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Is the Popularity of Homeopathy Collapsing?

Posted in The Quackometer by Skepdude on November 14, 2008

There is a claim by many sceptical writers that we live in a new age of endarkenment. Our public lives, whether in politics, universities, businesses and health, face an onslaught of irrational thought. However I have uncovered some remarkable evidence to suggest that interest in homeopathy is declining rather aggressively. I am not sure I believe it, and I want to encourage comments and interpretations to see if this might be real.

All this came about because Google have unveiled the latest part of their rather splendid toolset that allows researchers to look at search trends and see how this might be used to monitor and predict all sorts of behaviour. As a showcase for their techniques, they have developed flutrends that shows how people are searching about flu across the United States. They believe this correlates very closely with incidence of the disease and thus can be used as a near real time monitor of the severity of outbreaks. Standard reporting techniques mean that reporting lags two weeks behind and so this technique may be a much more timely and accurate measurement. Fascinating stuff. And very useful if you want to deploy resources effectively.

So, I decided to play around myself and naturally wanted to see if people were looking for stuff about homeopathy on the web. The graph below shows the relative incidence of the search term in the United Kingdom over the past few years. (The lower part of the graph shows results for news items.


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