The Occasional Joke

Nurse: Patient's name?

Centurion: Marcus Licinius Crassus

Nurse: And his date of birth?

Centurion: 115 BC.

Nurse: All right. And what is he here for?

Centurion: Cataphract surgery.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Told you so

The study that sparked a wave of concern about a link between vaccination and autism, led to many parents failing to have their children vaccinated, and produced a resurgance of measles, among other childhood diseases, was retracted by the journal that published it. Not that it will change the minds of the many, many ignorant people who bought into the idea ... but at least there'll be formal consequences for the jackass who perpetrated it.

And even more pleasing to my sceptical mind, a large group of homeopathy-deniers took a "massive overdose" of various highly-diluted homeopathic "remedies," including some containing (or aledged to contain) toxins. None of them died or even felt bad.

New Scientist reports: No ill effects were reported by hundreds of volunteers who took part in a mass-overdose stunt around the world to demonstrate that homeopathic remedies are nothing more than sugar pills.

"There were no casualties at all, as far as I know," says Martin Robbins, spokesman for the "10:23" campaign, created to highlight the alleged ineffectiveness of homeopathic remedies.

"No one was cured of anything either," says Robbins. Like an estimated 300 volunteers in several cities in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the US, he swallowed a bottleful of around 80 homeopathic "pillules" at exactly 10.23 am on Saturday. Each pillule is a tiny sugar pill dabbed with a drop of a homeopathic remedy, produced through "infinite" dilution – the process whereby a solution is diluted to the point where no molecules of an active component are likely to remain.

Remarkably, promoting and selling homeopathic remedies is not illegal here or in the UK, no more so than similar activities related to traditional Chinese medicine, hedge funds, or chiropractic.