Alternative medicine is a popular term for any sort of treatment that you can’t get an actual doctor to prescribe.  One of the most popular fields of alternative medicine, so popular that Britain’s NHS funds it like real medicine, is homeopathy.  But the actual history of homeopathy reveals what a quackery it truly is.

Created in 1796 by Samuel Hahnemann, homeopathy is based on the idea that an illness is treated by the substance that causes it.  The cure for arsenic poisoning is more arsenic, if you’re bitten by a spider, you should ingest some venom, and I suppose if you get the flu, the only cure is hanging around the ill.  In the original context, it’s easy to see how stupid the idea is.

But give a stupid idea over two hundred years and memetics takes its tole.  Homeopathy has built up a wall of bizarre conventions and processes that make it seem, to some, a little less than totally bonkers.  For example, poisoning people kills them so homeopaths now treat poison victims with water that used to have poison in it.  They dilute the poison until there’s none left, charge patients for water, and claim that because the water remembers that there was poison in it before it will counteract the poison in your body.  Along the way they’ll repeat words like “vibrations” that have no meaning, and talk to you about crystals or your horoscope.

But none of this medical theatrics can change the fact that like does not cure like: you can’t treat a disease by exposing someone to more of that disease.  You see, medicine is an applied extension of the scientific method.  If a treatment were effective, beyond what the placebo effect accounts for, it would no longer be alternative, it would just be medicine.  Therefore alternative cures are, by definition. cures that have either been shown not to work or have not yet been shown to work.

Homeopathy is a racket and the sooner people realize it, the better chance we have to actually solve medical problems.  If the entire institution of science, biology, and medicine can’t fix you, what makes you think an 18th century quack can do any better?

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