Moar homeopathy in Davis

I remained curious about the statement “*scientifically tested” that appeared on the homeopathic remedies sold at the Davis Food Co-op, which rips off its customers with a whole array of overpriced placebos. So, passing the store today, I went in to see what the asterisk indicated.

Here’s just a small portion of the quackery on tap:

Array of medicines

Here’s one LOLzy brew whose photo I posted before: EMF (electromagnetic field) remedy, which purports to detox your body from all the damage done to it by your computer and cellphone. Notice the “scientifically tested” statement by the asterisk. That’s what I went back to find out about. This shot is from Amazon, which also sells the stuff (shame be upon them):

Screen shot 2014-04-08 at 5.56.33 AM

The ingredients: water and ethanol. It’s vodka! Right next to EMF is LD, which will detox your liver.

EMF

Here’s the answer, which is a non-answer. What does “testing in accordance with scientific homeopathic methodology” mean? Controlled double-blind testing? Somehow I don’t think so.

EMF Science

And here’s what all the quackery should be replaced with: slightly diluted solutions of ethanol, hops, and malt. There’s no pretense that it cures what ails you, but it helps you forget those ills. This is the amazing selection of beers at the Food Co-Op, whose effects the Liver Detox nostrum is supposed to remedy:

Real cures

 

134 Comments

  1. Grania Spingies
    Posted April 12, 2014 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    My guess is “testing in accordance with scientific homeopathic methodology” means you give a few drops to a True Believer In Homeopathy, then they self-report: “I feel grrrreat!”
    Verdict: It’s a miracle! I mean Proof!

    • kevinj
      Posted April 12, 2014 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

      I believe the actual test is you give it to a true believer, who isnt ill, and see if they start suffering from anything. Whilst originally this was full strength stuff, on the grounds you start running out of volunteers as they either wise up or die, they now use homeopathic versions.

      I am not completely sure how this works alongside the claims of no side effects but then I guess its a bit much to expect logical consistency.

      Some of their “papers” on provings are hilarious.

    • Sastra
      Posted April 12, 2014 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

      Yes, according to alt med advocates the Gold Standard of Science is supposed to be “Try it for yourself and see if it works.” That is what we call “naive empiricism” and it’s the problem science evolved to correct.

      Homeopathy proponents — like the religious and Spiritual — have a love/hate relationship with science. They both envy the status granted by its rigor while they deride it for failing to take personal validation into account. Thus the desire to talk about multiple “sciences” as if we were talking about different varieties of food, art, or lifestyles.

      I once got into an argument on the definition of science with a friend who was ‘in’ to alt med (and virtually every other form of woo known and unknown.)

      “Well, this is MY definition of ‘science.'”
      “No, that is not science.”
      “It’s MY definition.”
      “Then your definition of ‘science’ is wrong.”
      “But you can define it your way and I can define it my way.”
      “No. That is not how language works: it is not infinitely flexible. It involves communication. What you are describing is the opposite of ‘science.'”
      “Well, let’s agree to disagree then.”
      “No. Stop misusing the term.”

      I know, I know — but I do what I can.

      • Posted April 12, 2014 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

        But language EVOLVES! (or are you a… a… prescriptivist? *hissss-s-s-s-s*)

        I kid, I kid… just giving a little more ammo aforethought for when that curveball comes flying…

        • David Marjanović
          Posted April 13, 2014 at 7:50 am | Permalink

          Science is a technical term. We scientists own it. :-|

          • Posted April 13, 2014 at 9:55 am | Permalink

            That’s what we had to tell the public health types again and again (about the word “prostitute”, also a scientific term – no joke).

            • Posted April 13, 2014 at 10:31 am | Permalink

              Wow — I can understand “sex worker” as a blanket term to include adult film actors and cabaret dancers and chat phone operators along with prostitutes…but how’re you supposed to distinguish a prostitute from the scantily-clad sales clerk at an adult bookstore if you’re supposed to use “sex worker” for both?

              Socrates was a man, but not all men are Spartacus. Damned political correctness….

              b&

              • Posted April 13, 2014 at 11:14 am | Permalink

                Precisely, and darned tootin’. This crap has completely pervaded my field. I’m ready for a second career as a brewmeister or something. It really is depressing as hell. That was a really important paper, too — and the only commentary it elicited was that idiotic PC drivel.

                The “correct” term is now CSW. (commercial sex worker). So is it “commercial” if the person (e.g. Ted Haggard) is blowing somebody for crack?

              • Posted April 13, 2014 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

                “CSW” sounds like a freight rail company. I’m sure Freud would have a field day with that one, but would you even catch the reference if you heard it on the street corner?

                b&

              • Posted April 13, 2014 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

                When this insanity was first being introduced by the pubic health industry’s nimtwits, one of our outreach workers asked the street pros around town what they thought of the phrase commercial sex worker. Their response, to a person went something like this: “why that’s the stupidest @#%#@ @#%& I ever heard of… just like white people to put a whole @#%# bunch of fancy-#$%& words together to make themselves all sound all important like a bunch of @^%$ fancy candy-ass #@$%, etc., etc….

                It was pretty obvious the well-meaning academics didn’t test this with a suitable focus group.

              • Posted April 14, 2014 at 7:14 am | Permalink

                I’d suggest it’s pretty obvious that the academics are a bit blinkered in that they think that using suitable focus groups to vet labels for the subjects of their research is an important part of said research is itself rather damning….

                b&

              • Posted April 14, 2014 at 7:58 am | Permalink

                Nah, sorry to confuse… I was just making a joke. The only focus groups they advocate for are their own blinkered selves — in the never-ending euphemism treadmill [PDF].

                I was just joking about the tin ear of academics in my field. Way back when, we had VD departments. They became STD departments, then STI programs, now they largely don’t exist in any efficacious form except in places where they haven’t been commandeered by people on the bugs’ side.

                It used to be that we practiced contact-tracing to control disease. That became “partner-notification”, and ultimately watered down into various “client-centered” and “community-centered” processes as programs gutted any tracing aspects and know-how. A letter to the Editor of STD about yet another attack on nomenclature by well-meaning, but misguided individuals concerned that using the word “group” was now finger-pointing. It’s no coincidence that these efforts at language purging were at their peak at the height of the AIDS hysteria in the US.

              • Posted April 14, 2014 at 9:12 am | Permalink

                Orwell would be as disgusted as usual. We’ve got this hypothesis, completely unsupported by the evidence as best I know, that it is in society’s best interests to never discomfit people with unpleasant facts — or even reminders of facts that are only tangentially related to something that some other third party thinks a fourth party thinks is unpleasant. As a result, we’re all stomping around the gravel pit whilst we’re pretending the rocks are hummingbird eggs ready to hatch.

                Sheer lunacy, through and through.

                b&

              • Posted April 13, 2014 at 11:22 am | Permalink

                …and something like that example gives “work” a bad name.

              • Diane G.
                Posted April 13, 2014 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

                LOL @ “focus group!”

                Some pretty interesting sounding papers in the reference section of that PLoS ONE article, many with your name on them. I notice another Muth, too.

              • Posted April 14, 2014 at 8:10 am | Permalink

                That other Muth is my dad – and is the cheeky wit that introduced the term “core clysters”. He was actually thinking of “spread clysters”, as in what one does with their cheeks before administration of the clyster.

            • Diane G.
              Posted April 13, 2014 at 11:29 am | Permalink

              You post the best–& simultaneously, most infuriating–links.

              “Sex worker” ranks with “child bride” in my mental list of idiot PC euphemisms.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted April 13, 2014 at 11:59 am | Permalink

                Should be sex professional, since they do sex things for money instead of just amateur enjoyment. :) this brings me to the use of “unprofessional” as in “his behaviour was very unprofessional”. I know this has a colloquial meaning but it is fun to ask if his behaviour was just an amateur hobby then and wasn’t he being paid at the time for said behaviour?

              • Posted April 13, 2014 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

                Once upon a time, the amateurs were those who did it for the love of it — look up the etymology.

                b&

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted April 13, 2014 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

                Yes, that is what makes the use of “unprofessional” extra humorous when applied to misbehaviour in the workplace when really the meaning implied is, “inappropriate”.

              • Diane G.
                Posted April 13, 2014 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

                “…the use of “unprofessional”…”

                Ha! I am going to have a lot of fun with that one from now on. ;)

              • Posted April 14, 2014 at 9:01 am | Permalink

                I know that was a joke, Diana… but we also have sex for drugs, for a place to spend the night… the act could be termed “contractual sex”, though… to distinguish it from sex freely of one’s volition. (except then we get into another sticky area, heh heh, regarding some relationships [even spousal ones] where gifts of fur coats, jewelry, nice cars are required for continued rights of boffage).

                Nope… this is why we had a fine word (RIP) for it. The euphemism treadmill in this case did a terrible disservice to the people (many mentally ill) by whitewashing the brutality of their desperate situations.

      • Jim Sweeney
        Posted April 12, 2014 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

        My pet peeve is misuse of “energy”. So how many joules of spiritual energy are involved in this practice? Doesn’t it raise your temperature?

        Another one is “enhancing the immune response”. Does it mean you start getting allergies? Quite a few people take drugs to dampen their immune response.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted April 12, 2014 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

      And to be extra sure, you make up an illness (like EMF syndrome) and tell the true believer they have it, then give them the “cure” & poof! their illness vanishes! Yay “science”!

  2. sk3ptik0n
    Posted April 12, 2014 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    I grew up with this crap. But at least back when I was under the influence of my mother, the homeopath, her doctor seemed to have some sort of integrity and method, even if based on bunk. Today even that is gone from homeopathy. It has become analogous to “natural”.

  3. GBJames
    Posted April 12, 2014 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    In the words of my Milwaukee Brewing Company tee shirt:

    Ale’s what cures ya!

    • Posted April 12, 2014 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

      Well, that claim is certainly true (at least in my experience).

  4. Robert Seidel
    Posted April 12, 2014 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    “Now why don’t you just take it easy, Group Captain, and please make me a drink of grain alcohol and rainwater, and help yourself to whatever you’d like.”

  5. compuholio
    Posted April 12, 2014 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    Now that is a nice example of an oxymoron: “scientific homeopathic methodology”

  6. mecwordpress
    Posted April 12, 2014 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    “scientific homeopathic methodology”

    The mother of all oxymorons

    • Posted April 12, 2014 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

      I always thought that “Military Intelligence” was the most amusing oxymoron I had ever heard, but these take the biscuit !

      • Diane G.
        Posted April 13, 2014 at 12:15 am | Permalink

        “Creation science” has to be in the top 5.

  7. John Dentinger
    Posted April 12, 2014 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    That “Liver Detox” product does indeed stack up well against the premium vodka brand “Grey Goose.” A liter of GG lists for $69.97, but an entire ounce of Liddell LD only goes for $16.05! Party tonight!

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted April 12, 2014 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

      And don’t forget to take the Party Detox afterwards too!

    • Posted April 12, 2014 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

      And the Liver Detox is only 30% (60 proof) ethanol. I’ll take Russian Standard (40% ethanol, about $22 per 750ml) any day, and not bother with the detox stuff.

  8. kevinj
    Posted April 12, 2014 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    Their liver detox is alcoholic and not at homeopathic remedy levels either. Curious approach.

    As for that active ingredient bit. Is that using the normal meaning, eg something in sufficient quantities to affect you, in which case the testing would be nice and quick.

    • Posted April 13, 2014 at 11:29 am | Permalink

      In this case, I can see someone desiring an “alternative” solution for their Hep C infection, which has recently gone into an acute phase. Using this “medicine” could quite quickly take the person out of the picture.

      I cannot see how these woomongers aren’t getting the shit sued out of them for this one.

  9. Barney
    Posted April 12, 2014 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    Each active ingredient has been tested. Since the only ingredients are, by their definition, ‘inactive’ (though it’s 20% alcohol, which is a pretty active ingredient if you ask me – it’s just damn expensive alcohol), then their claim is true, strictly. There are no molecules of whatever else they claim to have originally put in some water, somewhere, left in the bottle they’re selling to you.

    • Stephen P
      Posted April 12, 2014 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

      AIUI the alcohol content is, for some customers, the main selling point. I read somewhere (not sure where, but it might have been one of Martin Gardner’s columns) that homeopathic remedies were immensely popular among the stricter protestant congregations in the US. They considered themselves teetotal, but either did not know, or pretended not to know, what the contents of homeopathic treatments were.

    • Diane G.
      Posted April 13, 2014 at 12:19 am | Permalink

      That’s exactly how I interpreted it, too. All active ingredients have been tested; but there are no active ingredients.

  10. Toto
    Posted April 12, 2014 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    I may be too embarrassed to explain how I know this. The homeopathic method involves the homeopath experimenting on himself. He gives himself a dose of the poison and observes that it produces certain symptoms, and then assumes that a highly diluted amount of that poison will cure these symptoms.

    The amazing thing is the number of highly educated and intelligent people who practice or follow homeopathy. (They don’t necessarily believe in it – some of them think it is a placebo, but they don’t care.) My theory is that is often works “as well as” modern allopathic medicine – because of the well known but little acknowledged tendency of current medicine to overtreat problems that would clear up on their own. The way that homeopathy “works” is by the homeopath establishing a personal healing relationship with the patient (MD’s call it the bedside manner), and then explaining that the homeopathic medicines fit the immune system like a key in a lock, but that the medicines will not work unless the patient gives up cigarettes, drugs, alcohol, and coffee, and lets enough sleep, etc. . .

  11. Jiten
    Posted April 12, 2014 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    At the asterisk first it says “…tested on human beings…” The next phrase is “No animal testing”. Hahaha. Make up your minds! Nobody ever says “No non-human animal testing”.

  12. Posted April 12, 2014 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    “Scientifically tested in a non-scientific way”.

  13. alexandra
    Posted April 12, 2014 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    WITCH doctor formulated….

  14. Greg Esres
    Posted April 12, 2014 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    “Controlled double-blind testing? ”

    The logic I’ve seen with regard to parapsychology is that the failure of double-blind studies to confirm psychic powers is an indication that double-blind tests do not work.

    • Sastra
      Posted April 12, 2014 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

      Yes. It’s similar to the Sophisticated Theology claim that the failure of science to confirm religious truths shows us that religious truths are not confirmed that way.

    • Vaal
      Posted April 12, 2014 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

      Exactly.

      I was into high end audio for a long time and
      there was a continued battle of the “objectivists” (who relied on more stringent engineering, science and testing on which to base their beliefs about audio) vs the “subjectivists” (who felt that one’s subjective assessment was essentially the last word).

      The subject of whether super expensive AC cables added to a hi-fi system made an audible upgrade to the sound was a typical flash point.

      Generally, the position of subjectivists was that, since double-blind tests failed to confirm what the “knew they heard” subjectively in uncontrolled testing, it must be the double-blind testing that was at fault. Such methods just weren’t up to detecting the reality of what the subjectivist was detecting.

      It was one of the reasons I became disillusioned with the high end audio scene.

      But, this seems to be the prevailing sentiment among most people, particularly when it comes to any personally important experiences or beliefs. “You can’t tell me that my subjective experience is wrong. If science says I’m wrong, it’s the science that’s wrong.”

      It’s no wonder scientific knowledge has been so hard-won, in a world such as this.

      Vaal

      • Posted April 13, 2014 at 6:43 am | Permalink

        I too, fell for the high end audiophoolery. Equipment might be able to hear a diff twixt .01 & .02 Total Harmonic Distortion, 45 year old ears canna do it laddie.

        The last straw was a guy in his 50s going on aboot how ‘danceable’ a set of expensive cables sounded compared to more mundane wires

      • Greg Esres
        Posted April 13, 2014 at 7:11 am | Permalink

        “The subject of whether super expensive AC cables added to a hi-fi system made an audible upgrade to the sound was a typical flash point.”

        Friend of mine sells these things locally…he tells me this cable costs around $19,000. He says when he attaches it to his computer, it runs faster.

        I tried to research these things online, but found mostly gobbledegook. Do you know of any double blind studies? Any discussion of plausible mechanism?

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted April 13, 2014 at 9:10 am | Permalink

          One way is to look at the parts – typically they are no different than the ones that don’t gouge you. Another is to think about the claim – how can it really be any faster? Is there a “leak” in other cables for the “fastness”. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. The cable will either work or it won’t.

          I find when you read up on this stuff if it looks like gobbledegook, it probably is BS. I saw the same gobbledegook used by those who claim that RF is harmful (excluding RF burns from high RF when you get in the way of things). The weirdest, incomprehensible language is used & when I ask actual RF engineers and other experts in the area, they too say they have no idea what they are saying & that it is gobbledegook.

          • Greg Esres
            Posted April 13, 2014 at 9:33 am | Permalink

            “Another is to think about the claim – how can it really be any faster? ”

            Well, we have to be careful not to engage our Dunning-Kruger syndrome here. I’m a CS major out of an engineering school, but I’m not an electrical engineer. The fact that I can’t come up with a mechanism doesn’t mean that there might not be a good argument for one.

            From my computer science perspective, the system clock speed is the bottleneck and no matter what you do to the power coming in, you’re not going to change that.

            But that very, very tenuous conclusion would give way to a plausible mechanism or reliable empirical results.

            • Posted April 13, 2014 at 9:56 am | Permalink

              From my computer science perspective, the system clock speed is the bottleneck and no matter what you do to the power coming in, you’re not going to change that.

              That’s especially the case with digital signals. The only way that you’re going to get differences is if one cable is so far below spec that you start getting noise that results in retransmits or dropped packets or whatever the equivalent is for the protocol in question. And in modern Ethernet implementations, that’ll usually result in a renegotiation to a lower speed that’ll get reported on the interface when you check the status — for example, when you check what the operating system reports for the link, it’ll say 100baseTX rather than 1000baseTX.

              But that takes some really shitty cables (or bad connectors or excessively long cable runs or what-not) to happen. But if both are within spec, the $1000 / foot cables are going to perform exactly the same as the $1 / foot cables (assuming, of course, the $1 / foot cables actually are within spec).

              When you get to (analog) speaker wire, there’s a small bit of wiggle room, in that sometimes you find some really, really, really shitty wires used — small gauge, brittle metal, not rated for the (very low, actually) current they have to carry. But, even then, the $1000 / foot cables aren’t giving you anything magical. Indeed, just get a spool of the same two-wire stuff you’d use for your standard household lamp and you’ll be fine. If you really want to go for overkill, use the same stuff your electrician would use for a 30A circuit inside your walls — still insanely cheaper than the $1000 / foot stuff, and so much electrically superior it ain’t even funny.

              b&

              • Greg Esres
                Posted April 13, 2014 at 10:11 am | Permalink

                “you start getting noise that results in retransmits or dropped packets or whatever the equivalent is for the protocol in question.”

                Yeah, but that’s all external communication stuff. I don’t recall any internal retransmission functionality.

                I do seem to recall that computers can be sensitive to the incoming power frequency, at least in the old days.

              • Posted April 13, 2014 at 10:26 am | Permalink

                “you start getting noise that results in retransmits or dropped packets or whatever the equivalent is for the protocol in question.”

                Yeah, but that’s all external communication stuff. I don’t recall any internal retransmission functionality.

                What I mean is that the cable can, in theory, if it’s been to Hell and back again, introduce noise into the signals it’s transmitting. But, if it was originally manufactured to specifications, it’s really gotta be abused badly to get to that point — we’re talking broken strands of cable, insulation worn, that sort of thing.

                I do seem to recall that computers can be sensitive to the incoming power frequency, at least in the old days.

                Anything manufactured today is going to have a power supply that automatically adjusts for variations in power much more significant than you’re likely to encounter in the First World today. That’s especially true of laptops.

                Many computers, though, aren’t as tolerant as you might desire of the occasional dip or spike that can happen in thunderstorms or at other times when the smart grid automatically re-routes around nearby outages. For that, a $100 backup battery (aka “immortal power supply”) with “automatic voltage regulation” will likely be more than adequate. The best (and much more expensive) ones always provide power from the battery and have an isolated circuit to (continually) charge the battery, but the circuitry in the “AVR” models is plenty for (almost) everybody outside of a datacenter. The other main difference in models is the size of the battery and the amount of time it’ll keep your computer going in the event of a complete power outage. For most people, more than ten or fifteen minutes is extreme overkill; you really just need enough time to realize that, yes, the power really is out, and, no, it hasn’t come right back, so save what you’ve got and shut down the computer (and maybe grab the laptop if you really need to keep working). Extending that runtime to half an hour or more can get downright expensive.

                Cheers,

                b&

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted April 13, 2014 at 9:59 am | Permalink

              ….and there is impedance, etc. So, gold is going to be better than copper but really would you observe something faster….unlikely unless the cable were kilometres long.

              • Posted April 13, 2014 at 10:14 am | Permalink

                Actually, copper has significantly less resistance than gold. Amongst common materials, only silver has less resistance than copper — but only marginally. Gold is next after copper, then aluminum, and then all the rest much farther down the list.

                http://www.calculatoredge.com/charts/mrconductivity.htm

                What gold has going for it is its high resistance to oxidation and other types of corrosion that can lead to a surface boundary with significant resistance. Oh — and it’s quite malleable, so when you use it in contacts it conforms to the other surface, increasing surface area and thus decreasing resistance.

                If you wanted the ultimate cable (exclusive of exotic things like superconductors), you’d go with heavy-gauge silver with gold-plated interconnects. But copper is only marginally less conductive than silver and a lot cheaper and not as brittle…and it’s fairly soft (but not as soft as gold) and doesn’t oxidize all that badly in clean conditions, so it really is almost always the runaway winner. Put some gold electroplating on the interconnects for truly critical applications (which typical “consumers” almost never actually encounter) and you’re good to go.

                Cheers,

                b&

              • Stephen Barnard
                Posted April 13, 2014 at 10:49 am | Permalink

                Ben Goren commented: “Amongst common materials, only silver has less resistance than copper — but only marginally.”

                Carbon (graphene) has a lower resistivity than copper or silver. And to get technical, many materials have zero resistivity under the right conditions. :-)

              • Posted April 13, 2014 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

                Graphene is extremely tantalizing…sadly, nobody’s yet (that I’m aware of) figured out a way to make it retain its conductivity at anything remotely approaching the current used in typical computer cables. Right now, as I understand it, it’s limited in theory to IC interconnects and perhaps (or not) a promising future as a replacement for silicon in semiconductors. That, and not many people encounter carbon in its exotic forms. (With another caveat that, for example, soot contains trace amounts of carbon nanotubes, graphite is umpteen brazilian layers of graphene, and so on.)

                And, oh, how loverly it would be to play with some Bose-Einstein condensates, and such a shame they’re so exotic and fickle….

                b&

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted April 13, 2014 at 11:26 am | Permalink

                Yeah, I figured that I got something wrong when I picked two metals.

              • Posted April 13, 2014 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

                Don’t feel too bad…gold really is used a lot in electronics, especially exotic electronics, and for good reason — which is why there’s a common misconception that it’s because it’s so good at conducting electricity. Gold has many superlative properties relating to conductivity, but sheer electrical throughput isn’t one of them.

                …I don’t think I mentioned, for example, the fact that its mechanical properties let you spread it extremely thinly, which is a bonus not just for financial reasons….

                b&

              • Stephen Barnard
                Posted April 13, 2014 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

                I once toured the Cray Research manufacturing facility where they made supercomputers. They used gold in the printed circuit boards (along with gallium arsenide semiconductors among other exotic materials). I asked how much gold they used in a typical board, and a back-of-the-envolope calculation revealed that a typical Cray supercomputer had about $25K worth of gold at the then-current price.

              • Posted April 14, 2014 at 7:08 am | Permalink

                What scares the shit out of me is that the iPhone I have sitting in front of me on my desk would mop the floor with the Cray we had at ASU when I was an undergraduate there….

                b&

        • Vaal
          Posted April 13, 2014 at 9:16 am | Permalink

          Greg,

          In terms of plausible mechanisms for these super expensive cables, all there really seems to be is gobbledegook.

          There used to be tons of information (back and forth, reference to studies etc) on newsgroups like rec.high-end audio. I haven’t followed that newsgroup (if it still exists) for many years.

          Many years ago I was given a range of super high end AC cables that were the rave of the audiophile world at the time. For a 6 foot (or was it 3?) AC cable the costs ranged from
          $250 to about $3,000. When I put in the $3,000 model I could SWEAR that my system totally changed it’s sound. But, intriguingly, not for the better! It sounded more rolled off and “too dark” with the mega expensive cable. Each time I left it in over a week of testing, I felt the same way.

          I thought “well, this seems to suggest the sonic difference is real. After all, since it’s more expensive wouldn’t I be biased to expect a better sound not worse sound? If the result goes against my expectations, then it suggests it’s not the result of bias.”

          (This is a rational used by many in the audiophile world).

          I decided to do a test, (though I was only capable of a single-blind version at the time) between the expensive AC cable and a standard off the shelf $15 AC cable. I had a friend literally hidden behind a sofa, switching the cords without me knowing which was which – with no communication between us, hence no visual cues, no audio cues from my friend, just the sound turning on and off and me marking on a paper which cable I thought I was listening to.

          You know the result: random chance. Once I didn’t know which cable was which, I could not longer actually hear any difference between the boutique cable and the cheap cable.

          It was another lesson in bias that of course scientists have known for a long time. The problem of subjective bias effects aren’t as simple as “I’ll perceive something in line with what I like, or expect.” As in “since this wine is more expensive, I’ll like it better.” It’s that so long as we think we are being exposed to something different in trial A vs trial B, we will tend to look for and perceive a difference, good or bad.

          I did trials of myself, and friends, in which cables were not even being switched but we were TOLD they were being switched, and then we thought we were perceiving differences in sound.

          Most audiophiles care as little about these issues as the religious care about more objective assessments of their beliefs. It feels good, why mess with it?

          In fact, I actually have appealed to the placebo effect in some of my audio purchases.
          I have, for instance, noticed that the look of certain speakers influences my perception of how they sound even though I know no actual sonic differences are there. For instance, a really nice wood finish on a speaker can influence me to experience the sound as a bit more “warm and organic” than a glossy plastic finish. The sonic difference may not be “real” but the placebo effect is real, and I take advantage of it sometimes.

          (Although, do we still get to call it a “placebo” if we know it’s a placebo?)

          Cheers,

          Vaal

          • Greg Esres
            Posted April 13, 2014 at 9:39 am | Permalink

            “If the result goes against my expectations, then it suggests it’s not the result of bias…This is a rational used by many in the audiophile world.”

            Yes, I’ve seen that rationale used in other sorts of tests, like wine tasting, where people really think they can taste a difference where double blind studies show they can’t.

            I don’t remember reading anything about the psychology behind this phenomenon.

          • Chris
            Posted April 14, 2014 at 6:53 am | Permalink

            Amusingly enough the most expensive guitar leads that I own (not that expensive in the grand scheme of things, but still $100+ each) are also not the best sounding. I prefer cheaper $25 ones that seem to roll off less of the top end.

            I’ll admit, though, that I tend to make sure that I have “stage-proof” cables, that takes priority.

            Audiophile kit? Nope, not really into it.

            And for people paying over the odds for boutique digital connectors? An absolute mug’s game!

          • Posted April 14, 2014 at 9:54 am | Permalink

            Nocebo effect in audio cabling!

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted April 15, 2014 at 1:04 am | Permalink

            I don’t think I’ve ever heard woo to equal audiophile woo. Not even homeopathy. The day I see a homeopathic cure sold for $19,000 I might revise that opinion.

            For a great collection of audiowoo examples try this page:

            https://www.facebook.com/pages/Audiophile-nonsense/144870892281166

            And for just one example of extreme doolally brainless gobbledegook, try this: http://www.hometheaterhifi.com/volume_12_3/marigo-labs-signature-3d-mat-7-2005.html
            It’s a fracking mat you put on top of your CD to improve the sound. Wtf? A CD’s fracking digital, man. So long as the signal gets through in one piece, there’s no way you can change the sound quality. The drive’s circuitry is full of error-correcting mechanisms to make sure of that!

        • Chris
          Posted April 14, 2014 at 6:54 am | Permalink

          A thing of genius.

  15. Diana MacPherson
    Posted April 12, 2014 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    I like the Anger one – you could come in angry about homeopathy, take the anger antidote then angrily proclaim it doesn’t work & now you’re even angrier! I bet this is what really happened to David Banner.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted April 12, 2014 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

      …and I meant Bruce Banner (the scientist who is becomes the Hulk). I blame this awful awful flu I’ve had all week and the pain it is giving my larynx & sinuses – which are vestigial jerks!

      • Posted April 12, 2014 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

        Whew. I was thinking David Brenner was a homeopath.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted April 13, 2014 at 8:19 am | Permalink

          :D

      • Greg Esres
        Posted April 13, 2014 at 7:14 am | Permalink

        It WAS David Banner in the Bill Bixby series a few decades ago. They thought “Bruce” was too gay of a name for the character.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted April 13, 2014 at 8:20 am | Permalink

          Oh good, because that’s who I was thinking of. Funny.

        • HaggisForBrains
          Posted April 14, 2014 at 3:54 am | Permalink

          His name’s not Bruce? Sounds like a poofter to me.

  16. Sastra
    Posted April 12, 2014 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    People who use homeopathy tend to emphasize the fact that it doesn’t have any side effects — and then they’ll rant about “allopathic” medicine and the harm it often causes.

    But it’s easy to have no side effects if your nostrum is inert. That’s not a bragging point. If something has a physical effect on the body, it’s pretty much sure to have a side effect. Nature doesn’t fine-tune itself for every Special Snowflake.

    Magic, spirituality, and God work like that.

    • lkr
      Posted April 12, 2014 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

      Drink enough of that liver detox and you’ll be on the way to cirrhosis. The ethanol may be “inert”, but the liver doesn’t know that.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted April 13, 2014 at 1:28 am | Permalink

        At $16 an ounce, you’ll go broke first…

  17. uncleebeneezer
    Posted April 12, 2014 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

    Enjoy some good CA microbrews. Figueroa Mt., Russian River, Mammoth Brewing, Lagunitas, lots of great options.

  18. Pliny the in Between
    Posted April 12, 2014 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    At one time you had to ride around in your wagon staying on step ahead of the sheriff to sell this snake oil. Now it’s a multi-billion dollar a year business with congressional support.

  19. Posted April 12, 2014 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    My grandfather studied medicine at Hahnemann Hosptial in Philadelphia. I think that at that time (the 1910s), Hahnemann was the last homeopathic medical school in the country. He “interned” in the US Army in France during WWI. He used to give a lot of sugar pills to people with minor ills. But he used sulfa drugs for infections, as they did in the US Army in WWI. And when I was young, penicillin was just coming into common use after WWII. He used it for bacterial infections, and continued with sugar pills for viral infections and minor aches and pains. Once I learned about homeopathy, I asked him why he used sulfa and penicillin. His reply: “Because they work”.

  20. Stephen Barnard
    Posted April 12, 2014 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

    You just don’t understand Sophisticated Alternative Medicine.

    • Stephen Barnard
      Posted April 12, 2014 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

      sub

  21. JohnnieCanuck
    Posted April 12, 2014 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

    I had to check up on that Vac remedy there in the first image. Sure enough, it’s a homeopathic remedy to correct problems caused by vaccines. That apparently includes problems still happening from childhood exposures.

    It’s meant to relieve concerns about the imaginary side effects of vaccines, with the admirable intention of encouraging the use of vaccines amongst the woo-raddled.

    • Posted April 12, 2014 at 11:24 pm | Permalink

      I’m glad one of us made the effort to do the research. When I saw it I guessed it was a remedy for vaccuum exposure, shrugged my shoulders and moved on.

  22. JohnnieCanuck
    Posted April 12, 2014 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

    The EMF label says 20% organic alcohol. The Liver Detox is 30%, or 60 Proof. The mind boggles.

    Pity the poor alcoholic who can only stay sober by never having that first drink and then tries this.

  23. Posted April 12, 2014 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

    I can’t believe nobody’s yet linked to this, especially considering the closing scene:

    Cheers,

    b&

    • Greg Esres
      Posted April 13, 2014 at 7:30 am | Permalink

      I started to post it, but thought that I had probably seen it here in the first place.

      The laugh track in this one is VERY annoying. I’m pretty sure the original one that I saw didn’t have that.

      • Posted April 13, 2014 at 9:41 am | Permalink

        Yeah, I did notice the laugh track on the one I posted and didn’t remember it from before…but I blamed my remembery, and didn’t think it could have been added on….

        b&

  24. Shwell Thanksh
    Posted April 12, 2014 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

    I don’t believe “active” is an accurate modifier for “ingredient” at those dilutions.

    At $16 for a one-ounce shot, those are some expensive martinis, no matter how carefully they were shaken.

    Although I do have some experience whispering the word “vermouth” over mine to achieve the proper level of dry-ness.

  25. Ton_Chrysoprase
    Posted April 12, 2014 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

    It says the stuff was tested, not what the outcome of the test was.

    • Diane G.
      Posted April 13, 2014 at 12:25 am | Permalink

      The outcome was scientific.

  26. Jim Sweeney
    Posted April 12, 2014 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

    Sometimes I fantasize about sneaking into Whole Foods and distributing labels that read “Warning! Contains Hydrogen Monoxide”.

    A 20% ethanol solution is arguably an active placebo; it may have noticeable effects.

    • Posted April 13, 2014 at 9:09 am | Permalink

      Oooooh evil!
      I love the idea!
      Let’s include the link to:

      http://www.dhmo.org/

      After all, it’s on the interwebs, so it must be true!!!!111!!!!

  27. Posted April 12, 2014 at 11:27 pm | Permalink

    I like the way they describe the alcohol as organic, to soothe the consciences of the crunchy crowd. What did they expect — inorganic alcohol?

    • David Marjanović
      Posted April 13, 2014 at 8:02 am | Permalink

      Alcohol from homegrown corn, I guess.

  28. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted April 13, 2014 at 1:04 am | Permalink

    So their ‘Liver Detox’ is just alcohol?

    In other words, it’s nothing more than that old hangover remedy, ‘a hair of the dog’. (Which does, occasionally, work).

    However, if that really is 30% (real %, not some homeopathic %) alcohol, then “Safe. No known side effects” seems a bit of a rash statement. Maybe they can get away with it because you only get a crummy 30ml for your $16…

  29. Griff
    Posted April 13, 2014 at 1:05 am | Permalink

    What I don’t understand is that (at least in the UK) we have laws governing the description of goods. As the descriptions are clearly false, how can they continue to sell them?

  30. Posted April 13, 2014 at 1:07 am | Permalink

    I’m reminded of this SMBC cartoon.

    http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=3324

  31. Posted April 13, 2014 at 3:10 am | Permalink

    Homeopaths always flip between “it’s scientifically proven” and “it can’t be tested” — even within the same paragraph.

    Here in Europe they’re lobbying the EU for both full medical status and a special exemption from medical standards. There’s a homeopathy “consumer activist” campaign titled “It works for me”.

    Homeopaths have aligned themselves with the Green Left in politics, and cash in on the naturalistic fallacy. Here in Germany they also aligned themselves with the Nazis and cashed in on their “Germanic” origin.

    The Nazis actually did carry out rigorous studies and wide-ranging studies, often using POWs. The final report was “lost” by homeopaths during the war, but according to one of the researchers, Fritz Donner, the results weren’t exactly inspiring….

    http://www.kwakzalverij.nl/1050/A_total_disaster_for_homeopathy

  32. Posted April 13, 2014 at 3:16 am | Permalink

    Brilliant. Ingenious. Expensive…Bullshit
    Homeopathy is plain nutty and seems to attract nutty people, you have to be to pay that much for something that isn’t going to do anything other than maybe take the tiniest of edges off your anxiety or stressful day…if you drink about twenty of them.

  33. Posted April 13, 2014 at 5:09 am | Permalink

    That array of products has obviously nothing to do with homeopathy, it appears to be a commercial exploitation of the word “homeopathy”. Here in Switzerland, there is none of that ludicrous array. No wonder y’all think homeopathy is quackery, in view of these products in the US.

    • Posted April 13, 2014 at 5:11 am | Permalink

      Furthermore, homeopathic remedies in Switzerland are much, much cheaper than ordinary medicines.

      • Griff
        Posted April 13, 2014 at 5:32 am | Permalink

        Sugar is cheap.

        • Posted April 13, 2014 at 6:46 am | Permalink

          You obviously know nothing about the homeopathic remedies available in Switzerland.

          • Posted April 13, 2014 at 7:23 am | Permalink

            Here in Germany there are homeopathic products to heal, for example:

            stomach cancer with ACETICUM ACIDUM
            brain tumors with AETHUSA
            breast cancer with APIS
            ovarian cancer with AURUM MURIATICUM NATRONATUM

            …Shall I go on?

            http://www.homöopathie-matthias-richter-berlin.de/PDFs/MM%20Krebsarzneien.pdf

            • Posted April 13, 2014 at 7:49 am | Permalink

              There’s nothing like that in Switzerland, to the best of my knowledge, and doctors who have studied homeopathy and are therefore qualified do not pretend to cure cancer or AIDS or protect against malaria.

              • Griff
                Posted April 13, 2014 at 7:53 am | Permalink

                Could that be, because all such quackery limits itself to trivial ailments which are either ill-defined or tend to self-heal with time anyway?

                I mean, if someone is diagnosed with a terminal illness, it would be pretty obvious that homeopathy hasn’t been effective when they subsequently drop dead.

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted April 13, 2014 at 9:13 am | Permalink

              How awful! People could really be taken in.

            • Chris
              Posted April 14, 2014 at 7:38 am | Permalink

              Claiming to do that would get you a pretty quick trip to court in the UK!

        • Posted April 13, 2014 at 9:41 am | Permalink

          Sadly, that simple fact is, in no small part, the reason so many people these days are fat and sick….

          b&

    • Posted April 13, 2014 at 5:27 am | Permalink

      No, we think homeopathy is quackery because it is.

      There is no non-ludicrous homeopathy.

      • Posted April 13, 2014 at 6:47 am | Permalink

        Tell that to all the cattle, horses, dogs and cats who have been successfully treated and cured with veterinarian homeopathy in Switzerland.

        • Posted April 13, 2014 at 6:57 am | Permalink

          The big Swiss study on homeopathy, analyzed by Steve Novella at Science Based Medicine (see analysis here)shows that although the reported claimed that homeopathy was of limited effectiveness, in fact it wasn’t effective at all.

          The report apparently concentrated on low quality studies, and was itself conducted by homeopaths. Novella’s conclusion:

          Political neutrality is not equivalent to being scientifically unbiased. Ullman, and other homeopaths, however, are keen to prefer the Swiss report over other government reports. This is because in 2010 the UK government performed their own systematic review of homeopathy – Evidence Check 2: Homeopathy. In their report they concluded that homeopathy is essentially witchcraft – that it does not work, its underlying principles are scientifically invalid and tantamount to magic, that it should not be covered by the national health service, and that it is not even worth any further research. Ullman strangely does not mention this report directly in his article.

          How can two governments analyze the same question with the same set of data and come to opposite conclusions? The review of the Swiss report, by David Martin Shaw, gives us a clue. He writes:

          “This paper analyses the report and concludes that it is scientifically, logically and ethically flawed. Specifically, it contains no new evidence and misinterprets studies previously exposed as weak; creates a new standard of evidence designed to make homeopathy appear effective; and attempts to discredit randomised controlled trials as the gold standard of evidence. Most importantly, almost all the authors have conflicts of interest, despite their claim that none exist. If anything, the report proves that homeopaths are willing to distort evidence in order to support their beliefs, and its authors appear to have breached Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences principles governing scientific integrity.”

          The data they looked at was the same – scientific studies showing that homeopathy does not work. Published systematic reviews of clinical trials of homeopathy do not show evidence that homeopathy has any physiological effect. Edzard Ernst reviewing these reviews concludes:

          “The findings of currently available Cochrane reviews of studies of homeopathy do not show that homeopathic medicines have effects beyond placebo.”

          The Swiss report represents a biased review largely by homeopaths who changed the rules of evidence in order to declare that homeopathy works. Other homeopaths then present this review as unbiased and definitive. This is behavior that would make even the most unscrupulous pharmaceutical rep blush.

          In light of the evidence against the efficacy of homeopathy, and the fact that it can be positively dangerous when used as a substitute for REAL medicine, I wish people would not defend it on this site. It is like defending all those quack remedies for cancer; it is the equivalent of wish-thinking, or spiritual healing.

          Homeopathy is quackery, and we know that from first principles, because it’s just water, and there’s no evidence that water retains the “memory” of molecules that have long been diluted out of it.

          • Posted April 13, 2014 at 7:20 am | Permalink

            Yet more and more farmers turn to homeopathy for their cattle and horses because they have seen that it is effective where normal veterinary medicines had failed. Go figure.

            The Swiss people are by no means stupid, and homeopathy is very popular in Switzerland. If it did not work, fewer and fewer people would use it and it would be known that it doesn’t work. However, it does seem to work. How or why it works, I don’t know. The homeopathic preparations against sinusitis and chronic bronchitis certainly stopped my recurring sinusitis and bronchitis that had plagued me for years and years and that had been treated with antibiotics and other medicines, with no real effect.

            Yes, the Swiss study was biased, as are the arguments against it. What I would like to see is double-blind studies in which those carrying them out are not biased one way or another – something that strikes me as being practically impossible.

            We have been over this in a previous post of yours, so I will stop here and not get into this any more.

            • Posted April 13, 2014 at 7:50 am | Permalink

              You continue to post in defense of homeopathy. You’ve had your say now.

            • Griff
              Posted April 13, 2014 at 7:57 am | Permalink

              If homeopathy really were efficacious, why would it be limited to relatively trivial illnesses?

              Why WOULDN’T it be effective against malaria, cancer and so on?

              Why WOULDN’T homeopaths ‘prescribe’ their ‘remedies’ for serious illnesses?

              I mean, is this really medicine or not?

              • Posted April 13, 2014 at 9:09 am | Permalink

                @Griff,

                Yep, that’s exactly the problem “ethical” homeopaths face. Here in Germany where homeopathy is supported by compulsory medical insurance, it’s only able to be used as a complementary treatment — medical insurers don’t want to be charged with manslaughter. By some incredible coincidence, the law of similars and the principle of dilution only work in relation to non-serious transient illnesses.

            • Posted April 13, 2014 at 11:59 am | Permalink

              Don’t take our dismissal of homeopathy as an indictment of the Swiss people’s intelligence.

              Argument ad populum is a fallacy because it’s not difficult for individuals, societies, cultures, to embrace nonsense. Human beings, even intelligent ones, are suggestible. Consider how many religious people there are in the world!

              Bottom line is: the proposed mechanism by which homeopathy works is not physically possible. Water does not have a memory.

              • Posted April 13, 2014 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

                My brain is made up of about 75 percent water and I have an excellent memory…
                ;)

        • Posted April 13, 2014 at 7:05 am | Permalink

          I strongly suggest you familiarize yourself with the criticism of homeopathy in general, and also be more careful with your wording in making claims. The factual part of your claim is that veterinarians in Switzerland claim to have healed animals with homeopathy. To claim that the animals were actually healed you would need to provide references to properly conducted randomized, controlled studies.

          Please note that using homeopathy on animals in banned in the UK for ethical reasons — efficacy has not been established.

          http://www.theguardian.com/science/political-science/2011/jan/05/homeopathy-ban-prescription-pets

          • Posted April 13, 2014 at 7:21 am | Permalink

            Something in the water in Britain obviously neutralizes the effects of homeopathy on animals. :p

    • Diane G.
      Posted April 13, 2014 at 11:26 am | Permalink

      That array of products has obviously nothing to do with homeopathy, it appears to be a commercial exploitation of the word “homeopathy”. Here in Switzerland, there is none of that ludicrous array. No wonder y’all think homeopathy is quackery, in view of these products in the US.

      Well, then, show us yours.

      Srsly, take some good shots of Swiss homeopathic products’ packaging and post ‘em up.

      • Posted April 13, 2014 at 11:50 am | Permalink

        No can do, they are in the back of the pharmacies stocked along with all the other medicines and not exposed in the shops.

  34. Posted April 13, 2014 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    Here in Germany homeopathy is legally exempted from normal standards for medical testing. Whenever homeopaths tell me “it’s been proven” I tell them they should first try convincing the homeopathic lobby groups who got it exempted from those standards and are still campaigning to have it exempted throughout the EU.

    Apart from the obvious danger to anyone who is actually sick tries to heal themselves with this stuff, there’s the problem that homeopaths are currently flooding the markets in the sub-continent and Africa, using their “Western” status to convince peasants they can cure AIDS, protect themselves against malaria, etc etc.

    Homeopaths Without Borders is an example of this–

    http://homoeopathenohnegrenzen.de/en

  35. Posted April 13, 2014 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on CancerEvo.

  36. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted April 15, 2014 at 1:13 am | Permalink

    Since the subject is woo-related, I feel emboldened to share the UFO detector I just found on Amazon.

    As always, the real gold is in the product reviews. “This little gizmo is a bargain at twice the price and much more accurate than the voices in my head.”

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted April 15, 2014 at 1:14 am | Permalink

      Oops! Imbedded. Curses. :(

  37. Doug Nelson
    Posted April 26, 2014 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    Not sure readers usually go about sharing things with you but this might be of interest.

    Apparently there is really a non profit with tax exemption called “homeopathics without borders”…..

    http://qz.com/84943/what-we-can-learn-from-one-of-the-worst-charities-in-the-world/

    • Diane G.
      Posted April 26, 2014 at 11:38 am | Permalink

      O.M.G.

      I can think of so many better final words for the last one (borders): brains; scruples; “a clue…”


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