From the State Journal-Register (Springfield, IL), 1/30/94, Science Notes section: French
From the State Journal-Register (Springfield, IL), 1/30/94, Science Notes
French experiment was bogus
Five years ago the prestigious British journal Nature published results of
a French experiment that were so manifestly implausible that the journal's
editors themselves warned readers to beware. Although the French experiment
was generally discredited immediately after its publication, Nature last week
got around to driving what it hopes will be the final nail into the French
The original research was conducted by Dr. Jacques Beneviste at Inserm
Laboratory of the University of Paris and his colleagues at Hebrew University
of Jerusalem, the University of Milan and the University of Toronto.
In their 1988 paper in Nature, the researchers said human antibodies in
their experiment had evoked a biological response, even after the antibodies
had been diluted to the vanishing point. They hypothesized that even though no
antibodies were present in their test fluid, the water retained some kind of
"memory" of the antibody molecules it had once contained.
Nature published the paper on condition that a board of observers be
allowed to check the results. After visiting the French laboratory, inspectors
concluded that the findings were influenced by human bias and were spurious,
but they were unable to show exactly why.
Recently, however, Nature pulished a new paper on the subject by Dr. John
Foreman and his colleagues at University College London. They said they had
painstakingly repeated the experiment in all its details and concluded that "no
aspect of the data is consistent with previously published claims."
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank