Posts Tagged Pseudoscience

Homeopathic Medicine. It Can’t Hurt.

Posted by on Thursday, 17 December, 2009

Watered down to something?

Homeopathic Medicine: Safe As The Water You Drink

Jange Spengstre is a ballet dancer who lives in East Flatbush (N. Y.) She had a question for the homeopathy expert at Science Ain’t So bad.

“My drugstore sells homeopathic medicine right beside the other stuff and I can’t really tell the difference. The labels look official. Should I be leery of the homeopathic drugs? They claim to be very safe.”

According to Wikipedia, Homeopathic medicine is a form of alternative medicine in which the patient is given a drug which is diluted with water over and over again and “Dilution often continues until none of the original substance remains.”

Which is strange.

If nothing’s left but water, is it.. is the medicine WATER? Is that what they’re selling as a cure?

That’s legal?

Well, Dana Ulman, an “expert in homeopathic medicine” says (Huffington Post) that homeopathy’s fine. Don’t pick on it.

Those who say homeopathic cures are just water are “proving their ignorance”. There’s lots of proof, he says, that very small doses of substances can be efficacious. Why not, he says, think of the homeopathic enterprise as “nanopharmacology” to emphasize the small doses used?

Admitting that the scientific basis for “nanopharmacology” is a mystery, he reminds us that nature is full of mysteries.


Practitioners of the art of homeopathy realize that they are diluting the original substance so much that nothing may be left but water. The traditional explanation is that water has a “memory” of the original drug.

Ulman does suggest a couple of novel explanations for how water could have this memory. Could be that “fragments of silica” flake off of the sides of the bottles when they are shaken and those fragments play some role in the mystery. Or maybe it’s the unexpected temperature or pressure effects. You have doubts? What about Brian Josephson, a winner of the coveted Nobel Prize in Physics? He supports Homeopathy. (No offense if you’re a fan of very edgy ideas, but Dr. Wilson’s credibility should be viewed in light of the fact that he also supports ESP.)

You can get a little bit of the other side of this debate from a posting by Paul Wilson.

Not to be a curmudgeon BUT Ulman’s article seems like an effort to confound the facts with a lot of conjecture. And he seems a little confused about the difference between a LITTLE of something and NONE of something. Homeopathy’s fine by me for those who want to believe. But its methodologies aren’t consistent with evidence based science and I, for one, think that there IS something wrong with marketing its products on the same store shelves with drugs whose manufacturers had to spend millions to prove they work.

To Ulman’s fascinating and creative article in the Huffington Post, we give a ScienceAintSoBadRating = 0 . And that’s generous.

PHYSICS: Dark Matter


This is sensational.

Dark matter has been identified finally. Or so it seems. We are waiting for confirmation.

ScienceAintSoBadRating = 10

Was TOO Locked-In Syndrome!

Posted by on Thursday, 26 November, 2009

Looks Like A Finger. Could Be A Neuron.

Looks Like A Finger. Could Be A Neuron.

Neurology: A Case Of Facilitated Communication

Rom Houben was nearly killed in an accident 23 years ago.


Couldn’t move, couldn’t speak, couldn’t wiggle a finger.

They figured he was in a type of coma, a persistent vegetative state. But he wasn’t.

He could think. And he could hear. And he could listen to visitors as they walked around his bedside, discussing the fact that his brain was ruined.

Drove him nuts.

Until a miracle came along.

New technology was applied to his case and it was discovered that he had a mental life. And more new technology gave him a way to communicate.

And communicate, he did, going on to explain, with unexpected eloquence, the frustration and angst of being locked inside a body that had no means to tell the world “I am HERE!”. An inspiring and wonderful story.

Except some people don’t believe it.

Steven Novella’s a neurologist. And he’s also an excellent blogger. Don’t worry, nobody’s as good as MISTER ScienceAintSoBad. But Dr. Novella’s pretty darn good AND he’s a Doc.

Here’s his reaction.

On the other hand Steven laureys, Mr. Houben’s neurologist, is aware of the skepticism and he says he did some tests to show that the communications are not fraudulent.

Certainly, everyone has an agenda. As Dr. House likes to say, “Everyone lies.”

MISTER ScienceAintSoBad doesn’t think this is a case of pseudoscience. Everyone seems well intentioned and sincere. And Science Ain’t So Bad wishes Rom Houben a complete recovery, no matter what the odds, and congratulates him on having such a devoted family.

I will give Dr. Novella a ScienceAintSoBadRating = 8 for asking the right questions and trying so hard to be fair. But the controversy isn’t over.