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From Lionel Milgrom ~ Debunking those who cannot see.


Dear Profs Baum and Ernst,

First; regardless of your recent attempt to ensure the bio-medical community adopts like you, a closed mind towards homeopathy [1], compliments of the season to the both of you.

By now, you may have seen my refutation (in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine [2]) of your American Journal of Medicine commentary, so it is unnecessary to repeat the main thrust of its arguments here. However, there were some points in your appeal for closed minds which I didn’t mention in my response, but which in hindsight should not be ignored. For they reflect on your self-appointed roles as ‘defenders’ of science.

It was the earlier discovery of Neptune (not Pluto) which was corroboration of a conjecture, based on Newton’s Laws of Motion that discrepancies in the orbit of Uranus could be explained by another large planet further out from the Sun. The later discovery of Pluto actually was a fluke, seeing as this now-dwarf planet’s known mass is far too small to affect Neptune’s orbital behaviour.

In this respect, you both appear to demonstrate ignorance not only of science’s history, but also its laws of mechanics. Indeed, it was Einstein who used anomalies in the orbital behaviour of Mercury as spectacular corroboration of his own bold conjecture; namely, general relativity, one of the pillars of 20th century physics which ultimately demonstrated the inadequacies of the classical view of the universe to which misguidedly, you both still seem to cleave.

In addition, Galileo’s ‘battle with the dogma of his day’ was not as you imply. For he insisted on proposing heliocentricity, not as a scientific theory but as a truth for which at the time there was no proof, and chose instead to argue scripture not science with those who believed and promoted a literal interpretation of the Bible. Galileo therefore, was being hubristic and foolish, not some heretical proto-scientific superhero, arguably delaying uptake of a new idea by creating unnecessary resistance in those that might have been more sympathetic had he not appeared to be attacking their own self-interested power base. In this respect, your attitude of closed mindedness to homeopathy resembles more that of the Inquisition: painting yourselves as ‘defenders’ of science against a presumed rising tide of irrationality, arguably is hubris of Galilean proportions.

It might well be that, as you point out, too open a mind is not the most efficient vehicle for furthering the cause of science. However, a closed ossified mind is far worse, as it actively holds back, persecutes even, progress in any sphere of human endeavour. As you both appear to be ignorant not only of recent advances in science [2], but also its history, and have self-confessed closed minds, perhaps it might be best if you made New Year resolutions to take voluntary redundancy from your self-appointed roles as ‘defenders’ of science. For in persistently calling upon all and sundry to adopt closed minds similar to your own, you not only do science a great disservice (at a time when in the UK it can ill afford it), but more importantly you endanger continued NHS provision of homeopathy/CAM services to the many people in this country who choose it as their right. Indeed, given the well-documented scale of science abuse in the pharmaceutical industry and related academic disciplines in terms of fabrication, falsification, and plagiarism [3], [4] perhaps your talents might be better redeployed campaigning to expose and rectify the undoubted mendacity and lack of professionalism within your own backyards.

Dr Lionel R Milgrom

[1] Baum M., Ernst E. Should we maintain a open mind about homeopathy? The
American Journal of Medicine 2009;122(11):973-4.
[2] Milgrom LR. Homeopathy and the Eternal Closure of the Biased Mind? The Clinical
and Scientific Relevance of Biophysics, Infinitesimal Dilutions, and The Memory of
Water. Journal of Alternative and Complement Med 2009;15:1255-1257.
[3] Fanelli D. How Many Scientists Fabricate and Falsify Research? A Systematic Review and
Meta- Analysis of Survey Data. PLoS ONE 2009;4(5):e5738.
[4] Titus SL, Wells AJ, Rhoades LJ. Repairing research integrity. Nature 453, 980-982
(19 June 2008) | doi:10.1038/453980a:

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