In 1995, the Church of Scientology attempted to suppress the Fishman Affidavit which contained Church-copyrighted versions of Operating Thetan levels I-VII. This promptly resulted in hundreds of copies being circulated around the world.

In 2003, Barbra Streisand’s lawyers sent a cease and desist letter to the California Coastal Records Project about the inclusion of a photo of her Malibu beach house on their website. When the website operators rejected the demand, Streisand sued. Subsequently, the Los Angeles Superior Court dismissed the case and the worlds attention focussed on her villa (see below).


Today, there are numerous further cases where someone has tried to censor another party and the attempt spectacularly backfired thus resulting in the opposite effect. Ever since the events surrounding the Streisand affair, the phenomenon has been called the ‘Streisand Effect‘. But recently, German sceptics have proposed to re-name it in


The reason is that a firm producing homeopathic remedies in Germany, Hevert, sent a desist letter to German critics of homeopathy demanding they stop stating that homeopathy is not effective beyond placebo (I did mention the story in a previous post).

I do get the impression that Hevert are not very lucky with their PR. On their website, they claim that homeopathy activates the body’s own self-healing powers. I fear this is much more wishful thinking than fact; at least I know of no sound evidence that would prove this statement to be correct. They also claim that homeopathy is a naturopathic treatment method that was developed at the beginning of the 19th century by German physician and pharmacist Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843). This does not seem correct either; homeopathy does not fall under the umbrella of naturopathic medicine, not least because it includes plenty of remedies as unnatural as the Berlin Wall. The Hevert website furthermore states that Hahnemann discovered that, with many substances, the healing powers are only released by potentization. He also discovered that toxic substances became valuable medicines when potentized. I fear that this is wrong too; in fact, Hahnemann discovered nothing of the sort – he merely postulated stuff that evidently turned out to be untrue.

Anyway, one of the recipients of the above mentioned desist letters, Natalie Grams, decided not to comply and rather risk the penalty of Euro 5 100. This news then resulted in a storm of angry protests. Germans do not like to be told what to say, and freedom of speech is valued highly these days. Numerous newspapers, magazines, radio broadcasts, blogs and tweets thus sided firmly with Dr Grams.

This week, even a prominent and rather excellent German TV satirical programme aired a long film mercilessly mocking Hevert and homeopathy (no, nothing to do with me!). It is is, in my view, the best critique of homeopathy ever broadcast on German TV. Even if you do not understand the language , it is worth watching, if only for the musical finale:

One theme that occurs repeatedly in the film is the concept of ‘the three pillars of homeopathy’:

  1. dilute;
  2. shake;
  3. waffle BS (the German original is even less polite [‘Scheisse labern’]).

The ‘three pillars’ have become an instant hit on twitter, with bloggers and elsewhere. They look destined to become the future hallmark of homeopathy. Hevert will now be asking themselves whether the thing with the desist letters was such a brilliant idea.

I suspect it wasn’t – perhaps only trumped by the idea to sell homeopathic remedies?




18 Responses to The ‘Hevert Effect’ and the ‘three pillars of homeopathy’

  • First class work again from Herr Böhmermann. (Already known to the English-speaking world as the guy who got threatened with jail by Erdogan for writing a poem).

    A few highlights:
    –listing a few positive stories appearing in various magazines about homeopathy and revealing that they were all funded by the German Homeopathy Union (DHU)
    –taking globules from a C30 (€9) and a C100 (€40) product and putting them together in a petri dish, mixing them up and pointing out that they are indistinguishable from each other
    –spelling out the financial advantages to doctors who earn more by prescribing homeopathy than real medicine (with specific examples)
    –showing that homeopathy is most popular among better educated people with money to spare — people who are usually ecologically and social justice-minded. He lists things like care for the aged and the poor, which suffer reduced funding due to the prioritising of homeopathy. He labels this demographic as asocial — which will sting
    — showing a hilarious rap song about homeopathy which turned out to be a genuine ad run by a medical insurance company
    –showing the rapper who made the ad for homeopathy singing a rather lame commercial for Saaland, and noted that the guy seems to be employed for things you need to fool yourself into believing are good (nice joke at the expense of Saarlanders!)
    –towards the end showing a flash of genuine anger and calling homeopaths swindlers, charlatans and quacks
    –singing a good song at the end, and getting the aforementioned rapper the chance to come on and distance himself from the ad he made (and rescue his reputation)
    –ending by daring homeopaths to sue him like they did Dr Grams

    (He didn’t get around to pointing out something that is rarely if ever pointed out by skeptics — that the ‘law of similars’ is itself utter rubbish, so even if a homeopathic treatment did have an effect, no one knows what it would be. I’m not criticising him for this — he only had 25 minutes. But I do think skeptics have ignored this aspect. It would be easy to clinically any ‘proving’ and check if the stuff really does have the effect claimed. Of course, I’d leave the dog poo and the wolf’s milk etc to homeopaths to test…)

  • Well, to name it “Hevert-Effect” may be misleading, as sometimes effects are named by their inventors to give them a positive tribute. However, the nomenclature should be clear about the nature of this effect. I would prefer “Hevert backfire effect” or simply “Hevert failure” or “Hevert’s error”.

  • That video really got me laughing and held my interest. I’d just sent someone a description of how homeopathy believers could test whether the homeopathic preparations they believe in work better than a placebo, using blind self-testing.
    But none that I’ve ever heard of, have done such careful testing of their beliefs.

    And then the video pointed out – Look, it’s just plain silly. That guy knocking his bottle on something …
    Nobody with a grain of sense could believe in it, unless they really were ignorant about what homeopathic preparations really are.

    • I once asked a Jewish colleague of mine how Kosher wine differed from the regular kind. He explained that it was the state of mind (specifically piety) of the winemaker.

      My understanding is that homeopathic remedies are similar, and rely upon the intent to the practitioner and the manufacturers for their effect.

  • It depends on a particular country’s regulation of the “homeopathic” label.
    Last I looked there was a regulation in the EU, where that video was made, that homeopathic preparations couldn’t have any more than a very small amount of the “active” ingredient. So it looks like they are *required* to not have a pharmacological effect.
    In the USA, things can be described as “homeopathic” that do have a significant amount of the ingredient. For example, Zicam for colds.
    The ingredients are Zincum aceticum 2x, Zincum gluconicum 1x. So it has a good deal of zinc – 1x being 1/10, 2x being 1/100.
    This both confuses the skeptics in their criticisms and enables the believers in their belief.

  • LOLOLOLOLOL….You are all clueless and understand very little about the innate nature of Homeopathy. I took a couple of classes from a women born in 1900 that raised a family and traveled the world to help people that doctors gave up on…all with homeopathy. And she cured almost 100%. Allopathic practitioners love everything in a box. Homeopathy doesn’t exist in neat little remedy boxes. A good practitioner treats each person different as they describe their symptoms. It is NOT based on disease, it is based on symptoms that are unique to each patient…some are more common, but not always. I have used it on and off for 40 years and with great success…and also brought my daughter up using remedies as well. It is not the only therapy to use in treating oneself or others…good diet and movement are also helpful…and as we are now finally learning what any good health practitioner has known for years, our gut health is prime. I find most people that discredit Homeopathy know little about the greater nuances of it’s practice…it’s a patient process and sometimes takes more than one remedy. The women I learned from said that it’s a journey to find the correct remedy for the person…what works for one is not always for another…. So I laugh at all of you thinking you know what you are talking…your broad brush strokes are ignorant. The real issue is remedies are cheap and BigPharma, well….$$$…there is no profit for them. The AMA and Homeopathy did battle over 100 years ago…And this time the AMA will not prevail.

    • and my grandmother smoked 2 packets of cigarettes all her life and did not die of lung cancer

    • “You are all clueless and understand very little about the innate nature of Homeopathy.”
      I guess not more so than other homeopaths that do not share your point of view on homeopathy. And we all know, they are out there.

      “I took a couple of classes from a women born in 1900 that raised a family”
      That is what I would call sound evidence, indeed.

      “And she cured almost 100%.”
      And the others just did not show up again.

      “Homeopathy doesn’t exist in neat little remedy boxes.”
      Hmmm, what are these nice little packages I see in some pharmacies with a mark of “Homöopathisches Arzneimittel” which is German for “Homeopathic medicine”?

      “A good practitioner treats each person different as they describe their symptoms.”
      True. Every doctor, provided he or she is capable to the job, will do that.

      “It is NOT based on disease, it is based on symptoms that are unique to each patient”
      Just as we skeptics say: Homeopathy tries to treat just the symptoms, not the cause of the malady.

      “I have used it on and off for 40 years and with great success ”
      I did not – and my health at the age of 70 is great

      “and also brought my daughter up using remedies as well.”
      I brought up two children without homeopathy and they did well.

      ” … our gut health is prime ”
      So is mine.

      “The women I learned from said that it’s a journey to find the correct remedy for the person”
      means “biding my time and keep the patient occupied till nature did its job.”

      “So I laugh at all of you thinking you know what you are talking ”
      Well, if you don’t mind my saying: That is not exactly the impression I get from your post.

      “The real issue is remedies are cheap”

      “there is no profit for them”
      So there are some good fairies in your country, that spread them for free?

      • Remedies are cheap to purchase compared to the cost of mainstream pharmaceutical prices for drugs with side effects. ‘There is no profit for them’ compared to what they make on drugs. Glad to have pushed all of your buttons. The future is bright, but not for BigPharma….drink the Kool aide…please. LOLOLOL

    • “I took a couple of classes from a women born in 1900 that …”

      However, one major disadvantage self-teaching has, compared to traditional education, is that it’s possible to hyperfocus and avoid viewpoints that go against one’s prejudices; as a result, some of the more utterly batshit kooks are self-proclaimed autodidacts.

    • You are all clueless and understand very little about the innate nature of Homeopathy.

      I think that should be “inane”.

      • or perhaps ‘insane’?

      • Definition of innate
        1: existing in, belonging to, or determined by factors present in an individual from birth : NATIVE, INBORN
        innate behavior
        2: belonging to the essential nature of something : INHERENT
        3: originating in or derived from the mind or the constitution of the intellect rather than from experience

    • @Mark Dalane

      “The real issue is remedies are cheap and BigPharma, well….$$$…there is no profit for them.”

      Well, let me enlighten you.

      Boiron is a manufacturer of homeopathic products, headquartered in France and with an operating presence in 59 countries worldwide. It is the largest manufacturer of homeopathic products in the world. ”

      Revenue: 604 million € (2018)
      Net income: 57.4 million € (2018)
      Number of employees: 3,723

      I would call Boiron BigPharma who makes a huge profit from almost nothing (sugar pills and water) each year.

      Now it is your turn. What do you have to say?

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