What if water had memory?

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Homeopaths believe water has memory. That is how they explain the €œmedicinal properties€ of their concoctions. Apparently people are treated even though the pill or potion may not contain a single molecule of the medicinal agent. But does water really have memory? 

That depends on how you define memory. If for water it is defined as the property to have a stable state for sometime, then it has memory, just not a very good one – 50 femtoseconds is its retention time. That’s about 60 million million times shorter than the mythical goldfish’s three-second memory.

But with that “memory”, water could not retain any useful information. The memory is just its ability to form an ordered group of water molecules that can last for 50 femtoseconds. It is a bit like a crowd of people all milling around in train station, there are pockets of order where people are standing around looking at departure boards or getting a coffee. But these groups will disperse after a while. And so it is with water, there are pockets of order where the water molecules are interacting with each other and with things that are dissolved in it, but these are lost pretty quickly.

Let’s try another question. What if water had an elephant’s memory and never forgot?

In that case all the ordered pockets would hang around forever. But it wouldn’t look much like liquid water anymore. Instead it would be quite different, in fact you would probably call it ice.

How about we try something a bit more bizarre?

Written By: Mark Lorch
continue to source article at theconversation.com

52 COMMENTS

  1. Look! a bit of logic unravels the entire field of bullshit…. oops, I mean homeopathy.

    We just did a unit on water chemistry in our Biology classes. People should know better. They are actually all taught about water in their high school classes. Homeopathy should be seen as quackery by the overwhelming majority of people who have graduated high school. But, when taught that just about anything is possible and every conceivable opinion has equal weight, it is really no surprise that this “industry” manages to fleece over $4 BILLION dollars a year.

    I think there should be a huge overhaul of allowable things in the US (and everywhere)…. a movement towards proving something is fraud and then prosecuting those that insist on propagating and profiting from the fraud. Bye bye psychics, mediums, homeopaths, etc…

    • In reply to #1 by crookedshoes: I think there should be a huge overhaul of allowable things in the US…

      Agreed. Though I can’t recall the specifics, Big Placebo is deep in the pockets of Sen. Orin Hatch who, if memory serves, brings a lot of quackery (now called “products of unknown safety and efficacy”) manufacturing income to his home state. There are other ways, subtle ways, to protect the health of the public like amending Practice Acts. Alaska recently did. I am proud of our State’s medical board for finally standing up to these quacks who are pushing to be primary care doctors now if you can believe it. From my local paper just this morning:

      I have been a practicing naturopathic Doctor in Juneau for 11 years. I love Juneau and am committed to living here permanently as an active member of this community. However, my livelihood here is being ruined due to the regulation changes recently enacted by the Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development that prohibit naturopathic doctors from writing any prescription, even for natural substances.Kristin Cox, ND Juneau Empire

      Mike

      • In reply to #3 by Sample:

        In reply to #1 by crookedshoes: I think there should be a huge overhaul of allowable things in the US…

        Agreed. Though I can’t recall the specifics, Big Placebo is deep in the pockets of Sen. Orin Hatch who, if memory serves, brings a lot of quackery (now called “products of unknown safety and eff…

        Your approach is what Big Pharma has and wants more of. Them deciding what is alllowed and what isn’t. See Dr Burzinski clinic for cancer treatment as an example. So no there should be room for new experimentation and new paradigms coming in. All I’d ask is that the ‘higher ups’ (nor refering to god here but FDA) only suppervise the safety procedures instead of rubber stamping their friends (big pharma) vaccines and psychotropic drugs.

    • Where do you actually draw the line Obiwankanobi? How about accupuncture, that should fall neatly into your category of balony I would imagine but how do you explain that this form of quackery has been pretty persistent in the Eastern part of the world. Millions, nay billions of Chinese have been helped by this form of medicine for thousands of years, Are you actually disqualifying them? Pretty arrogant I’d say unless of course you have hard facts to show and convince me that this culture has had it totally wrong all this time. Furthermore you’re using the argument of “fleecing” by the industry, You must be refering to the pharmaceutical industry of course, if there’s one industry that has made an art of overpricing at the expense of the ill and infirm then this is certainly the one.

      In reply to #1 by crookedshoes:

      Look! a bit of logic unravels the entire field of bullshit…. oops, I mean homeopathy.

      We just did a unit on water chemistry in our Biology classes. People should know better. They are actually all taught about water in their high school classes. Homeopathy should be seen as quackery by the ove…

    • In reply to #4 by Roedy:

      If someone claims water has memory, surely they have to do more than just assert it. Where is the evidence?

      UK’s NHS spends millions of pounds each year supporting homeopathy. What more evidence do you need?

      • In reply to #7 by cerad:

        In reply to #4 by Roedy:

        If someone claims water has memory, surely they have to do more than just assert it. Where is the evidence?

        UK’s NHS spends millions of pounds each year supporting homeopathy. What more evidence do you need?

        Where did you get your evidence? Can you provide examples of this million pound spend on Homeopathy?

        The NHS does not support homeopathy at all. Because of the unique nature of how the NHS is governed (i.e. that local trusts decide themselves how what their health service offerings are) there were a few NHS “homeopathy” GP practises and one Homeopathic Hospital (in Bristol).

        It sets out it’s position here: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/homeopathy/pages/introduction.aspx

        Note: that article is in fact slightly old, as it fails to mention that as of 7th January 2013 the last homeopathic hospital in Bristol was closed down.

        I don’t work for the NHS, I’ve got no association with them whatsoever and I fully understand that it has problems but it is an incredible healthcare service which doesn’t deserve to be continually misrepresented to further political or personal agendas.

  2. Carl Sagan said in Cosmos that along with carbon, he was a water chauvinist…basically because we are mostly carbon and water. So if I’m mostly water and water has memory, who the feck am I? Really? I could be made up of more people than have ever lived. let alone every other organism that has ever been..

    There are bout 10^14 cells in a human.

    98.73%, or 1.74 x 10^14, of those cells are water molecules.

    10^14 x (1.74 x 10^14) = a lot of feckin’ molecules with some very wery unsavoury memories. No bloody wonder I’m always confused.

    Yip! Homeopathy is pure balderdash and anyone having any truck with it is a moron.

  3. A typical ignorant piece by someone who clearly doesn’t understand the science of homeopathy. Of course water doesn’t have a memory as such. It has to be succussed (potentiated) at each dilution step starting with a solution of the active substance that has been triturated for 60 minutes. Succussion involves banging the container with each dilution on a leather pad (a wooden surface doesn’t work, for obvious reasons). Hahnemann, who invented homeopathy preferred to use a leather-bound bible as this gave each dilution extra potency.

    Once a series of 100-fold aqueous dilutions has been properly successed, there is obviously no active substance left in the container, but the water (or other aqueous solvent) now has a perfect memory of the starting material. Anyone who claims none of this makes sense and is just a lot of superstitious witchcraft clearly doesn’t understand science.

    • In reply to #6 by FrankMill:

      A typical ignorant piece by someone who clearly doesn’t understand the science of homeopathy. Of course water doesn’t have a memory as such. It has to be succussed (potentiated) at each dilution step starting with a solution of the active substance that has been triturated for 60 minutes. Succuss…

      Wait. This isn’t mockery? Are you being serious? Do I have to take my “like” back?

      Mike

      • In reply to #14 by Sample:

        In reply to #6 by FrankMill:

        A typical ignorant piece by someone who clearly doesn’t understand the science of homeopathy. Of course water doesn’t have a memory as such. It has to be succussed (potentiated) at each dilution step starting with a solution of the active substance that has been tritu…
        Of course I’m not serious!!

    • In reply to #6 by FrankMill:

      A typical ignorant piece by someone who clearly doesn’t understand the science of homeopathy..

      Mockery or not, it’s a good response to the daft blather on here along the lines of “water can’t have memory because then it would remember everything that ever happened to it bla bla bla”. An obvious strawman, that does nothing to help the scientific refutation of homeopathy.

      The hypothesis – if that’s what it is – is that water has the ability to remember some stuff for some macroscopic time (shelf-life of the “product”) if it is sufficiently well bashed around or suffused or whatever the word is. On leather, not wood, (for “obvious reasons” – I like that part)

      There’s no requirement for water to remember previous incarnations (before it condensed out of vapour, that would be, I suppose). So rain and distilled water are blank pages. Probably various other processes like boiling or yelling at could also erase the hypothetical memory. Not sure where blessing comes into it, so let’s put that aside for another time.

      Running with the conjecture that liquid water has some kind of macroscopic memory, you have things like the notion that juice squeezed from the fruit is superior to juice concentrated and reconstituted by adding water sourced from some non-fruit-tree based chain of supply. Well, that doesn’t contradict experience, and gives at least an excuse to charge more for the not-from-concentrate product. I’m sure there must be other examples, not specifically “homeopathic”, but along for the ride, enough to make the (limited) water-memory thing seem at least somewhat respectable to the general public.

      Dismissing out of hand with a stupid strawman argument isn’t helping.

      • In reply to #30 by OHooligan:

        Running with the conjecture that liquid water has some kind of macroscopic memory, you have things like the notion that juice squeezed from the fruit is superior to juice concentrated and reconstituted by adding water sourced from some non-fruit-tree based chain of supply. Well, that doesn’t contradict experience, and gives at least an excuse to charge more for the not-from-concentrate product. I’m sure there must be other examples, not specifically “homeopathic”, but along for the ride, enough to make the (limited) water-memory thing seem at least somewhat respectable to the general public.

        Sorry but I don’t understand how anyone would claim that people having a general preference for freshly squeezed fruit juice over fruit juice derived from concentrate somehow adds respectability to the homeopathic assertion that water has memory. Again we need to compare apples with apples (or should that be apple juice with apple juice?).

        A valid comparison that might add respectability to the homeopathic ‘water memory’ assertion would be along the following lines: Orange juice is known to contain vitamin C which has known health benefits. There is clinically robust evidence to show that if we add some orange juice to water and repeatedly dilute it until there is a statistically negligible chance of having any of the original orange juice left, then imbibing this water will have the same health benefits as drinking orange juice.

        Note that no such evidence (or mechanism by which this may work) has ever been established.

        Furthermore, homeopathic claims are even weirder than that. ‘Cures’ are offered on the basis of ‘like cures like’. For example if a patient has symptoms of anxiety and sleeplessness, the homeopath will assert that coffee causes similar symptoms of anxiety and sleeplessness in some cases, therefore some water which once contained coffee (but has since been diluted to the point that no coffee at all is statistically likely to remain) will form a valid intervention which will assist a positive outcome for the patients condition (beyond placebo).

        This is clearly nonsense and deserves all the ridicule it can get..

        • In reply to #31 by Steve_M:

          In reply to #30 by OHooligan:

          Sorry but I don’t understand how anyone would claim that people having a general preference for freshly squeezed fruit juice over fruit juice derived from concentrate somehow adds respectability to the homeopathic assertion that water has memory.

          How else explain the price premium? Vague “more natural” claims? Or it “tastes better” (if so, why?). There’s a sound environmental argument to say it’s a smart idea not to transport water around, so concentrate and reconstitute would be the eco-friendly way to go. And yet the fresh stuff still sells for more.

          Let me recap the argument: water from the fruit “remembers” its natural journey from rainfall to tree root to fruit. All lovely and natural, and not a metal pipe to be found. Water in reconstituted juice has suffered all kinds of industrial indignities behind dams, in concrete tanks and metal pipes and factories. So when it’s rejoined with the survivors in the concentrated juice, it’s not nearly as happy. Hey, even the dumbest stoned hippie can grasp the concept.

          The vitamin C story doesn’t wash either. Unless you’ve actually come across “Homeopathic Vitamin C”. Oh, that would be Ribena, wouldn’t it. (The vitamin C drink without any detectable amounts of vitamin C in it – as revealed by a high school science project).

          This is clearly nonsense and deserves all the ridicule it can get..

          That’s the issue. There’s too much straw-man stuff in the anti-homeopathy rhetoric. I think it would be wiser to stick closer to the real story, which is the lack of peer reviewed reports of properly conducted studies that show any statistical difference between homeopathy and placebology (TM). There appears to be no evidence it works. Contrast that with the evidence in favour of a whole host of pharmaceuticals,

          Attacking the theory (such as it is) I think is less effective. “Water Memory” doesn’t mean what the attackers say it means. Also, the treat-like-with-like thing would be utterly insane if there was actually any of the offending material present. Gotcha again. It does feel a lot like Alice thru the Looking Glass, or maybe Catch 22. Oh, and it’s hard stuff to study because – being so minute (I mean non-existent) it’s very easily upset. Probably the faintest hint of a controlled experiment is enough to make all the water in a half mile radius suffer total amnesia. In the early days of homoeopathic “treatments”, the other constraints (fresh air, exercise, change of diet) were probably enough to cure many an ailment, and the placebo pills were just a psychological trick to get the patient to make lifestyle changes. Has anyone read the very long list of small print that explains the many things that can render a homoeopathic treatment ineffective? Coffee, the wrong toothpaste, all kinds of things. So when it doesn’t work, it’s not the medicine’s fault. When it does work, of course, it gets all the credit.

          But by all means go to work on the “theory”. Just be careful you’re not setting up another strawman. Recall that many effective medicines were known to be effective long before there was a scientific explanation of how they worked. So, denouncing the supposed theory of homeopathy doesn’t wash, as the response is obvious. (“science doesn’t know EVERYTHING, Mr Smarty Pants”)

          I could make up some science-fiction sounding stuff about resonance and standing waves and – in the spirit of Douglas Adams – invoke The Rumour Principle, which makes the absence of something (but the rumour that it has been seen) much more powerful than the actual presence of whatever it is.

          Don’t mistake me for an advocate of homoeopathy just because I can spin a better story about “how it works” than most of the people who use it. But there are otherwise sensible people out there who do buy the stuff, and braying at them isn’t going to turn them off it. It’s not going to be that easy.

          In short, it’s not that clear it’s nonsense. And that’s a major failing in education. So, come on. Stop braying and start educating.

          • In reply to #33 by OHooligan:

            How else explain the price premium? Vague “more natural” claims? Or it “tastes better” (if so, why?). There’s a sound environmental argument to say it’s a smart idea not to transport water around, so concentrate and reconstitute would be the eco-friendly way to go. And yet the fresh stuff still sells for more.

            I take it your ‘sound environmental argument’ stems from the fact that less fuel is used when transporting a concentrated reduced volume of liquid and then reconstituting it with local water close to its point of use rather than transporting the full volume of original liquid from point of source to point of use?? Considering fuel prices these days, If you think for a short while about the economics of this, it may not come as a surprise to you that the ‘eco-friendly’ orange juice from concentrate is cheaper at the point of sale than ‘the fresh stuff’.

            Let me recap the argument: water from the fruit “remembers” its natural journey from rainfall to tree root to fruit. All lovely and natural, and not a metal pipe to be found. Water in reconstituted juice has suffered all kinds of industrial indignities behind dams, in concrete tanks and metal pipes and factories. So when it’s rejoined with the survivors in the concentrated juice, it’s not nearly as happy. Hey, even the dumbest stoned hippie can grasp the concept.

            As mentioned in the previous post, I fail to understand why this argument has anything to do with adding respectability to claims made by homeopaths about water having memory. I’m happy to consider the fact that I may well be dumber than the dumbest stoned hippy in failing to grasp your point, provided you also consider the possibility that your argument is not applicable to homeopathy at all.

            To make myself clear – your argument does not involve water retaining memory. You are describing processes which involve the simple addition of various substances, chemicals etc to the water on its path to the point of consumption. In homeopathy, the assertion goes that even though you dilute water to the point that its statistically unlikely that any of the supposedly ‘active ingredients’ are left remaining in the solution, the effect of those ‘active ingredients’ is somehow retained by the water, even though the supposedly ‘active ingredients’ are no longer there. This is the opposite of the effect that you are describing.

            Attacking the theory (such as it is) I think is less effective. “Water Memory” doesn’t mean what the attackers say it means.

            Bearing in mind my previous comments above on the claims of homeopathy – could you do a little reading up on the claims that homeopaths are making and then perhaps think again about what you believe they mean by ‘water memory’.

            Also, the treat-like-with-like thing would be utterly insane if there was actually any of the offending material present. Gotcha again.

            Errr… Gotcha again????? Are you really suggesting that treating someone with a substance that causes similar symptoms to their illness is insane, but treating them with water that used to contain a substance that caused similar symptoms to their illness is somehow worthy of serious consideration?

            I could make up some science-fiction sounding stuff about resonance and standing waves

            You could indeed do that, but I fail to see what relevance that would have.

            Don’t mistake me for an advocate of homoeopathy just because I can spin a better story about “how it works” than most of the people who use it.

            I’ve seen no evidence that you have spun a better story about ‘how it works’ than most of the people who use it.

            But there are otherwise sensible people out there who do buy the stuff, and braying at them isn’t going to turn them off it. It’s not going to be that easy.

            Please again read the claims being made by homeopaths and reflect on the fact that they have nothing to do with your version of what ‘water memory’ means, which based on your explanation above seems to relate to the simple addition of various substances and chemicals from source and down the supply chain, rather than the magical ability of water to remember the properties of things that are no longer in it, which is what the homeopaths are claiming.

            Really – these claims do deserve ridicule. Of course its important to prove or disprove the claimed efficacy of homeopathy with suitably robust clinical trails now that its out there in the public sphere. But extensive research in this field has already been done and no effect beyond placebo has ever been conclusively demonstrated. In the mean time the homeopaths are still making their ridiculous claims. There has to be a limit to this – have you considered the fact that because homeopathy is being examined in a ‘scientific’ way then people may consider this a sign that there actually is something in it after all??

          • In reply to #34 by Steve_M:

            have you considered the fact that because homeopathy is being examined in a ‘scientific’ way then people may consider this a sign that there actually is something in it after all??

            We’re clearly talking across each other so I’m going to stop. But your last point is a good one. Another gotcha. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Now, where did I put my placebos?

  4. how to argue for homeopathy:

    1. When accused of being woo, insist it’s scientific by using lots of sciency sounding words
    2. If asked to provide evidence of efficacy, provide anecdotes
    3. If quizzed deeper on questions 1, and 2, assert science doesn’t know how it works and point out a list of other things science doesn’t know to back up the assertion that you can’t use science to judge homeopathy
    4. go to 1
  5. Two water molcules makkin wain

    sloshin’ round inside a drain

    and tain untae tither said

    when we are steam will we be dead?

    who cares said one, when I am tea

    will you perchance remember me?

    I’m sure I will when both we are

    in the exhaust gas of a car

    but don’t you think it’ be nice

    to be part of a block o’ ice?

    p’raps but only if we can

    remember how to cure a man

    of aches an’ pains an rigor mortis

    and what it’s like to be in Calpis…………….There’s alternative forms of lunacy to homeopathy!!!!

  6. If water had a memory, all life on Earth would long since have been wiped out as follows:

    1- All water on Earth is basically recycled
    2- At some point in the past some of the water has been in an animal which died of disease
    3- That water was then re-entered the environment and some was used by other animals
    4- Some of those animals also died of disease, concentrating the harmful effect according to homeopathic dogma
    5- Step 4 is repeated numerous times, until
    6- Water becomes instantly fatal upon contact to any living organism

  7. Gotta be Controversial Topic Number One!

    The last I read about this was concerning the experiments of Jacques Benveniste. Despite the methodological anomalies in the statistical evidence, I understand the actual theory behind it was not that water physically retained a memory of former solutes but that some aspect relating to the nature of establishment of the status of matter was involved in displaying the effect of memory of the interaction.

    There is a danger here, akin to the old example of the denial of existence of meteorites due to an inadequate theory base, that something may be overlooked due to a lack of a proper theory of the nature of matter. Just a thought. Science needs humility at times.

    • And wrong answers and ideas need to be jettisoned.

      This shit DOES NOT WORK. Watch James Randy on his TED talk. He takes an entire bottle of “Calms Forte” before his talk. It is a homeopathic sleep remedy. The recommended dose is ONE; he take 32.

      Oh, and if less and less of the medicine in the capsule is a good thing, then do I overdose by forgetting to take it?

      THINK, PLEASE. THINK.

      In reply to #17 by NordicAnna:

      Gotta be Controversial Topic Number One!

      The last I read about this was concerning the experiments of Jacques Benveniste. Despite the methodological anomalies in the statistical evidence, I understand the actual theory behind it was not that water physically retained a memory of former solutes but…

      • In reply to #22 by crookedshoes:

        And wrong answers and ideas need to be jettisoned.

        This shit DOES NOT WORK. Watch James Randy on his TED talk. He takes an entire bottle of “Calms Forte” before his talk. It is a homeopathic sleep remedy. The recommended dose is ONE; he take 32.

        Oh, and if less and less of the medicine in the…

        What if some sort of relevant information acts to inform whatever is serving to trigger the Placebo Response? Placebo is clearly guided in some way by the intentionality of the patient – stunts such as those performed by a conjuring showman like Randi are therefore not going to prove or disprove anything in this context.

        (By the way – is your avatar Darwin or Randi? Hard to tell?!)

  8. Actually I think homeothapy is something of a microcosm of the entire problem of religiosity on this planet and as such perhaps more important than we give it credit for. People are primarily capable of believing stupid things because, well to be frank, the average human is neither very bright nor particularly well educated, especially in science. Homeothapy encapsulates this problem. If children were better educated in science it’s far less likely they would grow up believing that water has some sort of magical medical memory or that fresh and salt water don’t mix as it apparently says in the Holy Koran (peace be on Allah and remember folks, no more cartoons of Mo, that’s not cool m’kay? We reserve the right to kill you with extreme prejudice if you draw any.)

    It’s also less likely they’d grow up believing in invisible sky pixies, talking snakes, water into wine, worldwide deluges without sufficient water actually being in existence to cover every mountain and someone managing to get several of every species of animal alive onto a small wooden boat.

    That’s why the batshit crazy spend so much time trying to get creationism taught in schools and that’s where we should direct the fight too. It’s probably pretty redundant trying to re-educate adults who are already brainwashed and set in their ways. Putting the right stuff into impressionable minds at an early age and keeping the bad stuff as far away from them as possible is how we’ll gradually ensure that succeeding generations don’t grow up into gullible and delusion adults.

    There’s one more thing that puzzles me about homeopathy though. If having as little of the active substance as possible in the tablets makes them stronger how come taking more of the tablets is meant to be a higher dose? Surely if one homeopathic sleeping tablet helps you sleep then half a tablet should be even better, just licking a single tablet quickly should knock you out cold and taking a whole bottle of them should have no effect at all?

    • In reply to #18 by Arkrid Sandwich:

      There’s one more thing that puzzles me about homeopathy though. If having as little of the active substance as possible in the tablets makes them stronger how come taking more of the tablets is meant to be a higher dose? Surely if one homeopathic sleeping tablet helps you sleep then half a tablet should be even better, just licking a single tablet quickly should knock you out cold and taking a whole bottle of them should have no effect at all?

      James Randi used to start his shows by necking a whole bottle of homeopathic sleeping pills. Nothing happened, obviously.

      Would there be any currency in mounting a protest against homeopathy by going in and asking for a remedy, then accusing them of fraud once they do? Because that’s what it is, surely.

  9. If Homeopathetics can reduce a substance in water to less than a molecule, why not put them in charge of a sewage treatment plant.

    I’d gladly drink water with less than one molecule of shit in it.

    But a billion molecules of whisky would be even better.

  10. In reply to #4 by Roedy:

    If someone claims water has memory, surely they have to do more than just assert it. Where is the evidence?

    Even if someone did shake up our present understanding of chemistry and physics by providing evidence of water having memory, the homeopaths would still have their work cut out given the other key tenet of their bizarre charade – the assertion that ‘like cures like’.

    From the Society of Homeopaths website ‘What is Homeopathy’ section:

    Homeopathy is based on the principle that you can treat ‘like with like’, that is, a substance which causes symptoms when taken in large doses, can be used in small amounts to treat those same symptoms. For example, drinking too much coffee can cause sleeplessness and agitation, so according to this principle, when made into a homeopathic medicine, it could be used to treat people with these symptoms. This concept is sometimes used in conventional medicine, for example, the stimulant Ritalin is used to treat patients with ADHD, or small doses of allergens such as pollen are sometimes used to de-sensitise allergic patients. However, one major difference with homeopathic medicines is that substances are used in ultra high dilutions, which makes them non-toxic.

    Note that they mention one major difference with homeopathic remedies to some common medicinal treatments, but fail to mention the other key difference – that their homeopathic remedies have never been proven to work in clinical trials.

    The Homeopathic A&E sketch by Mitchell and Webb sums it all up nicely.

    • In reply to #24 by Steve_M:

      In reply to #4 by Roedy:

      Even if someone did shake up our present understanding of chemistry and physics by providing evidence of water having memory, the homeopaths would still have their…key tenet of their bizarre charade – the assertion that ‘like cures like’.

      The idea of ‘like cures like’ actually is not so bizarre but is essentially the basis for conventional vaccination. Smallpox, for instance, was ‘cured’ by the idea of providing just enough of the similar Cowpox pathogen to trigger the immune system to respond. Must have seemed like witchcraft to laymen at the time!

      • In reply to #25 by NordicAnna:

        The idea of ‘like cures like’ actually is not so bizarre but is essentially the basis for conventional vaccination. Smallpox, for instance, was ‘cured’ by the idea of providing just enough of the similar Cowpox pathogen to trigger the immune system to respond. Must have seemed like witchcraft to laymen at the time!

        Hmmm – do you really think that injecting someone with the pathogens associated with a virus that is so closely genetically related to another virus that it triggers the human immune system into attacking both is really comparable to asserting that coffee causes sleeplessness and therefore in small doses it can be used as a cure for sleeplessness?

  11. The idea of ‘like cures like’ actually is not so bizarre but is essentially the basis for conventional vaccination. Smallpox, for instance, was ‘cured’ by the idea of providing just enough of the similar Cowpox pathogen to trigger the immune system to respond. Must have seemed like witchcraft to laymen at the time!>>

    This is not a cure. You know that. It is why you put cured into parentheses. It prevents spread. It does not cure. Cure suggests that a person with smallpox could be smallpox free by getting a shot of more smallpox.

    Smallpox vaccination prevents you from getting smallpox. We need to start comparing apples to apples.

  12. It’s funny that people who push this alternative medicine are never held accountable for it. Doctors, surgeons, pharma companies, etc are all deemed culpable in the circumstance that their treatments have hurt somebody under their care or taking their products. Generally they all endeavor to do the best job (hopefully) for pride, professionalism, etc, but failing that there’s always the legal implications if they don’t. That’s why above anything else they base the treatment on science and testing as when you have people’s lives as well as your own reputation (and finances) on the line, you’re more than likely to want to be as sure as possible. I’m yet to see a single homeopath be properly held accountable for any treatment they ‘prescribe’. However, it would be like trying to hold a 5yr old kid dressed up in lab coat accountable for telling someone they can cure them by making them a cup of tea. As per the Mitchell & Webb skit, that’s probably why they stick to supposed remedies that stay clear of anything the body can’t take of itself anyway.

  13. Interestingly, where your post turned up in my Facebook feed for this story … the following story was this one >> http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2013/10/11/3866454.htm … so perhaps (just speculating) it is not an issue of memory, but an issue of impurities in the water slightly changing that oscillation & thus the effect of the water … but, I personally think the more likely answer, is that IF anyone was to receive any benefit from homeopathics, it may very well just come from the fact that it is an excuse to get them to drink more water … and thus, a better hydrated person = a healthier person, because all chemical reactions require water, as does all waste excretion … and considering how many people are dehydrated all the time without knowing it, there’s your answer

  14. Assuming (quite illogically) that 2H20 molecules “remember” homeopathic “medicine”, exactly how does a sugar pill acquire that information when the “medicine” that treats the pill is gone? The placebo effect is worth billions to the hucksters who push crap to consumers. Senator Royal Copeland made sure that the FDA could not vet homeopathic “medicine.”

  15. It seems odd that homeopathy would work. Although i keep hearing so many good anecdotal reports about it.

    As a scientist wouldn’t the proper approach be to observe the effects and then research correlation and causality
    by having a group take a placebo (I’m aware that RD considers homeopatic remedies placebos in the first place)
    but at least compare them. then also include comparisons with pharmacological drugs’ effects?

    it seems that RD is hell bent on explaining why it cannot work. On the other hand I haven’t seen an independent study
    that shows it’s effectiveness. But that would also compare to vaccine manufacturers’ refusal for independent safety and
    efficacy study.

  16. It is astonishing, the amount of anti-science sentiment in today’s society in the U.S.

    It is also incredibly dangerous. Allow me to introduce you to Narconon, a purported “drug detox program” based on Scientology teachings. In their bizarro world, niacin “runs out” radiation, sweat glands detoxify the subject, and death is just nature’s way of telling you the program works. You won’t be doing drugs again, that’s for sure.

    Anyway, even now, states like Georgia are doing their damnedest to ensure that this fraudulent, dangerous quackery is allowed to continue in the dumbest state in the union.

    Even with insurance fraud, general fraud and a series of deaths, Narconons appear to still be enabled by state officials. In Oklahoma, an investigation began after six deaths were recorded in three years. What was uncovered was astonishing, yet a state senator still stood up on his hind legs to promote and support this bunk quackery.

    If you like memory water, you’ll love Narconon!

  17. Even though I see homeopathy just as one of the medical options we have at hand I seem to find the way it is approached very primitive. Just take a brief look into the basics of Quantum theory and you will see that matter does not stop on an atomic level. But we seem to look at homeopathy through these chemically orientated glasses. Wrong! Homeopathy is about energy on a sub atomic level where there is no matter but converted energy. So stop trying to measure molecules and atoms they’re just not there (after the many dilutions) but their energy footprint is and this is what our body reacts to. It’s like looking at a CD and saying there can’t be music coming from that thing, I can’t see the musicians. No but if you have the right player you can hear the music. Our body, and those of infants and animals, just to rule out the placebo effect, do have that specific player needed to read the energy information and react to it.
    I’m not advocating homeopathy persé but I would like to make the point that we still have a very primitive approach to chemically related science at the moment which is keeping us from making headway and new steps. The earth is not flat…

    • In reply to #43 by harry.lemmens:

      Even though I see homeopathy just as one of the medical options we have at hand I seem to find the way it is approached very primitive. Just take a brief look into the basics of Quantum theory and you will see that matter does not stop on an atomic level. But we seem to look at homeopathy through th…

      Got evidence for that lot of balderdash?

      • In reply to #44 by Ignorant Amos:

        In reply to #43 by harry.lemmens:
        Ah I see the world looks pretty flat to you. There’s a thin line between being a skeptic and where ignorance takes its place. But then again I see by your sign-on name you’ve had the wisdom to see and accept that.
        Please inform yourself through the countless excellent books on the basics of Quantum physics and you may see that the world is actually round (or flat but at the same time ;-) )

        Even though I see homeopathy just as one of the medical options we have at hand I seem to find the way it is approached very primitive. Just take a brief look into the basics of Quantum theory and you will see that matter does not stop on an atomic level. But we se…

    • In reply to #43 by harry.lemmens:

      Even though I see homeopathy just as one of the medical options we have at hand I seem to find the way it is approached very primitive. Just take a brief look into the basics of Quantum theory and you will see that matter does not stop on an atomic level. But we seem to look at homeopathy through th…

      Its good to welcome to RD.net yet another world expert on quantum mechanics. Can we have the Hamiltonian for your new theory please?

      • In reply to #45 by God fearing Atheist:

        In reply to #43 by harry.lemmens:
        Sadly that is an over-estimation, I’m certainly not an expert, far from it but just an interested layman. So your request for a Hamiltonian or even a Lagrangian formulation I leave gladly to others. My point is that many of us tend to regard natural phenomena with outdated views and paradigms. We have entered the 21st century, let’s open up to some other idea’s, they’re out there. Nuff said.

        Even though I see homeopathy just as one of the medical options we have at hand I seem to find the way it is approached very primitive. Just take a brief look into the basics of Quantum theory and you will see that matter does not stop on an atomic level. But we se…

    • In reply to #43 by harry.lemmens:

      It’s like looking at a CD and saying there can’t be music coming from that thing, I can’t see the musicians. No but if you have the right player you can hear the music

      What rubbish.

      Looking at a CD shows, REVEALS data encoded onto its surface which is viewable, that is OBSERVABLE, to anyone prepared to look, PROPERLY.

      I can’t see the musicians.

      No mate, were you hoping to find some.

      but if you have the right player you can hear the music

      Well to be precise, with the right player these ‘observable’ and readable data are, using D to A converters, transformed into a continuous (analogue) signal, which is amplified, played through a transducer, creating changes in air pressure, which are imparted to the ear, and through a complex aural process these are interpreted by the brain as representing music or any other sound that can be recorded.

      All of which is about as firmly rooted in conventional science and reality as is possible to be.

  18. Okay, I’ll bite…

    Where do you actually draw the line Obiwankanobi?

    Where do you draw the line…what about bloodletting?

    “Earliest descriptions of bloodletting is available in Ancient Ayurvedic Texts, wherein detailed, systematic, scientific modes of bloodletting are cited. Bloodletting is one of the oldest medical techniques, having been practiced among ancient peoples including the Mesopotamians, the Egyptians, and the Greeks”

    How about accupuncture, that should fall neatly into your category of balony I would imagine but how do you explain that this form of quackery has been pretty persistent in the Eastern part of the world.

    Yip, same for bloodletting.

    “Though bloodletting as a general health measure has been shown to be harmful, it is still commonly indicated and used for a wide variety of conditions in the Ayurvedic_, Unani, and traditional Chinese systems of alternative medicine. Unani is based on a form of humorism, and so in that system, bloodletting is used to correct supposed humoral imbalance.”

    So, baloney is right. At least until otherwise demonstrated as effective as described.

    Millions, nay billions of Chinese have been helped by this form of medicine for thousands of years,

    Ah, helped in what way? How do you know what helped them? Has their cancer been “helped” for example? You must be aware of the placebo effect surely?

    The thing about acupuncture, like homoeopathy, is that while other treatments back in the day caused more harm, those two Woo Woo’s are more or less benign, so while causing no harm in comparison to other archaic procedures, the placebo effect makes them look like they are having favourable results, so they caught on…we know better these days.

    BTW, the argument ad populum doesn’t fly around here. millions, nay billions of people believe in God, that doesn’t make it real.

    Are you actually disqualifying them?

    Without specific details and corroborating and testable evidence, yes.

    Pretty arrogant I’d say unless of course you have hard facts to show and convince me that this culture has had it totally wrong all this time.

    It’s hardly arrogant to be on the side of the scientific consensus.

    “Acupuncture has also been characterized as pseudoscience or pseudomedical by: Psychologist John Jackson; Steven Salzberg, director of the Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology and professor at the University of Maryland; Steven Novella, Yale University professor of neurology, and founder and executive editor of the blog Science Based Medicine; Wallace Sampson, clinical professor emeritus of medicine at Stanford University and editor-in-chief at the Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine.”

    Furthermore you’re using the argument of “fleecing” by the industry, You must be referring to the pharmaceutical industry of course,…

    No, I don’t think so…

    “As with other alternative medicines, unethical or naïve practitioners may also induce patients to exhaust financial resources by pursuing ineffective treatment. Profession ethical codes set by accrediting organizations such as the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine require practitioners to make “timely referrals to other health care professionals as may be appropriate.”

    …if there’s one industry that has made an art of overpricing at the expense of the ill and infirm then this is certainly the one.

    Ah yes, the big pharma argument. There is a thing called Clinical Trials that conventional medicines must partake in before being released.

    “A full series of trials may incur sizable costs, and the burden of paying for all the necessary people and services is usually borne by the sponsor, which may be a governmental organization or a pharmaceutical, biotechnology or medical device company. When the diversity of required support roles exceeds the resources of the sponsor, a clinical trial is managed by an outsourced partner, such as a contract research organization or a clinical trials unit in the academic sector.”

    Who do you think should pay for all that?

    Woo Woo medicines are exempt from such detailed critiques. That industry gets to put quack medicine on the market without years of research and testing.

    Now back on topic…have you got that evidence, in support of your Deepak Chopra-esque* balderdash claim, that I requested before?

    • Deepak Chopra is the the founding president of the American Association of Ayurvedic Medicine, and was later named medical director of the Maharishi Ayurveda Health Center. I wonder does he perform bloodletting procedures.
  19. http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn3817-icy-claim-that-water-has-memory.html#.Uwm4vXggG0c

    There seems to be a little more to this than originally thought. As scientists I would hope the RDF would have very open eyes to the possibility that there is still a huge amount we don’t know about the world around us. Physics is growing, expanding, changing and refuting it’s previous understanding continually. Rather than be dogmatic because something seems improbable and we don’t yet know how to fully explain it, let’s try and stay open minded and inquisitive.

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