Homeopathy follow-up: Reactions in the wake of CBC Marketplace coverage

Earlier in January, CBC Marketplace investigated homeopathy. Now that there has been some time for people to react, here is a summary of some coverage around the Internet. Please also feel free to share relevant links in the comments.

Favourable Reactions

  1. Digital Journal’s opinion section covered the topic of homeopathy in several articles the week of the CBC Marketplace piece. They reviewed the special, commented on the homeopathic community’s “nasty” response to the special, and commented on the conflicting information about cancer treatments (i.e., homeopaths stating “I don’t claim to treat cancer” vs. tacit approval for cancer treatments from the Ontario College of Homeopathic Medicine).
  2. Steven Novella reviewed the Marketplace episode at Skepticblog and Neurologica, putting out the following challenge to the Extraordinary Medicine website: “If you have any evidence that organized skeptics are an arm of a political party or are hired guns by industry, then name names and show the evidence. Otherwise put up or shut up –  remove those libelous and ridiculous claims from your website.”
  3. A Quantum of Knowledge concluded that CBC Marketplace “crushed” homeopathy with their aversion to false balance reporting.
  4. Radarlake, after seeing the comments on CBC’s website (e.g., claiming homeopathy has been used in Asia for thousands of years), wondered: “how many people who practice or believe in homeopathy actually know anything about it?”
  5. Peter Jackson of The Telegram pulls no punches with his opinion column, quoting Mitchell and Webb and stating: “At any rate, it is not the gullibility or defiance of those who fail to see the truth that is galling. It is the profits shamelessly siphoned off such chicanery that is unacceptable. And it should be stopped.” Ouch.
  6. Sarnia Skeptic also comments on troop rallying within the homeopathic community before the airing of the CBC special. They also report on the Toronto School of Homeopathic Medicine’s response (note: that blog no longer exists – it seems that most energy is going into the new Extraordinary Medicine site, linked below) to the CBC special, having copied what was written for posterity.
  7. ASkepticRTN also reviewed the CBC special, coming down hard on the Ontario government: “politicians are engaged in a willful blindness of sorts that enables them to take actions sacrificing the well being of their constituents for a few votes.”
  8. Homeoquackery covered Boiron’s response to the CBC special, noting the small number of clinical trials boasted by Boiron to support homeopathy as a whole vs. the large number of clinical trials to support even a single medical treatment.

Non-Favourable Reactions

  1. The Official Homeopathy Resource wondered if CBC was infiltrated by Big Pharma-funded skeptics. I think Ethan is still waiting for his cheque…
  2. Homedica wonders the same thing.
  3. Homeopathy Canada (of the Toronto School of Homeopathic Medicine) accused CBC Marketplace of conning the Canadian public. Though the blog can apparently no longer be viewed, a copy of the text can be found here.
  4. Bioclinic Naturals asked: “Expose or Propaganda?” related to CBC’s coverage. They state several of Marketplace’s arguments and provide rebuttals to each, concluding: “And so, one might conclude that we should only use treatments if we know how they work. But ask yourself this: Do you know how any medicine works?”
  5. Bryce Wylde, again before the program aired, asked for support for homeopathy.


  1. Quackometer commented on the homeopathic community’s “response” (quotes because it was released before the program aired) to the CBC Marketplace coverage, calling it a “lack of serious response”.
  2. THAMNO transcribed and commented on an episode of Wylde on Health which, after the CBC special aired, attempted to answer the question “Homeopathy: Does it work?” Some impressions: “It should be noted that only three pieces of evidence, in the form of studies, were mentioned in the entire programme, and that was done by Yoni Freedhoff, the doctor who was called in as a “hostile witness”. The four homoeopaths in the programme, failed to name a single piece of evidence -credible or not- in support of their claims.” [link added for context]
  3. Extraordinary Medicine boasts about the number of people using homeopathy, stating that popularity and growth in itself means homeopathy is effective, and claims that “THERE ARE A NUMBER OF GROUPS with an economic interest in discrediting homeopathy spreading false information about it.” [caps theirs] No evidence is given to support this and other insane, unsupported claims about skeptics and skeptical groups.
  4. See this reddit discussion following the posting of our review.
  5. Penn and Teller, the Skepchicks, Phil Plait, and Respectful Insolence linked to the CBC Marketplace coverage so our non-Canadian neighbours could see the story, as well. (Thank you!) The JREF and RichardDawkins.net also drew attention to the story.

On a related note, this Saturday, 5 February 2011, there will be a worldwide 10:23 demonstration. Anyone interested in participating, should find their nearest location. Worldwide locations are listed at 10:23.

9 Responses to “Homeopathy follow-up: Reactions in the wake of CBC Marketplace coverage”

  1. Michael Kruse says:

    For a case by case rebuttal of extraordinarymedicine papers see : http://ow.ly/3Plaz

  2. Conventional, alternative or complementary is as per see.

    A person who prefers, let’s say homeopathic medicine, as a first line of treatment, conventional medicine is an complementary/alternative for him/her.

    Likewise a person who took conventional medicine as first line of treatment, other forms of treatment are complementary/alternative.

    • Dianne Sousa says:

      Ms. Malik,

      Try again. Homeopathy and science based treatments are not equivocal.

      Also, the fact that people are able to choose one or the other first does not imply anything about efficacy. It only implies that they are able to choose. As Thomas noted, it’s just water so I don’t see how you think that what you wrote defends homeopathy in any way.

  3. Mike says:

    “But ask yourself this: Do you know how any medicine works?” – That’s not the question. The real question is: “Do we have an amount of quality evidence showing that treatment x works?” Homeopathy fails spectacularly at this question.

    Regarding the mechanism of working, homeopathy violates so many established laws of physics, chemistry, and physiology that for it to work, practically everything we have discovered would have to be wrong.

    • Kim Hebert says:

      Indeed. Because laymen don’t know the pharmacodynamics of every drug they’ve taken, homeopathy is justified? The entire paragraph is full of similarly bizarre arguments.

  4. Thomas Doubts says:

    Ms Malik, the skeptic argument is that homeopathy should not be seen as an option as a “first line of treatment” for sick people, or anyone else for that matter.

    First, it isn’t treatment at all. It’s water. Second verse same as the first: it isn’t treatment at all.

    Evidence-based medicine is neither complementary nor alternative to homeopathy because that would imply homeopathy has some efficacy in and of itself. It doesn’t.

    It is only water.

  5. John Greg says:

    Some skeptic folk here may want to click on “Dr.” Malik’s link (her name). It takes you to the land of knols and wonder wherein the info is intended to be authoritative, comprehensive, and compelling, but is in fact funny if pathetic.


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  • Kim Hebert

    Kim Hébert is an occupational therapist. She is interested in the promotion of science and reason, particularly regarding therapeutic health interventions. She blogs occasionally about occupational therapy and other health topics at Science-Based Therapy. Her hobbies are art and astronomy. **All views expressed by Kim are her personal views alone, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of current or former employers, associations, or other affiliations. All information is provided for discussion purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for consultation with a licensed and accredited health professional.