aimee Whitcroft 12/01/2011

After a somewhat extended sojourn, I have returned, once more, unto the breach.  Dear friends.

Just a brief one today, as I find my stride again, comprised of two bits.


First up!  Homeopathy.  As y’all may have realised, I am most certainly not one of its proponents.  Anything but, in fact (which reminds me, I have some very interesting research regarding the placebo effect about which to blog sometime soon).

It’s a wonderful BBC Newsnight report on homeopathy in the UK, from early January of this year.


It’s really good to see the BBC failing absolutely to kowtow to the homeopathists.  Personally, I think that the NHS spending money which is desperately needed elsewhere for things like emergency/trauma wards, on homeopathy, is abhorrent.

I was sent the clip as a response to some comment which the SMC put out on a recent paper showing that the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) treatments had been associated with adverse (and some fatal) events in children.  Particularly in cases where conventional treatment was stopped in favour of CAM treatment, without the consultation of a medical person.  Hmmm.


Secondly, something rather more lighthearted.  I came across this marvellous page, dated 1998 (gosh!), entitled ‘The Crackpot Index‘, by John Baez, detailing ‘a simple method for rating potentially revolutionary contributions to physics’.

In essence, any such contribution starts off with a -5 point starting credit. There follows a list, in order of increasing number of points, for everything from:

‘for every statement that is widely agreed on to be false’

(1 point), to

‘for claiming that when your theory is finally appreciated, present-day science will be seen for the sham it truly is. (30 more points for fantasizing about show trials in which scientists who mocked your theories will be forced to recant.)’

(40 points).

The entire list is hilarious, and I’d thoroughly recommend reading it.  Also, anyone wanna start rating their favourite mad physics papers?  If so, do share 🙂

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