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Homeopathy - all the idiocy that fits

Articles about homeopathy

Of all the things called "alternative medicine" the most ridiculous must be homeopathy. It's even sillier than iridology.

For those unfamiliar with the origins and principles of homeopathy, it was invented in the late 18th century by Samuel Hahnemann. It had no less success than the conventional medicine of the time and probably saved the lives of many people, simply on the basis that people get better from many illnesses without any intervention, so doing nothing (which is essentially what homeopathy is) could often produce better outcomes than bleeding, purging, cauterisation and amputation. The difference is that medicine has moved on and no longer does those things (or does them differently and for different reasons).

Homeopathy still relies on the principles set out at its invention. One of these principles is the Law of Similarities, which says that something which produces symptoms in large doses will be useful to treat diseases that have those symptoms. To determine what can be used for what, various things are subject to "proving" where they are administered in increasing doses until a reaction is observed. This reaction is then recorded, and when a patient presents with the same signs the homeopath can use a preparation of the cure to fix things. Jalapeno peppers would be a candidate for the treatment of excessive sweating and cat hair has potential as a treatment for hay fever. Presumably cyanide would provide a useful treatment for death.

To avoid the obvious problem, a second principle is invoked: the Law of Infinitesimals. This states that the more dilute a substance is, the better it will work against the "proved" symptoms. There are two sorts of dilution in common use - X and C. To make an X dilution, you take one tenth of the sample and mix it with nine parts of diluent. To make a 10X preparation, the dilution process is carried out ten times, each time taking one tenth of the mixture and diluting it. At each stage, the mixture is "succussed", which means hit in a certain fashion. Sometimes succussion requires the container to be tapped against a particular object, such as a leather-bound book. Preparations can be made at 6X, 10X etc. More powerful preparations can be made using the C method, where the dilution is one in a hundred each time. I have heard of M preparations where the factor is one thousand, but I assume these could only be handled by very experienced laboratories.

The folly of traditional homeopathy can be illustrated to even the simplest of minds, a fact that does not seem to deter those with "minds" coming in under the "simplest" score. As an example, someone suggested to me recently that a daily dose of 5 grams of some calcium salt could be taken in 6X homeopathic form to treat some condition or other. A simple calculation showed that this would require the patient to consume 49,995.995 kilograms of lactose per day to get the recommended dose of calcium. This weight of tablets will not fit into the back of your average semi-trailer, and would therefore require at least two truckloads of pills per day. Every day. (The same person had said that 30X preparations were so powerful that they should only be taken when under the care of a fully-qualified homeopath. To get 5 grams out of a 30X preparation, the daily weight of tablets would be just under the mass of the Earth. Every day.)

Faced with situations like this where the choice was either to eat the weight of forty small cars per day, drink a volume of liquid equivalent to one and a half petrol tankers or to take a manageable quantity of medicine that could not possibly contain any measurable amount of medication, the homeopaths have sought desperately for a resolution of the dilemma.

What they came up with was the memory of water. I assume lactose has a similar memory, but nobody seems to be talking about it. The memory of water voodoo says that water remembers things that it has been in contact with even after all traces of the substance have been removed. Strangely, however, it doesn't remember the bottles or bladders it has been stored in, or the chemicals that may have come into contact with its molecules, or the other contents of the sewers it may have been in at one time, or the cosmic radiation which has blasted through it. It just remembers the one thing that the "researcher" wants it to remember.

Then they tell us they can transmit this memory by email, but that's a story for another time

Water has a whole lot of special chemical and physical properties that nothing else seems to have. The molecules in liquid water keep grouping and ungrouping, combining and recombining into tiny crystals and patterns. This has a lot to do with the way life looks on earth and why water is essential for life. It also has a lot to do with why water is an almost universal solvent. What it hasn't anything to do with is the idiocy of homeopathy.

Homeopaths have adopted this "memory of water" nonsense in an attempt to recover from the disaster that arises whenever anyone who can think thinks about the ramifications of continuous dilution. In order to explain how something can continue to act even after all of its molecules have disappeared, it was necessary to invent the concept of "memory of water". Despite there being severe logical, philosophical and scientific reasons why any "memory of water" is a vacuous idea, and despite the fact that nobody has even come up with any even remotely feasible way of testing the concept, the homeopaths have simply willed it into existence. They then refer back to the weird way water molecules react with each other to say "see, some of these temporary structures could code for molecules that they have seen before".

The real problem for them is that, even if "memory of water" was both possible and proven, it would not make homeopathy any less ridiculous. You see, homeopaths go further by claiming that they can selectively control what it is that water remembers. We have the situation where they are claiming to do the impossible while working with something that does not even exist in the first place.

Let's look at making a typical homeopathic remedy. I have randomly chosen a treatment for cholera, which simply consists of a 30X preparation of human excrement. I won't bore you with the procedure because it just consists of successive dilutions and succussions. It's the final product I'm interested in.

How does the preparer ensure that only the excrement is remembered and nothing else? Remember how I mentioned that water is an almost universal solvent? How was the preparation controlled to eliminate the possibility that the water remembered any of the non-excremental molecules that it might have come in contact with? For example, if it had instead remembered the molecules in the glass preparation vessel, we might have ended up with a treatment for silicosis. What if the preparer had breathed out through her mouth and the air above the preparation vessel had become contaminated by mercury vapour coming off her fillings. Some of this could have become dissolved in the water and then we might have come up with a treatment for _____ (fill in whatever mercury in fillings is causing this week). If she smoked, we might get a cure for lung cancer. If some of the nitrogen in the lab air had got into the water, a cure for the bends might have resulted, and a tiny fragment of asbestos blown in from a nearby demolition site might have been remembered and a treatment for mesothelioma been produced. None of these would be of any use to the poor person sitting outside waiting for a cure for diarrhoea (well, sometimes sitting, sometimes hurrying to sit elsewhere).

If it were to be proved conclusively tomorrow that water can retain molecular structures related to other molecules that had been near the water ones, homeopathy would still be a stinking crock. Diluting it by a factor of 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 would not make it more powerful or make it smell less.

Ratbags Holistic Health Academy
Training course for homeopaths

Some may think that all you have to do to become a homeopath is get a copy of Materia Medica and practice diluting and succussing. There is in fact a comprehensive training program.

  1. Remove the brain. It does not have to come out in one piece, so any method may be used which does not damage the skull too much.
  2. Blend the brain with 10 times its weight in sand.
  3. Take 10% of the mixture and blend that with 10 times its weight in sand.
  4. Repeat step 3 20 times.
  5. Pour the final mixture back into the cavity where the brain was.
  6. If the brain was removed by trepanning or arthroscopy, seal the hole in the skull with a cork (do not use a rubber bung). If the entire top of the skull was removed, put the top back on carefully and apply an electric current vertically until the bone knits again.
  7. Succuss the head twice on each side with a brick.
  8. Award certificate of competence.

It should be noted that some less reputable training institutions have been offering accelerated courses which leave out the first 6 steps. To ensure that your homeopath has been properly trained, look for the horizontal scar running around the head just above the eyes, or ask to see the cork.

See some more about homeopathy here and here.



Click for a larger (and ruder) version


Some things are useless (4/12/2004)
Keen-eyed readers of James Randi's weekly commentary will have noticed the following picture last week. It shows two astronomers, a doctor, a professional skeptic, a film producer and me attempting to commit suicide by taking massive underdoses of homeopathic sleeping tablets at the recent Australian Skeptics convention. Despite swallowing many more tablets than the recommended dose on the packet, we were all able to stay awake for Phil Plait's excellent talk about mad and bad astronomy.

People attempting suicide with sugar pills.


Homeopathy is bunk! So what's new? (27/8/2005)
A Samuel Hahnemann. It's all his fault.study published in The Lancet in August 2005 (The Lancet 2005; 366:726-732) looked at the results of 110 clinical trials of homeopathy and came to the following conclusion:

The evidence for a specific effect of homoeopathic remedies is weak, according to a study. The investigators conclude that the clinical effects of homoeopathy are compatible with placebo effects. Aijing Shang and colleagues compared randomised placebo-controlled trials of homoeopathy with matched RCTs of allopathy. When the analysis was restricted to large trials of high quality there was no convincing evidence that homoeopathy was superior to placebo, whereas for conventional medicine an important effect remained.

You can only read the paper in The Lancet if you pay some money, but a fair representation of the findings can be found in this BBC news story. And what are the homeopaths and alternauts saying about this scientific research revealing the vacuity of this particular magical fraud? Well, not much at all as far as I can see. This is consistent with history, where the one or two unreplicated experiments which show some faint indication of statistical significance are shouted to the rooftops (ignoring all criticisms of the research methods and statistical analyses used) and anything approaching science and common sense is either ignored or rejected. As an example, the BBC article quotes some unnamed spokesperson for homeopathy who says:

It has been established beyond doubt and accepted by many researchers, that the placebo-controlled randomised controlled trial is not a fitting research tool with which to test homeopathy

In other words "This stuff is so useless that the standard tests for efficacy of pharmaceuticals can't show that it works, but that's OK because we are going to keep selling it anyway".

Every now and then I get some complaint from a homeopath about my article "Homeopathy - all the idiocy that fits". Here are a couple of recent examples. (The first was sent to the Australian Council Against Health Fraud.) I usually don't reply, as I have enough to do without wasting my time on people who believe in magic. I wonder if Mr Barr would allow me to watch him going through the 800 steps which a non-lying homeopath has to perform to make a 200C preparation, or would he just go out to the kitchen and fill the bottle with water and then let me watch him sticking the label on the bottle.

Date sent: Sat, 13 Aug 2005 05:30:08 -0700
From: Roger Barr
Subject: Homeopathy

Your article "Homeopathy - all the idiocy that fits" is wonderful in its lack of scientific method.

When there is a reproducible natural phenomena that is not understood (like say ... gravity, or like cures like, or the power of homeopathic dilutions) you dont dismiss it, off hand, because some of the attempted explanations for the phenomena dont make sense or fit with your conception of the universe. Instead you investigate the phenomena _thoroughly_ and attempt to find a better theory that fits the facts.

Your grasp of scientific method is as good as the 14th century papacy.

Roger


Date: Sat, 20 Aug 2005 16:36:10 -0700
From: Roger Barr
Subject: come out of an anus and see the light

Dear Proctologist,

All you have to do is visit any homeopathic pharmacy to see the remedies made, exactly as claimed.
Roger Barr

Professional Homeopath


True homeopathy (3/9/2005)
I The Australianwas contacted by a journalist on Friday, August 26, for comments about homeopathy. The journalist was writing a piece about the study published in The Lancet which demonstrated, yet again, the uselessness of magic water treatment. I pointed her towards things I had written about homeopathy, explained the scientific vacuity of it and the fraudulent nature of claims that 200C preparations are actually made in practice, and commented on the irony that in the centenary year of Einstein's publication of his paper on Brownian motion we should even be talking about anything based on the idea of infinite dilution.

The reporter took the time to ensure that she had my correct affiliations (with Australian Skeptics and the Australian Council Against Health Fraud) to go with any quotes of what I had said. You can see the final article here.

I assume that I was not the only person interviewed who expressed scepticism about this quackery, but the only person quoted at all in the article was the president of the Australian Homeopathic Association, who dismissed the idea that clinical trials could say anything about homeopathy. And he got the last word. Sigh!

As an aside, because Peter Torokfalvy from the AHA said that homeopathic preparations have to be individually prepared I sent the following email to him asking for his support in a campaign to remove homeopathic "medicines" from pharmacies. He has not yet replied.

Subject: True homeopathy
Date: Sun, 28 Aug 2005 00:00:29 +1000

Dear Mr Torokfalvy,

I see from an article about homeopathy in today's Australian that you say that homeopathy must be based on individual treatments.

I assume from that statement that you are just as opposed as I am to the sale of prepackaged "homeopathic" products in pharmacies. I look forward to working with you and the Australian Homoeopathic Association to rid pharmacies of these false "homeopathic" products, which by both your definition and mine can only be considered to be examples of quackery and medical fraud.

Thank you.


A complimentary email:

From: Brad Miller
Subject: Homeopathy
Date: Tue, 09 May 2006 03:14:56 +1000

Hello Brad,

Ha! Can't you do better than that? I would have thought that someone of your undoubted intelligence would have at least tried homeopathy out to see if it had any effect!?

I have tried it. There is a picture at http://www.ratbags.com/rsoles/history/2004/12december.htm showing me trying it.

Tell you what - I'll supply you with Belladonna Atropa 200c on pillules and you take 1 pillule every hour for 12 hours and we can see what happens.

PO Box 1166, Parramatta NSW 2124

Bet you don't take me up on this!

You lost the bet.

Bet your just a big flaccid windbag!

I will be watching the PO box. Put up or shut up.

Double dare you - come on put your money where your mouth is.

It's not my money, it's yours. The address is above. Get wrapping and posting.

Nah, I guess all skeptics are alike - big tough bullies with a pussy soft centre - full of fart but no follow through.

Will the pills make me fart?

Guess I won't be hearing from you

You guess wrong.

Brad Miller


Ha! Homeopathy can't kill me! (17/6/2006)
Last month I was challenged by a homeopath to put my mouth where his money was and to take some 200C belladonna tablets. When I didn't immediately respond he sent me a couple of emails suggesting Belladonna. Click for a larger image.that I was too scared to take the pills, so I told him that I was going to take a massive overdose at a coming dinner meeting. He then told me that this just showed that I didn't know anything about homeopathy because he had told me that to get the effect (an effect which was not specified) I had to take one pill every hour for twelve hours. I have now done that as well, and the effect was surprising. Well, it would have been surprising if I had been expecting to suffer the effects of belladonna as set out in my excellent 1930 book on these matters, A Modern Herbal by Mrs Maud Grieve, where it says that I should have been experiencing "Strange indescribable feelings with giddiness, yawning, staggering or falling on attempting to walk; dryness of mouth and throat, sense as of suffocation, swallowing difficult, voice husky; face at first pale later suffused with a scarlatiniform Several days' dose of belladonna.rash which extends to the body; pupils widely dilated; pulse, at first bounding and rapid, later becomes irregular and faint". What I actually experienced was nothing at all.

The pills that were supplied to me were indistinguishable from those little sweets used on top of birthday cakes (called "hundreds & thousands" in some places and "nonpareils" elsewhere). While doing the grocery shopping yesterday I saw these things on sale for $1.16 for 180 grams, so there is a nice little mark up for any homeopath putting a few dozen of the sweets in a bottle and selling it for a few dollars. You can add financial fraud to medical fraud. The picture at the right shows about two days doses in the palm of my hand. (I apologise for the quality of the picture, but it had to be grabbed from a video as persons unnamed in my home have misplaced my digital camera.)

So, the situation at present is that when I take the pills as directed nothing happens, and when I take a week's worth at once nothing happens. But what else would you expect from something which, according to its label, contains nothing at all.


I am exposed to some real science (24/3/2007)
This Water looking for another molecule to mate withshattering revelation of the plausibility of homeopathy fell into my inbox this week.

Date: Mon, 19 Mar 2007 01:14:12 -0700
From: Malcolm Wright
Subject: Homeopathy

Hi,

I thought I would send you a link to an interesting article, relevant to the articles you have ranting against homeopathy on your site.

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn3817

I don't use homeopathy, but I found that your derisive approach to the principles of it was pompous and motivated by an inflated ego rather than a desire to help people. As is often the case, diatribes concerned with beating one's chest rather than with the pursuit of truth expose one to ridicule: and I found this New Scientist article provides a satisfying dose of truly scientific behaviour in relation to homeopathy.

Although this does not rightfully consititute 'hate' mail, I do hope you include it on your site.

Cheers, M

The facts and the figuresI decided to go beyond the New Scientist article, so I had a look at the paper itself. Elsevier wanted $30 for me to read the whole thing, so I only looked at the abstract:

Thermoluminescence of ultra-high dilutions of lithium chloride and sodium chloride
Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications
Volume 323 , 15 May 2003, Pages 67-74

Ultra-high dilutions of lithium chloride and sodium chloride (10−30 gcm−3) have been irradiated by X- and γ-rays at 77 K, then progressively rewarmed to room temperature. During that phase, their thermoluminescence has been studied and it was found that, despite their dilution beyond the Avogadro number, the emitted light was specific of the original salts dissolved initially.

Here are some observations:

  1. The experiment has not been replicated in the last four years, not even by the original researcher.
  2. The experiment was not blinded, so the researcher was aware at all times of what solution was being tested.
  3. The journal seems a strange choice for publishing this kind of research, particularly as the researcher was specifically trying to prove something about homeopathy.
  4. The experiment was carried out using heavy water because "it has stronger hydrogen bonds than normal water". Do homeopaths use heavy water?
  5. Without reading the full paper I can't say how many samples of each solution were tested, but each sample would have had to have been separately prepared from scratch and this is very time and labour intensive.
  6. If only one sample of each solution was tested, what is the variability of the measuring instrument, and were the differences detected significantly outside this variability?
  7. Was the "pure" water sample prepared in the same way as the others? If not, any differences could have been due to impurities in the control sample.

I'm not going to suspend my disbelief in the violations of physics, chemistry and logic necessary for homeopathy to make sense (let alone actually work) until I see some real research. By real I mean replicated, double-blinded, and carried out by people who don't have a pre-existing belief in magic. N-rays, anyone?


Homeopathy redux (31/3/2007)
I would like to publicly thank all the readers who sent me copies of the paper I mentioned last week from Physica A which supposedly demonstrated that the theory behind homeopathy has some substance. The paper answered one of my questions - the water-only sample was diluted and succussed just like the active ingredient samples. The explanation for why heavy water was used instead of what homeopaths actually use was a little obscure, and seemed to be because D2O produces a larger effect in some circumstances. If this magnifies the effect to make differences easier to detect then it might have been a reasonable action, but I remain unconvinced. The experiment did not represent what is supposed to go on in a homeopathic factory. The paper was also ambiguous about who actually prepared the samples, and there is the real possibility that they were made by a manufacturer of homeopathic nostrums and the experimenters took the labels on trust. Regardless of who made the samples, the experimenters were not blinded and they knew what they were supposed to be testing at all times. René Blondlot would have felt quite at home in this laboratory.


WTF, OMFG, LOL, FFS, ... (24/10/2009)
I was really at a loss for acronyms when I discovered that the light from Saturn has homeopathic qualities. That's right - the reflected light from a planet can cure things. You might think I'm making this up or I read it at The Onion or some other satire site, but no, this comes from Interhomeopathy, "an international internet journal for the promotion of Homeopathy". It must therefore be true.

Saturnus - a powerful medical treatment

Before I start I should explain that a homeopathic "proving" is the testing of something to see what symptoms it produces. Once this has been established it can then be used in homeopathy to treat those symptoms. As examples, homeopathic house dust can be used to treat asthma and homeopathic ethanol can be used to treat hangovers and injuries from car accidents. I do not want to be part of the "proving" trial which "proves" that cyanide causes death and so is a useful homeopathic resurrection remedy.

Here is what this international homeopathic journal had to say about the proving:

1. Introduction
The remedy was made by exposing powdered milk sugar to a powerful telescope in Boston, Massachusetts while it was focused on the planet Saturn during April 2009.
The remedy was triturated to a 3C on July 25, 2009 by a group of 7 people in Buffalo, New York.
Six of the 7 ground and scraped the milk sugar while one person took notes.
Two knew what the substance was; the rest did not.
The provers were:
four white females: ages 24, 38, 54, 54
three white males: ages 18, 19, 24

2. Saturn in astronomy, myth, and astrology
As a homeopath and astrologer, I have been fascinated by the homeopathic application of the planetary lights (Venus) and other celestial remedies such as Luna, Sol, and Polaris, as well as the astrological overlap with homeopathic Uranium, Neptunium, and Plutonium.
The first planet I could get my hands on, as it were, was Saturn – very visible this past spring in the night sky and one of my favorite astrological subjects. I was very interested to see if there were an overlap between the astrological meanings and the homeopathic ones, since that has been the case with the other celestial remedies.

To avoid the risk of brain damage, I will leave out the discussion of astrology, other esoteric matters and the results of the proving and cut directly to the conclusion:

Conclusions
It is interesting that the trituration proving reflected some themes of Saturn that appear in myth and astrology. (The spontaneous drawing of the Horned Pan figure is of course amazing!)
From a homeopathic point of view, both the physical symptoms that appeared and the content of the discussion during the proving suggest that this remedy might be effective for accident-related trauma, bone and nerve damage. The Titan-like quality of strength, survival and endurance seems connected; perhaps an ability to survive disasters is part of this remedy. This remedy may also be effective for allergies, in light of all the itching that occurred.
Emotionally, we see the ‘lighter’ side of Saturn less a sense of weightiness and more of an emphasis on eroticism and fun. (The trituration itself had some saturnalian elements!) This could be because it is a planetary light. Towards the end of the trituration, we saw some of the more serious aspects of Saturn emerging, although throughout the proving and underneath all the silly banter were some heavier themes – most notably the accounting and recounting of history and disasters.

If you are brave enough you can read the whole thing here. When you have done that, come back and tell me that homeopathy isn't the greatest load of idiocy that has ever pretended to be some form of medicine.


Quick, call Guinness! A new world record! (31/10/2009)
When I wrote last week about the homeopathic use of reflected planetary light I thought I had reached the limit of woowoo stupidity. Then I saw this. The stupidity here is so dense that it bends light. Sort of like if you condensed all the mass in the universe down to the size of a bowling ball, therefore making it irrelevant in equations about the universe.

I had to stop watching. I had the distinct feeling that Dr Werner had herself collapsed to the maximum density possible in the universe. No, not a neutron star but something even denser, a moron pulsar, spinning on her axis every 1.33 seconds and emitting blinding flashes of unimaginably hot stupid.


200C idiocy continues (7/11/2009)
The weather has been miserable this week, but I was cheered up by a legal threat related to last week's unhinged lunatic homeopath. Here is what the threat said:

Dr Charlene Werner

Hi Peter,

I thought I would let you know that you will be contacted by Dr Werner's Attorney shortly. I suggest you delete this video as it is in violation of copyright laws.

Jayson Perreault

I loved the formality of "Hi Peter". Notice how, yet again, quacks cannot respond with facts but instead hide inside the intellectual property cave. (I know, using the word "intellectual" in any context involving the gibbering Dr Werner can look like an oxymoron.) I carefully considered removing the video from YouTube and finally decided that my response would be:

No!


Weekly homeopathetic whackiness (14/11/2009)
It Waterseems that each week brings a new example of the insanity of homeopathy. Here is the complete text of some instructions on how to use a homeopathic "remedy", written by someone who not only practises the fraud but teaches it as well. The writer is a native English speaker but appears here to be writing in a foreign language. Perhaps it makes sense to a homeopath.

Administering Homeopathic Remedies
Administering Remedies

put your dry pillule, tablet, in water to administer - see below

Best not to take them dry. The VF does better if you put them in water and then raise the potency a little each time. The VF doesn't do as well with the same potency over and over and that is the way you would do it if you used them dry
Sheri

MAY NEED TO REPEAT MORE FREQUENTLY IN ACUTES IF USING 30c

MISC: Administering Remedies

PRINT this out and keep handy with your remedies.

Administering Remedies

Generally I suggest you use 30C if you have not completed the course with me

30c for minor acute and first aid - do NOT use for recurring things that seem acute but are part of a chronic state or for anything else chronic

Do not treat for chronic or recurring things on your own or with 30C.

DO NOT go by what is on the bottle (heaven only knows why fda or whatever makes them say that stuff)

A. You can give just a dry pillule, but it appears to work better to give in water (aqueous solution) and be able to succuss it between doses - but in a pinch, give as dry. (for an infant crush if possible or just put in a little water in a cup and let melt and then give.)

B. BEST to give as an aqueous solution - one pillule in water

  1. Put ONE pillule or tablet in 6 oz of water (use purified, filtered water if possible) in a water bottle used only for this
  2. Let dissolve or sit for at least 5 minutes (the remedy coats the pillule which is sucrose or the tablet which is lactose)
  3. Shake just a little
  4. Take one teaspoon out of water bottle and give to the person. Have person hold in their mouth for a few seconds if possible.

    Wait. Use a plastic spoon (if you use a metal spoon boil it in water for 5 minutes before it is washed and used for other things)
  5. You basically give 1 dose of 1 remedy and wait........
  6. If improvement, don't give anymore
  7. If improvement and then same symptoms come back - give another dose of same
  8.  to give another dose, take the water bottle you have and succuss it - this is strong downward thrusts from about 2 feet up - like a judge hitting a gavel do this 10 times on a book or something (you are succussing to slight raise the potency of what you have started with - it seems that the VF does better with a little higher potency each time, than the same potency
  9.  give another teaspoon out of this
  10.  if using a cup and not a water bottle - better to use water bottle though - stir briskly 10 times and give one teaspon
  11.  If improvement and new symptoms that are really a problem and body can't deal with itself - research and find what the new remedy should be (will sometimes use one remedy and shift things and then need a different to finish up)
  12. If no improvement on one dose of 30c in water, repeat it in 20-30 minutes; can do this 2 or 3 times with 200C or 30C if no improvement after that probably wrong remedy

    Improvement you may see first is in mental/emotional symptoms, or sleep, or general well being, or thirst or appetite - then the physical symptoms may improve later If you are using 6X or something, may have to repeat oftener than a 30 C asthe energy 'gets used up' in a way.
  13. If you get near the end of the bottle, keep at least one teaspoon in there and add 6 ozs more of water to keep it going, as you have been raising the potency each time and don't want to start over. Mostly you will never get to this point as you will only be repeating 3 or 4 times. Don't need to refrigerate unless keeping overnight and usually this will not be the case.
  14. Throw all away at the end.

I am tempted to suggest that all of the steps up to 6 could be discarded and Step 7 modified to read "Throw all away at the beginning", but that would be churlish of me so I will make some constructive comments. The first is that Step 6 reminds me of this for some reason:

Homeopathy
See more cartoons by Prasad Golla at the North Texas Skeptics site.

PillulesThe other point refers to "pillules". To non-homeopaths these appear identical to those tiny balls of sugar (called "hundreds and thousands" or "non-pareils", depending on where you live) that you find on the tops of cakes at children's parties. In fact, that is exactly what they are, and I know this because I was sent a bottle of them once by a homeopath so that I could demonstrate to myself the efficacy of the magic. (You can see the result here.)

People sometimes tell me that alternative medicine practitioners are well-intentioned folk who just want to help others. I found some of these pillules in a (sadly, real) pharmacy with suggestions that they could be used to treat a wide variety of medical conditions. They were selling for $12.95 for a bottle of 125 pillules, or just over 10 cents per sugar ball. About five minutes with Google gave me a catering wholesaler who will sell me 8 pounds of the pillules for $US20 (plus delivery). Now tell me that the people selling these things aren't aware of the fraud that they are committing.


Speaking of tortured statistics ... (21/11/2009)
A believer in homeopathy informed me that a scientific paper had conclusively proved that water has a memory and therefore homeopathy must work as claimed because skeptics can no longer deny scientific plausibility. Here are some graphs from the paper which apparently show very strong correlations between certain measurements.

Scatter plots

I invite anyone who has ever taught or studied introductory statistics to explain to me how these scatter plots support the claims of strong correlation. (Just look at those p values!) Write on one side of the email only and pay particular attention to explaining the number of points lying outside the 95% confidence range. You can see the paper here.

This is science, folks.


A homeopath speaks, and drivel comes out (12/12/2009)
I make sacrifices for you. This week I sat though a web presentation about the use of homeopathy to treat autism. Sorry, it doesn't treat autism, it treats the autistic child. Except when it's treating autism. The presentation was a webinar organised by the Australian Vaccination Network and featured a homeopath named Fran Sheffield. All the usual buttons were pressed - homeopathy works (it really, really does!), anecdotes and testimonials are evidence, chelation can be used to get the heavy metals out so that the homeopathy can get in there and do its curing, autism is related to vaccination, ... A welding mask to protect against burning stupidI think that web sites promoting sessions like this should be required by law to display a sign like that at the right so that viewers can be warned that they might suffer damage from the intensely hot sparks of burning stupid.

The AVN has promised to make the entire webinar, with sound and all slides, available on their web site for free download, but I can't see if it is available yet. Some previous webinars are supposed to be available but they don't have links either. The AVN's web site is in a state of reconstruction at the moment and could politely be described as a dog's breakfast, with broken links, unreachable pages, conflicting styles and general messitude. As a professional websmith I could offer to help them to fix it up. Only joking, no I couldn't.

I will have the full awfulness of the webinar up here as soon as someone at the AVN gets around to providing a link. In the meantime, here is a sequence of screen shots of the slide show. Even without the sound the idiocy shines through. Don't forget your welding mask.


Speaking of homeopathy ... (9/1/2010)


More homeopathic nonsense (6/2/2010)
In December I mentioned that I had forced myself to sit through a presentation by a homeopath who was opposed to vaccinations. Could that be because she wants parents to buy stuff from her rather than go to a real doctor? You can go here to see a brochure promoting homeopathic immunisation, as if there really is such a thing. It's one thing to sell useless water and sugar pill "cures" to the worried well, but when you start pretending that your snake oil can prevent children catching disabling and deadly diseases you have crossed the line from just a scam to become a risk to public health. Like cholera, which is also caused by the consumption of fecal matter.



See more Jesus and Mo here


Homeopathy - so simple a child can understand (10/4/2010)
A 0C inktrue believer in homeopathy was ranting to me about how Professor Edzard Ernst, head of the UK's first university department dedicated to research into "complementary medicine", was not qualified to speak about homeopathy because he didn't have the necessary academic background. I pointed out that all he needed was high school chemistry, but this was rejected as apparently there are many institutions of higher learning who specialise in teaching about the magic of diluted water and you have to attend one of these places for years before you know enough to comment. I immediately revised my opinion about high school chemistry and decided to test whether someone without even this level of understanding could evaluate homeopathy.

With the help of my 7 year old grandson, I made a 12C homeopathic preparation of fountain pen ink. I pointed to the last dilution and asked Sean if there was any ink in it. He looked at me as if I was asking a silly question and immediately said "No". We then drank the glass of water. So there you are, homeopaths. A primary school kid can see how idiotic homeopathy is, so you are either stupid or committing fraud. Which is it?


More homeopathy (10/4/2010)
As WHAWthe coming week is World Homeopathy Awareness Week I could hardly let it pass without making people aware of how ridiculous homeopathy is, but before I do that I would like to show how despicable some homeopaths can be and how they act with total disregard for regulators and public health. We already know how they disregard the laws of science and the legal concept of fraud.

A homeopath appeared on the ABC television show Lateline during the week. She was featured because the regulatory authority, the Therapeutic Goods Administration, had ordered her to take some action over claims she had been making. She simply refused, on the basis that as she didn't think she had done anything wrong there was no need for her to do anything. This is someone who claims that homeopathy can cure breast cancer. This is someone who claims that there is scientific proof that homeopathy is just as good at preventing disease as vaccination but much safer. I first came across Fran Sheffield when she was shilling her anti-vaccination lies on behalf of the Australian Vaccination Network, and this latest episode just reinforces my opinion of her. Watch the video below and then answer this question: If there are people in prison for non-payment of traffic fines, how is it that this woman is wandering the streets free?

I sent this message to the television program:

Referring to the item about homeopathy on April 8, I am puzzled by the fact that someone so obviously out of touch with reality as Fran Sheffield is given any credence at all. I realise that using her is a subtle journalistic ploy to illustrate the idiocy and venality of homeopaths and a nice way to point out the quackery without risking a lawsuit for defamation, but members of the public might still see her as possessing some integrity.

Having said that, thank you for at least running a story suggesting that there should be better regulatory control of this nonsense. Unfortunately, the TGA's approach seems to be to add credibility to quackery by issuing AUST L registration codes for things that do nothing and then running away when egregious abuses of the system are exposed.

And I still can't understand why Fran Sheffield isn't in prison. Must it wait until the first woman dies from breast cancer after following her ludicrous advice?


World Homeopathy Awareness Week (17/4/2010)
This Yahoo! 7has been World Homeopathy Awareness Week, and I just had to have my say about this ludicrous abuse of science, medicine and rational thought. As the publication date for my regular Yahoo!7 article fell during the week the obvious place to deal with the news was there. You can read the article here, and there is a link there to the Yahoo!7 site where you can read the comments people made.


Fraud, or just outright theft? (8/5/2010)
Here is one of the products offered for sale on the web site Homeopathy Plus, run by noted Australian quack Fran Sheffield.

You will notice that the kit contains 84 grams of sucrose pills, and they must be very small pills because there are about 1,470 of them. They are in fact very small pills, being "hundreds and thousands" or "nonpareils" like the ones you see on your kids' birthday cakes. You will also notice that they are all 30C remedies, which means that (if anything was done beside packaging the sweets, which is highly unlikely) water with no active ingredients has been dripped on the tiny sugar balls and the sweets have then been allowed to dry out. Apparently the memory of water can be transferred to the memory of sugar.

But what do these potent pillules do?

You might think that paying 9 cents each for cake decoration sweets is a bit expensive, but remember that you get all those little bottles, the plastic carry case and a 114 (or maybe 72) page instruction sheet. Also consider that if you buy the pills as individual remedies you might get more per bottle (100 instead of 35) but the cost per pill is 15 cents.

Based on the figures given for the Home Kit there are about 17,500 pillules per kilogram, but it would be unfair to compare the selling price of these pills ($2,625 per kilogram) with the price of sugar at the local supermarket (90 cents/kilogram at Coles today) because after all these are manufactured pillules.

I decided to do a better comparison, so I have ordered some white hundreds and thousands. The place I got them from is an organic supplier (which increases the price) and I paid retail price (unlike your average homeopath who can get them wholesale). A 350 gram packet cost $8.95, or $25.60 per kilogram.

Let's look at those figures again.

Homeopathy is more than just medical fraud, it is financial fraud as well. It is theft, and the people selling it know exactly what they are doing. How they must laugh as they put those teaspoonsful of sweets into little bottles and post them out at a markup of about 10,000% over raw material costs. And these crooks have the gall to whine about the profits of pharmaceutical companies.


New Age terrorists develop homeopathic bomb

The world has been placed on a heightened security alert following reports that New Age terrorists have harnessed the power of homeopathy for evil. ‘Homeopathic weapons represent a major threat to world peace,’ said President Barack Obama, ‘they might not cause any actual damage but the placebo effect could be quite devastating.’

The H2O-bomb has been developed by the radical New Age group, The Axis of Aquarius. In a taped message to the world, their leader, Professor Hubert Pennington, said: ‘For too long the New Age movement has been dismissed as a bunch of beardy weirdy cranks and charlatans. But now we have weapons-grade homeopathy and we demand to be taken seriously.’

Homeopathic bombs are comprised of 99.9% water but contain the merest trace element of explosive. The solution is then repeatedly diluted so as to leave only the memory of the explosive in the water molecules. According to the laws of homeopathy, the more that the water is diluted, the more powerful the bomb becomes.

‘It was only a matter of time before these people got hold of the material that they needed to make these bombs,’ said former UN weapons inspector, Hans Blix, ‘The world is a much more dangerous place with the advent of these Weapons of Mass Dilution.’

‘A homeopathic attack could bring entire cities to a standstill,’ said BBC Security Correspondent, Frank Gardner, ‘Large numbers of people could easily become convinced that they have been killed and hospitals would be unable to cope with the massive influx of the ‘walking suggestible’.’

The severity of the situation has already resulted in the New Age terror threat level being raised from ‘lilac’ to the more worrisome ‘purple’ aura. Meanwhile, new security measures at airports require that all water bottles be scanned to ensure that they are not being used to smuggle the memory of an explosion on board a plane.

‘Homeopathic weapons are the ultimate Smart Bombs,’ warned President Obama, ‘They are so smart that they only affect the gullible. The only defence is for everyone to remain calm, vigilant and to always wear a magic vibrating crystal.’

Thanks very much to NewsBiscuit - The news before it happens


Homeopathy (26/6/2010)
I would like to thank RationalWiki for consolidating all the research and clinical trials showing the effectiveness of homeopathy, the conditions it can treat and its application to the management of health. Here is the list:


Homeopathy "research" (28/8/2010)
Yet another person has informed me about the prolific research demonstrating the efficacy of homeopathy. I wasn't sent to the original published papers, of course, but instead I was sent to a homeopathy web site which listed successes. One which caught my eye was a 1999 report of a study done in 1974 (yes, 1974, and apparently never replicated) showing the benefit of Staphysagria in the treatment of postcoital cystitis.

A clinical trial of Staphysagria in postcoital cystitis

 Homoeopathica November 1999

by P A Ustianowski

Honeymoon or postcoital cystitis is a condition where there is a disturbance of bladder function in women who have recently started or restarted heterosexual intercourse, or altered their technique.
The symptoms of the condition are several, if not all, of the following:

  • burning of the urethra on micturition
  • urinary frequency
  • urinary urgency
  • hæmaturia and
  • hypogastric soreness

Research over the years has not shown any higher incidence of frank urinary tract infection, or anatomical deformity of the genito­urinary tract, in women prone to postcoital cystitis compared to those not so afflicted.

In my capacity as Medical Director of London Nursing Homes Birth Control and Pregnancy Counselling division, I have had ample opportunity to study the pathogenesis and treatment of this debilitating condition.

The series consists of 200 women, between the ages of 16 years and 30 years, 25 per cent of whom were married. All the patients had started having regular sexual intercourse for the first time, or restarted it after a lengthy gap, during the last three months.

All the women who complained of symptoms of cystitis were examined clinically for possible foci of infection-especially in the respiratory tract and the pelvic organs, and their urine was examined chemically and microscopically. There was no sign of intercurrent disease in any of the affected individuals. In none of the cases was there any significant proteinuria, hæmaturia or bacteriuria.

The patients in the trial were all requested to empty their bladders as completely as possible within an hour before intercourse and half an hour after it.

Fifty percent of randomly selected patients were given individually wrapped doses of powder of Staphysagria 30c, and the other 50 per cent were given similar packages of powders of Sac lac (lactose)- indistinguishable in texture, colour and taste from the other powder-as a placebo. The patients were requested to dissolve their powders on the tongue every morning and evening daily for a month, at which time they were all seen by me.

At that stage, of the cases who had been supplied with Staphysagria 90% had completely lost all symptoms of postcoital cystitis, 8% were very much better, while 2% were unchanged. In the cases who were given the Sac lac placebo, 40% had completely lost all symptoms, 10% were very much better, and 50% were unchanged.

In some cases improvement would be anticipated after a month without any treatment whatsoever. Several investigators in this field are convinced that bladder emptying before and after intercourse is an all-important cornerstone of the treatment of this condition.

The statistics available above show a very significant difference in the results of treatment with Staphysagria as against Sac lac placebo. The only person who was aware of what the patients were supplied with was myself, and I was at pains not to disclose the treatment to the patients, or the nursing staff.

The family Ranunculaceæ in the plant kingdom contains several genera of great use in homœopathic medicine -such as Staphysagria, Pulsatilla and Aconitum. Most of the Ranunculuceæ used in homœopathic dilution have an effect on the balance between the psychic and physical spheres - restoring equilibrium in conditions of oversensitiveness and emotional lability. Staphysagria, or the wild delphinium, has for long been known as a remedy for frustrations, resentments, and the hypersensitivity consequent on them. Sexual intercourse can be construed, in some cases, as an insult or assault upon the woman. In many cases of postcoital cystitis, on close questioning the patient expresses her frustrations and resentments regarding intercourse. This is what led me in the first place to selecting this remedy for a trial.

This report on Dr Ustianowski’s trial first appeared in the British Homœopathic Journal of October 1974.

So, let's see what is wrong with this:

  1. The study was not blinded.
  2. There has apparently been no replication in the last 36 years.
  3. Results are largely self-reported and subjective
  4. No control was made for the use of water-soluble lubricants, which are known to help with this condition.
  5. Are newly-weds likely to be so disciplined in their sexual activity that they can plan urination an hour before intercourse?
  6. There was no control on the frequency of intercourse, or whether subjects simply gave up trying and waited until the women got better.
  7. Position of the partners during intercourse can have a strong effect on the life cycle of the condition. Were subjects asked to report their variations?
  8. Compliance with the urination regimen was self-reported
  9. If the particular treatment was "a remedy for frustrations, resentments, and the hypersensitivity consequent on them" was it actually treating the cystitis or just making women feel better about intercourse, remembering that in 1974 the rate of pre-marital sexual activity was much lower than it is today so for many it would have been a novel experience? Also, those having sex outside marriage might have suffered from feelings of guilt for violating societal norms.
  10. At least one of the usual symptoms of the condition, hæmaturia (the only one with an objective measure), was not present in any of the subjects at the start of the study, and all the other symptoms listed are subjective and incapable of being measured.
  11. There should have been a no-treatment group to eliminate any placebo effect. This is a condition which can resolve itself as people become more comfortable and experienced with intercourse.
  12. Everyone would have been trying hard to both get over the condition and to please the experimenter.
  13. Were the 50 newly-weds split across the two groups? If not then relative sexual experience might have been a confounding factor.

That will do for a start, but the real clue to the uselessness of this "research" is in the second sentence of the final paragraph: "Most of the Ranunculuceæ used in homœopathic dilution have an effect on the balance between the psychic and physical spheres - restoring equilibrium in conditions of oversensitiveness and emotional lability". The "balance between the psychic and physical spheres"? Put another way, this means that the experimenter has no clue about how psychological factors might influence the outcome. And this is in a study to do with a problem that is highly personal, quite distressing, embarrassing to talk about and can cause feelings of diminished self-worth.

If this is a good example of research in the field of homeopathy then I don't want to see a bad example.


Treating the symptoms (4/9/2010)
I must be told on a weekly basis that real doctors only treat symptoms and that alternative, holistic medicine men treat the underlying causes of disease and therefore provide cures, unlike real doctors. (Strangely and apparently inconsistently I have been told that there can be no disease or illness in the absence of symptoms, and when I mention four medical conditions that are close to me (type 2 diabetes, multiple myeloma, basal cell carcinoma and melanoma) and point out that all can exist without exhibiting any symptoms at all I usually get a response which consists of a pause followed by a repetition of the "fact" that symptoms tell the story.)

I have alluded to the inconsistency that says that symptoms are all that there is but real doctors only treat symptoms and are therefore bad. Of course, out here in the real world we know that doctors always address the underlying cause of medical conditions and only treat symptoms in the case of self-limiting complaints (antipyretics for the fever associated with colds and flu, ...) or to reduce distress (painkillers, salves and creams for rashes, ...). Treating the symptoms is just the first step before getting on with the real job of fixing the problem.

Strangely, Brian Josephson - An expert in homeopathythe form of quackery which is usually proposed as the best example of treating the underlying condition rather than just the symptoms is homeopathy. When it is pointed out to true believers that symptom treatment is all that there is to homeopathy they divert to rants about memory of water and Brian Josephson's Nobel Prize (for Physics in 1973, and I don't know what "theoretical predictions of the properties of a supercurrent through a tunnel barrier" have to do with medicine) and how the word "allopath" means real, bad doctor. They do not like it being pointed out that according to the person who invented the term "allopath" it means people who practice medicine according to the theory of four humours (and there aren't a lot of those people around today) and, coincidentally, everyone who is not a homeopath. Do chiropractors, acupuncturists and naturopaths include themselves in the set of "allopaths"? They should. Here is what Samuel Hahnemann, the inventor of both the term "allopath" and the "science" of homeopathy had to say:

Medicine as commonly practised (allopathy) knows no treatment except to draw from diseases the injurious materials which are assumed to be their cause. The blood of the patient is made to flow mercilessly by bleedings, leeches, cuppings, scarifications, to diminish an assumed plethora which never exists as in well women a few days before their menses, an accumulation of blood the loss of which is of no appreciable consequence, while the loss of blood with merely assumed plethora destroys life. Medicine as commonly practised seeks to evacuate the contents of the stomach and sweep the intestines clear bf the materials assumed to originate diseases.

Yeah, today's real doctors do a lot of those things, don't they? But let's get back to treating symptoms. We know that the inventor of homeopathy was against purging, cupping and other such practices (only carried out today by alternative "medicine" practitioners, who should properly be known as allopaths), but this was because he held the philosophical position that nothing should be done to treat any underlying condition. Here is what you see on the first page of Hahnemann's masterpiece, The Organon of Medical Arts (and not just anywhere on the first page - it is the very first paragraph):

The physician's high and only mission is to restore the sick to health, to cure, as it is termed.

His mission is not, however, to construct so-called systems, by interweaving empty speculations and hypotheses concerning the internal essential nature of the vital processes and the mode in which diseases originate in the interior of the organism, (whereon so many physicians have hitherto ambitiously wasted their talents and their time); nor is it to attempt to give countless explanations regarding the phenomena in diseases and their proximate cause (which must ever remain concealed), wrapped in unintelligible words and an inflated abstract mode of expression, which should sound very learned in order to astonish the ignorant - whilst sick humanity sighs in vain for aid. Of such learned reveries (to which the name of theoretic medicine is given, and for which special professorships are instituted) we have had quite enough, and it is now high time that all who call themselves physicians should at length cease to deceive suffering mankind with mere talk, and begin now, instead, for once to act, that is, really to help and to cure.

So there you have it. According to the inventor of homeopathy, no attempt should ever be made to do anything about any disease other than to treat the symptoms. Remember that the next time someone says that real doctors only treat symptoms. And remember that when someone calls real doctors "allopaths" in order to denigrate them that the only people practising allopathy today are the ones doing cupping, colonic irrigation, detoxification and other standards of the art of quackery.

And of course I have been told that Hahnemann's book has been suppressed by the Rockefeller medical cartel. That must be why I was able to read it here.


Can it get more vile than this? (12/3/2011)
Anybody in the world with a television must have been appalled at the scenes from Japan following the earthquake and tsunami. What is also appalling is the reaction from people who exploit tragedies like this. We have come to expect lunatics like Fred Phelps at the Westboro Baptist Church to come out with insane rants. In this case there have been the mildly mad who have suggested that the earthquake might in some way be related to the fact that the moon will be at its closest point to the Earth next week. I'm firmly in the "climate change is happening" camp, but I cringe at statements attempting to link earthquakes to global warming. People calling this an "act of God" and calling for prayer (the fastest-trending item on Twitter following the earthquake was #prayforjapan) miss the point that if God did this he is very evil and praying to the source of the trouble for assistance and relief seems incoherent. The idiots who have been besieging Facebook with claims that the tsunami is payback for Pearl Harbor are mad but probably harmless. The anti-nuclear contingent are out in force with scaremongering about possible damage to Japan's nuclear power reactors. (At the time of writing one of the stations seems to be in serious trouble, but the neither the nature not the extent of the problem is yet known.) I liked the comment that Japan was foolish to build nuclear reactors in seismically-active areas, although the commenter failed to go on to say where else there is in Japan.

The prize for blatant self-promotion and cynicism, however, goes to Australian homeopath Fran Sheffield, for this email sent to her subscribers.

Here's a fact. There are no "protective steps that can be taken with homeopathy". To say otherwise is not to be mistaken, not to be deluded, it is to lie. And as for treating radiation exposure with 30C x-rays, the only kind of person who would suggest that is either insane or admitting to being a complete fraud. (If you want an example of the insane sort, see how homeopathic Saturn can help with overcoming disasters. I am surprised that Ms Sheffield didn't suggest that for Japanese residents who aren't close to reactors.)

Homeopathy is rubbish, but while it is being used to treat only the walking suggestible it is relatively harmless. When homeopaths start talking about treating serious things like radiation exposure it is time to get out the pitchforks and flaming torches and tell these charlatans to shut up. It has gone beyond a joke and is now deliberately endangering people's lives.


Wow! It's WHAW! (16/4/2011)
Just in case you missed it, this has been World Homeopathy Awareness Week. This is a week when much publicity is given to the fraud that calls itself homeopathy so that people can be aware of how ridiculous it is and keep their hands well away from their wallets when charlatans start asking for money for sugar pills and water. I have had people try to tell me that homeopaths really want to help people and that is why they offer to treat diseases. I'm sorry - anybody involved in the manufacture of homeopathic nostrums knows the truth - there is nothing there that can have any effect, and in fact they don't even bother to go through the motions of making the stuff according to what it says on the label. Does anybody seriously believe that somebody actually performs the 800+ manufacturing steps required to make a 200C pillule when all they have to do is take the tiny sweets from a bulk container, put them in a little bottle and then charge 15 cents each for them?

All homeopathy is fraud. All of it. Without exception. And the people selling it know this. If they don't then they must be too stupid to tie their shoe laces. Please note that I am not casting doubt on the sanity or honesty of people who are lied to by homeopaths and fall for the lies. I don't blame the victims, I blame the perpetrators.


Signs of the times (4/6/2011)
I can imagine that there might be cash inside a homeopath's office, but surely there would not be any drugs ever, at any time. It almost goes without saying, of course, that there would be nothing of value in there. (Thanks to reader Steve Rayner for the photograph.) And what sort of university grants a Bachelor of Science with a major in homeopathy? I'm embarrassed enough that my university was the first real university in the world with a school of chiropractic but at least they have the decency to call the degree Bachelor of Chiropractic Science, thereby indicating that it isn't a real science degree.


Speaking of lawyers ... (20/8/2011)
There Enough duck for an entire homeopathic manufacturing industryis a very large company in France which appears to exist solely to defraud its customers. It is Boiron, and they manufacture homeopathic "medicines". Their biggest selling product is an influenza treatment called called Oscillococcinum 200C. It is made from duck liver, and the 200C part of the name says that there is not a single molecule of anything duck-related in the bottle. In fact, it says that there is not a single molecule of anything except water in the bottle. Unfortunately, the 200C admission of uselessness and fraud is as far as truth in labelling goes. The manufacture of 200C anything requires 800 manufacturing steps, so it is highly unlikely that Boiron do anything more than make sure the water they bottle is clean and sterile enough not to cause any health problems in the marks who buy the stuff. It is also certain that the ducks of the world are safe, because one duck could provide enough liver for many decades, maybe centuries, of raw material.

To put 200C into perspective, a homeopathic preparation at 40C would only need one atom of active ingredient in the entire universe. 200C is a concentration of one atom in the number of universes which has 320 zeros in it. Or, put another way, 200C is something totally unachievable. To say that it has been made is evidence that the speaker is either deranged or lying. Boiron makes a lot of money, so we can assume they are not deranged.

Boiron have decided that they don't like it being pointed out that their best-selling product has nothing in it except water and their customers could save money by turning on a tap, so they have sued an Italian blogger for defaming them.

Here More duck than Boiron have ever usedare some facts about Oscillococcinum 200C:


How insane is too insane? (21/1/2012)
Here is a suggestion from a site promoting homeopathy. It goes beyond the usual uselessness of this form of magic healing and crosses over to doing deliberate harm to anyone foolish enough to take any notice. Sometimes I think that they just make this stuff up to see how far they can go before potential customers start questioning what they are being told. Still, when the light from Saturn can be homeopathically captured I suppose that nothing goes too far.

How do you treat a burn? Almost everyone, if you ask them for the first response required in the treatment of a burn, will tell you, "Put it in cold water…".

However…

In my first year of homoeopathic training a general discussion led the lecturer to describe a treatment for burns. He explained that he had been dining with a friend who had burnt herself and had immediately, to his horror, held the burnt area of her hand in the heat of a candle for a little while. The friend had then explained to him that the normal treatment of using cold water was ineffective, but that the application of heat to a burn meant that it would not blister, and although it did hurt more on the initial application it healed far more quickly and painlessly thereafter. This she demonstrated a little while later when he saw to his amazement that the burned area was not even red and she was experiencing no pain.

His explanation was that left alone a burn, ‘burnt’, as in the vital force would produce heat. By applying cold water this burning effect was reduced and the vital force had to summon even more heat. If instead we assist the vital force by applying heat the job would be done more quickly.

This is really nothing more than elementary homoeopathy… like cures like… similar similibus curentur…. And yet some in the group were surprised, and some argued that this would be dangerous with anything other than a very slight burn…

You can read more of this madness here.


Homeopathy – so diluted there’s no evidence left. (24/3/2012)
My Yahoo! 7 Newslatest article at Yahoo!7 was about homeopathy;

I woke up this morning to my usual radio station to hear a discussion about the pros and cons of homeopathy. There was the President of the AMA being careful to say that homeopathy is "implausible" (he probably wanted to say "impossible" and "ridiculous", but was being polite) and the obligatory phone callers who had had marvelous results from using magic water.

This was the result of an internal document from the National Health And Medical Research Council that had somehow fallen into the hands of a journalist. The draft statement from the NH&MRC suggested that it was "unethical for health practitioners to treat patients using homeopathy, for the reason that homeopathy (as a medicine or procedure) has been shown not to be efficacious".

This seems perfectly reasonable. Doctors should not be telling patients to take medicines unless those medicines have been demonstrated to have some effect on whatever medical condition the patient might have. This is in line with recommendations such as not prescribing antibiotics for viral infections and not prescribing certain psychiatric medications without some investigation of the underlying cause of the apparent illness.

You can read the rest here.


This is a joke, right? (23/6/2012)
Every LOL WUT?time I think that homeopathy can't get any more ridiculous, something new comes along that triggers a LOLWUT reflex. Professional comedy writers would have trouble making up the stuff that homeopaths say, and if they did audiences would walk out because they felt insulted. Science fiction writers who have no trouble with instantaneous faster-than-light travel between planets light years apart would refuse to include homeopathic principles in their stories because of the lack of plausibility and credibility. People locked inside asylums would say "That's nuts. Don't be silly". Children in kindergarten would ask their teachers to talk sense and treat them like five-year-olds, not little babies. In short, some of the things that homeopaths say are so unbelievable that saying them is almost evidence of the multiverse that physicists speculate about. Homeopaths live by the rules of a universe different to ours.

A medicine chest in the air.In the past I've mentioned such insanities as a homeopathic use of the light from Saturn, and there's Dr Werner and her new physics. This week I found another example, although it has been hiding since 2004. It is a proving of the Peregrine Falcon. That's right - homeopathic raptor bird can cure things. I am not making this up. I couldn't.

First to the proving. This is when homeopaths test things to see what symptoms they cause so that treatments can be developed. This had to be done to see what Falco peregrinus might be useful for. Here are some reports from provers, with comments about falcons in italics. I have selected a sample here. You can read more at the link above, but make sure you have a bottle of Baseballbat headbashus handy to treat the resultant brain damage. (Baseballbat headbashus is a homeopathic remedy proved by hitting people hard on the head with a baseball bat. Under homeopathic principles it is therefore useful to treat brain trauma caused by blunt force instruments.)

Falco peregrinus is the homeopathic remedy produced from the Peregrine Falcon. A small piece of feather and a sample of blood were taken from Nesbit, a captive bred Peregrine Tiercel, 2 years of age, to produce the remedy.

You will read short statements on the Peregrine Falcon taken from different reliable sources (in italics). Each statement is followed by observations of provers after having taken the remedy.

Breeding habitat for Peregrine Falcons was historically restricted to natural cliffs, especially those near water. …generally favouring wetlands."

"Went to look at a hill, felt that I was on top of the world. Felt optimistic about moving."
"By the sea. Strong emotional response to looking at the sea; the waves and the sun reflecting off the water. Felt like crying. Much stronger response than I've had in the past."
"My feeling welled up in me and I rushed off into the night with a sleeping bag and spent the night in my car on the moor."
"There needs to be more freshness and more air and space around."

The falcon eyesight is 8 times better than human eyesight and can spot a bird flying 1000 feet below. They have very good eye sight ~ they can spot a meal up to a mile away.

"Upon opening my eyes, Vision brighter and more clarity."
"Vision clearer, brighter"
"Vision quite clear – more sharp clarity than normal"
"Everything felt very sharp visually"
"Vision really sharp – kept looking at some bright yellow flowers outside."
"Everything still sharp (vision) – it's a bit like being a child again, and seeing everything super-sharp and bright."
"Sharp, outlines seem quite definite. Eyes getting caught by bright colours more than usual."
"People said I had a 'faraway look in my eye'."
"Vision sharper"
"Eyes feel shiny, looking outside, things seem sharper, clearer."

Their eyes are black

"People at the restaurant observed that I looked "spaced out", and that my pupils were so enlarged that they could not tell my eye colour."

The legs end in long toes with strong hooked claws.

"My nails, which have always broken and flaked, had become stronger."
"Desire to grow nails long. Grew very long and strong. Have not had them long for about six years and used to be much softer and flakier."
"Nails have been much stronger."

That's enough. My psychiatrist doesn't like me calling at the weekends with a mixture of crying and giggling.


Date: Thu, 03 Jan 2013 01:18:45 +0000
From: Matthew Hanson
Subject: homeopathy

All swans are white.

So everybody thought until someone went to Western Australia and saw black ones.

Homeopathy is Bolloxs.

That is correct, specially when it is correctly spelled as "bollocks"

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2001/mar/15/technology2

Ah! Madeleine Ennis. 2001. Never been replicated, but still cited as evidence of something. It is evidence of error in laboratory practices but that doesn't seem to suit believers in magic.

And What? What does this mean? I've been to Devon. Not all swans are white.

Nobody has thought all swans were white for a very long time. And, unlike people who believe that one suspect experiment done a long time ago throws over all known science, when presented with contrary evidence in the form of black swans all sensible people stopped saying they were all white. Science is like that.

Can you explain the difference to me between Skepticism and Dogma?

The fact that you have to ask the question suggests that it might not be possible to explain the difference in terms that you might understand, so I'll do it by example. Skepticism (and science) is like rejecting the hypothesis that all swans are white when an example of a black swan is detected. Dogma is like refusing to recognise that a single experiment done badly proves nothing and continuing to cite it as if it means something.

How does a man interested in Science differentiate the opinions of those who call themselves Skeptics from Dogmatists?

Quite easily, as it happens.

Do. help.

regards,

Matthew
(decorator?)

I appreciate the question mark, because I don't know what "decorator" has to do with anything either.


The mail rolls in (11/5/2013)
Now here's a coincidence for you. The television program tells me that if I turn on the TV now I can watch the Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan classic "You've Got Mail". I check the computer, and sure enough, I have mail. I don't know if it's the sort of mail that triggers a love affair though.

From: chloe.hayes4@xxxxxxx
Date: Sun, 12 May 2013 18:44:14 +1000

I was just curious as to how you would explain to me why this so called 'ridiculous' claim that homeopathy is 'ridiculous' in the first place ?

Because the principles of homeopathy deny everything we know about physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, logic and common sense.

As a patient who was bed ridden after having a severe case of food poisoning, the a severe case of adult chickenpox , resulting in chronic fatigue syndrome . I was bed ridden for almost a year . After countless visits to drs , I still had no answers . They were completely useless . Only until I seeked out a homeopath did I start to come good and made a full recovery within weeks.

So, two things that people recover from without much medication or treatment and one that has a large psychological component. And you got better. And homeopathy had nothing to do with either the food poisoning or the chicken pox and provided the placebo that is often necessary for people to get off their arses and stop feeling sorry for themselves. By the way, I had adult chicken pox. It felt far worse than a really bad case of the flu. I think I took a week off work, although it might have been two weeks.

 The information I just read sounds like it was written by an ignorant , miss informed teenager who clearly likes to write off who are an obvious threat to them.

Homeopathy is no threat to me. The only way it could harm me would be if I were silly enough to use it instead of real medical care.

The only thing I got from that information was that your a complete tosser and have no 'scientific' evidence to back up that homeopathy does not help autism or help breast cancer .....

It's not up to me to prove that homeopathy or any other form of quackery doesn't cure something. It is up to the sellers of the stuff to prove that it does. So far they haven't even come close, not that they have ever really tried. The quacks know the truth and they know that any properly conducted research would reveal homeopathy for the ridiculous nonsense that it is.

Thankyou for reading you wanker .

You're welcome.

Sent from my iPhone

Replied to from my Dell Vostro 460


Homeopathy. Crazy or just insane? (7/9/2013)
Every so often someone tries to tell me that there is some science underlying homeopathy. It often seems to me that this science is much like the study of unicorn biology or the physics of ghosts passing through walls, but then some really sciencey stuff comes along. Here is someone explaining how the homeopathic properties of elements are influenced by their positions on the Periodic Table. I won't quote it all, just until I can't control my hysteria.

Experiences with the Periodic Table
David A. Johnson
Hpathy Ezine, February, 2010 | February 15, 2010

This paper discusses the author’s experience in using elemental compounds from the periodic table in practice. It also explores the use of Scholten’s themes, that is, looking at related themes running across and down the table, as well as the use of lanthanides.

During my time in homeopathy school, while trying my best to remember Latin names of different remedies, our class was introduced to the use of mineral salts. Grounded in the indications learned through provings and clinical experience, we saw how a mineral compound of two elements could be further understood through the synergism of the individual elements. In other words, if a history seemed to fit a common  compound such as natrum muriaticum, we’d explore the patient’s history to see if certain nuances fit more closely with natrum phos, natrum carb, natrum sulph, etc. Similarly, if a calcarea carbonica theme was evident throughout the history, and yet other facets of the history pointed to sulphur, phosphorus or silica, then the salts of calcarea (eg., calcarea sulph, calcarea phos, etc.) could be considered. At the time this approach was thought to be stretching the bounds of classical practice, yet our results were improved by ‘fine-tuning’ remedy choices in this manner. Michael Quinn at Hahnemann Labs in California remarked that another consequence was an immediate scramble in the homeopathic pharmacies to keep up with the new demands!

Jan Scholten’s book "Homeopathy and Minerals" is often considered to be the first exploration of these mineral salts, yet these same ideas were debated over a century ago (see: http://hpathy.com/homeopathy-papers/synthetic-remedies-%E2%80%93true-homeopathy-or-heresy/) In Scholten’s book he outlines themes of well-known elements, and is able to describe some potential dynamics when two elements are combined. For instance, if natrum tendencies include reserve and closed grief, and phosphorus themes include sociability, the dynamic theme might fall along the lines of "To what extent shall I interact with others and to what extent shall I retreat?"  My experience has been that Scholten’s themes for each mineral compound are just a starting point, as there are many potential facets of interaction between any two elements. But the attempt to further understand how two elements interact should not result in poorly conceived prescriptions, so how can one learn to accurately recognize these salts?

Many homeopaths have noted a particular language of structure and performance found in the histories of those needing remedies from the mineral kingdom.  Order, sequence, logic, goal-setting, and "refined performance" are all representative of what can be found in a "mineral history". After it’s clear that a client is using mineral "language", one "side" of the mineral salt (eg., cation or anion) usually reveals itself more easily, and a more subtle presentation of the other element (anion or cation) eventually makes itself known. For example, a client could give a history which includes fears of dark, ghosts, disease, insanity, and others seeing witnessing their lack of competence or confusion, and it sounds very much like calcarea carbonica. Yet as the client continues, they may gradually reveal fears of doing something wrong (or being perceived as doing something wrong), being accused, blamed, persecuted and punished. In this case, one could consider prescribing Calcarea bromatum.

Below are selected examples of basic themes of the more commonly known elements:

Left side of table (eg., cations):

Natrum = reserve, closed, private; holding on to unprocessed hurt or grief; averse to consolation; holding on to relationship vs. broken relationship; desires strong 1:1 relationship or otherwise needs time alone.

Magnesium = averse to conflict including conflict between others, when it occurs in the immediate environment — prompting mediation and peacemaking; forsaken feeling and fear of abandonment; search for identity: ‘I please others but in the process lose myself and a sense of my needs and boundaries’.

Kali = relationship to rules, order, family, community, right and wrong, "black and white" (concrete and somewhat inflexible) beliefs and solutions to life’s challenges.

Calcarea =  fear of vulnerability; horrible stories affect profoundly; protection within a structure; fear of being observed or others seeing their confusion.

Right side of table (eg., anions):

Sulphur = desire to be acknowledged and appreciated; tendency to run warm; tendency towards disorder; censorious; theorizing

Phosphorus = fear of thunderstorms, ghosts, darkness; vivid imagination which may also include imaginary fears; lack of boundaries: social, intuitive, clairvoyant; sympathetic, affectionate; bleeding problems; love for animals.

Nitrogen = desire for freedom vs. fear of losing control; fear of narrow places vs. one’s impulses; fear of heights, running late; may like or dislike surprises; themes of crisis, urgency, sudden, emergency, out of control; obstinate (dislike of control by others)

Carbon = issues of self-worth and value; energy and "value" increasing and decreasing; productivity (eg., work, metabolism) with associated expenditure and depletion."

Because our instructors had employed mineral compounds for many years in practice, it wasn’t difficult for us to accept that they were valid and useful.  However, Scholten’s ideas took an even bigger step when he described the possibility of themes of life running across and down the periodic table.  For example, in the 4th, 5th and 6th horizontal rows of the periodic table–which include copper, silver and gold, respectively–each of these rows or series was described in terms of specific performance themes: "task" in the 4th row (copper series), "creative expression" in the 5th row (silver series), and "heavy responsibility and influence" in the 6th row (gold series).  Similarly, the vertical columns from the left towards the middle of the table were progressive states of aspiring to peak performance (peak performance represented by the elements nickel and copper in the 4th, palladium and silver in the 5th, and platinum and gold in the 6th) followed by progressively declining performance represented by remedies towards the right side of the table

That's enough. You can read the rest here.



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