Bring Out Your Science

Bring Out Your Science

Peasant Woman: Well, how’d you become a doctor, then? King Arthur: The Homeopathic Lady of the Lake, her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite, held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water, signifying by divine providence that I, Arthur, was to carry Excalibur. That is why I am your doctor. Dennis the Peasant: Listen. Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of medicine. Supreme medical power derives from scientific inquiry, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony. Arthur: Be quiet! Dennis the Peasant: You can’t expect to wield medical power just ’cause some watery tart threw a sword at you!

Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Sort of.

Good satire can be indistinguishable from reality. The Onion does it all the time and sometimes their articles show up in my feed and I think they are legitimate.

When I saw the headline “Prince Charles tells skeptics “Be more scientific except homeopathy” at first I thought it was legit. It wasn’t. But it close enough to reality that it could have been.


The English have long suffered from Prince Charles and his enthusiastic promotion of homeopathy. The Prince evidently lobbies for homeopathy with the government. There is even a royal homeopath, which seems only fair since the Vatican has an exorcist.

Edzard Ernst has a nice review of Prince Charles long history with pseudo-medicine. The English have had the wisdom not to allow the Royal family any real power to spend state money on nonsense. In the US we re-elect those who prefer fantasy to reality and they can waste enormous amounts of money in the pursuit of pseudo-medicine. An example U.S. Senator Tom Harkin, who has been instrumental in supporting and funding the NCCAM with homeopathic results:

Mielczarek and Engler examined the grants and awards funded by NCCAM from 2000 to 2011, which cost a total of $1.3 billion. Their study showed no discoveries in complementary and alternative medicine that would justify the existence of this center. They argued that, after 20 years and an expenditure of $20 billion, the failure of NCCAM is evidenced by the lack of publications and the failure to report clinical trials in peer-reviewed scientific medical journals. They recommended NCCAM be defunded or abolished, and the concepts of funding alternative medicine be discontinued.

The fake quote of Prince Charles is remarkably similar to a real quote by Senator Harkin:

One of the purposes of this center was to investigate and validate alternative approaches. Quite frankly, I must say publicly that it has fallen short. It think quite frankly that in this center and in the office previously before it, most of its focus has been on disproving things rather than seeking out and approving.

The strong point of Princes and Senators is not always understanding reality and how it is evaluated. The result is that satire and their reality can be difficult to tell apart.

Points of Interest: 2/4/2014
Good news, bad news for Coloradans

Related Posts