Wednesday, 9 February 2011

What I Did On The Weekend

Long-time readers may recall I’ve written about homeopathy once or twice before.

Just in case you were unaware, the quick version is this:

Homeopathy is a pretend medicine by which cynical practitioners exploit the placebo effect and confirmation bias to bilk gullible people out of their cash.

So last Saturday, to demonstrate that there’s nothing in Homeopathy, some fellow skeptics and I participated in the global 10:23 campaign.

And we all took a massive overdose of the stuff.

The point was to make a public statement about what homeopathy is.

Or rather, what it isn’t.

I’m the guy in the awesomely cool sunnies.


Sean said...

where's the guy in the cool sunnies :P

Good on you and the associated Skeptic Orgs for getting involved

Anonymous said...

First of all Kudos another post so soon and a good one, keep up the good work !

So, Placebo effect I understand but what is confirmation bias ?


Dave ~ said...

Awesome job guys. Top stuff.

I seriously can't believe this stuff still gets a run.

Is science that offensive to people?


Matt said...

Thanks guys,
And thanks to you, mysterious Anonymous person for your comments. They were helpful in getting me going on this again.
On confirmation bias, that's the process of "remembering the hits and forgetting the misses", i.e. paying attention to the evidence that confirms your pre-existing belief and ignoring the evidence that doesn't.
Proponents of Homeopathy employ this particular logical fallacy all the time when claiming there is scientific proof for Homeopathy's effective.

Rob said...

I always think of confirmation bias as the "last spoon in the sink" syndrome. You know how there's always a spoon in the bottom of the sink after you empty it? Well there isn't. But every time there is you immediately go "there you! ANOTHER spoon in the bottom of the sink!" whereas every time there isn't you don't think about it at all. So when you think about it later, all you remember are the times when it does happen, and not the time when it doesn't. It's why anecdotal evidence is a) not to be trusted and b) very very powerfully convincing. Because the people telling the anecdotes genuinely believe them, and are not aware of the spoon syndrome. (which, in turn, means that if you disagree with them, it's tantamount to calling them a liar)

Anonymous said...

Your most welcome, though it doesn't seem to have helped quite enough !!

Thanks to both Matt and Rob for such erudite explanations of conformation bias. Clearly as logically flawed as
" why is it always in the last place I look " ( because then you stop looking ).

Lets try :
Is there any socio-economic (or other) statistical link between membership in subcultures, be they Christian, Buddhist, Raver, Punk, Goth ? Obviously there are anecdotal links and some have a higher rate of members from a paticular cultural background, But what are the most common underlying factors ( if there are truly any ).

Always Remember: Jesus died to take our wibbles away so that we can go to zonk !!!

Have a Super day all :)
Sigh, study calls :(

Dr. Kold_Kadavr_flatliner, M.D. said...

Wow. Dude. No followers. Git some.