Friday, May 27, 2005

What is the paranormal in homeopathy?

Skeptics Circle
Paranormal can be defined as events or abilities beyond or above normal human powers or senses with no suitable explanation in the context of a specific body of scientific knowledge.

Homeopathic claims are alike to paranormal claims, for these six reasons of similarity and the close parallels they illustrate:

1. Supporters claim that the phenomena are real, but no real evidence exists to verify that claim.

2. The phenomena are said to "work" by means that are not possible, based on what we already know with great certainty, about the real world.

Many homeopathic remedies have been diluted to the point where on average they contain less than one molecule. Any remedy of greater potency than 24X and 12C will contain less than 1 molecule on average. This is due to Avogadro's number. This means that almost all high potency remedies will contain no original material. Those that do will contain it at such a low levels (single molecules) that it is impossible for it to have a biological effect. The "Remedies" Are Placebos.

There simply is "nothing" in the remedies. I mean nothing = zero, NOTHING, no remedy substance, nothing but plain old water.

3. The evidence for the phenomena presented is anecdotal, not scientific, and none of the "scientific" findings made by supporters have been independently replicated.

Homeopathic claims could be tested like this outlined in the papers below:

Individualised homeopathy as an adjunct in the treatment of childhood asthma

4. When attempted independent replications of the phenomena fail, supporters invoke special conditions and exceptions for their claims, and often state that these cannot be tested by "ordinary" science.

When they say that testing is very expensive, that is not a valid argument - if you have to prove the cost is what it is. It is no valid reason to claim that testing is very complicated (more than I figured out first). Some homeopathic supporters are wedded for some reason to the idea that homeopathy requires an entirely new paradigm for evaluation, quite underestimating the creativity of conventional scientists. They have the full right to propose new methologies (is there any or is the old magic enough?)

5. Supporters of the claims invoke such words as "vibrations", "memory", "quantum", "spiritual" and "infinite" without knowledge of, or respect for the actual meanings of such terms.

Another paranormal in homeopathy is the theoretical "energies" that aren't measurable.

Here it says: Some physicians, dentists, and chiropractors use "electro diagnostic" devices to help select the homeopathic remedies they prescribe. These practitioners claim they can determine the cause of any disease by detecting the "energy imbalance" causing the problem. Some also claim that the devices can detect whether someone is allergic or sensitive to foods, vitamins, and/or other substances.

But there is no remedy substance or measurable energy in dilution and no energies that can be measured (Quack "Electro diagnostic" Devices).

6. The claimed discovery is of such a nature and scope, that if true, it would have radically changed the face of science, our way of life, and our perception of the real world: that has not happened.

That means that a great deal of what we think we know about how the physical universe works is likely to be wrong or at the very least incomplete. Physicists and chemists would be all over this if it really happened. Regarding homoepathy and science, consider the lack of serious interes by physicists and chemists. Nobody is interested.

As to homeopathy, here is the UK's NHS's view: Homeopathy according to the NHS.

Despite the inability to reproduce the anecdotal evidence in clinical trials, homeopathy remains one of the most popular complementary therapies in the world.

If there is an effect on homeopathy, then it's quite unknown to science.

(Those 6 points have served to challenge the quacks and pseudoscientists for years and they was found on JREF, I don't know the name of the person who authored this.)

Add 8. June: No miracle cure for junk science and Ads warns about alternative medicine

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