My first, and only, direct experience with homeopathy was a bottle of teething tablets I bought on the advice of a friend. That was a few years back. I didn't look closely at them at the time since they came recommended. The did kind of seem to work because whenever the baby was crying and we put one in his mouth he immediately stopped crying. Sometimes that was enough to coax him back to sleep, but often the effect wore off before that. In those cases typically multiple tablets didn't help.

So what does that mean scientifically? Bupkis. I have nothing to compare the tablets to and I have no idea whether they worked any better than a simple sugar pill would have. That's not science, that's an anecdote. Correlation is not causation, etc., etc.

Instead, here's a great article about homeopathy covering its history, theory and state of scientific research. The long and short of it is that to date no convincing evidence has been found to show that homeopathy is anything more than well shaken water. When that occurs it's only logical to conclude that it is in fact not a valid medicine. I mean, at some point we have to move on to other research and leave the losers behind.

I ended up throwing away the teething tablets before the next baby came along. I can't recall whether we ran out or I just chucked them on principle. Either way, I shan't be purchasing any more.


Book Review: The Pluto Files

Title: The Pluto Files: The Rise And Fall Of America's Favorite Planet
Author: Neil deGrasse Tyson
Published: 2009 by WW Norton & Company, Inc.
ISBN: 978-0-393-06520-6

Neil deGrasse Tyson was the spark that ignited a firestorm of controversy around Pluto, abut which I'm sure you're familiar. This is his story, but also the story of Pluto. It's a great read, not too long (about 150 pages not including appendices) and how could you turn down a book which includes a song by Jonathan Coulton?

The book has a great, humorous tone. I've always been a fan of Tyson's style anyway, and this book held true to form. The best part is probably the inclusion of letters that Tyson received from angry school children who felt scorned, complete with crayon drawings of pluto. I can relate because my 6 year-old is rather fond of Pluto and I think he went through some withdrawals upon hearing the news.

But my absolute favorite part of the story, the one that caused me to laugh out loud, was the following:

The article goes on to quote Ms. Ackerman [Shelley Ackerman of astrology website] criticizing the IAU [International Astronomical Union] for not including astrologers in its decision.

Ha! As if! They may as well have asked the aforementioned elementary school children. Astrologers just make me laugh.

For my part, I initially rejected the IAU definition. But as I've had time to consider it and read opinions from Tyson and many of those included in his book (both for and against), I've come to accept it. As Tyson states, it's not about keeping a count of planets, so whether Pluto is a planet or a dwarf planet, really doesn't mean a whole hill of beans.


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