Respectful Insolence

In my rigid, Western, scientific way of thinking, things generally have a beginning, a middle, and and end, the arrow of time marching relentlessly onward. However, it occurs to me that this is the very last edition of Your Friday Dose of Woo of its first year. Last June, when I started this, almost on a whim, I had no way of knowing how it would take on such a life of its own. Indeed, I fear that all the woo to which I subject myself on a weekly basis may be having an effect. I’m ceasing to see life as a straight line any more; such rigid thinking no longer suits me.

Instead, like the more Eastern-oriented philosophies teach, I’m starting to see that life is indeed a circle. And because life is a circle, I came to realize that so too is woo a circle. In fact, it’s more of a circle than even I imagined, as you will see. Think back now to the very first edition of Your Friday Dose of Woo. That’s when we met one Lionel Milgrom, a man who served up a heapin’ helpin’ of the most incredible woo, namely quantum homeopathy. As if to reinforce the circularity of life, the universe, and everything, not to mention woo, a few days ago, while I was looking for a suitable victim–I mean topic–for the finale of this, the inaugural year of YFDoW, to what should my wondering eyes appear? No, it wasn’t St. Nick (for one thing, it’s June). Rather, it was Lionel Milgrom coming back at me with more quantum homeopathy. But that alone wasn’t enough to convince me that woo is a circle. The title of the “paper” was:

“Torque-Like” Action of Remedies and Diseases on the Vital Force and Their Consequences for Homeopathic Treatment

The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, Nov 2006, Vol. 12, No. 9 : 915-929
Lionel R. Milgrom, Ph.D., F.R.S.C., R.S.Hom.
Department of Chemistry, Imperial College London, London, UK.

This woo isn’t just a circle. It’s a spinning, gyroscopic circle. No, it’s more than that. It’s a spinning, quantum, homeopathic, gyroscopic circle!

I can’t begin to encompass the amazing woo that this paper represents. It’s just not possible; this paper alone could be fodder for at least three editions of YFDoW. I can only manage to hit a few of the high points. Fortunately, the paper is indeed available for download for free. It’s also a 10.85 MB file. I’m not sure why. I can only speculate that it’s amazing mass of woo compressed down to almost black-hole density and then packed into a single PDF. Be that as it may, Milgrom begins:

Introduction: Within the developing theoretical context of quantum macroentanglement, a mathematical model of the Vital Force (Vf) has recently been formulated. It describes the Vf in terms of a hypothetical gyroscope with quantized angular momentum. This enables the Vf’s state of health to be represented in terms of a “wave function” derived solely from secondary symptom observables produced in response to disease or homeopathic remedies. So far, this approach has illustrated the biphasal action of remedies, resonance phenomena arising out of homeopathic provings, and aspects of the therapeutic encounter.

Method: In this paper, the effects of a therapeutic remedy and disease states on the gyroscopic angular momentum characteristics of the Vf were investigated by mathematical manipulation the Vf “wave function.”

Results: The formulation of the Vf in terms of a quantized gyroscope permits disease to be represented as a braking “torque” decreasing the Vf’s angular momentum, causing it to “precess” (i.e., express symptoms). The therapeutic remedy, however, provides an accelerating “torque,” increasing the Vf’s angular momentum and decreasing precession (i.e., reducing symptom expression).

Conclusions: According to this model, symptom expression corresponds to precession of the Vf “gyroscope.” Conversely, complete removal of symptoms is equivalent to cessation of Vf “precession.” However, if overprescribed or given in unsuitable potency, the curative remedy (which may also be formulated as a wave function but this time derived solely from changes in Vf secondary symptom observables) may cause the Vf to express proving symptoms. Thus, with only observation of symptoms and changes in them to indicate, indirectly, the state of a patient’s Vf, the safest treatment strategy might be for the practitioner to proceed via gradual removal of the symptoms. This is congruent with Hahnemann’s later development and use of the LM potencies, as described in his final 6th edition of The Organon.

That’s right. I wasn’t kidding when I said that this was quantum homeopathic gyroscopic woo. Milgrom starts out beautifully with a defense of homeopathy that incorporates–well, take a look:

Homeopathy is arguably the most controversial form of complementary and alternative medicine. With no molecules of the original substance present, the perennially asked question is how could a highly potentized homeopathic remedy (i.e., one serially diluted beyond Avogadro’s Number and violently agitated after each dilution step) exert any effect, let alone a therapeutic one? Critics of homeopathy therefore consider it either delusional, cynical “quackery” or, at best, an exercise in the “placebo” effect. What seems to be at issue here is not so much whether homeopathy “works” but how the putative therapeutic activity of highly potentized substances is seen to challenge accepted materialistic thinking concerning the fundamental primacy of atoms and molecules.

See what I mean? He totally ignores the fact that there’s no real evidence that homeopathy does anything therapeutic for any disease. The studies that show an effect of homeopathy are almost without exception poorly designed and/or contain too few patients. Larger, better studies almost universally fail to find any effect of homeopathy greater than that of placebo. Does that bother Milgrom? Not at all! When faced with no clinical evidence to show that homeopathy is anything more than a placebo ritualistically prepared and administered by homeopaths, he decides to do what only the most talented woos do: Retreat into theory of “how homeopathy works,” delving deeply into quantum mechanics with no evidence to support his application of quantum mechanics in the manner that he does. Better yet, he does it with lots and lots of equations, equations that I hope the physicists and mathemeticians among my readers will have some fun with. (Calling Mark Chu-Carroll!) Best of all, like any good crank, be he a creationist or a dualist, he appeals to a “challenge to materialism.”

Beautiful. But it gets even better:

Belief in the therapeutic power of homeopathy, however, need not necessarily mean denial of atomic theory–that would be tantamount to believing in a flat earth.

That’s right. You can believe that diluting a substance until there isn’t a single molecule is left will somehow magically transform it so that the water retains a memory of the substance and “works” accordingly on illness, and that’s OK. But denying atomic theory is “tantamount to believing in a flat earth.” Come to think of it, I think Milgrom has just admitted that he does believe in a flat earth, given that to believe in homeopathy does require one to ignore or reject a considerable amount of what atomic theory tells us. But that’s just me. Milgrom thinks that we’re all too limited in our understanding, and, like the very best woos, he knows how to tell us just why:

A more thorough reading of physics (in particular, quantum field theory), however, reveals that a particle view of the universe cannot be considered fundamental: It is contingent on complex quantum field interactions that, as a first approximation only, may be thought of as giving rise to particles. Consequently, the idea that homeopathic remedy preparation somehow impresses on trillions of solvent molecules longrange dynamic coherence (also known as a “memory” effect) might not be so implausible after all. However, quantum theory (QT) could have a far more important role to play in phenomenological explanations of the homeopathic process than merely supporting the “memory of water” concept, an idea that, on its own, is, in essence, a positivist and pharmacologically confining view of the therapy.

Ah, yes, when it’s pointed out how chemically and physically implausible homeopathy is, how utterly ridiculous it is as a concept, what’s a homeopathy supporter to do? Invoke quantum theory and nonlocality, of course! And, the aspect of quantum mechanics that homeopaths love most of all is the concept of quantum entanglement, which, as he did in the original YFDoW, Milgrom once again invokes. The problem with quantum entanglement is that it occurs only on the subatomic level. Indeed, quantum entanglement is usually used to describe the behavior of photons. Two or more such particles, under certain conditions, cannot be described without reference to the other(s), no matter how far apart in space they are; their behavior is said to be “entangled,” although quantum entanglement does not, contrary to a common misconception, allow the transfer of information at faster than the speed of light. The problem is that, as the scale on which observations are made increases, the effects of vast numbers of atoms and subatomic particles tend to cancel out, which is known as decoherence, which is why, as Prometheus once so drolly put it, ” we don’t see footballs (“soccer” balls, to those raised in the US) changing into waves during the World Cup.” So how does Migrom get around this rather basic problem that confronts any woo wanting to claim QT as the “explanation” for why his woo supposedly works? Easy, invoke “weak quantum theory” (WQT)! But he does more than that. He likens a concept of a “vital force” (Vf) to the wave function of a quantum system:

Thus, in homeopathy there is the concept of the Vital Force (Vf) that, like the wave function description of a quantum system may only be inferred, not directly observed.* As a wave function is observed indirectly via experimental effects, so the Vf is only observed indirectly via the symptoms it produces.

Note that he assumes that this Vf actually exists, without presenting any evidence that it does, in fact, exist. Certainly, if it does exist, we have not not been able to measure it, but Milgrom fails in that he can’t even explain how it has been “inferred” from other measurements, as the wave function of quantum theory has been inferred from experimental measurements. He simply assumes that the symptoms of disease are observations from which one can reasonably “infer” the existence of Vf. How these symptoms are supposed to be evidence for the existence of Vf, I have no idea. But here’s where Milgrom really shows a brilliant ability to spin some wondrous woo:

Based on this conjecture, it has been possible to develop a model of the Vf as if it behaved like a gyroscopic entity. This began life as a qualitative metaphor that used the well known properties of gyroscopes to illustrate the actions of the Vf in response to disease and remedies.18 Thus, once its flywheel is set spinning at high speed, a real gyroscope stands erect with respect to the Earth’s gravitational field and will strongly resist any external lateral forces that try to topple the gyroscope…A healthy Vf may be likened to a fully upright gyroscope with a rapidly spinning flywheel. Lateral forces, therefore, are akin to those stressors that can push the organism into disease states that are resisted easily by a healthy Vf and thrown off centrifugally to the organism’s extremities. Acute disease expression may be likened to the wobbling of the Vf gyroscope after being acted upon by a strong force, prior to the Vf gyroscope resuming its healthy upright stance. A weaker Vf, however, is more like a gyroscope whose flywheel has slowed down so that it is less stable in an upright position. In this situation, the Vf is less able to resist those stressors that push the organism over into disease states. Consequently, the Vf begins to precess (i.e., express symptoms of disease): The greater the amount of precession, the more chronic the disease state and the greater its symptom expression will be. And the slower the Vf gyroscope’s “flywheel” spins, the less able it is to throw off the disease.

Within this qualitative metaphor, the therapeutic homeopathic remedy can be seen as that force that, when applied to the Vf gyroscope’s flywheel, causes it to speed up, spin faster, and throw off the disease state. Also, the term “diseased” may be applied to those inherited and environmental stressors that could exert a braking effect on the Vf gyroscope’s flywheel. These would include constitutional factors that could give rise to “friction in the bearings” (e.g., inherited imperfections in the Vf gyroscope’s manufacture) and environmental factors giving rise to “friction on the flywheel” (e.g., poor diet, housing, and air quality, and dysfunctional relationships, etc.)

Wow. I mean, really. Wow. This is the shit, as they say. It’s really fantastic woo. Your life force is like a gyroscope, maaaann! It’s spinning away, maaaan! As long as you’re healthy, it keeps standing upright and resists any attempts to knock it over. Homeopathy, according to this model of Milgrom’s, is the application of more torque to make the gyroscope that is your life force spin faster, the better for it to be able to throw off disease trying to knock it to the side and to stop precessing so much. It’s all very clear to me now! After all, I love a good metaphor as much as the next guy. The problem with this one, of course, is that it assumes that (1) there is such a thing as a “life force”: (2) that disease is a manifestation of decreases in that life force; and (3) that homeopathy does anything at all to that life force. Other than that, it’s just perfect.

So far, this entire metaphor can be described by nothing more than classical mechanics. So where’s the quantum theory? Glad you asked! Here it is:

However, the main difference with an ordinary gyroscope is that the Vf may be thought of as obeying not classic but quantum rules of physics. In addition, these rules are seen as those of WQT, not conventional QT.

Yes! But there’s more. Milgrom describes three aspects of his model:

  1. An individual’s Vf can be imagined as behaving like a gyroscope: The faster it “spins” on its axis, the more easily it resists the effects of dis-ease
  2. These changes in gyroscopic angular momentum corresponding to changes in the Vf’s state of health do not occur smoothly but in a stepwise (“quantized”) manner. What this means is that, unlike a real mechanical gyroscope, the theoretical Vf gyroscope is not observed to experience gradual decreases and increases of its spin angular momentum. Similar to the way orbiting electrons in atoms are thought to jump instantaneously between energy levels when absorbing and emitting quanta of energy, the Vf jumps between states of health depending on its reaction to “quanta” of diseases and remedies.
  3. This idea can be extended to define mathematical operators that describe how these changes in a Vf’s angular momentum/state of health are brought about by disease states and remedies.

You know, I had thought that Milgrom couldn’t improve on his previous woo, lo, those many months ago, but he’s done it. By describing homeopathy as, in essence, a quantum torque device that speeds up the spinning of your life force when it slows down, well, he’s outdone himself this time. Of course, what woo-meisters invoking quantum theory in this manner frequently forget is that they’re putting the cart before the horse. Quantum theory was developed in order to explain experimentally observed phenomena that just couldn’t be explained any other way. Experiments were being done that challenged the very foundations of physics at the time, and theory had to change. In this case, there is no compelling experimental evidence that homeopathy “works” (or, really, no experimental evidence at all). There is no “challenge” to our current understanding of physics, chemistry, and pharmacology that requires a new theoretical framework to explain, at least certainly not from homeopathy. The best you could say about Migrom’s quantum homeopathic gyroscopic woo is that it’s an interesting thought experiment that has no basis in physical phenomena. As such, it’s essentially useless, other than as a topic for YFDoW.

Like the very best woo-meisters, though, Milgrom isn’t satisfied yet. He goes far beyond his descriptions above. Like the guy who swears that he can make a perpetual motion machine that produces energy, he packs his paper with three solid pages worth of equations based on this concept, complete with explanations and diagrams. To give you a taste of this woo, just look here:

i-88012510143ac20ff3f0b7a4f0f65d20-Figure.jpg

This purports to show how the application of homeopathic quantum torque is making the life force become more like the remedy. I’m convinced. How about you? But Milgrom’s not through. Here’s where he builds to his crescendo of woo, woo so fabulous, that I, as the woo connoisseur, must tip my hat to him. It’s so good that it must be experienced to be believed. Indeed, I encourage everyone to download the paper and experience it in its complete loony glory, as it builds to a quantum-shattering climax of woo:

Finally, it is probably time to begin considering what the Vf really means in the context of a spinning gyroscopic entity. The representation of vitality as possibly having the properties of energy in rotation is not an entirely new idea, and is probably better known through the Hindu concept of chakras. Thus, the body is energetic, living, feeling, and ultimately intelligent. It also consists of matter but not in the classic sense. In terms of classic physics, matter itself is seen as some inert substance that is incapable of movement unless acted upon by external forces. Hahnemann refers to diseases, remedies, and the Vf as “spirit-like” in their action as if they suffuse and act upon the matter of the body. This is more in line with dualistic Cartesian thinking, in which spirit and matter are considered to be separate but interacting entities.

Perhaps an alternative description of this spirit-matter duality is that they are both entangled parts of the same multidimensional monistic entity. This means that although the Vf might still be described as spirit-like, it could also have certain properties of physical mass (e.g., translational and rotational inertia). In fact, the notion of the Vf would be meaningless without it being an entangled part of a flesh-and-blood physical reality. What is perceived as flesh-and-blood reality is simply the physical four-dimensional part of a multidimensional totality. Consequently, just as the “spirit-like” Vf may now be perceived as a physical entity, so the physical body must also be considered spirit-like: Vf and physical body are entangled parts of the same thing, like the two ends of a stick. A possible mathematical development of this idea in the future might be to use complex multidimensional Clifford algebras to investigate the nature of the Vf further.

Truly the circle of woo is complete. We have the circle of life. We have the circle of the gyroscopic quantum life force, spinning away. And we have a rotational or angular force applied around a circle in the form of quantum homeopathic remedies. It’s a perfect circle of woo.

And it also completes the circle of the first year of Your Friday Dose of Woo.

Comments

  1. #1 Dunc
    June 22, 2007

    I’m speechless…

    OK, I’m not – what unit is the rotational angular momentum of the Vf measured in? What is a typical value? And is this rotational angular momentum conserved?

  2. #2 Joseph Hertzlinger
    June 22, 2007

    I was somehow reminded of “The Second Coming” by W.B. Yeats:

    Turning and turning in the widening gyre…

  3. #3 Thony C.
    June 22, 2007

    Have you looked where this Woo Master is coming from!

  4. #4 Gork
    June 22, 2007

    Here’s a real twist for you.

    In my high school we had a science book that said that the difference between organic and inorganic chemicals was ‘the vital life force’ — despite the synthesis of urea in 1828.

    We also learned from a science book that transmutation of matter was an impossibility — while in another class we learned that the atomic bomb ended the war for Japan.

    Does academia have any idea what crap American students are being taught in k-12?

  5. #5 josh
    June 22, 2007

    So his point is, imagine something that acts like a gyroscope, look, see, it acts like a gyroscope!
    May as well make his whole arguement ‘Imagine I’m right…Thankyou.’

    And how conveiniant of him to provide us with this line.
    “Thus, the body is energetic, living, feeling, and ultimately intelligent.”
    I guess “ultimately” not all of them Lionel.

    And on the point of the graph you show, there is no way that adding two sign waves out of phase at different frequencies gives you a perfect sign wave. No frigging way! If your going to make a graph of something you made up, at least make the damn graph consistant with… well… itself! You just back away from my discipline Milgrom, nice and slow.

  6. #6 G Barnett
    June 22, 2007

    The only true response I can even remotely come up with for this…. wondrous insanity is:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CMwdAc1Dzfg

    Really.

  7. #7 khan
    June 22, 2007

    The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine

    Sounds like an interesting place to work.

  8. #8 Bronze Dog
    June 22, 2007

    You can tell which direction your life force spins by seeing which direction your hair turns.

    Jiraiya the Toad Sage, and one of the legendary Sannin said it when he was teaching Naruto a new jutsu, so you know that info is trustworthy.

  9. #9 spartanrider
    June 22, 2007

    How in the hell in the name of rational thought does this type of garbage come to exist?It reminds me of nothing more than a mad cartoon scientist scribbling in his basement laboratory for days and nights on end.Why would a man choose to become a cartoon character?Is a man like this delusional or is this nothing but a con job?Who in the world is this drivel aimed at?I guess I like to read the simple stupid stuff better.This crap justs hurts too much.

  10. #10 Bob O'H
    June 22, 2007

    In this case, there is no compelling experimental evidence that homeopathy “works” (or, really, no experimental evidence at all).

    Oh, keep up Orac. The experiments showing that homeopathy “doesn’t work” are wrongly interpreted. In fact, they do work, but there are no differences between control and treatment groups because of resonance.

    Bob

  11. #11 Justin Moretti
    June 22, 2007

    An orgasmic explosion of woo! Complete with equations!

    Woo-kakke!

    You’ve outdone yourself this time; I can’t see how anyone can possibly get more woo-ey than this.

  12. #12 Joe
    June 22, 2007

    As pointed out by Thony C., Milgrom is a consultant for a company. It is a biotech spinoff from Imperial College. I don’t believe he has any academic standing at the school; although, some years ago he was a “visiting” lecturer.

    The RSHom after his name means he graduated from a homeopathy school (1999). It looks to me like he had a modest career in chemistry, and then the cheese slipped off his cracker. He certainly has a gift for science fiction.

  13. #13 sailor
    June 22, 2007

    An attempt of a spoof on this stuff could’t touch the reality.

  14. #14 probe
    June 22, 2007

    I like to think I’m a smart guy.

    Medical degree, 3 fellowships, loads of peer reviewed publications and all that.

    I have read this article and have absolutely no idea what it is about.

    This person should be taken out and shot. No trial, no jury: straight to execution.

  15. #15 Rolfe
    June 22, 2007

    With reference to the second comment, from Joseph Herzlinger, do look at http://www.hominf.org/falc/falcfr.htm

    I can’t link directly to the relevant frame, but click on “Introduction” and scroll down a little.

    That entire site is well worth a look – as concentrated woo goes, it’s equal and opposite to Milgrom’s stuff.

  16. #16 Uncle Dave
    June 22, 2007

    probe: Thanks, I was considering an assisted care facility since I couldn’t make heads or tails of even his synopsis. Entanglement indeed.

    Note: This is Lionel Milgrom and not the “Modified Newtonian dynamics” Israeli astrophysicist Mordehai Milgrom.

  17. #17 Brendan
    June 22, 2007

    I’m concerned that he hasn’t really thought out the implications here. If disease can be modeled as quantum precession in a “Vital gyroscope,” doesn’t this necessitate a rigid hierarchy of disease? If the gyroscope precesses in quanta, how do we have smoth scales of severity in different diseases? Does this mean our entire classification system of diseas needs to be thrown out? And how do we explain radically different symptoms with an equal level of apparent “imbalance?” I have a feeling this man doesn’t appreciate exactly what he’s claiming, indicating that most of the speaking is being done from the wrong end of the digestive tract.

  18. #18 natural cynic
    June 22, 2007

    But where is this Vf located?

    Could it be external to the body?

    As in co-located with altruism, and there is a bidirectional flow of wave functions that explains our higher thoughts?

    And can there be a homeopathic remedy for a lack of altruism?

  19. #19 natural cynic
    June 22, 2007

    Bronze dog: You can tell which direction your life force spins by seeing which direction your hair turns.

    Actually this might be slightly true. I have seen a report [second hand in a news article] that there is a greater tendency for homosexuality in men with counterclockwise whorls on the back of the head. This goes with some other seeming anomalies like the greater tendency in men with longer index fingers than ring fingers. Has this been debunked anywhere?

  20. #20 Ahistoricality
    June 22, 2007

    Thank you Orac, for a wonderful year of woo, for a truly fitting end to that year, and best wishes for many more! (In truth, we’d all like the woo to go away, but that’s not happening in the foreseeable future, is it?)

  21. #21 Dr Aust
    June 22, 2007

    I think I’ve cracked the size of the download, Orac. This represents the number of words that have to be in present in the PDF for there to be a statistically significant chance that there is one word of reality. Like the volume of water needed to contain one actual molecule of a homeopathic therapy being akin to a medium-sized sea.

    khan: over at Badcience we’ve re-christened the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine

    “The Journal of Alchemy and Compleat Magick”

    There are plenty of these Alternative Therapy journals about, by the way. Even the normally fairly sane Oxford University Press has one, Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, catchy internet handle ECAM (geddit?)

    http://ecam.oxfordjournals.org/

    Reading ECAM is like entering a parallel universe: it sort of LOOKS like science, except it is complete nonsense. For a flavour, if you can take the acid-flashback effect I just mentioned, try the paper about mellow lab rats in pyramids:

    http://ecam.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/4/1/35

    - the pictures alone are…priceless.

    I have to admit I have never seen a more comprehensive set of things all totally attributable to observer bias, placebo or treatment effects all in one place. Go OUP (not).

    Orac’s subject Lionel Milgrom is also in there with – you guessed it – more “Quantum Entanglement”.

    http://ecam.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/4/1/7

    - can I make a plea for any mildly masochistic but public-spirited physicists who understand what Milgrom is misunderstanding – like Dunc at the top of the thread? – to write in and point out Milgrom’s mistakes?

    PS natural cynic wrote: “can there be a homeopathic remedy for a lack of altruism?”

    You betcha. In homeopathy you cure like with infinitely dilute like. So – take something guaranteed to cause non-altruistic behaviour, like a winning lottery ticket. Then dilute it and dilute it until you have nothing. Presto! Nothing, guaranteed to give you altruism. Er?

  22. #22 MR
    June 22, 2007

    I swear to god, it’s a Markov Idiot. Those can’t be real sentences, I refuse to believe anyone is that stupid. Let me just make another tally, alright for the Markov Idiot program “quantum” now has an 87% chance of being followed by “homeopathy.”

  23. #23 Avril
    June 23, 2007

    Would be interested to know whether you are paid to spend your time rubbishing homeopathy – or is just your personal hobby – how sad.

  24. #24 Orac
    June 23, 2007

    Give Avril a cookie! It’s the pharma shill gambit!

    My standard answer to your question is: No, I’m not paid by big pharma, but it would be nice if I were paid to do what I’d normally do anyway. And, yes, that is sarcasm.

    As for “rubbishing” homeopathy, well, homeopathy is so ridiculously unscientific that it pretty much rubbishes itself.

  25. #25 Sharon
    June 23, 2007

    What bugs me about that paper, I mean story, is that the writer is from the chemistry dept of Imperial College London. It this the kind of garbage Imperial College wants to see its name associated with?
    (It would have really hurt though, had the writer been from UCL.)

  26. #26 Joe
    June 23, 2007

    Gee, Orac- I am surprised that you’re out of the loop. Send me a private message and I’ll tell you where to sign up for the Big Pharma cash that the rest of us are collecting. They may even pay back wages; which would be a tidy sum for you, even after the payroll taxes.

  27. #27 Orac
    June 23, 2007

    Any chance I could get a ride in one of big pharma’s black helicopters, too?

  28. #28 Joe
    June 23, 2007

    “Any chance I could get a ride in one of big pharma’s black helicopters, too?” Orac

    Unfortunately, no; those black helicopters are just in a rumor spread by alties. We have deep blue helicopters. Does your hospital have a landing pad?

  29. #29 Dr Aust
    June 23, 2007

    I am pretty sure Lionel Milgrom is long retired from the Imperial College hemistry Department. He is something to do with a spin-out company (Photobiotics)

    http://www.photobiotics.com/

    Given the company was spun out from Imperial, he might still have some Honorary or “Emeritus” status there.

    Milgrom was a presumably respectable / blameless porphyrin chemist in his earlier scientific life. Quote why he got interested in being an advocate / apologist for homeopathy I have no clue. Not enough to do?

    For a far more worthy example of how an Emeritus scientist from another London College (UCL) uses some of his time try David Colquhoun’s quack-busting blog at:

    http://www.dcscience.net/improbable.html

  30. #30 Justin Moretti
    June 24, 2007

    Hey Avril, people have been debunking and slandering homeopathy for the rubbish that it is, since before Big Pharma existed.

    Homeopathy is nothing more than the insane distaff cousin of herbal medicine.

  31. #31 Chris Devery
    June 24, 2007

    A++ grade woo …. but surely this is a hoax, a la Sokal, and Milgrom will shortly expose how stupid are the editors of The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.

  32. #32 Dr Aust
    June 24, 2007

    Chris Devery wrote:

    “surely this is a hoax, a la Sokal, and Milgrom will shortly expose how stupid are the editors of The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.”

    Sadly not, Chris. Milgrom is completely serious, and has published a staggering twenty-odd (count ‘em) articles in this vein. Most are listed by PubMed (which in itself is kind of depressing) – search for “Milgrom LE”.

    Why, just Lionel’s theory of “Patient-Practitioner-Remedy (PPR) entanglement” (in effect, why placebo-controlled trials “miss” the clear positive effect of homeopathy he is sure exists) has reached “Part 8″.

    As ever, all this shows that in Alt Health much of the reality is way beyond any satire one can dream up. We shorthand this in the UK as:

    “You couldn’t make it up”

    I used to favour reasoning with deluded but well-meaning Alt Therapy types, but the more I encounter them the more difficult it becomes to stop myself bypassing reasoned refutation and going straight to derision.

    Talking of the fringe of NIH-grant funded Alt craziness, has Orac ever done a feature on Prof Gary “biofields” Schwartz, aka The Aura Man? See e.g.

    hmm – that same journal again –

    J Altern Complement Med. 2005 Jun;11(3):455-7. Reece K, Schwartz GE, Brooks AJ, Nangle G. “Positive well-being changes associated with giving and receiving Johrei healing. “

  33. #33 Joe
    June 25, 2007

    See this page for some commentary on an even more recent artcle by Milgrom. Unfortunately, I suspect he is flying below the radar of real quantum mechanics.

    However, the final note on the list (as I write), by M. Sue Benford, claims that her company has supplied homeopathic preps for studies on tadpoles. These preps turned-out to be toxic to the salamanders; which she claims is evidence that homeopathic preps are, indeed, active. I suspect it means they added an active ingredient to a prep that would be used on tadpoles.

  34. #34 Joe
    June 25, 2007
  35. #35 Dr Aust
    June 25, 2007

    Aha – the Sue Benford tadpole letter (PS it’s actually the first one on the ecam thread, though appears at the bottom).

    There is an interesting story to that one – see:

    http://www.badscience.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=2620

  36. #36 Joe
    June 26, 2007

    I just came across this quote from an unamed physicist concerning Milgrom’s original (2002) article which is based on Weak Quantum Theory:

    “… Weak Quantum Theory dispenses with Planck’s constant, which in effect pretty much dispenses with any contact with reality. Given that Planck’s constant is one of the fundamental universal constants of nature, and fundamental to real quantum theory, any theory that dispenses with it doesn’t have much hope of explaining anything. …”