- If you want to cure a symptom, take something that causes those symptoms.
- Don't do that.
At the turn of the 19th century, a German physician was curious about the claimed benefits of tea made from a certain bark to cure an intermittent fever. Being skeptical, he decided to investigate. Good for him! Unfortunately everything he did after that was entirely incorrect. He only tested the tea on one person, he only did so once, and he didn't go on to study his hypothesis. He drank the tea, suffered an allergic reaction, and came up with the homeopathy. Homeopaths claim that if you want to cure a disease, you should ingest poison1. Poison? Yes. Homeopaths believe that inducing the symptoms of illness is how you cure illness. To cure a fever, induce a fever.
It shouldn't take much thought to understand that making your condition worse is stupid. Idiotic. Asinine. Perhaps the worst idea ever. Homeopaths realized very quickly that murdering all their patients would be a bad business practice, so they introduced the second principle of homeopathy. Since giving your patients poison is a bad idea, don't give them poison! Homeopaths began diluting their "remedies" with the intent of delivering as little poison as possible. Of course, they had to justify a remedy being effective despite being present only in very small quantities2. The resulting theory is nothing short of mysticism.
Homeopaths believe that water has a memory. Wooo! Water somehow remembers the stuff it's been in contact with, retains, through some utterly mysterious and inexplicable fashion, the healing properties of the poison, and thus you can safely discard the poison. Add poison to water. Dilute a thousand times. Shake. Dilute a thousand times. Shake. Dilute a thousand times. Shake. Hand patient a bottle of pure water and charge him for "medicine". The shaking is very important. If you don't shake the "remedy", or if you do it wrong, you might not end up with medicine!
Question: What allows water to remember being in contact with pesticide and only retain the healing qualities of the pesticide and not the part that's deadly poison? What allows water to remember being in contact with pesticide, but forget the fact that fish have been shitting in it for a billion years?
And all this doesn't even get into the even more transparently nonsensical notion of transmitting homeopathy over the phone. I wish I were kidding. Jacques Benveniste, French quack, seriously argued (and made money thereby) that if he shook his magic potion at his phone while you held your water near your phone that the mystical homeopathic energies would transmit over the phone lines. And why not? Once you're going to believe one bit of nonsense you might as well go whole hog!
There really isn't any need to go into the theory or practices of homeopathy in depth. First because it's so easy to show how stupid it all is. Second because, as I said, the evidence all shows that homeopathy, if you're lucky, does absolutely nothing. There's no reason to investigate a theory or hypothesis about a phenomenon that doesn't exist. That's why the first step in investigating paranormal phenomena is never to look into the proposed mechanism for the phenomenon, but always to find out if it actually happens. Hint: It doesn't.
1 - I am entirely serious. I am not exaggerating. There are remedies that require the patient to ingest pesticide. Fortunately, the dilutions involved mean that the best you can hope for is that you don't get any of the so-called remedy.
2 - Modern homeopathy requires dilutions so extreme that there can be not a single molecule of the original material left.