links for 2009-12-15

Published by Waldo Jaquith

Waldo Jaquith (JAKE-with) is an open government technologist who lives near Char­lottes­­ville, VA, USA. more »

19 replies on “links for 2009-12-15”

  1. Homeopathy: duh.

    But don’t you dare try and tell some folks over at Wikipedia that it’s quackery. They will jump down your throat.

  2. Say what you want about homeopathy, but that article was misleading and probably willfully ignorant. Homeopathy uses successive dilutions, and there is no requirement that any of the original substance still be present. The author conveniently ignored that when writing the rant, just to get some impressive numbers.

    If you’re going to debunk something, do it the right way.

  3. Tim, I think I’m not understanding. Isn’t the premise of homeopathy that some incredibly minute percentage of the original substance remains present? Reading through the Wikipedia entry (which, Michael, makes clear in the introduction isn’t supported by any facts—the entire third and fourth paragraphs are about that, even using the word “quackery”), I see it says that “dilution often continues until none of the original substance remains,” but is that a neutral statement of fact, or would practitioners agree with that?

  4. Waldo, the article you’re linking to says

    Hahnemann himself realized that there is virtually no chance that even one molecule of original substance would remain after extreme dilutions. But he believed that the vigorous shaking or pulverizing with each step of dilution leaves behind a “spirit-like” essence—”no longer perceptible to the senses”—which cures by reviving the body’s “vital force.” Modern proponents assert that even when the last molecule is gone, a “memory” of the substance is retained.

    Must be a lot of memories of a lot of substances in any water you drink.

  5. I must have just skimmed over that, figuring that I knew how the whole thing worked. I guess, at some point, some homeopath did the math, realized that this was impossible, and started this “memory” business, which everybody seems to agree is a claim that didn’t exist until recently.

    It’s all so nuts.

  6. Hahnemann in that quote is apparently the guy who invented homeopathy, and it says he realized there were no molecules there (not sure what his understanding of molecules would have been at that time, though) and proposed something that sounds like the “memory” business. So it seems they’ve had the “answer” to the mathematical criticism from near the beginning.

  7. I forgot one other interesting advantage to voice mail services…
    You can claim to have forgotten how to retrieve messages and simply ignore them all.

    I guess the answering machine response is claimed mechanical failure?

    Does anyone else here remember when the phone company did not want to allow 3rd party answering machines on their system, falsely claiming they’d mess up the network?

  8. Huh. The last sentence of that quote says something about “modern proponents” coming up with this idea of a post-substance memory, and a bunch of texts seem to indicate that’s a more modern thing. But, yeah, Hahnemann would had to have known that, too. There’s really nothing about this that makes sense to me. :)

  9. Yes, Scott. You couldn’t attach any equipment to the phone line that wasn’t from the phone company. That’s why modems weren’t physically connected to the line but had to use “acoustic couplers”, those cradles that held the receiver and transmitted data via sound.

    The level of control by the phone company was much like wireless phone service today.

  10. Homeopathy has been the bane of my worl; trying to convince loved ones to get real treatment. What is truly disturbing is local doctors (who are very nice and caring folks) who actually tell their patients about this nonsense. It’s like trying to prove a negative. These people will be the very first whining about how the new health care plan didn’t include homeopathy.

    I could rant much longer about this but we all got more important things to do.

  11. I read somewhere (maybe in John Barry’s “The Great Influenza”) that, during the 1918 flu epidemic, a group of people treated with homeopathy had an excellent survival rate, compared with the people around them who were dying from the flu.

    Last month, I had a conversation with Dr. John Marr, former Virginia state epidemiologist who’s also our Free Union neighbor. He mentioned that it’s theorized that tons of people may have died of the flu in 1918 because they were being treated with massive doses of the new wonder-drug: aspirin. Something like 6 grams per day, as I recall, was the dose given to flu victims.

    He says that might help to explain the horrendous hemorrhagic deaths associated with that flu pandemic.

    Now, those people being treated homeopathically likely were NOT getting the aspirin, and maybe that’s why they had a good rate of survival.

    My hypothesis, anyway.

  12. Waldo, go buy some arnica cream. (I will pay for it if you feel like it is a waste of money – seriously.) The next time you have muscle pain, rub some on. I defy you to tell me that you don’t feel a reduction in pain within minutes of using it. Call it magic, call it a placebo, call it fake, I really don’t care. It works. Hugs!

  13. Malena, if it’s a cream, it doesn’t sound like the sort of diluted homeopathic preparation Waldo is talking about. No one is saying that herbs can’t have medicinal properties.

  14. KCinDC, the cream to which I refer has only arnica montana as the active ingredient – no herbs are included. It is amazingly effective. When my 6 year old son broke his arm earlier this year (both bones), the only way they could stop his screaming from pain at the hospital was to give him morphine. Once we got home, we gave him an oral version of the arnica and it worked beautifully (it also helps reduce swelling and bruising). There are so many things that we know are true in this world for which science as yet has no answer – this is merely one more.

  15. Arnica montana is a medicinal herb. The question is whether you’re using a cream containing extracts from the herb or (as apparently also exists) a homeopathic dilution like the sort Waldo is talking about, in which case you might as well be using water, as has been shown in multiple studies.

  16. The cream to which I refer is a homeopathic preparation. Studies may be wondrous things, but, for me, personal experience trumps them every time. I guess I live in a delusional world, but at least I’m happy. =)

  17. I just looked at the cream we use… you are right KC in that the active ingredient is the actual herb. (The company, Weleda, also makes many homeopathic preparations but this is not one of them.) Thank you for pointing that out. It is the oral forms of arnica montana that we use that are homeopathically prepared.

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