PSYC 180 March 15 – Homeopathy (Fenster)
Homeopathy: The Human Side of Scientists
With Ariel Fenster
Deception by scientists is relatively rare – but it is always a possibility because scientists
are under a lot of pressure (e.g. to publish things)
Self-deception more common: when the scientist is so convinced of his theory that he is
blind to anything else. “wishful science aka pathological science”
N Rays: René Prosper Blondlot 1903 found a new form of radiation and called them the
N Rays. But he was the only one that was able to see this new form of radiation.
Mentioned in „Nature‟ Robert Wood asked Blondlot to show his these N Rays, but a
prism was needed to see the rays. Even when Wood took the prism off, Blondlot saw the
rays. Thus wishful science.
Homeopathy: water memory.
o Jacques Benveniste 1988 claimed he had scientific proof that homeopathy was
o Placebo effect? Or other changes such as diet, self-limiting, remission, exercise?
o Started by Samuel Hahnemann in the 18 century:
Chewed Peruvian bark (has quinine in it) and developed high fever.
Quinine used to treat malaria, and one symptom of malaria is high fever.
At small dose, you can treat malaria. At high dose, you get the symptoms
of high fever.
He looked at Belladonna “Provings” – symptoms were hot flushed skin
and dilated pupils. Diluted forms of Belladonna should be used to treat
high fever with staring eyes.
Arsenic – symptoms: burning gastric pain, vomiting, diarrhea. Thus
diluted amounts should be used for stomach problems.
Called this philosophy „homeopathy‟ (homoios pathos: similar suffer)
“Provings” – diary of mental, physical, emotional sensations when
ingesting various dilutions of “remedies”. He was the “master prover” –
recorded this in the material medica. (list all symptoms with various
Only interested in symptoms, not the causes, nor the physiological process
responsible for the disease.
“Decided” that the more diluted a solution becomes the more effective the
remedy. – law of infinitesimals.
o Latin: Simila Similabus Curantus – based on similarity.
o Contrasts allopathy: contraria contrariis curantur – you have to use substances to
negate the symptoms. PSYC 180 March 15 – Homeopathy (Fenster)
Evidence-based medicine: effectiveness proved beyond the natural healing process and
beyond the placebo effect.
Venom of the bushmaster snake can cause circulatory problems. Used as a homeopathic
remedy under the term „Lachesis‟. Diluted, it should be used to treat circulatory
30x means diluted 10^30 times. This is greater than avogradro‟s number. Thus no chance
that there is anything significant in the solution. 30x means 1 drop in 50 times the volume
of the earth.
30c means diluted by 100^30. Corresponds to one drop in 30 billion times the volume of
Solution „energized‟ by hitting it on a leather surface. “Succession” 10 times.
Homeopathy is successful because of the interest in the patient. A lot of communication
between homeopath and patient.
Hahnemann proposed just one ingredient in each homeopathic medicine. But now there
are a lot of ingredients in the composition of one medicine.
Homeopathy is “safe”.
o Hahnemann believed that cleanliness and nutrition were important.
o People that went to homeopathy hospitals felt better than normal hospitals
because before, the methods were brutal (bloodletting etc.)
Cholera 1854: first epidemiological studies.
o People developing cholera were very close to each other
o Dr. Snow assumed it was something from the water – people drinking from
1900: 24,000 homeopathic hospitals and 2,000 medical schools
Popularity faded with evidence-based medicine.
Holistic medicine: rather than treating the disease, treat the person. This is the basic idea
of homeopathy. Thus this is why homeopathy is more popular now.
Disenchantment with conventional medici