Friday, June 20, 2008

Homeopathy, Challenged

According to a New Scientist report, Simon Singh and Edzard Ernst (co-authors of the just released skeptical volume, Trick or Treatment?) have issued a challenge: anyone who can prove homeopathy works in a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial wins the tidy sum of £10,000.

While they're a tad gimmicky, I'm generally in favor of these challenges - Randi's million dollar challenge (which is, sadly, coming to an end soon) has been great for the skeptical community, if only rhetorically. I say we should organize a general alternative medicine challenge for a defined list of modalities (homeopathy, therapautic touch, anti-vaccinationism, chiropractic, and so on). It'll be an excellent way to call out woo enthusiasts in public.

In any case, given that homeopathy is precluded from working (beyond placebo) by the laws of physics, chemistry and biology, Ernst and Singh's money is obviously safe. But if you think we skeptics are wrong, bring it on, homeopaths... It's time to 'put up or shut up', says Singh. Indeed.

(I blogged earlier this year about Singh's appearance on The Skeptics Guide).


  1. Agreed, these challenges are good PR. There should be some in other areas. We also need better education - making telling the difference between good and bad causal inference a proper part of school science. And we need serious effort to make policy (about what is funded, permitted as a degree topic, etc.) evidence tracking. Aluta continua!

  2. I completely agree with you on all your points. Aluta continua, indeed, but continua ad infinitum...