Wednesday, 17 May 2006

Hair of the dog

The Observer publishes a weekly colour supplement consisting mostly of childish rubbish which makes a nice contrast to the content of the paper’s other earnest, sober and usually responsible pages. It includes, for example a whole page of astrological drivel; having been quite busy lately, I have only just caught up with the edition of 23rd April, and thus missed the opportunity of benefiting from the advice that current planets were indicating a “a grand trine in water signs”, so that I (and a twelfth of the world’s population) would have been having a good week for publishing, going sailing, creating art, “twirling as a fashionista”, and tippling. I don’t mind too much because I never participate in any of these activities except the last, for which any week is a good one.

On a page of the same issue dealing with medical matters there are assorted experts, charlatans and fruitcakes earning an honest—or in some cases a dishonest—penny by providing solutions to the problem of the week. That week there was a query about a child who might, or might not, be suffering from an allergy to the family pet, and I was much taken with the splendidly dotty answer from one Anton Van Rhijn, described as a “consultant homeopathic physician” (he doesn’t put Dr. before his name but perhaps consultant homeopaths, like consultant surgeons, are grander than mere Drs).

Anyway, he recommended a concoction made from “dog hair in homeopathic potency”, which "can help relieve the symptoms of allergy to dogs and other pets". He says: "take 12c every day or 30c once a week".

(30C dilution is equivalent to 1 drop in the total mass of the sun, while 12c is many thousands of times stronger, so if you take the daily dose you are getting many many thousands of times more of the active element than if you take the weekly one: this is known as the "Less is more" principle, and some people actually believe in it.)

I really must stop poking fun at homeopaths and the mugs who buy their nostrums. Homeopathy is beyond satire, and criticising it is supererogatory, like throwing mud at a sewage farm.

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