Saturday, December 10, 2011 are three things:

* What I grew up hearing referred to as 'homeopathy', wherein you give small doses of poison (or typically harmful in normal quantities) to stimulate the immune system. My friend backs this up as what she still knows it as.

* What, for the past 5-10 years I've heard the term 'homeopathy' used to refer to every time save for twice in the past couple weeks: diluting a medicine (perhaps a poison) in water. And then diluting it again. And again. With the claim being that each successive dilution actually makes the medicine STRONGER, even when you reach the point when there are zero molecules of the original medicine included in the typical dose (10% chance after 23rd iteration at a 1/10 dilution ratio). Even at that point, the water allegedly "remembers" that it once had medicine in it, so it's effective in curing all ills. People believe this, and do it instead of using real medicine, and they die. It's a problem.

* What I'll call 'naturopathy': medicine based on natural herbs and the like. This is basically a superset of what I traditionally heard called 'homeopathy'.

The problem is, the first and third are semi-legit. forms of alternative medicine*, but the first shares a name with the completely bonkers memory-water. And while I know several people who only know the term 'homeopathy' to refer to number one, I suspect most of my friends--being online folks--know it only to refer to number two.

So 1. know that the term 'homeopathy' refers both to pseudoscience quackery AND semi-reasonable forms of medicine and 2, if you're not dosing people with just water, consider just using 'naturopathy' instead. (Unless you know a more specific, non-ambiguous term--please tell me! Isopathy?)

What brings this up right now is that a couple weeks ago I heard our AP refer to homeopathy as medicine, and I ran down the hallway to her desk to dispute this. Turned out she only knew the first usage of the word. And today I heard someone make a distinction between homeopathy-as-the-Internet-knows-it and naturopathy.

*Although, as has been pointed out by Tim Minchin, Dara O'Brian, and countless others, we tested most alternative medicine and what actually worked ended up being called...medicine.

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