Samuel Hahnemann and his Frankenstein Experiments

My automated scans of the internet for all things about quackery have thrown up some interesting news today. The German newspaper Bild is reporting that an academic homeopathy journal is about to publish the discovery of fragments of a new edition of Hahnemann’s Organon. (translation here from “Die Entdeckung einer verlorenen siebte Auflage des Organon?”) For those not familiar with the origins of homeopathy, its inventor, a German doctor, wrote about all his discoveries and musings in a big book called the Organon. During his lifetime, he published five editions of his great work. Finding a new, previously unknown, version of his manuscript is not without precedent. The sixth edition of the Organan was discovered after his death and was finally published in 1921, some 80 years posthumously.

What makes this quite interesting is that the Organon is treated like holy scripture to homeopaths. If a homeopath wants to know what is the correct way to prescribe their sugar pills, they are told to consult the Great Book. But like all scripture, disputes can break out over interpretation. Disagreements persist about how many pills to give a patient, whether homeopathic vaccines work, wether like-cures-like is always true, and if same-cures-same (isopathy) is also viable. Wilder homeopaths dabble with homeopathic electronic remedy machines and magic MP3 files. All can find justification in the Organon (or at least one edition of it.) Scientific experiments are not done to resolve disputes because they tend to show that no alternative interpretation is viable. Something has to give – and it is the scientific method in favour of the Organon Scripture. So, will the new Seventh Edition of the Organon create havoc? Is this the quackery version of the dead sea scrolls?

It would appear that Hahnemann was not beyond dabbling in wild speculation about homeopathy. Undoubtedly, if he was alive today, he too would be downloading curative homeopathic MP3 files. The newspaper article is not long and does not give too much detail, but (forgive my minor German)  appears to suggest that the ‘Seventh Organon’ delves off into “Animal Magnetism and Homeopathic Mesmerism”. Remarkable.

The newspaper claims that (translation) “It would appear that the doctor had continued his work on replacing dilutions with mesmerism and had completed experiments on the resuscitation of dead dogs. He died shortly afterwards.”

Could this be true? Well, it does indeed follow on from work he did in the Sixth edition. We are told,

I find it necessary to allude here to animal magnetism, as it is termed, or rather mesmerism (as it should be called, out of gratitude to Mesmer, its first founder), which differs so much in its nature from all other therapeutic agents. This curative power, often so stupidly denied, which streams upon a patient by the contact of a well-intentioned person powerfully exerting his will, either acts homœopathically, by the production of symptoms similar to those of the diseased state to be cured; and for this purpose a single pass made, without much exertion of the will, with the palms of the hands not too slowly from the top of the head downwards over the body to the tips of the toes,1 is serviceable in, for instance, uterine haemorrhages, even in the last stage when death seems approaching; or it is useful by distributing the vital force uniformly throughout the organism, when it is in abnormal excess in one part and deficient in other parts, for example, in rush of blood to the head and sleepless, anxious restlessness of weakly persons, etc., by means of a similar, single, but somewhat stronger pass; or for the immediate communication and restoration of the vital force to some one weakened part or to the whole organism, – an object that cannot be attained so certainly and with so little interference with the other medicinal treatment by any other agent besides mesmerism. If it is wished to supply a particular part with the vital force, this is effected by concentrating a very powerful and well-intentioned will for the purpose, and placing the hands or tips of the fingers on the chronically weakened parts, whither an internal chronic dyscrasia has transferred its important local symptom, as, for example, in the case of old ulcers, amaurosis, paralysis of certain limbs, etc.

Pause for breath. He did go on, didn’t he?

But, blimey. It does indeed look like he had invented Reiki.

Hahnemann goes on some more:

Many rapid apparent cures performed in all ages, by mesmerizers endowed with great natural power, belong to this class. The effect of communicated human power upon the whole human organism was most brilliantly shown, in the resuscitation of persons who had lain some time apparently dead, by the most powerful sympathetic will of a man in full vigor of vital force, and of this kind of resurrection history records many undeniable examples.

Wow. Hahnemann believes that his homeopathic mesmerism can bring the dead back from life. Did he really spend the last years of his life experimenting with dead animals and seeing of they can be bought back to life? Did he really abandon his beloved dilutions in favour of the more fashionable mesmerism? Fascinating stuff.

If this true, it does look like Hahnemann spent his last years in Paris as some sort of role model for Mary Shelley. What monster did he create? Without access to the published ‘new’ seventh edition, we do not know yet. One hint comes from a rather strange source: Charles Dickens. He wrote about homeopathy in his rather obscure novel The Mudfog Papers. In this novel, published in 1837 at roughly the time these exeriments in re-animation were taking place, he introduces us to a character called Sir William Courtenay who believed that homeopathy can raise the dead.

MR. PIPKIN (M.R.C.S.) read a short but most interesting communication in which he sought to prove the complete belief of Sir William Courtenay, otherwise Thorn, recently shot at Canterbury, in the homoeopathic system. The section would bear in mind that one of the Homoeopathic doctrines was, that infinitesimal doses of any medicine which would occasion the disease under which the patient laboured, supposing him to be in a healthy state, would cure it. Now, it was a remarkable circumstance–proved in the evidence–that the deceased Thorn employed a woman to follow him about all day with a pail of water, assuring her that one drop (a purely homoeopathic remedy, the section would observe), placed upon his tongue, after death, would restore him.

Did Dickens know of Hahnemann’s last works?

We shall see. Maybe some homeopaths will not want to dabble in mesmerism and call it all a heresy. Maybe others will embrace the chance to raise the dead back to life. I, for one, would like to see what Prince Charles will do with this new knowledge. Will we see his Duchy Originals creating a “Dead Dog Revival Tincture” and the Foundation for Integrated Health create a “Universal Lazarus Potion” for the NHS?

Unfortunately, the world of homeopathy is beyond satire. I try my best.

75 comments for “Samuel Hahnemann and his Frankenstein Experiments

  1. teekblog
    April 1, 2009 at 7:32 am

    “Unfortunately, the world of homeopathy is beyond satire.”

    Yes, yes it is – although there is a certain mesmeric quality to Hahnemann, don’t you think…? (sorry, you’re right, it is beyond satire).

    Seriously though I wonder what strange thought this Seventh Coming of the Homoeopathic Messiah will bring…

  2. David Colquhoun
    April 1, 2009 at 8:06 am

    Fascinating stuff.
    I’m still baffled about why Hahnemann, who had an interest in chemistry, seemed so unaware of Dalton and Avogadro, who wrote in his lifetime. Could it have been a language barrier?

    Nevertheless he is on record as mentioning the indivisibility of matter, and he did say “there must be some limit to the thing. It cannot go on to infinity”. Details here.

    The fascinating aspect of this is that, although Avogadro was writing in Hahnemann’s lifetime, the actual numerical value of Avogadro’s number was not discovered until 1865, 22 years after the death of Hahnemann. If Hahnemann had been able to do the calculation, the course of history might have been very different. Think of all the trouble we’d have been saved.

  3. WHOISAVOCARDO?
    April 1, 2009 at 9:04 am

    The 7th edition of the Organon came out last year on April 1st Andy. This must be the 8th edition.

  4. Nash
    April 1, 2009 at 9:29 am

    Anthony Campbells ‘Homeopathy in Perspective’ has a chapter where he discusses Mesmerism and Homeopathy.

    Samuel Hahnemann is credited with being able to speak 9 languages including English, French, Italian, Greek and Latin. So not reading Avogadro wasn’t due to a language barrier

  5. Le Canard Noir
    April 1, 2009 at 9:39 am

    Yes Nash. Here is the link for Campbell’s discussion on Mesmer and Hahnemann…

    http://www.acampbell.ukfsn.org/essays/altmed/mesmer.html

  6. Rick
    April 1, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    A rather clever seasonal gag, no?

  7. SVETLANA PERTSOVICH
    April 1, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    Excellent post. Just for 1 April :)

  8. Dana Ullman, MPH
    April 1, 2009 at 5:43 pm

    Although trained as a medical doctor, Hahnemann was a learned chemist and author of the leading German textbook for apothecaries (pharmacists) of the day. He was conversant in at least nine languages and even supported himself in his mid-twenties teaching languages at the famed University of Leipzig.

    There is little doubt that Hahnemann knew about Avogadro, and when other doctors first told Hahnemann that they observed spectacular results using medicines that were diluted 1:10 one thousand times, Hahnemann expressed total disbelief…until Hahnemann’s own experience with these doses verified their efficacy.

    Hahnemann’s experiments and clinical experiences showed him that dilution with succession maintained medicinal effects when the patient’s symptoms were similar to the toxicology of the medicinal substance. Although Hahnemann made reference to “the law of similars,” it may be more accurate to refer to it as “resonance,” for there are hypersensitive reactions from resonance.

    Learning languages enabled Hahnemann to become familiar with the latest developments in medicine and science. He further expanded his knowledge and his growing prestige by translating twenty-two textbooks, primarily medical and chemistry textbooks (several of which were multi-volume works). Over a twenty-nine-year period, Hahnemann translated 9,460 pages. Hahnemann was one of the leading scholars of medicine and chemistry of his day, and as Andy has shown above, he was way ahead of his time with his interest in hypnosis and laying on of hands.

    Prior to his discovery of homeopathy, Hahnemann’s respect as a physician brought German royalty to seek his medical care, and modern medical historians confirm that Hahnemann showed sound balance and good judgment in his advocacy of proper diet, fresh air, and exercise as a method of treatment. His promotion of hygienic measures during epidemics won him praise as a public health advocate, and his kind, rather than cruel and harsh, treatment of the insane granted him a place in the history of psychiatry (Rothstein, 1972, 152).

    Even though Robert Koch first discovered the cholera bacteria in 1883, as early as 1831 Hahnemann ascribed the cause of the cholera epidemics raging at that time to “an enormously increased brood of those excessively minute, invisible, living creatures so inimical to human life, of which the contagious matter of the cholera most probably consists” (Hahnemann, 1831).

    Nicholas Von Hoffman, a columnist for the Washington Post, wrote: “Although this German physician never visited the U.S., for 70 years or more his ideas tore up and divided American medicine. No other single individual caused the settled and comfortable structures of this profession the trouble Hahnemann did, and even now many of the questions he raised have not been answered” (Von Hoffman, 1971). Many of homeopathy’s most severe critics have actually had kind words for Samuel Hahnemann. Morris Fishbein, executive director of the American Medical Association, wrote: “The influence of Hahnemann was, on the whole, certainly for the good. He emphasized the individualization of the patient in the handling of disease … and he demonstrated the value of testing the actual virtues of a drug by trial” (Fishbein, 1925, 37).

    Even Sir William Osler, the father of modern medicine, asserted in 1919, “No individual has done more good to the medical profession than Samuel Hahnemann.”

    Of additional interest is the fact that Hahnemann was granted honorary membership into the Medical Society of the County of New York in 1832. However, a few years later, the society rescinded his membership when they determined that homeopathy’s growth represented an “ideological and financial threat.”
    Let’s get our facts straight.

  9. Anonymous
    April 1, 2009 at 5:45 pm

    Courtenay/Thom really existed- he instigated the Battle of Bossenden Wood. I imagine Sarah Culver was his pail bearer.

  10. Anonymous
    April 1, 2009 at 8:30 pm

    I am presuming that Dana Ullman’s comment is a delayed April Fool.

    It seems bizarre to quote
    “he demonstrated the value of testing the actual virtues of a drug by trial”

    when homeopaths traditionally argue against RCTs

  11. Le Canard Noir
    April 1, 2009 at 8:34 pm

    For Dana, every day is April Fools’ Day.

    So, Dana. Instead of posting irrelevant waffle, and as a True Believer in Hahnemannian Homeopathy, do you also believe in his homeopathic mesmeric resuscitation discussed in the fifth to seventh organon?

  12. WhoisAvocardo?
    April 1, 2009 at 9:47 pm

    Andy
    Before you keep going on about the 7th edition please check your sources and please note that so far we only have an April 1st am post from you referencing the Bild rag. Bild in German means picture which sums up this tits,bums and football newspaper nicely.
    Hahnemann completed his 6th edition in 1842 and died in 1843. He completed his 5th edition in 1833 so he took 9 years to write the 6th. I doubt if he got too far into his 7th edition.
    However the 6th edition Organon clearly states he was experimenting into mesmerism and the possible effects of magnetism on disease. So what if he was? These were things going around at the time. There is however no mesmeric resusitation mentioned in the 6th edition- Er that comes from this ‘7th edition.’

  13. WhoisAvocardo
    April 1, 2009 at 10:12 pm

    Prof Colquhoun
    Interpret Hahnemanns letters from 1829 how you like. As a researcher you like facts so please let me enlighten you with paragraph 270 and footnote 156 from his main work the Organon.
    In paragraph 270 Hahnemann talks of ‘higher and higher dynamization, it is changed and subtilized at last into spirit-like medicinal power’

    In footnote 156 he talks of ‘the 30th potency progressively prepared would give a fraction almost impossible to be expressed in numbers.
    He then goes on to say ‘it becomes uncommonly evident that the material part by means of such dynamization will ultimately dissolve into its individual spirit like essence.
    My point is not whether Hahnemanns comments are bollocks or not.
    My point is that Hahnemann in 1842 clearly knew that his 30th potency was infinitely dilute. Hahnemann would have thought that modern homeopaths are barmy? Who knows what he would have thought?
    What would Newton think of those of us who dont believe in the bible? Who cares?

    Prof Whoisavocardo
    University of Burntdown
    Tibet

  14. Le Canard Noir
    April 1, 2009 at 10:22 pm

    WhoisAvocardo – you are wrong. Hahnemann makes the first mention of mesmerism being able to revive the dead in the sixth edition. (“the resuscitation of persons who had lain some time apparently dead”)

    Please check above again. I give all sources. So, unless the sixth edition is a hoax (it was published a hundred years nearly after it was supposedly written) we have to conclude this was the way Hahnemann was taking homeopathy.

    My guess is that current homeopaths are too embarassed to talk about it. Could it even be too far fetched for them? And if hehnemann was wrong about memsmerism, does that not call into doubt his entire judgement?

    Mesmerism is the homeopathic skeleton in the cupboard – the quackery that dare not speak its name.

  15. Dana Ullman, MPH
    April 2, 2009 at 12:40 am

    Homeopaths do not argue against RCTs. They primarily want GOOD research that is both well-controlled and that is sensitive to the homeopathic method. In other words, they want good research that has internal AND external validity. I hope that people here understand good science and respect these important concepts. Would it be a good test of an antibiotic if it was simply given to anyone with an “infection”?

    Just to remind you, individualization of a homeopathic medicine to the SYNDROME (not just the disease) is usually important, but there are some exceptions, as has been evidenced by the four large Oscillococcinum trials and the COPD trial in CHEST testing homeopathic Kali bichromicum 30C.

    If you are going to criticize my writings, I hope that people do better than the sloppiness of Mr./Ms. Anonymous.

    As for Mr. Duck, you are assuming if Hahnemann was wrong about ONE fact or theory that he is WRONG about everything!? Wow. I’m going to quote you on that one…which now means that you are wrong on EVERYTHING. And you think of yourself as a “defender of science.”

    And for the record, Hahnemann never claimed that mesmerism will “raise the dead.” You note (and even quote) that he says that it may resusitate the “apparently dead.” Whooops…you were wrong again. According to your logic, what does this mean?

  16. SVETLANA PERTSOVICH
    April 2, 2009 at 1:34 am

    Why on the earth is it necessary to invent some research “sensitive to the homeopathic method”? Homeopathy “works on the level of placebo”! In other words – homeopathy doesn’t show strong effects at all! Who does need such “treatment”? Noone!
    And none of “sensitive” researches will turn homeopathy into powerful treatment.

  17. Anonymous
    April 2, 2009 at 8:18 am

    cool, Dana again…by the way, why do you think it necessary to add your “titel” there?? sounds better, or what?

    “Prior to his discovery of homeopathy, Hahnemann’s respect as a physician brought German royalty to seek his medical care, and modern medical historians confirm …”
    whatever does this have to do with “I hope that people here understand good science …” as with most of your first post, its anecdotal crap.

  18. WHOISAVOCARDO?
    April 2, 2009 at 9:20 am

    Andy- You are more obsessed with Hahnemann than the vast majority of homeopaths.
    Hahnemann was quoting examples in the 6th edition and quotes of ‘some powerful mesmerisers, with whom I have been aquainted’. Where does he say he was doing it and so what if he was considering this practice would have been widespread at the time. Was he doing Frankenstein experiments? Or is that your desperate wish to score a point?
    It is very easy to go through various writings from people long dead and score points when viewing everything they wrote from the values of the present day. Newton was into the bible and Einstein didnt appear to like atheists (1). So what.

    (1) Einstein to an unidentified adressee, Aug.7, 1941. Einstein Archive, reel 54-927, quoted in Jammer, p. 97

  19. Warhelmet
    April 2, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    Mesmer’s great legacy to us are the magnetic systems for softening water.

  20. John H
    April 2, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    From JH (LOAC, GMOTU and UJ [retd])

    Question: What is Dana Ullman’s title ? I can see he has suffixed his name with the letters MPH. Is that a title ? I thought it meant miles per hour.

    Meaningless Pixy-dust Healer ?

    Maybe he gives rise to yet another new law of internet quackery – the “Not Throwing The Baby Out With The Bathwater Law”. Just because some old German was OK on diet, exercise and cleanliness hardly makes him right on pixy-dust and resurrection.

    Oh, and Mr Duck – you must be paralysed by the scathing wit of this harebrain.

    JH (Lord Of All Creation; Grand Master of the Universe and Unicorn Jocky [retired]). (Well they make stuff up don’t they ?)

  21. Le Canard Noir
    April 2, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    WHOISAVOCARDO – I think you will find the quote about Einstein referring to ‘intolerant’ atheists, not atheists in general.

  22. Dana Ullman, MPH
    April 2, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    My “MPH” stands for “mighty phine homeopath” or masters in public health. I am quite proud of my public health background and that is why I use that title.

    I am also proud of the fact that my undergraduate and graduate school, UC Berkeley, chose to honor me in their alumni magazine with a detailed interview: http://www.homeopathic.com/articles/view,61

    Today’s heretics are tomorrow’s heroes.

  23. John H
    April 2, 2009 at 5:57 pm

    History rather tends to prove the opposite.

    The evidence shows that all too often today’s heretics end up as tomorrows ashes blowing in the wind. Auto da fe would be a fitting end for two centuries of nonsense.

    Isn’t “mighty phine homeopath” an anagram of “whining homeothingy git” ?

    Very proud of your academic qualifications aren’t you. If everybody stuck their degrees etc on here there would be no room for anything else.

    Well done on the interview with your old university. Mine only ever asks me for money. (However, you must excuse me if I forego the pleasure of reading it).

  24. Le Canard Noir
    April 2, 2009 at 6:06 pm

    Congratulations, Dana, on the tenth anniversary since that article appeared in the Berkeley alumni rag. It would look like yesterday’s heretic is still today’s heretic.

  25. WHOISAVOCARDO
    April 2, 2009 at 6:36 pm

    Le Canard Noir said:-
    ‘WHOISAVOCARDO – I think you will find the quote about Einstein referring to ‘intolerant’ atheists, not atheists in general.’

    Anyway it is good that there are no ‘intolerant’ atheists on this blog!

    Whoisavocardo Prof(Hom), ABC, AEIOU, HAHAHA

  26. SVETLANA PERTSOVICH
    April 2, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    To Dana Ullman
    Hmmm… Are you a heretic? Indeed?! If your University has “chosen to honor you”, you are rather a hero! ;)
    But sometimes today’s heroes are tomorrow’s clowns and villains…
    Especially – heroes of endarkenment age.

  27. Le Canard Noir
    April 2, 2009 at 6:50 pm

    Carl Sagan said it best:

    “But the fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.”

  28. Dana Ullman, MPH
    April 2, 2009 at 8:49 pm

    Chucko the Clown was my fave. Bozo was an allopath.

    As for being a heretic, the fact that CAM is being taught at ALL of the leading American medical schools and that the U.S. Government’s Institute of Medicine just sponsored a seminal Summit on Integrative Medicine (February 25-27, 2009), the black-and-white definitions of heretic/hero is quite dynamic…and leaning in the direction of inclusion.

    And in light “medical science,” an IOM special report, “Informing the Future: Critical Issues in Health” (published in 2007), noted that 1/3 of Americans today take five or more medications. And yet, even if all of these drugs have been proven “scientifically” to work, each drug was tested individually, not in combination with one or two, let alone five, drugs.

    Yet, you have the audacity to write about Hahnemann’s “Frankenstein experiments”! Who’s the quack here? We seem to have an epidemic of Frankensteins! Who’s the Bozo here?

  29. Anonymous
    April 2, 2009 at 10:52 pm

    ooooooh Dana!!! I love initials after names! Here’s my collection after 40+ years as a military and civilian health care professional and clinical manager:

    MOS91C20, BA, RN, BSMT(ASCP), CLS, MSHS, MSHRMD, CHCRM(ABRM), D(NWC), CDR MSC USNR Retired (Sorry to have used up so much room!)

    Your lofty graduate degree from an esteemed institution apparently failed to develop your ability to critically apply reason, logic or any sort of analytical skills in your career. You have significantly failed to recognize homeopathy as a total scientific implausiblity! BTW – How much money do you make off that website hawking snake oil? Oh – It’s a public service and education website?

  30. Anonymous
    April 2, 2009 at 11:01 pm

    CAM is being “taught” in medical schools in a number of ways. Some are allowing the insidious “integration” (read the Bravewell documents, it’s no longer “complimentary” or “alternative”) of CAM modalities. Others, teach about the inefficacies and potentially harmful interactions with “allopathic” medicine because patients will often reveal their involvement with CAM to their provider. Some patients do not discuss CAM with their providers and the outcomes can be unfortunate.

  31. Anonymous
    April 3, 2009 at 2:15 am

    D. Ullman MPH? Must have slept through statistics & epidemiology classes in grad school. He doesn't reflect any understanding of the scientific method.

  32. Anonymous
    April 3, 2009 at 2:27 am

    Dr Hahnemann was likely very well received in his era. After all, virtually all medicine practiced in that time would be considered a form of “quackery” now. Modern medicine in most hospital settings has progressed remarkably and is continually improved by the rigors of scientific and evidence base practice. It also is subject to the continual upward spiralling force of “standard of care” evaluations through peer review and quality data analysis. Can Dana Ullman say the same of Homeopathy which hasn’t significantly changed in practice for almost 200 years?

  33. Dana Ullman
    April 3, 2009 at 4:34 am

    The number of medicines used in homeopathy has grown exponentially…but the medicines that worked in the past still work today. Compare that stability with that of “modern” medicine today.

    And please comment on the use of 5 drugs prescribed to a person at the same time. Where IS the science here?

    Ironically, these drugs create angry and crazy people who become skeptical of alternative to their own drug-crazed existence. What a loop that creates…

    And today, the vast majority of homeopaths used expert system software to find a substance with a toxicology that matches that of the sick person. Allopathic docs use expert system software too…oh, but that is to bill their patients.

    Mr/Ms. Anonymous has no backbone to come out of the closet…and obviously is ill-informed on subjects about which he writes, while claiming to defend “science.” Quack…quack…

  34. EdW
    April 3, 2009 at 4:59 am

    Instead of a “I’m right, you are wrong” discussion, without arguments and playing on the person, which occurs to me of being very childish for a honored MPH. Can you prove that using five drugs with known mechanisms that create angry and crazy people? Are there any research data about this statement? As we are talking science, there must be some publication about this?

  35. John H
    April 3, 2009 at 9:36 am

    Dana

    You said that “””Homeopaths do not argue against RCTs.””” From a lot of what I have read that is exactly what they do. They use a catalogue of weasel words to try to explain why a DBRCT will not work for HY. They do this because every time a proper trial is conducted the results are either worse than or roughly in line with the placebo effect and fail to demonstrate the efficacy of HY.

    You also said that “””they primarily want GOOD research that is both well-controlled and that is sensitive to the homeopathic method”””. My science consisted of mostly of hitting rocks with a pointy hammer so perhaps I misunderstand the nuances of medical research. Why would medical research be sensitive to the HY method. Indeed, how CAN it be sensitive to the HY method. Proper medical research is surely not “sensitive” to whether an NSAID, antibiotic, anticoagulant or whatever is being tested. How could it be and why should it be for HY. Surely the point of blinding, randomness etc is exactly to cancel out these sorts of effects and establish whether something works or it doesn’t.

    And what do you mean by “””good research that has internal AND external validity”””. Good research is valid in that it either provides evidence of efficacy or it doesn’t (or it indicates more work needs to be done). I think you are arguing something along the lines of some mystical or external force here. “It was a well designed experiment to test fossilised trilobite as a cure for X but Saturn was in it’s ascendency so it didn’t work this time around”.

    I think you will find that a great many people here and on it’s brethren sites understand good science only too well. I fear it is the quacks who fail in this respect and dress failure up in weasel words.

    No medical researcher would ever even remotely contemplate testing an antibiotic merely by stuffing it in anyone who was ill. That is a complete non sequitur and I am afraid is yet another example of you weaselling up a stupid argument.

    And as I seem to have overdone the word weasel I might as well finish off by pointing out that “leading”, “famed” and “growing prestige” (in your posts above) are weasel words as well.

    (I can’t let this one go without a few comments on your last post. Why would you need and expert sytem to dredge up an HY remedy given that there is no identifiable difference between any of them. They are merely sugar pills. Presumably you are American (life is too short to bother looking you up) but doctors in the UK have no need for software to bill their patients. Billing patients in the UK is left to quacks peddling pixy dust, needleism, spino-crackery etc. Presumably these quacks get a double benefit from the software – dredging up a nonsensical cure and charging £150 for the privilege.)

  36. Anonymous
    April 3, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    I see Dana Ullman (MPH) is still touting that widely discredited CHEST paper, despite its many flaws being pointed out to him time after time on numerous blogs and forums.

    His attitude of *fingers in ears: La la la I can’t hear you* gets really tedious when he is still incapable of assessing it dispassionately.

  37. Le Canard Noir
    April 3, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    And the Oscillococcinum trials which show that homeopathy was reported to reduce the length of flu illness by six hours – not clinically significant and almost undoubtedly an artefact.

  38. Stewart McOwan
    April 3, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    Please find below text from the 5th edition of the Organon translated by Wesselfoeft a long time ago. Not much difference!
    This writer of this 'story' above hasn't done any proper research!
    More misinformation than story!

    APPENDIX.

    I CONSIDER it necessai*y in this place to allude to animal magnetism
    or mesmerism (called so after Mesmer, its discoverer), differing in its
    nature from all other curative agents. This remedial power, the ex-
    istence of which is often denied, is imparted to the patient hy the touch
    of a well-disposed person, exercising the full strength of his will. It
    acts in part homoeopathically, hy exciting symptoms similar to those
    of the disease to he cured, and is applied for this purpose hy means of
    a single pass or stroke of the hands held flatwise over the body, and
    carried, during moderate exertion of the will, from the crown to the
    tips of the toes ;[l] this process is efficacious in uterine haemorrhages,
    even when death is imminent. The application of mesmerism also
    serves to distribute the vital force equally through the organism, when
    it is abnormally active in some parts, and deficient in others ; e. g., in
    cases of rush of blood to the head, and sleepless, anxious restlessness
    of debilitated persons, etc., where it should also be applied by means
    of a single, but more powerful pass of the hands. It is also capa-
    ble of imparting vital power, and of supplying deficiency of the
    latter directly to a single debilitated part, or to the entire organism.
    This object is not to be reached with the same degree of safety and
    certainty by any power, except that of mesmerism, which obviates the
    disturbances arising from other kinds of medical treatment. An effect
    of this kind is obtained in single parts of the body, by applying the
    hands or tips of the fingers, and by directing a strong effort of good
    will upon the part suffering from inveterate debility, where an internal
    chronic evil has established its local symptoms. Cases of this kind
    are, <°, g., chronic ulcers, amaurosis, paralysis of single limbs, etc. [2]
    Many sudden and apparent cures, performed in all ages by mesmerists
    endowed with great natural power, belong to this category. But the
    most remarkable instauces of the communication of human power
    were witnessed in the resuscitation of persons who, after having lain
    in a state of apparent death for a long time, were acted upon by the
    powerful will of a well-disposed man in the prime of life and vigor. [3]
    History records several undoubted instances of this kind.

    These methods of applying mesmeric power, depend upon an influx
    of vital force from one body into another ; it is, therefore, called posi-

    ( 227 )

    228 APPENDIX.

    tive mesmerism. [4] But there is another manner yf applying it, which
    produces a contrary effect to the former, and is, therefore, known as
    negative mesmerism. Of this kind, are the mesmeric strokes employed
    in awakening persons from a state of somnambulism, as well asall those
    manipulations known as "calming" and "ventilating." The safest
    and simplest means of discharging the excess of vital power accumu-
    lated in some portion of a vigorous organism, consist in the application
    of negative mesmerism by means of the right hand with its extended
    palm, held parallel to and about an inch from the body, and carried by
    a rapid motion from the crown of the head to the tips of the toes. [5]
    The more rapidly this motion is made, so much the more effective will
    be the discharge of vital force. In a case of apparent death, for in-
    stance, occurring in a female previously healthy, [6] whose menses were
    suddenly arrested at their commencement, by some violent emotional
    disturbance, the excess of vital force, probably accumulated in the pre-
    cordial region, is discharged and restored to its equilibrium throughout
    the organism, b}r means of a rapid negative stroke of the hand, which
    will be followed by immediate resuscitation. [7] A gentle and less
    rapid negative movement of the hand will also allay the great agita-
    tion, and anxious sleeplessness occasioned in very excitable persons, by
    a positive pass too powerfully applied.

  39. Stewart McOwan
    April 3, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    Fifth edition of Organon found on net at :

    http://www.archive.org/stream/organonofartofhe00hahnrich/organonofartofhe00hahnrich_djvu.tx

    Mesmerism references found close to the end of the book. When first put into the Organon it was as an appendix.

    I must say that I was very disappointed to read this article as some of the Quackometer criticisms of homeopathy have in the past offered valid challenge.

  40. Anonymous
    April 3, 2009 at 4:06 pm

    I just ran across this thread… Let’s just call homeopathy what it is – a CULT. How can we apply “Science” to a practice that has more in common with dogmatic religion? There’s to much of a belief system underlying homeopathy and, like all claims of religions, it’s unproven and can’t possibly be proven by ANY accepted scientific methodology.

  41. Le Canard Noir
    April 3, 2009 at 6:00 pm

    Stewart – can you explain what misinformation I have given? I quote the same passage as you do.

  42. Stewart McOwan
    April 3, 2009 at 6:37 pm

    I quoted from the FIFTH edition. The story from Bild about a seventh edition is nonsense. Bild is not a very reputable magazine even in Germany, a bit like ‘OK’ over here I believe. I’m sure a serious scientist wouldn’t want to pay too much notice of its contents.
    Homeopath students reading the Organon have been well aware of Hahnemann’s interest in mesmerism for over a century. For whatever the reason is, they have not followed Hahnemann down this line of enquiry. It is completely ignored at homeopathic schools and colleges as far as I know.
    Perhaps they aren’t as sheeplike as some people suppose!

  43. Le Canard Noir
    April 3, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    I too was quoting from the fifth organon. Is that not clear in my article.

    And yes – Bild has a reputation like the Sun here. After all, it devotes a page to homeopathy news so it must be pretty low brow.

  44. Dana Ullman
    April 3, 2009 at 6:53 pm

    This Anonymous person is embarrassing the skeptics with his ignorance. He will say just about anything without foundation. The fact that homeopathic medical texts provide the most detailed information about toxicological symptoms that thousands of substances create somehow gets defined as a “cult”. No one wonder Mr Anonymous wants/needs to remain anonymous.

    As for which conventional drugs create side effects that include mental symptoms, are you serious? Does someone out there really want to claim that this isn’t true? Eeeeks. You folks are way more doctrinaire than I ever imagined. Even Mr. Duck won’t defend you.

  45. SVETLANA PERTSOVICH
    April 3, 2009 at 7:07 pm

    Ok. So Hahnemann revivified dead dogs… ;)
    Excellently!
    But then why did he die himself? :)

    Maybe will misters homeopaths explain this strange fact, eh?

  46. Stewart McOwan
    April 3, 2009 at 7:13 pm

    Andy
    I too was quoting from the fifth organon. Is that not clear in my article.

    My reply
    You wrote the SIXTH.
    In addition you don’t make it clear whether you are quoting from an article that you have seen or directly from the Organon. All pretty sloppy. If starting a proper discussion you should properly reference quotations. Basic stuff!
    If you had made it clear this wasn’t from the supposed discovered stuff I wouldn’t have wasted my time replying.

  47. David Colquhoun
    April 3, 2009 at 9:59 pm

    @WhoisAvocardo

    As I have pointed out, Hahnemann did not have a numerical value of Avogadro’s number so he could not possibly have known whether he had any molecules left or not. It still seems interesting to me to speculate whether he would have persisted if he had known for certain if there was nothing left. Of course he might have done. After all, his income depended on maintaining the myth (as does Dana Ullman’s)

    Perhaps homeopathy has lost the battle. Now there are no degrees left in the UK. I suspect that it is set to retreat to an obscure fringe area populated by only a few cranks, just as it was in the 1960s. Let’s move on to naturopaths and acupuncturists now.

  48. Stewart McOwan
    April 3, 2009 at 11:06 pm

    I too was quoting from the fifth organon. Is that not clear in my article.

    Reply
    No, any reader can see you wrote SIXTH.
    To quote the sad lonely obsessed chap from the Aylesbury backwaters with the beak:

    “Could this be true? Well, it does indeed follow on from work he did in the Sixth edition.”

  49. Le Canard Noir
    April 4, 2009 at 1:25 am

    I agree David. The homeopath game is over. Just the cranks left.

  50. SVETLANA PERTSOVICH
    April 4, 2009 at 8:13 am

    David, Andy
    Certainly, it is good win. However, don’t forget that homeopathy remains the part of other quackery courses. The cockroaches try to hide themselves … ;)

    And certainly, Hahnemann has persisted, even knowing about limits of substance. Probably, he did it not only because of mercantile reasons. The chap knew 9 languages – I think he could earn by other ways, without his homeopathy. Rather he believed in such things, because he invented them himself. As a rule, mercantile reasons is destiny of followers, but not founder. For example, Linus Poling believed in his vitamin C, but Rath is merely swindler.

  51. Dana Ullman
    April 4, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    Yeah…Hahnemann lived only to 89…and at 79, he married a 34-year old French woman (an artist, intellectual, feminist). Hahnemann never claimed immortality, nor did he claim that homeopathy would raise the dead…but he certainly did show that homeopathy could improve the quality of life.

    The fact that homeopathy and CAM is now taught in virtually every medical school in the USA is signs of its “demise” (not).

  52. Whoisavocardo
    April 4, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    Svetlana Pertsovich
    On April 1st somebody told me that they had seen Samuel Hahnemann alive in Paris writing some notes. On approaching him he replied that he had finally completed the 7th edition of the Organon. He was with a dog that he said was 170 years old. Therefore it must be true that Hahnemann could revive not only himself but dead dogs as well.
    Please send $100 for prospectus
    Regards

    Prof Avocardo Dip(Mesmer)
    Department of Mesmerology
    Rockall
    University of Atlantic

  53. SVETLANA PERTSOVICH
    April 4, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    Aha…”is taught”… still!..
    But Obama will close it soon :P

    Certainly Hahnemann didn’t claimed immortality. He was clever chap. He had not aim to amuse fools. :) No, he didn’t claim it.
    He tried merely to revivify dogs… ;)

  54. SVETLANA PERTSOVICH
    April 4, 2009 at 3:58 pm

    Uh-uh! What for do I need your prospectus?
    Better I’ll spend $100 for good beer to drink with my friend Samuel Hahnemann :P
    Two week ago Sam personally came to my native city Samara to learn what space rockets are being produced at our cosmic plant. He is going to travel to Mars soon together with his wife-feminist and wants to choose good booster-rockets for his own space-ship :P :) And two his 170 years old dogs recently have come back from orbit in Russian scientific sputnik “Foton-M” :)
    Now Sam has come back to home (I saw him off to the airport myself!). He lives in USA. Only such naive people like Dana Ullman don’t know about it :)

  55. Le Canard Noir
    April 4, 2009 at 6:32 pm

    It might be worth pointing out to Dana that it is no longer possible to enrol on a Homeopathy BSc in the UK. One of the five remaining NHS homeopathy hospitals closed last week. At least this side of the Atlantic, the tide is turning against irrational nonsense.

  56. SVETLANA PERTSOVICH
    April 4, 2009 at 7:38 pm

    OK. Seriously.
    I repeat that closure of CAM courses/hospitals in UK is good win. But I fear that it is merely result of economic crisis, but not the victory of scientific thinking and reason :(
    I would be glad to be wrong, stating so.

  57. David Colquhoun
    April 4, 2009 at 10:13 pm

    I’m glad to say thet Dana Ullman is wrong (again) to say that homeopathy and CAM are taught in “virtually every medical school in the USA”. It is true that a lot of them have CAM groups in hospitals, have been corrupted by the large amount of money being given out by NIH (via NCCAM) and large amounts of Morgan-Stanley money (have they still got any?) via Bravewell. This is a very different matter from it being taught to medical students

    The situation is still better in the UK. The General Medical Council requires that medical students be familiarised with CAM. I was asked this year to do the familiarisation myself at one London Medical School, so I told them about the evidence. It’s true that a few medical schools sent their students on placements with homeopaths etc as part of the familiarisation, but the students revolted but starting blogs and that is likely to stop soon. Read all about it here.

  58. Whoisavocardo
    April 5, 2009 at 7:53 pm

    Prof Colquhoun
    So you are now going to now move on to Acupunturists and Naturopaths.
    Many will wish you luck should you come across any panacea merchants working in these these therapies. However, you would know that Prof Ernst in
    Br J Gen Pract. 2008 March 1; 58(548): 208–209
    states that acupuncture is backed by some sound evidence for nausea/vomiting and ostoarthritis. He recommends further evaluation by NICE or other institutions. A bit early then to condemn Acupunture unless of course you want to rush in with more speculative articles like your ‘Hahnemann would have thought that modern homopaths are barmy.’

    Prof Avocardo Dip(Crank)
    Department of Crankology
    University of Hahnemann
    Samara and Mars

  59. Warhelmet
    April 5, 2009 at 8:44 pm

    To suggest that homeopathy is dead or over because of the the withdrawal of BSc degrees or the closure of a homeopathic hospital ignores the fact that for much of its history was principally carried on by lay practitioners, with no formal training, with no formal support structures. And, because there is no legislation in place that registration of homeopaths, whatever the professional bodies might say, unregistered homeopaths do exist and will continue to exist.

    These things do have importance, but only as the ebb and flow of homeopathy’s acceptance by various elements of the establishment. Homeopathy has been a pariah before. And it will be again – and it is heading in that direction – mostly due to the actions of the most didactic homeopaths themselves.

  60. pvandck
    April 5, 2009 at 9:11 pm

    I do so enjoy reading Dullman’s diatribes.
    Dullman sir, if you are driving by, notwithstanding Andy’s post and your drivelling responses, be so kind as to answer the following request:
    Wanted – a properly documented and referenced example of homeopathy having incontrovertibly cured a non-self-limiting medical condition. Not an anecdote or a link to an anecdote. Include diagnosis, qualification of physician who made diagnosis, all actual methods of treatment, effect and mechanism of each treatment…
    You’ve been asked for this information several times (or in pretentious modernspeak, multiple times)and each time the response is a resounding silence. Ever since the time of Sam the Original Homeopathyman not one example has been forthcoming. In 200 years of meticulous record keeping you can’t come up with a single example. You should be able to produce millions by now, but instead (like all good charlatans) all you can manage is endless streams of meaningless verbiage.

  61. John H
    April 5, 2009 at 9:52 pm

    1) To Stewart – get a life.

    2) To Anonymouse. Sorry but I can only refer to you as “Anonymous at 03 April, 2009 17:06″. (Far to many anonymouses on here to be more specific – the Canard has a point about anonymouse postings)

    You are absolutely correct. HY is a CULT. Some of it’s high priests (self appointed) post here so that their deluded flock can swallow the Kool Aid. All of your comments are correct.

    I guess the reason that people bother to make so much effort to counteract the quackery rubbish is to help the one in one hundred who might otherwise take a reasoned view and disregard the quack propaganda, based on what they read on the Quackometer and it’s brethren sites.

    For example, if even one doubting parent reads that jabbophobia about MMR is total bollox and then has their kid vaccinated then that is a result worth proselytising for.

    We are hardly trying to convert the profiteers like Ullman. They know which side their bread is buttered. Nor will they ever screw up a nice little earner. Their deluded flock will never question the words of the master (lest it makes them look a complete ****).

  62. John H
    April 5, 2009 at 10:01 pm

    Andy

    Nice edit.

    Also it should have been “too” in the third line.

    Sorry about the final **** but I do get a bit het up about this shit.

  63. SVETLANA PERTSOVICH
    April 5, 2009 at 11:53 pm

    Whoisavocardo
    You are going to travel to Samara in vain ;) Nobody will allow you to come there without special permission, so – drop your mischief :P
    DC’s speculations are quite harmless unlike speculations of quacks. As for Ernst, he is not the omniscient god that we would believe him unreservedly and obey implicitly.

    John,
    You have said well.

  64. Dana Ullman
    April 6, 2009 at 5:06 am

    If anyone has any doubts about the power of homeopathic medicines, simply look at the basic science trials of a homeopathic formula called Canova. There are around 20 of them, the vast majority in conventional science peer review journals. Tell me what you discover when you google: homeopathic Canova Brasil (let the fireworks begin)…

  65. SVETLANA PERTSOVICH
    April 6, 2009 at 8:14 am

    We discovered well-organized (and probably well-paid) lie.

  66. Warhelmet
    April 6, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    Ah, Canova. The wonderful story of Canova… Try this on for size.

    http://www.mmegi.bw/2005/August/Friday12/5759207931411.html

    Yes, well.

  67. Whoisavocardo
    April 6, 2009 at 3:04 pm

    Svetlana Pertsovich
    If Hahnemann was in Samara then he would surely advise the rocket scientists to potentise Dimethylhydrazine to 200c. Then the rockets could go to Pluto instead of Mars.

    Prof Ernst may not think that sicking needles in people is natural(see his blog on pulse today). However he still put his name to
    Br J Gen Pract. 2008 March 1; 58(548): 208–209
    He lists 20 CAM treatments apparently with evidence! Including 2 Acupuncture treatments.
    It is not his problem if there arent any current mechanisms for any of these treatments. He didnt publish this without carefully considering the data available. He seems like a rather cautious chap who I am sure is aware of publishing anything in haste.

    Prof Avocardo
    Department of Yin
    Amethyst House
    University of Pinner

  68. John H
    April 6, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    So if you do actually Google “””homeopathic Canova Brasil””” you get the following:

    1) A worthlesss study of 30 people from a clinic in India which sells this particular sugar pill
    2) something about canova having no effect on animals
    3) something which says it does not kill cells (which I suppose is an upside but is hardly surprising given there is nothing there!)

    I am underwhelmed by the evidence.

  69. Le Canard Noir
    April 6, 2009 at 4:23 pm

    Please do not feed the trolls. I would like the discussions on my blog posts to try to stay on topic. I know it is hard. Obvious attempts to derail conversation is one of the few reasons I would use for deleting a comment. Ullman is incapable of assimilating criticism and moving on.

  70. pvandck
    April 6, 2009 at 6:21 pm

    Dullman said…
    If anyone has any doubts about the power of homeopathic medicines, simply look at the basic science trials of a homeopathic formula called Canova. There are around 20 of them, the vast majority in conventional science peer review journals. Tell me what you discover when you google: homeopathic Canova Brasil (let the fireworks begin)…

    The usual avoidance and non-answer to such an easy question.

    Sorry Andy. Couldn’t resist putting the question for the umpteenth time. Having got the standard diversionary nonsense from Dullard (anything but answer the question directly, every time, because he can’t), I shall leave it there.

  71. Anonymous
    April 6, 2009 at 6:48 pm

    John H: As one of the Anonymice, I thank you for your validation of the cult status of homeopathy.

  72. Warhelmet
    April 6, 2009 at 9:37 pm

    If it’s feeding the trolls, I only provide the meanest of gruels.

  73. Dr Benway
    April 8, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    If it were more widely know that homeopathy stands in contradiction to basic physics and chemistry, doctors would have nothing to do with it.

    I think the word will spread.

    Have fun, homeopaths, submitting your work to the physics journals where significance is defined as p<1/10000 rather than the easy-peasy p<1/20 of medicine.

  74. Rose
    January 22, 2014 at 11:06 am

    Thom/courtenay is a genuine historic figure, who stood for parliament in Canterbury and gained support from farmers and artisans. He’s described as a crackpot and was sentenced to a lunatic asylum. He was eventually (and famously) killed along with loyal followers after an arrest warrant was issued and never resurrected (surprise!).

    I found this page by trying to discover if he was actually a nutter- and I’d say this affirmatively answered my question…..

  75. Glastonbury Defence Systems
    January 22, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    If negative mesmerism can reduce the amount of life force, can it be used to reduce it to zero? Is there such a thing as weapons grade mesmerism?

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