Archive for April 21st, 2010

Quantum homeopathic bollocks: self assessment

April 21, 2010

In which Dr Aust sets a small – though not quite homeopathically small –  test.

I had meant to post something for World Homeopathy Awareness Week (WHAW), which was last week.

However, I got a bit distracted by other things, like the dropping of the BCA’s lawsuit against Simon Singh (including whether the BCA had been reading my mind).

I was also hampered by the fact that, whenever I think about writing anything MORE about homeopathy, I tend to find myself losing conciousness.

Or the will to live.

This partly reflects just how many words – undoubtedly running into the tens of thousands – I have expended on homeopathy, both on this blog and elsewhere, right back to around four years ago when I started commenting on Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science blog (e.g. here).

But, though WHAW 2010 has now been properly homeopathically diluted into the infinity of time, I would still like to do my little bit to mark its passing.

So I thought I would offer you a small literature comprehension exercise.

And as it is coming up to the summer exams season in Dr Aust’s University, I have formatted it in something like our house style.


Unreality Detection 101  (Quantum Flapdoodle)

April 2010

You are provided with the URLs of two freely accessible online papers concerning quantum mechanical descriptions of homeopathy:

Paper A – Is a Unified Theory of Homeopathy and Conventional Medicine Possible?

Paper B – Towards a Quantum Mechanical Interpretation of Homeopathy

One of the two is a spoof.

One of them is not.

After reading briefly through as much of the papers as you find necessary, answer the following multiple-choice questions:

1. A scientist or scientists with a PhD wrote
A  paper A
B  paper B
C  both paper A and paper B

2. The spoof paper
A  depends which universe you are in
B  is paper A
C  is paper B

3. The likelihood that a homeopath can tell which paper is the spoof is
A  high
B  low
C  homeopathically dilute

4. We know this because homeopaths posting pro-homeopathy links on Twitter have linked approvingly to
A  paper A
B  paper B
C  both of the above

5. Avogadro is the name of
A  a character in The Magic Flute
B  a song recorded by Iron Butterfly
C  a scientist who worked on molecular theory

[Key below]


Now, you might feel, having completed that exercise, that any further comment is superfluous. But here’s one.

Whenever I think about homeopathy, the following line always floats back into my mind:

“Only two things are infinite…..

…the universe and human folly.”

* pause *

“..And I’m not sure about the universe.”

– Attributed to Albert Einstein



Mostly or all A: Oh dear. Your grip on reality is somewhat tenuous. You may even be a homeopath. Although you could be a chiropractor. Or Prince Charles.

Mostly or all B: While you have some grasp of reality, you need more scepticism. A copy of Ben Goldacre’s book Bad Science might make good bedside reading.

Mostly or all C: You are probably a skeptic, or a scientist, or even both. May the Flying Spaghetti Monster lead your path toward enlightenment. Or the bar.