Tag Archives: pseudo-science

On Evolution

Great new website: https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/. The name says it all, and there are some splendid pictures of animals. What more do you want?

The writer has an understandable loathing for pseudo-science  – his takedown of Rupert Sheldrake, the inventor of the theory of morphic resonance, is particularly worth reading. He pushes the line that religion is incompatible with proper science perhaps a little too hard for my liking. Still, highly recommended.

While on the subject, can I recommend Stephen Baxter’s Evolution to anyone with an interest. He is a science fiction writer, extremely prolific, but the book is a one-off among his work. It is a fictionalised account of the history of one strand of mammalian DNA, from tiny, shrew-like creatures creeping around at the feet of the dinosaurs, through to the development of modern humans…

Then through a massive extinction event, and a meditation on how the remnants of the human race might subsequently evolve. Much of the narrative is highly speculative, with Baxter trying to envisage what various missing links in the chain might have been like.

Not one for scientific purists, then, though the author is a biologist by training. And the eventual destiny of the human race is pretty bleak.


On Homeopathy, and Related Idiocies

Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, has come into some stick for asking the chief medical officer for a review of the medical evidence for and against homeopathy.

I have some previous in this, because at some stage in my youth I was given a homeopathic treatment for hay fever. (It didn’t work. Oddly enough.)

The chief medical officer apparently then reviewed various studies, all of which found that it didn’t work. Oddly enough. This is hardly surprising, if you know any basic science. The “active ingredient”, often a tiny amount of whatever is supposed to work against the ailment being treated, is then diluted to such an extent that the laws of chemistry can demonstrate mathematically that, in some of the treatments being sold, there is simply none of it left. It has to be pure water. See Avogadro’s Law.

This is fact. The good news is that the public mood seems to be turning against homeopathy, even if the son of our Sovereign still seems convinced it works. He is what we in the City call a counter-indicator; much of what he believes in one can reliably assume is therefore nonsense, and the converse often applies too.

The “treatment” is getting harder to find on the NHS. Some years ago some rationalists, annoyed that a big pharmacy chain was still charging for such “treatments”, staged a demonstration outside one branch where they deliberately overdosed, taking many thousands of times’ the recommended dosage. Mercifully, none of them suffered any ill effects. Or any effects at all, for that matter.

Now this idiocy is at last on the wane, we can turn to astrology, something else that apparently sensible people spend good money on and which is, to anyone with any grounding in science, clearly nonsense. For any number of reasons, including statistical and astronomical.

That just leaves creation science/intelligent design, Ayurvedic medicine, Rolfing, iridology… the list goes on.