Respectful Insolence

The ultimate homeopathic remedy

It’s one of those things that can’t be repeated too many times, but homeopathy is ridiculous. In fact, so ridiculous is homeopathy that I don’t usually write about it all that often. The reason is that, like homeopathic dilutions, a bit of skeptical blogging about homeopathy goes a long, long way (although I’m not sure whether diluting the blogging makes it stronger). True, anti-vaccine ideas are often just as ridiculous, but they’re also dangerous to children, which is why I’ll sometimes write about nothing but anti-vaccine nonsense for several days in a row. Homeopathy, on the other hand, usually doesn’t “inspire” me so, although I do find it to be a very useful example to demonstrate the principles of science-based medicine as compared to evidence-based medicine, specifically how extreme implausibility on basic science grounds alone can sometimes be enough to dismiss a therapy.

So this week, even though it’s only been about a week since the last time I had some fun with homeopathy, it’s time to take the topic on again because I found what perhaps has to be the funniest bit of homeopathic nonsense ever.

Most skeptics are aware of the two main principles of homeopathy, neither of which is based on anything resembling good science. The first principle is known as the Law of Similars, which is commonly phrased as “like cures like.” The concept is that the way to choose a homeopathic remedy is to choose something that causes the symptoms the practitioner wants to alleviate. Of course, there’s no general scientific or biological principle to support the Law of Similars. In reality, it’s nothing more than a variant of ancient concepts of sympathetic magic. Yet it is the main basis of all of homeopathy.

The second big law of homeopathy is known as the Law of Infinitesimals. This is the most famous principle of homeopathy that states that the way to make a remedy stronger is to dilute it, a principle that laughs at chemistry, physics, and biology. Indeed, common dilutions of homeopathic remedies (for example, 30C, which is 30 serial 100-fold dilutions, or a dilution of 1060) have been diluted so much that the odds that even a single molecule remains in the remedy are, well, infinitesimal. That’s why it’s not for nothing that skeptics frequently point out that homeopathy is nothing but water. It’s even loonier than that, though. The reason is that dilution is not enough. At each step, we are told by homeopaths in all seriousness that the succussion at each dilution step is critical to “potentize” the remedy. Samuel Hahnemann himself, the inventor of homeopathy, used to succuss his remedies by slapping them against a Bible. These days, in at least one case, a big company like Boiron have machines that do the succussion automatically for remedies like oscillococcinum up to 200C, which represents a 10400-fold dilution. Given that there are only around 1080 atoms in the known universe, readers can easily see the ridiculousness.

One of the sillier aspects of homeopathy that skeptics frequently forget is how homeopaths determine which remedies are appropriate for each disease or condition. This is accomplished through a mechanism known a “proving.” In a homeopathic proving, healthy subjects take the remedy and then report their symptoms, and through these reports the profile of a homeopathic remedy is discovered. Of course, given that most provings use the highly diluted form of the remedy, rather than the undiluted form, what is being described are reactions to ingesting water. Some reach heights of ridiculousness. After all, who can forget the homeopathic proving of plutonium that I discussed a couple of years ago.

Which makes this proving particularly appropriate.

It’s called Aqua Nova: The homeopathic proving of newly formed water. I kid you not. The appropriateness of this particular proving makes me chuckle, as does the reporting of it. For example, in the introduction, a homeopath named Misha Norland:

Knowing that water is at the root of terrestrial existence, it seems reasonable to expect that a proving might teach us something fundamental about life. Whichever way you cut the cake – whether you consider myth or science – water has many unique and astonishing properties. We are still discovering some of these, and as we do so, we find that water is laden with paradox. By way of example, we are coming to appreciate that water as well as being the best solvent at a chemical level, is also a ‘solvent’ at a subtle level, being exquisitely impressionable to influences: it carries memories. So, how to find water that has not a trace of memory, so that the proving should be of H2O untainted by the reminiscences of where it has been or what it has touched? Is this possible?

Ah, yes. The memory of water. That magical, mystical property homeopaths attribute to it whereby it remembers only the good bits it’s been in contact with and forgets everything else–but only if it’s succussed at each dilution step. Of course, if one is using water as a homeopathic remedy, how does it make sense to dilute water in water, unless the homeopathic remedy is something like deuterium water. Oh, wait. Homeopaths have done that already. Be that as it may, here’s the water these homeopaths are “proving”–Aqua Nova–was made:

Oxygen and hydrogen were produced in an electrolytic cell from distilled water plus sodium hydroxide acting as an electrolyte. This is necessary because pure water is non-conductive. Since sodium is non-volatile it stays in the cell, while any OH ions are of the same composition as water, and therefore add nothing new. The electrodes were energized with 12 volts at 20 amps DC. At the surface of the electrodes the gasses, being newly formed, were mono-atomic. In this state they are highly chemically active, hydrogen having a spare electron that it would like to share in a covalent bond with oxygen, for example, reforming as water (from which it had been wrenched during the electrolysis), or joining with itself to form a molecule of H2.

The gasses were passed through a water trap to ensure their purity: that the gasses did not carry over any of the reagents in the reaction vessel, such as sodium ions or traces of the electrodes themselves. After washing, they entered a thick walled glass vial two thirds filled with distilled water were they bubbled vigorously. The bubbles were ignited by a high voltage electrical discharge causing a series of sharp explosions. After a minute of this, the apparatus was switched off, absolute

alcohol was added and the vial was stoppered. For the purposes of the proving a 30 Korsakovian potency was run up in class from this tincture. Because the product of this process is ‘new’ water, we are calling it Aqua Nova.

Ah, so science-y! And so wrong. What these homeopaths appeared to make is primarily hydrogen and oxygen gases. True, there was probably some reforming of water, but how on earth did they distinguish that relatively small amount of water reforming from the hydrogen and oxygen from the water in which they bubbled their gaseous products? This is apparently how:

Before I had fully assembled the electrolysis cell, hermetically sealing it, I exploded bubbles freshly forming on the surface above the electrodes. I did this without fear of rupturing the vessel because the bubbles were quite small. Using a burning match I set them off – and what a loud and sharp retort! It had the dog bolting out the room as if lightning had struck! When subsequently I sparked the gasses bubbling out of the tube in the collecting vessel, that explosion was of lesser magnitude. The nascent, non-atomic form, as expected, has a very short life.

In other words, these homeopaths subjected water with a little bit of sodium hydroxide in it to electrolysis and then ignited the oxygen and hydrogen formed to make water again, and then succussed it to a 30C dilution in–you guessed it!–water!

They then gave this 30C dilution of water in water to 13 provers, eleven females and two males, each of whom reported their results in a “proving diary.” The hilarious thing about these provings is that each prover apparently had profound experiences in response to this really magically diluted water. I encourage you to read them all yourself. However, I can’t resist presenting one of them just for you from Prover 5:

For me this proving was like a roller-coaster – huge ups and huge downs. The feeling before taking the remedy was one of adrenalin, the feeling in the stomach that you get just before you are blasted into space on the roller-coaster. At the end of it I was left shell shocked – a sort of ‘what the f**k was that’, like I had been catapulted back through the emotions of the last four years. Like I had been taken apart and put back together again but didn’t really know where or who I was.

In the ‘ups’ sex was plentiful, spontaneous and FUN, in the ‘downs’ I have never felt so isolated.

The main theme of the dreams was water – when I was ‘up’ I was calm in the middle of a sinking ship in a storm out at sea and when I was ‘down’ I managed to nearly drown in a sinking ship in an indoor lake (total chaos)! The other theme was of explosions – planes crashing, chaos and I was a calm observer.

Physically feelings of nausea, sore throats (2 am modality) and pain in the right knee.

Wow! That’s some seriously potent water, isn’t it? The magic is very strong in that one. Or…perhaps the symptoms had nothing to do with the remedy. It was, after all, water. Yet more than one of the provers reported high highs and low lows. Interestingly, some reported that sex was better; others reported that it was worse. In fact, the symptoms reported were all over the place. For example, one of the males reported lots of “invading thoughts about sex.” What a surprise. What male doesn’t have lots of invading thoughts about sex?

The other symptoms run the gamut from coughs, not being able to cough, deeper breathing than normal, excessive horniness, lack of interest in sex, flushing, sleeping so heavily that one can’t wake up, being unable to sleep through the night, and a large number of other contradictory symptoms. Eight of the provers had at least one headache. One of them coughed up a small amount of green phlegm, and a couple of others noticed their food tasting funny. The list goes on, including a rather puzzling symptom reported by prover 6, namely “redness of the scrotum (sustained),” noted six months later. What makes this odd is that prover 6 was listed as being female. One wonders at the power of these homeopathic remedies, one does. In any case, reading through the provings, I have to wonder how on earth a homeopath can make any sense out of the panoply of different thoughts and symptoms. The answer, of course, is that they can’t. They claim they can, but they’re just making it up as they go along, particularly given that homeopathic provings are performed with 30C dilutions which are water even when the homeopathic remedy itself isn’t water, as it was in this case.

So what did the homeopaths conclude based on this proving? I think you know: That Aqua Nova can be used to treat disease and that one can make money from it. After all, you can buy whatever dilution of Aqua Nova you want from Helios Homoeopathy. In fact, you can buy “dilutions” of water in water ranging from 6C to 10M. What is “M”? Well, given that “C” is a one hundred-fold dilution, I bet you can guess. That’s right. M equals a thousand-fold dilution. So figure out what a 10M means ten thousand-fold (103) dilutions or a dilution of 1030. Ironically, a 10M dilution is much less dilute than a 200C dilution. Be that as it may, you can also get Aqua Nova custom made into pills, capsules, and an oral liquid.

So basically, £5.46 gets you 8 g of sugar pills into each of which a drop of water diluted 1060-fold in more water. What a bargain! And it works too. It’s been “proven.”

Comments

  1. #1 Dana Hunter
    September 1, 2011

    I meant to be watching Doctor Who fifteen minutes ago, damn it. Now I’m laughing too hard to turn on the teevee. Water diluted with water! Women with red scrotums! How these folks can take themselves seriously, I’ll never understand.

    Thanks for the giggles, Orac. I love everything you write, but this just tickled me through and through. Sometimes, it’s nice to have a good, hard, uncomplicated laugh.

  2. #2 warhelmet
    September 1, 2011

    Yes, it is daft.

    However, I should point out that this post could be construed as being in violation of the UK Medicines (Advertising) Regulations 1994. This product is not registered with the MHRA and those any sort of advertising or promotion is illegal. Similarly, the remedy does not appear in HPUS and it can not be promoted in the US either.

    In the UK, outside of very circumstances involving a pharmacist with a duck strapped to their head, such products can only be supplied on a prescription basis. And only doctors, dentists and vets can write prescriptions for this case of product.

  3. #3 Alan Henness
    September 1, 2011

    For more on the antics of those homeopaths and their hilarious ‘provings’ have a look at Weird Homeopathy by Kash Farooq, including Oscillococcinum: A remedy created from a bacteria that does not appear to exist.

  4. #4 sophia8
    September 1, 2011

    So Big Homeopharm now use machinery to shake their water? Just a couple of years ago I was on a form thread debating homeopathy with a pro-homeopahty poster who said that her mother had worked for years succussing mixtures for a big UK homepathy company; she had been part of a group of women whose sole job was to shake stuff, all day long. When I expressed surprise that the job hadn’t been mechanised long ago, the poster explained that it was a core principle of homeopathy that succussion had to be done by a person, in a rigidly prescribed manner that used only the wrist and hand. She disappeared from the thread when I asked her if her mother had ever suffered any wrist problems as a result.
    So it seems that Big Homeopharma has now discovered that its a core principle that machines can do the job just as well as a human. After all, they’re cheaper and can’t make industrial injury claims.

  5. #5 Jockaira
    September 1, 2011

    Do we live in a crazy world…or not?

  6. #6 anarchic teapot
    September 1, 2011

    @warhelmet
    How in the name of sanity can you construe that Orac is promoting this stuff? He is happily, and with remarkable restraint, taking the mickey out of it in generous helpings.

    Linking ironically (oh, it feels so good not to be using that word in a hipster joke) to Helios is hardly advertising, given the context. If it were, I too would be in danger of having my collar felt by the Plod:
    http://blog.anarchic-teapot.net/2011/08/28/ffs-of-the-week-helios-homeopathy/ (contains profanity).

    Mind you, that post was nowhere near virulent enough and I didn’t really touch on the psychological damage that could be caused by giving children magic medicine to deal with supposed (i.e. parent-diagnosed) emotional problems rather than love, attention and brushing up the parenting skills. There’s some of the harm caused by using homeopathy right there.

    The red scrotum on a woman raises some interesting questions. Are we talking transgender woman here, or have we finally found something that might save nice boys like Chaz Bono a lot of pain and trouble (it’s an unpleasant and risky operation, by all accounts)?

  7. #7 puppygod
    September 1, 2011

    Water in water or red scrotum are fun, sure, but for me the most hilarious part was the description of the process. They write about removing all the possible contaminants left from electrodes in the gases and then, in the next sentence – zap – ignite them by powerful electric discharge.
    Obviously, the latter set of electrodes operating at much higher voltages didn’t produce any contaminants because, uhh… they forgot about them? That’s one very scientific and strict procedure!

  8. #8 Paul
    September 1, 2011

    Excellent as always Orac.

    It never fails to amuse me that fans of homeopathy frequently attack “allopathic” medicine as treating the symptoms rather than the true cause of the disease, when homeopathy is itself all about treating…or rather attempting to treat…the symptoms.

    While we’re on the subject of homeopathy, there’s still 11 hours to go in the silly Guardian homeopathy poll that PZ mentioned on Tuesday http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/poll/2011/aug/30/homeopathy-nhs

    Go vote!

  9. #9 Fleegman
    September 1, 2011

    For me, the biggest no-brainer is, “how do they know what kind of shaking to do?”

    I mean, how do they know that it requires ten shakes, rather than nine? Or that only shaking in one direction is not enough? It’s not like they tested the effects of performing different types of shaking. Big S just made a guess, and he did it against a Bible FFS.

    It’s depressing that there are so many people who will vigorously argue that this rubbish works. Very depressing indeed.

    Oh, and the first part of Prover 5′s diary explains a lot:

    For me this proving was like a roller-coaster – huge ups and huge downs. The feeling before taking the remedy was one of adrenalin, the feeling in the stomach that you get just before you are blasted into space on the roller-coaster.

    WTF has that got to do with the remedy? Talk about being the absolutely opposite of a blind trial. He was expecting amazing things to happen before he even stuck it down his throat.

    Like they say with all things woo (homeopathy, reiki, religion): You have to believe it works in order for it to work.

    How true…

  10. #10 Paul
    September 1, 2011

    Excellent as always Orac.

    It never fails to amuse me that fans of homeopathy frequently attack “allopathic” medicine as treating the symptoms rather than the true cause of the disease, when homeopathy is itself all about treating…or rather attempting to treat…the symptoms.

    While we’re on the subject of homeopathy, there’s still 11 hours to go in the silly Guardian homeopathy poll that PZ mentioned on Tuesday http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/poll/2011/aug/30/homeopathy-nhs

    Go vote!

  11. #11 qetzal
    September 1, 2011

    These “researchers” are deluded if they think they can eliminate water’s memories like that. Their water isn’t new – it’s reincarnated! If people can remember their past lives, do they really think that water – with all it’s magical properties – can’t do the same? Fools!

    Besides, Ancient Reincarnated Water would sell to the rubes – er, I mean patients – wayyy better than “new water.”

  12. #12 JohnV
    September 1, 2011

    I wonder if the OH from the NaOH has memories that are obliterated in this process :(

  13. It’s an argument that can’t be repeated too often. Homeopathy is a)unscientific b)not supported by valid evidence in any field c)potentially dangerous – But people still ask, “What’s the harm”?! – http://coffeelovingskeptic.com/?p=711

    It might just be a sugar pill, but by omission you could be hurting yourself. Or, worse, it might be a ‘poorly’ made homeopathic remedy that actually still has some arsenic in it etc… and cause you harm.

  14. #14 jay.sweet
    September 1, 2011

    Oh. My. God. Homeopathic water. You cannot make this shit up! Seriously, this is a more clever and amusing jab at homeopathy than any homeopathy joke I’ve heard of — but it’s real!

    Just yesterday, I read that Jack White is producing an Insane Clown Posse cover of Mozart’s “Lick My Ass”. Reality is totally messing with me these days, it seems…

  15. #15 Dangerous Bacon
    September 1, 2011

    Regarding the symptoms reported by consumers of the new magic water: “The(y)…run the gamut from coughs, not being able to cough, deeper breathing than normal, excessive horniness, lack of interest in sex”

    This sounds a lot like what one of the big online boosters of apple cider vinegar is claiming (my favorite there is the way ACV is good for both losing and gaining weight). It’s all about normalizing the system (the mystic power of adaptogens). If you’re coughing Aqua Nova will relieve them; if you need to cough, the stuff will make you cough. Overly horny people will become monks, plus the reverse will occur. This could also be phrased as “good for what ails you”, but that’s too much like patent medicine advertising of the 19th century.

    I’d enjoy seeing an Orac post about the miracle of “adaptogens”, since it’s such a staple of woo.

  16. #16 jay.sweet
    September 1, 2011

    These “researchers” are deluded if they think they can eliminate water’s memories like that. Their water isn’t new – it’s reincarnated! If people can remember their past lives, do they really think that water – with all it’s magical properties – can’t do the same? Fools!

    I agree — though I prefer the more scientific-y explanation that since water memory operates on a quantum level, the components of the water memory are retained by the electrolyzed H and O atoms.

    There is a way around this, that could produce “true” Aqua Nova which would not retain any water memory, even on a quantum level. You see, the homeopaths simply need to harvest primordial hydrogen from the Sun!

    The oxygen could present more of a problem… certainly any terrestrial oxygen source has more likely than not been part of a water molecule at some point, and I don’t know enough about stellar evolution to know if our Sun contains significant quantities of oxygen. An interstellar journey to a nearby mid-sized/older star may be necessary in order to harvest virgin oxygen.

    Once the space journey is completed, the hydrogen and oxygen can be combined (I would think combustion would be more effective than the “bubbling” method they use here, but IANAHomeopath, so perhaps I am ignorant on this subject) and the production of homeopathic Aqua Nova can begin.

    So! While I think not all of the problems here have been solved, I think it’s clear the first step is to get all these researchers together and launch them in a rocket aimed for the Sun.

  17. #17 Jake
    September 1, 2011

    asking just for fun:

    couldn’t one consider a vaccine “diluted like curing like”? You make some very good points I’ve been reading through your blogs (not that I’m anyone of relevance really), but you seem angry. And anger I think clouds judgement; be careful not to miss the forest for the trees when slaying your enemies.

    More to the point, in the 40 year war on cancer, why haven’t we made any progress Mr Cancer Surgeon? All your diatribes on whack medicine and false healers is pretty ironic given the dismal state of the cancer treatment in the world. Especially in light of the massive money, effort, marketing, and smoke up ass blowing that’s gone on with it since Nixon “Declare(d) war on cancer!!”.

    Perhaps maybe, just maybe, you’re a practitioner of quack science too. Even if all your “real science” helps you sleep at night after you cut someone up only to die of the same cancer come back worse 1 or 2 years later. Funny thing is, you’re right about 90% of the people and things you take to task in this blog. What’s sad is that you don’t realize as a member of mainstream cancer medicine, you’re not making any more people better from cancer than anyone else is. Irony is a dish best served cold, I’m afraid.

  18. #18 jay.sweet
    September 1, 2011

    These “researchers” are deluded if they think they can eliminate water’s memories like that. Their water isn’t new – it’s reincarnated! If people can remember their past lives, do they really think that water – with all it’s magical properties – can’t do the same? Fools!

    I agree — though I prefer the more scientific-y explanation that since water memory operates on a quantum level, the components of the water memory are retained by the electrolyzed H and O atoms.

    There is a way around this, that could produce “true” Aqua Nova which would not retain any water memory, even on a quantum level. You see, the homeopaths simply need to harvest primordial hydrogen from the Sun!

    The oxygen could present more of a problem… certainly any terrestrial oxygen source has more likely than not been part of a water molecule at some point, and I don’t know enough about stellar evolution to know if our Sun contains significant quantities of oxygen. An interstellar journey to a nearby mid-sized/older star may be necessary in order to harvest virgin oxygen.

    Once the space journey is completed, the hydrogen and oxygen can be combined (I would think combustion would be more effective than the “bubbling” method they use here, but IANAHomeopath, so perhaps I am ignorant on this subject) and the production of homeopathic Aqua Nova can begin.

    So! While I think not all of the problems here have been solved, I think it’s clear the first step is to get all these researchers together and launch them in a rocket aimed for the Sun. Who’s with me?

  19. #19 David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E.
    September 1, 2011

    Jake, you’d do the world more good if you went to play solitaire at the bottom of a fucking lake somewhere without an oxygen supply. Piss off.

  20. #20 Lou Jost
    September 1, 2011

    The red scrotum may not have been her own!!! Guys, better ask your partner whether she drank any Aqua Nova before you have go and have sex with her.

  21. #21 jay.sweet
    September 1, 2011

    I’m going to attempt to answer Jake seriously, in a bulleted list:

    * As far as vaccines being an example of diluted like-cures-like, that’s a superficial resemblance and doesn’t really illuminate anything. It’s like saying that my car can go fast by burning gas, so therefore I should be able to fart myself to the moon. Some of the words are the same, but it’s totally different concepts. For starters, vaccines aren’t so “diluted” that they contain literally none of the original substance… and it’s not so much “like-cures-like” as it is “a similar but weakened pathogen can stimulate an immune response, which will be learned for next time.” Giving a vaccine when you’ve already got the disease, for example, does nothing. It is not really “like-cures-like” at all.

    * Re: “but you seem angry.” Call the tone police! Look, children are dying because of anti-vax, and occasionally other forms of alternative medicine. Damn right some of us seem angry. Moreover, different approaches work on different people. Some people are shaken out of complacency by Orac’s in-your-face tone. Other people respond to a more measured, polite tone; in that case there is an excellent blogger over at sciencebasedmedicine.org who goes by the name of David Gorski whose work you might find more to your liking.

    * As I wrote to someone on Facebook recently, “‘Finding a cure’ is not like ‘buying a car’.” You can’t just be like, “Oh, I’d like a cure. Here’s the money, now give me my cure.” Science doesn’t work that way, unfortunately. Cancer is a very complex and difficult-to-combat suite of diseases. It’s frustrating that there are still no real cures, but it’s also false to say no progress has been made in the last several decades. Immense progress has been made in understanding and treating the many manifestations of cancer.

    * You’re practicing the fallacy of the excluded middle. (Google it) “Mainstream medicine can’t perfectly cure cancer every time, therefore it’s the same sort of quackery as homeopathy, etc.” This is not productive.

    Also… you seem angry. And anger you think clouds judgement; be careful not to miss the stupid for the strawman when looking dumb in front of your enemies.

  22. #22 jay.sweet
    September 1, 2011

    (Reposting without a keyword I think tripped the moderation filter… Orac, go ahead and moderate out my other comment if this one goes through)

    I’m going to attempt to answer Jake seriously, in a bulleted list:

    * As far as vaccines being an example of diluted like-cures-like, that’s a superficial resemblance and doesn’t really illuminate anything. It’s like saying that my car can go fast by burning gas, so therefore I should be able to fart myself to the moon. Some of the words are the same, but it’s totally different concepts. For starters, vaccines aren’t so “diluted” that they contain literally none of the original substance… and it’s not so much “like-cures-like” as it is “a similar but weakened pathogen can stimulate an immune response, which will be learned for next time.” Giving a vaccine when you’ve already got the disease, for example, does nothing. It is not really “like-cures-like” at all.

    * Re: “but you seem angry.” Call the tone police! Look, children are dying because of anti-vax, and occasionally other forms of alternative medicine. Damn right some of us seem angry. Moreover, different approaches work on different people. Some people are shaken out of complacency by Orac’s in-your-face tone. Other people respond to a more measured, polite tone; in that case there is an excellent blogger over at sciencebasedmedicine.org whose work you might find more to your liking.

    * As I wrote to someone on Facebook recently, “‘Finding a cure’ is not like ‘buying a car’.” You can’t just be like, “Oh, I’d like a cure. Here’s the money, now give me my cure.” Science doesn’t work that way, unfortunately. Cancer is a very complex and difficult-to-combat suite of diseases. It’s frustrating that there are still no real cures, but it’s also false to say no progress has been made in the last several decades. Immense progress has been made in understanding and treating the many manifestations of cancer.

    * You’re practicing the fallacy of the excluded middle. (Google it) “Mainstream medicine can’t perfectly cure cancer every time, therefore it’s the same sort of quackery as homeopathy, etc.” This is not productive.

    Also… you seem angry. And anger you think clouds judgement; be careful not to miss the stupid for the strawman when looking dumb in front of your enemies.

  23. #23 MikeMa
    September 1, 2011

    @Jake,
    Mainstream medical cancer therapies have come a long way in 40 years. This includes earlier detection, more precise surgical procedures and more targeted, less debilitating drugs. Woo is exactly where it was 40 years ago. Still bilking the marks for useless crap.

    If your goal is perfect health then cancer therapies are often disappointing. Cancer is not an invasion from outside like a bacterium you kill with drugs. It is a natural process gone amok. An inside job. So rather than expecting to kill the cancer, therapies look to extend useful, pain-free, cancer-free life always knowing that the conditions that allowed the process to fail once can return. Success is always determined by what the goal is.

    As to your snide comment on vaccines = homeopathy. Not relevant at all. Vaccines are not diluted out of existence (in spite of your desire that they should be) and vaccines are tested and verified to work against specific targets. Sugar pills have no such identified results.

  24. #24 lilady
    September 1, 2011

    So what are the “inactive” ingredients or “stabilizers” in homeopathic medicines?

    If you go to a homeopathic practitioner does the practitioner have to shake it and then do you have to drink the potion right there? Could a patient be instructed in the proper shaking technique and take the medicine home for additional dosages?

    Hmm, I wonder if there is a specific “shaking” module as part of the training of a homeopath practitioner.

    And they label doctors and nurses as Big Pharma shills when these homeopaths are obviously shilling for Big Water.

  25. #25 Denice Walter
    September 1, 2011

    What else but homeopathy can cause a sceptic to consult a work about *magic*? I always knew that studying Frazer was important.

    He divides sympathetic magic ino two categories : *homeopathic*- based on similarity, “like cures like” and
    by *contagion*-via contact: if an object once was in contact with another, they *always* remain *in contact*- despite physical realities.

    I think that the second – usually not invoked in relation to homeopathy- neatly explains it: the water in the final product actually *was* once in contact with molecules of the magical-medical substance prior to multiple dilutions and – Avogardo’s number be d-mned – so it remains!( despite physical reality)
    Homeopathy fulfills both conditions of sympathetic magic.

    Similarly: whenever I drive through Philadelphia, I usually see a “Hahnemann Hospital” near Center City. I have thought: “What goes on *there*?” Could it really be a homeopathic hospital? Consider the possibilities! Study Quackedemic Medicine @ Hahnemann! It’s watered down!

    Actually, ( from Wiki) it was named after the Great Man himself. However, it is a normal hospital, not a diluted one.

  26. #26 Garnetstar
    September 1, 2011

    Jake, are you aware of the inexcusable lack of progress that “scientific medicine has made in treating childhood leukemias over the last 40 years?

    Then, something like 90% of children died of many of the varieties of those cancers. Now, after 40 years of fruitless and expensive research, something like 90% of children go into full and lifelong remission after “scientific” treatment.

    Shameful. You should add this to the list of examples that you cite, it really proves your point.

  27. #27 njd
    September 1, 2011

    I’m not sure that Aqua Nova is truly the ultimate homeopathic remedy. On page 10 of the Helios Remedy file ( https://www.helios.co.uk/download/Remedy_File_uk.pdf) we find … vacuum! Presumably a dilute solution of “vacuum” can be used to treat breathlessness?

    Any suggestions on how to dissolve vacuum in water?

  28. #28 MikeMa
    September 1, 2011

    @Denice,
    Hahnemann hospital is one of (I think) four trauma centers in Philly. They do good work in spite of the name. My stepson was airlifted there after a workplace accident. They saved his leg and his life.

  29. #29 Mary
    September 1, 2011

    Well, the EU might be interested–they are looking to treat animals:

    EU votes to spend £1.8million on homeopathy for farm animals

  30. #30 Liz Ditz
    September 1, 2011

    I had forgotten until kindly reminded: Over in England, Kash Farooq has been keeping a list of Weird Homeopathy since 2010, ably assisted by Rob Hinckley.

    If you use twitter, do follow the hashtag #ten23 for all things ridiculing homeopathy.

  31. #31 Edd
    September 1, 2011

    See also http://www.homeoint.org/books/boericmm/g/get.htm – Gettysburg Water and http://www.homeoint.org/books/boericmm/c/carl.htm – Carlsbad Aqua and http://www.homeoint.org/books/boericmm/s/sanic.htm – Sanicula Aqua.

    Clearly it’s the kind of water that’s important.

  32. #32 G.Shelley
    September 1, 2011

    Ah, yes. The memory of water. That magical, mystical property homeopaths attribute to it whereby it remembers only the good bits it’s been in contact with and forgets everything else–but only if it’s succussed at each dilution step.

    Not only that, but it only remembers that it can cure symptoms, it forgers that it as able to cause them.

  33. #33 Cynthia Shahan
    September 1, 2011

    Well, the fear of something more sublime in holistic medicine is considerable in you work. I myself have 25 years plus experience with person, first hand (homoeopathy cured a 7 year bleeding excema in 1 week which has not occurred now in 20 years) second hand clinically 25 years (practice) seeing even more significant cures due to homeopathy. Which, by the way, does not dance with pharmaceutical interests to the tune of Billions — that does not profit into the 500 billions increasing Autism from 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 150. on innocent children who now are on up to 4 drugs a day which interfere with their bone and brain developement — creating such things as childhood suicide, and YES due to vaccines, Vaccines, Are they Really Safe Effective, 100 Years of Orthodox Research (by scientist and researcher Viera Scheibner who read 30,000 studies directly linking crib death to the vaccine given just previous to the death} Dpt: A Shot in the Dark by Harris L. Coulter – Medical Historian who wrote on vaccination and social violence predicting the generation of confused immune response and more violent confused immune system children, confused heart mind connections. Too sad to hear all this uneducated and sorry, propaganda..I could do a clinical paper on this right now — out of the data banks of the government, out of the New England Journal of Medicine. — makes me wonder, is their one or more pharmaceutical companies lining your pockets.

  34. #34 G.Shelley
    September 1, 2011

    hahahaha
    You got the Pharma Shill gambit in just 30 posts

  35. #35 MikeMa
    September 1, 2011

    @ G. Shelley,
    Poor Cynthia Shahan not only invoked the pharma shill gambit but the correlation equals causation fallacy too. I will go out on a limb here and bet that the studies linked to are all crap.

  36. #36 cervantes
    September 1, 2011

    Interesting how the cranks always seem to be syntactically challenged.

  37. #37 Militant Agnostic
    September 1, 2011

    Cynthia Shahan

    I myself have 25 years plus experience with person, first hand (homoeopathy cured a 7 year bleeding excema

    Homeopathy worked really well for young Gloria Sam’s eczema, so well in fact that she died in horrible pain and her parents were sent to prison for failing to get her real medical treatment.

    A Shot in the Dark by Harris L. Coulter – Medical Historian

    Is there something about being named Coulter that cause people to be vile lying anti-scientific idiots?

    I could do a clinical paper on this right now — out of the data banks of the government, out of the New England Journal of Medicine.

    Why don’t you then? We know you won’t because you actually have no scientific evidence.

  38. #38 Reuben
    September 1, 2011

    Ms. Shahan, I know of a child who was diagnosed with autism shortly after (a day or so) drinking orange juice. Do you think I have a claim?

    Bwahahahahaha. Of course not. I’d be laughed out of the room if I suggested that association equals causation, that anyone who disagrees with me is a puppet of some bigger conspiracy, and that my anecdotal experiences somehow proved something which has been debunked through the use of – and I know this is a big word for you to understand – SCIENCE.

  39. #39 Narad
    September 1, 2011

    by scientist and researcher Viera Scheibner who read 30,000 studies

    End of story.

  40. #40 lilady
    September 1, 2011

    “I could do a clinical paper on this right now — out of the data banks of the government, out of the New England Journal of Medicine. — makes me wonder, is *their* one or more pharmaceutical companies lining your pockets.” *[Sic]

    Then why don’t you? Be sure to submit your “clinical paper” to whale.to…or if is not too long why not post it here to get it peer reviewed by our resident trolls?

    BTW, bleeding “excema” is not cured by “traditional medicine”; cortisone creams only work on eczema.

    All in all, this posting is not ready for prime time and certainly does not reflect well on this “second hand clinically 25 years (practice) seeing even more significant cures due to homeopathy”.

  41. #41 Liz Ditz
    September 1, 2011

    The Viera Scheibner that Cynthia Shahan lauds has already been discussed here in The Cost of The Anti-vaccine Movement.

    Yes, Scheibner blames parents who have lost infants to Sudden Infant Death (crib death); if they hadn’t vaccinated their babies they wouldn’t have died. She also denies child abuse: Shaken Baby Syndrome is always vaccine injury.

  42. #42 Militant Agnostic
    September 1, 2011

    Narad @ 36

    Who is Viera Scheibner (other than the world’s fastest speed reader)?

  43. #43 jay.sweet
    September 1, 2011

    Jake was worth taking point by point, but Cynthia’s way too far off the deep-end here I think. Jake only hit 2 or 3 logical fallacies… yeah, three I think: Argument by Analogy (which is not always fallacious, but often is), the “tone police” species of ad hominem, and Excluded Middle. Not so bad. Cynthia’s got like half a dozen in there, so I say forget it.

  44. #44 Fox
    September 1, 2011

    For me this proving was like a roller-coaster – huge ups and huge downs. The feeling before taking the remedy was one of adrenalin, the feeling in the stomach that you get just before you are blasted into space on the roller-coaster. At the end of it I was left shell shocked – a sort of ‘what the f**k was that’, like I had been catapulted back through the emotions of the last four years.

    So.. just so I understand, this individual was experiencing symptoms before even taking the “drug”?

    I know that placebos can sometimes have bizarre effects on particularly suggestible folks, but I never thought I’d see someone claiming they got high on water. Anyone else picturing that scene in Eurotrip where they have a “bad trip” from some hash brownies in Amsterdam, only to find out that the brownies are pot-free?

  45. #45 Edith Prickly
    September 1, 2011

    Who is Viera Scheibner (other than the world’s fastest speed reader?)

    An anti-vax militant. She has her own page on whale.to (that tells you right there how credible she is)as well as several dedicated websites full of frothing nonsense about the usual anti-vax obsessions – vaccines cause behavioural problems in kids including autism, shaken baby syndrome is really “vaccine injury”, influenza epidemics are a hoax, polio vaccine has monkey cooties in it, and so on. In other words, she’s a real piece of work.

  46. #46 Robert M
    September 1, 2011

    Of the numerous things that make no sense why did the homeopath dilute his memory-free super water? That would mean his “medicine” would have the memory of something with no memory. I have to wonder if the active ingredient is stupidity, since it has more of it than most homeopathic remedies, and it has a large enough dose to cause side effects like redness of the female scrotum.

  47. #47 Wrysmile
    September 1, 2011

    I do love it when Homeopaths gone on about big pharma and completely fail to mention that Boiron alone made around 520 million Euros last year selling frickin sugar pills.

  48. #48 lsm
    September 1, 2011

    I have an image festering in my brain that pops up from time to time. On Mercola.com (7/24/08) under the title “Ever Wonder Why Homeopathy works?”is a video made by Dr. William LaValley. This shows a woman dramatically sagging under the weight of her “cure”, because “Every time I take homeopathic medicine I feel worse!”. His response: “Great! That means its working!”

    But to see the complete interview, you must be in his “inner circle of members”.

  49. #49 Narad
    September 1, 2011

    I’m somewhat curious about the acknowledgments to the same site’s proving of “AIDS”:

    Thanks and acknowledgments go to:

    * All the provers who participated willingly and accidentally.

    Accidentally?

  50. #50 JohnV
    September 1, 2011

    @Jake

    “couldn’t one consider a vaccine “diluted like curing like”?”

    No.

    Glad I could clear that up. Any other questions?

  51. #51 S. Williams
    September 1, 2011

    Oh, I would so like to Facebook “Like” this because it is truly hysterical, but my wife is “treating” her bipolar with homeopathy and the last homeopathy link that I posted triggered in her a paranoid rant that then sent her into a bipolar depression. So in a sense, homeopathy has a powerful effect on her condition:-(

    (For the record, her condition is mild enough that the side effects of traditional treatments are worse then the condition, so in this case the total lack of active ingredients is a benefit of sorts; and the placebo effect from her near religious faith actually does help sometimes. *sigh*)

  52. #52 PhiltehViking
    September 1, 2011

    This may be prejudiced, but.

    I always turn on the sirens when I see people capitalizing the words they think are most important/influential in their sentences, while maintaining horrendous grammar and spewing 6 claims per paragraph.
    If you have something worth saying, how come you can’t even get around to structuring your damn thoughts on it?

    Note on Scheibner: bollocks, bollocks, bollocks. I have read over 9000 studies that say homeopathy fails as spectularly as we would expect, do you find my claim credible?

  53. #53 Dianne
    September 1, 2011

    My first glance at this gave me the impression it was about a new product: “homeopathic water”. My first thought was, “What do they dilute it with?”

  54. #54 Dangerous Bacon
    September 1, 2011

    Since someone already beat me to revealing the craziness that is Viera Scheibner (one of poster Cynthia Shahan’s heroic antivax figures), I’ll mention that Harris Coulter has credentials making him equivalent to Viera as an antivax loon.

    For one thing, they each have their own whale.to page.

    Coulter has invented a “post-encephalitic syndrome” that he blames on vaccination, and which includes all sorts of nasty sequelae including a range of neurologic complications, sociopathic behavior (he cites the case of Ted Bundy) and ear infections (he suggests that all such infections are caused by the pertussis vaccine).

    In case you’re wondering what this has to do with homeopathy, there is in fact a connection, mentioned by Coulter himself.

    “…it was my knowledge of homoeopathic theory and practice which made me aware of the evils of childhood vaccinations.

    Specifically, when I started my vaccine research, I immediately came to the conclusion that vaccination was, in reality, a sort of gigantic proving of whooping-cough toxin. Reaching that conclusion, I then proceeded on the assumption that it will effect everyone and every part of the body.

    Thus I regarded the question of vaccination reactions along a spectrum of reactions: from very mild to very serious. When the pediatricians said: only one person in 100,000 (or some equally preposterous figure) has an adverse reaction, I knew that was a non-medical way of talking. If one person has a severe reaction, 100 will have mild reactions. That is just ordinary biological logic, not even specific to homoeopathy. but apparently it helped to have some acquaintance with homoeopathic ideas in order to reach these conclusions.”

    Actually this represents a “proving” of the theory of crank magnetism, but it’s entertaining in its own way.

  55. #55 palindrom
    September 1, 2011

    jay sweet @16 — As an astronomer, I hope I can help you in your quest for water made of truly virgin atoms that have never been in a water molecule ever before. You figured you could get the H atoms from the sun, but where to get the oxygen?

    The sun actually does have a modest abundance of oxygen — but it was formed elsewhere, and then simply fell into the sun with everything else as the sun formed. At present, the solar interior is not yet hot enough to form new oxygen nuclei.

    So, oxygen from the sun raises the same question your mom used to ask when you picked up a piece of candy or something from the ground — Who knows where it’s been? Water is a very common molecule in interstellar space (at least in denser clouds where it’s shielded from dissociation by the interstellar UV radiation field). Any oxygen you pulled out of the sun would probably have been in an interstellar water molecule at some point.

    One good thing, though — any solar oxygen would have probably been heavily ionized during its life. If the memory is stored in the electron shells, then it would have been wiped.

    Of course, this is all brain-meltingly dumb.

    I have to say, after a few evenings playing whack-a-mole with anti-science climate change trolls over at Huffington Post, it’s a real breath of fresh air to see a preponderance of well-educated commenters. There are some dedicated defenders of science over there, but hoo, it’s tough work sometimes!

  56. #56 herr doktor bimler
    September 1, 2011

    Have they tried freezing the water to see if that induces amnesis?

  57. #57 Art
    September 1, 2011

    They do go on about proper procedure and engage in lively debates about the various merits of hand versus machine shaking but I still suspect that as soon as the cameras are off the employees simply fill the bottles with water, slap on the labels, and spend the spare time created playing cards and smoking cigars. Short of catching them in the act the difference between simple distilled water and magic water couldn’t be detected.

    My personal favorite for homeopathic remedy is the one made with real bits of the Berlin wall succuss to 100C. It was ‘proved’ to cause a feeling of confinement and oppression and so is used to treat feelings of confinement and oppression. LOL.

    There is also a homeopathic version of uranium. Which is supposed to get stronger the more it is diluted. Nobody as evidently thought of the dangers of homeopathic plutonium and the risk of dilution a compound too much and blowing one’s self up.

  58. #58 herr doktor bimler
    September 1, 2011

    There is something ineffably weird about treating the putative absence of a water molecule’s memory as a positive property that can be amplified — through succussion — to contaminate other molecules so they also remember being amnesiac.

    Reification, I think, is the particular cognitive error here that is being added to all the usual forms of homeopathic magical thinking.

  59. #59 herr doktor bimler
    September 1, 2011

    Though it belatedly occurs to me that “potentiation and spread of the absence of knowledge through repeated succussion” is a reasonable metaphor for the WWW.

  60. #60 eNOS, but not the guy from Dukes of Hazzard
    September 1, 2011

    For me this proving was like a roller-coaster – huge ups and huge downs. The feeling before taking the remedy was one of adrenalin, the feeling in the stomach that you get just before you are blasted into space on the roller-coaster. At the end of it I was left shell shocked – a sort of ‘what the f**k was that’, like I had been catapulted back through the emotions of the last four years. Like I had been taken apart and put back together again but didn’t really know where or who I was.

    In the ‘ups’ sex was plentiful, spontaneous and FUN, in the ‘downs’ I have never felt so isolated.

    The main theme of the dreams was water – when I was ‘up’ I was calm in the middle of a sinking ship in a storm out at sea and when I was ‘down’ I managed to nearly drown in a sinking ship in an indoor lake (total chaos)! The other theme was of explosions – planes crashing, chaos and I was a calm observer.

    Hey, we have an old bottle of lysergic acid in the lab that we could do some science-y things on, dilute, and achieve these same results!

  61. #61 evilDoug
    September 1, 2011

    … the one made with real bits of the Berlin wall succuss to 100C. It was ‘proved’ to cause a feeling of confinement and oppression and so is used to treat feelings of confinement and oppression. LOL.

    So if you bake a cake using a 1M dilution, can someone use it to break out of jail? It would be a lot easier to get past the guards than a cake with a file in it. The potential for terrorist applications is frightening!

  62. #62 sailor
    September 1, 2011

    Take some scrap of gold slosh it around in water, then dilute that 30c. Use a few drops to pay for your homeopathic remedies and treatments, especially in large pharmacies.

  63. #63 @advodiaboli
    September 1, 2011

    The dog bolted from the room, eh?

    The smartest move by all involved it seems.

  64. #64 GlaxoPharma Com Orbital
    September 1, 2011

    MESSAGE BEGINS————————

    Shills and Minions

    Code M7. I repeat, a Code M7 has been broadcast. This rebel Shahan is on to us. She evidently knows someone who read something and if she is allowed to continue, the jig will be up for our Total PharmaDominion™ plans. If you want to keep your PharmaRiches™ flowing, stop the rebel Shahan at once or we shall be revealed and all of our beautiful, eeeeeevil vaccines shall be destroyed. I recommend Mk VII Thranzors set on “mock”, since the “science” and “fact” settings will bounce off her like Entravian Hemk Adder.

    Stay vigilant and loyal to the Glaxxon Corpus and riches shall be yours!

    Lord Draconis Zeneca, VC, iH7L
    PharmaCOM Orbital HQ
    0010101101001

    ——————————-MESSAGE ENDS

  65. #65 Roadstergal
    September 1, 2011

    Though it belatedly occurs to me that “potentiation and spread of the absence of knowledge through repeated succussion” is a reasonable metaphor for the WWW.

    I like it.

    The potential for terrorist applications is frightening!

    I saw the most lovely comment here back when OBL was killed – “Homeopathy is believing that we cured the world of terrorism by dumping Osama Bin Laden in the ocean.”

  66. #66 Hinterlander
    September 1, 2011

    @ Cynthia – my daughter was vaccinated (MMR) last Tuesday, and the very next day began doing the actions to Incy Wincy Spider. Coincidence?? I Think Not.

  67. #67 Zeeshan A Zakaria
    September 1, 2011

    I understand that a lot of people like to make fun of homeopathy, but the fact remains that it works just perfectly fine. Today’s science can’t understand it, but one day it will. Our knowledge of science is very limited whereas secrets of nature are unlimited.

    For those who don’t believe in homeopathy, can simply visit a good and experienced homeopath for some sort of treatment for themselves, and then make their decision. I had made my decision decades ago, and other than routine health cures, have seen many miracles happening thanks to homeopathy, which ‘scientific medicine’ and ‘doctors’ could never make happen.

  68. #68 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    September 1, 2011

    The feeling before taking the remedy was one of adrenalin, the feeling in the stomach that you get just before you are blasted into space on the roller-coaster.

    Effects before taking the “medicine”? Could this be resublimated thiotimoline?

  69. #69 Manuel
    September 1, 2011

    The “memory of water” was reported in the English version of Pravda in mid-January 2006. I think the Russians have some version of April Fools we don’t know about and people ran with it…

  70. #70 starskeptic
    September 1, 2011

    Heard the one about the homeopathic practitioner who forgot to take his tablets?

    He died of an overdose!

  71. #71 Chris
    September 2, 2011

    Zeeshan A Zakaria:

    I understand that a lot of people like to make fun of homeopathy, but the fact remains that it works just perfectly fine.

    Prove it. Show that it works for a non-self-limiting condition. Let’s start with one that inspired a “miasm” as invented by Hahnemann, syphilis. Show us it works for that bacterial infection without the use of antibiotics.

    Remember the evidence has to be from a well referenced peer reviewed scientific paper.

    Then show us it enabled a person with Type 1 Diabetes to be completely cured and not need to use insulin. With a high degree of evidence. Because “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”

    Show us that it really works, with real and very strong evidence.

  72. #72 Bob
    September 2, 2011

    I’m so glad you lay the respecful insolence smack down all the time, but whenever I see the word homeopathy, all I can think of is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMGIbOGu8q0 (That Mitchell and Webb Look: Homeopathic A&E :-)

  73. #73 xtaldave
    September 2, 2011

    It should be pointed out that this homeopathic water is probably the most expensive water on the planet.

    http://www.bayanimills.com/2011/08/28/51-pounds-for-1l-of-water-diluted-in-water/

  74. #74 Andreas Johansson
    September 2, 2011

    Dangerous Bacon wrote:

    Coulter has invented a “post-encephalitic syndrome” that he blames on vaccination, and which includes all sorts of nasty sequelae including … and ear infections (he suggests that all such infections are caused by the pertussis vaccine).

    If only. (I’m not vaccinated against pertussis, and, well, ear infections suck.) But why should ear infections in particular be affected by vaccination in Coulter’s alternate reality? Why not other infections?

  75. #75 Matthew Cline
    September 2, 2011

    @Dangerous Bacon:

    sociopathic behavior (he cites the case of Ted Bundy)and ear infections (he suggests that all such infections are caused by the pertussis vaccine).

    What?! How does he figure that?

  76. #76 Dangerous Bacon
    September 2, 2011

    In commenting on how wonderful homeopathy is, I’m surprised Zeeshan Zakaria didn’t mention the true reason we nasty skeptical Westerners don’t appreciate it – we’re just too spiritually degraded. From Zeeshan’s blog:

    “May be answer lies in something which once one homeopathy doctor told me, when I was a student in an Eastern European country, that homeopathy is linked to the spiritual state of a person. Those with weaker spiritual state need either very high potency, or these medicines don’t work for them at all. This is why homeopathy generally works just fine for people in the Eastern part of the world, and for children anywhere. Forget about war-lover Americans and people from the similar nations for whom money is god and capatilism is the religion, homeopathy doesn’t work for them, neither do they deserve it.”

    We are not worthy. (:

    Poor Zeeshan doesn’t realize that he’s invoked a definition of placebo effect – the idea that woo will be effective only if you believe in it. Personally I prefer drugs and treatments that are effective even if I am not possessed of the Spirit.

  77. #77 LW
    September 2, 2011

    Ear infections are caused solely by the pertussis vaccine?

    Okay, which of you wicked pro-vaxxers snuck into my apartment and gave my ferret a pertussis vaccination? It may have seemed like a funny joke to you, but she was pretty miserable with the resulting ear infection!

  78. #78 jay.sweet
    September 2, 2011

    What my wife said after reading the Wikipedia page on homeopathy:

    “Oh my god, it’s not medicine, it’s religion.”

    That seems to fit right in with Dangerous Bacon’s observations from ZZ’s blog in comment #75. So yeah, if you believe in magic, homeopathy seems quite plausible.

  79. #79 Richard Smith
    September 2, 2011

    re: Homeopathy only works when you believe that it does.

    How long before skeptics are blamed for homeopathic failures because our negative thought fields are cancelling the positive ones of the test subjects? Or retroactively causing a failure by learning of the test and reading the (poor) results years after the fact? Not that we’ve ever been accused of either before!

  80. #80 Mojo
    September 2, 2011

    @Mephistopheles O’Brien

    Effects before taking the “medicine”?

    Check out the proving of rubber. The “introduction” section mentions things that happened before they had even finished making the remedy:

    Within 5 minutes of beginning the trituration it was announced that the first air strikes had been made against Afghanistan.

  81. #81 Dangerous Bacon
    September 2, 2011

    “How long before skeptics are blamed for homeopathic failures because our negative thought fields are cancelling the positive ones of the test subjects?”

    I confess I don’t entirely understand this, particularly since homeopathy is hyped for its ability to vanquish negative thought fields.

    “The homeopathic treatment works as a purgative, it has the ability to dissolve and release negative thoughts and vibrations – because the remedies are vibrational in nature.”

    It’s Mental Emotional Detox!!!

    But…do we use anionic homeopathic solutions to repel the negative thoughts, or cationic solutions to neutralize them?

    It’s so confusing.

  82. #82 kd
    September 2, 2011

    For those who don’t believe in homeopathy, can simply visit a good and experienced homeopath for some sort of treatment for themselves, and then make their decision. I had made my decision decades ago, and other than routine health cures, have seen many miracles happening thanks to homeopathy, which ‘scientific medicine’ and ‘doctors’ could never make happen.

    I changed my mind about homeopathy recently. I was mildly thirsty, and a couple full bottles of Aqua Nova cleared that right up! I am now a true believer in homeopathy’s profound effect on dehydration. After repeated uses I’ve also noticed significant weight loss! My wallet is surprisingly lighter than it was before I began receiving these treatments.

  83. #83 daedalus2u
    September 2, 2011

    They could get “real” new protons. They just have to get some neutrons and let them decay, then they will have new protons. Light water separated from CANDU reactors should be mostly from new protons, either from neutrons that decayed, or from deuterons that were split by high energy gammas.

    You could get new oxygen isotopes too. There are plenty of places with PET scanners that have the facilities to make new isotopes. They make F18 which decays to O18.

    Since you dilute it to nothing, radioactive contaminants won’t matter.

  84. #84 mikmik
    September 2, 2011

    Why, oh why, does the one and only woo on the planet that could actually base their effects on quantum mechanics, entanglement, THEY DON’T DO IT??!!?

    starskeptic, I almost blew a hole through my laptop screen, I spewed so hard.

    Cynthia Shahan, I have performed an accumulated two hundred thousand experiments using water on my own person over a span of 18,994 days and have stumbled upon an undiscovered isomer of dihydrogen oxide water in which the H2O molecules exist in a stable upside down state. I have managed to isolate several litres of the new compound. I have actual written down observations of data that shows when using this new isomer of water, it is several orders of magnitude more memory retentive. This means that we no longer have to dilute to 30C, or even 60C. My research shows that 11 or 12 C dilutions with half the volume of water is more powerfully recorded with similars than even our most powerful solutions of pure vacuum at 200C. What this means is that we can now save millions of litres of water annually that is better used in new dilution cascades, and the shake machines will need fewer oil changes. This is extremely technical for the average homeopath to understand so I have translated my findings into more familiar jargon you can understand. I am sure you will facilitate the spread of this great news:

    We have make new ways for upside down similars treat them. Handle with care information for special expensiver therapy. Soon more money income. Lots!

  85. #85 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    September 2, 2011

    Check out the proving of rubber.

    Buwahahahahaha! Stop it! Please tell me that’s like The Onion of homeopathy. The diluted a latex, lubricated, non-spermicidal condom? The extreme cruelty, as the tree is slowly bled to death? What next, antimatter? Wait, that’s there. Roadkill badger (badger badger)? Stop, you’re killing me.

    That can’t possibly be a serious site. Can it?

  86. #86 LW
    September 2, 2011

    Homeopathic antimatter.

    Like cures like.

    So homeopathic antimatter cures symptoms of being reduced to energy by matter/antimatter mutual annihilation. That’s a very common problem. Good thing there’s a cure.

  87. #87 Charles
    September 3, 2011

    You remind me of something I heard about, real science. A lab (NIST or someone like that) was manufacturing superpure water for use in physics experiments. I forget how pure but we’re talking eliminating contaminants to like one molecule out of tens of trillions. But there’s one problem, water is the universal solvent. You pour it into a glass bottle and it starts dissolving the silicon into the glass. It’s contaminated. Same with plastic bottles.

    So how do you store superpure water? In a bottle of of super-pure ice. You get a regular glass bottle, lower the temp below 0C, and then spray superpure water on the inside walls. That first layer will dissolve a bit of silicon and then freeze. Keep adding layers, it will become superpure ice after a few more layers. Then pour in the superpure water, freeze it. When you need the water, melt a little in the middle of the container without touching the sides.

    That is the cleverest thing I ever heard.

  88. #88 Steelclaws
    September 3, 2011

    @79: What do you mean how long till skeptics are blamed for negating homeopathy tests by negative thought fields? One alternut I know of has been doing exactly that:

    “And what I’m thinking is that Rand himself may have had an effect on himself may have had an effect on the outcome with his thoughts – thoughts are things, they are vibrations, some people can effect things with thoughts and Rand might have neutralised the experiment.” Message-ID: "Note in the following all the homeopathic studies work EXCEPT homeopathic studies work EXCEPT where james randi is present." Message-ID: <6hxBo.1654$gM3.1...@viwinnwfe01.internal.bigpond.com

    http://groups.google.com/group/misc.health.alternative/msg/cee198fbe7dfb1ea?&q=annotated+carole

  89. #89 Scottynuke
    September 3, 2011

    If that’s the cleverest thing you ever heard, Charles, please keep listening here. You’re certain to be amazed beyond belief.

  90. #90 Hugh Cary Oates
    September 4, 2011

    “…absolute alcohol was added and the vial stoppered.”
    Does Absolute Vodka know it is being used for this purpose? No wonder the one reporter said she/he had a roller-coaster ride.

  91. #91 homeoshare
    September 5, 2011

    well’ being sceptic about homeopathy is good, but misleading your readers with false facts- thats the crazyness!
    i have seen Homeopathy do some amazing things such as curing CFS (CHRONIC FATIGUE SYNDROME) and many other diseases which our great western medicine was helpless about and couldn’t help.
    a witchcraft? magic? misleading facts? i don’t think so!
    i hope some day you will participate in a big Proving that could show you how wrong is your attitude twards Homeopathy.

    cheers
    Homeoshare

  92. #92 Lawrence
    September 5, 2011

    That would be fantastic – I would love to see how you manage to violate the laws of physics!

  93. #93 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    September 5, 2011

    Homeoshare – better yet, could you point out a well designed, double blinded, independently reproduced study that shows that a homeopathic remedy diluted more than 12C produced a noticeable beneficial effect and worked better than a placebo? Alternatively, could you devise a method to distinguish between a homeopathic remedy and a placebo by any means (this could win you a cool million bucks from James Randi)?

  94. #94 lilady
    September 5, 2011

    Oh, I thought we were doing a big proving here. I believe that “like cures like” (non-existent medicine cures non existent diseases).

  95. #95 Calli Arcale
    September 6, 2011

    Homeoshare — if it’s good to be skeptical about homeopathy, why do you call it misleading to point out weak claims? Because you’ve “seen Homeoopathy do some amazing things”? It’s good, then, to be skeptical about homeopathy . . . except for *your claims* about it. We’re supposed to take your word.

    Either you are saying “it’s good to be skeptical” only to be polite to opposing views, or you don’t really understand what the word “skeptical” actually means. Or, more likely, both.

  96. #96 Earl Mardle
    September 7, 2011

    I’ve had a few interactions with homeopathy and I’m still open to demonstrations for a simple reason. When my daughter was teething, the initial symptom of an approaching episode of pain was the reddening of her cheeks. We immediately gave her a couple of drops of homeopathic Chamomilla and the reddening went away and the threatened attack did not occur.

    I have no idea how that worked but it was sufficiently consistent for me to accept that something was going on. She was too young to be susceptible to placebo effect and, since the attacks were aborted before the pain started it could not have been due to us saying “all better now” or whatever that might have triggered such an effect.

    We also used Arnica for the bruises of childhood and I still use it, albeit herbal rather than homeopathic, for my own bruises. Again, it may be placebo in my case but not for my daughter who was too young to know. I would like to know what was happening.

    I have experimented with the placebo effect in treating my occasional asthma by going through the process of taking a puff of Ventolin, while not actually squeezing the trigger. For incipient events it works about 60% of the time. Could it be that the homeopathy is, for sentient adults a form of similarly systematized placebo effect? Has anyone tested that case?

    Finally, while the “like treats like” sounds like magical thinking, I am open to the idea that, in some cases, similar pathways or processes may be shared between the treatment and the illness, and that by either stimulating or blocking those pathways/processes, the illness or its symptoms may be attenuated. Given that acupuncture is being more widely accepted as having some measurable effect and explains that effect in a similar way, we can’t wholly discount the possibility.

    Finally, it is one thing to claim that something cannot be the case because it is scientifically inexplicable and for the process not, in fact, to be the case. I read recently a piece on anaesthesia which talked about how it is used, the range of pharmaceuticals involved, the calibration of effect and the matching to the patient, a completely operational approach, while conceding that scientists still have no adequate explanation for how it works.

    I agree that any therapy should be repeatable (as with my daughter’s teething solution) and any test of it should be public and impartial. So rather than filling items such as these with lambastings, on a scientific blog, should you not be pointing to the trials and, if they have not been conducted, asking why?

    Life, and science, is littered with the corpses of both those theories that were long accepted and later shown to be false, and those who mocked that which was later shown to be more true; everything else is hot air.

  97. #97 Michelle
    January 17, 2012

    Thank you Earl for presenting a rare open mind. It’s not my habit to get into debates about homeopathy but I did feel the urge (don’t know why) to respond. I’m a rationalist by education (Physics and Computer Science) and as such, when I was diagnosed in 2000 with life threatening tumors on my thyroid I didn’t consider anything besides an operation. Due to an insisting friend I tried homeopathic treatment as a last resort before proceeding with surgery. After a month there was an evident improvement and after 6 month a complete “miracle cure” as the endocrinologist called it. It’s nearly 12 years after, and there was no recurrence of the condition since.
    When my 2nd child was born with digestive tract issues (leaky gut syndrom, celiac and severe food allergies) such that he couldn’t digest fats and proteins and was found allergic to most foods, it took 2 years of suffering and several doctors proclaiming him physically and mentally disabled, till I was ready to give homeopathy another chance. I chose carefully his homeopath and after one month his rashes and itchings cleared and after one year he was free of most of his food allergies and his tummy aches. Developmentally he is no different than his age group any more. I’m so thankful for maintaining an open mind, even though I had no clue how it could work.
    Isn’t it the empiricist as opposed to the theorist who benefits and advances mankind?

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