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tabatha southey

This week, Ontario become the first province to regulate homeopathy. It's a controversial step – what with homeopathy being completely bogus.

In fact, the core principles of homeopathy – namely, that infinitesimal amounts of something that may cause symptoms similar to those a patient is experiencing will make that patient well; that diluting that infinitesimal amount will make it stronger; and that shaking it a lot will make it stronger still – are fundamentally ridiculous.

Don't believe me? Give your newspaper a good shake. Then give it a thump against the palm of your hand.

Good work. Good shaking there, Globe readers.

This, if the science behind homeopathy is sound, should make my column 100-per-cent more compelling. If it didn't work, my point is proved; homeopathy is nonsense.

If it did work, my postshake column should be so convincing that when I tell you that, as far as anyone qualified can discern, homeopathy has absolutely no capacity to heal anything, you will believe me anyway – because, shaking!

The father of homeopathy, Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843), even warned that carrying whatever tincture one had concocted in one's waistcoat pocket, thus subjecting it to superfluous shaking, could cause it to become too strong and one's patient might overdose.

Don't overshake your newspaper. My column could become so transcendentally persuasive, you will never be able to put it down.

Dr. In-a-Time-of-Leeching-and-Purgatives Hahnemann also cautioned against allowing patients to play chess while they were being treated – he believed the game to be dangerously exciting.

Some proponents of homeopathy claim it works because water has memory. (Have I been blind to the cognitive capacity of fluids? I fear I may once have offended a Long Island Iced Tea by downing it – never inquiring about its ambition to get a PhD in Comparative Literature). But despite the ludicrousness of that theory, now, in my province, you can be licensed to practise homeopathy.

The Ontario government is legitimizing the health-care equivalent of dowsing rods. We are this close to having Official Bikini Inspectors in this province – now that is dangerously exciting.

Suddenly anything feels possible. We're sanctioning the licensing of the imaginary. Not convinced, dear reader? Rejecting my column?

Try ripping one letter out of my column, and putting it in water. Now pour that water into more water and then more water after that, and then, trusting reader, shake it.

No! Not too much – you damn fool! At this level of dilution, your tincture of my column is so powerful that if you drank it (and homeopathy works) you would risk becoming me – and there can be only one! (Draws sword, shakes it.)

Okay, now measure out a single drop of the tincture into a glass spoon.

No! Not a metal spoon! Your water will get forgetful or something and never be able to remember where it put its water keys.

Now ingest that tincture.

Good, good – now see if you believe me when I tell you that soon we in Ontario will be able to visit a licensed palmistry technician. These will be people judged qualified by a board of their beshawled peers to stare at your hand for a bit and then predict that you will or will not meet a tall, dark stranger.

You can see it happening, can't you? Either that's the effect of the magic memory water that should go on Jeopardy!, or you recognize that this is where the slippery, wet slope of licensed homeopathy logically takes us.

The argument the Ontario Ministry of Health makes for licensing is that the oversight that a regulatory body might offer will provide recourse to those who have complaints about their homeopathic treatment. Perhaps complaints like "It didn't work."

The problem is that, like actual doctors, homeopaths will be self-regulating. Anyone who has ever gone down to the Bureau of Magic Beans to make a complaint about the state of their beanstalk will understand why this could be an issue.

Oh. None of you have ever gone down to the Bureau of Magic Beans? Because we don't have one? That's because, at least to date, someone has had the good sense to realize that such an institution would be a literal governmental seal of approval of a fairy tale.

Also it should go without saying that telling people engaged in the magic-bean business that you traded your only cow to an old man for some enchanted legumes that did bugger all isn't likely to get you a response of "Well, yeah, they don't work. There's no such thing as magic."

Perhaps when the Ontario Fabulous Fabaceae Act is passed, bureaucrats will say that your case was rare and unfortunate, or that you did something wrong.

"Did you turn twice widdershins instead of thrice widdershins? Because that is a common but fatal mistake," a concerned magic-beaneologist will say.

Either way, chances are you're never going to get that cow back, or your time back – time and cow that could have been spent on effective science-based solutions to your giant problem.

The people running that bean office might well believe entirely in the fantastical properties of their touted produce – in the superiority of locally sourced sorcery. "It's far better than turning to the conventional remedies of big-ladder," they will advise, sincerely.

Or maybe they're advocates for a multimillion-dollar industry – and this bean bureau rightly belongs down the hall from The Ministry for One Weird Trick That Dentists Hate or a Nigerian Prince Desirous of Your Aid Registry.

This will be something we'll debate.

Ah, reader, I sense you're skeptical of my hyperbolic dystopian vision of the future. It makes you feel nervous and uncomfortable.

I suggest, given the current trend in Ontario, that you try a natural remedy for this problem. Try something that has no side effects, or actual effects; drive your Tabatha Tincture to the ocean, toss it in, wait a moment for proper tidal dilution and agitation. Then have a short swim.

By the logic of homeopathy, you, and everyone else on the planet, should soon believe everything I say.

If that doesn't work, come back and see me next week.