Boiron Settles Lawsuit for $5 Million
I really don’t have the heart to make fun of these folks. But seriously: so many random patterns occur in nature, it’s not the least bit surprising that some of them make “sense” to human minds. The phenomenon is so common its been given a name: pareidolia. Personally, I’ve seen tons of “faces” and familar shapes in cottage cheese ceilings, ripple glass shower doors, stained wood paneling, cloud formations, etc.
But to those folks in Texas, that patch of mold doesn’t just look like Jesus… it is Jesus. Ditto the folks who saw Jesus in a tortilla, a Walmart receipt, a drying sock or on the floor of a pub. And because it’s Jesus, it’s meaningful. Even the woman fighting HIV (noted at the end of the newscast) is doing better, since Jesus appeared on the shower wall.
Turning random arrangements of markings/shadows on mundane objects into manifestations of a deity is quite a leap of faith. Truly, the will to believe is strong.
Unfortunately, that will to believe manifests itself in other ways too. One of the most amazing to me is the belief in homeopathy. Many buy the drops and pills in the belief that they’re taking safe, natural – and above all – therapeutic agents. Yet the “fine print” clearly reveals that they’re taking absolutely nothing, except for water, sugar and/or other inert excipients.
Why do so many believe in the power of nothing to “cure” their ills? That’s what the placebo effect is all about. Dr. Ben Goldacre explains:
A few months ago, I noted that Boiron – the world’s largest manufacturer of homeopathic products – was being sued for making false and deceptive claims. That lawsuit (Delarosa vs. Boiron) is still working its way through the legal system (along with a couple of others, Fernandez vs. Boiron and Gonzalez vs. Boiron)… but in the meantime, another class action lawsuit, Gallucci et al. vs. Boiron, Inc., has been settled to the tune of $5 million.
The original complaint singled out Oscillococcinum/Children’s Oscillococcinum, Arnicare Gel/Cream/Tablets, Chestal Cough Syrup and Children’s Chestal Cough Syrup; Coldcalm and Children’s Coldcalm, Quietude and Camilia, although “other Boiron homeopathic products, in all sizes and doses” were also included. The plaintiffs alleged that:
- the products are diluted to the point where the active ingredients are “effectively non-existent.”
- the products have no effect on the conditions they are recommended for.
- the product labels and web advertisements contain false and/or misleading statements about efficacy.
What more can I say besides, “well, duuuh!”? These are points skeptics have been making for years.
In a way, I’m sorry the plaintiffs agreed to a settlement – under the terms, Boiron can continue to “stand by its advertising” and deny that “it did anything wrong.” Hopefully, one of the remaining suits out there will actually go to trial. I’d love to see a Judge John E. Jones-style evisceration of the this utterly bogus category of supplements. At least the Jesus-sighters have something tangible to focus on… homeopathy advocates have nada.