openDemocracyUK

I'm overdosing tomorrow - care to join?

The 10.23 campaign is organising a national homeopathic overdose to protest pseudo-science and the wasting of taxpayer money
Thomas Ash
29 January 2010
Sulphur

Tomorrow, at 10:23 a.m., I will overdose on pharmaceuticals, taking forty two times the recommended dose - so if you do not see me in OurKingdom thereafter, you will know why. However, those of you who have been immunised against pseudo-science can take comfort in the fact that the 'pharmaceuticals' are homeopathic: the very canister of Boots own brand sulphur that you can see to the left. They come with an injunction to take no more than two 'pillules' every two hours, but a more appropriate warning would be "may not contain sulphur". As with all homeopathic medicines, the chance of this product containing any of the substance it is advertised as containing (in the large, unmistakable letters you can see in the picture) is vanishingly small - less than the chance of winning the lottery. The '30C' on the label indicates that you would expect on average one atom of sulphur for every 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 molecules of sucrose in the canister, far more than it contains. (That's sixty zeroes.)

This means that despite Boots' warning, the only risk posed by overdosing is a sugar high. To demonstrate this, people across the country will be swallowing these canisters (or rather the contents thereof - the canisters themselves may pose a health risk) tomorrow morning - besides the Oxford overdose I will be attending, this will take place in Birmingham, Bristol, Brighton, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Hampshire, Leeds, Leicester, London, Liverpool, Manchester and Sheffield. You can find details of how to join in at the website of the 10:23 campaign, which is organising this protest.

Unfortunately to participate rather than observe you would have to buy the aforementioned medicine, and it does not come cheap. I still can't quite believe I paid £5 for it - I am seriously considering quitting openDemocracy to manufacture sugar pills that could be sold as sulphur, arsenicum, or whatever the purchaser wants. But take the cost as a sign that there is a serious message here: only the rich or mean-spirited would pay £5 just to poke fun at homeopaths and their clients. Homeopathy steers the sick away from necessary treatment, perverts public understanding of science, and costs the tax payer £4 million a year in NHS spending. More on that tomorrow, when I report back from the overdose - if I survive.

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