James Randi Takes on Homeopathy

February 5th, 2011
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Our friend James Randi has been promoting critical thinking and opposing ridiculous nonsensical and unproven beliefs for decades, including homeopathy. It’s therefore not really news that he is actively going after the medical sham that has taken hold across the world.

However, a renewed effort by the James Randi Educational Foundation, the 10:23 campaign and others has recently kicked in to take on quackery. Efforts now have begun to target the mainstream companies that support this scam and are focused on raising awareness of the ineffectiveness of homeopathy, which, as it was recently pointed out, is becoming increasingly integrated into pharmacies, right along side real medicine.

For his part, Mr. Randi has been promoting the fact that his foundation is offering one million dollars to prove homeopathy works.





It seems to be working, as major news outlets are picking up on this.

Via the LA Times:

Magician James Randi, skeptics launch attack on makers of homeopathic ‘drugs’
Magician James Randi, who has devoted the latter part of his career to exposing fraud, scams and charlatans, and a network of skeptics known as the 10:23 Campaign launched a major campaign Saturday against the manufacturers of so-called homeopathic drugs, charging that the companies that sell the drugs are packaging worthless products that are cheating customers out of their money.

In an online video, Randi consumed an overdose of homeopathic sleeping pills to demonstrate that they have no effect, and skeptics elsewhere consumed large overdoses of other homeopathic drugs in similar demonstrations. Randi also offered $1 million of his own money to any manufacturer of a homeopathic product who could prove that the product actually worked as claimed, and challenged major retailers like CVS, Rite-Aid and Walgreens to remove the products from their shelves.

“Consumers have the right to know what they are buying,” he said. “No one should walk out of a drugstore with a homeopathic product without knowing these basic facts: There is no credible evidence that the product does what it says. There is not one bit — not a single atom — of the claimed ‘active ingredient’ in the package, and no U.S. health agency has tested or approved the product.”

The fact that the press is taking wind of this at all is a very big thing, because it’s extremely difficult to get the attention of the press or general public focused on this. Therefore, everyone should be encouraged to continue to stoke the fires that will ultimately consume this quackery. If nothing else, keep posting comments on blogs, videos and forums, keep telling your friends what a load of bull it. Together, we can make a difference and bring this important issue to the forefront, exposing homeopathy for what it is.

Most people still don’t even realize what homeopathy is. That is beginning to change, potentially undermining the scam. When the light of skeptical inquiry is focused on homeopathy it crumbles like a vampire in the sun.


This entry was posted on Saturday, February 5th, 2011 at 7:19 pm and is filed under Bad Science, Culture, Education, Good Science, Paranormal, Quackery. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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27 Responses to “James Randi Takes on Homeopathy”

  1. 1
    DV82XL Says:

    Randi both in demeanor and appearance, is swiftly becoming the new Diogenes of Sinope, one of the founders of Cynic philosophy. He was the one said to stroll about in full daylight with a lamp and when asked what he was doing, he would answer, “I am looking for an honest man.”


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  2. 2
    drbuzz0 Says:

            DV82XL said:

    Randi both in demeanor and appearance, is swiftly becoming the new Diogenes of Sinope, one of the founders of Cynic philosophy. He was the one said to stroll about in full daylight with a lamp and when asked what he was doing, he would answer, “I am looking for an honest man.”

    Randi has often been accused of being overly cynical, cold etc. It may be that the topics he commonly deals with in public comments bring that out, because they’re generally scams and other stuff that is easy to be cynical about.

    In actually, he’s very warm and pleasant in person. He even laughs and smiles, and I don’t even mean just a little smirk, like really smiles.


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  3. 3
    DV82XL Says:

    Calling Randi the New Diogenes was not a criticism.

    Diogenes was himself controversial. He intellectually humiliated Plato, he passed his philosophy of Cynicism to Crates who taught it to Zeno of Citium who fashioned it into the school of Stoicism which is one of the most enduring branches of Greek philosophy. His life was a relentless campaign to debunk the social values and institutions of what he saw as a corrupt society.

    There are several other parallels, and I meant it as a complement


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  4. 4
    Gordon Says:

    More grassroots action against quackery is what we need for sure. The fact that homeopaths are calling skeptics everything from communist to corporate shrills shows that they’re scared of the truth getting out. Just look at how many quacks come on here to comment even.

    Most people don’t know what homeopathy even means and their biggest fear is that education will make the public wise up.


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  5. 5
    Anon Says:

            Gordon said:

    Most people don’t know what homeopathy even means and their biggest fear is that education will make the public wise up.

    An even bigger fear would be that politicians (who are the ones that can arrange for them to be dealt with properly) can be educated, whether that’s true or not we’ll have to wait and see. :-P


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  6. 6
    Engineering Edgar Says:

    Mr. Randi should be advised to be very careful with the “homeopathic overdose” demonstration. Sure, if the product is actually diluted down to nothing then it’s not dangerous at all, but sometimes homeopathic products don’t follow the actual rules of homeopathy and really do have active ingredient. They used to sell stuff called Zicam that was advertised and sol as homeopathic but actually the ingredient in it, which was zinc, was only diluted down to like one part per hundred, not like one part per 10^30 or something. It was enough to cause harm and people lost their sense o smell from using it.


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  7. 7
    Anon Says:

    Wait a minute, wouldn’t the real way to overdose on homoeopathic crap be to not drink it at all but instead just sniff the stuff?

    After all, the lower the dose the better.


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  8. 8
    Ben Says:

    Just so everyone knows, James Randi has admitted to being a homosexual and of course an atheist.

    Also, the person who does this webpage is calling James Randi a friend and he says that before. It makes yo wonder if there might be something more to it doesn’t it?


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  9. 9
    Anon Says:

            Ben said:

    Just so everyone knows, James Randi has admitted to being a homosexual and of course an atheist.

    So what, it’s not as if it matters who he is attracted to?

    Atheism is correct isn’t it?

            Ben said:

    Also, the person who does this webpage is calling James Randi a friend and he says that before. It makes yo wonder if there might be something more to it doesn’t it?

    That the person who does this web page isn’t a bigoted homophobe maybe.


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  10. 10
    Finrod Says:

            Anon said:

    That the person who does this web page isn’t a bigoted homophobe maybe.

    Ben has been here before, and while he may well be a bigoted homophobe, it seems just as likely from his obsession with this topic that he is homosexual himself, although he likley is unable to face this honestly.


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  11. 11
    Anon Says:

            Finrod said:

    Ben has been here before, and while he may well be a bigoted homophobe, it seems just as likely from his obsession with this topic that he is homosexual himself, although he likley is unable to face this honestly.

    Ah yes now I remember, wasn’t he the guy who kept claiming we’re just atheists because we want to have lots of sex with everything?

    People raised with some mild homophobia upon realising that they themselves are homosexual can often just deny what they are and become even more bigoted.


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  12. 12
    Matte Says:

            Anon said:

    Ah yes now I remember, wasn’t he the guy who kept claiming we’re just atheists because we want to have lots of sex with everything?

    People raised with some mild homophobia upon realising that they themselves are homosexual can often just deny what they are and become even more bigoted.

    Well, they could turn out to be catholic priests…and pedophiles (a group of deviants apparently overrepresented in the clergy, Ben should question why, no?)


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  13. 13
    Calli Arcale Says:

            Engineering Edgar said:

    Mr. Randi should be advised to be very careful with the “homeopathic overdose” demonstration. Sure, if the product is actually diluted down to nothing then it’s not dangerous at all, but sometimes homeopathic products don’t follow the actual rules of homeopathy and really do have active ingredient. They used to sell stuff called Zicam that was advertised and sol as homeopathic but actually the ingredient in it, which was zinc, was only diluted down to like one part per hundred, not like one part per 10^30 or something.

    It was enough to cause harm and people lost their sense o smell from using it.

    Actually, they still sell it. The Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia was persuaded to list 2X zinc as a homeopathic nostrum. That was sufficient to prevent the FDA from stopping them from selling Zicam again, and it’s bigger than ever. And still just as potent in terms of zinc content; evidently they’re making enough money to tolerate the occasional lawsuit from someone who lost the sense of smell. (Note, though, that not all of the current preparations contain zinc. They’ve expanded the brand quite a bit to cover a range of products and not just zinc nasal drops.)

    The warning is prudent, though. We know about Zicam, which intentionally contains zinc, but what about incompetence? Homeopathic teething tablets were recently recalled after some infants were admitted to ERs with symptoms of atropine poisoning — the active ingredient (extract of deadly nightshade) hadn’t undergone all of the dilutions it was supposed to, evidently, though the manufacturer never admitted any sort of blame and presumably would still be vulnerable to lawsuit should any of the families choose to sue.


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  14. 14
    Calli Arcale Says:

    Correction — they were homeopathic teething drops, not tablets.


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  15. 15
    MikeC Says:

            Ben said:

    Just so everyone knows, James Randi has admitted to being a homosexual and of course an atheist.

    Excellent – so he’s less bigoted and stupid than much of society!

    Thanks for the heads up.

    Also, the person who does this webpage is calling James Randi a friend and he says that before. It makes yo wonder if there might be something more to it doesn’t it?

    I hope so – with any luck that lessened bias and stupidity is reflected in this website.

    Again thanks for providing information to support credibility of the blogs here!


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  16. 16
    Ben Says:

    Okay, jump all over me again because I actually might question things and what is really going on.

    The fact is that atheists say that there’s no god and that there are no limits to sex because all sex is good and never sinful or wrong. So homosexuality, rape, incest, bestiality, painful suffering sex, birth control, abortion, pedophiles are all good and since atheists are always saying this is fine and need more they are usually perverted sex people who are slaves to their own need for perverted sex. That’s just it because why else would you not want to have more sex if there are no rules and it’s all great?

    James Randi is a big atheist. James Randi is also a homosexual so he admits right there no turning away from unnatural sex perversion. What about the guy who does this blog? He is also admitted to being a hard core atheist and is pro homosexuality bc it is an insult to God. Does he do gay sex? He won’t tell us if he does or not. How about the way he talks about James Randi? Maybe they are more than friends? He won’t say yes or no. If there is more to it and they have sex why won’t he say? Shouldn’t we know if we’re going to trust the truth of the blog?


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  17. 17
    Finrod Says:

            Ben said:

    The fact is that atheists say … that there are no limits to sex because all sex is good and never sinful or wrong. So homosexuality, rape, incest, bestiality, painful suffering sex, birth control, abortion, pedophiles are all good … That’s just it because why else would you not want to have more sex if there are no rules and it’s all great?

    So ‘athiests’ (whoever they are) are claiming that rape, incest, bestiality and pedophilia are good? That’s quite a claim, Ben. Which athiests are claiming this, Ben? Prove your assertion.


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  18. 18
    drbuzz0 Says:

    While I am not sure that it’s a great idea to even respond to this and dignify it with a response, I’ll just state a few things for the record, hopefully putting this to rest.

    - I’m not gay. I’m just not. If I were, I’d say so, because it doesn’t really matter to me and I don’t think it’s something to be ashamed of. I’m hetereo, and it’s not like I choose that either, nor am I hetereosexual because I think it’s the right or ethical thing to be.

    - Even if I were gay (which I’m not) I don’t think I’d be looking for a relationship with an 80+ year old man.

    - I’m not “pro-gay” or “anti-gay” I just don’t care. It doesn’t matter to me. I find homosexual relations appealing, but if that’s what people do in their own private homes and without bothering anyone, that’s their right.

    - As far as my relation with James Randi, yes, he is something of a friend, because he’s always been very receptive and friendly toward me. I respect Mr. Randi for his advocacy and his lifetime of working against scams and bunk scientific claims. However, Mr. Randi also works very hard to make those who are looking to get involved in skepticism feel welcomed on a personal level. He is extremely accessible and enthusiastic. Given how busy he is, I appreciate this enormously.

    - I’m not an atheist because it affords me some kind of extreme sexual freedom. I simply find all religions I’ve investigated to be more myth than fact and I see no reason to presume there is a higher power out there. That’s just my own conclusions, and it’s really not for any greater reasons.


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  19. 19
    DV82XL Says:

    Doc, I know you want to keep a open-door policy here, and that’s all well and good. But this ‘Ben’ creep is crossing over the line. He contributes nothing to the conversation, and hijacks threads to no other end than to air his own internal demons. IMO you would be justified in deleting his posts.


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  20. 20
    Finrod Says:

            DV82XL said:

    Doc, I know you want to keep a open-door policy here, and that’s all well and good. But this ‘Ben’ creep is crossing over the line. He contributes nothing to the conversation, and hijacks threads to no other end than to air his own internal demons. IMO you would be justified in deleting his posts.

    To be fair, Ben probably saw the word ‘homeopathy’ in the title and thought it had something to do with his favourite obsession.


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  21. 21
    Brian-M Says:

            Ben said:

    The fact is that atheists say that there’s no god and that there are no limits to sex because all sex is good and never sinful or wrong.

    Well, the part about “atheists say there’s no god” is correct. That’s the only thing all atheists agree on. The rest of your sentence is complete nonsense.

            Ben said:

    So homosexuality, rape, incest, bestiality, painful suffering sex, birth control, abortion, pedophiles are all good and since atheists are always saying this is fine and need more they are usually perverted sex people who are slaves to their own need for perverted sex.

    I’m an atheist, and I don’t agree with all that. Just because someone doesn’t believe in a God-given moral code doesn’t mean they don’t believe in any moral code. Personally I consider any act that causes unnecessary harm or suffering to be wrong. Therefore things like rape and pedophilia are, by my atheist moral code, very wrong indeed. Incest is also wrong (but to a lesser extent) due to the increased chance of congenital disorder in any children that may be conceived from the act.

    Abortion, I would put in a kind of grey area. Late term abortion I’d normally consider wrong unless due to dire medical need, but early term abortion, not so much. It comes down to the question of what makes a someone a human being rather than just a lump of human flesh. We generally consider a person to be dead when the brain ceases to function, even if other parts of the body are still alive. If someone without brain function is not a person, then a fetus that has not yet developed a functioning brain is not a person either, so early term abortion is not murder, despite what many religious zealots claim.

    As for homosexuality, it harms nobody, so where’s the problem? Some people may bring up things like AIDS, but homosexuals in a monogamous relationship are no more likely to spread STIs than heterosexuals in a monogamous relationship. In the case of sexually transmitted infection, it’s promiscuity not homosexuality that’s the problem.

    Birth control does very little harm and a great deal of good. Where’s the problem?

    You say atheists “are usually perverted sex people who are slaves to their own need for perverted sex“. On what is this based? Do you have any research or evidence to back this up? Or is this based purely on irrational bigotry and hatred of those who do not share your faith?

            Ben said:

    That’s just it because why else would you not want to have more sex if there are no rules and it’s all great?

    Atheists don’t think that there are no rules and that everything is great. Furthermore, most people are happy with conventional sexual relationships. Atheists are no exception. If most of us are happy with normal sexual relationships, why would we want more just because we don’t share your religious delusions?

            Ben said:

    James Randi is also a homosexual so he admits right there no turning away from unnatural sex perversion.

    Homosexual mating has been observed on a vast number of occasions in animals, both in the wild and in captivity. Why do you describe something that occurs in nature as being unnatural?

            Ben said:

    Does he do gay sex? He won’t tell us if he does or not.

    Quite right for him not to tell us. Either way, it’s none of our business. Why would you even care, unless you’re thinking of asking him out on a date? :)

            Ben said:

    How about the way he talks about James Randi?

    Maybe they are more than friends?

    He won’t say yes or no.

    It’s highly unlikely that they even know each-other. But even if they did know each-other, even if they were in a sexual relationship, what possible relevance would that have on their opinions about homeopathy? That is, after all, what this blog entry is all about.


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  22. 22
    Kevin Brennan Says:

    Ben, you’re hilarious. And I actually mean that ;)

            Ben said:

    So homosexuality, rape, incest, bestiality, painful suffering sex, birth control, abortion, pedophiles are all good…

    Minus the birth control and abortion (too modern), the bible certainly mentions this stuff, and not always with a negative connotation. That’s actually one of the reasons I’m an atheist; the bible’s moral standards are too loose or outright low for me in general. Chew on that…

            drbuzz0 said:

    I find homosexual relations appealing, but if that’s what people do in their own private homes and without bothering anyone, that’s their right.

    Freudian slip, Doc? Mistakes like that are bound to get Ben excited ;)


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  23. 23
    drbuzz0 Says:

            Kevin Brennan said:

    Freudian slip, Doc? Mistakes like that are bound to get Ben excited ;)

    no. Just a typing error. I was getting kinda pissed off by Ben. I should say “I don’t”


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  24. 24
    drbuzz0 Says:

            DV82XL said:

    Doc, I know you want to keep a open-door policy here, and that’s all well and good. But this ‘Ben’ creep is crossing over the line. He contributes nothing to the conversation, and hijacks threads to no other end than to air his own internal demons. IMO you would be justified in deleting his posts.

    Yeah, I finally have had enough and I banned his ip address range. His comments go to the spam folder now, however I’ll approve any he makes which are actually relevant and not blatant attempts to spam with his own perversions, although I don’t expect that is likely to happen.


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  25. 25
    MikeC Says:

    The fact is that atheists say that there’s no god and that there are no limits to sex because all sex is good and never sinful or wrong.

    Half right – no sex is sinful, because there is no such thing as god, therefore no such thing as sin.

    and half wrong – I am an atheist – I am perfectly sure that pedophilia, rape, incest are bad and wrong. No doubt having been bought up in a christian religous environment has coloured my thinking somewhat (ditched religon when I was 16), but I am still sure they are/would be wrong in any reasonable objective sense without fantastical input.

    so there you go – along with other atheists posting here I have proved the perjorative half of your statement wrong – there’s at least a handful of atheists who do not see all forms of sexual behaviour as good.

    I am very glad to have been able to improve your knowledge on this subject.


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  26. 26
    Q Says:

    It seems to me that Ben is very sexually repressed and there’s a very high liklihood that he is, in fact, a homosexual and can’t bring himself to accept it.

    I have some info for Ben that might be shocking: Whether or not you’re a homosexual is NOT determined by whether you engage in sexual relations with members of the same sex. What makes you a homosexual is whether the same sex is sexually attractive and arowsing to you. Therefore, even if you do manage to go your entire life while avoiding your feelings and desires, you are still gay.

    Clearly this is not a choice. Maybe you could argue that behavior is a choice to some extent, but whether you’re attracted to something or not isn’t a choice. What kind of loving or just god would punish someone for what they are when they have no control over it? You may as well say that having brown eyes is a sin and will send you to hell.


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  27. 27
    Brian-M Says:

            Q said:

    Clearly this is not a choice. Maybe you could argue that behavior is a choice to some extent, but whether you’re attracted to something or not isn’t a choice. What kind of loving or just god would punish someone for what they are when they have no control over it?

    To play Devil’s Advocate for a moment, I’m pretty sure the Old Testament only condemns the physical act, not the desire.

    But then again, there is that bit in the New Testament where Jesus makes the speech about how looking at a woman with desire is committing adultery of the heart. I suppose this could be extended to mean that looking at other men with desire is committing homosexual fornication of the heart,


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