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Why, oh, why can’t I have something like this aimed at me?

I’m envious of Steve Novella.

No, the reason isn’t his vastly greater influence in the skeptical community than mine, his podcast The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe, or the fact that he gets called a lot more for commentary when something involving quackery versus science-based medicine comes up. He’s earned that, having been at this a lot longer than me and under his own name. No, what irritates me is that he somehow manages to get homeopaths to make videos like this trashing him:

Homeopathy: The persecuted Jew of modern Nazi fascist medicine“? Isn’t “Nazi fascist” a bit redundant? Maybe not; I guess you could argue that Nazi-ism is just one variety of fascism. Be that as it may, I had considered siccing the a certain undead Führer on John Benneth, but decided that his rant was too incoherent even to be the product of a brain chomping by the Hitler Zombie. Even the Hitler Zombie, being of course a zombie, leaves a few milligrams of gray matter left after one of his feasts, but Benneth’s incoherent tirade doesn’t show signs of even a single functioning neuron behind it.

Steve’s made a response that takes down Benneth’s idiocy, of course. Couple that with the fact that I was out late last night for a local area surgical society meeting, and I don’t feel particularly obligated to do 5,000 words of full Orac on the hapless Benneth in the fashion my readers have come to know and either love (or hate), other than to point out that the various studies that Benneth makes so much of, the ones supposedly showing activity of homeopathic remedies on plants, animals, and inanimate objects and that he calls the “nuclear option” (hilariously asserting that Steve has “just been nuked”), have been discussed many times on this blog, on Steve’s blog, and on Science-based Medicine. Indeed, I’ve even posted a particularly tasty bit of not-so-Respectful Insolence (if I do say so myself) regarding a particularly idiotic other video by Benneth in which he attributes the “activity” of homeopathic remedies to nanocrystalloids while clearly not having clue one what he’s talking about, and I don’t even get a shout out! After all, Steve’s a lot less insolent than I am! He’s always a class act and rarely gets down and dirty with quacks like Benneth, the way Orac does on a routine basis. Yet I don’t get quacks saying things like this about me:

He knows, not only is his medicine ineffective for a host of neurological conditions, it is murderous. It is mass murder. It’s genocide. It’s the American Holocaust.

While it’s true that I’ve had anti-vaccine loons like J.B. Handley or Ginger Taylor, creationists like DaveScot, or “health freedom” loons like Patrick “Tim Bolen” (who went so far as to refer to me as “Orac the Nipple Ripper) write amusingly off-base attacks on me, I’ve never had anyone go so far as to shoot a video full of lies and misinformation about me. I’m feeling neglected.

Damn you, Steve!

I wonder if I should tone it down. Maybe that would get Benneth to give me my very own video too.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

46 replies on “Why, oh, why can’t I have something like this aimed at me?”

He talks about plant studies. I can’t find any actual mention anywhere on his blog of such, but I would wager that they weren’t placebo-controlled. In other words, some of the plants were watered, some weren’t, the ones that were did better, and this was attributed to the water being magic as opposed to the simple fact that plants need water…

Silly scientists. No wonder Dr. Novella fails with his detailed, logical explanations supported by references and facts. In homeopathy, “like cures like.” Accordingly, when dealing with a homeopath, you must use ignorance to cure ignorance.


But only a tiny amount. And you have to shake the ignorant person vigorously each time they say something.

Come to think of it… that might work. At the very least it would relieve some frustration.

I wouldn’t be too suprised if the plant studies were placebo-contolled, but just lacked proper blinding. That is, the researcers knew which plants they were supposed to see the improvement on.

What the . . . wow. That’s one angry, sad, beaten little man.

I know that level of snotty, Godwinesque outrage, I used to hurl that kind of shit back when I was a magical thinker. The outrage fueled by fear, fear of the knowledge that mean ol’ science was correct and that there were no magical nanocrystals, or auras, or (insert quackery here) that would save me from . . . well just save me.

His discomfort with the way the world actually is drips off the screen and whatever drama is being played out with his ailing mother will no doubt be the third rail for anyone questioning his critical-thinking skills.

I’ve watched my father go from a large, force-of-nature type guy to a lost, frail child. I’m glad that that occurred long after I had abandoned magical-thinking, because it was the acceptance of reality that made it bearable. Had I been tilting at Big Teflon, or Big Aluminum or whatever else is supposed to cause Alzheimers, it would have been agony compounded.

I’m sorry anyone has to go through that hell, but taking it out on imaginary evildoers may feel like battle on the inside, but from the outside it just looks pathetic.

I know that his comments about his feeble attempts to cure his mother and how his medicines will “hopefully” work were intended to be sarcastic and dramatic; however the way he said those particular lines came across to me that he does believe they are feeble and that they won’t work. So on one level the screed seems like an attack on Steve, but on a deeper level it comes across as a man who is angry not only at doctors that can’t help his mother but at himself for not being able to help his mother.

On either level, it’s really sad and somewhat scary.

I believe fascism originated in Italy so it’s not entirely redundant to speak of Nazi Fascists…

But only a tiny amount. And you have to shake the ignorant person vigorously each time they say something.

Isn’t the traditional method a matter of Biblical percussion? Seems like a few whacks to the ol’ melon with a large-print edition (illuminated, of course) of Holy Writ would be effective.

“For this reason, I have taken under my protection the XII International Congress of Homeopathy in Berlin, to express the interest of the National Socialist State in all modes of therapies that are useful to the people’s health.”–Rudolph Hess

Apparently, it’s just the modern stuff that’s a problem. The *old-fashioned* Nazi fascist medicine is cool.

Well, he cited “Renowned Physicist” Rustum Roy.

How can one argue with that?

@D.C. Sessions #10

Seems like a few whacks to the ol’ melon with a large-print edition (illuminated, of course) of Holy Writ would be effective.

How about just a grade 10 science textbook? Plenty heavy, easier to clean than leather, and they’ll have something to read while waiting for the homeopathic pain-killers to kick in.

Well, he cited “Renowned Physicist” Rustum Roy.

How can one argue with that?

Aside from confusing chemistry and physics, I ALMOST can buy that. For example, I have known of Rustom Roy for almost 20 years now – since my early days in grad school.

Admittedly, I knew him then as “that nutter who writes stupid letters to C&E News with whacko ideas,” but I think there’s some “renown” to that.

I’m sure it’s a respected institution, and I kind of hate to say this, but I have to admit that I laughed out loud when he cited studies done at the University of Bologna. To my American mind, that’s the perfect place to study homeopathy.

Even the Hitler Zombie, being of course a zombie, leaves a few milligrams of gray matter left after one of his feasts, but Benneth’s incoherent tirade doesn’t show signs of even a single functioning neuron behind it.

I disagree. Being dumber than a rock must require some modicum of brainpower, or rocks would be that dumb.

I’m really curious to know whether or not this guy is drunk. I really hope he is…

awesome comments. bacon-wrapped awesome. winner.

16 fantastic
17 brilliant
18 loved it
19 as someone who is drunk (or should be, anyways), agreed!
20 with proper citation, I’d like to use that one 🙂

Of course Benneth went after Steve Novella instead of you; did you miss the part where he insists that Steve would make a good underwear model, so he should go do that instead? Little metal boxes of blinking lights don’t wear underwear. There’s less incentive to go after you.

I didn’t get past the first sentence of the video. As a Jew who was robbed of some of his family by the Holocaust, it is simply infuriating to the point of nausea to have attacks on the pure bullshit of homeopathy compared to the worst acts of the greatest criminal conspiracy that history has ever seen.
As a former physician assistant who practiced medicine for and with some of the greatest physicians alive in the world today it is doubly offensive.
As a rule, I have found that people who make such disgustingly inappropriate comparisons to the Nazis and the Holocaust have little knowledge of either and are likely to be anti-Semitic as well.
It may be intemperate of me to say it, but I’d like a baseball bat and five minutes alone with this sicko. I’d give him a tiny taste of what the real Holocaust was about.

Can I have a go with the baseball bat when you’ve finished, on behalf of my atheist/Jewish father… ?

Wow is right. I would imagine that someone would want to bring there A-game when they argue with Steve Novella but it seems that they always go on personal tirades. I don’t know what this guys point was other then belligerent non-justified attacks against Steve. Parts a especially enjoyed were one, when he called on Yale to break ties with Steve, and two, when he called the New England Skeptics Society a “circle jerk”. HA!

Of course homeopathy works…on botanicals! They need water, don’t they! They’ll respond quite well to wa…er…homeopathy in his “botanical trials”. They’re cheap and require no “ethical approval”. It stimulates the growth of wheat! Of course it works! It’s the “nuclear option”!

So now Dr. Novella is committing malpractice and deflecting detection away from it by turning people away from homeopathy? Of course! Why didn’t Orac think of that? More doctors need to use this strategy! Brilliant!

Orac, I’m waiting for the pics of you in your tighty whities…I’m sure it will be memorable!

“Orac the Nipple Ripper”? Damn, man — not only would that make an awesome name for a rock band, but it’s just a plain great handle! If I were you, I’d grab before the domain squatters get to it!

I was out late last night for a local area surgical society meeting

Surgical society meeting my back behind! You were at an all night poker game with that Pal MD fellow and those good for nothing Novella brothers where you lost your Big Pharma Shill Blog Minion disbursement advance. Again. Now we won’t get our checks just like last month.

You had better hope the overlords don’t get wind of this. They might ask you to return the Ford GT or revoke your shape shifting privileges.

At least he doesn’t have a Glen Beck chalk board.

Maybe because that would be using a homeopathic remedy, ‘calc carb’ as a writing instrument?

And maybe that would be quite a waste of an important homeo. mother compound.


Jebus, the Glenn Beck crazy really does seem to be contagious. It’s like the rage virus from 28 Days Later has got into the water supply or something.

And why is it that the good guys never sue? Simon Singh is so tied up by the chiropractors that he can’t even write his Guardian column any more. Steve Novella should sue this angry clown for every penny he’s made out of selling plain water as medicine.

But if you can judge a man by the quality of his enemies (as well as his blogging and podcasting), Steve must be a fine fellow. First the anti-vaxers with that picture of him about to dine on a roast baby, and now this.

So in these studies, they watered plants and were astounded by the results that they flourished? I think I did this experiment in 4th grade. He’s right, no special skills or equipment required.

Nothing suprises me with these people.

I’m currently being called all kinds of names in a thread on the community forums at eHow because I’ve dared imply that homeopathy is nonsense. Worse that vaccines don’t make much profit and that measles and whooping cough suck.


So,do I understand this correctly? Homeopathy cures plants of Alzheimer’s dementia?

That guy needs to dilute his booze a bit more. Is there a memory of water in his whisky?

@ Miss Grace: but you see, he believes in homeopathy: he only drinks it straight, thinking that diluting it would make it *much* too strong.

OT slightly.

I asked these questions of the commenters with medical backgrounds at Pharyngula, and while I got some answers, most were just opinions of non-experts like myself, and none definitively answered my questions, so I’m repeating them here:

One of my more gullible friends has been having problems with fatigue for a long while, and her MD has been unable to find the source of the problem or to help her. So she’s now turned to a homeopath who told her her problem was “yeasty blood”, gave her some kind of substance to take (don’t know if it’s traditional homeopathic water or something else), and told her to avoid eating anything with yeast in it.

I know that homeopathy is nonsense. And on top of that–yeast in food can somehow infect the blood stream?? Even though I have no medical background, my skeptic alarms starting beeping immediately, so I googled “yeast AND blood,” and all I seem to pull up are woo sites. Also went to google scholar and pubmed but can’t find anything. So my suspicions about this diagnosis are growing.

Am I just not searching under the right medical terms, or is this “yeasty blood” diagnosis, or just utter quackery?

Someone on Pharyngula mentioned that there are fungal infections of the blood, but if my friend had one of those, she’d be much sicker than she is.

I don’t think my friend would necessarily be receptive to my telling her that her homeopath is a quackawoo; however, I did want to blog a bit about this, but don’t know enough about medicine other than to say “I’m highly suspicious of the diagnosis.” Plus, I’d like to know my instinct to think “this diagnosis is crap” is right.

Is there better place I can look for info or ask my question? Has anyone come across a web site or blog where a homeopathic diagnosis of “yeast in the blood” or something similar has been discussed and shown to be nonsense?

I have the perfect homeopathic preventative measure for Esophageal and Stomach Cancer: Break a window, cover the broken glass in Uranium, then, take one atom from an antioncogen, one from Pepto Bismol, and another from a drug that helps treat esophageal problems. Mix these into a 100 gallon drum of water, and drink the entire thing. Anyone who is a supporter of homeopathy should do this, because cancer is very unpleasant, and I see no reason why, under Homeopathic guidlines, that would not be an appropriate drug.

Bastion of Sass,
Sorry, I’m not a doctor either, but you might find something useful at Quackwatch. Here’s one article on the dubious ‘candida sensitivity’ diagnosis:

And here’s the index of all articles that come up when you search ‘yeast’:

Wally Sampson on SBM wrote a pretty good article last year debunking ‘Functional Medicine’ which includes some brief mention of yeast-woo. I’ve used up my link allotment, but if you plug ‘Candidiasis’ into the SBM search engine it’s the third article that comes up.

#16: well, the University of Bologna actually is a very respected institution. And it’s the oldest university in the Western world.

(But of course, nobody’s perfect)

I call for a new rule.

If a group claims to be persecuted like a Jew in Nazi Europe, and they are not actively being rounded up and slaughtered, then they should automatically be rounded-up and slaughtered to make the metaphor true.

Scott (#1): There are links in the video description on Youtube, but I don’t have access to the papers.

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