Annotations for: Airship to Egypt

You will notice that Algernon University has a few specialisations that these days are frowned upon, such as Homoeopathy and Crypto-zoology. To tell you the truth, I put those in specifically to annoy Ben Goldacre.

Crypto-zoology is the study of animals that nobody knows for certain exist. Examples include yetis, chupacabras (nasty creatures), Tasmanian devils, Loch Ness monsters and what have you. It’s usually lumped in with pseudo-science because most of the data presented by Crypto-zoologists is, not to put too fine a point to it, made up. Gerald Enderby, though, is a conscientious scientist and would not stoop so low. Margaret’s treatise is titled “Proving the negative wrong”. This is a play on proving a negative, which you famously can’t. You cannot prove that there is no such thing as a unicorn, because you can’t search the whole of the universe. Perhaps in the celestial infinite there is a Planet of the Unicorns. It’s not impossible. And on the other side, Poor Gerald had to deal with a lot of negative reactions to his life’s work. And in the end, he did prove them wrong.

And then we have homoeopathy, which is a school of medicine that holds two positions: First, like cures like. The “Homo” in Homoeopathy comes from the Greek word ὅμοιος, homoios – the same. The idea is that if you are suffering from a reddening of the skin, you cure it with a natural substance that causes reddening of the skin. But not in its natural form, of course. That would be silly. The second position is that a remedy becomes more potent the more you dilute it, and Homoeopathic remedies are dilute to the extreme – literally a grain of rice in an ocean. According to homoeopaths, it’s not the ingredient itself that cures you, but the memory the water that you dilute it in holds of the ingredient. Now water, H2O, is one of the simplest molecules in existence, and while it has some amazing properties, how it could hold a detailed memory of something that is no longer in any real sense present in it, nobody understands. For values of “Nobody understands” that mean it’s a load of bollocks.


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