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Homeopathy Protest/Overdose

Planning Timea few weeks
Group Sizeas large as possible
Staff #varies
Event Date10/28/11

Activity Overview:
In the UK especially, the 10/23 Protest of homeopathic remedies and non-science based medicine is gaining strength.  In 2011, Campus Atheist, Skeptics, and Humanists (CASH) is pairing with the Center for Inquiry (CFI) at Michigan State University to protest homeopathy and to generate support for science-based medicine.  This event is to take place on October 28th as a sibling protest to the 10/23 event (and to allow for more time for other college groups to prepare).  Homeopathy is gaining popularity as an alternative medicine, despite its lack of scientific backing.  This event is being done to protest pseudoscience and, in CASH’s case, the funding of pseudoscience by universities.

There is an associated industry-wide petition via CFI, sign it here

Planning Timeframe:
The actual materials for the protest (from posters to pills) don’t take much time to put together, though if you order the pills online you will have to wait for shipping.  To make your protest a success, however, enough time must be alloted for publicity.  This can take from two weeks to a couple months, depending on your goals.  This is the perfect event to coordinate with other science or human rights groups with, though coordination takes time.  There are also special event permits to obtain usually, which can take anywhere from a couple weeks to the day of depending upon your area.  The most important thing is to have a sizable crowd of people, as a protest that is too small (as in, a couple people) makes you seem like more of a minority rather than a movement. 

For more information, see CFI’s press release here

The more people who participate, the better!  There is no such thing as too many participants, especially if the event is to be held outside (highly suggested).  Make sure that everyone knows the date/time far enough in advance to plan on showing up.  Coordinating with other groups (be they science-based, focused on human rights, or even religious) will take time.  Giving other groups at least a month heads-up is suggested, though earlier is better.  Establish an email response that directs these groups to helpful materials both about the protest and homeopathy in general.  It’s important that they understand what homeopathy is and why it’s pseudoscience, or they may refuse to participate.

It’s also possible to coordinate with skeptic groups from other universities.  Email/call them early and often.  If a group joins you, write it into a press release, etc.  It’s all about momentum!

Material Requirements:
Basic protest materials are needed, such as posters.  The rest is entirely dependent upon how big you want to make it.  Loudspeakers are useful if you have somebody directing the crowd, though each university has their own set of rules as to what is allowed concerning sound systems.  Handing out flyers during the protest is also effective if you are near regular foot traffic.  Tabling is also an option, especially if there is a petition to sign.  If you plan to do an ‘overdose’, then homeopathic pills will be needed.  It is best to have members sign up for this beforehand so everyone is informed.  Waivers are also an option in case somebody ends up being allergic to one of the ingredients (such as lactose, etc).  All members should be presented with a complete list of the contents of what they will be consuming in case of this.  As for selecting which remedy to overdose on, homeopathic sleeping pills seem to be the easiest to debunk during a protest (though the type is up to you).  Ebay is the cheapest source for these, but make sure the pills come in containers with an unbroken seal.  You need to be absolutely sure that what you are overdosing on are homeopathic remedies. 

Media for this event is important.  Have a camera/video camera/phone to record the protest, as this can later be uploaded to youtube, etc. 

Suggested Walkthrough:
1. Publicity starts first.  Send press releases to your local paper(s) and news organizations declaring your intent on participating in the protest, as well as why homeopathy is pseudoscience.

2. Coordinate with other groups.  Once somebody is doing it for sure (aka you), other groups are more likely to join in.  Start dialogue! 

3. Obtain permits, etc, to solidify the event details.  Keep sending those press releases, letters to the editor, letters to politicians, adding names to the petition, and doing pseudoscience-specific tabling.

4. Think of ways to generate interest during the week before the event.  An uptick in tabling activity/visibility can be helpful, as well as having more people out and about getting names for the petition.  You should also make sure all your materials are in order before the day of the protest (i.e. posters made, etc).

5. Protest!  Be loud and be seen.  Having the petition available at the protest is also very helpful.

6. After the protest, release post-event press releases and post your videos to youtube!

CASH has also created an email invitation letter which you can download here.

This activity packet was written and submitted by Campus Atheist, Skeptics, and Humanists (CASH) at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities.

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