Respectful Insolence

With Homeopathy Awareness Week rapidly approaching its end, I wondered just what I could do to bring further “awareness” of just how bogus and full of woo the concepts of homeopathy are. True, discussing homeopathic plutonium as a remedy and how homeopaths did “provings” of it the other day was fun, but surely there’s more. What other homeopathic “remedies” (quotation marks used because of a complaint about my having actually used the term “remedy” to describe homeopathy, given that any true homeopathic remedy is diluted so much that there’s nothing left but water–or alcohol, if that is what the diluent used was) have homeopaths tried to dilute and succuss into nonexistence in order to bring their über-woo to the masses?

How about homeopathic antimatter, as a reader pointed out to me?

Yes, it’s really been done. Well, given that the claim is that someone took positronium and did a homeopathic proving on it, I’m guessing that homeopathic positronium is as “real” as homoepathic plutonium (actually, almost certainly much less so, given that, as improbable as it is, it’s still possible for a homeopath to have gotten his hands on some plutonium to dilute and success). Let’s take a look at the claim. It is supposedly the overview of some of the themes that arose from the proving of Positronium by students at The School of Homœopathy in the early months of 1998.”

Of course, in this initial link that was pointed out to me, there’s no explanation about how anyone got Positronium, much less diluted it and succussed it. Positronium is an extremely short-lived “exotic” molecule made up of an electron and its antimatter counterpart the positron that, instead of annihilating each other as antimatter and matter usually do, form a molecule. Indeed, it’s not easy to form positronium. For example, a group from UC Riverside used a silica scaffolding in a vacuum in order to create measurable positronium. If a homeopath could not only make positronium but keep it stable long enough in order to succuss and dilute it, now there’s a physicist. Maybe like Lionel Milgrom.

In any case, what can one expect from homeopathic positronium? Well, let’s take a look at the introduction to the “proving.” Remember, a “proving” in homeopathy is when normal, healthy people take the substance to be made into a homeopathic remedy and report how they feel, complete with dreams and anything else that goes through their mind. The homeopath who claims to have seen the “proving” of positronium, Misha Norland, begins thusly:

The Alpha …

In the Big Bang model of the Universe, Positronium was probably the first substance to be created and it will probably be the last to disappear. Under any model it is a primordial thing, the most basic and simple thing that can be described as a substance.

Several provers found a theme of history and a connection with the past was important to them. One prover in particular found herself connected to a pattern that went back to the beginning of time. She described herself as “The Gnome Woman”.

I felt the idea of heritage and our common ancestry, a sense of my own history going back over the millennia, connection with all those people who have walked the earth. I feel like a mountain standing through all weathers, times and tides rooted deep, deep into the dark earth. (Prover 2)

The restless energy of the proving, the images of great cats and explosions also have a primordial feeling to them.

In Alchemy the first stage of the process of creating the Philosopher’s Stone is to find the Prima Materia, the primal matter from which all other things can be grown. This precious material was described as vilis vilisimus, the vilest of the vile, and was to be found “cast upon the dunghill”. This reflects Christian theology in which “the stone that the builders rejected becomes the cornerstone.”

Theophrastus Paracelsus was one of the greatest scientists and healers of the middle ages. He was also the proto-father of homœopathy, discovering many of the principles that Hahnemann later used to create homœopathy. Paracelsus was notorious for his appreciation of the meaning and power of excrement as a primordial and basic substance. He once gave a medical lecture in which he brought in a large parcel unwrapping it theatrically to reveal a steaming bowl of excrement. His lecture allowed the audience to appreciate the substance in a full and sensual manner. Paracelsus was lampooned as Cacophrastus, which is usually politely glossed as coming form the Greek for bad or evil, however, it almost certainly came from the Latin cacare, to shit. He understood the primal nature of excrement as the beginning of all things and its vital role in the cycle of creation and decay, it is the matter from which all things come and that which everything becomes. These themes appeared strongly in the proving, especially in the dreams of shit that were experienced by almost every prover.

You know, it’s really, really hard not to start to make the obvious jokes that flow from this observation about Paracelsus. it really is. Norland mentions shit and how much power it has. I suppose it’s true. After all, given that the magical thinking known as homeopathy has persisted for so long against all science, reason, logic, clearly bullshit has great power in this world. Actually, clearly that is the case not just in homeopathy. One has only to look at politics and the persistence of some truly nutty political ideas for so long to realize that, arguably, the most powerful substance that the world has ever known is bullshit, which clearly can do most anything.

But back to homeopathy.

One thing I can’t figure out is how the connection is made between an exotic molecule like positronium and excrement. Perhaps Misha can tell us:

Paracelsus’ main contribution to Alchemy was his theory of the threefold nature of things. He referred to these as Salt, Mercury and Sulphur, but they are more commonly seen today, especially in alternative medicine, as Body, Mind, and Spirit.

The threefold potentiality of Positronium, to become Matter, Antimatter or pure Energy, was reflected in the proving in a threefold expression of symptoms. The number 3 came up in many ways for people during the proving.

I had the strangest sensation that there was something going on with the number three. I had a dream of three groups of three swans. I felt sure that we had overtaken two or three cars on three occasions, and then they kept appearing in front of us. Just as this happened we passed the A3313. I got really spooked. (Prover 11)

The most important themes of the proving revolved around the issues:

of Matter: of substance, weight and structure;

of Antimatter: it doesn’t matter, I can’t be bothered, especially about superficialities;

of Energy: exercise, music, doing things, sex and itching.

Well, there you go. It makes perfect sense to me, doesn’t it? Antimatter is the opposite of matter; so obviously antimatter means it doesn’t matter. I like that. As Zathras used to say, “At least there is symmetry.” On the other hand, I hate to be reminded of symmetry. As high as my grades were in college, particularly in my major chemistry, there was one bête noire that always tormented me in physical chemistry: symmetry. For some reason, although I could grasp the concept rapidly I had a hellacious time applying it to actual chemical examples. It was a humbling experience in that I had never had that much problem with a topic before in science. Maybe symmetry between homeopathic matter and antimatter would be the end of me were I to contemplate it too deeply. Not that I see that as a problem, because I don’t think Norland has contemplated anything more deeply than a high school or freshman chemistry textbook. No, strike that. I doubt Norland has contemplated anything more deeply than a Star Trek episode. No, strike that, I doubt that Norland has contemplated anything all that deeply at all about antimattter. Still, after some additional digging, I found that Norland claims to have prepared the remedy thusly:

The homeopathic remedy “Positronium” was prepared using positrons from a Na-22 source, which were passed through a nitrogen gas cell to form postronium by capturing electrons off the nitrogen atoms. The resulting positronium beam then impinged on a metal surface, where the positronium atoms decayed, giving off the characteristic 511 keV radiation. A glass vial filled with 96% ethanol was exposed to this radiation for 24 hours and then potentized to 30C by the Helios Homœopathic Pharmacy. The strength of the positronium beam was approximately 10 million positronium atoms per second. A total of approximately 10^9 (1.000.000.000) annihilation events were captured by the glass vial.

Yes! Helios again! The same “pharmacy” that sells homeopathic plutonium! I should have known! So, basically, Norland irradiated some water with positrons from an Na22 source and then diluted the resulting irradiated water by a factor of 1060–with succussion at each of the thirty 100-fold dilution steps, naturally. This reminds me: Never forget the succussion. After all, homeopaths will solemnly and condescendingly tell you that the succussation (vigorous shaking) between each dilution is absolutely, positively essential to “potentize” the homeopathic concoction. Or so I’ve been told by Dana Ullman time and time again. In any case, this sounds like the ultimate expression of the “memory of water,” given that the positronium, by Norland’s own description, has completely decayed even before the dilutions and succussions begin!

Perusing the list of symptoms the “provers” felt after imbibing the homeopathic positronium is indeed a hoot. For instance, there’s a lot of complaints of “dryness” (for which I would recommend imbibing a lot more homeopathic positronium, given that it’s just water); dreams of “seeing inside things” (maybe homeopathic positronium works like a CT scanner!); and, most importantly, a lack of caring, as evidenced by missing trains, being late for meetings, and, well, just not caring. (One has to wonder if we’re talking about pot or homeopathic positronium.) This makes me wonder: If “like cures like,” then would homeopathic positronium cure a friend of mine who’s habitually late, thus eliminating something about our friendship that annoys the hell out of me and preventing me from having to tell him that any movie we want to go to is a half hour earlier than it actually is? Sadly, the time is short, and I can’t delve completely into the full woo that is the report of the homeopathic proving of positronium, but a full listing of the symptoms reported his here So varied is the list of symptoms noted in this “proving” that I really have to marvel that magic water can do so much. I also have to wonder how, even if this “proving” were anything more than pure homeopathic nonsense, anyone could make sense of the huge mish-mash of “symptoms” reported by the “provers.” Oh, wait. “Homeopathic nonsense.” Does that mean that if one dilutes nonsense enough that it becomes a remedy that can restore sense? I doubt it. But I digress. Again.

In any case, I have to wonder if there is anything that homeopaths won’t try for a homeopathic “remedy” and “proving.” Indeed, to visionary homeopaths, homeopathic plutonium and positronium are good, but they are only a start. There have to be more frontiers of science that homeopaths can turn into total woo, all through serial dilution with succussion. Indeed, I have to wonder if, were scientists ever to manage to figure out a way to isolate the substance of a black hole and contain it, even if it was an infinitesimal speck, there would be homeopaths there trying to make a homeopathic remedy for it. Given that the matter in a black hole is so incredibly dense, perhaps the homeopathic remedy made from it would be a weight loss remedy to cure obesity, “like curing like” and all that.

Damn. I hope I didn’t give Dana Ullman an idea.

Comments

  1. #1 NJ
    June 19, 2009

    Even better. I have recently had success in synthesizing homeopathic cavorite. Anyone up for a Moon visit?

  2. #2 LanceR, JSG
    June 19, 2009

    Okay, let me see if I have this right… they took 96% ethanol, stuck it in front of a glowy thing, and then diluted it? It doesn’t say what they diluted it with, but I’m guessing they stuck with ethanol.

    So, they have straight ethanol, shaken hard, and this made them dehydrated and apathetic? Really? Sounds like a great vodka martini, shaken and not stirred.

    Paging Mr. Bond. Mr. Bond, your drink is ready.

  3. #3 James Sweet
    June 19, 2009

    The most important themes of the proving revolved around the issues:

    of Matter: of substance, weight and structure;

    of Antimatter: it doesn’t matter, I can’t be bothered, especially about superficialities;

    of Energy: exercise, music, doing things, sex and itching.

    Or, as Homer Simpson said: “What is mind? No matter. What is matter? Never mind!”

  4. #4 Christophe Thill
    June 19, 2009

    About Paracelsus and excrement: it’s typical of old pseudoscientific thought, that the byproduct of a complex, organic process like digestion, is considered as a fundamental element of cosmos. Well, when I say old, I don’t mean that modern-days pseudoscientists couldn’t adopt this kind of crap (sorry).

  5. #5 Marko
    June 19, 2009

    That was hilarious. My favourite bit was the woman who called herself the “The Gnome Woman”. Those homeopaths really are crazy.

  6. #6 Blake Stacey
    June 19, 2009

    I’m rather doubtful their apparatus even made positronium to any significant degree. Yes, a sodium-22 source can be used as a positron emitter, but their description is so vague that there’s no way to tell if they actually paid attention to the necessary details. It sounds like they just shot positrons through a tube, whereupon said positrons hit the other end and annihilated. And, of course, by their own admission the “medicine” was never subjected to positrons itself, but only to the gamma rays given off by positrons annihilating with electrons. It’s all sympathetic magic dressed up in a stolen lab coat so it looks like science.

  7. #7 KeithB
    June 19, 2009

    This might be a way to test Homeopathy. Take two substances that should have completely opposite “provings” and give them out to various groups double-blinded. You can even include a control group with a placebo (snicker!).

    See if the dreams and other proving nonsense for each group correlate.

  8. #8 Florian Freistetter
    June 19, 2009

    They even have magnetic monopoles! Someone should tell the particle physicists that their search is over ;) (more about strange remedies can be found at the german ScienceBlogs)

  9. #9 ABradford
    June 19, 2009

    The Paracelsus info’s certainly a clear starting place for anyone learning that homeopathy is concentrated excrement.

    I think I get something that was missed by the experimenters. I think by the laws of homeopathy, the provers were experiencing everything because they were given a homeopathic solution that contained nothing to begin with. It’s homeopathy taken to the infinite degree.

    Just think of all the ingredients that were not put into the mixture in the first place and you’ll have clear signs in the proving.

    Maybe we need a list.

  10. #10 Ed Whitney
    June 19, 2009

    Hey, this vindicates homeopathic theory entirely. Consider:
    Large doses of antimatter would annihilate you.
    Homeopathic doses of antimatter leave you intact.
    Homeopathic doses have the opposite effect of large doses.
    QED.

  11. #11 Scientizzle
    June 19, 2009

    My three favorite symptoms:

    Genitals felt shrunken- drawn into my body. (Prover 1)

    Feelings are connected with a strange desire for fluffy things. Bought fluffy warm boots and fluffy car seat covers. Fluffy makes all symptoms better. (Prover 2)

    I feel tilted to the left, as if I have only the left half of the brain, so I am unevenly balanced. (Prover 7)

  12. #12 David Marjanović
    June 19, 2009

    ROTFL!!! I had read about homeopathic antimatter, but this detailed description is too rich. Exposed to gamma rays, and then they sell it as antimatter! :-D :-D :-D

    bete noir

    Bête noire, with a silent e at the end because it’s a she.

  13. #13 Ed Whitney
    June 19, 2009

    Hey, this vindicates homeopathic theory entirely. Consider:
    Large doses of antimatter would annihilate you.
    Homeopathic doses of antimatter leave you intact.
    Homeopathic doses have the opposite effect of large doses.
    QED.

  14. #14 David Marjanović
    June 19, 2009

    I feel tilted to the left, as if I have only the left half of the brain, so I am unevenly balanced. (Prover 7)

    We have a clear winner.

  15. #15 James Sweet
    June 19, 2009

    Last night I did another experiment proving that homeopathy works. My idea was, if I homeopathically dilute beer, will it get me drunk faster?

    So, I got myself some beer with approximately 5% ABV, and diluted it in an alcohol solution. I used only a dropper full of the beer, diluted inside an entire bottle of vodka. Using a figure of 0.05 mL for a “drop”, diluted in a 750 mL bottle, this was a relatively weak homepathic suffusion of only 4X. (15,000:1)

    After drinking the 750 mL bottle of my “homeopathic beer”, I got so wasted I puked all over the place! From a single droplet of 4X beer!

    Proof positive that homeopathy works.

  16. #16 Scientizzle
    June 19, 2009

    Party at James Sweet’s house!

  17. #17 Sili
    June 19, 2009

    Hmmm – those numbers made me think.

    If one were to take a bacterial culture of some sort and them proceed to dilute it suffiently slowly (in a proper medium), shouldn’t it be possible to end up with a homoepathological ‘remedy’ that actually contains something?

    Not that I know what the point would be. Aside from helping to spread cholera or summat.

  18. #18 LC
    June 19, 2009

    So they’ve covered the trans-uranics and antimatter. What next I wonder?

    *Homeopathic neutrinos (in three flavours!)
    *Homeopathic dark matter (of course you can’t detect it, it’s dark matter!)
    *Homeopathic Singularities (just dont ask how me divide by 0)

  19. #19 Dana Ullman
    June 19, 2009

    It seems that James Bond was a homeopath. Wasn’t he insistent that his martinis be “shaken, not stirred”!?

    Should we call him 007X?

  20. #20 ama
    June 19, 2009

    Hi, Orac,

    you got ‘em! Bernd Kassler, Aribert Deckers and Ralf Behrmann tossed up that topic and it took quite a while for the instrument to develop to publish this in a larger audience.

    Thanks!
    ama

  21. #21 ama
    June 19, 2009

    One also should note, that the provings were made, BEFORE the antimatter first was ever produced.< "/b>

    Just look at the dates.

    Seems as if homeopaths also are capable of time-travelling.

  22. #22 cervantes
    June 19, 2009

    With respect to homeopathic neutrinos, the solar neutrino flux at 1 AU (that’s us) is ~6*10^14 solar neutrinos per square meter per second, which means that a vial with a cross section of 4 square centimeters is exposed to about 240 billion neutrinos per second. Unfortunately the exposure is renewed at every dilution, no matter how you succus it, so I don’t know if it’s technically feasible. Too bad, because inasmuch as it’s possible that neutrinos have no mass, homeopathic neutrinos would presumably be an effective way to promote weight gain. They would also slow you down considerably, if you’re hyperactive.

  23. #23 natural cynic
    June 19, 2009

    I can’t wait till they capture gravitons.
    Maybe a 5X would make me feel not so sluggish.
    Then a 10X could allow me to fly
    Then 15X could give me escape velocity
    Then 20X and I could reach the speed of light.
    Then 25X would put me at warp 9

    So that’s what dilithium does.

  24. #24 natural cynic
    June 19, 2009

    Sigh, ain’t gonna happen cuz’ diluting and succussing would be a bitch.

  25. #25 anthro
    June 19, 2009

    I usually have a snappy comeback, but this group has a well-developed and intelligent sense of humor. Thanks for all the science based laughs; I needed that “tonic”. Hey! I just thought of something–if I cry and put some tears in there and succuss the proper number of times, will I feel happy? Makes sense, doesn’t it?????? doo-doo, doo-doo (Twilight Zone music).

  26. #26 James Sweet
    June 19, 2009

    @anthro: No but, it might make you feel Happeh.

  27. #27 Tsu Dho Nimh
    June 19, 2009

    Paracelcus may want to sue for impugning his character!

    I’ve read a lot of Paracelcus, and for his times he was extremely scientific. Abrasive and bombastic and arrogant, often leaving town just ahead of the pitchforks and torches, but he wouldn’t agree with homeopathy today.

  28. #28 MurrayBowles
    June 19, 2009

    Haha, I love the homeopathic north-pole-of-a-magnet!

  29. #29 Alan Kellogg
    June 19, 2009

    The ultimate homeopathic treatment? Homeopathic homeopathy.

    Homeopathy works on the principle that less is more, right. In effect, the more a substance is diluted, the stronger it gets. Thus the less of a substance you take, the greater the effect it has. Now apply this concept to the treatments themselves. The fewer the number of homeopathic treatments you receive, the stronger each one gets. Until you get down to a single homeopathic treatment, which should cure all ailments, restore youth and vitality, and clean carbon deposits from your car’s pistons. The ultimate homeopathic homeopathy treatment would be no homeopathic treatment of all. This removing all faults and flaws and so rendering the patient immortal. And since none of us has had a homeopathic treatment -that I know of, we’re set for eternal life.

    Anybody got plans for 2259?

  30. #30 Happeh
    June 19, 2009

    Asian people do not like conflict. If they tell you something and you laugh or act rude they will walk away. Asian people teach by leading you to the answer.

    Below is a snippet of a health study done by the Japanese. This health study is gently suggesting to western scientists that Yin Yang Theory is real.

    “Health experts have long warned of the risk of obesity, but a new Japanese study warns that being very skinny is even more dangerous, and that slightly chubby people live longer.

    People who are a little overweight at age 40 live six to seven years longer than very thin people, whose average life expectancy was shorter by some five years than that of obese people, the study found.”

    It is a mantra in the west that being thin equals being healthy. Now here is this Japanese study saying being slightly overweight is healthier. And it is a study so you guys can’t argue with it.

    Fattiness or looking overweight is a sign of Yin development. Think of the fat and jolly Buddha. But the Japanese cannot say “If you are a little overweight, your Yin is healthy, and you will live longer than a skinny person whose Yin is not healthy”, because if they do, you and your gang of western scientists will come down on them with both feet.

    Since you won’t listen about Yin and Yang, the Japanese are doing it your way. They are doing studies to prove to you in little bitty baby steps, the existence of the Yin and Yang parts of the body and how they impact the health of the human body.

    This study about fatty being healthier is a baby step to teach you that one sign of healthy Yin development is a fatty looking body. Not obese, but fatty looking.

    Asians = smart about health care because they developed it back in the stone age when health care meant life or death

    Westerners = stupid about health care because it was developed from torture, and it is all about making a profit off of the sickness of people. You only make money off of sick people, so it is in your best interest to stand back and let them get sick, instead of teaching them how to never get sick, like Asians do with Yin Yang Theory.

    There are stories that in the old days Chinese people only paid doctors if they did not get sick. If a Chinese person actually got sick, the doctor had failed in his job. He did not spot illness before it manifested itself.

  31. #31 rob
    June 19, 2009

    the maximum range of positrons from Na-22 in air is about 44 inches and in lucite is about 0.06 inches. so you could expect the glass vial to pretty well shield the N from the positrons.

    they claim they have 10^7 positrons per second. if they exposed their ethanol to this for 24 hours they would have 8.6×10^11 annihilation events. they claimed 10^9. why the factor of nearly 1000 difference? maybe cause they made up numbers? can’t multiply?

    also, the 10^7 positrons per second corresponds to about a 4 millicurie source, which means they were required to use film badges and dosimeter rings. do you suppose they did?

    this positronium proving sounds bogus.

  32. #32 Douglas McClean
    June 19, 2009

    The link in #8 might well point to the funniest page on the internet. Homeopathic magnetic monopoles? Comedy gold.

  33. #33 khan
    June 19, 2009

    He referred to these as Salt, Mercury and Sulphur, but they are more commonly seen today, especially in alternative medicine, as Body, Mind, and Spirit.

    The threefold potentiality of Positronium, to become Matter, Antimatter or pure Energy, was reflected in the proving in a threefold expression of symptoms. The number 3 came up in many ways for people during the proving.

    Someone left out: Larry, Curly, and Moe.

  34. #34 Matthew Cline
    June 19, 2009

    In the Big Bang model of the Universe, Positronium was probably the first substance to be created and it will probably be the last to disappear.

    Positronium can form when the temperatures were still so high that everything was still plasma? *scratches head*

    @LC:

    So they’ve covered the trans-uranics and antimatter. What next I wonder?

    * Plasma
    * Mesons
    * Higgs bosons
    * Electron-degenerate matter (white dwarf stuff)
    * Neutronium (neutron star stuff)
    * Quark soup (QCD matter)

  35. #35 Adam Cuerden
    June 19, 2009

    How about history?

    http://www.biolumanetics.net/tantalus/Cases/BerlinWall.htm

    “The Berlin Wall: A Remedy of Power”

  36. #36 jj
    June 19, 2009

    One has to wonder if we’re talking about pot or homeopathic positronium No the homeopathic positronim just goes into the bong…

  37. #37 Matthew Cline
    June 19, 2009

    Oooh, the Berlin Wall! So, could you make a homeopathic preparation of a dollar bill in order to offset excessive capitalism, and a homeopathic preparation of The Communist Manifesto in order to offset excessive socialism?

  38. #38 jj
    June 19, 2009

    Blockquote fail

  39. #39 tresmal
    June 20, 2009

    Has anyone suggested homeopathic phlogiston?

  40. #40 Grendel
    June 20, 2009

    “And it is a study so you guys can’t argue with it”

    No, it is a study so we MUST argue with it (or perhaps ‘consider and discuss’) – that is science.

  41. #41 Matthew Cline
    June 20, 2009

    Has anyone suggested homeopathic phlogiston?

    Good idea! Lets expand on that:

    * Luminiferous aether
    * N-rays

  42. #42 LC
    June 20, 2009

    Good idea! Lets expand on that:

    * Homeopathic Oraconium – a sufficiently diltue helping of homeopathic Orac will allow you to believe anything

    * Homeopathic Happehium – dilute it enough and your comprehension may increase!

    * Homeopathic Platium – You will suddenly see proof the moon landsing were a hoax and that the world ends in 2012

    * Homeopathic McCarthyium – Will dispell delusions that you are not a ‘has been’ desperatly seeking attention

    Damn, we ought to patent this stuff and then sue for infringement when the woos grab it.

  43. #43 Mu
    June 20, 2009

    Happehium works in homeopathic doses, due to its uniqueness; after the first line you automatically recognize its power and and it makes you move to the next comment.

  44. #44 llewelly
    June 20, 2009

    Antimatter is by cosmic rays colliding with the molecules of the upper atmosphere all the time. A tiny fraction of these cosmic rays reach substantially lower altitudes and make antimatter there.
    The atmosphere is always being naturally succussed – that’s what weather is. So there you go – manufacture, dilution and succussution of antimatter all occur naturally. Everyone gets homeopathic antimatter with every breath they take.

  45. #45 Linden Rathen
    June 20, 2009

    We have a positronium beam in my physics dept; I dread to think what these loons would do with it. At least we can be safe in the knowledge that something as powerful as the LHC should remain out of their price bracket for a while.

    Bets on how long before they try selling dark matter/dark energy remedies? perhaps a dilution of the Higg’s Boson.

    Must work hard to stay away from these nuts, when ever I see a report from them with the word ‘quantum’ (or similar) it makes me twitch.

  46. #46 Zathras
    June 20, 2009

    Zathras so glad Orac remembers him. Zathras all alone in great machine with bottle of Plutonium Nictum 30X and crappy DSL connection for entertainment. Zathras loves Science Blogs and snarky commenters, but will probably die horribly and alone, but at least there is symmetry. Zathras reads Happeh so Zathras know how important symmetry is. Zathras always switch hands. Hey, it lonely in great machine, don’t judge Zathras too harshly.

  47. #47 SC
    June 20, 2009

    I have edited the introduction to the ‘proving’ into a Beat poem, complete with bongo cues (hope the formatting works…you’ll have to imagine the smoky cellar):

    The Alpha … (A Proving)

    In the Big Bang

    Positronium

    a primordial thing

    beginning of time

    The Gnome Woman

    tomp-tomp tomp

    times and tides rooted deep

    restless energy

    images of great cats and explosions

    the Philosopher’s Stone

    vilest of the vile

    cast upon the dunghill

    tomp-tomp tomp

    a medical lecture

    a steaming bowl of excrement

    Paracelsus was lampooned

    He understood

    creation and decay

    dreams of shit

    tomp-tomp tomp

  48. #48 Lucario
    June 20, 2009

    That was very groovy, SC. (snaps fingers repeatedly)

  49. #49 Happeh
    June 20, 2009

    * Plasma
    * Mesons
    * Higgs bosons
    * Electron-degenerate matter (white dwarf stuff)
    * Neutronium (neutron star stuff)
    * Quark soup (QCD matter)

    It is too bad you all are not more open minded. If you walked into a room full of people who are not scientists, and you tried to explain any of the things above, those people would treat you the same way you treat me about Happeh Theory.

    Can’t you see what is going on? Regular people cannot understand specialists. If they want to be jerks, regular people can say the specialists are making things up.

    Let me pretend to be one of you.
    ———-

    Show me a picture of mesons, bosuns, neutronuim and quarks. What is that? You don’t have pictures? Then you must be lying and you all need psychological help.

    Oh wait! You do have picure of bosons, mesons, neutronium and quarks? Hey! What are you trying to pull? That is some computer generated something or other that looks like a child put it together in photoshop. Show me a Polaroid of a quark, a boson, a meson, and neutronium.

    What? You can’t? You are all obviously sick and need mental help. Seriously. Go straight to the emergency room and tell them you have discovered something called bosons, mesons, neutronium and quarks. Make sure to pack a suitcase because the nice people in white coats will want to keep you for awhile.

  50. #50 Brian X
    June 21, 2009

    I wonder how antimatter fits into the general picture of homeopathy. What does the Law of Similars say about matter/antimatter interaction? Is the dilution process supposed to turn the water into antimatter or something? Can I power the USS Enterprise off a giant vat of homeopathic antimatter so I don’t have to go through the trouble of failsafing a magnetic containment tank?

    Happeh:

    You may be one of the single dumbest woo-spammers I’ve ever seen.

  51. #51 Happeh
    June 21, 2009

    Gotcha didn’t I Brian? You are unable to refute the truth of what I wrote, so you call me names.

    Why is admitting I am right so hard for you?

  52. #52 Brian X
    June 21, 2009

    Happeh:

    Not just dumb, but obtuse. Really. And I mean like “how do you sleep at night without strangling yourself in the sheets” dumb. I mean “how do you manage to distinguish bleach and milk” dumb. I mean “how did you ever figure out how to turn on a computer” dumb.

    I have been on the Internet since 1994. I survived Serdar Argic. I knew of Ted Holden in his heyday. I remember wondering if Alexander Abian considered being featured in the Weekly World News being “published”. I remember the militia movement. I remember the Halloween documents, when Eric Raymond was still at least marginally sane. I remember 9/11 as it ate Slashdot alive. I saw the rise of the blogosphere as a pompous dolt named Dave Winer with a pretentious, overly aerated writing style actually had a good idea for once in his grouchy life. I’ve seen ancient lunacy dredged up and polished off to be pawned off on a new generation of gullible. I saw Kent Hovind’s career descend into self-parody, then crash and burn as he went off to prison. I watched in a mix of horror and amusement as Conservapedia attempted to be taken seriously.

    I have only seen one bonafide kook in all that time quite as ignorantly persistent as you, Happeh. His name was Troy Brooks, and he was a festering wound on the ass of FSTDT.com for the better part of a year. He too gave lots of meaningless and misinterpreted “evidence” and continued to insist that no one could disprove him. You have actually managed to out-fucktard Troy. I have plenty of references to prove what you say is horseshit, Happeh. But I’m not going to cite any of them, as your “theory” is so inane that there’s no point in even trying.

  53. #53 Matthew Cline
    June 21, 2009

    [NOTE: Links to trigger the spam-trapper, in case Orac doesn’t want us feeding Happeh: 1 2 3 4 5]

    @Happeh:

    Can’t you see what is going on? Regular people cannot understand specialists. If they want to be jerks, regular people can say the specialists are making things up.

    The problem is that your expertise has been developed based on something that’s pretty much the same as “clinical experience”. We here regularly reject expertise based on clinical experience because all humans, no matter how smart, are prey to cognitive biases which make clinical experience an unreliable source for expertise. The parts of your arguments that don’t depend on your expertise mainly rest on showing various similarities and then asserting “there is no such thing as coincidence”, but we here firmly believe that there is coincidence; in fact, there aren’t any scientists out there who would use “there is no such thing as coincidence” as a foundation for validating a hypothesis.

    To convince us of your hypothesis, you’d have to:

    1) Do studies/experiments designed to eliminate the “clinical experience” type cognitive errors.

    2) Demonstrate (using something other than your expertise) that the similarities you point out aren’t mere coincidences.

  54. #54 BobbyEarle
    June 21, 2009

    Blake Stacey @6

    It’s all sympathetic magic dressed up in a stolen lab coat so it looks like science.

    This reminds me of the guy who does my brakes. He wears a greasy, off-white overall with the name “Gus” over his left breast pocket. He is a great mechanic, doesn’t charge too much, and is open on Sunday.

    Too bad his name is “Ralph”.

  55. #55 SC
    June 21, 2009

    *adopts languid, antimatter pose*

    Thanks, Lucario. I dig.

  56. #56 Paul Murray
    June 22, 2009

    How about homeopathic moonlight to cure insanity (aka “Lunacy”)? You have to succuss it in a lightproof room, of course. Maybe a course of it will cure homeopathy, too.

  57. #57 David Gerard
    June 22, 2009

    “I’d try the homeopathic positronium, but the wee glass bottles cannae take it, Captain. Ye cannae change the laws of metaphysics!”

  58. #58 ???
    June 22, 2009

    Someone left out: Larry, Curly, and Moe.

    Not to mention Huey, Louie, and Dewey.

  59. #59 alexis
    June 22, 2009

    positronium is great… but i have something that’s almost as funny: a homeopathic remedy called “Vacuum C200″ I called the company to ask how they dilute vacuum… but they wouldn’t tell me ! :-)

    alexis

  60. #60 alexis
    June 22, 2009

    positronium is great… but i have something that’s almost as funny: a homeopathic remedy called “Vacuum C200″ I called the company to ask how they dilute vacuum… but they wouldn’t tell me ! :-)

    alexis

  61. #61 sharky
    June 22, 2009

    The best thing is that according to homeopathic thought, if the remedy’s effects mimic the symptom’s illness, it will be a cure.

    So if an illness ever comes along that causes one to violently explode, homeopathy is already set.

  62. #62 David Gerard
    June 22, 2009

    You have inspired me:

    http://notnews.today.com/?p=538

    I think the picture should suit.

  63. #63 ama
    June 23, 2009

    .

    Vacuum C200 is great!

    Some years ago we guessed how it would be applied best. Do the homeoquacks put vacuum tubes under the pillow?

  64. #64 John H
    June 24, 2009

    The lunacy of these quacks is beyond imagination.

    Have a look at thi ssite, which belongs to a UK magic pill maker:

    http://www.ainsworths.com/AinsworthsRemedyList.txt

    Based on this I posted my stuning new idea on the inestimable DC’s site:

    “Guess That Quackery” is my patented new game for all the family.

    All you have to do is think of something (anything at all) and see if there is a HY pill available from Ainsworths, Helios or Boiron.

    Let your imagination run riot. Animal, vegetable or mineral – the wackier the better. Just think of something and look it up.

    Don’t stop there though. You have the world of “imponderables” and “nosodes” to include in the game. Feel free to include intangible stuff like antimatter or yucky stuff like nasal mucus or cancer cells. The world is your oyster (and beyond – why not try sunlight).

    Earn BONUS points for working out what the sugar pill is intended to cure. Remember kids, “like cures like” so let your imagination run away with you.

    Your kids will love this game (ages 4-85) as they squirm at the thought of consuming leukaemia or leprosy (Don’t worry kids – there are no active molecules left). Or for that frisson of cannibalism why not have an Indian (Bangla Sahib: available in 12C, 15C, 30C).

    Imponderables indeed.

    (All Rights Reserved: QuackGameCo Inc.)

  65. #65 dNorrisM
    June 25, 2009

    If light travels through the Ether, would a homeopathic solution make me invisible?

  66. #66 wolfgang
    June 25, 2009

    As an Austrian citizen i felt obliged to send an e-mail to the IAEA (in Vienna, Int. Atomic Agency)) to inform them that a potentially illegal plutonium stock exist in Austria (www.remedia.at)-
    until now i had no response :(
    However this pharmacy also is producing diluted Vacuum- interesting to see how Vacuum is diluted?????
    There are about 40 people (!) working there diluting Plutonium, dogs shit, vacuum and many other things, but a e-mail to the authorities resulted in some e- mails and in an inspection (!!!!), but I was told that the whole thing was not illegal according to the drug law.

  67. #67 Rob Hinkley
    July 3, 2009

    Indeed, I have to wonder if, were scientists ever to manage to figure out a way to isolate the substance of a black hole and contain it, even if it was an infinitesimal speck, there would be homeopaths there trying to make a homeopathic remedy for it

    Oh Orac, Orac, you’re so behind the times; Black Hole is already available from Helios in 6C, 12C, 30C, 200C, 1M and 10M dilutions.

  68. #68 tom mooney
    July 23, 2009

    I’ve been using homeopathy for 5 years and Plutonium 10M for about 2 years and have found it a very good remedy for me.
    If someone had spoken of splitting the atom 200 years ago they may have got a similar response as you offer homeopathic users.
    Tom Mooney.

  69. #69 Katkinkate
    August 7, 2009

    ” “Homeopathic nonsense.” Does that mean that if one dilutes nonsense enough that it becomes a remedy that can restore sense?”

    Depends on what you use as a diluent. :)

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