“Science advances most when its predictions prove wrong.”
-Don E. Wilhelms, To A Rocky Moon: A Geologist’s History of Lunar Exploration
I like this quote. It says so much about the difference between scientific method, and other systems of knowledge. Let’s apply it to homeopathy and see what happens.
Homeopathy is a ‘medicine’ that is used to treat collections of symptoms (not actual illnesses) by taking a substance (could be arsenic, belladonna, camomile, or anything really) which induces similar symptoms. One drop of this substance is then diluted in water and shaken up. Then one drop of this solution is popped in another vial of water and shaken up. This process is repeated over and over until a homeopathic remedy is produced. The homeopathic remedy has been diluted so much that not a single molecule of the original substance is left. Only water. Homeopaths believe that water has a “memory” of the original substance, and the more it is diluted the more potent it becomes. There is no known physical mechanism by which this could possibly work. Science predicts it doesn’t work. And in test after test the evidence comes in: Homeopathy is a placebo. The placebo effect is a very powerful mechanism and its use is well established in medical science. Most minor illnesses or general feelings of ickiness can be alleviated by a placebo because the patient will get better anyway as the body’s natural defences sort it out. The symptoms of serious and chronic illnesses can be alleviated by placebos, but the underlying cause cannot be. This is why people die when they try to treat their cancer using only homeopathy. This is why an Australian couple are imprisoned for causing the death of their baby after using only homeopathy to treat a serious skin disorder.
Scientists are opposed to homeopathy, not because they are scared of it or paid off by Big-Pharma, but because it doesn’t work. It is a lie, it confuses people, and makes them believe weird and dangerous things.
But, what if the predictions of science were proved wrong and a testable mechanism was discovered whereby water had a memory of one particular substance (and somehow ignored all the shit, piss and other chemicals it had touched over billions of years), that dilution increased its potency, and that it actually worked to cure illness and disease (better than a placebo)? It would ignite a revolution in all the sciences, not just medical, but it would change our understanding of the way sub-atomic particles interact on a quantum level. It would make extremely cheap and effective medicines available to everyone in the world. We could immunise an entire country by putting one drop of a substance into the water supply. It would be huge, and everyone would embrace it. It would be medicine, not Alternative medicine.
So if homeopaths aren’t doing any useful work, who is? The Christie hospital in Manchester does a lot of great work in the fight against cancer: radio~ and chemotherapy, cancer research, and teaching. I am looking into using this daily blog project of mine to somehow raise money to support them. I’ll post here when I know more about it, but in the meantime please go to The Christie Charity website and make a donation.