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March 2018



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Boobquake and "Skeptics"

Jen McCreight compares her Boobquake action to the homeopathy overdose by the Merseyside Skeptics Society.

First, taking an "overdose" of homeopathic remedies to protest their sale is like defiantly eating vegetables to protest PETA. It just doesn't make sense. Any homeopath will tell you that you can't overdose on homeopathic remedies, unless you are a diabetic.

Second, a "skeptic" is a person who has doubts. Someone who is certain is a fundamentalist. The Merseyside Skeptics Society are not skeptical about homeopathy, they are certain about it. They have the faith of fundamentalists.

I support the Boobquake because I support freedom against tyranny.

By demanding that women "dress modestly" to prevent earthquakes Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi wants to force his beliefs on others. By protesting the sale of homeopathic remedies the The Merseyside Skeptics Society are trying to force their beliefs on others. If you don't believe in homeopathy don't do it. No one is forcing you.


The Merseyside Skeptics Society

Thanks for mentioning our protest, but I just thought I'd clear up a few issues you seem to have misunderstood:

- We at the Merseyside Skeptics Society are indeed expressing our doubts about homeopathy - doubts about the validity of the anecdotal evidence, about the implausibility of the modality of the treatment, and about the use of homeopathy as a substitute for proven treatments where people can really get hurt (need I mention Homeopaths Without Borders in Haiti, or poor Gloria Thomas?).

To say that we're showing the faith of fundamentalists is missing the point - it's like saying your belief in freedom against tyranny is belief based in 'fundamentalist faith'. Instead, like you, we doubt that a woman dressing how she chooses to dress is the cause of earthquakes. We also doubt that diluting a substance makes it stronger. In both cases, there's a strong case to have these doubts, and no evidence to satisfy those doubts.

Finally, I just thought I'd point out we're in no way forcing our beliefs on others - quite the opposite. We don't call for bans on homeopathy, and that's not what our protest was aiming for - we were merely highlighting to the average person what homeopathy actually is. Many people believe it has an active ingredient, and few people are aware that it's so immensely dilute (at least, before our protest at any rate). Now, more people are aware how homeopathic substances are made and what the theory behind them actually is.

For this, in a way, homeopaths should thank us for spreading information and awareness about their treatment theory - except, when scrutinised and examined, the theory doesn't hold up. Hence why we've been roundly attacked, with vague insinuations as to our fundamentalism, big pharma funding (really, I wish we had funding - thus far the 10:23 campaign has been funded entirely through volunteer work), and misunderstanding of homeopathy.

I'm glad you supported the 'boobquake', in the same way I'm glad Jen was such a fan of the 10:23 campaign. I'm also glad of the opportunity to set the record straight on some of your misunderstandings of our intentions.

Thanks, and kindest regards
Merseyside Skeptics Society / 10:23

Re: The Merseyside Skeptics Society

That was very polite.

I still disagree. You don't have "doubts", you have certainty of the rightness of your position. Your going to great lengths to convince me that you are right does not convince me that you are uncertain.

Re: The Merseyside Skeptics Society

I see your point, but in that case do you admit to being uncertain about the connection between women's clothing and earthquakes?

I think it's OK to be *relatively* certain once the evidence is in - in fact, it's not just OK, it's essential to progress. We once had doubts about the shape of the earth, but now we're *relatively* certain the earth is round, we have evidence of it. We have similar evidence on the ineffectiveness of homeopathy.

But as I say, we're not trying to convince people we're right, we're trying to convince them to look at the evidence, and read up on what homeopathy actually is. Based on the evidence, most people agree that homeopathy is bunk - it's the equivalent of sending people up to space in order to have them decide if the earth is round or not. Give people access to the information and the evidence, and most people will side with the science.


Re: The Merseyside Skeptics Society

"I see your point, but in that case do you admit to being uncertain about the connection between women's clothing and earthquakes?"

No. I'm certain there is no connection between women's clothing and earthquakes. Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi is certain there is. I have no problem with that.

Re: The Merseyside Skeptics Society

So, in that case, in what way is it OK to be certain about the lack of causal link between clothing and earthquakes, but certainty about homeopathy (based on over-whelming evidence) is fundamentalist faith? I think both cases are skeptical positions - scrutinise the evidence, and neither the claims of homeopaths nor mad Iranian clerics stand up. If certainty in one is OK, then the other has to be too, I think.

(And by certainty, just to clarify, I mean based on current evidence - if someone produced reliable evidence that clothing and earthquakes were linked, or that homeopathy worked, I'd change my mind on either or both. That's the skeptical position - follow the evidence).

Re: The Merseyside Skeptics Society

Skepticism is doubt. Certainty is not doubt. I have no problem with you being certain, I just think you should be honest about it. You aren't a skeptic. Or you have changed the word skeptic to mean something other than "someone who has doubts"

Re: The Merseyside Skeptics Society

Ah, OK, I see what's happening here - we're actually employing scientific or philosophical skepticism:

"Scientific skepticism or rational skepticism (also spelled scepticism), sometimes referred to as skeptical inquiry, is a practical, epistemological position in which one questions the veracity of claims lacking empirical evidence."

Doubt is often a good thing, but where a claim is factual in nature ('the world is flat', 'water has memory') then continued doubt is irrational. I still have doubt as to whether life exists elsewhere in the universe - we don't have the evidence to come to a reliable conclusion on that one. But with homeopathy, the evidence is in, so continual doubt would be irrational at this point.

Re: The Merseyside Skeptics Society

It would be less confusing with the popular definition of the term if you would not use words like "question" and "doubt" when your definition of "skeptic" really isn't about questioning or doubting.