Two things about homoeopathy

1. I am sad that we’ve lost the middle “o”. It’s universally spelled “homeopathy” now, by everyone but me. I don’t know what drives the urge to discard unpronounced letters in certain words (encyclopaedia, foetus) and not others (psychopath, night), but whenever we do it we lose a link to the origin of the word and its meaning, and I think it’s a shame.

2. I don’t use homoeopathic remedies myself, and from the limited amount I’ve read on the subject I’m not convinced they have a benefit other than as a placebo. However, I’m not angry enough about it to want to protest about it by staging a mass overdose outside branches of Boots.

I can understand the desire to ask the NHS not to spend money on something you don’t believe has any scientific basis, but what can it matter if Boots choose to sell it and people choose to buy it? You can buy herbal remedies and sleeping aids and albums by Muse and all sorts of things which I don’t personally believe deliver any benefits, but if you want them, I’ve no objection to your being allowed to obtain them.

I feel about it a bit as I do about religion. I happen not to believe in a god, but I’ve no desire to start telling other people they shouldn’t either. Some people value their faith above cold hard scientific fact, and I think we should probably let them make that choice. Where belief specifically promotes something dangerous, there’s a reason to challenge it, but I don’t extend that to taking out adverts on the sides of buses, or organising variety shows celebrating atheism. There’s something ungenerous and mealy-mouthed about it, and although I am proud to be a rationalist and an unbeliever, I would like us as humans to be adult enough to make room in the world for people who feel differently, and confident enough in our own beliefs that we don’t need to feel threatened by other people’s.

(Also, arnica totally works on bruises.)

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