Tuesday, 24 March 2009

How many are interested?

There's a lot of fun to be had playing with Google's Search Trends, which can count the the number of searches made for any key word over time, and thus enable researchers to monitor the level of public interest in people—Led Zeppelin, say, or a topic, like homeopathy. The graphs show that interest in the former has been very steady, with a huge peak at the time of their reunion show last year, while interest in homeopathy is 40% less than at the beginning of 2004.

Searches on Google are of course only one indicator of the level of public interest, but for homeopathy there is some evidence that appears to correlate with the search trend. You can read about it here ; the comments to the article generally support the suggestion that the popularity of this particular kind of quackery is on the wane and may indeed be in terminal decline, not before time.

In the UK there is a lower proportion of simple-minded people who believe in it than in the US, Australia, India or France, but if Prince Charles eventually becomes king he may well continue his efforts to promote it.

Bishop William Crosswell Doane (1832–1913) explained the posology of homeopathic nostrums many years ago:
Stir the mixture well
Lest it prove inferior,
Then put half a drop
Into Lake Superior.
Every other day

Take a drop in water,
You’ll be better soon
Or at least you oughta.


eric said...

I was astonished, when I went to live in London 25 years ago (can it really have been that long ago?!), that there was a Royal Homeopathic Hospital. It reaffirmed my firm republican (small "r", I emphasize, being an American) sentiments.

Tony said...

Yes, the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital is still there , but NHS hospital trusts are increasingly becoming aware that superstition should have no place in medicine.
The heir to the throne's enthusiasm for such quackery (he has said that as king he will continue to speak out on matters of public concern) is one of the things that make it more and more unlikely that he will ever accede. His mother may be equally dotty on this matter (his grandmother certainly was) but the dear old love would never actively promote such rubbish. Vivat Regina!