I’ve just learned that a Mass Homeopathy Overdose is planned for 20 January, mostly in protest of Boots continuing to sell homeopathic remedies. There are details here. As they say on the internet, at first I lol’d. I also had the usual thoughts about homeopathy doing no real harm, maybe even having a placebo effect — so what’s the bother? There is a short discussion here about some of the harm. At least some philosophers are involved. We have a long tradition of scepticism, and maybe we’re ideally suited to debunking such things.
Why bother, if the harm is mostly minimal? Another sort of harm which almost never gets a hearing has to do with mental states and the sense in which a world with homeopathy in it is not as good as a world without it. I’ve had similar thoughts about CCTV, Google, fox hunting, mobile phones and the X Factor. No doubt someone thinks these things are necessary evils, anyway just inconveniences which don’t do much harm. But there is harm, the mental analogue of the cellular degradation associated with heavy background radiation. These things don’t usually damage us directly — sometimes they even seem of use. But all the while, almost imperceptibly, we all get a little more stupid as a result of having them around.