Early Medicine

Homeopathy fails to do anything…and that’s probably the best thing about it.

A case in point for Taleb’s ‘Do Nothing’ prescription, Ben Goldacre (author of Bad Science) describes…

“Homeopathy was devised by a German doctor named Samuel Hahnemann in the late eighteenth century. At a time when mainstream medicine consisted of blood-letting, purging and various other ineffective and dangerous evils…homeopathy would have seemed fairly reasonable.”

In short, homeopathy was indeed a positive step forward in the world of medicine at a time when the cure was often worse than the affliction. If it wanted a fancy sounding term for its labels, it could have quite respectably plastered ‘Non-Iatrogenic’ (‘fails to do any harm to patient’).

As such, a contrived non-cure that did next to nothing would achieve superior results in the end versus the status quo of active aggravation. In addition, the placebo effect as well as well ‘holistic’ treating the emotions and lifestyle likely brings further relief and benefit to the patient. And there are social advantages to the support for homeopathy. Minute tinctures of natural ingredients can be less expensive than proper medical compounds (lowering the cost of medical care). Also, a big concern is modern cultures over-use of anti-biotics which has a long term result of reducing their efficacy. So any patient who chooses a homeopathic alternative instead of popping the latest ‘cillin with every chest cold will allow their immune system to heal itself and preserve the power of real anti-biotics for more serious infections.