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Friday, January 14, 2011

Homeopathy on Marketplace

We've known about this upcoming show for several months because the producers have been contacting skeptical groups to get both sides of the story. Watch it tonight on CBC (Canada) at 8 PM.

Our Vancouver members of the Centre for Inquiry get to have all the fun!
Cure or Con?

Erica Johnson investigates one of the fastest growing alternative health treatments in the country: homeopathy. Ontario homeopaths are about to become the first province in Canada to regulate homeopathy — lending credibility to this unproven practice.

Canada's leading consumer ally takes a long hard look at the theories, and the remedies. For the first time in Canada, we conduct a test of homeopathic medicines, investigating the science behind these so-called medicines. In light of our results, we ask both the Ontario government and Health Canada why they are lending credibility to the homeopathic industry. Johnson also meets up with a rep from the world's leading manufacturer of homeopathic medicines, who admits that even the company doesn't know how homeopathy is supposed to work.

Watch, as we witness a Vancouver group of skeptics taking part in a group overdose of homeopathic remedies. Perhaps most disturbing we learn that some homeopaths are treating cancer patients with homeopathic remedies — this despite a leading cancer specialist saying there is no role for homeopathy in the treatment of cancer, that it is a "scam that is not evidence-based".


  1. The CBC morning news had a teaser for this show. We were pleasantly surprised that they didn't seem to be pulling punches, and didn't pull the faux-balance crap (in contrast to the item on Wakefield's fraud last week, where they ended with a sound-bite from a naturopath about how vaccines cause asthma).

  2. Pretty good. It was good pointing out that there is no active ingredient in homeopathic meds, and then letting the homeopaths sputter out obviously stupid rationalizations. However, I wish they'd addressed the question of observed efficacy more directly: homepaths claim it works, even if we don't know how (which is not in itself an unreasonable claim -- there were effective therapies whose mechanism was not understood until biochem and germ theory got off the ground). It would be good to point out that properly conducted trials show no benefit beyond placebo, that the homeopaths are just making stuff up.

  3. Marketplace did quite a good job on homeopathy, contrary to numerous delusional anti-science rants by the tin-foil hat crowd on the CBC website. It was particularly hilarious watching the skeptics trying to OD on homeopathic “medicine”. What’s that – there are NO active ingredients in homeopathic “medicine”?! Maybe that’s why the stuff has NO effect whatsoever. They interviewed a few homeopathy proponents whose extreme stupidity and scientific illiteracy was glaring. And how about the horrifying example of the mother who was avoiding all real medicine and vaccines, and giving her child only homeopathic “medicine” and “vaccines”? She was surprised when informed that the homeopathic “medicines” actually contained no medicine, and she did not have a reasonable reply. The show also mentioned the Australian couple that is doing jail time for killing their child by “treating” a simple skin condition with homeopathic “medicines” (and ignoring real medical advice), which allowed the condition to worsen rapidly, and caused the child’s death.

    Just goes to show that anyone with any scientific education (doesn’t matter in what area) has medical expertise that is many orders of magnitude superior to homeopathy “doctors” or proponents.

    Unfortunately, we know that scientific evidence and rational argument won’t put a dent in the irrational beliefs of the brain-dead tin-foil hat crowd that supports homeopathy and similar anti-science and pseudo-science fraud.


  4. I don't think you should be knocking Homeopathy, it's a major money maker for direct to home sellers. We all know how important retail sales are in this post-2008 economy. Who cares if they are good bad or indifferent to you? The same people who cared about selling homes to people who couldn't afford them or the junk bonds that they created. Nooobody!

  5. "... to get both sides of the story"

    You're scaring me.

    "investigating the science behind these so-called medicines."

    How are they going to do that? There is no science behind homeopathy.

  6. "We're sorry the video you've selected cannot be streamed outside of Canada."

  7. Elliot, that money is coming from the pockets who are often desperate and wasting money on phony products and some times they will often not use real medicine, children die every year because parents thought Snake-Oil would work better, in fact in the episode they mention a family that does not get mainstream vaccines but instead used Homeopathic medicine, if we allowed this to continue unimpeded by skeptics we could have a serious epidemic some day because no one vaccinates their children! I feel appropriately that the lives of humans, and especially children must out way the economic benefit.

  8. I really enjoyed this show.

    The most interesting part was their interview with an Ontario Health Ministry person, who was trying to explain how they want to regulate homeopaths.

    A good example of the absurdity of tick-box bureaucracy.

  9. Ever wondered why it is 'one of the fastest growing alternative health treatments in the country' ?

    1. Yes, and I think I know the answer. It's because many people are suckers and they are easily duped into believing silly things, especially if they think it will make them more healthy.

      Is that your explanation as well?

    2. Ever wondered why it is 'one of the fastest growing alternative health treatments in the country' ?

      What does that even mean? That homeopathy is growing as fast as other quack therapies, like colonic cleansing and drinking your urine? What useful information does that communicate regarding the efficacy of homeopathy?

      Larry, you probably suspect what Louise's explanation is, but if you need confirmation:

    3. Even better than that:
      That's where the suckers leave their money.