This question is a bit ancient and would really like some TLC from the community!

How do sugar pills work according to homeopaths?

There are a number of issues here:

  • The question is not about a claim, strictly speaking but maybe it can be salvaged.
  • The two answers don't have references (but they are quite up voted).

It could either reworded/fixed/referenced or deleted. Opinions?


No, it should be closed as off topic.

You shouldn't look at the answers, or whether the answers are upvoted. I can post some lolcats, and get upvotes too.

The hidden, real question is, why do those people believe something without a reasonable explanation. They believe something with the poorest form of explanation, things, which violate our day to day experience, but they believe though.

Searching for the claims of homeopathy is off topic. The claims themselve, if found, could be object of a question and have been so.

  • –1, disagree. See my answer for reason. Feb 14 '12 at 22:06

tl;dr: Keep the question and improve it (see below). Write up a better answer. Once we have a good, sourced answer, delete the old ones.

The implicit (notable!) claim is that homeopathy works, by some mechanism X. Debunking this mechanism X is well within the scope of this site: it’s not different from any other notable, testable claim.

Of course in a way the claim is in the “not even wrong” category of questions, as it’s so completely ridiculous in the face of evidence. But then so is the claim that “there is a god” – and a lot of sensible people would be enraged that I dare to dismiss this common claim without even acknowledging it.

Now, the claim “there is a god” has already been established as outside the scope of this site (with good reasons) but these reasons do not apply to the homeopathy claim.

The simile may be a bit tenuous but it serves to illustrate one point: just because some people dismiss a claim as laughable doesn’t make it less notable, or less accepted by otherwise sensible people.

Consequently, this mustn’t be our metric for accepting questions.

  • The problem with the question is that it doesn't meet our on-topic criteria of being a claim. "How do sugar pills work according to homeopaths?" is idle curiosity. It's similar to my own (now-deleted) "Has there ever been any serious attempt to explain why both zodiacs “work”?" Asking if a particular homeopathic remedy works is on-topic. Asking why they believe it to work, however, is off-topic according to our current FAQ.
    – Borror0
    Feb 15 '12 at 1:28
  • @Borror0 I agree but this is merely a problem of formulation. Changed to “Homeopaths claim that sugar pills work according to principles X, Y and/or Z”, the question works. We self-imposed a strict set of rules to weed out bad questions and I fear that we are now employing them over-zealously: The question (changed only slightly) is fine, it fails our criteria on a mere formality. Feb 15 '12 at 9:39
  • @Borror0 to make this clear, I agree that it’s (for good reasons) off-topic to speculate about Homeopaths’ beliefs, but I do think the question was actually asking us to list and cross-examine those beliefs – and this is (or should be!) entirely on-topic. Feb 15 '12 at 9:41
  • The question has answers. Do those answer address the edited question or are we better off starting from scratch here?
    – Borror0
    Feb 15 '12 at 13:23
  • @Borror0 To be honest, not really. Maybe starting from scratch is a better alternative. Feb 15 '12 at 13:54
  • Good. We're in perfect agreement then.
    – Borror0
    Feb 15 '12 at 14:05

The reason for the question is/was: if you want a meaningfull discussion about something, you should know the arguments. I could not find any arguments, so I was looking for "credible" sources that explained the arguments.

The "hidden, real question" was not why they believed it, the question was (is) "what do they believe".

Skeptics is about applying skepticism — it is for researching the evidence behind claims you encounter.

I believe finding the claims behind a claim is part of that quote from the FAQ

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .