Myths about homeopathy 2:
"Homeopathy was better in the old days, because it did nothing while conventional treatments were harmful."
This myth is based on the idea that homeopathy was only successful in comparison with blood-letting and other violent treatments or because it provided a healthier environment for the sick. While these undoubtably made homeopathy a better alternative, they are unable to explain the success rates of homeopathic hospitals in epidemics throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
In the case of cholera, for example, the death rate in 1831 in Austria was over 50% when citizens used conventional treatment, but fell to between 2.4% and 21.1% under homeopathic treatment (1), the death rate in 1849 in Cincinnati was between 48% and 60% in conventional hospitals and only 3% for those having homeopathic treatment (2), while the average death rate from cholera in 1991 in parts of South America was 70% (3). In other words, conventional treatment in the nineteenth century was better than nothing at all, but neither conventional treatment nor doing nothing were anything like as good as homeopathic treatment.
(1) Dana Ullman, Discovering Homeopathy: Medicine for the 21st Century (Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books, 1991), pp. 39-40; (2) Dana Ullman, Discovering Homeopathy: Medicine for the 21st Century (Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books, 1991), pp. 42-43; (3) http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/pagerender.fcgi?artid=1336296&pageindex=2