0765: "Dilution"

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0765: "Dilution"

Postby rwald » Mon Jul 12, 2010 3:43 am UTC

Image

Title text: Dear editors of Homeopathy Monthly: I have two small corrections for your July issue. One, it's spelled "echinacea", and two, homeopathic medicines are no better than placebos and your entire magazine is a sham.

Dear Randall Munroe: I have two small corrections in your July 12 issue. One, it's spelled "C," and means a 100x factor of dilution, and two, homeopaths would never read a comic as erudite as xkcd and thus won't learn the error of their ways no matter how obvious you make it.

Edit: Sorry about having the wrong title, folks...fixed now
Last edited by rwald on Mon Jul 12, 2010 4:01 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: "Homeopathy" Discussion

Postby myrcutio » Mon Jul 12, 2010 3:44 am UTC

I can't help but wonder if diluted semen is easier to clean up. Controlled experiment anyone?
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"Dilution" discussion

Postby Wikey » Mon Jul 12, 2010 3:44 am UTC

Image

Title text: Dear editors of Homeopathy Monthly: I have two small corrections for your July issue. One, it's spelled "echinacea", and two, homeopathic medicines are no better than placebos and your entire magazine is a sham.

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Re: "Homeopathy" Discussion

Postby Wikey » Mon Jul 12, 2010 3:45 am UTC

You beat me by a second or so and your comment was better, but you messed up the title, champ.
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Re: "Homeopathy" Discussion

Postby scottgoblue314 » Mon Jul 12, 2010 3:46 am UTC

Wait wait wait if homeopaths believe that the dilution cures the symptoms exhibited by healthy individuals who are administered the concentration, wouldn't homeopaths use dilute semen as a means of terminating pregnancy?
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Re: "Dilution" discussion

Postby helo darqness » Mon Jul 12, 2010 3:46 am UTC

Im reminded of Tim Minchin's brilliant beat poem on skepticism-religious/homeopathic bullshit:

http://podblack.com/2008/12/little-kitt ... ins-storm/

one bit from it:

And try as hard as I like,
A small crack appears
In my diplomacy-dike.
“By definition”, I begin
“Alternative Medicine”, I continue
“Has either not been proved to work,
Or been proved not to work.
You know what they call “alternative medicine”
That’s been proved to work?
Medicine.”
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Re: "Homeopathy" Discussion

Postby Black » Mon Jul 12, 2010 3:47 am UTC

... yes?
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Re: "Dilution" discussion

Postby scottgoblue314 » Mon Jul 12, 2010 3:49 am UTC

I guess this will end up as the official page since it has the correct title, so here it goes again:

Hold on, since homeopaths believe that the dilution cures the same symptoms that the concentration causes, wouldn't they use dilute semen as a means of terminating pregnancy?
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Re: "Homeopathy" Discussion

Postby jspenguin » Mon Jul 12, 2010 3:50 am UTC

rwald wrote:Dear Randall Munroe: I have two small corrections in your July 12 issue. One, it's spelled "C," and means a 100x factor of dilution, and two, homeopaths would never read a comic as erudite as xkcd and thus won't learn the error of their ways no matter how obvious you make it.


Well, I have seen capital X used to denote a 10x dilution, but that's only for really expensive preparations. You see, you have to shake it 10 times after each dilution, or else the water will "forget" the molecules. Going by 100x on each iteration dilutes it a lot faster.

Watch The Amazing Randi explain homeopathy
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Re: "Homeopathy" Discussion

Postby RJFerret » Mon Jul 12, 2010 3:51 am UTC

To quote Tim Minchin's Storm, "Do you know what they call alternative medicine that's been proven to work? Medicine."
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Re: "Homeopathy" Discussion

Postby FrancovS » Mon Jul 12, 2010 3:52 am UTC

Hum, by this logic, they should use diluted birth control pills in this one.

I wonder if we can "Zing" this one if we rant hard enough. Anyone offended?
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Re: "Dilution" discussion

Postby glasnt » Mon Jul 12, 2010 3:55 am UTC

Semen solution: all the taste, half the sugar!

Also, ew.

Also, hi joee!
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Re: "Homeopathy" Discussion

Postby aleflamedyud » Mon Jul 12, 2010 3:55 am UTC

Yes, Randall, we all know you Do Science.

But do you Do Funny?
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Re: "Dilution" discussion

Postby phlip » Mon Jul 12, 2010 3:58 am UTC

scottgoblue314 wrote:Hold on, since homeopaths believe that the dilution cures the same symptoms that the concentration causes, wouldn't they use dilute semen as a means of terminating pregnancy?

Yeah, I was about to post the same thing... either that or contraception, I'm never clear on whether homeopathic remedies are supposed to be prevention or cure...
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Re: "Homeopathy" Discussion

Postby rwald » Mon Jul 12, 2010 4:01 am UTC

Wikey wrote:You beat me by a second or so and your comment was better, but you messed up the title, champ.

Indeed; I've fixed that now. Not sure how we adjudicate this...
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Re: "Dilution" discussion

Postby tesseraktik » Mon Jul 12, 2010 4:17 am UTC

scottgoblue314 wrote:I guess this will end up as the official page since it has the correct title, so here it goes again:

Hold on, since homeopaths believe that the dilution cures the same symptoms that the concentration causes, wouldn't they use dilute semen as a means of terminating pregnancy?
Indeed, I think you'd dilute birth control pills in order to improve a female's ability to become pregnant, and a "day-after pill" or whatever they're called to actually become pregnant.

I like both the set-up and the punch-line, and I guess it's kind of a GOOMHR in that I've only recently heard of and started reading up on homeopathy (shortly after learning about numeral systems such as the one presented in the previous comic, in fact... ...but factual errors r teh unforigvables!!! :(
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Re: "Dilution" Discussion

Postby Icalasari » Mon Jul 12, 2010 4:19 am UTC

Erm, wait, wouldn't diluting semen make her less likely to get pregnant?
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Re: "Dilution" Discussion

Postby phlip » Mon Jul 12, 2010 4:20 am UTC

Icalasari wrote:Erm, wait, wouldn't diluting semen make her less likely to get pregnant?

In reality, yes. In crazy-land where homeopathy makes sense, though, dilution is supposed to make medicines stronger. That's the joke.

Though, as scottgoblue314 correctly points out, homeopathy is a like-cures-like thing... that is, they claim that an extremely diluted sample of X is a cure for the same symptoms caused by X. So extremely-diluted semen should be a cure for pregnancy, in homeopathy crazy-land.
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Re: "Dilution" Discussion

Postby baltakatei » Mon Jul 12, 2010 4:23 am UTC

I'm more concerned with the fact that she said "we'll get pregnant".
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Re: "Dilution" Discussion

Postby CorruptUser » Mon Jul 12, 2010 4:31 am UTC

What is the term for someone who believes in homeopathy?

Homeopath?
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Re: "Dilution" Discussion

Postby glasnt » Mon Jul 12, 2010 4:32 am UTC

baltakatei wrote:I'm more concerned with the fact that she said "we'll get pregnant".

Couvade syndrome, etc
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Re: "Dilution" Discussion

Postby Black » Mon Jul 12, 2010 4:34 am UTC

baltakatei wrote:I'm more concerned with the fact that she said "we'll get pregnant".


It's a common colloquialism.
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Re: "Dilution" discussion

Postby Meng Bomin » Mon Jul 12, 2010 4:39 am UTC

According to the Wikipedia page on homeopathy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homeopathy), homeopaths often use what they call a 30C dilution which by their terminology would also be a 60X dilution, which is really a 1 part in 1060 dilution, which in biochem would be 1060X. Obviously this is never used in biochem because such a dilution, if performed properly, would have a very low chance of containing a single molecule of the original solution.

So, assuming the comic is using homeopathic terminology, it is still highly unlikely that a single sperm would be present in 30X diluted semen, but I would think that a true homeopathic believer would go for the full power of a 1:1000000000000000000000000000000 dilution of his already 30X diluted semen. Obviously, while such homeopathic semen wouldn't have a single sperm, the water's memory of the sperm (passed on through generations of dilution, since none of the original water molecules would be present either) would serve to fertilize the egg.
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Re: "Dilution" Discussion

Postby katydid » Mon Jul 12, 2010 4:44 am UTC

I fear homeopaths are dilutional.
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Re: "Homeopathy" Discussion

Postby TheSkyMovesSideways » Mon Jul 12, 2010 4:52 am UTC

scottgoblue314 wrote:Wait wait wait if homeopaths believe that the dilution cures the symptoms exhibited by healthy individuals who are administered the concentration, wouldn't homeopaths use dilute semen as a means of terminating pregnancy?

In which case belief in homeopathy would be strongly selected for. :shock:
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Re: "Dilution" Discussion

Postby Dr. Strings » Mon Jul 12, 2010 5:11 am UTC

Maybe the reason they (er, she) can't get pregnant is because he suffers from oligospermia, in which case diluting the semen would be the correct solution (homeopathically speaking, at least).
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Re: "Dilution" Discussion

Postby edbdqt » Mon Jul 12, 2010 5:16 am UTC

I guess my first question, after considering the equipment displayed in the comic, is how sure is he that there's a 30x dilution? I imagine accuracy is everything in homeopathy and that seems rather primitive, especially considering some of the "non-cooperative" properties of the substance in handling.
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Re: "Dilution" Discussion

Postby fakepants » Mon Jul 12, 2010 5:31 am UTC

"...homeopathic medicines are no better than placebos..."

If those were anti-depressants, the placebos would still beat the actual drugs.

http://www.newsweek.com/2010/01/28/the-depressing-news-about-antidepressants.html

How dare you slander homeopathy! It's the most useful soft science.
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Re: "Dilution" Discussion

Postby westrim » Mon Jul 12, 2010 5:32 am UTC

The solution to dilution is pollution!

Wait...
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Re: "Dilution" Discussion

Postby demadaha » Mon Jul 12, 2010 5:57 am UTC

Inquiry: If increasing the dilution increases the effectiveness of the solution, and a semen dilution would function as illustrated in the comic, wouldn't any semen in the ocean (from say, a couple on the beach), mean that any post-pubescent female in the ocean would get pregnant? Homeopathically speaking of course.

Or

If a semen dilution would function to terminate a pregnancy, as suggested in the comments, would that make the ocean "cure" pregnancy?


Also, I have a strong dislike, of homeopathy after hearing phrases like "you can just cross out the mass in E=MC^2."*



*disclaimer: Following this link may result in nausea, heartburn, indigestion, upset stomach and diarrhea. Do not view if you have faith in humanity, have a weak heart or are pregnant**. Additional side effects may include vomiting, violent tendencies, thoughts of suicide and loss of consciousness.

**If you are pregnant, swim in the ocean, I read somewhere that the ocean cures pregnancy.
Warning: Post may contain lame, overused reference.
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Re: "Dilution" Discussion

Postby chapel » Mon Jul 12, 2010 6:00 am UTC

edbdqt wrote:I guess my first question, after considering the equipment displayed in the comic, is how sure is he that there's a 30x dilution? I imagine accuracy is everything in homeopathy and that seems rather primitive, especially considering some of the "non-cooperative" properties of the substance in handling.


The 30x in homeopathy refers to 30 iterations of this process:

Take your active ingredient and mix it into a solution of 1 part active to 9 parts inert (such as water).
Mix well by shaking it 10 times in each of 3 directions.
What you have now is your new active ingredient.

So, it is rather easy to be accurate and get a 30x solution. Although, at that point if there is even a molecule of the active ingredient left, you should probably buy a lotto ticket. In this case, if she gets pregnant, he should probably get a divorce.
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Re: "Homeopathy" Discussion

Postby DavidRoss » Mon Jul 12, 2010 6:01 am UTC

scottgoblue314 wrote:Wait wait wait if homeopaths believe that the dilution cures the symptoms exhibited by healthy individuals who are administered the concentration, wouldn't homeopaths use dilute semen as a means of terminating pregnancy?


You're right about that - partly. If undiluted semen creates pregnancy, then diluted semen would prevent the creation of pregnancy. However, the correct homeopathic remedy for terminating of pregnancy would, technically, be the dilute of that which causes a pregnant woman to get pregnant again. And, as the joke goes, one cannot get a little pregnant, so presumably, one cannot also get more than 100% pregnant.

Does that make sense? I mean, at least as much sense as homeopathy?
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Re: "Dilution" discussion

Postby tesseraktik » Mon Jul 12, 2010 6:04 am UTC

Meng Bomin wrote:According to the Wikipedia page on homeopathy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homeopathy), homeopaths often use what they call a 30C dilution which by their terminology would also be a 60X dilution, which is really a 1 part in 1060 dilution, which in biochem would be 1060X. Obviously this is never used in biochem because such a dilution, if performed properly, would have a very low chance of containing a single molecule of the original solution.

So, assuming the comic is using homeopathic terminology, it is still highly unlikely that a single sperm would be present in 30X diluted semen, but I would think that a true homeopathic believer would go for the full power of a 1:1000000000000000000000000000000 dilution of his already 30X diluted semen. Obviously, while such homeopathic semen wouldn't have a single sperm, the water's memory of the sperm (passed on through generations of dilution, since none of the original water molecules would be present either) would serve to fertilize the egg.
Here, I suppose were also assuming that the water remember's living sperm cells, even though one would expect them all to die during the long and shaky process that homeopaths use to dilute fluids. If the memory of semen is that hardy, I'm not sure I'm comfortable with drinking water, anymore...

...although I guess it'll be alright, as the semen concentration of tap water is probably considerably higher than in any homeopathic remedies.

Anyhow, I'm off to study some string theory; I'll need it if I'm ever to become a successful pharmacist (because, you see, E=mc^2, but all the mass in the Universe can be compressed to the size of a bowling ball, so we can cross out mass and tgen we're left with E equals the speed of light (and that's why the eyes are so important), but also Stephen Hawkings gave us the string theory about other energetic particles in the Universe, so now we have E equals c^2 and vibration).
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++$_ wrote:What's a "degree"?

EDIT: I looked it up on Wikipedia. Apparently it's some ancient Babylonian unit for angles :/
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Re: "Dilution" Discussion

Postby internetcommenter » Mon Jul 12, 2010 6:07 am UTC

If homeo-pathetics (here's you answer, CorruptUser) believe in dilution, do the control groups in their clinical trials get diluted placebo?
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Re: "Dilution" Discussion

Postby Killamus » Mon Jul 12, 2010 6:28 am UTC

phlip wrote:
Icalasari wrote:Erm, wait, wouldn't diluting semen make her less likely to get pregnant?

In reality, yes. In crazy-land where homeopathy makes sense, though, dilution is supposed to make medicines stronger. That's the joke.

Though, as scottgoblue314 correctly points out, homeopathy is a like-cures-like thing... that is, they claim that an extremely diluted sample of X is a cure for the same symptoms caused by X. So extremely-diluted semen should be a cure for pregnancy, in homeopathy crazy-land.


Isn't this rather how humans build up immunities to things such as venoms? By giving someone very, very small doses of snake venom, they will eventually become immune to it? I guess it's true, even the most illogical of things come from logical backgrounds :mrgreen:

Anyways, I was wondering how long it was going to take him to attack homeopathy. Only 765 comics in!
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Re: "Dilution" discussion

Postby phlip » Mon Jul 12, 2010 6:29 am UTC

tesseraktik wrote:Anyhow, I'm off to study some string theory; I'll need it if I'm ever to become a successful pharmacist (because, you see, E=mc^2, but all the mass in the Universe can be compressed to the size of a bowling ball, so we can cross out mass and tgen we're left with E equals the speed of light (and that's why the eyes are so important), but also Stephen Hawkings gave us the string theory about other energetic particles in the Universe, so now we have E equals c^2 and vibration).

Damn you, I'd almost managed to forget that that video exists...
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Re: "Dilution" Discussion

Postby DavidRoss » Mon Jul 12, 2010 6:29 am UTC

demadaha wrote:Inquiry: If increasing the dilution increases the effectiveness of the solution, and a semen dilution would function as illustrated in the comic, wouldn't any semen in the ocean (from say, a couple on the beach), mean that any post-pubescent female in the ocean would get pregnant? Homeopathically speaking of course.

Or

If a semen dilution would function to terminate a pregnancy, as suggested in the comments, would that make the ocean "cure" pregnancy?



The ocean would serve as birth control, not terminate pregnancy, as others pointed out. 30x means that he mixed 1 part solution with 9 parts water, then either tossed some out and then repeated, or he mixed those 10 parts with 90 parts water, etc. until he used up all of Earth's water at around the 20th iteration. Assuming there was periodic discarding, and that ended up in the water system, wouldn't that provide birth control to everyone who drinks water from Earth? If so, that would STRONGLY favor homeopaths, because they would know to drink untainted water from meteoroids or glaciers that froze before humans came onto the scene.
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Re: "Dilution" Discussion

Postby mmmcannibalism » Mon Jul 12, 2010 6:38 am UTC

DavidRoss wrote:
demadaha wrote:Inquiry: If increasing the dilution increases the effectiveness of the solution, and a semen dilution would function as illustrated in the comic, wouldn't any semen in the ocean (from say, a couple on the beach), mean that any post-pubescent female in the ocean would get pregnant? Homeopathically speaking of course.

Or

If a semen dilution would function to terminate a pregnancy, as suggested in the comments, would that make the ocean "cure" pregnancy?



The ocean would serve as birth control, not terminate pregnancy, as others pointed out. 30x means that he mixed 1 part solution with 9 parts water, then either tossed some out and then repeated, or he mixed those 10 parts with 90 parts water, etc. until he used up all of Earth's water at around the 20th iteration. Assuming there was periodic discarding, and that ended up in the water system, wouldn't that provide birth control to everyone who drinks water from Earth? If so, that would STRONGLY favor homeopaths, because they would know to drink untainted water from meteoroids or glaciers that froze before humans came onto the scene.


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Re: "Dilution" Discussion

Postby Thesh » Mon Jul 12, 2010 6:50 am UTC

I have a homeopathic cure for dehydration that really does work. As you know sodium chloride can dehydrate things, so my solution is this:

Active Ingredient: 20C sodium chloride.

Inactive Ingredients: Water (350ml), potassium chloride (250mg), magnesium chloride (100mg), sodium bicarbonate (100mg), calcium chloride (100mg)

I guarantee you that it works, take up to 5 doses a day.
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Re: "Dilution" Discussion

Postby Egregius » Mon Jul 12, 2010 6:53 am UTC

fakepants wrote:"...homeopathic medicines are no better than placebos..."

If those were anti-depressants, the placebos would still beat the actual drugs.

http://www.newsweek.com/2010/01/28/the-depressing-news-about-antidepressants.html

How dare you slander homeopathy! It's the most useful soft science.


I'd like to second this. I'd say a placebo is the most powerful medicine man has found so far; nothing else I know of can cure such a wide range of illnesses, so I think a little respect towards placebo's, and hence homeopathy, is due.
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