Shopping Cart -

Your cart is currently empty.
Continue Shopping
This website use cookies and similar technologies to improve the site and to provide customised content and advertising. By using this site, you agree to this use. To learn more, including how to change your cookie settings, please view our Cookie Policy
Pocketmags Digital Magazines
AU
Pocketmags Digital Magazines
   You are currently viewing the Australia version of the site.
Would you like to switch to your local site?
Digital Subscriptions > Skeptic > 24.3 > Homeopathy’s New Clothes: Release Active Drugs

Homeopathy’s New Clothes: Release Active Drugs

In 1889 anthropologist Sir James George Frazer

formulated two laws of magical thinking in his now classic book

The Golden Bough:

If we analyze the principles of thought on which magic is based, they will probably be found to resolve themselves into two: first, that like produces like, or that an effect resembles its cause; and, second, that things which have once been in contact with each other continue to act on each other at a distance after the physical contact has been severed. The former principle may be called the Law of Similarity, the latter the Law of Contact or Contagion. From the first of these principles, namely the Law of Similarity, the magician infers that he can produce any effect he desires merely by imitating it: from the second he infers that whatever he does to a material object will affect equally the person with whom the object was once in contact, whether it formed part of his body or not.

Consider the idea that sticking a needle into a doll will inflict pain on the person associated with the figure. Or the medieval belief that you can cure wounds by applying a special ointment or powder to the weapon that inflicted them. Such ideas are as intuitive as they are wrong. Not surprisingly, a combination of these two flawed principles of thinking produced the prominent cultural phenomenon we know as homeopathy. Homeopathy’s “like cures like” resembles the Law of Similarity with its notion that water “remembers” a substance even after thirty consequent 1:100 dilutions, and this in turn is quite similar to the Law of Contagion.

READ MORE
Purchase options below
Find the complete article and many more in this issue of Skeptic - 24.3
If you own the issue, Login to read the full article now.
Single Issue - 24.3
Was $7.99 $1.49
Annual Digital Subscription
Only $ 5.75 per issue
SAVE
28%
$22.99
Or 2299 points

View Issues

About Skeptic

PINKER ON POST-TRUTH & REASON Steven Pinker on “Why We Are Not Living in a Post-Truth Era: An (Unnecessary) Defense of Reason and a (Necessary) Defense of Universities’ Role in Advancing it” COLUMNS The SkepDoc: Coconut Oil: Health Food or Health Hazard? by Harriet Hall, M.D. • The Gadfly: The Persistence of Memory… and of the Memory Wars, by Carol Tavris ARTICLES The “Lost” Tribes of Israel • The Pentagon’s UFOs How a Multimedia Entertainment Company Created a UFO News Story • The Problem with the Walking Dead And How They Flummoxed Science for Centuries • The Enigma of Stephen Jay Gould • Why the Human Brain Did Not Evolve to Accurately Represent the True Nature of Reality • Homeopathy’s New Clothes: Release Active Drugs • Pressured Apologies, False Confessions, and Witch Hunts • Two Kinds of Progressive Atheism • Surfing for Truth in All the Right Places: An Empirical Test of the Backfire Effect and How the Internet Can Reduce Anti-vaccination Attitudes REVIEWS Reviews of “A review of Whiteshift: Populism, Immigration, and the Future of White Majorities” • “Spectacle of Illusion: Deception Magic and the Paranormal” • “The Apparitionists: A Tale of Phantoms, Fraud, Photography and the Man Who Captured Lincoln’s Ghost” • “Supernatural Entertainments: Victorian Spiritualism and the Rise of Modern Media Culture” JUNIOR SKEPTIC The Chilling, Changeling Chupacabra!