Posted today on NPR's Cosmos and Culture Blog: Is Homeopathy a Sham? Says Alva Noë in part,
Homeopathic medicines are said to have no side-effects; this is considered a major selling point. It is less often noticed that this is because they have no effects at all. This is why you can't overdose on homeopathic remedies. (I wouldn't try this myself, but see here.)
Homeopathic remedies are sold as just that, remedies. Homeopathic doctors prescribe their solutions to help patients suffering specific maladies; the medicines cost real money; they come in impressive looking bottles with precise dosage and usage instructions. In many countries, insurance companies pay for such treatments. Friends of homeopathy think of their medicines as intervening effectively in the causal nexus. But the simple fact is, they do not. Or rather, evidence that they do remains inconclusive. And we know exactly why this should be. The solutions are too dilute for the "active ingredients" to be active at all.
And yet — and it is crucial that there is an "and yet" — homeopathic treatments do have effects. I have very close friends who swear by these treatments; the comfort they take, not only from the drops and tablets, but also from the guidance and counsel of homeopathic "doctors," is undeniable.
Is this just ignorance? Or self-deception? Have my friends been swindled? Or is this an example of the well-documented, but poorly understood placebo effect? Or are things more complicated even than that? In the coming weeks I will return to this topic.
I don't quite understand the point of this post. Is the writer suggesting that homeopathic treatments ought to be regulated more closely because they may have economic and psychological effects, even if their medical effects are unproven? BTW: the link in the post is to James Randi's TED talk about psychics, which includes a bit in which he takes an awful lot of Calms Forte.