Posted by: Kash Farooq | November 20, 2010

Weird Homeopathy – Venus Stella Errans (revisited)

Below is transcript of my guest report for Episode 3 of the “Super-Duper Woo-Fighting Duo (with capes!)” podcast, which is available on iTunes and ipadio.

It is a complete rewrite of my previous attempt to discuss this remedy.


Homeopathy is often described as being “all natural”. The Society of Homeopaths state:

“remedies come from many different natural sources: most are derived from plants and others are made from minerals, metals and animal substances.”

Natural sources, you say. Now that’s not strictly true. Let’s take a look at the Helios website. Let’s see what natural remedies they are selling right now. Hmmm. Blue?? A remedy made out of the colour blue? Right…what else… Horse Fly! Yes, I agree that horse flies are natural….but that’s not the sort of ingredient you’d expect in a natural health product, now is it?

This is the sort of homeopathy that inspired me to start a project to look for non-natural remedies: I started something that I call the Weird Homeopathy List.

Now lots of skeptical websites describe the implausibility of homeopathy in terms of physics and chemistry – I wanted to approach it from a completely different angle: Basically, the WTF angle.

I started looking for the craziest, weirdest, wackiest remedies that I could find. It turns out that there are many to choose from.

For this guest report, I’m going to talk about one particular remedy. It’s called “Venus Stella Errans”

So, how do these weird remedies come into existence? Well, to begin a master homeopath needs to come up with an idea. They have to think of an ingredient that has not been used before. To become a true legend in the field of homeopathy you need to invent your own remedy. And you need to be original. The homeopath who invented Venus Stella Errans was definitely original. He realised that he could use (and I quote):

“the focussed light of the planet Venus”

He doesn’t go into the details of how he managed to capture the light, but I am guessing that he pointed a telescope at Venus and pointed the eyepiece at a glass of water.  Photons that were created in the core of the Sun hundreds thousands of years ago, fought their way out of the star, bounced off Venus and ended up in the water.

I know what you are thinking: Wow – this is going to be some great medicine.

We’ll have to assume that whilst the light was being gathered by the water, an aeroplane or bat didn’t pass along the line of sight. Can you imagine your Venus water becoming contaminated by essence of bat? That would be a disaster.

Once you have made you remedy strong, you know, by diluting it again and again and again, you still don’t actually know what it will cure yet. To establish this, you now have to use the unscientific method of homeopathic proving.

You find some volunteers (we call them provers) and give them the remedy with a set of instructions. You don’t tell them how the remedy was made. Apparently this is not because you are scared that they might laugh in your face. It is so that they are properly “blinded” and not influenced by the ingredients.

The particular set of instructions given to these provers included a very important point: the remedy had to be kept away from light. Well, of course it does. You don’t want more light to get into the remedy and destroy your essence of bat, aeroplane and Venus, do you?

The provers are given a schedule and asked to record any symptoms that arise, and also any dreams that they have. After the proving, the results are gathered and the homeopath attempts to use the symptoms to work out what the remedy will cure.

You know what? There may be something to this homeopathy stuff. One of the symptoms reported was “I felt slightly spacey”. Now that is amazing!

After assessing the symptoms the homeopath progresses to perform what he amusingly calls a “clinical trial”. One of his patients, for example, was suffering from “post-operative exhaustion and spaced outness”. Yes, that was the symptom that the patient had: spaced outness. You know where I’m going with this, don’t you? Yep – a remedy made from outer space will fix that.

Another patient was suffering from “inertia, and unfocussed thinking”. Wait a minute. Did you just say unfocussed? And this homeopath has just created a remedy by focussing light. Yep, again you’ve guessed. This remedy will fix an unfocussed mind.

The homeopath then goes on to speculate how and why the remedy works. Now, if the remedy wasn’t weird enough already, his hypothesis somehow makes it even weirder. Can you guess what scientific principle allows his remedy to work? Yep – astrology.

I don’t think I can handle any more weirdness for this report, so I think I’ll stop there.

­


This is Kash Farooq reporting for SWD.

Google “Weird Homeopathy” to read more. Yes, it’s the top link in Google!

Follow me on Twitter @kashfarooq.


Responses

  1. Nice work. I mentioned the Venus ‘cure’ in my first ever blog on homeopathy (see link behind my name). I also found a nice account of a ‘proving’ of a new ‘remedy’ which was nothing more than a bit of rock from a Scottish mountain. You couldn’t make this stuff up.

  2. “Another patient was suffering from “inertia, and unfocussed thinking”.”

    Maybe it will cure belief in homoeopathy.

  3. For someone putting themselves forwards as criticising from a strict scientific point of view, it’s notable how inaccurate you are in your reporting of what is actually on the pages. The assumptions you make are wrong too. The style of your writing is unsurprisingly sensationalist.

    Thanks for the page links and publicity.

    Chris

  4. Dear Chris Wilkinson, you say Kash is “inaccurate” in his post but you don’t say how. What did he get wrong?

  5. Hi Rob. Firstly, I see no mention of “clinical trial” (Kash’s quotes) regarding venus.

    • Okay, the page says “clinical experience”, not “clinical trial”.
      I’m sure it used to say trial. If you search for either:

      trial site:http://www.btinternet.com/~wellmother/

      or

      “clinical trial” site:http://www.btinternet.com/~wellmother/

      You get a Google hit. So Google thinks the page used to contain these words trial. I should have freeze paged.

      But anyway: are you suggesting that a remedy made from Venus light is perfectly reasonable? And that it does indeed cure post-operative exhaustion and spaced outness

      • And I have freezepaged post-operative exhaustion and spaced outness

      • Freeze it all, we are talking about accuracy. I haven’t changed anything in many a year bar to remove the third and fourth experiences, which were only one liner “coming soon” ones, haven’t had the time to do those yet. Certainly never had the phrase clinical trial in there, as it isn’t a clinical trial.

        So, you base your quote on what you think google may have come up with? Not very scientific is it?

      • Okay, if I change it to “clinical experience”, do you stand by the rest of the claims?
        That you can create a remedy from Venus Light and it can cure “spaced outness”?

  6. Hmm. You *did* make a medicine by shining light from Venus onto some sugar crystals and put it through a “proving” which suggested it could help with “lack of focus”, but you *didn’t* use the words “clinical trial”.
    Yup, Kash is certainly looking pretty silly to everyone now.

  7. Are you calling me silly? Bit naff isn’t it? His writing is poor, not dealing with the facts – wtf style as he says.

  8. Does shining light from Venus onto some sugar, having that made into a medicine by having it repeatedly diluted and shaken, then testing it by giving it to some people and noting down things like what dreams they had and whether it made them “slightly spacey” count as silly? In my opinion it does slightly and I don’t think it’s at all naff to say so. Others’ opinions of the process might differ.

    • If silly is the kind of language you want to use, I don’t see any point in discussing anything here.

      I see a criticism by someone who is studying science, and so should be up to speed with how to properly do that. What is written above is as I said it was in my first reply.

  9. “Okay, if I change it to “clinical experience”, do you stand by the rest of the claims?
    That you can create a remedy from Venus Light and it can cure “spaced outness”?”

    The site says what happened. It’s quite clear. If there is something unclear then ask me. If its clear on the site, then what are you asking – for me to repeat it?

    • Can you explain how it works?
      Something to do with quantum mechanics perhaps?

      • I can theorise, but that would be just out of interest. The fact is what happened did indeed happen. What is your theory on it?

      • Please theorize. The skeptical community is very interested.

  10. Venus Stella Errans is not a homeopathic remedy. No “imponderable” is. The mother tincture was not produced by any method listed in either the German or French pharmacopoeias. Describing the remedy as “homeopathic” or implying that it is homeopathic by quoting a potency is incorrect.

    • Homeopathy is using the like cures like principle. Strictly speaking no remedy or substance is homeopathic. I understand that. Use of homeopathic on that site is describing its use in a way that homeopaths are familiar with.

      The remedy was used and symptoms that arose in the proving were reported by the individuals to have improved. My observation concurred with that. Therefore, homeopathy happened.

      • “A homeopathic medicinal product is defined in European legislation (Article 1(5) of Directive 2001/83/EC as amended by 2004/27/EC as: ‘Any medicinal product prepared from substances called homeopathic stocks in accordance with a homeopathic manufacturing procedure described by the European Pharmacopoeia or, in the absence thereof, by the pharmacopoeias currently used officially in the Member States. A homeopathic medicinal product may contain a number of principles’.”

        The methods used to produce imponderables, Jeremy Sherr’s noble gas remedies, etc do not appear in any pharmacopoeia. The legal definition is very important.

      • Chris, I would be very interested if you could expand on these two statements:
        ‘strictly speaking no remedy or substance is homeopathic’
        and
        ‘Therefore, homeopathy happened’

        The second of which makes you look very much like someone taking the piss, if you’ll excuse my turn of phrase.
        http://aliceingalaxyland.blogspot.com/2010/03/and-therefore.html
        for example.

  11. Is the clinical experience a new attraction at Ripley’s Believe It or NOT? Semantics aside, only the cerebrally challenged could accept the claims made by homeopaths. On a side issue, would one of you homeopathy proponents please explain to me how you manage to prepare a homeopathic compound of X-Rays. I literally am looking inside myself to find an answer to that one.

    • Insults….

  12. “Please theorize. The skeptical community is very interested.”

    I see there is a bit of interest. However, what I’m interested in is what happened and how that has benefitted someone.

  13. Having looked through the literature a bit, it seems to me that a “proving” is supposed to involve giving the experimental subjects a much less dilute solution of the proposed active principle, as close to mother tincture as can be safely administered. Mind, it was always clear that something like this was not going to have any basis in reality, not even the alternate reality in which homeopaths reside.

    • Insults again….

      Where did you get that information from?

  14. From the article above:
    “Natural sources, you say. Now that’s not strictly true. Let’s take a look at the Helios website. Let’s see what natural remedies they are selling right now. Hmmm. Blue?? A remedy made out of the colour blue? Right…what else… Horse Fly! Yes, I agree that horse flies are natural….but that’s not the sort of ingredient you’d expect in a natural health product, now is it?”

    Blue is natural, at least in most peoples perspectives. Natural source it says, not natural health product. I do think you should think twice about a podcast.

    • Blue is not a homeopathic remedy.

      • There is no such thing as a named homeopathic remedy per se. It becomes homeopathic when it is used in a homeopathic way. I’ve never used Blue, but if I did and it worked, it would be homeopathic by definition.

      • @Chris Wilkinson: That statement is a perfect example of the absurdity of homeopathy. It fails any empirical test, and post-hoc rationalisation is 100% of the game.

  15. “To become a true legend in the field of homeopathy you need to invent your own remedy.”

    Assumption. Where does that come from?

  16. So, Chris, what do you think is ‘scientific’ about exposing water to reflected sunlight that has been filtered through the Earth’s atmosphere and then suggesting that this water could be used as a treatment for anything?

    And what technical term would you use for using a ‘treatment’ that was hitherto untested on an individual and then making statements about that substance’s efficacy?

    I ask because I don’t think the word ‘science’ means what you think it does.

    • What happened is what happened. It is a phenomenon. It did treat something effectively according to my observation and the persons reporting. The same can be repeated.

      The process is first that a proving describes what can be treated by a substance. Next, using that information, it can appropriately given to someone. Next, the response is observed by the practitioner and the patient. When symptoms are relieved, that is noted and it can be that those symptoms belong to the remedy pitcure. With more such experiences, more can be observed and sometimes added to the knowledge base of that remedy. The proving, and the further observations can be replicated by others who do so in the correct way. In this way it is science.

      More to the point, what issues do you have with what is on the site?

  17. >>“A homeopathic medicinal product is defined in European legislation (Article 1(5) of Directive 2001/83/EC as amended by 2004/27/EC as: ‘Any medicinal product prepared from substances called homeopathic stocks in accordance with a homeopathic manufacturing procedure described by the European Pharmacopoeia or, in the absence thereof, by the pharmacopoeias currently used officially in the Member States. A homeopathic medicinal product may contain a number of principles’.”

    The methods used to produce imponderables, Jeremy Sherr’s noble gas remedies, etc do not appear in any pharmacopoeia. The legal definition is very important.<<

    A 'remedy' is made from the raw substance. That can be anything. There are many ways to do it that are effective. If it works homeopathically, then it is a homeopathic remedy by definition. It doesn't need to be potentised.

    Legal definition you quote doesn't make full sense, and can never be definitive. Its illogical unless it includes everything in existance.

    What was the that law brought in for?

    • The EU directives were pretty much brought in at the behest of the French and Germans. The EU imposed recognition of homeopathic medicines on all EU countries, even those had no homeopathic tradition to speak of or that did not want to treat homeopathic medicines as medicines. It’s partly about harmonisation of EU markets, reducing the barriers to pan-EU marketing of sales of homeopathic medicines.

      The definition makes a great deal of sense. It is drawing on French and German traditions, which are very much in the Classical mode. The directives do have some holes in (the status of mother tinctures for example) and there is some variation in Member States’ implementation, but I believe it to be pretty clear and straightforward to understand.

      It is the methods by which the mother tincture is created that effectively determine what is or is not a homeopathic medicine. This avoids the problems that the Americans have with their definition of homeopathic medicines being based on inclusion in HPUS – which is essentially moribund. New homeopathic medicines can easily to brought to the market in EU. Not so in the US.

      Regulatory definitions of homeopathic medicines are needed because of things like Zicam – products that are essentially real medicines that sought to circumvent clinical and safety trial by claiming to be homeopathic. The fact that the regulations effectively prohibit the more outre remedies of the practical tendency is neither here nor there.

      • Interesting, and thanks. I understand that the UK is unlikely to ever take on that directive as it is unecessarily restrictive to UK common law.

        Not sure how other medicines get round the homeopathic definition and are a problem. If so, for sure that should be addressed, but there are ways to do this without such restrictions.

        There are substances that can’t be made into low potencies – eg opium. So I’d have thought the issue was more with germany and especially france tending to use low potency remedies?

        Either way, its a poorly thought through directive in my opinion.

      • *cough* The UK has implemented the EU directives. Try the Medicines (Homoeopathic Medicinal Products for Human Use) Regulations and the Medicines for Human Use (National Rules for Homoeopathic Products) Regulations.

        I’ve heard the “common law” argument from various homeopaths (eg Robert Davidson) and frankly it’s nonsense. Homeopathy enjoys no recognition in UK law (although homeopathic medicines are recognised and regulated) which means that lay homeopaths are not exempt from legislation. There are no special opt-outs. The law does not recognise homeopathy as “appropriate medical treatment” for example when it comes to the protection of children and vulnerable adults. Then there is the business of prescribing. And so on.

        I am always surprised that many homeopaths have so little understanding of the legislative and regulatory environment that they exist in. It is shocking that the trade associations do very little to inform their members – they are negligent. They are well aware of many issues that they choose not to inform their members of.

  18. An attempt to remove the myriad confounding factors when applying your remedy to patients would make your efforts appear more scientific, were it not for the lack of any plausible mechanism of action.

    At the end of the day you are shining light into water and then claiming some sort of biological action beyond what is normal for water. That you persist in calling this science is a good indication of your lack of awareness.

  19. Light wasn’t shone in water, it was on milk sugar. That was then triturated.

    You say I’m claiming some biological action. Where did I claim that?

    >>An attempt to remove the myriad confounding factors when applying your remedy to patients would make your efforts appear more scientific, were it not for the lack of any plausible mechanism of action. <<

    Not sure what exactly you mean by the first part of that, but on the basis of the second part I wonder if you also see the idea of gravity as unscientific?

    • Well, you’re claiming that your “remedy” has an effect on humans, aren’t you? What kind of an action is that if it’s not biological?

      Or are you claiming it exerts its effect by some non-biological means, like “magic” perhaps?

      Do tell!

      • I am reporting what happened, you work out the process behind it all if you like. Interesting though isn’t it😉

    • Oh, well, adding a sciencey-sounding word like triturated to make up for forgetting the name of lactose undoubtedly makes your proving scientifically valid.

      Oh, wait, no it doesn’t.

      So we’ll add that to the burden of proof in the list of things you don’t understand about the scientific method.

      • That first para is at best irrelevant.

        You can add it to your list though, if that is of any point to anyone.

        I’m discussing here the fact that a skeptic/sceptic has written an article about homeopathy that is poor. It seems to show where he’s coming from, some of you have also shown your prejudice and lack of understanding, having a pop at things that you haven’t bothered to research. Not a problem. Hopefully there is some learning in this process.

        That it is about a piece of work I have done is why I am here.

  20. And the substance upon which is was shone (prior to being ground up) is relevant to the efficacy of the light of Venus how?

    As to suggesting a biological action, how else do you believe your treatment causes changes in biological systems (other than by acting upon them?)

    Confounding factors are the many other factors that can contribute to someone’s recovery. If you fail to take them into consideration when testing a potential remedy you run the risk of misattributing what happens.

    If you wish to scientifically determining whether a treatment leads to a particular outcome, you need to take account of confounding factors and other areas of potential bias.

    And no, quite happy with gravity as scientific thank you.

  21. I’m just telling you how it was made.

    I thought you said the biological action was in the water? We can theorise how something works, and like with gravity, sometimes, just that it works, has an action, is a phenomenon, is all we can be sure of. I know that you doubt that a remedy has an action. Thats up to you. On my site I reported what happened. Someone had a remedy, it did nothing, it was repeated twice more and still did nothing. I gave potentised venus stella errans and she was much better. On reflection, it was more clearly indicated in her full symptom picture. The second prescription was immediate in its effect. You can say it was placebo, but then why did the first remedy not work, and why did other remedies not work after the venus? I’m not saying its conclusive, but its highly likely that from this experience there is some useful information for what the remedy can work with. Its a process.

    People are complex creatures, there are always other factors involved. There was nothing I could see that changed beyond the remedy and the passage of time and night and day and what she ate and who she saw. There could have been something though, you are correct. But what? From my experience of giving remedies, for there to always be something else causing the change is too coincidental. You can take it or leave it. You can look with an open mind, and enquiring mind, or you can turn your head in the direction but keep your eyes closed.

    As for the general bias from me – I can assure you that I did the whole thing expecting nothing, because it doesn’t make common sense for it to work does it. I expected nothing from the proving and then nothing from the clinical use. I went through a process and at the end of it all there was something very definitely from the proving, and quite likely from the few times I’ve used it.

    Re gravity, we can observe it, but we have no idea of what it is or why it works. The same can be said of homeopathy. The difference is one phenomenon is very large and easily measurable, the other is much harder to measure in the simple laws of physics. Just because you can’t easily measure something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

    All I’m saying is what is on the site is what was reported and me trying to give some kind of commentary to something I really didn’t expect to arise. Kash’s write up is poor. He still hasn’t responded to the other points I raised. There’s more to come too.

    • From reading this one comment, it seems Chris Wilkinson is working entirely from the premise that the homeopathic remedy is the most significant factor (or perhaps the only factor) in producing a difference. Chris Wilkinson acknowledges the possibility of other factors (randomness, diet, day-to-day experience) and explicitly dismisses these as being non-contributive (but I don’t really get ‘too coincidental’). Under such a premise, placebo will of course have no effect, positive or otherwise, because it’s not a homeopathic remedy. So, if you presume that homeopathic remedies have a significant effect while interpreting the results, it is of course possible to conclude that there’s a decent probability a particular one has some particular effect.
      Chris Wilkinson has claimed that, based on this premise, the ‘focused light of Venus’ can be found to be efficacious. Which amounts to a pretty good reductio ad absurdum disproof of the premise, and all that follows from it.

      • … “and *this* is the point where it actually became absurd?”. Yes, I know. But I don’t think I’ve ever seen clearer testimony from a homeopath showing that the efficacy of the substance is taken entirely on faith, with the only question being which substance should be prescribed. But, we are the ones accused of having our eyes and minds closed.

  22. So, how did you rule out regression to the mean?

    How were you able to identify that the changes you saw were sufficiently unlikely to have occurred due to chance that you were able to ignore that possibility?

    Was there any non-subjective measure of efficacy?

    • How do you see a plausible mechanism of action for gravity?

      • Ideally I’d prefer you to answer the questions I asked:

        But a brief answer would be that gravity is a result of the curvature of space-time.

  23. Mr. Wilkinson, what about a ‘reality check’? Put something which can’t possibly be a remedy for anything through the ‘proving’ process, as a control, to see what happens. This will serve to establish the ‘background noise’ in the process.
    But it seems there’s nothing anyone can imagine (seriously or otherwise) which fits the ‘no conceivable effect’ criterion required for this test – ‘remedies’ are already sold based on ‘vacuum’ and ‘water’ for instance.
    Doesn’t this tell you anything?
    Perhaps two or more different homeopaths should ‘prove’ a new remedy independently – without knowing its source – and compare only their final conclusions. How do you think that would work out? Should you not expect similar results from each, if the substance is actually producing specific symptoms?
    (‘prove’ in quotes because it has a different meaning to homeopaths).

    • >>Put something which can’t possibly be a remedy for anything through the ‘proving’ process, as a control, to see what happens. This will serve to establish the ‘background noise’ in the process.<<

      Good idea. It concerns you for this to happen, why not contribute something substantial and do this.

      For the rest of what you say, look through the proving details of several well proved remedies in full and you will answer your question.

      • Please Chris, what can I use? everything I can think of which would serve as an ’empty’ remedy is already on sale (vacuum, for instance, and plain water). So, it seems the current state of affairs is, the work has been done already and homepathy has failed this test, by concluding they are effective for something. And none of you have even noticed. Do you know of anything which is more ‘nothing’ than these?

  24. .. and .. ” she was much better. On reflection, it was more clearly indicated in her full symptom picture.”
    You don’t get to do that. You can’t change your initial judgement retroactively (to decide a remedy was in fact indicated) based on a positive result, and then go on to claim it was effective in this case where it was indicated. Come on. Superstition 101.

    • You don’t understand the action of remedies so you refuse to accept they work. Thats up to you, and is not the issue. Here, I didn’t change my initial judgement, I reflected on what had happened on a situation with the understanding gained from her response to the action of a remedy.

      • My reading was, you decided after the fact that the remedy was indicated from the symptoms, based on observed success, thus artificially creating a situation where it worked in an indicated case. As a result, this has no statistical value because you created the success yourself.
        My belief in action of remedies is completely beside the point. The problem is entirely internal to your work. This is like me deciding that ‘take me home’ will work for buses because it happened once randomly.
        There’s nothing to stop you from doing this, or using any kind of logic you want to draw conclusions from observations, but your conclusions won’t be meaningful. You need to understand that no actual understanding of reality will come from this kind of process.

      • To answer the below as this system does work beyond a couple of replies.

        I’m not looking for statistical value. The system works without the need for it. I don’t need to understand that no actual understanding of reality will come from it. That is you operating within a limited paradigm.

        I reported what happened, you have issues because you cannot explain it without saying its all coincidental. I think if you look at the whole proving, using stats, you may well see that it does pass that test. I don’t really care what you think or how you process it. Your mind seems to be made up. Sorry if thats wrong, its hard to recall who said what here, but certainly there are enough replies from people with clearly closed minds. Your posts do seem to at least have some genuine enquiry in them albeit remaining rigidly within a paradigm. Or maybe I have that wrong?

  25. A few weeks ago I was waiting for a bus at a cold, remote stop. I began to whistle tunes to make the bus arrive faster. I whistled “Man In Motion”, then I whistled “On the Road Again” and “Bus Stop” and some other tunes, with no luck. I then whistled “Take Me Home” by Phil Collins, and the bus showed up within a minute. Of course, I then realized that “Take Me Home” is the proper tune I should have been whistling, since I was in fact on my way home! I whistled it again about 15 minutes later when changing buses, and that one arrived in only 3 minutes.

    Clearly this is a tune that is ‘proven’ effective in bringing a bus when you are homeward bound. I have both a rationale for why it should work (from the song title; who cares if that’s implausible), and two actual cases where it worked for me, while none of the others did.

    Superstition 101. Can you see how wrong that is? Can you see any parallels with your discussion above experience prescribing the venus remedy?

    • The fact is, you made that up, I just reported what happened.

      • Are you saying that if this had really happened to me, you would then believe in the bus-bringing power of whistling? I would like an answer to that please. If the answer is “no”, you’re evading by pointing out that it didn’t happen.

        You reported what happened and then drew conclusions from it. I have no problem with the reporting, just the conclusions. I did make up a story, and then I drew conclusions from it using the same kind of logic you have used. If you are doubtful that whistling can have any effect on whether a bus arrives, you will understand that my conclusions are rubbish. Conversely, your conclusions only make sense if you hold the premise that homeopathic remedies are the prime cause of all observed changes in the patient. You basically said yourself that you hold that point of view. What I’m trying to show is that point of view can and will lead you believe all manner of rubbish, I believe I have defended the “take me home” bus effect from hypothetical evidence as well as you have defended the venus remedy from actual evidence.

  26. Did I mention that pharmacies that provide remedies for proving may well be in breach of the Medicines Act 1968 and the codes of practice that pharmacies are supposed to abide by?

    • I don’t think you did, but as it is a “may be” and there isn’t any harm caused by remedies, and any such regulations aren’t aimed at homeopathy, and from information I heard (sorry can’t quote) that is generally understood to be the case on the side of government officials, I don’t think it matters in the slightest.

  27. From Marianne
    >>Chris, I would be very interested if you could expand on these two statements:
    ‘strictly speaking no remedy or substance is homeopathic’
    and
    ‘Therefore, homeopathy happened’

    The second of which makes you look very much like someone taking the piss, if you’ll excuse my turn of phrase.
    http://aliceingalaxyland.blogspot.com/2010/03/and-therefore.html
    for example.<<

    I think those statements are clear enough – homeopathy is a process. A substance is only homeopathic in how it is prescribed or acts. If I give a remedy and nothing happens, it isn't homeopathic. If something happens that isn't in the direction of health it isn't homeopathic – it could be an attempt at a homepathic process, but a failed one. A remedy cannot be homeopathic without being part of a process.

  28. Madgav
    >>Ideally I’d prefer you to answer the questions I asked:

    But a brief answer would be that gravity is a result of the curvature of space-time.<<

    The answer is I have reported what happened, the theorising is not important, but very interesting nonetheless. Just like the theories explaining gravity – there's more than one. Are they all correct? And more interesting – will anything deemed as correct today be deemed to be correct tomorrow? Drugs "proved" to be effective and safe one year, cause damage and are withdrawn in the next year. All interesting, but also important as people are killed from this. You could be spending time on challenging a system of medicine that actually causes harm from its drugs, and drugs get withdrawn after years of harming people. If their systems are so 'scientifically' perfect, why would this be so? Your choice of how to spend your time. It does make me wonder what motivates you.

    • You asked for a plausible mechanism of action for gravity – I offered one.

      But you are not merely reporting your observations (observations which are prone to bias, bias which is particularly hard to compensate for when it is not acknowledged), you are making assumptions, specifically that the changes you saw must have been caused by the treatment.

      However, you have failed so far to explain how you came to that conclusion.

      You’re right, medicine does change when new data becomes available. The relevance of that to your claim of treating people with the essence of reflected sunlight (presumably you’ve used the essence of sunlight reflected from other heavenly bodies in order to determine that Venus is something special) isn’t clear to me, however.

      And another assumption you’ve made is that I don’t attack medicine when it makes unscientific claims… what do you base that assumption on (and do you acknowledge your own bias?)

      • The reflective issue explained below.

        Maybe you do look at orthodox medicine? I just thought it more important to spend time on something that actually harms people. Whats your thoughts on that then?

        I reported what happened in my website. I made some guesses at to what may be happening, nothing hard and fixed. Things that may help guide in the use of the remedy. Is that not allowed?

      • Sadly we’ve reached the point where it has become obvious that you have no intention of doing anything but soapboxing.

        Given that you seem unable to answer straight-forward questions (specifically looking at how you controlled the variables already mentioned before attributing your patient’s recovery to your treatment) and that you are unable to recognise the absurdity of claiming to treat anyone with essence of light I will leave this discussion to others with more patience.

        But seriously, mocking other’s scientific understanding when you are effectively practicing sympathetic magic… well that takes a fairly significant lack of appreciation for irony.

  29. Back to the original article above:

    >>We’ll have to assume that whilst the light was being gathered by the water, an aeroplane or bat didn’t pass along the line of sight. Can you imagine your Venus water becoming contaminated by essence of bat? That would be a disaster.<<

    Poor assumption showing little understanding of even the basics of the process of provings and remedies. Why oh why write about something you have clearly showed no attempt to comprehend… nothing to do with prejudice is it?

    This article makes a mockery of sKePtiKs – assuming thats how you write it.

    • It’s nothing to do with prejudice, it’s to do with science.

      If you feel that I am missing something fundamental, please explain it to me.
      The photons travel form the Sun, bounce off Venus picking up some sort of essence of Venus (quite impressive for a massless particle) and then end up in your milk sugar.
      Am I correct so far?

      Then, if a bat did get in the way, why wouldn’t the photons bounce off the bat (picking up essence of bat) and end up in your milk sugar?

      Perhaps photons have memory and don’t pick up any bat essence because they already full of Venus essence?

      • Explained below, though being interested in astronomy, I also thought you would have some understanding of how waves carry something of the object they are reflected from. If not, why point the hubble at the moon?

        Either way it matters not, as explained below.

    • This is why I find it so difficult to spot the Poe…

      Honestly, you’re suggesting that you have instilled a substance with the (diluted and shaken) essence of reflected sunlight and that this substance can be used to treat people’s ailments without performing anything beyond the most subjective assessment (and then claiming that others don’t understand the process involved…)

      The fact that you’re apparently unable to recognise the problems, errors and biases involved in such an assessment leaves me wondering whether you are shockingly niave or extracting the Michael.

      • Why was the hubble telescope pointed at the moon to look for signs of minerals? In your theory all it would be picking up is unadulterated reflected sunlight – some universal things that is all we see, except for things that have their own light generation.

        Fact is you are wrong. Check it out. Even Kash can tell you this.

      • This is a link to Bradford Hill’s criteria for causation:

        http://www.drabruzzi.com/hills_criteria_of_causation.htm

        Take special note of items 5, 6 and 9 (as you appear to have ignored all three when deciding that the essence of reflected light can effect a cure for an ailment).

  30. Insults…

    What is there to comprehend, Chris?

    I’ve just reread that webpage and I see what I always see when I read homeopaths’ websites: customers being given ‘remedies’ with nothing in them and a homeopath earnestly noting how they they say they feel afterwards as if there was some connection between what they have taken and how they feel. Post hoc ergo propter hoc.

    If that isn’t “the basics of the process of provings” then what are we missing?

    And why is it a ‘poor assumption’ that Kash made about bats and aeroplanes? Seriously, instead of getting stroppy and accusing people of “making no attempt to comprehend”, why not just give a straight answer to a straight question?

    • The first and second para don’t follow on from each other.

      I’m not the one who wrote an article on the web criticising someones work, and within that making mistakes in quotes, throwing out assumptions which in the main are wrong, and being sensationalist.

      So far no real response to my points and questions re the article.

      A joke for ya…
      How many skeptics does it take to change a lightbulb?
      None, they just sit in the dark.

      And for the record, you may well contribute in some fields, maybe. Kash is not contributing anything in his article above. It displays attitude, bias and ignorance.

      • Sorry, I meant the third and fourth para’s don’t follow, thats counting the first two lines as para’s.

  31. More insults – but no answers to the questions I asked.

    I’m beginning to get the hang of this:

    (1) Accuse skeptics of being ignorant;
    (2) Avoid answering questions by claiming they’re not “real questions” thus keeping us in the dark;
    (3) Accuse skeptics of sitting in the dark.

    Nice one. Yes, I can tell you’re a professional homeopath.

    However, because I am genuinely keen to overcome my ignorance, I will ask the questions again:

    Question 1: Is there more to provings than giving people something and asking them to report on how they feel afterwards? If so, what?
    Question 2: If you use the “focussed light of Venus” to make a remedy, would it not be contaminated by whatever might get in the way of the “focussed light”? If not, why not?

    If you could manage some straight answers without the gratuitous insults that would be appreciated but I’m not holding my breath.

    • Breathe🙂

      1) I’m not rewriting what has been written. Its on my website. In brief, something is given, they write what happens to them, and in the case of my proving, they have contact from homeopath supervisors (who have no idea what the remedy is) to help them give full responses. Notice is taken of whether symptoms are absolutely new, recurrance of old symptoms, aggravation of old symptoms, or ‘curative’ symptoms (eg had felt exhausted before the proving, now have lots of energy).

      Patterns are observed. The information is always tentatively used, and after a while, after successful use the picture can become clearer, especially the physical symptoms that are cured.

      There’s more depth, but there you go.

      It works as a system, people get better. Same system for over 200 hundred years.

      2) It doesn’t matter what was in the remedy. The remedy is the remedy that the provers take and it is this that is used in homeopathic practice. We can call it remedy 7596 or 12/10/1865 or call it by what it essentially was, or approximately was, it matters not, but experience shows that a knowledge of what it is helps in understanding the essence of it, though not all fits into the essence, so if a bat was flying past, if, as you suggest, that effected it, it would be in the remedy and the proving.

      As it was, the telescope tracked venus for some time, so it was unlikely a fly past would be significant, however you may see that as an effect.

      All this is obvious from any brief study of homeopathy.

  32. @Guy Chapman
    >>That statement is a perfect example of the absurdity of homeopathy. It fails any empirical test, and post-hoc rationalisation is 100% of the game.<<

    Try again. The statement you refer to is basic logic. The second part of your reply displays prejudice and ignorance, and as its irrelevant to whats being discussed here anyway, it looks like a reaction without thought.

  33. @madgav:
    >>Sadly we’ve reached the point where it has become obvious that you have no intention of doing anything but soapboxing.

    Given that you seem unable to answer straight-forward questions (specifically looking at how you controlled the variables already mentioned before attributing your patient’s recovery to your treatment) and that you are unable to recognise the absurdity of claiming to treat anyone with essence of light I will leave this discussion to others with more patience.

    But seriously, mocking other’s scientific understanding when you are effectively practicing sympathetic magic… well that takes a fairly significant lack of appreciation for irony.<<

    The proving is how the proving is, you know that and can criticise it from your paradigm. Fact is what happened happened. I went into the proving expecting absolutely nothing, but 'something' clearly happened. It may seem absurd, it does to me to be honest, but it is as it is. Its not about buses and whistling, if you look into the details you will see this. If you want to do stats on it, go ahead, there is material to do that with. Or you can just leave it be as I haven't come to your point of view.

    My criticism is about the article, it is as I said it was. It doesn't stand up on several counts. Its a long way from being an attempt to understand. It is not science. Passing comments as most of you have done here about it being silly, absurd, etc displays a fixed point of view and an attitude that is preconceived. Not scienctific.

  34. @madgav
    >>This is a link to Bradford Hill’s criteria for causation:

    http://www.drabruzzi.com/hills_criteria_of_causation.htm

    Take special note of items 5, 6 and 9 (as you appear to have ignored all three when deciding that the essence of reflected light can effect a cure for an ailment).<<

    A phenomenon happened. How would you explain it? Really, look at the details and tell me. The probability of chance is low. You could say I made it up – that is wrong. You deny or don't understand the process of potentised remedies – is that enough reason to deny what is reported? Some ***current*** principles of science deny it as plausible – well we've been there enough over the ages to see that doesn't stand for anything.

    I could ask you to prove that nothing happened. I can offer for you to use the same substance and process and see what happens. Do it if your convictions are so strong.

    Thanks for the link, I will read that and engage with it. It still doesn't change that by all probabability, something happened when people proved the substance. Also a change happened when people took it to treat specific symptoms – the coincidence without a causality relating to the remedy is highly unlikely. That it was directly due to the taking of the remedy is highly likely. As I said, it is interesting and no reason to just condem from a fixed perspective. That is not science.

  35. Okay one more try.

    There is no need to mention again the fact that you saw something happen. My question is specifically whether the ‘something’ you saw has another (and far less implausible) cause.

    You’ve made an assessment of the probability that a substance caused discernable changes in those who took it (and that this same substance was able to cure symptoms in others).

    In your judgement the chance that this action was instead caused by other factors (such as regression to the mean, the placebo effect, self-limiting condition, random chance etc…) was sufficiently small for you to ignore it.

    How did you arrive at that assessment? You have stated that you did not use any statistical methods, what did you rely on instead?

    And once again I submit that you are using the word ‘science’ in a manner that is unfamiliar to me.


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