Sunday, 5 June 2011


Some of you might have heard already, but if you haven't, there's been a news story recently concerning Catholic doctors selling homeopathic 'remedies' for homosexuality [and I'll be honest, I'm worried that the inverted commas around 'remedies' in this context won't be able to contain the pressure of ridiculousness trying to escape].

Apparently I wasn't alone in ignoring this story when it was first flagged up on that there twitter and Facebook places. It's obviously a spoof, I thought. Apparently, it isn't. This is deeply worrying. It's not hard to see why some skeptics and rationalists have had a hard time believing this, it's wrong on so many levels. Overall, it's stating that Catholic doctors are recommending homeopathic treatments based on highly diluted platinum in order to treat homosexuality. This one sentence is completely mad on a rational, psychological, medical, chemical and ethical level.

For starters, it's always worrying when professional doctors start treating patients based on their religious beliefs rather than actual evidence-based medicine. My own thoughts on the whole 'homosexuality is an illness' thing have been stated quite clearly, but even if you do believe it's unnatural in some way, that's not really how being a doctor should work if we're honest. Then there's the whole homeopathy angle itself, which is essentially the go-to alt-med whenever a skeptic or rational person needs an easy target (I'm no exception to this sort of behaviour). As you probably know, homeopathic remedied via serial dilutions until there is none of the original substance left, and the water supposedly retains a memory of the original chemical. Whatever you think of this theory/belief/obvious fantasy, even if there was some merit in it, I'm pretty if I had to dissolve something in successive bodies of water water (or at some stage I think, alcohol), I imagine I'd struggle if I tried it with platinum, a metal prised for its chemical inertness. To even make a start with dissolving platinum, you need some incredibly powerful nitro-hydrochloric acid. Mere water is literally not going to put a dent in it (unless its applied via high-powered steam jet perhaps, but then dents aren't believed to have medicinal properties). And there's the whole belief that, even if homosexuality were some serious mental disorder (which it isn't), it could be treated with a few pills of some vague description. Treating mental processes with chemicals (actual ones) is still a very complex and poorly understood process, and certainly isn't a quick and easy one. The brain does not bow to simple molecules so easily.

But the one thing that occurred to me, when singing sensation Doctor Evan Harris flagged this up on the twitter under with "Catholic docs offer homeopathic 'treatment' for homosexuality", my first thought was 'what the hell are they diluting for that?' Now if you're like me, a) I'm deeply sorry, and b) when posed with that question, your mind probably went to a very dodgy place. As well as the ridiculous 'extreme dilution makes chemicals more powerful' notion, homeopathy also operates under the assumption 'like treats like', meaning patients should be treated with substances that cause the same symptoms that they're trying to alleviate. E.g. insomnia would be treated with caffeine, arsenic poisoning with arsenic, and so on. Thing is, here they're claiming they can treat homosexuality. So what substance which is associated with homosexuality would they dilute? Something readily available, something that a non-homosexual would not want to put in their bodies? I personally couldn't help but go down the 'gentlemen's reproductive emissions' route. But obviously, that isn't the case. And thankfully so, what if a heterosexual female accidentally took the remedy? She'd be shaving her head and burning her bra before you could say 'pointless placebo'.

I'd probably been too judgemental in my initial analysis. I know homosexuality occurs in both genders, but as these doctors were Catholics I was assuming that any illness afflicting a woman would be deemed irrelevant. But more fool me.

Anyway, I discovered that they were diluting platinum, and I'll be honest, if you asked me 'what substance would you associate with causing homosexuality?', platinum wouldn't be top of the list I'd come up with. Probably not even top 5. So I had to wonder what the rationale behind 'Platinum àHomosexual' was. In daily life, you're probably most likely to come into contact with platinum in jewellery. Stereotypically, gay men wear more jewellery than their non-gay counterparts (let's avoid the matter of where on their bodies they wear it), so is that the logic behind it? I'd say this pattern was more an effect than a cause, but that's just me.

But then it occurred to me, if they do genuinely classify homosexuality as a mental disorder, then one cause of mental disorders is heavy metal poisoning. So there is a certain logic to treating what may be caused my metal toxicity with metal. Admittedly, it's usually mercury and other metals that are associated with neurological damage, and I've never seen any indication that one of the symptoms of metal toxicity is 'an irrational sexual appreciation for members of your own gender', but come on! Given the context we're talking about here, that's still an impressively rational approach.

Admittedly, it might just be due to a misprint, where someone sent an email to the homeopath lab stating that 'homosexuality is a mental disorder' but dropped that important 'n' in the process. A remedy that 'contains' platinum is probably one that they can charge more for.

So it's platinum. Other possible homeopathic remedies for homosexuality suggested via the social networks include Cherry Coke and Village People CDs. Obviously people joking around with stereotypes, but is this any less sensible than the reality presented to us in the article itself?

But this got me thinking, if homeopathic remedies can apparently treat mental conditions that aren't actually mental conditions, why stop at homosexuality? (My reluctance to Google whether or not they already do is the only reason I assume homeopaths don't already do this, and I'm aware that I might be very wrong in this assumption). So, in case this is the start of a new trend, here's my suggestions for other homeopathic treatments based on the same logic (or lack thereof) shown above. The supposed disorder is referenced, and the possible treatments (i.e. what causes it that can be diluted to treat it) are listed. Feel free to contribute suggestions of your own in the comments. Any homeopath offering them from this point on can be threatened with copyright infringement.


Possible Treatments:

  • Alcohol (a widely known reducer of intellectual prowess. Note: sometimes the original substance to be diluted is dissolved in alcohol, so this should prove a bit of a quandary in preparation)
  • Silicon of Jordan
    (directly extracted from the mammary region of one of the UK's most influential sufferers)
  • Cowell's False Tan
    (similar to above, highly diluted epidermal sample of the man largely responsible for the spread of stupidity in the UK)
  • Pentapeptides (you know why)
  • Homeopathic remedies
    (should cause amusing confusion during the preparation/pseudoscientific explanation process)


Possible treatments

  • Essence of Littlejohn
    (bodily fluid extracted from the country's biggest, most celebrated racist c**t. Remedy also treats homophobia, sexism, elitism, inability to grasp logic and massive unsubstantiated persecution complexes)
  • Marmite
    (seems to seriously increase sense of national pride and resentment of foreigners, for some reason)
  • Marmalade
    (a similar-named preserve to above, but for different reasons)
  • BNP Literature
    (shredded and mashed into a fine pulp and diluted into oblivion. Won't treat anything, but any method of destroying that stuff is worth encouraging)
  • Melanin
    (innocent molecule which, logically, on many levels, is the cause of racism)
  • Growth Hormone
    (people apparently become more right wing as they grow older, so accelerating the process would make them more right wing, and therefore racist?)
  • Blood
    ('rivers of blood' is/are strongly associated with racism, extreme homeopathic dilution of blood is logically comparable to a river of blood)


Possible treatments

  • Aura of Moyles
    (Sterile water is stimulated by radio waves carrying a full-length Chris Moyles show, then diluted and sold. Also available in Gaunt, Westwood and Limbaugh for overseas customers)
  • Clegg's Promise (Normal water that Nick Clegg has promised will cure your illness)
  • Banker's Bonus (Used cheques/notes that were paid to bankers during the credit crunch. Note: Even using homeopathic logic, this isn't as potent as the real thing, use with caution)
  • Malik's Malady (A pointless, ineffective treatment that is constantly administered to you despite it being unwanted and unhelpful)
  • Cameron's concoction (Dilution of a compound of fluids gathered from the British Prime Minister, largely saliva emitted as he laughs uproariously at the plight of the poor)
  • Pentapeptides (again, you know why)
  • Laughing Cow cheese (Probably just me on this one)


Possible treatments

  • Hint of choirboy
    (You really need this explained?)
  • Uncontracepted (Water, but filtered through a permeable condom of some sort)
  • Orphan Child's sweets (Confection taken from a poor child and diluted pointlessly, to enhance the all-important guilt
  • Transubstantiated Substance
    (diluted bread and/or wine taken from the communion ceremony. Unique amongst homeopathic remedies as it genuinely does contain as much of the active compound (Body of Christ) as the original sample)

I might add more if I can think of them. But again, feel free to play along.

Email: humourology (at)

Twitter: @garwboy

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