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Passing through my third-life crisis peacefully in South London, finding out new stuff, and then getting cross and excited about it.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Homeopaths - What will happen at the 10:23 Overdose?

On Saturday 30 January at 10:23am, 300 skeptics will simultaneously taking an overdose of homeopathic pills as part of the 10:23 campaign.

The aim is to raise awareness that the pills have nothing in them and that to put pressure on Boots to stop selling treatments.

The spectacle has prompted much back and forth between the two camps, which is interesting and entertaining. There have been challenges to both sides to put up or shut up about the evidence they are citing, as well as quite technical claims from both corners.

I’ve signed up to be one of the skeptics at the London event and while I’m pleased to be part of it, I thought it worth recording that (curiously) I am quite nervous as a significant part of me is wondering what might happen.

I have seen nothing to make me believe the claims of homeopathy - I find it implausible given our current scientific knowledge, and have seen no evidence that it has any effect above and beyond what a pleasant individual handing out sugar pills can achieve.

That said, there are certain indisputable facts that provoke a mild apprehension in me.

Homeopaths certainly believe they have a good understanding of what their remedies achieve, and that those remedies are based on a well-developed set of theories. And millions of people swear that homeopathic remedies have worked for them.

So, in the spirit of open enquiry, I have some questions for any passing homeopaths. These are intended in a genuinely non-aggressive way. There are other places for the more heated, meta-level debates (for example, see @DrNancyMalik or @marshall19838 on Twitter for some of it). Here I’m interested in what you think may happen and getting a better understanding of why you think that.

I don’t think it’s been decided yet what kind of remedies will be taken, but supposing I were to swallow an entire bottle of 30C sleeping pills

-    What effect do you think this would have?
-    Can you explain why you think it would have this effect?
-    Will the effect differ from person to person?
-    Do you believe there is any danger in taking such a dosage?
-    I regularly have trouble sleeping. Is this likely to change if I take the tablets in this way?

It will be very interesting to compare any answers I get to what actually happens on the day.

1 comment:

  1. Jon, I just posted a comment on endlesspsych's blog about this.

    This, for me, is the crux of the matter.

    If the 10:23'ers said they were going to all swallow a bottle of aspirin, they would probably be taken into psychiatric care.

    So why the silence from the homeopathic profession?

    Good luck with your slightly elevated blood sugar level, by the way ;-)

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