News Ian O'Doherty

Saturday 23 August 2014

You can't cure stupid – not even with homeopathy

Ian O'Doherty

Published 04/06/2014 | 02:30

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Better place: Embrace your inner angel
Interesting chap: Sam Kutesa

I once spent an afternoon discussing angels with a person who believed she had a celestial lodger who looked out for her. She also believed that if everyone embraced both their inner angel and the practice – or 'ancient art', as she put it – of homeopathy, then the world would be a better place.

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Homeopathy is the form of snake oil which sees minute quantities of a particular substance dissolved into water and consumed by the patient. So if you have a stomach bug, you take a tiny dose of something that could cause nausea, reduce it in water and drink it and because the 'water will have a memory' it will cure you. It all seems so obvious!

She was a nice enough person, although clearly unhinged. But she remained dismissive of science as 'part of the big Pharma, corporate conspiracy' and was genuinely convinced that we had the lost 'the old ways' of treating illness. Of course, the fact that the 'old ways' also saw most of the population dying of rickets by the time they were 30 mattered not a jot.

But in a culture where everyone's beliefs are equal, no matter how obviously mad they may be, homeopathy and myriad forms of inherent silliness clamour for equal footing with actual medicine.

The Australian National Health and Medical Research Council recently released an exhaustive study into the practice and found that "there is no reliable evidence that homeopathy is effective for treating health conditions."

They investigated 68 different treatments and discovered that they are about useful as... well they're about as useful as a drink of water. And unless you're suffering from dehydration, that won't be much use at all.

Let's put it this way, the best thing you can say about homeopathy is that it is so incredibly useless that you can't actually overdose on a treatment. I suppose you could damage your organs if you drank too much, but that's the extent of the danger.

Yet some Irish insurance companies continue to provide cover for this pseudoscience.

One Irish insurance company offers a whole range of complementary' medicines and say that they won't cancel such policies 'because of one study'.

Frankly, it shouldn't take a scientific survey to realise that any treatment favoured by Madonna is unlikely to be heavy on the science, but defenders of alternative treatments argue that it gives people comfort, which can be therapeutic.

So how would the good people at that insurance company react if you asked them to pay for your angel therapy? After all, angels tend to attract the same kind of people (of course, I'm only saying that because I reckon a feud between the angels brigade and the homeopaths over who was correct could be comedy gold).

The uncharitable might be tempted to call these people gullible, credulous crackpots. And the uncharitable would be right. Angels, and angel cards, are basically Pokemon for simpletons, yet both share the same kind of wide- eyed, vaguely lunatic conviction that just because they can't prove something, this means that you can't actually disprove it. Therefore it must exist.

That's brilliant, in its own demented way – it's the steadfast illogic that allows some mad bird to appear on The Late Late and talk about an angel sitting on her shoulder without the entire place breaking into laughter and running her out of town. The true genius behind this kind of insurance-subsidised tomfoolery is that it empowers dumb people to think they are intelligent and homeopaths argue that their remedies "... are based on fixed principles of Laws of Nature which do not change – unlike medical theories which are constantly changing".

Yeah, that's the trouble with that whole medicine thing and science in general – it keeps on coming up with new cures and new advances and improving itself.

But then I would say that – after all, I've been spending a lot of time with my Reiki shaman who examined my aura and told me I must let go of my negativity.

Of course, it cost me 80 quid to see her, but never mind – I'm going to charge it to my insurance company.

YOU COULDN'T MAKE IT UP? THEY JUST DID

One of the more ridiculous claims of the evangelical Christian Right in America is that the United Nations is a Satanic force designed to bring about Armageddon. Their essential flaw is that you would expect Satan to run a tighter ship than the monstrous example of waste, corruption, inefficiency and criminal stupidity that is the UN.

And proving that there's no limit to the deep weirdness of any organisation that allows China and Saudi Arabia to sit on its human rights council, they have announced Uganda's foreign minister as its new President of the UN General Assembly.

Our New World Leader, Sam Kutesa, is an interesting chap. He has been embroiled in countless corruption scandals (well, he's from Uganda), is a big fan of his country's delightful anti-gay laws and is quick to accuse any Western critics of being anti-African.

The new 'leader of the world parliament' is a corrupt homophobe who accuses any critics of racism?

The perfect man for the job!

AND YOU THOUGHT EXERCISE WOULD WORK? YOU FOOL!

The Guardian has long had a reputation for being the spiritual home of every weird beard social worker, human rights lawyer and nanny state supporter in Britain and it excelled itself the other day with a piece condemning those who condemn fat people.

Because: "You must have a will of iron, energy and money nowadays to stay thin. You haven't a hope in hell if you're depressed, ground down, working zero hours and living in a super-obesogenic area."

Or, on the other hand, you could eat less and walk more. Just a thought.

Irish Independent

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