Skepticism

New FTC Warning Labels: Homeopathy Doesn’t Work!

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You may have heard me talk about homeopathy in previous videos, but let me just give you the quick rundown: homeopathy is a bullshit ideology invented in the 18th century in which practitioners claim to be able to cure diseases by giving minute amounts of a product that causes similar symptoms as that disease; and the substances are so minute that in the vast majority of cases, they’re diluted right down to being just plain water without a single molecule of the “active” ingredient inside. This is based on the idea that water has a memory, so if you piss in the ocean, the ocean WILL ALWAYS REMEMBER AND NEVER FORGIVE. Just kidding. Homeopathy doesn’t have anything to say about the forgiveness of water.

For a long time, Big Alternative Medicine has been getting away with a lot here in the US, as the Federal Trade Commission and the Food & Drug Administration have allowed companies to sell their “remedies” over the counter claiming to help all kinds of things, from the common cold to nausea to earaches, even though it’s only sugar water with no possible mechanism for working. And when I say “Big Alt Med” I’m not kidding: the Alternative Medicine industry is booming, and is fully owned and operated by the same “Big Pharma” that drives gullible people to use alternative medicine in the first place.

I’m excited to announce that that’s finally changing! The FTC has just released a statement requiring homeopathic remedies to carry labels warning that there is absolutely no scientific evidence that they work. The FTC has clarified that unlike the past few decades, they’re now going to stop companies from claiming that homeopathy can cure anything.

To be fair, this isn’t a death blow for homeopathy. Homeopathy hasn’t worked for 300 years, and it hasn’t exactly been a secret. One of the more depressing facts you may come away with when watching many of my videos is that marketing will pretty much always trump science, and yes I understand that the word “trump” in that sentence is more appropriate than ever but let’s just move on because for once this isn’t a political video.

So Big Alt Med will continue to find a way to sell sugar pills to naive people, and naive people will continue to buy them even if the entire package is covered in a warning stating that sugar pills won’t cure anything.

But it is an important first step in a governmental oversight organization actually overseeing misleading and dangerous products in an attempt to protect consumers. We can’t expect for pharmacies to just suddenly stop selling homeopathy alongside real medicine, especially when those sugar pills are making them a lot of money. But that’s something that could happen in the future once measures like this are in place and being enforced. And for that, I say thanks to the FTC.

And by the way, I’ll end with a plea for you to use medicine that DOES work: get your flu shot! It’s important for building herd immunity and protecting the infants, seniors, and immuno-compromised people you come into contact with every day.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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1 Comment

  1. November 29, 2016 at 6:38 pm —

    Something about this year has made me utterly baffled at the mere possibility of a skeptical victory anywhere in American society.

    I’m a little wary that the new administration will do away with this adjustment under the guise of “excessive regulation” all too soon.

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