Sometimes it is OK just to reject something without seeking any deep understanding. We run into these situations all the time. Life is too short to spend time examining every suggestion that comes in front of us.
On the other hand, relying on our intuitions to find truth has been shown often to be grossly erroneous. Ouch, what are we to do?
Homeopathy is practiced by thousands of practitioners and has millions of patients. Skeptics usually dismiss Homeopathy for very simple reasons (listed by most common to least common):
- Tribal Doubt: None of the people you respect think homeopathy is valid. You trust those in your circle. Other skeptics think homeopathy is hogwash and so do you. Besides, you have seen the sort of folks that flock to homeopathy — they flock to a bunch of equally ridiculous notions and aren’t to be trusted.
- Mechanism Doubt: You can’t imagine how any medicine could work which is diluted beyond hope of having even one molecule of active ingredient. You haven’t read any of the explanations given by homeopaths to support this crazy notion but you know whatever reason they give has to be ridiculous.
- Smattering of Science: You’ve heard of a few studies from what you consider highly reliable sources that claim no evidence for the effectiveness of homeopathy and you have no reason to doubt them.
- Lots of Science: This is hard. You would have to be up on the pros and cons of lots of studies. You may even have read extensively on the subject including sympathetic material and journal articles that claim to show homeopathic effectiveness. You have thought through all the counter evidence and feel homeopathy is hogwash.
Most probably a given skeptic will have a combinations of these reasons.
Though I think it is fine to reject Homeopathy out of hand and move on. In these posts, I will endulge the luxury to understand more deeply than simple rejection. I hope to help interested readers to understand why people practice homeopathy and why millions of patients swear to its effectiveness. So I am talking to those who are willing to consider not dismissing homeopathy out-of-hand, and instead make an effort to understand why others value it so strongly. Hopefully I will take you beyond thinking that believers in Homeopathy are just unadulterated idiots — even if you still disagree with them.
Questions to readers: What level is your sophistication in rejecting homeopathy (if you do)? What level do you think most skeptics have? [It should be obvious to readers, that a similar examination of levels-of-rejection approach could also be done for religions, politics, other types of medicine and more.]