A dilution of the facts – part 2

This is a continuation from part 1.

After our visiting homeopath spoke his piece the kids were given a chance to ask questions. I had warned them beforehand about being polite, although I needn’t have, these kids are beautiful. I found their questions quite interesting, to be honest. Not the hard-hitting ones that I was expecting but more general questions about how he operates. I queried the students on this afterwards and they explained that they wanted to understand homeopathy from a homeopath’s point of view.

Now, some people might understandably be worried about this. What if they believed his “science”? Well, let me put your worries to rest. These wonderful children wanted to learn as much about homeopathy as possible in order to better defend themselves and others against it.

Know thy enemy, if you will.

So, please excuse them for not pinning him to the wall with their pointed questions. Rather, appreciate their desire to understand him better. This will enable them to see things from other’s points of view more clearly which will only enhance their abilities to educate themselves and others in favour of science, rationalism and scepticism.

Also, please bear in mind that most of these kids are 13 and 14 years old. I think the quality of their questions speak volumes for their maturity and insight.

Anyway, here we go…

So I’ve got two questions. The first one is if you’ve got, homeopathically, if you had one substance that has the exact same symptoms, like a poison substance that has the exact same symptoms as another substance, would that work homeopathically to you know, get rid of the other one?

Ok, ok. As far as I’m concerned the principle is like cures like, not same cures same. So I’m not, if someone’s got a bee sting I don’t give them apis to get rid of it. I give them a substance that I find in here *holds up book*  that is capable of producing symptoms very similar to, so it’s not a matter of that, it’s a matter of that *holds hands up showing that both cases are very close*. What I do is to give, I’m not trying to use the substance to get rid of the problem, I’m trying to use the substance to give the body the back pressure to neutralise the disease itself, rather than to toss it out. Now my understanding is that the body, that the being removes their own disease. I’m trying to strengthen the being to do it. I am not trying to neutralise the disease in itself.

So my second question was if a homeopathic stuff is like a vaccination, then can’t you just give someone, very early in their life, you know, a homeopathic vaccination for everything and then they’ll never get anything?

The main problem of it for me is that I personally want people to get sick. I don’t want them to get so sick that it overwhelms them, I want them to stay strong within their sickness. But as far as I’m concerned healthy sickness strengths you. You know, like I have been pleased for my children to build in strength through sickness. And I am concerned that we nowadays take a lot of measures that are designed to stop sickness from happening and as far as I’m concerned, well from what I see we haven’t ended up with a healthier society. In fact I would worry that we’ve ended up with a sicker society by neutralising out of it sickness.

So you’ve said that it has the same theory as the vaccines do, well vaccines are made to strength your immune system against the sickness. So would say that when you’re giving homeopathic medication it’s like giving their immune system something to strength it while they’re sick?

Certainly I think that you take a homeopathic to strength the immune system. I’m not convinced that what vaccination does is to strengthen the immune system as much as to put in a blocker for a particular disease. And to that extent I get concerned about the way that that happens. I mean yes I want to strengthen the person in the face of their disease but I don’t want to do it by stopping the disease from being able to happen.

When you say “healthy sickness”, is that like if you have a sickness and you let it run its course then your immune system gets stronger and can handle worse diseases?

“Run its course” depends on what it is. At every point of the sickness I want the patient to be stronger rather than weaker in the face of it. But I don’t want to suppress the disease along that process in order that the being can’t get stronger. Just today I got an email from an ex-patient up in northern NSW who tells me that since he was six he’s had particular lesions, herpes lesions in fact. On his face, on his body, his genitals that have always been suppressed. And that now they’re starting to come out in a way that’s scaring him. What should he do? Now of course I don’t want to just let them run wild but I also don’t want to suppress them so that something else has to come out instead.

Do you think the same thing about pain medication?

With pain medication, yes. I mean I certainly don’t want to take the approach to suppress the pain. To just stop the body’s ability to feel the pain. If the problems are still there I would much prefer that the person is experiencing them and having some genuine work done to neutralise what’s causing it. Say it’s a headache and it’s to do with any sort of things within the head or the back of the next or wherever, I am not in favour of someone taking major pain medications really just to switch off the alarm clock. I can understand why someone would, and particularly in some diseases I guess I can even understand why someone does. But no, it’s not the preferable approach as far as I’m concerned.

But sorry but like, what about an anti-inflammatory drug that would as a side-effect would stop the pain because it stops the inflammation?

Yeah, well it depends on what the inflammation is and where it’s coming from. If the inflammation is there because there is a genuine problem with organs or parts of the body I would prefer not to just turn it off. But I’m also very happy for people to take something, particularly by natural means to start to control the inflammation.

This is just building on the last question and it may not seem relevant, let’s say you have a woman going into labour, would you be in favour of an epidural because it stops the pain, which is obviously a lot?

I’m certainly not as worried about it as I am about a whole range of other things because it’s a short-term understandable “problem” that will pass. Right, and so in the short-term I can understand why someone would. If one were to find out that in that epidural were huge poisons that were going to affect mother, baby into the future, yeah I’d have a problem.

You know people say don’t go outside if your hair’s wet cause you’ll get a cold, and if you do get a cold you stay inside in warm conditions? Wouldn’t you, based on like-cures-like, go outside to try cure it?

*long pause* No. I can understand what you’re asking, but no, it’s not saying that if someone’s cold it’ll get better if they’re colder. It is saying that if someone’s got cold symptoms they are capable of taking a substance that itself is capable of causing similar cold symptoms.

Why did you come to this meeting even though you knew that we’d be sceptical against you?

I read a report in the Age by Jewel Topsfield and I wrote to her to express my disagreement with some of what she’d written and she I think forwarded a copy of that to Mr vanLangenberg and this resulted from there. And also I don’t mind, as I say, healthy scepticism. I personally am, I hope, sceptical about a whole range of things until I’ve got good reason to understand them and believe them. Believe comes from a word meaning to fervently wish. Now I’m not wanting us to have therefore belief, I’m wanting us to have understanding.

Can I just ask if you could explain the concept of the dilution and how given back when homeopathy first created by Hanneman there was no understanding of molecules or anything. So the idea that you could dilute something that much and still have it spread out was probably a valid idea. But now that we know about molecules and when something’s diluted down to say, I think you mentioned the 60C mark, when something’s diluted that much there’s basically, basically zero chance that there would be single molecule of the original substance left.

Oh totally zero. It’s the equivalent of having one drop in all the oceans of the earth.

Exactly, so I’ve sort of got two questions. One is how then does the original substance have any bearing on the water at all, and two, if that’s the case how to you take into account every single that’s ever been diluted into that water in the first place, like water running through the ocean and sewerage pipes. What happens with that?

In terms of the second one you do use as pure water as you possibly can. You are wanting to use distilled water to make it but I agree, it certainly does have those sorts of questions.

In terms of the first one, I certainly can’t say I know that it has that sort of power, but when provings, these things *holds up book* are done on substances there are two ways these are normally done. One is by direct poisonings, the other is by taking frequent doses of the dilution. And if one takes frequent enough doses, I mean you have to in fact be careful with patients who… they won’t poison themselves with them, but if they take substances too often, you know you give it to them three a day for a week and they take twenty a day for a month or something, they will come out with the symptoms expressed in the material.

And how would that be possible though when what they’re taking is at that point essentially water?

Only vibrationally.

So how does that work?

I certainly can’t say in how. I think that this Higgs Boson is starting to make us wonder. You know? There is something there that is giving, or that is behind the materiality of this. That we certainly haven’t been able to, or still aren’t able to measure. That is now suggesting that there is reality.

You keep bringing up the Higgs Boson, from what I understand that’s a quantum physics term. In that case, quantum physics we know deals with things smaller than atoms and the way that you distinguish one atom from another is that atoms have different numbers of protons and neutrons. If you’re dealing with things smaller than atoms, at that point how do you distinguish between different substances? Like for example, if you have maybe arsenic versus some other element and you take something smaller than an atom from those elements, wouldn’t that thing that’s smaller than an atom have to be indistinguishable? Because the only thing that makes them different, the differences occur on an atomic level and sub-atomic level. You’re dealing with identical things.

Ok look, the only reason… I don’t understand the Higgs Boson. I mean, it’s so new and it’s… the only reason I bring it up at all is because it appears to me that it might be starting to give us understanding that at that sub-atomic level there might be… we might be getting to… I was going to say particles but it’s not particles, it’s pre-particle. That give particles their meaning in their form. You know, that’s what we’re looking for when we’re dealing with dilutions as stupid as homeopathy. Because incidentally it doesn’t stop at 30C, as Mr V. suggested. One of the very common potencies is 200C which 1 part of the substance to 1 with 400 zeroes part of water. And M, 1000. Which is one part of the substance to 1 with 2000 zeroes. And the theory, I tend not to use the 200 or the M, but the theory of homeopathy would suggest that substances get stronger rather than weaker as you go up that scale.

Could you explain some cases that you might be able to use as, not prove, but evidence that makes you think this theory works?

Thousands. I mean, chamomile. Chamomilla. Hot, irritable, thirsty, wants to be carried. Babies who are teething. Any mother who had a baby who is hot, irritable, thirsty and wants to be carried and has used homeopathy and used chamomile, would testify. Pulsatilla, wind anemone. Another homeopathic substance. Mild, gentle, tearful, not thirsty. The way some other young children react to sickness, even teething etcetera. And what pulsatilla tends to do is strengthen them in the face of it. Someone mentioned arsenic before. Arsenicum patients are fastidious, to the point of *slaps forehead* driving you nuts if you’re around them. You know, everything has to be absolutely in line, in the right sized heaps etcetera etcetera etcetera. And they have burning pains and a whole range of other symptoms which are in here *refers to book* but the arsenicum will strengthen them in the face of it. I tend to be a sulphur. I’m a grot. You know, like my house, stuff is everywhere. The exact opposite of the arsenicum. When I finish preparing a lecture, doing things, papers all over the place, you know? If anyone looked into my bedroom there’s be clothes all over the place. Quite the opposite of arsenicum. Now look that’s just though four examples in thousands, that you can come up with.

How much would you dilute the substances you were talking about for teething babies?

Normally to what’s called the 12C which is that same 1 to 99 twelve times. Because at that point you’ve gone beyond the point of molecular structure.

The bell rang in the middle of this answer and after thanking him for his time, the kids headed off to class. Unfortunately there were quite a few questions left unanswered, due to time. He agreed to answer these via email and I will post those answers as soon as they arrive.

I spoke with one student during the week who mentioned how reasonable and nice the homeopath came across as. He said that he now understood exactly how people could fall for alternative medicine. I think that lesson alone made this experience worthwhile.

I am very proud of how my students handled themselves and the quality of their questioning. There were a few claims made by the homeopath that went unchallenged, some due to running out of time and some that simply weren’t noticed. However we are meeting again this Monday and will be going over everything with a fine-toothed comb.

Thanks for reading all of this so far, I appreciate that a lot of it was hard to get through! Part 3 will come soon and I will share my student’s thoughts and comments with you all.

Update – part 3!

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6 Comments

Filed under McKinnon Secondary Sceptical Society

6 responses to “A dilution of the facts – part 2

  1. Pingback: A dilution of the facts – part 1 | Sceptic School

  2. Well, he made it pretty clear with his first few answers that he has absolutely no idea how the human immune system works. I say that’s a job well done for the kids right there. But I love that they went on to try and pin him down on “how does it even possibly work?” and he was unable to supply so much as a coherent answer. And then he talks about “the theory of homeopath.” The theory which he just admitted does not even have a proposed mechanism, which means it is not even a hypothesis, much less a theory.

    I think it’s great that you were able to expose your students to this. It’s important for them to understand that the people who sell this stuff are not all evil hucksters trying eagerly to separate you from your paycheck. Some of them truly believe what they are offering works.

  3. NKT

    These kids seem to really think for themselves & asked very good intelligent questions. That they didn’t try & nail the guy to the floor was good, they got a lot more ‘clarity’ with the questions they asked.

  4. distantcam

    You keep saying he held up a book. It wasn’t the bible was it? :P

  5. Pingback: Sunday Reading « Atheist Hobos

  6. Pingback: A dilution of the facts – part 3 | Sceptic School

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