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.

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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]

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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

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Answers

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.

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