21 December 2008

James Randi avoids homeopathic challenge for $1 million prize

I have long suspected that James Randi is ‘all mouth and trousers’.  It seems he has been avoiding Professor George Vithoulkas’s proposed experiment ‘to prove that there is a biological effect on human organism from the ultra high dilutions of homeopathic remedies beyond the Avogadro number’, for two years and claims on his website that the homeopaths have withdrawn.  Professor Vithoulkas states:

“In 2002 the BBC Horizon program presented a documentary that showed that the Benveniste experiment about homeopathy was a fake one and therefore… homeopathy was also fake! http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/2512105.stm

Mr.Vithoulkas had repeatedly stressed in many communications that the experiment was in any case a falsely conceived one from its very beginning (see the correspondence). The opponents of homeopathy basing in this false experiment by Benveniste their hypocritical arguments maintained that homeopathy was simply placebo effect.

Mr Randi after this false experiment (ignoring all other experiments that showed the effect of homeopathy) declared in his website (http://www.randi.org/) that whoever could prove the validity of the action of a homeopathically potentized remedy beyond the Avogadro number would be winning one million $ as a prize.

Mr Vithoulkas challenged this statement and with this idea a new experiment was conceived that would prove that the highly potentized remedies could actually have a biological effect upon the human organism.

The experiment was simple: An individualized remedy would be given to a number of patients in a double blind fashion and half of the patients would receive placebo the other half would get the real remedy. The Greek Homeopathic physicians that would participate in taking of the cases and prescribing the remedies should point out in the end of the experiment the ones that they had got the real remedy.

The protocol was structured by a group of internationally known scientists and the experiment had to take place in one of the hospitals in Athens.

What follows is the real story (with facts in correspondence that transpired) of how through several “tricks”, Mr.Randi refused to go through the experiment and rescued his million.

We sent the following statement to Mr. Randi in order to be posted to his website but he refused to post it. Read

18 February 2008

Water research scientist’s view of homeopathy

Martin Chaplin BSc PhD CChem FRSC Professor of Applied Science, Water and Aqueous Systems Research, London South Bank University has this to say about Homeopathy which I extract and highlight here:

Re Jacques Benveniste’s research

“A controversial paper in Nature [132] containing data from several laboratories, claiming to prove the efficacy of extreme dilution (the ‘memory of water‘ [1112])a has not been generally accepted after the results were reported as not reproducible under closely controlled and observed (by Nature’s self-acknowledged biased observers), but strained, overly-demanding and unsympathetic, conditions with negative results from only one laboratory being cherry-picked from amongst otherwise positive results [133]. The original results [132] were, however, confirmed in a blinded study by the statistician Alfred Spira [346e] and also in a rather bizarre Nature paper purporting to prove the opposite [346b],b and were subsequently comprehensively confirmed by a blinded multi-center trial [346a]. In spite of this apparent confirmation by several laboratories, there are still doubts over whether the experiments are truly reproducible and whether the noted effects may be due to the origin of the biological samples or human operator effects [1362].”

Re structural change from potentisation, the effect of glassware and thermoluminescence: 

“A thorough investigation into the structural differences previously reported between homeopathically potentized (that is, succussed and extremely diluted) and unpotentized nitric acid solutions showed that the effect was lost or changed if different glassware was used [495]. Changes in the thermoluminescence of ice produced from ultra-diluted water have been noted [500a] but can be explained by remaining trace amounts of material (due to poor mixing, impurities, absorption, nanobubbles (that is, nanocavities) [500d] or other causes) being concentrated between ice crystals [500b]; an explanation supported by later work [500c].”

Re meta-analyses and The Lancet:

“Meta-analysis of 89 placebo-controlled trials failed to prove either that homeopathy was efficacious for any single clinical condition OR that its positive clinical effects could entirely be due to a placebo effect [121a], thus leaving the scientific door open both ways. A further analysis of this data, however, indicated that some of these studies may have failed to avoid bias and that studies using better methodology yielded the less positive effects [121b]. It should also be noted that placebo effects constitute real clinical effects [121c], should be judged positively and probably account for a significant proportion of the success of prevailing established medicine. A recent analytical review has reinforced the, more negative, view concerning the clinical effectiveness of homeopathic remedies [527]. Further, a recent quality assessment of published experiments on homeopathic preparations has concluded that many were performed with inadequate controls [651]. ”

Re television investigations: 

“Although a scientific trial of homeopathy conducted for the BBC and similar work reported on ABC News’ 20/20 program both failed to show any homeopathic effect, the experiments they reported have been subject to serious criticism including that of careless scientific methodology. In August 2005 [840], the medical journal ‘The Lancet’ controversially argued for halting any further research into homeopathy concluding it has no effect other than as a placebo. This judgment was based on a comparative study of 110 matched placebo-controlled trials of homoeopathy and conventional medicine [841]. The conclusion was reached, however, in spite of the study apparently showing little evidence of differences between the two groups (homeopathy and conventional) when all the data was considered. There were differences when a tiny percentage of unmatched larger trials were cherry-picked for further analysis (that is, 102/110 of the homeopathy studies and 104/110 of the conventional studies were discarded).c The remaining 6% of the studies, however, still showed positive (if not conclusive, possibly as the number of trials left in this final grouping was so small) evidence in favor of a homeopathic effect over placebo. Although this study has come in for considerable and rightful criticism, as above and [1381, 1382], it is often put forward in support of the view that homeopathy works no better than as a placebo, a fact that it clearly does not deliver.”

Re bias: 

“Many laugh homeopathy out of serious consideration as a clinical practice, sometimes resorting to unscientific, unbalanced and unrefereed editorial diatribe. One of the main reasons concerning this disbelief in the efficacy of homeopathy lies in the difficulty in understanding how it might work. If an acceptable theory was available then more people would consider it more seriously. However, it is difficult at present to sustain a theory as to why a truly infinitely diluted aqueous solution, consisting of just H2O molecules, should retain any difference from any other such solution. It is even more difficult to put forward a working hypothesis as to how small quantities of such ‘solutions’ can act to elicit a specific response when confronted with large amounts of complex solution in a subject. A major problem in this area is that, without a testable hypothesis for the generally acknowledged potency of homeopathy, there is a growing possibility of others making fraudulent claims in related areas, as perhaps evidenced by the increasing use of the internet to advertise ‘healthy’ water concentrates using dubious (sometimes published but irreproducible) scientific and spiritual evidence.”

Re possible explanation for homeopathy:

“A key feature of any difference between water before and after its use in preparing homeopathic dilutions is likely to be the vigorous shaking (succussion) that must be carried out between successive dilutions, and which may produce significantly increased concentrations of silicate, sodium and bicarbonate ions [335, 1207] by dissolution of the glass tubes and increases in nanobubbles and redox molecules [1066] from the atmosphere, respectively.

How water may show a memory is explored further in the ‘memory of water’ page

13 February 2008

Homeopathy myths: it’s ‘just water’

The Homeopathy Research Institute  (aims: ‘To perform and promote innovative research of the highest scientific standard in the field of homeopathy.  To enable and encourage communication between the scientific community, the medical profession, professional homeopaths, the media and the public at large’)

reports in its February newsletter:


It’s not ‘just’ water

“It’s hard to realise just how complex a substance water really is.  Water is everywhere; it covers 2/3 of the earth’s surface and makes up 60-70% of the human body.  In our daily life, we only know water as either a liquid, ice or vapour. However upon closer inspection, scientists have catalogued 15 different types of ice1, which can be admired in the intricate designs of snow flakes and the amazing pictures of water crystals taken by Dr Imoto2This complexity is due to the precise structure of the water molecule, making water one of the most complex substances known to science3.

Opponents of homeopathy often refer to the simplicity of the water molecule as a key argument why homeopathy cannot work. “It’s just water!” they say.  However this is not the case as has now been shown by several fields of science outside of homeopathy4.

In the field of toxicology there is a known and documented phenomenon known as ‘hormesis’4A substance showing hormesis has the property that it has the opposite effect in small doses, than in large doses.  This supports the use of tautopathy, where homeopathic doses of a toxin are given to accelerate the detoxification of that same toxin (e.g. Arsenic).

Furthermore, in the field of material sciences, there is a phenomenon known as ‘epitaxis’.  This phenomenon is used in the industrial manufacture of semiconductors for microprocessors.  Epitaxy refers to the transfer of structural information from one substance to another, which can happen at the interface between the two substances.  This transfer of structure information can remain after the original substance has disappeared from the system.  This is very similar to the theory of homeopathic dilutions, the only difference being that epitaxy is known to happen in crystaline materials but not in liquids such as water5.

More recently, experiments using the light emission spectrum (Raman and Ultra-Violet-Visible spectroscopy) of homeopathic water vs normal water have shown that homeopathically prepared water has a different molecular structure than normal water6.  Although these are preliminary results they do indicate that homeopathic remedies are not ‘just water’, something has remained of the originally diluted substance.

Finally I want to return to the work of the late Dr Benveniste (1935-2004).  Benveniste’s original publication in 1988 in Nature7 – science’s most prestigious journal – created outrage in the scientific community all over the world.  It showed that dilutions beyond Avogadro’s number (behond which there is no trace of the original substance left in the solution, corresponding to –12C) have a reproducible biological effect onliving cells.  The scandal eventually let do Benveniste having to resign from his position as director of the CNRS, France’s main governmental science agency.  It is reassuring that his results have since then been reproduced and confirmed, showing that indeed highly (homeopathically) diluted substances retain a biological activity akin to that of the substance in its crude form8-9.

In this brief overview of the science of water I hope I have managed to convey some of the strong scientific arguments that support the theory of homeopathic dilutions and thus the validity of the homeopathic principle of potentisation.”

1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ice

2. http://www.masaru-emoto.net and his books such as ‘Messages from water’.

3. http://www.lsbu.ac.uk/water/anmlies.html 

4. Mastrangelo D., (2007) ‘Hormesis, epitaxy, the structure of liquid water, and the science of homeopathy’. Med Sci Monit 13 (1):SR1-8.

5. Roy R. (2005) “The Structure of Liquid Water; Novel Insights from Materials Research; Potential Relevance to Homeopathy.” Material Research Innovations. 9 (4), pg 577-608.

6. Rao ML (2007) “The defining role of structure (including epitaxy) in the plausibility of homeopathy”. Homeopathy. 96 (3); 175-82

7. E Davenas & J Benveniste (1988). “Human basophil degranulation triggered by very dilute antiserum against IgE” Nature 816 – 818

8. Belon P. (1999) “Inhibition of human basophil degranulation by successive histamine dilutions: results of a European multi-centre trial.”, 48 Suppl 1: S17-8

9. Belon P etal (2004). “Histamine dilutions modulate basophil activation”. Inflamm Res. 53 (5):181-8

More discussion on water memory here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_memory

Interesting description of hormesis here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hormesis ‘The biochemical mechanisms by which hormesis works are not well understood. It is conjectured that a low dose challenge with a toxin may trigger certain repair mechanisms in the body, and these mechanisms, having been initiated, are efficient enough that they not only neutralize the toxin’s effect, but even repair other defects not caused by the toxin.’

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: