You may have heard of Judith Acosta. She’s one of the dreaded Huffington Post‘s resident blogwarts and pimps H2Omeopathy on a fairly regular basis. Yes, I know all the articles in HuffPo’s Healthy Living section should be tagged May Contain Nuts, but Acosta has been trying really hard at beefing up her cognitive dissonance. Try this quote:
This is the sort of thing that makes responsible and informed people go apeshit: firstly, the erroneous claim of a ‘cure’ for autism; secondly that this ‘cure’ should be that notorious mixture of sugar pills and antediluvian bullshit frequently referred to as homeopathy.
The culprit? Amy L. Lansky, whose PhD is presumably in talking out of her arse (“It’s in computing: close enough” – the SO). This is her webshite, which is proof positive that a PhD in computing does not make you a competent web designer: ImpossibleCure.com.
This does not often happen. I was settling down to get some real work done, of the sort that’s supposed to bring in money, when the SO grabs me by the scruff of the neck and drags me to the computer. A finger shaking with barely suppressed fury is pointed at the screen and the dread command “Blog this idiot!” is issued.
Can I finish my lunch, at least? Apparently I can, but impatience is visible. I secure my post-meal mug of tea and am free to investigate. What’s it all about?
Mental Illness Awareness Week is coming up in the USA, although I would feel a damn sight happier about the whole thing if they didn’t bring a form of faith healing into it. It’s not the praying that’ll defeat ignorance, it’s the getting off your arse and understanding what’s happening to you or a person you love/respect/appreciate. Apart from that, normal religious communities (i.e. not composed of hate-ridden fanatics, they do exist, guys) can provide helpful moral support, just like any other network of good friends; something that’s really needed when you’re in the throes of depression, be it clinical or just life temporarily rolling you a series of critical fails.
What you don’t need during the rougher passages of mortality is amateur psychiatrists and quackery. Enter homeopathy webshite and online store (what else?) ABC Homeopathy. As with a number of woo sites, some dedicated little creep is going around retweeting links to this stuff. That’s advertising. So, despite any disclaimers well hidden at the foot of the page where most people will never notice them, any active or implied encouragement to diagnose serious illnesses without any medical help and treat them with unproven or discredited remedies is fair game. If anyone wants to report them to the ASA, they appear to be UK-based, despite the spelling of ‘cheque’ as ‘check’.
As Sir Terry Pratchett has pointed out in his books on several occasions: for some strange reason, many people can never find Wisdom close at hand; they always need to travel to distant countries for added mystic kudos. This is most notably parodied in the person of Lu-Tze, who comes from an exotic country chock-full of monks going “Ommmmm” that city dwellers flock to in search of Enlightenment, and who therefore decides he should travel to the city so seek his wisdom there.
So it is with health issues. People who feel conventional medicine isn’t up to snuff or just isn’t working fast enough often turn to esoteric ‘alternative’ or ‘complementary’ practices that are strong on feel-good factor, but frequently weak on actually doing anything, apart from providing a placebo effect at a ridiculously high price. It may be hard to stay healthy in today’s stressed-out society, surrounded by pollution and junk-food outlets, but it’s even more expensive to opt for ‘wellness’. Incidentally, when that word pops up on a website or in somebody’s conversation, it is a foolproof indication that you are being served industrial-strength Stupid.