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Friday, 20 May 2016

Ruled By A Right Charlie

In the olden days there used to be a belief in Britain and France, that the touch of a king e.g. Charles the First of England, could cure various illnesses such as Scrofula (aka the King's Evil). This was known as 'the royal touch', and was of course also a barmy idea, as was the idea that Kings were divinely appointed. We cured one King Charles of that particular divinity belief, by the simple expedient of lopping off his head .... and so come to think of it did the French.

'The Royal Touch' - Like Father Like Son - Charles II

Now roll forward several hundred years, and at some point it has to be assumed that there will be another Charles on the throne of Britain. He will of course not (publicly at least), believe that he is divinely appointed, nor we assume will he believe that his touch can cure any illness such as scrofula. But that doesn't mean that like his forefathers, he doesn't hold some barmy beliefs of his own.

Charles III as he will be styled, is in fact apparently the holder of a number of rather strange ideas ....
  • He has for example, strident views on architecture, but as they largely chime with the conservative nature of British public taste and opinion, in this particular area of human endeavour, they don't upset the apple cart too much.
  • He also seems to have believed that as a 'Prince' he could have an 'official' mistress, who was also married to a friend. This idea he seems to have picked up from his great grandfather, King Edward VII, who had many mistresses. But unlike his ideas on architecture, this nearly caused a calamity for the House of Windsor, when his split and divorce from Princess Diana (when she claimed there were three in her marriage), nearly caused a constitutional crisis. As far as we know he has ceased to have a mistress, having now married his last one.
  • However he does have one belief that is both dangerous and stupid. This is his absolute belief in homoeopathy.
  • Homoeopathy, for those of you not really clued up on it, is the very strange claim that any substance that causes the symptoms of a disease in healthy people, will somehow cure similar symptoms in sick people. 

It is largely and thankfully treated as at best, a pseudo science i.e. a belief that is incorrectly presented as scientific, and worst quackery. The theory being that a sick person can be healed with very small (or none) amounts of something that produces the symptoms of the illness in a healthy person.

So practitioners will take the active ingredients, add water, then take a drop of this mixture and add more water to that drop, and repeat this process between 30 and 200 times, in a process called 'potentisation'. Samuel Hahnemann its originator said this would bring out the "spirit-like medicinal powers held within a drug". In practice analysis of most homoeopathic drugs shows that there is not a molecule left of the active substance they started out with i.e. its just water.

Being Ruled By A Right Charlie Is Not New ...

However true homoeopaths believe that the solution carries a "memory" of the original substance ...... which the rest of us might call plain stupid, or just 'magic'. This treatment system became partially acceptable in the 18th and early 19th century, because at the time of its inception many medicines of the time were ineffective, and perversely would often kill people. So taking 'magic water' was actually probably less harmful than many medicines, and would at least offer a 'placebo effect' ... thus making some people better, when mainstream medicines were apparently not doing so.

But as medical treatments have improved immeasurably since then, and most generally cure or protect, then homoeopathy is at best reduced to the same curative effect of a placebo, and at worst can kill those patients who listen to any hardcore homoeopaths, who advice their patients not to take medicines like antibiotics and vaccines that would cure them, or act as a preventative against dangerous diseases. All the evidence (and there have been numerous large-scale studies of this - despite homoeopathic believers always claiming that no one is fair to them), show that homoeopathy is nothing more or less than a placebo, and totally ineffective for treating any medical condition (unless water would have worked e.g. mild dehydration).

Just so that there is no mistake on my opinions this subject, I consider that homeopathic preparations are complete and dangerous nonsense, and something out of the middle-ages. In fact it pretty much comes out that time periods last decades, being developed in 1796, and based on his doctrine of 'like cures like'. If you look at the many alchemical practices from much the same period, you will find that many alchemists and medical practitioners believed in a very similar doctrine i.e. 'like equals like'. So 'quick silver' aka 'Mercury', which was eternal and indestructible, must have some relationship with gold (which was also eternal and indestructible), and therefore somehow it would aid turning heavy Lead, into equally heavy Gold (as they were also like with like) .... of course it didn't work.

As recently as the 1950's and 1960's, the 'Cargo cultists' of the Pacific islands believed in that same cause and effect. They would build mock landing strips and drop zones on the ground out of wood and coconuts (mimicking temporary ones created by US armed forces), to try and get the 'metal birds' to drop their largesses from the sky, as they had done in the middle 1940's.

These metal birds were of course US bombers dropping supplies by parachute to the US troops fighting the Japanese, and many of which got lost in the jungles, only to be recovered by native Solomon islanders, who would then enjoy the treasures they found. However as a scientific theory, the cargo cultists have found that like equals like a singular failure, as too my knowledge, the US hasn't dropped a single supply pod in the islands (other than maybe for training purposes), since 1946.

Fortunately for us all, Charles III has no power to make us all adopt his belief in homoeopathy, but he does have enough influence to ensure that this nonsense doesn't just die out, and that the NHS still wastes some funds on it. He also still runs his organic farms like this .... he gives his cattle homoeopath treatments (water) instead of antibiotics. He believes that not using antibiotics "goes with the grain of nature". Strangely of course, irrespective of the effectiveness of water in treating animals, it does reduce antibiotic usage in his farms which is something we all want. However as a method of animal welfare its more problematic, and tellingly he has said that he believes that antibiotics are too often given to people (and presumably animals), when they would get over infections with "patience".

Which is a little bit of a step away from his actually saying that his homoeopathic treatments have cured them ... cows not being subject to a placebo effect (as they don't know that they are supposed to feel better), one suspects that the animals Charles has control over, just get better in natures own time (with extra water), or they die, unless he relents and gives them proper veterinary treatment.

Animals of course can't complain about the type or lack of treatment the receive, or object to any pain or illness they are under, or even to dying ..... humans can. We have left the middle-ages behind in most things (despite efforts by some groups to take us back there asap), and it seems strange that we will one day have a monarch who still believes in magic.

4 comments:

  1. I don't know what was in Samuel Hahnemann's head when he invented Homeopathy, but I like to think that he was just trying to harness the placebo effect in a standardised form for all the best reasons. Accepted medicine benefits from the placebo effect as well but unfortunately it can also carry side-effects as they are made up from active ingredients.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "I don't know what was in Samuel Hahnemann's head" .... I think he had been drinking too much of his own placebo.

      Delete
  2. Are Homeopaths 'gay haters' or just misunderstood?

    A man in India dies because of an overdose of homeopathic medicine. Guess what.. he forgot to take his medicine

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Err ... Ha Ha ... I think. Thanks for the comment.

      Delete

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