Date: Mon Jan 24 1994 00:19:22 To: Steve Zadarnowski Subj: Re: Holographic internons Attr:

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Date: Mon Jan 24 1994 00:19:22 From: Rick Moen To: Steve Zadarnowski Subj: Re: Holographic internons Attr: SKEPTIC ------------------------------- SZ> I told her I'd gladly take any poison at all diluted to 300C, since SZ> according to homeopathic principles, it would be ultra-potent. But SZ> I guess the homeopathites would argue it would have no effect since SZ> it would not correspond to any ailments I had at the time. Steve, I called in to a radio talk show, once, when the guest was Dana Ullman, head of a homeopaths' trade group, the National Center for Homeopathic Medicine. I had a couple of comments to make: (1) Because of the homeopaths' Law of Dilution (that their remedies become stronger as they become more dilute), I strongly urged that, in the name of public safety, we form special state police squads to keep all homeopaths far away from the Pacific Ocean. If one of them were to drop a _tiny amount_ of one of his remedies into a nearby breaker, the damage to the Earth's ecosystem would obviously be cataclysmic! (2) (Got this idea from a letter published in _Skeptical Inquirer_.) I asked Ullman what he used to dilute his medicines. "Twice-distilled water", he said. "Ah, so that water has _very small_ amounts of impurities, which therefore must have _very strong_ homeopathic effects! What are you treating with those impurities, Dr. Ullman?" He was already changing the subject, when I launched the follow-up: "Is that pH 7.0 water?" "Yes. Neutral, not acid, not alkaline." "So, it must have 10 to the minus 7 concentration hydroxyl ions.* That's a _very small_ concentration of hydrogen, and therefore very homeopathically potent. What are you treating with _that_?" He quickly got me off the line, without answering. ;-> However, the homeopaths do _not_ argue that the claimed effect goes away if you're not suffering the ailment being treated. Actually, the whole affair started out as a perfectly reasonable scientific hypothesis -- in the 1700s. One Samuel Hahnemann (sp?) started out with his Law of Similars -- that like cures like. That is, he went around finding medicines that induced fevers. Then if a patient had a fever, he'd give some of that medicine. The fever seemed to go down. Hahnemann theorised that the medicine gave the patient's body a "push" towards fever that it countered, thus bringing down the existing fever. It seemed at the time -- 1700s -- that the effect increased with lower doses. Thus the Law of Dilution. It was wrong, but was a good try, and a reasonable guess at the time. Note that one of the hallmarks of quack medicine is a refusal to abandon theories that have failed through careful testing to pan out. Homeopathy was not tenable _past_ the 1700s, and real medicine then moved on to more promising theories. Cheers, Rick M. *Yeah, I know that's slightly wrong. pH is something like the base-ten log of the reciprocal of the hydroxyl concentration, but I couldn't remember that, let alone get it across on the air if I had remembered it.


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