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Frequently Asked Questions

Click the question to read the answer.

1. Why do you call it the 10:23 campaign?

'10:23' refers to the time at which campaigners across the globe took part in our 'overdose' stunt - 10:23AM. The name was chosen as a reference to the Avogadro constant.

The original 10:23 'overdose' took place at 10:23 on January 30th 2010. Over 400 protestors swallowed an entire bottle of homeopathic pills in a dramatic demonstration that the pills contain no active ingredients.

Our second stunt, the global 10:23 Challenge, took place at 10:23AM over the weekend of February 5th-6th 2011. This time, over 1500 participants, on every continent, gathered to declare 'Homeopathy: there's nothing in it'.

2. Was this campaign created by 'Big Pharma'?

The 10:23 Campaign is organised by the Merseyside Skeptics Society. Neither Merseyside Skeptics, nor the 10:23 Campaign, have any ties or affiliations with any pharmaceutical manufacturer.

3. This campaign is illiberal! What about freedom of choice?

This campaign does not seek an outright ban on homeopathy. However, we do object to unproven treatments such as homeopathy being legitimised by being available from pharmacists and from the National Health Service.

Homeopathic products remain readily available from health food shops, and high-street homeopaths, if people wish to use them.

4. Why does homeopathy sometimes appear to work?

There are dozens of reasons why homeopathy may appear to work for some individuals.

For example, people will often confuse correlation with causation. The human body has a very robust and amazingly intricate immune system, which is capable of fending off all sorts of nasty things all on its own. When someone starts to feel better shortly after taking a homeopathic remedy, they might assume that the remedy has hastened their recovery. Actually, there is no good reason to believe these two events are related. They may have recovered just as quickly without the homeopathic intervention.

Another example is what are known as placebo effects. This is where an inert substance, such as a sugar pill, can be shown to improve the condition of a patient simply because the patient expects it to. Someone using homeopathy may start to feel better because they expect to feel better, not because the homeopathy has actually done anything to cure them.

Scientists have devised a technique called the Randomised Controlled Trial, which corrects for errors in thinking, placebo effects and other biases. Through these trials, scientists have been able to reliably demonstrate that, when all sources of error are removed, homeopathy does not, in fact, work.

5. Is homeopathy the same as herbal medicine?

No, though it's a common misunderstanding. In contrast to herbal remedies most homeopathic products contain no active ingredients; they are just sugar and water. Even homeopaths will tell you this, though they will often go on to claim that the water and sugar contain some 'memory', 'vibration' or 'energy' from previous contact with another substance. It is this 'memory' which are said to cure, though homeopaths are unable to prove it exists.

6. We should do more scientific research into homeopathy then?

Homeopathy has already been thoroughly researched and found to be ineffective.

For example, in 2005 the respected medical journal 'The Lancet' published an analysis conducted by the University of Berne in Switzerland. This analysis examined the available research on homeopathy and identified 110 well-designed investigations into its effects. The results of those trials were then compared to 110 well-designed investigations of conventional medical therapies for the same ailments.

The paper concluded:

Biases are present in placebo-controlled trials of both homoeopathy and conventional medicine. When account was taken for these biases in the analysis, there was weak evidence for a specific effect of homoeopathic remedies, but strong evidence for specific effects of conventional interventions. This finding is compatible with the notion that the clinical effects of homoeopathy are placebo effects.
To continue to call for more research, when excellent research has already confidently shown that homeopathy is no more effective than placebo, would be disingenuous.

7. My homeopath says homeopathy works in children and animals. That can't be a placebo effect!

It is a commonly cited fallacy that children and animals are somehow immune to placebo effects. In fact, placebo effects are quite readily observed in animals and children.