Respectful Insolence

In keeping with Homeopathy Awareness Week (which still runs until June 21), I can’t resist commenting on this gem of a story that was sent to me the other day. I mean, we’re talking super duper heaving shopping in the very heart of London. It turns out that the Helios Homeopathy Shop right in Covent Garden will fix you up with homeopathic plutonium if you need it:

Dr Fiona Barclay, a chemist at RGB Research in west London, made this discovery. Her company specialises in selling collections of the periodic table elements (with the exception of those elements that are illegal or are so very short-lived – a few seconds or less – that they invite frustration). Some elements are easy to purchase: carbon, sulphur, iron. For others, one can turn to eBay, where arsenic, uranium (in the form of uranium-tipped missiles), and other elements of ill repute are commonly on offer.

But plutonium proved hard to find … until Barclay turned to Google, which directed her to the Helios shop. She explains what happened next:

“I went to Covent Garden and went into the shop and said, ‘Please, may I have some plutonium.’ And the lady behind the counter said, ‘I shall fetch the chemist.’

“The chemist was duly fetched, and I said, ‘I’d really like a sample of plutonium.’ She asked, ‘And how strong would you like it, madam?’

Now there’s customer service! When told to jump, smile and ask how high! Of course, there’s one catch:

“I had gone in there with the very good intention of asking what their original source was, because it’s my understanding that, although they dilute everything until there’s not even a molecule left, they do start off with one drop. But I got frazzled, and forgot to ask.

“The chemist gave me pillules, which very entertainingly have a ‘best before’ date of the 31st of March, 2013. And as I was leaving she pointed out that there was no plutonium in it.

Indeed, that’s what homeopathy is all about: not a trace of anything, therapeutic or otherwise, left in it. Of course, given that several isotopes of plutonium have half-lives on the order of thousands of years, one wonders why Helios’ homeopathic preparation would have only a four year useful life. Maybe the water “decays” faster. Or maybe the sympathetic magic that is homeopathy has a half life. Who knows?

I was intrigued; so I had to look up plutonium nitricum, which is the homeopathic version of plutonium being sold. Of course, at this point it is worth noting that, even if Helios (or any other homeopathy seller) did use plutonium to start out with, by the time it’s diluted to 30 C, it’s incredibly unlikely that there is even a single atom of plutonium left, which is convenient if you don’t want to be flooding your body with highly radioactive metal. On the other hand, if dilution and succussion truly does make the plutonium stronger, as homeopathic principles teach, then wouldn’t homeopathic plutonium be a great starting point for an unlimited supply of fuel for nuclear reactors or for the most powerful nuclear bomb ever? Truly, homeopathic plutonium would be dangerous stuff! One has to wonder why nuclear physicists and the military aren’t more interested. This could be a major breakthrough in unlimited civilian power and in military technology. I also have to wonder whether it would even be safe to succuss the mixture between each step, so potent would the plutonium become. And what would one do with all the waste water from the process of dilution and succussion? After all, if water has memory, the discarded water at each step would have a memory of the plutonium, wouldn’t it? True, it wouldn’t be as potent as the final remedy, but, following the law of infinitesimals, each succeeding set of waste water would be imbued with more plutonium goodness. Truly, it would be a horrible radioactive waste disposal problem.

All of this led me to wonder: What conditions would homeopathic plutonium remedy? The simplistic idea would be that it could be a super radiation therapy for cancer, but then that wouldn’t be homeopathic thinking, would it? (Homeopathic thinking? Does that mean thinking so diluted with nonsense that not a single bit of intelligence can still be detected?) Homeopathic thinking would be more in line with a book written by Jeremy Sherr, a homeopath whom we’ve met before because of his desire to treat AIDS in Africa with homeopathy. The book is entitled The Homoeopathic Proving of Plutonium Nitricum (including the Toxicology of Ionising Radiation). Here was where I learned all about homeopathic thinking regarding plutonium.

The reviewer lionizes Sherr’s book thusly:

In a similar vein, this recent proving of Plutonium nitricum, produced by Jeremy Sherr, represents another work of Herculean labour. Apparently edited over forty times, it took four years from start to finish, and numbers 306 pages. There are 45 pages in the dream section alone. (Consider that Hahnemann’s proving of Arsenicum album, eulogised by George Vithoulkas as ‘one of the classic landmarks in homoeopathic literature… so exemplary of the phenomenal detail and thoroughness which is brought to all his work…’, occupied a mere 51 pages!)

One of the very difficulties of this work is its sheer size. I’ve just spent the last three days of the dying century, on my sofa, attempting to digest the book; I feel like a snake that’s eaten a very large goat! But, according to Nick Churchill, you simply can’t appreciate the Dynamis provings (there were twenty two of them at the last count) by superficially scanning them – you have to go for total immersion. As an example from my own experience, I’ve often dipped my toes into the dark waters of the Germanium proving, but have never succeeded in understanding the remedy, and have therefore never given it curatively. In order to absorb these works, one needs prolonged and intense exposure to the material.

Homeopathic provings, as you may recall, involve giving the substance used in homeopathy to healthy people and noting the symptoms, as Kimball Atwood describes:

Determinations of the type of substance and the dose (that is, the dilution) used in homeopathic preparations are made by “provings”: a homeopath-’investigator’ gives a preparation to one or more healthy subjects (“provers”), who each keep a detailed diary of every sensation, feeling, mood change, physical change, and anything else that may occur to them over the next several days to months. These “symptoms” are then compiled; their aggregate is presumed to have been caused by the “remedy” that preceded them, and the result is published in a Materia Medica. The practicing homeopath, after eliciting a litany of “symptoms” from a patient, then determines the correct “remedy” by finding the most closely-matching group in the MM. [13]

Because homeopathy is based on a mystical, magical, prescientific concept of disease, homeopathic provings are, as Sherr’s book documents, full of more than just symptoms, but of dreams and feelings. In the case of plutonium nitricum, the “provings” involve a lot of allusions and dreams relating to, believe it or not, Pluto, God of the Underworld. For instance, get a load of this proving:

‘Dream of a huge underground cavity where there was a double-headed bat with three wings. I was crossing a stream to revive the dead… there was no ferryman, so I waded safely across. There was a large dog with multiple heads’. This is such an amazing symptom; the place, of course, is Hades, the river is the Styx, the dog is Cerberus, guardian of the underworld, whose master is… Pluto! Remember that the proving was triple-blind that prover 11 had no idea of what substance she’d been given. The fact that an element, invented in 1943, can generate scenes straight out of Dante’s Inferno is quite simply mind-blowing and truly illustrates that ‘the spirit of the remedy invades the centre of our being’ (Sherr, Dynamics and Methodology of Homoeopathic Provings, page 11).

The dream of Hades brings out two essential aspects of Plutonium; firstly, it is that of mutation, the cancerous legacy of radioactivity. There are many other images of deformity: ‘Human bodies with creature heads’… ‘a dragon-octopus’… ‘water dogs, with fins and tail’… ‘a blackened tree’. This is mirrored in a forty-page section at the back of the book, entitled, ‘The Toxicology of Ionising Radiation’; this even has its own repertory, and is really a complete book in itself. It represents Plutonium on the mother tincture level, and thus offers yet another approach to the remedy: ‘Calves born with no eyeballs … with two tails … with five legs, two heads, four eyes, no skin, jellylike flesh’. All these are from the toxicological repertory, each one traced to its source, whether it be Chernobyl or Three-Mile Island.

Secondly, the dream of Hades reveals the ‘heart of darkness’ of Plutonium, a descent, in every meaning of that word, into the lower realms. We see this descent especially on the physical level: ‘A sensation as if my middle is dropping down’… ‘a buzzing going down to the pubic area’. There is a definite accent on the lower chakras: ‘An overpowering sexual feeling’, ‘Dream that my penis was a foot-and-a-half long, and the head was chunky and cloven, like the Devil’s foot’. In all, there are thirty dreams of a purely sexual nature, most of them dark and unpleasant. Six of these dreams are specifically about sexual abuse; e.g. ‘A horrible dream of my father trying to abuse me’.

I can only speculate what this “proving” means for deciding upon what specific symptoms homeopathic plutonium nitricum can treat. It’s hard not to speculate that maybe it’s a cure for impotence, given the visions of 18″ penises that Sherr dreamt of in his “proving.” (Either that, or Sherr’s lacking something down below, if you know what I mean, and dreams of better endowment.) On the other hand, if “like cures like,” as a major principle of homeopathy claims, then these visions of mutation, then, would seem to indicate homeopathic plutonium as a potential cure for mutations and cancer, wouldn’t it? Unfortunately, the review of Sherr’s book doesn’t really give much information on what, exactly, plutonium nitricum could be used for. So I sought elsewhere and found this case history by Sadhna Thakkar BHMS(Ind.), CCH. In it, a woman referred to as “Mrs. J,” with a history of depression and bipolar disorder was treated with homeopathic plutonium nitricum. In this case study, the Materia Medicum is described thusly:

There are many different ways of learning Materia Medica. Although each of them provides valuable information, I believe that the most reliable insight comes from the story told by the patient who does well with the remedy. The remedies are nothing but the inner consciousness of the substances expressed through the patients who require it or the provers.

If this isn’t magical thinking, I don’t know what is. But here’s more about Mrs. J:

“My father has told me stories about his father. His father was in the people’s party which was going to take over when communism fell. He got arrested and was put in a cell and was used for radiation experiments. I believe he was exposed to Plutonium. He suffered terribly, they didn’t know what happened, only after the bomb in Hiroshima, they could correlate that his problem was similar and came from radiation experiments. He used to say – close all the vents, the gas is coming, the gas is coming.’ He died before I was born. But I can feel his pain, it is so horrible. On my mother’s side of the family too, one of her uncles was exposed to Uranium and I think he is the one whose face showed up in my dreams. He was asking me- why did you stop carrying my pain?’ I was shocked. All my Czech relatives have died in the war time.”

Which led the homeopath to this conclusion regarding the required treatment for these feelings:

I was sure of a radioactive element but which one? I had heard at that time about Jeremy Sherr doing the proving of Plutonium Nitricum. I remembered that this proving had a profound effect on provers and everyone related to it. I had heard that some of the main aspects were images of a prehistoric era as if sins of the family were passed on from one generation to the other, the theme of persistent feelings of existential threats, underworld of gods and spirits. I decided to give her Plutonium Nitricum 30C (that’s all I had at the time).

Whenever anyone, like Dana Ullman for example, tries to argue to me that homeopathy is in any way scientific, I think of passages like this. Visions of a prehistoric era? Persistent feelings of existential threats? These are symptoms and indications for choosing a “radioactive” homeopathic remedy? On the basis of what science? None, of course. Not that that stops the homeopath from reporting that plutonium nitricum relieved all the patient’s symptoms of headaches, sensitivity to breezes, and cravings for meat and pork mentioned in the case study. The reasoning is also pure magical thinking:

Radium bromide which is very prominently used for eradicating cancers – also is used in homeopathy for old age with extreme fear of being alone, dependency etc. In patients with cancer, there is a feeling of doom but a hope against hopes of curing cancer with radiation. These heavy radioactive elements are both at the end of a cycle and also at the beginning of a new cycle.

And:

A small amount of plutonium is capable of generating a large amount of energy. For instance, a little more than two pounds of plutonium is equivalent to 3,800 tons of coal. This energy can be extremely destructive which has led to its usage as nuclear bombs. Plutonium is feared for this energy which can create mass destruction. But from our experience as homeopaths we know that what can be extremely destructive can also be extremely curative.

And:

As we know from Sherr’s proving, the periodic table and successful cases of Hydrogen, that it is the beginning of all the elements and has an ability to lose boundaries and be an eternal optimist. In Plutonium patients, I noticed this kind of optimism and lightness soon after giving Plutonium. It brought me to a deeper understanding of the cycle of life. Birth, growth and death are integral phases of life. Every living thing, every action, even every thought goes through these phases. If we classified remedies on the scale of this cycle of life, we would learn a whole new dimension of our Materia Medica. On this scale, Plutonium is located just before death where the end of one cycle is sure, with a hope to begin anew.

This is all summarized thusly in another article:

If you study the materia medica of Plutonium nitricum you will find two opposite sets of symptoms. A group of them are symptoms related to sensation of obligation, decay, disintegration, heaviness,…. and the other group are related to sensations of? lightness, high spirit, beautiful mystical feelings,…..

The woo, it is strong in plutonium nitricum, no?

Of course, for all this woo and magical thinking one has to be reminded: Not only is there not a single atom of plutonium left in a 30C homeopathic preparation of plutonium nitricum after 30 rounds of a 100-fold dilution (with succussion, of course–homeopaths always tell us piously that the succussion between each dilution step is absolutely essential to imbue a homeopathic remedy with its potency), but it’s incredibly unlikely that any homeopathic plutonium nitricum preparation started out its dilution series with any actual plutonium. I suppose it’s possible, but where would homeopaths get plutonium, given that it’s arguably the most tightly regulated substance in the world, with very few people given access to it. You can’t just walk up to a chemist and buy it or order it from a chemical supply company, after all. Maybe Sherr managed to find the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, or something. Or maybe there’s a nuclear physicist or two out there who gave him a gram or two on the side. (I hope he had radiation shielding.)

We skeptics often say that homeopaths do no research and have not made any changes based on evidence or science in the 200 years since Hahnemann’s time. Ironically, the example of plutonium nitricum is an example of homeopaths doing research. After all, plutonium was unknown in Samuel Hahnemann’s time. Unfortunately for homeopaths, how they “proved” the utility of plutonium nitricum is not an indication that homeopathy changes its precepts as new evidence or science is discovered. All it is is homeopaths applying the same 200 year old pre-germ theory, unscientific thinking to a substance that hadn’t been discovered in Samuel Hahnemann’s time and coming up with the same mystical mumbo-jumbo through “provings” that homeopathy does for all of its “remedies.”

Homeopathy is pseudoscience of the rankest form. 200 years ago (or even 150 years ago), “conventional medicine” consisted of practices that were actively harmful, including bleedings and purgings with toxic metals like mercury, cadmium, and antimony. Homeopathy, being nothing more than treatment with water (which was all that was left after so many 100-fold dilutions) appeared in many cases to result in better outcomes because, well, it was doing nothing and, unfortunately, doing nothing was all too often better than the medicine used throughout much of the early to mid-1800s, if not even later. However, over the last 100 to 150 years, medicine, using the scientific method and ever more rigorous clinical trials, improved. Slowly, treatments that didn’t work or were harmful were abandoned, and newer treatments, which were effective, were developed. Scientific medicine advanced; homeopathy remained stuck in the early 19th century. It still remains stuck in the early 1800s, even today, even when applied to plutonium.

That is the “awareness” that I strive to disseminate during this, Homeopathy Awareness Week.

Comments

  1. #1 Esther
    June 17, 2009

    And here I thought homeopathy had found the ultimate cure for radiation posioning. Or would you need 30C uranium for that? ;)

  2. #2 Carpworld
    June 17, 2009

    Oooh, i used to work directly above Helios in Covent Garden – i sure hope they didn’t have Plutonium in there. I was waiting for someone to slap that place down – they sell books on homeopathy for dogs FFS.

  3. #3 Ramel
    June 17, 2009

    The most fantastic thing about homeopathic plutonium is that it doublees in stregnth every 88 years

  4. #4 Calli Arcale
    June 17, 2009

    On the other hand, if dilution and succussion truly does make the plutonium stronger, as homeopathic principles teach, then wouldn’t homeopathic plutonium be a great starting point for an unlimited supply of fuel for nuclear reactors or for the most powerful nuclear bomb ever? Truly, homeopathic plutonium would be dangerous stuff!

    You’ve got it backwards — like cures like, right? So the homeopathic preparation of plutonium (presumably in an isotope suitable for sustained nuclear fission) would not be a great fuel but would instead be, I dunno, a great radiation shielding material, I suppose. Or would it reflect the neutrons, making it useful in achieving criticality in a non-homeopathic plutonium specimen?
    :-P

  5. #5 Bob O'H
    June 17, 2009

    More homeopathic madness from the Beeb:

    Hamilton, who has been fighting depression brought on by a divorce and his mother’s struggle with breast cancer, admitted to taking an over-the-counter homeopathic anti-depressant containing the banned steroid and then retired in April.

    One wonders what they were diluting it with.

  6. #6 zeno
    June 17, 2009

    Ramel said: “The most fantastic thing about homeopathic plutonium is that it doublees in stregnth every 88 years”

    LOL!

  7. #7 Kathryn Roberts
    June 17, 2009

    It boggles the mind that a sane person would purchase “a remedy” and still walk out the door happy after being told that said remedy has none of the requested ingredient. Magical thinking indeed!

  8. #8 Karl Withakay
    June 17, 2009

    Ramel,
    “The most fantastic thing about homeopathic plutonium is that it doublees in stregnth every 88 years”

    That would be if it was prepared with Pu-238, which is used in Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators, and not bombs or reactors. Based on the energy figure provided (relative to coal), I believe the isotope in question is Pu-239, which is used in bombs and reactors. It would double in strength about every 24,100 years.

  9. #9 Fannin
    June 17, 2009

    In a similar vein, this recent proving of Plutonium nitricum, produced by Jeremy Sherr, represents another work of Herculean labour. Apparently edited over forty times, it took four years from start to finish, and numbers 306 pages.

    Yes, but (a) was it violently shaken in between edits, and (b) does even a single word of Sherr’s original text remain? If I am informed that the answers to those questions are “yes” and “no” respectively I will immediately go out and buy a copy: it will no doubt cure my ignorance better than any document I have yet read.

  10. #10 BB
    June 17, 2009

    Aside from being radioactive, plutonium is incredibly toxic and reactive.
    Bet there never was a single molecule of Pu, 238 or 239, in the starting prep.

  11. #11 Catherina
    June 17, 2009

    Presumably, the posession of plutonium is heavily regulated? So either the manufacturer of the plutonium remedies obtained and were handling the plutonium without authorisation (which authority governs that? They should investigate!) or there was never plutonium to to begin with, so that would be fraud – or?

  12. #12 DLC
    June 17, 2009

    What would homeopathic cyanide cure? death ?
    how about homeopathic sarin ? nerve tissue death ?
    come on, Helios, tell us, we want to know!

  13. #13 Matthew Cline
    June 17, 2009

    Maybe I’m missing something, but wouldn’t a proving of plutonium require ingesting enough of it that it would poison and/or cause cancer in the tester? What healthy person would volunteer to consume undiluted plutonium?

  14. #14 Denice Walter
    June 17, 2009

    “Proving” to me *only* that these bad writers tend to use loose associations,mythological allusions,nuclear holocaust film scenarios, and pseudo-psychoanalytic dream interpretation.

  15. #15 Karl Withakay
    June 17, 2009

    BB,
    Plutonium isn’t incredibly toxic (compared to, say arsenic), and as a pure alpha emitter, Pu-239′s radioactivity isn’t really hazardous unless ingested, as it can’t penetrate the outer skin.

    see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plutonium#Toxicity et al

  16. #16 Happeh
    June 17, 2009

    Orac. There are no coincidences. I came here and treated you with respect. Then you called me a troll and told people not to talk to me.

    Because of that outrage, Karma has given me the weapon to expose you for the fraud you are.

    You Orac, and your fellow medical workers, attack alternative medicine for monetary reasons. The only purpose of this blog is to destroy a finanacial competitor.

    You have heard this charge before. You and your fellows howl “You really believe we want people to suffer? That we would suppress medicine that worked for money?” Yes we do. All of us who experience your arrogance and instrasigence believe you are only interested in money.

    And now the actions of your fellows have proved us right.

    The American Medical Association is opposing health care reform because it might cut doctors income. You Orac, and your fellow greedy scumbags, want the public to suffer needlessly so you can go play golf, have a porshe, a mansion, and private schooling for your kids.

    The story below details exactly how the American Medical Association is teaming up with the insurance industry to stop health care reform, so doctors can keep making big money.

    You scumbags liars.
    —————————–

    Go to a cocktail party in America, you’ll probably find the medical doctor in the group by the window gazing longingly at his Mercedes SL550. Engage him in conversation, and I can guarantee what the subject will be – an extended, vitriolic jeremiad against America’s health insurance companies
    .

    “The insurance companies are always on my back,” the good doctor will complain. “I’m always on the phone with them trying to get authorizations for patient care. I have to hire full-time assistants at $30 an hour just to deal with the insurance companies. God, healthcare would be so much better without the insurance companies.”

    Therefore, one might find it surprising that, when faced with an opportunity to deliver a devastating killstrike that could very well have put the industry out of business, the medical industry just took up the cudgels for their hated foe….

    (Talk of public alternative plan)

    …..With their history of animosity, you might have expected the doctors to side with the public plan advocates in opposition to the insurance companies.

    Not a chance. It seems that the lion has lain down with the lamb. From a press release last week by the American Medical Association, the nation’s largest doctor’s group.

    The AMA does not believe that creating a public health insurance option for non-disabled individuals under age 65 is the best way to expand health insurance coverage
    and lower costs. The introduction of a new public plan threatens to restrict patient choice by driving out private insurers, which currently provide coverage for nearly 70% of Americans.

    Why this new appreciation for the role of health insurers? The statement continues – whaddaya think the chances are that the answer comes down to money?

    “If private insurers are pushed out of the market, the corresponding surge in public plan participation would likely lead to an explosion of costs that would need to be absorbed by taxpayers.”

    The doctors just let the cat out of the bag – the problem isn’t that the public plan wouldn’t work; the problem is that it would……

    …..In the United States, care is rationed not by need, but by money. If you have insurance you’ll get all the care you need and then probably some, whether you need it or not – an example of this would be Latisse, the pricey prescription drug recently approved by the government to promote eyebrow growth.

    If you don’t have insurance, you can suffer through your ailment, or go to an emergency room for care that will most likely bankrupt you. Either way, it would be unlikely that you’d receive the type of follow-up care needed to maintain your health after you left the emergency room. It’s cruel and it’s heartless, especially when a child has to suffer due to the poverty of its parents, but it’s also absolutely vital and essential. It is only in denying care to the uninsured, rationing, that the country can afford to treat the insured in the manner it does.

    OK, what if those 47 million Americans without insurance suddenly had it – they’d use it, right? As demonstrated with the now long waits for care in Massachusetts under its still-nascent public plan system, a huge wave of new demand would hit the medical industry. Doctors could be working sunup to sundown, seven days a week, and if the popularity of the public plan did indeed lead to some private plans going out of business, as is the most fervent wish of many public-plan advocates, the resulting public-plan behemoth, in essence, a developing single-payer in and of itself, would have more than enough bargaining power to force doctors’ reimbursements down.

    So the doctors had to choose between supporting universal coverage and better health for all their patients, and possibly sacrificing salary, or supporting the insurance companies and maintaining their cushy lifestyle.”
    ———-

    So Orac. How exactly do you plan on lying about a major news story in a major newspaper exposing exactly what you and your ilk believe in?

    You scumbag money grubbing lying doctors chose to go with the insurance companies instead of with us. People with health problems who are suffering and in pain.

    How can you people look yourselves in the mirror? You have no heart. You know that don’t you?

    I could help you with that. But it would probably bore you.

  17. #17 Zombie
    June 17, 2009

    Several years ago in the JREF forum I found an online list of homeopathic remedies that included homeopathic antimatter… apparently waving a bottle of water near something that might give off a positron is serious business.

    I challenged the local homeotrolls on that and they all insisted on its validity… no questioning the party line, I guess.

  18. #18 Michael Simpson
    June 17, 2009

    It’s so obvious that homeopathy is a fraud. Aside from the usual trolls, we’re all convinced. That it still exists makes me cranky.

  19. #19 Ramel
    June 17, 2009

    @Karl: Pedantic git, I suspect you’re right about 239 being the right isotope for the energy level but can’t seem to find the will to research…

    @happeh: Seek psychiatric help mate, thats serious advice.

  20. #20 Ramel
    June 17, 2009

    Oh and Happeh, you forgot to give a source for your “evedence”

  21. #21 Scientizzle
    June 17, 2009

    Several years ago in the JREF forum I found an online list of homeopathic remedies that included homeopathic antimatter… apparently waving a bottle of water near something that might give off a positron is serious business.

    I had to google this…Frakkin sure, it’s real: Positronium: proving by Misha Norland. There’s some crazy in there…

    Happeh should like one of the last lines of the “proving”:

    The similarities between Positronium and Plutonium are very strong. There is perhaps a differentiation in that Positronium has a stronger Yin energy, a passivity; while Plutonium seems to have more of a masculine, Yang energy.

  22. #22 ursa major
    June 17, 2009

    Can a 30C preparation of Happeh cure education?

  23. #23 Zar
    June 17, 2009

    I wonder if there’s a segment of the population happeh doesn’t have irrational prejudice against. Certainly not Asians or women.

    My theory is that a mixed-race female med student turned him down when he asked her out, and then took up a restraining order against him when he started smearing feces on the door of her apartment building.

  24. #24 zayıflama
    June 17, 2009

    I challenged the local homeotrolls on that and they all insisted on its validity… no questioning the party line, I guess.

  25. #25 Zombie
    June 17, 2009

    Happeh seems… unhappeh.

  26. #26 Scott
    June 17, 2009

    Can a 30C preparation of Happeh cure education?

    It would more cure a LACK of education (and critical thinking skills, which are unfortunately not necessarily provided by education).

  27. #27 Ramel
    June 17, 2009

    @Ursa Major: A 30C preparation of Happeh gives you a degree and instant mensa membership

  28. #28 william e emba
    June 17, 2009

    Plutonium powered pacemakers used to be available behind the Iron Curtain back in the 1970s. See the absolutely fascinating photo/comment about the model R9000 Pu-238 pacemaker. Further down the page is a sample of plutonium nitricum.

    A tiny amount of plutonium is available in most uranium samples. More than you’ll ever find in plutonium nitricum. Easier to get hold of is americium-241 inside a smoke detector. It decays into neptunium-237, which further decays into protactinium-233, and so on. Of course, the suckers won’t fall for that.

  29. #29 Chris
    June 17, 2009

    note: #24, zayiflama is spam.

  30. #30 Karl Withakay
    June 17, 2009

    @Ramel,
    The figure provided was close enough to correct, assuming fission of every Pu-239 nucleus in 2 lb at ~210Mev/event.

    I did the math on the assumption that the figure was wrong and because sometimes I find math exercises like that fun. :)

  31. #31 DLC
    June 17, 2009

    But what if I don’t want a Mensa membership ?
    Could I trade it in for credit toward some other degree?

    OT, but — the fake Johns Hopkins Cancer Update is making the rounds again.

  32. #32 D. C. Sessions
    June 17, 2009

    Ah, this brings back old Usenet memories!

  33. #33 pinky
    June 17, 2009

    Orac, What do you know about chelation therapy? I am very concerned for one of my Son’s friends whose Mom is having her do chelation therapy. Sounds like the kid is on a bunch of vitamines and is having withdrawl symptoms which frighten the crap out of me. The Mother has been told her child had a bad reaction to the mercury in the vaccine and the metals are still in her blood and must come out. Thus the withdrawl symptoms. The woman treating her has a phd in nutrition.

    What I think is going on is a desperate Mother could not get a diagnosis from a reputable Doctor so she ended up with this person who is prescribing vitamines that are making the kid sick. I am fearful for the child’s health. I am also shocked because both these parents have graduate degrees from reputable colleges. Amazing what despairation will do.

    next time I chat with this nice lady, I would like to have my fact or lack of facts straight. Anything you could tell me or direct me to would be immensely appreciated.
    Sincerely,
    Pinky

  34. #34 James Sweet
    June 17, 2009

    Zar said about Happeh: My theory is that a mixed-race female med student turned him down when he asked her out, and then took up a restraining order against him when he started smearing feces on the door of her apartment building.

    Hmmm, but you haven’t read his entire website. The med student was also an anorexic, and she turned him down either because she was a lesbian, or because she heard that Happeh masturbated too much. Or both.

  35. #35 Ranson
    June 17, 2009

    @ Pinky,

    First, there’s absolutely no call for chelation after a vaccine — you’re more likely to land heavy metal poisoning from supplements than any modern vaccine. A quick search for “chelation” in the box on the upper left of the page here should give you any number of arguments, including one about a child chelated to death.

    On a more on-thread note, this got me browsing over to United Nuclear to see if they had any Plutonium in stock. They had plenty of other isotopes, but no Plutonium. *Sigh*

  36. #36 Lisa
    June 17, 2009

    Someone should use little words to explain to Happeh that the reason he gets so little attention here is that once the hyperbole and half-truths are removed from his discussions that the remaining articles no longer constitute complete sentences…

  37. #37 James Sweet
    June 17, 2009

    @Pinky:

    The Wikipedia blurb on chelation therapy as it relates to autism treatment is heavily cited and may provide you with a good jumping-off point. Obviously you shouldn’t go to your friend and say, “I redd it on teh wikipedia!”, but the citations are quite sound.

    Basic summary: Even if we assume for a moment that vaccines cause autism (which they almost certainly don’t), we can pretty much entirely reject mercury as a causal mechanism. It is probably accurate to say that mercury as a possible cause of autism has been exhaustively and aggressively studied — maybe even more than any other candidate cause, I don’t know that for sure — and aside from one widely-discredited study published by a guy who is currently under investigation for professional misconduct, the sum total of the evidence finding a link is exactly zero.

  38. #38 Eric Saveau
    June 17, 2009

    So, Doc Brown was right; in the future, plutonium IS available at the corner store!

  39. #39 James Sweet
    June 17, 2009

    @Pinky: Oh wait, I just re-read your post, and it sounds like the child doesn’t have autism, she is just experiencing some “reactions”? Hmmmm… depending on the severity of the reactions, best thing to do would be to get a second (third, now?) opinion.

    We can pretty much say for sure that chelation therapy is not going to do anything. We can’t say for sure that it isn’t a reaction to the vaccine — people do have reactions, just like with any medicine — though depending on how long it’s been that may be unlikely. (When people do have reactions to vaccines, it’s typically a very short term reaction, usually an allergic reaction) And regardless, if this girl is experiencing symptoms severe enough to have the mother worried, then probably something is wrong.

    Which makes it all the more important that she not only stop with the chelation therapy, but look into actual real treatment.

    I guess debunking the autism-mercury link is not going to help your friend… so I guess the message to give your friend is that chelation therapy is useful only for severe heavy metal poisoning. Even if we assume the mercury is causing a reaction (which I can pretty much say it isn’t, but let’s play along for a second), using chelation therapy to remove that small a quantity of mercury is pretty ridiculous, and I’m not even sure it would be effective. Someone more knowledgeable than me would have to comment, but the way I understand how chelation therapy works, I don’t think it would be likely to have an appreciable effect if you have only a small quantity of mercury in your bloodstream… maybe someone else can comment on this?

  40. #40 Joseph
    June 17, 2009

    @Pinky: This Quackwatch page lists a number of articles of interest.

  41. #41 Scientizzle
    June 17, 2009

    @Pinky

    See also this and this.

  42. #42 Michael Simpson
    June 17, 2009

    The Wikipedia article on Homeopathy used to contain a sentence or two about a homeopath who diluted pieces of the berlin wall to cure something or another. There was a discussion amongst the more scientific crowd about that statement, and one of better science writers there said something to the effect that, “leave it there, it really shows how silly this is.” Maybe an editor can place some reference to homeopathic plutonium there.

    @Pinky. This discussion on Science Based Medicine may give you some additional information, even though it’s really targeted to autism. It does discuss some of the scientific pitfalls of chelation therapy, and pay attention to some of the comments from regulars.

  43. #43 kneil
    June 17, 2009

    My wife briefly saw a homeopath and he apparently used a computer to infuse vials of water with the vibrations of the preparations he was prescribing. This is probably what the quacks in question used to avoid having to procure plutonium figure out how to dissolve it in water.

    As to a 30c preparation of Happeh, that sounds great! We just need to convince him not to reply to the next 100^30 posts and we’re there. How about Happeh, willing to put your keyboard where you mouth is and show us all how homeopathy can work?

    And just in case anyone is wondering, I talked my wife out of going back to the homeopath for a refill by suggesting she just add more water to her almost empty vial. She asked the obvious question: “Won’t that make it weaker?” and I got to explain that according to their “theories” it would make it stronger and she would need to take less. That got her to do a little reading and she never went back.

  44. #44 Grendel
    June 17, 2009

    Pinky – As a parent of a child with autism I have followed the arguments closely for many years – chelation is dangerous and ineffective – I’d second Joseph’s suggestion that you visit Quackwatch and in particular read the story of the Doctor who created that website who has first-hand experience with chelation therapy.

  45. #45 bcpmoon
    June 18, 2009

    I wonder what the proving would have shown if they had named the element after something positive, like helium. It is magical thinking indeed, it reminds me of rumpelstiltskin, that plutonium should have a connection with the underworld.
    Oh, perhaps the prover also dreamt of Kate Beckinsale in tight leather? Now that would be interesting…

  46. #46 LW
    June 18, 2009

    I was wondering how they could possibly get someone to test the effects of drinking various dilutions of plutonium. But then I saw this: “Remember that the proving was triple-blind that prover 11 had no idea of what substance she’d been given.” That’s how: don’t tell them. If they die of radiation poisoning, you know to use a greater dilution next time.

  47. #47 DebinOz
    June 19, 2009

    Orac, can we please vote happeh-daze out now? He IS the biggest loser, he can’t cook, and he can’t dance.

    Not only that, he is incredibly boring!

  48. #48 Matthew Cline
    June 19, 2009

    @DebinOz:

    I’d say keep Happeh, if he can keep on topic, like if his response to this article had been about homeopathy rather than medical insurance, or if his response to the article on the Onion’s vaccination piece had been about vaccines rather than an image of one half of a Yin Yang symbol superimposed over the heads and spines of images of the various stages of human evolution. If he can do that in the future, let him stay.

  49. #49 Happeh
    June 21, 2009

    DebinOz – “Orac, can we please vote happeh-daze out now?”

    Debin? Someone posted a way to ignore comments. If what I say bothers you so much that you would agitate to have me removed, why not just ignore my comments?

    Do you hate me? Do you want vengeance on me for some reason? Would you like to see me suffer?

    Why?

  50. #50 Kismet
    June 24, 2009

    Happeh, even though I think you are funny I can only second that request: seek medical help if you really believe any of the stuff you spout.

    Cool blog anyway.

  51. #51 Diego HG
    April 25, 2010

    Alright… I just read the article and all of the comments…

    You guys there, in the past, should like to see this article, from your future!!!

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/blog/2010/feb/22/mps-verdict-homeopathy-useless-unethical

    @Happeh, who would ever accept losing income? really? doctors have family too, and they deserve every penny they get.
    Care to comment on the subject BTW? no? ok :)

    @Pinky, so, what happened with her?

  52. #52 porno izle
    June 22, 2010

    It’s so obvious that homeopathy is a fraud. Aside from the usual trolls, we’re all convinced. That it still exists makes me cranky.

  53. #53 tom mooney
    May 13, 2012

    I’ve used plutonium 1M for about 8 years. Plutonium 10M made me too dizzy to be effective.
    I’m very happy with my treatment and bashful you may believe i am so radical. But there are so many people using homeopathy nay governments! Indeed -

    Swiss government enacts public desire to include homeopathy in state-backed health insurance

    I’d save a bit of money if the British would do the same.
    Oh well.

    Tom Mooney

  54. #54 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    May 13, 2012

    Tom Mooney – I don’t believe anyone here considers you radical. If you’ve got any data that plutonium 1M or 10M (you do know what those signify, and you know that anything beyond about 13C means that there’s no chance that there’s a single atom of plutonium in a dose) is anything more than expensive solvent besides your anecdote of how dizzy it makes you, please share.

  55. #55 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    May 13, 2012

    Wait, did you mean 1 molar plutonium? If so, that would be different and I retract my previous comment. I’m perfectly willing to believe you when you say that 10 molar plutonium makes you dizzy.
    Presumably this cuts way down on your electric bill.

  56. #56 Narad
    May 13, 2012

    I’ve used plutonium 1M for about 8 years.

    Aren’t homeopathic remedies specifically supposed to function as cures? You would seem to be using the wrong one if it’s gone on so long.

    (“It is not conceivable, not can it be proved by any experience in the world, that, after removal of all the symptoms of the disease and of the entire collection of the perceptible phenomena, there should or could remain anything else besides health, or that the morbid alteration in the interior could remain uneradicated.”)