2010 April


by Patricia Maché

In the previous issue, there were some interesting responses to Jan’s column. A point, which particularly caught my attention, and obviously the attention of several readers, was Jan’s following comment: “physics and chemistry lack the scope to explain homeopathy.”

I could not help but spare a thought for Democritus (460-370 BC), a Greek philosopher, who developed, with his mentor Leucippus, a theory of atoms as ultimate matter particles. His discovery, unfortunately, did not fare well among his contemporaries and ended up languishing in the underworld of indemonstrable scientific theories for a very long time. He, and we, had to wait until the beginning of the 19th century for the English chemist John Dalton to demonstrate that, indeed, matter consists of elementary particles: the atoms.

So, it took nearly two millennia for scientists to devise experiments capable of proving his formidable intuition!

Democritus’ theory had also to contend with the authorities of the time, namely Parmenides, Plato and Aristotle. The latter exerted such an immense influence on his time and on the centuries to come that despite being flawed, his four elements theory prevailed.

This situation strangely resembles the one homeopathy still experiences, albeit on a shorter time span; Science cannot prove the workings of homeopathy. Before going further, an important distinction must be made. Democritus’ theory was based on reason alone. His method was what is called an a priori or deductive method. He could think an atomic theory but could not say to his detractors, “look, I have divided matter as much as it can possibly be done, and here is what is left; an atom.”

Homeopathy is in an inverse position for it can say: “Look, I have given Belladonna to this agitated patient with a pounding headache, a red face, dilated pupils, and cold extremities and, ten minutes later, his symptoms have completely disappeared.” It cannot, however, explain how these little pillules can have such a healing effect. To present our case, we are using an a posteriori or inductive method; going from the effects to the cause. Our main problem is that we cannot from practice induce a correspondent theory. Science has not yet found the means to explain that which can be readily observed. Nevertheless, we have an important advantage on Democritus: we have our cake and anyone who wants to check if it tastes good, can.

This, of course, is not the whole story. While Democritus had his own problems with the authorities of the time, homeopathy has the problem of facing a very active faction of the scientific community, which, when it is not wasting its time pouring scorn on ‘the quacks’, continues to confront us from the macrocosmic point of view of Newtonian physics, and insists that we meet them on their limited ground. Fortunately for us, something crucial happened at the beginning of the 20th century: Quantum physics burst onto the scene and threw a big boulder into the scientific pond, which made waves (I could not resist the pun) the ‘old physics’ – as Hahnemann might have called it, had he been alive – can neither predict nor explain. From its microscopic point of view, it demonstrated that the laws which govern the Great Machine do not function in the same way when applied to the sub-atomic level. In other words, Quantum physics showed that Newtonian physics, on which principles conventional medicine still relies heavily, while valid within its limits, is not comprehensive enough to explain all the world’s phenomena.

“Very well,” you might say, “but what does this all mean for homeopathy?” Space being a concern, even for editors, I invite you to share your thoughts, ideas, and suggestions on this fascinating and promising subject. To be continued in the next edition…

I leave you with a quote from the Danish physicist Niels Bohr, one of the founders of quantum mechanics. To Einstein’s lament : “Alas, our theory is too poor for our experience.” Bohr replied: “No, no! Experience is too rich for our theory.”  Meanwhile, I hope you will enjoy this month’s very interesting and extensive contributions.











Categories: Editorials
Keywords: editorial


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Posts: 6
Reply #4 on : Wed April 07, 2010, 23:09:18

In the words of Sir Arthur Eddington,(1882-1944) “we used to think that if we knew one, we knew two, because one and one are two. We are finding that we must learn a great deal more about ‘and’."
It seems to me that by your comment “in light of contemporary scientific knowledge”, you have missed the whole point of the editorial – ie that scientific knowledge is necessarily limited to that which we ‘know’ and does not take into account that which we don’t, as yet, ‘know’. There is a certain arrogance in believing that the entire explanation of the workings of the universe is contained within the narrow parameters of present human understanding.
Edward Teller suggests that "A fact is a simple statement that everyone believes. It is innocent, unless found guilty. A hypothesis is a novel suggestion that no one wants to believe. It is guilty, until found effective."
I would like to believe that logically, it follows that since Homeopathy has proven itself to be effective over and over again, it must be considered ‘innocent’ and therefore ‘a fact’!
I really enjoyed this editorial, and look forward to the next.
At the risk of over quoting Eddington…”something unknown is doing we don’t know what”
Last Edit: April 08, 2010, 00:22:10 by *  

Posts: 6
Remko comments
Reply #3 on : Sun April 04, 2010, 15:44:30
Science does not only equal logical positivism. Human beings are not mechanisms. Material is but one manifestation of a Goethian One called Phenomenon. Material is the exclusive focus of the folk theory of objectivism as it corresponds with the physical experience: solid object with fixed characterisics, as this is the most convenient model to use in an axiomatic matrix required for rationalizing. Axiomatic models correspond to idealizations and not to physical reality. Rationalizing needs to be considered as distinct from Reasoning. It may be a species of irrationality to continue to support a position that contradicts the predictive logic of a hypothesis, but it is entirely reasonable to support homeopathy given 200 years of carefully documented resolutions to individual instances of illness.
Ignorance of philosophical issues, inability to distinguish value, no actual experience or training in experimentation and an overestimation of one's level of literacy (in spite of numerous reports of success made available here) has a tendancy to engender the belief that one has licence to comment or that such comments are intelligent. Never the less, it is always amusing observe how people will rationalize their claim to licence in the face of so much contra-indicating evidence.

Posts: 6
Reply #2 on : Fri April 02, 2010, 20:28:37
I've been interested in homeopathy for quite some time now but being too lazy to educate myself about its workings a highschool student who, mind you, receives excellent grades in chemistry was willing to explain me how homeopathic remedies are prepared and by which mechanisms hemopathic preparations supposedly work.

I can only conclude that these are in stark contradiction with all we presently know about physics and chemistry. Only now do I realize family and friends have been buying 'de facto' outrageously expensive water or sugar. This highschool kid saved me a lot of money that I'd rather spend on real medication, the kind that actually does contain active ingredients.

Assuming you too are aware of the mechanisms homeopathy purports, I'm left with just one question: how do you rationalize the efficacy of homeopathy or its proposed mechanisms when, in light of contemporary scientific knowledge, it can only be considered archaic or at best an over-prized placebo. It is clear that homeopathy was conjured up by someone who didn't have the knowledge we now so easily have access to, knowledge accumulated over many years by generations of hard working SCIENTISTS.

Kind regards
Remko Zijlstra

Posts: 6
werer the problem lies is on another plane
Reply #1 on : Fri April 02, 2010, 09:09:28
Dear Patricia Maché and readers of Interhomeoepathy,

I follow the discussion and think that it has several loose ends. The one on the purely phylosophic-intellectual dimension will not suffice
to bring the context to a level that aproaches the solution of our problems as practioners and simultaneously those of the clients who are not wealthy.

The central functioning of the problem we face is the capitalist market forces governing scientific
research with their big budgets of chemo-pharmaceutical industries. This is not a philosophical problem, maybe one of political philosophy. This brings light into the importance of contexts to healing, which also has influence on homeopathic possibilities in a lot of cases.

But, apart from the solutions that would come from acting to change the context, I think that there could be scientific quests that use the existing trend to bring in another Light on Homeopathy.

The trend towards genetics is bearing a lot of heavy developments, it is where a lot on money and attention goes.
I dont know, maybe I'm wrong but my intuition tells me that this could be used to make a suprise to the medico-scientific community.

With the research around HIV we learned about the genetic enzyme -reverse transcriptase-, which helps the HIV virus to enter the genetic programme of the cells. But there was also one study showing that the genetic enzyme reverse transcriptase plays also a role in processes of
self-induced salutogenese.

I guess that there is a way to show how homeopathicely induced salutogenese in heavy pathologies like cancer and autoimmune illnesses
triggers the reverse transcriptase and/or similar genetic enzymes to repair not only the physic but maybe more or less also the genetic markers.

Since homeopathy working on the miasmatic levels will influence those levels of inheritance of probabillity to get those illnesses.

I wonder if there would be an initiative that brings together genetic scientists and homoepathic industries to sponsor such a research, because it would maybe cut the gordic knot. But : what will homeopathy be after this ?

Maybe not the same anymore and this is why we should not do it before capitalist hegemony is replaced by real democracy?

greetings from Berlin

Ruth L
Last Edit: April 02, 2010, 20:13:53 by *